On August 20 2004, Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind was born. Now many of you readers, the regulars and definitely the drive-bys might consider this silly or borderline kooky that someone would consider the anniversary of a blog worth remembering and devoting a whole post to. But for me this entity made up of bits, suspended in the conceptual space called the Internet, populated by my thoughts and supported by technology has assumed a life of its own as I fuss over it, worry about how it looks, change its clothes from time to time, clean the dirt that trolls and advertisers leave behind, fret about illnesses brought about by server crashes and spend days, months and years just watching it grow. And so in this vein of anthropomorphizing, blog birthdays become significant events if only because they serve as an excuse to stop awhile, cut a cake and blow a candle. Or six.
Ever since I was in high school, I have wanted to write. But I took up engineering since good Bangali middle-class boys did that. Six years ago, I had graduated with my PhD but my career as a writer was as happening as Uday Chopra’s acting progression as a Bollywood hero. Virtually ever unsolicited article I would ever send would be rejected. The prospect of having a book published, far less for it to go on to be in the Bestsellers Lists [Link and Link], was as distant a possibility as of Anil Kapoor ever walking onto the stage during an Oscar presentation.
It was then, when my dreams were all but dead, that RTDM came into my life or my life came into it. Whatever it be, helped to a large extent by luck (after all connecting with a large audience is largely a matter of providence) the blog attained some popularity. Media opportunities started coming in. In 2008, Harper Collins approached me to write a biography of Mithun Chakraborty. Since such a project, serious as it was, would need an extensive presence in India requiring interviews from people like Mrinal Sen to Kanti Shah, something I was not able to do given my present employment, I had to beg off with regret. Instead I pitched the idea of “May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss” and sent in two sample chapters. Harper Collins commissioned the book and the most exciting year of my life commenced, incidentally just around the time Mr. Hirsute Kapoor did walk the Oscar stage, showing once and for all that God does have a sense of humor.
I had thought of MIHYAP as an experiment wherein there would be no central story and the narrative would be a mixture of fact and fiction. Each chapter would showcase a different style of doing humor, styles I had acquired while blogging at RTDM—-the bullet list (National Terror Strategy), the diary (Morocop and Poltu), the flashback (Sexual Frustration), the fable (the Kasab story), the personal experience (Indian wedding), the stand-up style rant (Five Things That Piss Me Off), the how-to manual (the Management Institute), the simple story (1-900-Hotties), mock pedantry (Gunda and Loha).
The effort was appreciated by many [Link, Link , Link and Link] and also savaged [Link]. Here also it was my experiences at RTDM that helped me take the praise and the virulent criticism with equanimity—-after all every post gets the same treatment does it not?
And here it is that RTDM has had the biggest effect on my life. Not only has it given me a chance to live my dream, but it has also changed me as a person—-given me some of my best friends, taught me to better structure my thoughts, allowed me to be more level-headed in front of conflict and criticism and matured me as a person.
So it is today I say thank you to everyone here at the RTDM community. Silly sentimentalism. Perhaps. But indulge me a bit will you?
It is also today that I announce that for my second book, I am going be as different from RTDM as possible. No there will not be a sequel to MIHYAP, despite the temptation to repeat what has worked commercially.
Horror, like humor, has always fascinated me because they both produce very visceral reactions despite being stylistically poles apart (only geniuses like the Ramsay brothers and Harinam Singh can fuse the two, albeit unintentionally) .
And so horror-thriller will be what I will be attempting next, which I have been told is a significant risk for me as an author since it is not the genre I am associated with.
The working title for the book is The Mine. It is yet unsold to any publisher. I am half-way through my first draft with the plot already fully articulated.
Here are two concept art pieces produced for The Mine—first one by Saurav Mohapatra (ignore the Summer 2011…this book will not be ready before 2012) and the other by me.
Wish me luck. For the Mine and for the journey ahead.