You can find here the answers to some of the questions I have been asked frequently

I would rather quote a line from the poet Walt Whitman: I am large; I contain multitudes; I contradict myself.

I read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ when I was around twenty-one, while studying in engineering school. I fell in love with Scout, Jem, Dill & Atticus. Around a year later in 2002, something happened in my country which distressed me, and I plunged into writing. The titular character of the book I wrote was modeled after Scout. And that is how I started writing.

I am the co-founder of a startup in the fintech domain called SabPaisa (https://sabpaisa.in). 

SabPaisa (SRS Live Technologies) – headquartered in New Delhi and having Corporate Office in Gurgaon- and with eight regional offices including Mumbai, Bangalore & Kolkata – is a rapidly growing fintech company having developed one of India’s most advanced AI driven recurring payments platform bolstered by another of SabPaisa’s unique products: world’s first hybrid payment platform which has all the payment modes in a single checkout page, online and offline. SabPaisa’s payments and collection application suite – whitelabeled to multiple banks – has already processed close to INR 15 Billion, a figure that will grow exponentially over the next several months as SabPaisa’s payment applications continue to penetrate the fastest growing segment of the data and payment digitization sector.

We are changing the way financial institutions, hospitals, government bodies, SAAS & e-commerce companies, schools, colleges, universities, councils, trusts, etc. collect money and data from their clients and customers. Businesses that take SabPaisa’s payment gateway get real-time reconciliation and consolidated reports for all payments, recurring or one-time, online or offline, in a single dashboard, whether the payer is a 18 year old in Kashmir paying through UPI or a 70 year paying through Cash in Kanyakumari.

Sabpaisa has another feather in its cap that makes it stand out among its competitors: it is among the very few fintech companies whose products have found whitelabel acceptance from multiple public sector and private banks like Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Canara Bank, Vijaya Bank (Formerly), Dena Bank (Formerly), DCB Bank etc.

With such efficient products and services, SabPaisa has been given recognitions and awards such as Innovative Startup by DIPP, GOI and CIIE, IIMA, Most Innovative Payment Gateway for 2018 in Startup India Awards, and top ten payment gateways of India by SVI.

Before this I had co-founded another startup in the edu & hiring tech domain called TalentBridge Technologies (talentbridge.co.in).

I was chosen among the top 100 marketing leaders of Asia by the World Marketing Congress in 2016.

Apart from that, the company I have founded SabPaisa has multiple awards and recognitions such as Innovative Startup by DIPP, GOI and CIIE, IIMA, Most Innovative Payment Gateway for 2018 in Startup India Awards, and top ten payment gateways of India by SVI.

The other startup I had co-founded in the edu & hiring tech domain, TalentBridge Technologies (talentbridge.co.in), has also won multiple awards including HOT 100 in 2014, Recognition for innovative apps in skill development by NSDC, and recently, 20 Most Promising Recruitment Companies by CIO Review

I was disturbed by the Mumbai 2008 attacks. Reading the reportage on the attacks made me wonder about the people trapped inside the buildings while the attacks went on — what they felt and how they suffered. I wanted to write about them. That’s how the idea for the book was born: it would be the story of a loving couple one of whom gets trapped in a building that the terrorists attack.

‘A Dilli Mumbai…’ is a humorous and passionate love story that climaxes in Mumbai attacks. Two people from vastly different backgrounds studying in Delhi fall in love, marry against odds, go through the ups and downs of married life, and then one of them gets caught by chance in Mumbai attacks. What happens next, I will leave you to find out.

One book immediately comes to my mind: To Kill A Mockingbird. I think the hero Atticus Finch represents justice in a way no other fictional character has ever done, fighting against the pride and prejudice of race and identity. He reminds you of Gandhi. I don’t know if it’s only because of that book, but having a sense of justice and fairness, and ability to overcome your prejudices caused by fear are the two virtues I care for most in myself and others.

Yes, plenty of times. By reading and then writing nevertheless. As some writer said, the only way to cross the hill called writer’s block behind is to walk over and beyond it steadily, even if slowly, leaning on your pen 🙂

Yes. Dilli-Mumbai is not my first book. I started writing  in 2002 when even Five Point Someone hadn’t come out and to get published in India was far more difficult than it is now. I wrote two novels before Dilli-Mumbai and got rejected for nine years before I tasted success. The only way to deal with rejection is to keep writing new things and keep improving on your writing. Writing, like any other skill, requires a lot of perspiration besides talent, and canbe learnt. I have learnt how to write better by reading many books on writing well. Please search for these books on the internet and improve your writing while you wait for success with the publishers. Also, pay attention to what they say and don’t be egoistic in dealing with them. They are businessman who have to make money out of what you write, so they will publish you only when you and your writing gives them confidence about that fact. So always remember to write with the reader in mind (and to a lesser extent the publisher too if you are a first time writer).

Since my novel got published, time and again I have been asked how to get published.

So here is a simple 10 step way to getting published that I compiled from the answers I gave to the questioners.

I hope it is of help to the friends and readers who want to get published someday

  1. Read: While this advice may seem frivolous, many aspiring writers don’t read enough. Wanting to write without reading enough is somewhat like wanting to run without walking first. Also, when I say read, I also mean books written on the craft of writing itself. New writers, especially, should read books that can help them improve their writing. Good examples are ’70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes’ by Bob Mayer or ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott.
  2. Write: While this advice may seem obvious as well as frivolous, not writing is the biggest barrier to many good writers not getting published. You may think of great plots, dream about the shape it’s going to take, talk about it to hundred people, but unless you start putting it down on paper in a disciplined way, the book will never happen. As Einstein said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So is a book.
  3. Focus on the Readers: Many writers make the mistake of writing for themselves than writing for the readers. I did that; you may too. It’s a big mistake. Some people think writing for others amounts to selling out or something like that. That’s bullshit. If you are writing for yourself, why do you want others to read your writing, why do you want to get published? Just take your writing, frame it and hang it on your wall. Admire it forever. But if you want to get published, then you must respect the readers and write for them. Your readers can be different – you can aim to write for intellectuals like Amartya Sen or for your batch mates from your college or for a teenager who just reads trashy romance. But no matter who you write for, whenever you write, you must have that ‘who’ in the mind and write accordingly. We call such writers ‘egoless writers’ – writers who make their selves disappear while writing, keeping only the reader present.
  4. Imitate: Many first time writers find writing a very difficult task in their quest for originality. Originality is wonderful, but not always necessary. In fact, when writing for the first time, it may be better to imitate a writer you like than try to be original. It’s easier, gives you confidence, and lets you focus your energies on delivering to your readers a nice reading experience than on being original. Many famous writers did the same before slowly evolving a style that was truly original.
  5. Have a good, tension-filled beginning: For a newbie writer, it’s extremely important to have a very catchy beginning. The browsing habit of the modern customers, who have scores of new books competing for their attention, demands that the beginning must hook them in the few minutes they can spare for it. Publishers keep this fact in mind while choosing manuscripts. You must also keep this in mind while writing and give a lot of time to craft a good, tension-filled beginning
  6. Write, no matter what: Writing is a strenuous task, especially when you have a day job. I am an entrepreneur, so it often feels as if I have not one but two day-jobs. In such a situation, time and again, you will feel the inspiration missing – the thing called ‘writer’s block’ will threaten to overcome you. Your job is to keep writing even then, even if you feel your output is mediocre. You can revise the mediocre writing later, cut it out if need be. But keep writing
  7. Finish: Another mistake that’s quite common – never finishing. In trying to make the writing perfect or in waiting endlessly for an inspirational flash that would help them craft a spectacular ending, writers often take an unnecessarily long time to finish. This can sap their energy as well as make the writing process seem extraordinarily difficult, so much so they never attempt it again. Happened with a friend of mine. Don’t let it happen to you.
  8. Make a proposal 3 Months in Advance: All publishing companies follow similar steps before accepting a manuscript for publishing. The first step is to submit to them a proposal that usually consists of at a minimum a plot synopsis, three chapters and a brief profile of the author. The evaluation process normally takes 2-4 months. So about 3 months before you are sure you will finish the book, approach the publishing companies with the synopsis and the first three chapters along with your bio. As I said previously, the first three chapters better be marvelous.
  9. Be patient: Getting published can be a difficult ball game. Though it’s easier these days, especially if write a campus story, you still require lot of patience to get through the whole cycle. Try submitting your proposal to as many publishers as possible, and take rejections, if any, in a stride.
  10. Use Your Waiting Time Well: If you are waiting for publishers to respond even after you have finished, don’t waste your time fretting. My advice is to start another book. Keep you mind occupied. Avoid negative thoughts.
  11. Respect the publisher: If you are lucky enough to get a publisher, respect them. They have been in the business for years, maybe even before you were born, and are likely to know the best way to go about things. Certainly better than you. If they ask for changes to the manuscript, try doing it without fuss. If they suggest a cover, take the suggestion. Respond promptly and make sure the partnership trudges along well.
  12. Market Your Book: In these days of endless marketing and publicity, rarely a book can stand on the strength of its own merit in the overly crowded marketplace of attention. You must give a lot of time to the marketing of your book and spend some money too if you want it to succeed.

I love to listen to music of a wide variety, and also watch a lot of movies. I would also like to travel when I find time.

I like music, like really really like music. As ABBA said, thank you for the music. I must have been a musician in my previous birth, and intend to become one in this birth. I listen to a wide variety of music, from Bollywood oldies and ghazals and Sufi music to Pop and Soft Rock to Indian and Western Classical. I especially love songs that have beautiful lyrics.

Some of my favorite songwriters: Sahir Ludhianvi, The Beatles, Don McLean, Kaifi Aazmi, Shailendra, Queen, Amir Khusrau, Bob Dylan, Gulzar, Amitabh Bhattacharya etc

Listening to the ethereal, almost unbearable beauty of Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana – the one conducted by Lim Kek-Tijang — has more than once brought tears to my eyes. And it is not the only one. Many songs have that power over me.

I also like movies, almost as much as I like music. Ok, a little bit less, but not by much 🙂

In my MBA school which is famous for putting its student’s nose to the grind, I still managed to spend more than half my time watching classics of Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, George Cukor, Akira Kurosawa, Frank Capra, William Wyler, Elia Kazan, Howard Hawkes, Sidney Lumet, Hayao Miyazaki, Preston Sturges, John Huston, Fred Zinneman, John Ford etc

Some of the directors I love include Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Charlie Chaplin, Guru Dutt, Gulzar, Hayao Miyazaki, Steven Spielberg, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, William Wyler, Ridley Scott, Vijay Anand, Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan, David Lean, Mani Ratnam, Elia Kazan, Howard Hawkes, Akira Kurosawa, Sidney Lumet etc

Some of my favourite movies are laugh-riots like Angoor,  Some Like It Hot, Modern Times, MASH, Andaaz Apna Apna, Bringing Up Baby, Chupke Chupke, Monty Python Series, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, My Fair Lady, Groundhog Day; action classics like Sholay, Star Wars, High & Low, Seven Samurai, Alien, Terminator 2, Shiva, Dark Night, Die Hard, Leon The Professional, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Matrix etc; thrillers like Kanoon, Witness For The Prosecution, Infernal Affairs, Shadow Of A Doubt, Rope, Old Boy, Silence of the Lambs, Suspicion, Rear Window, Memento, Jewel Thief, North By Northwest, Notorious, Seven, The Fugitive etc; horror like The Sixth Sense, Alien Series, The Ring, The Thing, Final Destination etc; romance movies like Roman Holiday, The Apartment, Casablanca, It Happened One Night, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, My Sassy Girl, City Lights, Brokeback Mountain, The Princess Bride, The Shop Around The Corner, Pyaasa, Lunchbox, Punch Drunk Love, To Catch A Thief, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Jab We Met etc; and dramas like Schindler’s List, High & Low, Anand, Twelve Angry Men, Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Reservoir Dogs, Django Unchained, Nayakan, On The Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Good-Bad-Ugly, Anatomy Of A Murder, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, M, Seven Samurai, Stagecoach, Sunset Boulevard, Inception, The Prestige and many many more.

Paraphrasing Carl Sagan, we are dots (people) living inside dots (cities) on a dot (earth) in a practically infinite universe.

Or to put it more simply, we are dots in a dot on a dot lost in infinity. We can begin from this realization and I am sure we will arrive at a good place.

I believe all political/economic ideologies (left, right, centre, capitalism, socialism, liberal, libertarian etc), religions (Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism etc) and philosophies are set of ideas that can act as tools in human problem-solving toolbox depending upon the specific context. Problems arise when we select one of them and idealize and bow down to it to the exclusion of all others, and make matters worse by often bringing god in between. That invariably leads to extremism and hell ):

So what is it I propose instead we do with ideologies, religions and philosophies? Well, remember Newton? The math and physics genius said if he had looked farther than any one else, it was by standing on the shoulders of giants. I propose doing what Newton did. All ideologies, religions and philosophies are problem solving exercises by giants, and to solve the problems of our time, we should stand simultaneously on all the giant’s shoulders , (some giants more, some giants less, depending upon context); and look farther.

This is what I believe is the political/philosophical duty of each generation: not to bow down or submit to the political, religious or philosophical giants of earlier generations, but stand on their shoulders and look farther to solve problems of its time and place and context.


Some of the other quotes that illuminate my world-views:

एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति; Truth is one, but wise people know it as many – Rig Veda

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better — Maya Angelou

I was delighted to be able to answer promptly. “I don’t know”, I said — Mark Twain

If one has to answer at all, this line from one of the Upanishads of Indian philosophy comes very handy: From questioning comes knowledge, from knowledge comes wisdom, from wisdom comes peace, from peace comes joy.

Do not trip over what is behind you — Seneca

Should is a futile word. It’s about what didn’t happen. It belongs in a parallel universe. It belongs in another dimension of space — Margaret Atwood

Nearly all creators of utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache — George Orwell

As so often happens in philosophy/religion/ideology, clever people accept a false general principle on a priori grounds and then devote endless labour and ingenuity to explain away plain facts which obviously conflict with it — C P Broad

We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that — Marcus Aurelius


ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै । ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

1: Om, May God Protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student) (during the journey of awakening our Knowledge),
2: May God Nourish us Both (with that spring of Knowledge which nourishes life when awakened),
3: May we Work Together with Energy and Vigour(cleansing ourselves with that flow of energy for the Knowledge to manifest),
4: May our Study be Enlightening (taking us towards the true Essence underlying everything), and not giving rise to Hostility (by constricting the understanding of the Essence in a particular manifestation only),
5: Om, Peace, Peace, Peace



Let us leave all the theories there and return to here’s here — James Joyce

I may never be happy, but tonight I am content — Sylvia Plath

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