but often I write about things before they happen to me or to
those around me. I used to get terrified by these coincidences
until a very intelligent woman explained to me that writers are
intuitive and often carry a field of prescient energy. Otherwise
every writer I know cannibalises experience, itís inevitable.
You seem to be
obsessed with the hills yet you married a man who was not from
the hills. Comment.
I would not say
that I am obsessed by the hills, I just happen to write about
them a lot. I love mountains, but my husband did too.
You manage your
husbandís consultancy work and along with that you are also
into publishing and writing and travelling. How do you manage
I know I am
attempting to do far too many things, but the more you do the
more you manage to fit into a day. I do try to prioritise, to
remember whatís really important, rather than fall into a
pressure routine. I am a late riser but I often work until late
You come across
as a carefree, fun-loving person. Describe the real Namita
I would love to
be a carefree, fun-loving person but I suspect Iím more of an
anxious, irritable sort of person in private. The really Namita
Gokhale tries very hard to be sincere and is probably a bit
New Delhi is a
ruthless city yet writers survive here. Living in this city, has
your sensitivity as a writer been affected?
Itís a very
desensitising city if you are rich and complacent, but otherwise
the social and cultural contrasts, the very intelligent literate
circles, which include media persons and a few politicians, the
international community, the overdose of cultural activities
which is available, even without paid tickets, all this makes
Delhi a very stimulating city.
currently completing a novel. Tell us about it.
This is a book
about a core of past-life memories which I have fictionalised. I
donít want to talk about it, as I have not really let go of
the book yet, Iím still working on it, or perhaps itís still
working on me.
You were one of
the persons responsible for organising the rather grand get
together, so as to say, of Indian writers living abroad. Are
such exercises needed and do they benefit writers or readers?
I was the
project co-ordinator for the International Festival of Indian
Literature. It wasnít only about diaspora Indian writers, for
we were trying to bring about a creative interaction between the
Indian English writers and the vernacular writers in major
Indian languages. I think it worked in that there was a lot of
dialogue and interaction. Nishit Saran and I were working on a
documentary on the festival for the PSBT (the Public Service
Broadcast Trust). Nishit died tragically in April. The film
shows the level of inspired content the festival generated. I
put in everything I had into the festival, for I think there was
an artificial divide between the different categories of Indian
writers which is now slowly being bridged. If the writers
benefit, then the readers naturally do too.
Writing is a
very private business, with most writers leading extremely
lonely lives. Comment?
I think thatís
true. Yeats wrote about "the days vanity, the nights
remorse." Writers lead very internalised lives, and even if
they are fairly gregarious, as I am, they have to be alone
somewhere inside them.
Has the present
political chaos in the country affected you as a person and as a
is cyclical, but the devaluation of Hinduism from spirituality
to mob mentality has hurt me more than I can ever put into
So many writers
(especially those writing in Hindi, Urdu) die unsung because
they live in small towns and cannot reach out. In this context,
what is your opinion about the importance of how a writer goes
about marketing his books. Is media hype needed for books to
Yes, media hype
is needed to sell books, although a good book can sometimes make
it by word of mouth. As I said before, every book has a life, a kundali,
of its own, which has very little to do with purely literary
publishing line matured to such an extent that a writer can
survive on his or her writings?
Not in India,
no. Even elsewhere, they say you can make a fortune by writing,
but not a living. Itís a very insecure and uncertain way to
survive but it has glorious compensations.
Since you are
into publishing, too, tell me what sort of writings get the nod
I look for books that have an
idea or concept behind them, that are deeply felt and realised,
but may suffer a handicap in terms of language or marketing
opportunity. I try to promote books I believe in, and that I can
give something to.