‘The Talion Tale’, a riveting spy thriller calling for a covert strike to eliminate the perpetrators of the terror attack of 26/11 holed up in Pakistan, has been creating quite a lot of flutter off late. Having just reviewed this gripping book, we decided to catch up with Rahul Apte, the author, an IIT/ISB grad, who divides his time between making multi-million dollar investments as a Corporate Banker and weaving thought-provoking tales as a Writer.
What inspired you to write “The Talion Tale”?
The terror attack of 26/11 was a watershed moment in my life. It is not that terrorism had never bothered me before that diabolical act, but the sheer audacity of the terrorists in staging 26/11 shook me to my core. From nameless and faceless shadows placing bombs in public places, the terrorists went to openly mow down people in broad day light. Some of my friends knew some of the victims who were killed at Leopold’s cafe.
In my mind, 26/11 was ISI’s most blatant challenge to a peace loving people. The Government’s weak kneed response, both in the immediate aftermath as well as so many years after it, has left me and I am sure many others, seething.
The Talion Tale is my attempt to mobilize public opinion in favor of covert strikes to eliminate these fountains of hatred in Pakistan. It is a clarion call for the assassination of Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Lashkar-e- Toiba.
What are your forthcoming writings?
My next book is about the triangular relationship between Tibet, China, and India. I believe the idea that I am going to propose is surely going to create a lot of excitement, at least among the beleaguered Tibetans and those who are even remotely interested in Indo- China dynamics.
Rahul Apte Is Keen To Write on Indo-China Dynamics
I have taken it upon myself to sensitize my readers to the important geopolitical issues of the day, particularly those in the Indian sub continent, which have a direct bearing on India’s emergence as a Global Power and the responsibilities and expectations that will come with it. There is no dearth of strife in the sub continent today – From the subjugation of Tibet by China to the systematic persecution of Srilankan Tamils by the Singhalese majority, millions of people are suffering. In these circumstances, how should India, as a responsible regional power, balance the pursuit of its interests in its vicinity while holding aloft the banner of fundamental human rights that it has always espoused? My aim is to intertwine these geopolitical complexities into engaging fictional plots so as to reach out to people who usually do not lean towards such traditional ‘non-fiction’ topics.
What keeps you motivated towards writing?
The possibility that ideas floated by writers can lead to something path breaking, is something that I find tremendously motivating. In that regard, the impact that the book ‘Der Judenstaat’ by Theodor Herzl, an Austro- Hungarian Jewish writer and political activist, had on the thinking of world Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries, remains an abiding inspiration. In his book, Herzl proposed the formation of an independent Jewish nation, mentioning Palestine as a possible location among others. Initially, Herzl was vilified by the powers that be of the community, but as we know, in less than 50 years this idea, once thought of as being totally insane, became a reality in the form of Israel.
Rahul Apte Hopes To Sow The Seeds Of Similar Radical Ideas
I hope to sow the seeds of similar radical ideas, albeit through fictional plots, a genre which unlike a mostly post facto analysis involved in nonfiction, allows one to aspire and dream of a better world.
How much real life goes into writing a fiction?
In my case, a lot, simply because of the issues that I have chosen to write about. I feel, both as a writer as well as an avid reader, the need to be able to at least relate to at a deeper level, if not learn from, whatever works of fiction I read. To me, fiction has to be more than just an engrossing take on banal themes like love and a lot more about every day realities that unfold around us and impact us in more ways than one.
What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you’re reading?
I have just finished Ezra Vogel’s authoritative account of Deng Xiaopeng’s life and times at the helm of affairs in the post –Mao China. I am currently reading a book on Elon Musk and his literally gravity defying feats at SpaceX.
Your favorite book and why?
That’s a tough one, you know, to name just one! ‘O Jerusalem’ by Dominique Lapierre, is one of my favorites. He is also one of my all time favorite authors. Among modern day writers, William Dalrymple holds me spell bound. In fiction, top choices would be Orhan Pamuk and George Orwell.
A little bit about yourself now, your best memories from childhood?
Rahul Apte Bringing Best Memories from Childhood
Both my parents are avid readers themselves and always encouraged me and my sister to read as well. So binging on Phantom comic books during the summer holidays is clearly something that I greatly cherish as a memory. School was a lot of fun as well and many of those friendships have stood the test of time.
What career did you plan during your education days?
In many ways, I consider myself to be a scathing indictment of the Indian education system. While I was growing up, none of the career choices I made were ever driven by any passion or interest. I took up science in higher secondary because all ‘so called’ sharp kids did that. Then I went to the IIT because of all those sharp kids, the sharpest went to the IIT. Two semesters at IIT Madras had already gone by the time I realized that my marriage to engineering was a failed one.
Troubled by frequent bouts of infidelity, I spent the next three years devouring novels by Forsyth and Ludlum and poring over geo-political coverage in The Hindu. Post IIT, I joined ITC, again because it was a coveted job and not because I had any particular interest in rolling cigarettes by the millions. Boredom at ITC led me to joining the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad for my MBA in 2009. My dalliance with geo-politics continued throughout my MBA as well, with the Librarian often wondering why it was always the issues of Foreign Affairs and not any management books that I was after.
I have lived this dual life for so long now that I have made my peace with it. The Corporate Banker and the writer have finally learnt to live in harmony.
Rahul Apte On Phyiscal Therapy and Yoga
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
Until 2014, I was in great health. At least physically and then suddenly fell prey to a debilitating stress induced illness, which was misdiagnosed by at least 5 doctors. For the next 24 months, until the end of 2015, so great was my mental and physical suffering that I considered giving up my job and going back to Bhopal to live with my parents to at least reduce the day today workload. I had finished the first draft of the book by then and but was resigned to the fact that I will never be fit again to take it to publishing.
My wife browsed the internet until she found an American who had suffered from the same condition for 20 years and had then discovered the cure himself. It took me 2 years of physical therapy and yoga, not to mention the unstinting support of my wife and family, to recover enough to lead a normal painless existence.
Rahul Apte on the role of a woman
The best role of a woman is a Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter. Or an independent woman away from all these roles? (or any other role that comes to your mind).
I think all these roles are equally important and the ease with which modern women juggle these roles is awe inspiring. As a man, I do not think I would be up to doing so many things and still be able to smile.
I also believe it is a woman’s prerogative to choose one or more of these roles and chalk out her priorities accordingly.
Rahul Apte To His Readers
A message for your readers…
First, the cheeky one, “Please read my book. I guarantee you will not be bored!” On a more serious note, “ Work hard to achieve your dreams. There is no bigger high than your dreams coming true!”
Links & other relevant details:
Twitter handle: @Rahulapte_7
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thetaliontale/