09 June 2010

Mother of all Autobiographies

I have read biographies of Hillary Clinton, Michael Jackson & Adolf Hitler.

Found Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ too complex;
liked only Jackson’s. Was bored to death by Hillary’s; there was so little of her heart & soul in it, it was almost like a brochure she wanted to use to aid her political career or maybe one of the many intellectual adornments that would suit her present Secretary of State office. The autobiography I enjoyed the most continues to remain Protima Bedi’s “Timepass”. I read it way back in 2001 when a colleague of mine - Sudhir from 4C Learning – gave it to me. Nine years on & nothing has come close to what I felt when I read that highly controversial book. I couldn’t keep the book down & read it start to end with great fervor. Years later, I visited her dance village Nrityagram in Hesaraghatta to relive the experience. What remains with me, to this day, is her absolute honesty.
I haven’t been able to get my hands on that book again. I don’t know if I would feel the same passion I felt on that first read. Maybe now, I would look at it differently. I may even detest it. You never know! Reading & rereading of a book lend themselves to wholly new experiences of the writing. But what will remain with the book is the way she looked at herself. Her life, relationships, mistakes, & achievements everything was etched with complete truthfulness. To be so candid requires chutzpah.

Asha Parekh in an interview had said she wouldn’t attempt an autobiography because there were a few skeletons in her cupboard she wouldn’t want the world to know. True. It isn’t easy being so truthful, that too in print, about one’s life, the people we loved or hated & the circumstances in which we grew & lived. Your life is connected to so many people that writing about yourself would mean writing about them. The repercussions outweigh the reasons for writing. It requires a great deal of fearlessness. Most of us are scared; me included.

20th Aug 2011
PS: This post was written in 2010. I've bought a copy of Protima's Timepass recently & intend to never part with it (unlike my normal practice of giving away the books i've read & reread & reread).


  1. I haven't read any of the above (yet) but what you have said in the last paragraph is so true. In fact there are so many things which I want to blog about but I simply don't have the guts to because it might cause trouble to myself as well as to some people I know. Sometimes it makes me wish that I had taken up anonymous/pseudonymous blogging! And I'm not even a famous person (yet ;-))

  2. @Anne: sometimes u want to write on all kinds of stuff but hold yourself back. And we arent famous yet hahaha ya i know :)

  3. Mein Kampf is not an autobiography... Its about his political doctrine and ideologies and the events that shaped them. I gave up after reading 128 pages of that book... You should really read, 'The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich' by William Shirer. It is an awesome book and feels like a thriller. The whole second world war is documented there. Amazing book. I too treasure this book a lot and will not give it to anyone :)

  4. @ES: oh thanks for that correction reg Mein Kampf.

    I havent read The Rise & Fall but reading what you've written & esp the fact that it covers the whole of WW2 must try & read it. thanks ES :)