To blog or not to blog!

To be or not to be- Shakespeare!

To blog or not to blog- Pramod.

Doubts creep in the minds of everybody including Shakespeare!

We have a WhatsApp group of friends who passed out from COEP in 1971. After a lot of efforts, fights and bickering we concluded what should be shared on the group. There are around 140 of us. The main rule is that there should be no forwards. Friends are encouraged to write, paint, take photographs, sing and share this on the group. Suddenly one of our friends had doubts about my sharing the link for blogs written by me, with the group. He felt that I was breaking the rules and that I was “marketing” my blogs — all the friends who responded explained to him that there was some confusion in our friend’s mind.

But as usual my mind started thinking, why am I writing the blogs? What do I gain by writing the blogs? What are the benefits of writing blogs? Following are some of the reasons.

  • Because I love to write
  • Organise my thoughts and learn new things
  • Get in touch with new people
  • To tell stories has now become my passion
  • To become a better person

Are these reasons good enough? Yes, I think so. If you love to do something, then you must try to do it. My writing does not affect any person, nor does it disturb anyone. I do not indulge in controversial subjects. I generally don’t delve in politics as people have different and passionate views about politics.

Blog writing is both impulsive and compulsive. When my writing is spontaneous, my thoughts flow out, and within no time my blog is ready. But most of my blogs are compulsive. While writing these blogs, I have basic ideas in my mind, but my thoughts are not organised. In such cases, I need to think, and I must hold my thoughts; I need to research too. I must learn and understand the subject. For example, some of the blogs are based on Hindi poems by Gyanpeeth award winner Kedarnath Singhji. Since my Hindi is not strong enough, I need to understand the meaning of the chosen words he has used. Google baba ki Jay ho!

Blogging culture is slowly spreading in India too, and I have people who follow my blogs. Occasionally, they send their comments or suggestions. Sometimes they ask questions. I follow some of these people on their blogspot, and we become blogging friends! Most people who read blogs do not respond formally. But when they like a specific topic, they communicate and sometimes become nostalgic. They share their experiences. Such experience is fascinating.

I am a people’s man and love to chat with people. For a long time, I have found that I have many stories locked up in the brain. At the appropriate moment, these are automatically accessed. The storyteller in me wakes up, and with blogging, I get an outlet for storytelling regularly, and it’s fun.

Blog writing has made me a better person. Previously I tended to push my agenda, but with regular feedbacks, interactions, exchange of views has changed my attitude towards conversations. I have started understanding other people’s point of view though I may not accept them. Now I know that there are always two sides to everything except the birth and death events. With my conversing with many people regularly, I have learnt to introspect periodically. The love shared by people has a humbling effect on me.

There is another reason I want to share why I would like to keep on writing. My only thought and hope are that even if one person takes a different look at things, after reading my blog, it is worth it. I have recently written a blog about Umrani family’s endeavour to run a school for deaf and dumb children.

After reading my blog, one of my friends from WA group got in touch with Umrani sir and donated some funds to the school. Another friend has also confirmed that he would also do the same shortly. What more do I want? Umrani sir called me yesterday to share this information and was very happy. I have suggested to him that he can put a link for the blog on their website. He liked the idea!

We are lucky to be in today’s technological world. We are also fortunate that longevity is helping experienced people (I am using a fancy word for oldies like me) to be around for more time on the terra firma. On top of that, we oldies have in hand all the time in this world. Those inclined to write as I do, share their experiences. Some take beautiful pictures and share them. Two people can click a photograph of the same place, but these can look different. Quality is based on the composition, angle of lighting and steady hands. My friends Abhay and Vijay make our life rich with lovely photos! Sudhakar enthrals us with beautiful paintings which are appropriate to current events, along with the right comments that he writes. Pravin has rekindled our memories from youth with beautiful songs by his troupe Swarnad! Collin is on the verge of publishing his first novel!  Another friend Vasant has been fully involved in social work and enjoying it; he shares what he does when we meet. What more do you want from life?

I asked the same question to me again, why do I write the blogs? Now I know the answer. The reasons are the same as taking pictures and doing paintings and singing songs. All these events give us joy! By joy, I don’t mean the enjoyment but contentment. It provides us with a feeling that everything is right in this world!

After reading my blogs, people have sent different reactions. In one of the blogs, I had said, “If you go to your native place, over a period you lose the charm, and you cannot relate to anything.” A  friend called me and said, “I become nostalgic and go to my native place every alternate year but as years pass it becomes more and more irrelevant.” My native place is Pune where I live. So I do not have this difficulty. But has Pune changed? The friend asked me, “How could you judge something from my mind?” I told him, “My thinking is that when we leave our native place for greener pastures, there is an old film that remains etched in our mind, and we go by that reference. Don’t forget that things change. Raj Kapoor has died, so has Shammi. Sunil Gavaskar is our age. But then we still see these people through etched films”. Don’t forget the even Sachin Tendulkar retired six years back! Feeling irrelevant is a natural thing to happen.

I am satisfied with what I write and looks like I will continue to do so. Shortly, I plan to go one step ahead and publish a book of selected blogs in about six months. It will keep me involved as well as grounded in what I do. Thanks, friend for raising a question on the group; the question activated my brain to think! Yes, thinking is what I like to do these days! I will enjoy doing it!

Now, I have no doubts in mind!


Another View Point! The Native place!

This is a very emotional and controversial subject I have touched, and some of my friends may not agree with most of what I have written. But I have just tried to understand the conflict in the minds of the people, that are tough to handle.

Most of my life has been spent in the cities of Pune and Mumbai with small breaks in between when I was very young. So, I do not have the concept of “going to a native place or गांव  or  मुलुख!” These two places have been my gaon! Pune is the native place for me. I have many friends who have their native places, which are much smaller towns or maybe tiny villages. So, I do not have the experience of going to the native place, like these people have. I am sure it must be nostalgic, lovely feeling. I hear many stories of these places, in some cases 50 years old and in others 30 years old. I was trying to imagine how wonderful it must be to have such memories.

But the pragmatic guy in me poked me and said, “Hey, Pramod you also have a native place. But the only difference between those who “actually” have a native place to go and you, is that you have lived almost all your life in your native place! Probably this is the reason you do not become nostalgic when talking about your native place!” Remembering olden days, enjoying the memories of old times is the best thing that a human has, which nobody can take away, ever! It’s must be fun and emotional to go down the memory lane and enjoy oneself. I was talking to my friend Ram, who has his native place, a small town. He recently travelled to his native place. He shared with me the same thoughts as I visualised. He was nostalgic, he remembered many old things right from his grandfather’s time.

The difference in the “native place” of others and my native place is that many of my friends from olden times are still in my native place, in fact, some of them are still living in the same dwellings. I have seen my native place change in front of my eyes! Whereas in the “native places” that come up in discussion have changed from villages to much bigger villages or towns. Towns have become much bigger towns. When I think about this, I always felt how people feel when they go to native places that have lost many things to Time! How many of the old friends live there? If they have lived there all their lives, then have they changed with time? Do you have things common with them after 50 years? Are these things relevant today?

I came across a poem by Kedarnath Singh, a Gyanpeeth award winner. The Poem is “Gaon Ane Par”!  (“On arriving at my native place”) First few lines of the poem are

अब आ तो गया हूँ

पर क्या करुँ मैं?

एक बुढे पक्षी की तरह लौट-लौटकर

मैं क्यों यहां चला आता हूँ बार -बार?

Below lines are my humble attempt to translate in English, the crux of what Kedarnathji has said.

” I have come back to my native place
to do what?

I keep on traversing here like an old bird,

why do I keep coming here, again and again”?

He is confused, and it is obvious that he is not sure why he keeps on doing this. Are these the same people for whom I come here? He muses further. But when I see them, I need to go back to the old time-frame. These are the same people who are mine or are they mine? I don’t know where they live, but why am I insistent that this is my home?

The confusion in the poet’s mind is what happened in my mind too, about my friends who go to their “native place”. Their old homes where ever they lived, in most cases, do not exist. These have been replaced by new structures and maybe have new ownership. None of their close relatives live there. None of their old friends live there. Except for nature, the sea, the river, the hills everything else has changed. The people whom they see are unknown to them like what you have in big Metros, the anonymous. The school building has changed completely or, a business centre is built in its place. Landmarks of olden times have simply vanished. So, what do my friends go there for? For the name of that place? The place which has become foreign to what is in their minds!

I am sure that there will be some nostalgic memories of some particular things, which still exist. In my case, where I lived in my childhood in Mumbai, the same building still exists and is bit renovated. Families don’t live there anymore, and a charitable trust runs an institution in that building. This institution provides low-cost stay for people from outside Mumbai who are required to come and stay for medical treatment, a noble cause. But its presence kicks me in the butt and tells me how time has flown. There is zero chance that someone will even vaguely know me. Will I become nostalgic by just entering those rooms where I lived in my childhood? To me, nostalgia is something with a human touch. At least in my case, luckily, the building exists as it was in 1965!

The poet further meanders with lines, what should I do to make people in the native place feel that I am one of them? They are mine, or are they? For whom I am writing this poem, will they ever read my poem…. should I touch someone, can I hug someone? He has a small fear in his mind. He has become a Dilliwala, a person from Delhi! He is not sure if his “Delhi” version will come in the way of their hug! These and other lines of the poem have beautifully brought out the conflicting thoughts of this community of people going to their “native place”. Ram felt that a tiny percentage of people going back to native place feel really connected. Is it the pilgrimage taken out of some compulsion?

There is a new “going to native place” phenomena due to migration to different countries. These people and people receiving them in the country of birth, naturally have different viewpoints. But it is painful and slightly embarrassing to know what some people have said about their native place. The well-known actor Priyanka Chopda said the other day, ” What I miss about India, is that I cannot reach the film sets late for work in the USA”, where she works currently! A young 30 something CA, a finance professional in Sydney, Australia said when asked what he misses about his native country India? He said, ” Next week, I am going to Delhi for a holiday and break these damn traffic signals 30 to 40 times in first two days; I am fed up of straight-jacketed life in Sydney”. If these persons were saying these things jokingly, then they have a dark sense of humour!

I can understand nostalgia, old memories and lovely times spent in the native place. But I think one should be more pragmatic about basics. When a lot of time has passed, maybe humans tend to become too dogged in thinking that nothing has changed in the native place. When you were young, your family, your culture of that time (cultures do change with time), your friends of that time, also change from the way you remember them. It is your mother or aunt or elder sister who were giving you the love and the lovely food of those times! So maybe the “going to native place” is the journey like jumping from a plane, using parachute! The thud you hear when you reach the ground is what brings us back to reality!