It’s hard to believe that it’s been exactly ten years now since I travelled to India on behalf of the British Council, visiting Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore in quick succession. Exactly ten years ago today I was landing at Kolkata after a long haul flight via Delhi, taken to my hotel (the ITC Sonar hotel, a five star millionaire’s playground where security stopped all cars entering and checked beneath the bonnet and hood for explosives, where you walked through a metal detector to enter the hotel itself and where security stood at every corner) and then whisked out twenty minutes later for my first event.
It was a talk at Starmark, a bookstore in South Kolkata, very much in the Barnes & Noble mode, where I had close to a hundred people waiting – most likely for ‘that Batman guy’. What, you ask? Well, as I entered there was a photo of me on a poster that said ‘You’ve read his books – you’ve seen his movies – meet TONY LEE, creator of BATMAN.’
So I did wonder exactly how many of the audience actually knew me for who I was and how many hoped that Christian Bale would pop by.
There were press cameras, TV crews and journalists galore, and everything I did turned into photo opportunities. It was incredibly surreal, even more so considering the fact that I had pretty much flown from London straight there with about two hours sleep in thirty hours, and everything was a little swirly.
After that I met fellow author #JakeArnott at a swanky floating hotel called the ‘Floatel’ which apparently wasn’t really a floating hotel, where a British Council reception was held for us.
All we wanted to do was sleep.
In all my years since, I’ve never had a press junket as insane as the British Council India one. But damn it was fun! And I even met @adityabidikar there for the first time.
I know it’s been a decade, British Council guys, but if you ever want to send me somewhere else…