At what age did you start writing?
From as long as I remember. Writing has been my unwind button since my high school & university days where I would double up as a columnist as well as the editor for the annual magazines ( I was very serious about it 😊 ) . I’ve also been contributing guest columns, short stories, poetry, book & movie reviews on various platforms since my teens. Besides, I have been a regular blogger ( who blogs daily) for almost fifteen years now. Over the years, my writing ( articles, opinions, reviews, poetry, short stories) have been published in a lot of publications & websites and which has led to a steady & loyal readership that cuts across age groups, geographies & cultural backgrounds.
Name a few authors/ books that you personally admire the most (Fiction/Non-Fiction). If you’d ever get to meet these authors, what is the one question that you’d ask them?
I read about 50 books a year & my reading cart is pretty eclectic that has evolved as I grew older. It is very difficult to pick favorites. I have mentioned a few authors in the Acknowledgements section of my book in a list that is not exhaustive but which contains names that were currently on top of my mind. One question I might want to ask some of my favorite authors is how to ( at times) take myself away from writing. In terms of writing style, I belong to the Murakami (fiction) or Seth Godin(non-fiction) school of writers, i.e. someone who writes something daily, like cranking output which is sometimes good and sometimes okay-ish. But I seldom break the chain. However, I have observed many authors who totally vanish for extended periods of time when they let the content soak into them through a mix of research and solitude. I would love to learn that art of holding back my writing so as to sharpen it in my pauses.
One Superpower you wish you had?
Given the times we are in, I would definitely want to find a vaccine & a cure for Covid 19 & distribute it to the whole of mankind.
What would be your one advice to aspiring writers?
Like Rocky said, ‘Fighters fight !”. Likewise, painters paint & writers write. So if you have a writer in you, get him(or her) out there. We all have that one unique song inside each of us & it’s not fair to show up at the finale with that song still unsung.
Do you have a writing ritual?
I blog daily. The genre is not important for me, nor is the applause. The consistency matters more.
How did ” As you Life it – Work as usual. Life as unusual ” come to life? What/Who was your muse behind writing this book?
Actually the book wrote itself. It’s a collection of heterogeneous articles from over the years, picked from my blog. As an Asia Pacific Leader of a Fortune 50 Organization, I have, during the two decades of my professional career, got opportunities to work with several bright men and women from around the world who have formidable resumes and educational backgrounds, I am nowhere near them.
Having said that, I have but lived a life of sorts and earned a few scars in my own serendipitous journey this far. Like millions of regular folks out there . The Everyman in the subway, the business traveler at the boarding gate , the sales manager waiting at an office reception, the faceless participant in endless conference calls, the middle aged professional holding on to a pride that’s fast nearing its expiry date. Each one of us has a story to tell, a lesson to teach, a joke to share, and a tear to be wiped. If only we could find a way to snare it on print. The story of how we sowed our wild oats, and tried to build a life around it.’
For the rest of the world, India and Indians have always been part of a binary narrative. We are either the land of Gandhi & Taj Mahal, or a country where you can’t trust the drinking water & where cows sit on the streets. We are either a country that produces Nobel laureates who teach at Harvard, or we are a community of ‘Dabba Wallas’ who are studied by Harvard. We are either a land of dreamers, snake charmers & Bollywood ( or cricket) obsessed fanatics or we are a nation bursting at its seams where every second person is an engineer, whether working in a BPO, or driving an Uber cab. We are either visualized as humble & high achieving CEOs of some of the largest corporations of the world , or we are the ‘bad eggs’ in the organization who pull down the average output of a global team with our unprofessional attitude.
But somewhere between the two extreme perceptions, lives another India. The India which my generation of Indians grew from an obscure, also-ran developing nation in the 90s to a global force to reckon with today . Somewhere when all this change was happening, everymen like us were stepping out of the boundary lines of the past & slugging it out in a glocal world, losing some & winning others, but slowly breaking ourselves free from stereotypes we were imprisoned in.
A lot is written about India and a lot is written by Indians out there that shapes the idea of India, from outside as well as from within. India’s image in the world has been largely painted by armchair Indian intellectuals and stereotypical Hollywood movies on India. Most people in the west try to imagine India through the lens of crappy BBC documentaries and pretentious books written by Indian economists teaching in Western universities. I’ll let you into a secret. That’s just the outer India . There is another India within . The real India ! An India that wakes up when there is a crisis. The India where half a billion people start their day with a smile, even without a guarantee on their bread for the day. The India where the same half billion people go to bed every night wiping a tear , but nursing a dream. The India where professionals jostle for space to stand on one foot inside a crammed rail compartment, but who get to work on time & who write programs that form the backbone of most Fortune 500 companies.
Unfortunately there is very little documentation of the stories of that India. My book is a humble attempt at that. The everyman writing for other everymen.
If there’s one thing that most of the self-published authors vouch for, it’s the mere fact that self- publishing teaches you all aspects of publishing? Is it true? What are your thoughts about the same?
I have had offers for going for conventional publishing too. I chose to self-publish because ‘As You Life It’ is the first of three books that I plan to bring out and which is part of a longer term plan. I want to have a say in the reach & destiny of these books and did not want to leave that in the hands of the publishing house.
What was your journey of writing your first book like? How did you feel when your book was released?
AYLI is actually my second book. I have published a collection of short stories in the past, a book that I plan to re-launch in 2021 in an improved edition ( & in two parts) with double the content.
If you look back now, how has the whole experience of self-publishing been?
BecomeShakespeare was referred to me by Mr. Swarup Nanda who I have a lot of regard for, from what I have heard from common acquaintances. The experience with the team has been good. I found your team very professional & outcome focused. Keep up the good work. I would especially acknowledge Abhishek Bangera, Sonal Braganza, Devanshi Doshi & Miral Bheda.
Your epitaph would read?
In the end, the good guy wins. Be the good guy.