Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My first meeting with Sujatha

Sujatha - One of my favorite writer

Thanks to Narayanan, I met one of my favorite Tamil writer Sujatha and the Sujatha behind Sujatha on a hot and muggy Sunday morning in Chennai on 6/5/05. Sujathas warmly received us in their apartment and spent over an hour us. We chatted on a range subjects from the cover of Tamil weekly magazines to blogs, from reservations (affirmative programs in India) to Tamil fonts. I was simply bowled over by the treasure trove of knowledge that he is. Needless to say, I enjoyed every minute of my interaction with the Sujathas. Even though I was sad to see the meeting end, I departed with an assurance of another meeting in a few months and a parting gift.

My Favorite Writer - SujathaSujatha & Visu

We were first received Mrs. Sujatha and their friendly pet dog and Sujatha joined us a little later. After initial pleasantries, we started off talking about computers and ambled across subjects of interest to both of us.

He listened intently and responded with clearly and concisely. I was thrilled to see Mrs. Sujatha also join our conversation. When I asked Mrs. Sujatha is she writes or would like write, she mentioned that she doesn’t write but compensates by reading and talking a lot. It was a complete surprise when Mrs. Sujatha said her Mom (82+) is the biggest fan and critique of Sujatha’s writings.

This may not be a surprise, but Sujatha keeps a busy schedule. Even in the one hour we spent with him on that Sunday, there was a steady stream of visitors wanting to meet him.

In all, I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting Sujatha and looking forward to another one in a few months. As I was leaving, Sujatha gave me a parting gift: One his books with his autograph. That really made my day.

Present from Sujatha - Ore oru dhrogam

Here are some of Sujatha’s thoughts on various subjects we discussed:

On Tips for budding writers:

  • Read a lot: Read not only in the language you want to write but also in other languages. Put your perspective on what you read.
  • Put your thoughts down: Don’t wait for the entire story to shape up in your mind. Put down things as you come across and then organize.
  • Write what you know: Develop story lines based on what you know and stretch a little through research.

On reservations (Affirmative program)

  • They are needed as the social imbalances still exist
  • Implementation / Execution needs to be improved

On Blogs

  • People are using it as a tool to vent
  • Lot of Tamil Blogs and more coming every day.
  • Indian industry / businesses haven’t caught up to the power of blogs yet
  • His Blog: Katradhum Petradhum Column in Ananda Vikatan

Tamil Fonts

  • Too many standards and presently the scene is confusing.. but common standard will evolve over a period of time
  • He uses TAB / UniCode

On his writings

  • Readers closely follow and analyze his readings.
  • Some readers quick to criticize than complement. He gave some instances where readers pointed some minor mistakes in his columns without looking at the big picture or complementing him on the finer aspects
  • Caste & religion are very sensitive issues to write about. He again shared some cases where he was taken to task by people belonging certain caste / religion for his unbiased thoughts.

Why Thank Narayanan
Are you wondering why I thanked Narayanan at the beginning of this post? It’s because he was instrumental in getting this meeting organized for me. He introduced me to his uncle Mr. Lakshmanan (Vadhoolan), who got me this opportunity to meet Sujatha. In fact, Vadhoolan took it upon himself to come with me and introduce me to Sujatha. Vadhoolan is a writer himself and frequently contributes to several Tamil journals. He recently published a book about ‘how to make money in stock markets’ in Tamil, which I understand is well received in the market.

Sujatha & VadhoolanVadhoolan's book on stock market