In conversation with Hansa Pankhania at the launch of her 4th Book, at the Institute of Directors, Central London on 28th May 2019.
AUM Consultancy owner Hansa Pankhania’s latest book BEST OF THREE WORLDS is a memoir of her life.
It has a powerful message that puts diversity into context with the present Brexit Dilemma. It is a passionate soulful account of life as a British citizen and three generations under British colonial rule, an enchanting recollection of a childhood in Africa and an adult life in Britain overlaid throughout with Indian spiritual and cultural influences. The book is out now, so what better time to ask the author a few questions about it…
Why do you write?
To reach out to as many people as possible and pass on ways of being happier and healthier. Articles, blogs, books are ways of reaching out and connecting with people.
When did you start writing?
When I recognised the power of storytelling. We were considering content for the AUM newsletter and decided to write a case study in story form, to pass on the message of reducing stress and achieving success. I wrote one story inspired by a client, then another and another and eventually it became my first book.
Why did you feel the need to write a memoir?
The memoir again uses the same concept of storytelling. It is not written from an egoistic perspective but from a point of wanting to connect at a deeper meaningful level with people (in this instance my readers) and pass on messages of ways to live more resourcefully that make you happier and healthier.
How was the process of writing your memoir?
The process of writing my memoir expanded the constraints of what I thought was possible for myself. The process allowed me to move into a deeper, more authentic version of myself.
It was an incredibly rewarding journey. At times, it was also challenging. But I like being stretched and I enjoy that journey of growth.
One source of tension and conflict in my story was living and bringing up my future generations in the land of previous oppressors of my father and grandfather. It helped me to emphasise the importance of forgiveness and the humanitarian values inherited from my parents.
How is your memoir different from others?
There is a larger deeper meaning behind my memoir. I hope I have been able to put this across and connect to readers on this meaningful level. The moral of my story is that in the end it is not the place, size of the house or material things that matter. What matters is the people. Especially the need to be with people who show unconditional love and acceptance, and basic common-sense humanitarian values, which have been passed on to me through generations.
Memoirs are not normally narrations of historic events; they are personal stories about the things you remember because they are important to you but in this memoir, I have done both. Everyone has a story or two to tell. As time passes, these precious personal and family memories can be lost.
How did I begin?
All I needed was my memories, a pen and a few sheets of paper and once I started to type onto my laptop, the direction opened up by itself.
What was the starting point?
I pondered on what the headline would be that would describe my incredible life journey. Once I came up with this, I jotted down some memories that made my life eventful. Who was involved? When did it happen? Where was I? What was I thinking, feeling and sensing? Why do I remember this event?
Every memoir has a beginning, middle and end. I had to come up with an opening sentence that set the tone of my story from the context of my present life. An irresistible “hook” that connects me with my reader, who wants to then carry on reading.
I also reflected hard on my existential experiences and the lessons I had learnt. I asked myself “What is the point of my life, of me on this Earth?”
After a while, I had a title, an opening sentence, a list of important details, and a conclusion. Then it was time to connect the pieces. Everything I needed was in my head and heart. Once I started writing I could not stop. I knew which parts funny or tragic, and which parts were important that I could not tell the story without them.
I aim to continue to use the storytelling medium to pass the health and happiness message. Recently I was on a writing retreat and have written children’s stories that pass on the happiness and health message using imaginative children’s metaphors. So look out for that.