OMG. I spoke to Girish Karnad

I wasn’t expecting to see him today. When I saw him last, he was having lunch at my new favourite spot in Jayanagar. I sneaked glances at him; in my head there were a series of exclamations and appropriate emojis. I love your writing I’d say. (but I’ve only read what we had in school). I really liked Yayati. It’s brilliant, I’d add (the details are fuzzy, but the story still sits in me).

Nothing said, he left, and I returned to my lunch, bemoaning the commercialisation that has overrun my Bangalore, that allows me to eat in a new restaurant that occupies an old Bangalore home on what was once a sleepy, quiet road.

Today, he was in the audience. It was a conversation with Vivek Shanbhag and Srinath Perur.

While VS. spoke about why he chose this book to be translated, he also mentioned that in a recent interview he was asked to share the names of 10 books that have stayed with him.

One of them he said was Karnad’s Tughlaq. While he may not have chosen it had they asked him this question 10 years ago, today its relevance, its importance is undeniable.

Later, during the Q&A session, a lady in the audience asked what the other 9 were. Without missing a beat, a quiet voice to my left, two seats away, said, “All mine.”

As I walked past him and his friend a little while after, I said, “I heard that.”

I can’t remember what he said but he looked at me with a gentle kindness, and reminded me of another (also my all-time favourite) gentle old man with biting wit.

But never one to miss an opportunity to put my foot in my mouth, I followed up with, “Two out of 10 isn’t bad.” Answering his friend’s puzzled look, I continued, “Tughlaq and Samskara…”

The end.