Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Jeffrey Archer at Pune

The Master Storyteller

I was sure I had to be here the day I saw the hoarding of the Crossword book launch event with a big Jeffrey Archer picture saying 3rd March. I was super excited for the event, as it was my first time too for a book launch. And though it didn't exactly match my expectations, it was a great experience.

It was great to see and hear Jeffrey Archer in person launch the latest in the series of #CliftonChronicles. However old and calm he might look, there was a kid-like effervescence within him when he answered his fans which clearly showed age couldn’t take this away from him- his humor and zeal to tell stories- no wonder he is known as the master story teller. Like all the other fans in the room, even I had prepared a list of questions to ask him if given a chance, but unfortunately, I was not the one he chose amongst the crowd. No regrets, whatsoever! I had the pleasure to hear him. Hear him say how much he liked being in India, how he really wanted to promote reading and how he’d dedicate some 8 chapters in his upcoming book which was based in India (Mumbai). Upon being asked about his writing and storytelling skills, he just casually said that he just had it in him. He talked highly about R.K Narayan and his Malgudi Days. I have been reading Jeffrey Archer as a kid, and thus, seeing and hearing him was a great experience for me.
Excerpts from his conversation:
“I think Malgudi days is a brilliant piece of work. I think what R.K Narayan did, nobody else can do”
“I am a simple storyteller like R.K Narayan. My books have never won prizes like the ones written by Salman Rushdie, but I have the gift of storytelling and it has changed my life”

Crowd Addressal
However, this event came up with some disappointments as well; as it was organised by a renowned chain like Crossword, probably the expectations were too high to be let down like this. I did not find any link to register myself prior to the event, nothing on twitter as well, but when I reached it looked like some people had already figured out a way to occupy seats, I still wonder how? Even more disappointing was the book signing activity, where Mr. Archer would sign up the copies of his books for his fans and like me, there were a number of people who brought up their brown old copies, with old yellow pages for book signing, and what we got to hear was that only the books newly purchased from Crossword would be signed. It was as if in that moment, someone had just insulted my old copy of Jeffrey Archer, which was actually symbolic of my childhood nostalgia and my long time affliction with Jeffrey Archer. (I had taken 'Only time will tell' with me for book signing). Then what is all the brag about the old books that the authors and book sellers talk? And here I always thought that my old cherished yellow paged book would be a cult, if it had Mr. Archer’s handwriting over it. We would have been okay to wait till the end also, but I don’t think our viewpoint even crossed the minds of the Crossword people, who tried to make good use of an event like this to sell a few more copies of their books.  Disappointed I left the place and treated myself to a warm cup of coffee, which cheered me up considerably of the fact that atleast I could attend some part of the event, while many others still waited outside in queues to catch a glimpse of him.

Glimpses from the event
But all said and done, as I look back, I feel I will always keep the positives with me from this event, which were his words, voice and the light humoured conversations with the crowd on which there were ripples of laughter. It was a pleasure, a memory for a lifetime.

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