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The Birth of Kagaz (Part 2)

Go to the link underneath to find The Birth of Kagaz(Part 1)

The idea of Kagaz was conceived in 2010. It took me another 3 years to test the idea in the real world. I started college in Delhi University in August of 2013. On the 3rd day of my college, I realized that I will have enough time on my hands to start Kagaz.

The idea was clear, but we had nothing tangible in our hands. I needed to test my idea in the real market this time. I took advantage of my big fat family - let me try this on one of my relatives. The downside was none, the upside was a dream coming true.

My Mami(Aunt) was one of the most progressive people I knew in my family. After finishing the 4th day of my college, I took the metro to her place. The August rains had begun in Delhi. I reached her place around 4 in the evening, drenched.

What a perfect way to conduct your first formal meeting!

We had some tea together, small talks happened around how was family back home and how I was liking being in Delhi. Once we were done with it I said "Mami I would like to write your biography. It is something I want to do professionally, so I would like to test the product. I know its a lot to ask but it will be simple - you tell me your story, and I will take it from there. Yes I know it seems odd, but I really want to try it and I can't think of a better person than you." I think I must hg ave sold myself for over a minute. Finally the monologue ended.

She took a pause, a long pause, and said,"kab shuru kare?" It was music to my ears. I was smiling like a toddler. We fixed time for the interview on the coming weekend and said our goodbyes. The interview was awkward. I knew nothing about taking such interviews. I had a list of questions taken from the internet that said "50 questions to write your autobiography". We moved through it, I asked a few follow-up questions here and there and within an hour we were done. I thought to myself - not bad for the first time mate, the hard part is done. What was left was writing the book and printing it - a cakewalk. I started writing the book, no prior experience in creative writing. For a month, my draft was ranging from 500 to 750 words. To hell with the book, my draft looked more like a 12th standard board exam essay(I surely had expertise there). I called up mami to give her an update that I might take more time than expected to get the first draft ready.

I realized writing was not the right fit for me. I had to find a writer - someone who would be on board with this experiment of mine. I went from college to college in DU, putting up posters that said "Wanted-Creative writer to write complete novels." I made sure those posters were as close as possible to the Dept. of Literature.

Within a week I had a few leads. I had finally found my writer. We came up with a decent draft in a couple of weeks. The draft was of around 3500 words - unbelievable right - from 700 to 3500. With a printout of the first draft, I was at my mami's door again. She approved it with minor changes. I guess even she was not expecting it that I would come through. Now all that was left to print the book - surely a cakewalk. And indeed it wasn't. I would blame my naivety, I was at the printer's shop with an MS Word file of the final draft and a picture to be used on the cover - and my requirement - print this book. The printer looked at me in disbelief- where is the pdf file? what page size? what material? hardbound or softbound? lamination? Colored or black and white? It was then when I realized that it won't come that easy. Rather anything worth doing will ever be easy.

From 1 in the afternoon, I stayed in his shop until midnight. I sat with the designer to layout the book, make a cover, collected the print outs, and finally sent it for print. I even took a nap on his smelly couch inside the shop. The final book came out - with 14 spelling mistakes and 6 missing pages. Turns out Corel Draw merged a few spaces in between words. I ha to go through the book again, word by word, to approve the final print. The error-free print was ready by half-past midnight.

I took an auto-rickshaw from Nehru Place to my home. I remember that night vividly, the smell of rain in the air, the traffic-free flyovers, the color of the driver's seat covers.

I was clutching the first publication of Kagaz ke Phool inside my shirt. After 3 years of pondering on this idea, I was able to make it happen.

Kagaz was real.

Kagaz was born.

Namit Maheshwari, Founder

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