1. You are a scientist. Outside of Science & Technology, what are your interests? What type of books you read?
Collection of Rare Books. I have a collection of about 18,000 rare books at home which I have classified myself using Universal Decimal Classification. The books I read generally fall under the category, Relgious/Spiritual and Self-Improvement. Particularly, Vedas and Puranas.
2. 18,000 books! How do you manage to preserve them? They occupy space, attract dust, cobwebs collect and all sorts of tiny insects make them their home. Then they become a real health hazard. My own personal library is small (about 3000 books). I find it very difficult to keep them. I have to earn the wrath of my family members for the above-mentioned botherations they pose. Do you have any paid employees to dust and preserve them? Or at least you need some volunteers to help you. How do you really manage?
Books require light and air to survive. Each book is to be flipped at least once a year. Books are placed in steel racks as seen in the photo above. There are three rooms (250 sq.ft. each) with windows. Each window is fixed with removal Netlan. The door is always closed. Exhaust fan is provided in each room with Netlan trap. So only relatively dust-free air enters the rooms.
An aerosol (like Pest Seal) is sprayed at night after closing all the openings. The rooms are kept open for 2 to 3 hours in the morning. This can be done once in 4 months. This way the rooms will be free from insects.
Some of the books are provided with a brown or plastic wrapper.
3. What book did you read last?
At present, I am reading ‘The Mahabharata’ in Tamil, published by Shri M.V.Ramanujachariyar of Kumbakonam. It runs to 18 volumes consisting of more than 8,000 pages.
4. You are a busy man. How do you find time to read books or when do you generally read books? Is there a specific time which you devote to books?
You can find time if you really want to. I have allotted 7.30 to 8.30 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. for books and reading.
5. Which is your all-time favourite book?
‘Ponniyin Selvan’ of Kalki (a famous Historical Tamil novel) in Fiction and How to win Friends and influence People by Dale Carnegie in Non-Fiction.
6. Who is your favourite author?
KALKI (Popular Tamil Writer) and RAJAJI (who wrote in English and Tamil) are my favourite authors.
7. Is there an unforgettable book in your life?
‘Autobiography of U.V.Swaminatha Iyer’ and Biography of ‘Meenakshisundaram Pillai’ by U.V.Swaminatha Iyer.
8. Why do you call them unforgettable?
For their lucidity. Further, they are the best biographies in Tamil.
9. Is there a book which you read again and again?
‘Mahabharatam’ by Rajaji (Tamil version)
10. Is there a book or books which you feel everybody should read?
Everybody should read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.