Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Writing in Wonderland

Writing has suddenly become some sort of a passion. It is as if I have unexpectedly found a new medium of expression which is liberating and exciting. This has become an adventure for me like the Wonderland was for Alice. While Alice found secret doors and passages, I am discovering hidden faces of the world around me and more importantly am beginning to unearth dormant characteristics of my personality. There are so many issues that I now want to write about and so many travels that I want to share. Almost every day I sit at my computer, start to write a piece on a new topic but somewhere in the middle lose traction and cannot finish what I started. So I switch on to the next idea that I have and start to pen that down. In the process I have now amassed a collection of unfinished articles, lying on my hard drive, waiting to be completed. In some ways I wish I could be a journalist or a reporter or a researcher. Somerset and the Little Bugs have started calling me “the geek”.

Am I a geek? I do not think so. It is just that since I have started writing, I have also started to read with a more critical eye. Not that I claim to have the authority to be able to critique authors, but certainly I have points of view which I am now more open to voice. Critical reading has also led me towards establishing frameworks to argue my own beliefs and opinions. It is this process of the last few months which has led me to respect some journalists and their writing. One person who stands out is Andy Mukherjee of Bloomberg. He writes on varied topics ranging from traffic congestion in Mumbai to the lack of debt capital markets in India to the infrastructure development in India. Almost all of his articles are very well written and thoroughly researched. It is a pleasure to read his pieces. At this particular point in time, I really wish I had his job (and maybe even his skills). As they say, grass is always greener on the other side and so I guess I will stick to my bank of the river for now.

For how long can I stick to my end of the river though? The temptation to take the plunge and cross over to the other side is strong. While I might want to give writing (part time) a shot that is not the only plunge I am talking about. For some time now I have been thinking about moving back to India. In all honesty, it is a little daunting when I think of it. In the last five and a half years Bombay has changed completely. I do not even know how to file taxes there anymore or for that matter where to shop for groceries and clothes. Most of my friends have moved to the western world. I am not sure that my patience levels will survive the traffic in the city and the public transport there is not what I am used to. Thinking of a shift is trying to attemot starting a life all over again. The big comforting factor though is that if I do move back, it will be to my own country and to my own people. That reduces the stakes involved. I know a lot of people who have moved back after ten or fifteen years in the UK or the US. The question is about securing the right opportunity.

Well that is the other question. I like my current work place and my job. This is an opportunity which has allowed me to exploit my own abilities to the maximum. I work with some great and experienced colleagues. There is a comfort zone that I have found which does not make me complacent but provides me the support to take on new challenges. And new challenges I have found. Whether I come out with flying colors or not, only time will tell.

Another issue is the work culture, which is still not at par with how firms in the west operate. There is a lot left to be done on that front. On many occasions, I have been frustrated with the work culture in India and as of now I get by as I am not on the ground. After a few days I come back to my comfort zone and to a different environment. However, hazards exist in every aspect of life but opportunities are hard to find. Opportunities in India abound and there is very little chance of making full those of any of those prospects without being physically being present on the ground. The cost benefit analysis is mine to undertake and make a decision.

One thing that has sent me reeling down the path of a serious analysis is a comment a close friend made a few days ago. He has known me for quite some time now and has always been supportive. However, this once while I was talking to him about sticking around for a “while longer” he said, “I think you are done with London! It took me two hours to decide to move from Paris to my home. It is where my heart is. Yes there are dangers and there are limitations in my country. But how much more money can you earn? It will never be enough. The peace of mind you earn, however, is priceless. India is different. It is safer and more stable. You have lived and worked here. You understand that economy and culture. So my suggestion is take the plunge.” All of this was said with his trademark twinkle in the eye. He has been quite an inspiration for me and now that he has said this I am thinking even harder. I am not sure what the outcome will be, however, I do hope that I can stick to a logical framework of decision making and make the right choice.

One door at a time and one passage at a time. With that in mind I am hoping to find my way out just like Alice did!

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