No More Hustleporn: My mom hired a young writer to sit down with my 94-year-old grandmother in India and document stories from her life.
Tweet by Sahil Bloom
My mom hired a young writer to sit down with my 94-year-old grandmother in India and document stories from her life.
They met weekly for two years.
The process brought my grandmother immense joy—the result will bring my family joy for years to come.
Everyone should do this...
A few additional details on how it worked:
My mom found the writer through an elderly care service in India. Her request was for someone who would record and transcribe stories from my grandmother.
The writer was a recent university graduate named Raika Sengupta.
The process began shortly after the pandemic lockdowns ended in India.
Raika would visit with my grandmother every week.
Depending on my grandmother’s energy, they would meet for an hour or less.
Each time, they would pick up where they left off on her life journey.
Raika would record the conversation and then transcribe the recordings—mostly in my grandmother’s own words, with some stylistic improvements where necessary.
My grandmother is an AMAZING storyteller, so the writing naturally flowed.
The weekly meeting became a beautiful ritual.
During a time when there wasn’t much to look forward to because of COVID lockdowns and a diminished social life, my grandmother looked forward to these sessions.
They made her feel important again—such a powerful thing at her age.
Once the writing was complete, my mother—a beautiful writer herself—took the pen on editing and converting the stories into a book.
She worked with my grandmother on the flow and filling in the gaps.
They added chapters on special people in her life—siblings, friends, etc.
Then came the real fun…
We wanted to add photos to the book, so the whole family got involved.
This week in India, I got to sit with my mom, dad, and grandmother and go through old photos to include.
We uncovered some real gems. It was beautiful.
The book is almost complete.
We plan to have copies printed to present to her on her 95th birthday.
We will have enough copies made so that all of her family can have a copy to remember her by when she is gone.
I really believe everyone should do this.
One of the saddest things is seeing our grandparents feel they are no longer “important” to anyone.
The process reminded my grandmother how much she is loved and how much she still has to offer the world.
I’ll continue to share more about the process as the book comes together.
I’ll write about the process and what we learned in a future newsletter. Join 250K others below.
Please reach out if you have questions!
Cost shouldn’t be a concern:
You can do this as professionally or cost-effectively as you see fit.
On the professional end, you can hire a writer to build out the stories.
On the cost-effective end, just do the recordings yourself and use a simple transcriber tool to convert.
There are software and technology services that can help with this, but to be honest, the in-person interaction was the most important part of the process.
The feeling of real human connection is unmatched.
The bond and ritual that developed lifted my grandmother’s spirit.
This short trip to India was quite meaningful.
Seeing my grandmother after several years was important—being there with my parents and sister was special.
Here we all are with her amazing caretakers (who are just like family!).
Side benefit of documenting these stories in their old age:
You get the raw feelings and uncover some hilarious scandals and stories that you never would have heard.
My grandmother had some hysterical daggers (“yes, I never much cared for her”).
I just checked out
. It looks like a very cool way to do this. I have no affiliation, but it seems worth considering if you’re interested in doing this with your parents or grandparents!
For all those in India who have asked, the wonderful writer for this project was
A big thank you to Raika for the time, love, and patience in working on this with my grandmother!
The care service in India that supported my grandmother and found the writer is
They have done incredible work for my grandmother (and many others)!