I am still struggling to overcome my jet lag after a long trip to India and the Middle East; therefore, this blog is short and a tad different.
A few of you may have read David Suzuki’s “Letters to My Grandchildren.” An accomplished environment activist, academic and author Suzuki draws on vignettes from his personal life to help his grandchildren better understand their own ancestry and culture. He writes about how his grandfather and father suffered as immigrants during the Great War years, but embraced life and went on to inculcate in him a love for nature and a passion for remaining steadfast in his beliefs.
Like a “bathroom singer,” I had remained a “closet writer” until a dear friend who is an editor lent me Suzuki’s book and her husband, a publisher, suggested that perhaps I too could share my life stories with others. I decided to take the plunge and start writing a weekly blog. Our daughter was under five years old when we emigrated from India and our son was born overseas, so it seemed like a good idea to acquaint them with the India of my childhood. A further incentive was provided by our young granddaughters, who insist on my telling them bedtime “Nana (grandfather) stories” mostly authentic but some of them embellished, about my life as a boy growing up in India!
There was another broader reason to start a blog. In spite of the many Indians and South Asians residing in Canada, I realized that other Canadians at large had very little knowledge and understanding of my country of origin. Indian cuisine was broadly defined by samosas and butter chicken while Bollywood songs and gyrations were being passed off as Indian culture. I felt an attempt had to be made to change this and through my blogs I try to introduce the uninitiated to the world of poetry, music and much else from “that part of the world.”
I broached this subject with friends and family, who encouraged me to start the intended blog. A respected author, two successful editors and a couple of budding writers cautioned me to prepare for the “long haul.” If planning to write a weekly blog, they told me, plan on having enough material to keep you going for at least 52 weeks. A cousin, himself a published author and a columnist for several prominent publications even gifted me a book on creative writing! While mindful of every one’s advice I could only think of five or six topics when I started, but decided to press ahead anyway and put out my first blog on February 13, 2016. Within the first month, my website was hacked and crashed several times!
I remain grateful to my friends and readers who skim over my mistakes, choosing instead to provide encouragement for the thoughts I try to express each week. I thank you. My most prized comment came from our now almost seven years old granddaughter S, who recently informed me that having finished reading her first “chapter book” she is now ready to read her Nana’s blog, but with a little help from her daddy!
A number of you comment regularly to let me know what appeals to you. A few have also written to suggest corrections and ways to improve the content. However, an overwhelming majority write in to tell me how an anecdote in my blog reminded them of a similar incident or person in their own life and helped revive pleasant memories. I would welcome readers’ sharing an anecdote that stands out in their memory and one they feel able to share with others. As requested in my “About This Blog” homepage, throw in a thought to create a ripple and help generate a discussion.
Reflecting on my life experiences, I am reminded of this couplet by the illustrious Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz:
“maazī meñ jo mazā mirī shām-o-sahar meñ thā
ab vo faqat tasavvur-e-shām-o-sahar meñ hai”
[In the past, those pleasures that I enjoyed day and night
now merely remain in my imagination of the evening and the morning]
On the other hand, this Zen statement tells us, “Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.”