BENGALURU : Jan–March 2015, NEW YORK CITY
Aditya Kesavan had been asleep for hardly three hours when the blare of his cell-phone alarm woke him up. Rubbing his eyes, he pushed off the quilt and climbed out of bed, walking to the bathroom. He had slept late the previous night after spending the entire evening stocking up on food and groceries. NYC was on high alert following a blizzard warning.
He came out of the bathroom and switched on the coffee maker. His was a small but sufficient two-bedroom apartment, located close to the university campus. Aditya also owned a huge five-bedroom mansion a few miles to the north, where his wife and daughter stayed. Not too long ago, all three of them had lived there together, but one day his wife had caught him frolicking with his PHD student in the kitchen and thrown him out.
Thankfully, she hadn’t made the matter public or his reputation as a tenured professor at NYU would have been in tatters. There were three cardinal sins in the academia in the US; sleeping with a student was one of them, and possibly the 8 most frowned upon. The other two were plagiarism and stealing from federal grants.
His wife had ultimately let him off the hook, but only after she got her pound of flesh. She had also made two more demands – that he walk out of the house then and there, and that their daughter continue to stay with her. Not in a position to negotiate, Aditya had agreed to both. That morning, he was concerned about his students. Many of them would struggle to make it to class in this weather. Back in India, people would use bad weather as an excuse to take a day off. But it was different here.
He glanced at the stack of papers on the table next to his bed. It was the final version of the manuscript that his publisher had sent him. He had to go over the entire pile and send his confirmation by the weekend. Sixty days to the release of his book, and he still wasn’t mentally ready. The publishers wanted to cash in on the success of his earlier book – a controversial one that explained how the Chinese economy was really a bubble, one that would burst in a year.
That book had been a big hit and broken all records. Not only had Aditya become the darling of the publishing house that had published the book, his success had also won him various consulting assignments with the Federal Reserve System – the central banking system of the US. And to top it all, television channels and online media began projecting him as an expert on China’s economic policies.
His first book had changed his life. He didn’t make enough money as an academician, but his book had more than made up for that.
Translated into seventeen languages globally, it had sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Looking back, Aditya just wished that he had negotiated a higher advance. But then, at that time, China was on a roll and no one was willing to publish a book which talked about the imminent failure of that country’s economy. So when a publisher finally accepted the manuscript, Aditya was relieved that at least he had found a good brand to publish his book. Anyway, more than money, what the book had given him was recognition, and that was something you couldn’t put a price on. Excerpted with permission from Don’t Tell The Governor, Ravi Subramanian, HarperCollins India.