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A part Author - A story of Partition

I was at a much delayed 40th birthday celebration in Goa with my best friend. That’s when the realization dawned. I have been chasing goals after goals from IIT to IIM and beyond never pausing to ask myself “What do I really want?” That epiphany kicked off an exploration. My structured consulting mind kicked-off two workstreams – philosophy and psychology. The problem statement for the first workstream was what should be the purpose of my life. The second workstream led me to a journey of inner exploration. What drove my impulses, my daily state of being and indeed the fundamental question about who am I? Questions that I had forgotten about as I conveniently chased a savings number on my personal net worth excel sheet or tried to find solace in love. Yet, these questions were always within me.

Flashback to many decades ago. From my early years in school I had been a voracious reader. A fat chubby kid I was quite a misfit in school – the result was that I spent most school breaks in the library. The love for books was part of identity. After years and years of reading I had beginnings of the book in me. While I read almost only non-fiction my mind was teeming with plots. After my second MBA at NYU I had a breather and took several basic courses on writing. When joining BCG in my introduction I mentioned my dream as writing a book that would start a revolution. Still I never felt comfortable that I had anything in me to write a story about and I let that germ of desire grow in me.

Fast forward to Goa. I took a short sabbatical after Goa. In that time, I started writing my first book - a novel. This was of the back of several half-finished novels. I completed the novel but unfortunately it did not find any publishing success. It was a personal story and once I finished writing it I had actually only that much interest in getting it published. In parallel, I continued my exploration and I found the answer to my quest in India’s ancient thought. There was a vast body of thought in ancient India which was highly valuable, indeed essential, in today’s context. I feel cheated at times that we were not taught this in our schools. I believe knowing, understanding and practicing this knowledge can change the course of the world and significantly improve quality of our lives.

There was also a rich history the impacts of which we as individuals still carry in our consciousness and indeed which I noticed amongst my compatriots. I came up with the idea of writing about Indian History and Philosophy. It was also in consonance with my understanding that, one should produce that which benefits the society. I believe these books will benefit the society. The intention is not to be preachy but share the knowledge and the readers can decide.

However, I knew from my past courses and my experience in investing in several startups that writing and selling a book are two different things and both are a separate art forms. So as a trial I decided to write my first book on the Indian Partition. It was a part of history that has impacted almost every Indian, especially North Indians. Its an event that lives on in the consciousness of the nation. Both my grandparents were impacted as well. However, the history has been much shrouded in myths. I decided to write a small book that would make history of this event accessible. It would also be a trial of testing marketing tactics required to sell.

I did a course Entertainment Economics at NYU and one of the lessons was that Entertainment is a winner takes it all industry. The corollary is that not many of us can make a living writing books. Still I feel with Indians reading and writing in such large numbers the market is there. In my day job I am exposed to digital marketing and sales in many ways. I can see the path to profitability for authors but it requires doing, experimentation, failure, all of which take time and of course good writing. I am positive that it can be pulled off. It has been a great experience to write and sell my first book. Interesting, was getting feedback from a Pakistani friend on the book.

My current definition of happiness is contentment. However, I think happiness is overrated. Having the equanimity to face all that comes in your life without attachment is the key. It easy to say, tough to develop. Getting over years of conditioning and our ego is a challenge. Indeed, I feel writing this book is another expression of ego and escaping from the real work that is required. On most days, I believe I will get there and that is another thing I am positive about.

Gautam Madhav (pen name) is an author focused on Indian History and Thought. He is the proverbial IIT IIM graduate. He spent the initial part of his career living in all four corners of India working in Sales and Marketing with FMCG companies. Subsequently, he did another MBA in the US and then spent a dozen odd years in strategy consulting living in New York and Dubai. He now works in Technology and is based out of London where he lives with his family. His latest book "A Short History of The Indian Partition" is available here 

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author.

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