Flying miles with Rishi Piparaiya

A conversation with an over worked and over traveled corporate executive who shares his thoughts about anything and everything about air travel and how he came to compiling his thoughts and observations into a humorous tale called Aisle Be Damned…

Rishi Piparaiya is an over-worked and over-traveled corporate executive based in the skies, 38,000 feet over India. He has spent several years at one of the largest global banks in the world and he currently heads sales and marketing for a financial services multinational. ‘Aisle be Damned‘, his debut book is a unique perspective on everything related to air travel. I caught up with him to know more about his journey of writing the book.

Rishi would always write as a kid, and continued to write even at work. He would write satirical emails at work sometimes to diffuse tension and that would viral out quite often. He had dabbled with writing books in the past but never got round to completing them. This time he was keen that he complete this project and wrote Aisle be Damned.

Being a frequent flier, he has spent tens of thousands of hours flying and this book is essentially a compilation of his random thoughts and observations that came together in the form of a book during and in between flights. Originally he had planned on just writing a few of his anecdotes and circulate them around to his friends and family and at work. Once he began writing, the thoughts and the writing kept flowing and as he didn’t want to lose that momentum, he ended up wiring and compiling a book.

rishi-piparaiyaHe took only 5 or 6 intense weeks to complete much of the book. It took him 2 days just to write down the bullet points and plan the story. A lot of the writing during that period was done on the various flights he took as part of the travelling that he had to do because of his work. While waiting at the airport or while on the flight he realized that there were more anecdotes, newer observations and insights that he wanted to add to his writing.

The structure of the book came in much later. He had written a little over 150 pages, putting together observations and thoughts and decided later to structure the work in the chronological order of a journey – travel to the airport, check-in….all the way until the last leg of travel – somebody receiving the passenger at the arrival airport. Despite this structure, there were a bunch of thoughts that he felt deserved a place in this book and that’s why he has added the last chapter, which has everything from literature to capitalism to philosophy!

Getting one’s work published seems like a very challenging task. As somebody who wasn’t too familiar with the publishing industry, Rishi didn’t know too much about literary agents. He came across a lot of publishing houses online but it seemed a little difficult to go through the traditional process, as publishers get a few thousand unsolicited manuscripts every day and he was not to keen about sending an unsolicited word document in the mail. In order to get their attention, he decided to publish the book on his own with an attention grabbing, swanky cover, as it is a very important part of a book. He wrote a one-page summary of his book which he added to the book and went to the Delhi Book Fair to meet many publishing houses who had put up their stalls at the Fair. None of the publishers knew what to do as the book was based on a random topic and also had a random writing style. Nobody had done anything like this before.

At some point of time almost all the top publishers he had approached showed interest in the book and were willing to publish his work. As he wanted a publisher who would accord top priority to his book, Jaico publications seemed perfect to him.
The book was formally launched in November 2013 and the response has been very positive. Though aimed at corporate executives and obviously anyone who flies, Rishi is surprised with the enthusiastic response he has received from youngsters who have just finished their college.

The book is intended as a fun read for people to pick up on the go. To make it more appealing to his reader, Rishi has added his own spin and humour to his anecdotes, each having its own story to tell.