Don’t want a cat/ Scratching its claws all over my Habitat/ Giving no love and getting fat/Ohhh, you can get lonely/And a cat’s no help with that.
– "I Want a Dog", Pet Shop Boys
Now I agree with the Pet Shop Boys on most counts (I maintain, at risk of being consigned to plebian hell, that their lyrics give me a better understanding of the gay-subculture in Thatcher’s Britain than Alan Hollinghurst’s 500-page Booker-winner this year did) but they got it dreadfully wrong this time. In fact, Cats Rule. The one highpoint of a terrible week was a Monday evening spent sipping rum, gorging on honeyed ribs and talking Book with a group of very interesting people in a room that had a distinct air of Catness.
This was the abode of none but the legendary Hurree Babu, Patron Saint to us lit-bloggers. There was Hurree, dashing as ever, and his Partner, who sat demurely in a corner of the room for much of the evening, occasionally emerging to say something brilliant. Putu the Cat, curled up on a sofa. Samit Basu, talented young author who thinks he’s cat-like and sometimes smiles Cheshirely to prove it. He and Putu spent much of the evening making eyes at each other (incidentally, has anyone noticed how cockeyed Samit is?)
Then there was the Jabberwock, who really IS cat-like. There were Hurree’s two (real) cats, one of whom reminded Putu of his/her dear old aunt. There was the cat-loving Peter Griffin, otherwise The Griff, whose work on the Tsunami Help blog has, apart from all its obvious virtues, brought Blogging to the edit pages of hitherto supercilious newspapers. Also present was the author Ruchir Joshi, who tolerates cats reasonably well. So much cat-love/tolerance in one room in Delhi you never saw before.
So there we all were, and those of us who could speak were being very catty about everyone in the literary fraternity who wasn’t present in the room. Obnoxious authors, hangers-on, pompous lit journalists…we took well-sharpened claws to them all. As Samit has already reported, Ruchir was the raconteur par excellence and had us in splits with his version of a lit conference in Neemrana that went horribly wrong; naturally, Sir Viddiiiyyaaa and his lackeys were at the centre of it all.
The Jabberwock, chastened by evidence of how little he knew of the inner workings of the literary world, was content to listen and learn. The Griff too spoke little but purposefully handed out charcoal tablets to those of us with iffy stomachs. Thus fortified, we feasted without compunction on the delectable selection of meats at paw’s reach.
In sum, a grand time was had by all. The Jabberwock was purring contentedly when he left.