Monday, April 14, 2014

In Conversation with Rishi Piparaiya :)

Professionally, Rishi Piparaiya heads marketing and direct sales for a financial services multinational. Prior to this, he spent years dozing his way up to a super duper senior position at a fine global bank, which ironically never sleeps. His other professional claims to fame include running football betting syndicates in Spain and setting up random internet businesses that contributed to the dotcom bust.

Academically, he perfected the art of cracking exams without attending classes at the Cathedral & John Connon School, University of Rochester and Cornell University.

Athletically, he has completed half marathons (21 km for the sportingly ignorant) in well under three hours. To put this speed in perspective, the rate of continental drift is four cms per year: landmasses take 500,000 years to cover the distance that he can in barely a few hours. To put this time in perspective, the Mohenjo-daro and Harappa baloney that they taught us in school is 5,000 years old. So it’s no wonder that champion distance - running nations like Kenya and Ethiopia are clamouring to give him citizenship.

Intellectually, Aisle Be Damned is his first book.

Here he lets his readers know a little more about himself and his journey so far. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring to you Rishi Piparaiya:

1. Tell us a little about yourself? Your aspirations and your hobbies!! 

I am a corporate executive having spent close to fifteen years in financial services. I have had the opportunity to live, work and study in various countries across the globe.  I have made some pretty unconventional choices in my education, career, and hobbies and that constant desire to do different things or do things diffferently reflects in my work. And hopefully in my book. 

2. How did Aisle Be Damned emerge in your imagination? 

I take 8-10 flights every month and I am a pretty nervous flier. Sitting on planes every week, clutching the arm rest or praying frantically, Aisle Be Damned just wrote itself! 

3. Can you justify the title of your book?  

A window seat v/s aisle seat is one of the first decisions that passengers have to make when they check in. Aisle Be Damned is a play on the Aisle seat. It’s a nice simple title that translates well across media – print, digital, social etc. I went through about 25+ options before zeroing down on this one! 

4. What message do you want to convey to your audience through your book? 

I think my biggest message is that life is quirky, random and there is humor all around us. Its just a matter of perspective and how one chooses to see and embrace life.  

5. What made you want to become a writer? 

I have been doing creative writing ever since I was a young child. It’s never been about wanting to be a writer – it’s a just a medium of expression for me. Some do it through speech, some through music, some through dance – I use a humble pen. 

6. How does it feel to be a published author? 

It had always been a goal of mine – to see a book published. And I’m sure I’m inspired by my father who has written close to ten books on a variety of subjects. So I am hoping to keep up. 

7. What is your biggest achievement till date? 

Mundane as it sounds, my biggest achievement has been to quit smoking. On one fine day in 2009, after close to two decades of smoking, I puffed 8 cigarettes one after the other, and as I stubbed the 8th one out, I said “I am done”. And I haven’t looked back since then. It has taken a lot of will power and self-control but it has been more than worth it. 

8. Tell us something about your book?  

Aisle Be Damned is a hilarious take on just about everything associated with the dog and pony show of air travel. It seamlessly integrates flying tips with quirky witticisms and is a great guide to simplifying one’s airline experiences while getting umpteen laughs along the way. It provides perspective on an array of common travel situations including: how to get upgraded to Business class, how to micro-manage bathroom-frequenting pilots, how to win elbow fights with co-passengers, how to breeze one’s way through immigration and making fundamental decisions such as window v/s. aisle seats. It is a fluid read with mass appeal, catering to frequent fliers, first-timers, and even the uninitiated. 

9. How and why you decided to publish your book through Jaico Publishing House? 

Aisle Be Damned is not really a typical book by any yardstick. It straddles genres, it deals with an extremely offbeat subject, it has anecdotes, images, funny captions and perspectives on a variety of topics – there is really nothing like it in the Indian or global literary space. I was looking for a publisher who had the track record and pedigree to manage this book and yet the hunger to innovate and experiment. As a first time author, I was looking for a publisher who would give my book the requisite attention that I think it deserved. And finally, a team that was committed and held itself to the highest standards of integrity and performance. Jaico, under the leadership of the unflappable Akash Shah, was an excellent fit. 

10. Is there a key person or group that has inspired you in the process of writing? 

Ever since I can remember, friends and colleagues have encouraged me to write a book. And many of them were most supportive in giving me feedback on the earlier drafts of Aisle Be Damned. 

11. What’s the earliest memory you have of writing a story? 

The earliest memory I have of writing is poetry – as a 7 year old Grade 2 student. And looking back, without appearing cocky, they were pretty good poems – they had rhythm, rhymes, and told a good story! I remember my class teacher of that time coming home once – just to let my parents know how much she enjoyed my writing. So I guess that was my first foray into the world of writing. 

12. What genre do you despise and why? 

Rather than think about what I despise, let me focus on what I enjoy. I am not an avid reader but I enjoy autobiographies – there is always something to learn from the successes and failures of others. I enjoy descriptive works – books that paint a picture with the usage of beautiful words. And lastly simple short stories with a twist – something that makes you unexpectedly smile. 

13. What are your views on co-authoring? 

Any author or newbie you would like to co-author with? My view is Why not? If there is someone who is on the same wavelength and shares a similar perspective, it should be fairly plausible for both people to pen their thoughts into one piece of work. Finding someone like that though is the challenge. 

14. As an author what according to you is biggest power in your hands? 

I believe that the biggest power that an author has is the ability to influence people. Readers give you their most valuable assets – their time and attention. And as an author, one needs to ensure that one has made it worth their while. So whether you are transporting them to another world or just sharing your experiences in this one, you are shaping their thoughts. You are giving them something to think about. And that is a huge power. And along with power, as the cliché goes, comes responsibility. 

15. What are some things you like to do when you’re not writing? 

I enjoy listening to music. I have tried my hand at sailing. I have run a few half marathons. And I read the occasional book. 

16. Is there any character in the book that is inspired by you? 

The entire book has been inspired by me! Taking 10 flights a month, year after year, I am the character! 

17. Do you try to write without letting your personal biased opinions interfere? 

Good question. Probably not. Aisle Be Damned is a personal perspective on air travel and it has been a free flowing writing experience. That said, once in a while, as most authors would do I assume, I step back and see whether the writing is in bad taste or would hurt anyone. Its one of the challenges of writing humor in particular – everyone may not appreciate the same humor or tones. 

18. Every coin has two sides if one side people like your work there are people who are against you. Does that disturb you? 

No, that does not disturb me a whole lot. Of course, I would prefer to hear praise for my work rather than criticism. But that said, I would rather the coin land on one side or the other instead of not tossing it at all – that is, I would rather people give me their views – good or bad – rather than stay mum! 

19. How do you see yourself 5 years down the line? 

I will be five years older – that’s for sure! The rest still has to pan out. 

20. What’s your strategy to promote your book and make your stand as a writer? 

My professional job is in sales and marketing and it is therefore natural that I try to incorporate some of my experience into Aisle Be Damned. The book is garnering significantly positive pre-release online reviews and I have launched a comprehensive visibility campaign across social media. Our website is arguably one of the most unique websites built for any book. We have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter. And slowly but steadily, traditional media is picking up on the humor and uniqueness of the work as well. 


A Hilarious Take on just about Everything Associated with Air Travel.

- Getting seamlessly upgraded to Business Class.
- The hows and whys of micromanaging the pilots.
- Action plans to counter the airlines Technical Snag routine.
- Sure shot strategies for winning the affections of flight attendants.
- Awesome icebreakers to start conversations with attractive co-passengers.
- How smart executives deal with the Walk of Shame to the economy section.
- How a water bottle dramatically improves flight safety.
- Breezing through immigration and customs, always making your flight connections and a whole lot more

Rest assured, your flying experience will never be the same again!

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