The most striking thing about Thomas Keneally is how lightly he wears his genius. The author of the deadly serious and incredibly moving Schindler’s Ark (adapted by Steven Spielberg to screen as the multiple Oscar winning Schindler’s List) came out to Goa a few weeks ago. My friends Raj and Dipti Salgaocar hosted him at supper in Vasco. At drinks, under an autumnal sky of crystal clarity, a beautiful young lady invited him to dance. “Bollywood dancing,” she phrased it. He gamely agreed. The French bombshell and the decorated Australian novelist swirled on the lawns to Kabira. He was a day short of his 79th birthday. He had another scotch. Later, he told me his granddaughter taught him one of his life’s greatest lessons. At the opening of a centre in his name and honour, she gave the name plaque one good look and whispered to her celebrated grandfather: “You got to be kidding.” Genius. Wear it lightly. Because your grandchildren are always there to remind you it’s all a joke.
(At dinner, in Goa, as the picture evidences, Keneally had the ladies charmed).
(Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi is the author of The Last Song of Dusk and honorary director, Sensorium 2014, a festival of arts, literature and ideas hosted at Sunaparanta, Goa)