News East West
TORONTO: Franky Dias, the author of the recently released novel The Taste of Water, is an unassuming man. And for this Indo-Canadian, who also holds a full-time job at Scotiabank, writing is a pure hobby.
As Dias puts it, capturing his meandering thoughts into prose is pure fun.
Over a cup of tea in Mississauga, he opens up about himself, his maiden writing venture and what his novel is all about and the two worlds – the East and the West – he straddles.
The Taste of Water, Dias says, depicts the effervescence of his tiny village in Mangalore which is the source of inspiration for writing this novel.
Its plot centres around Victor who left his south Indian village for the West. Having enriched himself materially in the West, Victor is drawn back to his village by the taste of its water, and the “fragrance of jasmine and the colour of the earth.”
The novel captures the magical quality in this tiny village – full of life, adventurous, and funny.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Tell us briefly about `The Taste of Water’.
In a nutshell, this novel weaves history and folklore. Humour, irreverence and adventure on two continents in a sweeping story spanning three generations set against the backdrop of Indian mythology and western philosophy.
Since your village forms the backdrop to your novel, what was your childhood like growing up in that village?
My village was a tiny piece of land, in between a small valley, with rivers and streams, mountains, trees, areca nut trees. There was no electricity. Life was a wild living adventure – fishing, catching rabbits, and doing all kinds of mischief like any normal boy of that age will do.
Were you into writing from the beginning?
I was into theatre and musicals. I had a keen ear for music, and I loved writing lyrics and composing the tunes. In 1977, I collaborated with Remo Fernandez and composed a piece called Jazz Yathra. Ours was a family of readers and my brother-in law was a prolific Konkani playwright.
So where did you get the inspiration to write?
I was inspired by a blind old lady from my village. This old lady was a great story-teller. She used to narrate amazing stories about life, our existence and maya. The kids of the village used to be so fascinated that they used to sit around her listening to her tales. Perhaps I carried the memories of her story-telling all the way.
Tell us how `The Taste of Water’ happened.
I was recuperating after a surgery to replace a defective aortic valve. While I was convalescing in my cottage at Wyton, I decided to give shape to the characters of my childhood from my poetic village. In reality, I wanted to share the serene bliss of my childhood with my two children. Soon I began to write with full vigour which is when the canvass grew larger, the characters from the village came alive and I could not stop the flow till I finished this novel.
What has influenced your thinking and writing?
I have always been interested in Indian mythology, the gods… where each character in itself is an enormous volume of study. I have also delved into Buddhism. And I am very much interested in yoga and I do practise pranayama for a balanced life. I have gone reasonably deep into Indian mythology and when one is able to grasp the essence of it, it heals our entire being.
Any characters in Indian mythology who have influenced you deeply?
The characters of Indian mythology have redeeming features. They have compassionate as well as destructive elements as we see in real life. Some gods such as Shiva and Kali are destructive while others such as Vishnu and Krishna are compassionate. The law of Karma that says what goes around will come back is quite evident in our mythological stories. In essence, one can live a balanced life if one takes a keen interest in Indian mythology.
Is creativity inborn or can it be taught?
I am of the opinion that pure creativity is inborn like composing a piece of music out of imagination, whereas creativity can also be taught by life experiences like an artisan building a monument.
What is your advice to budding writers?
Write when thoughts come to your mind, and never postpone. Set time to write and start writing regularly. Keep your mind active and manage time well.
Finally, what do we expect next from you?
My next work is titled `Thunderstorm in Vermont’. It is the story of two people on a road trip who meet when their individual lives are at a crossroads.