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We Need Hobbies

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Every person has some inborn talents in him, which he has to identify, develop and nurture to make his life fulfilling and meaningful.  A man with least education has normally fewer talents, but a person with higher education and better upbringing has many talents or latent potentials that he can tap and exploit.  In short, it is left entirely to the person concerned to develop one?s talents and if he wants, he can do it or otherwise his talents are wasted and gone down the drain.

It is very sad to see many people eating, lazing about or snoring in bed during their holidays or leisure hours when they have nothing else to do, rather than rising up in time to do something creative or meaningful.  Come holidays, they are snoring and getting up only when they are hungry or to answer the calls of nature.  What a pathetic sight it is?  Life is very short and we have to make most of it.  Even if a person is fortunate enough to live for 100 years, he is on this earth for 36,500 days and nothing more.  That is it.  Very few people are fortunate enough to be centenarians and one wonders what physical wrecks most of them may be at such advanced ages.

There are people, who believe in the maxim, "early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise."  How true?  Thereafter, they do their morning chores, brew a cup of tea or coffee and have it to perk them up, read newspapers, follow news on the television, etc.  Then they attend to household jobs.  This is very nice and an organized way of leading one’s life.

Besides this, a man needs some hobby or hobbies and pastimes to bring some meaning to his life.  A man develops and takes up to some hobbies depending on his interests, financial resources, time at his disposal, etc.  From what little I know, people take up different hobbies ranging from collection of stamps, coins, key chains, telephone cards, match boxes, models of aircrafts, cars, trains, etc.  There are people who are fond of photography, music, antiques, cars, horse racing, etc.

Some people pursue hobbies not only to achieve fulfilment and contentment in their lives, but also to make it a full time occupation and selling their creations for earning money and making profits for their livelihood.  Typical examples of such people are painters, potters and glass makers, horticulturists, gardeners, tutors, etc., etc.

However, in my case I was in a total dilemma and predicament as to what hobby I should pursue.  I did not have the financial resources or the aptitude or inclination to take up a hobby that would be quite expensive and difficult to pursue.  Further, I had to gauge my strengths and weaknesses.

…Some people pursue hobbies not only to achieve fulfilment and contentment in their lives, but also to make it a full time occupation …..

I wanted to pursue a hobby that was interesting, engrossing and would not be expensive to force me to put a full stop and call it quits.  Therefore, I thought of many hobbies.  Music was simply out of question, because I could not put up any pretences of being a singer or musician, simply because I could not sing, nor could I play any musical equipment or organ.  I found that photography and antiques were very costly pastimes to pursue, whereas bridge, chess and scrabble were not suited to my temperament.  Angling was also out of question, simply because I did not have the patience and time and secondly angling is normally a solitary and lonely pastime.  I was not fond of cooking, because keeping the ingredients and spices ready, cutting and cleaning the vegetables, pulses, meat, etc., cooking meals and finally scrubbing the utensils and tidying up kitchen was totally cumbersome and time wasting.  I would rather prefer to read, write, watch television or work on the personal computer rather than cook.  Further, I do not relish eating the food cooked by me, nor others would relish my cooking.  

I then analysed my strengths and plus points.  I felt that I could write relatively well and have a sound general knowledge and grasp of international news and current affairs, some knowledge of history and general knowledge.  Further, I have a good memory, am quite fast in typing and draft relatively well.  I am also a voracious reader of non-fictions, autobiographies, biographies, travelogues, newspapers and magazines and have enough informative about contemporary and past personalities and celebrities. 

Having analysed my strengths and weaknesses, I felt that writing to celebrities and personalities and requesting them for their signed photos and letters would be an ideal hobby and pastime for me, because the expenses would be only on postage and stationery and that would be minimal even if I wrote many letters in a month.  In short, my expenses would be affordable and manageable.  Moreover, I would not have storage or space problems and over the years I would have collectors? items of historical significance and worth and leave behind an appropriate heirloom for my children.

In 1990, I started pursuing this hobby.  Many a time, I did not have the celebrities? and personalities? addresses, but let my imagination fly wild.  For example, I wrote to Mother Teresa by simply addressing the letter:  Mother Teresa, c/o Missionaries of Charity, Calcutta.  I was surprised, when I got her reply, because the letter reached her.

During the initial years, I took help of the embassies of different countries for celebrity addresses.  I began this hobby in a very cautious manner, because I did not know whether it was right to write to luminaries and movers and shakers requesting for their autographs, signed photos, etc. and whether they would respond.  Nevertheless, I preferred this method, rather than personally requesting a celebrity for his autograph, because a refusal or snub from him would have left me embarrassed.  When I started getting replies, I was delighted, heartened and pursued the hobby with full vigour.  By the end of 1994 I had about 65 signed photos and letters in my collection.  Today, I have over 500.

Though it would be easier to try to take an autograph by approaching a celebrity, such opportunities are available to only a few who are privileged to get invitations for such events.  If any autograph collector needs help or advice in pursuit of this hobby, I would be very willing to help or proffer advice.

In November 1997, I was very privileged to get in touch with a fellow collector, namely Mrs. Eirene Mowji, Bombay, and see her superb collection of 2,000 plus signed photos and letters.  She used to tell me that she was friendly with Ms. Julie Andrews of the "Sound of Music" fame and, it appears, this Hollywood actress and singer would send her chocolates as gifts and they would correspond regularly.  Sadly, Mrs. Mowji passed away on 14th January, 2003.  This noble, selfless mature lady helped me with nearly 14,000 addresses of celebrities and personalities by regularly posting them to me from Bombay to Bahrain and I shall not forget this old lady.

In December 2001, I met the octogenarian, Mr. S. S. Hitkari in New Delhi and viewed his remarkable and fantastic collection that included the letters of Florence Nightingale, Mahatma Gandhi and Bernard Shaw.  There was a photograph he showed me of both Jawaharlal Nehru and Dalai Lama together, signed by both of them and taken immediately after Dalai Lama fled from China sometime in 1959.
Dailies in India and in the Arabian Gulf have interviewed me and I was also interviewed by one of the glossy magazines of Bahrain.  However, most happy moment was when my name appeared in the Limca Book of Records, 2003 & 2004 editions, which is India?s equivalent of Guinness Book of Records.   

Based on my experience, it is my intention to write a book on autograph collection that could be of immense help to amateurs or youngsters wanting to pursue this fascinating hobby.

Nelson Lewis, Bahrain

Author: Nelson Lewis- Bahrain

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