We caught up with economist, author and Darjeeling fan Sanjeev Sanyal, who’s speaking at the Jaipur Lit Fest this weekend. His latest non-fiction book, “The Ocean of Churn – How the Indian Ocean Shaped Indian History”, was released in 2016 and is a book that most of you will enjoy. Especially if you’ve felt that Indian history has for too long ignored the lay reader, insisting on keeping up the academic gloss or paraochial baggage depending on who was writing it – the Indian or the Western historian. In Sanjeev’s book, maritime history becomes the vast canvas on which a riveting tale is narrated. I recommend this book paired with a classic Darjeeling, maybe even one of Sanjeev’s personal favorites.
 
Here’s a Q&A with Sanjeev Sanyal about his everyday routine.
 
Are you an early riser or a night owl?
I am definitely a night owl. I live in Singapore where days are hot and sticky, but evenings are always pleasant. When I am not in a city, however, I quite like the mornings. 
 
What’s your morning routine like?
I drag myself to the balcony and survey the outside, sip my first cup of Darjeeling and then switch on the laptop to see what is happening on the world. 
 
How many cups of tea a day? And how much of a purist are you?
One in the morning and one late afternoon on most days, but happy to have more if I am in  cold location. I like Darjeeling – second flush if possible – no milk but a dash of sugar. Makaibari or Lopchu are my favorite gardens. I prefer the tea to brew a bit longer than most and like a slight bitterness in the aftertaste. 
 
Are you a solitary tea drinker or prefer conversation with it? What’s your favorite activity to accompany a cup of tea?
I drink tea both alone and in company. I drink while reading, chatting with my wife after work, or just looking at a river flowing by. 
 
 Do you write everyday? Where, what time, and how much?
I write in bursts rather than regularly. I have other professions, so this is unavoidable. So, I may not write anything for weeks and then write a chapter over a weekend (of course, I may be writing columns and other things in the middle). However, as a non-fiction writer, my books are research-heavy. So, it is the reading rather than the writing that takes more time. 
 
What’s on your work table?
I have a work table but I really work on my couch or my favorite leather chair in my study. All the tables in my study are piled up with books of all kinds. 
The Ocean of Churn and Sanjeev Sanyal, its author.
The Ocean of Churn and Sanjeev Sanyal, its author.
 
How do you deal with interruptions when you are working?
If I am doing something with a close deadline, I can get irritated but generally I can take breaks and get back quite easily. My real problem is remembering to get up and go for appointments just when I am really into something. There is no one to blame as I had agreed to the appointments in the first place. 
 
What are you reading now? 
I read multiple books simultaneously. Right now I am on “Nation at Play” by my friend Ronojoy Sen, “A History of the Crusades” by Staven Ranciman, “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics” by Richard Thaler. Am also re-reading a couple of books by the philosopher Karl Popper. 

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