Thursday, June 18, 2020

On Becoming A Reader

Anisha Shekhar Mukherji & Snehanshu Mukherjee, Architect-Author-Readers chat to Sonya Dutta Choudhury on how they became readers, the best books to gift & their favourite books on design
SDC : What helped you as a child, become a reader ?
ASM : I think the fact that we moved so often – practically every year. There was no continuity of neighbours, neighbourhoods or even cities. The only continuity was the presence of at least some books in the Army libraries. But if I were to cite a single incident that made me become a reader, it was a fat bundle of books jointly given to me as a 6th birthday present by all the officers of my father’s battalion. I don’t know where they managed to get these books since we were far away from any town, and there were only fields and orange orchards around for miles. But it was an eclectic and fascinating mix, and I was hooked as soon as I went through them!
SM : I was gifted books. And I bought books from the many bookshops that existed in Connaught Place. And of course, borrowed books every afternoon from the British Council Library, above which was our home!

SDC : How do you choose which books to read ?
ASM : Well, earlier, it was whatever I could get, and the fatter the better! Now, it is probably the reverse. I am very choosy about what I read now, wary of volume, sceptical of ‘the top-of-the pops’, and I look for economy in writing. The Book Shop in Jor Bagh is one of our favourite places for browsing and picking up unusual books. Of course, we also decide what to read based on conversations with friends and book-lovers, including the owners and staff of The Book-shop.
SM : I survey what’s available and read bits to figure out if they’re worth buying.

SDC : Has a book ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you ?
ASM : Sometimes books cause heated discussions. Rajiv Malhotra’s Being Different is one such.
SM : Hundred Years of Solitude, which spawned many discussions.

SDC : What is the best book you received as a gift ?
ASM : Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I think. Also Tey’s Brat Farrar.
SM : Ha Ja ba ra la by Sukumar Ray gifted by Samir Majumdar from Bohuruppee, a famous theatre group. And My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin, gifted by Tapas Sen, the lighting designer who was my father’s guru.

SDC : How have your reading tastes changed over time?
ASM : Earlier it was almost entirely fiction, and a lot of poetry too. Now it is an almost equal amount of non-fiction. Lot of reading by Indian authors, generally in translation but some in Bangla too, especially children’s literature and poetry. And some in Sanskrit now, such as the Mayamatam – slow going when compared to my reading speed in English! But it’s quite fascinating to read in different languages, because they are like windows to different worlds. I’m reading a lot of stuff on Indian Philosophy, which is something that has happened over the last few years. But some reading habits haven’t changed – so crime fiction and humour are genres I fall back on all the time.
SM : From fiction to non-fiction.

SDC : What book do you most often give as a gift ?
ASM : We give children’s books often, Chotte chacha ab aapke shahr mein is a favourite and so is Mathematwist, Mathematics tales from around the world.
SM : Murder mysteries are generally a safe bet, so I often gift these.

SDC : What are the books on your bed side right now?
ASM : Kalidasa, The Loom of Time – Chandra Rajan’s translation; Nicholas Blake’s Thou Shell of DeathMurder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada; An English translation of Patumma’s Goat by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer; Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice; Dharampal’s Collected Works on Civil Disobedience in Indian TraditionDharma by Chaturvedi Badrinath; Bruno Dagen’s translation of Mayamatam, and Monkey See, Monkey Do by Venita Coelho.
SM : Stephen Leacock on Kindle, and Pluriverse edited by Ashish Kothari

SDC : Lastly what are your favourite books on design?
ASM The Appearance of the Form by John Habraken; A K Coomaraswamy’s The Indian Craftsman, Mayamatam, S Balaram’s Thinking Design, KG Subramanyan The Magic of Making, Malcolm Millais’s Exploring the Myths of Modern Architecture. And of course, Goscinny and Uderzo’s Obelix and Co, which is an unusual and engaging take on the motivations of mainstream modern design.
SM Palladio’s Children by John Habraken.

To hear the discussion, click here:
Voice Recording of Juhu Book Club Discussion

No comments:

Post a Comment