Bombay Bhel: Salman Rushdie & Suketu Mehta
It’s been called a ‘jugalbandi’ – this evening dedicated to Bombay shared by the two writers – Salman Rushdie and Suketu Mehta. When the two were introduced to the audience by writer Amitava Kumar, he put it succinctly: “Master story tellers – they are the djinns of stories! Though if I think of the state of Suketu’s liver, he’s the gin and Salman is the tonic.” To which Rushdie added, without missing a beat: “That makes you the slice of lime!”
‘The Bombay Boys’ at the IAAC Literary Festival was an evening of easy camaraderie between the writers. Rushdie wickedly drew everyone’s notice to how well-dressed Suketu was in his kurta, pajama and long jacket. When Rushdie read from his book, Mehta held the mike for him. When Mehta read, Rushdie always had a witty comment to share.
They spoke not only of Bombay but of the many fluid, vital cities which remain with you long after you’ve left them and that was something the audience, many of them from here, there and everywhere but sitting in New York, could really relate to.
It was a treat to hear Rushdie read from his new book, ‘Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’, taking us back to a disappearing Bombay. Mehta, author of ‘ Maximum City Bombay Lost & Found’, read from his work in progress, a book about his other loved city, New York.
Salman Rushdie, Suketu Mehta = Bombay
The auditorium at Hunter College in Manhattan was packed with Rushdie and Mehta fans – and of course – diehard Bombay fans. The evening which began with ‘Yeh Hai Bombai Meri Jaan’ blaring over the speaker ended Bombay-style with Marine Drive-kind of crowds on the interior footpaths of Hunter College, eating bhujjias and tandoori chicken, getting their books signed and aspiring to rub shoulders with the celebrities – just as in Bombay! Only the naryal-pani wallas and the chana jor garam chaps were missing.
Check back for a detailed story about what the two Bombay Boys said, their hopes and dreams for Bombay and what they think of today’s changing city. This post is just a tasting, a bhel puri of the senses…