Books- Our unfaltering companions

This writeup is a validation of my respect and admiration for books in general…all kinds, be it fiction, non-fiction, reference, self-help, biographies, guides and even comics.

Here I don’t refer to the e-books or e-copies of novels, but the actual hardcover/ paperback versions of stories and other writings published by ordinary people who just want to tell a tale to the outside world. The more I read, the more I realize that each individual has so much to say, talk about and convey to the person at the opposite end who is giving some of his time to ‘hearing’ about what he/she has to say. Umpteen opinions and viewpoints flow through each piece of writing and it tends to gather an equally diverse amount of reaction from the audience who may either love it, like it or utterly dislike it.

Whether we think that reading a certain book has enriched and informed us, or whether we think that it was a waste of time, it actually matters that we get to know about the thought process of another person. I feel so because after all we as a community of human beings need to understand each other, the way we think and how our experiences affect us. A real society is based on effective understanding of the people who are its elements, and what better way than to put words to paper?

Speaking has its limitations. Obviously, using your vocal power to share your thoughts with other people directly will inform them the message at that point in time, but would it really stay for long, and more importantly, can one go back to listening to the same words again to get a better understanding, unless it is a recorded piece of talk?

With books, articles and journals, you can go back again and again at your leisure to assimilate what the author has put down and further discuss, debate and analyze what you read. You can carry a book around with you anywhere, open it anytime and start reading it without any hesitation or opposition. It is totally up to you to form an opinion about what you read, something which is unique for every person. No two people will have the exact same reaction to the piece of writing.

Talking about genres, I feel that after a certain age it is important to read all kinds of books and not just stories to develop a holistic thought process. As a child, my main objective of reading a ‘story-book’ was to develop my vocabulary and to a certain extent learn about the lives of kids in other parts of the world. Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C.S Lewis let me into the world of adventure-seeking children and the never-a-dull-moment lives they led.

But of course, later on I realized that there is much more to reading than just that. Fantasy fiction is just one kind of writing. There are biographies and accounts which tell the tales of hardship, poignant accounts of growing up amid difficult situations and the actual experiences of the author that can inform you what reality is like in ways that you don’t know about because you have not led a life like that. These writings just serve to expand your thinking and horizons beyond your four-walled room, as does fantasy fiction, but in a more real way. Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, Helen Keller’s ‘Story of my Life’ and Gandhi’s ‘Experiments with Truth’ do just the same.

And then, I cannot forget to mention self-help and guide books that help us make our way through the challenges that we face in life, teach ourselves about things we don’t know but are ready and willing to learn about and for which we don’t have to bother others and take up their time! ‘The Secret’, ‘7 habits of highly-effective People’ and ‘I’m ok, You’re ok’ are three titles that fall into the category.

Last but not the least, comics are a whole different and amazing genre of reading that can help one pass time in an engaging and immersive way, specially because they are totally pictorial, allowing us to see the situation in the actual way the author imagines it. There are both children’s comics and adult comics offering a variety of themes and titles to choose from, with no end to new content which brings with it fan-theories and interpretations. Who doesn’t know about ‘Tintin’, ‘Tinkle’, ‘Asterix’, DC and Marvel collections and even the now widely popular Game of Thrones’ official comic book?

What I am basically trying to convey, is that reading is an activity which is as old as time and should remain forever with us. We should not stop the habit and replace it by merely spending unnecessary time on social media, games and other gadgets. The joy of reading a good book and leafing through its pages again and again to feel its worth is precious. However, I am a bit worried that this will come to an end in the near future with new tech-based hobbies coming up every single day that are a much less enriching alternative. 

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To the West coast and back

I’d say I had the good fortune to stay in the ‘city of stars’/ ‘city of dreams’ or whatever you would like to call Bombay/ Mumbai for a month and a half, having been told to pursue an internship in the field of my choice.  Initially, about two months before I had been totally unsure about where I was going to go for summer training, a necessary requirement as a part of our curriculum at university. Fortunately, with the help of a personal contact of my family, I was accepted to work at an ad film production house in Bombay for the aforementioned duration. I was thrilled to have gotten the opportunity and to visit a new city, although I had been there in the early years of my life as a visitor to my close relatives’ place in Powai. Now, I could go there again and be part of the hustle and bustle of the second most important metropolitan city, the financial capital of India and what not. And being older and an adult, I had the liberty to explore the city with my friends next to me, who were working there too!

My experience was enriching and refreshing to say the least. I found it to be a nice change from Kolkata, where I currently reside, and many things that came my way were new such as a living in a paying guest accommodation and having to do everything on your own, from thinking about the next meal to washing clothes and buying groceries. And that was just the beginning. I commuted to office taking an auto from my place and being stuck in the traffic jam at an Andheri signal for twenty minutes or so was an everyday affair.  Further, working in an office was very new for me.  The fact that everything about the office environment was so different from that of college or university really struck me. My seniors were patient with me, explaining me the work and then pointing out my mistakes as they happened.  Most importantly, I got a good idea of how a production company functions and was able to observe and experience many a new things hitherto unknown to me.

Then of course came the part where we went around the city and had a good time. It involved eating out, dancing, drinking and sightseeing. Many of the things were unique to the city and many experiences made us realize what we were missing all this time. It all began with visiting the Imagica water park where we had the best time splashing around in the artificial pools and rivers. Shopping at Linking Road in Bandra, Phoenix Marketcity, sitting at Marine drive and eating at the delicious pizza joint opposite it, looking at Gateway of India and the Colaba Causeway spree were the highlights of my outings with friends. Other than that, I got to visit the prestigious TIFR and take a tour around it’s campus, took a drive across the Bandra-Worli sea link and got a good glance of Amitabh Bachchan at his Juhu residence! 😉 Chilling at Fun Republic Social will also be missed. I took both the overhead metro and the local trains on different occasions and was impressed by the precise timing followed by them.

Now that I’m back home and it’s been a week, flashes of the city keep coming back and remind me of all the little things that happened over two months and all the people I met there. Yes, I’m probably getting the “Bombay Blues”..