Tag Archives: memories

Words are all I have

repressed mem

I never quite understand the process of writing, what connections I make in my unconscious mind, and how (or, why) these connections show up in a particular story. Isn’t it strange that I am a stranger to my modus operandi as a writer of fiction?

Take last month, for example. There I was alone in my parents’ house, in the middle of the night, in bed with the cat, stroking it absently while it shuddered as it dreamt, taking me back to a memory of someone shuddering in the exact same way a long time ago. And even as I lay there in the dark, words started forming in my mind, leading to a story I knew I wanted to write.

I think what it boils down to is this: I remember all kinds of shit. Random details about people I do not talk to anymore, people who are not even indirectly connected to my life in any way, and yet, memories of little moments stay with me, their quirkiest habits, their deepest confessions, their most obscure fears.

I think it’s the way my mind is trained – as a writer – to observe and record. That even if I want to escape, I am a prisoner of my mind.

All of this is fodder for my work, of course. That even when I am not thinking of these randomnesses consciously, they slip through into my words, jolting me back to a vivid past, making me relive a moment I thought I had long forgotten.

I used to think it was a curse. But not anymore.

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Filed under Writing about writing

Day 8: And down the Man-Made Hole we go…

Yes, we really are under the ground

Alice was lost and bewildered precisely because she went down a hole without a tour guide. Fortunately, Seattle’s Underground Tour at the Pioneer Square not only came with a tour guide, but a quirky sarcastic tour guide at that.

But wait… 15 feet below the surface. 90 minutes of history. Not exactly my idea of “fun”.

I was never excited about history lessons. My earliest memory goes something like this:

A grade three classroom at Pratt Memorial High School in Calcutta. Little Mrs. D’souza teaching us about Harshavardhana (or, better known as Harsha), a king who ruled North India in the middle of the 6th century. Me in my white shirt and green tunic uniform sitting inconspicuously in the corner, making silly rhymes to kill time.

But this underground tour came with the “untold” stories of the founding fathers of Seattle. A city that burned down to the ground once and was built twice over. A city whose failed sanitation system had the streets flooded with faeces. A city whose greedy mayor was more concerned about sucking out money from its people rather than remedy the situation. And, ironically, was elected mayor yet again.

Let’s just say this was a history lesson that did not have me day-dreaming.

The brainchild of Bill Speidel, this tour started in 1954 as an attempt to prevent the destruction of historical buildings around Pioneer Square. Speidel was onto something, as this tour is currently one of the highlights of Seattle.

But history or no history, when the time was up, and the tour guide led us out of the musty underground filled with the ghosts and memories of a forgotten era, I was happy to be back in the real world.

Yes, Alice, you have my sympathies.

Photographs: Copyright Sanchari Sur

Under the ground...

A "Crapper" (that's how they were marketed back in the days)

Watch Your Step

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Filed under Travel, West Coast Tales