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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

10 November, 2004

Are Writers All Poets?

I'm stealing Sonia's lines, from a comment she recently made on 'Deja Vu', a smart little piece by Sunil Nair, which attracted an enviable slew of comments from the incredibly cool readers.

Yes all writers are poets to my mind.
It's like asking are wine connoisseurs also gourmets?

Writers, by my intensely personal definition are first and foremost articulate persons. I see this trait shine out like the warm rays of an undisputable sun, peeping through hugley depressing foliage of totally oprressive silences
-whenever a handful of verbal artists are discussing a point. I am yet to come across a writer who goes umm, err.... aaa... whilst passionately trying to get the millisecond attention span of others in the same boat. You can't get it in a
fraction of a second, your chance for fifteen minutes of fame is gone. God bless Andy Warhol, may his soul rest in peace. Perhaps before long it will be five
minutes of fame.

Listening to a very articulate industrial scientist two days ago at the Tata Research Development and Design Centre's truly futuristic auditorium in Hadapsar, Pune, one
who has spent half a century amidst highly competitive steel manufacturing industry, I was touched by the poetry in his talk.

Dr. Amit Chatterjee, a speaker par excellence, though completely paralyzed from neck downwards to his toes, with his booming voice and his crisp diction held the
audience in awe by speaking on Have We Indians Failed To Deliver ?

He began with a quote from T.S. Eliot, and this was news to me -though I have
heard a thousand speakers in this area, no one touched poetry -yes, the ubiquitous
Shakespeare with his explosive fecundity creeps in now and then, but T.S. Eliot? A quote in Swahili would have startled me less.

The quote was about home coming, after having gone on and on in one's life and career, wouldn't be thrilling to come home and see it for the first time? [This
is my attempt at paraphrasing it, as I did not care to memorize the quote].
And that set the tone for his rather rose-tinted look at what an immense job the Indians are doing abroad, though they may flounder here mainly due to the crab mentality. Not a single Indian abroad is unsuccessful, he continually emphasized.

Everyone has heard of the crab mentality, it is one of the most chewed out clich├ęs, which another bigwig had to relate to us -a torture that defies words and description. Yes, Indian crabs are exported in open boxes, because whenever one tries to rise, the others pull him down.

This leg-pulling has happened to me such sickening regularity over the past three decades that it would be a pyrrhic victory for me to relate my experiences and squeeze out a comment from the stolid silence of the lurkers and the voyeurs who
come and go.

Well, the lecture focused selectively on the brilliance of the Indian mind, its creativity and innovativeness, and the venerable Dr. Chatterjee did not spare an opportunity to remind us that the wireless was invented by Sir J.C. Bose and not Marconi -and four more such inventions bettered by innovative Europeans.
But hah, I am straying.

The whole point was a scientist is also a poet.
An industrialist is also a poet.
A trader sitting on his haemorrhoids is also a poet.

Read this, dear readers : a compulsive stock-investing financier in his mid forties once remarked to me, whilst chatting over tea [not coffee, caferati!] that if I make an investment in so and so new company's shares, may be after twenty years
it would open its eyes and blink at me like a pup !

See the strains of poetry in a bland statement here ?

Half the angry workers swearing at each other in hot and humid atmospheres of unventilated industries, swear so poetically, I get not only tickled pink, I get tempted to note these bit down.... for instance, once I heard a very puny one remark to a brawny one, hey if you make that mistake again, I will cut off your nose and shove it up that whenever you fart, you only will suffer !

So to round it off, let me say all writers are poets, but most do not care for the poetic format. I have discerned amazing poetry in words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paulo Coelho, Dr. Suresh Joshi [ a giant in Gujarati literature] even in Ian McEwan -especially his short stories and Michael Ondaatje [his Coming Through Slaughter, a novel based on a raving ranting mad jazz trumpeter, Buddy Bolen is incredibly poetic].

I could go on and on....

cheers !

(c)Max Babi November 2004


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