Saturday, December 26

100 shots of Short Challenge ..

I got to know about the 100 shots of shot challenge from Priya's blog and have decided to take it up.I am a huge fan of short stories,but haven't been able to read many these days as novels take up too much of my reading bandwidth.

The Challenge is a simple one – no time limit, no specific titles, just the goal of reading 100 self-picked short stories as and when possible.

I kicked off the challenge with 3 distinctly different short stories..

SHOT 1: The Gift of Maggi by O henry

I was introduced to this lovely story and author by my english teacher in my 8th standard..I have read this story several times in the past and each time the story warms my heart. It's a beautiful Christmas time story about gifting..Beautiful story,told in O Henry's inimitable style.Do read it !!

Catch this story at - The gift of Magi

SHOT 2: A telephone call by Dorothy Parker

I had never read anything by Dorothy Parker and was curious about the story after i read the review on Priya's blog.I wouldn't exactly call it a story ,but a short piece on the emotions a young lady goes through waiting for a phone call.I thought the story was very average and that the wafer thin plot was stretched beyond it's permissible elasticity.However,certain parts of the "story" were relatable!.

Catch this story at- The telephone call

SHOT 3 : How the camel got his hump by Rudyard Kipling

I have never actually read anything by Kipling on my own.I have read a few stories when i was much younger(part of school curriculum) and havent been really hooked on his writing..I really wonder how i missed out on lovely stories this author has to offer.As is evident from the title,this is a story about how the camel got it's hump.. It is soo adorable that you cant stop saying "Soo Cute !!".The story ends with a wacky poem.I am sure to read more of Kipling in the coming days .. !!

Catch this story at - How the Camel got his hump

Next update in couple of days !!! .. Happy reading!!

Monday, December 21

The cutest cupcakes ever!!

Seriously,the cutest stuff i have seen in a while!. What an ingenious idea!! Except for the snow globe,everything is edible..i can hear the "aww schoo cute !!". Merry christmas to everyone !!..

Image courtesy Bakerella..

Saturday, December 19

Din chuck Din chuck ..

sunshine!!!!! ..yaaayyyy!!! my hindi playlist for today !!

Friday, December 18

Dreaming of..

A Cup of hot chocolate spiced with Cinnamon,a blueberry muffin and some of my favorite "December songs " are what i need on such a gloomy day !!!.. Actually not all songs have references to December/Christmas,i just associate these songs with December,for reasons unknown to me !

Monday, December 14

2 states .. the story of my disgust !!

To be very honest and fair,i think i don't know what to think of Chetan Bhagat's latest offering 2 states,the story of my marriage.I tried to read the book with an objective mind ,but somehow ended up getting pissed off at regular intervals.
I have never been a Chetan fan and the only reason i bought this book was becos of the price-95 bucks !!!

The plot is very relatable and racy and is all about how 2 people from very different backgrounds (and states) fall in love and strive to get married.So,why didnt it work for me? Let me first tell you what i liked about the book.. The book starts with Krish (the protagonist, a Punjabi) meeting and falling in love with Ananya,a south Indian in the campus of IIM(A).Chetan,an IIM(A) alumnus himself has captured this phase of the story very well.. The 10 pm cheap calls home,crappy hostel food,cooking maggi at night in the hostel,the palpable tension during day 0 of placements.. all these took me on a nostalgic trail.. but there were too many other things that just irritated me to the core!!.There is a heavy tamil-bashing undercurrent..actually,its not an undercurrent.. It's just all over the book.One starts to wonder whether all this is said in jest or whether our author has real deep rooted prejudices,especially since the book has supposedly autobiographical nuances.. After a point,it just gets excessive!!.

Now, i do realise that the success of a book like this would depend on the extreme characterizations of the parents and the 2 sides. Still,several parts of the book leave you with a bad taste in the mouth..Sample some of the statements the protagonist and his parents make ..

" These south Indians dont know how to control their daughters.From Hema Malini to Sri Devi,all of them trying to catch punjabi men" says Krish's mother.

" The tamil sense of humour ,if there is any is really an acquired taste."says Krish. Dude,i know more tamilians with a robust sense of humour than you have hair on your head!!

"The house had an eerie silence.A punjabi house is never this silent even when people sleep in the night".says Krish referring to Ananya's tamil household. Again,in bad taste.

"They sounded like long wails,as if someone was slowly strangled". says krish referring to MS Subbulakshmi's song. Now,dude you could get stoned in Chennai for a statement like that.

"We sat on the floor for dinner and ate on a banana leaf". They have gunpowder with sambhar our author describes as " sawdust mixed with chillies"(what Crap!!)!!-Like ,the plate is yet to be discovered in Chennai.A little hard to believe when the family is broad minded enough to send the daughter to IIM(A) and the said daughter has Pink floyd cassette at home. Just grates on your nerves!!.

" The spiral shaped brown coloured snacks resembled fossiled snakes".I am guessing he refers to the murukku. He also calls it bland.I really had half a mind to get myself on a flight and throw the book on the author's face.

"Tamilians love to irritate other non tamils by speaking in tamil in front of them. This is the only silent rebellion in their otherwise repressed docile personality". Says Krish. I am guessing the only repressed personality here is you,Mr.Chetan Bhagat.

The story is actually ok. Just that Chetan got carried away painting a horrible picture of tamilians and chennai.And sorry,i didnt do justice to this review !!
Our man goes on to bitch about relatives saying " These stupid biases and discrimination are the reason our country is so screwed up." despite spouting insults at tamilians throughout the book.

There are mentions of "horrible sambhar smells" &"chennai trainees avoiding eye contact ,especially when it comes to authority" and several other irritating things.. Like there is an instance where Ananya takes him dancing in the afternoon and the disco plays Rajini songs.. how conceited can someone get !!! An auto driver enroute to his place stops in front of a Rajini cut-out to pray.. Now,dude .. this is the max i can take !!!

I could just go on and on about this tasteless book..If this is what "best selling " authors in India can churn out, i am better off reading books by obscure people!!.Every word reeks of commercialism and looks like it's been written to get scripted into a hindi movie.. I will be surprised if the Yash raj stable doesn't grab the rights for this book !!! despicable!! Oh,did i mention that there are digs at Citibank thrown liberally..

Because this is more of a rant than a review, i am not filling you on the story. 3 out of 4 people i know wanted to bash chetan's brain out after reading this book.To think that there are more humorous way of tackling a subject like this makes me wonder about Chetan Bhagat's writing prowess.

I read it till the end to figure out how much Chetan could grate on my nerves and must say that he doesn't miss a beat. I am still seething !!.

PS: Pls read this book and let me know what you think !!!..


Saturday, December 12

Yep Paaa..

This post is an ode to TR..Love u,TR!!!.. What is entertainment without you????.. ..what fun!!!

Image courtesy Nautankey..

Friday, December 4

The Edge..

I am not a poetry person and cant appreciate deep poetry(make that most poetry)..Also, i am never very comfortable or at ease while writing a poem.. Recently someone was reviewing the stuff i had written and told me that irrespective of whether the piece was prose or poetry,there was a common theme.. and that was hope. I was shocked as i had never thought about it. I always had thought of myself as a pretty versatile writer. When i went back to some of the pieces, i did realize that what she said made perfect sense..I realized what it meant to have a myopic vision when it comes to things we create!! ..

So,here is an attempt to sound different from my normal self.. it's a poem and i hope that "hope" is not the underlying theme..I am trying to get better at writing poems,so do let me know if you know any sites/aids that can help me..

I will smile
Till the shadows of sorrow shroud me
Like an ominous cloak.

I will dance
Till my shoes can take no more
And their tatters litter the floor.

I will sing
Till the nightingale hushes up
And silence echoes in the valleys.

I will paint
Till the colours fall off my palette
Like dried leaves on an autumn day.

I will run
Till my knees buckle
From old age and rheumatism.

I will write
Till the words clot
And refuse to flow.

I will struggle
Till I learn to love and give
Without a blemish in my heart.

I will live
Till the soul bleeds dry
And the life‘s breath ebbs out of me.

Wednesday, December 2

Travails of a Freelance writer

This was written roughly a year back when online freelance writing was what i thought was ,my destiny..People who know me would also know that my destiny keeps changing every few months.. A year later, with "0" articles published online, i think i am fairly qualified to say that sending snail mails to magazines elicit more response than wanting to get published online ..this article was published 6-months back in the only magazine that accepts my junk every month ,Eve's touch..My life's ambition still remains writing a book.. a funny book.. it must be a lot of work ;-).. someday,guys!! now, read on..

“Writing jobs” : 10,600,000 pages on Google
“Free lance+ jobs” – 1,670,000 pages on Google
“Free lance +writing jobs”: 4, 37,000 pages on Google

Surprising, huh? That’s how big the free-lance writing market really is. Supposedly.
I am always a tad suspicious of the net, what with the anonymity and accounts of weirdos on the prowl, but that didn’t deter me from donning my googling- hat and exploring the vast tracts of writing related money-making ventures on the net. What follows are my (mis)adventures in the land of milk and honey(it’s the Internet, of course).

Day 1 : A very Excited me. After all, I came across thousands of testimonials of people making money, writing on the net. I ended up registering myself on at least half a dozen sites, which offered to pay me based on number of hits on pages..After several hours on the net, I had successfully created profiles on most sites. I was feeling a little tired, but was confident that the time spent would be totally worth it as I was soon going to become a famous-freelance writer. That night I dreamed that I had become a huge writing-sensation, free lance online writing sensation, of course…

Day 2 : No hits on any site I had registered for . No mails. Nothing. Just a mail reminding me to fill in my PayPal details..For all the money that I would be getting once I started getting assignments. Gosh, how had I forgotten that?. So, I got myself a free-paypal account.

Day 3 : Nothing .” Be Patient” I told myself. All geniuses take time to get discovered. I was still getting the same “writing sensation dream”..
Day 11 to 9 pass in a haze. Haze of many permutations and combinations of the “writing sensation dream”.

Day 10 : One comment on my article. My heart skipped a beat. Was it somebody commissioning me to write something after reading my thought-proving article ? Alas, It just happened to be my friend leaving me a message to keep writing … That night ,my “writing sensation dream” was slightly off-colour.

Day 11: I decided maybe the sites took time and started looking for writing jobs incraiglists. I patiently responded to 50 posts with the same copy –paste template of my profile and checked my mail at least a dozen times that day hoping for responses ( It’s Day 40 and I still haven’t heard from any of those advertisers).

Day 12 through 20 : More googling, more registrations.First signs of helplessness started creeping in.

Registered for mailing lists ,hoping to get to know the latest news in the world of online Free-lance writing. These mailing lists have faithfully been spewing out information that I find utterly useless, not taking me even a step closer to my goal.

Day 21 : Frustration. Despair. Just when I thought I would give up, someone suggested I check Orkut for Postings. That’s where I stumbled upon Dheeraj Makhijha’s (name changed, of course) Post. He was looking for free lance writers.I promptly mailed him on what I could bring to the table. Surprise.. Within a minute of mailing, I get a message asking me to add him on Gtalk ..

“Yipeee!!” Maybe I was going to be a free-lance writer, after all. So I added him. And waited…Everyday Dheeraj would get online and I would wait for him to talk about the assignments he had , but he just never responded to my messages.

Day 25: Just when I had given up on Dheeraj , a message popped on my gtalk .

Gtalk transcripts interspersed with my thought bubbles…

Dheeraj Makhijha Says : Hi

My thought bubbles: Wow!! Perseverance pays ..

Dheeraj refused to reveal any information about himself, but wanted my name, location and all my details. I told myself employers were like that, even in the virtual world. He didn’t ask me anything about my writing experience and only wanted to know whether I could write 5 articles everyday…

My thought bubbles: 5 articles? Whoopee.. Maybe, I could try…
Dheeraj Makhijha says: So, do you know about Copyscape and other rules of online free-lancing?
My thought bubbles: I froze. I had no clue what Copyscape was and I was in the middle of an interview. Thankfully , there was google. So I logged out of gtalk and frantically googled Copyscape and logged back in after I had enough dope on it.Atleast, enough not to sound like a first-timer.

Me : Sorry I got cut off. Yeah I know about Copyscape.

Dheeraj Makhijha says : Then you must also know that like most other companies , if copyscape catches more than 3 consecutive words on any other pages, your article will not be accepted by me .
My thought bubbles: What if I had to say “ Go to Hell”. That should definitely get caught on Copyscape. Am sure a million people say “Go to hell “on their web pages .Does that mean their articles weren’t original? It Made me speculate on whether Shakespeare would have cleared our Man’s stringent “ 3 consecutive word rule”.

Me : Yeah no problem (Faking it like a true professional . As If I knew the industry inside out). So what do I have to write about ?

Dheeraj Makhijha says : Anything under the sun. No Adult and explicit stuff,of course.
Me : So what is the target audience we are looking at ?
There was no reply for almost 10 minutes and then ..
Dheeraj Makhijha Says : Don’t think so much. Write what you want.
My thought bubbles: Maybe I could do that. Not think too much and just write about anything. Nice, flexible boss.

And then, hesitatingly..
Me : So how much do you pay for an article?

My Thought bubbles : I had to be careful. Talking about money too soon could put off employers. I am in this for the love of writing and not for money, I told myself.
Dheeraj Makhijha Says : $ 2 per 500 words, if found satisfactory and if it clears Copyscape.
My thought bubbles: $ 2!! No way!! Even if I did end up writing 500 words, the possibility of it being seen as an original seemed very remote..Maybe I could bargain.
Me : Isn’t that too less?.( Trying to sound experienced). I know many sites that pay $ 10.
Dheeraj Makijha Says : Well , that’s what I pay and a lot of people work with me for that rate . It’s your call.

And he logged off. Just like that. Abruptly.

What does one do with $2? Did Dheeraj realize that the chat with him alone cost me $2? Heights of cheap off-shoring..

I still don’t know what to make of the countless testimonials on the net, scheming to lure unsuspecting people into getting “Online-writing sensation” dreams. Someday, if I do become an online-writing sensation, I’ll surely write another article chronicling my journey, for sure.