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    From a novel to a Pondy encyclopedia, P Raja has his hands full.

    NEWLY retired English Professor P Raja is in a reminiscent mood.  A Portable, a hardbound compendium of his writings in English over 30 years will be launched this evening by the People for Pondicherry Heritage. “It all began by accident!” he grins.
    Posted at a government arts college in Karaikal for his first job in 1975, Raja had plenty of time to kill—and was egged by his superior to write for the college magazine. “I was pushed to write, but once I began, there was no looking back.” The piece was re-published in a local newspaper which requested more articles; he then started contributing to other Pondicherry publications including the Ashram’s Mother India magazine. Those articles were re-published in US journals and dollars began to trickle in, which spurred him to send his short stories to leading Indian newspapers like Statesman and The Indian Express. Enthused by the reception, he published his first book of poems in 1987, From Zero to Infinity.  “It was a good time to be a writer,” recalls Raja who now has his own publishing house, Busy Bee Books.
    “I have dabbled in all genres of literature— poetry, short stories, essays and plays,” the bilingual writer smiles with satisfaction. It is the best of these writings from over 33 English titles that has been edited by KV Raghupathi, professor at the Central University of Tamil Nadu.  Raja who is anticipating the release of his first English novel (a family drama set in French India), is also working on a five volume encyclopedia of Pondicherry.
    A Portable (Reliance Pubishing House) will be launched at Palais de Mahe, Rue Bussy at 6.30 pm. Special price of ` 500 (MRP ` 995), Details: professorraja.com

    —Olympia Shilpa Gerald

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