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#SeriousQuestion: Do you know anybody in publishing?

Hi, reader!! 🙂

I know we haven’t spoken on a personal level, but I wanted to thank you for subscribing to my blog and reading it. Thank you for commenting, and sending me lovely mails of appreciation. On days when I’m sad or depressed, I open those mails and smile.

When I started this blog in 2007, it was to impress a woman. She wasn’t on Orkut, and there was no way to get through to her. Somewhere along the line, she noticed, we got talking, got into three years of a blissful relationship, and drifted apart. However, the blog has remained, a vestigial arm of a collegial relationship.

Thank you for reading my ramblings for more than a decade!!

*

Why am I being so nice?

I need a little help. I have been writing books since 2014. Every year in January, I drop acid and decide to write a book. I spend the next 11 months living in a dream, discussing my book, writing it out. And then one month of rejection by most publishing houses!

Over and over, every year, for the last three years. It is a painful experience, like having a miscarriage year after year. My ego wouldn’t let me approach anybody for favours, and my temperament would lead me to the nearest bar to drown my worries.

This year though, I’ve decided not to take that path.

I’m writing a non-fiction humour book called ‘9999 in 1: Growing up in the 90s’. It’s a rickety time-machine ride back to the 90s, designed as a spoof of an NCERT Text Book. I’m really excited about it, and going to begin pitching it to publishers from the first week of June.

So if you know anybody who works in publishing, please let me know. The Indian publishing industry is a weird, warped industry that is as unstructured as the Indian porn industry, and I usually feel like a fish out of the swimming pool, finding my way in.

So if you know someone, please put in a kind word, and send me their contact. My email is unforgettably generic – writetohriday@gmail.com.

If you ever meet me, I’ll treat you to beer. If you smoke, I’ll roll you two of my finest joints. If you’re a teetotaler, we’ll sit and discuss the meaning of life. And I’ll mention you in the book’s credits.

That’s all. Thank you, and have a glorious day ahead!

– Hriday.

Something Creepy That Happened to Me Recently

At the onset, let me clarify that I am not among those who throw around the word ‘creepy’ easily.

If someone asks uncomfortable questions, I don’t call them ‘creepy’. I am also perfectly fine with people with serial-killer smiles. I am also completely at home with reptiles, gore, and horror.

With the disclaimer done, let me begin at where it all began.

*

I am freelancing at an office these days, and from the campus I live in, the journey is an excruciating 20 kms ride through the most crowded road in Hyderabad.

To avoid it, I take a detour through the Mumbai Highway, taking the steep road from Dargah to Film Nagar. Unnecessary details, I know, but allow me to go on.

The road I am talking about is a steep slope with curves like Sunny Leone’s, exciting and dangerous at the same time. Across the road lies the pristine Whisper Valley, where lights glimmer like fireflies once the sun has set. It used to be a beautiful location once, but with all the waste from corporate hospitals, the place could be rechristened Stayfree Valley.

The road is a true test of the fitness of your bike.

If you have a fully functional Bullet, you will love the ride.

I, unfortunately, ride a fucking Discover.

My bike is like me – lazy, sluggish, shabby, and reluctant to try anything risky. It croaks and groans every single day, as I hum my favourite tunes, praying that the clutch wire doesn’t slip out of my clutch.

On this particular day, I took a turn from Dargah and was beginning to take the slope, when I saw a little kid stretch his hand out for a lift. He had a school bag on his back, and a tiffin box in his left hand. His face glistened with sweat, and shone with the excitement of going home.

Having never owned a bicycle or vehicle earlier, I have firmly believed in the Brotherhood of Lift-givers. I can’t remember a single time I have denied someone a lift (except when a lady is waiting in her room, pissed off with me for being late).

I duly pulled up next to him, and asked him to hop on my bike.

*

On regular days, I like to strike up conversations with the people I offer a lift to.

Some of them are eager to talk, others hold back as much information as possible. Some are thankful for the lift, and go through the entire conversation with a plasticky smile on their faces.

That day, I was in no mood to talk, so I kept listening to songs on my phone. ‘What are you listening to?’ I heard the kid ask.

I wanted to tell him about ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, explain the epic tribute of love and friendship by Pink Floyd. But I chose not to. I told him I was listening to some songs, and asked him what he studied.

He told me he was in Class 8, and we continued on the road through potholes, speed breakers, and cops waiting at tricky corners for a biker to goof up. As my bike coughed and shrugged, the kid held on to me tightly.

*

Every time I turned, I felt the boy’s hand tighten around my waist, and it made me uncomfortable. I kept silent for a while, and adjusted the rearview mirror to look at him. He was looking at the world below him, a mix of wonder and amazement writ large on his face.

‘What a world we live in,’ I thought, ‘that even the touch of a little boy makes us feel uncomfortable’.

The slope got steeper as we climbed up the road, as the boy loosened his grip and tightened it again.

And then, I felt it. Slowly, his hands slipped down to my thighs, ever so slowly, till he found my crotch.

I froze. My mind was blank, my face flush with embarrassment.

I thought up things to say to him – ‘Don’t do that’, ‘You shouldn’t be doing that to people’, ‘Who taught you to do that?’

But my mind, like Sehwag on a crucial final, just refused to budge.

His hands were now firmly on my crotch, as he rubbed his hands like I was a girl and he was masturbating me.

We rode on, till we reached his destination.

He looked straight at me in the rear view mirror, smiled, and gave my cock a final tug.

‘Thanks, bhaiyya’, he said, and hopped off the bike.

I turned to see him, his bag weighing him down, his tiffin box held gingerly, his dark skinny thighs in the summer sun. He looked this way and that, and darted across the road.

*****

My new favourite state.

I have a new favourite state, and I do not mean ‘intoxicated’.

Himachal Pradesh.

Having spent the last two weeks in five states – Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (see what KCR did there?), I have arrived at the conclusion that Himachal Pradesh is undoubtedly the most beautiful state there is in the country.

Granted, a few of you will say ‘Kashmir’, but Kashmir has other issues, and I would rather spend my time speaking to Shiva than meeting him in person. And so it is with the confidence and the deep knowledge of someone who has spent exactly one single day in the state, that I declare Himachal Pradesh as my favourite state.

Which takes me back to the seedy Social Science text books that we learnt from in school. When I think of Himachal Pradesh, the images that came to mind were – Apples, boys and girls wearing cute traditional gowns, and … ahem, nothing else.

Another point in HP’s benefit was that we had spent the previous two days at Punjab. Which, by the way, was a KLPD of Sabu-ean proportions.

Now, think of everything that I knew about Punjab – lots of fields, lots of Rajs and Simrans, pretty girls, dhabas with friendly Punjabi men serving delicious tandoori chicken, etc.

However, Chandigarh was a gigantic disappointment. Primarily because of everybody’s insistence to go check out ‘Sector 17’. Sector 17 apparently has the hottest women of Chandigarh frolicking about like Biblical princesses, and everybody we met spoke about it.

Now, I am no greek god and cannot claim to have wooed women merely by my looks, but I have always wondered what is the point of the exercise. What does one do at these places where there are pretty women around?

We don’t live in a culture where we can walk up to women and ask for their number. Even if you did, there’s a good possibility the woman might shriek, and Ramu Kaka from across the road might smash your head to pulp, while asking if there are any female members in your house.

In such a scenario, what does one really do at Sector 17? It’s not like one can have intercourse merely by staring at someone. I am yet to meet a single man who stared at a woman till she came, and then flushed, and slipped him a note saying ‘It was great. We should stare at each other again. Here’s my number.’

Not surprisingly, Sector 17 contained other chutiyas like us, who had gone to ogle at the pretty women.

The next thing on my list was to eat at a dhaba. The kind of dhaba they show us in Bollywood movies – a cot on the outside, trucks whizzing past, a cold beer by the side. Turns out, ‘dhaba’ is a generic word for restaurants.

The ‘dhabas’ are just restaurants with tables, chairs, and annoying posters of babies laughing for no reason. Determined to get the true Punjabi dhaba experience, we went to a dhaba on the outskirts, by the way, which had cots laid out in the front. Gurdaas Maan invited us into ‘Sethi ka dhaba’.

Once inside, we realized what a massive fan of Gurdaas Maan the owner of the dhaba was. All along the walls, were pictures of Gurdaas Maan singing, Gurdaas Maan dancing, Gurdaas Maan playing cricket, Gurdaas Maan being Gurdaas Maan.

The food of course, wasn’t much of a disappointment. And in my extremely short stay at Punjab, the food was the only saving grace. Which also makes you realize, that the food being passed off as ‘Punjabi’ food in Hyderabad is not really Punjabi in any way. It is an extremely poor attempt at replication – like Aurangzeb trying to pass off as Pope Francis.

Tired of all the disappointments that Chandigarh handed us, we decided we must visit Himachal Pradesh.

*

hp

Himachal Pradesh, my friends, is pretty.

Everything in Himachal Pradesh is beautiful. The mountains, the houses on the mountains, the people who live in the houses on the mountains. The hash smells like someone stole it from Shiva’s chillum. The stray dogs look like they came off a shoot in TLC, women look pretty without looking like Sonakshi Sinha. Babas look like they are on a BBC documentary, roads look like they belong to a different era.

Even a gutter in Himachal Pradesh is beautiful.

Because, Himachal Pradesh.

It is commonly believed that to enjoy HP in all its beauty, one must carry Shiva along. However, what they don’t tell you is that just by himself, Shiva is not much use. One also needs Lakshmi, and Durga.

And armed with Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, the three of us stood near the mountains and turned around to see the mountains change colours every few minutes. We watched as clouds formed beautiful shapes, we listened as birds and trees and streams came together in a beautiful symphony.

As we zooming down the zig-zag roads, and our Punjabi driver was educating us on the amazing therapeutic effects of opium, I said goodbye to Himachal Pradesh.

Probably my opinion is coloured in pink because my stay there was extremely short-lived. May be there are people in HP too who scratch their balls when they see women, and shit by the side of the roads.

But I wasn’t there for long enough to see them.

And that is why Himachal Pradesh is my new favourite state in the country.

On Losing My Smartphone

The sun wasn’t out yet. 5.30 is still dark in winters.

When I walked into the station, I noticed many people slept outside Platform No.1, shapes of bodies visible on the bed sheets covering the bodies from the cold. The few who were awake were on the platforms. I ran to Platform No. 3 and boarded the Prashanti Express – S-11.

This train has been an important part of my childhood memories – every year, we would take this train to our school and back for the vacations. I have always loved trains, stations – and the multitude of experiences that a single journey opens you up to.

And so as with any train journey when you have settled and the train has begun to chug off from the station, I had a slight, warm feeling in my heart.

I took out my phone and began to scroll through my news feed. I found a Greatbong article on the RaNab interview, and smiled. I clicked on it, and it opened up, in typical 1.5G speed, and I double tapped on it and the letters got bigger, and I began to read –

A dark hand flashes in front of me. My phone is snatched out of my hand. A guy jumps out of the door behind me. The light from my phone shining in his hands.

And just like that my phone was snatched away from me.

*

It has been more than a week since my phone went missing.

Sometimes, I still recall that moment – that split second when the phone vanished from my hands, cruelly snatched away in a manner that Amrish Puri would snatch little children from their mothers in the 90’s.

Of course, like any other phone user, I felt anger and sorrow.

But you see, I wasn’t any other phone user.

I had spent a year without a phone, and then used a Nokia for a few months, and then got into a job and bought a phone. It was a terrible phone – HTC Explorer – but I chose to look beyond its Chacha Chaudhry-esque abilities and at the larger picture of the wonderful benefits of technology. I sold that phone to get another one – LG Optimus. This phone dropped from my hand in the toilet of a bar and simply refused to work. The highly efficient folks at LG Customer Care ensured I couldn’t ever use it again. I then got myself a Galaxy Grand.

Considering I hung out with people who had the ascetic opinions on technology as me, I played the turncloack with a vengeance. I showed them all the wonderful things they could do, and I did push it a little bit.

Like when they asked me about a particular place, I would open up Maps and tell them how far it is, how they could reach it (By bus, by cab, or by walk), and how much time it would take them in each of those methods.

I wasn’t the usual mail checking, Facebook poking, smartphone user. I wrote on my phone. Every blog, every story, almost everything I had written in the last one year was written on my phone. I read on my phone. Not just news and magazines, but entire books. I must have read at least 70 books on Aldiko in the last one year.

I used my phone to go to sleep at night, and to wake up in the mornings. I used it to make posters, to record stories that I narrated out. I used it to do push ups, used the Anti-mosquito for late night escapedes, was learning Spanish from Duolingo, music instruments, calligraphy, saving stuff on Evernote, to manage my daily expenses – and all this on a daily basis.

If Steve Jobs was looking down at me from the heavens, he would smile. Yes, I was on Android, but when you’re in heaven, these trivialities don’t matter much.

*

I have gone back to my older Nokia phone. I love how Nokia makes these phones that you can use when your smartphone gets stolen.

I have introspected about my feelings towards my phone.

I have realised that smart phones aren’t really smart. If it was, it would find a way to come back to me. Smart for me will always be someone who’s quick on their feet, someone who can think off the hook, get by in tough situations.

Our smartphones are more like wizened university professors. They can give you a vast ocean of information, but they can’t find their way back home by the bus.

Smart phones are doing a lot of things right, but one still gets the feeling that a lot more could be done. Hasn’t it struck you sometimes? That nobody has thought of this shit. Like, 5 touch capacitative touch feature (shall refrain from making Draupadi joke here…oh damn!) 5 touch capacitative is fine, but what happens when it rains?

Also, how does one carry a phone that is so big, in one’s pocket. May be jeans companies need to come up with large cool pockets for phones. Also, has anybody thought about how they can keep phones safe?

We are the fastest growing mobile market in the world, and we also have a well established chain snatcher market. Why doesn’t someone invent a device that keeps your phone safe?

*

I have moved on. Sometimes when I’m bored, I look around and stretch my hand out towards my phantom phone. And those dark fingers flash in front of me again and I look at my Nokia phone with a depressed expression on my face.

As for the thief, I don’t know.

I hope one of these nights, when he’s in bed with his wife, and the phone is on charge, he receives a call. He answers the call, and the phone explodes, and the house catches fire.

The thief tries to put out the fire, but it keeps spreading. Very soon, the entire chawl is ablaze in the flames. People are running helter skelter, pouring buckets of water, trying to douse the fire, to no avail. And then, the entire place is burnt to ashes.

Yes. That would be give me satisfaction.

*

‘Turning 30’ is extremely shitty

If you saw the trailer, you would think it is a smart, urban movie that talks openly about issues like growing up, sex, and other things. It’s got Gul Panag, who does not generally dance around the trees. You buy the ticket, and two minutes into the start of the movie, you realise you have been swindled.

Turning 30 has got ‘Low budget’ written all over it. Not that that is my grudge against it, but the film is shot so amateurishly, it seems like the final project of the 2010 Direction batch at FTII, Pune. Where do I begin?

Firstly, the film is shot in English, but has been dubbed in Hindi, which makes it look like one of those crappy Hannah Montana shows in Hindi. Add to that, extremely unoriginal writing in the form of the characters. There are the friends who shop, bitch, and apply make up. There is the mother that keeps nagging her daughter to get married. Then, there is the evil boss.

I seriously could not take more than 5 minutes of the movie and tuned out after that. I stood up, turned back to see the lighted, frustrated faces of another hundred guys, and then walked out for five minutes. When I came back into the hall, nothing seemed to have changed at all. It’s that bad a movie.

The story of a woman who is approaching 30, has an advertising job in which her boss gives her hell, and a boyfriend who is facing pressure at home. The woman’s life falls into pieces when the guy dumps her and her work life also gets screwed up.

Now, the problem with the film is that, while it is trying to show women in a progressive light, it fails miserably due to the plot. The woman is heartbroken when the man dumps her for a hot, young girl. She tries to seduce him when he comes home to pick up his stuff, and even asks him the very original question, “Why? Is she better in bed?” By this time, your brain has gone into snooze mood, and you seriously don’t give a rat’s ass if he takes out a gun and shoots the ceiling fan, and they both die, and meet in heaven.

Gul Panag, who is generally watchable, tries her best to hold her own, but the ship begins to sink because every other thing in the movie sucks. The other actors are all either cliched, or irritating. If you are with a partner and want to end the relationship, please take him/her with you to the movie. Once its over, say you loved the movie so much, you want to watch it again sometime soon.

You will not hear from that person again. Take that in writing.

Action Replay – Bakwaas Screenplay

It was a dark hall. The screams fell to deaf ears, as the miscreants came closer. Slowly but surely, they proved to be too much of a match. After it was finally over, my brain sat in the corner, crying, after being gang-raped repeatedly.

Action Replay, like the cliche goes, is one of those movies you need to leave your brains home and go watch. Trust me, its for your brain’s good.

Action Replay is the story of a guy ( I don’t even remember his name) who has parents who keep fighting with each other. His father is Akshay Kumar, who owns a big hotel, and his mom, Aish, who keeps spending his money and her time shopping. One day, he sees them fight and decides he needs to stop them from getting a divorce.

Go to a marriage counsellor? Try talking to them about it? No.

He decides to go back to the past and change their equation. Quite conveniently, his girlfriends’s grandfather is working on a Time Machine. This time machine looks like the skeleton of a huge egg with blue lightnings running all over it. The scientist, totally non-cliched, has a beard and wears shabby clothes. So, smart son goes back into the past.

In the past, we see that Akshay Kumar is a loser and Aish the hot chick neighbour who plays pranks on him. Very cute. The guy befriends his father, and helps him woo the girl. I slept off after that, and when I woke up, there was a dance competition going on in which the winner had to sing in many voices. There were quite a few voices in my head, all of them saying two words.

Anyway, so this guy finally wins her heart and the son comes back to the present. All is well. Action Replay ranks among the huge number of crappy films I have watched in movie theatres. The clothes are loud, the characters louder. Not a single scene in this comedy made me laugh. The only entertainment for me was to watch this set of girls laughing away to glory. I was sitting behind them trying to figure out which was the dumbest of the lot. I concluded they were all at par, together stretching the limit of dumbness known to mankind.

Anyway, the film is a sad comedy. Akshay Kumar must have charged three times his fee for the film, going by all the overacting he does in the film. Aishwarya is bearable in the scenes where her cleavage is visible. Neha Dhupia is wasted. The only surprise was Ranvijay. Somewhere in the movie, you wished it was Roadies, and he asked the leads to go and put their heads in a lion’s mouth as a ‘task’.

But even his ‘guy who can sing with two voices’ gag gets repetitive and can’t save the film. The music is not great either.

Do your brain a favour this November, don’t take it to Action Replay. You will be responsible for the violation it will be subjected to. Stay far away from this one.

Inception is Mind-bending!!

Trust Christopher Nolan to play around with your mind. As you would have known after watching Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, you will know Nolan is not the kind of guy who gives you stories that have a logical or chronological happenings of events. If you still liked his movies, you will love this one.

I’ll be honest. When I first watched the movie, I didn’t understand all of it. I found some of the action sequences to be stretched out, and lost track quite a few minutes. But I am yet to meet a person who has understood the film fully on the first viewing.

‘Inception’ is the story of a thief, the highest sort of thief who enters people’s minds and steals their thoughts. Along with his gang of friends (each of them having a special skill of their own), they enter people’s minds through their dreams. As layer after layer of the movie is peeled off, you realise that Di Caprio is scarred by the memory of his wife. And since dreams are an extension of our sub-consciousness, his wife keeps coming in all his dreams.

Cobb (Caprio) wants to end his career and spend time with his children and takes up a last job. This time, he does not have to steal a thought or a secret, but he has to influence the thoughts of a person, by planting an idea in his head. This can be done by suitably altering his sub-consciousness.

I know by now you must be wondering what on earth is going. Thing is, I am not Christopher Nolan. For, when you watch the movie, you get sucked into the plot, incredulous as it may seem now. Without stressing too much on the equipment used for the act (like Hindi films, which emphasise on credibility by showing machines – remember the ballot box kind of musical machine in Koi Mil Gaya??), Nolan concentrates more on the characters, and the visual effects to transport you to another world altogether.

Don’t worry too much about understanding every bit of it. Neither Roger Ebert nor Rajeev Masand did. Watch the movie, and then come out of the hall and peel it off with your friends. But watch this movie, nonetheless. This is a movie that requires extreme patience and rewards you for it at the end. Like all of Nolan’s movies, there are minute details that help you grasp the point. After Memento, Dark Knight, and Prestige, it was expected that he would take things one step forward. He has.

The Hurt Locker – Review


Walking into the hall, I saw the poster that said “War is a drug”. I didn’t understand what it meant.

‘The Hurt Locker’ is a film about a Bomb Disposal Squad (called EOD) in Iraq. Sergeant William joins an EOD team after their Sergeant dies in an explosion. William, played by Jeremy Renner, is a daredevil. He defies protocol and walks into bomb territory all by himself, much to the chagrin of his teammates the protocol-abiding Sanborn and the newbie in the army Eldridge. In spite of his teammates insisting on following guidelines, William pretty much does his own thing – walks into situations, getting rid of bombs and wires like weeding out grass. In an interesting scene, his teammates ponder killing him and reporting it as a ‘mistake’.

Gradually, the team members bond and get to know each other, as they go from one mission to the other. As the movie progresses, director Kathryn Bigelow shows you the different facets of war. She makes you wonder if the experience is worth it, or if it something that cannot be done without. She makes you wonder if the lives of common people can be sacrificed on the basis of hunches and suspicions.

‘The Hurt Locker’ is neither overwhelming, nor underwhelming. It is a gritty representation of war, and the effect on the many people who are party to it. In the penultimate scene when Sergeant William goes back home and is in a supermarket, totally at sea when he has to choose from a hundred varieties of cereal.

It is then that I understood what the quote meant. For those involved in it, war is after all, a drug. You know it is not the right solution, you know it is something to be condemned. But once you have been in it, you know there cannot be a life without it.

Watch ‘The Hurt Locker’. You might love it, or you might be bored. But you will have something to think about.

Hi

8th August
Hi !

I wanted to tell you this since long. Everything I say to you may not be right. Most of it is what I have gathered from the time I have known you.

You’re not the most popular one. So what ? Others with lesser potential are better than you. But that shouldn’t bog you down. You are destined for great things. That’s because you have the one sure shot ingredient for success – Potential.

You are young And romantic. You wear your heart on your sleeve. You are emotional about people you love and sometimes err.But you have the cushion of the future to learn from. You sometimes get agitated quickly, but that’s alright. At heart, you are loving and tolerant. Sometimes a little too tolerant, so that others take advantage of you. But nevertheless, don;t change. There are others who are taken advantage of because they are arrogant or stupid, You are still better off.

You are emotional. About your people, your loved ones. About their likes, dislikes, choice and tastes. You have had an illustrous past before you. But your future is yours. I am confident it will be enviable.

Look around you. People are changing. Times are changing. Some for the better. Some otherwise. You need to change too.

But which way should you go? Your family ? Friends? Culture? Your aims ? Aspirations? You are confused. You have many options in front of you and sometimes get depressed because you don’t know whats right for you.What about status? Recognition? Your friends achieving more than you.

But remember that the world is vast.Your understanding of the world is the people you know.Your people.Your every step should keep them in mind as they are the ones that matter to you.
Equip yourself with knowledge.Success will come.I can see it.In the way you talk.Your enthusiasm and your behaviour.
There are times when I may have been cross with you.Times when I have complained.I shouldn’t have done that and instead contributed in any small way that was possible.There were times when I laughed with you and others when I laughed at you.
I have never told you this.But I am proud of you.I couldn’t have asked for anything more.You are perfect for me and I count my blessings everyday for having you.
Your birthday falls this Friday.I know most will say that your birthdays are superficial.
But I want this day to be different.I want you to realise your potential and know that I’ll always be there for you.
You turn 60 this year.It doesn’t feel that way.From what I know of you,you have been one,cool, dude.
me.