Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why did I write a book?

Let me first talk about why I took to writing a book. Well, it's not exactly a book I had always wanted to write. When I was a child, and my brother even younger, we both had a dream to become a composer duo, something like Shankar-Jaikishan. 

In those days we would listen to Vividha Bharati a lot. Both our parents were working and we had to spend a part of the day alone at home, under the supervision of an old aunt, who barely had a sight by the time we could widely see things around. We had come up with a game to keep us entertained. One of us would listen to the names of the singer, composer and lyricist when it would be announced before a song and the other one had to identify them. Very soon we both could identify the singers - there was not much choice anyway. But little later we could also identify the composers from their style. The duo that we always identified was Shankar-Jaikishan. We felt his music stood apart. That made them someone very sought after, special, unique. 

We grew up and those days became distant memories of our childhood. But somewhere, whenever I would dream of doing something big, the thoughts of Shankar-Jaikishan would always pop up in my mind. By that time I'd shifted loyalty to RD Burman. I had also realized that becoming a composer was no longer a viable option for me and my brother. But I also realized that the thought of Shankar Jaikishan was just an epithet, a symbol. What actually I wanted to do in life was stand apart, like the music of Shankar-Jaikishan, which we could always identify among all others. So simplistically I just wanted to do something which would make me identifiable in the crowd. Isn't that we all aspire in our lives? To stand apart? To leave our marks in the world so that we may live beyond we live?

Something happened in 2008, when I was actually thinking of doing something in life, different, unique, which would make me stand apart, in the crowd. I was travelling on the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore, the locus of lot of IT companies and also a very deadly road for dogs and humans who cross it anywhere. Many a day a dog lying dead in the middle of the road would be a common sight. But that particular day I saw a dog being hit by a car and die in front of me. It put me off totally. My friend, sitting beside me, stared away from the dog and said, "So now you've seen a dog's death, what we call kutta ka maut, isn't it?". I kept quiet, not understanding what he was hinting at. "Don't worry," he continued, "we all will die a dog's death." I was stunned. "No one will remember us and our existence would be totally erased from this earth, very much like that of a dog. Your absence won't make any difference to anyone. But," he paused. "If you leave something behind, say a song, a book, or anything, however insignificant it could be, may be, somewhere someone would still listen to that song, somewhere your book may lie at the corner of a library..."

Soon I started working on my book.

Whether it's your profession or home or passion, I think you should always strive to do something unique, something that only you can do, something that will have your marks, that will be your signature, your identity. 

Being involved with a startup for the past seven years, I've realized what makes or breaks a business. It's always that same thing, whether you're doing something unique for the customers. In the corporate lingo there's a jargon called Barrier to Entry. Simplistically it's again the same thing. Do you stand apart? Do you do something that only you can do? If not, then your business is at risk.

Coming to the Barrier to Entry, let me talk about the topic of my book. It's a historical thriller, dealing with some interesting aspects of Ancient Indian history, something that connects India with the rest of the world, something that's controversial, explosive. The story deals with things like racial supremacy, the Aryan history, Nazism and other forms of racial and religions fanaticism. The main mystery in the novel is solved with something called Linguistic Paleontology. Robert Langdon had Symbology, Indiana Jones had Archaeology and I have Linguistic Paleontology. Why did I choose such a topic? Again the same principles - Barrier to Entry. I figured out this particular topic, especially Linguistic Paleontology was never used in any fiction.

Reviews of The Ekkos Clan
"A promising debut in the growing realm of modern Indian fiction", said Jug Suraiya, a senior columnist with Times of India, about the book.
"Sudipto Das’ debut novel combines ancient history, linguistic palaeontology, mathematics, music and a mystery story," said The Hindu.[24]
"Application of linguistic palaeontology amidst a mystery novel marked with glimpses of mythology and historical narrative is unique in an Indian setting, and places both the author and the novel at a space currently occupied by a very few," commented a critic.[1]
Sunday Guardian reviewed The Ekkos Clan on 17 August 2013:[25]
"For a novel whose setting stretches from the Partition-affected villages of NoakhaliBangladesh to Arkaim in the Southern Urals, The Ekkos Clan is a daring novel. The scope of the narrative is magnanimous and deftly handled…. The Ekkos Clan should be read for its sheer aspiration and the intelligent handling of historical material."
The Telegraph reviewed it on 27 November 2013:[26][27]
"An Indian thriller inspired by Dan Brown & Harrison Ford! For a debut novel The Ekkos Clan is quite promising, with echoes of Dan Brown in the storytelling... [It] is like any fast-paced thriller, replete with murder and miraculous escapes."
Bangalore Mirror said it's "an interesting read for an afternoon.[28] One feisty woman’s partition story..., The Ekkos Clan combines the struggle for survival with Kubha's determination to safeguard her lineage in turbulent times..."[29]
The New Indian Express extolled its "unflinching look at communal carnage." [30] A review was published on 26 November 2013:[31][32]
"A tale of the Indian civilization and culture, The Ekkos Clan written by debutant author Sudipto Das takes you on a roller coaster ride, telling the mystery behind the Aryan race as well as delving into the origin of stories behind mankind’s greatest book, The Rig Veda..."
Deccan Chronicle called Sudipto "Bin'das' writer..., a multi-talented personality."[33]
More about Sudipto Das & The Ekkos Clan at 

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