Friday, December 17, 2010

Quotation on successful authors

There are two kinds of successful authors, those who are good & those who are inspiring. When one reads the books of the latter, one thinks "If they can write this and be successful, why not I?"

From the book "Happy Sisters' Insights"
(yet to be written, by me of course- when I'm sufficiently inspired, naturally)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Way to go

When I was a little kid, my teacher gave us an assignment to make a map from the school to our respective houses. I dont remember what my map looked like, but ever since I have been afflicted with a bad case of mapophilia. Before Google maps became a rage, I would have voted for the Eicher map of Delhi in the contest for the greatest thing that happened to Delhi in the last century. Given the state of the city, the locals would have sniffed at the award, of course, and would have probably handed it to something like this or maybe a sari from Karol Bagh. But you get the point, dont you?

Before any reasonable map was available, the only way to get anywhere was to ask for directions. Mostly if you followed the directions faithfully, you would get somewhere, but not necessarily where you set out. The idea was to keep an open mind and possibly lunch out at a roadside dhaba instead of at Kanta mausi's house. If you were lucky you could reach for dinner, but then she may not still be in the mood to feed you, a topic you may want to evaluate before you bravely wandered the city after lunch instead of returning home.

The office I worked in at that time got regular jobs for property valuation. Every morning a handful of people specifically appointed for the job, would set off in various directions to addresses they were supposed to check on. A new guy, who was obviously doubly handicapped in a city where too many people were themselves lost, would pounce on the first pedestrian he saw outside the office for directions. "Bhai Saheb, would you tell me how to get to..." He would fish out the paper and rattle off the address of a property 7 km away in a city of 11,000 persons per square kilometer right down to the floor he wanted to visit. The result would be that even if the person could have safely guided him to, say, Janakpuri, he would regretfully have to shake his head when it came to 2nd floor, House no. 103, C1 block, Janakpuri. The chances of finding a person who knew exactly that house were so minimal that our friend soon found he had the most challenging job in his life and was completely in awe of those who managed to cover 3 or 4 properties in 8 hours and have a leisurely lunch in between.

As for me, I greedily devour the city map whenever I go to a new place and often I cant bear it if I'm regularly with someone who knows all the routes in my own city. My husband spends more on petrol when he is traveling alone because he is so used to an aggressive navigator in the next seat, he often takes the wrong turns when no instructions emanate from there. If he is perchance bringing my mother back from an outstation visit, my father and I add an hour and a half to the normal estimated travel time, some for the wrong turns & some for 2 relaxed souls jabbering away and momentarily forgetting where they are headed.

The high point wearing my navigator's cap came when I sat in a bus which plied from the Interstate Bus Terminus to Gurgaon, about 30 km away. While still a long way away, the driver came to a diversion because of some road repairs and was soon lost and looking about helplessly for guidance from the passengers. It was as if I had come across Van Gogh admitting he was colour blind, till I realized the poor guy probably had no need to know a single other route than the one he faithfully followed day after day. I saw my moment and moved to a seat closer to the front. Someone was trying to help and I couldn't just jump in knowing how men in these parts react to women telling them what to do. A little later I made a suggestion, and then another. Soon both the guide & the guided were looking to me for instructions. And so it came to pass that not only did a woman tell a Haryana Roadways driver where to go, but also for the first (and maybe last) time a bus rattled through the posh Embassy area like the Starship Enterprise!