Chief Pfaffing Officer at the Himalayan Writing Retreat


I am one of the 53 Chetan Mahajans that show up when you search Linked-in.

This website is named after all of us, and there are many other more accomplished Chetan Mahajans out there. There is the Chetan Mahajan who runs a PR firm, another is a well-recognized endocrinologist and one whose Instagram Handle  is “the_killer_boy” .

My journey is interesting because of some extreme highs and lows, and a few unusual life choices.

The big low was at 42 when I landed in jail, but let me start at the beginning.

The first low was 51.2% marks in Grade 10. Fortunately, I never thought of myself as a failure – that low gave me something to prove. That urge led me to the US, and to an MBA from one of the world’s top Universities, Northwestern.

I returned to India, a dollar earning expat and became the CEO of a start-up. But in another low I was laid off from that role. I felt ashamed. I shouldn’t have. I talk about that realization in my TEDx talk.  

My next job took me lower still – to jail. I spent a month in jail, thanks to a case filed against my next employer.

Fortunately, my name was cleared. That bitter experience led to my first book, “The Bad Boys of Bokaro Jail”. That brought another high – my first paid speaking gig.

After jail I picked up another job as a business head for an HCL group company, but I got laid off again. This time losing my job was a nervous high. I felt unshackled. I realized I had lived my life for too long by other people’s rules. It was time to do my own thing.

My partner and I always craved a life in the mountains. We left the city for a tiny house we rented in a Himalayan Village, two small kids in tow.

For 20 years, my corporate career had defined my identity. Being unemployed was a low, but the emptiness gave me the space for writing. I blogged, worked on a second book, and started the Himalayan Writing Retreat. A first in India – the Himalayan Writing Retreat was shaped by passion, creativity and necessity.

Five years on, the Himalayan Writing Retreat is a success – not in the “biggest” or “Number 1” sort of way. The success and gratitude of our writers is a huge reward. It is a place where we can be constantly creative. A fun place to work – my colleague Namrata is the VP of Buzz & Chatter, and I call myself the Chief Pfaffing Officer. Our customers rate us 5*. And we support a local NGO-run school which gives us much joy.

Two years later I co-founded a social enterprise, “Old Hill Cheese” along with Nitin Dayalu, another emancipated corporate slave. Old Hill employs – and empowers –  several village women. It also makes hundreds of village homes more prosperous.

Our new life is meaningful and balanced. Dr Vandita Dubey – my companion in everything – also loves our new life surrounded by nature and beauty.

I’ve painted a pretty picture, I know. It’s not perfect, but it is the closest I’ve come to it.

Feel free to explore the rest of this website. Poke around. Enjoy yourself. And tell me if you find any typos. I hate them. 


Every human life has way too much nuance and complexity to fit neatly into the sections of a website, but I’ve tried that here.

“Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.” – Stephen Fry

Just like Stephen, I also do things, without trying to become the labels. So you’ll find the sections in this website are mostly verbs.



To get in touch with me, please fill out this form.