Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Jeffrey Archer

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Jeffrey Archer

Article excerpt

This last week, in India, I visited six cities in seven days: Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Calcutta and New Delhi. This is my 11th trip to India and from the very beginning the signs were good. For a start, the temperature on arrival in Mumbai was a cool 22 degrees and I was told it had rained for the past two days, though I've actually never seen rain in Mumbai before. Because of a new eight-lane highway, we got from the airport to the Taj Hotel in the city centre in just 40 minutes, despite a minor hold-up. As the car was idling in a traffic jam, a young boy who couldn't have been more than six or seven tapped on my car window. He was holding a pile of books. I wound the window down, and he asked: 'Would you like the latest Jeffrey Archer?' I smiled and told him, 'I am the latest Jeffrey Archer.' It seems that an enterprising Indian picks up all the latest bestsellers from Heathrow the day you are published and takes them to India. They're for sale on the streets of Mumbai three days later at half the price.

Had dinner with my hosts from the Crossword Bookstores, before rushing up to my room to watch England play Ireland in Dublin. I was so pleased that the hotel was showing the match on channel 37, although I did have a back-up plan -- to find an Irish pub in Mumbai. There's an Irish pub in every city on earth. I was so tired I fell asleep during the second half, only to wake up and find out we'd been trounced.

At breakfast with Ronnie Screwvala, the former MD of Disney India, we discussed the possibility of a joint deal to produce the 'Clifton Chronicles' for a television series. He warned me that English period dramas, such as Downton Abbey , didn't do very well in India because Bollywood dominated the market. We also discussed how Kane and Abel had been stolen by Bollywood without them even bothering to approach me or my agent. Another interesting fact from our conversation: there are now fewer Chinese and Russian villains in modern films, because those two countries are such important markets for Hollywood -- the new villains all come from North Korea.

The flight from Pune to Bangalore was at 4 a.m. with a planeful of bright-eyed Indian early-risers. I addressed the Institute of Management there and was amazed to learn over lunch with the principal that ten young people are killed every day in Mumbai crossing railway lines, many -- amazingly -- while taking selfies with the trains rushing up behind them. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.