Capital Sighting – Khushwant Singh, Hotel Le Meridian
The Delhi walla‘s pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls – Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Delhi’s dirty old man.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Author Khushwant Singh is a typical Delhiwalla. “I have a dirty mind,” he declared one winter evening at a rare public appearance in the Capital. “Each time I see a woman I have dirty thoughts about what she would be like in bed,” the 94-year-old novelist confessed during a conversation in a television show at Hotel Le Meridian.
Facing a select audience that included Gursharan Kaur, the prime minister’s wife, the old man brought the hall roaring down with repartees that were as much witty as intelligent. His talk peppered with literary references from Urdu poet Faraz Ahmad to William Shakespeare, Mr Singh said, “I don’t know a single married couple whose mind has not been tempted by an extra-marital affair.” Queried on his worst nightmare, he shot back, “Finding myself in a kachcha (underwear) in a gathering like this.”
The author of several joke books said that each morning he notes down everything in his diary, including if the day had started with constipation. When asked who was the biggest ‘donkey’ among all the Indian prime ministers, he quipped, “Deve Gowda,” the politician often photographed sleeping in official meetings. Admitting that the Mahatma was the only prophet he believed in, Mr Singh said, “Gandhi was a bit of a crank.” He did not spare himself either. “I was a bad lawyer, a second rate diplomat and a third rate teacher.”
Born in what is now Pakistan, Mr Singh’s first novel, Train to Pakistan, is considered by many to be his masterpiece. He has served as editor of some of India’s most prestigious newspapers and journals. He was close to prime ministers and presidents. His later reputation as a ‘dirty old man’ grew though his joke books, later novels and newspaper columns.
Mr Singh lives in Sujan Singh Park, an old-money apartment complex near Khan Market. He has a board outside his drawing room door that famously says, “Don’t ring the bell unless expected.” The rule applies to all, including the VIPs, but Pakistanis are an exception. “I wish more Indians realise that most Pakistanis are nice people,” he said. Old he is, Mr Singh confessed he has no control over his dreams. “I know it’s stupid at this age but I’m writing a novel.” Good luck.
Being handled with care
Mr Singh, you’re cool