The Reading Room was the venue for the interview of trailblazer Tamil writer Charu Nivedita by his publisher Rakesh Khanna. Nivedita seemed to be fond of Keralites whom he claimed are broadminded and very accepting of change (author’s note: I beg to differ!)- he also admitted that he has a substantial fanbase in the state for Keralites had been accepting his scribbling with open arms. He also talked about his novels (including ‘Zero Degree’ and satire ‘Raasa Leela’), short stories, and the inevitable censorships. Admittedly, he was critical of his home state.
Historian and art critic Simon Schama (author of ‘Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution’, ‘Landscape and Memory’, and ‘A History of Britain’- the latter also a BBC documentary), who could be seen religiously attending the previous events, had his own session with Peter Florence (co-founder of the Hay-on-Wye festival, Wales) at the Palace Hall. The session was incredible and displayed Schama’s extensive knowledge repertoire, more so when he talked about subjects from A to Z (i.e. 26 in total) and displayed his dancing skills. Predictably, the subject for ‘O’ stood for ‘Obama’ who had visited the country just over a week ago.
Tarun Tejpal, Nicholas Stern, and Asima
Elsewhere, the Palace Hall hosted the journalist Tarun Tejpal (of the Tehelka fame) whilst the recorded discussion between Sir Nicholas Stern (of the Stern Review as elaborated in my old Varsity article) and journalist Rosie Boycott was aired at the Reading Room. The day concluded with a concert by Asima at the Nishagandhi Amphitheatre.