Member of Lok Sabha, Shashi Tharoor was in the city recently to promote his latest book PAX INDICA: India and the World of the 21st Century.Excerpts from the interview:
What led to the book?
I wrote my very first book which was my PhD thesis rehashed — Reasons of State — on Indian foreign policy and it’s been a long time since I’ve returned to the subject. I also thought that ever since the major transformations in the Indian Foreign Policy in the early ’90s there’s been practically nothing out there that addresses the issue of foreign policy in a way that would appeal to the ordinary lay readers. I didn’t want to write a scholarly book full of footnotes and jargon but rather something that would be like an extended newspaper column — something that people would reflect on and talk about in their living rooms.
So you’re targeting the common man here?
Exactly! This is for educated Indians who are interested in foreign policy but wouldn’t go for an academic book. I want it to be read by people the way you read a non-fiction book, not like a text book.
Like most authors, do you also have any superstitions when it comes to writing?
No no no (laughs). No time for that. I write on any computer I can find. And I try to literally snatch out moments from the day where I can write and given the life of a Lok Sabha politician that is very tough. So very often I’m writing late at night or early in the morning so I cannot afford any superstitions.
Given your background in theatre, would you want to go back to stage?
Ah! Tough one. You know the truth is that the stage is a demanding taskmaster. Right after my college days and my first year as a UN official I acted on stage. The regular rehearsals, learning the lines, no travelling, it became impossible to maintain the discipline. So I think that phase of my life is truly over.
Writing a theatre script?
I wrote few plays as a kid. One of them was published in the Indian edition of my book — The Five Dollar Smile and Other Stories. I’m sorry to say it was never performed. Writing for stage would be interesting but would take time. I’m not ruling out that I may be writing a play one day, and I do have a few ideas…
Can we have a sneek peak into that…
(laughs) No. You know it’s bad enough tempting providence by talking about something you intend to write, but it’s probably worst talking about something you haven’t written.