Only a few months after the release of his first book, Mahendra P. Joshi finds himself in conversation with Paribesh Sitoula from Nepal Traveller
Receiving great response internationally, “Rockin’ Rollin’ Rolpa” is a fiction that brings to light the sharp contrasts of life in America and rural Nepal. Having made its way up to the #18 best seller in Amazon USA’s adventure books line-up, the author seems to be slowly but surely gaining momentum in the Nepali market as well.
Writer, Mahendra P. Joshi was born and raised in Baitadi, Nepal. He pursued his graduate studies in the United States and thus accumulated a variety of experiences that eventually inspired the title of his book.
1. It says in your book that you experienced the best of both worlds: the posh American society and the rural Nepali setting? So how was the entire ordeal? How did you adjust to the cultural shock and lifestyle when you went to college from Baitadi?
Being born in a rural town of Patan, Baitadi and then going to another country without a lot of knowledge made it quite the challenge. Our college had programmes for us to cope up with the cultural shock but nonetheless, it took me quite some time to get used to their accent, their food, and their overall lifestyle. However, this experience was a major influence for me to write the book.
2. ‘Explore Nepal, Know America’ is a theme which you’ve incorporated in your story by personalising it with your own experiences and lacing it with the main character. How did you procure this idea?
I was a liberal arts student who went forward with a Creative Writing major. I knew that I had to eventually be a writer. This book itself was part of my assignment in college. The stories I had of my own life really impressed my professor and he believed that a story like this would sell well in Nepal. I was in a dilemma whether to continue my story or not but eventually, I had different people motivating me to go for it.
3. What is your favourite book? What genre of books do you favour? What impact has the book had in your life?
I prefer anything that’s adventurous. Similarly, my favourite book is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain”. Books such as these gave me the inspiration to make my own characters travel.
4. What are some of the true events that inspired the plot of the book?
As a Nepali student in the USA, I was really shy when I first arrived. However, later assimilating with the culture I too became a party freak out there. As the novel is targeted towards young people the parties reflect my own personal experiences and the descriptions I have of the rural places are also based on the places I used to live in.
5. At the beginning of the book, you mention bringing about a radical change in society. What do you have to say to people who find it difficult to step out of their comfort zone?
Well, it’s ok if people are not interested in an activity but I really want people to listen to stories so that even they can be intrigued or inspired to win over their fear. A different perspective can have many positive outcomes and I have tried to incorporate a similar theme in this book as well. With whatever experience you have or will gain in the future, you have to start by trying.
6. What do you have to say to people who lack the inspiration to read or write? How do you think they can be encouraged?
I find it really disheartening but the reading culture is picking up in Nepal too. I myself make efforts to encourage my own students and my book could come of help. “Rockin’ Rollin’ Rolpa” is a gateway book for new readers who want to build up their reading habit. Start with something simpler and then move on to other titles.
7. What are your feelings on Nepali writers inclining towards English literature? Have you thought of writing anything in Nepali or translating your work?
I am just glad that people are involved in any form of literature. Though I am confident about both my English and Nepali, I would prefer if there was someone else, someone much experienced, who could translate my book.
His book is also available on www.kitabyatra.com along with being in bookshops close to you.