Why I wrote DareDreamers

The philosophy behind my second novel

I co-wrote my second novel, DareDreamers: A Start-up of Superheroes with my father. It has been published by Rupa Publications. It was launched last week:

Launch of DareDreamers: A Start-up of Superheroes — my second novel

My first novel, The Quest of the Sparrows was also co-written with my father and also published by Rupa Publications in 2011.

Last week, when DareDreamers came out, I realised that I can now finally use the label ‘Novelist’ because now me and my dad have written two novels between the two of us — and that’s one per head! Our next goal, after writing two books, is to not be one-book authors.

This is just the beginning of the complexities of co-writing books. Not to mention the father-son dynamics that flummoxed even the Greek and Islamic mythologists! It’s nothing short of a miracle that we are both alive to see our work reach the readers after nearly five long years of working on it.

To understand the philosophy of the book, let me first share what the word DareDreamers means to us. And why is there no space between the two words.

There are those who day dream of that One Day, when they will do what they want. But OneDay simply does not exist in the seven days of the week, does it? That’s probably why the One Day doesn’t ever come for the day dreamers. DareDreamers on the other hand are those who don’t just dream big but also dare to turn their visions into reality. And just as DareDreamers do not let anything come between them and their dreams becoming real, we felt there should be no space between the two words.

DareDreamers, the novel, is the story of Rasiq, a typical engineering and MBA graduate in India. He begins his innings full of optimism and dreams about his corporate life at an investment bank where he imagines himself battle ready.
He works hard and endures a lot but as days turn into weeks and months, he finds himself turning into a fundamentally different person from what he imagined. As we often do, he rationalizes almost everything he knows he’s doing wrong. Until he cannot do so anymore. By this time, however, he is a wreck. The only thing he doesn’t lose is his grit and determination.

The novel then, is the story of his gritty comeback. Pushed to the wall by his circumstances, he comes up with a start-up called DareDreamers, an accident rescue company which he co-founds with a team of super talented individuals who are superheroes in their own right. There’s Nick, his friend from his engineering college, who is an inventor. There’s Natasha from his school, who is a Bollywood stunts-woman. Then there’s Dr. Vyom who is a medical genius. Halka is an exiled bodyguard and Arjun is a sharp shooter. From this point, DareDreamers is a story of how they face and overcome challenges and obstacles to make their dream successful.

The book’s philosophy is one of choosing your battles. It’s normal in our societal construct to start on a beaten path of proven economic viability. You have to make decisions about the rest of your life when you are 16, if not younger, and most people end up making decisions from whatever limited experience they have. If we understand that these very kids are incapable of
political voting, then why do we think they are old enough for such a significant professional decision? One that will decide who they are supposed to be for the rest of their lives!

I, for example, loved fixing our second-hand car with my dad when it broke down every week. And decided I want to become an engineer when the choice came between engineering and medicine. I ended up doing Chemical engineering that has very little, if at all anything, to do with fixing cars!

Does that mean that I should keep trying to be the best chemical engineer? I worked really hard for my grades till I graduated — just because there wasn’t anything better to do. I did well not because I was passionate about chemical engineering, but because I wasn’t passionate about anything else either.

In that sense, I was the tortoise in the fable of the hare and the tortoise. I kept chiseling slowly, mindlessly I would say, at a wall that I had no real reason or drive to break. But I discovered my love for writing in that ambivalence. I wrote science fiction short stories, a few of which actually got published. I wrote a novel that I never finished — but simply loved to write. This led me to think that I probably, slowly was transforming into the hare who is uninterested in running a race against a tortoise simply because the jungle has gathered to watch. I feel the hare is judged too harshly in that fable for not doing as he was told to do. I believe that napping is better sometimes than running a meaningless race.

The fable of The Hare and The Tortoise was written back in the era of industrial revolution when slow, steady effort mattered more than free, independent thinking. With the changing times, we need our own fable.

DareDreamers is the story of a hare who abandoned one race, but ran like his life depended on it when he was in a race that mattered to him. It makes me think that the fable was probably written to encourage people to keep working hard back in the times of the industrial revolution when steady effort mattered more, not gray matter or free, independent thinking. In the long run, it seems to tell us, the slow and steady win. But as the Nobel laureate Bob Dylan pointed out, the times they are a’ changing and we need our own fable — one that encourages people to also work smart for what they are passionate about. And it’s not just about disruptive innovation and ideas that the start-ups of today epitomize. Even the corporates are now fostering a work smart culture.

It was only when I found my passion in Development Sector (public health, to be precise) that I realized what the alignment of your passion with the mission that you are trying to drive does. Up until then, I was driven primarly by external motivators of fear and validation from society, and that can only take you a short distance. When you follow your heart, you are able to accomplish what you are proud to call your life’s work, in your work life. It becomes a lot easier then to have the patience, perseverance and persistence, required to excel and create something of everlasting value. I rejoice in giving my best against overcoming the challenges at my job like bureaucracy, slowness and politically charged — despite having left my banking job for very similar reasons.

External motivators of fear and validation can only take you so far. To tap into your internal motivators, you need to follow your heart and work towards something that you are passionate about.

To me, DareDreamers are people who dare to dream and follow their dreams with zeal and a never-say-die spirit; a very important distinction from day dreaming. They face and overcome any challenges and obstacles, of which there are always plenty, driven by their love, passion and belief in the value that their efforts help create and what they stand for.