A corporate assignment had me travelling to remote locations like Saharanpur and Munghyr in Northern India. I had no clue about these places when I started. But once I landed up in these "hot" (I am deliberately not using "warm." Warm is when Bangalore turns 35 or more!)places, I was pleasantly surprised.
Saharanpur is known for artisans specialising in wood work as well as its carpenters. People from all over the country come here to get their furniture made. Munghyr is identified with Maoists now. But it also has the world renowned "Bihar School of Yoga." The town has the Ganga surrounding it on three sides and there's a place called "Peer Pahad" that houses a bungalow used by Tagore and Sarat Chandra as a writing retreat.
The long travel by air and rail also allowed me to catch up on my reading. One of the books I had picked up months ago "Lost Souls" by Michael Collins had me enchanted and enthralled. It was as James Hadley Chase as it could get but had the honour of being nominated for the Booker prize in 2004.
I wish I had read it before I wrote the piece for The Hindu on different types of writers. "Lost Souls" illustrates beautifully the point I was trying to make. The writing is pacy and effortless like Adiga's "White Tiger" and not as tiresome as these pseudo literary works by the "tele-marketeer" variety of self styled literary writers. Talking of whom, their shameless double standards were once again on display last month. The last issue of Caravan pathetically tried to sell a few more copies by announcing on its cover a blurb on Chetan Bhagat that read as if it belonged to "Stardust" rather than the literary status it wants to accord itself.
"Ekdum Bakwas magazine hai Sahab. Koi Nahin Kharidta," commented the disgusted news vendor when I bought my copies of the Outlook, Open, India Today and Tehelka from him.
I don't think the poor vendor would be burdened by this "non-selling" phenomenon for long. It's bound to disappear from the stands before folks realize it even existed.
Went for a matinee today. "Raajneeti" passes muster as a masala film but the hype is exaggerated. It keeps you entertained enough while it lasts but it doesn't come close to Benegal's interpretation of the Mahabharat. "Kalyug" was a masterpiece. This one is strictly time-pass.