We just realised we seem to know a lot of Engineers. Not a bad thing, eh? So, what do we do? We go and interview one more of them. Presenting to you Aamil Syed.
Reader Bio: Aamil says that he is not a very well read person, but he really likes to read. Aamil says, “Most of the good books that I’ve read, I have because of Bookhad.” (Yes, he said that, and we didn’t even have to pay him to do so. Teehee.) Aamil writes poems which tend to be mushy and totally not what he intends them to be. He loves talking to people but confesses on having a serious problem speaking about himself; those ‘about me’ boxes on websites are his bane.
Aamil, suppose, you’ve been given the power to convert a non-reader into a passionate reader. What would be the first book you suggest that he/she start with and why?
Whoa! Tough one. This is tantamount to asking what is my favorite book. Well played, bookhad.
I would suggest them to read the Mahabharat. If he is a kid, I would suggest that he start with the Amar Chitra Katha (my favorite way to explore mythology). For an adult I would suggest that she start with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions. Once they get the hang of it, they can explore the myriad interpretations of the Mahabharat from various viewpoints – Karna, Bhima, Duryodhana etc…and if that’s not enough to keep them hooked, there’s millions of back stories and even fan fiction. So the non-reader will never really get out of this vicious cycle of reading. See what I did there?
An honorable mention should go to C. Rajgopalachari who has written a very boring but comprehensive translation in English and also Devdutt Patnaik, who is trying to do the same.
If your life could play out as a book, which book would that be, and why?
The Sicilian by Mario Puzo. I would love to romance the hills of Sicily while flirting with danger as I transform myself from a small time vendetta thug to a hero who is larger than life. A man who is the scourge of his enemies and the protector of his people. A good friend, a loyal comrade, an obedient son and a passionate lover.
A close second would be V for Vendetta by Alan Moore. V is simply awesome!
My alignment is ‘Neutral Good’ but I have a thing for ‘Chaotic Good’ types (check your alignment here – http://goo.gl/W8t6KO ).
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading three books, but I’m not really reading much of them. There’s one non-fiction book on Indian History by Bipin Chandra that I’m really struggling with and then there’s Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco and The Trial by Franz Kafka. Foucault’s Pendulum is a heavy book and it is taking more effort than I thought it would take to complete. Delightful read, nevertheless. There are a lot of conspiracy theories in the book and that really whet my appetite. I’ve just started The Trial, and it looks really promising.
According to you, do writers have a responsibility of shaping the minds of readers who read them? Or is reading just for absolute pleasure?
I don’t think that a writer owes anything to the reader. The writer should write what they think and concentrate on saying their story. Thinking about the reader at such a time will only result in a shoddy job that might get a following but will never really be a great work of literature (I’m talking to you, Chetan and company).
And for this same reason, I don’t think that reading is just for pleasure. Indeed it is about that, but not just about that. It is about opening your eyes to different worlds and about living so many different lives in just one lifetime. It shapes the mind of the reader and changes them, but to seek that change is the sole responsibility of the reader.
Which, according to you, is:
Best book you’ve read this year:
King Solomon’s Mines, what an exciting adventure story and such an enthralling read! ‘Jwalamukhi ke Phool’, a Hindi Novel based on Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya by Sushil Kumar, was also quite good.
Worst book you’ve read this year:
I tried to read ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne (after someone said that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover) and couldn’t continue beyond 40 pages.
Book that you resolved to read this year, but did not:
Foucault’s Pendulum again. It’s a big book and has a complicated narrative, but it is an excellent book and I’ll finish it by year end (so technically, that book won’t qualify for this, but what the hell).
Most overrated writer:
All those Indian writers who are writing on Mythological themes and trying to bask in the glory of India’s ‘illustrious’ past.
Most underrated writer:
Erich Segal. I have only read ‘Love Story’ and I have yet to read his other books, but I think he’s a great writer who didn’t get his dues.
Best book-movie adaptation:
Hmm… I have three favorites. ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Jumanji’ and ‘V for Vendetta’. Of these I think ‘V for Vendetta’ deserves the spot because, Natalie Portman. But the other two are also delightful (Jumanji being my introduction to Robin Williams and my favorite movie as a kid).
Worst book-movie adaptation:
The Watchmen. WHY?
If you had to pick 2 books for company that would last a year which ones would you choose?
Robinson Crusoe and the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov; ’nuff said.
If you could marry off two characters from two different books, who would they be, and what do you think their marital life would be like?
I would marry Dolores Claiborne from the novel of the same name by Stephen King with Tyler Durden from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. A little background – Dolores is a maid who knows her place in society and doesn’t mind that. She’s content with her job and actually loves it. She also has a sassy mouth and won’t take anything lying down. Tyler is totally anti-establishment and definitely not the one who just puts up a Facebook status and does nothing about the status quo (oh my, I’m starting to sound like a fellow blogger). Anyway, I would put them together and watch the war of the world views! (cue Mandark laugh).
Give one word/phrase for:
- James Joyce: *yawn*
- Paradox: Ravinder Singh
- Malgudi Days: Innocence
- Nightfall: Enchanting! (both the story and the actual thing, I love the night)
- Travel Reading: Best-way-to-spend-time (counts as one word)
- Fountain Pens: Childhood 🙂
- Grammar Nazi: Necessary Evil (intended pun) and also my ‘Best Friend’
- Romantic Literature: Interesting
- Bookhad: LOLWUT?
A quote that you would like to part with…
I don’t remember a lot of quotes in books that I read, I just enjoy them as they come and then forget about them. But movie dialogue is a different thing, it stays with me. One such exchange I particularly like is a conversation between Edward Bloom (the main character of ‘Big Fish’) and eight year old Jenny, whom he meets in the town of Spectre.
Jenny: How old are you?
Jenny: I’m 8. That means that when I’m 18, you’ll be 28. And when I’m 28, you’ll be 38.
Edward: You’re pretty good at arithmetic.
Jenny: And when I’m 38, you’ll only be 48. That’s not much difference at all.
Edward: Sure seems like a lot now though, huh?
Such a beautiful demonstration of how time changes your perspective.
You can read more of Aamil on his blog Here be thoughts!
Do let us know in the comments what you think, and watch this space for some more interviews.
- #5: It’s A Boy!
- #4: She Reads Menus. Too.
- #3: Questioning a Psychologist
- #2: The (Un)Tame(d) SheWolf Talks
- #1: In Conversation