There was a part in the book that outlined a passage that intrigued Manu Joseph, a part where Akash is driving on the east coast and then there is a road accident with two youths on a motorcycle. Aksah doesn’t immediately take them to the hospital but heads for the police station.
He talks of a young girl Sudha who is living the new India dream, of having left her village, working in a BPO and is living life on her own terms, but eventually when her boyfriend dies drowned at the beach, she is forced by family pressure to head home, leave her job and settle in an arranged marriage and live the way her family would want her to. This in total contrast to the story of Veena, another young woman, a divorcee, sexually liberated ,who never thought sexual harassment at work could ever happen to her, but when faced with it she is torn between the dilemma of putting her career over family and eventually gets sick, recovers but then passes away.
Then again the story of a sexologist who could not practice for the longest time and finally was given a place to open a clinic in the maternity ward of a hospital and rename his profession as that of a reproductive biologist and the fact that for years no one visited him and in a changed scenario today he is flooded with queries of all sorts showing the churning and change in accept ed norms in society.
Mr. Francois Vandeville,
Director of Institut Francais in India
Audience questions ranged from those that said that Akash wrote mostly for a non Indian audience because of the amount f background or explanation he offered. To which Manu Joseph intervened saying that once at NY times he wrote a piece on Tendulkar and had to state that Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketer: A fact so obvious, but something that made him think he must be the only Indian to ever have written that kind of explanation. This drew a lot of mirth from the audience.
To a question that his book was published in France and what was his reaction to the French audience of his book, Akash replied he was pleasantly surprised by the depth of interest and the level of knowledge that the French people he met had about India which was in contrast to his interactions in the US.
Also to an audience e question that asked him if he was putting forth a positive message about the development in India, Akash responded by saying his message is ambivalent. Good or bad is too simplistic and that economic progress surely has its merits and with it comes the price one pays of violence, environment and so forth.
Photo Credits- Danial Nathan