Art & Culture Art/Culture/Literature TAC Special

A tête-à-tête with “The SWASHBUCKLER FROM ODRA DESA”

Ankit Kumar Tripathy, or as he is fondly known as “The SWASHBUCKLER FROM ODRA DESA”, is a singer-songwriter and the author of three ebooks available on Amazon Kindle, namely: A DOVE FROM DARJEELING, THE TIMES OF FUN & MY GANJA DIARIES. A science graduate with an Honors in Physics from Dhenkanal Autonomous College, Odisha, he has previously worked as an Assistant Manager in Syndicate Bank. He currently imparts guitar lessons to students in his hometown of Dhenkanal, Odisha.
In his own words, he is six feet tall and is lean mean and clean alongside being sixty seven kilos of raw muscle steel and ruthless sex appeal.
“Life is uncertain and is under no obligation to provide you with happiness and comfort. But if you don’t allow good things to happen to you, then pretty soon you will be the good thing that never happened.”
MY GANJA DIARIES is an autobiography wherein the author narrates his experiences while rumbling through the rough lanes of small town India, sometimes stoned.
Author- Ankit Kumar Tripathy

What inspired you to start writing?

There was this one time when I was eleven years old and my mother fell sick. Just to allay the burden off of my heart, I wrote a prayer to God, hoping God would listen and make her better. That was when my writing career started. After that, I wrote songs for almost every occasion. I wrote a song about India winning the 2003 cricket world cup which they didn’t, about Bob Dylan winning Nobel prize, about 1999 super cyclone, Phailin, my hometown and so on.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I have written three books and all three are available on Amazon Kindle: A DOVE FROM DARJEELING, THE TIMES OF FUN, MY GANJA DIARIES.

Only because it is based on my real life experiences while rolling down the streets of small town India, My Ganja Diaries gets an edge over the other two. And also the fact that it involves one of the purest and oldest mind-bender known to humans: Ganja, the drug of the poor.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I am basically a songwriter. So I browse through everything in and around me to find a suitable title that is simple but makes you notice. A Dove From Darjeeling title came either from a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan movie. My Ganja Diaries came partly from Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries and partly from my misadventures with Ganja. The title for my next book has been inspired by a Muhammad Ali quote.

Who is your favourite author and why?

My understanding of good writing is straightforward: the words you read should create images in your head. In that vein A.C.Doyle, Robert Frost, Rabindranath Tagore, Bob Dylan are some of my favourite writers.

Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied these books?

I am predominantly a singer-songwriter-musician. So music is constantly playing in my brain. When I write songs, it’s always with a melody in the background. But I don’t listen to music when I write stories although unconsciously, there always is a tune in the back of my gray matter.

But it’s funny that while writing My Ganja Diaries, I would find myself humming a few songs that I happened to be singing when those incidents were happening in reality. Those songs are Country Roads by John Denver, Chandramali Hase by Akshay Mohanty, Tobe ekla chalo re by Tagore.

Author- Ankit Kumar Tripathy

What is your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Unlike singing, music, and to an extent sports, writing is not a natural art. Writing is the fakest form of art. But that is not a bad thing. It takes way beyond the 10,000 hours rule to produce writing that can spark imagery in your brain, to write words that will sound simple yet fresh and new, and to have that feeling of astonishment that you get when you see a simple magic trick. Wonderful writing will have all these elements to it.

What do you think of the current state of Indian writing?

Writers are like revolutionaries. It is my belief that when the overall going in a country is good, art tends to be lethargic. There is no greater reason(other than the current pandemic) uniting the country that would compel artists to push the envelope. Tagore, Premchand, Sarojini Naidu, all these guys were united by the common cause of freedom. We don’t have that now. Right now, most of our lives are very blessed and we have taken it for granted. So art is not expressing itself in the revolutionary way that it once used to. And thanks to social media, quality has been diluted by quantity.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

It’s pretending that I understand the emotion that I am conveying through my words when in truth I have never had to deal with that emotion. Say, for example, a writer who has never been in a war but is required to write on war. The best he can do is watch videotapes, imagine and imitate the scenario so that his pen does justice to his want to write on war. If he is a word master, he will do a good job of making word-salad out of word-mess. But this entire setup is a pretence. People will appreciate and acknowledge his art but deep down the writer knows that all he did was pretend that he knew the art of war very well when he hardly had any knowledge of the subject at all.

If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

I would like to ask Tagore as to what was it like being a poet in colonial times?
How did the freedom fighters of the time have an impact on his writing?
What was his inspiration or state of mind when he wrote The Postmaster?

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

My trade is music and my bread and cheese is the guitar. I give guitar lessons to students in my town. And apart from that, I am very much into magic and conjuring. I practice magic tricks every time I find some time to cool off. You can say, rather than being a writer and a musician, I am a nature bred performer. And then there is traveling through the gorgeous country side. Nothing beats that.

Chose either or

A) Tea or Coffee

I rarely drink tea or coffee but given the choice, I would dip my tongue into some coffee.

B) Movie or Book

Movies because they have the added advantage of imagery

C) Morning person or Night owl

A creative guy’s stable is always the night

D) City or Country

I like the calm, slow life of the countryside where you get to see the cosmic theatre every damn night of your life.

E) Paperback or Ebook

I will be shooting on my foot with this one but for me, it’s paperback because of the intimacy and the feeling of possessing something real and valuable.

Interview by Ipshita Das

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