Caption 1: Since neither Gulshan (jo ladkiyon ke saath shaadi karta hai par honeymoon naheen manata) from Gunda nor Gul Panag showed up at my launch, the only Gul that khila-ed was “Gulmohar”, the hall in India Habitat Center where the event was held
Arriving an hour before the event, with a broom and a bottle of phenyl, I waited a while before meeting panelist no 1 Jai Arjun Singh, who would later on in the evening prove that siring babies is incontrovertible proof of a rocking sex life. He would be soon joined by panelist no 2 Sidin Vadukut, the Shakeela of English writing and best-selling author, who greeted me with a “Long time no see” before we both came to the realization that we have never actually met before. At least in this life.
Presently we had people trickling in, among which included a person who asked me if the MD of Harper Collins was going to be there. Scratching my head, I thought for a second whether I should try to pretend to be the MD of Harper Collins but then I saw my commissioning editor Saugata Mukherjee standing close by which is why I let the opportunity pass. Presently Nilanjana Ray Roy, the moderator of the panel , the Sachin Tendulkar resident expert on book launches and famous for once blogging under a male nom de plume (Hurree Babu, brother of Pakachika Raja Babu) [Yes you heard that right. A woman taking name of a man. You see, the world of blogs is very different from the world of chat, where 100% of the men are men and 99% of the women are men] arrived and immediately we went into a huddle laying down the ground rules.
Which actually were none.
The photographer from Harper Collins called me to one side and took some photographs which was the longest I had posed for pictures since I got married. The only pose I was not captured in was the Deepika Padukone Liril-wannabe pose from Phir Mile Sur but that I suppose wasn’t a bad thing.
Caption 2: Signing books at event.Very sign-tific.
After signing a few books (there was a table outside where books were stocked), I took my position on the stage. The urge to deliver a speech in Mamata Rail Budget style was immense.
Caption 3: My editor dispels all doubts as to my position in the management hierarchy of Harper Collins
The panel started with a book reading. A book reading is dreadfully difficult to pull off unless you have the voice of Obama and the facial expressions of Rakhi Sawant. Since I have not been so blessed, I kept my reading short. As a precautionary measure, I had told my parents beforehand to laugh periodically after two minutes, preferably when I was speaking in order to gently nudge the crowd in the proper direction. The reading being finished, after a rather generous or perhaps polite audience response, the group discussion started in right earnest.
Caption 4: Making a point
The discussion of course was highly intellectual and abstruse, even more dense and pedantic than is the norm in literary book releases with post-modernism, Dada-ism, Pakistani zombie movies, Zahereelay, trolls, freedom of expression and the divinity of Shahrukh Khan being topics of active discourse. In the middle, Sidin did that thing which has become de-rigeur in most literary launch events— he asked the audience if there was anyone there who had unprotected sex. Not a hand went up which confirmed my worst suspicions. Everybody in the audience believed in “protection”. In other words, not a single libertarian in the whole crowd of close to a hundred people. Sigh.
Caption 5: There were times the panel stopped to listen.
The audience had in its ranks multiple book authors like Gulu Ezekiel and of course the redoubtable Samit Basu, who is fast emerging as a male mother hen ( technical term: father cock) for first-time authors. Needless to say, the audience had many things to say and frequently jumped right in. I enjoyed the questions a lot though I believe someone missed a trick by not asking for an Ipod for asking the first question.
So intense was general participation and sawaal-jawab that after about 2 hours into the event, Saugata had to ring the bell and stop the fight.
I hung around for some time (or as they say well-hung) signing books. Quite a few of them. While I loved doing this, what I didn’t so much enjoy was the fact that I couldn’t spend any time with many members of the audience whom I had really wanted to meet for long. Apologies for that, especially to those who took time off from work on an office day to come out to support a friend. Much appreciate the gesture.
Caption 6: A warm thank you
And so final words. Thanks to everyone who attended. You get double thanks if you bought the book at the venue or have already pre-ordered. There are a number of online stores selling the book (links on left side-bar of blog) out of which one is shipping to 50 countries. There is one more book event, this time in the land where all trains run to i.e. West Bengal, in the fair city of Kolkata at Crossword, March 19th. Hope to see several of you there.
Till then, stay khulla.
[Uploading the video for full event (it was recorded on AVHCD and needs conversion using 5-min-free video converters) is a pain given the net speeds here. And so I have the first 15 minutes (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3) which includes my small reading section.]
Update: A picture of Sidin (holding a copy of my book May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss) is henceforth attached.