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Just got back from the DD News studio, where I was part of a panel discussion (heh) called Chandamama se Hairy Potar. Other panelist: Samrat Chowdhury of HT, resplendent in bright orange kurta. First of all, the DD people refused to believe I was a writer – they actually went around the lobby asking people if they were me, because I didnt look authoritative enough. Then we were made pretty with liberal doses of makeup, and scary thing happened when the woman handed me a comb and i realized Ive actually forgotten how to comb my hair. Last time it happened was at my sisters wedding, which was December 2001. Or maybe there was one time in the middle…dont remember. Anyway, I confessed frankly that I didnt know how to use the thing, which she was OK with. On to the studio, where mikes were attached, and 70-odd Delhi school students clapped politely. And then the really scary thing happened – ALL the kids said they hadnt read a book in the last 2-3 years. ALL. Variety of stupid reasons were offered. Got me wondering: Was the audience representative? Surely not on an all-Indian level – any Cal audience will be full of precocious and alarmingly well-read kids, as will any Bombay audience too, Im sure. And Im not willing to think that badly of Delhi either – I mean, there are always a few kids in bookstores. Maybe they just picked the wrong schools.


About Samit Basu

Novelist. Best known for fantasy and science fiction work. Most recently, The City Inside (Tordotcom)/Chosen Spirits (Simon and Schuster)


12 thoughts on “DD, DD, DD

  1. Maybe not. We all know Delhi-ites are uncouth and for the most part, illiterate. i keed, i keed. 😉

    Posted by Heh Heh | July 27, 2005, 4:51 pm
  2. dont worry.* soothing sounds* there still are kids in del who read like. we’l just ignore the fact that they’re calcutta exports. they still read, so quit worring,already.

    Posted by #3tiYo>B_shyo> | July 27, 2005, 5:01 pm
  3. Haven’t read books in the past 2-3 years? Did you observe them correctly – were they actually humans?

    Posted by The Nameless One | July 27, 2005, 5:39 pm
  4. I grew up in Delhi and went to school there, and there were plenty of kids who read voraciously in my class and neighbourhood. In fact, I know that a lot of them are still avid readers. My best guess is that the kids were pulling a fast one on the panelists. You see, we Delhiwallahs are such brats!

    But seriously what’s with the constant Delhi-bashing? Uncouth, illiterate?

    Posted by thalassa_mikra | July 27, 2005, 7:19 pm
  5. @thalassa: I was kidding there. Just to make my position clear, every single Delhi-ite I know is extremely well read.

    Posted by Heh Heh | July 27, 2005, 10:32 pm
  6. Hey! I resent that. I read more than enough books when I was in school. You’re just looking in the wrong places. I guess even today geeks are hard to find in Delhi.
    Wait a second. I used to read nancy drew. oh no…..
    actually my favorite book was RL stevenson’s Treasure Island when I was a child-geek in delhi.
    D to the Ezzee, L to the Hizzay, I to the ….

    Posted by anangbhai | July 28, 2005, 12:51 am
  7. But tell us more about the actual discussion. By the way, have you ever read Chandamama?

    Posted by The Marauder's Map | July 28, 2005, 6:03 am
  8. But wait, didn’t you have to speak in HINDI for this discussion? Hehehehe 🙂

    Posted by eM | July 28, 2005, 6:41 am
  9. no delhi disrespect was intended. was just suprised, thassall. of course delhi kids read. TM – have to say i know smart bratty kids when i see them. and these werent. MM – i have never read chandamama. at least i dont remember. no groundbreaking discovery was made during the discussion. and em – no, i did not have to speak in hindi.

    Posted by samit | July 28, 2005, 6:52 am
  10. So what were the reasons they came up with for not reading?

    I only left school a little over a year ago, and most people read occasionally. Granted, they had bad taste. But they read.

    Posted by Aishwarya | July 28, 2005, 7:42 pm
  11. Not likely,

    I am sure the kids were just the neighbours and relatives of the programme executives.

    I used to devour Chandamama, and vouch for its excellent language and stories.

    Posted by avdi | August 4, 2005, 8:27 am
  12. Does the DD studio still have only ONE camera, a fixed one? The one in Kolkata still does as far as I know. Went there so long ago, that I dont remember. Last wierdo studio I went to was for ETV Proshnokhetro (the really popular Bengali quiz). I got jacked because I suck at Bangla (barely passed in school, just 80 in my ICSE!)
    Studios are lame these days.

    Kids in Kolkata read way more books. DD should have gone there instead.

    Posted by Shobhik | August 14, 2005, 6:53 am

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Copyright (c) Samit Basu. Images copyright respective holders.
July 2005


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