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Archive for September, 2008

Okay, it’s official. This is the second X – Files movie that has bombed. Chris Carter has effectively killed the franchise.

I can’t believe how people who managed such a hugely successful TV series for so long have consistently come up with movie ideas that have laid such eggs at the box office. And to think I dragged my friends to this film. They wanted to watch that Jesse James film. I argued fiercely against the plethora of good reviews it garnered, saying it was in the running for Oscars last year and that it was dud. Thankfully the same disregard for reviews held me in good stead while convincing them to go for the X-phillum. ’Cos that certainly didn’t get good reviews.

To put it in perspective, Chris Carter has tried to draw in X philistines with this movie. As a result he’s toned down the spooky stuff and also given the Mulder-Scully relationship extra dimensions. Ironically that’s what put me off the most. Come on guys, the reason I went to watch an X Files movie is I want to see more of the inexplicable paranormal stuff, not some tame organ transplant plot. And the Scully-Mulder exchanges just get mind numbing after a while. And the climax was such a damp squib.

I was sorely disappointed (The scathing looks my friends keep shooting me throughout the film didn’t help). I am a huge fan of the TV series. For years, I set aside everything else on Sundays just so I could watch an episode of my favourite show. I even lit candles on the day they aired the last episode. For many Sundays after that, I faithfully switched on the telly at the appointed time in the hope that Ten Thirteen productions had changed their minds, and was left with a feeling of emptiness when they perversely didn’t.

Anyway, to address another issue, I know I haven’t been writing regularly. I expect that will continue for some more time. The reason is that Diwali is coming up and everyone (most of all my creative director) is keen to take off during the holidays. Now I don’t want to spoil her plans because I really like her (she makes sure I get paid on time). But mostly I want her to have this holiday because she is stressed out and is making my life hell. As a result we have to finish a month’s work in less than half the time.

On yet another separate note, Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions is # 2 on the bestseller list, trailing only Sea of Poppies. At least that is the case in Landmark stores (and elsewhere, I like to think). Life is good.

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Someone time ago I met a screenwriter friend of mine at a workshop. In response to his polite, “What’s new?”, I let off a verbal barrage about Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions. In my defense, the first copy had just come out and the novelty of being a published writer hadn’t quite worn off.

He enthused about what a great achievement it was (he is a nice guy). Of course it was huge! But I wasn’t going to let on that I thought that. What kind of a writer does that? Instead, “Really? I don’t think so,” I said, trying to be oh so blasé about it.

“Are you kidding?” he said, “How you can write in a city like Bombay?”

I disagreed with him then (I still steadfastly maintain that a writer will find a way to write. Anywhere) but I see what he means now.

If it’s not one thing it’s another. At first it was the whole computer crashing business which took two whole days. Even after the comp was resuscitated, the Internet refused to show any signs of life. So I decided to change the ISP. A bad choice as it turned out which led to the whole Tata Indicom fiasco. I ended up wasting a whole week of my time with constant follow ups etc. When it became apparent that it wasn’t happening I had to cancel that, which entailed another flurry of calls. The hunt for yet another ISP began with, you guessed it, another round of calls. I finally settled on MTNL which, while being extremely efficient, still took four days. All in all, I lost three weeks of my life.

A bit extreme, you say? But consider this. All the personal visits and follow-ups on the phone only happen during working hours. Which happen to be my working hours as well. Even if I have to make a visit or a phone call later in the day, say post lunch, and have the morning relatively free, I can’t write. Because once I begin I lose track of the time and before I know it, it’s evening. So all through the morning I have anxiety attacks lest I miss the appointed time and can’t concentrate of writing.

At last, I thought it was all done. Computer, check; Internet check. I could sit back and concentrate on my work. But guess what?  My Internet banking password doesn’t work! According to the call centre, “I must have forgotten my password. Yes, it happens even after everyday use,” they assure me.

The way I see it, I have two choices. Either I could argue with Shweta, Mohnish, Shalini and Rupesh at the call centre, or, as they suggested helpfully, “I could make a personal visit to the nearest bank branch and put in a requisition to reset the password.”

Either way, I prepare to waste another working day. Happy writing guys!

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That brings me to my next subject of discussion – the muse. You know, inspiration is so transient and if I waited for it, I would write only about ten words a day. Most of the times, there is no inspiration and you just hack away at it. Lack of inspiration to plead off work is something only lazy and non-serious writers do. Serious writers hack away at it, knowing that what they are writing is rubbish. They know they will have to revisit what they’ve written. Once if they’re lucky and several times if they’re really unfortunate.

The journalist then asked me to show her where I worked, expecting, I think, a huge room with a scenic view, a solid mahogany desk and huge bookcases sporting leather-bound volumes. Imagine her chagrin when I led her to the spare room with a dictionary, a thesaurus, packets of savoury snacks, used tea cups, snotty tissues and my laptop littered untidily on the bed.

It’s true. I don’t work at a desk but on the bed in the spare room with the telly on all the time. I do have a desk but I don’t like it. I keep promising myself that I will get a huge mahogany one I like (even I have fantasies about what a writer’s life is like) if only out of consideration for my poor back which is strained beyond belief for six-seven hours every day which comprise my work day. But, so far, my back hasn’t complained and consequently I haven’t done anything about it.

Then there were questions like – Do I write according to a plan? Well, the answer to that is, I try to. I always begin with an outline and stick to it till about five chapters. Then I usually have to abandon it. The reason is that when I write the outline, I don’t know my characters. They are, at best, ideas in my head. But when I sit down to write, these characters become personalities. Very strong ones who have their own ideas about where the story should be going and are not shy about dictating their terms.

Do I carry a notebook and pencil everywhere I go? Well, I try to. But don’t always remember to. Oh to hell with it, I never do. I don’t make notes, but the good thing is I am an elephant. No, not physically but memory wise (okay, physically also). So I always remember things.

Towards the end she asked me if I wanted to add anything. I did. I told her, the only other thing I do is write. Everyday.

 

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I had an interview yesterday. You know, what a writer’s life is like etc. So this fresh-faced young journalist arrived. She was star struck which made me feel kinda good because I’m not a celeb. Forget people on the streets, recently when I had lunch with my publisher, she didn’t recognize me. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but I was so mortified that she might not recognize me that I messaged her in advance about what I was wearing. Of course, then she breezed in and spotted me right away. She approached me without hesitation and greeted me like we’ve been lifelong friends who had just had a dinner together last night. I still don’t know whether she would have known me had I not messaged her my attire.

The moment she saw me, the journalist looked mortified. I don’t know what she was expecting but a scruffy, unwashed person lounging around in a tattered tee and tracks was not it. She started to apologize thinking she had arrived too early. But when I reassured that indeed she had not, that I lounge around like this all day unless I have to go somewhere, her face fell. I have a vague feeling that I made everything worse by allaying her apprehensions. Like I had ruined some cherished fantasy in which writers (female ones, at any rate) dress in gossamer silk and drape themselves on sofas, sipping umbrella drinks and smoking slim cigarettes off a cigarette holder, waiting for inspiration to strike.

I hated having to disabuse her of the notion. But it is true that I often don’t bother to dress up before seven in the evening unless I have to go somewhere earlier. In fact, I am so fond of my ultra casual clothing that I resist all attempts to leave home before seven p.m. And then too I agree only if the proposed visit is to a pub. Okay, that is a joke. I also agree to restaurants and other such places that serve alcohol (another joke. I’m on fire!). During the day I only make exceptions for my bank manager and chartered account. Luckily most of the times I can get away with it citing reasons of the all-important but fleeting visit of my muse.

TO BE CONTD…. 

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MTNL Zindabad

I’ve had enough. My Internet’s still not up but I’m not going to let that stop me from writing my blog. Well, every other day at any rate.  Although to be fair, the forced hiatus did me a bit of good. For the first time in six months I could concentrate, as in really concentrate, on my book.  

Earlier, whenever I hit the teeniest-tiniest roadblock, the first thing I usually did was click on the Explorer button. You know, just till the juices started flowing again. Not that I was a net junkie. Not by a long shot. I mean, there were times that I could go by for up to four hours without going onto the Internet. Still, the temptation was always there.

With the temptation removed, I had no option but to hack away at it till I got it right. And I was able to get a lot accomplished. I think I may even finish my book by mid-October. Isn’t it awesome? It’s almost good enough for me to wish for no Internet for just a little while more. No, I didn’t say that! I take that back.

Of course, it wasn’t so in the beginning. I almost went out of my mind thinking Omigod! I’m not connected! No email! I must be missing out on thousands of business opportunities. But gradually I began to relax and realised I wasn’t doing much business through the Internet in the first place. My TV guys were obliging enough to send and get stuff picked on a pen drive. That taken care of, none of the emails I received were pressing in any way. 

So, in a way, I have to thank the Tata Indicom guys. Or the Onicra guys ’cos it wasn’t actually the Tata Indicom people who screwed up, but one of their vendors in charge of delivery and installation of devices. Still it is Tata Indicom’s responsibility. It’s like in Singapore. The pet poops and the owner scoops.

Someone wrote that Tata Indicom must get their act right if they don’t want to get trashed on my blog. But I’m not going to indulge in any Tata Indicom bashing.

Yes, they’ve been lax but, truth be told, there is no service company which has a hundred percent customer satisfaction record. I’ve had problems with Reliance and vodafone. I have friends who’ve had problems with Bharti. So who do you go to? MTNL? Actually, now that I mention it, maybe MTNL is the answer. For one, their broadband is actually broadband and I’m told you can get speeds up to 2 mbps (even though you applied for the 512 kbps plan)! Two, strange as it may sound, the only company I haven’t had a problem with is our good old sarkari MTNL. Can you imagine?

Meanwhile, my time on the Internet is limited so I can’t reply to individual comments personally yet. But I assure you I’m reading them and appreciate your feedback. So please keep visiting and commenting and I will get back soon.

 

 

 

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My Internet’s Still Not Up

Sorry guys, I must seem very ungrateful, not replying to comments and all. Unfortunately, the net’s still not up at my place.

I’ve had the worst, THE WORST experience with Tata Indicom. I’ll write about it soon. 

Here’s hoping I’ll see you guys again soon.

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The bad news is in the headline guys. Thankfully my computer is functional once again but the Internet connectivity is coming along rather slowly. It should be done by Monday and that’s when you can look out for me.

I’m adding it in the category of experiences cos it has REALLY been an experience. Luckily, this time around I had a backup. Will write about it when I’m back.

Ciao till then. And keep writing!

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