“What drove you to do this and what’s it about?”
I had a simpler answer the first time I was asked that question in the summer of 2009. It wasn’t a sales pitch and neither was it an explanation. All it was, was an honest acknowledgement.
“Boredom,” I’d say. And then I’d shrug my shoulders.
What followed from the other person was a perplexed glare. The kind that said, “you don’t quit your job because of boredom. Stop being coy and let us in on the plan.”
That was the first time that I’d realised that there existed a look that could unnerve me into offering coherent logic behind my actions. I’d always believed I was flaky – six months at a time is how I took life; but could I have gone that far to not have a plan at all?
So I’d fumble through the warehouse that is my brain and conjure something or the other that would satiate the questioner. Of course, each answer was tailored to suit the taste of the audience.
“Oh, I needed to understand the country. Really get what it means.”
“It was one big holiday, really. Just needed the rush of an adventure in life.”
“Someone needed to offer something deeper and real than the superficial stuff that the mainstream media was offering during the elections. It’s about making a difference and highlighting realities.”
“Well, perhaps this was just me being a masochist and engaging in self-flagellation by traveling ceaselessly and living in horrid rooms.”
“It was a thought out exercise. I now plan to make this into a book.”
To be honest, I don’t think any of the above were true-at least not alone in themselves.
However, what stuck was the last thought. And when that last thought became a goal, is rather difficult to pinpoint. Before I knew it, time was whizzing by. Rejections came aplenty as did appreciation. And then came the deal.
Before I knew it, I was signing on the dotted line. And once again the same old question began to raise it’s head. Each time I answered it, I gulped down the uneasy lump in my throat.
“Mate, you can’t be that clueless. You need a proper sales pitch. You’re not just writing for the heck of it now. This thing needs to sell. Think like a marketeer,” the voices in my head rambled on.
So each time I was asked that question, I sat up straight, my fingers wrapped around a pint of beer (there’s nothing like a good beer 🙂 ), and offered convoluted replies, until I discovered the most important trick of marketing.
For all the jargon and spin in the world, there’s no greater sales pitch than the truth.
So now as I sat in the confines of a pub, selling my product to potential and skeptical customers, they asked: “what’s the book about and what drove you to do this? More importantly, why should we buy it?”
I told them the only thing I could, and as honestly as my inebriated state permitted me to.
“It’s a take on Indian society and politics. It’s not an academic tome, though. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to traverse its landscape without undergoing the drudgery of the journey. Experience it first-hand, while I perform the role of a guide, directing you to the places that you perhaps wouldn’t venture into as a tourist. It has something for everyone: the political enthusiast, the eager traveler, the thrill-seeking youngster and the noble philanthropist.”
“In the end, all that I can hope is that just like me you emerge with a few answers about the mystery that is India. But more importantly, I hope that as you turn the last page, it leaves you with far more questions – the answers to which you and I can continue to seek…”