When an introvert agrees to do an interview with us, we feel that there must be something that we’re doing right. After all, they don’t come out of their shells just like that, do they? This time, a CA is in conversation with us about the fiction he reads.

"This is not my kid." - Asim
“This is not my kid.” – Asim

Reader Bio: When we asked Asim Mahmood, to tell us something about himself, he said, “The most difficult question there is. Once a mock interviewer asked me this very question. After some rumination and the pressure to speak building up the first thing that came out of my mouth was “Introvert”. He quickly cautioned this cannot be the first thing I must disclose. People say I don’t talk enough. This is not the truth. You cannot imagine the time I spend talking. To myself. But I assure you, I’m getting better. Now I can talk to girls. I like to live dangerously. So I procrastinate a lot. Apart from that I’m a CA. God help me. Can we move on now, please?” And so we had to move on.

Asim, describe why you read.
Reading is something I started with quite late in life. Before that I was a gaming addict. A day without games was a day lost. One fine day a friend described to me the plot of The Lord of the Rings. I found my mind possessed by this extraordinary story. Watching the movie was devotional exercise. Playing its video game was an act of exaltation. I talked about it, dreamt about it, but nothing could satisfy my zeal. Then, at the unlikeliest of places the missing jigsaw was found. Eyes popping, jaws dropping, hands trembling, I picked it up. The very book in my hands ready to be ‘devoured’. Probably the only time I will use this clichéd word. Other Tolkien books followed. I felt complete. Soon experimentation with other genres began. I have a severe thirst for knowledge and by knowledge I do not mean mere facts & figures. I talk about knowledge that comes through experiences, experiences that I will never face out of fear or lack of opportunity. I seek deep characterization and exploration of thought process in a story. And this is why I read.

Is there a genre that you cannot read/digest? If yes, which one and why?
Let’s keep out Chick-lits, Eroticas, Romance and the likes. I’d say the books that are the most difficult for me to read are the detective novels. Not saying that I don’t enjoy a good book. It’s just that the leads and clues that are supposed to connect in the mind like a cobweb does not happen to me. Consequently, the climax doesn’t strike me as it should.

What is your opinion about the current re-telling of mythological tales in the form of popular fiction?
I haven’t read any, I’m afraid. Even Tolkien was inspired by the Norse mythology. Hence, I would be a borderline hypocrite if I denounce these books. I suppose it’s just a phase. People are not rigid in their choices anymore and are prone to seek the other angle in a story. Being a little bit of a purist I’m hoping people would remember the original texts and not be taken in completely by these modernized versions. Looking at it in a different way, whatever gets people to read is OK.

What are you currently reading?
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Prince Muishkin, a naïve but emotionally intelligent man, called The Idiot, comes back to the St. Petersburg society after recovering from Epilepsy in Switzerland.

Which, according to you, is:

Best book you’ve read this year:
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Worst book you’ve read this year:

Sorry. Can’t recall any.
Book that you resolved to read this year, but did not:
Moby Dick
Most overrated writer:
Robin Sharma. After trying out The Monk who sold his Ferrari I’m very cautious of what I pick up to read.
Most underrated writer:
Lois Lowry. Never heard of her before picking up her book The Giver. Gradual revelation of a dystopian society which at first appeared to be utopian, quite expertly done. And it’s a children’s book!
Best book-movie adaptation:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Worst book-movie adaptation:
Eragon. Effectively putting a full-stop to any sequel.

Suppose were lost in space and you meet a hitchhiker in the galaxy. The hitchhiker can offers you a ride to time-travel. Which era would you want to go to?
I’d bloody hijack the ship armed just with Vogon poetries and then with only a towel and a copy of ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ in my possession I would embark on a great tour. My first stop would be the Cold War era, because incidentally, I’m watching a cold war documentary these days and it is on the top of my mind. To Truman I shall gift the Vogon poetries and to Stalin, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. After I’m done disrupting the space-time continuum I’ll come back to the present age to check if Aamil has finally stopped existing.

If you had to gift someone a book, what would it be and why?
Such A Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry. I think people in this city will not have any troubles drawing up within their minds the protagonist in this book. It paints a pretty despairing and accurate picture of Bombay in the 70s and the daily struggles of its inhabitants. The intimate details of family life, the contempt for the political class, it has it all.

Tell us the name of a writer you would like to meet in person.
Robin Sharma. I think an apology is in order. I’m sure he is a nice person.

Give one word/phrase for:

  • Gandalf: Olorin
  • E-books: God-sent
  • Dog Ears in a Book: Disfiguration
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Chilly
  • Life of Pi: Survival
  • The 3 Mistakes of My Life: Meh
  • Bibliophile: Bookhad
  • Poetry: Vogon
  • Bookhad: Bibliophile

A quote that you would like to part with…
“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.” – The Idiot

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Do let us know in the comments what you think, and watch this space for some more interviews.

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