Alumni Author: The House under a Neem Tree – Davella Pashupati, PGP 1998
We all have a special trunk of memories that make us nostalgic, and take us back in time reminding us of the good times. It can be a memory of riding your first bike, time spent witn friends or simply something that puts a smile on the face. The House under a Neem Tree authored by Mr. Pashupati Davella is his story of nostagia, of reminiscence and his journey that has something for everyone.
A regular blogger, Mr. Davella has a flair for writing and connecting with his audience. He is also a successful entrepreneur with two startup experiences.
In this interview he talks about his current book and gives us insights of his journey as an author.
Please tell us something about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Patna and started my career with The New India Assurance in Mumbai. I joined IIMB for the PGP program after considerable work experience and after passing out in 1998, I joined a Singapore-based insurance software company. Later, I co-founded two software firms in India, both in the insurance software consulting and system implementation services. The first company, Ibexi Solutions has now been acquired by Sapiens Technologies of Israel and the other Joint Venture msg-Ibexi, which specialised in SAP platform, has since merged into msg global of Germany. I am currently a freelance IT consultant, based out of Bangalore.
Can you please tell us about your latest book – The house under a neem tree?
The ‘house’ under a neem tree refers to my ancestral house at Patna. Every family has its stories and Pantheons, which are passed from one generation to another. I compiled and weaved these stories around my life and my generation, with me being the narrator and the protagonist. Interestingly, these stories resonate with readers of my generation, who grew up between the mid-nineteen seventies to the end of the eighties.
In a way, these real-life stories reflect India of that period, especially for people who grew up in smaller places, faced unequal exposure and opportunities and the technology to bridge the information asymmetry. In my case, I had an additional interesting situation of a south Indian family living in a small eastern Indian town.
The book also covers the early stages of my professional life from the end eighties to the early nineties and a slice of my entrepreneurial journey during the first decade of the current century. Not many people understand that organisations in India have undergone a significant cultural and professional makeover in the last few decades and the stories of the earlier period can make an interesting read even for the current generation eager to know about life in the past.
Then I have touched upon some interesting and funny incidences related to my hobbies and my travels, which essentially tell the story of my evolution over a period, from childhood to the current day.
Finally, I have briefly reflected upon a few philosophical questions that agitate my mind. In the hundred brief stories, ranging from a couple of pages to several, I have tried to touch upon society as it evolved from the seventies to recent times through anecdotes, observations and commentaries.
Who are the publishers and from where one can order the book?
The book has been published by Notion Press, Chennai and is available on the Notion Press site, Flipcart, Amazon India and worldwide, as well as on Kindle.
What got you interested in writing? How did you get into this space?
I have been a regular blogger for the last several years. It allows me to reflect upon and express myself on contemporary issues. Some of my writings have received positive feedback, as they touched those who read my posts regularly. It encouraged me to explore and experiment with my writing and finetune my style and my voice.
A couple of years back, our batch at IIMB decided to bring out a batch book named ‘Second IIMpressions’. I wrote about my experiences at IIMB and edited the book, along with a few batchmates. This gave me an end-to-end experience of publishing a book. After this, I decided to compile selected write-ups of mine in the form of a book and the result is ‘The House Under a Neem Tree’
How do you take out time from your busy schedule to manage writing and creating content?
As mentioned, after the M&A of the two firms I co-founded, I am a freelance information Technology consultant. This allows me greater flexibility and control over my time. In addition, due to Covid Pandemic, I work from my home more often, thus saving precious hours, which, otherwise, were being wasted on my daily commute in the infamous Bangalore traffic. I use this time to follow my passions, including writing and partly to take care of my nonagenarian mother.
You have referred to ‘Second IIMpressions’, a book brought out by the entire batch of 1998. Tell us something more about this book.
‘Second IIMpression – Memories and Journeys’ started with a single blog of mine which dealt with campus life at IIMB. It was much liked by my batchmates, hence we developed the idea of coming up with a batch book, to revisit our days at the campus and life thereafter. Through this collective work, the entire batch could reminisce our days at the campus and how we have progressed in life during the last 23 odd years. In a way, it was a warm-up and a kick-start for our silver jubilee reunion due in 2024.
What have been your learnings from your experience, as a writer/ author?
My experience is limited to a few hundred blogs, editing a book, writing another and working on a third one. I am still learning the art of catching the attention of the reader. Hence, any generalization will be premature. I believe that if you have a powerful story, it is possible to develop it and weave it into the form of a book. Writing as a skill needs to be honed every day and almost anyone could write, with some practice, passion and commitment.
What other interests do you pursue in your free time?
Since I work from home with flexible timing, I can pursue several avocations simultaneously. I dabble in photography, music, social activities and maintaining relationships with family and friends. I take interest in teaching and content creation, especially for e-learning. I am in the process of setting up an NGO to undertake focused activities to make some difference in the lives of people and am mentoring a couple of start-ups.
Any memories or instances at IIMB you would like to share?
I have poured myself into ‘Second IIMpressions’ and anything I narrate now will only be a subset of what I covered there. When I arrived at IIMB, my knowledge of using computers, especially Windows-based systems was limited. I needed help in doing and submitting my assignments, creating a lot of self-doubts. Remember, we are talking of a previous generation of digital migrants. I must credit the institute and my batchmates for helping me learn, to an extent that I co-founded two IT companies and grew these in size and scale. Everything I learned at IIMB in the area of finance, marketing, production, HR and IT have been used by me over the last two decades and more and I am grateful for it. I continue to be associated with the institute through guest lectures, and as an alumni representative in the admission interview panel.