“Life is an adventure without final meaning, but still worth experiencing” – Camus. We have someone special at our Adda today for whom her literary life has been an adventure. Right from writing columns in major mainstream newspaper to an author of best selling books and series, it has been a journey worth living. You will find her in many libraries of Indian Book lovers. Let us now welcome Raksha Bharadia to your Adda where she speaks about ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul‘, ‘All and Nothing‘, her family and much more. Are you Ready?
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I think in 2007.
Q: What topics do you generally blog about?
A: Little observations of life, everyday failings of us, our victories, our beauty, our ugliness.
Q: You love stir fry and Bengali mithai, and have now settled to the land of Dhoklas and Theplas. How do you look at both the cities and how has the shift treated you? What was Raksha doing before she was a writer?
A: I love the freedom and space that Ahmedabad offers, and I cherish the city I grew up in Kolkata, its newspapers, to its theater to its packed roads and of course Flury’s where one can have the most delicious rum balls and gaze at passers by at Park Street through the glass.
Q: A very good flair for writing is what you seem to posses. Which author is your inspiration & why? According to you, what is the most interesting thing about your writing?
A: I have many writers that I look up to. Marcel Proust, Milan Kundera, Tagore, Simone de Beauvoir, Maugham etc. I perhaps may not be able to answer as to what is the most interesting thing about my writing but can definitely say that I am an observer of the little things that affect us.
Q: Family support is very critical. How do your friends and family respond when they read your books? Who do you think are your best critics and why?
A: Family and friends are indeed good support. My biggest critique? I think I, me, myself.
Q: Your girls are voracious readers. So, do your children also aspire to become like their mother? What do you wish to see them in future? What does your husband do feel about your writing? Does he also have a creative instinct like you?
A: It is too soon to tell what path my children will take. As far as my wish for them, I only want them to do and be what they enjoy most, be it writing, science, even DJing. My husband Sanjeev is proud of me and enjoys the little tidbits I share with him of my writing.
Q: All and Nothing, though fiction, has a real base. You’ve met Tina & her husband, who are also the characters of your the book. We would like you to elaborate more on your meeting and how you decided to write a book on it.
A: I met Tina in a club in Kolkata. The mood was light and we were a few drinks down. We were talking of relationships, marriage, commitment and then My Tina said that she will make her husband love her, that it was just the beginning. After a little while, I found myself seated next to the husband and he said that he is happy where they were in their marriage (alcohol was responsible for this uninhibited state of course). The contrast struck me. Two people, one marriage and yet they saw it so differently. While for one, it was the best possible, for the other it was just a starting point for something better. That evening, All and Nothing was conceived.
Q: You’ve edited many series of Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul. Which book has been closest to your heart?
Q: Teaching English in a street school run by NGO Manav Sadhna and teaching in the school for the visually challenged in Andh Kanya Gruh are a part of your life, along with reinventing yourself via Kathak. Does teaching & dancing help you escape from the rigors writing? What other social activities have you been doing?
A: To me, dancing and teaching are like meditation. I enjoy it very much. It is not so much about escaping the rigors of writing as it is about forgetting the ‘I’ which otherwise is always omnipresent. I have been involved in some service work since a long time now.
Q: An author, columnist, dancer, wife, teacher and a mother. How do you balance your professional and personal life with two daughters?
A: I manage…though I would like to devote more time to reading.
Q: Earlier works from your pen are Me: ‘A Handbook for Life’, a self help book & ‘ROOTS And WINGS: A Handbook For Parents‘, a parenting guide. You moved to fiction with All and Nothing. What is the next book in works and which genre? Which style do you prefer writing? Would you like to write a biography or an auto-biography in future?
A: I have got hooked to fiction. It offers me space and freedom. Also, I feel that fiction has more truth than non-fiction. What I cannot say as Raksha, I can as Tina, or Manas or Poorvi (the characters in All and Nothing). I have had a few offers for biographies but at the moment I am into another novel.
Q: You have been editing Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series since a long time now. Being a non-fiction series, you have read many stories which have a range of human emotions in them. How have you connected with them? How difficult it is to choose one emotional story over another? Also, how have the stories changed your emotions, perceptions, etc.? Share one such story that touched your heart or brought about a change in you.
A: The more stories I get, the more authors I meet, the more I feel about the universality of human emotions. We all feel anger, hatred, love, empathy, etc but differ in degree only. The wider my database of writer grows, the narrower is the listing of fundamentals of us. But along with this there is another reality that where ever we are, at whatever point in our lives, we all want to grow, be better, do better….and this has been my biggest lesson. That the desire to be be more than what we are is inbuilt in us.
Q: If Raksha Bharadia was not an author, what would she be? What are your interests other than writing? You are a workaholic and have been wanting to stay in a place like Auroville for a week, all by yourself, since the last 4 years! Has it been fulfilled now? If not, what are you doing to work towards it? What else does Raksha wish to do but has not been able to?
A: Auroville is still a wish list. If I would not have been an author I would have perhaps been a counselor. I have so many entries in my bucket list that you will tire of reading them…:)
Q: We suppose you have a special talent to sense what people like hearing. So, can we look forward to a scriptwriter or a film director in future?
A: Inshaah Allah….
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?
A: Permitting time and space, it is a good idea for a blogger to interact with the readers. I cannot respond to all the comments I get, but try and respond to the ones that touch me.
Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
A:The fact that I can get down in paper what is prime on my mind.
Q: How, in general, would you rate the quality of Indian blogs? Share your favourite five blogs.
A:I think there is a revolution happening here. I think because we Indians have so much more in terms of legacy, number of relationships, struggles, experiences, traditions that with the tool of blogging and the power of expression we can be at some place powerful. Just because there is so much more content in an Indian mind…
My favorite blogs are:
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
A: Be honest in writing what you do. Do not write for the reader, write what you feel.
Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?
A: Many times. Usually take a break, go for a walk, read, meditate.
Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
A: Nope, I do not promote my blog at all.
Q: Do you earn revenue through your blog? How does one go about it?
A: I do not earn revenue through my blog.
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Color: White and Black
TV Show: Two and a Half Men
Time of Day: 6 in the evening when I go for a walk
Your Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
Thank you Raksha for this wonderful interview. We wish you all the best for the upcoming titles of ‘The Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul’ and your upcoming book. Readers, time to grab the book and let Raksha know your thoughts on the same.