I know. The pace of my reading and pontificating has slipped a little. I blame a fit of productivity at work and some confusing developments in my personal life. But, I’m back on it and embarking upon A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
A couple of readers have remarked upon my proposed stalking activity at Patachou. I should let you all know that it would not be my first foray into “author tracking”. In fact, I’ve done it to very successful results in the past.
In my Graduating Year (GY) at Branksome, I took an extra OAC in English. It was called “Writer’s Craft” or something like that. It was a small class – and a particularly precocious group. Our teacher, Ms. Watson, was full of life, very small in stature and prone to grandiose gestures. She was kind of like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, but far less irritating. She always told me she was jealous of my “big hair”. I had a perm at the time and I assure you, it looked amazing.
We were studying The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, a story about a group of yuppies in San Francisco. The thing we loved about it most was that it was written in iambic tetrameter. I mentioned we were precocious? Vikram was in town for the Harbourfront Festival of Authors and we plotted that he must therefore be staying at the Harbour Castle. Why not just give him a call and invite him up to the school for a visit?
I always did love a break from class, so I immediately headed down to the common room payphone to try my luck. I asked for ‘Vikram Seth’ when the operator answered. Very snottily, so she would think I was his agent or something. She put me through.
Our first conversation was a little awkward. He was standoffish. He sort of hung up on me.
But, the next day, he phoned the school and spoke to our Ms. W. It turned out he was a little caught off guard by my call and happened to be in the toilet at the time (Why do they put those phones in hotel bathrooms?). He was impressed we were studying his book and wanted to visit!
We arranged to pick him up the following day. The equestrian in our class was the only one with a car. In fact, it was a huge truck, full of dog hair and horse tackle. He loved it, even though he is also small in stature and had a bit of a struggle hopping in. He did a reading for the whole school. And another for just our class. We were thrilled. We thought he’d be a perfect match for Ms. Watson. Sadly, he left before any serious matchmaking efforts could be implemented.
I’ve been meaning to read more of his books ever since.