Thursday, August 6, 2015


Writers block and Murakami

There are days when I feel like writing but do not know what to write. At such times I remember Haruki Murakami’s ‘What I talk about when I talk about Running’. He has been an inspiration for my writing, specially helping me during those famous “Writers’ blocks”. Whenever I feel that may be I am not ‘gifted’, his voice fills me up, “the problem with talent is that in most cases the person involved cannot control its amount or quality. You might find that the amount isn’t enough and you want to increase it, or you might try to be frugal to make it last longer, but in neither case do things work out that easily. Talent has a mind of its own and wells up when it wants to, and once it dries up, that’s it”. Coming from a master, this is quite a solace! He quotes the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler who once confessed that “even if he did not write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated… this is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his will power” . This always propels me to go ahead when I feel I can’t. While considering his careers as a marathon runner and a novelist, he has given a very interesting and technical comparison, “For me, writing a novel is like climbing a steep mountain, struggling up the face of the cliff, reaching the summit after a long and arduous ordeal. You overcome your limitations, or you don’t, one or the other. I always keep that inner image with me as I write”. And further… “I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day…When writing, I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly”. Addressing the monotony that sets in after writing a few pages, he has quoted Somerset Maugham, “In every shave lies a philosophy…No matter how mundane some actions might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes contemplative, even meditative act”. And finally the words of encouragement, “there are people in the world (Only a handful, for sure) blessed with enormous talent that from beginning to end, doesn’t fade… But the giants are, in the end, giants-exceptional legendry figures. The remaining majority of writers, who cannot reach such heights, have to supplement what’s missing from their store of talent through whatever means they can-Focus and Endurance”…. Murakami puts himself in the second category!! Cheer up friends, we have chances!!



Even the best pencils come with an Eraser. Thus telling us ‘it is ok to make mistakes’. Why else someone would have invented as eraser in the first place. And even so, making mistakes is considered to be such a taboo. A five year old banging on the table in the fit of his newfound excitements and knocking off a glass shattering it to pieces is reprimanded for his mistake. Does it really make so much of a difference, when more objectivity would slot it just in the list of mistakes. Learning is good, disciplining is better and practicing is the best, but do any of these ensure perfection?
We make mistakes at every stage of our life. Our predicament lies in that there is no eraser invented as yet to fade out these painful moments off our life, less so, remove them. We choose the wrong path, very often even the wrong relationships; we hurt people and frequently invest in wrong people and things. Unfortunately, we are expected to live carrying the burden of these mistakes all through. It would make an idiot out of us to confess our mistakes. So we hide them and at time continue with them in one desperate attempt to prove ourselves right.
Can we take a few moments and think of the day we made our first attempt to scribble legibly. An ‘A’ for the first time was almost like a crooked nose. We erased and tried again. This time it was less crooked, but still a nose. So we erased and tried again till we reached near perfection. Does this light up a bulb inside us? An appreciation of the fact that we are living each moment of our life for the first time. Every endeavor- to learn, to earn, to love, to own, to be a spouse, a parent to be responsible, each one of them , is a first time try and we can make mistakes…. We are allowed to use an eraser of wisdom, wipe out what we can and continue writing, with new confidence and without a trace of guilt…like we have enjoyed erasing our first ‘A”.


Are we Normal

Last week my staff at the counseling Centre was disgusted to notice tobacco spit on our signboard. This week, it was repeated again. People have the habit to spit tobacco saliva in every nook and corner in this country, but it has to be at least “nook and corner”!! Given that our signage is posted well three feet above the ground level and on beautiful granite tiled wall in an office complex that hosts educational and service organizations, it was difficult to give benefit of doubt to anyone, how much so ever addicted to tobacco and spitting he may be!!! And this is just one of the incidences. Few days back there was shoe imprint on the signage!! Please remember that this victimized sign board is sitting silently three feet above ground on a private property. Patriotism considered, how does one explain any of these under any of the given parameters of love thy countrymen?? Having travelled almost over half the world, I refrain from comparing India with any other nation just to avoid the “what do you think of yourself” glance. But it becomes difficult to turn away your eyes every time you see people throwing all kinds of waste in public places, spitting at every possible place, throwing cigarette stubs right where they stand and the list goes on. Even if I give a consideration to the illiterate poor of this country who lack basic education and amenities, how to tolerate the so called urban elites? The posh washrooms in organizations are usually reeking and wet and stained, just outside the work place and beautiful houses there are heaps of foul smelling garbage, vehicles are parked in the most haphazard manner with no consideration for the other road users, every single person whether a pedestrian or a rider or a driver considers his/her birth right to occupy the very centre of the road, to block the left turns, to cut across speeding vehicles, to run through traffic signals…Hey! Is this all Normal? And then we take pride in criticizing the authorities in swish parties where we leave another heap of garbage and tell tale signs of our drunken rendezvous. I insist my children to take every piece of wrappers and shreds to garbage disposals, I have seen few more parents do that, but most still are worried about having clean cars and homes at the cost of public places. I do not know how you look at this, but I really feel the need to check out- Are we a normal country, to witness and tolerate and turn a blind eye towards everything around us and even contribute?



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The B factor

Today as I walked the tracks at the park, an unknown face extended a few smiles. Giving myself a lesson on two on my forgetfulness, I continued. Shortly, as I was about to leave, she approached me with an even bigger smile. “Hi, are you from this place? We have recently shifted to the city”. A wave of relief swept me. I would not be put under scanner to scratch my memory in the Guess who game. But by then something else was ready for me. She continued, “You are very beautiful, I was wondering if you have a younger sister. You see my son is of marriageable age. I am looking for a good match for him. If not your sister can you suggest someone like you”…Hey stop, I Don’t even know you, for that matter you do not know me at all…I was confused beyond measure, but before I could react , she extended an open invitation for tea and left. As a stared at her back I was stunned by what had just happened. She did not know me, and yet she wanted a daughter in law like me, I mean one who would look like me. How much we are smitten by the B factor. In this particular case, Beauty did seem to be the first and single most important factor for choosing a spouse or a daughter in law. I then thought about the many beautiful daughters in law in my acquaintance who are constantly criticized for something or other especially for not adjusting to the ‘in law’s’ way of life. Is the criteria of compatibility and adjustment even given a thought while match making? And if not, then why all the complaints? You have a good looking daughter in law/wife you can flaunt and who would ensure beautiful Progeny . You did get what you asked for. Does that leave any place to complain for anything else that did not come with the package when you had not specified those needs while ordering?



The day we receive the news of the arrival of our 1st child, apart from the joy and excitement, one major emotion that is experienced is ANXIETY. The responsibility of being the one in-charge of bringing a new life to this world and to live up to the expectations of God Almighty who has reposed his highest trust in us, seems too daunting a task.

As the child arrives, we gear up to give our 100% to ensure that our child grows up with the best of everything we can provide. We ensure the best of formal education, clothes, toys and nutrition, so much so that, we try to be there to handle every problem they land themselves into.

However, as we are doing that, (or at least trying our best) we are overwhelmed by the innumerable worldly matters. Our race for survival and that to make our child comfortable in this big bad world puts our main objectives behind the curtains. What we end up creating is a generation laced up with decorative degrees, designer wear and flights of dreams. Does it ever occur to us…what happens to the apples of our eyes when they are faced with adversities, fierce competition, back-stabbing, frustration of failures, demanding hardships, difficult decisions and insensitive environments….and all this when we may not be around by their sides all the times, to provide a buffer for them to endure it all.

What are we giving to our children to prepare them for that day?

Every time we buy them new clothes, a pair of foot wear or the toy that he put his finger on, we need to ask ourselves—when he is on his own, would he be able to make the right decision? Would he understand the right and the wrong? Can he stand for his own rights? And if he is not able to give shape to his dreams, can he still march forward without falling prey to frustrations???

And one question for ourselves - Can we afford to ignore the ever-increasing rate of addictions, crimes, suicides and homicides among the youngsters under the petty pretence that it cannot happen to us? Can we also ignore their ever increasing demands, unreasonable expectations, indecisiveness, over indulgence, self centeredness, lack of confidence, aggressiveness, low self esteem attention drawing behavior and more?
After all it is the most important person in our life that we are talking about.

We almost always know the answers to these questions, however, what we need to do is start looking for answers for some more questions, and being realistic, help our children create a new world for themselves:
1. Is the formal education preparing my child for the real world?
2. What is the missing link between the education, my love and the real world?
3. What can I do to bridge this gap and make parenting a fulfilling experience?

Lets get together and discuss this as a forum of conscious parents
Instead of a fish give your child a fishing rod!!!

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