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Friday, June 25, 2010

A meeting with David Davidar..

As I read the controversy over David Davidar's alleged sexual harassment of his female colleague at Penguin Canada, I remember my only meeting with him.
It took place when I was in All India Radio, and was looking for an interesting personality to interview for the then newly started FM Rainbow channel.
Since Indian writing in English was then (as now) the flavour of the season, and since Penguin, under Davidar was one of the trailblazers, I called him up, and he agreed to the interview.
The Penguin office was in Shahpur Jat, a congested urban village set in South Delhi, squalid, with electricity wires  sprung up all over the place, jostling with banana sellers, and ofcourse, the huge inevitable Mughal ruin rising out of it all.
It was a fifteen minute interview, and Davidar was articulate, pleasantly modulated, and very learned.
He had absolutely no airs at all, despite being the Chief of India's most famous publishing house, and his office was unassuming and modest.
After the interview, we chatted: both of us had done our college from Chennai - he had done it at the Madras Christian College, while I had done from a college nobody had heard of- and it was a very interesting chat.

We were also from the same District, Tirunelveli. His forefathers were Dalits who had converted to Christianity, and I was a Brahmin. In other words, we were from the two sides of the caste divide from the same district of Tamil Nadu. Davidar would write his first novel, "The House of Blue Mangoes", based on the circumstances which had led his people to convert. We, of course, like civilized Indians, did not discuss caste or religion.
Funnily enough, despite being Tamilians, we did not speak a word in Tamil.
As I went back to AIR to edit the interview, it did cross my mind: two people from the same place, but such different fates and careers...I envied him his success, his job, the job of publishing English novels, the celebrity glamour of Page 3 parties...
As I read the headlines yesterday morning, I finally understood: never envy a man till he is dead.! Maybe he should have named the "House of Blue Mangoes" simply as the "House of Blue" ?

1 comment:

  1. Hi i was searhing for Davidar and found this blog. We are doing an event called TEDx Tirunelveli -!/home.php?sk=group_204851819525455

    We would be hapy if we can join us.