What’s Up!

It’s nice to get back to this space, sharing things with a
space which is yours, yet very public. I am enjoying the Delhi winters, which I
missed for the last two years. The winter is just beginning to get painfully
cold, but still it’s not what it used to be in the December of may be 3 years
ago. Just hoping that the temperatures continue to fall down!

My schedule these days somehow reminds me of school. I leave
for office at 8:45 and come back home by 7 pm. When I drive to the office in
the morning, through the fog, it is a great feeling to see other bikers leaving
for their offices, battling the fog with me; everyone wrapped around with
jackets, mufflers and what not. It somehow looks like a uniform: Jackets, hand
gloves, mufflers, hand gloves and backpacks carrying laptops. Then I reach the warm
office. It is energetic to work in the first session, with energy levels
dipping considerably till lunch. Lunch is a nice time to leave work and have
food. Food or a meal in particular, has never been so exciting for me ever!

The best time of the day is the time I come back home after
office. This is where it is quite different from school days. No homework, no
exams, no assignments…it is time just for ME. Two things I have been doing a
lot are writing and reading. There is so much I spend on my desk, that it is very
satisfying when I get up for dinner.

Talking about books, I had always been interested in buying
books from cart-book stalls in local markets and similar spaces. But now when I
have started reading those books, I realise how fortunate I have been to get
such good books, just as a matter of chance.

I bought ‘Miracle in the Andes’ for 50 rupees at a sale in
CG Road, Ahmedabad. I had no idea about this incident. In 1972, the airplane ‘Fairchild’
crashed into the Andes. It was carrying a Uruguayan rugby team to Chile. It is
a story about how the survivors of the crash survived for 70 days with no
external support at all. For food, they ate the flesh of the people who died in
the same accident: their friends and relatives. The human struggle to survive
is quite strange at times. There are feelings and emotions with which we bond
with each other, but at the end we are all just bodies interacting with each
other. The author, Nando Parrado happens to be one of the survivors and he along
with Roberto walked for about 70 miles to reach the closest human civilisation.

‘Burnt Shadows’ is another book I picked up from the old
city in Delhi (for 100 bucks!) which has a story which begins from the bomb in
Nagasaki, to the Partition of India…moving to 9/11 and the Afghanistan of
post-9/11. It is amazing to think of such events happening in the same world,
leaving behind similar stories and similar tears. The author Kamilla Shamsie is
a Karachi based writer. And now when it’s been years after the partition, it is
tough for me to imagine that we were the same country once. There was a time
when going to Peshawar from Delhi was like going from Delhi to Nagpur. We were
one country!

Then I got a book from the Sunday market in Ahmedabad, ‘The
Mountain of Silence’ for just 20 rupees (The MRP printed on the book is 520.
Can you beat that!). This book, like the previous books turned out to be a
surprise package. The Cypriot author Kyriacos C. Markides questions the
existence of religion in a society which was started by man, and not God. Then
he slowly moves into things like meditation and similar things yet unknown to
mankind, figuring out that the idea of God is not what many people imagine it
to be. There are so many unanswered questions we live with. There are questions
about ourselves, questions about what’s beyond what we see.

I think… to buy knowledge you don’t need to go to those big
bookstores. It is right there on those little wooden carts, with the sellers of
the books, looking at the book’s thickness and judging the price.

So, apart from these wonderful explorations, there’s a new
short film I am editing about all the journeys I took in 2011, there’s a new
play called ‘Sanak’ I am writing and there are plans to travel to a new place,
soon. Sometimes it is nice to make plans, irrespective of the fact they work or not!

There is so much more to know. There is so much more to see…


Even I suddenly happened on a book sale and got books by Premchand, Chugtai, Pritam etc in Hindi!
That's really nice! I was at a station recently and I bought Premchand (Godan n Gaban) and Kalidas (Abhigyanshakuntalam). All in Hindi. It's really sad that KMC has Premchand in English.
I am sure after listening to that, Munshiji would have turned in his grave!

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