Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Har Har Mahadev!

So these 2 days were some of the most interesting there was. It was my birthday yesterday, and this can be considered as a sequel/continuation from my yesterday's post. So coming to the event(s):

Crossword charms

"What we are seeing today is a publishing phenomenon." - Anil Dharka 

"He not only writes books, he makes it a multi-million dollar event. Amish is India's first literary pop star" - Shekhar Kapur

Those were some of the many praises for yesterday's launch of the third and final book of Amish's Shiva Trilogy, The Oath of the Vayuputras. It had been a long wait, and the beautiful journey which started in 2010 saw the beginning of it's end now. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch of the book at Crosswords, Kemp's Corner, Mumbai. I was expecting a decent crowd, but what I didn't expect was the so massive crowd screaming Har Har Mahadev! on the road lined outside the shop, that was really something! The organizers had difficulty in organizing and keeping up because of the amazing response. I honestly didn't knew there so many people who were crazy fans, but glad I wasn't the only one. After a bit initial frustration because of not-being-from-an-elite-class-or-celebrity moment which happens all the time, once inside things start pumping up.

I had already pre-ordered my copy the moment pre-orders started months ago on, so initially I wasn't much into purchasing one there. But being in that ambiance, I said fuck it, I dashed ahead, purchased some copies for me and my friends. I was accompanied by Gordon, a college friend and there met Mitesh, a very old friend whom I hadn't seen since 2009 or so and due to this event spoke up and met. The crowd was building up. Heck THERE WERE BOUNCERS! WHO HAS BOUNCERS AT A BOOK LAUNCHING? So understand the magnitude of this happening, this was the biggest and most anticipated book launch ever!

Like I ninja I'm, I slipped through and managed to have a quick chat with Amish who was preparing for the presentation. I had previously written another blog post dedicated to him, he saw it, liked it and tweeted me with a thanks. I was also lucky enough to have small such chats on twitter. He instantly recognized me and said he was glad I made it. I told him it was my birthday, he was awed and wished me, and told me with a wink that he'll see me tomorrow (they'll come below). Oh how I love twitter, helping me talk to people I admire, and help me win a lot of shit too :D

So with the crowd (and bouncers) going up in numbers, at about 9:30 the event started. The event started with a great performance, 2 tracks of the soundtrack by the band Indo Gypsies who had worked with it. It was (another) crazy coincidence because they had performed just a day before at my college festival (and won #1). I really liked those guys, and acknowledged them after they were out. It was followed by the special guests taking their places on stage. Apart from the aforementioned, the special guests included Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO of Westland Books Publications, publishers of The Shiva Trilogy and Kajol (the actress, not to be confused with kajal). A very funny occurrence was (as always, I was in a strategically good position) she had just passed by me and was standing just in front of me talking to someone, I was ahead just behind the line of barricade bouncers and already engrossed in the book finishing about 2 chapters. When her name was announced with a big shock I looked up finally and when I saw all of them I was like WHAT!? You see Shiva (and Amish of course) were the biggest stars there actually. However I did manage to amend my mistake, as they again passed by me after it got over. :D And yes, the special people in the room were also his entire team behind the book and around 300 passionate fans who were there to witness it first before anyone else.

It was fun, everyone spoke about the awesomeness of Amish and his work, and he himself had as always good stuff to say, followed by a reading of an excerpt from the book, Q&A with the audience, and of course the grand launch of the book (all that not in that exact order though) :P

One good thing was everyone were given numbered coupons for maintaining order which was fair enough. I was #54 so I guess I was the 54th person in the world to lay hands on the book, more or less. In an not-so-but-still-decent orderly manner, people lined up and went one by one to get their book autographed and get a pic clicked. Amish is a really cool, casual and down to earth person, he spoke with everyone, patiently signed everyone's book, answered questions and took pics. Who would be so patient enough to do all that? When I went up, I had got all 3 books of mine with hope to get them signed, I thought I'll reserve that for tomorrow but not only he took em and signed all 3, he also turned to his wife Preeti who was near talking and taking pics, he told her it's my birthday, who in turn told the announcer, announcing it was my birthday and wasn't this the best way to spend it? The whole crowd cheered Happy Birthday (and many people passing by wished me later too!), heck no one I know had done something like this for me ever! I didn't eat a morsel the whole day, starving hungry (not even a chocolate or cake, see my post on clich├ęs while you're at it) and this boring day ended on such a high note. Truly blessed. :)

 Took a train and reached home by 0030 hrs. I thought of skipping sleep and finishing the book at night so that I can talk about it the next day, but I was too tired so decided not to and crashed. It was wise as I didn't want to turn into a zombie at the meet/conference or worse oversleep.

flipkart Fascinates

So the next (big) day, got up and left for meeting the Amish again :D

I had won a contest by flipkart and Westland Books, for being one of the first to pre-order the book, answer some questions in my sleep, thanking the lord of random picking and well for being awesome. This time I think the universe was helping me, I very quickly reached the venue, Ramee Guestline Hotel, Dadar at 10 AM for the 11 AM scheduled meet. There I met Prashant, the guy from flipkart with whom I (and probably everyone else) co-ordinated with, Aswin, the director of Books division at flipkart, and a fellow winner Ram Kumar from Madurai, it was his first time here in Mumbai and what best way could it have been? I was quite surprised when he contacted me few days earlier before excited for the meet, flipkart had spent on his 4 flights (Madurai-Chennai-Mumbai and back) and also on the other winner Manish's who was from Delhi. That was impressive. So in short we had 3 people from 3 corners of the country for a private informal session with the AAA (amazing author Amish). And for those rare moments in Indian history, it actually started on time.

We were joined by the guys from Westland, Preeti who immediately recognized me (of course!) and said 'Hey lucky birthday boy' and then Amish who patted me on the back with a hey (again) buddy. Ram Kumar immediately 'took the lord's blessings' since unlike me who was very lucky to speak to communicate with him at times and just saw him last night and had an awesome birthday moment, he was first time meeting his most favourite author. I could see the genuine, child turning innocence and passion in his eyes which lightened my heart too. Not everyday you get such a chance. We are soon joined by the third fellow Manish finally, who had spent the previous night at the airport since he stays far from there so had to get ready after a tiring night and journey. He was a cool dude, an ex Indian Air-force fellow! So it was an ex-Vayuputra meeting with a creator of Vayuputras as we put it. :)

It was really great, we spoke a lot ranging from the 3 books, the ideas and symbolism behind them, Indian mythology, books, writing, the whole Indus Valley Civilization and Aryan Invasion Theory being complete bullshit and issues being political propaganda right since the British rule. I had a dozen questions to be asked what some people asked me to along with several of my own, Ram Kumar had 22 on his cell phone compiled and Manish was also in game, in short we all had done our homework and research pretty dam well. We couldn't record anything, and it was a if I tell you I'll have to kill you sort of thing. Okay not really but it was still cool. :D

After more than an hour of talking, it was massive photo session time, and a time where we could feel a bit as celebrities too. :D I got the chance to personally thank Preeti for the wonderful pics she took last night, help me make my birthday completely special. Got a second copy signed, this time more personalized :)

After it all ended well, there were journalists whose turn was to harass interview Amish while we three had a good chat with the flipkart guys namely Aswin and Prashant. Consumer feedback, what we liked and stuff in general. We had a lot of suggestions and feedback to give, well which we gave and hope will be implemented some time ;)

Had some nice lunch with some more talks with Amish and Aswin before all finally parting ways and ending the day. I told Amish I'll write a review on the trilogy once I finish the book (as I type this I'm at about 10 chapters, read in the train and at home when had some time) which I'll finish by tomorrow or so. He just requested me not to spoil it which I won't as I mostly stick to non-spoiler reviews, so be on a look out for that. Waiting for photos taken by those guys, will post more when I get them. Reached home late afternoon, heck those two from Madurai-Chennai-Mumbai and Delhi-Mumbai must have had a more comfortable journey than me from Borivali-Dadar. Something which only Mumbaikars will understand.

Big thanks to Amish, his entire team, Westland Books Publications (double points for you), flipkart (everyone already calls me a flipkart loyalist, I give them so much business after all, and they give me cool stuff, it's a mutually loving relationship, so far haha) and Crosswords (all time favourite hang out place, well the ones near my home). These 2 days were really awesome and special, I wish you all the success from the bottom of my not-so-existing-heart, but still I love you anyways. Looking forward to catch up next time. Never before I was so enthusiastic and eager to say the title of this post. I mostly use Godspeed, but from now also:

Har Har Mahadev!



Vineet said...

Damn cool! Happy belated B'day and I'm sure the IndiTee never fails to draw attention. Way to go, and keep blogging!

Aditya Iyer said...

Yes it sure does ;)
thanks a lot man :)

mitesh nair said...

Enjoyed reading your post....vividly described

Aditya Iyer said...

thanks man

Karishma said...

What you are not going tell us what you talked about with Amish?!?

What a great way to spend your bday! May you have an amazing year ahead :)

Aditya Iyer said...

We actually spoke a lot Karishma, I would have to write another post on it! :D
I'm waiting for some months to pass by so that I can include them in a review of the books without spoiling it :)