Do pop over and read it. Tell me what you think! If you like it, pass it along to your friends and family. If you don’t like it, pass it along anyway, for what better way to make your kith and kin suffer?
21 Oct 2013 4 Comments
I use Grammarly for English proofreading because if I don’t, the Grammar Nazis will catch me and throw me into the word-cage! Do try out Grammarly for proofreading your articles, essays and even stories.
Every year on the 1st of November, writers all over the world plunge into the vortex of frenzy that is Nanowrimo, short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to churn out a book of length 50,000 words or more in the thirty days of November. For the mathematically inclined, that works out to 1667 words per day. Note that this daily number alone exceeds my monthly total.
I’ve attempted it twice and failed miserably. Both times, I managed a respectable output the first ten days, keeping up the stream of words flowing so that I met the target. On the days I fell short, I managed to compensate on subsequent sessions and maintain the average.
On both occasions, I ended up with around ten thousand words that I could salvage out of the unfiltered mess. Both helped me build my books to a hefty total, but in the end I left a lot of words on the cutting floor.
I’ve completed two novels and am working on a third. Judging by my past experience, I don’t believe I have a problem in finishing my books. Even I take a long break in between chapters, I always return to it and pick up the pace.
Maintaining thirty successive days of writing a high volume seems next to impossible for me. When I tried Nano in 2011, I lasted only a few days before a torrent of work hit me.
However, I see a solid reason for doing it. People who need an incentive, a final push to get the book out on paper, and who have more discipline than I do, could really benefit from Nanowrimo. Be warned, though. You definitely need to clear out your schedule, put up 3 X 5 index cards all over your bulletin board, and ignore your family for most of the month.
If you haven’t already, check out Nanowrimo.org to register for the event.
Here are a few awesome links to get you started on characters, outlines, plotlines etc.
Are you planning to do Nanowrimo this year? I’m thinking about it as always, but it all hinges on the first few crucial hours of 1st November!
01 Aug 2013 8 Comments
in Book Reviews
Inspired by Mridu Khullar’s post, I decided to jot down the books I’ve read so far this year (the below is a partial list):
This is the eighth book in the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. Doesn’t pack as much of a punch as its predecessors, but I love the series and the author, so I’m a fan! It baffles me that no Hollywood studio has churned out a movie version of Artemis Fowl yet.
This book turned out depressing enough to be Booker-worthy but awesome nonetheless. Most of the book is serious, but JK hasn’t lost her sense of humour. When she writes a funny line, you have to laugh, even if its black comedy.
I loved this book – beautiful writing and interesting novel. I’m eager to read his next.
Readers accustomed to his Thursday Next series will find this a slightly different cup of tea. It was good, and I read it quickly, but I like Thursday Next better.
The title makes no bones of the plot. This sensitive portrayal shows both sides of the divorce and the custody battles that ensue.
Phillipa Gregory’s novels on the wives of Henry VIII are quite famous, and this is one of the lesser-known books as it narrates the stories of Katherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves and Jane Rochford. A history lesson and fiction rolled into one – what more could a girl ask for?
I had wanted to read this since a long time and finally got it from the library. I don’t read as much non-fiction but I enjoyed it, more so because I am a hard-core fish-eating hands-stained-with-mustard kind of Bengali.
PG Wodehouse. Indian version. Madly funny. Author is most intelligent woman in the universe. Too much to say on this subject. Separate post forthcoming. I demand the author’s next book right now!
This novel owns the distinction of being the first I read using the Kindle app on my iPod touch. It turned out to be a most exciting experience for me. I am now hungry for more ebooks! The novel is based on an exciting premise – what if the devil exists?
So what have you been reading lately?
07 Mar 2013 4 Comments
By now, everyone and his uncle have formed an opinion on Marissa Mayer’s controversial decision that forces remote employees to pack their laptop bags and report to the office. Her effective discontinuation of a hitherto popular Work-from-home policy (hereinafter referred to as WFH) has disgruntled quite a few employees and industry people. Views for and against, as well as some reasoned analyses, have gone flying around the internet.
I work in a company that allows WFH with the approval of the manager. For my part, I much prefer working in the office. When I am working at home, my five-year-old daughter clatters around in the background most of the time while I try to read two words on the laptop. She doesn’t quite grasp the concept of ‘working’ from home – the only portion of significance to her is ‘home’. She imagines a heavenly world where Mummy has surrendered all official responsibilities so she can cling to her and wring stories out of her one after another. I believe I get more work done in the office than at home.
Having said that, the WFH suits the rare occasion when you can work but you can’t make it to the office for whatever reason. I grasp the WFH straw whenever her school schedules parent-teacher meetings at around lunchtime, so that I don’t have to drive down thirty minutes just to sit in the office for a couple of hours.
I made good use of it in the early weeks of Feb when an attack of viral fever rendered me too weak to drive to office and sit in an AC haven. Instead, I heaved out the laptop and started pounding the keys immediately after packing my daughter off to school.
I guess certain people use the WFH to their advantage to goof off at home the same way they would goof off in the office. Like everything else, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. So unfortunately, those genuine users of WFH bear the brunt of harsher policies and stricter governance.
A friend once told me about one of his colleagues who sent on email to his team with the subject line – ‘Working from today’. A few minutes later, he sent a follow up mail – ‘Working from home today’.
Looks like the folks at Yahoo won’t be seeing this kind of faux pas in their inboxes anymore!
25 Feb 2013 2 Comments
in Book Reviews
Last year, I signed up for the South Asian Challenge 2012. Knowing my schedule, I allotted myself a conservative estimate of 10 books to read.
It turned out that I was busier than I thought. The figure of 10 books was way too puffed up, and finally I fell two short as 2012 hurtled to an end.
Out of 33 books I read during the year, the following qualified for the challenge:
- Diary of a Social Butterfly by Moni Mohsin
- She’s a Jolly Good Fellow by Sajita Nair
- Beast with Nine Billion Feet by Anil Menon
- Who let the Dork Out by Sidin Vadukut
- Broken News by Amrita Tripathi
- Love Over Coffee by Amrit Shetty
- The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran
- Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka
I had been waiting to read Chinaman for such a long time, and absolutely loved it when I finally got around to reading it. Two of my favourite things – literature and cricket – all wrapped into one! What more could I ask from life? It is a little-known fact about me that I was a huge fan of Sri Lankan cricket even before they won the World Cup in 1996. So reading a book set in that era was quite thrilling for me.
Another amazing book I would highly recommend is The Beast with Nine Billion Feet. I can’t remember the last time I absorbed so many different ideas from one source. After reading this book, I truly felt enlightened.
Lavanya Sankaran’s exquisite writing in The Red Carpet bowled me over. A couple of her stories set in the corporate world have inspired me to try my hand at something similar, though I doubt I can achieve her level of finesse and subtlety.
I also enjoyed Broken News by Amrita Tripathi, which, for some reason, I wasn’t really expecting to like because I know nothing of the world of news and television journalists and their hectic life.
Though I haven’t signed up for the similar challenge in 2013, I have already read 3 books by Indian authors and have lined up 2 more.
What good books have you read lately?
25 Nov 2012 2 Comments
Lately, the garment in the title has surfaced twice in my reading material in the last few months. For the uninitiated, Isadora Duncan was a famous dancer whose tragic death ensures her presence in most collections of ‘Famous Last Lines’.
The first time, I came across a mention of the titular garment in a poem on Poets.org. If you don’t subscribe to their Poem-a-day, please do so at once. It has increased my limited knowledge of poetry while enhancing my appreciation of the finer verses.
The second time I encountered it in Alexander McCall Smith’s novel Corduroy Mansions. In the first book of this delightful (relatively) new series, a literary agent called Barbara Ragg meets a young man in the car park of the hotel from where she’s just checked out. She offers him a lift to London.
At the beginning of their journey, noticing the scarf, Barbara had warned him of the date of Isadora Duncan.
‘Remember Isadora Duncan,’ she said as they drove out of the Mermaid Inn’s car park.
He looked at her blankly. ‘No, I don’t know her, I’m afraid.’
The car started down the cobbled street. ‘you wouldn’t,’ said Barbara. ‘She died in 1927. In tragic circumstances that are brought to mind, I’m afraid, by your scarf.’
The young man frowned. ‘You’ve lost me,’ he said.
‘It’s rather a sad story,’ Barbara went on. ‘Isadora was given a lovely long scarf by a Russian artist. She was taken for a ride in Nice in an Amilcar GS – a very nice little sports car of the time – by a very glamorous Italian mechanic, Benoit Falchetto.’
Hardly ten minutes later, the unthinkable comes to pass. The young lad almost suffers a similar fate. Barbara grasps the situation instantly and with quick thinking reverses the car.
It was the right thing to do, even if the right thing may sometimes come too late. To reverse the car is not the solution to an ordinary accident; one cannot just drive backwards, and in doing so bring a broken vehicle to wholeness again. But in such an accident as this, one can reverse and unwind that which is wound up, in theory, at least.
If you enjoy subtle, gentle humour rather than the rib-tickling slapdash variety, then you must read the Corduroy Mansions series. Until such time you can beg, borrow or purloin a copy, enjoy the poem I talked about earlier, reproduced below in full as I received it from Poets.org.
Complaint of Isadora Duncan’s Scarf
by Charles Jensen
My only glory was in beauty,
how I reached from her slender neck
toward the sky, ravaged by wind
the way a rough lover handles
you: dizzying, powerful,
unpredictable, but with joy,
joy in touching you,
joy in seeing you disheveled. The cool
night air ran its lips on my silk skin
to make me dance. I danced,
long and lean, with perfect
extension and seamless flow.
I had no bones. Not one bit of me
was firm or harsh. I was air
itself. I was becoming
pure performance. I could
see the tire’s eye watching me.
The car at the sidewalk with its
inflexible frame-it hated
my freedom, my lift, my flight.
The car, gravity’s great love,
envied me. The wind, for a moment,
set me down with ballet grace.
I lit upon the cold steel spokes
striking out from the wheel
like the arms of great Kali. She
tangled me, and when the car
drove off the wheel pulled me
tighter. I wound around its neck
the only way a scarf knows how,
pulling my whole silk body
and everything that anchored me
into the mouth of never.
From Poets.org:This is the first publication of “Complaint of Isadora Duncan’s Scarf,” copyright © 2012 by Charles Jensen. Used with the permission of the author.
What enlightening poetry have you read lately?
19 Aug 2012 6 Comments
In countries all over the world, it rains. In some places, it showers, in others it pours, thunders and even drizzles. Over in the good old Indian subcontinent, we have the ‘monsoons’, a polite term for rain so heavy it feels like someone perched atop the roofs of buildings is emptying buckets of water on our heads.
But we’re used to it. We wouldn’t swap our monsoons for all the cutely-named hurricanes and typhoons raging anywhere else.
There is little to do in the monsoons, except to get drenched in the rain or better yet, stay indoors, play board games, eat monsoon-friendly food, watch movies and purchase an umbrella, a handy device for those days when you feel adventurous enough to brave the outdoors. Let’s look a closer look at these activities and their impact on our rain-filled lives.
Appetizers for a rainy day
The most favoured snacks during the monsoons consist of steaming cups of tea and pakoras (prepared by smothering miserable vegetables in a batter of gram flour and then deep-frying them).
Bengalis make khichdi, which an Indian author pandering to western audiences might describe as ‘an exquisite mixture of rice and lentils flavoured with onions and tomatoes’. They believe the simultaneous preparation of khichdi in a dozen households together creates a low-pressure area thus diverting the clouds’ attentions to other drought-prone locations. This works fine for day one, when the rain does indeed stop. Come day two, we are back to the rain pelting down on our windows and threatening to unscrew its hinges without manual intervention.
My mother has resolved this problem by persistently cooking khichdi every single day of the monsoons until the rains finally beat a prolonged retreat, at which point she takes full credit for the crystal-clear skies.
The Umbrella Phenomenon and Murphy’s Law
This year, for a month and ten days it rained. Continuously. I got drenched, while running from the bus to the office, the home to the auto stand, the auto to the shopping mall…you get the gist. After losing several kilos due to this sprinting activity, I started carrying an umbrella. The first day I armed myself with this shelter-bestowing device, it drizzled. The sky appeared grey and downcast, in no mood to pelt down lashes as it was accustomed to. On the second day it stopped raining altogether. A week of my umbrella-carrying and no-rain-occurring continued, at the end of which I left my umbrella at home, and the entire process repeated itself again.
A few ‘fun’ people actually used to welcome the monsoons. What an opportunity, they said, to not take a bath at home! On 26th July, 2005, after witnessing the city of Mumbai turn into an ocean, they changed their minds. The next day they signed up for swimming lessons, and have always bathed indoors ever since.
Rain in the films
Indian movies tend to give the impression that doing the salsa in the rain is one of the most pleasurable activities one can indulge in. It convinces people that things like pneumonia are but a figment of their imagination, and they need not fear the consequences of waltzing during a downpour and getting soaked to their skin. The sight of heroines wearing sarees or other transparent apparel that have the added advantage (much to the hero’s delight!) of clinging to her curves go a long way in confirming this view, with the result that clinics all over the country during the monsoons witness an unprecedented increase in the number of sneezing coughing patients.
Cricket in the monsoon
The unduly long monsoons that lash our country prevent cricketers from playing as much as they would like. Usually, this period is devoted to playing county cricket, so our players get to inflict their ghastly game on the English viewers. This is beneficial to the cricketers, but sadly, it deprives the BCCI from earning as much as they could have if they were able to set up a few exciting clashes with our rival teams. The BCCI, however, is innovative. This problem cannot stump them for too long. I think the day is not far when an article, such as the following, will grace the sports pages of national dailies:
Cricket in the rain
In a desperate bid to revive cricket frenzy in the country, the BCCI, in a fit of enthusiasm, declared yesterday that instead of abandoning a rain-threatened match, they would provide all the players with umbrellas to continue the game.
This meant that the batsman would have to take guard with an umbrella in one hand, and his bat in the other. But it would be inhuman to suppose that the bowler could bowl holding his own umbrella. Thus the 12th man would be utilized to perform this service, by holding it and running after the bowler in hot pursuit.
This step will have two distinct advantages:
- The batsman would be considerably unnerved by the spectacle of two burly bowlers descending on him, and this would lead him to hit some rather shaky strokes.
- The 12th man would justly earn his bread, as he would be required to run 50 overs per day. (In case of the opponents of the Indian team, this figure may be drastically reduced)
In addition to the above, it will be necessary for the wicket-keeper to catch all catches with one hand. But if he dislikes this activity, he is welcome to (on payment of a token fee) purchase a container in which he may catch the ball.
Of course, the best solution to all these situations, that would combine wholesome public entertainment together with great reduction in costs, would be for all the cricket-playing teams to purchase the CRUMB or the CRicket UMBrella. This is a simple device that attaches itself seamlessly to cricketers’ helmets, caps, turbans, and any other headgear they may choose to wear. Certainly the BCCI would be pleased to be able to offer the CRUMB at a fabulously discounted rate of US$150,000 per piece. The governing body of other cricket-playing nations may also choose to purchase a set of 15 CRUMBS at a nominal rate of US$5,000,000.
With each purchase, the following are free:
- Ear-piece – skin-coloured, waterproof and cleverly concealed in the lining, perfect for communication with the coach throughout the match
- Raincoat – automatically drops down from the CRUMB at the press of a button
We urge cricketers to place their orders for the CRUMBs before it’s too late. After all, the special offer stands only as long as stocks last!
The rain in India,
In mainly near the Vindhyas,
But the cricket in the monsoon,
For the board, ‘tis a boon!
As the poet Henry Longfellow said, ‘Into each life, some rain must fall’!
A slightly different version of this was originally published on Rediff.com