Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Dinner Guest List

A couple of days ago, when I was reading Ramachandra Guha's introduction about Rabindranath Tagore in Penguin's new edition of Tagore's book Nationalism, I realized how much India missed him. I also immediately started wondering how much I'd love to meet him and talk with him. And on that not-so-original route, I wondered what were the writers, dead or alive, I'd invite, if I had the chance to have them all over for dinner. I came up with this list:

1. Rabindranath Tagore - Duh, obviously. I'd be shivering and extremely nervous, but it would all be worth it if I could just tell him how much his poems and essays have delighted me. His physical appearance always makes me think of Tagore as Albus Dumbledore. I imagine that he would be wise, excellent at conversation and patient enough to put up with less intelligent mortals like yours truly.

2. J.K Rowling - This is the woman who has made me connect everything I see and everything that happens around me to Harry Potter. Notice the Albus Dumbledore reference above. I grew up with Ms.Rowling's boy wizard, made so many wonderful friends because of Harry Potter and discovered the absolute thrill of reading a good book. I would also ask her the recipe for the perfect Butterbeer.

3. Jane Austen - Granted my manners would probably shock Miss Austen and I would possibly not immediately understand any sarcastic remark she directs at me. But to be in the company of such a glorious writer would be amazing. I promise to not freak her out startle her by being the crazy fangirl that I am. I shall also limit references to Mr.Darcy. He exists. Enough.

4. Nayantara Sahgal - It's getting tougher to not be my fangirlish self because Ms. Sahgal is one of the Indian writers I absolutely adore. I shall interview ask her about all the trivia she can remember related to her uncle Jawaharlal Nehru (who I'd invite as well if I weren't so intimidated), her cousin Indira Gandhi and indeed about how it felt living in the British Raj and later, independent India. I shall also congratulate her for one of my most favourite book titles ever: Prison and Chocolate Cake.

5. Basharat Peer - I know he's written only one book so far but it was one of the most heart-breaking ones I've ever read. By the end of Curfewed Night, I wanted to tell the author how incredibly emotional it had been to read his book. Plus, to write about such a personal issue with such elegance and brutal honesty is incredible, and I want to thank him for that.

6. Jasper Fforde - Because I adore insanely creative people - emphasis on the creative part. I loved Fforde's Thursday Next series and though I haven't read his latest works, I think he's just too witty to exclude from any list that refers to authors and conversations.

7. Alex Von Tunzelmann - I really liked Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire and though it's not my all-time favourite book or anything, I simply loved Von Tunzelmann's flair for the interesting minor details that makes history so very special. Plus, we have several common interests: India, Partition, pre-Independence drama, the British Raj, Nehru, Jinnah, Patel, the Mughals. Yeah, you get it. Loads to talk about! I also enjoy reading her reviews of period films.

This is such an eclectic guest list. I'm making up for the great disappointment of not being able to go to the Jaipur Literature Festival by dreaming up the list of authors I'd love to talk with. What's your list? :)


Mama Everyday said...

Ah ha! Nice list! :) Was expecting Jane Austen to be the second and Rowling to be third and What about Manu? :P

Tanu said...

This post reminded me of 11th grade English Class. Our last assignment for the year was something similar. We were told to create an invitee list and sitting assignment of characters from books we read during that year. I invited all the villains and killed them all and made the story a murder mystery. That was very satisfying. :)

Unknown said...

How come Austen isn't first? And I must get my hands on Sehgal's book, just for the title! :D

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Oh man, Fforde would be such a great dinner guest! Austen and Rowling too, of course, but I bet he's incredibly witty in person.

Kals said...

Pavithra - I decided that Rowling had more of an impact on my life than Austen did. Though I love both women :D Manu Joseph was great, but not exciting enough to be invited for dinner :P

Tanu - Ooh, that is such a fascinating assignment! I can imagine the fun you would have had :)

The World Isn't Enough - Austen isn't first because Tagore is a genius who always inspires me. Not that Austen doesn't, but Tagore does in more ways =) Yes please get that's as great as its title :D

Avid Reader - That's exactly how I imagine Fforde too! He seems so nice, witty and incredibly charming :) And imagine all the books we can discuss!

Veens said...

Great list. I need to think about this and think who will be there for dinner here.

Kim said...

Great post! Although I can't pronounce most of your author's names :) I'll be sure to link to your post if I do something similar sometime. I know for sure I would invite Theordore Roosevelt, even tho that is more of a person than "writer" as you have listed.

Kals said...

Veens - Thanks :) Happy planning!

Kim - Thanks a lot, Kim :) I'm looking forward to your list. I have a set of political leaders (like Mahatma Gandhi) who I'd love to invite for dinner, but that's for another new list :D

Vaishnavi said...

What a great post! I might take this one up! I would definitely invite Rowling and Austen, I have never read Fforde although he is on the list for this year. I rememeber your review of Basharat Peer's book, I can't wait to read it myself :)

Kals said...

Thanks :) I'm looking forward to your dinner list :D Fforde is amazingly clever - do read him this year.

Haddock said...

saw your recently watched . ..... Roman Holiday.
What great actors and what a movie......
By the way Kabuliwallah was by Rabindrabath Tagore?

Kals said...

Yep..I loved the movie :) And yes, Kabuliwallah was by Tagore.


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