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I don’t write to a pattern: Author Shobha Nihalani

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Author Shobha Nihalani says she does not write to a pattern but that has not come in the way of her churning five hugely successful novels. Her novels have mystery and conspiracy as the common theme. She is quite a citizen of the world, having lived in places as diverse as Singapore, Mumbai, Hong Kong.

“There’s no particular pattern, but I am either thinking about the story or writing it down whenever I have time. It could be a chapter or a page or a character development,” Nihalani told the agency in an email interview from Hong Kong, where she is now settled.

“I don’t have a 9-to-5 job, but I do work part-time in our family-owned company as a boy-keeper. I am also a housewife which involves family and social responsibilities”, she said.

It is perhaps this diversity of existence that has led Nihalani to deliver to the literary world works like “Karmic Blues” (her debut novel that was first published in Danish), “The Silent Monument” (also translated into Danish), two of the “NINE” trilogy and now “Unresolved” (Hachette, pp 286, price Rs.350).

“The common thread in all these stories is that they are based on mysteries or conspiracies. ‘Karmic Blues’ carries references to past life regression, ‘The Silent Monument’ mentions conspiracies surrounding the historical facts of the Taj Mahal. The conspiracy of ‘NINE’ refers to the oldest secret society, the protectors of powerful knowledge. And in ‘Unresolved’, I have implied that there are influential people who kill those who demand transparency using the RTI Act,” she said.

How did Nihalani get started as a writer?

“It was the love for the written word. Back in the 1980s, as a teenager in Mumbai, I would accumulate newspaper snippets of well-written, entertaining articles. In addition, I had a little notebook and wrote down quotes or phrases that were so beautifully written… I had to save them.”

The snippets, articles and the notebook entries – all helped in Ninhalani’s role as a writer.

“Later, when I studied in Antwerp for my bachelor’s degree, one of the requirements was to write an essay for an economics course. I chose to write an economic assessment of India during British Rule. A family relative helped me gain access to the Fergusson College library in Pune.

“While I researched, I also spent many long hours completely lost in the dusty volumes of Indian history inside that architecturally beautiful library. It was one of the most memorable times of my life. I guess that’s when the seed was planted to become a writer,” Nihalani explained.

How did her global journey come about?

“My parents loved to travel a lot. My childhood and growing up years were spent in six cities in four different continents. It was only after marriage that I planted roots and settled down,” she said.

What then has she gained from her global journey? “There are many snapshots of memories that have enriched my life,” she replied.

In Kano, in Nigeria, she has “memories of bloody feudal wars between ethnic groups”.

“In Bengaluru, travelling to school on the cycle-rickshaw in the cool mornings, spending time with neighbours as we would cycle around the colony. In Singapore, I was finding it difficult to adjust to school life and spent most of my time reading books”.

“Next stop, Mumbai, this was the city where I finally felt I had developed roots and made some good friends. There was the laid-back college life. Bunking was part of the scene which meant sitting with friends at Marine Drive, eating street food, discussing the philosophies of life and the changing trends,” Nihalani elaborated.

The most memorable part of Mumbai, “was the monsoon… the smells, the sounds, and the cool breeze. Also, from our high-rise apartment, I would watch oncoming sheets of rain forming curtains across the sea… it was a visual pleasure”, Nihalani said.

On moving to Antwerp, the one thing that really hit her was the quiet.

“The sparsely populated streets, as compared to Mumbai, were so empty, it felt strange. The lack of noise was so distinct, it took time to adjust. But then I slowly developed a liking for the solitude and walked for hours exploring the city.

“The changing seasons were so distinct it was a marvel to watch the trees blossom in spring and change with the passing months, turning into gnarled branches in the winter. There was many a ghost story that came to mind during the dark cold months. In Hong Kong, my journey took on a new turn with marriage and a whole new life developed from there on,” the author said.

What of the future?

“Definitely more reading and writing”, Nihalani concluded.(IANS)(image-twitter)

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Microsoft Ready to Help Indian Startups, Says President Anant Maheshwari

Microsoft is focused as much on selling third party solutions as their own, and this co-sell motion has helped generate $8 billion in revenue for partners within 18 months

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Armed with a cutting-edge technology platform, a well-established partner organisation and an expansion of M12 venture fund, Microsoft is ready to help Indian startups across the spectrum embrace the next phase of growth, Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, said here on Monday.

India, which saw a tremendous growth in the startup space in the last couple of years, is now witnessing a growth in the business-to-business (B2B) tech startups coming up with innovative ideas to deal with local problems.

“With our intelligent tech expertise, deep focus on trust and unique global go to market partnering, we empower unicorns and startups to scale sustainably at a global level,” said Maheshwari.

“We remain excited about India’s entrepreneurial startup potential and will continue to accelerate it as a growth engine for the economy,” he added.

India witnessed a dramatic rise of eight unicorns in 2018 from among the start-ups across verticals as against a mere nine in six years from 2011 till 2017, according to IT industry apex body Nasscom.

The start-ups joining the select club for their valuation over $1 billion are Oyo Rooms (hospitality), Zomato and Swiggy (food delivery), Udaan (retailer marketplace), Byju’s, (edu-tech), Paytm Mall (e-tail), Freshworks (software programmer) and Policybazaar (digital insurance).

Maheshwari said Microsoft is uniquely positioned to support Indian startups to achieve scale and evolve from market ready to enterprise ready.

Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

The introduction of M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, in India in February is creating new value for startups, VCs and the company itself to maintain the pace and direction of innovation.

“M12 is looking at investing in innovators who have aligned their focus on cutting-edge technologies that better enable digital transformation. The portfolio development team at M12 is specifically built to help support and scale companies by leveraging the expansive resources of Microsoft,” said the company.

According to reports, venture capital investments in Indian tech business-to-business (B2B) start-ups have been trending upwards, with over $3.09 billion raised in equity funding across 415 deals in 2018 — 28 per cent more than $2.41 billion in 2017.

Also Read: Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

Under the “Microsoft for Startups” initiative, startups can co-sell with Microsoft sales teams, get access to top tech VCs in the global arena and mentorship from industry veterans.

In less than 18 months, Microsoft for Startups has closed more than 120 co-sell deals with more than $126 million in active pipeline for startups.

Microsoft is focused as much on selling third party solutions as their own, and this co-sell motion has helped generate $8 billion in revenue for partners within 18 months. (IANS)