Sunday, July 05, 2009

Reading from Arzee the Dwarf in Delhi, and in love with Delhi

I'd like to invite all the readers of The Middle Stage in Delhi to the launch of Arzee the Dwarf this Friday, the 10th of July, at 7pm in Conference Room No. 3, India International Center Annexe, Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110003.

Although Arzee the Dwarf is set entirely in Bombay and was written entirely in Bombay, Delhi, which is never mentioned in the book, is actually very important to it. I think my English literature degree at Delhi University ten years ago instilled in me the ambition and some of the intellectual resources to make a life in literature. Further, most of my closest friends in the world live in Delhi, so to this day many of the ideas that I dream down west are sounded out and ratified up north.

Like anyone who has been to come to maturation in a particular place, I can never think of Delhi without memories and associations of friendship, love, food, the world opening out, of ideas sparking in the brain. The first two women I fell in love with in some enduring and life-changing way were both from Delhi, and for a long time in my twenties I harboured the unreasonable belief that only Delhi girls had what it took to be good companions, and kept trying to move from Bombay without much success. Over the three years of writing Arzee it was my friends in Delhi who for the most part read and commented on draft versions, and sent me back again and again to my work table (I don't claim therefore that it is perfect now).

Even now, when I go back to Delhi every two or three months on week-long trips, I find myself feeling absolutely relaxed and happy in a way I'm not in Bombay. C-block Kalkaji is for me the place that I love best on earth because of all the memories I have there, and the fresh ones I generate each time I go back to live with my best friends in the world.

So as you can see, I think in a practical way about Bombay, and in a romantic way about Delhi; in a way, behind the green Bombay sky on the cover of Arzee lies hidden Delhi's blue firmament. In my years in Bombay I've been moving house further north each time, and I entertain the fantasy that there will come a day in my life when the Western line will have extended northwards to such an extent that I can speed past Virar and get off instead at Nizamuddin, see all my friends, and be back in time for work the next morning.

So it gives me great pleasure to return to the city where the life that I have today really began, and to read to an audience that includes many of my friends, some fellow writers and tradespeople, and most of my intellectual mentors (who must not, however, be blamed for my many excesses and shortcomings).

The Facebook page for the event is here, so if you have an account please sign up. I will be in conversation with the novelist Omair Ahmad.

And here are two old posts about my years in Delhi: "Memories of a Borges book, and the old Twentieth Century bookshop" and "A Harold Pinter story".

See you soon!


A Bit of Company in the Evenings said...

I feel the way about Bombay that you feel about Delhi, though I've never harboured such great expectations from Bombay boys:) Its funny how a city can help you come of age, like a sort of foster parent.
Look forward to your reading.

suroopa said...

Welcome home! And see you with Arzee on 10 July.

Sundeep said...

Dear Chandrahas,

It was good to see and hear Naseeruddin Shah at the Mumbai reading. Excellent choice. The picture you posted suggested a rarefied setting. What a contrast with the video! I kept waiting for the "accidental noise" to die down for most of the first video.

Can your friends/fans oblige us with videos from the rest of the readings?

Also, no takers for a reading in Hyderabad?

A Humble Person said...

After your interview in Rediff, where you "rubbish"ed writers Like Paulo Coelho, I would definitely NEVER read any of your books... No matter how many books you have read, your interview tells me that you are a NON-thinker, insensible and nonsensical person...
All the best for ur book n life... but u sure have lost a few readers -thanks to ur idiotic comments..