M C Raj
Author of more than 19 books (five of them fiction), philosopher, political and spiritual leader, social activist and international lecturer.
Harrington Quickie Interview
Q: Do you have a day-job, and if yes, what is it?
M C Raj: I work in the office of REDS, a NGO started by my wife and me 30 years back. This is a Development Organization among the poor in India, especially among the Untouchable people, known as Dalits. Much of my day is also spent in problem solving of the poor and in communication. I am also not the office type typically as I am a campaigner and travel a lot within India and to other countries.
Q: How much time do you spend on reading and writing, respectively?
M C Raj: About 30 minutes for reading. About 5 hours for writing. Varies. It used to be the reverse some years ago. I would even read the entire day some ten years ago. But now I spend almost all my ‘out of office’ time for writing.
Q: Do you have a library card? Explain.
M C Raj: No. From city I shifted my residence to a remote village in Karnataka of India and we do not have this culture of libraries even in small cities. I have envied many times the ‘foreign’ people for the way they keep on reading. But in India such habit is far too less. I have a mini library at my home and have no need to really go to a library except to access some resource books.
Q: Which book did you absolutely loathe reading in high school or college? Did you ever grow to appreciate it later?
M C Raj: Hindu Scriptures, Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Rig Veda (all clubbed as one group). Yes, I changed my attitude and read and analyze them extensively now. But the one book that I still loathe to read is Manusmriti, the Hindu Law Book.
Q: How would you react to a 12-year-old who states that he/she hates reading?
M C Raj: Actually by nature I am not deterministic. If one hates to read probably he/she has other ways of being creative. Even a 12 year-old should enjoy freedom in the way he/she enjoys it.
Q: Do you like playing video games? Explain.
M C Raj: No. I enjoy writing and reading. Not naturally inclined. I do not do anything if it does not come naturally to me. No violence to myself. I tell myself that it is a waste of time. I would read a few pages of a book in those minutes. I can say that I am almost mad with writing now.
Q: What’s the best advice you have ever received, and who gave it?
M C Raj: “Do you speak bad words? NO”
“Do you tell lies?” Yes sometimes
“Yes, I like you. This is the way you should always speak the truth” This was Sister Amy Therese when I was probably only 8 years old. My father worked with European nuns in a leprosy hospital and I grew up with them.
Q: What’s the top item on your bucket list?
M C Raj: “A Foucault Reader” I have a fascination for books of philosophy.
Q: Are you older or younger at heart than your age?
M C Raj: In as much as I get disappointed with the present generation of youngsters I am very old at heart than my age. In as much as I keep creating new ideas and avenues of action and love fun in life I am still very young at heart. The latter is generally the case with me often.
Q: What time do you usually get up in the morning, and how does your daily schedule look like?
M C Raj: I get up at 7 in the morning and go to sleep at 2 in the morning of the next day. I write for about two hours in the morning before I go to office at 10.30. Come back home at about 5 in the evening. Have some discussions with my wife who works with me and watch News for 30 minutes. Do a bit of reading. Then it is writing till 2 at night. My friends sometimes ask me how I manage to do all my work and yet keep on writing. Where do I get the time. I tell them that my day consists of 28 hours and not 24. How? They ask. I say I borrow four hours from the next day.
Q: What would you print on your favorite T-shirt (and wear it)?
M C Raj: Freedom of a Butterfly
Q: Which character’s life from a classic novel would you like to live? Explain.
M C Raj: I am a character myself and classic too. I live my life as I decide and do not like to live as another. Following any other model is not in my natural flow. I am a philosopher and I like to keep creating new avenues of thinking and living. I am a crazy character myself and do not have enough time to live another character from another novel.
Q: What do you wear when you are the most comfortable?
M C Raj: Not wearing anything is the most comfortable thing in a hot country like India. But you know the difficulty. I always wear a blue dhoti (a sort of skirt that is common in rural India) and a black shirt. For the night I wear a lungi (same as dhoti but in multicolor) and lose shirt. When I am at home I always like to be without any underwear.
Q: What is your top choice of a book you’d like to turn into a movie?
M C Raj: “Operation LiQuidus”, my fourth novel! This will appeal to all types of viewers all over the world
Q: What’s the coolest place you’ve placed an autograph besides the first page of a book?
M C Raj: Always the first page of a book
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