My journey behind Shaadi-ka-Laddoo.Com

Reading…well, avid reading happened late in my life. Suddenly the world of fiction, humour, self- help, drama and fairytale came closer - a bit of kind of place to hang out in early 30’s…

Often in those days I used to wonder, ‘Ok, what If I write’?’ hmm…’maybe but what’? ‘There are so many streams that engage my interests… what should I write about?’ ‘where to make a start’?

Not that writing was alien to me…. I have been in the field of PR for over a decade and content drafting has always been a part of my profile ever since I started my career. At first, it was on paper, then formal writing and slowly I added blogposts, articles and even school curriculum writing to my kitty.
…but writing a book…I was still not giving a serious thought to it.

Back in 2013, after much persuading from a friend, I decided to join Toastmasters club in Kuwait. I sensed it to be a good way to network with new people, give a few speeches (which I thought I didn’t need to do anyway but no harm in enrolling…I was wrong though. Just after a month of joining it with two speeches to my name, boy! I was wondering. What took me so long to come to Toastmasters’. I need improvement in my stage speaking acts) After a year of giving speeches at the Club, I was coaxed by fellow toastmasters to compete in the Club Level Humour Speech category.
That’s what I kept saying as I continued evading filling up my nomination for a month but one day I surrendered to my friends’ pestering. I registered myself to the 7-minute humour speech category. (My friends found me funny sometimes on the stage though I was still not convinced about their convictions.)

Just a fortnight before the contest, reality dawned upon me that I need to prepare for the speech.
The challenge – What should be the topic? Now, all those well-wishers who pushed me into signing up for the contest – stepped back when it came to a topic.
“how do we know, what is your comfortable funny topic”? “Think yourself, you have to participate, we will cheer you” were the only reassurances I got from them.
Finally, it was after reading an article on the ostentatious Turkish weddings which sparked an idea for me. ‘What are you writing man? We Indians, specially, we Punjabis, are we any less?’

Thus, began my speech writing journey over next 4 days. It was not very difficult for me to pen down line after line in the speech plot. After all, I have personally regaled, danced, gossiped, shopped like crazy and seen the typical wedding madness since childhood. Wherever I felt any punch was missing its zest, I dialed my mom and took a real time check on that typical situation from our flamboyant wedding culture and added the extra bling to my script.

My speech script was made, I rehearsed with Navniit(co-author of the book), who proofread my script many a times and added her side of the masala too..(Between Navniit is a category higher in Punjabi Community – A Sardar) I was absolutely sure of the credibility of the sarcasm in her notes!!
I still remember, on my speech day, she gifted me a little hair accessory which completed my look as someone heavily decked up to arrive at a big fat Indian Punjabi wedding.

Till date, I strongly feel it was that hair accessory – a lucky charm- that brought me victory in the contest. Not only, did I win at the Club level, I won a trophy at the district level too competing against star orators from other clubs.

It’s been 5 years that I moved back To India but the two trophies still stand tall on the bookshelf in my house. They make my cheeks swell up every time I narrate my victory tales to my guests.
Anyway, I was still in a state of wonder as to what should I write about. I think, I almost forgot about it but what did not leave my chai-time chats with Navniit was – the toastmasters’ speech and the drama around it.

One fine day…Year 2017…
Navniit and I were chatting over tea, we spoke about the weather, politics, toastmaster’s speech (again!) and how funny this whole matrimonial game is. These newspaper adverts about Bride looking for a grooms and grooms looking for all-rounder champions errr brides errr soulmate and how these adverts are now sophisticatedly upgraded into online dating and matchmaking. As we were laughing out loud over it, suddenly there was a flash of idea – at both ends.
That’s how it went -
“Oh God! There should be a book about these bizarre advertisements on online match-making portals!” “A Book????”
“‘Yes, A book! And I gave a speech on weddings in 2013 where people really ROFL’d. It still is the talk of many toastmasters’ clubs)”
“Got our theme! Let’s write!”

As if the God of internet of match-making was listening to our conversation, over next 5-6 months, we heard of some funny, some weird, some sad and some insane online match-making stories in our friends’ circle, things happening at a neighbor’s aunt’s place to correct the stars of her son who was not getting married, the brouhaha around online dating, cues from my toastmaster’s speech etc. etc…Not only did all these tales entertain us, we continued to build our story plot with some real and some fictional anecdotes that came our way.
Here, I ought to make a special mention of the Whatsapp and Skype free phone and video calls and our wifi facilities that helped us connect endless times in a day over months and months.
‘Jug Jug Jiyo, Sada Free aur Tez Raho’ says my hearts for these modes of communication.

Turning some real and some fictional experiences into a tale over 100’s of now forgotten calls, working documents (another 60-70 Word Files, I guess), mind rattling (coming up with fiction- pun intended) reaching out to multiple publishers, 100’s.. no.. 1000’s of hours of waiting time – for publishers to respond, some heart-breaking rejections and some encouraging wishes but sorry, we won’t be able to publish your work - emails – it took us over two years to finally reach at Shaadi-ka-Laddoo.Com. (link to website)

Do I feel euphoric already? Is an understatement
Don’t we all feel pride when we see our labour of sweat and toil turn into reality?
Our labour of 2 years has turned out into a light and a feel-good read. It is an everyday story of an everyday girl who is around us, maybe within us. The plot will connect with every boy and girl looking to get married and of course with their mothers too! :P (I love the mom’s character – it reminds me of a samosa with extra spicy tamarind sauce!)

A note of appreciation for our Publisher – Readomania Publishing – for believing in Leena’s tale and for turning our dream, our quirky chai-time chats - into a real book. Dear Dipankar, Rima and Indrani- Keep reading our future Manuscripts.

With my seatbelt tightened up, I have boarded my first flight as an Author into the space of book writing with Shaadi-ka-Laddoo.Com. I hope, You - the Reader, will have some seriously LOUD laughs and will enjoy your journey of reading Leena’s chucking encounters of finding a suitable groom.

Navniit and I would love to read your feedback on the Book or your own funny encounters on online/ offline match-making websites. You never know, Part II may soon begin…Dipankar & Team – Ears Please.

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