Monday, November 23, 2009

Why the US Fails to Inspire Me

My friends wonder why haven’t written much since I came to the US. Before coming here, I used to be an infrequent but regular writer. But now, the writing seems to have dried off completely. (This blog is actually an effort to keep some semblance of writing going.)

I think that’s because I’m in a surrounding that I know nothing about. In India, everything used to inspire a story. I knew the people on the streets. I knew what their story was. A 14 year old bus conductor speaking half-English half-Hindi was intriguing. A pan-wala knowing the richest loan shark of the city was intriguing. And I knew how these things could be true. I knew how they could happen. I could write about them.

In the US, I know nothing. I look at faces and they are just faces. I don’t know their back stories. When I see a woman with long hair done into a choti, I don’t know why she’s dressing unlike other women around. When I see a homeless guitarist on the street, I don’t know where he sleeps at night. I’m afraid to walk into the back-alleys of this country and discover its dirty secrets.

And that, I think, is why I can’t write anymore.

But on the other hand, that might be the very thing to write about. :)


  1. :) That sure is the very thing to write about...

    This place is filled with people who cant think beyond a week, of people who believe in recycling but they do not do it themselves. They believe in saving but they would not do it themselves. They believe in greeting one another with a smile and hello every morning but are not interested in knowing who it is they greet.

    But when you stop thinking about these things - You greet everyone not knowing who he/ she is? or you stop wondering who the homeless guitarist is? or as to why some one is dressed in a certain way !! then you stop being yourself and become one of them... Hope that day does not come. :D

  2. I agree, Vinod.
    Perhaps that's why I haven't done a lot of photography or drawing "about" this place. Here, I only draw what I think is true and that makes my pictures not as full of substance as I have once known them to be. That inner lake of inspiration can only keep from getting dry as long as there are new stories, new people, new information, reality... coming in...
    How can one expect that to happen if you can never get dirty: there's always hand sanitizer and plastic gloves! if you can never talk to anyone: it could be "rude" or "creepy"! if you're not allowed a chance at common sense: there are instructions even on a box of toothpicks! if there's no uncertainty: you can always choose between item 1 and 2 on the menu, and never have a 1.4 or 2.36! if every place is the same, what's there to share, to know about! if history is a collection of hats, cigarette butts and frying pans meticulously rescued and preserved from the ashes at ground zero!
    An imaginative unreality comes from a very real reality... but what comes of a very unreal reality!

  3. @crabbits -- For once I can say I know exactly what you mean.

    However, in my case, the problem is with me and not with the country itself. Let's face it. I'm foreign. I can't hope to understand this country in a single year. Or even after several years. But it's sad nevertheless. :(

  4. Vinod, I guess you are right. US hasnt had much impact on me in terms of finding stories in faces and the intrigue factor.

    But, I would suggest, keep looking. You never know when you might strike gold!

  5. @Awad -- I always keep my eyes and ears open. :)

  6. I wouldn't agree that this country is not inspiring. The difference is that all those fillings and thought need time to be developed and be brought on the surface in a writing form. We all feel much more familiar and closer to our surroundings when we are home, but this place is also home for someone else, try to look trough these people eyes, because they are not just bystanders or passing through like us and there is some beauty about that that needs to be realized yet. The key factor is to get rid off fear and embrace somebody else home as your one and you will see much more than just empty faces.