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Archive for May 16th, 2008

There are flip sides to being a writer you know. People are always looking to elicit freebies. For example, the other day I went to the funeral of the mother a friend of a friend of mine. A vague uncle of hers, as soon as he heard that I was a writer, looked at me as though I were the answer to all his prayers and said fervently, “I have a job for you. See all these people here? Well, why don’t you speak a little eulogy for their benefit?”

I was horrified. No amount of protests that I didn’t really know the deceased (may her soul rest in peace) all the well did the trick. He just patted me on the back and said in an avuncular fashion (as he should, since he was the uncle) and said, “You’re a writer, you’ll think of something.”

There I was, stuck with having to write a eulogy for a woman a barely knew. So I did the only thing I could. I rummaged through the dregs of my memories for instances of my interaction with her. The only things that came to mind were the time when I was fourteen and she chased me out of her house with a rolling pin (literally. I’m not making this up) for being a bad influence on her daughter, or the time when we were fifteen and she caught us holed up in the bathroom with a can of beer.

Pin drop silence.

I looked up to see people staring at me. The uncle looked appalled. My friend looked worse.

“How could you?” she fumed later. “You turned my mother’s funeral into a circus.”

Oh well, they did ask a funny writer to speak the eulogy. Seriously, Indians have no sense of humour.

Then there are times when people call up asking for all kinds of favours – copy for brochures, content for their websites, scripts for pilots. Hey, all I’m asking her is her time, they figure.

Never mind that when it comes to returning the favour, they studiously avoid your eyes. So I never really get that pair of glasses free. The best they can do is give me discount on the retail price, which is still higher than the wholesale price by the way.

C’est la vie.

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