I have been writing since I was young, normally more mature than my age group at school. So I did not really find a platform apart from the ambitious English teacher who saw potential in me, as normally my stuff was not fit for the school magazine but for the India Today Magazine. But i still got things on to those limited school time platforms anyway such as good grades in english. I always believed in creating value apart from the school textbook and exams. Both my parents being academics, I was fortunate to have a library of my parent’s books to my disposal and lots of daily newspapers to read. I was well read as a teenager, but my limited interest in studying for grades apart from English and Social Science did not instill my parents confidence in me as grades were key to successive progressions. I did well in them and in Biology and Chemistry until Grade 12 as I am memory-based person. I remember things well, so History and Politics (somehow connected, still have not fully understood the connection) fascinated me and I was in awe of how individuals ran society. I had floated one day to my father the idea of studying History in Grade 8, and he like a concerned Indian parent shot it down. I was discouraged by other folks too when I started writing. A few people told me that writing is not my cup of tea as my writing was not up to the mark, as per the hallowed high priests of liberal arts academe. So dreams of being a Ram Guha was stopped in its tracks pretty early. I do not normally take a no for an answer, and which my detractors soon found out to their peril.
I studied Engineering for utilitarian reasons as a good Indian boy but reading my undergraduate engineering degree in Oman exposed me to fellow wannabe writers/policy wonks. So I wrote research papers on bioethics to socio-linguistics to public policy in those four to five years travelling throughout South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East studying, working and exploring my self. The real break came in Singapore when I started writing for Green Business Times and started this platform. I got opportunities to write for other platforms and reading public policy and sociology really helped in fine-tuning my writing and thought processes. This got me on to International TV debates as an independent analyst and the gravy train started rolling.
My writing journey started pretty late in my opinion for a person who took writing seriously. I read diverse genres from Magical Realism to Fukuyama. Writers such as Pankaj Mishra and Pico Iyer are my literary man crush. I have never been to a creative writing course but reading the non-fiction master- pieces has been an education. I believe that writing is not a liberal arts majors territory only, because writers translate experiences of pain and angst in to words, and writing is a product of hard work as the Guru of Global Literature Haruki Murakami eloquently writes in his semi memoir on life, writing and running known as ;“What I Talk about When I Talk About Running” . This transformational read resonates with me as a writer. Writers according to Murakami have to work hard to churn out a narrative for the audience in mind, day in and day out. It is not purely, a function of talent alone but of diligence and discipline if one has to churn out a global writing and speaking career across decades and still your readership grows like this recent convert. One has to tailor his lifestyle according to his trade, like Murakami left running a Jazz Bar to write full time, moving across cities throughout the globe, to write, run and live. Till one does not stretch ones limits and trains in a disciplined manner in his passion or profession, a person cannot be successful in either one of them.
I rather used to be lazy to write on a regular basis, but I realized one fine day that as an Individual of limit talents, I was born to write and express my humble ideas in the public discourse on ideas. To write for me, is to exist. I am fortunate to have friends to read my work: Good, the not so Good as well. Writing is about exercising agency and writers are folks who write stories of their inability to communicate their expression of love to a woman, that too after she starts to date another guy they love in person but they would rather mold it in a fictional context in the written word and explore passions in the head rather than in the flesh.
I am currently writing a book (a multi year effort it is turning out to be as I have exacting standards sadly of myself) on the human experiences of urbanization and developing a long essay series on things and stuff in places where I live and experience in my personal capacity apart from having a fascinating day job in Policy Research. Fortunately, I do work in a place where I can write too. Passion and Professions can emerge if we wish to take the risk. Dr. Tharoor is a special kind of writer. Take a pay cut, if it comes down to that.
Keep Writing, as there is nothing more satisfying then someone relating to your story.