with Meena Kandasamy
Something that makes you smile
Clumsiness in other people, because it mirrors my own. People who run like clockwork: on time, neat, perfect in appearance and movement, who never misplace objects or forget names, because that makes me imagine an alternate, well-turned-out version of myself. The sight of slow-falling snow (more wonder than anything else), the comfort of looking at any body of water, the promise of cake.
When I was a teenager, I stole books to read. I was quite an ethical thief: I would take a book, read the book, and the next time I visited the unsuspecting person I would put it back in the cupboard in the very same place where the book used to belong. I think I developed that habit from my father—we spent a lot of time waiting in advocates’ and journalists’ offices or activists’ homes, waiting for them to meet my dad, and he’d always get me to check the bookshelf—to see if there was anything I fancied. His philosophy was that a book was meant to be read, not gathering dust on a shelf.
The last thing you wrote
Most possibly a tweet, or a reply to an email. I scribbled a lot in someone else’s book on a long train ride home—but haven’t yet looked at it to see if anything can be salvaged.
Your favourite city
In India, that must be Kochi—it’s where I have the highest concentration of friends. In my early days in London, I used to feel very isolated, lonely, and weep to myself over cigarettes because people were just not so friendly or chatty or warm—but over time, I’ve got used to that, it feeds into the writer-as-hermit stereotype rather well, so I don’t have to haul my ass over to some cabin in the woods if I want peace and quiet, I’d just have to stay home. Now it is home, for the last two, three years—and I’m beginning to love it the way one loves home, with loads of reservations, but there is just no where else one would rather be. Not sure that answers your question.
What you’d place in a time capsule
Depends if we were going backwards or forward in time!