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Interview: Paritosh Uttam in conversation with Sahil Khan
Paritosh Uttam, Editor of Urban Shots and author of the popular Dreams in Prussian Blue in conversation with Sahil Khan of TheTossedSalad.com;
1 Before we get into who Paritosh Uttam is apart from the author of Dreams in Prussian Blue, could you tell us about the book?
Dreams in Prussian Blue is my first published novel. It was published by Penguin India in Feb 2010 as part of its new "Metro Reads" series. The target readership is the young urban reader, but I think my book will appeal across age groups. The story is about a young artist couple in Mumbai, who opt out of the conventional life of studies and career to fall into a live in relationship and to pursue their dreams. Reality, however, does not work out the way they imagined it would, and the practicalities of life come in the way of their dreams. How they deal with their changed realities, in their different ways, is what the book is about.

2 Most writers isolate themselves from the world of books, and at times, from the world itself so as to keep their characters pure and unadulterated. What's your process?
I can't keep away from the world of books. I would say that 99% of all writers are voracious readers too. But I do try not to read other contemporary Indian authors, unless their subject matter is totally removed from my own. That way, I want to avoid getting subconsciously influenced in my thoughts and style. Otherwise, I do make it a point to read at least a few pages of a novel every day. I guess you have to be a part of the world you write about. It's somewhat of a trick: you have to be involved to learn about other people, and yet, you have to be detached to write about them. So I try to be involved in what's going on, but I can't keep socializing all the time. Otherwise I won't get the time to write.

3 Any character (from any book) that felt was a reflection of you? Something about the character you would've wanted to change?
Oh, you find a bit of yourself in every well etched character. It's not necessary that I see myself reflected in another character; if the writing convinces me about some characterization or reaction of a character, I feel the same sense of empathy. Human beings are too complex to find everything about them reflected in one character.

4 If you were in Michael's shoes, how would've you expected your wife to react? Stay or leave?
You mean towards the end? Realistically speaking, I would expect her to leave, but then, Michael isn't realistic about life, is he?

5 A question that I had asked you when we had met once, "Are you planning to write full-time"? Any updates on that?
No, it's practically not possible. What I can earn from my writing no way compares to what I earn from my fulltime job as a software engineer. Unless I become a top of the charts bestselling writer, whose name is enough to guarantee a million copies sold, I don't see that happening. Maybe I can think of giving up a fulltime job and turn parttime sometime in the future.

6 Google "Paritosh Uttam" and you come across some of the stories that you've written for some blogs and publications. One also comes across your photo blog where you share your travel shots. And yet you're working full-time in a company. How do you manage that?
Well, you have to create time for the things you are interested in. If you cut down on aimless socializing and changing channels on tv and other such unproductive activities, you will get the time. Of course it helps in having a helpful spouse so that you don't have to worry where your next meal is going to come from!

7 Mind throwing some light on your love for the camera? When did you pick up the instrument? What are you using these days? If a lower end/point and shoot model, do you plan to upgrade? Your dream equipment?
I am strictly an amateur. I wouldn't like to offend photography buffs by talking about cameras. I don't think I could handle an LSR, so I stick to point and shoot. I would have to spend a lot more time on photography to make buying the SLR worthwhile. I basically concentrate on getting the framing right when I shoot.

8 Nobel Prize for Literature or the Man Booker? Which and why?
The Nobel? Prize is recognition of lifetime achievement while the Booker is for the book of the year. Also, the Booker is limited to English novels in the Commonwealth nations. That way the scope of the Nobel is wider because it rates a writer for his/her consistency over the years. But that also means a writer gets a Nobel after he is over his peak, while one can win a Booker with a first book, which does wonders for your fame. So a writer's dream should be of winning a Booker with his first book and getting a Nobel with his last :-)

9 A writing man needs his food and drinks right to keep him going. What are your preferences?
All I need is time and the ability to focus on the job at hand. Drinks and a heavy, rich meal just put me to sleep.

10 You're the editor for Grey Oak's upcoming anthology Urban Shots. What's your take on Urban India and does it reflect in the piece you've written for the collection?
I have contributed ten stories to Urban Shots. The theme of the anthology is relationships in urban India. In general, it is the urban India that has benefited and progressed in the new economy. That reflects in the kind of confidence and ambition the people in the cities have, specifically in the younger generation. On the negative side, it also shows up in the frustrations and pressure of modern life. People are more eager to form relationships and but are also under pressure to keep them going. My stories do reflect different aspects of relationships in urban India.

11 Do you think the young generation today, in general, stands up to a cause, or for that matter, for/against an opinion? Would you in the future prefer/would be ok with your children standing up against an authority, or even getting into politics, and why?
I think they stand up for causes that they can identify with. They are pretty clear about what they what want and what they don't. Politics in India is messy. It doesn't have a good reputation. I would be cautious about anyone close to me getting involved in it. At the same time, I know that good people have to get involved to change it. It is a tough choice.

12 A dream that stands to come true?
It was a dream to get my novel published. So that has come true. But of course the mind does not remain satisfied for long. There's always something else to look forward to: get my future books published, get rave reviews, sell a significant number of copies and be more famous... One does not stop dreaming.


Sahil Khan is a lifestyle activist, foodie, music lover and designer. He runs an online magazine, TheTossedSalad.com, and an egg specialty restaurant, Yolkshire. He is also one of the contributing authors of Urban Shots. More on http://sahilk.tumblr.com

On Scribble Pad Now
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