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Do you want to know why ants don’t wear shoes? Well, come to KLM and ask Musharraf Ali Farooqi!

The Pakistani-Canadian writer is the author of The Cobbler’s Holiday: or Why Ants Don’t Wear Shoes, a children’s picture book, and much more.

Better known for his translation of the Urdu epic Hoshruba, Farooqi will discuss with author Philip Hensher the upheavals and subtle shifts that accompany the birth of a nation, on January 30 at KLM. The next day, Farooqi will be in conversation with Javed Akhtar and Ali Sethi on Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto’s continued relevance.

Born in 1968 and brought up in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Farooqi published the critically appreciated novel, Between Clay And Dust, last year. It’s a unique story about a pehelwaan (wrestler) and a tawaif (courtesan), exponents of two art forms that have lost their glory. His 2008 novel The Story of a Widow was shortlisted for the 2011 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

On the other end of the literary spectrum, Farooqi pens tales for children, including The Amazing Moustaches of Moochhander the Iron Man and Other Stories and The Cobbler’s Holiday. Boy, are we glad he left his engineering studies to become a writer!

On the question of quirky questions, here’s one more — Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai?

The maker of this iconic Naseeruddin Shah film, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, will take the KLM stage on February 1 to discuss extremists, moderates and their writings with Ali Sethi and Azad Essa.

The 69-year-old screenwriter, director and producer is credited with giving Indian parallel cinema a whole new meaning. He’s the maker of films like Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho!, Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro and Naseem. Most Indians (okay, most older Indians) know him as the director of the loveable TV serial Nukkad.

Mirza has won three National Awards. His last film Naseem (1995) was set against the collapsing secular structure in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition. Mirza lives in Mumbai and Goa with his wife Jennifer.

When a book’s called The Moslems are Coming, you suspect the author has a wacky sense of humour. Or he’s seriously twisted. People who know Azad Essa say he’s both!

Born in South Africa of Indian-origin parents, Essa is a journalist with the Al Jazeera Network and an avid blogger. His book The Moslems are Coming: Encounters with a Desktop Terrorist, according to The New York Times, “is nothing if not irreverent, politically incorrect and defiantly subversive, not to mention hilarious”.

The book deals with everything from unemployment and football to climate change and Somali refugees, odd bits of Bollywood and racism thrown in for good measure.

Essa calls Durban home but is currently based in Doha. He has reported from Kenya, Somalia, the DR Congo and Senegal.

At KLM, Essa will participate in a session titled “Evolution of a Revolution” with Egyptian-origin writer Ahdaf Soueif and Iraqi author-activist Haifa Zangana. Later that day, Essa will discuss extremists, moderates and their writings with Pakistani author Ali Sethi and filmmaker Saeed Akhtar Mirza.

The author of Kari and Adi Parva, this is one looker! She’s also well-known as a painter, often lauded for her innovation, be it her visual styles or charcoal illustrations. Amruta Patil also works with acrylics and collages, her panels acknowledging her literary and artistic heroes. Recurring themes in her work include memento mori, sexuality, myths, sustainable living and the oral tradition of storytelling. Adi Parva is the first part of a trilogy based on The Mahabharata, the Puranas and storytelling. Growing up in an army background and spending most of her time in Goa, Patil is a nature lover. She loves history too and her works show how deep she digs in. Patil will be seen discussing this love of hers and her interest in ancient epics and how this generation seeks to interpret it, with young American author Madeline Miller and author-academic Supriya Chaudhuri on February 3 at KLM.

Bringing out Shrilal Shukla’s contribution to Hindi literature, Gillian Wright will discuss some of his prominent works with author Amitabha Bagchi and senior police officer-author M.K. Singh on January 31 at KLM. Wright, a journalist and author who works for television and radio in New Delhi, is better known for her translation of two modern Hindi classics — Shukla’s Raag Darbari and Rahi Masoon Reza’s Adha Gaon (published by Penguin India as A Village Divided).

Her other books include Hill Stations of India, The Darjeeling Tea Book and Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Wright has collaborated with Mark Tully on all his books, including No Full Stops in India, Heart of India and India in Slow Motion.

Born in the UK in 1957, Wright studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, and visited India for the first time in 1977. She has since spent more than 20 years here and her recent radio productions include Hour, a documentary on the Mahakumbh Mela of 2001, and a documentary on the Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta to Delhi.