CHENNAI: I am a bad writer, insists author Ashwin Sanghi. What I’m good at is storytelling, says the author whose latest offering is The Vault of Vishnu. “I write several drafts before I’m happy with it,” he says giving us a clue into his writing process. Ashwin was the guest at The Indulge Time Pass hosted by author and senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai. Speaking on India and China he pointed out how the two great nations had so much of exchange. “The thought struck me when I was mixing sugar into a cup of tea and it was then that I realised that both tea and sugar, chai and chini, come from China,” he says.
“In fact, when you visit the temples of Shaolin you find the statue of Bodhidharma and how Bodhidharma is more popular in China, than in India. The origins of King Fu come from Bodhidharma,” he says. “My idea was to popularise some of these concepts through my paperback novels, and if I can do that I may have achieved something.” Replying to Kaveree’s question on the security establishments in his writing, he said, “When I was writing The Vault of Vishnu, I asked myself is this going to be a piece where every one is on the same side? But that’s not the case, there’re a lot of grey areas and that’s what makes the characters interesting.” Talking about the powerful women in the book, he said that Shakti is an important part of his life. He spoke about the five women in his life.
“My mother and my elder sister — both who pushed me to do what I wanted to do; the third person is my wife, who got me to write The Rozabal Line; the fourth is my Rakhi sister, and the fifth is Ma Saraswathi herself, because when I look at what I’ve written, I realise I couldn’t have done it without a divine force.” Speaking about his childhood, he said, “In Marwari households, the two magic words are debit and credit. As long as a child grows up hearing it, he will grow up to be of some worth in life. Sanghis have traditionally been selling cars and auto parts since 1920s. Growing up in that environment, one constant factor in my life was my maternal grand uncle who was very fond of reading.
He would send me a book every week to read and during his lifetime he has sent me over 300 books. And in return, everytime he expected a letter from me about what I had read, why I liked or disliked it.” Wrapping up the session, Kaveree quizzed him about his next work of fiction and what he has been working on during the lockdown. He said, “My old habit is never to share, till it comes out in print.” But he does reveal to us, “I’ve been working on two projects, the first was my own, not commissioned by anyone. I wanted to write a web series using a story that I had in mind — for which I had to write an entire universe. I did that in my first 30 days. That is sitting with my agent now. The next 30 days a client came along and wanted me visualise a series that they were working on which had a historical element.
They wanted it to be cutting edge and thiller-ish — perfectly suited to me. The next three months I’m working on a collaborative work based on mythology but I can’t reveal anymore now. Once I’m done with that I will start the next book in the Bharat series.” Watch out for these new offerings from the author even as you tune into the Time Pass sessions.