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Gran Tan and the art of making ‘marijuana milkshakes’

American Writer Amy Tan once found herself sitting across from Barack Obama at a White House dinner table. “I hear you were in a band?” he asked her. “Yes,” she said, tongue-tied. “What were you?” “A dominatrix,” she replied. The conversation continued. Also at this table was the Chinese prime minister of Singapore with whom Tan- who was born to Chinese immigrant parents- spoke about an interesting book she had read in which a set of rich Chinese people who didn’t know what to do with their money who would do things like buy hotels. The PM graciously told her that he must read the book.
Later, she realised that she had not only been talking to one of the richest Chinese people around but also someone who was in that same book. Everytime Tan delivered such joyous and at times intense vignettes in her shy, understated manner, a few genteel shawl-clad women in the JLF audience swapped smiles and knowing glances reminded as they were of the Chinese-American women in Tan’s 1989 best-selling The Joy Luck Club who would part
with life stories over a game of Mahjong. At this packed morning session, Tan’s writerly friend, a yellow-scarf-sporting Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi- who sees the 66-year-old as his spiritual “grandmother”
who had raised him on a diet of “marijuana milkshakes”– introduced the writer as “Gran Tan”. Tan returned the nickname with: “And you are my grandest son.” For Tan- who turned writer at half the age she is now- the landmark moment came when she got a message about her mother having had a heart attack. She thought her mother was dying which begged her to ask of herself what she had left unsaid or unheard. While that question inspired her to write, Tan revealed that her mother- a smart woman who could condense and convey many of life’s truths in broken English and who once held a meat cleaver to Tan’s neck in a fit of rage- had not in fact had a heart attack. The pain in her ribs had occurred when she leaned over “to argue with a fish monger,” said Tan.
The writer even spoke about her friendship with actor Steve Martin who once wrote her an email saying he was losing weight because he couldn’t stop running in the gym till he finished her audio book, her rapport with the creator of The Simpsons and the time she was part of a rock band named Rock Bottom Remainders whose performance once got a hilarious review from Don Henley of the late rock band The Eagles. The shows would end with Tan whipping men in the end with a whiplash. “That’s not going to happen today,” clarifed Shanghvi.
Source : timesofindia



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