RK Dhawan of Delhi University sends an update on his literary exploits in London, the highlight, perhaps, meeting Amitav Ghosh at the London School of Economics:
“First, at the University of London I attended a two-day workshop on ‘Hinglish’, the mixing of English and Hindi words in our day-to-day interactions, films, writings and advertisements. About fifteen papers explored the latest trend and the popularity of ‘Hinglish’.
My visit to Oxford and Cambridge universities was a learning experience. It was interesting to know about the emergence of the two universities. Oxford Uni was established at turn of the 12th century and it is said that after disputes between students and the townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled to the neighbouring town, Cambridge, to establish what became the University of Cambridge. No wonder the two universities are often jointly referred to as ‘Oxbridge’.
Amitav Ghosh drew a big audience at the London School of Economics for a talk on his latest novel ‘Flood of Fire’. Ghosh is perhaps the most popular Indian English novelist today, having sold more than three million copies of his books. Ghosh spoke brilliantly about his new novel and the art of fiction. He emphasized that he did not want to write about history as he is more interested in people than in facts and figures. His talk evoked a great response from the audience and lively discussion followed.
Yet another feature of Indo-British ventures was the opening of the musical version of the film ‘Bend it like Beckham’ at the Phoenix theatre in central London. The film by Gurinder Chadha was released in 2003, setting a new record in monetary collections. Now it has been turned into a musical comedy. It is the most popular live show of London, drawing a full house most nights. It brings a unique cultural fusion of musical theatre to the stage for the first time, a fitting tribute to the Indian diaspora in the UK.”
Perhaps RK is already back in Delhi, slaving over his papers again so that the whole London experience has taken on a dream-like quality. Until the next trip … Thank you for your contribution, RK!
Also worth reading is this weekend’s SMH article on Ghosh visiting his birthplace in Calcutta every year (even though there’s a typo in the SMH headline – ‘foundered’ instead of ‘floundered’ – because they’ve sacked so many sub-editors) available below:
In the article he is quoted as saying, ‘Believe me, I didn’t even plot as far as the end of the first chapter when I began. I had no idea, absolutely no idea. There are writers who have these elaborate plots. That is not me. I sort of flounder along and I founder and I flounder and flounder and flounder. I literally don’t know from chapter to chapter what is going to happen next. I literally have to discover it. I wander into endless blind alleys and cul de sacs and then I have to throw a lot of stuff away.’