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Posts Tagged ‘random’

It’s been slow going on most fronts – the cover design (we’re taking all suggestions into account and taking our time over it, too), the third novel and the social scene. Which means I have a lot of time on my hands. Which means I’m looking for ways to fill that time, preferably by engaging in mindless activities. Like watching TV. Alas, that isn’t to be.

A friend of mine told me an interesting statistic. He said that that since the advent of the set top box, the number of hours people spend in watching TV had gone up dramatically. Well, duh! With 232 channels (if you live in Bombay you don’t have to subscribe to individual channels or bouquets. You pretty much get everything.) it stands to reason you’d spend at least a couple of hours surfing. So that straightway adds to your TV viewing time.

Apparently it isn’t so. According to him, people are actually watching more. Because they have more to watch. This made me wonder, what exactly are people watching? ’Cos I have a set top box with and I still can’t find anything to watch!

You see, the first problem with so many channels is incessant surfing. I can’t stick to one channel in case I’m missing out on something much more fun elsewhere. Like on Australia Network or Deustche News or Russia Today. Makes me kinda wish they’d given a Chinese Channel too while they were at it.

Anyway, coming back to the point about missing out exciting stuff, turns out, I’m not. When I first got it and saw what all was on offer I was mighty thrilled. I had two BBC entertainment channels! Wow, at last, I would be able to watch all those understated British comedies. Well, there aren’t many of those. Unless you want to see re-runs of Fawlty Towers and ’Allo ’Allo. P.S.: You can watch all the Weakest Link you want.

Then there are all these channels like MM2 and Mnet and Show Series and Show Comedy and keep advertising about all these great shows – Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Ladies No. 1 detective agency etc – but I haven’t yet figured out the time or the channel. I can’t figure out who or what Orbit Showtime is. Is it a bouquet of channels or just the one? Are Super Comedy and Show Comedy a part of Orbit Showtime? If so, which channel is what show on? It is too confusing (yeah, I know I’m slow). It’s easier to go back to Star World.

Also, there are no extra movie channels. At least not ones showing movies I want to watch. The one thing I can’t complain about is not getting enough sport. With some 15 sports channels I have the sporting universe pretty much covered (I especially like watching poker on Zee Sports. Awe.Some.). And then there these encrypted Data Channels whose purpose defeats my limited intellect.

At last we come to the point of this post. And the point is, that my life hasn’t changed at all post STB. I think I’m going to have to watch my nails grow for entertainment.

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I’ve been in Delhi for four days now and so far the stay had been uneventful. Barring a stray incident where I walked into a lamppost and then walked around Connaught Place with a bloody nose.

The rest of the time, I’ve just been gorging on chaat and chhole bhature and some uncharitable souls have already started commenting that I’ve put on weight. Put on weight?! It’s been four frigging days! Delhi is an air pump or what?

I’ve also been answering some fan mail most of which is from people I knew at various educational institutions. This is not to drive home the fact that I’m famous…well, maybe just a tiny bit.  

To get back to the fan mail, some of the comments made me laugh out loud. “Our teachers said you were one of the boldest girls they’d known.” Last I’d known the word that was being bandied about was notorious. Makes you realize what a little success can do for your reputation.

Just to apprise you of the facts, I have been expelled from every hostel I’ve ever been to. The reasons ranged from wearing a too short skirt to smuggling in bhang during Holi to bunking and going off to a disco at night to being a groupie of rock bands to generally being too individualistic.

India, as most of us know, approves of acquiescent behavior. It is unforgiving of originality and independent thought, especially in women.

Enough cynicism. I’m off to the Corbett Tiger Reserve tomorrow and onto Rishikesh from there for a spot of river rafting. Terrible planning I know but what to do. Time is short and there’s a lot I want to do.

I especially want to see a tiger before tigers are extinct. I’m crazy about tigers and have been to Ranthambore and Sariska (this was before I was informed that there are no tigers left in those two anymore!) and all I saw after two whole days of eating dust were pug marks (which in hindsight are suspect as well).

Maybe I’ll be lucky the third time around. I did ask rather pointed questions of the KMVN and the Forest Service officials and have been assured that there are indeed tigers to be found at Corbett.

Otherwise, next stop, Bandhavgarh.

Ciao until later.

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One thing is for sure. Whatever regrets I had about giving up my career in investment banking, I don’t any more. I have to admit that I did feel twinges of doubt when the markets were soaring and all my colleagues were taking home upwards of a crore (10 mil) while I was struggling to eke out a tenth of that.

I’ve been through such a bear phase before, in the year 2000. And living through two such phases is just too much for any one person to bear. Okay, poor choice of words there. I should have said endure. I personally know at least two people from the industry who’ve suffered fatal heart attacks in their early thirties. All right, perhaps it wasn’t the pressure alone that did them in. Their almost completely non-vegetarian diet and incessant smoking and drinking probably also had something to do with it.

We are in for a rough time here in India as well. It is a global pandemic and in these integrated times global flows of liquidity decide what course a country’s development will take. Domestic liquidity was stemmed in earlier to fight inflation and now companies are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to borrow abroad. So how do they carry on their operations?

We are in for lower GDP growth, job, cuts, lower savings, lower investment and, therefore, lower growth. What was once a virtuous cycle of positives on all the above counts is fast turning into a vicious cycle. How long it could take to sort itself out – 12 months, 18 months, 24 months or more, is anybody’s guess.

What all this means for a writer is of course, new story ideas to reflect newer realities. For example, many thriller writers almost went out of business after the end of the cold war between the USA and USSR. Till they found terror. Perhaps it is time to think the same economically?

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I had a massive scare yesterday. My computer refused to boot. This was disastrous. Like, on a scale of 1-10, it was a catastrophic 8. ‘Cos like all lazy creatures I hadn’t made a back up.

Everything was fine till about ten days ago. And then this ominous message about some Trojan horse started flashing on the screen. Pretty soon my pretty wall paper was gone, replaced by an ugly electric blue screen with an uglier yellow strip across it sporting an insidious, “Spyware detected on your computer.” I wasn’t wild about it. My Van Gogh replaced with this?

The message also suggested that I install and antivirus to get rid of the digital equine creature. I thought that was strange ‘cos I had some pretty kickass McAfee stuff, plus some AVG protection. Admittedly, the AVG 7.5 was a little antiquated and had been warning me about its imminent expiry for some time. I, of course, did little else about it other than murmur a something to the effect of ‘rest in peace.’ Come to think of it, AVG’s expiry coincided with the appearance of the Trojan horse. Am I being totally paranoiac, or is there a connection?

I would have done nothing about it, except the message about the Trojan horse irritatingly kept popping up every 20 seconds or so. So yesterday, when I read about AVG 8 freeware in the papers, I decided to download and install it. Only, once I installed the software, my computer refused to boot!  Apparently Grisoft aren’t joking when they claim that AVG 8 is the securest anti-virus software. The software is so secure it refuses even the owner entry into the computer.

Anyway, after an anxious half hour, I restarted the comp in safe mode and uninstalled AVG 8. I can once again boot my comp normally but the problem about spyware and the Trojan horse persists. Any solutions?

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This really funny thing happened to me a couple of days ago. As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, one of the delights of being a writer is that you get to meet some interesting and whacky characters – and not just the ones you create.

Okay, so there I was at a party when this producer, let’s call him Rajinder calls and says that he read about me in some paper and that he was looking for a writer to pen his film and would I be interested? I said, “Sure.” I never say no.

So the next day, I went to meet him and was promptly shown into his office. There sat Mr. Rajinder along with a colleague of his, who after the introductions were over, promptly closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Mr. Rajinder (he’s a kinda middle-aged dude so it doesn’t seem appropriate to call him just Rajinder or Raj or Raju) started by congratulating me on my achievements and commended me on the fire-in-my-‘bally’.  At that moment the only fire-in-my-bally, sorry belly, was acute hunger and I wondered whether he had heard the rumblings in my stomach since I don’t recall ever giving any interview where I or indeed the journalist has accused me of having fire in my belly.

On a more serious note, I knew what that prologue meant. That the producer was unwilling to pay and wanted a sucker. I decided then that it was no go and moments later my decision was endorsed when he named an erstwhile-great-but-now-senile director.

But since I was already there, I decided to sit it out for a while and politely listened to the one line the geriatric director had in mind. The other sleeping partner snored louder through the narration. After he was through, he asked me for my opinion. Several thoughts came to mind, none of them polite.

But I pasted an eager smile on my face and told him I that the idea was ‘mindblowing’ (an adjective that is very much en vogue in the industry). I told him that I really looked forward to writing it if the director’s and my wavelengths matched (having decided to commit suicide if it did). There was no point in wasting anyone’s time if the director and the writer were not in sync.

He looked a little nonplussed, but recovered and said affably, “Nahin, wo toh hum match karva lenge.” I wanted to tell him that it wasn’t exactly a sari-petticoat-blouse matching centre but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The phrases ‘fire-in-the-bally,’ and ‘humne socha is ladki mein kuch karne ki tamanna hai,’ were used several times. It seemed he had set his cap on me as the writer for his film.

This is a hilarious account and too much for one post. Read more about Smita’s exploits with Mr. Rajinder (yeesh!) tomorrow.

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