what does it mean to be able to write? the question was rhetorical, so dont bother. its about telling a tale, i think. i guess i have to explain. i have a friend who spent a bit of time in germany. when he returned to India, i asked him if he felt like returning at all, if felt like he wanted to live there. now, this was not in the usual abroad-is-best mentality us indians have, it was more because he was an aspiring automobile designer, and germany is obviously one of the automotive heavens on earth. but he said no, which surprised me. and his justification surprised me more.
he compared a simple day-to-day activity as it happens in germany with the way it happens in india. in germany, if you wanted to go grocery shopping, you stepped out of your building and onto the quiet street, wait in line for the quiet bus ride to the market, buy what you want, often pay to a machine and not a man, repeat bus ride to return home. even the cars that followed for a while behind the bus would maintain the exact same gap between themselves no matter what the speed. not a sound, not a step out of line. then he said, look at the same activity in india. you get out of your house and onto the street, most likely to realize you stepped on a cow-pie, run after the bus and when it slows to avoid a pedestrian, you jump aboard and get a toehold on the footboard with 20 other people, hanging on for dear life till u nearly get caught in the stampede alighting at the market, only to have a fierce argument short of fisticuffs with the grocer to save half a rupee on the onions, repeat bus ride and reach home, only for a passing car to splash you with mud right at your gate, and you enter your house to figure that the electricity board decided the time was auspicious for a power cut. at the end of the you can sit with a friend or significant other and tell them a story, the story of how you went and got groceries. the story that would be told in india is far more interesting than what could be told in germany, he said, and that at the end of the day, he would rather live with the stories than any amenity the developed world can provide.
that was a sort of moment of clarity for me. i have often discussed with myself as well as a few friends the importance of what you write. am i here to merely report what i see? is that level of objective honesty required? i'm tending to think not. i mean, when i run out of fuel on my bike and have to push it a kilometer, there is a difference between whats happening and what i'm experiencing. in my mind, the goggles of imagination are on, and im living an outrageous adventure that very minute. i mean, who runs out of fuel on a bike with a digital fuel gauge? so i tell the story with all the bells and whistles that i see. its far better than walking in with a dour face and saying 'crap, i ran outta fuel on the bike, pushed it a mile and am all tired out now'. i'd much rather walk in with a sheepish grin and tell the story of how i got stranded, silliness galore.
that does not mean i spin my tales either. while the bells and whistles enhance certain parts and obfuscate others, by no means am i telling a fallacy. there are no absolute facts, there are only interpretations. there is a theory on photons that states that you can only observe either the momentum or the position of the photon at one time (I stumped Lopez, our revered physics teacher with that one, i would know :P). by observing one, you are changing the other. i think a variant of that holds true for everything in life. by observing facts, i may have colored them forever with my interpretation. and that, to me is what writing is all about. we all live in overlapping interpretative universes of our own, and i want mine to be funny and entertaining. Why? i dunno... maybe because it'll liven up those spaces where my universe meets yours.
whoever said that the universe is made up of stories and not atoms, was telling the truth.