Tadaaa! It’s Friday and as promised I present to you Mr. Rajiv Bakshi author of ‘Journey from Guwahati to Machhiwara’. His story can be of your dad, your uncle, your grand dad or the uncle next door but one thing is for sure that he is an inspiration. I mean to inspire, you just don’t need to be on mount everest, go scuba diving or work in charity homes but also don’t you think any simple positive change in approach can inspire people to bring that positive change in themselves and making their lives better? At 64 he has written a book, retired gracefully, highly active on social media promoting his book. His zeal and enthusiasm is just like any other first time author irrespective of his age. What it is to be a man like him? Well Let’s hear his story from him only.
1) Tell us something about you.
I was born in a small place Hoshiarpur in Punjab . My father was a Bank Manager and my Mom was a housewife. I have a younger brother and a younger sister.Against my mother’s wishes, I was sent to Sainik School Kapurthala in 1961 . I was the most home sick child. But now after so many years ( 5 decades ) I find the training I got in the school was instrumental in shaping my career. My college education was in Government College Mandi ( Himachal Pradesh ) for a year. Then graduation in Science from DAV College Jalandhar.I taught English grammar in the same college for a year after which I changed my Journey from teaching to banking. I embarked on a train journey in a third class compartment of Indian Railways in 1975 , leaving my kith and kin to an unknown city Guwahati. In bank I was posted to 13 different branches all over India. To cut the matter short I retired as a Senior Manager from Punjab & Sind Bank Machhiwara District Ludhiana in 2012. On my Retirement party, I decided to write a Book right when asked by my Boss : ” Mr. Bakshi what do you intend to do after Retirement ?”
2) How was life in 1990s ?
Haha! You certainly would be a child in 1990s. Life was simple. As cool as cucumber. People were simple and not many gadgets around. Friends and family were not suppose to meet only on facebook or twitter. We had these real interactions. We had less money as compared to today but then less requirements too. There were no Mcdonalds and Dominos around . Kids were happy playing ‘Gulli Danda’ around. Radio was part of our lives and close to our heart. The grass was much greener during those times, less pollution, less traffic, less population, less salary but more family values. So, It was totally different from what you see today.
3) So, Which is better ?The good old 90s or 2000 era!
Certainly change is the order of the day. The old order gives way to the new! 2000 era is certainly better as people these days have more money to spend, they buy the car the day they are married, they have visited a foreign country before the age of 25. In 2000 era India is shining in sports, movies, tv serials, , cricket, badminton , wrestling and Indie Authors are creating new records in the market. I never saw any Indian Author in 1990 s and LOL , there is Rajiv Bakshi , the first time Author in 2015 .
4) How many places you have visited and which place you enjoyed the most ?
Since I was in a nationalized Bank so there were frequent transfers every two or three years. Plus every four years we got Leave Fare Concession. So the places I visited are endless all over the country and after retirement I have visited 10 foreign countries. Since I was in Vigilance Department of my Bank for 4 years while posted in Gurdaspur in Punjab, I also had chance to visit Jammu 17 times & Srinagar, Baramulla ( J & K ) four times. On LTC visited Trivandrum , Kerala, Bangalore , Mysore, Jaipur , Udaipur. I enjoyed most my 10days stay in Pakistan where I was on a religious tour of Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib. I have also enjoyed my 7 months stay on 3 different visits to California in USA.
5) How did you meet your wife and story to get married ?
During the time I was to get married there were no mobile phones, no Facebook friends, no Internet, no snapchat or no Whatsapp. The only way of communication was through letters or a phone call which used to disconnect after a few hours. Some of my relatives suggested a girl from a Kayastha family of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. I wanted a girl who could spell Shakespeare right . But then I was impressed by Mrinalini a Post Graduate in Hindi. The only story I remember is that I found her very beautiful but still I asked my sister that I wanted to see one more girl just in case I could find a better person. That was the only time I was scolded by my sister when she said an emphatic no to my demand. And finally we got married with the full consent of our families just to live happily ever after.
6) Tell us about the hardships you followed in your life and how did that help you to stand where you are today?
Our family is a very down to earth family with no qualms whatsoever. Frankly speaking since my father was a Bank Manager so there was no financial difficulty. I got whatever I wanted those days. Except the car I once asked my father which he denied as those days affording a car was a big deal. I have always been a happy go lucky fellow. The only hardship I faced was when on my return from USA in 2013 , I had to go for Bypass Surgery in DMC Hero Heart hospital Ludhiana and I stayed in hospital for 13 days that I will count as the toughest period for my wife, son and daughter in law.
7)So it has been 4 years since you retired, is the life same or better or you miss your old hectic life ?
It’s a tough question to answer! I surely miss my bank where I have given 35 long years of my life. But even after retirement, I try to keep myself occupied like I have subscribed to three newspapers, watch TV Channels, go for morning and evening walks and also I keep writing for newspapers and magazines. Social networking keeps me busy like tweeting is my regular hobby these days also my book promotions with the help of my team keeps me engaged. I am called by various universities and library for various seminars. Once a month I also attend Book Club at my locality along with four meetings in a Senior Citizens society where I am an active member. Besides this I also act as a driver to my wife and takes her to her work place and not to forget shopping.
8)How did this book happen ?
Its an old saying that behind every successful man there is a woman and so is my case! I give credits to my wife Mrinalini , who inspired me to write and provided courage to publish the book. Credit also goes to my son Tarun who edited each story at least ten times. And also special thanks to my daughter in law Chhavi who clicked beautiful images for the book. So you see it is basically a family affair. Haha!
9) What do you think is the most important thing for a first time Author ?
Creating a brand name for the Book and name of the Author is both important. The day I started writing the Book, no one knew what was in the Book. Gradually the shape of the book took form. If first time Author is able to convince people to read his book, he is successful.
10) What is the biggest challenge for a first time Author ?
When my book came in the market, I thought that I will not be able to sell more than 100 copies and that too to my close relatives and friends. But now after one year I find that I have readers from 12 countries and my Book is now in more than 78 libraries all over the country. If your readers like a book they will suggest to their friends too. Another challenge is how to convince people to write a Review for your Book. People do read your book. But it takes a lot of persuasion to tell them to review your Book.
11) What all it took you to get it published ?
It had taken me almost 35 years to write my book. When I was on way to Guwahati on my first job, I was reading: ‘Train to Pakistan.’ A thought occurred that may be one day I can also write a work of fiction. After my retirement in February 2012, it took almost three years to put all my work on paper and get it typed. I approached only two publishers and sent few chapters of my book. My work was approved by both the publishers. But then I found that Notion Press Chennai had a better package to offer and they were willing to go my way. So I decided to submit my full manuscript to them. I would like to thank the team of Notion Press to fulfill my dream into reality.
12) How was the experience with Notion Press ?
It was great working with three or four different people at Notion Press. They helped designing the pages, cover picture of the book , pricing etc. However the editing part of the Book was done mostly by me and my team. It is a tough job correcting all the grammatical and spelling mistakes. Notion press people also put my interview on their blog and sent few sample mails to my potential readers. I would suggest aspiring authors to approach them but then your script should be very very good and as they are very rigid about nice scripts.
13)What are the benefits of self publishing ?
Well the benefits are huge! If you don’t have money constraints and you are willing to take risk of spending some money on your book initially (provided you are confident of your work) then the benefits on return are huge like you can totally bypass the traditional publishers and take control of the book. Be it content, pricing, designing, promotions etc. Also the royalties are much higher in self publishing. Also today self publishing is a spreading its wings as today many of the best editors, designers, marketers are no longer working at the big publishing houses and are striking out on their own and independently charging for their services; so you can hire them and put out a quality book.
14)I checked Amazon and you have some amazing Reviews! Tell us books sell better at online market or going to a nice book store is still a craze?
Thanks Mam for taking time to read my books reviews on Amazon .I still feel that in-spite of so many good reviews it’s difficult to sell books online. The best course which I and my team has adopted is in selling the Books on one to one basis on Face Book , Twitter or Whatsapp. There are very few Book stores these days in India. Only recently my Books have been kept in few Bookstores like Oxford Book Store in Mumbai, New Delhi , Odyssey Chennai, Higginbothams in Chennai, Spencer books in Chennai, Gangarams in Bangalore , book Café in Noida.
15) You tweet a lot. How did this happen? I mean isn’t it peculiar for a person your age?
I set up my twitter account @Rajivbakshi52 almost six months back. The account was opened for fun sake. Now I am being followed by 4200 people.I prefer to follow and tweet to people who have fewer followers. My fellow ‘tweetarians’ feel very happy when they get a good morning message or tweet from a Desi Author like me. Some of my tweeters have become my readers. And over all it provide me a great interaction with my readers and other people in this field.
17)What is the message you want to give to all those people of your age ?
I would like to suggest to all people who are above 60 years of age to start cultivating a hobby; may be gardening, reading, writing, social service, teaching children of underprivileged society. One gets lot of mental peace by indulging in a hobby which we could not pursue when we were burdened with office office responsibilities.
18) Any pearl of wisdom to all those upcoming Authors ?
I wish that all the upcoming authors be able to accomplish their dream of publishing their work. I think it is never too late to start. I wrote my first book at age of 63 . One must work hard. Try, try and try again, till you succeed. Have a clear goal of what you want to write. Write daily for two or three hours. Write and rewrite. One day you will be also able to fulfill your dreams.
Thank you Mr. Rajiv Bakshi for such an inspiring interview and we wish you all the best!
PS- Show it your dads or moms dudes! They will be happy!
Goodbye ….just to catch up soon with all. XoXo!!