Interview with Ruchira Garg Author of the book The Single Innings

The Single Innings

Book: The Single Innings: An Unplugged Journey of Indian Middle-Aged, Middle-Class Singles
Author: Ruchira Garg
ISBN: 9789356735965
Page: 242
Publisher: Evincepub Publishing

About Ruchira Garg

Ruchira Garg is a seasoned HR leader, career and life coach with over two decades of experience with renowned multinational brands. She is also an active blogger, storyteller, author, and podcaster, covering topics on HR, leadership, culture, and diversity. A speaker at various leading corporate events and management institutions, Ruchira graduated in Psychology from Lady Shriram College for Women, completed her Masters in Human Resources from the Delhi School of Economics, and holds various certifications in management from reputed institutions. She is also an avid traveler who shares her experiences through her travelogue, The Wanderbee. Her keen observation of human behavior fuels her storytelling, with her debut novel, “Soda, Water, Lemon in My Mocktail,” published in 2022, followed by her second book, “The Single Innings.” Ruchira resides in Delhi NCR with her family.


What inspired you to write “The Single Innings,” and how did you come up with the idea of a community for single people?

After I published my first novel, Soda, Water, Lemon in My Mocktail, several readers asked me why I didn’t create a protagonist reflecting someone like myself, a single independent woman, when I began my journey as a novelist. My immediate response to them was rooted in the presumption that narratives about single women held little allure. Over time, I’ve encountered numerous single individuals who’ve grappled with similar biases. They have faced challenges navigating an environment that isn’t particularly accommodating to those without immediate family to rely on in their later years.

These encounters prompted me to reconsider and shift the narrative focus. Thus, “The Single Innings” was born. The novel explores the lives of single people and aims to celebrate their journeys while addressing the overlooked aspects of their lives. The idea of creating a community for single individuals emerged from my observations during countless conversations where discussions about marital status frequently overshadowed other life experiences. This novel strives to provide a platform where singles can find resonance, support, and recognition for their unique paths.

Can you tell us more about how you created the characters Mahira, Agam, Anubhuti, and Rakshit? Were any of them based on real people?

The characters in my novels often draw inspiration from real people I’ve observed and listened to. Similarly, the primary characters in “The Single Innings” were shaped by these interactions. When I develop a character, I typically think of individuals I’ve encountered who embody the traits and qualities I envision for that character. Sometimes, it’s a composite of several people. This process helps me conceptualize the character and flesh out their personality.

For Mahira, Agam, Anubhuti, and Rakshit in particular, I had specific attributes in mind that I wanted each of them to embody. For instance, Agam was designed as an anti-hero, while Rakshit was conceived as his strong contrast. This deliberate characterization allowed me to craft their roles and interactions within the narrative.

What’s the most difficult part of writing characters of the opposite sex?

The most challenging aspect of writing characters of the opposite sex, particularly their dialogues, was capturing the distinct ways men and women respond to the same situations. Men often tend to focus on solutions, while women typically prefer to share their experiences. This difference in communication styles was particularly evident in the dialogues between characters like Mahira and Anubhuti, where the emphasis was on mutual sharing and empathy. Conversely, the interactions between Agam and Rakshit were characterized by brevity and directness, reflecting their dynamic.

In crafting these dialogues, I also aimed to subtly convey the unspoken dynamics underlying each situation, adding depth to the interactions between the characters.

Your novel challenges stereotypes about single people in India. What do you hope readers learn about society’s expectations and the lives of singles?

Through this novel, I aim to encourage readers to question traditional norms that still revolve around life’s predefined stages akin to Vedic ashrams. Our society has long emphasized marriage as the cornerstone of family and communal structure. However, I seek to challenge this perspective by highlighting the importance of community beyond solely conjugal or familial ties for sustenance and support. It is crucial for society to recognize and accept singlehood as a legitimate lifestyle choice, free from negative stereotypes such as antisocial behaviour, disdain towards the opposite sex, irresponsibility, or an inability to adapt.

Why did you include legal aid and pet companionship in the story? How do these aspects help your characters?

Similar to our societal norms, our legal system is often perceived as deeply intertwined with the concepts of marriage and family. Many individuals are unaware of the legal rights and provisions available to them in the absence of immediate family members, which is why I included legal aid.

I aimed to shed light on the fact that emotional support and companionship can be found outside traditional familial bonds, which is why I incorporated the theme of pet companionship into my narrative.

In developing the story, I drew inspiration from various social discussions about what single individuals might feel or be told that they are missing out on. I integrated these themes into the lives of the characters as they navigated their choices to remain single, offering them diverse avenues to carve out fulfilling lives beyond conventional expectations.

Creating a chosen family is a big theme in “The Single Innings.” How do you think this idea connects with readers today, and why is it important?

Our society is undergoing a noticeable shift towards individualism, marked by a decline in traditional joint family structures, rising divorce rates, and a growing reliance on friendships over familial bonds. Despite these changes, our institutional systems have been slower to adapt. For instance, in critical medical situations, one still requires a next of kin to sign off, posing a challenge for those who are alone.

The notion of communal living is not new; people are increasingly choosing to cohabitate with friends and acquaintances. This trend extends to single individuals contemplating shared living arrangements. However, the concept of forming a chosen family introduces a deeper level of mutual responsibility beyond mere social convenience.

Living as a chosen family entails a commitment to support and care for one another, akin to familial ties, albeit chosen and nurtured through shared experiences and values. It promotes a sense of belonging and security that transcends traditional family structures, reflecting the evolving social dynamics of contemporary life.

Your novel focuses on personal growth and self-acceptance. Can you talk about the journey your characters go through and why their self-discovery is important?

The characters in the novel aspire to lead ordinary lives aligned with societal expectations, but their personal experiences compel them to make unconventional choices. It was crucial for me not to portray them as perfect or morally superior. Instead, I wanted them to be portrayed with their own vulnerabilities, lessons learned, and quirks, which makes them more relatable to readers.

Challenging societal norms, particularly in a culture where couplehood is idealized at every stage of life, is a daunting task. The characters’ journey of self-discovery is pivotal for them to reconcile their decisions with a desire for a fulfilling life, free from the regrets imposed by societal expectations. This narrative emphasizes the importance of authenticity and personal fulfillment over conformity, resonating with readers who may also grapple with similar pressures and choices in their own lives. “The Single Innings” celebrates the strength of single people.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and successes for singles in India today, and how does your book address these?

The primary challenge faced by singles in India today is the pervasive stereotype that surrounds their marital status. Society often tends to categorize and sometimes marginalize individuals once their single status is revealed, which can be a constant struggle for those navigating life independently.

However, there is a positive shift as well. We now have prominent role models in various fields who are single and exceptionally successful. Figures like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, widely revered as one of our country’s greatest Presidents, and Shri Narendra Modi, who has served as Prime Minister multiple times, exemplify this trend.

In ‘The Single Innings,’ I tackle these challenges by portraying characters who defy and challenge these stereotypes. Through their stories and experiences, the novel delves into the complexities of single life in India, celebrating the resilience and achievements of single individuals. By presenting these diverse narratives, the book seeks to promote understanding and acceptance of different paths to fulfillment and success in Indian society.”

If you could be a character in any book, including “The Single Innings,” who would you be?

I’ve always admired the character of Ganga in the Mahabharata. She stands out as the sole female character in the epic and perhaps in all mythological literature, for setting a unique condition for her marriage: that her husband would not question or demand explanations from her. Ganga’s choices are unconventional; she sacrifices her sons for a greater purpose. Despite this, she proves to be an exceptionally capable single mother, providing her son Bheeshma with the best upbringing, shaping him into one of the most respected figures in the Mahabharata. Ganga’s character, in my view, was ahead of its time, and she exemplifies the kind of character I aspire to embody in a book.

If you had to describe yourself in just three words, what would they be?

Traveller in Pursuit of Life

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