For those who’ve read Istanbul, his memoir of the city where he grew up, listening to Orhan Pamuk Jaipur was in parts like listening to the audiobook in the author's own voice.
We have read how difficult it was for the Nobel laureate to get published in Turkey; how Pamuk the "failed painter" becoming a successful author; about his love for art from the past. But something was still missing in Jaipur with the man holding forth.
It was only when the focus shifted to The Museum of Innocence, Pamuk’s 2008 novel about an upper class man falling in love with a girl outside his social mileau and how he builds a museum of her belongings, that the bright Friday Jaipur morning got livelier. "The human heart is the same everywhere. Human life is not," said the 58-year-old while talking about love, a topic that instantly lights him up. But Pamuk doesn’t believe in romanticising love. "Putting love on a pedestal is what pop songs do. I did not want to do it. I chronicled what men do when they fall in love — and it’s usually not good," he said with a smirk.
On being asked if he is Kemal, the protagonist-curator of The Museum of Innocence, a brisk ‘no’ followed. But he agreed that everyone is a 'collector' of love. "Every man falls in love and gathers things… gets attached to objects to preserve the past and transfer love."
Pat came another question from the audience: “So is love in real life the same as it is depicted in The Museum of Innocence? Something deeper and not sexual?”
“It depends on the penetration,” replied the author breaking into laughter.