Know your Authors: Exclusive Interview with Amit Basole & Anjum Altaf

A valuable book contextualising the Urdu master’s verses, Amit Basole & Anjum Altaf’s Thinking With Ghalib: Poetry For A New Generation departs from the traditional approach and abandons the ghazalas, the primary medium for introducing this extraordinary poet to new readers. Amit Basole teaches Economics at Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Urdu poetry as well as history and architecture of the Indian subcontinent are his passions. Anjum Altaf resides in Lahore and is the author of Transgressions: Poems Inspired by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. According to the authors, Thinking With Ghalib is a tribute to a genius whose philosophical and pedagogical contribution remains greatly under-appreciated.

We recently did a candid interview with the authors.

1. What is the last book you read?  

Amit: Akath Kahani Prem Ki: Kabir ki Kavita Aur Unka Samay (The untold story of love: Kabir’s poetry and his times) by Purshottam Agarwal.

Anjum: Sahiifa-e tariikh-e Urdu by Syed Mohammad Mahmood Rizvi.

2. A guilty pleasure? 

Amit: Binge watching political dramas on OTT platforms. 

Anjum: Waking up late. 

3. Where do you write? Do you have a favourite spot? 

Amit: Despite wanting to for many years, I have never gotten around to having a nice cozy writing spot. So, pretty much anywhere!

Anjum:  On the floor. Don’t really have a favourite spot.

4. What is a book that has stayed with you? 

Amit: EF Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful

Anjum: Divaan-e Ghalib.

5. Your mornings are incomplete without…

Amit: Playing with my cats.

Anjum: A walk. 

6. What apart from what you do today do you wish you could do or pursue as a career? 

Amit: I would love get paid for immersing myself in subcontinental history and literature and getting people excited about it via podcasts and writing.

Anjum: Sing dhrupad.

7. Your greatest fear?  

Amit: That people who will ask me to do things. Because I find it very hard to say “no”. 

Anjum: Leaving things incomplete.

8. A trait you admire in yourself?  

Amit: I like to think I am not dogmatic in my beliefs. But who knows! 

Anjum: Not admiring oneself.

9. Who would be the guests at your perfect dinner party? 

Amit: This is a very hard one! Maybe Kabir and Ghalib – though I am guessing they might not get along, both being cranky and opinionated. Though I really think dinner parties are for friends in real life.

Anjum: Romila Thapar and Harbans Mukhia.

10. A book you’d recommend to someone to get them out of a reading slump?  

Amit: Any collection of stories by Jorge Luis Borges.

Anjum: That would depend upon the age of the one in the slump.

Rajan Kaushal

Rajan Kaushal

Rajan Kaushal

Rajan Kaushal

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