Thursday, March 5, 2009


I first discovered that I could write when I was in high school. A quaint revelation growing up in the Middle East, in the relatively protective environment of the small oil-rich Arab state of Kuwait where I was born. The cultural influence of Islam was strong here, in a conservative country without alcohol or bars of any kind. The advantage for expatriates was that it was an ideal place to raise kids.

In those days, during the early 1980s, Kuwait was a quiet Sheikhdom with state owned television and the latest music. Broadcast came into our homes in the form of the best of American shows. Star Trek, Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Magnum PI, Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and soap operas like Dynasty and Dallas were all the rage. Cartoons from Walt Disney and Hannah Barbara were big with kids. BBC documentaries like World About Us and Horizon made for current information and very interesting viewing. While, in record stores, you could find anything from Deep Purple to Saxon to Abba to Cindy Lauper. I was hooked on Black Sabbath early on! My personal preference in TV viewing was cartoons, documentaries, specific shows like Magnum PI among others, and all Sci-fi.

The national obsession was soccer and I remember playing the sport daily just before class in soaring temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius. A repugnant thought for the uninitiated I’m sure. But then, I was only the backie as some of my classmates felt I was too rough or violent a soccer player. I could do little harm confined to my D, chatting up my goalie at times as the centre forwards were in the other team’s D. Though that wasn’t always the case as I did save the day on many an occasion. My inimitable style gave my defense team mates the chance to repel the ominous danger of a goal against us. My favorite football club at the time was Liverpool FC, England. I grew out of soccer a long time ago but still believe that there is little today that can match the fundamental competence of the unpredictable juggernauts that Liverpool were in their hay day. Flair comes later. And Bob Paisley was perhaps the best manager they ever had. Liverpool FC was original magic. My first encounter of the third kind inculcating an essence of inspiration, energy, tenacity, dedication and that propitious, often collapsible, event horizon: saved in the nick of time. For Liverpool it was only a game. A season they apparently cruised across with distinctive natural ease. But for the rest of us the game was life. And life is a long game. Seasons come and go, one so different from the other.

Looking back, I often feel it was a relatively innocent and stable time. Rebellions had passed with the 70s. A time when Microsoft and CD-Rs/DVD-Rs had yet to arrive and change the world for evermore. Today, Divas are emphatic and music is drivel.

I am Indian by decent. Born to parents from the Konkan region in the state of Maharashtra, western India. And all Indian expatriate kids in Kuwait went to any one of the Indian English Grade schools governed by the central board; with the exception of a few well-to-do who enrolled in the odd American school and so forth. That is how I learned the English language. My reading habits were erratic. Like most kids I started out with comic books and later, just as other teenagers, I began with the Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. Soon, and for no apparent reason, I jumped to and meandered through diverse genres randomly reading authors such as Raymond Chandler, Harold Robbins, Ayn Rand, Agatha Christie and Robert Ludlum. Yes, there was a stint somewhere reading fact case histories of the Manson murders in California, the Christie crimes in England and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by W.M Shirer. Not much Iater I was initiated into Science fiction. Then again, not much into reading anything I could lay my hands on I discovered the three greats: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. And science fiction is all I’ve ever dreamt of writing ever since.

A first attempt at writing a Political Thriller of a novella with a twist landed me a vanity publishing contract from New York in the mid 80s. The synopsis of an ongoing second attempt at, I confess, a haphazard unplanned Fantasy in the early 90’s caught the attention of a publisher in New Delhi who asked to review the manuscript. I never finished the work. Somehow, initial misgivings are uncanny indicators of a possible future; like instinct. From the onset of my impression that I could be a novelist – way back in high school – I had realized that writing was about experience. One could tell a story if one knew what one was talking about. That was over twenty years ago.

I remember, through jams with my band as a rock ‘n roll front-man or through life in general, I never imagined that I would end up as a writer in corporate communications scripting for audio visuals, and least of all in a city like Bombay. My love of writing actually began with fiction. But, for all practical purposes, that is what I do for a living today.

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