Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Why I Blog?/ Why I Write?

I was happily blogging and asking my friends to read them and give their feedback. Everything was going smooth and I was getting a lot of good suggestions on improving my writing style and choice of topics, when right out of the blue, one of my colleagues posed a question-"Mahesh tell me why do you write?" I was silent, why did she ask this question all of a sudden, I thought for a while and said"I will answer this question through a post on my blog." So that is how I landed up writing this post.

Her question made me reflect on a lot of things, my childhood, my friends, my uncle, my school, my English teachers; all small factors that have shaped me into what I am today. I remember my English teachers in M.P. Birla School. Kolkatta. The first teacher who made a lasting impresion on me was Ms Rekha Gopinath. She was a Malayali and was an excellent teacher, all students in my class liked her and we used to eagerly wait for the third period of the day-English. She was a tall, dark lady and had a clear voice. I still remember the poems that we had in our Radiant Reader text books. She used to give us small assignments, essays to be writtten describing our weekends. It was fun and I believe the reason why I began to develop an interest in English, was those assignments that Rekha madam used to give us.

When I reached Class VIII, we had a English teacher who was a man. For the first time we were going to have men who were strict and carried a wooden scale or cane with them. We had Maths sirs, but the concept of a man teaching English was alien to us. He was Mr. Joseph Vincent, again a Malayali, and he really inspired me to study English with an almost religious fervour. He used to come in full shirts and Raymonds trousers and a silk tie, as they have in boarding schools in England. He was strict and we used to be afraid of him. But he was an excellent teacher and I still remember him teaching "Merchant of Venice," which was incidentally the first full length Shakespeare play that I studied. Then I shifted to small non-descript town in Tamil Nadu, called Tiruvallur.

The change from a bustling metropolis to a small town was drastic. But I was fortunate to study in a school, which has some excellent English teachers. I studied in Sri Venkateswara Matriculation School, and the two teachers are Mr.N.Nagarathinam and Mr.V.S. Shiva. Both of them were excellent teachers, Shiva sir was a simple man and I have only seen him wear a white cotton shirt and a light colored trouser. He was a true follower of Gandhiji and led a simple and unpretentious life. Each and every student of Venkateswara School respects and admires Shiva sir and he is a living encyclopaedia, who can speak on any topic under the sun.
When I completed my schooling it came as a big surprise to my teachers when I did not write the Engineering/Medical Entrance and just applied for a course in English Literature. I got admission in R.K.M. Vivekananda College, at Mylapore in Chennai. It is a college that has an illustrious past and many of its former students are heading many companies across the world. In college I was influenced by two professors in first year. One was Mr. K.Venkatramana Rao and the other was B.Suresh. Both of them were excellent educators, and told us to cultivate the art of writing. In high-school, I had started participating in Creative Writing competitions, and college-life gave me the perfect opportunity to visit lots of colleges and take part in many competitions. I particularly cherish memories of Coffee House (Loyola College Literature Fest) and competitions in Madras Christian and Women's Christian College. All this while I was writing short stories and poems and in the span of the three years that I was in college, I wrote about fifty poems and some twenty short stories. I had decided that I would be a novelist and would write novels in the vein of the works of Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth. I dreamt of headlines, which proclaimed the super-duper sales of my novels, movie adaptations awards and lots of money.

I was all set to pursue my M.A. from Madras University, when I attended a Campus Interview in college. It was for selecting students who would be placed as Instructional Designers. The designation was new and unheard of, and I decided to take the written test alongwith 750 other students. At the end of the day, it turned out that only two out of those 750 students were selected and I was one of them. I had a job and a decent salary. Well all plans of a regular postgraduate course disappeared and I started working as an Instructional Designer. It took some time to adjust to the corporate world.It was like starting a long journey in a desolate jungle. Slowly I started writing courses and I began to enjoy my work. Thus writing short stories and poems transformed into writing full fledged courses on different topics for an audience whom I would never meet. It was an indeed fascinating experience, and I am still working as an Instructional Designer, but in a different organization.

Now to answer the question-"Why I write?". Well I really don't know, maybe it has to do something with my childhood. I was a very shy and silent boy. I had very few friends, but I loved animals a lot. I used to enjoy the company of dogs, cats and cows more than boys and girls. I loved playing with puppies, and I remember the scoldings that my mother used to give me. She used to say-"Even if you spend half the time that you play with your dogs in your studies you will top your class." I never did that and consequently never topped my class. I used to love Enid Blyton as a kid and used to fantasise about a world of talking animals, toys and dragons and princes. I used to write very small poems, of four to ten lines about my teachers, classmates and my favourite Enid Blyton characters. I wrote the following poem, when I was in the third standard.

GOOD OLD FATTY
I wish I was like you.
I wish I was like you Fatty.
Good old Fatty, eating icecreams,
And solving mysteries.
Playing with Buster and his four friends.
Wish I had a doggie like Buster and a friend like Bets.

This was based on the principal character of The Five Find-Outers series written by EnidBlyton. There were many such small poems and some mystery stories modelled on the adventures of Famous Five. My first recognition came when I won an Inter-School Story writing competition for students of class five, six and seven. There was no specific topic, we were given a word limit of two thousand words. I wrote a science fiction story titled"The Submersible," based on Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. When the prizes were announced, I was shocked, I had never thought that I would win. I got a certificate and a book-"The Hound of Baskervilles" as the prize. After that I participated in a number of competitions right till I finished college and won a number of prizes. I believe that the first prize that I won acted as a catalyst, and I thought why not write, I can get more prizes. Initially it was the prize factor that prompted me to write. Then there were magazines like Gokulam, Tinkle and Chandamama that offered cash and free subscriptions as prizes. In college, I read the works of George Orwell and realized the might of the pen. I thought I would complete my post graduation and become a journalist. I still might become one, you never know.

I write because I love writing, I blog because it gives me an opportunity to express my views on the things happening around me. My articles are read by my friends and other people whom I have never met, they share their comments and we have healthy discussions. We may not solve the problems in the world, but the discussions do clear the misconceptions that any of us might have had. Sometimes it becomes a tool, which enables me to vent out all my frustrations and anger. On completing the article I feel refreshed and regain my tranquility. To conclude, I write because my heart directs me to write, and my mind prompts me to write what my heart directs me to write.
By the way this is my hundredth post.
Happy Reading and thanks for all the suggestions and encouragement.

4 comments:

Sai Kothai said...

:-) smile, smile, smile.

what should i say? i read your post from start to end. it had the lightness of a summer sky, the agility of the wind, the broodishness (if there is any such word) of a fuzzy afternoon and the quietness of unsaid love. i liked it - really.
you write like a child - and that's the dearest way of placing words in order. may be you don't have the best of the words, but you say the most of what you see or cannot see.
this post reminds me of the book 'Catcher in the Rye' and also 'The Little Prince'. although it differs in essence (not so radical or outspoken in spirit), it had the same appeal - like touching a glass.
You are such a paradox, when it comes to writing! I wonder how you've managed to have so much of poise and yet retain ....how should I put it...the way a puppy looks up and stares at you as if it waiting to hear from you...something like that..
keep writing...and keep the green bough in your heart until the singing bird arrives :-)

Sai Kothai said...

:-) smile, smile, smile.

what should i say? i read your post from start to end. it had the lightness of a summer sky, the agility of the wind, the broodishness (if there is any such word) of a fuzzy afternoon and the quietness of unsaid love. i liked it - really.
you write like a child - and that's the dearest way of placing words in order. may be you don't have the best of the words, but you say the most of what you see or cannot see.
this post reminds me of the book 'Catcher in the Rye' and also 'The Little Prince'. although it differs in essence (not so radical or outspoken in spirit), it had the same appeal - like touching a glass.
You are such a paradox, when it comes to writing! I wonder how you've managed to have so much of poise and yet retain ....how should I put it...the way a puppy looks up and stares at you as if it waiting to hear from you...something like that..
keep writing...and keep the green bough in your heart until the singing bird arrives :-)

Aswin said...

I agree with Sai, you wrote thi spost like a child(not in the negative sense). I used the word "Child" because a child always explains anything in detail and never tries to exaggerate thus revealing exactly what it saw.

I read your post and enjoyed it a lot. Infact, you and I share the same taste of Magazines such as Gokulam, Tinkle, I don't know whether you read WISDOM, Chandamama etc.

Well, i can't give my opinion on the full post because that would take some 100 words to do so.

I end by stating this," this was a very long, but truly a lovely post. You could have split this post into two parts, Anyways Good job Dude!"
The only difference is that i don't write, i just read.

Sai Kothai said...

i meant the use of "child" in a very different sense. much more than detail, it's the quaint watchfulness and sordid speculation with all the uncertainty about it - like the air - all seen in a child's eyes.

perhaps, mahesh understood this meaning of expectancy and discovery. you know, waiting has a lot to do with humility and laying aside some precious things...in order to capture a small moment.

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