Everyone who reads this blog, probably knows Monica Bhide. She is a very successful food writer with many books to her name. While her recipes are no doubt lip-smackingly delicious, what I like best is her writing. Her website describes her as "A storyteller at heart" and I can agree no less.
To know more about her, you can read her bio.
Now, all of you know that today is Valentines' Day. It is a day after my own heart and I love the idea of cute teddy bears holding on to chocolates and hearts for dear life. Okay, just kidding, I love no such thing. So, to distract you from a bunch of over-priced red roses or diamond hearts or even teddies, I have decided to give away a copy of Monica Bhide's book "Modern Spice" to one lucky reader of this blog. After all, there is no love greater than the love of food. And after all, I love you all so much.
The only problem being, at this point I can send the book to readers in USA only
To take part, leave a comment on this post, saying "what is your favorite spice and how you use it" and yes, don't forget to mention your e-mail id.
And here is a conversation with Monica Bhide which I had over e-mail.
Monica, I always find your story of changing careers from engineer to food writer very interesting. How did it all happen ? Little of the back story please.
Like many Indian immigrants, I came to the US to study. I earned two Masters' degrees and worked for a Big Six consulting company for a long time. The job paid well into the six-figures and I really loved the people I worked with but somehow at the end of the day, it felt as though something was missing. I kept feeling like I was placed on this earth to do something other than, say, leadership training! Mind you, not that there is anything wrong with that, it was just not my life's calling. Then, out of the blue, a very dear friend of mine passed away. She was only 35 and it really shook me to the core. It was a devastating loss and also a reminder of how short and fragile and precious life is. Her death made me rethink my whole life. So one day, I went in and quit. I gave up my engineering career to pursue my calling to tell stories.
When you took the courage to change your career, did you face any setbacks ? How did you overcome them ?
It wasnt really courage. It was not an option. I felt as though a part of my spirit was dying each day and I had to change something if I wanted to feel alive again. There were setbacks, there always are, but I think the key was to focus on the goal and not the obstacles. There were days that I would worry so much about how I would make this new career work, I lost so much sleep over how I would make money. It was a long time before I realized that all I could really do, all I could really control was my work. I had to work and write and keep writing. Eventually, the obstacles would take care of themselves.
Do you apply your scientific and engineering skills in your creative career too ? How?
I get in trouble when I do this! It works great for the how-to stories but I have to leave that part of my brain behind when I am writing essays. My agent always makes fun of me-- he says he can see the engineer come forth when I am outlining a book, and then disappear when I begin to write and the writer takes over!
You are an acclaimed writer with several books in your name and so clearly you are a success. But what is your advise to the food writers starting out ? Is it wise for them to give up their day job to pursue a career in writing ?
Ah, the million dollar question -- giving up the day job! I really dont know how to answer that one since everyone's circumstances are so different. In my case, we had saved up and I had a very supportive spouse who was willing to support me while I tried to find my legs in this new business. It is a tough choice and I think it is best to sit down and really make an educated, informed decision.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share with us food bloggers ?
Write daily, write consistently, write because you love to write and never, ever, ever give up.
Of all that you have written, pick a favorite.
Oh, this is hard, but I will pick this one - http://www.monicabhide.com/2012/03/counting-peas.html
Today if you happen to meet your 20 old self, what would you tell her ?
Have faith in yourself and remember that fitting in is way overrated