Spies and conspiracies are the most consumed fiction plots. Shrouded in mystery, personality oriented stories fuel our need to vicariously live our fantasies. When two people, one who has lived a spy’s life while the other who has helped many live ones via his book, discuss espionage and terror, only the most mind-boggling anecdotes could come out of it.

Ravi Joshi, a spy trader with RAW and Mr Ravi Shankar Etteth a notable fiction writer came together to discuss the latter’s latest release, The Brahmin.

Mr Etteth in his description of the book discusses the journey of archetypical characters, the mysterious anti-hero or the sexy sword-wielding female sidekick. Moving beyond the fallacies of the stereotypes set in the book, the book may seem like an alluring entertainer, setting itself during the Ashoka empire. How does a man who took the most violent path towards kingship be deterred by the bloodshed in a war; at a time when wars were customary and normalised?

He tries to decode the political journey and the revamped branding of a person. The origin of personality politics perhaps. He categorically states,” history is hypocritical”. History has elevated this man on a pedestal, attributed the origins of the most peaceful religion to him in the subcontinent. But Mr Etteth sees it as a chance to cut through the fluff. A religion was the source of his power. He brandished Buddhism as a powerful tool to keep together his terrorised subjects. It was a weapon to gain mass popularity and, another the origin of another aspect of current politics, religious politics.

While the story did become a part of the discussion, anecdotes of real-life espionage took centre stage. Was it about the changing spy capitals of the world or the breeding ground of the KGB in London, the dynamics of pre and post-cold war spy trades or the love-hate relationship that the CIA and KGB share.

The Russian triumphs in the Manhattan Project, the 26/11 and the intelligence inputs involved or the transition of a spy into a killer. A session which was so fuelled by personal encounters that the audience was left in awe. Maybe our own brush with espionage.


About the Author: At 19, Deepika Aiyer is an avid reader, crazy kdrama fan and loves to explore the What ifs of the world in her spare time.She currently writes for Bookstalkist.