Monday, March 19

Black and white

This post has been held back, for good reasons. It was written when I read Atul's latest post last week and was struck by the coincidence.

After 20 years, I wrote a letter and posted it on Tuesday. I've been in love with the idea of writing and receiving letters for as long as I can remember. I've even written about it on the blog, a long time ago. The question, easily asked, would be - why take the trouble? After all, email is easily accessible, free, convenient and costs nothing. I'm not anti-technology or anything; plenty of emails have been written to a lot of people and there are days I read through some of the old stuff and wonder about how the serious problems of the past can seem childish, petulant or even laughable in the present. But, such is life. One grows, shrugs off every passing year like a skin, only keeping the lessons. Some of us become older, if not wiser and both age and knowledge can soften the sharpest of experiences.In the 21st century, old emails mark our journey and its perfectly natural.  

But email doesn't have that. Even though a voice in your head is asking you to be rational and understand that its just a figment of your imagination, there is a warmth that a letter is capable of lighting in your heart. Even as you look for a letter-opener (I still have one), you can't help smiling; which is silly, since the letter could very well be bad news. On the other hand, it could be someone sharing something of their life; a description, an idea, an experience, a learning... something nondescript to everyone in the world. Except you.
  
Its only to you. For you. That, in this increasingly information-overloaded, over-connected, blase world, is still something special. 

So, superficially, this letter I penned (literally... fountain pen and everything) was the fulfilment of a promise to do so. I'm not sure if the promise was made to the friend.

Or to myself.

But, I'm glad I wrote it.

I have to say, though, that letter-writing has become a privileged and expensive proposition. Letter pads, envelopes, stamps, gum... the list goes on. And when, on a sunny afternoon in Bombay, you enter the sleepy post office and ask for an envelope with the familiar white, blue & red stripes and the 'Par Avion' stamp, you are told, "Sorry, we don't have any. Try the stationery next door." Its a moment rich in irony, pathos and humour. And if writing a letter will let me live more such moments, then that is a wonderful thing.

Song for the moment: Sunday morning - The Velvet Underground

P.S: To be on the safe side, I bought a lot of envelopes. Who knows when they'll go completely out of fashion, no?

Friday, March 9

Thursday, March 1

Do nothing till you hear from me

This is not a rant. Or a whine. Just saying. 

A couple of days back, someone put up a flex-poster (that's how specific you get in advertising, apparently) with some of Henry Miller's quotes on writing. By itself, these Commandments are an interesting read. Inspiring even. But, in the context of an ad agency, they seem a little smarmy.

Right off the bat, there's no doubt that Miller knew his onions when it came to writing, and from what I gather from his Wiki page, living a pretty bohemian life. A great writer who knew it. Therefore, when confronted with his thoughts on the subject, the man on the street can safely read, appreciate, agree, admire and move on. Which I did, the first time around. After a couple of days' hard labour, working towards the demands of the nutters passing themselves off as our discerning patrons, the charm wears off. I was tempted to add a little bit of graffiti suggesting that Mr. Miller ought to interact with some of my clients and then apply his beliefs. Considering his personality, he probably would, have. He'd have enjoyed the subsequent spell of unemployment too, I reckon.

When I first started working in my current job, my head was buzzing with ideas. Not the crazy, half-cocked, pseudo-edgy stuff, mind. But I remember thinking that cracking a creative idea was like a piece of cheese being worried from various angles by rats. I wanted the buzzing in my mind to take a rest. Nowadays, there's silence in there all right. But its sepulchral, not blessed. The volume of work has got to a point where my brain has gone into creative stasis. I just trundle out whatever copy is needed, without giving it much thought. Not a great situation to be in, but then again, neither is unemployment, eh?

I took a leaf out of Miller's book (Point no. 7, to be precise) and saw Carnage yesterday. Had a proper laugh, after a long time. Maybe there's something in what the geezer said after all.

Song for the moment: Somebody that I used to know - Gotye