It was a wonderful trip, sponsored by the Vodaphone Crossword Prize people. and Mumbai, of course, was Mumbai. the hospitality was great, and there was this event management group and a girl named meghann d'sa who took good care of us, and when geeta (my wife) was late coming back from lunch with an old classmate and i was getting worried, meghann became the first professional i met who could be caring, efficient and effective all at the same time. she called geeta and then called me back and said with a smile in her voice, she's safe and coming back!
we went to my friend bobby's house, spent time with his lovely daughters, met his wife lata in the evening, and this was a highlight of the trip. one evening we all enjoyed ourselves at the leopold cafe where they're busy pointing out to everyone that this is where the terrorists struck. each violent mark is marked and preserved for a prying posterity. every foreign visitor to india was at leopold's that night. jam-packed! and cacophonic.
the first evening, we had a little event at one of the crossword stores. writers gurcharan das, kalpana swaminathan (who finally got the fiction award), salma and i debated the topic: will e-books ease out books? even though i was the only one whose book was now an e-book (lament of mohini) and whose books (the magic store of nu-cham-vu and maria's room) are also available as digital "talking books" for the blind and the dyslexic, i said books will never die out. gurcharan on the panel and bobby from the audience, as well as another youngster, said: you're just being nostalgic, books will soon be replaced by e-books. it was a good time out for us, and we enjoyed ourselves. two mornings later, geeta and i had breakfast with salma, the writer of the tamil book, the hour past midnight.
it rained almost throughout the trip. i'd forgotten my phone at home, so i was relatively free and untied. there was, of course, the nervous thread leading up to the awards function on the 20th. the venue was the ncpa, where i used to listen to music and also watch many of those "art movies", late70s and 80, when i was working for the indian express across the road.
in fact, there was so much that was familiar in spite of the way the city has grown. and it was wonderful to drive through on the sea-link. on my last visit, i'd seen it being built. this was truly enchanting, the spreading wings of the bridge trailing over the ocean froth.
and then the evening, and the awards function....