A few days back , I had launched a feature ‘India Reads’ to learn more about Indian author, bloggers and fellow book lovers. As a part of this feature, I am happy to welcome Shreetam, who is ardent book lover and blogs at Reflections in Silence
Folks, please give a warm welcome to Shreetam.
The Book-Worm’s Confession
I think the journey started with Chandamama. The monthly magazine with its plethora of stories was my first dose of literature beyond what my curriculum demanded. Vikram-Betal, Ramayan and Mahabharat were pretty much my life-line then. I still remember the eagerness with which I awaited the newspaper-boy to deliver the issue at the start of the month and the greed with which I devoured the publication.
Then there were the whole gamut of comics that adorned my study table – Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu were my favorite pranksters whereas Raj Comics and its superheroes – Nagraj and Super Commander Dhruv – were my adrenalin stimulators. Many nights, when the city was engulfed in a power cut, I found myself a corner and enacted scenes from these comics, playing both the hero and the villain at the same time and saving the world from doomsday by the time the power came back. Those were also the times when we often travelled by the Indian Railways, thanks to my dad’s LTC salary component and his interest in travelling. During all such boring, sweaty, sleeper-class train journeys, if there was one thing that made me forget all the worries in the world it was the twenty-five rupees publication called Tinkle – with its weird characters – Suppandi, Shikari Shambhu et all – and their myriad encounters with common sense.
Age caught on soon enough and I graduated to Hardy Boys, Nancy Drews and Goosebumps next. My school library had an envious collection and the librarian found my interest in these books amusing. I think it was in the summer vacation of 2000 that I laid my hands on the first of the Harry Potter’s. What followed was a magical seven years, as I read and re-read every book in that series; lived and relived every moment described in the book in my imagination. For half of my teenage years, I was pretty convinced if Harry were real, he would have been me. For the other half, I tried my best to pretend being him. The whole series had an impact on me like no other ever did and defined almost all of my teenage years.
These seven years was also the time when I read almost everything that I could lay my hands on. Chandamama had been replaced by Readers’ Digest but the eagerness for the next issue persisted. Comics that once adorned my study table were now replaced by Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, O’Henry, Guy De Maupassant and the likes. At one point in the day, I was living a miserable life with Oliver Twist and at another point I was fooling around with Tom Sawyer. During the nights I waited for the last leaf to fall or was with a circus artist who could not kill his wife no matter how hard he tried.
This was also the time, when I encountered Indian writers for the first time. Rabindranath Tagore’s Geetanjali and Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things were two of my first. Jhumpa Lahiri and Amitabh Ghosh happened soon after and since then I could never ever get off the hook. I still hold the opinion that Indian Literature is one of the finest in the world and has been appreciated much less than it deserves to be. Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone happened during my engineering days and after that I have been exposed to countless Indian authors and their hundred rupee publications. Have they all been very good? Not at all. In fact some of them have been horrible but majority of them have been average. Is this explosion of Indian titles necessarily a bad thing? Not really. While you may argue that it has diluted the quality of Indian literature, it has also encouraged many new writers to ditch their existing boring professions and pick up writing full time. And that means a lot of choice for the reader, which is always a good thing to have.
I think it was after college when my interest in biographies dominated my interest in fiction. Randy Pausch, Lance Armstong, Mitch Alboom, Richard Bach took prominence in my bedroom and as I lived the highs and lows of their life, I had experiences that only readers can vouch for – the trickling tear drop when your hero goes through a low or the euphoric cheer when he finally overcomes it.
Amidst all these, I never knew when reading became my hobby. I never intended it to be. But thankfully, in spite of reading such quality, when I am convinced nothing better can ever be written, a Kite Runner happens and I am back again to where it all started. I am left with an unquenchable thirst and a lust for more in a land which boasts of infinite resources. When I walk into a library and see volumes of books
that are yet left to be experienced, I feel blessed to have found my interest in a field of human endeavor that I share with the Dickens, the Shakespeares and the Jumpa Lahiris and also overjoyed at knowing that one lifetime is too little a time to finish them all, no matter how hard I try. For instance, have you heard of the Circle of Three by Rohit Gore? Well I just finished reading it.
You can also find Shreetam on facebook. His twitter handle is @shreetamz.
Thank you Shreetam 🙂