"We have fans on our Facebook page without being stars, planning trips without owning a car and selling a book without even writing one!" Karthik Iyengar opens up about his forthcoming trilogy Horn OK Please, his road trip and what lies behind it all.

How do you judge two urban Indian professionals on a “full monty” road trip across India, already famous among 8000 and counting young Indians for a book that's not yet been written, calling themselves Robin Hoods who “fleece corporates and give it all away”? You simply don't and, even if you do, they don't care because they are “morons”.

“We are simple, ordinary, dumb, and unintelligent and we have a regular life like everybody else,” explains author Karthik Iyengar about the tag they have given themselves. But what makes them different is that “we make sure we have a dream and make sure we live it, while others don't”.


The dream to become an author and sell a million copies in one year came up rather like a random thought on just another day. “Let me do something different. Why don't I write a book?” And, by his own confession, you'll get absolutely nothing out of his book Horn Ok Please, a trilogy, the first of which will be called Hopping to Conclusions. “Why should anything have a motive, a reason or a logical boundary?” he questions in return.

The book will, at the most, give you an idea of what to write in Karthik's epitaph: ‘Horn OK Please'. “The name is something you see as a message behind a lorry. There are messages everywhere, even on t-shirts,” a metaphor to his inspiration which is everywhere, more so on Facebook. Towards the end of the conversation though, the real reason comes to light: “it sounds cool,” he laughs.

It isn't going to be just another book on India mirroring the Western media's image of our country and what the rest of the world wants to see and read over and over again. It will be a book that shows the rest of the world an India that is demystified, sans the snake charmers, fakirs and elephants; an India that only people like Karthik are familiar with. In short, Horn Ok Please will be a book that will show you what it's like living in India where there are people who like indulging in bungee jumping, t-shirt reading, fast cars, rock concerts, comic books like Tintin and Archie; “everything that is fun across the world,” as Karthik puts it.

The first few chapters, which have already been penned, are about growing up in urban India while looking at the lighter side of things. The next four or five chapters will be filled with their experience of India through their road trip from Kanyakumari to Leh; kind of experiencing India first-hand, enjoying the beauty the land has to offer, not to forget the women.

Partners in crime

Also, the book will be an experiment to let people know what it is like in the Indian scenario for somebody to suddenly wake up and decide to write a book. How feasible is it?

And yet, it's a book meant for ‘ the educated urban class, young working professionals, NRIs' and anybody who wants to see India beyond its marketed image.

Karthik will not be alone on this journey. Goose, Motormouth and Derek Demonia, the freak, will keep him company all through.

Goose is Karthik's colleague-cum-amateur photographer Rohit Tiwari who has his own agenda. A coffee table book that will try to accomplish in photographs what Karthik is trying to say in words.

“They will not be clichéd but pictures that you can see and smile, that'll make you happy,” says Rohit. Motor Mouth is the talking SUV they're going to be driving across the length and breadth of the country, whose valuable inputs will also make their way into the pages of the book.

Lastly, Derek Demonia is the fictional travel companion who will make it into the book as a schizophrenic NRI who had a dream but left the country and is now back again to live the dream.

The readers will get to see India through the eyes of these four people, the Chief Red Bull (Karthik) included.

Online followers

Ask Karthik about preparations for the trip and he'll tell you something that most parents would not like their children to learn: “Our preparedness comes from the fact that we come with no preparation. We are ready for anything. We have fans on our Facebook page without being stars, planning trips without actually owning a car and selling a book without even writing one!”

One look at the HOPpers (as the fans on HOP'sFacebook page call themselves) and you realise that they are representatives of the urban India that Karthik is talking about. No wonder they are as excited about the book that's famous even before its complete. The 8000 followers (numbers sure to touch 10,000) are his army of morons whom he believes want to make a difference and can do so differently.

“And these are the people who do not have a platform to talk to, communicate to or even relate to an idol; we are the idol. We are becoming the youth icon and in a matter of 40 to 50 days we will become one. If you believe there is something we are doing right, you will support us.”

Call it a smart marketing move or a pilot test of samples from his book, Karthik has used the virtual space to create India's first ‘online reality show'. Every little detail about the trip will be posted live on Facebook. The HOPpers will be tuned into their activities so much so that any call for help or assistance, they believe, will be met by one of the thousands. In fact, along the way they will be crashing at the Hoppers' homes.

In return, the fans will have a whole chapter dedicated to them. A book that's going to be about a trip supported by French (Capgemini) and American (Red Bull) multinationals, the Government of India featuring a stopover at a Tibetan SOS Village, Ladakh, (where “we will take a tiny school in Ladakh and turn the kids into li'l morons”), with a car made in India driven by two vagabond hearts.

That's their India, rather ours: India version 2.0.

In his own words

I am an avid blogger, a self-proclaimed moron, scuba-diver, bungee-jumper, pathetic Las Vegas loser, Red bull addict and a compuslive road-hog and am also a writer.

In the middle of it all, I find time to listen to my inner calling and decided to write, which will soon become the holy book of the morons...

As a cockroach-loving, heavy metal maniac, I now command an army of close to 10,000 morons on Facebook, who are living my experiences of writing my first book, living a 40-day road-trip of the country and living a social cause for the underprivileged children.

My sole objective in life is to sell a million copies of the book within a year of release...

Since I cannot read, I decided to write my own stuff.

Follow the trip online at http://www.facebook.com/hopfans


Journey to a bookJuly 13, 2010