NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - Former investment banker Anish Trivedi portrays a changing India in his debut novel where coffee and croissants are on the breakfast menu and youngsters earn more than their fathers ever did.
“Call Me Dan,” recently launched in India, is a light-hearted look at the new India where arranged marriages and one-night stands are part of the protagonist’s search for love.
The novel revolves around Gautam Joshi, aka Dan, a 30-year-old call center executive in Mumbai with a penchant for late nights and women. Trivedi, who lives in Mumbai, gave up Wall Street to run a media company, act, host radio, and write. He has written two plays. He spoke to Reuters about his career shift and writing:
Q Did you set out to write about Mumbai and India’s youth?
A: “I wanted to write about the change that today’s youth are seeing in India and how it has made a change in their lives. While earlier generations were amongst the first to be born in a free India, this is the first to be born in the country after economic reforms and liberalization were introduced. After decades of experimenting with socialism and government control over all aspects of our lives, we now have a society that flourishes in one of the most dynamic economies in the world. As the protagonist in ‘Call Me Dan’ says, we skipped a generation compared to the rest of the world.”
Q: Any reason for making Dan work in a call center?
A: “Call centers and other industries like them are emblematic of the new Indian economic landscape, more so because they offer a young workforce the chance to earn high salaries, significantly more than their parents could. They are the drivers of change in this country, giving economic freedom to a whole strata of society. Placing the protagonist in one allowed me to use the duality in his life as a device to draw on the differences between the environment within and outside his home and the society in which he was brought up.”
Q: Tell us about your research for the novel.
A: “It’s a book about people, looking for love, looking for the best possible life they can lead in the immediate term. I think that’s something we’ve all done. It didn’t take much research to be able to give voice to those thoughts.”
Q: How hard was the shift from investment banker to writer?
A: “I was lucky. I often joke about the fact that in my last month as an investment banker, I flew from Mumbai to New York four times to have lunch and come back. But that was part of the problem, not having the time for anything other than work. I made what was a hobby a profession and built a business around radio and television programing. The writing, first as a playwright and now as a novelist, is the next transition I guess. But since I now do what I enjoy, giving up the seven-figure salary hasn’t been as hard as I thought.”
Q: What are you working on next?
A: “Another play is the writing and I’m being asked for the next novel so I guess it’s time to start thinking about that.”
Q: Tell us about your writing schedule.
A: “I’m an early riser so I’m at the keyboard sometime around 7 a.m. and I’ll take that through to the late morning or the early afternoon. I may occasionally revisit the manuscript during the day but for the most part I like the morning to write. Loads of coffee while I write and a cigar at around 11 a.m. help too.”
Q: Any advice for aspiring writers?
A: “I think with just one book published I’d be considered an aspiring writer myself. But I would say, be true to your writing. Don’t try and write what you think an audience wants to read.”
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith