Anuradha beniwal – a former National Chess Champion, is now an author of ‘Azaadi mera brand’. Her new book is about the inner journey and experiences of a twenty something Indian woman while on a solo-trip across Europe, covering 10 countries and 13 cities. It is a path breaking literature and a breath of fresh air for variety of reasons, the major being; its about a woman, who comes from rural background of India, and takes a supposedly un-heard of solo tour across Europe, within a shoe-string budget, and in that process gets closer to her truer self.
Its atypical in India, for a woman to go on a solo-trip, and precisely that was the reason, which germinated the idea of this book. Like Anuradha states, ‘As women, born and raised in India, we tend to mortgage our freedom in return of social acceptance. We should not be put in such a position. The more you challenge the norms of social acceptance and try to occupy the space which was considered a man’s sanctuary, the more you make the world an equal place for both genders.’ And which is why the book is important, for India.
The book was not a conscious decision for Anuradha, when she decided to embark on the adventure of her Euro trip. She did initially send proposals to popular magazines, offering to write columns on her travel and adventures, but was turned down by them all. Therefore she decided to blog about her journey, and reach out to people through social media. Her stories managed to get her more than 5000 followers on Facebook, and other popular social media channels. It was because of her social media posts and blogs that she attracted attention of Rajkamal Prakashan – a renowned publishing house, who reached out to her, and incubated the idea of ‘Azaadi mera brand’.
Authoring a book is more rigorous and focused task compared to micro blogging. Anuradha was skeptical about the offer, and initially doubted her capabilities to do justice to the responsibility of writing a book. She recalls getting tremendous support from her family and her editor. Her father advised her to detach herself from her emotions during the journey, and write about the character of Anuradha, who travelled Europe, from a third person perspective, and not as Anuradha who she was as a person, as the writer. This is perhaps, the most important piece of advise that can be given to any first timer who is attempting to create content which is autobiographical in nature. A writer can do full justice to an autobiographical content, only when s/he has immersed completely, felt deeply, and then detached him or herself from the situation, and portray incidents in a story-telling style. And that’s exactly what Anuradha did, following her father’s advice. She faced several other challenges while writing, one of them being, developing a denser and more engaging narrative. She credits her editor for guiding her through this process. Wherever she was stuck with the flow of the content, her editor asked questions, like, ‘How did you feel when you were in this situation’, ‘What do you think might have been going on in the mind of your friend at that moment’. And that’s how she managed to glide through the narrative!
Anuradha picked Hindi, as the language of the book, because she felt more honest while expressing herself in this language. Youthopia believes the choice of language gives an edge to this book. A book on Eurotrip in Hindi, somewhere itself debunks the myth that Eurotrip is meant for posh and elite society of India. A reader, from a small north Indian town feels more connected with the idea of travelling in Eurpoe, when reading a book in Hindi! There is a childlike honesty and simplicity in Anuradha’s writings, and reason could be that she is not a very judgmental person. This quality is mention worthy, because the world in itself stands very complicated, with all intertwined situations and emotions. People like Anuradha, who simplify life for you, help the world finding sanity in the chaos. She believes that people and situations are the way they are, and there is no absolute notion of right or wrong. She also believes that women, across the world, are essentially the same, with similar feelings, emotions, worries and concerns!
‘Azaadi mera brand’ is an important book, for several reasons. More importantly it is an enriching read for all those who want to travel, and have reservations about it. Go ahead, pick up the book, and nourish the travel-bug in you!
Photo Credits: David Llada