Reproduced from Booknomics – Pothi.com’s blog
I have been a fan of Shashi Tharoor’s on-stage charisma since the first time I heard him in-person at PAN IIT conference in December 2006 and he explained (using his wonderful oratory skills) how if US was a melting pot, India was a thali!! Since then I have read the transcripts of his speeches, and followed him on twitter, but never had an opportunity to hear him on stage.
Even after spending most of my time at Delhi World Book Fair lazily sitting at our stall (the books these days are all available online to buy!!), when I jumped at the news that Dr. Tharoor was coming and promptly made my way to Flipkart’s stall in hall 6, Abhaya was not surprised. He is aware of my fascination.
ST arrived dot on time and I could not help notice that he smiled in a way as if he wasn’t used to all the attention he was getting. Given how Indian politicians have to maintain a God-like persona during their campaigns and afterwards, it is difficult to believe. But charming nonetheless.🙂
Since I don’t know when I would hear him on stage again, this time I decided to record it. Quality is, of course, constrained by the fact that I was using my regular camera to record it.😀 Unfortunately the recording has become too long and I am unable to upload it on Youtube. So, let me try to summarize some of my take-aways.
The one question I asked him was whether he was planning to write any fiction in near future. He said that fiction is his first love and he would like to return to it. But finding time for writing with the busy schedule of a political career is difficult. And writing fiction requires not only time, but also a space in your head. You create an alternate world. If you are interrupted and are away from that world for weeks, it becomes difficult to continue writing.
Anyone who has tried to write long fiction will identify with the problem. And Abhaya should be more tolerant of my being completely absorbed in that alternate world of mine when I am writing my next book.😀
However, ST added that he has a few stories in his mind and once his current non-fiction project is over, he will try to write a short novel. I really want to read a more recent fiction from him as I felt that I had tried to read ‘The Great Indian Novel’ 20 years too late. Today I got a copy of “Show Business” (signed, of course!) and am looking forward to reading it.
He read a chapter/scene each from his books “Bookless in Baghdad” and “Riot”. He had cleverly chosen a chapter from “Riot”, where he makes fun of his own “The Great Indian Novel”. Self-deprecating humour is not something you can expect to see in most Indian politicians! Plus he also had very progressive answers to questions related to online buying and experience of reading e-books. Specifically on reading e-books/online he said that more than a substitute of physical book reading, it is an alternative and can enhance the reading experience. For example, through hyperlinks you can instantly look up the meaning of a word or figure out where this character last came in a story.Though they won’t mean much to people who don’t look up the dictionary or who are happy to flip through the pages to find where a particular character had come last, he said referring to people like himself.
We (at Pothi.com) agree to the basic idea that neither print books are going to go away (because they have a charm); nor e-books are going to be stopped from becoming mainstream (because they have a value). Right, right! Making a case for our Print on Demand as well as e-book businesses!😀
To conclude, I return as a happy creature from DWBF because of this opportunity to hearing ST, even though it has been tiring otherwise.