Well it so happened that over the past 5 years (as far as i remember about going to the bookstore Crossword near my place in Mumbai) I would always find this guy’s books and not read them. Well the reason why i always picked up his book and never read was that, my mother (being an excellent story teller, there are some stories in which by the end you’ll find yourself sobbing and teary) would often tell me these tales from epics. One of the reasons undeniably was my background as a Brahmin but primarily it was my love for stories and how i would imagine them to be. I had this fascination for them and i was always afraid that i might end up ruining my childhood love affair with them.
Well anyway off late (3 years possibly) i decided to start breaking cliques and read everything with an open mind. This has worked wonders for me although there are books i couldn’t really digest (Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov)
I went to the railway wheeler, instead of finding ‘Banker’ the guy gave me ‘Bankerupt’ by Ravi Subrahmanian which indeed was a relish to read and i ended up reading all of his work. Anyway later when i finally found ‘The Ten Kings’ my book got stolen at a Barista outlet while i was trying to order a coffee. Yes it’s the only book i’ve ever lost (excluding the books people borrowed and never returned)
I had read maybe the first 50 pages and had certainly liked it. When i saw the Hyderabad Literary Fest page the only author i could recognize was Ashok K Banker (yes i am ashamed of this and have started reading Indian authors and i am certainly loving it). Well i thought who knows I’ll see him. It was only after the writers conversation session that i fell in love with him. How i wish there could have been a recording, you would have known exactly what i mean.
For everyone who doesn’t know him, here is my account.
When i entered the place, the venue i saw this guy (should i write with more respect? well let’s not get into that, he won’t be reading this) talking casually with a couple of people. I sat in the middle section of the hall and quietly waited for the session to begin. I have traveled for 2 hours, don’t you dare disappoint me!
This guy started and I. I fell in love. Here’s why :
Ten Moments When Ashok K. Banker Came out DAMN AWESOME! (excerpts)
1. When he said “I went looking out for stories that haven’t been told”
“Story telling, or story writing is like travelling in a time machine”
2. When he could laugh at himself and say “I am something you can call ‘An International Pav Bhaji’
Awww. How did you come up with that term? It’s as awesome as you.
3. When he came out confidently as a feminist and said “I wish I could have made my female characters more prominent and dominant”
4. When he couldn’t stop talking about beards and making us laugh but also pointing out the stereo types and having broken it “Let’s not forget that the epics have been written by long bearded old men who lived in forests.”
“I do not understand why people writing anything related to mythology have often been male Hindu Brahmins.”
5. When he said “I slip into the pages like Lewis Carol’s Alice” coming out as an avid reader
when he came out as an open minded reader and writer “It is the intent that matters. My intention is to tell a story. I don’t intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments whatsoever.”
6. When he told why he considered himself as a historical fiction writer
“My books have been placed under different sections world wide. I have seen my books in the historical fiction section, mythological, crime and thriller and surprisingly also geography!”
“No matter how much fantasy or the author’s imagination has been put into it, there is some truth in it which distinguishes it from mythological fiction.”
7. When he expressed his thoughts about writing and had me all dreamy
“You have to want it. You have to be called by it”
“It has to grab you by the collar and say, ‘do me'” damn this joke he cracked, he was certainly expecting laughter! i laughed i swear 😀
“A writer needs courage. I don’t write with a shot of whisky, i don’t take tea or coffee” reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert saying “No this is not my age or time in life to be drinking gin 9 am in the morning.” oh. i love you both.
8. Cannot caption this one. Said with eloquence of a class, you have to read it!!!!!
“Words are imperfect and if we, believe in any larger power, God or the universe or whatever one would like to call it, should we not believe that he or she or it (damn he is so precise) couldn’t completely rely on these imperfect words. We have to understand their essence their heart without being ‘literal’. It is the spirit or the heart of the story that matters, not just the words or the clothing”
* fell in love *
9. Then this.
“The original tales have much more grey than they are credited for”
“I try to understand them (characters), I try to be their voice”
10. When he asked me if i wanted to take a selfie. i was just going to take an autograph, it is he who asked me if i wanted a personalized one and then he asked if i wanted a picture and then a selfie. What’s mesmerizing is not how he looks like, it’s the charisma, the projection of his aura and to tell you the truth, it’s his humility which wins your heart and makes him the hero.Reader, writer. Open minded, humanitarian. Simple, stupendous.
These are my notes, the ones i took while i witnessed the best 50 mins of the month. There might be some changes here and there. Bear with me sweethearts. :*