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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


If you've already read these, two of seven excellent books by one of India's finest journalist - M.J. Akbar - then you need no introduction to the man.

If you haven't, you'd do well to watch our space on Wednesday, the 15th of November, to hear his thoughts on air at 8:45am (Singapore Time).

If you aren't into telly watching and want the action live, he'll be speaking on
'Words as Weapons in the Wars of the World' at Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS) at 3pm. Admission is free, though prior registration is needed.

Am I recommending this lecture highly? Of course!

In fact, just like I did for Friedman, I shall be giving up my much needed dose of my twenty noon winks to hear the man himself.

After all, not only has he penned several worthy discourses on the issues of our times, written books (I haven't read them all, but those that I have figure high on my recommendation list), he has been widely credited with revolutionising Indian journalism. At the age of 28, a time when some of us are still discovering ourselves, M.J. Akbar was busy launching and establishing the weekly magazine 'Sunday' and the newspaper 'The Telegraph'.

Politics beckoned for a while, he made a brief detour with his election to the Indian Parliament in November 1989. Though he returned to his first passion, writing and editing, in 1993 - much to the joy of his readers. Does he live to regret his brush with politics just like Amitabh Bachchan does, I'm curious to find out about that? The lecture or the 10 minutes of air time might not give the answer but a post-discussion certaintly would.

But I digress. Tracking more of Akbar's distinguished life and times. In 1994, he launched 'The Asian Age' which has been dubbed India's first global newspaper -

What makes his writing even more appealing to net lovers is his blog presence -

As some folks pointed out, only a brave editor makes his email I/D so accessible - the rest would merely leave it at the writing.

And the writing is quite something. 'India: The Siege Within' was my first M.J. Akbar buy. It was funded courtesy a book prize that the college offered me for splitting my lungs at a fiery debating contest. Snuggling with that book, I got the lessons that my Political Science class on the Indian polity just couldn't offer. The writing was readable, the style charming, the story told as it deserves to be told. In two nights I learnt more about the real India, the secular democracy at work, its weakest links and its strengths. Perhaps, some of the quotes I liberally used in class, went to make me one of the late Pradeep Kumar's 'students of note.'

I re-visited the book last year during my annual visit to my grandmum's home, the time when all the trunk loads of books tucked in the corner of her store, get the ritual airing. I almost packed it in my overloaded bag and then put it right back, thinking 'I hardly have a chance of bumping into M.J. or getting this signed in Singapore'. As always... how wrong I was....

Now, if that's got you all excited about getting to a book store on time, let me tell you that the only book available here (at least at Kinokuniya and Borders) as I pen this is 'Blood Brothers'

If you want to risk Amazon, my last order that was a valiant attempt to get Madhur Jaffrey's 'Climbing the Mango Trees' and Christopher Kremmer's 'The Carpet Wars' didn't show up in time for the sessions that I did at the Ubud Writers Festival. So take your chances if you really want to. You've been warned.

P.S.: Got a lovely note from MJ - yes the man himself. It says some nice things and points to an errata - Just a minor change: I was 25 when I started 'Sunday'. Don't know what that does to your morale but it sure makes me feel like a serious under-achiever.