Chennai entraps me, and how – literally and figuratively: The pictures are of my traditional breakfast at 8am today. It’s been a tradition I follow, to eat at a local restaurant like Sangeetha, Murugan or other, every time I leave Chennai for a while. As I miss the awesome sambhar and chutneys which are rather different here, even if the idli, vada and dosa are abundantly available everywhere in the country, if not the world. I do make idli and dosa at home too, but you cannot replicate the signature sambhars or chutneys of the Murugan’s or the other reputed chains.
Just after my solitary meal, as I walked out of the restaurant near home, I received a call from Indigo – that my 1855hr flight is cancelled due to bad weather in Bangalore – as contrived as it sounded, considering the sunny sky there – I verified on Google. But then, not so surprising after all – if you’re aware of the high profile Chennaite – Sasikala (ref my previous post and the link below), who is on her way there today and perhaps reason why I am destined to leave Chennai only after the culmination of this political drama, that has kept me rooted here. But I’ve had a lot of this drama for now – so I’ve made fresh reservations even at 4 times the cost of my ticket today – to leave tomorrow for my spiritual break.
But I’m reminded now – of lunch a few days back with a top-ranking cop (IPS) friend and an industrialist, both long timers here and high-profile citizens. The discussion over cocktails at the hotels private lounge – was as expected – the very interesting current political debacle. I was, much to the two men’s surprise, able to match their discourse thought for thought. The cop, a few years older than me, even supported my views over our much older friend’s – on a number of instances – till he could not hold his curiosity and asked me: “How do you know so much about Tamil Nadu and the socio-economic-political situation?”
So I smiled and replied after justifying in a few brief sentences – ending with – “I am a keenly analytic observer of humanity – just completing a novel set in contemporary Chennai – but seeing me – who the hell wants to believe in its authenticity!”
Now you tell me – Do I need to dress, eat and speak a certain way to understand the local culture and people! Moreover, how do you know what I feed my minds eye with?
With my novel Across Borders too, many of my friends, even teachers had stated – “It’s just not you, Shree! How do you know so much about rural and traditional Bengali culture and life?”
It’s true, I didn’t study Bengali – let alone Tamil literature. Nor do I need to personally experience everything I write about – because I have a vividly active imagination over my keen observation.
Why must we judge a writer or creative process by the creators personality? Isn’t creativity about the ability to get outside your mind and heart and think from the perspective of others not like yourself? Why does everything I write about have to be my personal life and experience! I feel debilitatingly, creatively entrapped – by my personal and corporate experiences and resultant personality.