Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We Are Back!

We are back, as said by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the terminator movie. But he said I will be back. What difference? None. 

At once all computers at home conked out. Our laptop, son's desktop, both decided to strike. Our laptop was beyond repair, the repair centre girl sweetly told us, noting the pain on our face. We realised then that laptops are delicate little things - like wives - and we were pretty rough on it. Our work and pictures and artworks were saved in disks and and something called "dropbox" which is amazing, so check it out. In the retired state that we are in, we can't afford to invest in a new laptop, though we hear the thingamajig costs a lot less than before. We had paid two salaries to buy our laptop and had starved to make ends meet. Well, ahem!

So, sonny has gone and upgraded his desktop, which working fine, thank you. Being a computer scientist he knows the insides of the scrawny thing we are writing this on. What we see as a mass or wires and blinking lights hold meaning to a computer scientist because, like a doctor, he can spot what is wrong. "The Hard Disk is corrupted," he says. While we know of corruption in high places we don't know what corruption has to do with computers. May be, the hard disk borrowed some money from the mother board and didn't pay it back. Which brings us to mother board, whoever thought of mother as a board is plain sick in his thinking apparatus. This one has a good stereo attached and listening to music is a wonderful experience. Not quite the experience we have had yesterday when we listened to the Bose stereo at Croma in Belapur. That music was so good, the guitar chords so pure, it brought tears to our eyes and a lump in the throat. (We always listen to guitar chords, as we play the instrument, at least, try to.)

Be that as it may, we were warned to be extra careful while using this desktop, don't download anything, said sonny. And who bought this contraption in the first place? Okay, we let it pass.

The landmark of our completing ten years of blogging has passed and no one took notice. We asked the newspapers who we know to do a story on us (so it will help with the novel) and none of them responded. Who wants to feature a pony-tailed blogger? Hm, the world has other things to do.

The pony-tail is growing fine despite the barbs aimed at it. We have drawn stares, comments, denunciations, anger, surprise, laughs over our pony-tail, which is also fine. Guess it will take some time to get adjusted to. Shahrukh sports one is our constant excuse. It looks different and writers should look different. We grew it to remind us that we have a novel to complete. We have not edited it for the last three days, which is being lazy. But our financial worries overtake our writing, which needs calm and intense concentration. Will we be able to give it (novel) that? What's the purpose of all this if it will be rejected? Should we go on? What difference will it - the novel - make. Will it alter our complacency, that smug all-knowing world where things are swept into the past without a thought? Does society need someone to document its stories? Isn't it futile considering there are hardly anybody who attends book readings? Aren't we wasting time as the industrial worker from the oil company living next door thinks. (He has a car, two bikes, a bungalow  lots of gold, Diwali bonus, what have you?)

A barrage of such questions almost floored us yesterday. Sometimes the loneliness of old age can be excruciating. Doubts can overcome one and cast a pall of gloom on our very existence. 

But we plod on regardless. As Ram Chander the securityman at the nearby newly-opened hospital in the neighborhood says, "din kat raha hai." We became acquainted on our morning walks. Meaning days are "being cut" from the gross total of our living days. That's a clumsy translation, but we will let it stand. We are hungry and lunch is waiting.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why We Don't Have Good Copyeditors?

We recently read a few pages of an anthology, one in which our short story was published. Then we put the book down and winced. Winced because there were a lot of mistakes, that even the most underpaid sub-editor (a tribe of which we used to be a member) would have discovered. We wondered if the copy has been "subbed" at all. That hurt us because it was our book, one we made our debut with. It made us feel like dirt. To our horror, we discovered later that these days publishers don't employ the tribe called "su-editors" or "copyeditors". They do an editing online and then it goes to press. There is lot of difference between editing online and correcting proof on paper. Online you tend to scan and not really read, many, many, errors thus get overlooked.

We think this was the horror story which was waiting to happen, putting the computer to work where it couldn't be of any help. A story that has killed the demand for good copy editors, which, partially, contributed to our downfall. The copy desk, once the privilege of well-read, all-knowing, grammar-proficient sub-editors who really controlled quality is now dead, as an institution or otherwise as a profession. That's why Indian novels turn out to be of atrocious quality, you turn away in disgust at the mistakes. Pick up a Bhagat or a Trivedi and you are spot on. Combined with this is the fact that there aren't anything called fact checking or research and the book becomes a poor cousin of those produced abroad.

In the mad scramble for releasing titles, publishing houses are forgetting a very important ingredient of the publishing process, the copy desk. No, this is not self glorification, this is the plain truth. Everyday we have to wince through the growing number of mistakes in newspapers and magazines and, believe us, the online media isn't free of them either. You don't have to skim deep enough, you will find the bloopers floating on the surface itself. I have a novel before me which begins "Only one death reported in the press," in the second line. It seems as if one death rose from some graveyard and reported itself to the newspapers concerned.

Don't worry, the meaning is clear, no? Why bother with grammar or syntax as long as meaning is clear? True not all writers (including us, yes, we need a lot of editing) are perfect, but a second opinion is what the publisher must seek and what could be better than the in-house second opinion of the sub-editor? I have worked under brilliant Chief sub-editors (the leader of the copy desk) who could point to a mistake though the entire team might have overlooked it.

Ah, those were the days! Could we bring them back please!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fwd: Sitting in a Mall and Wondering What Went Wrong

Now that we are retired from corporate life - ostensibly for writing (ah well, the novel is chugging along) - we spend a lot of time in malls, just browsing, seeing the branding, reading books in the bookstores, and generally bumming around. We see a lot of branding material, which used to be what we were doing when we threw it all away to devote time to writing. We see displays, standees, shopsigns, shopfronts (vinyl, acrylic, plastic you name it), we see flexes featuring bloopers ("ends of season sale", "Upto 50% discount" and in a luxury brand store "100 % genuine leather"), we see them and think of our days in marketing. There were exhibitions, events, kiosks, promotional brochures (leaflets) to be written and designed, websites to be populated with content, ads to be written and released, all great fun till you burn out with the urgency of it all. Everything is wanted with great speed and accuracy, everything is decided at the last minute. And there were ad agencies and suppliers to be paid and kept happy, which they were not, a swollen-headed tribe that they are. 

We were at this mall today and we see another veteran like us - a statesque grey-haired sardarji - also studying the landscape sitting on the bench where we sat. We wanted to reach out and ask what he did during his lifetime and how he is doing. But seeing the ominous silence he was enveloped in we demurr. May be, a tragedy has ocurred, may be, something he doesn't want to discuss. We let him alone and we sit in silence. People pass in different states of being occupied - mobiles, music, talking into their devices, playing games on tablets, texting, whatsapping, whatever that means. And there is silence, broken only by a toy train that whisks children around the mall, playing a tinny tune, resembling a real train's sounds. Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good" had an entire verse on trains:

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Sit under the tree near the railway track
Engineers would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming to the rhythm the drivers made.

Well the song is our favourite and ranks among the top ten songs of all time, and Chuck Berry is a great singer. He is still alive. We like to imitate him singing the song but can't capture his vitality, his mojo, his stage presence. The singer in us has died.

Where were we? Okay, at the mall, we sit in silence, now that we are retired, studying life and what went wrong and how it could have been corrected. We - the Sardarji and us - aren't mobile addicts. We regret certain mistakes of our life, which might have, hypothetically, contributed to global warming, religious extremism, the recrudescence of superstition and blind beliefs in people's lives. In Nairobi, Kenya, a mall was attacked and people died. A mall as the one we were sitting. In India a man who fought superstition was killed. A cousin's son died at the age of 38 in a desert kingdom. What wrongs have we done to be thus?

What went wrong with the marketing and branding of our country that we have to think of selling our family jewels to save our currency? Are we no longer the outsourcing back office of the world? What went wrong? What?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fwd: Another Weekend

Just another weekend and we thought we would share some things on this blog, our own sacred space, our own world we inhabit.

We have got a job after a long time in a small advertising agency started by our friends and former colleagues. We are there as the copy person, so we can work at home and only go out for meetings. That suits our working style though our novel may be delayed.

Also, we are working in advertising which pays rather well. Our friend Sujit was one such, a ponytailed copywriter with our agency of the time. We envied his ponytail, which was thick and lustrous. He told us he drew a salary of Rs 4 lakh a month. We were incredulous. How can it be possible? With that kind of money he might be having a dream life.

No, all wasn't hunky dory in his life. He lived in an upscale area which cost a bomb, his wife and daughter left him because of his drinking problem. Yes, he drank. He invited us several times for a drink and we told him that drinking is not good for him, as we ourselves had given up the habit.

But habits die hard. Very soon he was in trouble and had to be admitted to hospital. The man who admitted him was his agency head, not his wife or his father. At hospital he made progress and soon was discharged with the admonition that he should give up drinking, which was spoling his liver.

He came to our office for meetings looking pale and emaciated. He jokingly called us "Jesus Christ," for whatever reasons we don't know. Being Mallus we shared a few Mallu jokes (or jocks as a Mallu would say). He was a fountain of jokes and sayings and we loved all of them.

Then his agency head called us one day to announce the death of Sujit. He had started drinking again and this time the drinks took him. We were shocked. How can it be? It can't be, surely he was there somewhere and this must be some kind of prank.

But truth was, he was dead. Though highly paid he had an unhappy life. One of his last jokes went thusly:

An ad man after dying went to heaven. God gave him the choice of heaven or hell. St. Paul showed him heaven and Satan showed him hell. In heaven he was shown a few men in white with some angels playing the harp. Then Devil took him to hell where men in white had scotch in their hands and the angels were playing hard rock.

So the ad man chose hell, seeing as how he loved drinking. But when he was led deep into hell he saw fire, icy mountains, and weird creatures. Drinks were not available, not even water.

"This is not what you showed me," he told Satan.

"Oh, that was just the advertising and marketing, this is the truth."

Rest in peace Sujit, my friend.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Never Ever Give Up - the Story of the Farmer

We thought of sharing a little story we read just now. Goes this way: God appeared to a weak and poor farmer and asks him to push as a big rock right in front of his cabin. So every day for one year the farmer would push at the stone from the break of dawn till evening. His body ached, his crops died, yet he kept on pushing at the rock. Then one day Satan appeared and teased him, "Why are you doing this when you haven't got anything in return? Give it up. Don't be a fool, give up."

So he decided to talk to God about it. That night he prayed, "God what shall I do? I have pushed with all my might for one year and nothing has happened. Should I give up?" 

God replied, "I only asked you to push. You did that. See your arms which are muscled and twice as strong, see your shoulders they are broad and well toned. Now work on your field and you will reap twice as you reaped earlier."

So the farmer worked on his fields and lo and behold, his take away was twice as it was in earlier years. He also became a prosperous and strong member of his community. 

Sometimes, that's how God works. 

As we work on our novel (as you are doing on your own project) we have wondered many times whether we should give up seeing as nothing great is being paid back. But God has a plan for us that we should carry on the fight and never give up. The novel will take some more time, but, surely, it will come out in print.

So, for the time being, we admire our writing muscles and really take pride in our blog. God bless!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wondering What's Happened to the Novel?

In case you are wondering what happened to the novel we were crying from the rooftops about, it's well on its course. We have received some encouraging feedback from a Parsi poet friend of ours, which means he didn't mind our calling his community "Parisi." They being a very inclusive community, one of the best we have known in India. We have been to so many homes of Parsis we have known over the years and we like their openness and their propensity to laugh at themselves.

That being so, we are now in the stage of sitting back and reading the novel from a readers point of view, or, a neutral point of view as Wikipedia would like to have it. We forget we are the author (which is difficult) and we also look at the prose critically to see if it hangs together, by the tether, whatever. Several inconsistencies and repetitions have come to the fore, among them several that break the rule of "never repeat a word in the same sentence or para" which in reality is superfluous. We do a lot of that and they have to be - painfully - edited.

Then the novel goes for the final sub-editing. That should be easy as we aren't going to re-write anything, just doing line editing, as we used to do when we were sub-editor. A sub-editor doesn't think. He/she just tweaks language to an acceptable state without introducing any new ideas or concepts. Or, at least, that's what sub-editors used to do in the good old days, we being an oldy and all.

So what's our target, 2014? Don't know. We no longer work according to target. That was in the corporate days we had targets and timelines. No longer. Ciao to all that!  See you around.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Bombay Fornicator - A Distinctive Piece of British Raj Furniture

Searching the web we found this image of a Bombay Fornicator. They are spread on the verandah of the David Sassoon Library of which we are a life member. Truly satisfying is the sensation of reclining on them in the breezy verandah with a newspaper in the afternoons. The long armrests on either sides can be extended to rest the feet also. We would spend many afternoons there when we were editor of the journal of the Bombay Management Association, reading newspapers, magazines and plain watching the traffic make its tortuous progression on the MG Road below.

Then we chanced upon this article about it which cherished the feeling the Bombay Fornicator gives. 

Now why we mention the Bombay Fornicator is with a purpose. Our novel "Mr. Bandookwala, MBA, Harvard" does mention the fornicator at many places. It is the favourite seat of Jamshed Bandookwala who is father of Dinshaw Bandookwala, and elsewhere in our writing too it makes an appearance. 

Though how the name was coined or invented, I have no idea. It will remain shrouded in a veil of mystery. It may be one of the many idiosyncrasies that existed around Bombay at that time, like the naming of people such as Bandook [ gun] wala and Rassi [rope] walla. We suppose these were memes which were in circulation in those days. As we all know memes do spread faster these days on the electronic medium.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

IPL and Criminal Elements, Chota Chakli of My Novel

Guess it was bound to happen. This news items has it that the IPL 6 matches garnered a viewership of 140 million, which is twice that of IPL 1. Our mind boggles and so should yours. And the betting money must surely have been huge. If it doubles in six years what could happen in the tenth year, or, the fifteenth? And a drought was going on in the country, a drought that many people sitting in their drawing rooms forgot. A drought that went unacknowledged.

How did they do it? Was it the "Jabong, Jabong" jingle or the cheer girls.Then what a letdown Mr. Srinivasan. Couldn't you have done a little better? Eh? Court cases, inquiries and all that. God forbid if the inquiry finds you guilty. Going by such inquiries, nothing will happen. We have seen countless Special Investigative Teams (SITs) vacillate, prevaricate, and then sweep everything under the carpet saying nothing happened. That's all pleasing to people who would like to go home and sleep rather than lie down on the cold floor of a cell which is seven by six and wear striped prison uniform, remember Dharmendra and Amitabh? Or, whatever.

The wisdom (gyan) from all this goes thusly: whenever there is public frenzy, there will also be criminal activity. That's also the theme which we deal with in our forthcoming novel "Mr. Bandookwala, MBA, Harvard." The real estate industry is one of the top money-making business in India and it has its fair share of underworld involvement, which we explore in our novel. Our character Chota Chakli is based on one such underworld character whom we knew in our childhood. He is a short chap with a lot of daring. If you see him you won't look at him again, so unobtrusive is he. This insignificance, he turned to his advantage, as did Chota Chakli. He went a different way and we went a different way. Our paths diverged, we haven't met since.

It's a fact that Indian business is guided by such elements who control by issuing threats from abroad. So what do our law enforcers do? What are they supposed to do for godsake?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard Finishes Third Edit

We have finished a third editing of our novel "Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard" (details in this link) which was rather difficult. Uffff! Time to celebrate. Now we are glad we did it because we feel a manuscript has so many inconsistencies that have to be dealt with. (May be, that's why most of those who pontificate about literature, yeah, some of our own self-styled worthies, do not attempt a story. But that's another story.) Storytelling requires a skill all its own and doesn't come easy. We need stories to survive and if the stories we tell are all fake then we also become fake.

The problem is that in the heat of so many ideas churning in the mind we forget language proprieties, and improprieties, we may add. No matter how careful we are we make mistakes because the nature of our world is such. For example - this is in the scenario of our being fully into writing these days - the postman might be at the door, there are couriers to be delivered, and there are sundry other people dropping in for collections, having the temerity of ringing the bell when one is concentrating on putting that sentence right.

Then there is this thing of writing space. We had converted a small space near the terrace for our writing with a fancy desk and a lamp hanging over the desk, making it out to be the aerie we always wanted. But then we have to walk two floors down to attend to somebody at the door and it gets tiring, very tiring, this trudging up and down. Then we shifted to the bedroom on the first floor and here also we got tired of trudging up and down when the bell would ring. Then we set ourselves up in the parlour itself, and lo and behold, the television, that monster of the modern age, determined how much we would write every day. That's when we decided enough was enough and shifted to the nearby Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) for our writing. At least no disturbances there except a few friends who knew what we were doing and left us alone. Thanks Shishir, thanks Vikram.

And, and, there is this thing of thinking of an appropriate word and not getting it. We know it is on our tongue tip, however, sadly, it doesn't leave the tip and emerge. Then one turns the television and its end of the day's writing. Sports take over. There's that dazzling goal by Ronaldo who is like a well-rounded ball of energy himself, moving with fluid grace through the opposition, finding just a wee bit of space to push the ball through.

So now its over to submissions and waiting.  

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On Finishing Chapter Seventeen!

Actually to let the world know, erm, that we are making slow and painful progress on the novel. Finished Chapter Seventeen at the Cafe Coffee Day's Cafe in Belapur, New Bombay last night. Only three more chapters to go. Yay! CCD's Cafes are a good place to be in, a bit tony, if you ask us. They take orders from the table and there's no number card to be carried back to the table. Hm. That's a good improvement from the ordinary CCD joint. 

But there were a few business types in ties [actually they were wimpy looking fat men with unshaven chins and fat midriffs] with business talk about "verticals" and "customer satisfaction." Come on, men, who are you kidding? In today's "sell at all costs" paradigm whoever thinks of "customer satisfaction." No customer is ever satisfied, you hear, loudmouth, fat ass. We must say the talk got on our nerves.

Let us explain painful. Yes, it's been a bit painful with the medical complaints we have. We have got some remission with the nature cure ashram we had in Kerala. But the adjunct is that we can have only non-vegetarian food, can't have rice, can't have fish, no, not even eggs. We love all these and eggs are one of our favourites. On the positive side, we must say we feel good about not taxing our body with a lot of animal fats and proteins and we feel light through the day. Additionally, we have to do one hour of yoga and one hour walking every morning. We learnt basic Yoga when we were at this ashram and we think it is a good way of keeping the body flexible. [We meant to write about the ashram experience in detail, but then decided the novel requires more concentration than that.] We have been sticking to this strict regimen and, therefore, writing becomes difficult. Hope that explains the "painful" part. Sorry, wrong word, I should change that to "satisfying."

Also, we think, we have nearly found a competent editor for our novel. It's important at this stage to get the novel professionally edited for minor errors and bloopers which might upset an editor at the agents' or publishers'. 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Do Women Make Better Writers, Editors, Publishers, and Readers of Novels?

Here's what Alexandra Pringle, chief editor, Bloomsbury has to say about fiction for women by women. Hell, she is right. Mostly novels are written, edited, published, and read by women. Come to think of it why didn't I notice it before, though I had a premonition about it. Most editors I know are women, and when I walk into a book store mostly it is women who crowd around the fiction shelves and men, if at all, the management and self-development books. (I used to think, misguidedly, that a man can change his life with a book, just as if Rome can be built in a day! Hehe!) And majority of the men in publishing are beat salesmen who go from store to store.

That opens a Pandora's box of doubts in this humble hack's mind. Are women more sensitive, concerned, emotionally intelligent, compassionate, or, what? Are they better at understanding the human condition than their better halves. A novel is after all an intelligent work and requires some empathy and maturity to understand it. Which a man lacks? Oh no! Might just be true. Ask your husband/boyfriend to name a novel he has read and ask him to name the protagonist. Just try this out. 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Writer as Cuckoo - a Lonely Bird

Oh if only I could write without disturbance. I read this piece by a lazy writer on which went viral recently. He is a bit laid back and a little out of confidence. He wants to be writer, but for providence sake can't figure out how. Naturally, this happens to almost all writers. There are frequent blackouts and mundane things that intervene in the process of creative cogitation and writing. And then we lose track of our writing, continuity is lost. That's why I am mostly struggling to write this blog, to keep things going.

Quite naturally! Hm.

So, for that space and time when one can write. People write well early in the morning, or, so it is said. But I am late morning person. I believe in early to bed and late to wake up, and I am not an insomniac, mind you. I have fast and good sleep through the night, yet I can't wake up at say six or even seven. Nine is wake up time for me, when the cuckoo is singing its sweet song - these days - outside my window.

I think we writers are like cuckoos, really. Yesterday, on my morning round, I sat close to a tree, on a bough of which was a cuckoo. It was a lonely sight, all alone, no one for company, a dark bird, shy of human beings, seasonal in its appearance. I think writers are like cuckoos. They sing melodiously, and then they disappear from the scene, for whatever reasons, only God knows! And, they, too, sing a lonely song. And, they, too, are treacherous birds, laying eggs in the crow's nest.

Good! Writers need to be less like cuckoos, but I am not complaining! 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fwd: Some Encounters in Long-distance Trains

A couple of strange encounters in trains the past few days had me, dazed, or, flabbergasted, which is a word I don't like. But, anyway, here it is.

On the journey to Kerala to attend wifey's mother's funeral we travelled by the superfast express Durondo. Our co-passengers were a very strange group. Strange in the sense they kept eating tobacco all the time and making fun of other co-passengers in their language. Now what was that language? I didn't know a word of it. Usually my antenna is sharp in recognizing languages, and, I can say with pride I recognize most languages of India. But this beat me. So, I assumed it must be Sinhala or some other language. They were a rough bunch and looked like laborers of the Persian Gulf from their habits. They also frequently went to the toilet, may be, to drink, who knows. You may know that I had a stint in Saudi and I could recognize them, just like that. They were in a group and knew there was no one to challenge their bad habits and brashness. Therefore, they did a lot of unacceptable things like talking well into the night, not switching off the lights, waking up too late, and then making fun of co-passengers and laughing. It was drunken brash behavior. I was thoroughly depressed by their attitude, but I kept quiet, as I was outnumbered and I had my wife to think about. She was in a tender state of shock and any disturbance would further affect her equipoise. So I said nothing. Silence is best resorted to in such situations. Of course, it's their choice to travel but Durondo or any other train, but couldn't they be more civil?

On the way back we had only sleeper accommodation in the train. There were a bunch of carpenters returning after installing some furniture in Kerala. They also exhibited the same characteristics as the above alluded group. I guess, when they are in groups Indians (like political activists) thing they can do anything. May be I am growing old, but, I don't remember having seen such behavior in my fifty-odd years of travelling in trains.

Yeah, I think it's the growing old thing. People are banding together for security. Soon, will polarization along various lines result? Or, are we already polarized? 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fwd: The Moaning Dog in the Neighbourhood Experience

After coming back from Kerala had a strange case of the moods. It's a passing stage is what I can say. A bit depressed but I am going about doing all my usual activities so as to beat depression. A death takes time to get over and coupled with my own afflictions it becomes a bit unbearable. But work on the novel should go one and I am off to the Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) in Sector 11. It's a nice place, not very crowded and plays the television in mute and has some other music playing on the audio system. So, there's a discord between visuals and audio, not that I mind. 

Working from home has its disadvantages I feel. There is a dog moaning in a neighbour's house all day. The neighbour and his wife are away at work and the dog being lonely does what lonely dogs do. It produces this pathetic moaning sound. Somehow I want to go and tell them to stay at home and take care of the dog or sell it or whatever. Do not inflict such torture on a dumb animal. It needs freedom to move, it needs to do its normal activities of a living being and being chained it can't do all these. How would you feel if you were tethered the whole day? I think this dog lover is being dog cruel. 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Yesterday I used the word Jezebel to describe a god-woman (one with godly pretentions) in my novel, while editing it for clarity. I remotely knew the meaning, then, when I looked up wikipedia did it became clear:

Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Phoenician empire. She married King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom (i.e. Israel during the time when ancient Israel was divided into Israel in the north and Judah in the south). She helped convert Ahab from worship of the Jewish God to worship of the Phoenician god Baal. After she had many Jewish prophets killed, Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal to a competition (1 Kings 18), exposed the rival god as powerless, and had the prophets of Baal slaughtered (1 Kings 18:40). Jezebel becomes his enemy.[3]

Seems the description is apt enough for Tum Tum Mata, my character, who lives in a hovel and professes to be a Goddess. It is quite a coincidence as I am reading this particular section of the Bible now and vaguely remembered the name. (I read the old testament as a history of the Jewish people, the people chosen by God.) So its popping up in my vocabulary is no accident. In fact, a good and serendipitous accident, I must say.

Tum Tum Mata plays an important role in my novel. She is part prophetess, part rabble rouser. My idea is to show the multiplicity of beliefs in our country.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Editing a Novel and Credit Card Payments

I know, I know I shouldn't hurry this thing, though health, blogging, credit card payments get in the way. I didn't know how my credit card outstanding ballooned and I am left facing a huge wall which will, somehow, be scaled. I am sure. Fingers crossed. Yeah!

No more credit cards for me. No more "credit" I hate the word. I will pay by debit card and a live a frugal monastic life. Those B****** are cheats and gold diggers. The interest they charge is obscene and with that the late fee and this and that. Goes on endlessly, the buggers. Why don't they get regulated? Is there no activist out to protest this highway robbery?

And insurance. Another fraud. I ran up bills of Rs 100,000 for a minor surgery and they reimbursed just Rs 20,000. Seems they get a special incentive for denying people like me our dues. And I have been an insurance paying customer for close to five years. Best thing is to do yoga and breathing exercises and not fall ill at all. Yeah, that sounds much simpler.

All this distracts from the main narrative of this blog. It's that I finished chapter nine and will be completing my editing soon. Those hours in CCD is giving good results as I can devote chunks of time without the credit card people disturbing me.

"Kya main John Matthew se baat kar sakti hoon." The voice is thin and strident.

"Han bol raha hoon." I say in my very best thick and manly voice. Maybe, I can floor her with my charm.

"My XYZ credit card company ki tharaf se bol rahi hoon. Aap ka credit card xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx outstanding ho gaya hai xxxxxx. Kab main bhej doon admi ko?"

"Bhej do, lekin payment nahi milega." My voice disintegrates to a croak and wheeze.

The call centre guys need a rap on their knuckles. Such a bad script, must have been written by one of those half-literate technical writers. Ah, well, I was one of them, in some godforsaken past. No more.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Bend in the Road, Taking Stock

There are a lot of small things that disturb a writer's mind and concentration, now that I have decided to retire from active working life. God has provided enough and I hope will keep providing in future too. Corporate life wasn't too good for me. I regret why I didn't do an MBA instead of Industrial Engineering which I preferred. These days having an MBA is a passport to promotions and a better life. It seems all they want is an MBA from whichever institute, no matter. I lost out in the corporate stakes because of this particular reason. I feel jealous of people drawing a salary of Rs hundred thousand or more. Ironically, these same people complain that they are broke by the end of the month. But now that it is past I can look towards doing more meaningful things, e.g., writing. No, I don't mean the "hack" kind of writing that most publications feature. I mean literature in all its beauty and resplendence, I want to capture nature and its myriad moods, and write about men women and their mean ways. 

This has relevance to the novel I am writing because in it I satirise an MBA. Bandookwala is a person who is highly qualified, however his qualification doesn't allow his talents to be properly utilised in the organisation in which he is thrown. He feels besieged by those around him, trapped. Though this would have forced a man to quit, he fights valiantly, believing in himself and his principles. 

The book draws inspiration from my corporate life of working in realty companies, doing their marketing writings. There is a sad lack of understanding of an employees needs for security and a steady life. He can be called to meeting in minutes, asked to go anywhere, and is generally treated as a servant. I don't know when Indian companies will learn (if at all) to treat an employee with respect. 

All this occurred to me when I see those executive types walking to board a bus/train to work in the morning slinging their back packs. I feel sad and sorry for them. But they want to make a career, and its their life, so I won't say much. Bye for now.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Another Painful Re-write

Sigh! Embarked on another painful re-write of "Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard," after a critique on a short story offered by a dear writer friend (whose name I shall divulge later, if she doesn't mind.)

Problem is when I write I go with the flow and leave out a lot of local colour, texture, smell, the whole sensory thing. I think a lot of writers make this mistake and some are even big and successful despite this drawback, or, to use a better word, shortcoming. However, my novel being all about colour and texture and mood  I don't want to take this criticism lightly. 

So I am off to the nearby Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) where I spending a few hours sipping coffee and editing the novel in the evening. It's not very crowded at that time because Belapur West consists mostly of offices and is empty after 6.30 p.m. I find I can hardly write when I am at home. Sometimes it is the fisherwoman (from whom I buy fish these days, as it has become a staple of late), sometimes it's the courier man, sometimes it is the credit card company which has come to collect. All I am doing these days is paying my credit card bills. Sigh! Wonder why I bought all those useless things which I no longer use. Anyone want a camera (14 MP)?

Sigh! Sigh!

I am off to the CCD, so, guys, see you later. Have a nice day, or, a good night.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.