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Taking wing as writer

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deccan dreamsCapt. Gopinath at the launch in Chennai
deccan dreamsCapt. Gopinath at the launch in Chennai

Captain Gopinath pens the story behind Air Deccan, India's first low cost airline, and how he made it a success

“I have deliberately written this book as a story — my story and the story of Air Deccan, but also the story of New India, of the India of possibilities,” says Captain Gopinath. “This is not a how-to book or a book on Indian aviation — it's about following your dreams, having a zest for life, about not giving up in the face of overwhelming odds,” says the man solely responsible for starting the culture of low cost flying in India.

A straightforwardly written, engaging read, Gopinath's just published autobiography titled “Simply Fly: A Deccan Odyssey”, t chronicles his childhood in the little village of Gorur in Tamil Nadu, his experiences as an officer in the Indian Army, his days of dabbling in farming, and, of course, his launch of India's first low-cost airline, Air Deccan. “Whenever I went to give talks at schools and colleges, people always wanted to know — how did you build an airline after leaving the Army with just Rs. 6,500?” he says. “So, I decided to tell my story. I especially wanted to reach young people who can get disillusioned easily in today's world.”

The book, recently launched in Chennai, thrives on Gopinath's ‘inextinguishable optimism' about the country, and ‘perennial enthusiasm' for trying to make a difference. “We're all concerned about the state of affairs in this country today, but we need to stay engaged. Cynicism is suicide,” he says earnestly. “My naïve optimism sometimes got me into trouble, but it also got me out of it.”

He may have been given to platitudes (“never give up”, “find happiness in the small things”) and the overuse of inspirational quotes (Gandhi, Napoleon, Einstein…), but it all still carries conviction because of his very enthusiasm, and his anecdotes — how, for instance, he refused to pay bribes for his licenses to start Deccan, but still got them through dogged determination. Or, how he stood for the Lok Sabha elections as an independent in 2009 because of the corruption in our existing political parties.

DIVYA KUMAR

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