Friday, February 15, 2008

A Farewell And A Beginning

This Sunday, the column which I have written for nearly three years will appear for the last time. Some readers will miss it, even then only for a week or two; while some others will say, "Good that he is gone! How could he write stuff like that!"

Anyway, I will miss my column and my paper, at least for a while. Seven years in the same place can bind you as well as bore you, and there comes a time when you have to make a choice. Still, the paper has given me a lot more than I could give it, and I shall forever be grateful. Yesterday, I went to a store to buy a handbag -- Valentine's Day gift -- for my wife, who had suprised me the night before by placing a pair of party shirts under my pillow. As I signed the receipt, the man who had swiped my card said, "Bishwanath Ghosh, Indian Express. Right?" I was taken aback a bit. "I read your columns, sir." Just when recognition was coming even from people who ran shops, well...

I am looking at the brighter side. The compulsion of writing a weekly column, which remained as fresh as a tomato would without refrigation, was distracting me from bigger things I dream of. My dream is to produce grains of fine rice, which needs no refrigeration and which tastes better with every passing year. Books.

In the past two weeks, two events happened that have shaken me up and strengthened my resolve to work on the books that I have planned. One, the evening I spent with Saeed Mirza -- the director of films like Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai and Saleem Langde Pe Mat Ro, and the unforgettable serial called Nukkad. He has just written a book, Ammi: Letter to a Democratic Mother -- a book that I recommend to all. He shows you the real India.

That evening, we met him at the adda -- an informal gathering of selected people that happens every time a writer is in town. Mirza, still dashing in his sixties, sipped whisky and smoked as he held forth on the birth of his book. The book has been published by Tranquebar Press, which will also publish my travel book (as soon as I finish writing it). I felt rather proud when my publisher introduced me to Mirza as, "He is one of our Tranquebar writers."

Mirza's book is primarily the result of his travels across -- literally -- the length and breadth of the country and meeting the common man. "I have a house in Goa, and often while driving from Bombay to Goa, I ask the driver to take a detour. So we get into the interiors of Maharashtra, then to Andhra Pradesh, to Tamil Nadu, to Kerala, to Karnataka, and then to Goa. So what should take three days takes three months," he said.

When I managed to find him alone to sign a copy (which he signed as "In friendship -- Saeed"), I told him how my mother, my brother and I were enraged when, way back in 1984, our father took us to the theatre to watch Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai. "What a boring film," we rebuked my father. Saaed laughed. "Well, I spent Rs 12 lakhs to make the film, and I earned 48 lakhs. So if you go by the ratio, it made more money than Om Shanti Om!"

I asked him a few questions casually, at which he said he needed another drink. I went and got his glass refilled. But by then, other people had gathered him. Meanwhile, the heady cocktail of single-malt and the conversation with him had my head spinning with ideas. I headed home to work on my book.

Event no. 2: my meeting with one of my idols -- Paul Theroux, the great travel writer. Anyone who has written books like The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express needs to be worshipped with garlands and incense sticks. This morning, I attended a workshop he held for aspiring writers, and in the evening, listened to him at Landmark, the bookstore, as he spoke about his journey as a writer. Needless to mention, I also got my entire Theroux collection signed by him. And how beautifully he signed them, unlike most busy writers who just scribble something as a token.

After I finish writing this post, a challenging task awaits me: writing about Theroux's visit -- my farewell piece for the paper, to appear next weekend. I would like share a couple of tips Theroux had for aspiring writers:

1. Write long-hand: that gives you enough time to think and rethink your thoughts.

2. Get a job and get away from home. At home, your folks won't take your passion for writing seriously. In other words, travel.

27 comments:

wildflower said...

Waow!

We will miss Sunday Spin yaa..

but all the best for your new job ;)

Have a great time..because that's what matterzz :D

Luv
aranya kusum .....!

Dungri said...

Good one, poison. Quite a few lessons to learn - will remember them forever...

hey, you got an ad too on your blog! Wowow!

Anand said...

Bishwanath,

I never got to read your Indian Express articles, but have been a regular reader of your blog.

I found you through the post you have had been writing about Kishore Kumar. You indeed wrote with such passion. Thanks.

Wish you the best in your new adventure.

On a final note, what Theroux said is true. Travel. You learn everything in life.

Please keep us posted about your book.

Nepali Akash said...

If you are going to travel, Pokhara is certainly a place not to be missed.

Deepa said...

Hey there, will surely miss your writing in Express. Had heard about you moving sometime back.
Good luck at the new place. Keep the passion going!

Anonymous said...

habit is a habit hard to get rid of!! how about spinning up something on the blog every sunday??

All the best

Deepika said...

never liked my feet getting itchy, but the best thing about travel is that there's a melancholy for what's left behind and an excitement of entering into a new land. so good luck 4 ur travel book.

Anonymous said...

goodluck with your new book, i always belived in that you were made for things bigger and better than Sunday Spin and when you can do so, go ahead and make the most of it. Life is about learning and if you think moving on could simulate this process, then go ahead. Have no remorse..

Anonymous said...

TNSE will never be the same

The last column'Moving on' was apt

Good luck , BG
God bless

Anonymous said...

As someone who went through SS twice, I guess I'll miss it.Wishing you a successful future, I also hope that we get a suitable SS replacement!

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Hi all,

Thanks for the kind comments.

I'll be around -- here.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

BG,

We will surely miss Sunday Spin...

Thank you for churning out such nice columns...

Good luck!!!!!!!!

Best wishes for your new endeavor.
:-)

Pra

Sadhana Ramchander said...

Every Sunday I read TJS George first and then I read your column, Bishwanath. I will certainly miss the weekly BG speak, but hopefully we will still see you around here.

Wish you the very best in your new (ad)venture...good to move on, no doubt about that. Look forward to your book.

Sam said...

Well, would you sign your first copy for me. I know for sure you would make a fantastic writer......m aspiring to do the same.Guess we do share the same love.

anil shankar said...

When I had gone through last week's SS,I got the smoke signal which was loud and clear. I have always loved your writings,and will look forward to it,whether it be columns,blogs or the book you are mentioning.I'm going to miss you in sunday mornings. and you know BG,I just loved to read about kishoreda,pancham,yogesh and salilda through your columns and blog.even my favourite decade also happened to be the same (1975-1985).Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Bishy!!

And see, I am not the only one who wants you to sign the first copy of your book...do remember your promise...:-)

All the best...for everything...

Gayathri Varma said...

Congrats for moving on......there's no other way of living than by experiencing and no other way of experiencing except by travelling, that is by travelling and seeking oneself!

Wish you all the very best in your journey ahead!

Anu Russell said...

all the best for a brighter future...but pls dont stop writing ur blog.

Gardenia said...

I discovered your blog today: a lovely read!
Your meetings with Saeed Mirza and Paul Theroux have been recorded so well. Thanks for giving us Theroux's tip for writers!

niyo said...

read your final column. liked it. best of luck with the book. it can't be easy.

Krishnan said...

Bishwanath, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that me, diehard reader of The Hindu, starting reading Sunday Indian Express for your Sunday Spin and TJS George's. I will miss Sunday Spin a lot. Best of luck in all your endeavors. Keep blogging and writing about your favorites - Kishoreda, Panchamda, wine and women :-)

arun said...

TNSE will never be the same again..

We will miss your SS. but, keep blogging.

All the very best !!

Arun

Arjun said...

Bishwanath, I'm going to cut the travelogue you wrote on Manaltheeram last Sunday. It wasn't your best... but since BG is leaving Express, this will be the last piece of your writing with me... I also have a few cuttings of Sunday Spin with me. But keep writing now and then.... when you find time. One Question...Why don't you post your blogs on Sulekha (since u have an account there!) Let me leave you with a remark... Even R.K.Narayan moved on from being a columnist in the Sunday Magazine of the Hindu to being an icon of Indian Literature. I hope I've said everything!

Ardra said...

Wish You the Best with your book- and all your future endeavours- but then hope you dont neglect this blogpage.
regards
ardra

dharmabum said...

move on, we must.

shall await your post on the workshop with theroux. had applied for it, but got rejected :(

Rahul said...

Dear Bishwanath Sir,

I stumbled up on this article searching for something else. Today was a lucky day. I got good food and came across this blog.

Thanks a lot for these wonderful articles. I especially liked "He has the money, and I have the cashewnut"... in one of your other articles.

Wishing you all the best....

Regards,
Rahul

Anonymous said...

Used to read your SS as our colum with someone special and used to discuss it on long diatance calls...as we stay in two different cities....
missing it....all the best for your new venture....
will look forward to read your book....

Anonymous :)