Before heading back to Mexico City, I decide to put something in my stomach.  All I had all day long was huevos rancheros.  I sit down, order another beer and some enchiladas verde and mull over my forty-five some minutes with the man who had just won the most prestigious literary  prize in the world.  His wrath has me unsettled for a while.  But then I think of the interviewer Peter Ross Range and how CNN boss Ted Turner had turned violent during their interview, grabbing his tape recorder and smashing  it on the aisle of the first class cabin of an airliner and how he  had  then snatched his camera bag and practically destroyed the tapes containing their conversation.  How the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci would throw temper tantrums at her interviewer Robert Scheer when he turned the tables on her, confronting Fallaci  with the questions she didn’t like.  And how Alex Haley, the author of Roots endured the overt racism while the “führer” of the American Nazi party, George Lincoln Rockwell,  outlined to him  his intentions to ship “niggers” back to Africa.

At least, I had the pleasure of having encountered face-to-face one of my most favorite writers, and be able to tell him how much I admired his work.  On my way over from Chicago, I had picked up brand new copies of  two of his books, recently published in their quality paperback editions — the ones of which he had not yet even gotten author’s copies.

My hunger contained and the euphoric feeling of having mission accomplished, I just couldn’t make myself to get back to the car and head back to Mexico City. With my heart fluttering, I slowly walk back to his room.  He himself answers the knock on his door.

“I am sorry, to bother  you again, I almost feel like a teenager, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave without asking you to autograph these books for me.”  By now he looks like a different person.  The interview transcript in form of the galley proofs is spread out all over the table.  “Look, I am already working for Playboy,”  he says with a wry smile pointing at the strewn pages.  Marilise sitting behind his back smiles and flashes the thumb up at me.  He sits down and writes in first of the two books I have brought: No One Writes to Colonel, Para Haresh, de su colerico amigo, Gabriel ’82 and in the second: Leaf Storm, he draws an olive branch on the title page inside and writes, “Para Haresh, con un lomo de olivos, and signs it.

© Haresh Shah 2013

Illustration: Jordan Rutherford

 Next Friday, February 1, 2013

MEXICAN CONSUL AND MATTERS OF THE HEART

Up until 1980, I traveled with my Indian passport, with which I couldn’t  even cross the border to Canada or to Mexico without having a valid visa, issued by the respective country’s diplomatic mission. Sometimes, an outrageously humiliating experience.  How I overcame one of the hurdles by baring my heart to the Consul General:).    

Pages: 1 2 3 4