I have been a writer ever since I kept a diary in my formative years. Heaven knows what secrets hid therein – its long gone. My school years were away from home, so many a plaintive letter found its way back to my family – usually requesting more tuck be sent to augment my austere boarding school diet. Then came love letters to my distant beau. When I arrived at my new home in Canada, I sent letters waxing lyrical about the stunning landscape and adventures roaming around coastal British Columbia. I entered the digital fray with the advent of my career – no less than a Tandy 1000 on which I mastered word processing, and ultimately contributing to cyberspace with email and the internet.I bashed out many a technical report for the various projects I managed. press releases, newspaper articles, magazine stories, newsletters, flyers all became part of my creative output.
Click on the icons below to view some of my various creations:
My most recent contribution to the literary world originated in my round-the-world trip in 2001. I never planned to write a book. It came about by accident. That accident occurred when everything was stolen in Delhi at the beginning of my trip to India. It took three weeks to recover my identity. During this time, I was officially a stateless person in a foreign country with no documentation. So, with a lot of time on my hands, I started telling my incredulous friends about what had happened to me, via emails and photographs. I was stunned by this unfortunate mishap, but my friends were amused.
It became a weekly habit to share my adventure with friends, family, and acquaintances. As I wrote more, people asked for more. Each week became another “installment”. People told me it was like carrying around India in their pockets. I had become a writer, and I had a duty to my loyal audience to keep them abreast of my various mishaps, awakenings, and everything else in between.
My voyage became an odyssey as I zigzagged across India. I traveled by every kind of transport available: perilously perched atop an elephant; riding cantankerous camels; boarding ferries close to sinking; and everywhere vehicles of all kinds manoeuvred by drivers with an apparent death wish. One trusty steed took me over a Himalayan summit, dancing with disaster every step of the way. Journeys courtesy of India Rail linked these individual trips, where I sat contentedly with another 23 million daily travelers, watching India unfold over countless thousands of kilometers.
Throughout I was embraced by wonderful hospitality – India is a country where you are never alone. I ended up in places I never planned: once at the end of a gun, and another lost in the desert. I was frequently invited into homes, hosted by complete strangers, sometimes the poorest of the poor with nothing but a makeshift roof over their heads, who were to become wonderful friends.
Despite my minuscule mountaineering gear and experience, I trekked up the frozen heights of the Himalayas across the Throng-La pass at 18,000 feet. I met the Dalai Lama. I was the first Westerner to stay with the remote tribal Singpho people of Assam, accompanied by an army escort in the midst of a civil war. The finale to my trip was a three-week retreat into the stillness of Mount Arunachala, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. There indeed, I experienced that apocryphal stillness of mind, “Nirvana”.
To my amazement, a number of friends collected my weekly email installments, and suggested I put them into a book. My writings became “Nirvana by Installments”. Several editors knocked it into shape, and it even reached a prestigious publisher in England. However it’s one thing to assemble a bunch of words, it’s entirely another to publish a book. The manuscript languished on my hard drive until 2013, when I decided that it was now or never – and entered the world of self-publishing. I did a limited print run – my first edition. I distributed it widely and received good reviews. So now I have it available as an ebook on my blog nirvanabyinstallments.com. The adventure continues.