A tourist in my own town

17 Jan

ImageIf you write, or if you have a job that involves writing, here’s a book for you. Skimming through my dog-eared copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, I found this old gem: A Tourist in your Own Town.

Goldberg writes: “A writer is a visitor from the Midwest to New York City for the first time, only she never leaves the Midwest; she sees her own town with the eyes of a tourist in New York City. And she begins to see her life this way too.”

And that’s exactly what we do. We are all visitors from Bangalore to Pune (the places don’t matter) – except that we never leave Bangalore. Instead, we look at our work in Bangalore with the eyes of a tourist from Pune – or Amsterdam!

All around us are stories of courage, of drive, of the gumption to do what it takes to make life better. The boy who keeps his pencil sharpened and always in his pocket, because it’s his only pencil and his most prized possession. The girl who reads roadside graffiti and film posters aloud all the way to school because she’s learnt how to read. The woman who puts Rs 10 aside from every bit of money she earns for her kids’ schooling. We see these stories around us every day. But because we see them all the time, we miss seeing the pencil; the sound of the girl’s voice is drowned in the background noise; and the woman’s daily act of dreaming about the future gets lost in the practical business of living.

We wear glasses coated grey with commonplacitis. Goldberg’s book reminds us to take off those glasses, blow a little on them and wipe them clear. Then take another look at the same world around. The commonplace comes alive once again. And that’s the story everyone wants to hear. Most of all your donor.

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