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

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Literary festivals are great discovery zones, that much we all know.

That they help us engage great minds, that we know too. Depending on one's interests they set the pace, the direction for reading, writing and other such areas.

As a moderator does all of this excite me, I'm often asked? Of course, it does. I wouldn't be doing it, if I wasn't loving it so much.

Beyond all the conversations, the biggest joy of being at a lit fest is forging new friendships, finding out what the audience took back from the session and what they'd like to hear more/less of.

As a journalist I have that annoying propensity of keeping my ears glued to the ground, of listening to the chatter, of hanging out discreetly behind loo doors to find out what the women are making of the dishy author they just heard. Often it is these words that set the pace for the very next session.

And ever so often there are the readers, driven by an openness, by sheer passion for the written word. I've met so many of them across continents but I've yet to meet someone like Tulai Thomson.

He was there at Amandari for 'Out of India' with Kiran Desai and Shashi Tharoor waiting patiently to get his copy of Kiran's debut Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard signed.

I was intrigued. He wasn't rushing in, when I said hello, he told me he'd enjoyed the session. But what drew him to the tale of Sampath Chawla is what I wanted to know.

"My mum has read it and she recommended it," he told me.
"Do you read everything your mother recommends," I probed further, thinking deep down if only I could get this strategy working on Aneesha.
"I try," Tulai said.

Then we did a quick run through some of the books he's read so far. Gosh! I hadn't even heard of half the names when I was his age. Having interviewed the super-achiever Shashi Tharoor, I was also wondering if Tharoor sounded like this when he was Tulai's age.

Many, many thoughts were playing in my head, as was the thought of getting Tulai on camera. A natural in front of it, he had the perfect soundbyte without having to think too hard about it.

In a flash he told me what he found most interesting about some of the discussions at the Ubud Writers Festival:
"I've been to a couple of sessions with other writers, most of them have been in my school. Most of them have been on writing techniques and how we should write. Here I've heard famous authors, just hearing how they express their feelings through their writing, I found that very inspirational."

What got him reading:
"My Mum has always encouraged me to read ever since I was young. Reading has always been a part of my life, I can't imagine life without reading. I like Roald Dahl a lot."

Did I mention he is barely 12?

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