Monday, April 23, 2018

How you ought to live - II

I had no idea that there was so much micro-managing possible when people set out to decide how other people ought to live. I was sort of relieved once I got to college, assuming that being told how I ought to live was all done and dusted now that I had succumbed to all that advice. How wrong I was.

I mean, fine, you sort of expect people to tell you what sort of job you ought to go into and all that. They have a vested interest in it - after all, if they are laboring to provide you with cars, they want to be sure that you would be laboring to provide them with food or some such thing. Nothing galls you more than to find that someone is happily living without working for it - it makes you feel such a fool for not finding a way to do it yourself.

Like I said, that would be fine, but what I did not expect was all this "How you ought to eat" and such. I mean, yeah, even when I eat with my hands, parents got into the act saying that I ought to eat with only my fingers and not soil the palm of the hand (except when it comes to Rasam Rice - I defy anyone to eat it only with his fingers if it is to be properly savored). AND to get it to streak all the way to the elbow and licking it from there up - that was a strict no-no. I sort of got the point - for, obviously, you end up getting the food all over the clothes that way and, in that day of no washing machines, it would be such a bother for your mother to wash them off.

You can understand my surprise when I found that it was not the way I ought to eat at all. Society - by which I suppose one means all those neighbors, peers and 'friends' who have nothing better to do than pass criticism on whatever you do - taught me I was doing it all wrong. How I ought to eat was, apparently, with a fork, knife and spoon. There I was, back to getting food-stains on my clothes (if you have found a way to balance that damn napkin so you keep all your clothes clean, enroll me in your correspondence course), wondering if dropping the food on my belly, instead of into it, would feed me by osmosis.

No point waxing lyrical about it. My experiences of chasing food all over the plate with a fork and hitting a pea for a six is chronicled elsewhere. Suffice to say that, over a long period of time when I dreaded the ordeal that every meal posed, I managed to eat without dropping food on myself not more than four to five times a meal. I wonder though at the vagaries of society. I mean, really, why would any rational society want me to waste my time learning skills which I would not really have needed if I could only use my hands? I probably keep them cleaner than the servant maid keeps my cutlery.

And then I get another shock. I go with a group of friends to a authentic Chinese restaurant and get handed a couple of sticks. Just as I was wondering whether I was supposed to duel with them to earn my lunch, and was eyeing the forks and spoons longingly, the other guys start picking up the sticks and shoveling food into their mouth with them. Great! I mean, really, I'd have thought eating was about the only thing I could do without great trouble and the world seemed to have gone to great...err...trouble to make it as troublesome for me as possible. Imagine having to learn to eat, all over again, every time you change restaurants!

Apparently, it is sophisticated to eat Chinese food the Chinese way; Western food the Western way. As I try to fork my masala dosa and carry it to my mouth without dropping the stuffing on my belly button, I wonder why the hell is it so unsophisticated to eat Indian food the Indian way?

Yeah, I know, very gauche of me but will someone explain that to me please?

Monday, April 16, 2018

How you ought to live

By now it is no surprise to anyone that the only two grey cells in my brain are not on talking terms with each other. So, I obviously have great difficulty in deciding how I ought to live. Thankfully, though, the world is full of people who spend a lot of time on thinking about and telling you about how you ought to live. Why, some of them are so altruistic that they spare no time to even think of how they ought to live!

It all starts with parents. (Yeah, I am single and have not sat on the other side of the table. So?)  Oh, I am not really going to talk of this 'Brush your teeth in the morning" thing. The fact that my reasoned argument that I never had seen cows queue up at the dentist though they never brushed their teeth was...err...brushed aside still rankles but still...And as for my pleas that going to school was not exactly how I thought I ought to live...(I know! You are wishing heartily that I had succeeded and, thus, never learned to write. You do not need to keep telling me.)

No, I was not going to talk about that. (What was that? I have already talked about that rather too much? Stop heckling, will ya?). There are more important issues to talk about.

You know, when you are a child and have no thought beyond the next chocolate or ice-cream and you get called to meet your mommy's friends, you know what is going to happen. Other than being asked to recite 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' and wiggle your hips to the latest Bollywood hit, that is. You guessed it...you get asked, "What do you want to become when you grow up?" AND you, manfully swallowing all those ideas of becoming an ice-cream vendor (Yeah! I know! I was a effing child, damn it. So what if I thought that the vendor got to eat all the ice-creams he wanted?), say something like 'Pilot', 'Astronaut' or 'Shah Rukh Khan' or "Prime Minister". And then they all go 'Hoo' and 'Haw' and 'Cho Chweet' and that aunty from next door pinches your cheeks and hugs you while you are squirming to get away so that you can play with your friends instead of being played with by your mommy's friends.

If you only knew that is the last time of your life that they are going to ask you that question. I mean, when it is really time to choose what you ought to do, it is all 'Become an Engineer', 'Become a doctor', 'An MBA' and what not with nary of thought of asking you what you wanted to become. And even when someone rarely asks you and you answer, you hardly ever get a 'Cho Chweet', though you CAN do without your cheeks being pinched. THEN it is a litany of why what you want to do is about the most stupid thing to do, ranking next only to the dinosaurs thinking that they could live in ice.

Once you start life off being told what you ought to do, it is rather rich for people to expect that you can decide it for yourself later in life.

But, actually, people do NOT think so, they only think that you can do it for other people. And you do just that all your life...tell other people how they ought to live!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Timely Help

Kaalatthaal seidha udhavi siridheninum gnalatthin maana peridu - Tirukkural

Timely help, however low in value, is worth more than all the world - Loose translation.

There I was, as usual, with a friend asking for advice. (I know, by now you are wondering why I go to the guy since I invariably get the stick but what can I do? All my friends are like that)

"Rohit is so ungrateful, yaar. I mean, you know at yesterday's party to celebrate the success of his venture he was going on and on about some Rs. 50000/= that Shyam had lent him when he was starting out. And not a word about the five lakhs I lent him just a week back."

AND the chap comes out with that tagline at the beginning of this post. What is with these guys, they cannot formulate their own sentences and have to come out with obscure quotes that make no sense. I mean, the idea of the world being worth less than Rs. 5000/= (though they do say that with climate change and all...).

I asked him rather peevishly what he meant and he says, "Well! At that time, no-one was willing to risk lending money to him and Shyam did. Which is why he could even start this venture, which is now such a success. Now, people are queuing up...so, if not you, someone else would have given him."

"Come on! I have given him ten times the money. And I would have given him then but my FD was maturing only in another six months and you know what interest loss would have been there if I had broken the FD then."

"So, you will help only when it is convenient to you not when the other guy needs it. What's the point talking to you anyway? If someone is dying of thirst at your doorstep, you are the sort of guy who will want to finish your shave and morning ablutions, dress up so that you can go out and give him a glass of water. It will not even cross your mind that he may die of thirst before you are done."

"There you go too far. When have I ever shaved, with this beard? AND my idea of dressing is only shoving a T-Shirt over my torso, so..."

His eyes were bulging and throat working convulsively. Before he went down on his haunches and started croaking, I asked, "Are you alright?" while slowly edging towards the door.

Thankfully, the chap recovered though his face looked like a sun-burnt tomato.

Clearing my throat nervously I asked him,"So, you were saying..."

"Listen! Who would the Ambanis respect? The chap who lent them a lakh when Dhirubhai Ambani was trading polyester yarn in his initial days or the banker who lends them thousands of crores now?"

I wanted to ask who that chap was, and whether there was such a chap, but one look at his red face and I stopped. No-one can say I am not concerned about my friends.

"Well?" he asked.

"I think that it must be...err...the banker. After all, the chap would want his money back with interest whereas, you know, bankers..."

There was such a dreadful noise from him that I fled precipitately. Now, I cannot seek any clarification from him...he has apparently been diagnosed with chronic hypertension and been told to avoid all stress. AND, you know, he and his wife seem to have misheard the doctor and assumed he said 'avoid Suresh' when he said 'avoid stress'.

So, now, will someone please tell me why Rohit is right in praising Shyam and not me? I'm sure he is not but if you think so...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Becoming modern

You know, as you keep aging you keep getting dated. The bell-bottoms, which were the acme of fashionable dressing, make people think that you are a clown escaped from a circus. The hair poking out of the neck of your shirt is no longer macho - only a sign of bad grooming identifying you as a chap who does not know the use of wax. The less said about the belly region, the better.

No-one can say that I do not try, though. Ah! No, I have not taken to wax, now, I mean I am actually glad that hair grows somewhere even if not on the head. But in behavior, most certainly I try...I really do. Why even the other day...

I walked into my office and saw my subordinate coming towards me.

"Expectation is the cause of all disappointment", I said with a smile. "Good morning".

The chap had a pained look on his face that I could not account for. Oh! Well! Must be suffering from dyspepsia, I thought, and walked past serenely.

You know how it is...the one chap you can happily live without seeing is the one guy who bumps into you everywhere. So, the next guy to come in my way was my peer and rival. Well, one cannot make it too obvious that you hate the sight of him. Politeness, yes politeness, that's the watchword.

"To know that you do not know is the first step to wisdom", I said politely. "Good morning."

The guy looked furious but he always looks furious when he sees me. Just not good enough an actor to keep his rivalry from warping his face, unlike me.

Who should I bump next into but my boss?

"Assessing what is said without regard to who is saying it is the hallmark of wisdom. Good morning, Sir", I said and went to my seat.

I had barely relaxed with a cup of tea when my subordinate barged in.

"So, I am not getting my promotion now, is that it? I am supposed to keep my expectations low?"

"What? Why...I..."

The door slammed open as my colleague walked in.

"So, I know nothing, do I? You are the wise know-it-all..."

I had barely taken in my breath before the peon came in with the summons from the boss.

"How dare you call me a fool? Just because you were proved right the last time when I overruled your opinion...Here! This will show you who the fool is."

"Out of a job merely because I was trying to become modern", I whined to my friend.

"What had becoming modern got to do with..."

"Well! You know how it is in WhatsApp. All those memes along with the morning wishes? I thought that this was the modern way to wish..."

There was a weird noise, suspiciously like retching, from my friend.

"Why do you want to apply WhatsApp ideas in real life? If someone cracks a joke do you laugh or hold up a smiley?"

Well, I do not know why they do on WhatsApp what they won't do in real life. But...

A more horrid thought crossed my mind. So, in real life, I cannot just say 'ROFL' for a good joke? I would actually have to roll on the floor laughing? Ye Gods!

AND who on Earth really wants to see me actually doing a ROFLMAO?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Discussions

I may have mentioned this before. I really do have very peculiar notions of most things in life. No wonder whenever I am in a group of people, there is this air of people in a zoo looking at the duck-billed platypus or some such rarity. So, it really is no surprise that what I thought discussions meant was at wide variance from the rest of the world.

The problem, you see, is that I tend to take the meanings of words too seriously. So, yes, I used to think of discussions as happening between people who may or may not have opinions but are inclined to talk to other people to find out whether their opinions are right or whether they needed to change them. I know, I know, that's a pretty stupid idea of what discussions were all about.

I should have known better, I suppose. I mean, I do know that when people get together the main thing that interests them is how THEY impress other people. It is hardly ever about seeing how the others impress them but even THAT is possible. The idea of people actually wanting to LEARN from others to modify their opinions, unless it is something useful like how to make a chicken curry, is so ludicrous as to not be acceptable even in a fantasy trilogy.

If only I had known that, I would have known that whenever someone trots out an opinion, all he expects from me is appreciative noises and "How knowledgeable you are" and "How did you even think of this. Wonderful!" - all without even the remotest tinge of sarcasm in the tone. THAT's a discussion! A contra-opinion? Facts that oppose his conclusions? Are you mad? (Oh! Yes! There are most certainly discussions where there are people who love putting down other people's opinions in order to feel good about themselves. In which case, the following would be said by THEM and not by the guy who set this opinion game going.)

"Oh! If that is what you think" would greet you, if the man has some semblance of politeness.

"Well, obviously you know everything so why am I even trying to tell you things." if the chap feels truly irritated.

"Says the guy who thought that a black hole was a cigarette burn in his shirt" That, yes, would be the obnoxious lout whose only use for a sense of humor is to ridicule others, especially if it seems like they would prove him wrong. Strangely, though, that seems to be the most appreciated sense of humor, which goes to show that being able to look down on someone else for a change is quite a popular thing.

AND, if you ever get into this 'discussion' with the teens, you will get that wonder-word, "Whatever!"

So much for discussions. NOW I have understood what I am supposed to do.  Make appreciative noises . AND then comes technology to mess things up for me.

NOW, in social media, a discussion means groups of people lining up on either side of a fence and metaphorically throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes at each other.

By the time this new definition seeps fully into the real world, and Business starts genetically modifying hens and tomato plants to directly yield rotten eggs and tomatoes to keep up with the demand, I hope I will be the 'late so-and-so'.

What I am worried about is if it also hit the after-life. Then it will be inescapable for eternity.

I sure hope that Hawking is right and there IS no after-life, after all!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Homo Contradictus

God must have been in a particularly capricious mood when he created us humans. Or, perhaps, like all of us, he left everything to the last moment and, when he felt the deadline pressure of those 7 days, bunged in the brain without properly debugging it. As usual in such cases, it is we who have to live with the consequences.

Take as simple a matter as food, for example. I mean, do you ever salivate at the thought of that low calorie meal, no matter how yummy they claim the recipe to be? Does the thought of a bitter-gourd smoothie or a cabbage soup make you lick your lips and pounce on it the moment it is in your vicinity? (I still retch at the smell of boiling cabbage after going on a diet that seemed to mainline on it) Just get a distant whiff of a baking cake or the heavenly aroma of frying pakoras and try keeping the saliva from pouring out of the mouth like a Niagara! This thing of everything you like being unhealthy and everything healthy seeming unsavory - I mean, come on, how difficult could it have been to wire the brain and body to like what is good for it?

Then there is this weird code that seems to have been exclusively reserved for human brains. I mean, come on, ever seen an animal cause suffering to itself because of what other members of the herd would think? Can you convince a monkey to keep off the local bananas so that it can afford a half-meal of an imported banana a day, nicely wrapped though it may be, so that it can impress the other monkeys? "Nuts to you. They will not be impressed, they will only think me silly and, even if they are, why should I starve myself to impress them?", it would say. Or get a female bear to wax its legs? "WHAT?? If that bloody Bruin does not like the damn hair, there are a lots more where he came from" would be the probable response. And try telling it to wax the legs not for the male bears, oh no, but for the other female bears...And yet, that's the funny thing with the way the human brain is wired. Each one of them, left to themselves, may find it better to 'eat the local bananas' or 'keep the wax for the candles' but the fact that ALL are in agreement with that option somehow does not suffice to keep them from opting for the other, more torturous option. One rather wonders if God was really smoking something that day.

The only consolation for me is that He must be getting paid back in His own coin these days. Once we run the marathon of life and land up at His desk and ask Him for our rewards...well, good luck to you, God, trying to figure out whether we are asking for what we really want or what we think we ought to want. Sooner or later, a badly-written code does become a headache for the one who wrote it...now try debugging THIS!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Opinions

I really need someone to explain this opinions thing. I mean, yeah, it is not like I never had any, I have some but the problem seems to be that I am one of those mundane guys who can only have opinions about things that directly impinge on me. You know, like this summer is too hot this year, onions have become too expensive/never been cheaper...things like that. Not really the sort of thing that people look up to and say,"Hey! How intellectual of the guy, let us share this."

Like, you know, Sridevi dies and the most I feel is a vague sort of sadness about the diva who captivated me in my youth. I mean, like, if I cross the road to avoid that man beating his wife and engage in prurient(and envious) gossip about the married colleague carrying on with that hot receptionist, I really could not see any reason to have an opinion about Boney Kapoor and her, even when it first happened, leave alone decades after and after she died. The guy next door, after all, affects my life more directly than some distant actress and I know more about the people concerned to know the rights and wrongs of it. If I did not bother to raise a voice about that, why even bother to have an opinion about distant happenings? (Precisely because of that? Lesser chances of getting bopped on the nose by the concerned parties? Ah!) But, apparently, the road to popularity lies through having such opinions. Alas! Now I know why I languish in obscurity.

But I cannot blame it all on luck, you know. I also do not happen to have the necessary intelligence. I mean, yeah, I am sort of looked on as a dimwit but this is one of those occasions when I have to sort of agree that it could be true. There are things that everyone knows of, but does not know or understand enough to have informed opinions about...you know, the sort of economic things that everyone talks of and you remain as ignorant before you started hearing them...or, if anything, a lot more confused. I have generally stayed off having opinions about things I do not understand...exactly why I suppose I really belong in that crowd of dimwits.

For one, if everyone around you is equally as ignorant, then it is easiest to have an opinion...after all, no-one can call you ignorant if nobody knows enough to do so. Secondly, if it is worth having an opinion about, it necessarily will be a controversial topic, which means it will have strong supporters as well as opponents. In which case, anyone disputing you can be called names, made out to be one of the 'blind' supporters or opponents, depending on your stance, and vilified. It is simpler, of course, if you start vilifying the person proposing/opposing the policy while you vilify/support the policy itself for, that way, you set the right tone for the discussion where you can participate without having to understand. As in, once you do that, all that will ensue is name-calling , which only requires a rich understanding of swear words, and from that point on who cares what the policy is all about anyway?

Learning too late has always been my bane. I think I may end up being unable to impress anyone with my opinions.

Any opinions on that?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Change

I hate change! Oh! I know, you guys will all come around preaching sententiously that change is the only constant and I should not be such a stick-in-the-mud and all the huge collection of cliches that pass for wisdom in the world. But...I HATE CHANGE.

Maybe, just maybe, if the darned thing happened in small doses, I could have swallowed it with a grimace and moved on. But this goddamn deluge of it is really getting on my nerves. And, as for the way it insouciantly wipes out a whole lifetime of acquired wisdom and renders you as much an incompetent as you were in your teens...

First to go was my much vaunted vocabulary. Times were when someone who encountered an unknown word in a book used to turn to me asking me for the meaning. Now I sit eagerly by, running through all the difficult words in my mind to be ready for the quiz...and nothing happens. Have I been surpassed? Has everyone been memorizing the dictionary just to avoid giving me my few seconds of limelight? Not really...there is this dratted thing called Google, and some busybody fools who put up online dictionaries and all my hard-won knowledge rendered worthless...CHANGE! HELL!

I do not suffer alone, though. There is this relative of mine whose encyclopedic knowledge of the roads of his city was the envy even of the city planners. Every time you were in a car, driving from place X to place Y, he was the central figure. Imagine his plight when a newbie driver from another city picks him up, and he is all geared up to impress with his navigational skills and the insensitive chap switches on some gizmo which guides him step by step leaving all the accumulated knowhow of our man fizzing inside him without outlet. His only consolation was,"What that woman did to 'Mariamman Koil Street' I would not do to my worst enemy" with reference to the lady voice guiding that insensitive lout.

Then one day, in comes my nephew, first job, first bank account and I see my chance of making him respect me (for the first time in his lifetime) with my wise words on which counter to go to get the withdrawal form, which to present it in and get a token, and whither lies the cash counter where the moolah will get handed out when his turn comes and...

"Shove your advice where the daylight does not shine, Uncle mio! I just walk into an ATM, swipe a card, enter my PIN and..."

Eeeks! What is all that mumbo-jumbo? Change has thrown me right back to my usual posture of abysmal ignorance, placed me metaphorically at his feet seeking to learn how to withdraw money from my account all over again.

Aha! But NOW I am equipped for the rest of my nephews who are yet to come of age. NOW I shall teach them how to handle their finances...

"Chuck all that crap! What do I want cash for? All I have to do is tap a few keys on my mobile and presto..."

Ugh! It has not even been a couple of years, God! This is CHAOS.

NOW, apparently, all you have to do is fly out of the shop waving your mobile...

Alas! I am too old to learn to fly by flapping my phone!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Writer's block

I kept hearing of this thing called 'Writer's block', which keeps writers from writing, and wondered exactly what it could be. Possibly laziness, possibly boredom and given a nice fancy name so they could feel important about it, I supposed.

I mean, come on, ever heard of an 'Accountant's Block'? Where the figures suddenly danced in front of your eyes and you started wondering about exactly what addition meant and how to do it? Or, perhaps, a 'Plumber's Block'? Now, now, I did not mean blocked plumbing. That can happen all too often and pretty messy it can get, too, when it does happen.

And then I started writing...and now I find myself with this strange beast and understand its nature. The problem is not in being able to write but in a selection of what to write. The Accountant gets his figures and knows what the report he is expected to produce. If he forgets how to get from Point A to Point B, it is a temporary or permanent memory loss or dementia, not a block. Ditto the plumber. The writer, though, has to select point A and point B himself and also decide whether he travels in a straight line or meanders all over the place as he gets there. So, yes, a 'blocked writer' can still write a spanking good piece as a content writer - where point A, point B and the route are all laid out. But when he gets to try original writing, he thinks up a subject, and the thoughts fritter away, jumps to another and find ideas vanishing like the mist...

In my case, I rather think it is more to do with what I could call 'existential angst' if I were to be writing literary fiction. I could say I am in a crisis of  the soul - 'What is the purpose of writing?'; 'What does a blog post (or book or poem) mean in the larger scheme of things?' and so on. But, being who I am, it is more of 'What is the purpose of MY writing? Is anyone reading it at all?' I never really have known whether it is that I am being too honest for my own good and could have acquired a lot more 'literary credit' if I dressed up my feelings in the appropriate language or...

The problem, you see, is in the nature of what I write - Humor. Now humor is something people get forwarded on WhatsApp. The idea of actually BUYING a book of humor, or even reading it for free on Kindle Unlimited, must appear riotously...err...humorous to them, I suppose. (THAT pic at the side with a dog and cat? Yes, that one! THAT was a humor book I wrote before I realized this) You know, somewhat like someone expecting you to pay for a couple of breaths (although THAT I am assured is in the offing...and even in practice in some country or the other.) Forget BUYING, the idea of even having to read more than 140 characters for humor...or, God Forbid, open a link...

Anyway, you get the picture. Me, I am like a plant...I need praise like that thing needs water. Otherwise I droop, pine and generally give up the ghost. (Ah! No! I like life very much, thank you. If no-one reads my writing, I am not going to slash my wrists or any such thing. There is always vodka, music, movies and reading, instead of writing) And when I, as I am drooping, think of writing my next blog post or book, and consider what to write about...

Maybe I should try writing Romance? But, then, a bachelor writing Romance...I never even had a girlfriend. If I had had one, I'd not be alive today to wonder about what to write, she would have shot me long ago. As for a love affair with my mirror...I hate the damn thing, it never shows me looking as handsome as I know I look.

Perhaps mythology? After all, I know how Maricha is the uncle of Ravan. He was the son of Thataka, who was the mother also of Kekasi, the father being Somali, and Kekasi, if you did not know, was the mother of Ravan. Why would anyone be interested when they do not even care to know their grandfather's name? What do I know...I know they are...I know these things but I do not know that I'd be jumping with joy if someone told me anything of this sort today.

So, yes, maybe I should write myth. And, apparently, one should write from a fresh point of view. Ramayan is a bit too dicey what with Ram being deified and people all too willing to burn you at the stake if you set a foot wrong.

So, yeah, the Mahabharat it has to be. Remember that chap Sanjaya? Yeah, the same guy who watched the live telecast of the Kurukshetra war (YES! We got there eons before CNN) and relayed it to the blind Dhritarashtra. I think I should write the Mahabharat from the point of view of Sanjaya's wife's uncle's pet dog.

Any takers for an epic that goes like this?

"Bowwowwhoooobow...."

Monday, January 8, 2018

Another Humorist


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There is this problem with being a humorist. You keep guessing the punchline, expecting kinky ways of describing things and so on, to the extent that when someone says that there is another guy who writes humor, you are almost like, 'Oh! Yeah! Let me see." Not because of any competitive envy but because when you can guess the punchlines, the read is less funny...and, so, it takes a lot more to impress a humorist with humor. At least, that's the way it works with me...I mean, there are those people who start laughing all the more when they guess the punchline, and from the moment they guess it, and there are those who feel bored when that happens. I belong to the latter lot. (Yeah! True! You will find humorists laugh when no-one else does as well but THAT is because of the ability to SEE that joke...)

So, then I get into blogging and there is this guy, calling himself 'The Fool', who is also supposed to write humor. Bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, writing in all niches...you know parenting, travel etc etc...but almost everyone claims to write 'Humor', except only those who feel it is a shame to be writing any such frivolous thing. So, this 'supposed to be write humor' always has me approaching the blog with a metaphorical sneer.

Surprise! Here was one guy who actually DID write humor, when he wrote humor; a unique brand of humor - astringent, cynical, tangy - and capable of making you chuckle or even laugh out aloud. Withal, there was this refreshing feeling of an underlying honesty...the strong conviction that the author speaks from the heart.

Take this for example

"Parent Bloggers of the World, Spam me with your blog-links; A new customer is born today"

THIS was his way of announcing on Facebook that his son was born!

I get ahead of my story as usual. When I went into his blog and read this Great Indian Bride HuntI was hooked. You know all that I said above...that honesty, that cynical humor etc...that was what I found there.

We became online friends and went on to conducting a 'Writing Workshop' - a typical case of the blind leading the blind. We, indeed, SAW it that way...that we were there as much to learn as the others...but the fact of running it made it seem to the others that we had it in us to teach...anyway, as in most social media ventures, where the admins are not active on it, the workshop sort of petered out.

Not without causing one output, though. This chap, I and Radha collaborated on and put out an anthology of three crime stories - Sirens Spell Danger. In the process of putting together that one was my next major revelation about my new friend.

One of the things about writing is the process of beta-reading. So, you write something; you know it is absolute deathless prose and so you send it to people for what is called a 'beta-read', where they can tell you if there are areas of improvement; of course, you say that you expect honest criticism because you know your writing is near-flawless and, so, if it is honest, it can only be praise and, if anything, there will be a typo or two; and the damn beta-readers come out with pages of criticism whereupon you make wax figures of them, stick red-hot pins into them and dredge out all the curses that humanity ever invented; and, then, reluctantly change the MS and toss it back at the betas with the implicit 'You better like it or you will not survive the experience'.

I am sure that my friend was not really immune to indulging in waxworks and pins...the point is that he wrote and rewrote four times to get out the final story in that anthology. That capacity in him to junk almost the entire story or huge sections of it, if someone whose advice he respects tells him that it does not work...well, all I can say is that, in most authors' cases, what would be junked is that person and not the writing!

So, it is about time to introduce TF Carthick's first solo book - 'Unfairy Tales' - about which all I have to say is said there

Carthick has the unique talent to look upon the familiar from a strange vantage point and make it appear funny and wonderful. Here he applies it to well-known fairy tales to make them seem hilarious and fascinating. Be warned! If reading this book permanently skews the way you see the world, I am not to be held responsible.

Ebook: https://www.amazon.in/Carthicks-Unfairy-Tales-retelling-seven-ebook/dp/B0782P93G6

Paperback: https://www.pustakmandi.com/pre-order/Carthicks-Unfairy-Tales-T-F-Carthick

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37539849-carthick-s-unfairy-tales