Air Commodore Nitin Sathe was commissioned on 21 Dec 1984 as a Helicopter Pilot in the Indian Air Force. Being a Second generation service officer, the Air Officer has studied in various schools all over the country before joining the NDA in 1981. He is also an alumnus of National Defence Academy and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. His Interview at WIC India Dehradun Community Literature Festival 2017.
Out of the books that you have written which one is your favorite and what makes it so?
I have just written two books till now. I can’t really say which one is better; both have been written from the heart. From my critiques, I have learnt that the second one-born to fly is better!
How do you define your writing and what led you to be a writer?
It was my friends in the media who encouraged me to write. I had been writing some articles which were published and some short stories which I never did get published. My personal experiences during my work have prompted me to write the stories in book form. I do not think I can venture into the area of fiction though.
You are a second generation service officer. How was your childhood like because of this?
My life as a child has been very interesting. Frequent moves meant that I came into contact with newer people and places. I have kept in touch with all my friends even from my sub junior classes-I have changed about 10 schools before I joined the NDA.
Most of my formative years were spent in Punjab and J&K. Have some excellent experiences from my stay in these places. It helped to shape my personality and understand cultures.
If you were not in Indian Air Force, what profession would you have chosen?
I do not think I would have been anything but a Pilot. I did try to join the AFMC to become a doctor though. I chose to go to NDA at a tender age of 15 itself-after that there was no looking back.
What is the most interesting and challenging part of being a pilot and of being a writer?
I do manage to keep the professional life and my passion for writing different. Being a helicopter pilot, I had the opportunity to take part in many an operation within India and abroad and all these experiences are being penned down in a soon to be published book.
Share with us your journey through writing a book and getting it in your hands.
Getting a book published is like having a baby. Having conceived it, the easiest part is to pen it down. I just write in full flow without looking back at all till I complete the script, after which I do the first edit to clean up the script. Then comes the pain when the editor shaves off many words that hurts; and then the delays in publishing are like the excruciating pain of childbirth. Once you get the final print in hand, the relief is immense! After that of course is the time when one has to do all the hard work of getting the book to as many people as possible.
Which part of researching “Born to Fly” was the most personally interesting to you? Were there any facts or themes that you would have liked to take in, but they just didn’t make into the story?
The part of researching about his life in the village and school and the NDA was interesting and I got enough matter to put the fun of growing up into a man into the book. The research about quadriplegia and the life of spinal injury patients, though interesting, took me into a very different world- a world that so many of us ‘normal’ human beings fail to understand and appreciate. It really got me thinking to set up the Anil Kumar foundation to look after the quadriplegics in our country.
You have written inspiration stories so far. Can we expect some other genre in your future books?
I will continue to write about my personal experiences in the future too. The next book is likely to be a compilation of short stories which I am working on at the moment. Like I said earlier, I do not think I have the capability to enter into the world of fiction. The only fictionalization that I have done so far is in some of my short stories to make them more palatable to the reader-although essentially they are all true stories.
What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?
There have been so many. A few years ago I read the book- The Professional-by Subroto Bagchi which had a profound influence on me. Other than that there have been real life stories of the many wars and military operations from around the world. My most recent reads have been on the war in Afghanistan and about the meteoric rise of China.
If readers would like to read up on any other inspirational book, are there any books you would recommend?
Definitely “The Professional” by Subroto Bagchi. It can be read over and over again with lessons flowing out each time.
What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.
I wrote a piece for a book by Sheila Jaywant a friend and an author who compiled stories about writers and their lives in a book titled ‘From Mind to Keyboard’. I am attaching the same to the mail since this brings out most of the answers to the questions posed by you!
Any message that you would like to share.
Always look at life positively-even in the most negative of circumstances. You will come out tops each time!