Chandan Deshmukh R, 28-year-old SAP Basis Consultant at L&T Infotech, Bengaluru, has written a second book “Five Lies My Teacher Told Me” after debuting with a successful “Six Secrets Smart Students Don’t Tell You” in June 2014. Curriculum Magazine spoke to him to know how this engineer got into writing student-centric books
Everybody would like to know how and when was the author born in you? What kind of preparation, training etc did you take? Also, share some of your struggling moments be it with writing or finding a publisher?
Have you seen a below average student who sits in the fourth row, supporting the wall? That was me. Laughing at the pranks of the last benchers, and getting help from the front benchers during a test was a daily affair. Teachers called me ‘Butterfly’, as my mind wandered stealthily during the classes while I piously nodded to every word they uttered. Most of my friends were in the top 10 ranks, and I was the odd man out.
I joined NCC, Scouts, and I also cycled to the school hoping to reduce my chubbiness, but it didn’t work. I am still chubby.
An incident can change your life.
During a parent-teacher meeting in my high school, I was embarrassed by a teacher in front of a crowd, and to put icing on the cake, my mom cried.
That got me charged to 11000 volts and a challenge to prove my teacher wrong. That probed me to explore the geographies of smart studying. Met people, preferred studying brilliant students than textbooks, shadowed all the activities done by top ranked nerds- right from the way they listened to class, the way they tied their shoelace, the way they chewed the back of pencil, till the way they brainstormed. Bribing them with delicious home food from my lunch box was as usual as a sunrise. I learnt the secrets to better study from my topper friends, and have unveiled them in my books.
I always wanted to write during my engineering, but couldn’t figure out what. But after a year of my employment, while I drove from office to home, the idea struck me. I immediately stopped the bike, took out my notepad and scribbled the thought “Write a practical solution to the average student’s problems”.
First draft of the first chapter was so bland that, even if my family read it, they would have disowned me. However, theatre background helped me a lot in characterization and writing style, and with iterations I could etch the chapters better.
Fortunately, Westland Publishers accepted the proposal and published me. Total effort was one year- right from typing the first word till the launch.
When my first book “Six Secrets Smart Students Don’t Tell You” launched in June 2014, I thought only my relatives and friends would buy it. But it went on to be a National Bestseller with sales of over 65 thousand copies.
The success motivated me to write the second book “Five Lies My Teacher Told Me”.
Your second book contains a lot of motivational talk, do you feel, this book is actually good for a lot of teachers and parents, who day in and day out have to deal with ‘Taruns’, the central character of “Five Lies My Teacher Told Me”.?
Indian education system is similar to railway department. People sleep on birth, students sleep on desks. Railway tracks are fixed, study tracks are fixed. Bogies are laid back to back, classes are conducted back to back. People de-board the train at their stop, students de-board the studies when their marks stop.
“Don’t deviate and be left out, you’ll go nowhere”, Parents torture. “Turning points are critical, prepare well”, teachers warn. “You have no choice” claim the institutions. Zoom in, you’ll see students juggling to impress all the above categories.
Though India’s literacy rate has ramped up from 5% in 1901 to 74% in 2011, we have been taught “TO” study and succeed but never on “HOW” to study and succeed.
This problem motivated me to pen the books as a solution.
This book helps all the stakeholders who are involved in the education – students, teachers, educationists, parents.
Which age group of students is being targeted by your book?
“Five Lies My Teacher Told Me” is a story about a below average student who has a problem in his life and studies, and how his teacher will help him towards success; the story which most of us can relate to. It is targeted to all the students and folks who wants to achieve success in life, irrespective of the age.
If Tarun’s teacher tells him five lies, why at the end, he wants to meet her?
When we are students, we usually take the curriculum and life very lightly and don’t heed to advises. Only when you step into adulthood will you realize the actual intent and the message the teacher had brought to the table. Tarun is nowhere different. The realization made his eyes look out for his teacher during the school event.
Now, how did this concept come to your mind? Did something similar happen to you in life?
‘Five Lies My Teacher Told Me’ is an amalgamation of my experiences of my childhood, stories narrated by my friends, and the research I did in New Jersey and Pennsylvania libraries.
This is your second book, are you going to stick to this genre? What is the forthcoming project on, if you could please share?
This is a genre where you can write forever. My next book will help students choose career. Post that I’ll take a break to write fiction.
In the age of digital devices, where attention span has really fallen, do you think reading habits in generation now or next can sustain for long?
Reading will never fade away. Though generations have seen crests and troughs throughout the ages, writing and reading have been a part of lives from beginning till date.
The drop in attention span has led to the birth of e-books, audio books and graphic novels. Having said that, capturing and engaging the audience is indeed a challenge and predominantly is at the mercy of the author’s writing charisma.
Tell us about your other interests?
Acting is my first love and have featured in films as well as theatre productions in kannada language.
When I am not frightening my family with weird philosophies, I am likely to be swimming, reading, travelling or bungee jumping.