November 30, 2010

Roadrunner: Business India

Someone I know well was flipping through an old copy of Business India a couple of days ago, before throwing it away, when a photograph made her stop flipping. "That looks like Dilip", she thought. And indeed it was. I had no idea either.

There was a discussion around my book Roadrunner at the Bombay Gymkhana in mid-September. My old friend Pankaj Baliga introduced us, Rahul Bose read some passages from the book, and my good buddy Dinesh Mirchandani belted out several songs as only he can. I didn't know someone from Business India was there, but that someone went off and wrote up a short report which appeared in the October 17 issue of the magazine.

It's a nice photograph. It shows off my yellow shirt, and reminds me of the message I got from another good friend who couldn't attend, right after we were done that evening: "I bet you wore your yellow shirt!" Well, now I can't even deny it.

Thanks once again to Pankaj, Rahul and Dinesh. As also to the indefatigable lady who did the organizing, Reena Agarwal.

Here's the report.

Travel tales

Book lovers at the Bombay Gymkhana met at the library last month to experience the US through the eyes of an Indian traveller -- author Dilip D'Souza, who discovered "old cultures and new concerns in a country which is both revered and reviled." D'Souza was in excellent company with Rahul Bose, who flew in especially for the occasion, to read a couple of interesting, and his favourite passages, and Dinesh Mirchandani, who provided the musical interludes. Pankaj Baliga opened the proceedings and introduced the author. D'Souza, who has written three books to date, was at his unassuming best, recounting the stories of his travels.

Roadrunner: An Indian Quest in America is dedicated to a little bird with a long neck, which he accidentally killed when it suddenly ran across the road plumb in front of him. The journey was loosely planned, almost as though he drove where his car would take him!

His travels were revealing, little stories of the people he bumped into along the way, who were very open and accepted him; after all he had schooled and lived there for 10 years. They were simple yet poignant stories -- bikers in Dakota who he thought were ferocious, but discovered many of them were grand-dads and grand-mums, old and mellowed.

His travels, just about the time of the end of the Bush administration and the coming of Obama, revealed the author's fine political perceptions. "Obama, who earlier had a groundswell of support, faced serious opposition as a community organiser -- a pseudonym for 'black'," says D'Souza. "Americans had become more intense and loud about politics, which was a change from my school days there!"

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