‘The Samosa Whisperer’ by Nikesh Shukla (Read by Dave Eggers)

Last Friday, Nikesh Shukla read a short story by Dave Eggers, so it seems only fair in the quid pro quo ways of the world that Eggers returns the favour for Shukla.  

He was up for it and suggested ‘The Samosa Whisperer‘, which is one of my favourites too, serving up as it does, a spicy short-storied wedge of Shukla’s former stomping ground and my current ‘manor’ (Ealing Road), along with a meditation on the nostalgic comforts of food, food which rescues both memories and the dramatis personae of those memories.

We decided to do the recording over Skype. So the night before  I nervously tested out my broadband connection and buffed my microphones, awaiting Dave’s call.

He was as I’d expected him to be: affable, warm, engaged, exactly like his TED video. He was also faintly pleased with himself, but in an extremely modest way, because he was going to read the story with accents.

ME: Accents? EGGERS: Yep. Been watching The Big Bang Theory, Series FIVE, and I think I can do the voices. ME: Are you sure? EGGERS: Yes.

So he begins reading. I’m steeling myself for the first line of dialogue, and when it comes I have to stop him.

ME: Dave, hang on. EGGERS: Uh-huh. Problem with the levels? ME: No, no, it’s just…

How do you tell Dave Eggers that he really shouldn’t be attempting an Indian accent for this story. A story he’s prepared in the way that the Dadima of this story once prepared samosas for Prakash.  A story Dave clearly loves, possibly even as much as I do, every line so flavoursome and light. A story he might have read to Vendela and the kids just last night, with everyone laughing and clapping at his pitch-perfect rendering of Shukla’s pitch-perfect dialogue.

How do you tell Dave What-Is-The-What Eggers, Dave Social-Activist-826-National/ScholarMatch Eggers that his Indian accent sounds corny and faintly embarrassing. Embarrasing to him, you, Shukla, the whole of the Indian subcontinent. You don’t, right?

What you do is you let him read the story. You thank him profusely, and then you re-record it yourself, un-accented, and just hope that he doesn’t come back and listen to it later. And why would he? He’s a very busy man.


8 Responses to ‘The Samosa Whisperer’ by Nikesh Shukla (Read by Dave Eggers)

  1. Well, I am pretty sure you have the original recording and I want to hear it. Please?

  2. Dream on, Talwar…

  3. nice telling – but do you love it?

  4. I do.

    Actually, good question Fernsky. A future RMSYLer said she might go for some Colette because she interpreted LOVE as the stuff she read when she was in her teens and was able to get all swoony about literature in a way that she no longer can.

    “However, were I to read stuff I really ADMIRE, I’d go for X, Y, Z”, she said.

    [Obviously she didn’t say X, Y, Z because these aren’t writers, but seeing as I can only remember one name she mentioned, Franzen, and I don’t want to make up the other two, I’ve had to restort to XYZing. Franzen was in there though.]

    My reply to this was that writers I deeply admired + enjoyed = writers I loved.

    If I were to go by her criteria, I’d be reading Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz on here, and I have no intention of doing that because I don’t massively ADMIRE + ENJOY them anymore, they don’t move me. Being moved by a piece of writing is important too, no?

    So to sum up. For me, LOVE = a piece of writing you enjoy, that moves you and you admire in some way. Some combo of these.

  5. Humph, I was looking forward to Eggers! Humph and thrice humph. Great reading – shame you can’t do a sort of schizophrenic chat with yourself as you do with the other rmsyl’ers. BTW I still like SK (not Koontz anymore!)…..does that make me scum??!!

  6. No, but seriously, I have a very soft spot for SK. It’s just not a soft spot I’ve filled with Stephen King prose recently.

    But hey, you can’t really turn your nose up at something you filled your LIFE with for nigh on 4-5 years…

  7. You DO make me laugh, Steve! It took you a WHOLE three minutes to decide I wasn’t scum. Ha.

    Listen, I failed Mathematics GCSE because I was reading ‘IT’ under the table in the lesson (the teacher was asleep half the time, anyway), so he and I did, and still do, have a very close relationship! Everyone has, shall we say, ‘gutter tastes’? I’m not sure that he’s quite ‘gutter’, maybe, ‘drain in the bathroom sink’.

    I recently re-read Salem’s Lot and loved it. He does waffle a bit….and then there is this argument from ye olde high brow types (Booker Prize judges yada yada) that really turn up their noses at him, but i’m of the thinking that he writes really GOOD stories, and isn’t that what its about????

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