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Share and tell

Leena Nandan talks about “How To Placate An Angry Naga”, a joint effort with husband Jiwesh Nandan

Experiences make a man. Experiences make many a writer too. Take the bureaucrat duo Leena and Jiwesh Nandan. The husband-wife pair has just come out with “How To Placate An Angry Naga”, a telling tale of ‘finding’ their feet in the IAS, a 171-pager on experiences, theirs and others combined, brought out by Penguin Books.

Leena agrees as much. “If not for our experiences we would have never become writers.” Leena, an IAS officer of 1987 batch, serving as Director, Ministry of Tourism, and her husband and batchmate, Jiwesh Nandan, serving as Director, Ministry of Power, took a little over two years to pen the book. “And during this period, we had our share of arguments on what to include, how to include,” relates Leena with a laugh. But thank goodness they did, she says it helped each other to keep moderating their perspective over many a thing.

The Nandans have sewn into the saga interesting but otherwise routine features for bureaucrats. Such as the word, ‘dekhenge’. If dropped on someone by a bureaucrat, it surely means sending him off without any promise of doing the job. Or say, the delicate relationship between a superintendent of police and a district magistrate which at times can stretch to a power struggle. And those endless farewell parties where sobs come from the most unexpected quarters. Not to miss out on how a bureaucrat, however senior or junior, guards the opportunity of a foreign trip with sealed lips till one boards the flight.

Naked sadhus

The book has a chapter on the millennium Maha Kumbh too where Leena served as a mela officer. Her encounters with the fragile ego of the akharas and the naked ash-smeared naga sadhus barging in and out of her room gives her some funny incidents to share with the readers. The book owes its title to this chapter.

In this journey of churning out from experiences, the couple though has quite deliberately stayed away from naming any name. Leena puts it this way, “We have not put specific individuals against a particular incident because we wanted to see things from a larger perspective. That way, it can become a springboard for younger people joining the IAS,” says Leena. For, sharing experiences help. “For instance, we learnt so many things from others at the IAS Academy in Mussourie,” she adds helpfully.

And now, having tasted the pleasures of writing, both are planning their second book. “Though it is in a nebulous state”.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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