Hello friends —
I’m Girish. I’m an engineer by chance and an amateur philosopher by choice. I’m a reader, storyteller and over-sharer. I think I’m also an impostor. I play chess and harmonica, and I suck at both. I’m a son. I’m a brother. Above all, I’m a friend.
This is the place where I document my pursuits of coolness. You’ll find here: a conversation that touched my heart, a book that made me cry, a story I wanted to tell, a skill I’m not able to master, a project I’ve been working on, and a life that I’m learning to live and love.
The Young Man and the Sea
a really bad description of my life at an offshore gas platform of the national oil company.
On a Sunday afternoon in a downtown café in Mumbai, while having a slow meandering conversation with Kajal, who had been his friend from high school, Girish had a moment of awakening. All the stories that he had ever loved were written in the third person. Like a cameraman zooming in and out of the scene of a movie, as a third person he could reach places which were unfathomable otherwise. For Girish, it was like finding a way out from a cul-de-sac without needing to reverse his car. When Girish first found out that he could write, he wanted to write even better. So, he did what anyone in his place would do: he began taking writing lessons. His shelf was soon filled with all the books on writing one could find on the market, and his computer was filled with all the popular writing courses one could find on the internet. The more time Girish spent learning how to write, the more it dawned on him that there was so much he didn’t know. The more he looked at the road, the longer it began to look. And now, years had passed without Girish being able to furnish a readable short story. He might have given up on writing had it not been for what Kajal said that Sunday afternoon in the café.
“I stopped using Grammarly for writing,” Kajal told him while sipping her popcorn caramel coffee. They are adding popcorn to the coffee, Girish murmured to himself, where is the world going while looking at his normal ginger-lemon tea. When he had told the waiter that he wanted a regular ginger-lemon tea, the waiter gave him a perplexed stare. “Sir, that’s a black tea,” he told Girish as politely as he could. One could not possibly add lemon to the milk without metamorphosizing the milk into the cheese, which Girish had known, but now he wasn’t so sure since he had seen a coffee with popcorn on the menu. So he told him what he loves telling everyone, “I’m lactose intolerant.” There was a certain pleasure he derived from the look on people’s faces when he told them as if they all were wanting him to tell the story of being lactose intolerant. There was nothing more satisfying than having eyes upon you who wants a good story, and so terrifying either.
“Even before I finish my sentence, Grammarly be like—you know it’s good but it can be better, let me show you how you dumbass. Also, will you give me the number of the teacher who taught you English in high school, because here are seven mistakes you have made in the eight lines you have written in the last hour? God! For once I wanted to write without being told that I am not good enough, I have enough people in life to tell me that already,” Kajal ranted with her eyes so big Girish thought they might just pop out of the socket and fall into her popcorn coffee. Perfectionism was not letting them write, Girish told her. He thought about the times he had spent optimizing the structure of one sentence that he totally forgot what he was going to say in the next one. Words are like the river; how would the words flow if you’d keep placing check dams in between?
“I rewrote the first two chapters of the novel that I had told you about last year in the third person, plainly on a Microsoft Word file without Grammarly poking its nose in my business. I’ll save it for the editing,” Kajal said gleefully. “On MS Word? You know there’s a software for novelists called Scrivener…,” Girish paused midway realizing better now that he had been going circles, that it was just another Grammarly, another way to be told that he wasn’t ready yet to write the story that resided somewhere within and around him. The curse of knowing so much is that you end up knowing that you can never know enough. And that is indeed a disturbing thought to live the rest of your life with. Is that the reason why they say ignorance is bliss and fools are always happy?
“There are two types of writers in this world: gardeners and plotters. I had been a gardener earlier, planting the seed of my story and seeing how it grows, but it didn’t work for me. I guess some people are not cut out to be a gardener. I wrote the plot this time before writing my novel, this helps me channel my imagination and acts as a guiding light — telling me where to go,” Kajal blurted as she finished her popcorn coffee. Girish didn’t know whether it was the lemon tea or the charm of the evening but he felt the heat from the gears of his brain fuming. In that moment, Girish just knew what had to be done. He asked Kajal, “Do you want to play a game of chess?” Amazed, Kajal replied, “But I just know the basics, I’m no good at it.” With his grin reaching his ears, Girish told her, “We don’t have to play a perfect game to call it an evening”. Perhaps he was right when he said that, all they had to do was play. Maps were slowing them down, and if all roads were going to be their home, they could safely throw the maps away.