Stumbling upon a good read!
It took me an insect bite to open a book and read! weird as it sounds, its true. That damned insect, I dont know what kind, bit me close to my eye and my face swelled like a balloon. Tremendous pain and possibility of being laughed at kept me from going to work the next day and so suddenly, in the middle of hectic schedule and deadlines, I was somehow at home with nothing better to do than lie down. Thats when it finally got me. The ‘serious’ reading mood. And I stumbled upon a book called as ‘Stumbling Upon Happiness’ , by Daniel Gilbert. Actually this book was lying on my shelf for most of the last year. I had bought it from the Oxford’s when I had been there last year. That leads me to another topic about how all these book-stores have brought reading back into ‘fashion’, but that’s besides the point. This amazingly witty and funny book, that I’d hardly bothered to read, made me understand as they say, ‘the science ‘ of happiness. This book is to psychology what Bill Bryson’s book is to science. It presents readers with the concept of how each of our present action is actually the ‘provisioning’ for future happiness and why we may not always be happy in the future in spite of ‘provisioning’ for it. A heady mix of Science, psychology and philosophy! I do not intend to go in detail about this book and write a review on it… okay, I might do that, but not in this post.
It took me six hours to eat up the book and I thought, that was pretty slow! I could have read in three.Why I wondered. Of course I knew the answer (and its not ‘age’!! ). That I’ve not read enough in past so many years. I hardly managed 4 books last year and I dont even remember having read anything extra curricular during my MBA days except a couple of fictions post my placements. By extra curricular I mean something that had no element of ‘management’, because I had almost had an overdose of books like ‘Built to last’, ‘Tipping Point’, ‘The GE Way’ etc. during those two years. I just wrote that because I remember how compulsively I had read those books. The obsession wasnt about ‘books’ and the ideas mentioned in them, it was more about reading ‘management’ books!! Perhaps that just took away the charm of reading for me. Of course that is not to blame ‘management’ books or the competition about knowing something extra, over and above the class or being able to quote sentences from such books during interviews. I must admit, the fault lies with me as a reader, whose intention was not to enjoy and mull over the ideas, but to read as many as them just to stay in competition. It was a misconceived notion.
I remember that as a child I was a total bookworm. That meant, I used to read any printed surface, of course except the school-books. I read story books, comics, ‘mahila jagat’, ‘bhaktimarga pradeep’ – the book of aartya, vrat, vaikalyas etc, newspapers, instruction manuals, even legal affidavits out of curiosity . Even now my folks are surprised when I can quote the exact address of Talathi office which I’d read some19-20 years back on an affidavit, when I was in kindergarten!! My granny began to teach me Marathi well before I was 4. Its amazing how this reading helped me scrap through exams, for I would hardly study. It was never evident till class 7 I suppose, since till then most of the class work depended on how one could mug up dictated answers and reproduce them during the examinations. It was in secondary school that I realised that I could score easily and better than many of my classmates who were toppers till class seven, simply on the basis of ‘useless trivia’ that I’d collected all these years having read whatever that had come my way. In fact by then I realised that the people ahead of me too were well read. All the ‘ratta’ category had fallen behind. I always consider ‘English Medium’ school educated people as ‘na ghar ka, na ghat ka’ – at home there’s vernacular atmosphere, so they don’t read English enough to speak it well (I mean the majority of them) and since they are in English medium, they are taught basics of their mother tongue, their parents dont take much pains to teach their own mother tongue (again, I mean the majority of them). I have met so many such ‘samples’ who are as bad with their mother tongue as they are with English. Fortunately, I am much better at Marathi, simply because I was taught Marathi before even joining school and 80% of my reading comprised of Marathi books, newspapers etc. This is not some shameless bragging, rather it is an argument in favor of reading and beginning to read at early age.
I was always happy to be alone and book in my hand, even till class twelve. These were rarely curricular books. After twelfth however, I guess I lost real touch with reading. It became less fervent year after year , even though, I’ll still attribute my graduation as well as entry into B-school to the base which reading had created, which ensured reasonable success without much trouble to myself of studying or working hard at any point. After twelfth, something changed I guess. I dont know what, but new course, new atmosphere, new friends etc.. and I forgot my good old habit of reading.
Last week I just realised how I had missed reading for enjoyment!! It is very difficult to get into groove once again and read in fixated way like during my teenage days, mostly due to hectic schedule, and largely due to being out of touch! But I feel I must try somehow. I am very much reminded how content I would be , sitting in a corner with a book in hand….