Yashodhara Lal is an author of books like Just Married, Please Excuse and There’s Something About You. Her day job is as a marketing professional, and she is also a fitness instructor and mother of three, who never fail to provide her with material for her blog www.yashodharalal.com. Her latest book is How I Became A Farmer’s Wife.
Was the material for the book really provided by Vijay (husband) and the kids? He really turned into farming and took you along?
I really do get the best of my material from real life. It helps to have a weird husband and weird kids (we call them Peanut, Pickle and Papad — we’re also weird parents). Vijay was the hero of my first book Just Married, Please Excuse and even there, we had a chapter where he proclaims his love for the idea of becoming a farmer. We used that chapter as the prologue to How I Became a Farmer’s Wife, and it was in 2016 that he finally decided to do something about this. I went and rented land and bought seven cows and started operations in dairy farming. A rather tumultuous year ensued, and the kids had a great time, and I got a new book out of it. Of course, parts of it are fictionalised, such as the characters of the crafty landlady and strange babas in the book.
How did humour find a way into your writing. Women and humour are (wrongly) said to be rare.
I’ve always enjoyed humorous books — my favourite writers when I was growing up were Gerald Durrell, Bill Bryson, P.G. Wodehouse and James Herriot. Given that the first and the last wrote a lot about animal or farm life, I was really glad to have the subject matter experienced firsthand thanks to Vijay. As far as humour in my writing goes, my mother will tell you that I’ve always written funny stuff — she’s saved a lot of my creations, works of poetry and stories that should have been burned a long time ago. My mother has a strange sense of humour herself, so I guess people are just really wrong when they say women and humour are a rare combination. In fact, it’s a survival tactic for women. If we didn’t have a sense of humour, how would we put up with our men?
Are funny authors serious in real life? Are you?
I think if you ask folks at the workplace, some of them may say that they usually see the rather serious, even stern, side of me. If you ask my family, they will testify that I’m a real clown. So the truth probably lies somewhere in between; or more likely, in the fact that we all have various facets to ourselves. It depends on the situation, or maybe the time of the month, or the time of day, or the position of the moon, so many things.
A part you most enjoyed writing in this book?
I really enjoyed writing about the farm characters — the rustic lot taking care of the land. We as the city-folks were as much a source of amusement and wonderment to them as they were to us, so in a way, writing their dialogues and reactions also helped me get into their chappals for a bit. It was a very refreshing set of characters to pen down, so that was my favourite part — as well as capturing the innocent, often whacky reactions of my children to concepts around farming — for example, when they expressed their interest in eating dung-cakes.