Tag Archives: Humour

F is for Fear Economy

FIn my previous storython last May, I created a fantasy world called Feardom. (See story 1 and story 2 that I wrote then). This is another Feardom tale for the A to Z Challenge. In my first draft, I was told that the universe wasn’t clear enough. I’ve revised it since then, but just in case, here’s some context: Feardom is a world of ghouls, monsters-under-the-bed, aliens and otherworld creatures. They manage freshly dead souls’ passage into Feardom or wherever else they may be bound, with all the expected errors, goof-ups and emergencies. They also run a fear economy, collecting, creating, processing and distributing fear across the living world. Feardom functions at night.

Now read on!


F is for Fear Economy

Koriko was lavender with irritation. The colour made it even more cold and bothered. Feardom was tepid on a good night. But this was not a good night. What night was, when your work was bothersome?

It twisted away from the desk, deciding it was time for some exercise. As it rolled about on the floor, its circumference returning to a perfect circle, order was restored to its fevered mind as well. Koriko had picked up the art of rolling yoga from a cult worshipper who had an out-of-body experience by mistake. The under-bed monster fraternity had decided against the practice since the practitioners got too wholesome to fit under children’s beds. Koriko hoped against hope its own Department wouldn’t find some stupid reason to outlaw it among its employees too. Roga was wonderful for its shape and mind.

As Koriko bobbed up to the glass window, it noted in satisfaction, that the sickening lavender had receded. It was not yet its sunny yellow hue but it would probably not be that way till this matter had been laid to rest. Rich clients were always difficult but dealing with Amutty was extra purpleful.

Koriko’s Department Stomach didn’t understand. His job was to process all manner of requests to the Loss & Relocation department and juice out maximum spirit. Spirit is all he cared about. Koriko chose to stay in this job because he was one of the few Feardom citizens who didn’t have the foul taint of guilt on him. Guilt doesn’t stick to ghouls; that’s what makes them such great Department Stomachs.

Koriko slowed in its rolling down the corridor, to check its reflection again. Almost beige now, it noted and decided it would roll all the way tonight, instead of taking its whizzer.

Inspector ‘Jiggs’ Jigaboo was hanging outside his precinct when Koriko rolled his way. Koriko brightened immediately at the sight of its old friend.

“On a Fitness roll, are we, Officer Koriko?”

he growled.

“Yes. I’m losing shape and I’ll go blue if I don’t do something soon.”

“Let’s take a glide. It’s a slow night.”

“Can we go in the direction of the graveyard?”

“Are you sure? You never want to go there.”

“Well…yes. But I’ve got an errand to run. And I could use some company, especially at the Bone Market. Roll me out if I get too faint.”

Jiggs growled and began gliding. Koriko pulled out of its slow spin and bobbed up next to him.

“I thought you might be busy tonight. Passed a fresh crop of new-dead coming in.”

Jiggs jerked in his glide.

“They’ll be stuck at the Netherworld pass for at least two nights. And more than a quarter of them will get rejected and sent back as near-death. Some of them may even come your way, Koriko, like that kid I rescued last moon.”

Koriko grimaced a perfect arc across its round face. That had been a nightmare, even for a seasoned Feardom citizen. 3 hours in Feardom when a guy is not dead was a gruesome problem for the authorities to clean up. The Bureau of Bureaucratic Nightmares didn’t like the living nosing it on its turf.

“There’s more and more of those happening these days. I think the Fear Factory needs to be called to account. Raw fear is proving too potent for the living. We need to go easy on them. Can’t have so many of them tumbling into Feardom in sheer fright, before their time’s up.”

“Try telling that to the authorities. All they’re interested in, is all that free fear that rolls off them, the instant they materialize here. Do you know Bone Collectors are sunlighting as fear scavengers now? Ixtra help us all.”

Jiggs growled, a wry sound.

“I’m telling you, those crooks will be the last ones in Feardom, after the rest of us have been vaporized or gone transparent. They can turn every trick in the book!”

“Some of them may even become grishoomy Department Stomachs!”

said Koriko, bobbing lemon with the gruesome conversation. It always felt good around Jiggs.

“We’re almost here. And you’re quite pale, Koriko. Are you sure you want to go in?”

said Jiggs.

“Oh, I don’t think I can go in. I’ll be so transparent, you won’t even be able to see me to roll me out. I’m waiting to see if I can catch a Bone Collector on its way in.”

“What do you want? Can I get it for you?”

Koriko turned a greenish hue. Jiggs felt its discomfort. He knew the Loss & Replacement department was notoriously secretive and Koriko didn’t want any trouble with its bosses. It was terribly mysterious that they were here in the first place. The entire department looked down upon the skullduggery of the Bone business and hated the Fear Factory passionately, as their biggest competitors. They weren’t very profitable but they got by. There was a call for that kind of thing, in a fear economy.

The Department of Loss & Replacement orchestrated displacements of objects, places and people to distill unease and panic. It was guilt-free fear since forgetting allowed people to absolve responsibility. As far as Jiggs could see, that was the only draw for Koriko, who was allergic to guilt.

Koriko had gone an alarming pink-tinged magenta now.

“I need a bone, preferably one with a streak of blood or maybe an attached tissue. It’s for a case.”

Jiggs bobbed. Since when did Koriko’s Department deal with such base things? Koriko’s pink splashes solidified into stripes now as it made up its mind.

“You know how we were talking about the death explosion? The authorities are trying to curb it. This is a test assignment. We’re experimenting with a guy who is too bored to live anymore.”


Jiggs coughed. He would never understand the sentient beings of this planet.

“Yes. So we’re going to introduce disruptions to keep him uneasy and interested.”

“You’re using fear as entertainment!”

Jiggs roared.

“What else do you think it is, on this planet?” Koriko countered, its face yellowish again. “Anyway, it’s not fear. Not yet at least. Just unease and mild panic. He probably won’t even feel that much, given how far he’s gone into ennui.”

“Your fancy Replacement orchestrations too good for him?”

Koriko rolled about unhappily. It didn’t like it any more than Jiggs but its friend didn’t understand. How could it explain that it had tried three different orchestrations but the man had just shrugged them off. Koriko was fed up with the Stomach’s grumbling but it wouldn’t be relieved till this case was closed. Their machinations with higher state thinking had failed; it was time to go back to the basics. Skullduggery was cheap and quick.

“Just get me the bone, will you? Foot bone, not one of the toes. Remember, with a little muscle attached.” Koriko grizzled.

Jiggs blobbed away to haggle at the Bone Market. Koriko spun in place, saying a thank you prayer to Ixtra. There would be much spirit in this assignment and it was thinking of taking a long vacation afterwards to recuperate. The sea might be a nice place to visit. There was no guilt underwater. Maybe it would ask Jiggs to come along.


F is for Fear Economy


*Image via njaj on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

E & E Squared: Matt Beaumont – There’s Never A Dull Byte In The Inbox

e E Squared
A good friend gifted me ‘E Squared‘, a novel about a cutting-edge/crazy-ass advertising agency, entirely told in the form of electronic communication (blogposts, emails, chats and SMSes). I loved that book so much that I couldn’t wait to read the original that sparked off the idea.

E, even better (aren’t the originals always?) is only in the form of emails since it’s set in 2000 before the advent and popularity of some of the other forms of electronic communication. E Squared was spread across a year whereas E deals with solely the first eighteen days of 2000. Admittedly the plot stays a little closer to realistic, with very minor diversions from it for humor value (an employee who is a doppelganger of a TV celebrity sharing a beach with her, hire-and-fire-and-rehire-on-whim practices) and most of the funnies come from extremely believable, if somewhat grisly situations (idea theft from students, leaked sex tapes, assault charges) looked at in a witty manner. In comparison, E Squared really pushes the envelope with bizarre twists (teenagers running away to foreign countries, Nigerian spammer heiresses). And with all these differences, both books were absolutely delightful.

The email/electronic communication only format worked perfectly and never lost the wry wit to confusion or blandness. I’d recommend both books for anybody desperately needing a good laugh about the burdens of the working world. Here’s my Goodreads reviews of E and E Squared.

E.E. by Matt Beaumont
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Miller Shanks is a fictitious advertising agency whose London arm is depicted as they enter the turn of the millenium. In the first 18 days of 2000, which spans the length of the entire book, the Miller Shanks team deals with embezzled ideas, international diplomatic incidents, a sexual assault case, wrestling secretaries, broken doors, fake suicide attempts and a sex tape. It’s brilliant and funny.

E is a frothy, light look at advertising and modern office life. It also happens to be a novel written entirely in the form of emails. No conversations, no descriptions, no scene-setting; everything from characterisation to dramatic build-up and other plot elements occurs in the timing, from/to people and tone of inter-office emails. Surprisingly, this never gets in the way. It’s really easy to keep the situations and people straight, even with the lack of background information.

This might be because Beaumont puts his finger on the nub with every character he creates – all rib-tickling archetypes of people that everyone experiences in any office in the world. We meet the tyrant boss, the politicking middle manager, the bitchy secretary/receptionist, the distant God-type owner/President, the puritanical/randy client, of course. But there’s also the agenda-pushing headhunter, the utterly-devoid-of-social-skills-but-very-efficient accountant and the much-hated/long-suffering IT department. There are also all the familiar social set-ups of lunchtime buddies, inter-department grapevine and cubicle romances.

There’s never a dull email in the inbox. I loved the book!


e Squarede Squared by Matt Beaumont
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bitching about the boss, trying to hook up with the office hottie, watercooler gossip, mad clients, madder colleagues and the maddest workplace of them all – E Squared pulls you into the surreal corporate soap opera of life at ad agency Meerkat360.

The entire novel is in the form of blogposts, chats, text messages and emails. Surprisingly, the novel format doesn’t hurt the reader at all and within minutes you are drawn into the lives of the Meerkat360 staff (and some others). Anyone who has ever worked for an agency, been bullied by a boss (or a junior), juggled a weekend marriage with a demanding career or simply lagged behind their peers in the ratrace, E Squared will feel familiar.

It’s probably telling that the stories of our lives, in the future will be documented in digital mediabytes. It’s a regular Dilbert meets 2 and a 1/2 Men.

View all my reviews

SMism: Addict

He’s a hashtag junkie, just living from trending topic to trending topic.

Ideamarked Jan2012: Daler Mehndi Meets RajniPower On The January Funnies!

The first month of this year is over! The weather has turned, giving Mumbai a rare winter and a chance to bring out our scarves & jackets. I’ve blogged slightly less and had fewer written pieces to show. But that’s because a lot of my work has been behind the scenes. I’m really hoping these will bear fruit later this year. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, here’s what I was looking at through January. Curiously, they’re all humour:
  • I’d call this “Who you are on the London tube by your sun sign”: ‘Tube Zodiac‘ (via Sensorcaine)
  • The 10 Most Common Awkward Moments On Elevators‘: A hilarious video on elevator etiquette. (via Cracked)
  • When White Guys Listen To Daler Mehndi‘: Watch the guy in yellow shorts during ‘Tunak
  • Daler Mehndi

    Image by bravesheng via Flickr

    tunak tunak tarara’. With perfect lip sync, mind! (via Youtube, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)

  • How To Look Like Shit‘ – Put this under ‘Humour’ and under ‘Style’. Poking fun at our own worries should never go out of fashion. (via Jezebel)
  • If some of the most surfed sites were online dating profiles, what would you do with them? ‘Would You Date This Domain Name?‘ (via the ever hilarious Thought Catalog)
  • All About Rajni‘: A website that runs only when you switch off the internet! No kidding, it runs on Rajni power! (via the irrepressible Desimartini, link courtesy Jason Menezes)
  • The Tam Brahm Chart Of Progressive Food Tolerance‘: A funny look at food tolerance from the motherland. (via Tambrahm Rage, link courtesy @Suchitra Sukumar)
  • The 6 Stupidest Things We Use to Judge People We Don’t Know‘ (via Cracked)
  • I want to print & laminate this and put it up at my desk on certain days: ‘I’m Taking A Sad Day‘ (via Thought Catalog)
  • This blog got featured in the media once, with DNA carrying my ‘Bandra Is No Longer Queen Of The Suburbs’ story on their Around The Blog section.

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


Spotted on a store shelf:

Thym, Basilic, Origan, Rosemari

E Squared: Edgy, Entertaining & Epistolary!

E Vestigio dropped in a fortnight ago to keep me company, to gup a bit and to cheer me up. She brought with her two books, my belated birthday gifts. Book recommendations from E are always interesting, given her diverse reading habits. Her gifts were ‘The Interpretation Of Murder‘ by Jed Rubenfeld andE Squared‘ by Matt Beaumont. I didn’t like the first one very much so I’m not going to talk any further about it. But I was intrigued by the cover and the blurb of E Squared so that’s the one I got to first.

E says this book is a sequel to E 🙂 but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Wikipedia tells me that this is considered an example of an epistolary novel which I gather, refers to the fact that the story is told through a series of digital correspondances (email, blogposts, text messages, chats).

Bitching about the boss, trying to hook up with the office hottie, watercooler gossip, mad clients, madder colleagues and the maddest workplace of them all – E Squared pulls you into the surreal corporate soap opera of life at ad agency Meerkat360.

The entire novel is in the form of blogposts, chats, text messages and emails. Surprisingly, the novel format doesn’t hurt the reader at all and within minutes you are drawn into the lives of the Meerkat360 staff (and some others). Anyone who has ever worked for an agency, been bullied by a boss (or a junior), juggled a weekend marriage with a demanding career or simply lagged behind their peers in the ratrace, E Squared will feel familiar.

It’s probably telling that the stories of our lives, in the future will be documented in digital mediabytes. It’s a regular Dilbert meets 2 and a 1/2 Men.

E Squared kept me in splits for the entire week that my own E wasn’t around so I give it three cheers… Eep, Eep, Ooray!


A version is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Ideamarked Jan2011: Astrology, Fiction, Photography, Music, Technology, Poetry, Social Rules & Life Lessons

The first month of 2011 has whooshed by slipperier than the icy roads we Mumbaikers nearly came to expect with a rare winter! I’ve been poking around into a lot of corners and old places, nostalgia washing over me with this old blog URL and template. After the daily post pressure of Reverb10 and a demanding December calender let up, January has been packed in a different way. I’ve been enjoying it and hope that it’s an indication of things to come in the rest of the year. Here’s a mixed bag of goodies to cheer you along at end of the first month:

  • Ugly Christmas sweaters by sun sign! (via Astrology.com)
  • Extra short stories for 2011 (via Sakshi)
  • A secret can be a burden. And someone who shares your burden has to be a real guardian angel. Like the one this postcard is about. (via PostSecret)
  • 1000 Life Lessons or How to stay alive forever (1000 secrets)
  • Doocing may loom high even on our sheltered desi selves as we all get connected. Here’s five ways to tread with caution on Twitter and Facebook (via EconomicTimes, tipped off by Gautam Ghosh, who is quoted in the story)
  • Mumbai through the eyes of my favorite Bangalore photo-blogger. No mains and crosses in Claustraphobicity, I’m afraid! (Mumbai Paused)
  • In marketers’ hell! Swoosh Eyebrows (via FoundShit)
  • An old favorite of mine and mamma to twin boys, this time she gets a sharp lesson in watching her words in front of the kids! (via Mamma of Twins)
  • A History of Nudism – short story at Daily Fiction‘s new blog.
  • So bad, it’s good. Move over French maid fantasy, Mmmbai is here! Aye Hiphopper by Ishq Bector (via Youtube)
  • Memorable moments and traditions from wedding ceremonies across countries, religions and social systems. (via Matador Network)
  • How technology/ mobile connectivity is helping Indian education (via EducationTimes, tipped off by Moksh Juneja, who is quoted in the story)
  • Social Rules To Not Making Empty Promises and To Mean What You Say – I can think of a helluva lot of people who need to know this and not one of them is shy! (link courtesy Arcopol Chaudhuri)
  • Echoes fade and memories die, Autumn frosts have slain July“….gives me goosebumps. (Lewis Carrol at OldPoetry)

Ideamarked! December 2010: Internet Delights, Online Wars, Schooltime Nostalgia, Curd Rice, Romance, Art & Writing

I’ve had a busy December, what with friends from out-of town, the big relationship questions, getting started on the Yahoo! Real Beauty arrangement and a month-long writing exercise (you’ll have to read further to know what!). But I still managed to keep an eye on things of mutual interest, dear reader. *Pause for applause* 😀 I’m feeling upbeat and high-spirited this month. So be nice and leave a comment or two telling me what you think and what else you’d like to see.

  • This would have been par de course in an 80s Bollywood flick dhak-dhak style! (via AwkwardFamilyPhotos)
  • Getting ready for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2011.
  • This really appeals to the Ideartist in me! (via PS-IMadeThis)
  • A month-long writing exercise with a daily prompt (via Reverb10) Hat-tipped by Lakshmi Jagad. Also see my posts on this, here.
  • I first heard this song featured on the soundtrack of ’13 Going On 30′ and then fell in love with it. It was the theme song of my journey to the big Three-O and beyond. (Billy Joel’s Vienna Waits For You via YouTube)
  • Two drifters off to see the world, there’s so much of world to see. A classic. (Breakfast in Tiffany’s Moon River via YouTube)
  • Stoopid copywriters, funny fails! (via Failblog)
  • An interesting concept: Turning off your phone as a technological gesture of affection. (via Arzan Wadia)
  • Some of us miss the forest for the trees. And then there are those who remind us to stop and pick a fruit and savour it before burning the forest down. (Ashwini Mishra on the small things)
  • I came upon this blog from a reader response. It took me back to my early days of blogging when blogs were personal journals (not blossoming ebusiness ideas) and bloggers were ordinary human beings (not the next big Internet celebrity). I particularly liked the idea of this tag (yes, another throwback to those days of yore) and his answers. (via Yuva Anandan)
  • I ran into an online war with Bombay Elektrik Projekt after I tweeted that I was disappointed with their Monday Night Slam event. They slammed me on their Facebook page and on Twitter. An account of the event is here.
  • I didn’t send this one in but it instantly reminded me of my Best Friend. (via PostSecret)
  • An ode to that humble king of South Indian cuisine – thayir sadam (curd rice to you philistines). The article has liberal local references so you’re advised to carry a Tamil-English dictionary. But it is worth a read. Damn, my stomach’s growling. And this after having had a sumptous dinner of the aforementioned thayir sadam!! (via HawkEyeView)
  • Remember the teenage sleuthing trio of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews? My early adolescence was checkered with the adventures of The Three Investigators. Here’s remembering.
  • Horsing around (via AwkwardSchoolPictures)
  • Things you would never know without the movies (via TheTopSpace)
  • “Not email but Facebook may launch its own country by Monday!” (via FakingNews).
  • Hardware meets software? The clash of the giants. A good read, even for the techno-greeks. “Apple versus Google” (via IntelligentLife)
  • From the idea-archives: My article on learning to cook from the internet, which featured in JetLite’s in-flight magazine in October 2010. Cooking wannabes and seasoned chefs, do take note! (on The Idea-smithy)

If you see yourself (or your site featured here, if you’d like to be or if you’re just intrigued by the Ideamarked posts, do drop into The Idea-smithy Facebook Page and tell me about it. I love company!

Ideamarked: November 2010 – Nostalgia, Romance, Identity Theft, Fashion, Street Photography, Geek Humour & Kids

It has been a busy month, what with the domain issues and shifting back to WordPress. Actually, I don’t regret it. This old template (I’m hoping at least a few of you recognize it from having been my readers since then) triggers off old moods and inspiration and I feel freer to write about a lot of things that got buried under the gleaming-gloss of a fancy template and a hotshot domain name. This can only be good.

The Idea-smithy on Facebook idea continues and I’ve been posting links. It’ s a little trickier than the XX Factor Facebook page. XX Factor concerns itself with very specific topics and areas and it is is relatively easy to tell what would appeal to the readers of the blog. But The Idea-smithy is a lot broader, greyer, flexible in its nature. From its inception in 2004, it has been a rantfest, a scribble-pad, a poetry corner, a personal diary, a writing journal and a photo-blog. The posts encompass poetry, fiction, cityscapes, photographs, cartoons, humour, writing exercises, link-and-editorials, reviews and a lot of generally uncategorizable stuff.

I’m still grappling to define this blog the way I struggle to define myself. Tell me, my dear readers, old and new, what do you like about The Idea-smithy? What are your topics of choice? What do you hate? What else would interest you?

I’ve taken some chances in the first month of link-love on Facebook and here’s what I came up with. Your inputs are not just welcome, they’re vital!

  • Writers, romance-lovers, diehard M&Bers, hear ye!: A writing challenge looking for synopsis and first chapter of a novel (via Harlequin Enterprises)
  • This one did the rounds on email a few years ago and all of us in our twenties (then!) sighed and said, “That’s my life!!!”. A landmark net-pop culture reference: The Quarter-life crisis (via Caltech)
  • A strange case of identity-theft: Is someone stealing your tweets and your identity? (via Soma Ghosh)
  • Many of these gave me goosebumps. The related ‘women’s regrets’ one didn’t do that. Strange that is: The secrets regrets of men (via Lemondrop)
  • OMG, if only these were available on the streets, they’d be I Style! I would love to wear The Gateway of India or even The Bandra Worli Sea-link!: The architecture of statement rings (via (via Republic of Chic)
  • Whacky remixes in packaging!: Hommade Undies (via Chhavi Noticed This!)
  • Toilet humour and yes, it is funny!: Accurate Toiletry Instructions (via CollegeHumour)
  • Slightly outdated (which is ancient in internet terms). Appropriate for the month of the release of The Social Network: What Your Email Extension Says About You (via CollegeHumour)
  • I LMAOed. Then I wondered if I was too much of a geek because I understood every single reference in there:The First Fail (via CollegeHumour)
  • Mommy-bloggers, unite! You aren’t alone!: Shit My Kids Ruined (via ShitMyKidsRuined)
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