Ruchir Joshi, the Calcutta based author and filmmaker has written for the Telegraph, India Today and other publications. He continues his journey from his earlier memoir ‘Restaurantitis’ published last year on Prime Day with a new story, Alphabet City. “Restaurantitis was about encountering different restaurants while growing up, Alphabet City flips that around — it’s about working a waiter as a young man, engaging with restaurants as someone working in them as opposed to being a customer.”, he explains.
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During the pandemic, Ruchir continued his writing journey, building on his experiences around food and his home in Calcutta. Like most people around the world, he found this time difficult, but as a writer he drew from it. “During some periods it was almost impossible to concentrate. We lost friends to this deadly virus, others were falling ill and in precarious situations till they recovered; politically things were grim and there seemed to be no relief in sight on so many fronts. But then, there were other segments of time when the silence and isolation really helped me to focus. I made good progress towards finishing a major fiction project, a second novel I’ve been working on for some years; I completed a piece for the forthcoming Granta No.156, a text and photo essay built around images I shot on the streets around my house in Calcutta; and some of my regular newspaper columns seemed to be effective in eliciting positive responses and debate.”
“During some periods it was almost impossible to concentrate.
'Protect the freedom of expression'
From the experiences of the pandemic, as an author, his message to the country is a call to protect the freedom of expression to bring India back on track. “To be able to speak freely, to be able to question, criticise, challenge and call to account those in power is the birth right of every Indian. We must not let those in authority misuse this crisis or any future crisis to curtail our freedom of speech. In fact, it’s all the more important to speak and write freely and truthfully during challenging moments such as the one we are in.” Ruchir says.
'Great that people are reading more'
The pandemic saw more people turn to reading, something that Ruchir is happy about, and he hopes this trend will continue.“ It’s great that people are reading more. It will be interesting to see whether and in what form these ‘lockdown patterns’ continue once we are in the next phase of dealing with the pandemic and once people start going out and circulating more.” While he was busy researching his own novel, he found time to enjoy some books, including The Last Englishmen by Deborah Baker, Edmund DeWal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes. For an epic, totally engrossing novel he recommends Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman which is about the Battle of Stalingrad and helps put our own difficult times into some perspective.
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