meetup.com, summer cleaning and talking about creative writing-Taiwan

As around the week-end, took some time today to cleanup my mail inbox, replied some new and old mails which I had forgotten to and deleted the ones which were long past their expiry date. While doing it, came to know that I had joined meetup.com circa 2009. Almost a decade went by and didn’t even realize where it went.

Looking back, I realized I had forgotten what the early days were like on meetup.com. In those days, the only meetups were dating kind, now of course its much more of a fleshed out and caters from Information Technology, Writing, Cooking and even Salsa dancing. I just saw somebody start a salsa group in my hometown.

Anyways, last week after almost 6 months went to a meetup. I had seen How to start writing a short novel being hosted by my friend Dr. Swati Shome.

Interaction with Novelist Tanushree Podder

Copyright – Arun Paria

I had some other engagements and being a Sunday and knowing most Puneties and the laid back culture came at 11:30 . Meetup had shown me around 20 odd people so was expecting a small group of people but turns out there were few writers in making and many wanna-be hacky writers like yours truly, no offence meant to anyone 🙂

There were lot of interesting questions, anecdotes shared by Mme. Tanushree Poddar.

There were couple of young chaps who went to travels and had magical experiences. I was tempted to ask whether it was in Triund (Himalayas somewhere 😉 ) or Parvati Valley. There are lots of places out there where you feel the magic out there. Also if you are with friends and are safe, you can also try to heighten the experiences using hallucinogens like magic mushrooms. I can’t explain it but you really feel everything is communicating with you and it all makes sense. The best part is you don’t get addicted while understanding what some people who might be attuned to nature might be feeling. It’s a sacred feeling.

Coming to the meeting, I realized how much I missed talking and chatting with fellow writers, bloggers etc. I and probably few others helped Swati with reviewing and plugging holes in her non-fiction book on sexuality for teenagers. She showed me an initial print copy the publisher had shared with her, I guess it still has to go with few iterations as the final thing would be available in June.

While I love hardbacks, in this case I would make an exception. I do hope the publisher prices it properly and more and more children and their parents use the book to be able to talk about sex without shame etc. While in some spheres we, the Indian society have become bolder, talk between children and parents are still within the old boundaries while technology has marched on. I am talking here about the middle class only. Kids as small as 6-8 years know about sex which we didn’t know even after reaching majority (i.e. 18) but that’s Swati’s book will talk about.

Incidentally Swati chided me about sharing something like 8 A4 pages of feedback with her, what she didn’t know I probably shared less than half as sex is more a mental thing than anything else.

Anyways, during the interaction and talking with others, I re-realized again that there are so many people like me who feel the need to write. While everybody does pay homage to success, most of us driven by a need to explore ourselves through our characters. In a fictional setting, we could explore any character that we want, the only things that stops us from doing that is our own judgemental self.

Having access to a larger vocabulary also helps so I/we/you don’t become repetitive which is easy to happen as we are easily habituated to words, something like ‘comfort words’ which we use over and over.

At the interaction, I was also transported back to the South African wharf/dock which I had visited during Debconf 2016 as part of Day trip. I had read so many books where the dock and the people were described in great detail especially the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Going to the dock I could feel I was transported to that earlier era.

There was even a bar just next to the wharf and entering there did see quite a few people with tattoos. The only thing missing was perhaps a black eye patch, a peg leg and a talking parrot and I would have been left wondering whether I am in a Peter Pan movie 🙂 Even the shingle on top of the bar was something I had read in dozen of books, rusted, sea birds sitting on top of it as if was they were the rightful owners of the shingle and so many things. It was one of those times where you are perplexed whether you should take a photo or leave it because your mind captures it in so much essence, vitality that the photo or even a video would be pale copies at the best.

I don’t think any experience is going to top that. Of course never say never but still 🙂

Isn’t it fascinating how words, associations, ideas and images relate with each other and take you on a journey.

Talking of journeys, in a couple of months from now, I may or may not travel to Taiwan for a technical conference. While whatever happens is in the future, I have been having a ball of time exploring Taiwan on the web.

One of the things which puzzled me when starting to read about Taiwan I heard the term ‘formosa’ over and over again. Sometime later I opened the wikipedia page and learned that Formosa means ‘beautiful island‘. What has been interesting to read and find how Taiwan sees itself, some people feel it’s part of China and while many don’t. Of course the name ROC or Republic of China doesn’t make it any less confusing. Also the two countries share the same language (Mandarin) and it does fall into the Chinese sphere of influence.

What has made it more fascinating that if China thinks of Taiwan as being part of China, then why don’t any of the Chinese travel books mention Taiwan. I have had more luck finding books of English counties like Chesterfield and many other English counties then finding books about Taiwan. I usually look in seconds sale as nowadays you have lot of seconds sale in my hometown.

Two of the books I would like to read is ‘Forbidden Nation

Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan - Jonathan Manthorpe

and From Far Farmosa.

FROM FAR FORMOSA: The Island, its People and Missions - George Leslie. Mackay 1895

Apparently both these books supposedly give an idea to a lay reader how Taiwan came about.

For practical matters, did come to know that Taiwan has an embassy in New Delhi and perhaps one in Chennai if one needs to pursue Visa matters.

As somebody shared long time, we are indeed living in some interesting times 🙂

At the very end, somebody had asked me to share a hindi rock song. So if you want to impress your girlfriend or boyfriend with an Indian rock song here goes nothing

For p.d.o. people https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SncLwWFrJ0

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