Reading Hour with Samar Halarnkar

If you’re in Bangalore, you must visit Atta Galatta in Koramangala. It’s a lovely book shop and cafe that is also home to numerous cultural events. I’ve held quite a few events for my books here and was invited to be a part of Reading Hour in 2014 with Kavery Nambisan and Nandita Bose was the most gracious host of the event.

Here’s an hour long video of the event in case you actually have an hour to spare. He he! Just kidding.

So, imagine my surprise when Lakshmi who runs Atta Galatta with her husband Subodh called me and asked if I would like to host the event in its new avatar. I agreed almost immediately.

Reading Hour is held in collaboration with the Reading Hour magazine that is run by Vaishali and Arun, and they are extremely passionate about bringing back the culture of reading into our lives.

We started Reading Hour in June and we invited Samar Halarnkar as our first guest. Samar is the author of The Married Man’s Guide to Creative Cooking and the editor of Indiaspend.

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I enjoyed reading his cookbook. Not only did it have unusual recipes, it had some really quirky illustrations.

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Samar spoke to the audience about the economic repercussions of men not cooking and it made for some fascinating listening.

We moved on to talk about the warm and funny elements in his book that perfectly offset the nostalgic overtone. I wanted to know why Samar happily called himself a glutton in this era of Masterchef connoisseurs and his explanation was simple. He calls himself a jugaad or jhatka cook, often assembling ingredients for a meal with the pan on the stove. It was interesting to hear him explain how he managed to conjure meals for his family without being all metrosexual about it.

Samar spoke to us about his love for seafood and fish and of course Old Monk rum as well. We even spoke of how he’s pretty much achieved some sort of foodie nirvana these days.

The audience too wanted to ask him questions about the supposed stigma that’s attached to men cooking for their families as home cooks as opposed to the respect they get by being professional chefs.

It was a perfect June evening for a lovely round of conversation with Samar and a receptive audience who engaged in meaningful conversation.