Kushwant visited the Durga temple to catch people’s mood, which he wanted to be reflected in his writings.

The passing of mercurial author and journalist Kushwant Singh made book lovers in the city go down memory lane. Known for his association with The Illustrated Weekly as its editor, Mr. Singh visited the city in January 1997 to participate in the eighth Vijayawada Book Festival as the chief guest.

The city’s publishing community recalled its interaction with the author, who was surprised at the number of text books stalls at the exhibition. “People should realise that they should read more general books to develop an overall personality. Mere text books will not help them excel in the competitive world,” was one of the candid observations of Mr. Singh.

Ashok Book Centre proprietor Ashok said Mr. Singh spoke from his mind and called a spade a spade. “He wrote a wonderful piece on his visit to the city. He was also stunned by the chaotic roads and the universal behaviour of drivers across the country - with one hand on the horn and the other on the accelerator.”

Mr. Ashok said he was surprised when Mr. Singh, an atheist, told him about a visit to the Durga Temple. “He justified his action, saying he wanted to catch the mood of the people thronging the temple to be reflected in his writings.”

Many also recalled how Mr. Singh gave a slip to security personnel in Hyderabad although he faced threat from Bhindranwale.

Senior journalist Turlapati Kutumba Rao said Kushwant Singh spared none and spread ribald cheer through his celebrated column - ‘With Malice towards One and All’ - in a popular English daily.

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