The Muddy River: A Slow, Cloudy Ramble Through Someone’s Mind

This is a book review for BlogAdda. The blurb of The Muddy River by P.A.Krishnan says,

The Muddy River tells and re-tells the story of Ramesh Chandran, a bureaucrat caught up in the machinations of Assamese politics and public sector corruption during his quest to rescue a hapless engineer kidnapped by militants. As Chandran bumbles along, he encounters the engineer’s wife, who is a pocket-sized battle-axe; a cynical police officer; a venerable Gandhian and Anupama, another engineer torn between professional integrity and her love for Assam. While the rescue drama reaches its climax, Chandran also exposes a massive financial scandal in his company and pays the price for ignoring warnings that he might push too far for an unashamedly corrupt society’s comfort. An aspiring writer, Chandran weaves the events of this time into a novel, while attempting to come to terms with his own marriage in the aftermath of the death of their only child. But how much does Chandran understand other people’s truths and motivations? And how much does his wife, Sukanya, know about the events of the novel?

Multi-layered and complex, The Muddy River blurs the boundaries between the story and the storyteller, victims and victimisers, keeping the reader guessinag till the very end”

The Assam connection interested me, since I know nothing about that side of the country. But mostly, the last line of the blurb hooked me, since it hinted at meta-fiction and at the complex relationship between writer and the written word.

The structure of the book is unconventional. It starts off with a chapter ending in two letters, correspondence to people who are not introduced in the earlier paragraphs. This is followed by a page that looks like a book cover bearing ‘This Street Has No Other Side’. A full novel follows after this, beginning with a prologue in the form of a letter. This ends with a chapter that starts and ends with a letter. This is presumably to convey the story-within-story effect.

The first chapter refers to a dead child and a violent encounter with the police. These are events that invoke sharp responses within a reader but they are not given closure within that chapter and one is left guessing about the circumstances and depth of each. Starting at this point, it is hard to fully embrace the mellow, subtle mood of the chapters that follow, which mention nothing of either incident.

The novel itself rambles all over the place, capturing individual moments in Ramesh Chandran’s life. It feels more like a personal journal than a novel. This still might have worked if the novel stood by itself. But the larger story looms above and weighs it down, leaving the reader with a feeling of restless impatience (“When will he ever get to telling the actual story??!”) Somewhere along the way, while the reader is muddling along in this dissatisfied confusion, events start to happen – a kidnapping, travel, meetings with the kidnappers, conversations with the conflicted locals.

Other characters pop up along the way, in vague references or side-rambles that seem to have nothing to do with the sections before or after them – the spouse, a friend, the daughter, the wife of the kidnapped man, a local officer, a minister. None of these characters are given enough time to develop and express their positions fully so it’s hard to empathize with or even understand their motivations.

The writing in the first chapter is beautiful, even poetic but it also feels very self-conscious, which is something that hampers any artistic expression. The novel within the book has a different style, more prosaic and dry in wit. This attempt to create different voices (the author of the novel and the narrator of the larger story) works well in itself.

All in all, The Muddy River was probably an ambitious attempt but falls far short of its mark. It actually took me over a month to write this review, because I had to plod through the book. I was tempted to give it up a number of times and never for the usual reasons (bad grammar, nonsense plotline). At the end, I just feel confused & dissatisfied and not because of the story itself but the way it was presented. A simple, linear narrative just might have done more justice to a story that needed to be told.

Here’s another review that thinks differently.

Ideamarked Dec2011: Calvin & Hobbes, Mother Teresa & Social Samosa

December is always a busy month, what with friends & family flying in from out of the country, parties, events and meets. Everyone is in a festive mood and the weather is lovely even in Mumbai.

My best friend who moved to another continent last year, visited. Other regulars made their annual trips. I’ve attending all manner of events, from tweet-ups, to weddings to movie premiers to dance workshops. I also managed to catch a few interesting things online. A new assignment came my way, via SocialSamosa, a one-stop shop for information on the Indian social media. Twitter called telecom minister, Kapil Sibal an idiot and boosted an insofar little known Tamil actor to fame with Kolaveri Da. It’s been a fun end to an eventful year.

  • Why This Kolaveri Da: Reply Cover-Female Version‘ (via Youtube, link courtesy SangitaBhargavi)
  • Why Guest Posting Is Such A Good Idea‘: I’ve been a guest-blogger at other sites myself. And in the past few months, XX Factor has welcomed guest contributors. Here’s why it works so well. (via FamousBloggers)
  • ”Social Networking: How Communities Were Built: (via SocialSamosa)
  • ‘Kapil Sibal & The C-word’: My take on the phenomenon that made our telecom minister trend on Twitter. (via SocialSamosa)
  • Whats goin’ on‘: This video should make us all wonder if we ever bullied someone more than we needed to. (via Youtube, link courtesy AshwiniMishra)
  • Mommie Dearest: The fanatic, fraudulent Mother Teresa‘: Watching idols crumble is always a difficult experience…and a valuable one for the inquiring mind. I don’t know how much of this is fact but it does open up the field for inquiry where there was only blind belief before. (via Slate, link courtesy KiranManral)
  • An Untold Tale‘: I loved this poem for the first two lines: “We each have our story to tell
    A part narrated by others” (via PreetiS)
  • A Very Calvin & Hobbes Christmas‘: Fans of Calvin and Hobbes, remember his winter sculptures? Here’s a hilarious video that recreates many of them to the tune of ‘Winter Wonderland’! (via YouTube, link courtesy Betty Confidential)
  • The Creation & Consumption Of Content‘ (via Social Samosa)

* Images via Wikipedia

You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to The Idea-smithy Facebook Page.

HAVE A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Star Plus Launches Survivor India

I was at the SurvivorIndia launch party last Friday at Vie Lounge. We started with a welcome drink, a nariyal paani served up by a pretty girl in Hawaian-style clothing. It was a blogger/tweeter event so they had a live display of all tweets with #SurvivorIndia. I was live-tweeting and twitpic’ing through the entire evening (pictures later in this post).

I want to make a note of the fact that the event, scheduled to start at 7:30p.m. actually began only at 9.30p.m. The delay was because some of the participants had not turned up. I spotted Shilpa Agnihotri (of Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi) & Rajesh Khera (Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin) very early on in the evening and my guess is they’re probably the biggest stars on this show. Payal Rohatgi, on the other hand, only turned up very late (after which the event promptly began). I’m not amused by such affectations and in case it needs to be stated, it’ll probably not win any viewer support either. As it was, I left at 10.20, having sat through the preview screening and without being able to attend the question-and-answer session. Bloggers & media people have lives too and Friday nights are not for any starlet to steal.

I didn’t have much else to do for 2 hours except shoot random pictures and tweet. Here are some of my spottings:

Survivor India has 22 participants from different walks of life – glamour professionals like models & actors but also sports persons, wrestlers and other people. Some of the recognizable names on the show are Payal Rohatgi, Shilpa Agnihotri, JD Majethia, Sangram Singh, Abhinav Shukla, Karan Patel, Timmy Narang, Sylvester Rodgers, Priyanka Bassi, Rajesh Khera and Munisha Khatwani.

The show takes place on a remote island in the Philippines where the participants (called Survivors) will have no access to even basic amenities and will have to fend for themselves. The teams will also vote out people during the show, which means each member has to survive the elements and also human dynamics.

Survivor India will air on Star Plus from 6th January, 2012 at 9pm.

MOVIE-Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Just earlier this week, I was talking about the revamped James Bond, played by Daniel Crag and why I wasn’t a supporter. The boy said that James Bond (Ian Fleming’s original) was not relevant in modern times. While that may be true, my point is that if a movie is using a character’s brand to pull me into the theatre, I feel cheated when I get something else. James Bond is supposed to make me go weak in the knees, not make my heart bleed for him.

I could say something similar about the Sherlock Holmes movie franchise. Still, the first movie made me want to consider that I could look at it as an independent storyline, not a depiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero. It’s very hard to be this objective about a character one loves so much, but if the movie is entertaining enough, it is possible.

Sadly, the second movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows did not permit me the same grace. Many things did not work for this film, the biggest of which was that it simply did not entertain. Halfway through the movie, I was already straining to look at the time and I actually groaned when the plot took another turn, indicating another half an hour at least.

Let’s start with the most obvious bits. Even as an independent character, a detective is fun to watch when you can see how he figures out a mystery. The ‘Show, don’t tell’ rule of story-telling was conspicuously absent in the film. The characters rushed about in what seemed like a wild-goose chase, interpersed with a sprinkling of rapid left-right head movements, presumably indicating Holmes’ brilliant mind at work. But none of those workings were ever shown satisfactorily. It was like someone stepped in and said, “There ought to be some Sherlock Holmes in this movie. Let’s pick at random and throw it into the film at some arbitrary points.”

The second most compelling thing about a Sherlock Holmes story is the case itself. Human foibles, grey emotions are all brought out in a compelling way in the books. The film completely missed that too. An extremely cardboard villain whose motives are explained away with,

“Bad people do bad things because they can.”

left me with an unpleasant taste in the mouth. I’m not stupid, Mr.Guy Ritchie.

Even if I were to hold on to my original premise of not expecting the same of the film story as I would from the books, it didn’t work. Robert Downey Jr. looks wasted through this film (worse than the earlier one). If that’s a tip-off to Holmes’ opiate behaviour, how does he manage to be fit enough to perform the stunts that are shown? He’s a detective, not a superhero. Even in an independent world, that means a regular human being whose prowess is more in the mental realm than the physical. As a fan of the detective fiction genre, I’m offended by one who is so stylised that he’s almost a drunken dandy, a guy who draws so much attention to himself when his profession involves moving in the shadows.

If the overextended action sequences weren’t bad enough, what was a generous orgy of gunfire and bloodied limbs doing slathered all over the second half of the movie? If I had known this was going to be a war movie, I’d have refrained from walking into the hall.

And then there were the characters. Some of the Holmes universe’s best known people make an appearance here but they were all nothing more than props for the main character. The tiny handful of smart lines were reserved for pseudo-homosexual banter between Holmes & Watson. Jude Law (Dr.Watson) and Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler) both looked thoroughly fed up with the movie and delivered their scenes like they were parodying in a small out-of-the-way theatre.

After the movie had managed to tick me off in all these ways, I also had adequate time to notice other things. The look/feel of the film looks all incongruous given the times that it is set in. Machine guns in the 19the century? And never mind the weaponry, what about the people? Did women really move that way, with such confidence (even arrogance)? Even Mad Men (set in the 1950s) seems primmer, more prudish and chauvinistic than these times. It doesn’t make sense at all.

This movie might have had a chance to entertain, if it could only make up its mind what it wanted to be – action flick, superhero caper, war film, comedy. In the case of the first movie, I’d have said watch without expecting Sherlock Holmes. For this movie, I’d say, don’t expect to be entertained unless repetitive stunts and tomfoolery are your thing.

Does Tanishq GlamGold’s Advertising Understand Women?

Tanishq has a new campaign on air and I don’t think it works. It’s not that I don’t like their designs. Indeed, they were probably one of the first brands that brought contemporary designs to gold jewellery in India. But their recent advertisements leave me cringing.

Here’s one of them:

The storyline goes as follows: A book launch is in progress. At the party afterwards, the author hugs a dolled-up lady (presumably a friend). The friend is wearing a lot of gold jewellery and the crowd starts to flock around her. She looks up, sees the author looking left out. So she feigns a headache and leaves. In the car on the way home, her companion asks her why she lied. She says its better than ruining someone’s evening. This last line may also translate into, ‘It’s better than making someone burn with jealousy’.

I’m not going to comment on the cleverness of that, since presumably the ad industry usually tiptoes that fine line between smart and smart alecky. But I want to know what the woman in the ad was doing dressing up all that much for a book launch. Did she really realize only at the event, that she’d be the center of attention? And when she did, was it self-consciousness (embarassment?) or generosity that made her leave?

And another thing, jewellery is 100% accessorial. It exists for no other purpose but adornment, so people will look at you and admire how you look. What’s the point in jewellery that you can’t show off?

Now let’s look at another ad, which is currently on air now.

The storyline of this one goes as follows: It’s a wedding party on an open-air dance floor. Suddenly it starts raining and the guests run for cover. One of them, a bejewelled woman pats herself dry (showcasing an elaborate necklace in the process). In the mirror, she notices the bride looking wistfully at her ruined party. Immediately, she moves onto the dance floor in the rain and starts a sensuous writhe in the rain. She’s joined by the guests shortly after and finally, a smile from the bride.

This one actually sounds better in copy than it did on screen. I saw this with the boy and was trying to articulate exactly what was wrong with it. He summed it up succinctly so I reproduce his words:

“A woman doesn’t want another woman to be the center of attention.”

All I had to add to that was, “Especially on her wedding day.”

How come the advertising & brand teams over at Tanishq didn’t get that? Advertisements which make me think that they don’t understand me, the consumer, put me off a product that I may even have been interested in the first place. I’m also not buying into the idea that the team is evolving existing notions of vanity & beauty. The product they’re pushing is the most established symbol of that archaic structure of beauty. Even if you can change minds with a slick ad or two, these really aren’t doing it for me.

Note: Thank you @pankajsabnani for finding me the videos!

Social Networking-The Creation & Consumption Of Content

Earlier in the month, I began writing for Social Samosa. My brief was to recap the major events in social networking over the past few years in India. Given how vast this is, I broke it up into two parts. I started with an article titled, ‘Social Networking: How Communities Were Built’. In that post, I looked at the connections aspect of social networking.

Image via Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot,

The second part of that story is now online in a piece titled, ‘Social Networking: The Creation & Consumption Of Content‘ where I discuss the other harbingers of the social media revolution – blogs, commenting systems, bulletin boards, discussion groups and everyone’s favorite birdie – Twitter.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Online content creation began with a few individuals putting out text & images that could be consumed by other users of the internet. In the recent years, though, we’ve seen content creation get closer & closer to the space that we call social networking.  A content creator is not an artist working in isolation but the initiator & propagator of conversations.  The social networks are but channels to drive conversations, which need content.  Thus it was inevitable that social connectors and content holders should find themselves merging in a borderless space.

‘Content creation’ is a misnomer since, increasingly, we are all becoming both producers & consumers of content.  One person feeds into the network a piece of information or an insight or a personal account (a phenomenon now called ‘seeding’ if done with the intent to propagate).  Others read it and share it on their networks (the phenomenon now called ‘going viral’).  Along the way, comments are added and other bits of content spring up in response to the first piece.  These could take several forms – blog posts, tweets, comments, status updates, pictures and videos, to name a few.  The conversation now spans multiple users, data points, media and web locations. Every user in this process has now become both a consumer and a creator of content.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Popular Dance Is Now A Legitimate Activity

When I was a teenager, dance wasn’t a slightly taboo concept. I say ‘slightly’, because the times didn’t exactly forbid or punish dancing. Indeed, most girls were sent for bharatnatyam or kathak classes. But these, seemed to be, at best, surface-level attempts to show how ‘broad-minded’ and ‘culturally inclined’ their families were. Even as a leisure activity, dance placed somewhere below music. Every child who learnt music was made to parade their skills at family functions and friendly gatherings. The dancers didn’t get the same kind of attention.

More contemporary forms of dance (then mostly Bollywood), were not taken seriously as forms of art or indeed, activities that could be pursued and nurtured, by everyday people. Somewhere around the turn of the millennium, that started to change. Maybe it’s because Bollywood got more modern and the dhak-dhak-jhatka-matkas gave way to more light-footed steps that were accessible to the in-front-of-TV dancer (which I assume would be the equivalent of the bathroom singer). In parallel, there was a concerted effort to push various other forms of dance, salsa being the prime leader in this. All at once, there were dance shows, dancing competitions & reality shows on TV, dance classes & special instruction in dance.

A decade later, dance is suddenly serious business. It’s a tangible career option, a viable part of major public functions and a respectable aspect of one’s profile or resume. Words like salsa, tango, merengue aren’t alien to us anymore. Even forms like belly-dancing and pole-dancing which would have been unmentionable a decade ago, are being openly advertised, sought and attended today.

This is personally intriguing to me, interested as I am, in both pop culture and art of any sort. But it never went beyond that. My musical career went from classical Carnatic music training to guitar lessons, to pop/rock jams on campus to stage performances all through my academic life and some after. I also had the mandatory bharatnatyam training too, as a kid. But it never went beyond that, save an awkward shake-a-leg at a crowded college festival. I never thought of myself as a dancer. I don’t even know whether I am graceful or not, since I never had a chance to explore it. So it’s quite wonderful to know that dance in several forms is now within reach of regular people like you and me too.

This is what got me thinking about this – Sayan Chowdhary, a friend and former colleague has begun a parallel career in dance at the relatively ripe age of 28. After over a year of lessons, shows and other dancing adventures, he now teaches too. It’s personal inspiration to me, that he’s able to manage a busy corporate career as well as a burgeoning creative one in a time-starved city like Mumbai. But he seems to be thriving on it, which is more than I can say of my other friends whose lives are sucked up completely by their careers. The group he is with, MadMax Academy of Dance is expanding with new venues & events. I think I’ll go shake a leg too!

Here are the details of MadMax’s next event. It’s free and it’s a Christmas special so do walk in (dance in?) with your foot-tapping shoes if you’re in the area:

MadMax Academy Of Dance: Christmas Dance With Santa
Free Christmas dance workshops on  Bachata & Bolly-Hop by Madan.
This is a fun and lively dance workshop, which is not only enjoyable but also serves to educate participants about many dance forms. A dance experience not to be missed!
Dress Code : simple, sober and elegant white
Date : Wednesday, 28th Dec 2011
Time : 7:30p.m. to 9:30p.m.
Venue: Nipra House,
             17,Ropa Lane,
             Chandan Wadi,
             Marine Lines,
             Mumbai

To register in advance please contact us:

Contact
Phone : 993-0996-623
Social Media
Twitter : @MadanMadmax

Marvin’s World: Dash Games – Watch That Clock!

It’s a curious fact that all games mirror real world situations. For some reason, we enjoy playing a game, while its real world counterpart would probably have us bored or scrambling for excuses. Perhaps it has to do with the illusory sense of control & achievement that a game gives us, which its real-world counterpart may not.

I’m hopeless at time management in real life. Deadlines are met but with frantic dashing about & panicking. I get delayed, no matter how hard I try to make it on time. And my meetings & conversations stretch on long beyond what was intended. It’s curious indeed, that I love that genre of casual gaming called Time Management.

The Dash games are probably the most popular of the Time Management games. They involve performing a set of actions, at optimal speed & order in order to collect the rewards & progress to higher levels. I think Flo’s Diner and Sally’s Spa are the biggest of these and have spawned several knock-offs like Wedding Dash, Pet Dash etc. I’ve enjoyed the online versions of both these games before and it was just a matter of time (!) before I hooked up Marvin onto that ticking clock. Here are what I’ve been playing against the clock for:

Sally’s Salon Luxury Lite:Beauty Is A Fast Business!

This follows the standard Sally story, starting with her taking on a small beauty salon. The game begins with basic services like hair wash, hair cut, hair colour & blow dry. You pick the best choice of hair cut & hair colour based on the customers’ expression & get rewarded with hearts (and subsequently tips) accordingly. There are a couple of different customer types by patience level & tipping abilities. During the game, you are also offered options to upgrade services or buy new materials (like magazines, chairs, speed apron & coffee dispenser). Sadly though, in the initial levels, there really isn’t potential to earn enough to make any purchases outside a magazine and a coffee machine. Also, the free game ends at level 5, which means you also don’t have a chance to experience the spa extensions in other locations, the hiring of new staff or the merchandise counter, all of which add tremendously to the original game.

The graphics are colourful & quirky, matching the original game perfectly. Even on the tiny mobilephone screen, the details of hair styles, facial expressions & different customer types comes through perfectly. The game screen is a little bigger than the mobilephone window, which means scrolling left-right is necessary. Even so, the services are concentrated to the left of the screen and the payment counter is right in the middle. So if you’re really quick & don’t let the waiting line pile up (top left), then you manage nicely without ever having to scroll.

Sally’s Salon Luxury Lite is developed by Gamehouse and available for free download in the Android Market. Also see Sally’s Spa, a free demo by Gamehouse which lets you play just one round in the first level. The full version is available for Rs.105.78 as Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition.

Dinner Rush 2011 Lite: Customers On A Conveyer Belt Is Unpalatable!

This is a version of Flo’s Diner but doesn’t have the same charm. The key to both Flo’s Diner& Sally’s Spa is their key characters that are constants through all levels. Players superimpose their own identity on Flo or Sally & can empathize with her rushing about to fulfil orders or service customers. Dinner Rush focuses on the dishes rather than on the customers or the staff. Each customer glides in as a face at the top of the screen. They are seated & their orders taken by drag-drops. Once the order has been registered, a tiny menu made of colour blocks appears on the right side of the screen. The game is about clicking through in the correct order so as to complete that dish. Customers as a conveyer belt item to be processed isn’t a concept that I enjoyed. Much of the retail experience is the actual engagement between the service provider and the customers. All of that goes missing in Dinner Dash. The graphics of the food components are too tiny and too basic to grab interest via the cookery route. This is not a game that I’d recommend for Dash lovers. Electronic music is a staple of these games but possibly because this game was so boring, its music seem to grate on my nerves even more.

Dinner Dash 2011 Lite is developed by Nalbam Soft and available for free download in the Android Market.

Buffet Dash Lite: Waiter, There’s A Bug In My Game!

This is another spin-off from Flo’s Diner. Sadly, like Dinner Rush, this one also fails to deliver a good experience. It started when the music wouldn’t stop even after the application was exited. Turning the music off while the game was in progress didn’t help either. And finally, even Force Close/ Clear Data didn’t help. I finally had to restart my phone to get the annoying electronic music to stop. My guess is that this is a bug that occurs when you’re downloading or installing multiple apps.

The problem is the music is so grating that you really want to shut it off immediately. However, on silent mode, the game is disorienting as you can’t tell whether the tasks have been completed or not. The visual processing & completion of tasks that Sally’s Spa offers, is missing in this game and its a huge absence.

The graphics are mediocre, too tiny & bland to be able to make out expressions or even what is being cooked & served. One customer is much like another and the dishes are equally homogeneous. Buffet Dash Lite is blah and another must-not-have for Dash lovers.

Buffet Dash Lite is developed by Nalbam Soft and is available for free download in the Android Market…

IceCream Dash: Line Up, Don’t Dash

IceCream Dash Lite is more a line-up-in-row game (like Jewels) than Time Management.The premise is that each order of ice-cream requires ingredient assembly. These ingredients are not simply scooped & served as in other food Dash games. A grid appears of different coloured dollops. You have to line up 3 or more in a row to get them off the bin and onto the cone. It’s a novel attempt to marry two genres of casual games. Unfortunately it ends up being more of one variety and not the one that it purports to be, a Dash game.

The graphics are simple but a game of this nature doesn’t require very evolved images. The response time is a tad slower than the average line-in-one game, which means the game goes slower and builds frustration, since it is a timed activity. The music is monotonous but if you play it like you would play Jewels, you probably won’t even notice it. But by that premise, you probably want to play the original, Jewels, instead of a poor knock-off.

Ice cream Dash Lite is developed by Nalbam Soft and is available for free download in the Android Market.

NovelRace 12: All Kinds Of Wow

I wonder if anybody who reads this blog now, even remembers NovelRace. Two years may as well be twenty on social media. I don’t mean the book; everyone and their brother-in-law seems to remember that, much to my discomfiture. If you ever decide to write a book, my sincere advice is don’t tell anybody about it. In all likelihood, you’ll never get around to it. If you do, you probably won’t get past a few pages. If you still do, you’ll struggle and struggle and spend so much of time struggling to finish it just to prove people like me wrong that you’ll hate it. Trust me, you don’t want the agony of being constantly asked,

“So…that book you’re writing, when is it coming out?”

Actually I meant my personal diary on being a first time writer. Well, as it turns out, I do know what I’m talking about. I have been through all of that. And you know what, I did it! I finished the goddamn book and there now I’ve said it. Two years and more survived just to be able to say that. Now please don’t kill me by asking when you’ll see it on the bookstores. I didn’t start with a publisher, I haven’t been visited by that fairy godmother common to all writers’ fantasies – a surprise book deal and I haven’t started hunting.

And here I thought this was going to be a nice-and-neat, albeit late wrap-up to the Novelrace post series full of wise maxims on how to write that bestseller. So what can I say that hasn’t been said before? Pretty much nothing, it turns out. What can I say that I haven’t myself said before? Ah, now that’s something to start with.

I don’t feel as exhilarated as I imagined. I still need spell check to get the biggest word in that last sentence right, for instance. Somehow I guess I figured my life would tie up prettily with the culmination of this dream. It hasn’t.

I’ve gone so far down this path that it’s become a busy road now. ‘Writer’ is my profession now and one that I finally feel comfortable saying. I still don’t have a visiting card; I’m not that rid of my neuroses. But it is a part of my identity now.

It’s hard to tell whether the experience of writing changed my life or whether the events of my life shaped the ones in my novel. Either way, great changes were wrought and we stand on this side of 2011, a different person with a different story.

One of the things I really, really struggled with – and this may some day be the reason I quit this work for another – is the fact that I don’t have the right personality for a writer. Make no mistake, writing is a job that requires a personality fit just as much as a corporate job. I came to discover that a writer’s job is one of a recluse, a semi-detached observer of life, a hermit even in the crowds, a loner. I’m many things but tragically, not that. Having to be by myself for days on end, no conversations or chaos or people around me dumbs me to a point of wanting to stab myself with a pen. Thank God I live in the times of a keyboard then ( a pretty blunt instrument that, and even banging it on my head won’t work with this tiny, pretty Netbook) or this would be an obituary you’d have been reading. But my thoughts still, my fingers freeze, my stories die out in isolation. One little trip into the living world, even if it is only to buy vegetables, one chance conversation, on the other hands, sets those wheels churning so fast there are barely enough words in the world to keep up. That’s not a good personality fit at all.

Still, with all of that, I managed to see this baby through, not just once but twice over. Second draft written and done! I guess that deserves all kinds of personal wows and that’s mostly what this post is about. I haven’t really celebrated it at all. I FINALLY WROTE THAT BOOK I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO!!!!

I spent a lot of time being petrified at the thought of finishing this book because I didn’t know what would come next. I don’t. And that feels okay. Wow. Of another sort, this time.

And then there are moments when it seems like just another addition to my CV. I’m still as soppy & messy/sentimental about my people. I’m just as bad with goodbyes, even worse with toxicity in relationships and a control-obsessive terror. I’m no closer to Buddhadom; not to suicide either (that should be a relief to somebody).

What did I learn then? That I could do it. No more, no less. I got nothing more out of this than the secure knowledge that I did do it hence I am able and fit to do it. I guess that’s as fair as life gets.

For the record, I’m the proud writer of a second draft of 82,620 words and exactly 200 pages. How neat is that??!

What next? Wait for the sequel. ;-) Wowwie!

The Specialness Of A Display Picture

Is it pathetic when you look at the display picture of someone you haven’t talked to, in ages & think,

“That picture was taken on my camera!”

No it’s not. And I’ll tell you why. Because it means I was there in that moment with that person. It means that moment, either preserved for posterity because it was so precious or simply because the picture was most pleasing as a representation of its owner, was shared with me. It means that that moment still trumps the zillion others that have happened ever since then.

Think of when cameras were not digital, when photo-processing was a laboratory function, not a ‘Wait for it’ message on your viewfinder. You could go for years on a single photograph since there might not be an opportunity or a camera or a developed film in that while in between. Now with every moment being mobile-picable, every picture being uploadable and every display pic being changeable, think of what a really old DP means.

Yes, that’s why it’s not pathetic.

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