About My Writing Habits And Some Other Stuff

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Yesterday, my friend Ritwam Sen, as part of a comment thread on Facebook, asked me about my writing habits. Since I had been asked that question a few times before, in different contexts, I thought of writing a Facebook note. A few of you commented on that note wanting to know more. So here is a full blogpost on the subject, arranged listicle-style.

1. I write all the time. When I am out on a walk, sitting on my potty seat, driving to work, watching a cricket game right after my Fantasy Power Player gets out, utilizing any idle CPU cycles of my brain to think about my story.The biggest part of writing, I have found out, happens when you are not writing.

2. I practice active reading. That is when I am reading a book, I am just not only drinking in the story. I am also taking time to think about its structure, flow, and the way characters develop and speak.  Why do some sections drag? Why do I like this part? How does the author transition between events? Understanding this allows me in turn to write better. Also, based on the genre I am writing in, I do some genre-specific reading before I put finger to keyboard. It gets my brain into the pace and mood of what I am to write. Kind of like net-practice before a game.

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Some Advice For My Daughter

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Dear daughter,

Dads are only good for two things. Buying ice-cream and dispensing advice. Since the day I can buy you ice-cream is yet some distance in the future, let me start with the advice part. Not that you will listen to, far less understand, anything I am going to say (you are yet to be six months), but then again I tell myself, this not-listening-to-me and not-understanding-a-word-I-say is not likely to get better as you grow older. So why not I say it now when the worst you can do to me is to pull my hair or yank off my glasses ?

So here it is, as simple as I can make it.

Pause. And reflect.

Yes. Pause. And reflect.

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On Becoming A Dad

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Sometime in my very late 20s or perhaps even very early 30s, I came to the realization that most of my most critical life decisions had never truly been taken after considered deliberation, at least nothing remotely resembling the  “should I this or should I that” decision-paralysis that I find myself being afflicted by before every purchase of a fairly expensive consumer durable. I studied engineering, not because I particularly wanted to or felt it was a good fit for my skill sets, but because that’s what “all the good boys do” (There was medical also, but then I found cutting toads yucky). When it came time to do a PhD in the US, I again went with the flow. All my smart friends had taken the same decision and well, all of them couldn’t be wrong. Whether five-years of poorly-paid slogging away at impossible problems aligned well with how I defined the concept of “reward”, I never gave a second’s thought. Getting married at the age of twenty-five was also something very impulsive,  how impulsive  I realized a few years later when the rest of the curve caught up with me and I heard stories, perhaps apocryphal, of “arranged-marriage-tours”, meeting one prospective match for lunch and one for dinner, and Excel sheets with SWOT analysis of matrimonial candidates.

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The Birthday Post

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His birth-star glittered in the night sky. That day again.

The sell-sword felt his years. Every one of them. They had removed the arrows and dressed the wounds. Yet they still burned his flesh, more deeply tonight than on any other. As an old crone once said “A warrior carries his battles with him.”

He did.

Each scar. Each blow.

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Thoughts On Another Birthday

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Bhagyasree’s “Qaid Mein Hain Bulbul.” Sunil Gavaskar curled up like an armadillo defending against Wayne Daniel. Imran Khan sending Michael Veletta’s stumps walking. Vinod Kambli crying in Kolkata. Zico missing that kick. A man in front of a blackboard and a long wooden stick explaining election results on DD. News of Indira Gandhi’s assassination stopping the commentary of an India-Pakistan match. Cheering for VP Singh as the Congress gets drubbed. Mandal and feeling betrayed by the same man we had once cheered for. Hawa Hawa. Oye Oye. The taste of Re 1 chumchum. All of these feel just as fresh and as vivid as if they happened yesterday. But if you ask me about things that happened in the last few years—all the movies, matches, events become a jumbled mess of color and noise and I have to pause, hem and haw, trying to unravel the tangled web of what passes for my short-term memory.

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A Sixer

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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.

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Back From Meeting A Legend

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While I was off the grid for the last few days  in New York City, much seemed to have happened. Harbhajan Singh ultimately got a wicket, Mohammed Azharuddin flashed once again outside the off-stump with his stick and knocked the feathers of a shuttle-cock [Link] (obligatory Gunda reference:  Azhar hain jurm se nafrat karney wala, garibon (match-fixers) ke liye jyoti, aur gundon ke liye jwala) , the Indian woman’s hockey coach was accused of doing too much of “Chak De” [Link], Arundhati Roy advanced yet another step towards her Nobel Peace Prize [Link] making it to the list of Forbes (evil capitalist alert) world’s most inspiring women  and  Wikileaks confirmed that the ship of government is the only ship that leaks from the top [Link].

As to the so-called classified information leak, while it may be big news in the US with Pakistan’s duplicity in the AfPak region being exposed for me it was more like “Tell me something I don’t know.” The day Wikileaks has the full Amar Singh transcripts [link] or the gory inconvenient truths behind all Al Gore globally warming shenanigans [link] or details of Zardari’s five female Turkish “guides” whose services were not compensated for by the Pakistanis [links], I would be mildly interested.  But not now. For the present, what was infinitely more intriguing was attending an underground party in the Bronx, thrown in a warehouse, with a “macabro” theme, wherein along with retro erotica from the 1920s being projected on the walls, there were decks of old Tvs showing, in addition to ancient Japanese horror and psychedelic patches of color——hold your breath——Mithun-da’s “Disco Dancer” and Shahrukh Khan’s “Duplicate”.

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