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The Whole Shebang is Lalita Iyer’s latest book about ‘the sticky bits of being a woman’, speaking to all women, no matter what their circumstances.
As author Lalita Iyer mentions in the introduction of the book, The Whole Shebang is not about ‘How to be a woman’. Simply put, this is not a self-help guide that will give you the secret recipe on how to be that ‘Superwoman’ who has everything sorted in life: from her hair to her makeup, from her career to her family. No, instead this book talks about the various aspects of womanhood and the author’s experiences with respect to those. And that is what makes it so much more interesting and endearing than any damn guidebook, because it helps you realize that no matter who you look up to, every woman is going through the same shit!
This book is like that friend you crave to meet, hours fly by while you chat with her over a cup of masala tea. You can be your own messy, bitchy, cranky, ridiculous self because even she will be the same and both of you will have a gala time talking about all the things that are good or not so good in your lives. It will not make you look at your own life in shame and feel how little you’ve achieved compared to your all sorted, multi-talented, friend who’s living a perfectly curated life. No, this book is a friend who is your own kind of crazy. At least it was for me. Someone who will tell you, ‘Big deal, you’ve goofed up in life, it happens to the best of us!’ That is the beauty of this book. You’ll have so many ‘Me too’ moments while reading about the author’s (mis)adventures while she courses the paths of womanhood, just like all of us. Be it her relationships with men or with finding the right lingerie, her love for food or how she defines her home, her experiences with raising a child and how she dealt with her marriage and in-laws, there are so many times when you’d simply go, ‘Wow! Me too!’
The icing on the cake is her narrative which is super humorous and feels like a breezy chat. The length of the chapters is perfect for you to read a couple of those on your daily commute or in between your busy schedule. You can also read the entire book in one sitting on a two-hour flight, or when you’re in mood for a light yet heart-warming read.
Since this book deals with the various aspects of our lives as women, some of the parts will resonate more with you than others. For me, the part about how a full-fledged beauty session at the salon is required for women to step outside their houses or how uncomfortable our underwear or bras were, seemed a bit too forced in their humour. I am in my thirties and I do not feel the need to go to a beauty parlor or to have a through scrubbing, waxing, and polishing session regularly. In fact, since the time I’d acquired a lady’s razor and an eyebrow trimmer, I don’t go to the parlor at all (except for haircuts).
Similarly, in cases of bras and panties, I’ve discovered ones that are utterly comfortable without harsh steel wires pinching into my skin or a piece of flimsy G-string riding up my butt crack. I’m sure there are a lot of women like me and more so, there are plenty of women who DO NOT have the means to spend a bomb either at a beauty salon or at a lingerie store. Of course, it is the author’s experience and I admit that can vary from the reader’s, yet, I suspect most women do not really have either the time or the means to spend a fortune on such aspects of their lives.
However, there are other parts that felt totally relatable to women across diverse economic segments and social strata, such as the way we deal with the need to accommodate our periods with every other activity of our lives. You’ll nod your head along when she mentions:
‘Balancing your period with the rest of your life was what the rest of your life was going to be.’
There are small nuggets of wisdom steeped in humour sprinkled throughout the book that makes it a pleasurable and overall, a relatable read. Her take on the way we women relate to friendships, relationships, marriage, parenthood, careers, or even our finances will make you reflect upon your own life – sometimes you’ll laugh out loud, and sometimes, you might even take a couple of notes as to the things that could be improved upon. This book feels like a memoir and as they say, there is a certain universality to human experiences, therefore, her wisdom and observations will make you a feel somewhat enriched once you’ve finished the book.
So, all in all, this is a book which in turns will make you laugh, nod your head in agreement, feel annoyed thinking about how the same things happened to you, and go ‘hmm…’. But most of all, what this book does is to remind you not to take your life so damn seriously. You have got this one quirky, messy, beautiful life and so the onus is on you to listen to your heart on how to be the best version of yourself, someone who will truly make you happy from within!
Go get it ASAP and enjoy the humour and the wisdom of a beloved friend in between its pages.
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Image source: Lalita Iyer and Amazon