Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gay, not gloomy

We were interviewing a candidate for a specialized function in finance. It was a highly technical interview and the candidate was impressive.

“He is a good candidate”, I was told after the interview. “But I think he is gay. I hope you don’t have a problem with that.”

My brain refused to process what I was hearing. How did the sexual preferences of a person in any way affect his ability to perform his task?

The retort came to me only hours later. “I don’t care if he's gay”, I should have said, “as long as he is not gloomy.”

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The body of a Runner

“You run?”, someone asked me incredulously.
“But you don’t’ look like a runner. I mean, it’s not that you are fat or anything, but…..”
Since I knew what she meant, I changed the topic.

People expect runners to be thin because of the calories we burn, but actually very few of us are. Runners pile on the carbs to ensure they have enough energy for the home-stretch. Our thigh muscles need to be well developed- skinny jeans are not for us.

A Size Zero model cannot survive a long race. Why, then, do people expect runners to be thin?:

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weird logic

Walking home, I was tempted by a roadside vendor selling corn cobs.
“How much?”, I asked.
“One is eight rupees”, he said, “or three for twenty rupees.”
“I’ll take four”, I said, picking out the cobs. “How much?”
“Thirty rupees”, he said.
“Thirty rupees?”, I asked. “But if it is twenty rupees for three, how can four cost thirty rupees?”
“Okay”, he conceded. “Twenty-eight rupees.”
Which is exactly what I would have paid had I bought three cobs, then asked for one more.

Whether he was dumb, or whether he thought me dumb, he definitely lost a customer that day.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Y ????

Why are leaves green? Why is water wet?

Why are there eleven players in a side? Why is a rugby ball not round?

Why do superheros like red and blue? Why does Batman wear only black?

Why does the moon change its shape? Why do stars come out only at night?

Why are there no dinosaurs left on earth? Why do elephants have big ears?

Why does Saturn have rings? Why is Pluto so small?

Why do cats eat fish, and tigers have meat? Why does a dog lick?

Why do girls like pink? Why is 'why' not spelt 'Y'?
The June Blackboard project - drabbles from A to Z, with a special bonus on Sundays- only at the Burrow.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Know your Religion

At a busy intersection in the mid-day heat, I saw a man standing patiently holding up a placard. I am not sure how many people paused to read the message, but when any passing motorist made a sign that they agreed with what he said, he raised his hand almost in benediction.

His message was profound in its simplicity- "Know your Religion. Love Everyone".

Beyond that, there is really nothing left to be said.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A new language

“Mamma, isn’t the crow is supposed to say ‘Caw Caw’”, asked the six year old.
“Yes, of course”, I assured him, repeating the sound. In the stories which we tell each other, that is precisely what crows say.
“But listen, Mamma, that crow is saying ‘Kaaah Kaah’”, he pointed out.
I listened. The crow was stretching out the syllables more than normal.
“I wonder why?”, he asked.
“Can you think of a reason why?”, I asked.
He thought, then said. “I think the crow is trying to learn English. Then he too will know two languages.”

I couldn’t but agree!

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lessons on a Birthday

“I’ll get the cake”, I told my hubby. “You just get home early.”
It had been pouring non-stop for hours, when I got out to get the birthday cake. There were a couple of inches of water on the road. It was like walking through a running brook. The walk was long, and wet, but I enjoyed every moment of it.
The cake-shop was closed. I had forgotten their weekly-holiday was on Thursday. I had walked all that way for nothing.
I turned back with a smile. The walk had been wonderful.
Sometimes life is what you make of it.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What makes you a writer?

Who is a writer, someone asked the other day. I have no answer. Is a writer someone who writes for a living, or someone who cannot live without writing?
Who should I write for, someone asked today. Should she write for publication, or write as her heart tells her to? Again, no answers.

I write because I want to tell some of the stories waiting to be told. But I haven’t yet learnt to write for an audience. That makes writing my passion, but I am not sure I can call myself a writer.

Thoughts? What makes you a writer?

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


There are few words I dislike more than the word ‘Sacrifice’.

Mothers who ‘sacrifice’ their lives for the kids, and demand the earth in return. The kids did not ask for the sacrifice- it was a choice willingly made.

Corporate professionals who ‘sacrifice’ a fat salary to work in a non-profit, and never let anyone forget it. Was it a sacrifice or a choice to do more meaningful work?

When will people realise that they are demeaning themselves by making sacrifices? Rational human beings have the power of choice. A person who cannot exercise that choice is only short-changing himself.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dirty Dozen - my favourite movies

I haven’t been doing any of the musical lists, because I don’t really listen to enough music in a systematic way to make the list of top albums, top country songs, top classical songs, etc.

I am not a huge fan of movies either, but if I break it up systematically, I may just be able to think of a dozen movies that have affected me in some way or the other.

Sound of Music – the first movie I ever saw, or to be more accurate, the first movie I did not see. Apparently my parents took me to see the movie when I was really young, and my father spend most of the movie minding me outside the hall, while my mother enjoyed the movie. I do have very vague memories of that experience, have much more vivid memories of singing the songs when I was a .little older, and of finally seeing (and enjoying) the movie when I was in my late teens.

Benji – the first movie I remember watching. I grew up in this really small town without movies (or TV), so my film-watching was restricted to the summer holidays when we visited my grandparents in the city. I must have been eight when my father took me to watch Benji, and I dreamt about his exploits for several months after that.

Where Eagles Dare – my father and I watched this movie when I was a teen. He was a huge fan of action movies, and did his best to get me interested in the genre- with mixed results (I watch action movies, but often close my eyes during the key moments). Great memories because of the bonding time I spent with my father.

Roman Holiday and/ or My Fair Lady- no list of mine could be complete without at least one movie starring Audrey Hepburn. Should it be the memorable movie about the Princess who wants an adventure or the equally memorable one of the flower girl who acts as a princess- that is the question. Since I know most of the dialogues of the latter, maybe that wins out.

Singing in the Rain- I love musicals, and this is perhaps the best of its genere. Can anyone ever dance better than Gene Kelly? ‘nuff said. I also had this cassette, and could sing along to most of the songs

My Cousin Vinny- it was a toss up between this and Legally Blond. There has to be at least one movie on the list which turns the stereotypes about dumb bimbettes on its head. This won out because who expects a girl like that to know so much about cars?

Kanchenjunga – one of Satyajit Ray’s less acclaimed films, it is nonetheless my favourite. Powerful performances, unusual story-line, and a beautiful locale well captured. What more could anyone ask for?

Usual Suspects – one of my husband’s favourite movies, he challenged me to try and guess the end. I love the movie because I guessed the end about 15 minutes before it was finally revealed, and never tired of reminding him of the fact.

Matrix –another movie I saw with my hubby. He like most people I know liked the movie for its visual effects, but complained of not quite getting the storyline. I loved the story line, and loved the movie. But both the sequels disappointed.

Princess Diaries – I read the book when I was pregnant with my first child, and couldn’t’ resist the temptation to pick up the movie when it I saw it at a music store. Have seen it dozens of times with my kids, and love the movie for all the wonderful memories it brings back.

Mary Poppins – strangely, I watched this movie for the first time only a few years back. You have songs, you have dances, you have fantasy, you have Julie Andrews. Can anyone want more? I often sing many of the songs with the kids.

Madagascar – I am emotionally attached to this movie, because it was the first one I watched in a theater with both my kids. The screening had been organized by my older one’s school, and he got the tickets for the show himself! It is also a lovely story of friendship and loyalty.

Thank you, Alex J Cavanaugh for organizing this, and forcing me to relive some of my favourite movies. And for all the wonderful bloggers who have been blogging about their favourite movies - you gave me the confidence to attempt this.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

She !!!

She is hot, she is sexy. She sends the mercury soaring. Makes hemlines rise and necklines plunge. She makes you long for the pool, to escape to the hills.

She tantalizes you with a flash of cloudy skies. Drives you mad with desire, but keeps the monsoons firmly under her skirt. And when you feel you can’t take it anymore, she ends the anticipation. Lets the heavens open up, bringing succor to parched souls.

Is she fickle, or moody? Is she experienced, or innocent? Can anybody read her right?
Would anyone want to?

Ridden with teenage angst, she is June.

The June Blackboard project- drabbles from A to Z, with a special bonus on Sundays- only at the Burrow.

drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Image by

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Women on the Street

The Goddess of prosperity,

The Mannequin in all her splendour (Gold),

The Woman with all her cares (Lakshmi).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Basic kindness

It was pouring. The roads were waterlogged. Trains were running late. Umbrellas were tangling up.

The lady in front of me collided with someone, stumbled and nearly fell. ‘Can’t she see where she is going”, I thought, before noticing the white cane in her hand. She could not see.

I took her hand and guided her to where she wanted to go.

“I can’t thank you enough”, she said.” I can only bless you.”
“Anyone would have done it”, I muttered, embarassed.
“Very few do”, she replied.

I am still angry. Angry that basic kindness cannot be taken for granted.
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Over the Rainbow

Did you know that if you slid over a rainbow, you would reach the rings of Saturn?
But why would you be on a rainbow in the first place. Simple, you mother insisted you take a nap on a rainy afternoon, but you slipped out of the house with your brother because you wanted an adventure.
And once you sight the rainbow, you climb up to the top, get stripes on your body, play hopscotch on the colours, and attempt a game of hide and seek, before sliding down and landing up on Saturn.
What a delightful thing is imagination!
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My girlie gang

I have my girlie gang. We had been in school together, lost touch, found each other through Facebook. We had been apprehensive before our first lunch, but ended up really bonding. We meet often- swap stories, gossip, give each other advice. We are friends.

A month back, I met another schoolmate. She is nice, sincere and passionate about a cause I believe in. She is someone I know I can trust, but I know I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet her.

For a long time, I wondered why. The answer came suddenly- she doesn’t make me laugh.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


“When it next rains, let’s play in the puddles”, I told my kids.
“But there are thousands of germs in the puddle”, replied my four year old. “When I step in the puddle, it will go into my mouth and make me sick.”
“If you keep your mouth shut the germs cannot go in”, I tried to reason, but he was having none of it. His teacher had told him to stay away from puddles and he was going to do so.
I despaired of ever having puddle-fun with him.

Till it rained, and we stepped out in our raincoats.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back to School

School books covered in brown paper; labels and stickers firmly in place. Pencils sharpened to a point- all the better for neat handwriting. Brand new Spiderman rucksacks- blue for one, red for the other.

Lunch boxes packed. Water bottles too.

The struggle to wake them up. The tantrum over not wanting to eat.

Uniforms from last year, freshly ironed. Trusty floaters to cope with the rains. Hair slicked down, nails pared.

The last minute crisis, successfully weathered.

The older one takes his brother’s hand, promises to look after him. The younger one lets himself be led on.

Back to School!
A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Laugh

It was a loud, hearty Laugh. A Laugh that cut through the prattle of commuters gossiping about a mutual acquaintance. A Laugh that drowned the excited chatter of schoolgirls discussing the singer they had a crush on. A Laugh that filled the silence that hung between commuters- strangers, though they travelled together every day.

All eyes turned towards the source of the Laugh. She was on the mobile- oblivious to anything else. People stared at her, then glanced at each other nervously. They smiled. Strangers became friends.

She laughed on. Unaware of what she had done.

The power of Laughter.

The June Blackboard project - drabbles from A to Z, with a special bonus on Sundays- only at the Burrow.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Portrait # 5

The mangalsutra (literally sacred thread) is the mos
t commonly recognized symbol of marriage worn by Indian women. Though there are regional differences in the form the necklace takes, it is typically made of gold and is offered to the bride by the groom's family at the time of her marriage.

Few women in the city, however, wear mangalsutras made of gold- most prefer either gold plated ornaments, or ones dipped in gold paint. Since they are much cheaper than gold, you can have many different necklaces to choose from, and you don't have to worry about being mugged for your jewellery.

Which is where, vendors like this one come in.
A token of marriage for one dollar, anyone?

Friday, June 11, 2010

A watery encounter

Normally, my workout consists of running and a little bit of weight training when I want to feel extra virtuous. But when, in April, the temperature soared so high, the mercury threatened to push its way out of the thermometer, I re-discovered the swimming pool. There is something almost therapeutic about water- things which otherwise seem so complicated become really simple when you are in the water. I stopped running and started swimming.
Last summer, I had been able to push myself to 20 laps, so I started at that level this year. In a week, I was able to increase it to 30 laps, and then I started doing it without pushing myself too hard. My timings were erratic, so on some days I had the pool virtually to myself, and on other days I had to share it with dozens of school kids. While I preferred the solitude of an empty pool, I made sure I completed my quota of laps everytime I entered.
Then the rains came, and everyone abandoned the pool. No matter what time I went, the pool was deserted. I loved it. One day, when I was in the water, it started raining. It was almost magical swimming in the azure pool with the rain pouring around you. I told myself I would continue visiting the pool every day till it got too cold to enter the water.
I had completed 10 laps in my personal pool today, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a frog.

He wasn't doing anything. He was just sitting at the edge of the pool contemplating this strange creature moving in the water. He wasn't doing any harm, but I couldn't help it. I let out a yell before swimming away.
He's just a harmless creature, I told myself. And he has more reasons to be scared of you than you have to be scared of him. I continued swimming, and when I returned to that end of the pool, I was relieved to see that he hadn't moved from his position.
Embolded, to swam another lap. When I came close to the edge, I was relieved to see that the frog had disappeared. I was relieved. But not for too long. Just as I was about to touch the wall, he hopped onto the very place where my hand would have been a couple of moments later.
I let out another scream and swam away as fast as I could. The frog continued staring at the strange creature.

I should have climbed out and gone home, but I couldn't bring myself to abandon a workout midway. Since I didn't have the courage to continue swimming, I decided to jog in the water for a couple of minutes.
I had barely started when I saw this large, crinkled, brown leaf floating towards me. Something about it looked not quite right, and when I looked again, I saw it was another frog swimming towards me.

I didn't wait to see if he was friendly or not. I rushed out of the pool and ran all the way home.

I know a frog cannot really harm me. But close encounters with two frogs is more than I can be expected to handle.

Tomorrow, I hit the gym again. If the pool is abandoned in the monsoons, it is not without reason.

No frogs were harmed in writing this post. If the frogs suffered trauma because of the encounter with the mysterious creature bearing down on them and letting out high pitched yells, it was nothing compared to the trauma inflicted by their sheer presence on said creature.
Photographs of frogs not taken by me - photo credits: Frog on bough, Frog swimming

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The rabbit on the moon

We were admiring the full moon playing with pee-ka-boo with the clouds, when the four year old piped up, “Look, that rabbit looks so sad. I wonder why he is so sad?”
“Because he doesn’t have any friends to play with”, answered the six year old matter-of-factly.

We looked at the rabbit that I had first sighted on the surface of the moon when I was as old as my kids now are. “Where do you think the rabbit came from”, I asked casually. I did not really expect any answers, but was curious to know what they came up with.
“Maybe a rocket left him there”, piped up the younger one.
“Yes”, said the older one picking up his brother’s story. “That rabbit was the pet of an astronaut, and when the astronaut reached the moon, the rabbit ran away and got lost.”
“And, and”, continued the younger one. “that rabbit is making a burrow on the moon, and there are many burrows, and when you see the burrow from the earth, you can see a rabbit.”
I couldn’t help be amazed at the speed with which their imagination filled in the blanks. “Is that so?”, I said. “Then it must be a very old rabbit. Nobody has been to the moon for many years.”

They were silent for a few moments, as they digested the new piece of information.
“I think he must have painted the rabbit”, said the older one pointing to his brother. “No wonder the rabbit doesn’t look like a rabbit.”
“Yes. Yes. I did”, said the younger one.

I was speechless. Try as I might, I couldn’t get over the mental picture of my four year old, perched on a ladder, painting a rabbit on the surface of the moon.

What a marvelous thing is imagination.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pedestrians rule

I read a bizarre story the other day. Two women (and a baby) took decided they wanted to ‘see’ the Bandra-Worli Sealink, and hopped into a cab that would take them to the other end and back. Midway through the ride, when the cab driver informed them that they would have to pay toll to travel up and down the bridge, they decided to get off and walk back home.
Not only was their decision fundamentally unfair to the driver, who would not only have to burn fuel to get to the other end, but also be liable to pay the toll charges, it was illegal and stupid. Pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge, and it is absolutely unsafe to attempt to walk on a bridge where the incoming traffic is not expecting you.
Sure enough, the inevitable happened. One of the ladies got hit by a car and was knocked unconscious. The driver, instead of speeding away as he could, was decent enough to take the lady to a hospital.

And now comes the absolutely bizarre part. The police registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the driver, and also booked him for causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.
Were speed guns consulted to determine if he was driving over speed limit? No.
Did they hear the statement of the lady who was not hit- “On seeing the speeding car I moved away with the baby but (she) wasn't as quick. She was hit and became unconscious.”- apparently not.
The ladies knew they had no business being on the bridge- they should have been more careful and kept a watch for incoming cars. The driver was coasting along on what he was sure was going to be a lane free of any obstructions- he could not be expected to anticipate the pedestrians who did not get out of his way.

And yet, the driver got booked, for practically no fault of his. And the lady who broke the law and was stupid got away with just a concussion and a few broken bones.
Why? Because the driver of the car is richer than the lady, and can afford to bribe the police into letting him go. And because the lady is a pedestrian, and no laws regulate the behaviour of pedestrians.

Didn’t I say it was bizarre?
And is it any wonder I refuse to drive in this city?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My favourite girl

“Mamma is my favourite girl”, said my four year old putting his arms around me.
“And you are my favourite boy”, I replied hugging him back. “You and your brother.”

I know I am not going to remain his favourite girl for two long. Someday, I am going to be edged out by other girls, and I am ready for that.
He hugs me today, but in a couple of months, he is going to get self-conscious and start pushing me away when I try.

Till then, let me savour the moment. And hope that I always remain his friend.


Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Tale of the Great Tease

This was ‘the Hottest Summer in recorded history’, hotter than last year which had been only the hottest in a decade. If they thought labeling it would make the heat a little more bearable, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
The only thing that kept the city going was the knowledge that Summer always led to Monsoons. Atavistic memories of the cool rain-laden breeze hitting you as you hurried home.

But Monsoon is a Great Tease. She threatens to come, then veers away. She makes you wait, and wait some more. And when you can’t wait anymore, she comes. Finally.
Drabble (n) - an extremely short work exactly one hundred words in length.

It finally rained! The world is beautiful again.

The Universe in a Raindrop

This margosa plant was born last monsoon

Raindrops trickling down a branch

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ecstasy! Sublime ecstasy!

She lets her fingers glide over the firm flesh. Grasps it and fondles it with firm, even strokes. She can feel it swelling in anticipation, building to the climax. She makes it wait, then takes it in her mouth, and lets her tongue slide over the moist firmness. She gives a nip- gentle, but firm. She sucks- slowly at first, then harder. She lets her tongue and lips work their magic, till that supreme moment when the warm, sticky sweetness fills her mouth. She savors the taste, then lets it slide down her throat.

Ecstasy! Sublime ecstasy! Eating a mango.

The June Blackboard project - drabbles from A to Z, with a special bonus on Sundays- only at the Burrow.

A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Christmas trees and Sugarcane juice

Unlike in countries in the temperate zone, the only Christmas trees you find in India are man made ones. In December, they sprout up everywhere. Beside the Road.

On the pavement against a backdrop of painted banana plants.

But what is it you see behind the tree?
A sugarcane crusher - you shove stems of sugarcane into it, rotate the handle, and the juice gets crushed out and collected to be sold at Rs. 5 per glass.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Catharanthus roseus/ Vinca rosea

There are the flowering plants that require a lot of tender loving care - you need to water then just so, you need to pluck dead-heads, you need to prune the plants, you need to feed them the right mix of manure, and you need to see they do not get infected by the various pests waiting to prey on them. If you do all of that, they occasionally reward you with a flower or two. My plumerias fall firmly into that category - I have one that has flowered only once in the three years it has been with me, and another that has never flowered. I love them, and tend to them, and hope that they will reward me with flowers some day.

There are those flowering plants, and then there is the periwinkle. I never even acquired the periwinkle- it must have been brought to my fifth floor apartment in the belly of a crow or by the wind. It took root in a pot I could barely reach, and I knew about it only after it gave out the first flowers.

In the years it has been with me, it has known only neglect, but it doesn't seem to know or care that the water I give it is given with sheer indifference. It takes what it gets, and it thrives. Never has a day gone when there hasn't been at least one periwinkle coloured flower on the plant, and when I last checked, there were a whole bunch of bushy shoots springing up all around it.
Unless something drastic happens, I can look forward to many months or years of flowers from the plant- not for nothing is it called 'sadabahar' in Hindi - 'always flowering'.

And isn't the same true for everything else- there are people and thing that need a lot of care, and there are people and thing which thrive in any environment. One is cherished. Unfortunately, the other is almost taken for granted.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Children's books

Almost as soon as I learnt to read, my parents introduced me to Enid Blyton, and for many years, I graduated from one set of books to the next. Sure, there were the occational Pollyannas, and the Hedies, and the Secret Gardens and, the March sisters thrown in, but for the most part, I stuck to reading and re-reading and re-re-reading the Enid Blytons. With the result that, though I spent the best part of my childhood reading, when it comes to Children's books, I am almost functionally illiterate.

Some months back, two European friends were arguing about whether or not the holiday home one of them stayed in resembled the house Pippi Longstocking grew up in. Considering I had only heard her name a couple of weeks back when I had read the first of Stieg Larsson's trilogy, I was incredibly inpressed by how well my friends knew their books. That weekend, while looking for books for my kids, I chanced up the Astrid Lindgren classic, and bought it for myself.

A couple of weeks after I fell in love with Pippi, I ordered a copy of Charlotte's Web, which for some inexplicable reason doesn't seem to want to vacate Mt. TBR (Mount To Be Read, for the uninitiated). But a few weeks after that, I was taken in by Matilda's grin, and brought her home along with The Railway Children. Both books I finished within a week, and I can barely wait till my next visit to the bookstore so can stock up on more 'children's books'.

The official reason for my interest in those books is that I am surveying the market for my six and a half year old. But given the fact that he is currently struggling slightly even at the Mary Pope Osborne level, I know that there is no way he is going to be ready for any of those books for at least another year.

There may just be something wrong in my internal wiring- but I have liked all the 'childrens' books' that I have read recently; genuinely liked, not condescendingly liked in that 'they are good for children's books' kind of way.

And if by reading them, I am better placed to introduce my kids to the magical world of books, can anyone ask for more?

And, and, since this is a great place to ask. Any recommendations?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why do some books get written?

I was at the bookstore the other day, and found a book which could not have been anything but a slightly fictionalized account of the protagonist’s stay at one of the nation’s premier education institutes. Though the book was labeled ‘fiction’, there were enough parallels between the resumes of the protagonist and the author for anyone to know one was based on the other. To make it even more clear, the author took pains to thank, by name, the various classmates who ‘helped take her down memory lane’, and the standard disclaimer of ‘the characters and situations in the book are purely fictional’ was conspicuous by its absence. The author wanted the reader to believe she was the protagonist, and that was clearly the USP of the book.

This particular book caught my eye, and catalysed this rant, but it is actually just one more in a gloriously long line of similar books brought out by the same publisher. The formula for publication by that particular publisher is standard – graduate from any of the premier educational institutes in the country, write a self-congratulatory account of your stay there, get published. Whether or not the person can write, and whether or not the person has a story to tell, doesn’t seem to be the point. All that seems to matter is that the person have cleared the entrance exams to make it to that particular institute.

I can understand why books of that kind are popular. When a nation of a billion people has less than a dozen institutes that qualify for the tag “premier”, and when over a thousand candidates apply for every available seat at those institutes, people want to know what “actually” happens in those picture perfect campuses. When there is a market for such books, any publisher would want to publish the books, regardless of quality.

But what I cannot understand is why those books get written in the first place. All of them are in high paying high stress jobs – they are not doing it for the money, or because they have too much time on their hands. Why then are they doing it? Is the need to see their name in print so great they do not care what it is associated with? Are they living out their own personal ‘What ifs’ by writing those books? Or, do they genuinely believe the books are good and that they are great authors? And more than anything else, why can't the authors take the trouble to make up decent characters instead of borrowing rather boring people from life and dressing them up a bit?

Personally, I would love to read a well written book set in any of those campuses, as long as the campus doesn’t become the main character, and the author the protagonist. A cozy mystery, or a paranormal fantasy, or even an out an out memoir I would welcome. It is those books where the author is too lazy to make up characters that I object to.


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