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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The fun, they say, usually begins after the festival. In this case it was the smiles. Founder of the Galle Literary Festival, Geoffrey Dobbs (behind Kiran) had reason to be happy. Together with Libby Southwell (who even at this point in time was sorting out someone's transport!) had pulled it off in a record time of four months. The critics had finally been silenced. The writers seemed happy as did the audience. It was a festival that had taken inspiration from Ubud - the Fest Director Janet de Neefe is here and also got lots of advice from the Founder of the Hong Kong Lit Fest Nury Vittachi.

Well, inspiration is one thing, bringing it to life quite another. And the writers did a fine job of that. Collectively, Kiran Desai, Suketu Mehta and Romesh Gunesekera shone at their respective sessions. They also ended up taking the discussions at the last panel 'An Englishman Abroad' to another level. A lot of fun ensued here.

Sir Arthur C Clarke couldn't hear half the things that were said, perhaps that drove him to poetry and tales from another galaxy. Mark Tully and William Darlymple happily agreed to disagree - who doesn't love a writerly disagreement?

As part of the conversation William D also announced Suketu's book on New York and dragged both Kiran and Suketu into the 'Insider, Outsider' debate. Smart way to stretch the debate I say. Thoughts were shared on their stories, their writing, their styles, though in the end it was Romesh who stole the thunder by posing the profound question 'Is there a South Asia in London?' I hear the issue is still being debated.

Also on the sidelines, I was mistaken for Kiran Desai twice.
Once before our session, when two lovely ladies walked upto me with their pens and said "Are you signing books now?"
Since I haven't written any books, award-winning or otherwise, I replied, "You know I'd love to do just that if only Kiran would part with half of her Booker.""Oh my God! You are NOT Kiran?"
Then they flip to the last page and show me the picture I've seen so many times before and went: "Gosh, you look just like her."

I didn't have the heart to disagree, though to set the record straight, Kiran is whole lot slimmer, taller, nicer. I'm a grouch most mornings. More importantly, she has written theee book, I haven't.

Just when I thought the case of crossed identities was over, the next morning as I am rushing to set up my camera for the last session, a gentleman walks upto me and proclaims with the utmost seriousness of purpose:
"I don't mean this as a criticism of you but it's not fair that your session drew over 300 people."
A happy problem indeed!

So I tell him he'd do well to say that to that lovely lady in brown sitting quietly in one of the seats there.

"You mean...."

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