It was a cold November evening in Chicago. The snow storm just before Thanksgiving was unexpected. The chill took the mercury down from seven degrees to minus twelve Celsius in matter of few hours. I could see nothing but white everywhere outside. Holed up in my hotel room, I was wondering if I did wrong by not bringing adequate winter clothing. Chicago is not new to me. It has been my destination for work for last more than six years apart from my hometown Pune. This time too, I was busy planning my work for the next day and thinking about the untimely chill that prevented me to even walk down to the nearest Mexican joint ‘Chillis’ for my evening bite.
It was just that time, I got a call from my friend who was graceful enough to give me a ride and also give me company at the Indian restaurant ‘India House’ for the evening. In just thirty minutes I was there with welcome warmth of the people around. Ravi Rawat, the partner of the restaurant, who happened to know me since last few years happened to be there. For next two hours we all sat relishing delicacies after delicacies and finally ended up in hot cup of Indian tea. It was then that the topic of my new book ‘Spy from Unaula’ came up. They all heard the story in rapt attention for next more than thirty minutes.
Next evening, Ravi called me on my phone. ‘Alok, I spoke about your book to my friend Jassi Parmar who operates the famous FM channel ‘Desi Junction’ from Chicago. He is highly interested to know more about the book and the story of the Indian spy. Meanwhile I have a copy of your book that we would like you to autograph.’
In a couple of hours I was sitting with Jassi. A simple looking person who came to meet me with his son. The story was repeated and more questions were asked. Jassi expressed his desire to cover my book and the story in his Saturday afternoon prime time radio program ‘ Jassi Di Lassi’. The initial recording was done in the office of a common friend Neil.
I was thrilled when the program started. Ravi, like a strong supporter of my book coordinated everything. I was hooked to my mobile phone, streaming the radio program and listening to every word Jassi was talking. He ended up building a great pitch by talking about the book and the snippets of the book all throughout the program. Finally, at the end I got a call from the radio station for coming live on the program for an interview, followed by my favourite patriotic song. It was a great feeling with so many people hearing me over the world.
I thought, this was it and I should get back to my work like any ordinary person. Back in the evening, I got a call from Neil. ‘Alok, Vandana from TV Asia is interested in covering you and wanted to know more about your book. Would you be interested.’
Next evening I was at Neil’s house shooting for the interview. Vandana was very patient with me and taught me how to give a great interview. I tried my best. I never thought that I would get so much attention in US and that too when I am there not for the publicly of my book, but for my work.
The interview was telecast on TV Asia on Friday evening, a day after I left back for India. My friends were kind enough to record the program on their phones and upload them over the YouTube. More than the feeling of being an author, I have been thinking about the warmth the Indian community brings to one of theirs and celebrate small successes like a big one. They share happiness and sorrows together and look to hold on to their roots and identity with someone like me and my book that inspired them beyond my imagination.
I thank all my friends who made my trip a great one by making me feel special.