Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reading attitude.

I took part in an online novel writing contest after Deepavali last year. The target was to write more than 50,000 words in one month from the 1st of the month till the last day of the month.

Though, I took this up mainly to test as to whether I can indeed write so many words,I did manage to finish it before the final day.When I took up writing the novel,I had no idea how it was all going to shape up.I just wrote on a day to day basis having calculated that I will have to write at least 1500 words on a daily basis.I just poured out all my feelings,anguish,loneliness,-in fact everything I felt.I knew that I was a novice & not creative & hence, I had to somehow pen in so many words if I wanted to succeed.In the midst of all this,I also began to doubt as to how would the novel end.I told my parents & friends the story in brief & asked them to suggest an ending.As the days passed,I realised that I wanted to give my novel an end full of hope- it had to be positive. I did end the novel on a very positive note.In this, I was helped by the fact, that the site wherein this contest was held,used to send us pep talks to keep our spirits awake if not high.

I was relieved, that I had completed the task at hand.I felt thrilled- I was a novelist -so what, if it was my debut novel.Now what ?I thought of approaching publishers with my debut novel but then I had to first get it all in print.My middle class upbringing forbid me to spend an uneconomic amount on such a pursuit as I had my doubts about the novel ever being even glanced at by a publisher.

I then, came across a site that publishes any book for free but online.So,I uploaded my novel on to the site & then emailed the link to all my friends,ex-colleagues-in fact everybody who was on my mailing list.I requested them to click on the link,sign up & comment as also rate the novel.Few did take the trouble of reading my novel & did as requested .I shall indeed remain indebted to them all my life.But by & large, my novel was ignored by the very people, I thought were my near & dear ones.

The reasons given by many was that as soon as they read the book,they would surely comment but they omitted to state that they neither had the inclination nor the time to heed to my repeated pleas.When I argued, that they can comment in short even in a word or two,they replied, that unless they read,they wouldn't be able to do that.I was elated that by their brutal honesty in these deceitful times ! I was of the opinion that honesty was a relic of a bygone era.

Their frank comments are still awaited. The result, is that my book remains online only.My hubby has very diplomatically steered clear of investing in his wife's venture by saying ,"It is better that some publisher takes it up-they are experts -they will market it as well."

I have realized now, that I erred, by asking people to comment & rate the novel by reading it ! Actually,I am glad in a way, that the book is published online only.Marketing a printed book will be a daunting task given the attitudes,I have come across so far.I am certain, that I will end up paying people who take efforts to read it.

So it is going to be grossly uneconomical, so,I better leave it at that !

Friday, June 26, 2009


The Lalgarh episode took me down the memory lane.

I had just completed Law College & I was appearing for some competitive exams.
I would often go & study in my neighbour's home as our house was quite small.My neighbour was a senior lawyer who was a member of a communist party.He would leave for court & I had the house to myself to study.

He would often advise me that I should attend courts also instead of only studying for exams.His idea was only studying was boring & attending courts would give mean overview of the judicial system.Often,I would complain that I was taking so much pains to get a decent job & how things were easy for qualified people in the days gone by.Once,he chided me & said,"Do you call this sacrifice ?"I was stunned & he continued,"Sacrifice is giving up everything for a cause.In the jungles,where Naxalites are operating,when the police raid their hideouts,the Naxalites leave their wives & children so that they can continue working for the cause.Even women leave their kids in the cradles in the jungle whereever they are & flee."I was too stunned to react.I was told that Naxalites were fighting for land & for hunger & I believe,even now,the causes which drives them to fight the State are the same.

I do not approve of the violence used by them to achieve their purpose but the fact that even now,they continue to fight for land is a signal to the nation to address their issues.If as a nation,we want them to embrace non -violence,we must distribute the our assets voluntarily among the have nots.

This has also taught me that I was striving only for myself unlike them who were serving a greater purpose.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cheating & fraud.

My friend who stays abroad has kept her flat keys with me so that her maidservant can clean her house occasionally.

The maidservant came yesterday to pick up the bunch of keys after a very long time.I had not seen her since some weeks.So ,I inquired," Long time-no see.What happened? Were you not keeping well ?"Smriti ( the name of the maidservant ) hesitated before she said,"I am not keeping well..."I dug further but her reply was not coming -all halting with no clarity & then she broke down.

I was shocked,"What is the matter ?" I asked her.She said,"My house is gone.I had paid three lakhs for the house in Navi Mumbai after selling my jhopdi here.A month back,one night,our homes were all demolished by the Muncipality as they were all illegal.There were atleast 500 families like mine.We spent many nights in the open.Everything is over now.My only asset - my new house- is gone."I was so stunned, that I could barely react.I asked her,"How is your daughter ? She completed her graduation ?"Smriti said,"She has one more year."Smriti left after that.

I kept thinking about her - I remember my friend had urged Smriti to do a Sri Satyanarayan puja in her new home.Smriti had agreed & my friend who was on a visit here at that time, had helped Smriti with all the shopping for the ceremony with funds as well.So in the ultimate analysis,even God had not helped Smriti in keeping her home.I felt depressed.The builders cheat all -without any discrimination -but what will they ever get by swindling the poor? The same lobby is negotiating with all the powers for sops to perk up the real estate as it is down (?) but is it down ? I have serious doubts-the builders have realised that profit margins are stagnant now & since they are addicted to profits,they are seeking favours by force of habit.Otherwise,they will resort to cheating even the poorest of the poor & defraud them as well.That is what they did in Smriti's case & will do in other cases as well.

Now,Smriti has only her daughter for support & the meagre salary that she earns.Smriti is staying in a slum now, where she is paying a steep rent -in effect,she has hardly anything left after her rent.How many Smritis,our builders have created is a wild guess . If Smriti & her likes take to crime to make ends meet,I would excuse them for their staying from the straight path.This is because crimes are committed by them for sheer survival unlike the ones perpetrated by the builders,politicians,et al for indulging in a life of luxury.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Of hugs & kisses.

My daughter has this habit of hugging me from the back & holding on to me when she is just falling asleep.I have got so used to it now, that, it has become an addiction.So,when she was not there for a few days,I was unable to sleep & then I realized that I was going through withdrawal symptoms !

Whenever we hit the bed,she tells me to turn - she must face my back & then she hugs me at my tummy with both her hands-the snug feeling which I get is really full of warmth & love ! After she has drifted into sweet slumber,her hands release me but before that, even I have fallen asleep.So, it works both ways.It also works in another way- her hug tells me that she has forgiven me for all the day's shouting & screaming at her antics.

When she was just two to three year old,she had developed this habit of kissing me all over the face when she spotted me in the evening as soon as I landed home after work.She would also kiss her dad but most of the kisses were reserved for me as I was around most of the time.This in spite of the fact that I have been less indulgent as against her dad who is more affectionate & also more forgiving.

As she grew older,she said, that she wanted to kiss on the mouth.I was alarmed & tried to wean her away by informing her that such kissing leads to infection,etc.I felt, that, this was the direct result of watching the idiot box day in & day out.

Later, as she grew up,she graduated to hugging especially, when she sleeps & when she is hurt & sad & needs the feel for security.As depicted in a Hindi flick a hug is a magical embrace.I have fallen in love with her hugs -after all, hugs are healthier than kisses !

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Face off

My neighbor is one of a kind. She is always in a tearing hurry-she will be banging on the door instead of ringing the bell.She will tell me to keep her house keys but not reveal it to the maid as she believes that the maid may be tempted to pick up some stuff from the house when nobody is there.

She told me about investing in a flat nearby & after learning that I went & enquired there,she went about telling all that I have also booked a flat there.This after she had sworn me to secrecy about her investment in that place.She will come & talk to me even though she notices I am on the phone & even when I have guests.

So yesterday,when I heard the banging of my door,I got irritated.I had just started saying my prayers.I reluctantly got up & opened the door.It was my neighbour.She had a plate of flowers -hibiscus,dhruva( green grass cuttings ) & other flowers.She smiled & said ,"Here,this is for your Mangalwar Ganpati puja.We had got this from our factory garden for my daughter's Ganpati puja for today.Take the flowers & return the plate now."I emptied the plate & returned it to her.She took the plate & was gone.

As for me,I asked for forgiveness when I prayed.How often have I judged people & have been proved wrong but I still persist.Hopefully,this incident will make me accept people as they are with their virtues etal.
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