It’s the first blog interview of the year. Today, I host the author of ‘India was One’ by An Indian where he tells the significance of the name ‘An Indian’, what India means to him as his country of birth and of course, his book which received rave reviews and won hearts of so many of us across the Globe. A book that touched our emotional chords and An Indian tells us about the making of the book.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, An India came to US, New York in 1989 and currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.His book, India Was One, is available, both, in paperback as well as in eBook (for all devices) format. It is available on popular sites, like: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play etc., which can be accessed from anywhere in the world. For reader in India, in addition to it being available on online stores, such as: Flipkart, Infibeam, etc., it also is available in bookstores in Mumbai at Oxford Bookstore and Crossword bookstore. Very recently, it is also available in all the Sapna Book House stores in Bangalore and online with free shipping.
During the interview, the author speaks about the message which is the love for India. Can you take an Indian out of India? The answers lies below:
INTERVIEW: An Indian, author of ‘India was One’
‘You can never take India out of an Indian’
1. First thing I am sure the readers would want to know: why not reveal the face behind ‘India was One by An Indian’?
It is really not important to me who has written the book. It’s more important to get the message across, that we all love India…in our own way.
2. ‘India was one’ has a terrific opening, ‘Suddenly, he saw something shiny at the bottom of the abyss. He ran back to his binoculars and turned them to see what it was. Sharp barbed wires that separated the two mountains came into focus He had come as far as he could in his country. But she was standing in another country.’ Did it form the basis of the book and how the idea came?
I don’t know if it’s a single thing that formed the basis of the book. However, it’s very symbolic of a sad division. It does make the reader think and I’m sure that there are many of us who will be able to relate to it. ‘What if it happened to me? What would I do?’
3. Being an Indian settled in America, your book ‘India was one by an Indian’ takes readers back to the partition era. Were you worried that something like that might repeat again with strife taking place across the globe and the occasional burst of regional divide in the country?
No, I am not worried. However, it pains me to see how many tend to think in India. Although, I have been out of India for a long time, I still consider it as my country. Also, there are many non-Indians who have not visited India have a set notion about India. I wanted to show India from my eyes, the way I see it.
4. Your book was well received across the globe where you expressed everything about India: movies, cricket, love, moving to US and of course the dreaded divide. I believe that you can do with a sequel, touching base with the return of the Indian to his home?
There is more to India than heat, dust, poverty, population, pollution, etc. And many non-Indians, who have read my book, now want to visit India. It makes me immensely proud.
5. Come on, let’s shed the cloak of diplomacy: Were there unkind reviews to the book or someone saying something mean to you? How did you react to that?
I have been very fortunate to get good reviews. However, there was one review on Amazon that rattled my cage. The reviewer wrote: ‘ I had believed there was one main religion and language. I learned there are many religions and many languages. Sounds like a mess!’ I felt like the reviewer didn’t get my book at all. It was EXACTLY the opposite, where I am trying to show the diversity and richness of our culture. And how incredibly amazing it is that people still identify themselves as Indians.
6. Do you think that with the vast resources and different communities, our plurality is what makes us diverse as a country or you fear division somewhere?
As I said earlier, I don’t fear division. However, my book is a gentle reminder of a ‘what-if’ situation. What if India was divided?
7. You also described ‘India was One’ as a book that would bring readers close to their roots. Has you at some point felt disconnected as an Indian based in America?
Me, personally? Never. After all, I was born in India. As I’ve written in my book, you can take an Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of an Indian. It is something I truly believe in. However, having said that, I see that many second-generation kids are struggling with their identity. This book brings them closer to India. As a professor at UCLA wrote in his review: If you are not from India, you probably know a co-worker or a neighbor who is from India and possibly works in the IT industry. You know a bit about him or her but really not very much. If you read this story, you will understand how he or she thinks, the environment in which he or she grew up, in a light, easy, and breezy read. If you are an Indian-American who was born and grew up in U.S., you will also understand a bit more about how your parents and extended family members from India think. Those who grew up in India will relate to the story and the characters in the story immediately.
For the first two thirds of the book, it is a nice story with nice characters – no one is nasty, no one is mean, no one is conflicted but it all seems real though not very deep. The last part of the book has a Kafkaesque quality to it. It is a metaphor for the secular, humanist India of the past that many of us could relate to while growing up but then we suddenly wake up to a different India that reeks of fundamentalism, conflict and differences. The author, who has chosen to remain anonymous, is an idealist who worries that the door to the India of the past may be closed. Permanently? He fears. Perhaps not, he hopes.
8. Your book ends with a question: ‘What is being an Indian?’ Have you been able to find an answer to that?
It was never a question for me. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about me being an Indian.
9. A last question I am keen to know: Does IWO has a streak of your personality or, for that matter, the Taj Terror attack which you use as a backdrop where you took the liberty to ‘fictionalize one character.’ Does the character has a resemblance to someone you may know?
I’ve written my book based on some personal experiences. I guess that’s why I term it as a ‘realistic fiction’, a fiction based on some real events.