Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Navigating Nostalgic Lanes

Writer Gaurav Sharma

Transition from writing textbooks to fiction was a comfortable move for Gaurav Sharma. “I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to do extensive research for writing fiction as I used to do while writing textbooks,” the 25-year-old Vancouver-based writer admits to Little India, while talking about his book, Gone Are the Days. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of the protagonist, who is raised in Sitamarhi, Bihar, and looks to move to Canada for higher studies.

The story is narrated through a flashback, with the protagonist recalling his growing-up years to an IELTS examiner.

After writing three textbooks for journalism and mass communication, Sharma realized a disheartening fact after spending hours in libraries and on the internet, regularly consulting professors and teachers for respective subjects — most students rely on the teacher’s notes and don’t read textbooks. “Their sole motive was to score marks in exams and not gain anything from the book itself. That’s when I decided to make a switch from writing textbooks to fiction,” he says.

As this was his first foray into fiction, he decided to be his own lab rat as he had little idea about what it would take to pen such work – from idea formation to putting it down in words, to the right consistency needed to maintain the storyline. “I wrote about my life until I was 22,” he says. “The book is all about the people whom I came across in my young adulthood phase — friends, peers, relatives. Almost everyone has gone now. I am not in touch with them anymore. That is why the book has this title.”

Sharma’s semi-autobiographical book was a result of 10 months of labor. Fiction, Sharma soon realized, has its own sets of challenges. “It’s not easy to write fiction as it demands greater creativity and cohesiveness,” he says. Semi-autobiographical fiction, on the other hand, “had to amplify real-life events to make them interesting for readers.”

Born in a typical Punjabi family, Sharma grew up in the small town of Sitamarhi in Bihar. His family moved to Delhi when he was in Class 9. “I spent my childhood with my grandparents,” he reminisces.

Sharma believes the Indian middle class youth will be able to relate a lot to his book as it takes chunks from his life and presents it in a sociable, colloquial format. The takeaway from his book is that to “not lose hope and keep progressing despite having a mismatched life is the key.”

Life, he says, is both an antagonist and teacher for the protagonist of his novel, which traces the solitary boy’s journey from Bihar to Delhi and finally to make Canada his home.

After completing his education as a science student in the Indian capital city, Sharma gained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.

It was in his last semester of his studies that he considered moving abroad. “A friend asked me to research for her about studying abroad. Little did I know that researching for her will make up my mind to go overseas and explore other options,” he says.

Sharma came to Canada in 2015 for a post-degree diploma in Business Administration. “I am now planning to further my education in the field of journalism here,” he adds.

His foray into fiction writing got deeper as he completed his second novel called God of the Sullied. “It is commercial historical fiction highlighting the influence of Kaliyuga in 18th century Pataliputra and its inhabitants. As of now, I am looking for a right publisher for my manuscript,” he says, adding that he plans to do a short story compilation before taking up another fiction writing project.

Writing, he says, is a need for him, and is the best way for him to channelize thoughts, emotions, feelings and ideas into creating something.

While talking about his move to Canada, he says the country has become a second home. “I don’t feel like I am on some foreign land,” he says. Though Vancouver is the best place he has been in, he misses India out of longing for his family, and the food.

“Perhaps the only thing that motivates me to come back to Delhi is the food. Vancouver has many Indian restaurants, but something is missing in their taste,” he elaborates, while drawing a parallel between life in both the countries. “Although I am happy to be breathing the air here, than that of Delhi!”