R for Random Reminiscences

If it was tough to choose what to write for Q, it was relatively very easy for R. A large number of words came tumbling into my mind. This gave me an idea. Why not do something different? Why not capture Random Reminiscences as they came in to my mind? That’s what R stands for today for me.

A method of removing writers block, the dreaded affliction that haunts all writers is to indulge in what’s called ” free flow “. Start with a clean page and write your thoughts as you get them, just as I am doing now. OK, if you want to be technical, I guess for many of us these days, a page is a computer screen and the keyboard has replaced the good old pen.

The word “random” itself has acquired new meaning in current times. In earlier days, it wasn’t used that frequently. James Hilton, the famous British author wrote a book called “Random Harvest” one of the first books I read from the large collection we had at home.  Today “random” seems to mean ” vague, unknown or weird” as in ” random fellow” or “random movie”. Speaking of James Hilton, his “Goodbye Mr. Chips” is a brilliant example of how to portray a character.

As a kid, I read the reminiscences/biographies of two people I greatly admired. “The King’s Story”by Edward, the Duke of Windsor and  several biographies of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, writer extraordinaire! Our images of people alas change with times. In later years, I realized that King Edward VIII who abdicated his throne to become the Duke of Widsor in 1936 perhaps wasn’t half as admirable as he seemed to me as a kid.

I greatly admired P.G.Wodehouse, who happens to be my all time favourite writer. I defended him stoutly when people said he collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. But in later years, I was disappointed to find that he was extraordinarily naive and a weak character in many ways as depicted in Robert McCrum’s “P G Wodehouse: A Life”. These people belonged to a generation that was long before my time.

It is usual for family to feature in some way or the other in your reminiscences. From out of the blue, two images struck me which I hadn’t thought of for decades. The first was that of my maternal grandfather going off to fight in Egypt ( then called Mesopotamia) during World War I as a young doctor in the British Indian Army. He was part of what then was called the Indian Medical Service.

The other and more recent image is that of my paternal grandmother taking off all alone on a world tour in the ’70 s when she was over 60 years old. She went from India to Japan and then to the US where she crossed the continent largely by Greyhound bus, making new friends as she went along. On her way back she came via Europe. What made her travels more admirable was that she knew only little English and yet went to most places on her own!

My grandparents and the others described were surely of a generation more hardy than mine. They enjoyed good health far longer than most of us today. I suppose their lives were relatively more simple. The pace of life must have been much slower. Yet their stories do reflect that they too were rebels at some time in the eyes of a generation previous to theirs!

These random reminiscences show that by using the free flow method and getting thoughts down on paper, it is possible to remove the writer’s block. Try it for yourself!

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