Khushwant Singh, who celebrated his 93rd birthday on August 15, 2008, is India’s best-known writer and columnist. He has been editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India and the Hindustan Times. His books include the novels Train To Pakistan and Delhi, as well as the classic two-volume A History of the Sikhs.
But it is his short stories, brimming with fun, malice and vividly-drawn characters, that first established his reputation as a writer. Most of them are, as he admits, "based on real people I got to know well...people full of arrogance and self-importance, posers, gasbags, braggarts, name droppers, hypocrites. I encourage them to talk about themselves...I change their names, put them in different situations, and add some mirch masala to spice up my stories as I put them on paper."
I looked forward to her visits because she had nothing nice to say about anyone. Since I was inclined the same way, in...