27 May 2011

City Of Djinns

Author: William Dalrymple
Pages: 339
Published in the year: 1994
Publishers: Penguin
Genre: Non-fiction/ Memoir

For Dalrymple, who has come to acquire the status of a formidable travel writer today, it was City Of Djinns that marked the beginning of his fascination with Mughal history. For the book, part travelogue and memoir, the author spent nearly a year in Delhi unravelling the city's archaeological riches. What looked like a fling with India soon turned into a lasting romance, and the Scottish author followed it up with two more books on related themes that became the centrepiece of his literary career - White Mughals and The Last Mughal. While the former is about the early relationship between the English and native Indians, The Last Mughal largely is based on events around the 1857 revolt and the ouster of Delhi’s last king, Bahadur Shah Zafar.

Both the above books were born out of City of Djinns. Dalrymple had visited Delhi when he was all of seventeen and was instantly under its spell. "It was so totally unlike anything I had seen before. Delhi, it seemed at first, was full of riches and horror, it was a labyrinth, a city of palaces, an open gutter...Moreover - I soon discovered - possessed a bottomless seam of stories, tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend," he says in his introduction.

The whole city, then, seemed to be an endless and fascinating journey of discovery to the author, who had already by then acquired a reputation as a stunning travel writer with his first book In Xanadu. Still only 25, Dalrymple brought with him a sense of adventure and a charming wide-eyed curiosity to Delhi that he put together in this elegant, lush memoir. Besides uncovering grand, epic stories around the city, the book is punctuated with delightful daily-life anecdotes that Dalrymple narrates with a mix of bemused exasperation and empathy. Many interesting character dot his domestic world. His land lady Mrs Puri, who likes to govern things with an iron hand, and his cab driver, Balvinder, a loutish, pan-chewing Punjabi fellow - are coloured with vivid, ironic strokes. Charmingly, Dalrymple was also newly married around this time, and provides a very flattering portrayal of his artist-wife Olivia, who has done the illustrations for the book. The maps and monuments she draws are really pretty, though much of the sketches have a distinct exotic, western gaze - man smoking hookah, an old cobbler, qawwali singers, a eunuch and so one.

The author slowly peels the many layers of Delhi, by tracing the antecedents of the city’s famous monuments. It opens up a long and bloody history of conquerors and blood-shed, of periods of glory and despondency, of exile and re-settlement. Darlymple’s journey touches upon the after effects of the Indo-Pak partition on its inhabitants, the Sikh revolt in the 80s. From contemporary history, he goes back to the Raj, and extensively covers the period which saw a rapid change in the British attitude to the natives. All this happened within a century. The Whites who came either as part of the East India Company or as scholars, were reverential to the Mughals. They imbibed the Orient culture, married Indian women.... But as the power of the East India company grew and the British conclusively established their rule in most of India, the equations drastically altered, and the natives were all shunned. The Anglo-Indians, in fact, suffered the worst blow, as they found no acceptance on either side. Dalrymple speaks to a few Anglo-Indians who survived that period, and their inputs are quite telling. Most of them consider themselves as full—blown British. One such old couple is Marion and Jeo Fowler, who describe with delight one of their brief visits to England. They talk about the great food, the picturesque landscaps and the sense of equality that prevails there. There is a hint of regret at not being able to live in a place they believe to be their right. “It was that Mrs Thatcher. She never liked Anglo-Indians. She made it very hard for us. All her rules and regulations,” they bemoan.

From the British era, the book travels back to the luxuriant Shah Jahan period, where a bloody battle for succession broke out between his two sons Dara Shikoh and Aurangazeb. It was also a period where the Mughals were at the zenith of glory and wealth. Yet, the author observes that this outward refinement in art and etiquette was a cover for some of the most crude and heinous of crimes committed.
Delving deeper into Delhi’s history, the author gives vivid portrayals of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim, Moroccan traveller, who wrote about his journeys and Tughluk Khan, one of the most barbaric rulers of the 14th century.

Clearly, Dalrymple summons up tremendous amounts of patience, as he painstakingly gets to the bottom of the city’s historical treasures. The entire endeavour brims with passion, and equally impressive is the maturity and restraint that Dalrymple brings to his excellent writing.
The author is seldom critical, except when he talks about the neglect by the Indian authorities of important archaeological sites or his harrowing experience at the customs. At other times, he prefers letting his ironic narration do the talking.
It need not be added then that any reader of City Of Djinns will view Delhi is a completely new light.

20 May 2011

Tagore's Naukadubi

Director: Rituparno Ghosh
Starring: Jishu Sengupta,Raima Sen, Riya Sen, Prosenjit,
Stars: ***

In times when intelligent and original stories are so hard to come by, one naturally looks towards literary adaptations with some interest. Because even if they often disappoint in their final execution, they still come with a semblance of a plot. And if the adaptation is of a book written by Rabindranath Tagore, one is even more thrilled at the prospect. Tagore's reputation largely rests on his poems and short stories, but he was also a farily successful novelist. His Choker Bali was an artistic tour de force and was earlier made into a film by director Rituparno Ghosh. This time Ghosh chooses Tagore's other famous novel, Naukadubi that was written at the turn of the 20th century. Great changes were happening in Bengal, as in the rest of the country at this time. And much of this got reflected in Tagore's works.

Naukadubi has been dubbed in Hindi as Kashmakash, produced by Subhash Ghai to coincide with Tagore's 150 anniversary. Somehow, even though any endeavour that brings classic literature to the fore needs to be applauded, and Naukadubi has some definite strengths, it is a film that is closely tied to the context of its times. Chastity is an important concern in the film, so is parental influence. These elements are the chief drivers of the plot, and these may not necessarily find a resonance with today's audience, unless they can see it as art belonging to a particular social milieu.

And yet, it does raise some profound and timeless questions. It looks at our deeply engrained sense of tradition and morality and what happens when it is in conflict with the dictates of the heart. Each character goes through this conundrum, and deal with it according to their individual situations in life.

There is of course beauty and lyricism that come from the fact that Tagore was essentially a poet at heart. Novel-writing demands a certain analytical and realistic approach, but being a lyricist, he applied his grand imagination to real settings. Naukadubi is an example of a dramatic, incredible story, that almost seems like it was written with the intent of shaking up a complacent and custom-driven Bengali society. Though a popular fictional story, its critical reception has not been the most flattering over the years. Yet, it's not hard to see it as quite bold and progressive for its times.

Ramesh (Jishu Sengupta), is a scholarly young man in Kolkata in love with the beautiful and intellectually-driven Hemalini (Raima Sen). They intend to get married, but Ramesh is suddenly instructed to come back to his village by his father. When he arrives, he learns that his father has fixed his marriage with a poor widow's daughter. Ramesh's first reaction is to flatly refuse, but on seeing the widow, his heart softens and he agrees to marry. On the wedding day, their boat gets wrecked. On the shores, he sees a bride, Kamala (Riya Sen) lying unconscious. He naturally supposes her to be his wife, and they start to live together. He fights hard to forget his paramour and is gentle and affectionate towards Kamala. But he slowly learns that she is not his wife at all and there has been a misunderstanding. On Hemalini's part, she tries to get over Ramesh and starts to imagine a life with a country doctor (Prosenjit) whom she meets. Kamala too finds herself on the crossroads.

The theme is clearly about nature versus custom. Each of the characters is forced to momentarily bent to accepted tradition, but ultimately a satisfactory resolution is found. The boat-wreck in some ways could be a metaphor for nature asserting itself and ending what it deems as unnatural.

Hemalini and Kamala are two women who belong to opposite ends of the social spectrum. Hemalini has the previlege of wealth, education and an indulgent father - a desi Emma or sorts - while Kamala considers herself unfortunate and is subservient. Both experience the same kind of emotions, but their social background ultimately determines how they react to their situation.

The period details, decor and costume make for sumptuous viewing. And the music is simply marvelous. Here's a link to Manwa from the film, one of the most gorgeous songs in recent times (http://www.video.mobitowns.com/manwa-kashmakash-2011.html)

On the downside, Tagore's story uses too many coincidences at every point. The situation under which Ramesh agrees to marry also lacks conviction. Prosenjit's character is the most underdeveloped of the four. However, director Rituparno Ghosh seems to have done exceptionally well with the content at hand. There is tremendous grace to this film, and Raima Sen has never looked more ethereal. Though the emotional complexities don't emerge very well (and this could be a weakness in the original story), there is something deeply humane and dignified about its characters.

14 May 2011

Gained in translation

In a pleasant new development in the last few years, the Marathi section at Pune's book stores has been teeming with translations of international bestsellers and Indian-English fiction and non-fiction works.

As you browse through the well-stacked book shelves in the Marathi section, your eye immediately catches the translation of Margaret Mitchell’s epic hit Gone With The Wind. You are amused at the thought of Rhett Butler saying his famous last words to Scarlet O Hara in Marathi, but you hold that thought and continue to scan through the dozens of new translated titles around. There’s Greg Mortenson's Three Cups Of Tea, Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Khaled Hosseni’s The Kite Runner and Thousand Splendid Suns, Rhonda Byrne's Secret, Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss among many others. The absolute favourites in the pack are Chetan Bhagat, the Chicken Soup for the soul series, Dan Brown, Jeffrey Archer and Sydney Sheldon.

Non-fiction and self-help books - being factual and universal -- are especially hot picks in their translated versions. Barack Obama’s autobiographies, Kiran Bedi’s I Dare, Narayan Murthy’s A Better India, A Better World, A R Rahman’s biography, Tushar Gandhi’s Let’s Kill Gandhi, Harsha Bhogale's Out Of The Box, Shobhaa De’s Spouse – are all popular. As you glance some more, you see an entire shelf dedicated to self-help/inspirational books. Several copies of Rujuta Diwekar’s new book, Women & the Weight Loss Tamasha in Marathi have freshly arrived. The other top sellers are Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Rashmi Bansal’s Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

There's been a 100 per cent jump in sales of translated works in Marathi at Crossword ICC Towers. "Where earlier we used to have 10-15 books, now we have almost 150 of them," says its manager Girdhar Agarwal. He attributes this somewhat to the highly literate class of Maharashtrian and Puneites in particular.

48-year-old Sneha Latkar is one such reader, who says she has a working knowledge of English, but prefers the Marathi translation as she doesn't have to struggle with the meanings and can get a complete sense of the book. "I read one entire volume of Sidney Sheldon in a matter of days. It was so gripping," she says. "I find the standard of translation very good. I’m engaged by the story, which is what matters," she adds.

We did a check ourselves and while the translation is satisfactory, and a perfectly acceptable alternative to the original, cultural contexts do colour the text somewhat. For example, Rhett Butler’s last words –‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’ expectedly sounds awkward and lame in Marathi. The dialogues in the novel suffer, but the description as a whole captures the essence quite well. From the little I saw, there was a minor gaffe in the Obama autobiography as well. But these are niggles.

Readers seem to be happy and the sales indicate that clearly. City-based Mehta Publishers, who have been at the forefront of these translations state that there has been a huge jump in the last 3 years. Its CEO Sunil Mehta tells us that he has to acquire rights from the original writer, before translating it. "For example, Dan Brown sells very well, but I have to pay him considerably for it – say 700-800 dollars," he says. As for translation techniques, he explains that the effort is always to remain as faithful as possible to the original. "We try to retain everything, even if there is erotic content. We tone it down, but we keep it," he says. As for the future, he believes, it is tough to predict trends in the book world. "But I think the next ten years will only see this market growing," he says.

Best-sellers in Marathi

1) Sidney Sheldon

2) Jeffrey Archer

3) Chetan Bhagat

4) Dan Brown

5) Rujuta Diwekar

02 May 2011

The Vague Woman's Handbook by Devapriya Roy

Author: Devapriya Roy
Pages: 343 pages
Price: 199
Publishers: Harper Collins
Year of Publishing: 2011

Devapriya Roy's effervescent debut novel that has so much going for it is far less about vague women and odd balls than the title suggests. The protagonists meant to be vague but charming, are in fact your everyday urbane, working woman -- clueless about directions, messing up their credit bills, obsessing about losing weight and resolutely planning to turn into a new leaf every day.

The narrative is really about two literary buffs and the quirks that come with that territory. The fact that they have careers centered around books is not an incidental detail by any means, because many of their oddities, characteristics, motivations, responses are all acutely driven by their literary bent of mind. Practically every other page has a reference to a book or an author or a quotation. The setting itself is an imagined place called Academy of Literatures in Delhi where talk revolves around authors, lit events and conferences between cups of tea and chocolate cakes. So there's a 'meta' element here, a book world within a book, which should delight some of the more avid, serious readers of English literature.

The other interesting aspect here is the older women-younger women friendship that is quite a common occurance actually between females who share a certain emotional /or intellectual wavelength, though it's generally taken to be an anomaly. It hardly gets spoken about, and much less has been covered in popular fiction, which is why, Devapriya's narrative feels relatable and fresh.

Without much doubt, this is an immensely enjoyable novel, with its sumptuous descriptions and iridescent wit spread over 343 pages. There's a certain heartiness in the writing, a bounce and zing, that keeps the narrative tip toeing with nimble ease. The chick-lit elements are all there of course, but it manages to acquire an edge that should make it perfectly readable for everyone.

The novel is then about two women, each at a different stage in life, finding a kindred spirit in their literary pursuits and complimentary natures. Sharmila aka Mil, a 22 year old has just married her college sweetheart, Abhimanyu Mishra, a handsome, scholarly young man, with a penchant for somewhat obscure academic interests. Mil is a literature student, with all kinds of delicious hopes that ride with such a career path. Maybe a course in Cambridge, conferences abroad...

The other protagonist is Indira, 50ish, a senior government officer at the Academy of Literatures and a single mom to a teenage son and daughter. Indira is unassertive and tends to take an ostrich-like approach to many of her problems. She mismanages her finances and frequently finds herself in a maze of bank debts. On the other hand, Mil - while blissfully married - is frustrated with their meagre and irregular earnings and more particularly, her estrangement with her parents back in Calcutta over her marriage. She’s also ambitious and doesn't want her career to slip amidst all the heart-burn. Nothing really dramatic happens in the novel, and yet their daily struggle with its little ups and downs -that seems monumental and irresolvable on a given day- keeps you hooked.

Like most first novels, this one too seems heavily autobiographical and Devapriya essentially enumerates her sensations and emotions to different things around her. It works because Devapriya has great flair and style and she gets into the workings of a woman's mind quite wonderfully.
The below paragraph occurs when Abhimanyu and Mil have an feisty argument over finances and the attitude of their respective parents.

"The fact that Abhi was pointedly left out of the phone calls bothered Mil immensely. But when he brought it up, it made her furious. The mind is a complex zone - one loves and hates and defends the same people interchangeably all the time. You feel X about Y. But to Z you cannot reveal that you feel X; on the contrary, in front of Z, you highlight the feelings of X1 for B."

Don't look for anything terribly deep in the novel though. This is clearly a feel-good book above everything else, which gets into fairy-tale mode every now and then. The author realises she's created a near perfect couple in Mil and Abhimanyu and tries stacking the odds against them by adding a spot of grey. But it's mostly full of cutsie scenes and can't escape the clichés of young romance.
Yet, the narrative stays gripping, because the plot points are all interesting. The Mil-Abhimanyu quarrel over his finances, ending with the couple making up feels extremely tender. The chapter where Mil meets her fashionable mother-in-law is another high-point in the book.

Indira is a well-etched character, though her marital history is left somewhat vague and inconclusive. Mil at 22 seems a bit too young to be inhabiting the character the author creates for her.

But these are niggles really, and this is a jaunty ride that stays perfectly on course, teeming with piquant details. Devapriya, herself an MA and Mphil from JNU is a huge literary buff and that passion comes gleaming through the book.


All of 26 years, Devapriya Roy speaks about her debut book and her next ambitious venture with her writer-husband called The Heat And Dust Project, a book on travels across India

1) This is a question which perhaps all writers hate to answer. But it's hard to imagine any first book that is not autobiographical. The Vague Women's Handbook distinctly seems to mirror experiences close to you. Isn't it? What kind of challenges did you encounter in this process, where you had to fictionalise many autobiographical details. What approach did you take, where you possibly had some real-life person in mind, but were obliged to protect the source? Also, do you believe all fiction is mostly autobiographical, one way or the other?

Milan Kundera once said that characters are not born, like people, of a woman, but of a “possibility”. I find this a very helpful insight. When I became best-friends with the fabulous Gitanjali Chatterjee who happened to be a fair number of years – 28 to be precise – older than me, it was out of that possibility that the Vague Woman’s Handbook happened. Mil is not me and Indira is not Gitanjali, but the essence of their friendship is a lot like what we share. And this is not uncommon either. My mother had gone back to graduate school when I was about 17, and did her M Tech with young people who were a little older than I was. She had become very close to one of the girls she studied with. My publisher Karthika said that at one point when she was in university, she had this friend she spoke about a lot at home –so her mother invited the friend over. Subsequently, her mum said in great surprise, “But your friend’s my age!”
There are several elements that I “borrow” from my life and the lives of several who have had the misfortune to come in borrowing distance of me! I got married to Saurav absurdly early, like Mil did. But what’s funny is that this is a kind of family tradition – my parents did too, and my grandparents. So the economic realities of a young marriage is something that I had always thought was worth writing about – especially in an age as consumerist as ours is, when one is bombarded with images of glossy homes, designer honeymoons and event-managed weddings all the time. But the drama of estrangement was a borrowed one; however, in India, one still doesn’t have to look too far to find stories of parental disapproval. As for the credit card related escapades, let us say, I have had slight experience in the department but am a very respectable law-abiding citizen now, who is courted by a number of banks!

It’s true that most first novels are autobiographical; but the challenge I think is in converting autobiographical or personal impulses into the story of the characters, when it becomes something else. I’ve had emails from several readers who have loved the book, and asked me how on earth have I written about them! Because, said one girl from Bombay, she is Mil and her fiancĂ© is very Abhi-ish. There is an Indira Sen in Calcutta whose friends have written to me saying that they are in shock that there can be more of her! It’s like a giant circle of intertextuality, inter-experientiality, sisterhood and meaning-making.

2) Tell us something about your narrative strategy. Did you give the first person v/s third person choice any thought, or this was always how you wanted it to be?

Oh, you’re absolutely right – I did think of the first person narrative in the beginning. In fact, that seems to be the favourite choice for a lot of chick lit. But then, finally, I didn’t find it working too well for the story I was attempting to tell. This book explores the relationship between Indira and Mil more, but as often through suggestions and gestures – how gradually the nuances in their language change as the friendship deepens – than words. Thus I settled for a third person narrative that would do greater justice to this aspect, but an over-the-shoulder one, which, thus, is empathetic to Mil and Indira and records much of their musing, from their point of view. I thought that the third person narrative offered a unique coupling of the coming-close and moving-away strategy; I did not want the narrative to completely become an I-centric thing which can tend to get rather shallow and self-absorbed though arguably funnier.

3) I know the plot needed Mil and Abhimanyu to be very young - because that is afterall the central reason for their estrangement with the parents - but i got the feeling that Mil at 22 sounded like a 26-27 year old, especially scenes where she admonishes Indira etc. Were there any doubts in your mind about Mil's age and whether she could be expected to pull off some of the things in the story without it seeming like a stretch?

I know exactly what you mean – but that is precisely my point. Mil does these things consciously because she is painfully young-but-trying-to-appear grown up. When we see Mil as she is, we find her hysteria and meltdowns and vagueness in general believable because she is too young to handle what life has thrown up. But when we see her with Indira, and she is being all pert and theoretically superior and full of lectures, she is being a grown-up the way children sometimes do, donning the clothes and shoes of elders . That is the beauty of Mil and Indira’s relationship – Indira allows Mil to do her grown-up act with the affection of the sensitive towards the young, of not disrupting their little drama. And that is why Mil is able to flower in Indira’s presence. This is the chief thing that the parents have a problem with – Mil and Abhi’s extreme youth; so sub-consciously Mil is reacting to that. Again, the self-assuredness of Mil (her confidence that the credit card things will sort themselves out, the seminar paper will get selected, and so on) is what 22 year olds still have, though by the time they grow older, true maturity ought to distill it out of them.

4) Tell us something about your next book - The Heat and Dust project that you are doing with your husband, Saurav Jha. What writing approach are you taking with that, and how has the experience been so far?

It is a travelogue – a funny hysterical sort of a travelogue about journeying through India on a very very tight budget (500 a day for bed and board), but it would also engage with various books on India that have been authored by mostly foreign writers in English – from Naipaul to Patrick French and Dalrymple – which attempt to make sense of India. But in addition to being by Indians, it is also meant for Indians – especially, young Indians, if they would care to read it.
Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries might be called one of the big inspirations (Lol!). Without the motorcycle, that is.
 Cliched though it sounds, we were excruciatingly tired of the rhythms of the desk-jobs and the expectations that middle class “respectable” life throws on people. There was a lot of unresolved angst about modern-day life and its imperatives for our generation that impelled us to take this journey. We hoped that meaning and clarity might emerge through this mammoth undertaking as it sometimes does. The traffic, the desk jobs, the housework, the long queues, the grocery shopping, the cleaning (and the non-cleaning) of quarters. But it was hardly easy to actually bring everything together and take the jump from fantasizing about this idea to actually doing it. Putting all our meager savings into this journey – and what it represented – meant an extraordinary amount of pressure too! Because this is our life, and giving up jobs and what they represent, is hardly as romantic as it might seem initially.
 At another level, we were also tired of hearing studio experts debating the changing nature of our country, given that many of these studio experts belong to the highest echelons of society and, if you forgive our frankness, are often divorced from ground level truths. We wanted to see the land for ourselves, meet those of our brother and sister Indians we might ordinarily not have met, chat with them, swap stories.  
We combined these two things into this insane but hopeful “project”. That's how it came about.
This book is a lot about our generation as also inheritances from our predecessors.
So, we wanted to turn around the concept of meaning-making too! Usually, a book is written in solitude and only engages with the reader once it has been published. However, given the technologies available today it seemed possible that this act of writing, apparently one given to grave solitariness, could be turned on its head into a much more meaningful collaborative process wherein the readers are involved right from the beginning. That is how the idea of the dynamic book as it were was born. We created the facebook page on our travels titled – ‘the heat and dust project: a book in motion’ – where we give out funny stories, pictures and confessions while the journey is on. It received a warm welcome from the facebooking community which also chipped in with suggestions of its own and the group has grown to almost two thousand members in a very short span.

5) If you can list down some of the authors and books that have influenced your writing....

I read just about anything I can lay my hands on so this is a tough one.
But one writer who has been an indirect influence on The Vague Woman’s Handbook is Alexander McCall Smith who writes with such humour, gentleness and wisdom, and whose female protagonists – and the men in their lives – I am in love with. While the voice of Vague Woman is very much in contrast to McCall Smith’s – because it is hysterical and reflects an Indian idiom – I do think he was a kind of an influence in shaping the book.

The Diary of Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding and Confessions of a Shopaholic are two other books that I enjoyed greatly – modern women’s fiction, as they are, with a self-reflexive voice that questions even as it surrenders to misadventures.
 A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf would probably be the one book that I’d risk my life to save from a burning library!

6) What has been the general response to The Vague Woman's Handbook? Were you tentative to begin with as a writer? And post its publishing, what are your feelings about being an author and how do you intend going forward with this? Are you also pursuing anything else besides writing?

Luckily, I’ve had emails from readers, from all over the country, saying they loved Mil and Indira. I’m all inspired to pen the further misadventures of the vague women – there is definitely going to be a sequel.
There has also been a lot of support for my vague theory! The book is, after all, not only a celebration of vagueness – but also in defence of it. Most modern women are over-worked and carry to-do lists in their heads that span things they have to do for work, home, children, families – and in India, even for second cousins twice removed. The amount of pressure on them often forces them to be in-control. Being a vague woman is thus also a sort of protest against this system that requires lives to be so planned and organized; and it is only when one allows the mind – and the contours of life – to wander, to be vague, that creativity finds its expression.
Incidentally, just recently I found out about this minor movement within Western philosophy: a movement to reinstate the vague, which had been pioneered by the philosopher William Archer. He had meant it to be in the realm of scientific thinking but I think it might be good to reinstate the vague in many aspects of the smug lives the middle and upper classes live.

I consider myself ‘an obsessive reader with a slight writing problem’ – and hardly a writer, with just one book. When I was working on The Handbook – and Saurav will tell you there are at least 50 versions and drafts – I did not take myself too seriously. I wrote as and when, now and then and on the move.
Nowadays there are a lot of writers who spend far less time writing and far more time (and money) promoting their books and marketing themselves. In fact, they’ve made it difficult for old-fashioned authors – who wrote in quiet corners and let the book do the talking – to even exist! Ultimately, I guess, to each his own. I have a very very long way to go – and so I must concentrate on the sheer art of writing, hone it and sharpen my voice continuously.
Saurav and I are very excited about The Heat and Dust Project – and at the moment we’re working on it.
And as for other things, I’m a freelance book editor and am also doing a PhD from JNU in Theatre and Performance Studies.