Book on parenting with a difference!

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Author Shunali Khullar Shroff, in conversation with Varsha Verma, reveals the realities of a parent in today’s ultramodern, supersonic, and chaotic world in her debut book titled Battle Hymn of a Bewildered Mother. As much with life, parenting in the new millennium does not come with an instruction manual. If you happen to be a girl about town, a super successful career woman, a must-live-each-day-as-it-comes kind of person, impending motherhood can be as imposing as a trip to outer space without an oxygen mask. Battle Hymn of a Bewildered Mother isn’t just another run-of-the-mill parenting book, in fact it is opposite of everything you know.

Shunali Khullar Shroff“Well, this book is not for someone who is looking for an insight into raising a perfect family. There are books that fill you with self-doubt and there are books that reassure you. My book aims to achieve the latter. It aims to assuage your guilt and feelings of inadequacy as a parent by drawing attention to the fact that you are not the only one struggling to fit into the stereotyped image of a good mother/father and thus it encourages you to embrace your inner goof with ease,” tells Shunali Khullar Shroff, author of Battle Hymn of a Bewildered Mother begins her journey as someone chronically devoid of what is naturally termed as the maternal instinct. But in spite of her misgivings, she eventually realises there is nothing else she’d rather be doing than burping her babies while avoiding all traces of tranquilisers. This brilliant, whimsical, bumpy tale of everyday madness has a voice of a mother both honest and hilarious.

It aims to assuage your guilt and feelings of inadequacy as a parent by drawing attention to the fact that you are not the only one struggling to fit into the stereotyped image of a good mother/father and thus it encourages you to embrace your inner goof with ease.
From exchanging her corporate suits for messretardant mommy wear, from balancing work clients to battling two girls’ questions and demands, this book is a journey of a mother constantly walking on thin ice over the Bermuda Triangle. Based on the principles of lunacy and humour, Shunali Khullar Shroff reveals the realities of a parent in today’s ultramodern, supersonic, and chaotic world.

Response so far…

On asking about the response to the book so far, Shunali replies, “As a first time author, I wasn’t expecting trumpets and bugles but am surprised by the number of people who have enjoyed the book. Some of these are the followers of my blog but most of them are people I do not know who have heard about the book by word of mouth. I am pretty overwhelmed by the kind of wonderful feedback that is coming my way by means of e-mails and social media.” How the book

came up…

“There was a lifetime’s gap between my days as a journalist and a blogger. I took to PR and then raising my own two children during those years. Then I took to blogging a few years ago. It was instant gratification because people read and responded right away. A friend whose opinion I value used to read my blog regularly and she suggested I put together a book about raising two children, and more specifically two girls in this century. This world is very different than the one I grew up in. We had normal childhoods which did not include gadgets, poor language, zero physical activity and Justin Bieber. I write about a lot of things on my blog, parenting was just one of them but I decided to take a stab at it and that’s how the book came about,” she shares.

“It took me a year to put it together with some unwelcome interruptions. Then a few months to clean it up. Once the manuscript was completed, I sent it to several publishers directly, without an introduction, merely with the help of addresses on their websites. I heard back from three of them in quick succession. When I spoke to Ashok Chopra, MD, Hay House, a publishing veteran and an author himself, I got the feeling that he truly believed in my writing and decided to go ahead with them,” shares Shunali.

Nothing like writing…

“Anais Nin famously said that we write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. I write because there is nothing to do better with my time than reading or writing. It makes me feel like me.

I have an insatiable appetite for reading and as a writer my desire remain to be honest and occasionally amusing because I like to read books that amuse me and make me think at the same time. When I start writing, it is like starting on an exciting adventure as one never knows with clarity how it is going to end up sharing and sometime bringing me a surprise too. But yes, the first line is crucial to the rest of the chapter and even the book and one instinctively knows when that line is not working,” tells Shunali.

Hardest part of writing a book…

“In my case the hardest part is getting started. It is true for almost all writers, from what I read and hear. For me the other challenge for my book, being a hands on mum, was to set that time aside for writing without the cacophony of my children and the rest of my household. I know of author friends, who shift to Goa or a cottage on a hill for months to be able to produce prodigious works. As a mother of small children, I do not have that option. I also lack self discipline as a writer, which is such a pity because if I was the kind of person who could rise at five am to write, I might have written half a dozen books by now,” she laughs.

Advice to debutant authors…

“Read, read, read…every single day. And keep a diary. Don’t be in a hurry to get published, be sure of your work first. If it does not fancy you, it will fancy no one else. The other thing I want to say is that you are never too old to start writing,” suggests Shunali.

Books are the best…

In this digital age, where do books stand? “I am deeply concerned about how gadgets, though they are marvelous inventions and improve our lives in many ways, are also doing irredeemable damage to this generation. With these gadgets, youngsters are all likely to develop cervical and psychological problems in due course. I would say that books will help you understand life and human nature better than any game, app or television show.

WhatsApp and FB will not build your character the way books will. Imagine all the places you can travel to and all the lives you can lead through reading? This is something I say to my own children all the time,” concludes Shunali.

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