“Dubai or the mission? Which one should I take?” Troubling me for quite a long time, the golden words echoed once again, “Amrut, whenever you’re stuck up with a question what next? read random.”
I opened T.T. Rangarajan’s Unposted Letter, wherein he said: “Success lies in your daily routine, in those small choices between instant gratification or delayed gratification. TV or gym? WhatsApp or a book?” I chose to take the offer letter, only to place it in the right place – the dustbin.
I continued reading and came across with an eye-opening insight: “What you have isn’t important. What’s important is what you do with what you have.” With a twinkle in my eye, I said to myself “I have WhatsApp and it’s free!”. Since Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam had just passed away, I summarised “Wings of Fire” and shared it with ten of my close friends on WhatsApp as a tribute. I requested them to spread it across.
Within a week, I got a thousand requests for book summaries. My happiness knew no bounds. The idea worked. I committed to share a summary every Wednesday. Within a month, ten thousand enthusiasts were of this mission. I named it ‘Make India Read’.
One fine day I took a survey and asked, “Did you read last week’s book summary?” To my disappointment, 80% said “No”, justifying that they couldn’t make the time to read. I was disappointed. People liked the mission, joined it but no one was reading. ‘Make India Read’ had failed.
Stuck once again, the golden words echoed in my head. I read random and soon stumbled upon Chris Guillebeau’s “The 100$ Start-up”. He said, “Try to live the routine of the person whom you want to influence the most. Find out his daily habits and see how your idea can fit in his routine to solve his little problems.”
Since I wanted to influence people travelling daily between home and office, school and college, I boarded a local train from Thane train station to Dadar and observed most people spend their travel time listening to music with their headphones on. I got the solution!
I bought a microphone, recorded the summaries and shared the audio clips along with the text summaries. This was a game changer. Everybody started listening to it while commuting in train, bus, while jogging and cooking.
The number of readers or should I say, listeners, increased rapidly. I started exploring all types of genres because now I was not reading for myself, I was reading for India.
Everything was going great until life hit me with a brick. I was banned from using WhatsApp. Since I spent the whole day sending messages to over one lakh people, they thought I was spamming.
This ban gave me sleepless nights. I was depressed and thought it was the end. I had no solution for this. The following day, my phone rang. It was the scrap dealer (Raddiwala). With a lot of disinterest, I picked up his call.
“Hello, Amrut, I have received a book named as ‘Million Dollar Habits. Do you want it?”. I replied, “Wait… I am coming.”
I had neither the motivation nor the capacity to buy it. I requested if he could allow me to read it in his shop. Looking at my sad face, he said yes. Ignoring the dust, noise and all the disturbance, I started to read but with lesser faith and belief in the it. Books can’t give me a solution to the WhatsApp ban. The dream of ‘Make India Read’ seemed impossible………
To be continued……