Monday, January 25, 2016

An offer you cannot refuse?

I know that the very moment you hear that 'An offer you cannot refuse', especially from me, you are all afire to say, "Oh yeah? Watch me do it" (Not being Don Corleone is SUCH a handicap). See that squiggly vertical line at the end of it with a dot below? THAT's to cater to people like you.

So, this offer is about what Amazon calls a 'Countdown deal'. My book - "A dog eat dog-food world" - which is priced at a princely sum of USD 2.99/= will be available at an even more princely sum of USD 0.99/= till 28th January at and at GBP 0.99/= at Unfortunately, there seem to be no options for countdown deals in markets other than these two. I know it is rather difficult to believe but there are some 23 ratings and 15 reviews (other than mine) on Goodreads and the book has an average rating of some 4.8 currently.

As everyone around me knows, I am a very generous person, especially when I have no option but to be so. Thus, even if you do refuse my offer, you can still go to any (or all) of these posts, which interests you.

Aniesha Brahma wanted me to write about how the idea of this book arose in my mind and how it germinated. This, then, is the true story of how 'A dog eat dog-food world' got written.

The Read Addicts - Janhvi in particular - wanted me to write on the Indian literary scene. I do not know what they thought of the unseemly sight of a humorist in tears. (There IS a post below all the book details!)

There, then! No-one can say that I am not generous (with my words, that it. Touch my wallet and rouse the Indian Tiger)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Posts galore

I have practically been typing one blog post with my left hand and one with my right. When people offer to help spread the word of your book, you find your imagination strangely stimulated for the blog posts that they want to go with it.

I know...I practically have the news of my book leaking through your ears but what can I say? It still is not sufficient to sell enough books to satisfy me (What exactly would count as enough? Hmm...I don't know if I really know such high numbers).

Anyway, this is not about the book but about the blog posts. AND, somewhere or other in these links, I promise you, you will find blog-posts, which are neither about the book per se nor are reviews of the book. Though, yes, you will find details of my book too but then you have, by now, gained expertise in ignoring it.

Privy Trifles sought me to write on the Great Indian Sense of Humor or the lack thereof. (Yeah! I think I cannot recognize a sense of humor even if someone brought it to me, conveniently labeled it in all the languages of India. You can read this and gloat about how right you were) 

And where is the author who does not rant about publishers? Here, though, I rant even before I publish, so to speak. For the rant is not about Small publishers - one of whom, Fablery, has published my book - but the Big ones. And to think that Jonali actually invited me in!!

AND, then, for those who not only think I know a sense of humor when I see it but can also guide people on how to write humor, this one. What?? You mean such mythical beings do not exist? Who are you calling a mythical being? Ruchi Singh, who asked me to write this one?

AND, after you are all done with that, take a long rest! You will need it to recoup.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Eventually - I write

Writing is a passion that one develops when one starts reading, especially at a young age. There is something about being able to transport others into situations of your making and involving them in the lives of characters from your imagination that is incredibly exciting. The problem, though, is that making a living from writing is as incredibly tough and the idea of starving in a garret for the sake of your art is not really attractive to everyone.

In 1980, when I had just completed school in India, there were only two options for relatively certain employability – Engineering or Medicine. There were not too many seats available in either stream and getting admitted into a college to study either was a cause for celebration. Having managed to get admitted to study Chemical Engineering, I would have needed to be one of three things to turn it down and pursue a course in creative writing. I should have been the son of a wealthy father – which I was not. Or, I should have had confidence verging on delusions of grandeur in my abilities to make a living from writing – which I did not possess. Or, I should have had the delusion that I could substitute thin air (and a passion for writing) for food – which eluded me.

Working as a trainee in a fertilizer plant after graduation taught me that my metier lay elsewhere. The epiphany struck me on a day when a valve was damaged and everyone concerned rushed immediately to bypass the valve and save the reactor from imploding. Being particularly gifted in orienting myself geographically, I could see myself – under similar circumstances in the future - running around in circles and crying piteously, “Valve! Valve! Where is the valve?” I somehow suspected that this may not quite be the picture of the intrepid, efficient engineer that companies were eagerly seeking. A more immediate reason for seeking a change of job arose when my digestive system started acting up due to the abnormal changes in meal timings enforced by working on shifts.

The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore must have seen students coming in starry eyed with very many differing ambitions but, I daresay, very rarely would one have come in with the unique ambition to change over from a shift-based job to a regular 9-5 one. Merely to ensure that odd work timings never again ruined my digestion, I took up financial management. Those were more benign days when derivatives and the like had not yet made their entry, especially in India, and it was unlikely that someone would urgently need me to make a ledger entry in the middle of the night.

As it happened, I spent a long sixteen year period working in the area of costing and fertilizer subsidies. I was reasonably successful – and the reason why I felt I was successful was that I managed to save enough to meet my modest needs and quit at 41 years of age to pursue my original love – Writing. There I was, master of my time and free to write but, suddenly, reluctant to do so. Writing, as in all the arts, is a process of opening yourself out to strangers and seeking their approval for your work. As an author, the only way you know you have done a good job – or that you even have the ability to do a good job – is when others tell you so. The first time you write you cannot help being full of self-doubts. The thought of putting out a piece, and having people snigger at the fact that you even thought that you could write, was daunting. Years of writing “With reference to your letter dated…” is certainly no great training for writing the next big thing in thrillers.

I ducked the issue by taking up trekking. Huffing and puffing up the Himalayas and stumbling through the thickness of the Deccan jungles seemed much more fun than getting snagged in a thicket of words. The urge to write, though, was not easily evaded. I tried to satisfy it in a less dangerous fashion by writing pieces – primarily humour – in this blog “Life is Like This”. It just would not let me be. A short story published in a collection in India only whetted the appetite.

Then , came a collection of three crime novelettes – Sirens Spell danger – of which one was penned by me and the others were written by a couple of friends - Radha Sawana and Karthik L. Now having become a complete addict, I have come out with a satirical novella – A dog eat dog-food world.

The one lesson I have learnt is that age-old cliché – If you want to write, Write; do not just talk about writing. If I had done it when I was far younger and more used to being inept at everything, finding out that I could not write worth a lick would only make me feel that I had made a misstep. Listening to harsh criticism would have seemed more the norm since, in those days, I was listening to criticism about everything else as well and was inured to it. Starting at 50 is more painful. If you really do not have it, everyone who reads you feels that you are such a fool for not learning what you could and could not do even after living for so long. Criticism sounds much harsher since you have reached a stage when you do not get to hear too much of it. (Being single is also a help – no spouse to keep reminding me of my multitudinous shortcomings).

Yet, I have written and shall continue to write till I am convinced by others that I cannot write worth a lick. If that is true I would, of course, prefer to be told, “I am sure you did your sums wonderfully well. So, do not get too upset by the fact that you are incapable of stringing together a readable sentence” rather than a stark, “If you thought you could write, maybe you need to change your shrink.”

Living is all about trying to do what you want to do. A loser is not one who tries and fails but one who admits defeat without trying at all. Having wanted to write all my life, I feel good that I have, eventually, tried.

Monday, January 4, 2016


All right! So New Year 2016 has kicked out the old year and occupied its place in our dates. Whenever this coup happens, as it happens every year, we humans sit around listing out all the things that we think we ought to be doing, rather than what we actually like doing, and call them resolutions. I, being no rebel and wanting desperately to BELONG, have always observed this religious practice...err...religiously.

I think it all started when I was in my 10th at school. THAT was the year when we had the so-called public exams and our pathetic effusions in exams would be judged not by the relatively benevolent teachers of our school but by some faceless impersonal examiners. So, came January, I resolved to do better at studying at home.

After all, reading Alistair McLean suitably ensconced within my physics textbook had not improved my understanding of refraction. James Hadley Chase, similarly embraced by the Mathematics book, was no help to me in solving quadratic equations. The biggest surprise was English. One would have expected that any reading would help in English but, can you believe it, despite holding my Leslie Charteris within the grammar books, I could not identify a gerund, even if it were served with chilly sauce and garnished with participles.

So, then and there I made my first new year resolution - that in THAT year I would regularly study for four hours every evening. AND, in that year, I realized the most important thing about resolutions. That they are very fragile creatures and would break with very slight or even no provocation. Actually, for me, it was more of that no-provocation thingy. All that happened was that on Jan 1, I had a Ludlum and decided that I would just postpone things by a day and, from Jan 2, I would stick my nose into the anatomy of a cockroach. And so it went and, before I knew it, the year was over! Never thought time would move so fast. It was really not my fault...if time ran away from me, what could I do?

Even without the benefit of a spider taking coaching classes in persistence, Robert Bruce could not beat me at it. Every year, with near-fanatical fervor, I made my resolutions. Every year, with equal fanaticism, they insisted on proving their fragility. The competition has always been very fierce. The score - Me: 0; Resolutions: 37.

This year, though, I am determined to win. So, resolution 1 was "I shall NOT break my resolutions". Resolution 2: Hmmm...This resolution 1 drastically restricts the options available for resolution 2. What do I do?

Do you see that bright bulb above my head? IDEA!

Resolution 2: I shall DO exactly what I did in 2015 viz. laze around, watching TV, reading books and listening to music.

So, there. Next year the report card shall read Me:1; Resolutions: 37!