Our Writers’ Ink group arranged a meetup with Author/Columnist Khushwant Singh on Sat, 19th Sept. ’15 at CCD – The Lounge, KNK Road, Chennai. He was in town just for a day and graciously agreed to meet upcoming writers here.
*Although the names are the same, don’t confuse him with the other novelist Khushwant Singh who died last year at 99 years of age.*
Khushwant Singh is the author of the novel, Maharaja in Denims, which is a Historical Fiction set in Punjab. A young man in the present times believes that he is the incarnation of the Great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and is haunted by the memories from that era… so the story starts.
This is the first fiction work of Khushwant Singh, who is also a Newspaper Columnist, author of Non Fiction books (his next book might be a biography), and a farm owner. He lives in Chandigarh and his farm is in Hoshiarpur, Punjab.
We spoke on a lot of topics including books, writing, lit fests, travel, and life. He told us how he had visited the museum housing Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Throne, went through the palace diaries and even saw the Kohinoor diamond (in the UK) while doing research for this book. He says, although the novel is set in Chandigarh, readers from other regions would also find it interesting because people and politics are same everywhere. I think we need to know the history of other states in our country to better understand people.
His novel is one of the first to feature turbulence in Punjab before a couple of decades. We spoke about how religion shapes culture, why people should travel more frequently, why arts need to be encouraged by the state and individuals, how arts offer a creative medium to vent peoples’ pent up energies which could otherwise be spent in an anti-social way.
It seems this is the first time the author has come to Chennai, so we recommended Idly and Dosa at Saravana Bhavan. However, he told us he was already familiar with Dosas as he grew up eating them at the hands of sisters from Kerala who had established a school near his farm.
I want to read his books, to learn how he describes people and places — both in the historical and contemporary perspective. And of course, a story that illuminates an important historical figure — Ranjit Singh, about whom I don’t know much — is always welcome 🙂