Anjum Hasan began her writing stint with ‘Street on the Hill’, a compilation of poems, followed by her debut novel, ‘Lunatic in my Head.’ Then came ‘Neti, Neti’ which was long listed for the Man Asian Literary prize in 2008. Her latest book is ‘Difficult Pleasures,’ a collection of short stories about the need to escape and the longing to belong. She talks to {LBBD}’s Neha Kirpal about travel, amongst other things, a passion they both share.

LBBD | Let’s begin with you telling us about your favourite place in the world.

Anjum | My favourite place at the moment is Coorg, to which my writer husband and I occasionally escape in order to sit down and get some work done. My desk in our Coorg house faces the hills, and as someone who grew up in the hills and is happiest near them, I can’t really ask for more!

LBBD | Sounds lovely! So what are some of the essential things you carry with you on holiday?

Anjum | A lightweight notebook, soulful music on my MP3 player, and comfortable walking shoes.

LBBD | Who, according to you, would make an ideal travel companion (historical, fictional, dead, or alive)?

Anjum | CY Gopinath. His book, ‘Travels with the Fish’ is an underrated classic about world travel, raconteuring, eating and sharing recipes, and submitting to the wisdom of his armchair traveler friend and alter-ego, the Fish. It is one of the funniest Indian travel books around.

LBBD | Tell us about your most memorable holiday.

Anjum | Arriving sick and tired on a night train from Delhi to Jodhpur, waking up the next morning and climbing to the roof of the hotel and seeing this most stunning vista – an enormous medieval fort that looks like some natural formation and a town full of blue houses. Few views in the world beat that.

LBBD | And what place would you like to visit next?

Anjum | China. I was meant to go recently, but it didn’t work out so I have an unrequited yearning for China.

LBBD | When do you feel most free?

Anjum | Walking around in the streets of Bangalore, Shillong, or Coorg – the three places that I live in simultaneously in my head, and sequentially in time. Relative to other Indian cities and towns, all these three places are kind to women, which helps a great deal.

LBBD | What is the one thing you are afraid of?

Anjum | My subconscious, which is where all the unpleasant things go to hide. It can sometimes throw up nasty surprises.

LBBD | And what is the one thing that keeps you awake at night?

Anjum | The suspicion that whatever I’m writing is crap.

LBBD | Who is the one person you would choose to be stuck with in a lift with?

Anjum | EM Forster. I cannot think of a more delightful writer. And since he is gay, I would not need to worry about his thoughts wandering in an inappropriate direction.

LBBD | Lastly, if you had the power to go back in time, what would you change?

Anjum | Growing up in Shillong, I would have loved to travel more in the northeast. I feel that’s a big gap in my education, which I hope to fill some day.