It was while working on a case relating to potatoes that I realised that I absolutely needed to write about them. Annoyingly, my first thoughts on that didn’t have anything to do with the whats and whys of writing about potatoes, and instead, focused on whether I possessed the necessary competence to do so. Two decades of exam-oriented education have successfully made me deeply insecure about my abilities, sending me into a frenzy of soul-searching and due-diligence every time I start anything new; like an email.
So, what is it that one needs to know and do before they can legitimately write about potatoes? Is the regular eating of potatoes in the course of one’s everyday life enough, or is should one have some biological expertise on the root? Is it recommended that they atleast do some research about potatoes before publishing their opinions about them?
Here’s what I have by way of qualifications towards writing a blog about potatoes –
I am one of what I imagine to be a fairly limited number of Indians who have stumbled Potato: An Ebook published by the Central Potato Research Institute (The CPRI is an organisation which appears to play a fairly significant and somewhat under-recognised role in governing and regulating one of our most important staples) on its sarkari website, which Google warns is hacked. The ebook contains extant information about potato husbandry and cultural practices relating to the tuber’s processing, storage, and use. But surely, I’m only going to be talking through my hat if I don’t know all of this stuff about potatoes before writing about them.
On the other hand, I was born in a Jain family, and everyone should know that Jain scriptures prohibit you from eating potatoes – or anything that grows inside the soil and not above it. But I also happen to have read about technological innovations which may help us grow potatoes in outer space, in the absence of any soil whatsoever.
I’ve also had a couple of misadventures in cooking potatoes, and am often unsure whether I should eat the skin of my jacket potato when in polite company.
How much does personal experience matter while trying to write objectively (or otherwise) about something? What does trivia count for? Is it very different from being knowledgeable about something? As a lawyer, I need to make it my business to be well-informed and doubly-sure about things, often at the expense of trusting actual life experiences. But should this extend to things as mundane and comforting as potatoes? And while I’ve learnt, through mimicry, how to write crisp legal opinions, it’s probably time to find the voice in which I know and can tell my potato tales.