Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Festival des livres

I have a friend who lives in Paris. Envy is the word I most associate with him. I envy him. Several reasons. Especially so when I sit in front of my computer and stare at the market shares, sizes and shipments and wonder on how stupid I was to imagine a life without financial management.

He is a free lance journalist at one of the Parisian newspapers. He reads Indian books, interviews authors and writes reviews. He also handles a paper on Indian writing at the university there. I envy him because he is happy with his job and knows for certain no other job can make him happier. Organizations, yes, but job, no.

Every year when he visits India apart from Chanel, Coty and innumerable stories; he brings me something. Something special. A book. A book which he’s read and enjoyed most that year.

We have amazing conversations.

Why I like Salman Rushdie the way I do.
Did I think Anita Nair was an Indian author to be reckoned with? Are people in Kerala proud of her?
He liked Anita Desai and staunchly so, no matter what I say, so there! Could I write a book better than her?
Would I one day write a book? One day... some day? Oh, he’d never write one. He can only analyze a book and he’d wreck his own sanity if he was to write one.
Oh, he’ll never review what I write. He’s biased. Brown always made him biased; didn’t I know.
Bengal had amazing authors, yes.
I should read travel writing and I better start with Pico Iyer.
Why did I like Jhumpa Lahiri’s “interpreter of maladies”; which one of the short stories specifically?
I haven’t read the poetry of Vikram Seth; that’s a shame.

Did ‘God of small things’ mean more to me than it could ever to him because I was from Kerala?
These conversations would sometimes appear in the most delightful of places. An interview with Arundhati Roy where he mentioned ‘a young friend of mine from Kerala was one of the first people I talked to about your book and before the Booker’- a translated copy of which found its way to my inbox and a copy of the French paper in my post box with a note ‘You’re world famous now my girl!’



When I saw his number on my mobile, I looked up at the calendar... A few more days. He was coming in August.

Would he be introduced to someone special this year?
He can find his own girl.
Tch tch, he was talking about me here.
I’ll look harder the next few days and when I don’t; I’ll hire one to show him.
What was wrong with all the Indian men? Didn’t they see what he could?
He’s been too long in France.

It always went like this. No change. Year after year right from when I was out of school.

So apart from Satanic verses, what was the one book I was dying to read?

I’d taught him that- ‘Dying to do something’. On how it was almost sacred. You have to really, really want something real bad and only then can you use that word; did he understand? He did.I could have given him a list of books, but I honestly wasn’t dying to read them. Wanted to, yes; but dying, no. There’s a difference and a huge one at that. How do you explain all this to a person who’s waiting on an international call, pen in hand to jot down a few books names and buy them for you?

Hello, was I still there? Oh, he’s already bought me my Salman Rushdie, but is there anything else?

Yes there is. There is a book I’m dying to read and it’s still in the head of this amazing person I know.

How do I explain all this?

“Trotter Nama and Vernon god little”. Easier answers. Expected answers. Understandable answers.

“Ah. For a second I thought you are going to tell me you wanted an unwritten book”, he laughed at his own wit.

If only you knew. I laughed too.

22 Comments:

Blogger Bratrat said...

Nice :o)
Is the French dude who I think it is?!
And yeah! Go ahead...write a book...u have enuff fans to drive good publicity ;o)

2:05 AM  
Blogger pallavi said...

Your french friend has a job that i would 'DIE' for and a city that i would 'DIE' to live in!! Any chances of him coming to Delhi to recruit?? Or better still,UK?
i'll be moving base there soon...
Vernon God Little is a great book...it was recommended by someone i love(d?)...
And please,by all means, write!

6:26 AM  
Blogger tcr_79 said...

Who is this new friend from France ;-)

You are incorrigible...

9:40 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Bratrat: Easier said than done- write a book! Hmpf!

Pallavi: You have no idea at the number of times I've asked him to find me a similar job. He laughs. Great help huh?!

Krish: It's been said before- incorrigible! Actually my French teacher used it a lot on me- that word!

9:44 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

Wow.. you got mentioned in the same paragraph as Arundhati Roy.. now I envy you.. :)

1:20 AM  
Blogger Jithu said...

good one! J'aime France! J'aimerais aller en France un jour..

1:28 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Jasmine: Maybe you should start being nicer to your journalist friends... If you don't have one- go an and make one.

Jithu: You like France... Hmmm... that's gonna be your visa to Paris if you say that at the French consulate.

8:54 PM  
Blogger R2K said...

Hi :) Cool blog!

http://r2000.blogspot.com

9:32 PM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

exalted company.. oh, and as far as the job goes, i totally agree on the color - green all the way!! :)

11:54 PM  
Blogger Praveen said...

How I envy your friend and you too :). Your friend for the job he has and you for getting a free book from him every time he visits India. Not bad, so you must have got quite a collection now?

1:43 AM  
Blogger aks said...

hey poornima...man u are lucky..friends in paris...a roy..and above all..u can write so well...each time i read ur blogs i fall in love with u....write ur book soon....waiting for it...

4:31 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Alex: Thank you.

Manu: He was not always famous. He was once a bumbling/fumbling journalist who couldn't make ends meet...

Praveen: I think you should hear another side of the story- on how I courier Indian books to him, the courier charges being more than the prices of all the books he wants!!!

Aks: I have very few friends and well, its a choice. You fall in love with me?! Lol! Did wonder if you knew me- this statement assures me-you don't!!!

5:13 AM  
Blogger hope and love said...

i envy you.. for having such a wonderful friend..

6:05 AM  
Blogger yesbob said...

say,err, you didn't mean Harry Potter, did you ?

11:54 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Hope and love: He is a good friend, yes.

Yesbob: Harry Potter??? Am waiting for you to send me the book!!

8:54 PM  
Blogger Adarsh A. Varghese said...

Vernon God Little is really a wonderful read, an exellent satire on modern day american life, had me laughing out loud. I even posted a review about it on my blog.

By the way, great blog!

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oi! London's all exciting at the moment! ;p when r u writin again?!? parra.... ;D

10:07 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Adarsh: Let me see if he brings me the book. The most irritating thing is, though he does call and ask me what I want- I end up having a gift wrapped package which I open to find something totally different!!

And thanks.

Anon: Lol. Who's this now?! Sharat?

8:45 PM  
Blogger nin said...

its cool Purnima........

7:55 AM  
Blogger pallavi said...

its been ages since you've posted...
write in soon before that harry potter comes my way...i'll disappear for a while then..

2:48 PM  
Blogger Arvind Iyer said...

I thought he was writing a book... is he French ? Is Salman Rushdie in Paris ?
This is what happens when you skim through a Poornima blog...
I require a second reading ...

9:03 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Avik: Err... 'Poornima'!

Pallavi: Lol! Am not competing with Rowling!!! You can always come back and read me!

Arvind: He's not writing the book. Someone else will write it one day. He's not French. Salman Rushdie's in Padma Laxmi's arms!!

Am glad you are reading it- forget first or second time!

9:52 PM  

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