Sunday, March 3, 2013

Truth is stranger than Fiction


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 37; the thirty-seventh edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "Truth is stranger than fiction"
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All right! Let us get this dissertation on ‘Truth is stranger than Fiction’ off the ground. Do we, in true dissertation style start the discussion by defining Truth and Fiction? I do not think that it will get us anywhere beyond a discussion of the definitions for the next 1000 pages or so – we may end up digressing into ‘absolute truth’ and ‘perceived truth’; may wander over to Mayavada and get lost in illusions and may even end up pinching ourselves to ensure that we are real. So, let us assume those words to mean whatever they mean in the context in which they are used and get on with the dissertation.
When it comes to Fiction, however, one does face a problem. Do we take Fiction to include fantasy? If so, we may have insuperable problems in proving that ‘Truth is stranger than Fiction’. I mean, we may think of our CEO as Sauron and the top management as the Nazgul but do we really think the CEO has ‘One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them’? Do we really think that the CFO can be killed only by a woman employee and the Chotu who gets us our tea? Fantasy, I am afraid, we shall have to leave out of this learned discourse.
There used to be a time when one started citing personal experience or individual incidents to prove a point the academics frowned on it and said scathing learned things like, “You are missing the wood for the trees” and the like. That was merely because the term ‘anecdotal evidence’ had not been invented then. Now, thanks to this wonder term, one can prove anything to be true by citing an individual instance that supports it. In the spirit of the times, I shall present some anecdotal evidence to prove that ‘Truth is stranger than Fiction’.
In childhood, one perceived textbooks as repositories of truth. You may doubt it and, in particular, choose to rail at history at least as being more fiction than fact. It is nevertheless true that fiction of the fairytale variety must necessarily have been less true than the texts. In childhood, thanks to the quaint ideas of my parents, I was expected to be spending a good portion of my time reading text-books. I must have amazed them with the dutifulness of my adherence to this irrational injunction, thanks to the fact that I had discovered that the Grimm’s fairy tales fitted in very nicely within the boundaries of an open textbook. So, Truth – as in the textbooks - was more a stranger to me than Fiction in my childhood days.
There are more anecdotes from childhood. Schools have this unnatural habit of holding monthly tests and, in my time, ranking kids on their performance. Thus, every month, I was in for something like six beatings - one each for my performance in each test and one when the monthly progress report came in. I may not have been the brightest star in the firmament but a native shrewdness was – shall we say – beaten into me. It is thus that I bravely lied about not receiving the corrected test notes till such time the progress report arrived. After all, what is the point in getting whacked up six times when some creative adjustments of the truth could cut it down to one? So, in yet another way the Truth was more a stranger to me than Fiction.
What did you say? Truth being a stranger to me is not the same as Truth being stranger than Fiction. You nit-picking people are the reason why no research ever gets off the ground. Oh! All right! All right! If that is what you insist upon.
Let me then tell you of the Suresh-Ramesh anecdote in my life. Well, actually, had it been Ramesh it would have been even better but, though I did have a Ramesh or two at school in Neyveli, it happened to be a Ravi. It was six years since we last met in school and I was at IIM-Bangalore in those days. One day I was happily walking down MG Road when who should pop out of an ice-cream shop but Ravi from my school? We went through the obligatory Suresh-Ramesh, sorry, Suresh-Ravi routine and caught up on what had transpired in our lives.
That was that. No e-mail, no FB, no Linked-in in those days and we lost touch with each other almost from the moment we parted that day. Three years later I was working in Delhi and rooming with an NTPC employee (Now this was a Ramesh but that does not count, does it?). One day the two of us were walking out for dinner and he pointed at a house and said that was the residence of a mutual acquaintance. I turned to see Ravi standing near the boundary wall. Yes, the same Ravi of my school and the Bangalore Suresh-Ravi episode. Our mutual acquaintance was his sister’s husband.
Now tell me if I had written a novel called “Two States” hinging on two such accidental meetings – suitably changing Ravi to Ravina, of course, since one cannot do without the Romantic angle – do you think that the reading populace would have taken me to their bosoms like another Chetan Bhagat or would they have uttered snide comments like “What? Is this some believe-in-10-impossible-things-before-breakfast business?” Truth is stranger than fiction, Q.E.D.
WHAT? You oppose my conclusions? You say that if three brothers separated and in widely different locations can congregate in one hotel and unite by singing ‘Yaadon ki baarat nikli hai yaar…”, Fiction has proven stranger than truth? If a rupee note signed by the hero and heroine and transacted in Chennai can traverse the country and end up in the heroine’s hands in Kolkatta, Fiction has proven stranger than truth? That you have even seen a movie where the lead pair separates and then find themselves meeting each other in a country not even on the map and, so, how can Truth be considered stranger than fiction?
Oh! All right! I will amend the conclusion. Truth is stranger than non-Indian Fiction. There, now, are you satisfied?
If you liked this you may like to check out the index of other posts of this genre or read a selection of similar posts.


The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: The Fool, Participation Count: 10
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78 comments:

  1. Your story is certainly baffling to say the least! Its a small world after all!! All the best for BAT :)

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    1. Believe me that is a true story as well and Ravi is in Bangalore now.

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  2. Some of the stories of movies as you pointed out are so strange on paper but may work on execution. It could also be because we are used to not wanting to watch reality on screen. Truth in real life also can be bizarre and stranger than fiction. I have felt it personally as well.

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    1. Ah! That was meant in fun :) After all I, too, belong to the same society that enjoys movies where the hero can with one shrug make some 20 hefty villains fly off his body :)

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  3. I have had Ramesh-Suresh moments of my own. One of them happened when I posted a supposedly witty and cutting comment on a friend's FB wall, only to find that the only person who "Liked" my comment was a long-lost acquaintance. Of course, that chance "meeting" led to FB friend requests being exchanged and accepted. We haven't exchanged so much as a poke since then.

    Your dissertation on truth vs fiction was exhaustive in its research and practical application (at least as experimented on your own life!).

    A totally different take on the theme than anyone else's :D

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  4. first of all many congratulations on you becoming a "Veteran"
    this once simply amazing...wonderful take on the subject...you just ripped off the Indian Fiction
    ATB for BAT
    do drop in at:
    - Don't Whine

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  5. How can truth be stranger than fiction when there are no absolute truths and fiction is but a figment of your imagination?

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  6. That was a cool one. Truth is stranger than fiction for the one whose imagination is limited by his experience. You played the Ramesh Suresh thingy well.

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    1. I only had to add the interpretation to that Ramesh-Suresh thing, TF :) It actually happened that way and my NTPC friend was called Ramesh :)

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  7. You brought in a Ravi, almost brought in a Ramesh, and an imaginary Ravina as well to make your point but why leave out Vinit? Very strange, almost more than Truth and Fiction both put together!
    You really don't like him anymore do you? Isn't that the Truth? Or is it just some fiction in my head? :)

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    1. No Rickie! You seem to have got an idea into your head, absolutely baselessly, and seem unwilling to let go of it :) All that Vinit has done so far to me is get me published - so where is the reason for not liking him?

      Ravi and Ramesh actually exist in my life - the incidents happened as outlines - and both are still in my life. I did not bring them in :)

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    2. Hehhehh...so there really is a Vinit...and you are finally trying to mend fences with him? :)

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    3. It probably escaped your notice that the editor of 'Uff ye emotions' is Vinit Bansal! And there were no broken fences at all to mend till you started careening around like a bull in a china shop :)

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    4. Oops! And here I am unintentionally dragging the poor man in all kinds of Strange Fiction in my head! I didn't know - and that's the Truth.
      Thankfully, at least we know that your next book contract with Vinit is still safe - talent trumps my silly jest any day! :D

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    5. Looks to me that this series of comments is probably more entertaining than the post :)

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    6. It sure is! ;-) Loved reading this exchange of words between the two Woodhouses of India!

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    7. Wodehouse is a sight too far ahead of me - that sort of comic genius is very rare. Pleasure, however, to even be compared with him. :)

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    8. LOL. You guys are funny!

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  8. Ha ha i do support your conclusion that truth is stranger than non indian fiction ! . As Mixi has pointed out , this was a different take on the theme - a fictious yet non fictious dissection . Something which not many writers can comfortably deal with . But you have handled it brilliantly with your opinions . Amazing effort :)

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    1. Thanks Maliny! That sounds wonderful and i am glad I have support for my conclusions :)

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  9. Haha, amusing! Frankly speaking I would have never opposed your conclusions of 'Truth is stranger than fiction'. But now that it is amended, I must say, that is what made this truly unique :)

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    1. We Indians have stranger imaginations than Truth can hope to compete with :)

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  10. You are actually write in setting the correct tone..We aren't used to seeing reality on Screen , unless some Filmi Mirch-Masala is mixed up in the right proportions. For example , those Heroes who work shifts to purchase medicines for the ailing mother..Yet , ends up in a sing-a-song session with a half-naked heroine , on some swiss mountain top...Bizzare...Some would say :)

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  11. This is the truth of life...what we believe to be true...comes out to be a mirage and what we believe to utter fictitious...turns out to be a reality...Another good one...loved it a lot...!!!

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  12. hahaha, quite an analysis! absolutely loved reading this one! all the best for the contest! and now that they are considering humor a valid genre, i hope you win this one too!

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    1. The win that counts is getting comments like this, Debs, as you know full well :)

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  13. I would call this as a WOW post hehe
    being an analyst i must say you are a wonderful analyst too :)
    Very well analyzed !!

    ATB for BAT

    -Snuffles Jay
    Drop by here too someday

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    1. Thanks, Snuffles Jay! I normally follow blogs through Indiblogger. Network there and I am sure to drop in :)

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  14. LOL.. Funny but true. You can say that truth is stranger than bollywood fiction.. no one can ever ever beat at that. Not a single disappointing post from you so far Suresh! You should charge me reading your blogs ;)

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    1. You are paying for reading, Farida - in lovely comments like this :)

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  15. Its always kind of rocket science for me to read you posts Suresh Sir. But still, I enjoy the way you express the scientific(I mean I refer the words which are new to me as scientific..:):))in romantic way..in a sense I mean to say you play with words.

    I liked the Suresh - Ramesh ..Ravi episode. This is for sure Truth is stranger than fiction..Unbelievable..Apart from that yes its true that always bollywood(not all)are fiction which is a truth we need to accept...:).At final climax you relished the quench of indian movie lovers to non fiction indian movies..ha ha..This is called the heights of awesomeness...Truly enjoyed reading the post..:)

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    1. Thanks Vajra! hope you are back to earth now - safely landed from the rocket :)

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  16. :D quite a tongue in cheek!! :P

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  17. Well, bro, fiction can be rightfully strangest of the strange, but as always truth will always be one step further. You cannot prove it otherwise my friend. You can see for yourself and you have to look no further, my truth's strangeness is a way way step ahead in strangeness.
    Cheers

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    1. Strange are the ways of your truth :)

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    2. I hadn't received any such statement bro. And mobile commenting is sure a tough thing.

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    3. On any blog where you have comment moderation when you select Publish the msg 'Your comment has been saved and will be visible after approval' does appear on the blog. I have no idea abt how it works on mobiles. Anyway, now you know why you can't see the comment :)

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  18. Well, my comment i don't know where it's gone. Tough to write all my egotistic words again. I will try to be concise.
    Fiction can be strangest bro. But truth is at times a step ahead and baffling. You can look at my truth and see for yourself.
    Cheers.

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    1. Hmm! Comment moderation! I thought you receive a msg saying that Comment is saved and will be visible after approval or something like that.

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  19. That was a true Bollywood style post !Suresh - Ravi episode is like surreal !

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    1. And it really happened that way including my NTPC friend being Ramesh :)

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  20. Hilarious! I always wondered if you had a Ramesh-Suresh angle to your life! ;-)
    I totally agree with the conclusion you came to! :) Great post!

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    1. Thanks Akanksha! I am a GREAT analyst - my conclusions are always correct :)

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  21. Your exchanges with Rickie prove the point!

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    1. Hmm! That Indian fiction is stranger than Truth? :)

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  22. Wow! very nice post. How can truth be stranger than fiction? Like people say "My heart says to stay with her but my mind says to move on" Does the heart have brain of it's own? :)

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    1. Thanks Jahid! Well, they say that the heart has a mind of its own :)

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  23. ha ha ha ...Suresh Ramesh ..and Ravina ! I really wish it was Ravina ! your post is definitely great but Ravina would have added more masala eh ? Have fallen in love with your sense of humor and style of writing !

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    1. I wish it had been Ravina too - though there was no Ravina in my batch :)

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  24. truth is indeed stranger than fiction...it is always an honor to drop by ure blog...hats off

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  25. Food for thought. I have always believed truth to be stranger than fiction. I think I will hold on to it for some more.

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  26. Suresh-Ramesh ..Ravi(na) episode was crazy enough to make me laugh..So,you fictionalized the truth or fiction was portrayed in a way to give a feel of truth..
    Out of the box thinking..

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    1. Those episodes happened like that in real life. so, yes, I fictionalized the truth :)

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  27. Brilliant Take- You could not have explained Indian Fiction better. Yaadon ki Baarat eg- also takes me to Amar Akbar Anthony theme - within a time span of Movie titles -the kids get separated- Grow up - meet at the same Hospital to donate Blood to their Lost Mother.( Indian Fiction at best again)

    I love some the phrases you have used - " Creative Adjustments of Truth"- Ravi becoming Ravina - you may not be a Chetan Bhagat yet- but you can try to your hands on Full time Novel Writing.

    All the very best for BAT- This is my lengthiest comment on a blog ever - Coming back here for more interesting posts from you.

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    1. That was wonderful to read, Viyoma! Yes, may be some day I will finish a novel :)

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  28. i am a very small time fiction writer. To me the best fictions are not at all strangers. They are based on the truth, the bitter and sweet truths of life. i admit one can also make a fiction without any truth in it and meant to rather misguide the people. But many of us call them as advertisements stories and can not occupy the same row as good fiction.

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  29. a small token of appreciation for you HERE

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  30. Suresh, Ramesh, Ravi, Ravina and then Vinit too! LOL. *shaking head*
    I have to say, why exclude Ekta Kapoor from the mix for the absolutely unbelievable Indian fiction! In her fiction, the truth is there are no strangers. Because there are only about 15 people in the whole of a city - they all know each other! :) Amar Akbar Anthony was class!!! But I do go by - Truth can be stranger than fiction - somehow I do think that there are incidents/co-incidences/miracles that do happen! :) Loved the post!

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    1. Except Ravina the other three exist and those things happened that way :) Vinit was Rickie's contribution to the melee so I leave it to him to bring in Ekta as well :)

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  31. Fiction is actually a bit of an oxymoron as it is based on happenings around us. And we all have "Suresh-Ramesh" stories in our lives. So, I would say that truth is as strange as fiction :-)

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    1. The only thing fictional about fiction may be calling it fiction? :)

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  32. Truth does get beaten out of you?! Doesn't it? And they keep dinning it into your ears ad nauseam how important it is to be frank and forthright...

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    1. What we say and what we do never seem to match up :)

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