Shashi Tharoor

Quick Take

Shashi Tharoor

Born on March 9, 1956 in London to Lily and Chandran Tharoor of Palakkad, Kerala, Shashi Tharoor graduated in History from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and pursued his higher studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Tufts University, United States.

He holds the distinction of having completed his PhD at the age of 22. Tharoor served the United Nations in various prestigious diplomatic positions for 29 years, before coming back to India and entering politics. A globally-recognised speaker and a prolific writer, he has authored over 15 books, in both fiction and non-fiction genres, the latest one being India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in our Time, as also written several articles and columns for both newspapers and magazines in India and abroad.

Where do you write best?

At my study, on my desktop computer.

What inspires you to write?

The world around me.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Stepped out of His Window and Disappeared by Jonas
Jonasson.

What are you scared of?

Misunderstanding.

Your pet peeves...

Injustice, distortions, lies.

Your favourite topic of discussion...

Cricket.

Your favourite food...

Idlis, ideally with a chutney of onions and red chillies.

Who would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party?

Jawaharlal Nehru. What an extraordinary mind!

Which sport do you like best?

Cricket. Nothing comes close to the pleasure cricket gives.

Do you like music? If so, which genre?

Yes, without being a connoisseur. I love Western classical, but my favourite music to listen to is Bollywood film songs of the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.

What keeps you awake at night?

Pending emails!

What would you change about yourself?

My inability to say no, which sends me hurtling around the country delivering too many speeches and sleeping too little.

What book do you wish you had written?

Any one of P G Wodehouse’s many masterpieces.

Who is your perfect reader?

Someone like myself — an urban, cosmopolitan, English-educated Indian with a comparable frame of cultural and political reference.

Do you have a writing routine?

No, sadly. Political life doesn’t permit it.

How do you relax?

I haven’t yet learned to relax!

If you could own any painting, what would it be?

One of Warwick Goble’s lovely watercolours on classical Indian themes from the Ramayana and other legends. As a fan of his work, I wonder about his influence on Raja Ravi Varma, or was it the other way around?

Any superstitious beliefs?

If I accidentally place my foot on the printed word, even if it’s a discarded newspaper, I instantly touch it with my hand and raise my hand to my forehead, to beg Saraswati’s divine forgiveness.

Your favourite holiday destination...

Haven’t had a real holiday in a long time! Any place where I can spend time with family.

You are currently reading...

The Case for India by Will Durant (1931).

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