Thursday, June 5, 2014

Post #2500: Why do I write?

February 7, 2007 was when I started this blog. It was right towards the end of Class 10 back then, preparing for the all-important and extremely hyped board exam and also thinking about my future. The debate then, like with every middle class Indian household, was on a career choice between Engineering and Medicine, the two staples for a supposedly 'safe' future. Fast-forward to today and that seems to be a tale from another world - Civil Engineer, IITian (with a medal to boot), PhD candidate, traveler and an extremely opinionated political commentator. And yet, between those two worlds, there is a link: this blog.

So why do I write? Few know about my tryst with reading and writing. I've been a bookworm since I was in Class 1 and had some grasp on English. The first author that caught my attention was, like most Indian Anglophones, Enid Blyton and her Noddy series in particular (sadly, I can't remember the exact title). That's probably the first book I ever read. Fortunately, either due to my genes from my mother or my lack of effective social skills or both, it was not my last.

One series that proved to be a tipping point though was the Goosebumps books from RL Stine and Make Your Own Goosebumps in particular, because it was with that that I decided to actually write my own book. Also, it came with the added bonus that it would supposedly help me improve my pathetic handwriting (it didn't). And thus was created my first original piece of writing - I can't remember exactly, but I think it was in Class 3 - modeled on the popular horror series. I wrote on and off during my early years in Bombay, ably guided by the Amar Book Shop and Library in NOFRA and the library in The Scholar High School, Colaba, which loaned me popular works such as Tintin. Indeed, libraries have been an important part of my stay in any city. The last book I wrote before we left Bombay was an unfinished work titled Super Rangers, which was supposed to be a sequel to the popular Power Rangers cartoon on TV. Unfortunately, I never held on to any of those manuscripts.

The next few years saw a lull in my writing as I focused my energies on improving my pathetic public speaking skills (another little-known fact, but that's a story for another day). But my reading continued unabated. From Class 5 onward, I started peeking into the school section of the local newspaper and in Class 8, courtesy Windows Longhorn, I started reading the business pages. Within the year, I was reading the entire newspaper. And thus began my other journey from someone who had no idea that parties field candidates in elections to commenting on politics almost daily.

The next (and current) wave of writing was a consequence of technology. Blogs (web-logs) were becoming popular then. Back in Bombay, I maintained a diary for a year or so, recording the events of each day. I thought of restarting that project with Trouble of the Day, my first blog that, like most blogs, was short-lived. Then came the more light-hearted Today's Day and Best Quote. But again, all of these were short-lived. By this time though, my interest in journalism had begun and I wanted to write about the world around me. And thus, one night, was born Opinions 24x7, the name of course being modeled on NDTV 24x7. And since that day, it has lasted, recording the events of my life, my thoughts and my actions. I did write often and elsewhere in Roorkee, mainly in Kshitij and InDePTh, but my blog has always been my medium of choice.

Many people have asked me to give them 'tips' on improving their writing, no doubt to be used in various entrance exams. To be polite, I give them some stock suggestions, knowing full well that most of them will never be implemented. For myself though, the idea of writing has never been about an exam or a single publication. My journey with writing has been much like people's journeys with everything around them - born out of curiosity, moving ahead on the hopes of making it big someday, enabled by a conducive environment at home and finally becoming a fundamental part of who I am. I cannot identify a single trick I used to improve my writing but I can certainly trace my long journey to Post #2500.

Where do I go from here? Well, I would certainly continue to write but I would like to write in Hindi more often. It's fine being Anglophone, particularly given the number of Indian states and countries that I have been to, English being the lingua franca of much of the world, but there are just some things that you can only say in Hindi: it's an entire world that I have only had a fleeting glance into. Finding Hindi books to read in America will certainly be a challenge but it is worth trying. After all, writing itself was once a challenge for me. Today, it's like waking up! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why is there no comment yet....hahaha.....

I don't have much to say. It just felt good to read through that story.
Do talk about the public-speaking story too, some day. :)