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Living life on her own terms

PREETI ZACHARIAH
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BOOK Active-holiday advocate Gauri Jayaram debuts with a semi-fictional semi-autobiographical, Wise Enough to Be Foolish

FULL OF BEANSGauri JayaramPhoto: Bhagya Prakash K.
FULL OF BEANSGauri JayaramPhoto: Bhagya Prakash K.

Ifelt I had a story to tell and I shared that story,” says Gauri Jayaram, at the release of her debut novel, Wise Enough To Be Foolish — a memoir of sorts that captures a young woman’s journey, growth, and evolution. “It is partly autobiographical but there is an element of fiction to it — mostly to make it palatable for public consumption. Names have been changed, a few incidents have been fictionalised, many people who are my friends are squeezed into a single character, but this is to a large extent based on my life. I am driven by real life people and situations and have always found fact more interesting than fiction.”

Life has indeed come full circle for Gauri — an intrepid traveller, pavement pounder, mother of two little girls, regional director of the world’s largest touring company, entrepreneur, student, and now writer.

Talking about her life, she says, “My father was from the armed forces and so I ended up studying in schools all over the country. Then I went to Bombay and ended up staying there for 11 years — it is the longest I’ve stayed in a single place but I was very comfortable in that city. I did my college there at the Sydenham College and then went on to do an MBA at the Narsee Mohnjee Institute of Business Studies but dropped out towards the end, because I was bored.”

She then went on to join the travel industry and has been part of it for over 20 years across various segments including hotels, airlines and tour operations. “I’ve always worked in this industry because I love travelling and I take a minimum of two vacations a year. There is a bucket list of places I want to go to that gets longer and longer, though my time is getting shorter and shorter.”

Another ruling passion is her love for running. “I started running in my mid-30s and have done several half-marathons. I’m turning 42 next year and I hope to do my first full marathon (42 kms) to mark that turning point,” she says. “Running helps me focus, brings peace to everything I do and is great equaliser in my life. It shrinks my mountains — if I feel I am dealing with something very huge, I just go out running and it sort of makes things alright for me. Running is my me-time, it allows me to introspect and get into my zone. Much of the edits and clean-ups in the book have come up during the running. It also helps me not kill people,” she says with a wry smile.

Sports have always been a huge part of her life and in addition to her job in the travel industry, she also runs her own company, one that promotes active holidays. “I have a passion for sports and I want to promote more outbound adventure sports and spread a love of active holidays among Indians. We are not active enough and there is this preconceived notion that active holidays are not safe — I want to dispel this notion.”

Ask her about her daughters and a beatific smile spreads across her face, “I love spending time with them, they are so cute and cheeky and we have a lot of fun together.” Girl-power is certainly something Gauri possesses. “I’ve never been the sort of person who stopped herself from doing things because she was a girl. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do — I do things because they serve the purpose of happiness in my life and not because I’m supposed to do it. From having a live-in relationship, to marrying a Muslim guy and divorcing him, to marrying again, to venturing into active adventure, a male-dominated terrain — I’ve always lived life on my own terms. You will see that a lot in the book.”

PREETI ZACHARIAH

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