A love song to a country
She started her journey 10 years ago as a young girl who wanted to run away from home to a foreign land, where she could be free from the “countless number of aunts, uncles and cousins who somehow always have a say in your life.” But as the years rolled by, she couldn’t help but miss her homeland. Speaking about her second book Return to India - A Memoir, which was recently released in the city, Bangalore-based columnist and writer Shoba Narayan says, “My book is a love song to a country — India in my case.”
Having extensively analysed the pros and cons of living abroad and in India, including topics such as where it is better to raise one’s kids, Narayan reveals that the conclusion of her memoir is based on a very fundamental passion. “A passion for the country, the smells and sights, that are so distinctive here in India,” she says. Though she had the option of what she chooses to refer to as “reporting” the ‘moving-back-to-India situation,’ a straightforward memoir is how Narayan chose to go about it. “I could have easily interviewed others who have been in my situation and reported it. But with a memoir, I felt like I could write much more from the heart.”
The initial response to the book has been phenomenally touching, gushes Narayan, who has previously written Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes in 2004. The author has globe-trotted quite a bit in the last 10 years before she moved back to India. People have told her that her it’s as if they’re reading their own lives in her book and all of them have one question: what should I do? I have a good job, ivy-league education and everything here is good. But yet, it feels like something is off. Should I also move back to India? “I have sort of become a bit like a counsellor,” laughs Narayan, bringing to memory the numerous times she’s had to encounter such questions in the recent past. “There is an easy way out — I can give a glib of an answer. But since I’ve gone through the same thing, I want to help them out,” she says, before nervously adding, “But don’t hold me against it!”
In Return to India, which took a 10-year struggle to finish, post moving back, Narayan has ended the book with many unanswered questions. The most important one being ‘What happened after she moved back to India? Was it good, was it bad?’. “There’s going to be a second book,” Narayan simply puts it.