There’s always something magical about writing, and the setting that makes the words flow. For theatre person Leila Alvares, it has been about sitting at her desk in her plantation. “It faces French style windows, which gives me this beautiful view of the distant hills that magically change as the sun and mist do their thing from moment to moment, almost like I was changing channels on my television. A truly inspirational setting...” she says.
In this setting, day after day, Leila sat down to write the story of her not so ordinary life.
And Once Upon A Lifetime, with its raves, rants and recipes, was born and published in conjunction with her musical production for 2018. With Addams Family, Leila’s musical for the year having run full houses, Leila sits back and talks of juggling writing her autobiography with directing her yearly production. “I’m not sure if this was a case of biting off more than I could chew,” she beams. “I began writing this book two years ago, gave up for a year, and then picked up where I left off again early this year. Then suddenly, I made the utterly mad decision to bring it out in time for this year's production. So, after many, many sleepless nights, neglected children and what seems like a thousand proofreads, Once Upon A Lifetime is finally here.” This part autobiography, part commentary on Leila’s life, found its title after a series of musings by its author. “I had a couple of other titles initially including Rants of a Single Mum and Ramblings of a Single Mum. But, I was never really happy with them. And then, thanks to my faith in the Universe, one day this title just came to me, and it sounded exactly like what I wanted to say!” says Leila. “After all, it was a story about my life - though not as “fairy taleish” as most people think! Also my belief that I have many more lifetimes to go to experience whatever I wished to...” Among its many takeaways, are of course Leila’s indigenous recipes, which leaves us wondering about their evolution. “Well, when you have two hungry foodies for children you have to get your act right,” says Leila. “Plus, I love experimenting, generally with whatever is available in my fridge. My favourite would be the Seafood or Mushroom Lemon Khichdi. It is delicious and the ultimate comfort food, especially on a cold or rainy day. I actually wanted to call it a risotto, but was too afraid of being stoned for blasphemy by all those Michelin chefs out there!”
Recipes, spirituality, life lessons et al, of course inspired by Leila’s muses. “In the muses section of my book, I have listed all the authors who have changed my life in some way,” says the first time author. “My favourite authors are Grisham, Ludlum, Follet, Archer and Agatha Christie among others. In fact, I have all the books written by them in my personal library. However, nowadays, thanks to my dodgy eyesight, I read a lot less than I would like to. I now concentrate mainly on life enhancing authors who write on spirituality like Judith Stanton, Neale Donald Walsch, Eckhart Tolle, Daniel Quinn and Epictetus among others, as then, I can read just a chapter at a time.”
The hardbound edition of Once Upon A Lifetime is priced at Rs 450, with a discount of Rs 50 discount at Leila’s mini launches. Leila has pledged to donate a percentage of the sales towards the rehabilitation and relief of the flood victims of Kodagu - both animal and human. Pick up a copy at Koshy's Chillout, or Call Mohan at 09880048444 to order it.