Writers and Places (introduction)

Writing ToolsI was born in the Doon valley (Dehradun), in the Himalayan foothills. My parents came from Garhwal, now a part of the state of Uttarakhand. Lying between the sacred rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna, the landscapes of my childhood were made up of forests, waterfalls, caves and hidden pools, Nearly all of these were associated with an ancient legend or a small tidbit of local lore that harked back to the days when the mythical heroes of the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana walked the earth. I recall bathing in a baoli which, the story went, had magically sprung up at the site of Rishi Gautam’s ashram: Ganga, the river goddess had awarded him his own bath tub, we were told, to save him the pre-dawn trek of several miles to the riverbank where he carried out his daily ablution. Not far from my grandfather’s house was a field that had once been the site of the Ashvamedha yagna, the Vedic ritual performed by kings 2000 years ago to establish their power. And not far from this field, on the pebbly shore of the rushing Yamuna river, was a black rock covered in a strange script – the famous rock edict of Kalsi. A chakravartin samrat’s message of peace, self restraint and nonviolence to his people.

Stories surround us. They are the air we breathe to keep our souls afire, to keep consciousness alive. Though writers need solitude to write, no story exists in isolation. It is sited in some landscape, real or imagined. Frequently both.Through these simple posts on writers and places, we could, perhaps, share some of these landscapes and the writers who were shaped by them.

Hope you enjoy reading the first post in this category – Kafka: A Cage in Search of a Bird.

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