A graduate of BITS Pilani and Wharton School, Anand Haridh heads investments for a large business group in Indonesia. The author of Second Wind, the story of a corporate honcho who finds himself sliding down the ladder, we spoke to him about the corporate world and how we view accomplishments:
Your protagonist gets the education he desires (the most favoured for his generation) and, initially at least, the jobs he wants. But he doesn’t seem to view them as accomplishments. Why is that?
Accomplishments are defined by each individual for himself or herself and may also be influenced by others or society at large. Irrespective of how something seems from the outside, many individuals feel they have fallen short. For instance, consider a cricketer who plays for his state team and a few Test matches, before being dropped from the Test team. The fact that out of a billion people, he actually made it to the Test team may seem like an accomplishment. But he might also be ruing the chances missed. I placed the protagonist’s sense of helplessness in that personal sense of accomplishment rather than an objective measure.
This lack of passion that tortures the protagonist, is it something you encounter frequently in the corporate world?
It would be a generalization to comment on the corporate world. This is one individual’s personal journey. But there is something to be said for loss of the individual identity in a corporate environment.
At its heart Second Wind feels like a parable, but an unusual one that goes counter to the Buddhist axiom ‘Desire is the root cause of sorrow.’ Here, the lack of true desire seems to be the root cause of our protagonist’s sorrow. Can you comment on this?
There is a difference between non-attachment and indifference. Indifference, at an extreme in the protagonist’s case, can be corrosive to the individual and even more so to his relationships. Non-attachment as espoused in the Gita or by Gautama Buddha does require the individual to be fully involved in life, by living in the moment, though unaffected by the outcomes. It is a difficult concept, even if one can understand it, to make a part of your life. Here, the protagonist’s sadness is due to a lack of awareness of what he wants for himself, lacking the courage to seek it and drifting toward death. He chooses peace, a defeatist peace, over a chance of happiness, however temporary that may be.
Tell us a bit about how you began writing.
I always loved books and read everything from Kalki’s works in Tamil to popular English fiction growing up, encouraged by both my parents. V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River changed my literary interests and took me in a direction that I cherished. I dabbled on and off in writing during my lonely days, while studying and working in the U.S. and quickly learnt my limitations. I had some success writing about economics, finance and politics. But this is my first attempt at fiction and I am very thankful that I was able to get it out.
Tell us about the inspiration for Second Wind.
I took what I saw around me, with my friends’ lives and some of my own experiences, and wove a story.