Mr Smith tells a story

‘My Italian Bulldozer’, based on a true story, says writer Alexander McCall Smith


Alexander McCall Smith at Jaipur Literature Festival. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Alexander McCall Smith at Jaipur Literature Festival. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

The award for the best entertainer of Day 1 of the Jaipur Literature Festival goes to writer Alexander McCall Smith for keeping the audience in splits with his stories. One such was on his new book, My Italian Bulldozer.

Every now and then, Smith said, he likes to get away from his regular life in order to write. So, he decided to head to Montecchio in Italy for a couple of weeks. It’s known for its fine wines.

On the flight from Edinburgh to Pisa, he befriended an Italian businessman and had a delightful time chatting with him. They bid goodbye when the plane landed and Smith headed to the car rental from which he’d already booked a car, confirmatory email in hand.

The car rental, however, claimed no record of the transaction. In any case, all cars were booked, they informed him. As he argued with them, his new friend walked past, and hearing of the situation, offered to take him to a friend who, too, ran a car rental. However, there were no cars there as well, but the chap at the office kindly offered a bulldozer that was available.

Smith took it, and that was his ride for the next two weeks. “It was wonderful. Drivers in Italy are respectful of bulldozers. And I got a good view of the surrounding features of the countryside,” he said. “And if there were any features you didn’t like...,” he broke off laughing.

At the end of the conversation with author William Dalrymple, Smith confessed, “This true story is not true though.”

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