So, plenty of things need to be done before warming up, to be a writer. The Serious Kinds.
Supply yourself amply with caffeine, cigs (any Asian lights for "ladies". No American cigs SVP - like their Foreign Policy, they are full of oil and tar), chai, pens, laptop and working internet. A copy of Tejpal.. lying on the desk. providing subversive inspiration. Do not think of men..any kind of men, including GL, intellectual Punjabi men. Pack yourself with an ample of dose of politics, angst and the pain of your personal life.. and why it has made you stronger. Think of the three continents you have lived on, including South Asia, Europe and the US. Continents you haven't lived on - such as Latin America and Saigon and why you still love a mushy Hindi movie with pakoras. Sometimes, the mad teeming chaos of Delhi itself provides inspiration.
The city that is the Epicenter of the Republic, like a bustling behenji (traditional woman) and Begum, rolled into one. She is like a joint in a sheesha bar - as Mohsin Hamid would say. Or the eyes of those intoxicated Punjabi men, walking past Khan Mkt, with their "Hi Yaar", their cologne-infused denim and their hearts full of Sufi nazms. Not all of them are that classy of course, but you get the picture.
Sometimes I just go to Fab India in Khan Market and smell the Khadi and the herbal perfumes of Jasmine and Sandal..soo soothing and then sit on the roofop cafes. And he is with me in those moments..the one who continue to inspire me. La Muse. Why don't women have muses? Mine include the "South Asian" writers like Hamid and Tejpal and Rushdie, but also the chicken tikkas at Karims. Nothing like eating Surkh kukkads or a kathi kakab roll in the epicenter of La Republic, while gazing at GL Punjabi men walking past, rolled like joints - the kind Mohsin Hamid talks abt in "Moth Smoke". This city now has a subversive sheesha culture too. You can go to daytime café, selling cappuccino and kababs and order a sheesha., Even opposite Shaheed Bhagat Singh college (India's legendary, liberal, freedom fighter-revolutionary) there is one. Completely nuts these Delhites are, I tell you :)
So, one thing you get here in ample supply, along with Power and "Sir-jee" is the kababs and sheesha. One side you have portraits of Gandhi and Nehru preaching secularism, on the other, Delhiites walk into paan shops and order 'Leila' tobacco, imported from straight Turkey and Dubai, ji. Thankfully, we are not infested with the kind of violence manifest in Mohsin Hamid's Punjabi Lahore - our Punjabiat is tamed by the secular Lions of the Republic and the spirit of Gandhi et al. But that is not to say, that Bhagat Singh isn't around.. he lives in the form of the Tejpals and the buzzing, bustling India media aka The Press, however maligned it may be.
My cousin told me yesterday, 'One thing even the policewallahs are scared of in this city and this country, is the "Press" tag. You can drive past a police chowki, without fear, if you have a "Press" tag on your car. I am planning to get one on my mobike." What else can I say - a a country that loves to "hate" itself and doesn't celebrate its democracy.. and its passion for freedom - which lurks under the surface . like the smell of the surkh kukkads and the sheesha, being sold in Bhagat Singh's café. And The Press Tag, I am planning to get for my car..