Yesterday, Priyanka reminded me to join her for the “Meet the author” session. Since I did not have any plans for 6.30 p.m., with my daughter, Aparna at a birthday party, I agreed. I had missed the previous author meet and wanted to be part of this one. My father had not been to Evening Hour, though he had met Priyanka before and I asked him to tag along for the session. It was only after we got there did we realize that the guest author was a Telugu author. My Dad and I both are not native speakers of the language and though I have a decent grasp of Telugu (more of the talk to the maid and driver variety), he is quite lost in Telugu conversations. I thought it was a mistake to show up without finding out the details.
The author, Akella Raghavendra, has written a book about the late Telugu cine actor, Shobhan Babu. He has used to illustrate, through the life of a well-known public figure, lessons for life. My Raghavendra, unlike many authors, is also a gifted speaker, not surprising since he also runs coaching classes for IAS aspirants among other interests. There were many useful points that he made during the freewheeling discussion among the cozy circle that had gathered. He gave examples to emphasize that talents, skills and selling ability are required in equal measure in order to succeed in life. Probably the most notable point he underscored was the importance of developing a reading habit in the lives of youngsters. Fiction, non-fiction, English, Telugu, classics or contemporary writing did not matter. What was required was a mind that was curious to read what others before them had thought, experienced and expressed on paper.
We spent a riveting two hours in the presence of an enthusiastic and knowledgeable author with a drive to communicate his thoughts to the audience, both verbally and through his writings. To my surprise, even my father joined in the discussion. It was one of those days, when we thought we had unwittingly wandered into a wrong place but in retrospect, concluded that we were lucky to have made this mistake.