Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trying This Post from Our Kindle

Ever since we bought our Kindle Paperwhite we have been experimenting new things on it: how to hilight a portion of text and have it sent to FB and Twitter, how to read email and browse,and more importantly how to download books and articles. So, kind readers, this-blog-is-cool fans wenare trying out our first post on the Kindle. Hurrray!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finished Another Landmark - Copy Editing the Novel

Another landmark! No, nothing to do with Landmark, the bookstore, of which we are a regular visitor and fan, though we have seen the area for books shrinking, of late. Last time we were there we bought an expensive leather shoebox which we intend to use as our toiletry box. An expensive toiletry box from a book store? Dumb us! Why are we a bibliophile and not a clothesphile, or, toiletryphile, for starters?

We finished another painful editing process on the novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard. This time it was copy editing, removing silly spelling mistakes, respecting word territory (we make this mistake too often, i.e., using same words repeatedly in close proximity), removing needless footnotes (there were too many, in the final copy we intend to eliminate all footnotes), deleting self-indulgent passages (of this there were too many), eliminating literary flourishes (Ahem!).

All this because, in the madly competitive world of today, where anyone owning a laptop is writing a novel (ya know, "am writing a novel" is the best pick-up line there is, beats "I have seen you somewhere"), publishers depend too much on literary agents to turn out publishable manuscripts. And, this is the sorry part, literary agents won't look at manuscripts that have simple flaws, no matter how good they are (they receive too many submissions that are utter tripe). We don't blame them, poor fellows, much harried as they are about copyrights, territories, and suchlike.

Now, boo hoo, we have to sit down and carry out all those corrections, 350 pages of them. Writing sucks. Why weren't we a painter, an architect, a musician?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Singing and Strumming at a Christmas Celebration!

The occasion was Kairali Belapur’s Christmas celebrations and friend Henry wanted me to sing a song. So I dug out an old Christmas song I had written and composed, changed a few lyrics, and sang. The change in lyrics was because when I actually stood and sang there appeared to be some tunelessness, some mis-match in the harmonies.

Singing and strumming... it isn't easy. My right hand is a blur!
Then there was the situation, the stage fright to be thought about. My son said, “Papa, don’t make an ass of yourself, one mistake and they will laugh at you for ages.” He is my biggest critic. Son, Papa can handle all that, I am, sort of, well, used to all that. Son didn’t come for the performance, so as not to be ridiculed by friends. Wifey was supportive. But then, can I do it? What will those Malayalis whom I meet everyday think? They don’t even know I write, write poetry, sing!

So I had a lot of butterflies in my stomach as I sat through the program. There was a lot of Karaoke singing, which is acceptable these days, I guess. Then my turn came and I went on stage, after some backstage shenanigans. One of the singers, a pretty young lady was so overcome she refused to sing despite a lot of coaxing by her mother. Then – for the first time in my life – I sang standing up strumming my guitar. Hitherto, I had only sat and played the guitar. Must say standing up, playing the instrument, and singing is tough. You have to concentrate on so many different things. But, I managed fine without nervousness, well, not much.

Midway through the performance I felt my strumming becoming unsteady. Haven’t I rehearsed this for three days? Panic. Overcome by singing the choral part twice, no, thrice. Then it was time to say “Thank you, God bless,” and go off stage. Wifey says applause was deafening. A woman sitting beside her wanted to know how I do it. As if wifey knows how I do it. Hehe. Takes hundreds of hours of practice, lady. I am self-taught, so, it’s all the more harder. All those lonely hours you would be watching television serials, I am strummin, and singin! Nothing in life is easy, really, nothing.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

A Few Musings at the End of an Eventful 2013

A few thoughts at the end of an eventful 2013. We live in troubled times. Well, yes, that’s an obvious truth we need not emphasise. However, trouble is of the variety that never existed in our days, halcyon days in which we lived a deprived but enjoyable life nevertheless. Yet, we ignore certain realities, take risks, trust our intuition – which turns out to be wrong – and proceed gingerly. We forgive but we can’t forget. We hold hands and try to forget those piercing barbs aimed at us, we gamely accept kitsch such as reality shows and the petty tripe shown therein just to go with the flow. And, this worries us. Time heals but also leaves scars.

Many people left us for their heavenly abodes, among them our friends. Sarasa Gopal’s death shocked us, as did that of Varghese Mathew, a regular church-attendee and active member in all spiritual activities. You were never meant to die, people. You were supposed to live and share the milk of human kindness and joy with us. As the above, so did Mandela’s departure disturb us. We have an idea that may be a distortion of truth which goes: God calls all good people to him and leaves the trash – like us – to haunt the earth with our inanity (MS Word changed this to “insanity” and, shocked as I was, changed it back).

India’s biggest business brat (we call him immature little chap [ILC]) drunkenly crashed his car and hurts a few people. We say, no, it’s okay, brats are meant to crash cars. What else are they for? Already police may have been bought. We know. This brat’s mother – who is into serving the poor – doesn’t like to see peons (this is hearsay from someone who works in the office) around the office. So when she arrives peons are told to hide their poverty-stricken personage somewhere. All this they do because the brat’s grandfather worked hard and built an empire for his sons and grandchildren. We have ingrained in us this concept of dynasty, the bade log (big people) syndrome which makes things easy for the ILC to get away scot free. Is this a good thing? Why don’t we introspect on this?

We had the occasion of working with a few ILCs. Believe you me, they, with their immaturity can make your life hell. We had to correct their incompetence and also praise them for attributes they didn’t have. Another ILC is making it big in music, another ILC is making it in films, another ILC is making it in politics. And, ironically, we all are standing aside, giving way to these ILCs. Nay, we are even endorsing them and condoning their transgressions with the law.

One such ILC who is in prison now, should have been in an institution long ago for drug possession and terror-related activities. Another ILC is facing manslaughter charges for recklessly killing a few people with his SUV. We shut our eyes to all these, seemingly trivial atrocities, which really aren’t. Then can we blame them for turning into monster wife-beaters and social psychopaths? Can we invite them for a public function knowing their background? Can we wait in queue for a glimpse of them inside a theatre, hall, or, public place?

No, none of the above. But they are the pillars of society, turning up at social functions and invited to functions of Governors, Prime Ministers, and Presidents. So, hm, where are we going wrong? Can morality be judged by the tenets we clung to earlier? We don’t know.

We digress. On the culture-literature front we see nothing great happening. The Tata Litlive and Times Carnival went by without much ado. A trend started by Pablo Ganguli with his “Kitab” events has set off a chain of literary festivals throughout the country. Hats off to Pablo. Though he was ostracised because of allegations made by vested-interested people, he was the precursor and originator of the idea of literary festivals in India. We wonder why the same people who criticized Ganguly have their tongues firmly in mouth about the other festivals, where they may have been treated worse.

Our politics will see a cataclysmic something happening this year. The AAP’s success will change the equation quite a lot. Popular leaders have upset staid political set ups – such as Congress and BJP – before as well. This is the age of instant gratifications and in a fire if you shout “follow me I know a way out” people will follow you. Well, ahem, that’s what is happening to the world now.

There’s more to be said but do come again to read them. Meanwhile, saying goodbye with hope for the new year that’s at our door. Happy 2014!