No, this is not a happy hobby post. In fact, that is the problem. I do not have hobbies. Whatever I have doesn’t make me happy. Let me back up and explain a bit.
I love playing the Veena. Whenever anyone calls it a hobby (for me), I smile politely and say, “No, actually it isn’t a hobby,” and they walk away thinking it doesn’t qualify to even be a hobby for me. In reality, all I am thinking is how far from a hobby it is because I freak out over getting my songs in order, making no mistakes, and polishing the performance off perfectly. Every rendezvous with my Veena is like a performance, even though all of it is to an audience of myself, within the four walls of my bedroom.
I enjoy writing. I use it as a way to get my thoughts in order. After putting those thoughts to paper, I go over the writing to edit the English, weed out repetitive words, use my favourite words, sometimes complicating passages, sometimes over simplifying them. I love the process, but I also hate it. The pursuit seems relentless, and an activity that started as a mere hobby is one of toil and passion now.
Reading is a part of me today. It was a part of me 2.5 decades back, when I was a kid. It was a part of me during all those quarterly after-exam rituals, when my parents would take me to the Landmark (Nungambakkam, Chennai) to buy a truckload of books to get through the holidays. It was a meticulous process of poring over the shelves with a long list in hand, picking and choosing, never discarding anything picked up, dragging them home and finishing them off, one after the other after the other. Nothing has changed in the years that came after. Except, the list has moved to goodreads, the shopping to Amazon, and the hole that is burnt is through mine own pocket now. The deadline is in my head, as, year after year, I compete with myself, racing against time, to read the choicest possible, as if I will not be around to finish them next year.
These are no hobbies. They are passion projects, as Google faithfully informs me.
So, a few years back, I decided to fall headlong into some hobbies, things that I absolutely suck at and have no hope or wish of excelling in. Namely, stitching and painting. Perhaps, it was knitting and coloring. I wouldn’t know the difference. One needles and threads, another makes a splash on paper with crayons, or water colours. Anyway, I got myself a Stitch Kit and threaded away feverishly at a Krishna outline. I got so involved, that I forgot it was supposed to be a hobby meant to calm me down. I stitched one of the parts (the hair perhaps) in red instead of black. And, I got very frustrated with the lack of perfection and gave up. Maybe, that’s why it remains a hobby I look back on fondly (or otherwise). The key is to be able to give up and try it again some other time, without taking it personally. I have mastered the first half, which is giving up. But, the whole hobby thing is too daunting for me to try again, without any stake in the game.
I am on to Mandala coloring these days. The book and colour pencils have been procured. A good start is a job well done. Or some such. I am told Mandala coloring is the most peaceful thing on Earth. Let’s see how I break it to pieces.