Taking cue from Roerich and Chekhov

Chekhov and Roerich loved the tranquility of Sri Lanka. Source: Ajay Kamalakaran

Chekhov and Roerich loved the tranquility of Sri Lanka. Source: Ajay Kamalakaran

RIR’s former Deputy Editor restarts his column after a 4-month long sabbatical, where he tried to seek inspiration from some of his favourite writers.

It was early December and the signs of burnout were clearly visible on my not-so-young-anymore body. The circles under the eyes were getting darker, the weight was piling on and mental exhaustion was finally beginning to take a toll on me. After a long stretch as deputy editor of this publication, it was time for a break.

The pursuit of peace and quiet took me away from the noise and madness of my hometown Mumbai to Mount Lavinia, a leafy and quite town just a few kilometres south of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. The clean beach and the warm water of the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka was a welcome treat for someone who lived in a city where the waters of the Arabian Sea were so polluted that swimming in them was off limits since the 1970s!

Over the last few months, I did manage to discover for myself why Anton Chekhov and Nicholas Roerich loved the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean.’ The former visited the island on his way back to Moscow from an emotionally draining medical expedition to Sakhalin, a place he would call hell in 1890, and I would call home 113 years later.

Over cups of fine Ceylon Tea and fuelled by a healthier and almost-vegetarian lifestyle and aided by the some of the best Indian contributions to humanity such as yoga and meditation, I got the opportunity to work on something I had been meaning to for years.  It’s a book of short stories from Sakhalin. Watch this space and the RIR website for more details on the book, the closer it gets to publication. Before writing further, I have to admit that the constructive criticism I got for this particular article was well warranted. Yoga, meditation and healthier vegetarian choices have transformed my fitness and mind.

The easy life of the tropics can at times lead to laziness and the more I enjoyed the tranquility, the less attention I could actually pay to finishing my book. Keeping Nicholas Roerich in mind, I decided that the Himalayas might just be the right place to help me refocus on this task. Unlike my Russian idol, I went to one of the most isolated countries in the world, Bhutan.

Tatsang Monastery in Bhutan. Source: Ajay Kamalakaran 

The crisp and clean air, large monasteries and the sight of snow-clad mountains finally helped me get on with my writing and finish the book.

Over the last four years, this column has had a bit of everything from politics to social issues to art and culture and of course, the interesting and amusing situations I faced in Russia over a span of 11 years.  As someone intent on promoting positivity, friendship and international bonding, I am now going to steer away from controversial topics, particularly politics.

One of the best things about writing this column was the interaction that I managed to have with readers via Twitter and even Facebook (when I had an account). Keep the comments and feedback coming. We’re not going to agree on everything but then again, different perspectives make life interesting. 

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