Sunday, August 31, 2014

Author Interview: Manjul Bajaj: Come Before Evenings Falls: Another Mans Wife: Elbies Quest

She lives near the capital of India along with her husband and two sons. She did her Masters degree in two different streams after finishing her Graduation. For a long period of her career she focused on the rural development and got extremely fascinated by the beauty, wisdom, traditions, rituals, complexity, culture and lot of things in the rural life.

Welcome Manjul.

Your real name and pen name?
Both are the same – Manjul Bajaj.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

My childhood was spent in a very large and rambling old house with gardens, vegetable patches, scores of fruit trees and just untended wilderness too.  Being surrounded by greenery and open spaces and living in a sparsely populated neighbourhood that was ideal for long walks and cycling trips was what makes my childhood special to me.

About your education

I graduated in Economics from Delhi University and went on to do my post- graduation in Rural Management. Later I did an MSc in Environment Management from the University of London.

What career did you plan during your education days

None really. I was very unclear about what I wanted to do till I heard of the Institute of Rural Management Anand. It was founded by Dr. Verghese Kurien and aimed at sending young professionally trained Indians to the villages and bring about change at the grassroots. The idea of it appealed greatly to me and I took admission in what was a very challenging and wonderful course and which lead into my career as a development and environment professional.

What languages you can speak and write?
English, Hindi and bits of Gujarati. I comprehend Punjabi but do not read or write it. I have a certain flair for spoken languages (but not scripts) - if I spend 3-4 days surrounded by people speaking any language I very quickly pick up the rudiments of it. I can get by in many Indian languages in the sense that I can ask and answer basic questions – about food, time, directions et al.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life

If you mean inspiration for my writing I would say it’s the work of other authors. Even, after having read thousands of books I still haven’t lost that sense of wonder about how marvellous a thing a book is – of how a story can transport you completely outside of yourself and take you into the very heart of life itself, how it can expand you and connect you with all that is, how it can literally transcend barriers of time and space and make you inhabit lives and worlds not your own.

What hurts you most in this world?

Many things hurt me about our world but the most significant I think would be inequality of treatment among humans – among men and women, between classes, between races. Also, the loss of diversity upsets me – when species, languages, cultures begin to die and are increasingly replaced by one uniform, dominant civilizational norm it saddens me. It is sad that the winners are such losers and they don’t even know it.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

I had to come to terms with the sudden death of a very close friend. It was very difficult because you can’t argue with death or with the dead. It took me several years to arrive at an acceptance of what was. I didn’t really overcome it as much as let Time do what it does with grief – blur its edges, grow a skin of life over it.

What is your favourite genre and why?

Literary fiction. I like serious writing that engages my heart and my mind both. I like the hoops literary fiction writers go through as they make sense of life and the world around them. I like the ambition and earnestness of the literary fiction writer which somehow seems to say to the reader “I’m not writing for your entertainment, I’m writing for dear life, for our better survival as a species.”

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I’ve always written - as a child and then through my school and college years and working life. However, I published my first novel only in December 2009. The purpose of my writing is to keep me creative, happy, thinking and growing as a person. If readers, recognition or other rewards come as a by-product of this way I have chosen to engage with life they are welcomed with gratitude.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share
a synopsis of your work?
I have three books out in the world as of now. One is a novel called Come, Before Evenings Falls. You can find out more about it here:  http://comebeforeeveningfalls.blogspot.in/

 The second is a collection of short stories called Another Man’s Wife (http://www.flipkart.com/another-man-s-wife/p/itmdb8gxvtvtgaer)

 And the last one is a book for children called Elbie’s Quest

What are your forthcoming writings?

The sequel to my children’s book should be out at in the latter half of 2014. And I have just begun work on a historical novel set in the 15th century which I’m quite excited about.

What are your future plans?

To write as best as I can for as long as I can.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

To choose a subject and characters which have the potential to keep me interested for the longish period of time that it takes to write a book. 2. To write simply and directly (I take no pleasure in confusing the reader. I’d rather the readers are left with questions in their mind because they’ve understood my story than because they haven’t). 3. To have a plot that engages and is worthy of a reader’s interest. 4. To communicate as truthfully as I can my understanding of relationships, emotions….the human condition, as it were….. even if it is difficult or embarrassing to do so.

Your dream destination on Earth?
I don’t know. Everywhere you go there is so much beauty. But maybe, New Zealand if I had to choose one. 

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed in. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in and continue to live in India. I’ve travelled a fair bit – to England, bits of Europe, the United States, South East Asia and all the countries of the Indian sub-continent. I love England because there is certain romance to it which comes from having grown up reading books from there…..you’re never alone in the English countryside – Thomas Hardy, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Beatrice Potter, DH Lawrence…..so many authors and poets walk beside you.

Your favorite time of the day?

Early mornings.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?

Aquarius

Your favorite color and why?

Turquoise today. Tomorrow it might be cyan or teal or indigo even.

Your favorite book and why?

Too many really.

Your favorite food?
Simple, home-cooked North Indian food – vegetables, dal, rotis…..

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon - Sun
Laughter or Smile - Laughter
Morning or Evening: Morning
Coffee or Tea: Tea
Mountain or Sea - Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive - Depends
Silence or Conversation - Silence
Water or Fire – Can’t say
Air or Earth - Air
Mars or Jupiter - Jupiter
Tulip or Rose - Tulip
 Red or Blue - Blue
Glance or Stare - Glance

What three words come to your mind for each –
Technology – double-edged, liberating, confusing
 Life – blessed, wonderful, great
God – friend, life force, benign
Humanity – fragile, confused, evolving
 Terrorism – clashing values, intolerance, hate
 Racism – sad, stupid, unkind
Childhood Abuse – endemic, damaging, tragic
Parenting – responsibility, challenge, blessing
 Old age – grace, wisdom, experience


The last line of your autobiography would be…  
An imperfect woman in a less than perfect world, but she tried to become the best person she could be


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