Story Behind Heartbreaks & Dreams!

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 21:41 — parulmittal
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Lot of my friends ask me how did I get down to writing a fiction novel. Me of all people, who was never on the school's editorial board (well, except a semster when I was the Hindi Samiti rep at IIT-D - more by lack of choice than by choice). It surprises me as much as it surprises others . Yet as with many first-time authors, the true answer is "It just happened". However, there is a bit of story, a bit of inspiration, and a lot of circumstance behind it. Here it goes ...

One day my husband, who is one year my senior from IIT Delhi, brought home a fiction novel 'Five Point Someone'. He said Chetan Bhagat had written the book and gifted him a copy. I was a bit surprised. For one, I didn't know my husband was good friends with Chetan. No harm in the friendship, just that I was unaware. Second, Chetan was my batch-mate and he had written a book. Now, that was cool. I got very excited and read it cover to cover in a single night. I simply loved it. It brought back so many memories of the good, old college days. All of a sudden, I had this very strong urge to tell the world that we the girls also exist. I knew that the girls were a minority back in college, but I had been fighting for women equality all throughout. I had spent four years of my life at IIT Delhi and I was Chetan Bhagat's batchmate. Surely I could write ... if I tried hard enough. This is the thing with IIT folks, they are confident about everything. They think they can conquer the world. However, I had only written technical reports and research papers so far and creativity was not my forte. Besides, things change a bit once you get married and have kids. With work and two little girls, I just didn't get around to doing anything else. I was struggling to strike the work-life balance.

Life went on as usual. I used to work six hours a day. Everyone told me how lucky I was to have a part-time opportunity. I agreed with them as this is not a norm, here in India. I had proven to the company that I was good. I could deliver in six hours what others did in eight. With so much talent crunch in IT industry, I was confident they wouldn't want to let me go. It wasn't a dream job, as I had to give up on promotions and work under my juniors. But it allowed me to spend time with the kids while hanging on to the corporate ladder. The hope was that I could start climbing it up, when I had more time.

One fine Monday morning, I was going through the usual routine of compiling the last week's status report. My manager walked by and asked if he could have a word with me. This wasn't really strange as he often just walked by to discuss project progress and give his inputs. Luckily, in our office boss calling didn't mean, drop all the work and run. As I was in the middle of some work, I decided to finish my report. I reached his room after about fifteen minutes and he asked me join him in the conference room. This was a bit out-of-place. We usually talked about work in his room. The conference room was used only for large meetings. Anyway, like in every other office, you still follow the boss. I stood in front of him, across the table, in this huge, very cold room. The air conditioner was always at its maximum here. He started off by asking how the project was coming along. I felt good as we had made substantial progress.
"How are things at your home?"
"My mother-in-law is still recovering from appendicitis. But the kids are doing fine."
"Can you join us full-time?"
"I don't think its possible." It was very clear in my mind that I couldn't work full-time. I didn't want to reach home in the evening after a long grueling day, already half dead and briefly meet my kids. This is what their dad does. I wanted more from life than two hours with my little angels.
"I hope you understand, but a company our size cannot sustain a part-time manager any longer."
What the heck was he saying. This can't be true. We have had these discussions before and he had always said 'Fine, let me know when you can take on more'. I was from the IIT, with over ten years of work experience. They needed me. They can't just be telling me to get lost. They could never find a replacement as committed and intelligent as me. I was just TOO GOOD.

"Make sure you send the email before leaving. Its important that we respond promptly." I told my team-mate. It didn't matter that I had just been given an ultimatum, I was still a sincere employee. I glanced at the bottom right corner of my computer monitor. It was already half past two. I looked at the check-list for the day on my desk. The last two items were still unchecked. I made a mental note to work on them tomorrow morning, before checking my email. I gathered my bags and walked hurriedly, feeling horrible. Everyone around still had a job. I looked at my mobile as I waited for the lift, in the lobby, outside the office. I reached the basement parking, started my dull grey santro and pressed hard on the accelerator.

For the next few days I was totally confused. I didn't know what to choose between work and life. Tears swelled up in eyes at the unfairness of the situation. Luckily every cloud has a silver lining and this is where mine began. I had quit by the end of the week. I was without a job for the first time in my life. My kids had started going to school from 8 am to 3 pm. I had seven hours of freedom and peace everyday to kill. I could now write about the girls life at IIT.

The final trigger came in the form of a book written by Alok Goyal, a close friend and a senior from IIT. He had written a book about his love story - not for public distribution but just printed and circulated among friends. Reading his book gave me that last bit of inspiration and confidence that I can do it. And so it just happened!!!

Heartbreaks & Dreams! an attempt to give a glimpse into the life inside the Pigeon-hole, as the girl's hostel was called by the other side of the campus.

Comments

08-06-2011

Beautiful narrative...the

Beautiful narrative...the flow is excellent...I've read many readers, but you stand out someway...Finished the book in two sittings, though i could have done it one. And most importantly, i am reading it for the third time..Looking forward to your next book.

14-10-2010

Hey Parul just finished

Hey Parul just finished reading your book. Loved it.
I must say its pretty cool of you to quit the job n start writing..
anyways i have to get to office in less than 6 hrs :)
Imagine i sacrificed my sleep for HAD and still typing this at 3am..
congrats on such a lovely debut It was totally worth it.
So what next...?

15-10-2010

Glad that my book could keep

Glad that my book could keep you engaged enough to sacrifice your precious sleep. I am freelancing now on Drupal projects and will start writing the next book soon ... any ideas:)

15-10-2010

Hmmm... ideas... there are

Hmmm... ideas... there are quite a few.. but i'l be expecting somethin different from u..
u know, cuz.. for instance in HAD, the female central character is not like the eye candy as such. She has her good points n a few drawbacks too... the same goes with other central characters too.. the flaws are all there... I have read a lot of novels n this is wat stood out in yours especially since this was yur debut. Most of the debut novels are like typical cliched bollywood sagas which are predictable n honestly, very bugging... yurs wasn n that was good.
and you're gonna get better.. i know.. :) trust me ;)
my God am blabbering....
anyways hows yur kids.. yur husband n is yurs a love story too...? *din't wanna intrude just plane curious*

*cranky thought* - *have you tried reading chapters from HAD for them on their bedtime.. :P*

-Shrinivas

18-10-2010

Good to hear your

Good to hear your viewpoint.
My love story is definitely a topic on my mind for the next novel ...
My girls will read the book soon enough - I don't think I want to read it to them at bed-time.

cheers,
parul

21-09-2010

i was gifted this book by my

i was gifted this book by my friend on my birthday . i love reading books specially love stories , on seeing the cover i thought it might be a good book and indeed i found it to be a book worth reading but one thing at last i really could not understand was that did TANU marry CHAMP at last or was it PIYA who married him?

22-09-2010

It was PIYA who gets engaged

It was PIYA who gets engaged to Champ.

20-08-2010

if at all your charachters

if at all your charachters are based on people you knew at IIT.did your protagonist make it as an enterpreneur?

08-06-2011

My protagonist is based on

My protagonist is based on multiple girls at IIT and they all made it as entrepreneur eventually, though not back in the 90s ...

15-07-2010

Hi, I just randomly came

Hi,

I just randomly came across this book while searching on net. I have a boyfriend from past 5 years who is in IIT and i have been only n only listening wht happens in a boys hostel....n how exactly they perceive the girl hostels:):)I think your book will surely give me change....

Thanks!

08-07-2010

Hey :) remember me?? U had

Hey :) remember me?? U had given me a tip off about the book? Despite having sworn off any more IIT based books there was something about ur site or the summary of the book that I couldn't help buying it. Am now thru and will be posting a review soon :)

08-07-2010

Thanks .. am looking forward

Thanks .. am looking forward to your review ...

Parul

28-06-2010

I just wish you luck and hope

I just wish you luck and hope that it lives upto my expectations, which have been raised by the simple facts tht it is about girls tht too of IIT:)

13-06-2010

Just came across your

Just came across your website... was checking for books online and found this book among top sellers.. Havent read the book, but looking forward to reading it. By reading your blog I get an idea that this will be an interesting read. BTW, please add more details to the website about yourself. Its interesting that you say 'I could deliver in six hours what others did in eight" ... makes me wanna read this book.

Wish you all the best...

Regds
Pradeep

21-05-2010

hi parul, First of all, I

hi parul,

First of all, I like to congratulate you for writing such a nice novel.I enjoyed every bit of it.Just writing this letter to mention two things which I found a little off the hook as I can feel that you are very particular about details written in your book.

1) Please check page number 15 ,para 2, last line: "To the uninitiated , this is the same John Nash of 'Life is beautiful' fame"....well , I think the name of the movie was"A beautiful mind"..Please correct me if I'm wrong.

2) page number 150, first para , last line:"Listen,I thought you were my pals,Aren't you sorry for me?"..here this line got repeated in the very next sentence.

I truly admire your talent and looking forward to see more from you.

regards,
chayan

21-05-2010

Both points noted -- will

Both points noted -- will have them corrected in the next print.
Thanks
Parul

29-04-2010

Nice to see your novel

Hi,

Saw by chance your web site on surfing for IIT on google in office free time. Did you add interaction of 1st year in Maths tutorial classes also. I started feeling some sweat on your appearance after it in ex hall, sem hall and convocation hall. Wish you a happy future with Alok Mittal and two daughters. I'm married with a son. I feel I also work on database and websites in .NET so something in common still.

Best Wishes,

Mohit
B.Tech IIT Delhi 1995 (CSE)

26-04-2010

Congratulations

Hi Parul,

It is really exciting to hear that your book is out. I read all about it on your website. Your blog about the story behind writing the book touched my heart. Sometimes it feels like I am the only one struggling to find the right balance between work and personal life. It was heartwarming to read such honest words from you. I am sure your book will be wonderful.

Good luck,
Kanu

16-04-2010

Amazing Novel

Parul,

I read the book end to end (just as you did reading Five Point Someone!) and it is really an amazing novel. The characters are well chosen and the storyline is very impressive, making the reader interested in knowing what will come next and glued to the book.
This kind of takes one back to college days and refreshes lot of sweet memories that somehow may have faded over a period of time.

A great start!

With hopes of getting to read Season 2 (Just as all books and movies have!) soon..

Radhika

14-04-2010

Hi..

Hi Parul,

I am almost half way through your book....and I am mostly enjoying it..coming from the first time author, its a fairly good read.

Any girl can easily relate to Tanu and guys get an insight of woman mind (atleast some of it:-) ).

However, the characters are getting bit confussing for me, I am not sure which gal is after which guy and vice versa, LOL. Might be as I proceed with the book I will get a clarity. Also, what I personally feel is that the intelligence of IIT guys.. and gals... has been grossly overrated.. In the first ten pages itself it has been emphasised for atleat a dozen times. Super Genius, topper, and adjectives like that have been used again and again which kind of becomes a drag after a while. This is actually an issue with most of the IIT folks who think they are super humans, which I am afraid is not entirely true.

All said and done, it can very easily be seen that the words are coming from your heart, Tanu's interaction with her Dad is really moving, the way small town girl gets adjusted in IIT, her initial hesitation with the guys is so honest, the way Tanu makes her place in the college is really inspiring, for gals, as well as for guys.

I wish you all the luck and am definetely looking forward for more reads from you,

Cheers,
Dark Angel

26-04-2010

Did the relationships get clearer?

Hi Dark Angel,

Hope you managed to read the rest of the book and enjoyed it!

12-04-2010

Excerpts

Please add some excerpts from your book.

09-04-2010

a honest description...

Your motivation behind writing the book seem refreshingly honest. I look forward to reading it. May be, I will learn some surprising truths about the opposite sex at IITs - which I never picked up despite being your batch mate there.

Best of luck !
Naresh Bansal

26-04-2010

Hope you liked the book

Would love to know if it met your expectations ....

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Parul Mittal (maiden name Parul Agarwal) is the author of a national bestseller novel “Heartbreaks & Dreams! – The Girls @ IIT”. Her second book “Arranged Love” captured the hearts of Indian youth. Let's Have Coffee is her third novel and promises to be a humorous and fun light read.

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