BENGALURU: Author Carlo Pizzati is a Swiss fiction and non-fiction writer, who has published books like Mappillai, Edge of an Era and more. His latest book, Bending over Backwards is an intrepid and humorous travelogue. The author embarks on a quest to find a cure for a backache that has tortured him for 20 years.
What has been the most astonishing thing that you have ever come across as a travel enthusiast?
I’m not sure I get all that astonished anymore. But yes, monsoon thunder is astonishing. Also, honest politicians, punctual Italians and a large room full of quiet and shy North Indians do surprise me too.
Bending Over Backwards is a book that deals with the troubles of backache. Which events in your life caused you to write the book?
Aside from physical pain, in 2008 I was going through a rough phase. The separation from the mother of my child, a professional crisis and the need to finish my first novel which was taking three years. A change had to happen, or I would have sunk and I found a way out.
Your book focuses on self- discovery and facing life’s challenges with an open mind. What advice would you give to young readers?
Explore as much as possible, since options diminish as you grow older but choose as well as you can. It’s not ‘you’ who always make the choice, certain times it’s a sum of experiences. So, forgive your mistakes, relax and get going.
How was the experience of living in Mysuru and with the Yogis? What was your biggest take away from the city?
I was in a state of bliss. The central lesson from guru Sri Patthabi Jois was, “Just do your practice, all is coming.” Determination is the key, but without thinking of the goal.
Has meditation made you a calmer person? Give us an insight into your mediating rituals and regime.
It surely has. I was taught transcendental meditation techniques by a respected teacher. It includes pranayama and half an hour in the morning and again before dinner of mentally repeating the mantra, plus the japamala. I recited the Ganesha and Gurugita stotrams in Sanskrit and sang bhajans.
What was the research process for writing the book?
Aside from the experiences that I relate, I have read extensively on technology in spiritual contexts, and interviewed people who build aura-reading machines. I’ve read Patanjali, the Yoga Vasishta, the Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic texts. I loved Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret India and Herman Keyserling’s Indian journey in The Travel Diary of a Philosopher, and other texts mentioned in the bibliography of Bending over Backwards.
In your book, you talk about how spirituality and technology intersect. How do you think that would help an individual grow and learn spiritually?
Technology has always contributed to spiritual growth. Writing is a type of technology and so is a book. Christians even describe themselves as People of the Book. Meditators using mantra apps on their phones to help them calm their mind are all benefiting from technology.
You have been to many countries and have experiences that vary from across the globe. What influences have you had as a writer that has aided the books you have written?
My first journeys around the world started by reading books. From the age of five, I sought comfort in the pages of a 1950s illustrated encyclopaedia for young readers, a compendium of mythologies, legends and novels from everywhere, including India. It built an appetite to discover the world beyond my valley. I was later influenced by writers from across the world–Germany, Colombia, Czech Republic, Peru, Hungary, Italy, India, Japan, France, Turkey and Russia.
Have you found the answers you have been searching for in India?
I came to India looking for the truth, instead I found love. If love is truth, then I found what I was looking for.