N. S. Ravi Belongs to that genre of authors who are proud of their Country. He has a strong optimistic view about the progress made by India and wants the youth who are not aware of the struggles undergone by the forefathers to be proud of their Country. N. S. Ravi holds a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Delhi and has had a distinguished and chequered career in senior positions in public and private sector enterprises dealing in jewellery, infrastructure and textiles and apparel in Europe, Africa and India. He speaks Tamil, Hindi, English and French. Ravi is married and has two children. Those Were the Days is his debut non-fiction work.
We had the opportunity to interact with him to know more about him and his debut book “Those Were The Days”
1. What inspired you to write “Those Were The Days”?
I was posted as the company head in an African country and had a battery of about eighty odd young engineers and MBAs as part of my team from India. It was a French speaking country and we had limitations in terms of even Television channels with just two Hindi entertainment channels.
This meant more interaction with team members on some subject or the other on a regular basis. Thus in my book I have narrated about how when we discussed about air travel in India I told them that the first time I had travelled by air was nearly fifty years before. The discussion on air travel started when a youngster wanted to have names about some old classical films and I mentioned a film called “Those magnificent men in their flying machines” which was about an air race.
After some time it became evident to me that many of them for no fault of theirs were not aware of the progress we have made over the years on various fronts.
These were the new age kids. They had not seen what speed a typist had when typing a document because by the time they started working typewriters had been retired. They did not know that we used comptometer and a Facit machine before calculators became part of our life. They did not know that at one time we did not produce enough food grains to feed our population and had to accept free grants for USA so that our people could eat. We used to import so many food necessities that if we look back we feel ashamed. But when we see where we are today we become proud. Unfortunately many of our seniors have forgotten about it and our youngsters are not even remotely aware of it.
I just wanted that we all should not forget where we started from and where we are today which will make each one of us proud and happy. There is too much of negativism which has to be replaced with positive attitude.
If my book can achieve this by a fraction then I would have done something for my country.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want your reader to grasp?
My objective in writing this book was to make people (especially youth) aware of how much progress this great country we call as India has made over the last Fifty years. I wanted people who were part of India’s growth to share with youngsters the development the country has achieved by stroking their nostalgic thoughts and make them talk and share at least with their children.
Many people make disparaging remarks about their own country since they do not know or realise how far we have come. We Indians including you and me, have in general short memory and compromise quickly.
This you can see from the way our television studios start a story only to dump it after a day when another story comes up. They never bother to take the earlier story to its logical conclusion.
Can anyone explain how Mrs. Gandhi who lost her own seat due to the anger of people post emergency was allowed to comeback because people had already forgotten about emergency? Of course we should not discount what we were dished out by the people who succeeded her.
Ours is a great country and the way we have shaped is phenomenal. Please do not forget that over the last fifty years our population has tripled.
Which country in the world can boast of similar growth story? Do not get misled by China which is an autocracy compared our democratic traditions.
My message is simple we are a great country and we should be proud of it rather than being apologetic.
3. When did you think of taking writing as a career?
After completing my tenure in Africa I had many options one of which was to continue with new assignments and there was no dearth.
But this thought that I should make people aware of India’s growth story in the form of a book kept raising its head that the latter finally won. The choice was simple –go to office or be an office yourself. Since finance was not an issue deciding was slightly easier. My wife helped me a lot in this decision making process though she knew that my continuous presence at home on some days could be taxing. However the fact that she has teaching at school and home to fall back and keep her away from my moods was a big advantage.
Having started writing I was taken in and feel comfortable with what I am doing. I still wish to get into some social service related activity so that I can give back to society but nothing has come my way and neither have I been able to interest anyone.
4. How do you manage your work and writing?
I do not have any other outside work besides writing so it was a simple process of allotting adequate time for various activities.
I start my day early at Five in the morning and the first thing that I do is take my dog out for a forty-five minute walk. On returning I and my wife share a cup of coffee while simultaneously watching some religious programme on television. At about seven both of us set about going through our exercise routine for forty –five minutes. After bath I spend about an hour in meditation and prayers. There is a Sanatan Darma temple nearby and I make it a point to visit it every day after my prayers. My wife teaches in a school and would have by then left.
My daughter who is doing her CA would be ready to leave by this time and I normally drop her at the metro station. On return I fix myself a light breakfast besides feeding the dog.
I read the newspapers for an hour and switch on the computer by about eleven. While working I profit by listening to music.
My wife would return from school by mid day and we would have lunch by about two in the afternoon.
We would surf channels and sometimes watch a movie though more often it would be return to the computer for me.
I take a half hour sitting catnap after two more hours of work .This would be followed by a walk of about five kilometres in the neighbouring park. Later in the evening I along with my dog will drive to the metro station to pick up my daughter. Once she is home we would have dinner which would be followed by television watching.
I spend about an hour with my current reading accompanied by music and normally the lights would be switched off by eleven.
Initially I was not able to distribute my time properly. Then one day I prepared a time based check list after which I am reasonably satisfied with my time management.
5. You are completely from a different background. What inspired you to be a writer?
I always loved to write. As a twelve year old I had one or two letters to editor published in TOI way back in 60’s.
I was however never inclined to look at writing as a profession. I did hone my writing skill to a large extent with the help of various project reports one had to prepare as part of my work.
I was however surprised when my Aunt who is my late mothers younger sister and close to 90 after reading the book mentioned to me that she was not surprised to see my interest in writing.
From my mother’s side her maternal grandfather was a great Sanskrit scholar and had written few treatise in his time. Similarly from my father’s side, my Grandmother’s brother was also a great Sanskrit scholar having employed as a professor of Sanskrit in Calcutta university , prior to independence and was also conferred the title of “Mahamahopadyaya” for his work on Dvaita and Advaita philosophy which he had expounded in a book called “ Sata Bhushani”.
May be there are some genes in the system which are just now raising their heads or asserting.
6. Who is your biggest inspiration for writing this book?
My biggest inspiration for this book would undoubtedly be my young colleagues who were with me for nearly three years when I was in Gabon, Central West Africa as a country head for an Indian infrastructure company. If they had not asked me so many simple questions the very thought of writing this book would not have occurred to me.
7. Which other authors you follow?
I read a lot but would not say I follow any author in particular. I read more for pleasure and hence am not fond of very serious stuff. During college days I did read serious stuff by Ayn Rand, Maugham and others as it was fashionable. But once the fashion part was done with it was reading for pleasure.
There are some authors whose every offering has been read by me. I have read practically every Poirot book of Agatha Christie though I was not taken in by her other Characters. I have read most books by Ken Follet, Alistair McLean, Jeffrey Archer, Leon Uris, Ludlum, Grisham, Rex Stout, Doyle, Wodehouse, Jack Higgins, Irwing Wallace, Sheldon etc. Amongst Indian authors I have read all the books by Chetan Bhagat, Amish, Ashwin Sanghi and few others.
I think Indian authorship has come of age of late and look forward more offerings from these authors. From my side I try to read as many Indian authors as possible since many are good though not well known. Don’t forget we did have some very good Indian authors in the past like Narayan, Kush want Singh etc but they never got their due since modem of communication was relatively weak.
8. Do you have any tips for the budding authors?
I do not know if it would be fair on my part to assume the mantle of a senior pro after one book to give tips.
My only suggestion would be not to look back if one is seriously interested since an indecisive mind will not help. I would venture to add that intense reading of other authors would always guide and inspire.
9. What are your other interests apart from writing?
I read a lot and am an ardent sports fan. I watch lots of football, Cricket, Tennis, Hockey, Basketball and F1 racing. I enjoy watching comedy and humour films. I love music especially old Hindi and Tamil films besides classical Carnatic music which helps me relax.
10. What is your next assignment?
I am well into my second book and from my side hope to complete it in another six weeks time. I have two more lined up following this and have already made reasonable foray to be confident enough to say that these will also be completed before the end of next calendar year. I would like to stress that coming from the corporate sector where working on three or four projects simultaneously is the order of the day –which in management parlance people like to call multitasking as of now I am not over extended. I am sure over the course of next twelve months few more ideas will germinate to keep me going.