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.