More About the Author
I was born in a small town in Pakistan called Burewala of refugee parents who lost everything in India during and after the 1947 Partition. A few years after his migration to Pakistan, my father, Abdullah, found work in the post-war immigration boom in England in 1955 and since he only earned laborer wages, he had to save up and send for his family a few at a time. (Credit was a thing of the future). As he left Pakistan, my mother, Shakooran, took her five children to live with her parents in Karachi until we could join dad.
In 1956, when I was just four, my mother managed to save and borrow enough to take the trip with at least her two youngest children, my younger brother and me. My other brother and two sisters completed the family migration about a year later. I spent my childhood in Doncaster, England and grew up there until I left home for college in Southampton, England to learn how to be an aerospace designer. A high point during this time for me was to have been privileged enough to witness the launch of Apollo 16 on my very first trip to the USA in April of 1972. That set me on the path of loving everything American and I resolved to live in this great country one day.
I spent a few years in the aerospace industry but though I was enamored with airplanes and flying, the industry didn't do that much for me. In 1979 I made a significant career move into a new field called Computer Aided Design and continued my headlong path to gear-headedness. A few more years later, I found I had something of an aptitude for marketing and later business strategy. The geek never left my soul however and I managed to become Chief Technology Officer of a company called Computervision Corporation in Massachusetts having migrated to the USA with my wife Rehana and three British sons in 1988. Three American daughters later, in 1998, I was on my way to another fascinating and nascent industry - digital maps for navigation at NAVTEQ in Chicago. Those are the ones used in map websites like MapQuest as well as virtually every car and cell-phone navigation system. I spent nine years at NAVTEQ becoming, you guessed it, Chief Technology Officer and then Senior VP for Global Marketing and Strategy.
After something of a windfall on the stock market following NAVTEQ's IPO, I decided to pursue a dream or two. One dream was to design and produce a new line of high-end loudspeaker. Despite rave reviews for the products, we hit the great economic tsunami of 2008, so I've had, er, more time on my hands than I had planned.
Coincidentally over the last year I've been befriended by a devout elderly man who at the age of 75 picked up a paint brush and started painting. I'm a Muslim and he's a Christian so we naturally found a lot to talk about which is something of an inspiration for my writings in comparative terms on religion. Meanwhile, he approached me about marketing his paintings and before too long I also found myself launching a web site for him.
While surfing, I found Helium one day and I liked the look of not only the material but also the effort to preserve civility that is so often missing in online forums these days. So, I pitched my tent there and have written about virtually anything I wanted ever since. Very liberating!
Meanwhile, as the economic tsunami was raging, I could see the real-estate debacle unfolding right before my eyes and the thought of people having to leave their homes in foreclosure made me think about coming up with a possible solution. In mid 2008, with my partners we launched an investment company to purchase large quantities of single-family homes pending foreclosure using a mathematically determined short-sale pricing formula, and rent them back to the homeowner with the prospect of them repurchasing the home some years down the road. All in a socially responsible fashion and not out to strip people of their equity since we would only do the short sale for a negative equity home.
In December 2009, a thought struck me, (born of much brooding over the way America's political and foreign affairs landscape had been unfolding over the past decade) about a particularly interesting situation which centered on the relationship between different cultures in close proximity and about which I was intrigued enough to imagine a story around it. With a few more days of tinkering with the idea, a novel was born. In a state of frenzied concentration lasting six weeks a nearly 600 page novel called SIKANDER did indeed emerge and now I''m happy to say its finally available and where better than Amazon?
So now I'm updating this biography to note that SIKANDER has been getting excellent reviews but in addition to that, at the beginning of March 2011, I was delighted to accept the 2010 Los Angeles Book Festival Award for the best General Fiction book and separately, the GRAND PRIZE outright award for the best book across all fiction and non-fiction categories. And getting the award in Hollywood Blvd's Roosevelt Hotel (site of the first Oscars in 1929) was its own special thrill! Aside from the useful financial value of the award, the biggest impact on me has been to encourage me to write more and to give me confidence that my work has independently been validated. It's a great feeling.