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Posts Tagged ‘musings’

Australian Open is over and so are my days of vegetating in front of the telly. *sigh* No more excuses. Now I have my butt down to work. I make a half-heated move to slide my butt off the bed. Okay, but before I go, I really should figure out what else happened while I was away. So I randomly switch channels and discover:

A) Man U won their match against Arsenal 3-1. I try to get excited but find I’m unable to care. I do follow the Premier League but only because several friends are football fanatics (read Manchester United) and it is impossible to have a conversation with them unless you know who’s where in the premier league points table. In fact, I currently support Chelsea only to piss them off. Chelsea vs ManU should be cracker. Meanwhile I’m more curious about the Russian Billionaire and owner of Chelsea. I wonder if wasshisname is on his yacht with a bevy of models. But since the boat comes with an anti-paparazzi photo shield, there’s no way anyone is gonna find out is there? BTW, there’s Abramovich owning Chelsea, Usmanov part owning Arsenal…what’s with Russian billionaires owning English FCs?

B) There’s some furore going on over some BT Brinjals. Everyone is screaming at a beleaguered Jairam Ramesh and I ask myself if I want to find out what fuss is about. The answer is an emphatic no. I mean I do like the occasional baingan bharta but not enough to try and make sense of the din. I move on.

C) A nine year old girl has been raped in Goa. Hold on there’s something that puzzles me. As I listen further, I find the girl is Russian. And suddenly it’s all very clear. Ah, so that’s how she escaped the first eight years and nine months unscathed.

D) The stock market is down but not enough to interest me. Yet.

E) Some Nooria Yusuf or Haveli chick went on a demolition derby after consuming…hold on, one can of beer??!!!! Come on, you can lie better than that. I am the worst drinker around and get buzzed when I’m merely down half a glass, but even I can’t get drunk enough to ram a taxi and run over traffic constables on one can of beer. Pop a date rape drug and pretend amnesia. When you ‘come to’ say someone spiked your drink while you were looking elsewhere. Shout rape and become the victim instead. Deflect suspicion from your homicidal jaunt.

*Sigh* Time to get a move on. Truly. But hey, what’s that? I’ve got a message from a friend. It’s Margaritas in the afternoon today. I guess work can wait another day.

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I am travelling these days. I just got back from one and am getting ready to go on another. From now on, I’ll be on holiday for two weeks every month. I’ll be going to Delhi, Himachal, Europe and Uttarakhand between now and September. And maybe, just maybe, I might manage to sneak in a weekend visit to Goa.

As you can see, my calendar is pretty packed. So I’ll be blogging infrequently. The thing is, when I’m on holiday, I don’t read newspapers. And the last thing on my mind is waxing on the golden rules of writing. Therefore, the only thing I can write is travelogues. And no one reads them. And why should they? They are booorrrrinnngggg.

Pico Iyer, I’m not. Not only do I not have his facility and versatility with words, I’m not even as adventurous.

One, I’m vegetarian, so most local cuisine is out of my palate purview. And who wants to read about how much more succulent cauliflower is in Himachal vis-à-vis in Bombay?

Two, I’ve reached that age when I’m not inclined to slum it out anymore. I fly to a place and check into a decent hotel. So I can’t write about the visual delights along the scenic route to a particular place. I will be driving in Europe, though. And I’m not sure there will be that much to write about that. Driving in Europe is hardly as eventful, or as death-defying, as it is in India. I mean what am I going to write? How novel and exciting filling one’s gas tank oneself is? It is exciting, though. Almost like learning how to tie one’s shoelaces.

Three, people are generally courteous, so there’s no drama there.

And then everything is orderly. Trains come and go when they’re supposed to, and from where they are supposed to. Taxis are generally clean and reliable. They’ll go where you want to go and their meters are accurate. Pavements are actually available to walk on.

As I said, booorrriiinnngggg!

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You know how us Indians, almost all of us universally, have been brought up on the funda that life is a constant grind? And that all we can do is struggle and hope for the best? And as a corollary, the oft repeated verse from the Gita – Karmanyevadhikaraste Maphaleshu Kadachan is quoted? (Methinks it’s the only thing people have read in the Gita. Certainly, it’s the only one I’ve read. I tried to read the whole book, though. Honestly I did. Many times. I gave it up every time. Almost all Hindu texts, to me, appear to be misogynistic rants.)

It’s a whole load of crap. Let me tell you where I’m coming from:

Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions: When I first started writing, I just wrote because I had a story that excited me. And I knew I was writing it well. That’s it. I just wanted it published. I knew it was good enough to be published. More importantly, I believed it was going to get published. And lo! Within three days of submitting the MS I got a contract. The second one followed. And now there, are expectations that I’ll churn out a third one before the year is out. My life is harder now than when I first began writing! Which brings me to an unrelated but important observation – getting success is easy, maintaining it is hard.

Blog: I started blogging because I write a journal-like entry every morning anyway. So I figured, why not put it on the Net? And let’s face it, it gives me a platform to voice my opinions, pontificate and popularize my book (soon to be books). As an added advantage, it allows me to put up favorable reviews and edit bad ones. Other than that, I’m the laziest blogger in the whole world.

Therefore, it came as pleasant surprise when I did a search for my blog and found it tops in many directories! I don’t know how and when that happened (Certainly, my blog doesn’t inform me when someone links me). It’s not that I consciously cultivate readership. I don’t go that many other blogs. Or comment on them. I just don’t have the time. When I’m not writing my novel, I’m writing for TV. And when I’m not doing that, I’m writing film screenplays. Then there are newspapers and magazines who want my ‘expert’ opinion on something.

Sales of Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions: I’ve never harangued my publishers for better publicity and promotion for the book, knowing their efforts are inadequate and lots more could be done. I don’t do that because I believe the product is good enough to do well without it. And it is in the bestsellers list every time. More importantly, it’s not dead stock. Every book store I ask tells me the book is a ‘fast moving item.’

There was this one books store in Powai which didn’t have the book in its display. When I asked a salesman about it, he helpfully got up and tried to locate it for me. While he was searching, I asked him why it wasn’t on prominent display. He stopped, shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. “It wasn’t a moving.” My heart sank. Anyway, after a few minutes of fruitless searching, he went back to his desk and checked in the computer. And looked up, dazed. “We had fifteen copies. It’s sold out! We’ve placed an order for more.”

Which brings me to another unrelated important observation – in things like books, movies and almost anything to do with popular culture, it is word of mouth publicity that counts. Sure, splashy campaigns in traditional media help in generating visibility, but they don’t always translate into sales. I read many reviews and author interviews in newspapers but I don’t rush out to buy their books. I wait for an opinion from a friend I trust before I fork out the money.

Anyway, to come back to point of this rambling and long winded post, new age stuff with its emphasis on ‘abundance’ and ‘getting what you want is easy’ really works! All you have to do is believe.

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“The Chinese are a communal people,” someone said to me the other day in context of the Beijing Olympics.

I was confused. Communal? Had I missed something about a religious genocide perpretrated by China? So I clarified, “Surely you mean communist? They are communists.”  

This person waves his hand dismissively. “Communal, communist, same thing. You know what I mean.”

“I didn’t. And that’s why I had to clarify,” I replied.

“You writers are all the same. Nitpicking on words, on grammar.”

That got my goat for two reasons. One, that people are too lazy to learn to communicate well and when rebuked, gently mind you, assume an air of disdain and exclaim writers! Good, effective communication is the not the sole purview of writers. And two, I DO NOT NITPICK. But that’s beside the point.

But taking up the first grouse, I wonder why people think language is not important. Even in school, which were the courses that were considered important for our future and which were the ones that were considered irksome?

Remember the groaning “Oh God, why I have to study English?” Sure, we all groaned the same way about math and science also. But there was a difference. There we meant “Oh God! I’m not prepared enough.” Or “Omigod! I’m going to fail and the spend the rest of my life as an auto mechanic,” whereas in the case of language we meant, “Oh God, why do I have to waste my time studying active and passive verbs when I could be studying math and avoiding that very future?”

Language falls under the purview of art. And you know what the popular perception about art is. It’s good if you have a talent for it but not the end of the world if you don’t.

I say, the exact converse is true. When I was in college pursuing a graduate degree in economics, one of our teachers told us, “Learn language first. If you are not articulate, you can be the best economist but it won’t matter because you will not be able to put your ideas across.”

A word of advice I’ve never forgotten.

Here’s an interesting article I came across on the subject. You might want to give it a peek.

PS: I don’t agree with arts not being important either. Sure science and math are the building blocks of a hunger-free, disease-free world. But what good is a developed, modern world if there is no music, no theatre, no literature to beautify it?

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I’ve been getting a lot of hate mail and hate comments. You don’t see them because, of course, I don’t approve them.

I don’t understand this. I mean, I can understand it if your rant is against the book, because you’ve paid good money for it (assuming of, course, that you’ve bought it and not borrowed/pinched it). So if you’re feeling cheated, rave on. (Although, even there I’d feel better if the comments were constructive and not pure venom.)

But rants against the blog? Which is free? How demanding are we getting? I understand that your time is limited and if devote an ‘x’ number of seconds to a site, that is ‘x’ seconds less for something else that you may consider more worthwhile.

But, seriously, grow up. If you don’t like something, move on. That’s what I do. A couple of seconds of skimming tells me whether I want to spend more time on that particular site or not. I don’t crib about having wasted my time by visiting a particular site and then, contrarily, spend more time in leaving a hate comment.

At first I got a bit upset because I had made it very clear from the very beginning that:

  • A) There’s only so much gyaan you can impart on the craft of writing. As the end of the day you have to do the writing.
  • B) I use my blog as my morning pages as well. So there will be days when I’m not dropping pearls of wisdom.

But then I realised that this was their way, albeit a convoluted one, to get me to visit their blogs. There’s nothing quite like a little rant to get noticed, is there? Perhaps, something to keep in mind about when you’re writing your bestseller?

Here’s one I got on the book today. Well, it’s not on the book per se.

This guy wrote: Hi, I’m a fan of your book. Keep up the good work.

To which I replied: Thank you so much. One does aim to please

To which he replied: Hmmm, you sound rude and arrogant.

I give up!

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Today is just one of those days. I had a feeling as soon as I got up that it was going to be one of those days. First, I overslept and didn’t get up at five as I had planned to and lost out on a good three hours of uninterrupted writing. And two, my body is killing me. I tried one of those fancy workouts yesterday. I decided that running was not posing much of a challenge and that I needed to push my body some more. So I went in for one of those high-intensity free weights workouts yesterday. And it was fun. Yesterday. Today it’s just a pain in the ass.

My friends find it strange that I have to keep working out more at higher intensities to get the same amount of benefit. For those of you who think the same, read up a bit on peaks and plateaux. Physiological, not geographical.

As one of my friends, a dyed-in-the-wool couch potato, says, “Let me get this right. You start running and lose a bit of weight. Then you stop losing weight because your body has gotten used to that exercise. So, to lose more weight, you have to either run more, for which you don’t have the time, or do a different, higher intensity workout. And you have to keep doing this? I think I’ll stick to my sedentary lifestyle, thank you very much. I mean if I’m still not going to lose all that much weight, why work out at all?”

Hmmm, when you put it that way, it does kinda make it a little bit like running harder to stay in the same place.

Talking of rat races, a thought just occured to me. I chose this lifestyle because I wanted a quality life where I was free for pursue my hobbies and interests. But have I done that? (Hint: the correct answer is no).  I haven’t been mountaineering in two years. Or scuba diving. And it doesn’t seem likely that I will manage it this year either.

I could have, after I’d written Kkrishnaa, but then preproduction took precedence and then the publicity broke. And now there’s pressure on me to finish my second book. And then I have to start work on the Kkrishnaa sequel. And then I have to work on the publicity for the second book.

And I thought I jumped off the treadmill years ago.

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