Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Mom was hospitalized last week for complications related to her diabetes. She's back home now, and doing much better. That sets the context. We all dread hospitals (at least us non-medical folks) for the simple reason that it is synonymous with illness, in some form or the other. But despite being a not-so-desirable place to be in, it can sometimes help one meet some interesting characters. No, not the patients. But the ones accompanying them.

I was keeping watch one night last week, and there's this middle-aged man who sat next to me. I wasn't exactly in a conversational mood, but his infectious optimism slowly warmed me up to him and we got talking about this and that.

"So, what do you do?" He asked eagerly.

"Uh, I'm a software professional. Well, not exactly in that sense - I'm a technical writer."

"Oh, writer. Ok, ok.." He mulled over it for a few seconds.

The next salvo. "So, what do you write about?"

I sighed, smiling. "User manuals."

"Ok, ok. Like that manual that comes with consumer products?"

Here goes. I sighed again.

"Well, technically could compare it with that, but it's not the same."

He nodded. We talked some more about my background, where I studied and so on.

"So, why don't you work in a newspaper? You did journalism..."

Explained. I told him I also wrote other stuff to gratify myself, like writing fiction and stuff online.

"Ah, yes. My niece also does that."

"Yeah? OK..." I nodded.

"She blocks."

Images of a Karate instructor came to mind. Blocks. Maybe she defends blows. Wait a minute. She could also be working as an anti-spammer. Images of a nerd now.

But just to be sure..." uhhh, block?"

"Yes. What you said just now. Online writing. Block."

"Oh, blog!"

"Yes. Block." He grinned.

"'s called blogging. It's a 'g'.." I try explaining.

"Oh. But I'm sure she said block." He had this 'wait-lemme-remember' look on his face now.

"So, what is blog? Is it a website?"

"Well, technically yes, but it's more interactive?" I try explaining again.

Five minutes later...

"Nice. Internet has so many facilities these days."

Facilities. Hmmm.

"So, what do you write in your blog?"

I explained again.

"Oh, good. So do you get paid for it?"

I shook my head.

"Then, why...?"

"Well, there are ways of making money on a blog...I explained some more.

He nodded. And then he went on this trip - he used to write as well as a student, college magazines, articles etc etc. He then turned to me.

"Can I blog too?"

"Of course you can."

"Uh...please give me your email ID. You explain to me over email."

I nod. "Sure." I handed him my business card.

"Thanks. But what do I write?"

"It's upto you, sir," I smiled.

"Hmmm," he mulled over it again.

"Can I write to my old friends?"

"You have emails for that, right..sir?" I said.

"Oh, right." He laughed.

He was silent for a few seconds. I did a shut-eye. Then he nudged me.

"I think I will write poems. I used to, you know."

"Great. That's a good way to start," I agreed.

"Can I write in my mother-tongue? You have all these vernacular software, right?"

"Uh..sure, I think you can. But, you might need assistance from someone who has already done that."

I knew what was coming next, so.."I'm afraid I can't help you out on that one." I smiled apologetically. He smiled equally apologetically. I wondered why.


Then he shook my hand. "Thanks, young man."

I smiled. "Pleasure, sir."

He smiled too and left.

I watched him go, and thought, "Interesting man. I must block this."