Thursday, November 22, 2007

the tag

I am amazed at the confidence people have in me. With such a bad record of doing tags, I still have them coming in once in a while. Thanks guys. Two people tagged me lately. Asuph and Neville. I think it's the same tag. If I am not mistaken, it's about defining what I think constitutes a good writer.

I think I will go a little off track from the tag and write the way I see it. Firstly, my taste changes time and again. At different times, I like to read different authors, different kinds of books. Of late I am trying to get back to a lost habit of reading.

As kids, we read a lot. The best luxury or relaxation indoors was reading. Of course, we read outdoors too. Till my teenage years, I hardly read any Indian writers. From Russian to Japanese to English writers, from the classics to the modern, I read them all. What probably fascinated me most were the stories, the settings, the emotions and then the way the English language was used. Every writer set his story in a world much apart from my own. I perched myself in the midst of the different cultures, the times, the situations and the places. They were all alien and I was hooked.

At home, dad subscribed to Illustrated Weekly which I have no memories of except it was a large spread, then there was Sunday, and Reader's Digest which though still in circulation today has changed greatly in quality and quantity. As a kid too, I loved any kind of gossip and junk reading but there was a conscious effort to never spend money buying them. While travelling when others picked up a Stardust or a Femina, I would pick up a Reader's Digest or a India Today. I wonder why...

Slowly I discovered Indian writers writing in English. Writers setting their story in their regions which were familiar yet surprising me with local flavours. There was so much romance and mystery, sometimes the simplicity would move me to tears, sometimes the complexity and profoundness would leave me perplexed. For years I explored the Indian writers genre... writing from all parts of the world, and all corners of the country. Writers ranging from BC to the current times.

The wave of feminist writing was blowing subtly and I went on to read Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and the likes, spellbound. The strength, the conviction, the power, the beauty of their writings, were making me a new person. While the volumes of 'women writing in India', most of them translated into English, opened doors to the unending marvel of discovering the minds of women with a feminist bent of mind. Not in the bra burning attention grabbing way, but these were women who realised what it meant to be a woman, how different, difficult or easy it was living in a world with men alongside. Women who were conscious of what they wanted and how to get it.

Also native American literature with its rich culture fascinated me. Their larger than life beliefs, their names, the origin of their names, it was all fiction meshed with real life, history kneading into the present day.

Today I don't read as much as I would like to. The same books that raptly held my attention earlier no longer interest me. I have lost count of the number of books I have started and not finished in the last two years. Just a miserable few have made it till their last page in my hands. And then, the more I read, the more I realise how less I have read. Sometimes it scares me that I may just die without having finished all the unread books on my shelf. What an incomplete life it would be...

I don't know if this was how the tag was supposed to go, but having written this in two installments, I have gotten time to think and wonder why I have let a day pass without reading. Thanks guys, though I have rambled on, I really enjoyed this piece.


Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Yeah... you remind me of a lot. But sometimes certain genres are more appropriate only for certain ages, like I think I understand some Bengali litterateurs much better than when I tried going through them early on. I liked this post... wish you wrote a little more often.

7:16 am  
Anonymous asuph said...


maybe you get tagged because whatever you write is special. the tag is just an excuse, to make us write. it doesn't matter if you drifted. better, even. the tag will change, it will grow.


3:19 pm  
Blogger namrata said...

well written. The other day I re-read the God Father---what a book!

11:02 am  
Blogger Layon said...

Itna kaise padhte ho ji :)

1:52 pm  
Blogger anumita said...

sudipta: Ya, you are right. But I feel I understood certain stuff much better earlier :)

asuph: :) happy.

namrata: Somehow I am into rewatching films, a million times. But hardly read a book twice.

layon: It's much much less compared to real readers, and how much I would like to read.

4:39 pm  
Blogger Priyanka Mahanta said...

And u r my favourite Anumita. Keep on rambling the way u do. I just love it...

9:10 pm  
Blogger Anil P said...

Of the Indian writers I've particularly enjoyed reading: Amitav Ghosh, Amit Chaudhary, Ruskin Bond, Bill Aitken, Zai Whitaker (she wrote 'Snakeman'), Salim Ali (Fall of the Sparrow), Jhumpa Lahiri, Pankaj Mishra, Siddharta Deb among others.

I've a faint recollection of the Illustrated Weekly, but more of Reader's Digest.

8:04 pm  
Blogger Jai said...

Very good post. As usual, like your posts always. cheers, Jai

7:50 pm  

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