‘Everyone is special and comes with a purpose in life’, says Vikram Singh, a banker by profession, an adjunct professor and an author by passion. He is an advisor at IINREM Foundation; an NGO engaged in the upliftment of rural and semi-urban communities in employment and livelihood generation.
He has also co-authored an article with IIT Delhi on Artificial Intelligence in Banking. Vikram recently wrote his first fiction novel “Mystery of the Urban Monks” that ranked #4 on Amazon Hot New Releases and garnered a lot of positive appreciation.
Team Storiyaan dived right into a conversation about his debut book and his experience penning it. Read further to learn more about Vikram’s life, his award-winning short story- ‘God’s Own Child‘ and his encounter with spirituality.
Questions and answers
From where did you draw the inspiration for the characters of Krish, Tony, and Asif in your book. What was the intention behind taking characters from three different religions?
All three of them resemble characters that we experience in our day to day lives. We belong to a heterogeneous society, which inspired me to choose people from different faiths.
How did you make sure that your book had an essence of being didactic and philosophical without being overtly preachy?
I think for writers it is essential to write a book that has an underlying message. The challenge was to write a story that is stimulating but does not patronize the readers. I tried to add some fresh analogies to make it original, and a light read.
What inspired the book's title, and how are your "urban monks" different from traditional monks?
The story is about three friends, love, adventure, and their spiritual experiences. Unlike traditional monks who leave the mainstream society, urban monks are people from regular walks of life, living in a materialistic world yet having a spiritual side.
Provided the theme of the book, how often does spirituality override you?
I must say that my book is a blend of friendship, love, and spirituality. To me, spirituality is next to believing in Universal love and empathy, and that makes most of us Spiritual.
What was the significance of the choice of cities where the narrative takes place – Goa, Varanasi, Tibet and Afghanistan?
I wanted to give colors to the story, so these cities were chosen. Goa meant to signify fun and frolic, Varanasi for an immersing experience, Tibet to feel like oneself amid a mystical Himalayan kingdom, and Afghanistan to give a rugged yet warm feeling.
What made the banker in you delve into spirituality?
I think professional achievements and inner peace are equally crucial for everyone; we need to balance it.
You have co-authored an article with IIT-Delhi on Artificial Intelligence in Banking. Could you tell us a bit about it?
I am a Tech enthusiast and a huge fan of Elon Musk. I always wanted to write something meaningful about the impact of Artificial intelligence in the banking industry. The article “Steep Climb” that I co-authored with Prof. P Vigneswara Ilavarasan & Mr Sarath Murali from IIT Delhi talks about new-age technologies that are impacting the way we bank. It was published in the Indian Management Magazine June-19 edition and was quite well received by the industry.
"God's Own Child" won you much acclamation. Do you believe it to be a turning point in your career as an author? If yes, how?
God’s Own Child has a special place in my heart. It was a short story about the life of a child with Asperger’s syndrome. It ranked 16th in “Yes I Write contest”, amongst 10000 stories contributed by 5000 authors and made me a published author for the first time.
What, according to you, is of paramount importance in modern living?
To answer this, I would like to use a quote from my book “Life is like an old-fashioned cocktail, and you are the bartender. A perfect drink will need a balanced mix of all the ingredients.”
Did you ever witness writers' block while writing your book? If yes, how did you deal with it?
As a writer, we all go through that phase. I just take a break from routine and go into the mountains to draw some inspiration. Taking a break from time to time is very essential.
Some readers have drawn a parallel between "Mystery of the Urban Monks" and "The Monk who sold his Ferrari". What is your take on that?
I must thank my readers on your platform for such encouraging reviews. Robin Sharma is a great author. Although the genre may be the same, the stories are entirely different.
The book is said to assume a tinge of political opinion towards the end. On that note, what is your reaction about the on-going farmers' protests?
My book is a popular fiction but with no political tinge. But I think the current situation can be resolved if both the stakeholders sit together and try to solve it amicably.
1. Non-fiction or Fantasy? Fantasy.
2. Your favorite author? Mohsin Hamid.
3. Your daily mantra? Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
4. Your inspiration growing up? My father.
5. If not a banker or an author, what would you be? Full-time traveler.