Motivation is the  key to everything
Published on: Sunday, October 06, 2019
By: James Sarda



Chetan and Akil
CHETAN Bhagat believes nothing works in life without motivation, that it is the most essential ingredient. He has seen the difference it made to his life. “Motivation is so important in life. It is more important than chemistry, physics and maths because if you are motivated you will study them

“If you are not motivated, you can be in the best school, have the best teachers and the best chemistry, physics and maths books and even the best computers but you will still not study.

“It (motivation) can make you a totally different person and we all need it,” he said, at the recent 37th Sharjah International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates, the world’s third largest.

He said the needed motivation can come from a talk, through a book or through a discussion with friends and that whatever it is, one should find a way to keep oneself motivated.

The author of “The Girl In Room 45” was sharing with the audience on where he got to be where he is today as a successful motivation speaker and writer. 

Chetan has a knack for churning out stories that are turned into Bollywood movies. 

The latest which is a romance-murder mystery set against the background of the Kashmiri conflict was his eighth and has already been slated for a movie. 

Just like four others – Five Point Someone that became the popular Hindi flick, 3 Idiots, The Three Mistakes of My Life, Half Girlfriend and 2 States.

He said there was a time when he even thought that motivation talks were nonsense and became a motivation speaker by accident when he put up something in his blog and a college invited him to speak to a group of students.

It was in his early days in the corporate sector and as a writer. He was nervous not knowing what to say to the students.

“Before I knew it, that became a job for me. Then people started calling me and before I knew it, that became a job for me. I really saw the difference.” 

The other thing is positive thinking.

“For everything that happens there is something good there, so trust that from above. Whatever happens in life happens for a reason, to make you a better person, etc. Have that faith,” he said.

He also said that family and health is what matters most in life and should take precedence over everything, no matter who you are, how rich you are or how famous or successful you are.

“This is what life is about. Everything else is illusion. Nothing really matters. Its like a game…sometimes it’s there. Sometimes it’s not there.

“But if you have these basics right, nothing can touch you. It is a matter of time things will get better. But the core basics you must keep it right.”

He also said reading is central to all these. “Books are very important because they are the only things that stir your imagination. When you read a book, you will imagine.

“Your brains activate and your imagination gets fired. Books are the only things that build concentration. Other things won’t build your concentration power. Imagination, focus and concentration are very useful for a decent life.”

He said this explains why well read people have a different personality. Therefore, books are always going to be important. Hence, to say that other things have taken the place of books is like saying lifts and escalators have come and there is no use for the stairs.

“There will always be stairs, as there will always be books.” He also says in his 15 years of writing, his focus has been on the younger set. He notes that too many youngsters today are addicted to phones, especially watching video content.

Hence, he wants to bring them back to reading.

His other concern about today’s youths is that they tend to look at life passively and would pay for this mistake later. It is the same advice, he said, he gave to his kids.

“The advice I gave my kids is that you can have a lot of fun from the ages of 15-20. I will not study, I will party, watch videos and post selfies all day. Do nothing but just party, party and party.

“But you know what happens when you reach 40? The bill will come. Life will give you a bill. You will not have a good degree, no good job, no money in savings to buy a house, pay a hefty loan for 25 years and always stuck. 

“So from 30 to 80 you will suffer or you can have Plan B where you work hard from 15-30. I’m not saying don’t have fun but first just do your work. The priority changes – work first, fun later. The first plan was fun first, work later.

“You just make work first. Later be entitled to your fun. It is a good age to have fun. By age 30 you have a great job, a good education. 

“You have enough money to save and achieve whatever. So when you retire you can live with a lot of dignity. Your assets will be earning money, instead of having a lot of loans to pay.

“So from 30-80 you can enjoy. It’s up to you which plan you want to take,” he said.

Another Indian who has made some impact in the literary world is Akil Sharma.

Unlike Chetan whose work relates to the Indian context, Akil experimented with both American and Indian crosscurrents in  his works based on his experience of being an Indian immigrant in the United States.

He said he felt culturally isolated since ending up with his family in the US when he was eight. He didn’t get much encouragement to read. In fact, his dad’s advice was to put something in a book if you want it to remain a secret because nobody reads.

Nevertheless, he ended up reading a lot to make up for being both unhappy and lonely. He would watch TV and have a book on standby to read when the commercials came.

When he began writing at 15, it was about white Americans although he did not know and certainly did not visit their homes.

“I did not know what they ate or what they did, except that they must be very important,” he said, and at some point started writing about Indians because of his background.

He found that where relationship was concerned, being American was so much different from being an Indian. Because in Indian societies women were traditionally viewed as a burden, he found his relationship with his dad’s brother was different from that with his mother’s brother.

He found it hard to relate this to American audiences. “I didn’t know to communicate this,” he said. He also related his experiences as a child in the US that convinced him that despite being an immigrant he was important when he pushed the buttons for the elevator when he was in it for the first time and it opened.

“When it began moving I felt that the elevator obeyed me. I had also never seen a sliding glass door before and when it opened, I felt the door did that for somebody important.”

Another of his experiences assimilating into American society was that of seeing his mother crying when she abandoned the sari and wore pants in order “to fit in” and look like an American so as to stand the chance of landing a job.

“All these things we can relate to like when we find ourselves unattractive. When I write, I feel like I have to draw from my own experiences. 

“There is no other way to communicate other than through things very specific to me. The more specific they are to me, the more universal they will be to you.

“When I look at you, I will imagine who you are as a person. Im comparing my insights to your ‘outsights’, whereas when we are reading a book we can acpmpare our insights to other people’s insights.”

Akil said for a book to work, it must be able to communicate these small things that are specific to me but are universal to humanity.

He said that as a writer, he is only doing part of the job. That he can write something but it’s the reader who actually brings the life into what he has written.

“It is the reader who makes the book real. I only do part of the work, you do most of the rest.”

Sharing some tips, he said he begins with an idea of what is important and urgent. “I write for as long as I can and usually it dies if the idea is not converted into a story. I go back and start again.

“So there are a lot of dead ends and I keep going back and forth and sometimes there’s no solution.”

Asked by Daily Express whether somebody can actually make a living writing books that people may never get to read, he said some can.

He said what makes it possible for him to write is that he is a teacher.





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