BENGALURU: Jhelum Biswas Bose was previously the beauty editor of various lifestyle magazines in India. That she loves flowers is evident, given her being the founder of the flower-based eponymous beauty brand, Jhelum Loves. After personally having witnessed the benefits of flower therapy, Bose then decided to pen a book on it, which resulted in Phoolproof: Indian flowers, their myths, traditions and usage. Excerpts from an interview:
What was your trigger for writing this book?
I always knew that I wanted to write a book and several times I had been approached by editors from publishing houses to write a book on ‘beauty’. However, themes never quite worked out. And then I started studying alternative healing systems and got trained in bach flower therapy, aromatherapy, chakra therapy and transformational yoga. When I saw the way these therapies worked on myself and those who I helped heal, it triggered me to write about them so that it reaches many more people.
How did you go about doing research for the book?
As a therapist, I knew what my subject was but I tried to learn more about similar healing therapies. I started talking to ayurvedic doctors and started focusing specifically on books that have been written about flowers. Each book, each encounter with a healer taught me to see and perceive flower power in various dimensions. I even approached chefs and mixologists to experiment with flowers in cooking and infusions. The part of research that I loved the best was finding out myths and legends about flowers. That triggered my imagination and the poet in me, which in turn inspired me to experiment with prose and poetry in a non-fiction format.
You’ve spoken about how your connection with flowers deepened your understanding of the world around you and of yourself. Could you please elaborate?
Bach flower remedies is all about this. The 38 flower remedies each have a characteristic... A sort of personality and the more I studied each remedy, I became more aware of myself and others. For instance, I didn’t think my volatile temper is not usual, it was getting worrisome. I turned to bach flower remedies and realised that cherry plum remedy is one that resonates with my lifestate: A remedy that is associated with violent outbursts and a fear of losing one’s mind. Slowly this remedy made me realise that I needed to address deep seated fears and then I moved on to taking aspen remedy. Remedies gently nudge you to become mindful.
What were some challenges you faced while writing this book?
I wrote this book through one of the most difficult times of my life. I was battling anxiety and depression and at this juncture surrounding myself with flowers and writing about them worked as my goal and mission in life. It helped me transform the most difficult times into the most creative period.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about flowers while working on this book?
Flowers don’t wait for acknowledgement to bloom. It blooms no matter what. And despite the harshest times, when a flower blossoms it heralds hope and joy.
Have you always seen yourself as a writer? What has been your inspiration as a writer? Yes. My inspiration has been my mentor Dr Daisaku Ikeda. His life and his teachings have inspired me to write about something that will touch many more lives.
Can you walk us through your writing process for this book?
I synchronised the book writing to important dates of my life. My proposal got approved in September, and that’s when I was determined to write and release the book by September 8, 2019, which is the first anniversary of Dr Ikeda completing his serialised autobiographical novel New Human Revolution.
How difficult or easy is it to get published?
Publishing in the traditional manner is difficult. Unless you have a theme that can appeal to many others, your book will not see the light of day. It has to have solid content. Well, I wanted to write fiction based on my healing therapies and I also wanted to include poems. My editor,
Gurveen, gently guided me to make it non-fiction. But in spirit, the book is what I wanted it to be.
Do you think marketing plays a role in the success of books?
Of course! You have to put the word out, make the right noise. But unless you have good content, like anything else in life, you can’t really go to far. Disarming honesty I feel is the most charming aspect of marketing.
With the digitisation of books, have you moved to reading books on screen or do you
prefer the old-fashioned books?
I love to hold books, smell them, dog-ear pages... Books, for me, give a multisensorial experience.