Q: Tell us about The Boy from Allahabad and who it will appeal to
A: The Boy From Allahabad is story of the life of an abandoned boy called Balu and his quest for finding the meaning of life. That quest takes him to a journey of ups / downs and frequent crossroads of decisions. Decisions that make his life anything but ordinary. Decisions that take him to the dark side and on a roller-coaster ride of countries, cultures, religion, politics and businesses. Through the lenses of the lead character, the book raises many questions about life choices we all face on a daily basis.
The book has broad appeal that traverses many boundaries. First of all, clearly the Asian community globally who can relate to the story directly. To all who seek to understand the complexity of life and living in India, and the philosophy of East vs West.
It is also an entertaining story of an unassuming boy who went on to become an international mafia don, India’s own Godfather.
Q: You were born and later studied in Allahabad. How would you describe the city?
A: Allahabad is an enigma. It is one of the most understated yet prominent and amazing city at the same time. It has a small sleepy-town feel to it and yet is an incubator of national politicians, strongest lawyers, poets, educational and religious leaders.
Historically ruled by various Hindu and Mughal kings and emperors, this city of Hindu religious significance is still named Allahabad.
It is world famous for Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious mega-festival that attracted over 120 million people in 2013. Harvard et al have carried out studies on the ‘largest gathering of humans’ on Earth to understand the DNA of Allahabad.
I personally find peace when I am in Allahabad, not to mention all the delicious food offering specific to this city.
Q: What were the key drivers for you writing the book?
A: This book was a calling that I simply responded to. I have lived and worked in many countries all over Asia, Europe and USA, and visited multiple others including in LatAm, South Africa and I have been amazed by the similarities and differences of cultures, religion and philosophy. I always try to absorb the best of everything and make a note of the rest. This has helped me better understand myself and frame my philosophy of life. The motivation of writing this book was to channel some of my thoughts. I chose the genre of fiction as the best way to engage with readers.
Q: What challenges did you face when writing it?
A: Amazingly, not many. I had a fuzzy vision of what I wanted to write about. I had written the draft of first chapter and the story had started flowing in my head and heart. I locked myself in solitude for two weeks and simply let the book out. Characters and situations emerged on their own, and I wrote and wrote without trying to resist, that is all. There was limited editing after this two-week period, and the base story itself did not change much.
Q: Your book has an underlying message that people should aspire to be the best they can be. What do you mean by this?
A: The absolute truth of life is death. While we live, we look for ways to survive, to make our lives as comfortable as possible. But it does not have to stop at that. The world is full of people in need of help, and those of us who can, should.
In the growing world of technology and social media, there are plenty of distractions to keep doing petty, meaningless actions as way of bleeding out our lives. Self-obsession and false appreciation from unknown people have a powerful addictive and compounding effect that may tempt one to (falsely) believe that they are living a good life.
But that addiction takes us away from realizing our potential which could lead to a truly fulfilled, meaningful and happy life.
I truly believe that each and every one of us can live a fulfilling, meaningful life for greater good if we focus on realising our true potential. I have a three-steps to achieve this:
- Define your calling
- Pursue your potential
- Never Give Up!
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: In terms of writing, I plan to continue to answer my calling. I have written a short story in the meanwhile and am currently working on my next book about Women Empowerment – once again, the story is told through lenses of the lead character (a woman).
Other than writing, I plan to focus on realising my full potential during this lifetime through various other channels