As a child, my best companions were books. I was attracted to reading stories growing up as a child – Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Tin Tin and all classics offered by Ladybird Books. I loved the illustrations in these books and the magical world they created! This was no different from the rest of several middle class Indian kids during my growing up years. We grew up in a socialist country that reluctantly opened up to the rest of the World. This meant that the options and opportunities we had as kids were limited and repeated.
At one stage, while reluctantly reading a few Hardy Boys mystery stories, I slowly lost my interest in reading books as the pressures of academic achievements grew in me. I also outgrew my childhood books and going to a library and reading was not a healthy habit I cultivated. This led me to believe that watching movies for want of stories was the best alternative. This behavior continued up until I was thirty.
In a very frustrating moment in my career where I had nothing meaningful to do from the expensive MBA education I spent my money on, I watched a television documentary called “Why we fight!”. Chalmers Johnson, introduced as an author, talks about the exploits of the CIA in Iraq well before Saddam Hussein became who he was. This was a big moment for me as I never knew the role of imperialist powers in the modern world (beyond the world wars) up until then! This attracted me to try reading one of his books and I walked to a brand new ultra-modern library nearby home in San Mateo, California. Soon, I found non-fiction books as a great source of knowledge. This also made me realize for the first time, the hollowness of school books, television news and newspapers in what they present to the public and how they do it! Ever since then, I tried to better my poor worldview through the narration of several great writers.
After several years of active reading since then, I have also ventured into writing my own books, of course starting with a genre that I was never comfortable with, fiction. In order to not get “influenced” by other writers of fiction, I have resisted the temptation to read other works of fiction up until I finish writing my first book. I am now working on my second book and open to reading more books along the way as long as I can find the time, patience and energy to gobble up the vast expanse of knowledge and wisdom locked in the minds of others and showcased in a book!
Several writers, authors and personalities are continuing to shape who I am as a person and I am ever indebted to them for making me whatever I am and will be. I have learned to unlearn and re-learn and I shall continue this journey forever…