Stories & storytellers I grew up with

The first & undoubtedly the best storyteller I’ve known is my mother.

Her tales of her parents, herself, her husband & her kids is how I’ve come to define my world. Since childhood I’ve seeked escape from boredom & homework in her stories. I’ve heard the story of how her father(my Nanaji) had to choose between getting married as a teenager or his father’s(my mother’s Dadaji) second marraige and how he chose the later option for a chance at walking 40 kms daily to study. I know how her mother(my Nani) was raised by her mother(my mother’s Nani) because her father (my mother’s Nana)- an affluent moneylender was killed by the same people he had lended money to on a remote road in the jungle while he was on his horse. My mother’s nani had cooked sevaiyan that day & that’s why they never cooked sevaiyain at my Nani‘s place anymore. I avoid an argument on the logic here because firstly, I don’t think any logical argument will be crushed down by the strong emotions in this case, & secondly because I’ve always had this aversion to sweet milky flavor.

However, when I needed a stronger dose of escapism, I used to steer her into talking about her own life, her childhood & her youth. How she grew up in this huge house where they had cows, a private kitchen garden on a hillock situated on the outskirts of the village where the villagers used to gift them extra produce, milk products. How they had a servant who used to give amazing head massages when he used to be high on bhaang. She tells me of the time when her family finally moved to Udaipur. How she used to go for ice-cream & movie every week on Wednesdays with her 2 best friends during college, because Wednesdays meant no uniform. How she took a bus to Bicchiwada- her Dadaji’s village & also her destination wedding venue- from Udaipur, straight from her last graduation exam. How mischievous kids from the village had sprinkled khujli powder on the reception chairs because they were awestruck by the chairs & the wedding overall.

She becomes happier when she tells me about the adventure, that living with my father in an altogether new city was. To this day & date, her willingness to agree to that without having a common past or passionate love; is something that I’ve not been able to understand. But the way she tells her story has made me open to the idea & the possibility. The way her story intersects with Daddy’s story is something which makes me believe in the randomness of story plots to keep on unearthing interesting developments. It’s a story  which made ‘me’ possible after all. It’s a story which neither of them ever tire of retelling on anniversaries- marriage, engagement & the first time they met each other.

It’s amazing listening to both of their versions of meeting each other & the seemingly old-school romantic courtship that they had. I’ve spent many conversations deciphering what made them say yes to each other, each time being more convinced that- you can only connect the dots looking back.

My mother’s stories about my early childhood are so detailed that I no longer know what my first memory is. Because even the incidents that she has narrated & re-narrated seem clear as a memory. I could tell you of the time I was born & how my Nani & Nani‘s sister were worried that the doctors would change me with some other kid because they thought I was so cute! When I was 2 years old, I was standing near a door & it banged shut on my finger. My mama(mother’s brother) , to take my mind off the injury told me that I’ll have to search for the chopped part so that the doctor could sew it back. To this day I don’t know whether it is an actual memory of mine or is it reconstructed memory from the subsequent stories.

If my mother’s story is how I identify myself, people & other things, my father’s stories are how I know him and also the fact that our experiences, how we look at them, or how we tell those stories- is what defines us.

From his stories of mornings spent diving in the village pond, I know that he was not always this cautious. His responsibilities have made him that. From his school & college stories, I know that he has never been the one with a huge friend circle, but almost everyone who he’s crossed paths with, has fond memories of him. I also know that this is something he’s proud of. From his first experience of coming to Ahmedabad for schooling from his village, being awestruck by the vastness of the city & then renting a bicycle to explore the city on weekends I know that he’s a happily unsatisfied explorer. I know that he’ll always be so.

I know that he’s a dreamer & works patiently to achieve them because he’s told me about the time he first heard the almost silent engine of the Hero Honda CD100 & how he told his friend that this is the bike he was going to buy. I remember my mummy telling me that she has only seen him ‘almost dance’ on very few occasions- when I was born, when my sisters were born & when he bought that bike. I remember him telling me about the first time he went to a readymade garment shop in the city. How he promised himself that once he started earning, he’d buy a new shirt for himself every month. I had a similar plan too myself, but the difference is that he tells the story while laughing off his naivety whereas I as initial signs of failure.

Within these stories I’ve tried to find similarities between the 2 of them & have only found I- honesty. No matter how a story would make themselves look, or their loved ones look; the stories have been true. And here is probably where one of my most fundamental inner conflict & guilt stems from.

Personally, what fascinates me about stories is how they make the listener feel. How the reactions can be manipulated by slight changes to the story. I for one do not believe in honest storytelling, but in being inspired by reality to create a sellable & a memorable version of it. I am gradually coming to terms with the fact that just like them I also love telling stories, but unlike them accepting my dishonesty is all the honesty I’ve got to offer.





You’re your best teacher!

Tired of searching here, there & everywhere.

For that perfect teacher to help me escape these everyday dilemmas; I decided to take a break, catch my breath & ask for directions again. But I failed to recollect the name of the destination I was looking for, the particular arrangement of syllables & words through which I could explain fellow travellers what exactly I was looking for.

I panicked & asked myself to try out what is probably the simplest yet most effective advice I’ve ever received- to calm the fuck down & focus. As I drew a deep breath & took a stroll through the routine paths in my head I came across a path which led to the section of my mind which had long since been deemed as impractical & immature. But I’d looked everywhere else & this was the only place where I could find some clue to help me escape this unexplainable ordeal. As I take the first few steps through this labyrinth which once used to be home I was hit by a strong wave of nostalgia. You know the kind which you get when you revisit old places which have remained unchanged, but you realise that you haven’t. And the nostalgia that you feel is not for the time that is past but for the you which is past.

Imagine what would happen if you ran into the old self in the middle of this nostalgic moment. What would you do? I don’t need to imagine because I did. As I saw you lounging there in middle of ‘useless’ childish thoughts I just knew that my long search was over. You, or to be precise – the old I, didn’t know of the answers or where to find them but with him on my side I could definitely figure out the wheres & the hows. Lost in the forest of my own mind I realised that the old I, the uninhibited I; was probably the most important friend, philosopher & guide I needed.


I went to the hills

​I went to the hills for some peace of mind…fellow travellers told me that nothing is as calming as climbing up a mountain. They all looked so serene so decided to scale the highest mountain in view. Somewhere in the middle of it, with shortness of breath & stiff legs started reconsidering the decision. The old ‘chad toh Jaye par utarega kaise’ saying came to the mind. But then I met this mountaineer who was on his way down. We chatted for a bit & he told me that nothing beats the view from the top & the satisfaction that you’ve climbed a huge fucking mountain, the old man vs. nature way. A few sips of water & some self pep-talk later I started to climb again.

A few more breaks & countless steps later I was at the top. Before I go could go to the edge & check out ‘the view’, I met a girl. The only way I can describe her is that she was the exact opposite of- exhausted, a bit scared & more than a bit sweaty -me. She asked me how I felt but didn’t really wait for my answer.

With the leg-pulling tone that we reserve for our closest ones she said “You look like you’d prefer jumping down this hill rather than climbing down”.

“Oh, if only I could fly!”.

“You can, if you give up the fear of flying.”

“I have a fear of falling, not of falling.”

“But they’re the same thing, at different speeds na?” I smiled & pretended to ‘throw’ the fear from my head. She asked me to close my eyes & made me wear this huge bag.

She whispered “Run & don’t stop till you’re flying. But do open your eyes once you’re airborne”.

After 45 minutes of flying as I touched the ground again I smiled as I undid my parachute.

The view from above is not really calming, but the opposite- truly exciting. But it did made me & my troubles seem so joyously insignificant that I laughed at myself because… I went to the hills for some peace of mind.


Why I hate the afternoon


Do you know what’s the worst part about an afternoon?

Apart from the fact that it’s neither fresh as a morning, nor beautiful as the evening & never adventurous as the night?

It’s a hot, sticky time of the day when usually all you can do is stay indoors, pull the curtains, turn the AC on if you’re lucky & finish your work if you’re not lucky enough.

It’s waiting time – time either spent planning about the evening that’s about to come or spent reminiscing about the morning you had.

It’s that time of the day when you’re already exhausted, though not satisfied to call it a day.

But it’s a safe time. Therefore, usually it’s a sad time.

To me, the afternoon represents this stupid post-youth, pre-middle age time in life.

The carefree morning is the childhood & the youth – full of beginnings, possibilities & fresh energy where you have no idea & not even a worry about what the day would be like.

The evening is the ‘proper adulthood’ as I like to call it- where if you’re smart enough you’ve found a place & company to lean back & enjoy the sight. Or you’ll just spend it reaching back home if you’re a regular joe.

The mysterious night or the ‘pre-climax’ years- can either be spent preparing for the sleep or getting ready for the party where you’ll probably pass out. To each his own, as they say.

So, what are you doing this afternoon?


Why do I write

​I grew up believing that writers write because they love to write. But as I grew older & a bit cynical, I became confident that writers write because they love being read. Somewhere & for sometime between these 2 ends of the spectrum, I also believed briefly that writers were people who cannot not write & hence they wrote. 

I think that we expect the world to be a reflection of our own self, though one might also argue that we are a reflection of the world around us. Yet another version of ‘which came first-the egg or the chicken’! But coming back to the question, me believing that writers write just out of love was probably my naivety & an innocent idea of a world where people’s actions are governed purely by their desires. The other possibility, the belief of people writing for the sake of being read must have most probably been formed when I started realising consciously or subconsciously the importance of external validation.

But looking back, the thing that troubles me the most is the phase where I believed that writers write because they just have to i.e. it just comes to them. Because though it seems utopian- stories coming to your head through a magical story spirit- it is a defensive belief as a writer. Defensive as in-the day I stop writing, it’s not actually me, but this magical spirit of stories that has failed. It’s a prelude to all the ‘I know what to write but I am just not feeling ready in my head ‘, ‘I should start writing tomorrow morning, because tomorrow morning is always the best time to write’, ‘I will start writing with a fresh mind after I buy a new pen, notebook, MacBook, table, chair and an island’ & the classic ‘I need to experience life before I start writing about it, so let’s get high first’.

This is probably the point where after so much blah-blah I finally tell you based on extensive research & life experiences, both mine & collected; that why do writers write? I have an old escapist habit- when you can’t answer a question, prove that the question itself is pointless! So what I believe is this- all writers are not governed by a thumb rule, some write because they love writing, some write because they love being read & some like me write because they love getting paid for it & most of them for reasons beyond my comprehension.

But the reason I am writing here is different- it’s to stay sane, it’s to clear my head of these thoughts which are constantly in my head but have no constructive effect. It’s to become a happier person or at least trying to find out what can make me happier. In the least, it’s a way to accept that I am not happy, although I am also not unhappy. It’s a way of accepting the possibility that what I am going through is not a phase but probably something which might require therapy & this might be a good start. It’s a way of accepting & reiterating the fact that this state of mine needs to change & that does not need a miracle, but just action. 

But the best part is that all the heavy-duty analysis of my new-found belief tells me that even if writing about my current state won’t change anything, the fact that I’ve started believing in my power to change it, is a great start in itself!

2 Many Voices · Scribble

Square 1

“Life is a journey. Of self discovery.

Away from our imagined identities. Towards the truth. Or sometimes its the other way around. Depends on your perspective. But its dynamic. Continuous change.

Everything keeps on changing and exploding exponentially. The to-do lists. And the unanswered questions. Sometimes it becomes difficult to understand the changes and the resulting new version of myself. So how can anybody else understand me!

And that is the root of all the problems.”

“Did you know that there is a simple solution to all the world’s problems?”

” And what is it?”

“What is the one thing that keeps all living things alive?”



“Neither. It’s an idea. A belief.”

“Which one is it? An idea or belief?”

“What’s the difference?”

“Ideas are universal. But beliefs are personal. ”

“Either way. But what is it?”

There must be a better life somewhere.”

“But where?”

But there was no point pondering over that question. Sometimes, the promise of that wonderland, or rather the wonderworld is all that matters. They looked at him with hope as though he would take them there or at least give them proper directions.

He continued “All the greatest explorers, inventors, adventurers were haunted by this idea. That’s why the hunger to find something new.”

“But people like us wouldn’t know what to do with that. We would still be haunted by the idea of ‘better”.

“Exactly. It’s a process.”

“Na. Routine.”

“Call it whatever you want. But what other reason can you have to wake up in the morning?”

“To enjoy the better life you already have.”


“There must be a better conversation somewhere…”