27 November, 2020

Blue Hawaii Yoghurt

Malgudi's creator was a very loveable man, but his humility was deceptive

Blue Hawaii Yoghurt
IT must be over 40 years when I first met R.K. Narayan in his hometown, Mysore. I had read some of his short stories and novels. I marvelled how a storyteller of modern times could hold a reader's interest without injecting sex or violence in his narratives. I found them too slow-moving, without any sparkling sentences or memorable descriptions of nature or his characters. Nevertheless, the one-horse town of his invention, Malgudi, had etched itself on my mind. And all my south Indian friends raved about him as the greatest of Indians writing in English. He certainly was among the pioneers comprising Raja Rao, Govind Desani and Mulk Raj Anand. Whether or not he was the best of them is a matter of opinion.

Being with Narayan on his afternoon strolls was an experience. He did not go to a park but preferred walking up the bazaar. He walked very slowly and after every few steps he would halt abruptly to complete what he was saying. He would stop briefly at shops to exchange namaskaras with the owners, introduce me and exchange gossip with them in Kannada or Tamil, neither of...


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