Saturday, December 24, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
The Ghost Writer (the American imprint of The Ghost as published in the UK) by Robert Harris, which is adapted into a film by Roman Polanski.
The story is political thriller where a nameless London based ghost writer (the book is narrated in first person by the writer himself without ever letting out his real name), who is called into to finish the work on the memoirs of the former Prime Minister Adam Lang (a character said be based on Tony Blair), when the man working on them is found dead just a month before the deadline for submitting the manuscript to the publishers. So, the Ghost heads to the USA to be with Adam Lang and his team holed up in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the summer holiday home of the rich publisher Martin S. Rhinehart to finish the book. Obviously, the sailing isn't smooth as the Ghost had expected. First, the manuscript he has been given to work with is bland and needs overhauling. Second, Lang is very reluctant to open up about is youth and his years in Cambridge, and, there is discrepancy in what Lang says about his entry into politics and the actual version as the Writer finds out through his research. There is more to come in terms of thriller and conspiracy theory.
The film starring Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang and Ewan McGregor in the title role is loyal to the book as far as the thriller part of the story.
But, what I loved about the book is the fact that at least half of it is a writer's manual, a ghost writer's manual to be precise without the dreaded 'Do it yourself' exercise with the process of writing dealt with in detail; from drawing the Contract to how to present yourself in front of your subject. Everyone of the seventeen chapters begins with a quote from Andrew Crofts' seminal book titled Ghostwriting thereby giving direction about how the story will move in the said chapter.
Couple of interesting passages from the book:
All good books are different but all bad books are exactly the same.
Of all human activities, writing is the one for which it is easiest to find excuses not to begin – the desk's too big, the desk's too small, there is too much noise, there is too much quiet, it's too hot, too cold, too early, too late. I had learned over the years to ignore them all, and simply start.
A book unwritten is a delightful universe of infinite possibilities. Set down one word, however, and immediately it becomes earthbound. Set down one sentence and it's halfway to being just like every other bloody book that's ever been written. But the best must never be allowed to drive out the good. In the absence of genius there is always craftmanship. One can at least try to write something which will arrest the reader's attention – which will encourage them, after reading the first paragraph, to take a look at the second, and then the third.This in no way means that this book is very high funda or technical; it can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in listening to a good story.
PS. Searching for this book was an experience in itself. It was last year in Bengaluru; I went into an upmarket book-store and asked for this book. At least half a dozen of sale-people converged around me and virtually emptied the whole of the 'Horror' section on my lap. Ma and my sister-in-law had a hard time explaining to them that I wasn't interested in horror stories but just wanted a novel titled The Ghost written by Robert Harris. In the end, they themselves had to dig it out from somewhere for me.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Long back when I wasn't this bald and my beard was black pepper without even a crystal of salt in it. I was sitting here reading and waiting for my dinner to come. The cassette-player was soulfully playing Seher, the latest addition in my Jagjit Singh Collection.
But, before the dinner, she came that too with a red rose in her hand; “don't get any ideas in your head, this may be the last birthday I'm here to wish you in person. So, felt odd coming empty handed”, she said, handing me the rose. I held it near my nose as Dilip Kumar of Mughal-E-Azam.
At that precise moment Jagjit Singh started singing Tere Aane Ki Jab Khabar Mahke/Teri Kushboo se Sara Ghar Mahke (When the news of your arrival wafts through the air/My whole house becomes fragrant with your scent).
I started to lip-synch him as if I was Naseeruddin Shah. After a few moments she just said trying to keep a straight face; “please save your singing and acting skills for the time when you have a real girlfriend”.
PS. Here are two old posts about Jagjit Singh.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
For me, I reduced the heap of newspapers on my table by at least 250 grams (the pile of newspapers on my keeps increasing unless I mark them as 'Read'). Reread the first fifty of a best-seller that I am intending to finish for a long while now. And, at the end, watched Whose Life Is It Anyway?. It may not feel the right kind of film to see when you are low. But, let me assure you that it can be an uplifting experience if your perspective is right.
I had started this post on the morning of 06/10/11 to mark the Vidyāraṃbhaṃ, but couldn't complete it as other mundane things got priority over writing a blog post.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The unscheduled call from Priya was reassuring, as usual she just asked: “How are you Appa?” Her speech was so clear that I couldn’t imagine her face while listening to her. Maybe, I felt like that because her mother had remembered that it was an important day in our lives, which made me very happy. Even otherwise, I always look for improvements in Priya, however small they are.
The memory of Nirmala Auntie’s sullen face is still vivid in my mind. She had insisted that we both go to her clinic to discuss the ultra-sound scan report. She began with the history, saying that she was only a glorified midwife at the time of my birth some thirty years ago; just prescribing iron and calcium supplements for pregnant women. “The times have changed, now we depend on these things to decide the fate of a life even before it begins to exist as such,” she was saying looking into the report. I felt that she wished to change its content by the intensity of her gaze; “I think we should terminate this pregnancy -,” she was saying this while looking at the blank wall behind us. I couldn't gauge the seriousness of the statement at that moment but the shrillness in the response to her utterance from my wife surprised me. A simple “What is wrong...?” had a shattering effect. I always thought that she was the most pragmatic woman one could find on the face of earth. Nothing could move or shake her. For her everything had to have a logic and rationale. You'd learn to see the things happening around you with a clear perspective that is not effected by your emotions was her constant refrain.
Afterwards, whatever went on in Nirmala Auntie's cabin had a dreamlike quality for me. I couldn't register their conversation though I'd see their lips moving and their faces taking odd shapes as they spoke. Though, some words like chromosomal defect, Down's syndrome, mentally retarded and abnormal stuck in my head. “I wish to have this baby.” “You see, it is not the nine months of pregnancy but the time after the baby is born; the struggle will begin then and it won't end soon. It will be lifelong. Anyway, both of you discuss this – we've got some time. It is up to both of you to decide.” Those were Nirmala Auntie's final words before we left her that day. We had not known that there was something called pre-natal detection of deformity in the foetus. Our impression was just that this fancy gadget was to know the gender of the baby before it is born (which is legally banned as leads to female foeticide). But, the modern day gynaecologists insisted on using this fancy gadget at least three or four times during the pregnancy saying that it was just to insure that everything was normal with the baby. And, above all it is an expensive affair.
I waited for a couple of days for her to initiate discussion on the topic. But, she’d become unduly silent after coming back from the clinic and even had extended her leave from work, which happened very rarely. Sometimes I felt like giving her a jolt just to bring her back into this world. At last I broached the topic asking her when we will go in for abortion. I just got a look in response that ordered me to stop. But I persisted; making a case out of whatever scratchy memory I had of Nirmala Auntie’s talk. I was prepared for a full blown argument and had the conviction that by the end she would see the practical side of it and turn around. But, I think I'd misjudged the maternal instinct in her as the only response I got was a grunt or a 'hmm'. “Everything will work out, we've to make it work”, was the lengthiest reply from her. My patience had started to wear off. I was feeling agitated in spite of myself and blurted out; “these kids look cute on TV and their stories make Reader's Digest worth reading”. But, what proved to be the final nail in the coffin of our relationship was my question; “How can we love an abnormal baby?” I never thought it was a harsh or inhuman question as it was made out to be. I had just voiced a practical concern. Still, it drew us apart.
It was utter disbelief and shock for me; I'd expected same kind of approach from her. Anyone knowing her well would have thought that she will go for abortion. She always claimed that she cannot be an irrational sentimental fool that guys like me expected her to be while I was chasing her while doing my MBA. She was my senior by a few semesters. As a single child bought up with lot of aspirations – parental as well as her own. She hardly had any friends out of the campus, knowing her life outside. Initially, I was interested only in casual flirting. But, her repulsive attitude intensified my desire to know her. Again, it took me lot of effort to take the relationship to the next level; there were always conditions; I shouldn't be childish, there was nothing called love whatever I was feeling was just a brief fascination and it shouldn't hamper our studies as our parents had invested their hard earned money for our future. And, unlike me she could stay aloof or distant she desired as if she had nothing for me. It used to make me insecure that she may not have anything for me. But, it didn't matter to her a bit; 'take it or leave it' was her only consolation. So, the onus was on me.
A few months before her final exams I gathered the courage to propose to her and made her read the last paragraph of Vikram Chandra's Commonwealth Award winning book Love and Longing in Bombay: I might ask her to marry me. If we search together, I think, we may find in Andheri, in Colaba, in Bhuleshwar, perhaps not heaven, or its opposite, but only life itself. She just ruffled my hair in what I believed was a show of affection and told that we'd wait and see what life has got for us outside the campus.
And, to put it simply as they say in the most abused cliché that 'the rest is history'.
People advise me to move on, to search for a new life-partner as if my heart is a moss infected water tank that can be cleaned with bleaching powder and filled with fresh water. Maybe, I'll be able to do it in future (as I've started writing this nearly after nine years. Had stopped it on the day we went to meet Nirmala Auntie to discuss the first scan report). But, as of now I don't feel fully detached from Priya and her. Though, I can smile without a reason when I wake up in the morning as I used to do before. The guilt has virtually subsided and I've got semblance of a balance and as of now that is the best I can do as far as moving on is concerned.
This story was attempted as an exercise for Kochi Writers' Club, an informal gathering of friends with aspirations to write in English, in this exercise we had to use a passage of literature and I opted for the last lines of Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra.
PS. A few posts I'd written about pre-natal detection of disability and other such things here, here and here.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
A few days back I and pa went for a movie in the renovated Sui Theatre rechristened as EVM Cinema that is hardly ten minutes walk from home. We reached there comfortably at 8.30 PM walking (me pushed on the wheelchair) for the Nine o’clock show. The fun started when the show got over. When we got down to the wheelchair, the crowd hadn't moved, everyone was standing in shelter. It didn't take us long to realise that it was raining. After a couple of minutes pa ventured out with a hanky on his head to find an auto-rickshaw with a carrier on the top to put the wheelchair and returned empty handed (our side of city goes to sleep around 10 PM) after ten minutes. He said; 'we better start walking Beta, hope you don't mind braving a little rain'. He was concerned about my deadline of next morning to submit the review.
It wasn't pouring but it was surely more than a drizzle. Our clothes wet within no time. We had a bunch of boys walking ahead of us for company (normally it is a few mongrels who accompany us on such jaunts, today they had vanished maybe because they hated getting free bath).
The showers had virtually stopped when we had covered almost eighty percent of the distance; 'God was just testing us', pa uttered. 'And, given me something to write about'. I replied.
Even three years ago I'd have sneezed and shivered my way to bed if I got this wet in rains. Which means I have got physically stronger or is it that my mind has stopped caring about what happens to me externally?
PS. One advantage of being a wannabe writer is that whether you are depressed or ecstatic, the observer in you is calmly thinking 'how do I convert this experience into words?'
PPS. While preparing this post a quote fell into my lap courtesy A Word A Day:
A writer -- and, I believe, generally all persons -- must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art. -Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986)
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I had put up a Teaser of that story here.
Some of my friends and dear ones have been gracious enough to have read it in the raw form. The rest of you wishing to be tortured watch this space as I may put it here in the near future or better subscribe S & A because I contribute in it on and off. Hehehe...
A big thanks to the Ability Team for being the first to publish my work of fiction.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Recently I crossed the 38th year on the earth and stepped into the 39th. At that point, there wasn’t much excitement as the saying goes it was just another day, except for the fact that I got the biggest gift of my life; a brand new laptop:
The old one had served me for nearly six hassle-free years, which were the most fruitful and adventurous as things I couldn’t have imagined in wildest dreams happened. So, I’d feared it would be difficult for me to part with it. But, thankfully sentimentalism hasn’t dealt with me badly and I’ve started using the new one with a vengeance.
Though I may have reached the threshold of the 40s I still feel there is still the short pant wearing child thinking: Someday I’ll grow up and be independent.
A teenager who thinks: Someday I’ll write beautifully and be less lonely and miserable.
And, there is even a person much mature beyond my age just observing things go by with equanimity.
Me happy, as of now juggling the three (or are there more? No idea) inside.
(The snap of the old laptop below was taken by friend Raju).
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I'd the same feeling for photography, it looked so easy (especially when I struggled with words and took strain to write), .just hold the camera and click. But, it was out of bounds for me as it was an expensive hobby, so, even if I got to see through the viewfinder sometimes, the privilege came with strict warning 'don't touch anywhere, the film will go waste'.
As the digital age began to democratise photography, my wish to be a chhota Raghu Rai took wings, seeing my friends easily using 'point & click' cameras. Still, I was very sceptical to try it as I thought the excitement would wear off once the physical effort became daunting, yet the slimy little 'should try it' worm kept crawling inside and here I am making an effort.
These are few snaps of rains taken in the last few days:
This collection happened with the encouragement of two proficient photographer friends Harish and MD.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
After returning from the office in the evening I found the sunlight still filtering through the foliage and I tried to capture it for posterity. The frames are tilted and some seem to be out of focus that is because my limbs and fingers (and most of my other body parts, hehehe) have a mind of their own and most of the times refuse to take orders from my brain.
This thing (photography) leaves a taste of dissatisfaction on the one hand (as I can't achieve the desired perfection) and thrills on the other as it was something on the long 'Paresh can't do' list till a few months back.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Miracles do occur
I sms the person
Sitting next to me
Whom I’m meeting for the first time
Fearing he may not follow my strained voice
With all the buzz around
He replies casually as if I’ve actually spoken to him
Putting me at ease to continue the conversation verbally.