Acquaintance With Letters

Preserving books and the spirit of reading in dimly lit corners

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on May 10, 2011

Few months back, my father told me about a bookstore in a surprising place for a books store such as that one. As I found my way in a dimly lit alley where I could only see shops of bulky law books I found the bookstore. It was already closed for the day. But as my brother and I were expressing our disappointment of having found the bookstore and not been able to explore it, just when we were making our way back, the sales person who too was ready to hop on his bicycle to call it a day inquired if we were interested to go inside the bookstore, we said yes and with unexpected excitement that he showed, he unlocked the doors of a bookstore that I am certain will be edged in my memory for a long, long time. The things I was absolutely oblivious to were what I think about at several times now.

It is an independent bookstore and goes by the name Rupayana. Not only is it a place where books are treated with the kind of respect they deserve but also a place immensely satisfying for a reader and a book-lover. I say satisfying because they are well-kept and maintained in a way that it is hard to keep one from appreciating it.After couple of visits to that bookstore I started to browse similar independent bookstores around the world that are still operating or once did on the internet. And to my delight I found several of the kind.

The independent bookstores offer writers and readers place, atmosphere and almost always the companionship and help of the bookstore staff. These bookstores have an air which is unique to them which has a sense of history to it and a story to tell. Because such bookstores are not there just to sell books, they are there to offer you a place where you can read and celebrate books. That’s where the integral difference between Commercial and Independent-bookstores-with-a-heart lies, Independent bookstores celebrate books and do not compromise respect for books at any cost.

Like all good things, these Independent bookstores too have to face hurdles and obstacles due to which several have been forced to close down. But nevertheless they exist and I believe almost everywhere, we just need to search and explore because there are always enough people to admire things like these and have the courage and strength to see that they exist. While I was reading about Independent bookstores around the world a lot of them have been forced to close down because of financial reasons but as evidence that people care about such things I scrolled through hundreds of articles in the protest of such closures.

Whilst these bookstores manage survival, I never fail to recognise the efforts that are put in to make and keep up such a haven for book lovers. I will find it hard to find even more to believe that a person with utter disregard for books can create such a place. Only when a person is truly in love with books and knows the value attached to reading can she or he create it in the first place. Like many people who crave for a books stacked together to be read and a collection of books that is discussed and highly thought of, some of them have the resources and courage to open a bookstore, one with a soul.

Opening and maintaining a bookstore, any bookstore for that matter requires funds and lots of them. Therefore not many Independent bookstores have risen to worldwide fame.  But who needs fame and money when you have satisfaction of preserving books in the best of their spirits and encouraging reading as a blissful habit? But there are inevitable situations which arise without worldwide fame and funds which certainly are hard hitting and real and uproot the very existence of Independent bookstores causing them to close down. One such bookstore among the hundreds that have had similar fate I read about was based in San Francisco called ‘Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books’. The name forced a smile on my face followed by sadness that a bookstore with such a name had to be closed down.

Such harsh fate that these Independent bookstores have met and the realisation of their importance forced me to ponder on them. Even though we have found replacements and substitutes for almost everything, we must not fail to realise the importance that such Independent bookstores have on us and the impact they have on our personalities. After all we are human beings not robots, we do not need books alone to extract knowledge, we need the inspiration to read them and be in an environment where we can create a haven in our minds to respect and acknowledge them. And that is what these Independent bookstores around the world offer, they inspire us to read for pleasure and work and while we do that, they silently keep the spirit of books alive.

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The Miracle of J.K. Rowling

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on April 12, 2010

Infinite times now, I might have already wondered how it really feels to be the ‘Chosen One’. By ‘Chosen One’ I simply do not mean it in Harry Potter terms but moreover to be ‘selected’ to even have an idea as such. More than anything, more than J.K. Rowling the Young Adult Icon, J.K. Rowling the celebrity, more than any of it, what really never fails to amaze me is J.K. Rowling the ‘Chosen One’ to have the idea bestowed upon and all in all J.K. Rowling-The Writer.

I as are thousands of millions others, am a ‘hard core’ fan of Harry Potter and the wonder the creation By J.K. Rowling that Harry Potter is. But here I am not to write of why and how the series has fortified my mind and heart but will try to explore the story that is behind Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling and their union, finally.

Rowling says she thought about Harry Potter first when travelling on a train back to London. Now what could she possibly have seen to have such a sensational idea?(I would appreciate if the readers are able to ignore my periodic praise for Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling, even though I try to be unbiased but since I have read Harry Potter and can never be ‘not loyal’ to it, forgive me for the occasional appreciation which just might be not well-received by the people who think otherwise).A documentary on J.K. Rowling, ’A Year In The Life Of J.K. Rowling’ aired on Fox History and Entertainments reveals several things which the Harry potter might connect to.

J.K. Rowling had a rather strained and a frightened relationship with her father and her imagination could never really allow the protagonist, Harry to have a whole family, instead it allowed him to have none. Instead what Rowling always thought a perfect father figure should be like, she found that ‘perfect father figure’ in the characters of Dumbledore, Hagrid and McGonagall and Mrs. Weasley as his partly ideal mother figures. The documentary also informs us of ‘the cupboard under the stairs’ which was once a part of her early homes. Even though she never had to live there, Harry had to, for years through his childhood.

Joanne’s favourite virtue is courage and that would rather be an easy guess for a Harry Potter reader, since she not only made courage a de facto motto of Gryffindor (one of the houses of the Hogwarts School For Witchcraft and Wizardry) but practically let her characters be ‘courageous’ too, for the story, for the readers.

All this and more is not mere coincidence of Rowling’s and Harry Potter’s world, it certainly is more than that, sure more than that.

What I could derive from all this is the f act that what is usually ‘said’ and associated with Harry Potter or any other fiction or fantasy work is the creation of a new world, a new universe and definitely an impossible one, but I think that what constitutes J.K. Rowling’s world is not something she created, not something that is an ‘another’ world but a part of herself, her life, what that is in reality and what that she secretly and wished to live and the one she did. Harry Potter is no one else but a part of her own soul, which is shy alike Rowling, courageous alike Rowling (courageous with her words that she is) and certainly with birthdays alike.

People, who often deject Harry Potter as a piece of ‘pure fantasy’, must reconsider their thoughts and realise that what they simply call ‘child like fantasy’ is not fantasy after all. Several would even argue that what Rowling does is that she glorifies ‘life’, glorifies death, glorifies friendship. But often do those same people fail to grasp that what they simply call glorification is the depiction of extreme conditions, adversities in which humans still remain humane, friend will be a friend still then and humanity will remain so, even then.

What inspired J.K. Rowling, what allowed her horses of imagination to run so fast and in a direction so correct that they ran into ‘Harry Potter’?

What gave her inspiration were the several things, situations and people whom she sometimes had and other times wished she had and other times not so much. But what she initially had was a struggled life, barely the fraction of life that she has now. She wrote, as did thousands, as do thousands and always do, she had a life as ordinary as any. Now when we relate Harry Potter facts, character, story, places even to the fragments of her life, they seem important enough, sad or happy enough and finally inspirational enough. But what if she had failed to receive inspiration from what she lived daily? What if she did not even care to pep into her past to weave the characters of Harry Potter? May be we could have never known Harry living in the ‘cupboard under the stairs’…

What inspires us and how much we allow ourselves to be inspired really?

J.K. Rowling lived her life in normalcy, as general and normal it could be sometimes more. But what she did have control over was the power to observe, imagine, hope and finally be inspired, inspired to improve her life in a Harry Potter world, inspired to share her life, a part of her soul, Harry Potter with the world. Such is the power of being inspire, simply.

What wonder Harry Potter is now can be described by even an eleven year old reading it, its success and more over acceptance among people of this world for they want to believe in the victory of good over evil, extraordinary friendships and the supreme power of hope and love. All this simply inspired from a life being live in normalcy by a woman, a mother who was a story teller only to her kid(s),17 years earlier? This ‘miracle’ that the success of Harry potter and J.K. Rowling is now is simply an example for all the habitants of this globe, what can really be the result of being inspired, being inspired to share, to fulfil and complete one’s life through this gift bestowed upon us, gift of creating fiction, gift of imagination.

I’m sure J.K. Rowling has fulfilled several of her dreams, tried out left out mischief and finally had the life or rather partly lived a life she wished, she always wanted. If a woman’s desire from all that is around her be a miracle, to gain inspiration from each one of our lives, we can do wonders never seen, heard or heard of. The ultimate need is to be inspired not only from extraordinary stories and situations but our own life, whether extraordinary or not.

J.K. Rowling gained inspiration from her own life and as she discovered words a medium to express it, she did. Similarly each one us, being the judge of their own potential should be observant enough to be inspired to do things, change them, if necessary. ’J.K. Rowling A Miracle’ is nothing less than an example of the infinite miracles there can be, there should e in this ‘Real’ world of ours.

Role Model

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on January 15, 2010

There are times when this question ’who is your Role Model?’ strikes us. For some of us we simply say ‘not given a thought to’ and others escape simply by naming one. Not that the people they name are not worthy enough, they are, I’m sure they are.

The people who do not name them either they consider no one worthy to be looked up to or I’m afraid to say so but are not quite as good at observing. The people who do actually name their Role Model they are either moved by the achievements of the people they look up to or are not, quite obviously. If they genuinely are then they keenly observe their qualities, the hard work they put in to things, how they improve perfection.

Now one thing that might bother many of us is the fact that how is considering someone a Role Model connected to being a keen observer?

But that is completely related, relevant too. Is it that only people who actually have the job title as ‘social activists’ or who do ‘social service’ have compassion for the poor and do charity for them are entitled to be ‘Role Models’ ? Is it only the person who has the record for most number of runs or who has most number of grand slams can inspire you enough to do something that you are capable of doing or is expected out of you?

No, I disagree to this as I would to any wrong.

It is the sheer lack of observation that does not allows our mind to perceive people around us to be Role Models. It might be more then lack of observation but it surely does not allow our family and acquaintances to become our Role Model. It does not allow our grandfathers who’ve spent their entire life after retirement with grandkids, only to teach them, be with them, and be a part of their child’s ‘child life’ to be a Role Model. It does not allow us to look up to our fathers and mothers,to learn the art of parenting, of which we ourselves are the product,as Role Models. It does not allow our brothers and sisters to be an inspiration enough,even when they are, not necessarily only by guiding us to achieve something by giving us wisdom of what they did to achieve something but by simple making us realise the harsh but true circumstances and inspiring us,by talking to us and explaining things they would have wanted somebody to explain it to them besides the parents, somebody wiser but of the same generation. It and ego does not allow our friends to inspire us, at many occasion as well.

How many of us actually are inspired by seeing our parents toiling away each day to make things better, life better, for us, inspired to be loving enough, caring enough, dedicated enough and finally how to manage things, how to manage life? How many of us are actually inspired by talking to our brother and sisters, simply allowing them to inspire you without any walls of ego or lack of acceptance coming in between?Please also consider that what the questions are associated to it is not about appreciating,but appreciating enough that we consider those deeds those of ‘Role Models’.

Even if some of you are, believe me I would be a happier person and would request you all to share about a person whom you consider a Role Model or a habit which you would want to inculcate in yourself too.

Looking up to a person does not necessarily mean being the replica of that same person but is being motivated by her/his story, a habit or a deed. Considering someone a Role Model does not only refer to addressing Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer, Albert Einstein, Swami Vivekananda and infinite personalities more who have excelled in their fields of expertise and continue to contribute and inspire people, as Role Models.(Sure it does refer to addressing them but there is much more to it.)

I think to consider somebody a Role Model one should not strive to become the same person completely but gain inspiration to do things relevant to each one of our lives. We should be observant enough to notice Role Models around us and acknowledge them which will further encourage them. To choose a Role Model is not finding perfection in humans but is simply allowing our senses to learn and be inspired from the things they have done, they have achieved.

To not to have a Role model is also not wrong but don’t you think that to have no one or nothing to inspire one is to consider the other way that one is perfect? To be perfect after doing things is correct but wanting to be called perfect before making a mark on this planet is not.

I don’t make a claim but am sure of one thing that I allow myself to observe.

My Elder Brother and Grandfather tirelessly are themselves and never fall short of providing me enough evidence that there are Role Models around us and they are no less than any better Role Model and an Einstein (No offense to Mr. Einstein) respectively.

Open your eyes to the billion Role Models around and allow them to be one, let nothing and no one hold you back because what really matters is you being inspired and doing things which would make this planet, Earth a more liveable, habitable place(even though it is and it generally never fails me).

P.S. This is a humble request to all readers to share anything they would like to about being or seeing somebody as a Role Model.