India and Vikram Seth at Paris Book Fair 2007

This weekend I paid a lightning visit to the Paris Book Fair 2007, which
began on
Fri 23 March and will continue till Tue 27. India was of course
the guest of honour: 31 Indian writers took part with
lectures/participation in debates/
readings from their works, and a fair clutch of Indian publishers
were there too, including Penguin India and the Sahitya Akademi.
The fair was packed with book-lovers, and attendance at the Indian wtiters’
events was strong.

I only had time to sample a small part of what was on offer. Of what I saw the
highlight was the debate on WOMEN IN INDIA on Sat 24, which
brought together, among others, distinguished women novelists Anita Rau
Badami and
Shashi Deshpande, psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar, and – no doubt the best-known
writer at the entire event – none other than Vikram Seth. The debate was
articulate,
informed, and on balance firmly hopeful for the future of Indian women in
the age
of globalisation.

On a personal note, I am pleased to report that I spoke to Vikram
Seth for a couple of minutes. and he signed me one of his books.
He is a most kind and unassuming person, highly articulate yet modest,
and, considering his fame, an excellent ambassador for his country and its
culture!
Meeting him was indeed an important and moving moment for me.

Here too are two photos: Vikram Seth with my friend Ludmila Volna, and with myself. Both of us have written on him. The 2nd
photo was kindly taken by Ludmila.

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