Raghuvir Mukherji

I am a traveller. Aren’t we all?

Sun Sign

Sagittarius

Three things people don’t know about you?

I’m great with kids, History is one of my hobbies, I often cry at the movies. Luckily it’s dark, so no one can see.

What is your greatest achievement?

Well, that would have to be - convincing the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India that I am worthy of being a member!

High point of your life?

When my baby was born. It has been eleven years now, and it is a gift that keeps giving.

Low point of your life

When my wife handed me the baby, looked at me with a vexed expression and said, “the baby is finally here, darling. But who’s going to clean the poo ?”

Which living person do you most admire?

Arvind Kejriwal. He’s a regular, middle class guy, but unlike the rest of us who keep complaining that the systems suck, he left a secure, coveted government job to jump into the rough tumble of Indian politics. Ink pots, slaps, slippers, lawsuits… he’s seen it all coming at him in missile form, ‘taken it like a man’ (excuse the gender insensitive expression) and stuck to his guns. Yes, he is given to making extreme statements, but I admire his pluck.

Who is your favorite fictional hero?

That would have to be Sherlock Holmes. Logical, yet delightfully eccentric.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Given some of the people we elect, we don’t have to go looking for fictional villains!

Who are your favorite authors?

I’d have to talk about my favourite books here. In fiction, I liked quite a few of Erich Segal’s books – Class, Doctors and Love Story, which I had read in my late teens and early twenties. I also love Oscar Wilde and Guy de Maupassant’s short stories. Jeffrey Archer is also a good author and a master of the short story format. In the non-fiction variety, I greatly enjoyed reading some of William Dalrymple’s books. Sunil Khilnani’s Incarnations – India in 50 Lives and Dr. Viktor Frankl’s harrowing ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ based on his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp are other favourites. In poetry, my favourites are Tagore and Lord Tennyson.

What are your 5 favorite movies of all time?

A Few Good Men, Tamasha, City of Angels, Padosan, Gandhi

One Superpower you wish you had?

To read people’s minds. Oooo… that would be fun. Flying would be a close second.

Your epitaph would read? /Last line in your biography would be?

Between the dates, his life was the dash - From wailing baby to a handful of ash. He lived it well, through crest and trough, and to all who needed it, he gave his love.

If you had a time machine to take you back to any country and any time period, where would you choose to be for your childhood, adolosent , adult life and silver years?

As an amateur historian, I often wonder what it would be like to live in various eras of history. To witness the incredible event of Alexander’s mighty Army crossing continents to attack India 326 years Before Christ, and his conversation with the vanquished but noble Porus; to hear Kautilya’s advice to the young and dashing Chandragupta Maurya; to witness the grand spectacle of a Roman circus; to be present among the Navratnas of Akbar’s syncretic imperial court; to see the Taj Mahal getting built and live in the grandeur of Shahjehanabad; to be there at the Pennsylvania State House when the Declaration of Independence was read out in 1776, starting with the immortal words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”; to listen to Abe Lincoln’s rousing Gettysburg Address that marked the final victory over institutionalized slavery in America; to hear Mahatma Gandhi give the call for “Quit India” at August Kranti Maidan in Mumbai; to sing “Kadam, kadam badhaye ja” with the soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj as they marched from Rangoon to Manipur; to hear Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘A Tryst with Destiny’ speech on the midnight of August 14th 1947 first hand, and then stand among the throngs to witness the tri-colour go up on the Red Fort on the rain-swept morning that followed it; to be part of the exuberant multitudes that followed Martin Luther King Jr to the Washington monument and hear him thunder “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal ! ". Then I remember, that there would be no mobile phones, no air conditioning, no Chinese takeaway and no double cheese burst pizza in most of those eras. So I am happy again to be in the here and now!

If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

I have always wanted to play the guitar. I also want to learn Sanskrit, French and Urdu.

Which book you wish you had written ?

Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. It is an elemental story of human ambition.

When and where do you write ?

On my laptop

Silence or music?

Silence

One phrase that you use most often?

“Essentially…”

Do you have a writing ritual / superstition?

No

Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

Writers need to learn the language in which they wish to write. And to learn, they need to read. One can’t aspire to write and then write grammatically incorrect stuff. It completely puts the reader off. I’ll take some licence and put in one more line: don’t get dissuaded by the naysayers. Remember, a lot of publishers rejected JK Rowling too. I’d like to hear what they are telling their business managers now!

Born in Kolkata, and brought up in various towns and cities across the length and breadth of India, Raghuvir Mukherji did his B.Com (Honours) from St. Xavier's College, Kolkata and went on to become a Chartered Accountant and Certified Financial Risk Manager (from the Global Association of Risk Professionals). He has worked in various companies, across Software, Banking and Capital Markets. This is his first book.

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