In my opinion, the only goals worth pure respect and ambition are ones that (a) a very brilliant person (b) has to work very hard for. Is it my inherent cynicism or do very few goals in the world seem to fill both the criteria? For example, JUDE (excellent as it may be) fills both (a) and (b) but not necessarily at the same time. (I. e. a very brilliant person can get on at JUDE with moderate-to-zero effort; and a moderately brilliant person can do the same with substantial effort put in. At times it is even possible for individuals to get on with neither (a) nor (b), with a little help from the Google-enabled phone or other comforts of a similar vein. Which disqualifies JUDE from that elusive category.)
I think I was in Class 12 (or 11?) when Günter Grass visited Calcutta and spoke extensively on The Tin Drum. I had even attended the panel discussion at Kala Mandir (where he shared space with Tariq Ali, if my memory does not deceive; I have still not managed to read Tariq Ali though I’ve intended to for ever) but I did it out of sheer curiosity: I had not read any of Grass’s books yet, I knew little about him except the name. Right now, as I read The Tin Drum, I am wishing for nothing more than to be able to rewind to that evening and listen to the discussion with a better receptivity. Right now, I remember how wise and well-spoken and impressive Grass had seemed to my little school-going self but regrettably I remember nothing else.