A mountain of madness, being busy like a bee and having many irons in the fire. But, is it exciting? “Hell, yeah!” she says. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way..” Amidst limitless excitement, some tiny-bits of last-minute-rush and expectations galore, we take a few moments out of her fast-paced joy ride to talk about what’s coming up in the next couple of months.!
‘Author, Mother, Marketeer, not always in that order’, as she writes on her blog, Yashodhara Lal is sitting pretty right on the very edge of a fresh, brand new novel, Sorting Out Sid waiting to release in a fresh brand new year! (The book is now on pre-order at Flipkart at ( now available on pre-order at Flipkart at http://tinyurl.com/nu9kfg3),). Any last minute jitters, Yashodhara? “Frankly, I’ve been just so busy with getting everything ready while also managing several other things that I haven’t even had time to get the jitters,” she says. We try to don her hat, although briefly, and get a sneak peek into her chaotic yet exciting world- and, yes, being a part-time Marketing consultant and a full-time mother of three, she already has a lot on her plate. And, then, to top up it up with avid blogging and writing, where is the time to have jitters anyway?
In her very own words, Yashodhara vividly draws up a picture of her bustling and sparkling life in her blog:
Welcome to Yashodhara’s World
Vijay: The Harried, Married Man
Yashodhara: The Queen of the Castle
Peanut: The Princess, always trying to dethrone me
Pickle & Papad: Double the trouble, double the fun
…and other assorted characters we bump into, along the way…
Yashodhara is married for over a decade now and lives in Gurgaon with her husband Vijay and the three small children they call Peanut, Pickle and Papad.
Her debut best-selling novel, Just Married, Please Excuse was a ‘story of self-discovery, a fresh and honest take on marriage and parenthood, and all the chaos that comes with it’. (Sample chapters at www.justmarriedpleaseexcuse.com) Yashodhara calls it ‘unabashedly autobiographical with only a teeny bit of exaggeration towards the end’. Not just the story, even the names of the characters in her book are straight out of her very own life! With its ‘ah-so-real’ moments from her newly married life blended with disarming honesty, the book became an absolute favourite of readers, both young and old. We wonder if her second outing as an author is autobiographical too. Yashodhara clarifies, Sorting Out Sid is “a witty, humorous and completely fictional story about a guy named Siddharth who has everything going for him on the surface – but in reality, there’s a lot of trouble brewing.”
The back-cover of Sorting Out Sid may very well nudge a reader’s curiosity. It reads, “Meet Sid, a master at the art of denial, in this hilarious, insightful tale of modern-day living and relationships.” In Sorting Out Sid, Sid has got it all, the great career (on the verge of becoming the VP at 36!), the marriage, good friends and the works. But in reality, there’s a lot of trouble; his marriage is falling apart, his friends constantly try to control him – and the fact that he’s selling toilet cleaners, is not the most glamorous thing in the world. And, then, there is the single mother Neha who comes into his life…As the tagline goes, “Who said it would be easy Sorting Out Sid?” This could be the story of a whole new generation- young, vivacious, successful and yet unhappy, shuttling between their disjointed families and flashy superficial professional lives.
After the success of her debut novel, Yashodhara was contemplating writing a sequel to Just Married, Please Excuse. She also had a draft of it ready, as well as a work-in-progress title, ‘Still Married, Thank You.’ But, again, there had been this story brewing inside her head for a while, and a quick discussion with her editor convinced her to pen down an out-and-out fiction, and voila, here comes Sorting Out Sid!
Writing has always been special for Yash, an integral part of her life. She has been a passionate blogger for many years now. And, while she dabbled in blogging, she has also been a seasoned corporate professional. With a prestigious MBA degree from IIM-Bangalore in her kitty, Yashodhara has had a decade-long successful spell at some of the top-notch corporates in India. “In my last stint, I was doubling up as a Marketing Head and a Business Head,” she says. It was during her maternity leave after she delivered her twin boys in the year 2010 that she finally took to writing, a long-cherished dream that she nurtured for years, and, that’s when the draft of Just Married, Please Excuse was written. Life is a connoisseur in imparting some of the best lessons; quite often, it paves way for intriguing circumstances to divulge some very simple truths about human existence. It was one of those rare special moments of clarity when Yashodhara heard her inner voice. “I had always wanted to write, but rarely got beyond a chapter or two. I had a complicated pregnancy and I guess, I figured it then that life is too short to keep putting off your dreams – so I just went for it,”. It was pretty much her own tales of marriage and parenthood that she has poured out in her first book, Just Married, Please Excuse.
Beneath the layers, there was always a writer in Yashodhara. “I think I always had the writer in me because I always loved books,” she says. She remembers writing for the school and college magazines in the past and enjoying every bit of her role in the editorial boards of those magazine too. She is blessed with the gift of building castles in the air, castles of stories, some short, some-not-too-short. She looked around and felt, she had a story to tell. She believes it began with her blogging in the year 2006. “It helped me to express myself and it was therapeutic as well,” she says. So, what does writing mean to you, we ask. “It means so many things to me. It is creativity, it is art, and it is unique. And there’s miles to go before I sleep, because like any craft or skill, it must be honed. Why even try to define it?”
But again, Yashodhara prefers the name ‘part-time author’ for her. Apart from consulting projects and teaching marketing at a management institute for working professionals, she is a full-time mother and a Zumba instructor too. Her platter is full. “I have a feeling I wouldn’t enjoy being a full-time writer, either. A couple of hours a day on it is good, though. So I’m a part-time writer, but hopefully one who’s going to be continuously writing or at least plotting!” That’s pretty well said, Yash. And, what about marketing, any plans to get back to the buzzing corporate world? “I do sometimes miss the whole corporate gig. Maybe when the kids go to school, I might end up going back. I still consider Marketing my main career, but for the time being, have moved to part-time roles or consulting assignments on a project basis.” she responds. After the release of her first book, Yashodhara went back to work. But, after ‘several months of trying to juggle everything’, she figured that she wasn’t able to do justice to any of it. Hence, she decided to pursue writing for the time being and focus more on raising her kids.
It is said that ‘Yashodhara Lal’s USP is in taking the ordinary and making it hilarious’, that her book scores hands down in the humour quotient. She often transforms the ordinary to hilarious and, then, somewhat extraordinary to create a perfect concoction of humour and truth. “Observations from real life provide a lot of fodder for interesting stories,” she says, quite disarmingly. Yash believes that it is the lens with which we choose to view things that makes the whole difference. In Just Married, Please Excuse, she has picked up some traumatic moments and events from her life and chosen to laugh at them. “My writing is humorous but people have also said that they find the stories relatable, and even insightful. I don’t know how that happens, I’m not trying to be particularly insightful but sometimes the stories tend to take on a life of their own,” Yashodhora affirms. It is the years of practice in making a small community of other mommy bloggers laugh at her stories about her family on her blog at www.yashodharalal.com that has enabled her to bring in the element of humour in her book..
As a child, while Yash enjoyed reading the regular Enid Blytons, Hardy Boys and so on, her favorite books were about twins – the St. Clare’s and the Sweet Valley Series. ‘And life rewarded me with twins of my own, so the fascination will continue lifelong.’ She laughs.As a teenager, she enjoyed the world of Wodehouse, Gerald Durrell and James Herriot. “I think that caused me to first adopt humour in my own writing. The world of good that reading did me cannot be overemphasized. It made all the difference, in so many ways,” she says. Yash’s all-time favorite in recent years is Chitra Bannerjee Devakaruni’s Palace of Illusions and she always recommends it, especially to women.
A successful career, a lovely family, the pursuit of a passion and a never-ending doze of humour. Life is full for Yashodhara, we believe. So, we wonder if she has any unfulfilled dreams or aspirations that she still looks out for… And, hence, we rather ask her, if you look at your life from a distance, are you happy about the way it has turned out? In her usual candid manner, Yash responds, “I am extremely blessed because I have a large and loving family. I am happy with the way life is turning out, but it’s a process. I’ve made some choices about stepping out of the corporate race for the time being – yet I haven’t figured out my exact plans. So as of now, I have no idea about where I am going to be by the time I’m forty. But the fact that it’s not killing me not to know that right now must mean that I’m making progress.”
Being a mother of three, with so much going on in her professional life as well, Yashodhara has handled the perils of procrastination pretty well. “Ultimately, it’s just about being focused. It’s hard to start, there tends to be a lot of procrastination, but once you get going, there’s a certain rhythm and flow that eventually sees you through to the finish line.’’ Confident and upright, Yashodhara is just a few weeks away from yet another momentous achievement in her life, the release of her second book, Sorting Out Sid. At this juncture, Yash takes a moment to look back at her life as a mother, author, marketer and teacher and remarks, “Oh God. Every bit of it has been difficult, and then surprisingly easy at certain key moments. It’s all been gut-wrenching and heart-breaking and then ridiculously joyous at times. Each role has taught me something different – and will continue to do so in the future as well.”
These are the last few days before the release of Sorting Out Sid and we understand the anxiousness and anticipation that fills in, the scores of chores that swamp her days and the last-minute-rush and expected hush that keeps her on the move all day. And, then, as they say, “Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute”, we let Yashodhara dive deep into the pulse of everything. After all, we are all looking forward to the joyride. While we imagine Sid’s world in Sorting Out Sid to be bewildering and somewhat disorderly, we know that the read will be nothing short of absolute delight! Our best wishes, Yashodhara!
Check out Yashodhara’s entertaining blog at www.yashodharalal.com and find sample chapters from her latest book on it . You can also find her on Facebook.com/yashodharalal or Twitter @yashodharalal.
Note – Sorting Out Sid is available for pre-orders with an exciting offer of 200 Happily Unmarried Beanbag Mobile holders being given free with copies of the book! Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/nu9kfg3
Link to the video trailer of Sorting out Sid – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfA0zEwXbEg