Choosing one’s career path isn’t an easy task, unfortunately, it frequently determines the rest of our lives. Why do I say unfortunately? Because, in many cases, it happens that our profession doesn’t really reflect our true interests. If we add to it all difficult working conditions, disappointment and bitterness caused by a common professional burn-out, we can create quite an explosive mixture, which either destroys us or gives us strength to make the right decision, whose final outcome will result in the change of one’s professional career. Making such a choice isn’t easy. While being teenagers we approach certain matters related to our future and our work rather loosely, however, when we become a bit older, we gain broader perspective, which makes us notice certain risks related to both staying in a boring and unsatisfactory work, as well as to the ones that may surface if we follow our hearts and we choose a career path, which will be our passion and our everyday adventure.
There are people who are not scared of trusting their own intuition and skills, which are very often totally unrelated to their current occupation. Making a breakthrough decision wasn’t easy for them, however, despite all the adversities and comments coming from their family and friends, they had their own way and this milestone step turned out to be the best one in their lives. Today, I’m truly pleased to introduce you to a woman shaped by various cultures and world views, the woman who wasn’t afraid of listening to the whispers of her heart and to her own vision of dreams, which have accompanied her since childhood – Subhashini Prasad will share her story with you, she will also tell a little about the way how her hard work was received by the readers, who have had the opportunity to get acquainted with her bestseller book.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Subhashini: I am Subhashini – a cocktail of cultures, having been born in India, raised in Indonesia and worked in America. As a young professional, I spent over 12 years in Consulting and Banking before I decided to become a writer. My debut book is called Not Really Indian and was ranked among Amazon’s top 100 bestsellers in the first month of release.
An avid traveler, I have visited more than 40 countries and currently call Gurgaon home, where I live with my husband, 5 year old son and 2 year old daughter. I also enjoy dancing and playing badminton when I find some time for myself.
Passion Piece: You were born Indian, raised Indonesian and educated American. How has this combination of cultures and different world views shaped you as a person?
Subhashini:I am very fortunate to have different pieces and nuances of each culture pinned to me for life. Every time I crave my morning chai, I am a true blue Indian. Whenever I think about living a carefree life and being very hospitable, I tap into my Indonesian days of living life King Size. And when my mind wanders to identifying opportunities to grow professionally and financially, I thank my American colleagues and friends. I truly respect every culture regardless of their political differences and unique food habits and believe that any country can be called home. But, living in three countries has also left me confused on where I truly belong and that’s when my first book was born : Not Really Indian.
Passion Piece: You’re an ex-consultant who used to have a stable job and a steady income. Why did you decide to quit your career?
Subhashini: Three years ago, I sat in my office in a commercial bank, running through financial analysis and numbers, when I thought: “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?” The answer as you see today, was obvious. Since I was 11, I wanted to be an author. Days of reading Enid Blyton and Harry Potter inspired me to create stories of my own. While my career was prolific, it didn’t give me joy and didn’t give me an outlet for creative energy.
I decided that if I don’t act on my passion now, I will always regret it. That was the kickstart to my writing journey and has led to my debut book: Not Really Indian. I have also written my first kids book, titled Hoo and Hau, on Storyweaver.
Passion Piece: Why did you decide to become a writer? How did your adventure with writing start?
Subhashini: Being an author has been a dream that I had shelved for too long for several reasons : fear of the unknown, financial stability and self doubt. However, I have been writing all my life – for the school magazine, poems on a blog and stories on motherhood on my Instagram page: @dosaiamma. My English teacher at school and creative writing professor at college constantly told me that I am meant to be a writer but it took me a long time to believe that. It wasn’t until 2018 that I got the time and courage to write my first book.
Passion Piece: Writing a book is a time-consuming process and requires lots of dedication from its author. What inspired you to write ‘Not Really Indian’? How did your work on this project look like?
Subhashini: Writing does involve a lot of dedication and it also demands distraction-free time. As a writer, I am not very disciplined and take steps to ‘find the flow’. Finding the flow involves planning plot lines and chapters, taking creative inspiration from daily life and research. It also involves writing without distractions. Since I have two small children, I used to sit at Starbucks to avoid all distractions for half a day and finish writing until more words wouldn’t flow. And continued writing after the kids went to bed every day for four months. The inspiration to write Not Really Indian came in 2008 when I realised the story of an Indian woman living in Indonesia and America had not been told before. First written as a novel, Not Really Indian was then converted into short stories to make it less of a memoir and to match my writing style which I have been told is more apt for short stories.
Passion Piece: What was the most difficult while collecting the stories of Indian women that were described in the book? Can we find there your own story?
Subhashini: All the short stories in Not Really Indian are fictional but take inspiration from real life characters. The story Goodbye, My First Love is loosely based on my life when we as a family moved from India to Indonesia for the first time in 1989. Every time I made new friends or encountered incidents that pertain to the theme of Not Really Indian, I had made notes in a journal or on my phone. The notes made over years came in handy when I crafted each story about women and their journey in India and abroad.
Passion Piece: Did you expect your book to be such a success?
Subhashini: To be honest, I didn’t. I knew the stories will find an audience because the emotions behind each story are so real. However, when Not Really Indian was ranked among 100 best sellers in the first month of release, I was thrilled. If the response from readers had not been so encouraging, I might have reconsidered taking the writing path. I feel very grateful to readers who have advocated my book and shared rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as soon as they finish reading the book. In fact, one reader came up to me at the book fair in Delhi and said she finished my book overnight and can’t wait for my second book. Such feedback keeps me motivated and validates my decision to become an author.
Passion Piece: You also wrote a book for kids. Can all writers be so versatile?
Subhashini: Of course! Everyone has a story to tell. And writers have just chosen the path to share those stories. So, whether it is for kids or adults or pets, a writer can share any story she puts her heart into.
Passion Piece: What advice would you give to everyone who would like to try themselves in writing?
Subhashini: There is a famous quote by Somerset Maugham : “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” My advice would be for every writer to find their unique style of writing and believing in it. Also, like any other profession, writing requires patience and persistence. Do not give up until you see the book of your dreams on the shelf.
Passion Piece: Was it worth changing your career path? Should people always follow their dreams?
Subhashini: I see writing as a lonely and individualistic profession. There are times when I miss being around young professionals and the financial independence a stable career gave me. But it was definitely worth giving my career a break to pursue my dream. I believe everyone should chase their dreams but also be resilient to failure and be flexible to alter their journey based on personal demands and situations.
Passion Piece: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What hobby would you like to take up?
Subhashini: I enjoy dancing, playing badminton and baking in my free time. I would also like to learn an instrument and martial arts whenever time permits.
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Subhashini: In 10 years time, I hope to have a series of books to my name.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Subhashini: One of the best advices I have received is a quotable quote by Dennis Waitley: “Choose your passion, not your pension.” The best journey will be the one you carve for yourself. Go for it!
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I can’t wait for the next book you’re going to propose to us!
I hope that my today’s interviewee will encourage you to change everything that disagrees with you and to pursue everything that will make you the best version of yourselves one day. Our life writes best stories… it’s just enough to believe in oneself. May the Force be with you!
See you around!
Photos by: Subhashini Prasad