Books, Lit Fests, News, Movies, Art, Fashion and TV of course... "I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book." - GROUCHO MARX

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

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Strange things have happened on my panels before. Writers have fallen in love, writers have fallen out of love, writers have wanted to make love, in one instance, one very famous author tripped and fell, another had the mike fall in his lap. The wine has resulted in slurry speech and even slurrier thoughts.

But never before has a very, very famous author wanted to pronounce judgment on the state of my teeth.

Nury Vittachi has already narrated the story
'VIKRAM SETH doesn’t have a reputation for being easy-going, and referred to himself during an on-stage interview as someone who used to be “touchy”.

But he won the hearts of the crowd at the Sri Lanka festival. He was treated like a rock star, with huge mobs attending his every move, and he responded by providing high grade entertainment.

At one point, he told an entertaining story about a relative who was a one-armed dentist. To illustrate the challenges involved, he put his arm around the head of moderator Deepika Shetty and duly inspected her back molars.

What the author didn’t know – but many of the rest of us did – was that Singapore journalist Ms Shetty has just completed a lengthy dental treatment which involved carrying around a quarter of a ton of metal in her mouth for more than a year. Thus his good reports about her dentition carried great weight.'

Shelley Keningsberg has captured the sequence of events which started when we were talking about 'Two Lives' and the conversation veered towards Uncle Shanti and Aunty Henny. Seth was trying to explain what the loss of Uncle Shanti's right arm [he lost it during the war] meant. He paused to ponder, the next minute, he was up and about;

'Deepika, will you let me examine your teeth'

Sitting at the Hall de Galle stage, with a crowd of 500 in attendance, it was impossible to run for cover, so I responded....
'Vikram, if only I knew this was going to happen, I would have been sure to brush my teeth.'
'Don't worry,' he assured me, 'I won't reveal the state of your inners to anyone.'

He was as good as his word, he didn't. While the teeth look a tad too perfect now, there is an offending molar. I'll be sure to fix, before I meet Vikram next.

For those of you who haven't heard it, he is due to appear at the Ubud Writers Festival next. Be sure to look out for the dates in September/October.

You can take it from everyone who has met him, heard him, read him, taken a picture with him, Seth is worth your airfare.

Till then, enjoy these....

A thinking dentist...

Gets ready for the dental examination....

The way it works from the right...

Now, for the left...

Someday, I'll laugh about it too....

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The true measure of an author's success at a festival is not reflected in the number of people who show up, the laughs a session generates or even the Q & A. It boils down to the dollars and the cents people spend investing in books and then the number of minutes they end up waiting to get them signed. Gore Vidal took all of 10 minutes to get over and done with it.

Vikram Seth, on the other hand extended his session by 30 minutes. He sure can go on. I was watching people in the audience getting up, then sitting down, attempting to get up again, then sit down. It was quite a sight. Shall we leave, shall we not/ The session that started at 4.30pm finally ended at 6pm. Seth was signing books for the next hour. By 7.10pm, I'd walked him back to Amangalla, he was to appear at a literary dinner at 8 and the next morning he was doing a kids session and still signing books. How can you not love him....

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By Vikram Seth - Tom Issacs.
You have no idea what you missed, if you didn't sit in for this session. I'll post more about it, soon.

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After all the Carl Muller reports from last year, almost gave this a miss. If not for the Tim Severin lunch at Kogalla, might not have made it for this. Muller had his wits about him as he tracked his brushes with the law, getting in and out of jail, crashing his computer, reminding himself to Read The F****** Manual 'I call it RTFM, to his new book that a publisher in Madras has picked up. 'I can't help it, if it bears resemblance to a certain character we know only too well.'

They've got the beat - Jeet Thayil and Suman, were the stars of the slam. Catch them wherever you can. It's worth staying up all night.

Expected someone straight out of the sets of The Pirates of the Carribean. Explorer, adventurer, film maker, writer Tim Severin surprised me. His adventures put every other travel trip to shame.

Pioneering women all. Sri Lankan authors Punyakante, Yasmine Gooneratne, Jean and Vijita. They showed us, if you've got to write, you will. Jean, though needed a session all on her own.

Alexander McCall Smith had made exactly the same speech a couple of moons ago in Singapore. Yet, who can resist the company of the 'Number 1 Ladies Detective', the books are travelling at the same pace, he told us. Mechanics are still mechanics. 'Lots of things are happening at other sessions at this festival, serious stuff is being discussed, not here. Like my books, very little happens in my talks,' he told the crowd in the Hall de Galle.

They told us we took ourselves too seriously. Wonder if that's a bad thing. In any case if the session isn't going the way I expect it to, I'd rather let my legs do the talking.

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Monday, January 28, 2008


Snapshots from the Galle Lit Fest


Sunday, January 27, 2008




Is easy, when you have places like these....

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In the setting sun...

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