I have a feeling that my closest friends were very surprised when they found out about my sudden passion for knitting. Though to their credit, they have hidden their surprise quite well. The reason for their surprise is understandable, for anyone who has known me over the years, would know that I’ve had only one abiding love – Reading. My mother says she introduced me to books when I was 5 years old and I can say, without exaggeration, that since then I have read every single day of my life. I devour novels, magazines, newspapers, comics, children’s books – anything that I can lay my hands on. I am someone who reads all the information leaflets kept in the seat-pocket-in-front-of-you in an aircraft, the newspaper packets that roadside vendors sell peanuts in and the small print on shampoo bottles while I’m bathing.
Still don’t believe me? I will make my case with the help of some examples. My school did not have a very big library, but you could find the usual John Grishams, Jeffrey Archers and an occasional gem like The Suitable Boy. Some of my classmates were quite kind-hearted and when I begged, they would lend me their library cards, so that sometimes I managed to take home a haul of 6-7 books. Apart from that, I used to borrow books from a small neighbourhood bookshop-cum-library (Mehtas in Sector 10 – for those who live in Ghaziabad). It boasted of one of the finest Archies comic book collections I have ever seen, but finding a good fiction book there was akin to finding a needle in a haystack. In spite of it all, I still managed to read a great deal.
Then came those 2 difficult years – remember I told you how my dear father turned preacher. The general consensus was that all the non-academic reading I was indulging in was harming my academic performance, so to my great horror my library subscription was cancelled. At that moment, I felt as if my life had lost its purpose (all that teenage drama!). But I decided to make the best of a bad situation. I re-read Malory Towers (and the like) for possibly the 100th time, I read the newspaper for hours as if the gospel of god was printed in it, and a few times, I even read my Chemistry textbook in desperation. Once or twice, I managed to ferret home a book from a friend, but got caught by my mother trying to hide it behind a text book. Mind you, I wouldn’t want you to think my parents are the villains of this piece. I give all the credit to my mother for initiating, encouraging, financing and supporting my great love for reading. I wanted to tell you about these incidents only to demonstrate the strength of my love for reading in the face of adversity.
Anyway, taking the story forward. I went off to Law School which was a wonderland for someone who wanted to read. Not only did I have access to one of the best law libraries in Asia, I was also surrounded by extremely well-read people. One of my roommates was reading Jean-Paul Sartre in the first week of our being there, for crying out loud. I knew I had come to the right place. So for the next 5 years, I was almost always found reading a book in the classroom (an observation that made its way to my yearbook). It did affect my grades but a love story ain’t a love story without some heartache.
Even when I started working, not much changed. My most prized possession was a Kindle – I even considered writing a letter of appreciation to Jeff Bezos – and would carry it everywhere with me, even to Court. Like most people, I had dreams of having a big library at home and of opening a book shop one day. Unlike most people, I also dreamed of becoming a librarian and gave serious thought to doing a course on library management. The first blog I started had the name – The Indefatigable Reader – and I intended to write book reviews, but I soon found that I didn’t write as fast I read. My TBR (To Be Read) lists were overflowing, I had too many unread books on my Kindle, there was no more shelf space in my house and Bahrisons (in Khan Market) was contemplating a loyalty card just for me.
And then 3 years ago, I discovered knitting and found my second great passion. From something that I would do over weekends, it became something I had to do every day without fail. I started to dream of meeting knitting designers like I had once dreamed of meeting famous authors. A lot of my time went in learning and practicing new knitting techniques. In all this, my reading life took a huge hit and and frankly, I DID NOT like it. Till then, reading had been like a loyal friend who had never let go of my hand. In my toughest times, I had preferred to read about grief in the privacy of my own company rather than talking about it with other people. It was tough to see such an old friend drifting away and I knew I had to do something.
I found the answer to that problem in Audiobooks. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what Audiobooks are considering their growing popularity. Audiobooks are easy on the ear (pun intended!), not very expensive and leave your hands free to do whatever you like. I started knitting while listening to Audiobooks and it was like a match made in heaven. With my eyes and hands focused on knitting and my ears focused on the Audiobook, I could pay equal attention to both my great loves. Anyone who tells you that reading a book is not the same as listening to it, is trying to pull wool over your eyes. If anything, the modulation of the narrator’s voice makes it a much richer experience. I highly recommend it!
I now call myself – The Indefatigable Kni-der (another new word for you). And my most treasured possession these days is a pair of Bose noise cancellation headphones that I have managed to borrow (steal!) from Nikhil. Life is good again! My old friend is back!
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