The Graveyard of Unwritten Columns

People constantly ask me how I have managed to churn out a column each week without fail for the last 5 years, irrespective of where I am in the world, on diverse subjects that often have no common thread. As many of you have remarked, this column has been a little eclectic and idiosyncratic perhaps because I rarely address the burning topic or issue of the week, unlike other columnists.

My deadline is Friday 8.00 PM. I usually start writing on Wednesday or Thursday, but there have been times when I have fired up the computer only at 4.00 PM or so, created a small cocoon of silence around me and managed to submit the piece just in time. Perceptive readers have always been able to make out the difference between a hastily written, last minute column and one that has been edited and re-edited over a few days.

Ideas keep popping into my head at all odd hours and I have trained myself to jot these down on my iPhone. Often, these ideas are barely enough for one small paragraph, leave alone a whole 600-word column.

Like the pieces I have wanted to write about the show-offs who carry thick tomes of multiple passports just to tell the whole world how much they travel, or the amazing silence at Mumbai Airport as compared to the din at Delhi Airport now that flight announcements have stopped in Mumbai, and lately, the mosquito menace that mars an otherwise terrific experience at the new international airport.

My first online piece, in 1999, was a review of the film “Biwi No 1”. I love doing film reviews, but since the whole world and their grandmothers do them, some much better, despite noting down interesting bits immediately after the movie, I try to avoid writing these up.

Each time I see Mr. Aamir Khan being his pretentious, sanctimonious self on television, I feel like getting up and speed writing a 600-word riposte at one go. But then there are just so many times a horse can be flogged.

The day Sunanda Tharoor committed suicide was also the day that the Syedna of the Bohri community died. It is a sign of the times that Ms. Tharoor’s suicide had front-page centre billing, whereas the Syedna’s death was relegated to a small side column in virtually all the major newspapers…the voyeurs in us have the upper hand these days.

I have also wanted to write about the growing number of men who now pee while sitting so that they can check their messages at the same time, about 3D printers and how they are bringing in a revolution in design and customized printing, about Google God that is supposed to answer questions like “What is my best friend’s favorite color?”, about the imminent death of BBM, about a new Mumbai Darshan list I have come with, about the difference between emergencies (blood dripping, accidents, imminent deaths) and non-emergencies (everything else) especially for those who call at odd hours, about WhatsApp having become the new Jokesline, about Poverty Porn that donors feed on, about 1 Tablespoon and Varun providing better pizzas than Dominoes in Matunga, about gossip guys, about the difference between “marriage” and “wedding” and about the big issue of nominal aphasia as we grow older.

My note-taking apps are littered with these gravestone headings. None of these will get written…and perhaps sometimes it is a good idea to just let our imagination take care of the words that would otherwise have been written.


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