Thursday, June 26, 2008

Short + Sweet Singapore

In the third week of the Short+Sweet Singapore play festival, ten plays of varying quality were staged at NAFA’s Studio Theatre. In less than two hours, audiences were treated with ten ten-minute long performances that tackled themes ranging from sex to consumerism to cultural identity and suicide.

Playwright Jerome Parisse’s Smell the Roses, directed by Candice de Rozario, tried to dissect the (non-existent) sexual life of a Singaporean couple. A few years into their marriage, Andrew and Maree had seen a near total decline in their sexual attractiveness for each other—not only a disappointment for themselves but also for Maree’s mother who wanted to be a grandmother. One day when Andrew is alone at home and helping himself with some porn on TV, his wife and mother-in-law catch him “smelling the roses”. The touch of comedy in this light-weight relationship play set the mood for the evening.

Mark Friend’s Ledge Fetish, directed by Michael Wang, took everyone by surprise because of its weird theme but it turned out to be hugely satisfying and was clearly one of the most well-written and well-performed plays of the lot. An accountant, played by Musa Fazal, has a fetish for ledges and windows of old buildings. One day he is indulging in his fetish when he is spotted in the act by a shoeshine girl, played by Julie Wee. The exchange between them takes fascinating turns, stoking the imagination of the members of the audience. Julie’s Juno-like performance and easy charm enthralled the audience.

Changing the gears was another Singapore themed-play, Sharon’s Scrumptious Pineapple Cake (Playwright: Leon Foo, Director: Sharon Lin). Two daughters reach their mother’s place with two contrasting news—one wants to divorce her husband and another wants to get married to an elderly man. The mother is at first distraught and heartbroken to hear the secrets that were brought to her and she berates her daughters at their stupid decisions. But then as they quarrel and argue, the mother gives in and acquiesces to their decisions, respecting their right to be happy in their own ways. In the acting department in this play, the mother easily takes the cake.

Ken Mizusawa’s Free Fall (directed by Geraldine Paul) deals with a dark theme: suicide. A man, driven to commit suicide by the ever-changing demands of his workplace, climbs the top of a building to “take control of his death”. But even there, he cannot commit the act in peace as he is interrupted by a student who is there to do research on suicide. The play’s premise was good but including too many characters somehow diluted its effectiveness.

Carolyn Seet’s The Bank (directed by Jamie Cant) is not a normal bank. It can also be a place of seduction. Sounds weird? But bank employee Stephanie (Jeane Raveendran) makes it deliciously believable. The Bank was like a one-character play and Jeane did well to hold the audience’s attention through her soap opera performance.

The next two plays, Are you wanting greater coverage? (playwright Raksha Mahtani and director Nur Sahirrah Safit) and Native Speaker (playwright: Dean Lundquist; Director: Muhammad Faizad Salim) tackle serious themes of identity and racism. While the first one is an exchange between a bored Chindian girl and an Indian call centre guy (who calls in from UK, short for Uttra Khand), the second one is set as an interview piece where a white man is hiring for the position of a “native speaker”. The interviewee insists that she is a native speaker. The position is closed, says the interviewer, because, it emerges, the interviewee does not look like a native speaker. A long argument follows between the two characters that explores the racist biases but it all ends with a twist in the tail—which I could guess coming.

Raksha Mahtani’s play has some clever lines but it fails to fully explore the issues of identity and culture. To be honest, there is only so much one can do in ten minutes. In that perspective, it was a commendable effort.

Verena Tay’s Imperfect Family Recipes (director: Claude Girardi) is about generation gap and old age. It had an old and infirmed character as its main protagonist who vented her feeling out through her pre-recorded monologues. I found it clever and the video’s production quality was quite good. For its sheer innovativeness of presentation, this play deserves appreciation.

Also different in presentation was Alex Broun’s Somewhere Between the Sky and the Sea (director: Rayann Condy) but the theme was trite: a lyricist torn between two beautiful women. Truth be told, I quite enjoyed it.

The last production, Permission to Use Fire (writer/director: Richard Lord) was the darkest of all the plays in this lot. A failed illusionist gets a rare gift just about when he is about the kick the game for good. Intriguing, isn’t it? You have to watch it to believe it.

In all, most of the plays were above average and if you get a chance, catch some of the good ones this Friday at the Esplanade.

More play reviews by other writers are here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A case of exploding tongues

Apologies again, I have been away, travelling. You might have already guessed that seeing my two earlier posts: photos and a video. If you did not, no worries. Here I am.

Recently, while surfing the net, I was delighted to note that Pakistan (or UK) has given birth to another novelist (in English). This is Mohammad Hanif. His novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, has been reviewed here by William Dalrymple.

I was delighted because I happen to know Mohd Hanif--but in a twisted way (I am sure he would have forgotten it all--no one's fault). He is with BBC Urdu and if you watch BBC World, sometimes he appears with his comments on Pakistani issues. This was several years ago when I was still in India. I appeared for a test for BBC Urdu Radio and cleared a few rounds of the process. My final interview was with Mr Hanif and another gentleman who was English.

As luck would have it, I never made the final cut, primarily perhaps because at that time I did not have any newspaper or radio experience. Since then, as you might have noted, my career has taken a different turn. Perhaps I was never meant to be a Urdu journalist despite my love for the language (I love both the languages--Urdu poetry and English fiction).

But I never forgot my interviewer, Mr Hanif (I never forget anyone I've met).

So, when I read about his novel's release, I was quite pleased. The review sounds good and I look forward to reading his novel. Do let me know if you happen to read his book. Here are excerpts from Dalryple's review:

Highly praised by, among others, John Le Carre, A Case of Exploding Mangoes is quite unlike anything recently published this side of the border, and throws the gauntlet down to a new generation of Indian writers. For the first time in this part of Asia, there is now serious competition out there.


Sarawak on video

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pictures from my Sarawak trip, June 2008

Failure and Imagination

Sometimes a single sentence can convey a truckload of meaning:

"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters."

Here's the text of the Harvard University Commencement Address by J K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels, delivered on June 5, 2008.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Opium opus

Amitav Ghosh on his new novel, The Sea of Poppies ('The Ghazipur And Patna Opium Factories Together Produced The Wealth Of Britain'):

The bulk of the opium came from Bengal and Bihar, and no book has been written on it. I had to spend a lot of time in archives digging up original sources, finding letters and journals of opium traders. My description of the Ghazipur opium factory came from a chance discovery in the British Museum of a book written by the guy who was the head of the Ghazipur factory, a Scotsman. He wrote a book about it describing it in excruciating detail to serve as a tourist guide to the opium factory. The Ghazipur and Patna opium factories between them produced the wealth of Britain. It is astonishing to think of it but the Empire was really founded on opium.

It is an endearing interview. I liked this very much:

I am not someone who sought publicity or who would feel comfortable being like one of these mega celebrities. But as I always tell young writers, it's a great mistake to think there's only one pattern of doing things. The book industry is unlike, say, the car industry or the air-conditioner industry.

In the world of books, everything has to be different. It's like saris. No one buys a sari if someone else is wearing it. And similarly, no one buys a book which is like another one. It applies to writers as well. People recognise that it's the individuality of the writer that creates their works.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Talking books with Deepika Shetty

Some have just a little brush with celebrities and they think they have lived their life's worth. But some are fortunate enough to have literally gone to the level of one's dentition with a celebrity. Journalist and literary blogger Deepika Shetty is one of them. In one of her recent literary meetings in Sri Lanka, famous novelist Vikram Seth offered to publicly examine the state of her teeth. Apparently, as Nury Vitacchi puts it, at one point of the discussion, Vikram Seth told an entertaining story about a relative who was a one-armed dentis and to illustrate the challenges involved, he put his arm around the head of moderator Deepika Shetty and duly inspected her back molars.

But that is just one of Deepika's many literary brushes, so to speak.
Those who tread the literary red carpet in this part of the world--Singapore (Singapore writers festival), Ubud, Bali (Ubud writers and readers festival), Australia (Byron Bay Writers Festival) and Sri Lanka (Galle Writers Festival)--would have mostly probably already seen her in action, grilling a celebrity author or a panel of writers. In the last few years, Deepika has been actively engaged in not only moderating writers's sessions in these festivals but has also been increasingly involved in organising these literary events.

Until late last year, Deepika was associated with two leading TV programmes in Singapore--Show Prime Time and Off The Shelves, the latter an interactive programme with authors. Deepika now works with The Starits Times.

Her job as a literary editor, mirroring her deep interest in the world of books and writers, afforded her opportunities to meet a myriad variety of writers that general people can only dream about: Shashi Tharoor, Paul Theroux, Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh, Michael Ondaatje, Romesh Gunesekera, Jeffrey Sachs, Thomas Friedman, Alexander McCall Smith, Nury Vittachi, Chitra Banerji Divakaruni, Neil Gaiman and Suhayl Saadi to name a few.

Hailing from Chandigarh, Deepika has a masters in political science from Panjab University. She started writing book reviews for The Tribune, which paved the path for her to become a full-fledged journalist. In India, she was a journalist with the daily ‘The Times of India’ and the newsmagazine ‘India Today’ before she moved to Singapore almost a decade ago to achieve greater heights in her career.

In an exclusive interview, Deepika takes us on a fascinating journey of books and writers and tells us what it takes to engage with great literary minds like Vikram Seth and Michael Ondaatje. Excerpts:

1. You interview writers for TV and print, you engage them in intelligent discussions at writers festivals and book readings, and you blog about books regularly. In short, you live and breathe books. How did you develop such serious interest in books and writers?

DS: By not being forced to read books. My mother surrounded us with books and comics, but never pushed us to read them. School work was not to be missed, the other reading could be done on our own time. Apart from academic pains, my childhood was wonderful. My sister and I read a lot of Amar Chitra Katha, Asterix, Champak, Twinkle, a fair bit of Enid Blyton, the Schoolgirl comics, even Archie at a slightly later stage.

We spent ever summer at my grandmother’s house and it was filled with a lot of books on war strategy, conflict, war zones and a lot of literature books. The eclectic collection traced its roots to my grand-father, (Brigadier Sampuran Singh) who was a war hero (he received the Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra).

Every year, we’d dust those books religiously. The dusting effort would earn us a princely sum of two rupees every week that we would save up to buy Schoolgirl comics from the Capital Book Store in Chandigarh. In addition to all those books, my Aunt had studied literature and we knew all the names even before we knew what was in the book. There was Shakespeare, Hemingway, Pearl S Buck, Anita Desai, R K Narayan and a whole lot more. But till the age of 15, I hadn’t made any serious effort to read any of their works. After my 10th Board exams, when I was liberated from the pain of having to deal with Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and veered towards Humanities something happened. I started reading. I’d spend all my spare time in the college library. If it was a holiday and the college library was open, you’d be sure to find me there. The librarian would always urge me to head back home, when it was time to lock up. I think by the time I was done with my Bachelor of Arts degree I would have read every single book the library had to offer. I’d even make recommendations for new book buys. It was great to see that be taken seriously. The journey that started at the age of 15 hasn’t showed any signs of slowing. There is always a book in my bag. I can read anywhere. In the cab, on the bus, by poolside, before lunch, after lunch – you name it. Even now, when I go back to my grandmother’s house there is a standard joke about my working towards a PhD in reading.

My late induction into the world of words is also explains why I’m a reluctant speaker when I’m asked to talk about what it takes to get children reading. Honestly, I don’t have any serious advice to give, nor am I in the business of dishing out advice. What worked for me, might not even work for my own children, so who am I to say anything? What I do believe is that reading is a love, it has to be nurtured, it can’t be forced upon you and once you’ve found it, there is no fear of ever losing it. I’ve traveled to so many places thanks to the wonderful world of books, I have made so many friends thanks to the written word. Sometimes I feel I’m in Bangladesh, other times in Sunderbans, or feeling the pain of the Biafra war, a book can do it for you. It’s an intense experience. I love watching movies too though the movie experience doesn’t have the magical impact of books. You can take your book anywhere, it can be a part of your life, you mark the lines that moved you, a couple of years later, you re-visit the places marked by the post-its and it feels like it’s time for another adventure again.

I digress a bit, but I think there is one incident worth recalling. It was while we were on a tram at the Singapore Zoo a couple of years ago. There was this young mother with her son. She was so focused on teaching her young son everything. “Look at the tree,” she’d go, “how do you spell it?” “T-R-E-E.” She even had a note-pad in which she was writing everything and spelling it out again. By the end of the short ride, she had pronounced and spelt out everything – Tiger, Lion, Monkey, Giraffe, Hippo and her son was just listening quietly. Now, that’s a sure way of killing the adventure, I thought to myself. And I think, it was an assessment that wasn’t too far off the mark. When the tram ride ended, the little boy, who couldn’t be more than five was the quietest among the bunch of noisy children. Yes, induction is important, but I’ve always felt there is a really thin line between doing it for fun, doing it your way and making the reading experience close to the academic one.

2. Singapore does not have a Book TV kind of a channel but your programme on Channel NewsAsia, Off the Shelf, comes closest to it. How did it come about?

DS: Lots of talking. Old habits die hard. I was always talking books. I was reading them all the time and I was recommending the good ones to anyone and everyone who cared to lend me an ear. One of them happened to be my former boss, Susanna Kulatissa. She possibly saw that spark somewhere and suggested I start a book on Prime Time Morning, Channel NewsAsia’s breakfast show. It didn’t happen instantly. While I’d been writing book reviews since I was 18, television was a totally different ball game.

Several things bothered me. How would I make it work? Could it be sustained on a weekly basis? Would there be enough content? Most importantly, could I really do it? Susanna would bring it up at every other weekly edit meeting and I’d hesitate. In the end, she just pushed me to the wall and set a deadline, I shall be eternally grateful for that. It took four months of work (lots of it), to get the segment off the ground. It included everything, right from thinking about the title – Off the Shelf, working out the graphics for the segment, promos, establishing contact with book publishers in Singapore and beyond, finding writers, filming. I was breathing books, every weekend saw me in a book store or filming. Then just as we were ready to flip the page, three weeks before the segment was to take off, my months of labour was lost. The entire Off the Shelf folder disappeared from the computer system, the IT experts couldn’t trace it even in the back up files. In that instant, I was shattered. I felt like the segment was destined not to take off. Those testing moments taught me several things. Not too plan too far ahead. To expect the unexpected. When the unexpected happens, to pull yourself together and get on with it. As I write this, I find it hard to believe all of that was three years ago.

The segment started with ‘The Ambassador Series’ where High Commissioners based in Singapore spoke about books that caught their attention. Many of their recommendations tipped off my reading in the months ahead. I can’t thank them enough for their attention, their time and their extended support for the segment.

3. You have interviewed scores of internationally famous writers for your TV show. Was it difficult to get guests for the show as Singapore herself does not have many writers?

DS: Initially, yes. But I found a way around it by doing phone interviews. There were several in the initial months of Off The Shelf. With Vikram Seth, Jeffrey Sachs, Chitra Banerji Divakaruni, Amitav Ghosh, Tarun Tejpal, Rana Dasgupta and many others. They willingly gave their time to an untested book segment and shared so much about the writing process. Each interview was a humbling experience. There was so much more I needed to learn, miles to go, as they say. As the segment established a reputation of sorts, authors started writing to me, publicists were pitching interviews and the blank slate soon found itself transformed into an over-booked segment. It was always hard to say no, to turn down some interviews that deserved air time. But there were times when two authors happened to be in town at the same time and I had to pick one. It was heart-wrenching to say no on occasions like that. Not being able to interview some authors when they were in town is one of my deepest regrets.

4 . Writers are known to be quirky individuals. Any memorable experience of interviewing eminent writers for the show?

DS: Meeting Paul Theroux was a revelation. So much has been written about him, about his friendship with V S Naipaul, how things fell apart between the two of them. Based on what I’d read of Theroux, I had a certain image of him. He stumped me with his warmth and the fabulous stories he had to tell. His train journey from Amritsar, his efforts to re-trace some of his earlier literary efforts. In fact, we ended up chatting for 30 minutes after the interview was over, it was moments like those that made everything magically special.

Jeffrey Archer was an engaging conversationalist, he minced no words. I asked him if he was interested in the Ubud Writers Festival, prompt came the reply, “only if the organizers know I don’t come cheap.”

Investment guru Jim Rogers dished out a lot of advice off air and signed off “get them before they get hot,” he was wrapping up some advice from his book ‘Hot Commodities.’ Some authors ended up becoming friends. Kunal Basu, Elmo Jayawardena, Meira Chand, Janet de Neefe, Kiran Desai and all of it wouldn’t have happened if not for the book segment.

5. You have also been closely associated with some of the biggest writers festival in the region, especially with those held at Ubud, Singapore, and Galle. How was the experience of meeting and talking to writers at these relatively new festivals? Can you please give us a peek behind the show, the process of organising a lit fest?

DS: Before I get to that, I’d like to talk about how my involvement at literary festivals happened. If anyone deserves credit for it, it has to be Janet de Neefe, the founder of the Ubud Writers Festival. We bumped into each other at a media conference that was organized for the Singapore Writers Festival in 2005. I was the only journalist asking questions after the speeches were done. Janet asked the PR person for an introduction and that afternoon we ended up talking for an hour and a half and we haven’t stopped since. She gave me her card, told me about her festival, how it was born, what she hoped it would achieve and I was fascinated by her commitment to use words to heal, to build bridges. Bali, which had suffered from the deadly bombings, needed to go in recovery mode and what better way to do it than through literature. I didn’t think anything would come out of our accidental meeting. The next thing I knew, Janet, the Festival Director was inviting me to her festival. She asked if I would moderate sessions at the festival. I told her doing a 10 minute segment for television was one thing, an hour long session with a live audience quite another, but I was willing to test the untested waters.

There were three sessions that were allocated to me. Then three weeks before the festival, Australian journalist Ramona Koval, who was supposed to do the one on one with Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje pulled out of the festival. Janet called me and asked if I’d do it. I still have no idea what made me say yes. Then it was lot of sleepless nights. Would I be able to pull this off? This is the Booker Prize winning author? Someone whose work I greatly admire. I finally got to meet Michael at the opening of the festival. I told him I’d never done this before. I still remember that moment, he put his hand on my shoulder, gave me him his warm smile and said, “it will be alright.” I couldn’t sleep the night before the session, I was reading, re-reading my script, my research, re-visiting some of Michael’s work, then when the moment arrived, it was time to erase all of that and get on with it. The session went beautifully. I had no idea there were some Australian festival directors in the audience. Soon, there were invites from Australia, the next year Libby Southwell, Festival Director of the Galle Literary Festival was there and she invited me for the inaugural festival in Galle. Of course, none of this would have happened, if my husband Bala wasn’t funding some of these trips, if my office wasn’t giving me permission to appear at the festivals and if my boss wasn’t convinced of the worth of bringing back stories that can only be born at a literary festival.

It’s a totally different dynamic interviewing authors in a live setting. The interviews are more relaxed. You can talk about more than just their latest book to give the audience a full insight into an author’s writing process. It’s amazing to see how different it is for different authors. Then it is the audience that makes the difference. They are always animated and one has to be aware that they often know more than you, sometimes they’ve even read more into an author’s work and could end up knowing more about a particular incident than the author does. I always look for ways to engage the audience beyond the official Q & A. It could be a reading, it could the official introduction, it could be a brief enactment of an author’s work. There are various ways of doing it, one just has to be able to gauge what an audience would like. It’s often a blink moment and over the years I’ve been fortunate to catch it.

6. Apart from these festivals in the Asia Pacific region, India too has been hosting festivals like Kitab in Bombay and the Jaipur writers festival. Do you think these festivals are fads or marketing driven events? Or have they emerged because there is a genuine love for literature in the hearts of the organisers?

DS: Since I haven’t attended Kitab or the Jaipur Writers Festival, I’m not in a position to comment on them. What I can say not just about literary festivals but about everything else in life is that anything that is done with passion, with love, with commitment, anything that is truly Dil Se will find a way of speaking for itself, it will rise above the rest, the audience will relate to it as much as the writers themselves.

Literary festivals are a great way of connecting writers with their readers. Amitav Ghosh said this to me at Ubud. “I spend the better part of my life working on my book, when I get to a festival it’s amazing to see what has resonated with the readers.” It’s almost a way of bringing the writers out of their study, to feel one with their readers. Before literary festivals, readings, book signings became the thing that they are today, what did we have to go on? A writer, his book, a critic and his or her take on it. Today, you have the entire blogosphere at your disposal, just as you choose your writers, you can choose your critics too. What I am saying is literary festivals have opened a whole new avenue for dialogue, for interaction, for healthy criticism or even for bringing your literary heroes into real life. And in this case, too much could actually be a good thing.

7. You have interviewed writers both in front of the camera (recorded) and at festivals (live). How are the two processes different?

DS :Very different. At festivals, often the writers don’t even know the cameras are rolling. They are totally at ease with themselves. The studio often has an unsettling effect. I’ve seen the best of writers clam up, looking in vastly different angles, going on for too long or not saying enough. Being in a live setting also gives you the added advantage of getting a readers reaction to what the author has said. Visually, I’ve found festival coverage a lot more interesting. And I’ve enjoyed the whole process of filming the festival, scripting the story and showing all that happened in a tightly woven television narrative.

8. What kind of preparation and research do you have to do to interview writers? What it takes to engage with minds like Michael Ondaatje, Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, Amitav Ghosh, etc?

DS: It starts with the reading of their work. As a moderator, you’ve got to ensure you’ve read and comprehended the author’s work. At the risk of repeating myself, going with the assumption that the audience always knows more than you do. Checking and counter-checking facts. Don’t believe everything that shows up on Google. Double check the reports. Exchange emails with the authors, meet them before the session. It’s always good to know whether they want to do a reading, how you would connect the reading with a question. Prepare for it 200%, then go with the flow. Study the audience reaction while the conversation is on. You get a sense of what they want more of and what they’d like less of. Beyond the session itself, there is the other dimension of managing the Q & A.

I had a really interesting experience at the Galle Literary Festival. This was after the session with Kiran Desai. When I opened the floor up for questions, there was a sea of hands. The very first question on the ending of the book as was the second. When it came to the third question, I had to put my foot down and tell the audience that if there were any more questions about the ending of the book, they would have to talk to Kiran about it after the session. I’ve found the ending of ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ very clever. You can take what you want to take from it. Without giving too much, I said that much and added that discussing the ending wasn’t being fair to all the people who had bought the book. It was like going to a movie knowing what would happen next.

9. You not only interview writers but you are also a prolific reviewer of books as readers can gauge from you book blog, Read@Peace. What were the most stimulating reads for you in 2007? In fiction and non-fiction?

DS: I enjoyed very much ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ‘A Golden Age’ by Tahmima Anam, ‘Mister Pip’ by Lloyd Jones, ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Mohsin Hamid, ‘The Yacoubian Building’ by Alaa al Aswany, ‘The Blood of Flowers’ by Anita Amerazzvani, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini, ‘The Last Nizam’ by John Zubryzcki, Adib Khan’s ‘Spiral Road’, Richard Flanagan’s ‘The Unknown Terrorist,’ Christopher Merrill’s ‘Things of the Hidden God,’ Tan Twan Eng’s ‘The Gift of Rain,’ Hari Kunzru’s ‘My Revolutions,’ Anupama Chopra’s ‘King of Bollywood’ – gosh this is turning out to be the Queen of longlists. I had better resist the temptation of adding on more.

10. And who are the Asian writers to watch out for in the new year?

DS: Start that with Tahmima Anam. ‘A Golden Age’ is bound to figure prominently in the award lists. Also watch closely, Preeta Samarasan from Malaysia whose book ‘Evening is The Whole Day’ will be out next year. Chandrahas Choudhry has finished his novel. I’ll be looking out closely for that. There’s poet Tishani Doshi whose novel is expected to be out soon as well. From Singapore, look out for Balli Kaur, who won the prestigious T K Wong Fellowship. She’s currently at the University of East Anglia, in UK, working on her debut novel.

I’ll also be eagerly awaiting Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Unaccustomed Earth,’ Amitav Ghosh’s ‘Sea of Poppies,’ Manil Suri’s ‘The Age of Shiva’ and Hanif Kureishi’s ‘Something to Tell You’ and of course Kunal Basu’s collection of short stories – ‘The Japanese Wife.’

The reading’s only just begun. Here’s to flipping lots of pages in 2008.

An edited version of this interview appeared in India Se, June 2008.