Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reading is an abominable hobby.

*Waits for the furor to die down, and then continues*

You must know by now, that I love books. Give me a book and a corner to curl up in, and you can easily forget my existence [except at mealtimes, when you will be painfully reminded of it.] If someone tells me, "Go ahead and read for the rest of your life, all your needs will be taken care of", I will do just that. Go ahead and proceed to read. And read. And read.

So now, why is reading abominable? That's because when it's as passionate as a hobby as it is for me, you wouldn't prefer to do anything else other than read.

I love to sing, I love to sketch, I like to go out for walks. I love to meet people, I like to keep my house clean, but the problem is that I'd rather read than do any of these things. I have a truckload of dresses I cannot wear, because they don't have matching dupattas/accessories, coz I'd rather read then go out and look for them.

In fact, I didn't take up writing as a hobby for very long, because I felt I would prefer to read instead. [So, it is quite a wonder that this is my 100th post on this blog, not a mean achievement for someone who refused to start a blog coz "she didn't have anything to write about."]

My problem is that I read everything that can be read. I read signboards when I am on the road. I read idiotic ad posters while waiting my turn in a queue. I even read stuff like articles on how well Hum Aapke Hain Koun is doing, in a 1995 India Today while waiting at the doctor's! For heavens' sake, I even read the stuff on the paper covers made of magazine pages, in which they wrap bananas or medicines!

Sometimes it gets very irritating. It is as if there is a demon inside me which has to be sated. When I lived in TamilNadu for a while, I went crazy for a while coz I couldn't read Tamil signboards when I travelled. So I went ahead and learnt how to read and write Tamil, and the demon inside was happy.

When my sister needs to talk to me, she first clears the place of all reading material (and food), and only then talks to me. Coz it is only then that she gets my complete attention. Poor kid.

Sometimes, I have to confess, it is an escapist technique too. Something bothering me? Something unpleasant happening? Drown myself in a book.

As much pleasure as reading gives me, sometimes I wish I had never been introduced to books. I would have had so much time to do other things! An uncle once told me about his friend who doesn't read, his reasoning being that he would rather go out and experience life, rather than experience others' lives. I had scoffed at it at that time, but now I think he did have a point.

Oh I know, I know, all that I need to do is strike the right balance. Give the demon as much reading as it wishes, but wake up and give as much importance to the other things in life. Oh, I do have my priorities in order. I don't neglect important things, blah blah. But when something can be avoided, I most certainly do.

But, as they say, a problem recognized, is half-solved. I intend to cut down on reading drastically, and start smelling the flowers. I've even taken a few first steps. I have bought drawing sheets and pencils. I am going to leave my Tanpura/Tamboori at the music shop tonight, to get it repaired, and will resume singing once it is ready. I intend to even find a tailor and get all my dresses and gift sarees in order (most disgusting of tasks, but yet). Wish me the best, please.

53 comments:

Shastri said...

I am the first here? :)
Shruthi, I guess I can empathise very well with you, being an avid reader my self. I have been reading every bunch of letter that I have come across, yes, the banana wraps to the piece of paper that they give with the cut veg-puff in Ayyangar bakeries :)
But luckily for me, reading has helped me to be better than I would otherwise have been. I am a better writer, photographer, communicator and of course more knowledgeable than I would be without reading.
Yes, learning and experiencing from like are a must, you cant keep on experiencing others' lives for ever, but what the heck, I would rather read Mein Kamph than trying to be a dictator myself and experience what goes in the mind of one. I mean to say, there is only so much of time you have within your life tobe able to experience everything.
And yes, all the best for your singing!

Vani said...

Oh My God, Shruthi,

You sounded so true! My mom's biggest grouse about me is that I read too much...she says that if I'd read text books with so much concentration, I'd have topped the IITs, or become President of the United States or so on. And yeah, the comment on dresses and sarees...made me feel so guilty about the heaps of clothes I have, and am not using for the lack of right accessories. It was a good wake-up call for me.

Great Post. I think I will take your lead and do something else too.

rk said...

shruthi, i really loved your 100th post, just as i loved the other 99 posts.
remember the bonda shop incident? well, i read anything anywhere i can lay my hands on.
sorry to be out of context.just wanted to tell you one thing about metblog. i think when you do anything as a hobby, you need freedom and you shouldn't be pressurised on deadlines. and those guys ask you to put more than 3 posts a week, people will simply write for the sake of writing. that's what i feel. the intensity won't be there. it's my personal opinion. what do u say?

congrats on the 100th post at nycthemeron, professor. good luck for the future.

Shruthi said...

Shastri: Thank you! :)
And oh, I am not deriding the hobby. I would never ever do that - it still remains my greatest passion ;) And I agree with you that it has made me what I am. A better person, on the whole (or so I choose to think ;)).
There are some things that you cannot experience yourself in one lifetime, and you can experience it by proxy, by reading about it ;) -- But when you neglect your other hobbies (like I am doing) -- it is then that I feel reading comes in the way :D

Vani: You too?? My mom keeps telling me the same thing - If you had put in the same effort in other fields in life, you would have been an achiever ;)
I am glad I served as an alarm to you :)

RK: Thank you, Bellur!! And I did remember you when writing about paper covers ;)
About metblogs - you are right that the pressure might stifle creativity. But it really depends on the person, right? That is why I thought twice before signing up - then I thought I would give it a try, and if I found that I could not do justice to it, I would leave. And so far, it is ok!

Rk said...

it is an escapist technique too.
It recently occurred to me that, I sleep or I read only to avoid the demons and thousand things waiting to eat my brain out. TV fails to involve me, I get switched off quite easily. I am not a voracious reader even as I would like to be, but recently started reading only to avoid thinking -past preset and future. Only reading and sleep (of course excepting comp) can help in keeping away the demons.

Rk said...

[OffTopic]
http://bostonreview.net/BR31.4/lahiri.html
And congrats on 100th post!

bellur said...

justice shruthi,
i referred to myself when i wrote abt the metblg. u can do justice to somany things i know!
and, from now, i will comment as bellur....coz the RK population in your blog seems to be increasing!

Shruthi said...

RK: Hmm... I empathize with you completely. I have done that many many times too. But at the end, it is just a temporary comfort. The demons don't really go away, do they?
That article, written by Jhumpa Lahiri on RK Narayan, is very good! I had read a few paragraphs of this a couple of days ago, and then I had lost the link. So I have to thank you for giving me the link again. This time, I read it fully. Excellent.
And thank you :)

Shruthi said...

Bellur: Thank you, that would be of great help! :)
Yeah I know you were talking about yourself, but I explained it, taking myself as an example. I am not that good at taking on so many things either ;) -- I was just giving it a try!

Viky said...

1. Congratulations on the century.
2. Furore. The contest is over. Period.
3. ROFLing at not being able to read Tam boards. Now I know where to send the big bundle of free Marathi ad-papers which are left on my doorstep every weekend.
4. You would have been an utter failure at being a raddi shop owner. You would start reading the old papers instead of selling them forward. :D
5. When something can be avoided, I do. I still wonder, who cooks? All you need is a book and a nook, and what if you think cooking is something avoidable?
6. Drawing sheets and pencils? Tangled Webs, my dear, is also like the contest. Over. Finished. Done. Well done, in fact. :-)
7. Tamboori...super. Tug at a string, read a signboard, tug one more, read the graffiti on the BMTC bus...tug one more...*drifts off* ;-)
8. All the best. :D

mysorean said...

Read, even I do. But not all the time. Yes whatever text can be processed (limited to the knowledge of languages that I have)by my mind does get processed. But I am afraid it's all not a conscious process. It happens at a different level altogether. What I mean is, my sister wouldn't have to clear all the reading stuff in the affinity to get my undivided attention!Well, that also depends on my capability to remember stuff!

Experiencing something is totally different than reading. Writing what you are experiencing and reading what you have written are all again different experiences. You cannot do away with one of them and expect to have lived completely. There needs to be a balance as you have said. And there are desires that one wants to satisfy. If these desires are nto satisfied by reading or writing, then experiencing becomes a must. Hence, some people never learn from others' mistakes how much ever they might read or be told!

mysorean said...

Viky:
LOL! LOL! LOL! Good one!

I forgot to wish "Best of Luck" to Shruti!

Tug at a string, read a signboard, tug one more, read the graffiti on the BMTC bus...tug one more LOL!

Can't stop laughing man!

mysorean said...

Oh!

Best of Luck shruthi!

Still LOL!

Shruthi said...

Viky: ROFL!!!

1. Thank you!
2. Furor is also correct. Muhahaha! :D
3. Ah that won't be much of a problem. I can read Devanagari ;)
4. Definitely. I would have been an utter failure at lots of other things - like the owner of a restaurant. I would have eaten all the food.
5. See previous point. Other than books, and nooks, food is my all-time passion. No more comments on this.
6. :)))) Funny funny. But it is not the end. It is the beginning :D
7. ROFL!!!!! This is really really funny... oh mann!! I can almost imagine myself doing that :D [But for the scenario you suggest, I would have had to sit on the footpath and sing - and about that... ahem.... no comments].
8. Thank you!

Adi: Thank you! :))
I hope you stopped laughing! :) I, for one, haven't. ;)
I don't think I quite understood the first para, but about the second - yes, you are right. There needs to be a balance, and you have to do what you think is right. But, that is the point of my post. Reading is such a passion that I would rather do that than anything else. In that case, I have to forcibly tear myself away from reading. Funny thing is, when I do that, I find that I enjoy myself anyway.

Viky said...

2. My mistake. I don't take the pain of remembering two spellings where one will do the job. It lands me in a soup sometimes, like now, but most of the time, I'm ok. I'll get you yet, some other day, some other time.

5. Oh, we know about your love for food. Had it not been the case, you would not have been looking for a tailor now.

7. I was polite enough not to put it in words. But now that you are okay with it, I will put an old aluminium bowl in front of you, when no one is looking. I can almost visualise it, it won't be much different from Phoebe on the street with her guitar.

mysorean said...

First Para of my comment demystified:
I don't read stuff on the billboards on the road consciously. I mean it gets registered somewhere and I don't lose concentration on what my wife is saying (which is almost always!)! And when I am discussing something with somebody that billboard automatically comes up in the conversation. Hence when someone needs to talk something to me, they don't need to bother if I am reading something or not. I am anyway listening to them! Whew! Quite an explanation that was! Let me know if I need to demystify further!

Shruthi said...

Viky:
2) I have to remember and spell check each of my posts, and comments, starting now :D
5) Assumptions, young man, will get you nowhere ;)
7) ROFL!! "Smelly Cat" with a Tamboori -- blasphemy!!

Adi: That was perfectly clear! Thanks for taking the trouble ;)
Oh yes, I know what you mean now. In general light conversation, my sis doesn't bother to clear any reading material - but for serious discussions, she does. She has to!

Viky said...

Shruthi said...
Bellur: Thank you, .... I am not that good at taking on so many things either ;)


I thought you could eat all you want...
*trying hard not to laugh out loud in office*

Viky said...

2. Of course, lady. People look up to your blogs to improve their language.

5. Correction: Assumptions, my lady, will take you nowhere, but to the truth. Remember how we assumed to derive something from the first principles.

7. Will you also bark at the people who drop change, like Phoebe?

Praveen said...

Great !
I really admire this kind of readers afterall to belong to same group.
However mine it was bit different, I just went into reading habit just to avoid the people & to enjoy the lonelyness

Maverick said...

hhhhmmmmmm u plan ur posts well ahead ! i like reading too but only tht i cannot do anything continously for a long time, i read, i go out, i surf net and then i read again :-)

Shyam said...

Shruthi, are you me? :) When I read this post, I felt like somebody had read my mind! :) I'm exactly the same - I love embroidery, painting, cooking (but i manage that - I've gotta live!), going for walks, watching TV, even playing Harry Potter video games... but I tend to do too little of those things because books come first and foremost and always. There isnt enough time in the day to read AND do other things, especially when I'm working :(

Inder said...

congratulations on century *clap clap*
i prefer being a couch potato to bookworm. i am scared (jealous?!) of geeky bookworms :P

Srik said...

Congrats on the centuryth post!!

Its really wonderful to read your posts. Its filled with so much information, humour, brilliance!!

Its the story of every book-loving person('Book worm')!

Thanks for the post
LOL :)

Shruthi said...

Viky: Ho, ho, very funny! Again I speak about assumptions - and your philosophical rambling will not drive me away ;)
About Phoebe - please, I haven't reached that state yet :O

Praveen: So, some of our reasons are the same, anyway ;)

Maverick: I wouldn't say I plan them well ahead, but yes, I keep thinking that yes, I should write about such and such a thing soon! :)

Shyam: Ah, glad to see yet another soul who shares my problem :) Yeah that's so true - when you are working, you tend to stick to the interest that is the closest to your heart/or the easiest ;)

Inder: Thank you thank you :) We seem to be opposites! :) I hardly every watch TV!

Srik: Ohhoooo so much praise!! Thank you, I am flattered :)

Viky said...

Yeah, yeah.

raj plus said...

Congrats, Shruthi, on a flawless 100, as they say in cricket.Yours is one of the best blogs around.Keep going.

Reading books,per se,is not wrong, but variety is important. If, for instance,the only type of books one reads are of the blood-and-murder variety, the reader's spouse can be a worried person. As I tried to explain in one of my earliest posts.

http://chennaikaran.blogspot.com/2005/08/homicidal-bibliophile.html

Just Mohit said...

"read the stuff on the paper covers made of magazine pages, in which they wrap bananas or medicines!"
Deja vu, all over again!

jhantu said...

Why try and cut down or give-up on the one thing that apparently u find the most interesting and engrossing in the whole wide world?? Doesnt that seem to be a bit foolish?

Shruthi said...

Viky: ;)

Raj Plus: Wow, Thank you so much - I am honoured :)
Yeah I remember that post of yours - it is hilarious ;)

Just Mohit: Aha? :D

Jhantu: Whoever talked of giving it up? That is one thing I would never do! Tell me, when your house is in a royal mess, you don't have anything to wear, and other talents you are gifted with are going down the drain, which is more foolish? Sitting with a book because you like it so much, or giving that a break, and exploring the other aspects of life? Think about it!

Chirayu said...

Hi Shruthi,

Greetings from Chirayu in Pune. I came to your blog through a search for 'Kannada' on Technorati blog search engine.

I was searching for Kannada language blogs on the Internet and reached your blog. It doesn't have Kannada content, but it made for good reading, and hence the comment.

Good luck with your reading sojourns and hope to see a few posts on reviews of books that you may have read in the recent past.

All the best with blogging.

Thanks and Regards,
Chirayu

Shruthi said...

Chirayu: Thanks for dropping by -- You can find links to Kannada blogs here.

scarecrow said...

i thought i used to read too much...seems am just a novice..

Shruthi said...

Scarecrow: Maybe you should remain that way ;)

chitra said...

Aaaah....now I get to say congrats !!

Shruthi said...

Chitra: Thank you :)

Deepika said...

Hi Shruti,

I know exactly how you feel. You just described me in the past two years.

From one Readers Anonymous to another...it's not so bad. What I've started doing is being more particular about what I read. I generally don't read any random novel. Only the really good stuff. And I love reading inspiring stuff, and things that I can apply to my own life.

This may be cruel when you're trying NOT to read, but here are couple of good books I've read of late: Stillness Speaks; The Life of Pi; Many Lives, Many Masters; Ramakrishna and His Disciples (the one by Christopher Isherwood); Letters to a Young Poet, Interpreter of Maladies, The Prophet... Okay I'll stop there. Let me know if you like any of those.

Viky said...

Shru, a review of Many lives, Many masters here

Sachin said...

Shruthi, first of all, congrats on the century!!

Another thing, the only way you can be equated to Phoebe is maybe the way she is so fluent in French!!!

I wonder how all people who are passionate about books and reading them have the same kind of problems (maybe its not a problem for some)...that one of letting go of many other interests that they may have. Another common grievance is that loved ones feel that books are more important than maybe spending time with them (I kinda don't agree with that one).

Shruthi, I share 2 of your passions, viz. Reading and food!!! And nothing can keep me away from those...on second thoughts, there are a few more important things. :) Anyway, this post too was a great "read". And thanks to RK for that link and though I have yet to read through it, I am a great fan of Narayan's and I liked Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. Take care.

Shruthi said...

Deepika: Reader's Anonymous :)))
Yup, what you say does make a lot of sense. Selective reading. But it also requires tremedous will-power :) When I have a few hours free, and a paperback thriller next to me, it takes all - and I mean ALL my will-power not to pick it up!
That's a nice list - have read some of them. Will try the others - thanks! :)

Viky: That was a nice review - interesting theme. Thanks for the link!

Sachin: Phoebe = French, Me = English? :D
Ah, same problems? :)
Oh I also don't agree about reading coming in the way of spending time with loved ones. For me - loved ones take priority, especially if the time with them is limited! :)
Food and Reading -- what a life, yes? :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats Shruthi on your century posts!

The way you write is so good that it makes "Reading 'your blog' a hobby" for us :-)

Chaitanya

Shruthi said...

Chaitanya: Wow! :) What a compliment! ;) Thank you!!

Emma said...

I can empathise with you so much on this - I am as obsessed so much that if for some reason I haven't been able to do much reading, I start to feel guilty.

ಉಉನಾಶೆ said...

Shruti:

When I read the lines : "My problem is that I read everything that can be read. .....wrap bananas or medicines!", I thought 'wow... there is one more likeme'. And then I read other comments, there are many more!

I need to ask my wife to read these comments. There are other people like her husband!

My best is here... A week after marriage, we were on a walk and there I found a small piece of paper on street, and I picked to read it. My wife asked me, 'Why did you pick it ? Did you think it was a lottery ticket ?' ...

10 years after marriage, I dont read even half of what I used to read, before marriage! :o( :o(

If Chaitanya had not said it, I would have said. I am reading your blog for last one hour (3 entries + 43 + 17 + ? comments).

I read your "Bad English Contest entry"... Good one... I mean.. "very very bad". :o).

Shruthi said...

Emma: Ha ha :) I have never reached that guilty state! :)

Uunaashe: Lottery ticket :))) One more person! Glad that I am not the only strange person around ;)
Happy reading, btw :)

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Devaki said...

Thanks for the tip Shruthi, your book posts are lovely!

I can relate so well to these lines - 'I love to sing, I love to sketch, I like to go out for walks. I love to meet people, I like to keep my house clean, but the problem is that I'd rather read than do any of these things.'

If my mom read this, she'd say you are talking about me! :-)

Btw - I just put up detailed replies to your comments on my blog.

Jay said...

I could so relate to you. But then again my verocious reading is highly seasonal. Though the seasons may last for a very long time at a stretch. :-)

Anil Jagalur said...

100th post indeed! They make such a hue and cry when someone makes a 100 in a cricket match! We must make more here.

I really liked the one about reading trash - ad signs - for instance, and relate to it very well. I have ended up in places where the only reading material available are the film gossip magazines and devoured them as if they were Manna from heaven!

Keep writing, reading. Take care of Gadbad too. ;--) Perhaps that is unnecessary, mothering instincts are stronger than reading instincts?

serviced apartments bangalore said...

Couldn't have agreed with you more..

You got a great blog there Shruthi!

I wish I had come across this earlier

deepti said...
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