Sunday, Nov 14, 2021 08:15 [IST]
Last Update: Sunday, Nov 14, 2021 02:38 [IST]
A SE special report…
Sashi Sherpa was just a girl seeking freedom from a restricted society. As a student, she hadn’t even travelled until Siliguri by herself. As she grew up, an adventurous spirit took over her and she made a pact to herself to visit a new destination every year. She has been in the hospitality sector for almost 11 years and has visited places like Bali, Vietnam, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Greece, etc. every year, until the Covid pandemic happened. The hospitality sector where she belonged was hit the hardest.
From living an action-packed life to staying idle through the pandemic was hard on her and was slowly deteriorating her mind. To find solace, Sashi decided to complete her book ‘Four Blades of Grass’ she had started almost five years ago. By the end of September 2020, a female author from Sikkim was born…
The 38-year-old hails from 5th Mile, Tadong in Gangtok. Sashi is an alumnus of Holy Cross School and Deorali Girls’ senior secondary school. As a student of Sikkim Government College, she also had a stint in journalism in Gangtok-published weekly ‘Weekend Review’ and has also contributed some articles to a web journal dedicated to East India. There after she moved to Delhi and was working in BPO, until she realised she wasn’t made for it and her life wasn’t as interesting as she expected. She joined Absolute Hospitality Services (AHS) 11 years ago and has since never looked back.
In an exclusive interview with TGIF!, the ‘Four Blades of Grass’ author talks about her journey so far…
When did you first realise that you wanted to be a writer?
Sashi: My journey of writing started way back when I was in college. I used to work in a journal called ‘Weekend Review’. It happened as soon as I completed my +2 during 2000s. I was there until I completed my graduation and moved to Delhi to pursue my career. When I first moved to Delhi, there was a lot of hype about BPOs/call centres and somehow I landed a job at one of the BPOs.
The main reason I wanted to move to Delhi was because I wanted a break from the monotonous life I was living. I was born in a conservative family and I was bit of a rebel. (laughs!) I wanted to break that and go somewhere where I could work on my own.
As I was working in the call centre, after almost three years, I realised that it wasn’t meant for me. It wasn’t bringing out the creative side of me. It was a boring job and as everybody knows, you are repeating the same lines to almost every customer that you are talking too.
Thankfully, during this process I had a friend who was working in the hospitality sector, who referred me for the job I am in right now. I was called for an interview and was selected. It’s been 11 years in the industry now.
When I joined the hospitality sector my life turned out to be hectic in a way. It required me to travel a lot for business purposes. After sometime, it turned out to be exciting and I realised what I was missing out in life. In the process, I actually couldn’t think about writing though I think I always had it in me. I was an avid reader since I was a kid.
Around five-six years ago I had just started writing ‘Four Blades of Grass’. I hadn’t even completed three chapters at that point in time.
In 2020, the hospitality sector was hit the hardest due to the pandemic because the travel part came to a complete halt. I had never been so free in life and so the pandemic was slowly pushing me to depression. There was so much time in my hand, and I didn’t know how to utilise it. So much time in my hand actually made me go bonkers. That’s when I thought of completing what I had left five years ago.
In a way, writing gave me a purpose in life again and helped me to overcome depression.
What is ‘Four Blades of Grass’ all about?
Sashi: ‘Four Blades of Grass’ is basically a fiction novel based on the lives of four working women who are stationed in Delhi. Three of them are from Sikkim, while one is from Uttar Pradesh. The story highlights the journey of four different girls and their personal issues. The most noteworthy about the novel is their friendship. It glorifies friendship of women who are living in a different city, away from their family. It also highlights the issues of each woman.
The novel starts as an easy read but I have tried my best to highlight important and serious topics like molestation, gang-rape, dowry etc. The book also revolves around love and heartbreak.
Alisha, Pranita, Sarah and Reena, go through their own respective lives and despite everything, they manage to stay together and solve each other’s problems.
Sashi: So far, I haven’t received any negative feedback on the book. All my readers have said that they can actually relate to the book. It’s the small things and I am happy people are able to relate to the issues that have been highlighted in the book.
Some also said that the book is like a script that can be made into a Netflix film. These days, films on OTT platforms are not glorified and are related to life. I am glad people can relate to what I have written.
Not everybody reads novels, and most of my friends who never reads completed the book in two days, which made me really happy. Also people from the age group of 18-50 years could relate to the book.
Where can we get the book?
Sashi: The book is currently available for purchase in Amazon and Flipkart. In the next week, the physical copies will also be available for purchase in Rachna Books and Simsar Bakery in Gangtok. This is basically to cut down the cost of delivery for people of Sikkim.
Sashi: I don’t follow a particular writer as such but Khaled Hosseini is a wonderful writer. Amish is also a wonderful writer.
Sashi: I am currently working on a new book that is basically a travel journal, from a point of view of a middle class woman travelling solo. The book is half-way through and is scheduled to be released by November, next year. I am writing about my own travelling experience and I have many stories to share with my readers.
I have come from a background where I never even travelled till Siliguri until college. When I started my job, I was paid handsomely and I made a pact to travel to a new destination every year. My first solo trip was to Austria, Europe and I have so many funny stories to share. Making awkward conversation with strangers.
I also want to inspire women to travel.
I also have a third book in mind. It will be based on a love story of a North Indian and North Eastern couple.
- ISABELLA GURUNG
Inspirational, heart-warming and brilliant! ‘Four Blades of Grass’ is an inspirational, entertaining novel based on the lives of four working women living in Delhi. Hailing from different parts of the country, they possess their own sets of challenges and idiosyncrasies. Despite intrinsically being a light-hearted story of the four friends, it doesn't shy away com exploring darker themes like molestation and death. The characters are imbued with different shades, making them real. Yet, they are eminently likable, and you feel like rooting for them till the very end. A brilliant, heart-warming novel by the first-ever female published writer from Sikkim.
- PANKAJ GIRI, author of 'Fragile Thread of Hope'
Keeps you glued till the end. The graceful fluidity with which the plot, that is interesting and intriguing, moves forward keeps the reader glued to the book till the end. The story laid bare the aspirations, hopes, love, struggles, the inner conflicts of four ordinary women who are not so ordinary in the way they dealt with life.
The author has been able to achieve this with a liberal dash of empathy for their everyday struggles and their varied realities.
The novel has been successful in leaving an impression on the readers' minds not just through its plot but through superb character portrayals.
It's a good novel in that it is successful in catering to the needs of both heart and mind.
It delights but at the same time makes the reader think and reflect.
- YUMITA RAI, Gangtok
Brought back my hello kitty pants days. This is simply beautiful. You captured friendship, the female bonding which I feel is absolutely essential for every female to have, and the romantic fool that I am, I also felt thrilled to read those parts and the hello kitty pants tore me apart, took me back to my past, something that doesn't pain me anymore but you stirred those feelings and I cried there.…Half review.
Feelings now: I feel you have touched my soul. Can't wait to buy the hard copy.
- TRILOCHANA RAI, Gangtok