Syeda Bilgrami Imam is an award-winning writer and editor of The Making of Advertising (Macmillan), The Positive Side (Roli Books) and The Untold Charminar (Penguin). After working as Executive Creative Director at India’s three foremost advertising agencies, Syeda joined the Government of India in the Ministry of Minority Affairs and External Affairs. In Like Fine Wine, she makes short and sensitive forays into the real love stories of nine unusual couples. Amongst them are the nawab of cricket Tiger Pataudi and superstar Sharmila Tagore, acclaimed director David Lean and Leila Matkar, chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and Aruna along with six other rare examples of love who fascinate.
Ushnav Shroff, Copyeditor at Roli Books, exclusively interviewed her for you to know more about your author.
1. What is the last book you have read?
Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale.
2. A guilty pleasure?
Further sweetening an already over-sweet dessert… yes, leaving every one aghast, gaping.
3. When do you write? Do you have a favourite spot?
I should write in the very early, pre-dawn hours… that is when it all seems to flow unstoppably? I really ought to spring up and get on with it. It does not surge in quite the same way later.
And yes, my favourite spot would be my study.
4. What is a book that has stayed with you?
Adam Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. It spans so much in terms of periods, places, persons, feelings, relationships – in ways you do not expect.
5. Your morning are incomplete without…?
My ginger tea concocted just so. Also fruit; slices of Kiwi or maybe the pick of the season’s berries.
6. What apart from what you do today do you wish you could do, or pursue as a career?
Translation would be a consuming joy… it would also goad me to study linguistics, etymology.
But if starting all over again, I’d be eager and serious about being a long-distance runner.
7. Your greatest fear?
8. A trait you admire in yourself?
Leaving well alone.
9. Who would be the guests at your perfect dinner party?
Those few wonderful people who talk with great pleasure and then stop – and enjoy listening just as much. Bright-eyed, thoughtful persons – they do exist. I think each one of us knows such a few. Those gifted raconteurs help, I would try and make sure of that.
10. A book you would recommend to someone to get out of a reading slump.
Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which I have just begun. Yes, even if they have not yet read The Handmaid’s Tale, its predecessor.