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Saturday, 22 May 2010

At a book Launch

When I had recieved the invitation from Annie Zaidi for her book launch I had decided not to attend if it was not in the suburbs. I have a book store in Bandra and I could always buy a book for me and get it autographed by her. To go all the way to Palledium mall, twenty-five minutes away by Taxi, back and forth would cut a hole into my pocket, doubling the price of the book. Moreover, I have decided some time back that I will not go to south Mumbai too often. There is too much traffic on the road and with the cocktail of heat and dust, it really wears me out.

Few weeks before the book launch of ‘Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales' I had spend some time with Annie and she had visually tranported me  to the hardship and courage she endured during reportage of dangerous events and how she had taken the effort to actually go out to those rural areas and report the stories of humble folk, who were tortured by hunger, social discriminations of caste and sex, therefore knowing Annie’s launch might be interesting, I decided to attend this one and I was glad I did.

Normally, I see ten to fifteen people for book launch, but this one had more than hundred attendees, some of them standing for two full hours, all listening with rapt attention about her writing style, her sensitivity and courage and in general , responsible writing on rural issues. It was one of the most informative book launches that I had attended. I was inspired to write one of my own and my mind drifted to various issues that I could write too. Maybe, I need to meet up with Annie once again and ask for her guidance.

After the discussion, I rushed over to the book-shelf to pick up my copy. The books were selling by dozens and had to be re-stocked. Everybody was impressed like I was. I saw many friends and acquaintance, writers whom I know closely, writers whom I have met briefly, but what do I speak to them during such brief moments? After getting my copy autographed I didn’t know what else to do? I am surprised at my own strange behavior, because on net, I chat and comment freely and am very friendly to every person on my friends’ list at Facebook, I have an opinion on almost every subject, I may even joke or tease my friends online but when I meet them offline in larger groups, I am switched off into my silent mode. Its not like those of my family and close friends groups where I have so much fun and our converstions never run dry. Here, in these groups, I just don’t know what to say. Seems like I have split personality, haha!!

Me thinking, what do people talk during such occasions? Do they Brag? Gossip? Complain? Ridicule? Or do they discuss books? Many of the people are normally there to look for publishers at these informal meetings and some may even be smart enough to strike a deal. That is, if the are lucky. These meetings are not like those social parties where we pass our time admiring the clothes and jewelry of other people, nor are there any drinks or snacks served that we can nibble on to pass the time and nor is there any music to soothe our nerves. I saw people stand in groups in smaller circles everywhere but I had no courage to include myself in any of those groups to make a bigger circle. Didn't see any warmth anywhere, or maybe I was cold. While I waited for my companion to get her copy autographed, I ventured out to study the magazine rack and wow! We have so many different magazines in India. There were magazines on every subject. Do people have time to read? There is so much information around us, magazines, books, movies, TV, computers, blogs, and social networks. Yet people are so ignorant. The basic understanding and compassion is missing and people are misguided. It pains me to see too much of ego floating around. Phew! I just surfed through the rack and came back looking for my friend.

Whether my friend wanted to hang around or not, I needed to get out as soon as I could so that I could start reading right away. Hello Annie…Me enjoying your book la!! If you are reading my blog, do accept my good wishes too.

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