In Conversation with Ravi Valluri

Ravi Valluri - 02

About Ravi Valluri

RAVI VALLURI is presently working as CEO, Chhattisgarh East Railway Limited and Chhattisgarh East-West Railway Limited. He was an officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service. He has also served in Mil Rail (Army Headquarters), where he was decorated with the Chief of Army Staff award.
Born in Kanpur and brought up in Delhi, he was educated at St. Xavier’s School, Delhi. He completed his B. Com (Honours) from Hindu College, Delhi University and did his Master’s in Business Economics from Delhi University. Subsequently he was sponsored by the Ministry of Railways for the National Management Programme (Executive MBA) from Management Development Institute, Gurugram.
He is the author of fiction and non-fiction work – The Matter of the Mind, Make the Mind Mt. Kailasa, The Infinite Mind (co-authored with Ankush Garg), NaMo 303 Words to Victory, Indian Stories: Images & Thoughts, Heartbreak at Coffee Shop An Array of Tales, Divine Whispers 365 Quotes of H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Magic of the Mind, A Tale of Parallels, A Quote A Day Inspiration 2022, Art of War to Art of Living and A Story of Faith and Miracles. His latest collection of short stories Bombay Review and Other Stories was released in December 2023. Ravi Valluri, along with his wife Lakshmi Valluri has curated a bi-lingual collection of short stories titled Festivals: A Ray of Hope.
Many of his books were unveiled by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. His first book The Matter of the Mind has been translated into Telugu and is available under the title Manomoolamidham and Magic of the Mind has been translated into Tamil under the same title. His works of fiction, Heartbreak at Coffee Shop An Array of Tales and Art of War to Art of Living have been translated into Hindi and NaMo 303 Word to Victory has been translated into Kannada. Divine Whispers 365 Quotes of H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been converted into an audio book and is available at audible.com.
He is also a faculty of the Art of Living and conducts the Happiness Programme, yoga and meditation sessions of the Art of Living, besides helping counsel addicts and undertaking courses for those dependant on alcohol and drugs.
He has had a penchant for theatre, music, public speaking and writing since his school days and continues to fuel these interests. He has contributed extensively to the Free Press Journal, SakshiPost and Life Positive E-magazine. Currently his articles appear in The Pioneer e-paper in The First Column. He along with his wife have recently launched a website called Rustleofwords.in. Ravi Valluri has been interviewed by Doordarshan National, Doordarshan Uttar Pradesh and Doordarshan Gorakhpur apart from appearing on Radio FM, Secunderabad and Rainbow FM, Bareilly.

LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.

Ravi Valluri: Bombay Review and Other Stories is a collection of stories inspired by real life incidents. The stories are woven around tales of drama, romance, unrequited love, unbridled ambition, avarice, murder mysteries, politics, legacies, conflict between ethics and what is purportedly unethical, about writers (accomplished and the one’s emerging), singers and artistes, betrayal, issues pertaining to sexuality, sex change, faith, hope, and law of attraction. The drabbles are drawn on occurrences which take place around us in our daily lives.
The book has been inspired by the epic Mahabharata, Panchatantra tales, and Zen stories as they capture human emotions and behaviour in totality which resonate in my stories set in current days.
To my mind life is a synodic curve, with upheavals, storms, vicissitudes, and some outstanding moments. Nothing is purely white or black. There is a vast shade of grey lying in between which needs to be explored. Humans always have a choice before them and take the plunge.
Buddha, Ashwathama, Bhishma, Karna, Arjuna, Duryodhana, Shakuni, various Zen Masters and heroes and villains from Panchatantra find a place in the stories set in present times.
The lives, stories, incidents of these characters resonate with the characters I have etched in present times in a strange manner. In fact, I would say that such characters of our immortal epics show a mirror to people in the present generation.
Let me put it that life is not all hunky dory, it is peppered by synodic curves. There are chutzpah moments and some dark ones. But when the characters look into the mirror, they see their true selves.
Among the emotions and colours of VIBGYOR in life – black, white, and grey stand out. However, at the end of the spectrum all is not darkness or tenebrosity; there is hope in our lives. This hope and faith need to be raised and rekindled so that people have a lifeboat to survive the misadventures and storms they face in life.
We human beings all have dark shades to our character and also heroic ones.
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody,” wrote Mark Twain.

Bombay Review and Other Stories a collection of twenty-one short stories and twenty-two drabbles looks at the darker shades of human life and eventually provides hope to the reader.
Telling one’s story of self is a way to share the values that define who you are — not as abstract principles, but as lived experience. We construct stories of self around choice points – moments when we faced a challenge, made a choice, experienced an outcome, and learned a moral.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
– Nelson Mandela

LiFT: Why you chose this title?

Ravi Valluri: This is a collection of short stories. The first short story is called Bombay Review which is on unethical journalism. The other stories are on love, lust, unrequited love, romance, murder, mystery, crime, relationship issues, same sex relations among others. Several of them are inspired by characters of the epic Mahabharata, Panchatantra and Zen Stories. I wanted to create the cover page which depicts the iconic sea link bridge connecting Mumbai and characters I mentioned populate the bridge and we get a picture of human life that there is a vast shade of grey to be explored. Everything is not white or black.

LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a writer and what’s your inspiration behind it?

Ravi Valluri: As I a student in school and college, I was deeply involved into dramatics and music theatre workshops. I was fortunate to learn the craft under the tutelage of eminent people like Barry John and Param Vir. Simultaneously I began reading biographies, autobiographies and our epics and dabbled into amateur writing.
Later in life, when I came out of the cesspool of alcoholism through Art of Living, unique breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya and grace of Gurudev, I started to pen my works for Life Posiive-E Magazine, Free Press Journal, Sakshi Post and currently for The Pioneer. Seeing my writing Gurudev blessed me to write more and prophetically said,” You keep writing, soon your books would be published.” Thus, on Navaratri Day Gurudev unveiled my maiden book The Matter of the Mind. I began writing fiction at the goading of my son. All my works have been edited by my wife Lakshmi Valluri whose Instagram handle is @red_pencil_editor

LiFT: Where do you see yourself ten years down the line in the world of literature?

Ravi Valluri: 1) To emerge as a best selling author of the country .
2) Friends and colleagues wish me luck that I win the Brooker’s Prize.
3) I hope to convert my books into movies and web series .
4) Mentor aspiring authors by holding regular worshops in India and overseas.
5) Inspire people to overcome addictions by reading my works and undergo courses in Art of Living .
6) My wife and I have launched a website called www.rustleofwords.in. We accept entries in English for short stories, tales, micro tales, articles, poetry, art wok quotes at rustleofwords@gmail.com. We hope to make this website an international renowned one.
7) I wish to continue writing and seeing my works being appreciated through quality work. And fondly make efforts to make them hit the big screen.
8) I would like to be a Rajya Sabha Member.

LiFT: How much do you think marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?

Ravi Valluri: Marketing is essential for books to reach a wide audience. I have had the fortune to sell my books in railways, Art of Living and through social media. But to make it big, it is essential books reach stores where literary agents and publishers play a pivotal role.
Holding book talks, winning awards, social media, instagram interviews help in providing necessary exposure. I was fortunate to be interviewed by Doordarshan, FM Radio, AIR among others.
A good book will catch the attention of a reader. Quality of the book is equally important, mere marketing will not do. A good book will always sell. For it to reach a wider audience marketing is essential. So in short a combination of good quality and effective marketing.

LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?

Ravi Valluri: 1) My books in the genre of non -fiction are based on Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Sudarshan Kriya and reach out to the community of Art of Living and those interested in this area.
2) Also I focus on those with weak minds or suffering from alcoholism and drug addictions.
3) Spread a message of hope.
4) My writings on Indian Railways, travels, places can help to kindle interest among people to see several places in India.
5) Writings on logistics are aimed at learning and unlearning the process of transportation in India.

LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?

Ravi Valluri: I retired from the Indian Railways and am currently the CEO of Chhattisgarh East Railway Ltd and Chhattisgarh East West Railway Ltd. This a SPV which is constructing an exclusive rail coal corridor to transport coal.
Besides I am a faculty of Art of Living, conduct Art of Living pogrammes, counsel alcoholics and drug addicts.
I also attend various book talks.

LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?

Ravi Valluri: Keep reading, Keep writing, Observing people, watch web shows to get some fresh ideas.

LiFT: What if your story will be adopted as a movie? Whom would you want to work as a director or actors in it?

Ravi Valluri: I have been approached by some directors who wish to make short films based on my short stories. I wuld like to write the screen play for the same.

LiFT: Are you working on your next book? If yes, please tell us something about it.

Ravi Valluri: Yes. Without giving away any spoilers, the book is somekind of a spiritual fiction based on an enlightened soul of the past and how in present times some seekers navigate his sites and what happens to them.

LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers/poets so that they could improve their writing skills?

Ravi Valluri: 1) Keep reading daily.
2) Keep writing atleast 500 words daily.
3) Maintain 3 diaries- a) to note down new words to build you vocabulary b) note down quotations c) Note down rough ideas about the work.
4) Attempt translations and write book revies which will help in both reading and writing.
5) Write for various prompts.

Click here to order Ravi Valluri’s Book – Bombay Review and Other Stories

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