And the answers…

a bit late on this, but nevertheless…

1. Standard question. which literary (fiction or otherwise) work(s) has/have influenced you the most?


Hmm…nothing that’s drastically changed my life or anything like that, but there have been a few that left a strong impression, at different points in my life. The ones I can think of

  • Small is Beautiful – E.F. Schumacher: This book, in many ways, is the closest approximation of a personal philosophy.
  • The Sicilian – Mario Puzo: The first “grown up” book I read. I read this, right after I was done with my Hardy Boys & Nancy drew, and before I moved on to Wodehouse, Jeffrey Archer, Forsyth etc. It left a big impression, and I thought about it a lot, for 2-3 years. I have no idea why. πŸ™‚
  • Amar Chitra Katha – not really a literary work, I suppose πŸ™‚ But, it’s one of those few things that probably did directly shape my character. Or so I think.
  • Golden Gate – Vikram Seth: Made me fall in love with poetry again, & also realize, I could never hope to make a living as a poet. I am just a huge Seth fan.
  • Zen and the art of motorcyle maintenance – Robert Pirsing (though I lost it towards the end)
  • Some writings of Tagore, a few things written by Charles Handy, bits of Walden (Thoreau).


2. Do you see a capitalist model ever finding its feet in the Indian economy?

Hmm…that’s a tough one. The short answer is “I don’t know”. I imagine we need a model more like the Scandinavian countries (welfare capitalism or gift economy) if we have to avoid social strife. Also, it’s a question of political will. Possibly, the next 10 years will tell us. There are days when I am very hopeful – and I see a “gift economy” as the solution to all the world’s problems. And there are days when I am very realistic and I laugh at my hope. Fundamentally, I think Schumacher was right, and that the solution truly is simpler lifestyles within a capitalist context.

3. Heavy question. Would you support reservations as a way of equal opportunity/rights in India? Do you think it is harmful for India in the long run?

Hmm…Reservation in education (and here I restrict myself to caste/community based reservation) – I see it as a bit of a necessary evil. But to a limited degree (not beyond the graduate level), and for a limited period, and for groups who truly do need a leg up. Not this mad urge to continually expand the reservation category pie – that is just distressing vote bank politics. Now which are the groups that do require reservation – I think we know that to a degree, but that’s also a question that needs more analysis. And I am not sure we have enough or accurate data on that, right now.

In terms of numbers, 50% is way too much. So long as it is limited (< 33%, IMO), and eligibility is well-defined & rational, I don’t see it as harmful in the long run. There will always be groups that require affirmative action. Today maybe it is caste based – SCs for e.g, maybe tomorrow it is someone else (a whole region maybe backward and therefore warrant a quota).

I am firmly opposed to caste/religion based reservation in jobs.

4. What kind of music are you into? Who are your favourites artists and what songs are the ones you never tire of?

I listen to all sorts of stuff. Easier to list the exceptions – heavy metal, punk, electronica etc… What I listen to regularly are old hindi & carnatic classical. A little less regularly – rock, country, tamil, western classical, celtic etc. Of late, I haven’t been listening to too much music, except for what plays when I am driving (which is either FM or stuff I have recorded long ago). I don’t even know half the new songs.

Favourite artists – Difficult to say, I just have lots of favourite songs, but to give it a shot….

  • Indian singers – Hariharan, Sonu Nigam, Hemant Kumar, Kishore Kumar. No particular female singer.
  • Composers – AR Rahman, SD Burman, RD Burman, Ilayaraja
  • Rock – Dire Straits, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty
  • Celtic – Loreena Mckennitt

Songs I never tire of – there are many again. Off hand, a few I can think of include (and I am sure I miss many many more)
“Chinna chinna mazhai thuligal” – En Swaasa Kaatre
“Nahin saamne” – Taal

Actually never mind, there are just way too many πŸ™‚

5. Love unconditionally and yet not be loved or love only to be loved?

Neither is particularly satisfactory. But if I had to choose, it would be the former. I think it is easier and more natural to love unconditionally.

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Posted on April 5, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I am not mrsgollum…but here’s my question…what is, ultimately, the plan for the long weekend?

    And…have fun, whatever it is! (Even if it is a no-tickets-no-room-anywhere-chill-at-home weekend.

  2. If you like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and was lost, then read lila, his next book. It’s a logical completion of ZAMM.

  3. thanks mate, many of the answers to questions seemed ones I had actually played in my mind before actually asking the questions.

    I have to agree with you on “nahin saamne” – beautiful song.

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