18 September, 2013

#BookReview & #AuthorInterview :: Wise Enough to be Foolish by Gauri Jayaram

Wise Enough to Be Foolish is a fictionalized memoir that traces the journey of an Indian girl’s life, with all its challenges and delightful surprises, as she blossoms from an insecure child into a confident young woman. This roller-coaster ride of adventure, laughter and heartache, as she balances her love life with her struggle for independence, will keep you guessing – What rules will she break next? How far will she go to find herself? 

I recently lived Ms.Gauri Jayaram’s life through her debut novel ‘Wise Enough to be Foolish’ and when I say that I am still reeling from the hangover of it, I mean that as a compliment.

A partly fictionalised memoir (done so to protect the identity of couple of characters), this book basically tells us about the life and choices of a woman in our ‘developing’ nation. The novel traces the journey of the author as child in an army family to a rebellious and attention seeking teenager to an extrovert college goer to a mature woman finding her soul mate. She touches upon various aspects of her life… From the nomad lifestyle of army personnel to the influence of a good teacher in one’s life to the independence and unwanted attention during her college and hostel life – everything is reflected as it is in real life. The trials, the mistakes made, the choices and forks in life that are portrayed in this book are all something that each of us can relate to. She has expertly outlined the issues and the reaction of our society to them by bringing up her experiences with parental expectations, sex discrimination, inter-caste marriage, divorce, eve-teasing and stereotyping.

It was such an elevating experience to be able to read about a strong willed, independent woman who made so many unconventional (as some would say) choices and taking on each and every challenge head-on. She clearly has showed us by example that it is possible to thrive and be happy without bowing down to the societal pressure – that it is okay to want to live life by your own rules without sparing a thought to general norms of our society. It is okay if you do not agree with Gauri in each step of her life, as long as you realise that you always have a choice – either to bow down to norms and pressure or curve out a path for yourself. 

This book turned out to be highly inspiring and motivating without making it a drag to read. I would recommend every woman to pick this book up because it has something that we can all identify with – our reality!

Mother of two girls, amateur athlete, part-time writer, management school drop-put, entrepreneur, in full time employment with the world’s largest escorted touring company and the woman behind the Active Holiday Company, Gauri Jayaram is a little bit of many things and still not satisfied. She frequently combines her love for long distance running with rock music.

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Tell us about your experience of working on your debut novel –‘Wise enough to be Foolish’.
It was fun. Since the book was based on my own life and experiences I could put it down in 4 days. Thereafter I took over a year to edit it and bring it to the level it is at currently. 

Writing - getting published - marketing... Which was the most difficult phase?
Marketing, even if I am a hard-core marketer. When you are marketing a product, you can get others to do it, whereas a book revolves around the author and 24 hours in a day suddenly seem inadequate. 

How has being a published author affected/changed your life?
Apart from getting busier, in no way really! 

How difficult was it to fictionalize certain portions while trying to keep the characters true to their life?
Since this story draws from my life it was incredibly easy to sketch out the characters. But, from the beginning, there were a lot of characters and that’s when it became necessary to fictionalize by condensing many people into single characters. 

You have led a very interesting life – some may call it unconventional too, but if you were given a chance to go back and change one thing, would you take it? What would you do differently?
If I could have resolved my relationship with my parents it would have been a happy ending on all accounts but the perfect life doesn’t exist and this is what makes the story real. 

The book reflects upon all aspects of Life –Love, Friendship, Career, Ambition… If you had to choose one aspect of it to send out a message to the people, which would you choose?
The name of the book and the story deliver that message: that in the end, a life well lived is better than a safe life. So my message is to get out there and take some risks – in every sphere.

The strongest message that we get from the book is that of the strength of a woman. What, in your opinion, is the first step that needs to be taken to improve the present status of women in this country? What can we do?
It begins at home - we need to stop pretending that only the goddess idols we pray to deserve our respect but we can be insensitive to the way we treat our daughters and sisters. We need to teach our boys as well as the girls that girls deserve the same opportunities. 

There is always at least one person who hates your book - how do you deal with it?
I take it in my stride and smile. Once you get out there, there will be people who will love you and people who will not – part of the game.    

What's next? Is there another novel already brewing in your mind?
I do have a couple of things brewing in my head but it will take some time to put them out there – right now I am completely focused on promoting Wise Enough to be Foolish. 

Is there anything that you would like to say to the people who are yet to pick up your book? 
I would love to hear from them once they are done reading!  

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