(Last Updated on : 24/04/2013)
Irwin Allan Sealy is one of India's post-Independence writers who by the dint of his creative ingenuity and his originality with a style only a travelogue writer would adopt goes on to explore Nature and human, the dwellers the products of nature.
Early Life of Irwin Allan Sealy
Irwin Allan Sealy was born in Allahabad
) in the year1951 and did his schooling and graduation in Lucknow
. He went to La Martiniere School in Lucknow and then on to St. Stephen's College
, Delhi University. Work and academicals fructifications have uprooted him from his homeland depositing him in international universities like Canada, the USA, New Zealand and Australia. Currently he is stemmed at Dehradun
, the native land of Ruskin Bond
. His eye for place and his evocative descriptions are apparent in all his novels and in his travelogue. Sealy, an Anglo-Indian loves colour and wanted to be a painter. "I didn't have it in me.
But the sensitivity to light and colour didn't go away so I write about it," says the 55 year-old writer whose house in Dehradun is an artist's palette - the hill station ('Dariya Dun' in Red) and his house of 30 years are slyly featured in his books. The blue arabesque of Kalidasa
's Ritusamhara (garland of seasons) on the entrance gate; trees laden with fruits; a branch of bougainvillaea shading his 1959 blue Fiat; grey living room; a red pantry where he started Red; and a banana leaf green study. Sealy paints his house himself and experiments with colours.
Contribution of Irwin Allan Sealy
One of the most underrated writers in India, Allan Sealy's creative resourcefulness and eye for detail show up right from his first novel The Trotter-Nama, a exquisite and hyper- real account of seven generations of a dynasty. His first novel The Trotter Nama was published in 1988 and tells the story of seven generations of an Anglo-Indian family. It includes references to his former school which is thinly disguised. The Everest Hotel on the other hand, is in a totally different lush descriptive style, as though it were the work of another writer altogether. Thus unlike any petty author who goes hunting for a distinctive style here is the one who adds a touch of originality and freshness of the valley of flowers and the sunflowers and tulips.
Allan Sealy's first two novels won him the Commonwealth Best Book Award in 1989, the Sahitya Akademi Award
in 1991, and the Crossword Book Award (India's first commercially sponsored prize for novels) in 1998. Like fellow writer Ruskin Bond, he prefers to live away from the glare of publicity in the Himalayan foothills of Dehradun.
Author Irwin Allan Sealy considers his gardener and mason as his gurus for many things. "I'm the mistri's mazdoor (mason's assistant)," he says. It is this charming relationship that forms the premise of his next book.
He is fond of sun. This fondness for sun perhaps comes from years of labour spent in the garden of his home in Dehradun. And his forthcoming book captures everyday accounts of how he built things, how he and his mistri got a brick wall done or the way his mali tolerated him. "I have been learning steadily from them," he says, stressing that his latest work is a record of details but more importantly, is a book of reflection 59th year.
His writing is mutated and beguiled with colour, literally and metaphorically. His last novel, Red, for instance is on painting. "Colour is part of the whole writing," he explains. Not just the literary or the aesthetic, but colour is part of his whole being. The monkish yellow of his kitchen tiles, the aqua of his study, the red cafeteria on a table, the red pantry or his famous blue gate: are but the references of his Dehra den. Sealy's work is characterised by a strong sense of place as well. Zelaldinus, another of his forthcoming works, a book-length sequence of poems, is set in the city of Fatehpur Sikri
, near Agra
. A work in progress, it reflects on the legacy of Akbar
, the Great Mughal
Personal Life of Irwin Allan Sealy
Sealy learnt his lessons in self-reliance from his father, a former police officer who now lives alone in the US. "He taught me how to repair furniture and plumbing gadgets." He's also tried to learn how to meditate - to little success. "I would like it to happen in 10 minutes flat but it takes longer to calm my mind," he says wryly. Wife Cushla introduced him to yoga - so did his friend and neighbour writer Nayantara Sahgal - but in vain. "What one gets in a church, I get in a forest," says Sealy. On such journeys, Cushla and adopted daughter Deepa Rose accompany him every other year - they live in Christchurch, New Zealand. Recently, the couple spent two years living in a cabin on an isolated beach in New Zealand. "We had to cycle 7-8 miles to reach the nearest shop, post office or telephone," he recalls. "And for dinner, we gathered shells and mussels off the beach and made chowder, a thick soup."
For Sealy, a loner at heart, that's a perfect life. "I find it an effort to deal with people," he confesses. Allan has a typical artistic temperament. Allan is what an artist imbued with the nature as his muse ought to be, as artists scuttle and scamper away in a perpetual quest of solid solitary exaltation he is the one who has found alienation while staying amidst the self defined barricades of people, noise and images and still retaining the self. Allan has his fair share of the usual paraphernalia of a writer's life, especially when that writer comes from a generation so often analysed and written about: the same generation as Amitav Ghosh
, Rukun Advani, Mukul Kesavan
, and company.