As a friend and I walked in apprehensively to the venue wondering what was in store at this GurgaonMoms event, the warm sunlight in the open terrace of the Nowhere café greeted us. The Gurgaon skyline along with the vibrant colours on the ladies who’d reached ahead of time to win the early bird books added to the excitement in the air that usually accompanies a book launch in this group of avid readers. The ever so warm Upasana M. Luthra, co-admin GurgaonMoms Book Club was there to greet us and I met Yashodhara Lal, author, corporate professional, fitness trainer and a GurgaonMom of three. I had read the book she was launching, When Love Finds You, and we got caught up in a brief discussion of the book. You know, what I thought of it, little somethings about its cover and the usual chit chat that we ladies delve into.
The event proceeded amidst warm cups of coffee and masala chai administered by the handsome owner of the place. Neela Kaushik, she needs no introduction on this page, introduced the two dynamic speakers, Yashodhara Lal and the popular journalist, author, entrepreneur and founder of SheThePeople.TV Shaili Chopra. Neela raised important questions on gender bias in the workplace, which were effectively answered by both the speakers, who touched upon cogent solutions, unique ideas and some popular ideals that resonated with the crowd of bright, intelligent and aware GurgaonMoms present at the event.
Some points that struck a chord were:
- Gender bias exists in the workplace, either as an unconscious underlying current or out in the open.
- Both Yashodhara and Shaili opined that the human element in every role irrespective of the gender should be what’s important at the workplace, hopefully such an ideal workplace is not a long way to go.
- Yashodhara quoted an ideal she believed in as a corporate professional, “People may forget what you said or did to them, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”
- Shaili felt that women often get caught up in being liked by everyone. Meet your KRAs instead.
- When asked if a woman can have it all, both Yashodhara and Shaili spoke about choices. Some women might look like they have it all, but they’ve made choices too. Everyone has issues and everyone has choices, choose what’s important.
- Shaili felt fiction, such as Yashodhara’s book, were a step forward and could help break stereotypes about women in the workplace. • On the question of support systems back home, both felt it could take you a long way in maintaining a successful career. Though, both speakers depend heavily on a support system back home, examples of success without one exist and a lack of it need not stifle a woman’s goals. J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, a case in point.
- Some tips for budding writers that came out in the discussion included the heavy inspiration that Yashodhara drew from her life for her books.
- The last word from author Yashodhara was the premium she placed on being respected at the workplace over being liked.
That sums up the lively discussion that ensued with the two magnetic personalities and here’s a review of the book that brought about the discussion.
A Corporate Love Story with Mellow in Between When Love Finds You by Yashodhara Lal is the story of Natasha, a badass boss, as the blurb rightly mentions. In fact, I would go a step further and call her a mean, aggressive, go getter. Though a go getter for numbers she is, love evades her list of priorities. Sex, although, seems to flounder somewhere mid-way with the book beginning with her “wanting to consider married men.” Why so? You get to know through the course of the book.
The plot meanders around the corporate corridors of an organization in Gurgaon with all its politics and hierarchical dynamics. With Rishabh the charmer and Renu the competitor creating turmoil, Nikhil seems to be the only ray of hope she looks forward to meeting at work.
Her home front includes a crochety old neighbor, an unrelenting friend and a nonexistent family, all taking a toll on her health and career.
As the book tapers towards a close, Natasha does manage to hold on to her team and achieve targets, owing to the stability brought about by her relationship with Nikhil and closure of various sores open from her past.
In this fast-paced novel, Rishabh’s character has been beautifully etched out as the conniving, manipulative charmer and Renu fits in perfectly in her HR role. The mellow in the book is Mrs. C and how seamlessly her relationship evolves with Natasha. Mrs. C’s character is relatable and brings to mind faces from our neighborhoods as we read through Natasha and Mrs. C’s escapades.
The character of Nikhil seems to be there only as a background love interest for Natasha to fall back to. Read the book to find out how that happens.
Though, I would have liked for Nikhil’s character to be more evolved, the book does well with the tongue-in-cheek retorts when needed. There are some fabulous punches Natasha manages to deliver to Mrs. C and Rishabh that satisfy the unmentionable mean desires in our individual hearts.
I would recommend the book for the corporate life and the witty retorts and, of course, the grown up love story that it is.
MomSquad Leaders: Malavika Singh
GurgaonMoms Book Club Co-Admin : Upasana Luthra