Cars and Pencils- The Magical Sketches of a Modern vehicle
A ride of thoughts about pencils, writing, and our mutual dislike for everyday driving
I asked my mother what toys my brother and I used the most. She says that we were very fond of cars. I go into my room and pull out the drawer that is reserved for toys and games. The one that you cannot let go of and the idea of giving them away destroys every cell of you and the same one that you have not opened for years. I open it and I discover Beyblades, games, and cars. The hot wheels one because there were not any other companies that offered so and they were the standard of best toys. I look at them and realize how fascinated I was. A group of small cars was what I needed to stay quiet and play in my room. I remember doing this until the age of 10 or 12. Then I started going out to play football. I wonder why I can never let these go. I even photograph them and try to experiment with my photography on cars.
A glance at the toy car reveals the secret of nostalgic joy. These objects were the shortcut to fantasy. Childhood is often seen as a time period of fun and innocence and a carefree time. I tend to disagree with this idea. I feel that children are never given enough agency and more than often, their decisions are taken by some adult who does not even ask the child anything. The car becomes the ride to a world where you can go anywhere and do anything. Freedom was not granted so easily in childhood.
The other thing that cars did for me was to make stories. I would make stories that the Lamborghini would be the protagonist and slam the Ferrari down the street to emerge victoriously. I even upgraded to get one of the Hot Wheels track sets which made the cars jump. I could fly now. Excitement and happiness knew no bounds when the car jumped at high speed. Still, if I see a car jumping, I feel excited. ( That is also the case on the roads but that is a bit of my dark humour coming into the play with a sprinkle of sadism. How happy I feel when a rash driver crashes into a pole!) I made a world in my stories that had my rules and my whims. I could make the helicopter swim in the water and the car move upside down. That is my world. Oh wait, a certain author did a similar thing with spectacles and a certain producer made a series on the idea that earns billions of rupees now! Maybe my thoughts were on the right track and I definitely have the perfect vision!
Now that I have grown up, I do not like the idea of driving on the road. Maybe it would be because the roads are so full of stupid people. Oh, wait. So is the world. Should I dislike the idea of living too? Anyway, driving a car feels like a test of patience more than a task of skill. The traffic and the riding skills of the fellow drivers is Mashallah, especially in Rajkot. ( You can read those details in my take on Driving and friendship). I have achieved the freedom that I desired in childhood. Now, I do not need a car to symbolize freedom for me because I have already achieved it. There is no need to imagine stories as I have been writing them. Or at least writing my heart out in some form or the other.
The above is a podcast version of the same. It is quite different from what we wrote. Give it a listen, maybe? It is fine if you do not.
So what happens to the idea of cars then? It changes its form. The car no longer is an item of fascination but it is reduced to a simple vehicle of commute. It does not matter to me much if I sit in a Ferrari or in a Maruti 800. It certainly matters how good the music system is and who is the driver. I certainly do not like driving that much. Too much Mehnat to be honest. But sure, I can still write stories about cars and planes and helicopters that can swim. Oh wait, those are just inverted boats.
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Writing reminds me of a tool that we often use. Pencil. Maybe it is a lesser-used tool in adulthood. But the beauty of pencil is the ease and simplicity. No ink spills, no tension of being perfect in ink, and most importantly, no lids to take care of. ( Yes Privileged people, I know that there are pencils with lids too, but they are called mechanical pencils or switchable lead pencils) Pen ka to lid sambhal lo to achievement hai. Also the wonderful ease of erasing it after you have written it is so cool. Think about it and now you would realize that as you grow up, you have to use a pen because either you cannot be honest and admit your mistake to rectify it or the people around are not ready to do so because their ego is so fragile. Also, the pressure of perfection haunts us like Mihir from Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. It never dies and is reborn every time you think it died. ( Sorry Gen Z, you need to figure this out. Maybe Smriti Irani shall welcome you better than Ukrainian students? IDK. Take your chances?)
It was such an interesting and fascinating thing to graduate from pencil to pen that in that fascination, we discarded the pure joy of having a carefree attitude of scribbling and writing. Just like how we forget the simple joys of life and run in a rat race as we grow up. The pencil is not just a tool but a secret ingredient of joy. It can be of any size and you can sketch someone’s face through it. If you are good at it, you could become a sketch artist. If you are bad at it, you can sell it as abstract art after laminating and preserving it. But most importantly, if you are lucky enough, the sketch shall become a reality and you would be living like Sanju in Shakalaka Boom Boom. Just do not draw Hitler again. Oh, wait. There is already one that is attacking a small country that happens to be its neighbour. Should never have given this idea to anyone. F*** *** Sanju!
Anyway, pencils are beautiful tools of expression. Sketch with it, scribble with it, write with it, or put it behind your ear to make a shading painting. The sky's the limit. Maybe you can use pencils to draw cars. Maybe you can sketch while you sit in a car and you are commuting? At least you can blame the bad sketch on the bad roads or put it in an abstract museum? In any case, you gotta lead the way! Car-bon Dioxide is the way to a colourful future for us.
That is all from my side! Read on to see Raj’s take on the same topic. You can also read previous newsletters like Gossip and Water Bottles, Travel and Movies, Chair and Footwear, Mental Health and Curtains, Fans and advertisements, Gardening and Economies of effort, Lights and Rejection, Bags and Batman, Doors, and Feminism, Driving and Friendship, or Humor and Instant Messaging!
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P.S - I completed season 1 of Song Analysis on my youtube channel- TuneThoughts. Check it out if you like it.
The Joy of Using Pencils
Ah, I finally get to sit and write about something very dear to me–pencils. Somehow I feel a very natural connection with pencils, using them gives me a deep sense of joy that any other writing device may not be able to. What also brings me close to pencils is they are closely associated with my habit of reading, I love to underline and make notes in my books with a pencil. I was once talking to a friend about how much I love using pencils compared to pens and she very insightfully pointed out that it reflects my preference for impermanence and making space for mistakes. I guess she was right. But I feel there is more to it, something very deep runs between me and the pencil which makes me love them so much, I am yet to discover the cause behind the cosmic love affair. But let’s try it over here, what could it be after all? How and why would anyone feel close to pencils? And not even to any particular one but pencils in general, a crazy sound that much too? If I were to describe what is exactly that gives me pleasure in using pencils; one would certainly be the way it snuggly fits into my hand, the unbearable lightness of its being, the soothing sound it makes when it kisses the paper, and those letters that it leaves behind always seem to be in the liminal stage of fading, in the aftermath of its lovemaking. I love how upon sharpening it rejuvenates itself, how upon erasing it can rewrite something, how easily it allows itself to be carried, and how it knows its own exit just like an actor on stage, it leaves and makes space for others, the spotlight may shuffle from one body to another, but it always falls on a pencil. Ain’t pencils like you and me? The goodness remains, the things it writes last more than centuries–and as a movie made it famous–even when high out in space, it lends itself to use. How much more selfless can a thing be? There is a pouch I have, where all the pencils go after they grow old and short. It is like the old age home for pencils, which becomes their grave too. I do not collect pencils, I stumble upon them or someone gifts them to me, often a lover or a friend, and they have gifted some exquisite ones I must say.
The task at hand requires me to ponder about cars too, in the same breath as pencils, one dies in service, the other kills in service. Cars, ah, I’ve seen boys and men crazy for cars, I can never relate. For me it is simply a vehicle of utility, as long as I can drive it around I do not care about its make and engine and whatnot. Cars and pencils are quite different that way, not only because of the price but somehow we take pencils lightly, despite its implications being so far and wide-reaching. Cars demand and are given a lot of consideration, poor pencils, they live and die anonymously. They truly deserve a better society, where pencils are loved as widely and as well as we love our cars. They both die though, and before that end up being used second hand, and finally find themselves in the dump. Yet, I must say I love my long drives, and I am eternally thankful for the invention of the car for they allow my soul to roam free when out on those drives. Driving, or a long drive even when not diving, can sometimes be like a walk, very therapeutic, just like writing with a pencil can be. In all three activities the rhythm of our thoughts and that activity eventually catch up with each other, and that is when the magic happens.
Let me share with you a few lines that I had written around pencils, ironically on my phone, a couple of years back:
On the edge of a ledge,
hangs the pencil–
the fragile tip
which went on and on and on
spreading carbon across papers,
no more agile now,
the promise of the letter, and comfort
Silence awaits on one side,
paper on the other.
The fall was great
and yet it could not desecrate,
How the wind nudges the pencil on its axis,
how death and silence swirl now.
To get a hold of what I held
only a moment ago,
the pencil that slipped
now lays at the mercy of mere chance…
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