24 June, 2021

Playing Long & Forever

Listening along with Sanjay, warmed in the glow of his personality

David Gitomer
Playing Long & Forever

I first met Sanjay in 2013, seated on a chair, a yellow balloon dangling above my head. “Is that a yellow balloon on your head?” he asked, blinking at me in the dim veranda light. “Yes.” “Good. I thought it might be the whisky.”

We were at Sangam House, 30 km outside Bangalore, at the Nrityagram Dance Village. A mild December evening, all aro­und us red earth and trees darkened to inky blackness. I was attending the writing residency run by his wife, writer and translator Arshia Sattar, and we were celebrating an artist’s birthday. Our efforts at decorating the veranda for the occasion were loosening, slipping down fans and pil­lars. The yellow balloon bobbed lower as the night wore on.

“I liked your book,” he told me, and I thanked him. Only later would I find out he was on the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize committee. (Boats on Land had been shortlisted that year.) We talked about Shillong, the weather, Bangalore, the benefits of organic weed; later I brought out my laptop—“This...

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