Bookaholicanonymous today brings to you an interview with author Rita Chhablani, who not only writes but is involved in various other activities like teaching Yoga and working for the cause of education for girls. Get to know this interesting writer…
About Rita Chhablani: She alternates her time between India and Chicago. Rita has written lead articles for reputed Indian and International newspapers. A popular yoga teacher, she went on to author her first book The Joys of Yoga. At the College of Dupage, Chicago while doing creative writing courses, she and her American author friends founded a highly active all women critique group. She is also a dedicated member of a writers group in Pune. Having worked for UNICEF, the cause of education for girls is very dear to her heart. She devotes a lot of time in teaching English to girls from less privileged households.
When and how did you start writing?
I grew up in the small desert town of Adipur, Kutch. With my father being a genius in English literature, it was a natural genetic evolution for me to start writing at a very young age. Had no choice, I guess! Years later laid up with a fracture in bed, I wrote a popular tongue in cheek article and sent it to The Indian Express, and there was no looking back. I was also a columnist on Yoga for Maharashtra Herald. I contributed to international newspapers when in Chicago. It led to a natural culmination to my finally penning books. A love affair of sorts with the written word!
Tell us something about your book on Yoga?
The Joys of Yoga is my first book and holds a special place in my heart. I used to teach yoga to ladies from various International Embassies and in the American Embassy School in New Delhi, under their Adult Education program. In 1989 they goaded me to write a book on yoga as a memento to take away when they returned home after their posting, thereby leading to the book’s birth.
What is the story of Cross Connection all about? Is it a regular boy meets girl story?
Cross Connection is a suspense thriller. The story is about fate bringing two diametrically opposite young girls together. After their lives entwine, neither will be the same. Boy does meet girl, is one of the things that happens in the course of the dramatic twists and turns of the story, but it is not the main focus.
What made you set your story in the hills/Himalayas?
Himalayas, especially the area around Dharamshala and Palanpur has been dear to me and the aura around the place has always beckoned me. Maybe it is because a very special human being resides there…the Dalai Lama whom I admire a lot, or maybe it all started when we were posted in Bhutan, seeing the monks there. The ‘Call of the Hills’, I guess.
Despite Odds is a collection of short stories about women, what makes the lives of women so interesting?
‘Adjust’ is the first word a girl hears the moment she is born. She is expected to be voiceless, may be even faceless, in a patriarchal set up, yet unknown to her the fire of resilience burns within her. All it requires is a spark. My protagonists too have complex and challenging issues in their lives. One day a choice presents itself. It could change her life and will have a ripple effect on those around her, but she needs tremendous reserves of courage. Does she have it to take the jump? It is an interesting watch.
Do choices that women make affect their lives drastically? How?
Even simple choices women make can affect their lives drastically, for choices are made for her since birth and she is supposed to obey. Besides, choice means a change can happen and change is not welcomed and can meet with opposition. So, according to me, wisdom in ‘choosing choices’ is the name of the game! And patience… One step at a time! And one step after another!
What kind of battles do women face every day according to you?
A big challenge facing women is patriarchy. Regardless of her education or abilities, society fosters the perception that women are less qualified and less competent than men and that a strong and intelligent woman represents a problem and is a disruption to the social order. That will be the day when parents greet the birth of a girl with equal pleasure and expectation as the birth of a boy and when girls do not get marginalized. Unfortunately, many times, it is women who stop women from advancing or choosing differently.