"I Avoided The Usual Broad Brushstrokes"
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I find there are a lot of books explaining India to an international audience in a typical 'foreign correspondent' worldview with broad brush strokes and tonnes of statistics and data. But these miss the throbbing, organic India landmass and the mass that lives, thrives and sometimes die ahead of time on this land that went from snake charmer's land to the slumbering elephant to emerging market. I wanted to catch the pulse of this country as a reporter in a small, measurable window of time.
But why should a reader pick up this book?
It explains, holistically, an India of the last 20 years which you read of everyday in the papers like the three blind men of the fable who get piecemeal bits and jump to vastly different and fanciful ideas of the whole beast.
What is the relevance of this book now?
Show me another book that reports on India without the anxiety of a news peg. It is not explaining India's inequity in the face of new riches, or the troubles of urbanisation or the environmental losses to notch up growth figures. It explains the internal migrations of languages and cultures, preponderance of local myths that become easy tinder for diatribes of the politically motivated and the slow and invidious ways changes skew sexual balance in prosperous communities.
What does the book mean to you?
I have managed to air my idea of India that avoids the usual broad brushstrokes of on the run reportage.
How difficult was it to put the book together?
It was not difficult as an idea or a concept. My difficulties were more anecdotal as in a fatal accident in my family and a bout of clinical depression, which delayed its completion.
When and where do you write?
Anywhere I am able to find a settled solitude: your place or mine, or a hotel, for that matter.
Where all did this book take you?
It took me across seven states and covering 3,000 kilometres. On a route that carved out a rough heart of India.
What's your energy drink?
Anything that makes the wits nimble, to quote Churchill.
What makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?
The reader's demands from a book. A really good read could merely mean unchallenging but smoothly laid out text. But there are those books where the writer does not lower the bar for readers and discover there are sufficiently good readers who would make it a bestseller.
What are you reading now?
The Elementary Particles by Michel Houllebecq and Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano
So, what's next?
A novel that works on the idea that the internet has made nearly every group and individual an equal and opposing minority and almost eliminated a clear, authoritarian majority.
(Compiled By Jinoy Jose P.)