Monday, March 17, 2014


Recently I saw a short film which touched a chord in me.
The film starts byshowing an old man and his grown up son sitting on a bench in the lawns of their house. The son is reading a newspaper and the old man is staring at the emptiness in front of him. Suddenly he hears a sparrow chirping nearby.
He asks his son“what is it?”
Without turning away from the newspaper, his son replies “It is a sparrow”.
Every time the sparrow hops in a different direction and chirps,the father repeats the question. The fifth time when the old man asks the same question the son gets up from the bench and screams at his father, `How many times should I tell you it is a  Sparrow..Sparrow…Sparrow.`
Offended by his son`s outburst the father gets up from the bench, goes inside the house and returns with a small diary. Opening a particular page in the diary he asks his son to read it aloud.
Son reads, “Today my three year old son asked me 21 times the same question, `What is it?;` pointing to a sparrow in the garden infront of our bench. Without getting angry I hugged my innocent boy affectionately every time and told him it was a sparrow`.
The son realizes his mistake and hugs his father and gives him a kiss.
The film set me thinking about the innocence of children and the innocence of old people!
I was attending a workshop for a small group of aspiring authors as a resource person. My qualification to be a RP was that I already have three books to my credit. The workshop was organized by a good friend, (whose entirefamily was involved in this). His two daughters aged 6 and 11 were also participating in the workshop.  As a part of his talk he was advising the participants about certain “Don`ts”
His six year old daughter who was listening intently interjected innocently` But Appa, you make all those mistakes every day!’. While the participants had a hearty laugh, my friend did not know where to hide his face. He quickly changed the topic and went ahead with his discourse.
Last month my sister`s grand children – six years old twins(a boy and a girl) were in Chennai to attend their uncle`s wedding.  Both are intelligent kids, as most modern day children are, but the boy is far more talkative than the girl. He kept bombarding adults with questions or expressed his opinions on any topic under discussion. His general knowledge is amazing for his age!When he was introduced to the new bride and was told that she is a medical doctor he looked at her from top to bottom and declared `You are too young to be a doctor. I will not accept you as my doctor`. The new bride was dumbfounded!
I remember my eldest grandson, when he was 4 years old (now he is 17) used to make fun of my computer illiteracy.  He would say,“What Thatha, you don`t even know how to operate the computer. Come I will teach you how to play games on the computer”.
I am sure all of us have faced such situations in life. And envied the children for getting away with innocent statements they make without worrying about the impact of their comments on the listener or the consequences of their innocent actions on others.
While today`s children may continue to be innocent on many counts, thanks to the general knowledge they gain watching the TV or surfing the `Net, you cannot take their innocence for granted. Adults cannot get away by giving evasive answers to often embarrassing questions from children. Unfortunately today`s parents/grandparents are ill equipped to handle such children because of their own limited knowledge on a variety of topics.
I know of an old couple in their eighties, both suffering from poor eyesight and hearing problems who have become a burden on their children because of their inability to communicate properly and to look after themselves leading to constant tension in the house,resulting in their getting constantly admonished by the son and daughter-in-law.
People say that as you grow old, you become as innocent as the little children, making comments and observations, totally out of context or irrelevant to the situation, that you cause embarrassment to your near and dear ones, invariably leading them to say that you have become senile in your old age. They refuse to accept that you have become innocent in your old age.
Youngsters will do well to realize that old people deserve the same understanding and tolerance that is shown to innocent children.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Three books in four years

The will to write

by Lakshmi Krupa

R.V. Rajan

R.V. Rajan, author of three books in four years, on how his passion for writing has kept him busy post-retirement

A full house, at a Madras Book Club meeting held recently, eagerly listened to R.V. Rajan, author of three books (Courage My Companion, Don’t Flirt With Rural Marketing and This & That… Then & Now), as he spoke about his experiences of donning the writer’s hat after retiring from a successful career in the advertising industry. In the talk, ‘Getting hooked on writing post retirement’, Rajan, who founded Anugrah Madison Advertising and is currently the chairman of Anugrah Rural Marketing Academy, spoke of his journey from a chawl to winning accolades for his rural marketing campaigns and finally, writing about life.
Humble beginnings
“I was initially writing in Tamil and was a very active member of the Bombay Tamil Sangam,” said Rajan who grew up in Mumbai. “I wrote and got published in small journals and even acted in plays back then. So my writing career, in a sense started as a youngster!” he said. After his education, Rajan took the unorthodox call of working in the advertising field, as a client servicing executive. “In those days, advertising as an industry was practically non-existent. I had stopped writing in those days. But I never stopped reading. I have been a voracious reader and that has not changed. If you want to write, you must read a lot,” he said. Rajan had the audience hooked with his humour, humility and inspiring story. “My youth was a turbulent period. We lived in a chawl in a 225 sq.ft. home. That was the first 26 years of my life,” he said.
Writing courageously
After retiring successfully from his 45-year career as an advertising professional, Rajan went back to his first love — writing. This time in English. It was only fitting that Rajan who grew up reading many autobiographies and biographies made his debut as a writer with his autobiography, Courage My Companion. “I wake up at 4 every morning and write. I find that some of my best writing happens at this time. I also write very well when I travel — because in hotels, when you wake up at 4, you have nothing else to do. At home you pick up the milk and make coffee, etc. But in a hotel you are completely free!” he said. “After retirement I wrote courageously because I had nothing to lose. If I can do it, without any social power or money power, anyone can do it. I also write in a light vein in simple language,” Rajan explained.
From ideas to books
“Whenever I have an idea for a topic, I note it down in one word immediately — in a diary or even my mobile phone. Afterwards, when I sit down to write I expand on it,” he said. Rajan, who is well-known to the great artist R.K. Laxman’s family, has the cartoonist’s rendering of him as his autobiography’s cover. “When I was looking for a cover for my book I remembered that I had this cartoon and immediately decided to use it, which also hooked in a lot of people!” he added. Rajan also candidly spoke of the deals he struck with his publishers to get his books out. “While my publisher was not really convinced about the fact that an autobiography would sell, he said he would do it if I promised to make my next book about rural marketing,” he smiled.
This is how Rajan’s next book, Don’t Flirt With Rural Marketing was born. “There is nothing wrong with asking people if they have read your book. You can’t be shy and become a writer,” he said as the audience laughed. “I am not doing this to make money but to reach out to aspiring youngsters. Today, the e-version of my autobiography is available for free online while my second book has gone in to re-print.”
“I always share what I write with people and take their feedback. I accept their suggestions and the help of those around me to perfect my language before sending the manuscript to the publisher,” Rajan said. “I realised that I had arrived as a writer when I wrote an article for the Open page of The Hindu on the 106 divyadesams that my late wife and I had visited. The feedback was tremendous. Hundreds of calls and emails poured in. That gave me a lot of confidence! You must send out your articles to publish, somewhere. Even if it is just a small journal. There is nothing like seeing your writing in print!” Talking about his third book he said, “My new book This &That… Then & Now, is full of my impressions on different aspects of life. It is a book that you can relate to and relax with.”
As parting words, Rajan said, “Getting published is a time-consuming and often frustrating affair. But these days there are options like print-on-demand and offers where publishers, both in Tamil and English, are coming up with good deals, where you can even self-publish. Once published, work on getting your book reviewed, use social media but most importantly, pursue your dream relentlessly.”

From Metro Plus feature of Hindu dt 2nd March,2014