A book reading
Just got back from a book reading at the Park Sheraton. I chose to go not because of the booze or the writer, but because of the invitation letter: a real, metal key and a small card pretending to be the ring. If the invite could be so fancy, imagine what the reading would be like! The card mentioned that actor Rahul Bose would be reading from the book — a collection of poems by Tishani Doshi. I’ve heard about her, read about her, but haven’t read her.
The reading had just begun when I reached. The two, Bose and Doshi, were sitting on the podium in the darkened hall. Rahul was presently reading out, while Tishani kept twisting her chair, just like people habitually shake their leg. Then she read, and he shyly fixed his gaze down, occasionally turning his head to look at her. To me they looked like a newly-married couple — Tishani the bindaas groom and Rahul the shy bride.
Once the reading was over, however, Rahul — the thinking woman’s man — came alive. Assuming a philosphical expression, he suddenly went into a monologue which completely went over my head. All I could make out was that he was talking about the ‘society’ — not the society which gossips and attends parties but the more profound variety — the one which has responsibilities and all that.
By now the lights had come on and I saw the audience — the usual who’s who of Chennai, people who are seen at every single arty function in Chennai (don’t they ever take a break?) Perhaps their wait to appear on the backpage of Chennai Chronicle has not ended. Perhaps it will never end, because the paper focuses on babes — they even have captions that say things like: “This babe seems to be having a good time.” So if you are a woman in your twenties, just put on that spaghetti top and walk into a literary function even if you have never read a book in your life: chances are extremely high you will appear in the paper. Glamour matters, even in literature. Or else, why call Rahul Bose to read a book? Now Bose may take offence to this: he would rather consider himself a celebral actor than a celebrity actor.
Anyway, I headed to the bar. The whisky was Red Label: not something I would like to linger over. But since I had come all the way, I had just one drink standing in the corner, and walked out, leaving the Chennai ‘society’ to bask in the afterglow of the evening in the dimly-lit room.