Subhrashis is a geologist holding double masters from IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Bombay. Currently working as a team-leader in a multinational company, he has been involved in key hydrocarbon discoveries in India and abroad.
Apart from several international and national publications, he has also published a book on Indian history.
An established Toastmaster speaker, he is passionate about reading, blogging, geology, science, philosophy and history. He loves travelling to different parts of the globe with his wife and daughter.
Interview with Subhrashis Adhikari
Some books make us think, some make us happy, some sad and some make us cry. When it comes to the non-fiction book, they inspire, introspect and sometimes also make us aware of unknown things. There are also books that question the basic instinct of existing on the Earth as a human.
No! It’s not in a spiritual world aspect but a normal human intelligence aspect. This introduction suits aptly to a book named ‘ 5 Questions Of The Inquisitive Ape ‘ that I recently read which blew my senses out with the simple and basic questions posed in the book.
I grabbed a chance to interact with the author of this book, Subhrashis Adhikari to know more about the book and his writing. Read on to know what he has to say about this book and other things.
What inspired you to move towards writing? And what influenced you to explore this theme of writing?
My memory, or the lack of it.
When I realized that I have a very small hard disk inside my skull, I was in desperate need of an external drive. That’s when I started writing. I travel a lot, I read a lot, and occasionally do use my brain and get strange ideas.
I try to pen down those ideas before they leave my mind. These ideas get stored to my external hard disk, which is my blog. Now when I am looking for something I don’t have to dig into all the books I have read. All I have to do is hit the search button in my blog. When I was a regular blogger back in 2011-2012, my blog somehow managed to be amongst the top blogs in India.
My kind and wonderful readers found the articles a bit different and interesting. Some of them requested me to write a book. I thought, why not. I have read some horrible books in my life, so I thought I can do this. That was the beginning of this short journey so far.
I guess my style of writing is to do with me being a geologist. Being a geologist is about asking questions. It is about reconstructing the past. In doing that you fall in love with the bygone era. History asks the question of how human civilization evolved into the modern world. Geology is like a big brother of history. It stretches that question further back, since the beginning of time.
No wonder, my first book was about Indian History. When you combine historical time with geological time to understand the present and predict the future, you get an inquisitive ape. That’s what my current book is. It asks a few key questions that try to challenge conventional thinking. It may not be apparent but all of them are connected, and at the heart of all this is geology.
What do you think about the reception of the book with the readers when almost everyone looks out for a love story?
That’s true, isn’t it? Everyone is looking for love and love stories. My book does have a bit of love. Unfortunately no love stories. That did make me wonder about how my book will be received by readers. But then, reading habits evolve both individually and collectively as a society. India’s reading habit is evolving too.
Because of the dominant poverty, reading books other than the necessary textbooks has been a luxury in India. However, with the rapid growth in our economy, more Indians are finding time and money to read books. Especially in Urban India, reading habits have collectively evolved from books in vernacular language to best sellers written in Indian English.
The dominant market of the English books written by Indian authors is definitely romantic fiction. While it has produced great works of literature, there is still a huge gap in the non-fiction section. That’s where I come in.
This book aims to increase the inquisitiveness of Indian readers and hopes to leave behind a small mark in the reading habits of Indians. So far, I have received a few wonderful reviews that give me confidence. These are early days for the book. Fingers crossed.
Which other authors influenced you to explore this theme?
Thanks to my brother!
I got addicted as a child. Addicted to books of course. I read a lot, but mostly non-fiction. I find it a bit hard reading fiction. There are many non-fiction authors in my life. Authors like Vivekananda, Bryson B., Dawkins R., Diamond J., Harari Y.N., Hawking S., Mukherjee S, O Wilson and plenty more have influenced me to explore this theme. The books written by these amazing authors have changed my reading habit and ultimately led the path to my latest book.
Why did you think to write this book and explain people about the truths and things?
My aim was never to ‘explain people about the truths’. That would be a big claim, and I am not capable of it. The questions in the book have been asked and answered many times in the last 5000 years by our ancestors. I wrote this book to make people ask more questions, and give them a new perspective to the old questions.
How do you manage your time between office, family, and writing?
There are two things we don’t often realize.
Number one….. We don’t have much time…
And number two… We have enough time…
And there is no contradiction between the two statements.
If you read the section in my book ‘Excel of life’ you would realize how short our life span is. We are born with a terminal disease called aging. We will eventually run out of life. If you want to do something do it now before it’s too late.
When you realize that a lot of the things that you once thought was important become meaningless. Once you get rid of those ‘meaningless’ parts from your life you will realize that you have a lot of time in 24 hours each day. There is enough time for office, family and personal passion. Every second is precious… Make it count. That’s what I do.
What other genres do you wish to explore and write?
I did write about Indian History. Maybe I will write a travelogue. I would be taking the Trans-Siberia train trip from Beijing to Moscow, with halts in between in Mongolia and Lake Baikal, this year. There is plenty of nature, culture, cuisines, and history to explore. That might give me some ideas. Someday I may even end up writing fiction.
How was the publishing journey and what challenges did you face?
It’s been wonderful I must say. It is never as easy as a new author. I am just a small fish in a big ocean. But it is what it is. I consider myself lucky that Srishti Publishers and Distributors considered my work worth publishing. I must confess one thing, I am pretty bad at English grammar. I make a lot of foolish mistakes. You will probably find a few in this interview too.
I bet Stutz, my editor, had a lot to correct. I also asked a lot of questions to Srishti editorial and even Arup Bose. Blame the Inquisitive Ape inside me. Sometimes I felt they would tell me to shut up. But they were always very patient. I got prompt replies to all my queries. Indeed, it has been a very pleasant experience being part of Srishti family so far
Do you believe in any writing rituals?
Not really. I have to squeeze time from the busy schedule. So, I write whenever I find time to write, sometimes even multitasking, like writing when I am helping my daughter complete her homework. Sometimes I do get hit by writer’s block. Then I do something else till the writer’s block gets bored and leave. As far as writing style is concerned, I do try to surprise the readers with some data and humor.
Are you now writing anything new or just enjoying the success of your book?
Cannot say that I am enjoying success at the moment. For that, the book needs to be successful first. Like I said, these are early days for it. But I don’t mind doing that someday! Currently, I am writing on Indian history.
Few words to your readers.
I would like to thank them for all their support and love. They inspire me to write.
All I can tell them is to keep reading books. Never stop reading. Reading helps reduce stress. Sitting in a corner of a room a book can open a new world and new dimensions.
Just remember two things…
When you are reading a new idea, don’t discard it too early if it does not fit your preconceived notions. And do not let a book brainwash you. Question what you read.
As Mr. Einstein would say, ‘Never ever lose the holy curiosity’.
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