The image in my previous post is self-explanatory. I would be lying if I said I am not excited. But sadly, I am not going to go through the book, for the simple reason that I am always embarrassed -- and at times appalled -- to read anything that I've written a while ago. There is always this urge to rewrite. Others, however, are encouraged to buy the book and read it and, better still, reread it. It should be in the bookstores by the month-end.
I do not know how long its shelf life is going to be, but I certainly know that the shelf life of my excitement is going to be horribly short. As long as you are waiting for your book to be published -- after having travelled the length and breadth of the country and put your descriptive skills to test -- you are some sort of a hero in your own eyes. But once the book is published, the readers take over. If they like it, you remain a hero. If not, you are reduced to being a zero. I am already bracing myself to answer questions like these:
"Weren't you writing a book? What happened to it, is it out yet?"
"Yeah, it came out four months ago."
"Is it? How come I didn't notice! Where can I find a copy?"
Chai, Chai was written over a period of two years. During the first year, I did all the travelling, and during the second year, I did the writing. During these two years, what kept me going, in spite of the vicissitudes of life, was the knowledge that I was writing a book. An imaginary cover for the book -- which, fortunately, is not very different from the real cover that has been reproduced in the previous post -- and an imaginary reader reception kept me going. In other words, my life had a purpose during the past two years. There was something to look forward to. But once the book is out, what will I have to look forward to?
I decided not to take a chance. Last week, I signed a contract with the publishers for my next project. It will be a book on Chennai -- a portrait of the city I have been living in for the past nine years. It will be the most definitive book ever written about the city till date. That's all I can say for now. It will be released next August, to coincide with Madras Day celebrations in 2010. In other words, I get to keep the mask of self-importance on for another year.