Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

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 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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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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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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What an absolutely fantastic film. Although, I was a little upset because I missed about fifteen minutes of the beginning – five by reaching late and another ten, grousing about reaching five minutes late.

You see I have this entire ritual of easing into a movie – walk into the theatre, gaze at the posters of upcoming films, buy popcorn, settle into the seat, catch the trailers etc. Any slight deviation and I get terribly out of sorts. I can’t enjoy the movie. I don’t know but I’m thinking it may be an OCD of sorts.

And then the experience was marred somewhat by bawling kids who, for some strange reason seem to have an affinity with me. Take cars, trains, aeroplanes, if there’s a kid on board, it’ll be near me. And if it’s a cranky kid, it’ll be right next to me. You can count on it. I do.

Things got a little better at lunch. For one, we got place at (gasp!) Urban Tadka. I mean we have to have made some kind of a record for maximum number of rejections from Urban Tadka in the last couple of years.

So we felt some kind of a celebration was in order.

And as the spirit levels in the bottles dropped, our spirits soared higher.

And we got talking about Federer’s dismal run recently.

 “I’m not surprised. You should have seen the way he was playing at Wimbledon. He was playing in Fear. After the French Open, Nadal had got him here,” Sanjay, one of my friends said sagely, tapping his temple.

So coming back to movie, I felt the ending was somewhat tame. I mean Tai Lung is this fearsome creature who, after an absolutely incredible display of martial arts prowess succumbs kinda tamely to the dragon warrior.

But as another one of my friends, Rohit, commented, “It’s all in the mind. In my opinion, Tai Lung lost the fight at the French Open.”

Of course, we thought it was hugely funny and promptly dissolved into raucous laughter.

Then the subject of height came up. And Sanjay as very surprised when I told him Nadal is 1.85 cms tall. He’s as tall as Federer.”

By now, Siddharth the third one, was feeling kinds left out so he quickly quipped, “In Federer’s mind he’s taller.”

And we promptly dissolved into another fit of laugher.

Later in the day, I did my 10k run, which, in hindsight, wasn’t such a good plan. Running while hung over? Not a good idea. Take my word for it. And I’m not talking just about the constant thud-thud in the brain. I’m also talking about fellow runners holding their noses every time I passed by. On the other hand, I perspired away all the toxins out of my system.

Later still, I caught Fiddler on the Roof on DVD. Nice film.

All in all, a good day. Or given my record lately, a great idle day.

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