Coffee and Song and Coetzee, Not One Bloody Word to Write

   Starbucks Koramangala, Bangalore

 Starbucks Koramangala, Bangalore

You have time, much guilt, and pen and paper and a plan for writing that’s fresh-written for the thirtieth, fiftieth time. You’ve had coffee, lots of coffee, and there’s more Americano steaming on the table before you. There’s urgency, and there’s a daze, and there’s a restlessness for writing. But you are dry. All that coffee and there’s no juice yet in you. You’ve planned to buy tea-cake in a moment, but you know that the sweetener won’t move the hand one bit on the page.

There’s a sense of peace, though. (Or is it emptiness? Are the two one?) It’s the feeling that comes from having retired. Once more you’re retired, and once more you’ve resolved that this time around the retirement is real, this time you’ve retired for good, and you’ll write, write full time, write all the time.


There’s Sur o No Sur in the air here at Starbucks, which SoundHound checked out for me: it is sung by a Kevin Johansen, whose name is not a match with the tune, song, and the language of the lyric. The beat is conducive to what I must do, though, which I would do, but for this leaden head.

I finish the coffee, eat two small tea-cakes. I wipe the newly arrived guilt in vain, guilt which comes from being vegan, from knowing there’s butter in the Starbucks Pineapple-Cinnamon Tea Cake. I linger at my table, sipping water. Then I leave, slapping the cover on the pure white page on my tablet.


It’s Monday today. It’s one-thirty. I enter the PVR Gold Cineplex with no guilt. There’s Liam Neeson in the film, so it must be good, I’ve told myself. Watching Liam Neeson would do only good to such creative muscles as I might possess. There’s just me in the cinema hall, and a youngish couple on my row at the back, and a very young couple in the middle on the second row.

Watching Neeson soothes my mind in spite of all the hyper action in the film, such a good and valiant man his character is, but nothing creative stirs in me. After the movie, I go back to Starbucks and open my kindle to Coetzee: Summertime: A kind of autobiography, third in a series, telling in its early pages of a time when he finishes writing his first book and gets it published. Dusklands: That’s the name of his first book. I tell myself I’ll read that book next, and I hurry through the page of Summertime that’s open in my hand. I know as I read that I’ll never write like this man who must’ve pulled a pen right when he was in the womb, which was where he perhaps first learned how to take notes of a dark world. No, no, his fascinating book doesn’t deter me. Every sentence that I put behind makes me want to write, even in this infertile moment.

I reflect on the writing I’ve been doing. It’s so desultory to just blog. And you fish in such shallow waters when you travel for writing; moreover, all the wonders of the world are written about many times over. I’d have to write the small things, the inconsequential events, and my modest insights. Would anybody want to read such stuff? People celebrate such things as the red wheelbarrow, glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens — which the doctor saw and wrote down in verse. Whereas I, I studied to be and failed to become, an engineer. Unlike the doctor, there’s not even a small something that I can extract from my world for the page.

There’s perhaps this thing that I can do if it can help me break through to writing. I can write only for me to read. Or I can write — like that writer in The Moveable Feast who tells Hemingway, and with whom Hemingway agrees — stuff that no one will ever read. (It’s some years since I read Moveable Feast. Please pardon me my recollection. How Coetzee remembers everything!)

Tomorrow, I’ll watch McMafia. I’ll watch it for Nawazuddin Siddiqui. There are only three other Indian actors whom I’ve loved as much as Siddiqui: Anant Nag. Naseeruddin Shah. Om Puri. Watching Siddiqui should get me somewhere in getting started in writing, I think, looking up when Koroko comes up in the speakers which, again, SoundHound looks up for me. The singer is Oumou Sangare. The song and the singer and their names and the rhythm are all in sync. But the number doesn’t appeal to me.

Consuming more Coetzee might do the trick, I tell myself, staying with the Kindle, staying with hope.