As the invitation makes clear, Sethji will be serving garma garam, tagdi Barista Coffee across India, starting tomorrow. Blogdosts in Mumbai, if you feel like a mug or two, aajao. Chembur awaits you. Uske baad, the Sethji Coffee goes wherever Sethji goes - all over our Bharat Desh!
This appeared in Bombay Times today.... the debate rages on....
This is just too delicious! Girish Karnad says he waited for ten long years to ‘fix’ Vidia Naipaul. And he did it in Mumbai – neutral zone for both. But, the deed was done behind Naipaul’s back and at a session described as a masterclass in theatre. Does that qualify as a masterstroke? Ummmm…. that depends. Karnad insists it doesn’t. A platform’s a platform. And who cares about good form, manners, etiquette or politeness. Quite! Much has been written about this one sided spat. Fortunately, so far, at least, Naipaul has loftily ignored the attack. And wonder of wonders, so has Naipaul’s fiery wife, the Fearless Nadira. Perhaps being in Goa has distracted both of them enough to say, ‘Jaaney Bhi Do,Yaaron…” and that may be a good thing. But it still leaves the writers’ community somewhat baffled. And it is not enough for Karnad to say he finds Naipaul’s opinions offensive. Of course, they are! Hugely offensive and downright rude. Some of them, at any rate. So what? Where does it say that writers must stick to politically correct views and toe the official line? Which Awards’ Committee on earth ‘explains’ its choices to the public or seeks endorsements from colleagues? Every award in the world, in whichever category, has its share of detractors who challenge the wisdom of the Jury. That’s normal. From the Nobel to the Oscar’s, to assorted sports’ awards, there are hoots galore when the names of winners are announced. Naipaul is used to that and more. Naipaul has never been an establishment man. He doesn’t opt for safe. That’s Naipaul. His readers know him for his contrarian views…. and admire him for precisely that attribute.
On the other hand, Karnad has accepted Government honours and positions. It is therefore, interesting to debate why he chose to criticize Naipaul at this point. Timing is everything. The political divide in India has never been this obvious or this ugly. Which side is Karnad on? Clearly not the BJP’s. Challenging the ideology of another writer is perfectly acceptable. And Karnad has every right to register his rage over what he considers Naipaul’s pro-Right, anti-Muslim views. But Naipaul is not contesting an election. And he is not a politician who happens to write on the side. The Lit Fest Award recognized his brilliance as a writer.Period. Whether or not he understands the relevance and importance of music. Next, we’ll get someone up in arms wondering whether Girish Karnad, another brilliant writer, understands quantum physics? And if not, how dare he call himself an intellectual. Perhaps, it’s best to adopt Naipaul’s admirable sang froid and move on. Naipaul’s a difficult old goat – thank God! We need more Naipauls. Mercifully,his books aren’t sleeping pills. Nor are they soft, comfy duvets under which readers can conveniently slip and snore away. Naipaul’s books are specially sharpened razors that cut and make readers bleed. There is no comfort zone in Naipaul’s world. That’s what makes him Naipaul. Girish Karnad may want to reach for his favourite antacid and settle his digestion (the bile!). And come back again and again to conduct more masterclasses in Mumbai. For, like Naipaul, we need many more Karnads , too.
On a brighter, lighter, Diwali note, the ladies who shine and dine (they also do lunch , brunch and high teas) have declared boldly and recklessly that Curves are the new Thin. Which is great news for mithaiwalls who were beginning to despair. Time to go on a guilt free food trip and gorge, gorge, gorge.