When I read Disha Chhabra's book My Beloved's MBA Plan, I was left with mixed emotions; all positive ones, and recommended it to a lot of my friends who would be going through similar situations soon. How does one cope when they are all settled in life suddenly, one partner wants to go back to school? And inspirational book, all the way. Here is a conversation with author Disha Chhabra:
Congratulations on such a huge success of the book! Did you expect it to be so well received?
Thanks so much Samarpita. The response has been heartening, overwhelming and humbling. The book has been well received by people of all age groups. From my friends to their parents, from students to corporate professionals, everyone has loved the book. The motivating part is that everyone is already asking when my next one is coming out. I think the underlying theme of balancing career and personal dreams has struck well with the readers. I am thankful to all the readers who trusted a first time author and picked up their copies. The book could not have become popular without their support.
Untouched topic, in a way. How high was the anxiety?
True. I did not want to write just another love story. I wanted to carve characters with whom everyone can relate to. The anxiety was all time high, given that it was my first book and a topic which people might find ‘niche’. Even today, every time someone tells me they have read my book, I am anxious to know the feedback and keep my fingers crossed.
Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?
When I started writing, I did not care if the work would indeed find a publisher. I was writing because I wanted to write. At a later stage, despite a few publishers rejecting my work, I never lost hope. Back of my mind, I would think that even in the worst case, I still have the option of self-publishing. Fortunately, the editorial team at Srishti liked the manuscript and then there was no looking back.
Speaking to so many couples, getting them to talk about their trials, failures and learnings must have been tough. Was it a difficult?
I would say it was a big learning experience for me. Having spent so much time on campus with these couples, I really respected their trials. Some stories like that of ‘Vidhi & Gaurav’ , ‘Suraj & Priya’, ‘Geet’ made me cry. Some others like ‘Vivek and Divya’ , ‘Monali & Mangesh’ taught me the power of true love. Every time, I would interview such a couple, I would feel blessed to be knowing such people, where their love stands rock solid amidst all the challenges life offered to them.
Was this topic a conscious choice?
It just happened by chance. I was sitting at the college mess dinner table when I overheard a conversation between two friends of mine. One was telling the other how he was in IIM-C and his wife at IIM-A and how they were talking about ‘corporate finance’ over their dinner talks. This was something unusual. Instantly, I decided I will write a book on this topic and called up a friend couple for the first interview. The experience of interviewing them further strengthened my belief that I wanted to write this book and get these love stories to everyone.
How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you.
I have been writing poetry, articles and short stories since my childhood. My parents would support me and like my work. So, the idea of becoming a published author was always in my mind. I even had other plots in mind on which I was working on. Somehow I could never pull myself out of the inertia and would just keep postponing it. But when I decided my first plot would be on real life couples, there was no stopping. I knew if it had to be written, it had to be written in the one year I spend on campus.
Is it difficult to write with a full time job?
Frankly no.I keep noting down whatever ideas come to my mind and write either on my way back or at night.But there are times when I do wish and prepare myself for taking it up on a full time basis.
What do you do apart from writing? Give us a sneak peek into the real you!
I lead the Delhi Chapter of an NGO called, PickaFight. Every month or so, we pick up a social cause and fight against it. This month, we are working on the cause of disability. I feel a lot is to be done to make the world a better place. Everyone has to come forward to do their bit. If at the end of our lives, we have been able to make a stranger smile, it will all feel worthy.On a personal front, I like to spend time with my mother who means the world to me. Her life is my biggest source of inspiration.On Sundays, I ‘torture’ my family, (especially my younger brother) with my cooking experiments.
What next? New genre; or you would want to stick to anthologies?
My next one would be on a social cause. I am already working towards it. Hopefully, people derive learning from it and become more socially aware of their own responsibilities.
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
I like to read Robin Sharma, Dr. Stephen Covey, Radhakrishnan Pillai (fondly known as ‘Chanakya Pillai’). Their writings give important learnings as food for thought and make me a better person.