Catching up with an old friend

Chat with old friend who found me using Facebook Friend Finder ….

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Old Friend : OMG, so you are a hot shot author now.

Me : (Trying to be modest and underplayed) Yeah, I have a couple of books published

O F : Well, you always wanted to be a doctor

Me : Yeah, didn’t everyone else?  It was a done thing those days ….

O F : What?

Me : Adults would ask, “Beta badhe hokar kya banogey?” and we would chant, Doctor, IAS, IPS, Engineer. 

O F : You always said Doctor

Me : The idea of cutting people open must have sounded like fun to me

O F : So how come you’re not one?

Me : (Trying to wriggle out of admitting that I dropped out in the second month of med school) You wanted to be in IAS, and now you’re in marketing.

O F : Well, it pays better and does not get me posted out of Calcutta.  You can’t take a Bong out of Calcutta

Me : So how’s Didi?

Nice try … but he did not take the bait.

O F : (Still persisting) Never thought you’d be working in corporates and writing novels.

Me : (Uncomfortably)  Erm I work in one corporate only.

O F : And your marriage broke

Me : (Wishing I could strangle him through the computer screen) Yes

O F : You are Ritu Jain from Imphal and from Hindu College aren’t you?

Me : (Scowling) Was.  Now I am Ritu Lalit

O F : (I could sense the avid need to learn more gossip) You have changed so much!  How could you?  He was your big romance, how come?

Taking deep breaths, reminding myself that I once actually liked this bloke, and preaching myself tolerance…

Me : That was then, this is now.  You’re right.  I changed a lot.

O F : Like how?

Me : I got infected by Black Spider venom.  So I have this uncontrollable urge to kill or destroy old loves and old friends.  It is a problem but I am learning how to control it, and to live with it.  

O F : You’re not serious?

Me : Try me

Facebook, I owe you big time.  Haven’t had so much fun in ages 😛

Livin da vida loca

Poetry in book titles

A Delhi Mumbai Love Story

A feeling beyond words

It wasn’t love at first sight

Just like in the movies

 

She was dancing with Maharaja

And then it rained

He desperately wanted to belong

Swore I will love once again

 

A half baked story it was

It had Everything you desire

Saga of Corporate Attyachar

From cubicles 2 Cabins

 

He thought if God had a desk job

If God went to B School

He would know of heartbreaks and dreams

Of a Crazy Bloody thing LOV

 

It happened that night

He had a dream

Love happens like that

When you love life and beer can

 

God said Careful what you wish for

He woke up happy

you’ll have Everything you Desire

Was what he recalled it as

 

So he went to her and said

I am Broke! … Love Me

She replied

Beep you!  You Beep Hole

 

There was more

A Few things Left Unsaid

A Roller Coaster Ride

With a lot of Beeps

 

Cant cook up a love story

Boundless saga of love

Of Heartbreaks and Dreams

And hence can’t write a best seller

 

Shrishti

Confessions

Haters

Alright, I have to admit that this post is heavily inspired.

No, not the Anu Malik kind of “inspired” but nevertheless …

I recently joined a Facebook page called Confessions.  The premise is interesting.  You post whatever your gripe is anonymously and get it out of your system.  It raised a lot of red flags in my brain.

Red Flag 1 : Confessions

Red Flag 2 : Anonymous

 Sleaze Alert!  Whine Alert!  Backbiting and Slander galore!

ROFL!

Don’t ask me why I did that.  I guess I need a life, clingy eight year old kids, troublesome boyfriend, husband whatever …

A life time of bouncing from crisis to crisis does that to you.  You aren’t complete until your arse is on fire, your credit card maxed out and collection goons are laying a trap to repossess your car or home.  When you’ve lived a life like that, a life where your biggest problem is power outages in your colony is kind of humdrum isn’t it?

So this blog post is heavily inspired from Confessions.

No, I am not going to talk about the men in my life or any such thing.  Being mysterious is much more happening than a tell-all journal, which may be such a climb down from the lurid fantasies one invariably creates in the mind.

I am going to talk about what happens when bloggers turn authors.  Here are some confessions or observations based on personal experience and that of other blogger-authors.

Now we bloggers have a closed community.  We are expressive, opinionated and closet ledger keepers.  We keep a close watch on the number of hits our blog has got, how many people have commented on our post, and then we reciprocate by visiting their blogs and commenting.  Such reciprocity, such democracy. 

THOU SHALT ALL BE EQUAL

And then one blogger breaks ranks and writes a novel!

Gawarshhhh!

It infects the blogosphere!  Everyone has a novel inside him or her which is desperate to break out.  For me it was Preeti Shenoy’s 34 Bubblegums and Candies and Varsha Dixit’s Right Foot Wrong Shoe.

So I wrote the book that was desperate to break out from within me, A Bowlful of Butterflies.  It had a middling kind of response but that’s alright.  Everyone knows that one does not make money from novels, not unless one is Chetan Bhagat or Amish Tripathy.

I am sure there are others who got motivated by me.  Now we moved into another world.  From humble and equal bloggers we entered the highly competitive world of novelists.  By the way, the world of novel writers is replete with examples of cut throat competition, betrayal and intrigue.  No, not in the pages of the novels but in the real world.

You have this nice blogger friend, you visit his/her blog and comment.  He/She visits yours and comments.  It’s chugging along nicely.  Then suddenly she/he announces that he or she has a book deal by one of the biggies, Harper Collins or Penguin!  Now what do you do?

Feel outclassed?  Naah!

Send a shot and succinct “Congrats”

On an afterthought add a smiley  🙂

Bad mouth the publisher (not in print though).  Remember the novel that is desperate to break out from within you?  No, definitely not in print.

Turn up nose and say you do not read Indian authors in English.  Munshi Prem Chand was the last stalwart in desi literature.  Feel free to substitute Premchand with Tagore or any one else …

Resist urge to delete the blog link from your reader … we need to keep abreast with competition.

Once the book is out demand autographed free copies for your Bua, Naani and 30 assorted relatives.  (This is fellow author Nandita Bose’s solution.)

Tell everyone loudly and emphatically that you have a real job/business.  It’s easy to write a book, you just have too many responsibilities and can’t write one, yet.

Write a nice review of the book in your blog, say that it is nice, the story is wonderful, the premise original … but …

Munshi Prem Chand was better

OR

Dan Brown does better action

OR

Description is lacking/excessive/heavy

OR

Characters are unreal

Remember to just put one of these things.  You do not want to make an enemy.

Oh and then as a final twist to the knife

Mention the book’s price and ask whether it isn’t too much

Meanwhile – happy blogging 😀

Love Shove and All That Jazz

And yes I am really envious of the number of books authors who write about love sell – hence the title of this post.

I wrote a post long time ago about Monkeys and their abysmally low or absent sense of humour.  It was a short story which was taken by CBSE to publish in their 12th Class English text book.  That was a long time ago, in 2008.

Imagine my utter surprise when today morning I logged on and found this gem of a comment on that blog post  :-

Hey This is hard for me because I have never done anything like this.. but I have a huge crush on you. I have never been able to tell you for reasons which you would quickly identify as obvious if you knew who this was. I’m really attracted to you

I am flattered and I am chuffed up.  Thank you sweetheart for making my day!

But I am a bit hurt too

Just “Hey”?  No darling or sweetheart?  No hugs and kisses?  No link that I can go back to?

What rey?

One does need to go and find out more about someone who has made you so happy.  Its natural.

You say its hard for you, because you’ve never done such a thing.  May be that is the reason you forgot or omitted such vital things.  I forgive you.

The next line has me wanting to be Sherlock Holmes.

Who are you?

The email id you’ve given is fake.  Yes I tried finding out, the IP address is NCR. Are you someone who I know?

This throws up interesting options

1.  You are that man who rings me up after 10 p.m. and assures me, (in that sexy low baritone) that your wife is upstairs asleep.  Sweetheart, you are years younger to me, go dial another number.  I am not interested in the neighbourhood gossip. And if you are expecting me to take our relationship to the next level, you are mistaken.  I won’t.

2.  You are the colleague who talks to my boobs.  They don’t have eyes and ears.  Ahhhh maybe that is why the darlings etc were missing in your romantic missive.  I just asked my boobs and they are miffed too.  Love letter hai to darling etc banta hai.

3. You can not be the sabzi wala who tries to peer down my neckline when I am selecting tomatoes – I don’t think he knows English.

4. You can’t be the petrol pump attendant either – same reason as above

5. The nerdy boy in the computer deptt?  May be … but not so sure.

See what you made me do – all the fervour of a romance being initiated has just gone off like a damp squib.  You really need lessons in how to do the thing properly.

Or are you none of the above?  Just a boy with way too much time on your hands?  Go lock your room watch porn, it will be more productive for you – you can have a nice self-love session.  Just saying 😛

I know our elders used to say “Neki Kar Dariya Mein Daal” (Do a good deed and cast your expectations of a return into the ocean) and internet is a huge dariya (ocean) but this is all about love isnt it?

One does expect a return.

Learn how to do the thing properly.

Signing off now

 

 

The Princess of Nonsense

“Oh but she was a tiresome child, I did not mind that at all, but let’s face it dearie, she was huge!”

Sir Mouse cleaned his spectacles and peered at the princess who was fanning herself with a bunch of forget-me-nots.

“And she kept disappearing and leaving only a grin. D’ye know how creepy it is to just have a grin staring at you?” The princess shuddered delicately.

“Erm, I think you are mixing up Alice and the Cheshire Cat.”

She looked apologetically at her long suffering courtier and said, “Sorry Sir Mouse. I am a bit mixed up today. Ever since you told me about a man who leaped out of a bath tub and ran naked in the town yelling something, my nerves are shot.”

“That was Archemedis and he was yelling Eureka. He discovered some formula.”

“Humph, he shouldn’t have lost them in the first place. Careless bloke. He possibly lost his towel too. If you ever take a bath, please check if the water is right. The only reason to leap out of a bath is if the water is hot. Then, in my opinion, you should yell “watersshot watersshot” and not Eureka Eureka.”

Sir Mouse kept his opinion to himself and said “Yes your Majesty”

“Now Sir Mouse, you may go. I am bored with you and the school work. Send me my waiting ladies.”

Sir Mouse gathered his papers and left barely concealing his relief. The wizard had to be given a scold. Those forget-me-nots were not helping. The princess was getting more nonsensical by the minute!

The princess flung the bunch of flowers into the waste paper basket and stomped a petulant foot as she scolded her waiting ladies, “The satin dress is way to tight. I hate scarlet, it makes me look so pale. Go and call all cloth merchants. I need a dress done up in linen and gauze, yes it should be rose colored. I hate these dresses. Go, now!”

The poor women rushed out. She threw the offending dresses after them and slammed the door shut.

A man laughed as he came out from behind the curtains, “Excellently done my love.”

She sighed, smiled naughtily and said, “The things I have to do to just spend some time with you.”

The path of royal love is always devious

If I had my life to do over again

Hmmm if wishes were horses, I’d have an entire stable, may be even a race course – ha!

Then again, may be not!

 

But if I had to live my life over again, I guess I would rewire my brain and live it more from my brain than my heart.  It would have saved me a lot of heartache.  But here I am ambivalent about this thing.  If I belonged to the calm and rational breed of humans, I would not be me.  I would not have pushed the very first boy who tried to kiss me into the river.  The next boy who mustered enough courage to do that came along a good two years later.  Maybe he was taking swimming lessons all that time!

If I had to live my life over again, I would have never tried to grow my hair long.  You know how it is, Indian women and long hair.  My hair is thin and in its short avatar it has bounce and curls.  In its long avatar it is limp, lifeless and does not suit my face.  I have years of sucky photos that I am too embarrassed to even look at!

I would have exercised.  Yes, I would have!

I may have not married the man I did … but then again, we did have fun in the beginning and have two lovely sons.  And the hurt, the pain led to me becoming the person I am.  Bad choices are not really bad.  They are a very harsh and steep learning curve and make you find courage and strength you never knew you had.  My marriage gave me strength wisdom and mellowed me down.  I am a much better person because of it.

I may have been kinder to younger siblings … but they were such whiny snoopy irritating little pests, and it was fun lording over them, until they grew into tall strapping boys and bashed the shit out of me.  It was fun while they were little.  So, li’ll brothers I do not regret bossing you 😛

I would have started writing much earlier.  During the years spent working and raising the kids single handed, I did not write.  And if I did, it was a whiny nasty diary … a complete bitch-fest!  I wish I had started writing much earlier.  Writing is fun, it is something that makes me happy.

Yes, so if I had to live my life over again, I would not change my choices, I would not want to be anyone other than me.  But the exercising and the writing …. That I would change.

 

And yes – the hair cut

Yes, this is another GBE2 Prompt

WEEK #56 (6-10-12 to 6-16-12): If I Had My Life to Live Over…

 

Driving Lessons : For Maitri

You know, living abroad spoils you, and the chaos we Indians take for granted – well you are just not used to it anymore.  So now that you are back from the great abroad land where life is boring, no power cuts and everyone queuing up decently at stores and obeying traffic rules (gasp, so boring!), and want to drive on Indian roads, let me re-educate you on the glorious, colourful chaos that thrives on Indian roads.

DESI STYLE TRAFFIC RULES

Mandatory precaution : Check, not only for your driving licence but also for the expiry date of your health and life insurance.  Better still, get an add on accidental insurance.  These are more useful than the seat belt.  Kya?  Vohi, seat wala pheeta ….. (I kid you not, that is what a cop called it while reprimanding me on not wearing it)

Now that you have the paper work in order, let the sermon begin
Rule One:

You are immortal, no not only the soul part of you.  Unless you have absolute unshakable belief in your own immortality, the driver’s seat is not meant for you.  Of course it helps boosting your own notion of immortality if you have the bigger vehicle.  All other itty bitty ones will give you the right of way.  What?  Havent you noticed the way trucks blithely speed past lesser mortals in insignificant vehicles.  The bigger the truck the mightier!  Almost makes one want to become a truck driver -Oh the power!

The only sad part is that if you meet with an accident, the rule gets reversed.  The person with the bigger vehicle gets thrashed by passer bys dispensing summary vigilante style justice.  Traffic cops? Police? Courts? Voh kya hai?  Why disturb them if justice can be dispensed immediately on the road side?  Oh and if cops come to check out, why they can be paid to stay away.

Rule II:

All the chaos, the Teri Maa *&^ and Bhen@#@$ notwithstanding we are the most orderly race.  We even have strict hierarchies, the four ashrams that denote our lives and the great Indian caste system.  Ahhh such order!  As a learner driver, you are on the lowest rung in the heirarchy on our great Indian roads.  Get thee behind an experienced driver.  No, not the yuppie driving a Tavera or those Innovas carrying unfortunate souls to their call centers at weird times in the day or night.  Get thee behind a mild looking aged man driving at a sedate pace.  He is in no hurry to meet the Maker, so he should be safe. Follow him and do whatever the shit he does.  If he swerves, do so.  If he brakes do so.

Rule III

Lesson in humility : Give way, to anything in front of you.  Cows, dogs, elephants, autorickshaws, thelas (hand driven goods carts) etc.  Special mention must be accorded to pedal rickshaws and cyclists who seem to have complete faith in rule no. one.  They know they are immortal and hence will not signal at a turn. Oh, and always assume that the vehicle in front of you is a Guru.  Follow his guidance.

Rule IV:

Jo darr gaya samajho marr gaya (The one who gives in to fear is dead)

Similarly if you slow down, stop or even brake or falter, you are dead or you wish you were.  You will be subjected to rude gestures, honking, and even the unofficial national slogan of Teri Maa *&^ and Bhen@#@$.

Never mind, once you have gained proficiency in driving you shall do the same.  So keep your brakes, your horn and your vocabulary of invective polished at all times.
Rule V:

The Morse Code vis a vis horns

1. Honk Honk Honk (short pause) Honk Honk Honk  … Repeat

This means Get Out Of My Way : Urgent!  Used to tell cyclists, rickshaws and dogs to clear the road.  What? Of course they can see you, but they wont move until you honk.

2. HOOOONK  HOOOONK

You see a truck coming towards you, your brakes are not that good and you know you cant stop in time.  With this code you first salaam the truck and tell him you acknowledge his supremacy and then convey your inability to stop in time and humbly request him to move out of the way unless he wants you both to die.

3. TOOT

Just means Hi there.  It also means you havent honked for a while and were missing it.

4. TOOOOT TOOOT TOOOT TOOOT

Used by cabbies, professional drivers and such like.  They just wanna show off.  It means “I aint gonna give way, I am so gonna overtake and speed and you cant do a thing about it Nyah Nyah!”

Rule VI:

Idols of deities are important, and take precedence on wearing a seat belt.  It always helps to have multiple idols of gods and demi gods.  Oh and seat belts have to be fastened only if there is a traffic cop around.  The gods are going to protect you so seat belts are not that necessary

Rule VII:

Some ground rules : You see the white paint in the middle of the road?  That is meant to center your vehicle on the road.  If someone is coming at you similarly aligned, you shall play the “Who Blinks First” game with the approaching vehicle.  Remember if you lose, the other driver will drive you off the road into the ditch, so do not swerve until the last moment.  Chances are that he may blink first …

Don’t bet on it though!

Rule VIII:

It is your mandatory duty to slow down and gawk at a brawl or accident on the road.  You shall not get down from your vehicle, unless you know the people involved.  If you do recognize the people, you shall jump out and lend them support by thrashing the other person.  Oh, in such situations, it is okay to park in the middle of the road.  Since all traffic will slow down and weave their way through, you arent inconveniencing anyone.

Rule IX

We have no speed limits.  Our Powers That Be have ensured that we can not speed by maintaining potholes on roads.  Do you know how much it costs the national exchequer to keep these in pristine conditions?

Rule X

Have vehicle will overtake

Have vehicle will overload

Have vehicle, will not let any other vehicle, even an ambulance overtake

In conclusion

Our roads reflect our true Indian spirit.  We are polytheistic and have over 1008 Gods and Demi Gods and yet also have strong monotheistic beliefs. So organized chaos is our way of life.  We are brave – we truly manage to thrive in our chaotic traffic conditions and come home and say the drive was uneventful. We love our freedom – even more than our laws.  We can survive just about anything.  And we can adjust and adapt – to any conditions – given the decibel levels of the noise on the roads – noisily.  Oh and we truly love our music : It may be our boisterous songs or the noisy honking of our horns.

A post for the child inside all of us …

First of all a disclaimer … I am not a serious person, and definitely not a politically astute one.  So if you are going to be (God forbid) a boring adult and take my post seriously and get into an uproar, all I would like to say is “Nyah Nyah! I gotcha!”

 

Now that I have got the statutory disclaimer out of the way, let me tell the children who are with me … “Guys, just check out the 75 year old child, Anna Hazare.  He fixed it for us.  He just dug in his heels with a childlike obstinacy and won the day.  Makes me seriously value the child like simplicity which I am sure resides deep down in all of us.

You know, I have mentioned it in some other blog I wrote – whenever I am too confused or conflicted, I try and talk to a ten year old.  They dont understand a lot, but sure as hell know what is important and good.  It is intuitive for them.  It cuts through the bullshit and gets me through the muddled times.

So why cant we be that simple.  It isnt hard.  That is what our default mode aught to be.

 

Consider this

Children on an allowance cant spend more than they have. It is as simple as that.  Wont our economy benefit from stringent budgeting?  Hell yeah, it will.  Scamsters and greedy people like Raja and Kalmadi would not thrive in such conditions.  What is more, no parent would agree to give a child more, just because he votes himself a pay raise, or overspends his allowance.

Kids do not like to stand out

Kids know all about fitting in.  No kid would like to come to school in a stretch limo, when his peer group cycles down to school.  No kid would like to wear jeans to school when the rest are in uniform.  They hate being the odd man out.  They don’t like being viewed as a teacher’s pet, or a rich privileged person.

Kids say it like they see it

Sigh!  I wish the political spokespersons of Congress, BJP and other parties knew how refreshing it is to speak to children.  No political posturing, no statements that are so patently false like Manish Tiwari’s and Digvijay Singh’s in the recent past.

But then … TV would not be half as entertaining would it?

Children like to help

It gives them joy, to help their mothers at home, and their friends and school mates.  Its been a long time since I have seen such joy in doing something significant in the faces of our national leaders.

Children respect their elders and betters

Ahem …  Wish we remembered that … all of us

Kids do not want to differentiate with other kids on basis of caste, colour and creed … or economic status

And when we teach them to – they still wonder why …

Its time, I feel that we go back to the lovely black and white world we lived in as children.

Now excuse me while I throw a tantrum before a drink my medicine and wail loudly and say, “I don’t wanna ”

 

But I draw a line at staging hunger strikes.  I simply dont have the will power 😛