Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

RESOLUTIONS:

* At the top of my list: Stop playing MAHJONGG SOLITAIRE. I probably spend an hour of every day with this wretched thing. It's true that it "clears the decks" effectively -- but it's too time-heavy. I'll just have to find another way to clear my mental decks.

* In terms of work, I've got two picture books and one novel on my desk. I wish I was the sort of writer who could post daily progress reports. But that would freak me out so much I'm not going to even begin thinking about it. My typical work day begins at 9.30, when I wake up and 3.30 a.m. when I crawl into bed (it's 2 a.m. right now). In between, there's an endless struggle between dabbing at the key-board -- a few paragraphs -- and everything else: meals, cups of tea or hot-water-and-apple-juice (this is my current tipple of choice), chats on the phone with my sister/my mother/friends, solitaire, naps, TV. It's disgusting. I listen to other people say they work for 18 hours at a stretch and already I feel tired. I've also got paintings on the agenda and maybe a show. Or two.

* Fewer trips, longer stays. This resolution is going to be very difficult to keep. Especially as I'm starting the year with a shorty-short expedition -- just one week long. But I need to stop that.

* Stash my bills in an orderly way; currently there's one big padded envelope into which every bill gets stuffed and since I can never face opening the envelope the pile just grows bigger and more unmanageable until one weekend I spend the entire 48 hours struggling to make sense of the whole thing. If I would only stash them neatly to BEGIN with, there would never be that wasted 48 hours -- which I could otherwise spend napping or drinking hot water. *sigh*

* Post Ms Malcontent regularly. Like maybe every Sunday? That would be SO cool. I see that as a direct result of not playing solitaire any more. Maybe I'll get HER to play! Ha. That'll be fun.

* Keep a diary once more. For most of 2009, I failed to do this little thing that I've pretty much done most years, particularly since the late nineties. Everything depends on having the Right Diary in which to keep the record. It's especially important to get the Right Diary BEFORE the year begins. Which is currently the case: I have TWO diaries, actually, both very attractive. One is the WelcomGroup diary with contemporary art and the other is a spiral bound diary containing the wonderful drawings of the American artist CHARLEY HARPER. His Golden Book of Biology was something that grabbed my attention when I was 8 years old and never let go: I think my interest in both biology AND illustration was hugely augmented by his work! He died a couple of years ago, but his work has suddenly become highly accessible. My sister Su keeps me well supplied. Recently she gave me the Charley Harper MEMORY GAME set (you know, the game in which pairs of cards are placed face down and you take turns to expose them in pairs? Also called CONCENTRATION or PELMANISM) and I played endless rounds of the game with my niecelet in Madras. Outstanding.


LINK:
This isn't a resolution but a link to TULIKA's blog, where I wrote a short piece for them, about putting together the I AM DIFFERENT book.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHS 2009

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE BOSTON GLOBE

Go look at them, but keep your hands folded firmly over your heart or else it is liable to be wrenched right out.

I have two questions for visitors here: (a) tell me if you agree with me when I say that the handful of images which have been hidden and are accompanied by a too-disturbing warning (followed by "click here to view") are no less disturbing than the vast majority of the rest. Collectively, they present our species with excellent reasons to SEEK OUT extinction (b) What is your estimate of the percentage of people who DO click to view the hidden ones? Mine is 100% -- i.e. I think 100% percent of those who make the effort to see the pix, see 'em all.

Oh! And a final question: which of these searing images strikes you as being beyond-all-belief shocking? My choice, made with no deliberation (I mean, I haven't gone back and looked through the whole lot multiple times) is number 28.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I AM DIFFERENT! Review in Saffron Tree


This review of I AM DIFFERENT! appeared at the SAFFRON TREE site. I am very pleased that someone's noticed the book. TULIKA editors reported seeing potential buyers put the book down after one glance because "Oh! It's not in English!" It certainly seemed as if our decision to use 16 different Indian scripts -- with pronounciation guide -- had been a mistake, even though it's very clear that the scripts are additional value, not the only text.

Anyway, according to the comments at Saffron Tree there are at least a few readers who not only got the point and but also enjoyed muddling along with the unfamiliar words and shapes of other languages, while working through the (very simple) puzzles.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Remembering Bhopal

Please visit REMEMBER BHOPAL to leave your thoughts, your comments, your reminiscences of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The 25th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster starts on the night of the 3rd and continues for 72 hours.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE GRAPHIC CONNECTION

This article appeared in the Times of India's CREST edition, Saturday 14th (i.e., on Children's Day): More Power To Pictures. I thought I'd post it here for two reasons -- one, it increases the life of an article by, ummmm, a few minutes and two, because I'm going to be in conversation with one of the artists mentioned in the piece, David B., author of EPILEPTIC.

The event is scheduled for December 11th, at the IHC, New Delhi, courtesy the French Information Centre as part of their BONJOUR INDIA FESTIVAL. Clicking the link will take you to the BIF site. My event includes two other well-known graphic novelists, Sarnath Banerjee (CORRIDOR) and Nicolas Wild (KABOUL DISCO).

Monday, November 23, 2009

ANIMUSIC

video

Many of you may have already received e-mail forwards with either this video or variations on the theme. Well of course the "amazing instrument" is NOT real, but in case you want to visit the site to get information about the DVD and the developers of the video -- and see other videos -- here's the link to ANIMUSIC.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How To Put On A Bra -- Commando Style

Need I mention that I got this from the Incomparable AA?

video

Monday, November 16, 2009

WHERE DO UNDELETED CHARACTERS GO?

Got this from the Excellent Anvar Alikhan, who either spends far too much time sorting through the vast piles of garbage out there on the Net in order to send his friends only the choicest and most succulent of tidbits OR he never sleeps. Either way, I worry for him ... but am also very grateful.

According to my research this list is originally sourced to: Joel Garreau (garreau@well.com), as reported in his Cybersurfing column in the Washington Post


Where Do Deleted Characters Go?


QUESTION: Where do the characters go when I use my backspace or delete them on my computer?

ANSWER: The characters go to different places, depending on whom you ask:

The Catholic Church's approach to characters: The nice characters go to Heaven, where they are bathed in the light of happiness. The naughty characters are punished for their sins. Naughty characters are those involved in the creation of naughty words, such as "breast," "sex" and "contraception."

The Buddhist explanation: If a character has lived rightly, and its karma is good, then after it has been deleted it will be reincarnated as a different, higher character. Those funny characters above the numbers on your keyboard will become numbers, numbers will become letters, and lower-case letters will become upper-case.

The 20th-century bitter cynical nihilist explanation: Who cares? It doesn't really matter if they're on the page, deleted, undeleted, underlined, etc. It's all the same.

The Mac user's explanation: All the characters written on a PC and then deleted go to straight to PC hell. If you're using a PC, you can probably see the deleted characters, because you're in PC hell also.

Stephen King's explanation: Every time you hit the (Del) key you unleash a tiny monster inside the cursor, who tears the poor unsuspecting characters to shreds, drinks their blood, then eats them, bones and all. Hah, hah, hah!

Dave Barry's explanation: The deleted characters are shipped to Battle Creek, Michigan, where they're made into Pop-Tart filling; this explains why Pop-Tarts are so flammable, while cheap imitations are not flammable. I'm not making this up.

IBM's explanation: The characters are not real. They exist only on the screen when they are needed, as concepts, so to delete them is merely to de-conceptualize them. Get a life.

PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) explanation: You've been DELETING them??? Can't you hear them SCREAMING??? Why don't you go CLUB some BABY SEALS while wearing a MINK, you pig!!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sing It!

For all those of us who yearn to be song-writers but can neither sing nor have friends who sing, here's a web-site that has something to offer: an audio-patchwork of words that have already been sung by other songsters, stitched into a song composed by YOU! Here's the website: Let Them Sing For You. It's really EASY. But in case you're feeling shy, here's a ready-made "song" for you to input:

You don't need a verse
A tune or a song --
It won't take a moment,
You'll see I'm not wrong!
Just enter your words
And click on the arrow --
Then tell me about it
Today or tomorrow!

--no, wait! I've experimented a bit and realize now that less is more (always!) -- i.e., less sense = more amusement.

Try these lyrics to see what I mean:

sing body sing song
hot sexy bread sing
body beat music long
just rock beat now now now

Sunday, October 25, 2009

25th October, Delhirium


I've been away from the blog for so long I feel like a visitor! I dropped in now and then, just to remind myself it was there but I just did NOT feel like posting any updates. Maybe coz I was also writing bulletins to post to my Mom as well as making weak little attempts to do a bit of writing on the side? Maybe coz I was distracted by the amusements in the house I was staying in -- including a pair of very talkative Austrailian Zebra Finches? Maybe coz I spent a good half of my stay leaping on and off subways, buses and finally a train (back from Vermont)? Whatever. It was a hectic trip, but fun and I got a lot done, but have very little evidence to show for it! This little kitty was perhaps the only creature who got recorded on my camera, and she belongs to my Vermont family. I am SO fed up with my camera -- though I feel instantly disloyal writing this. Poor little thing! It does its best ... but I bought it at a moment in technology when cameras had just become self-aware but were not yet energy-efficient. So even though it takes acceptable photographs with the minimum of effort/thought on my part, it chews up batteries like a barracuda. I can never take more than about 30 pix in quick succession without being shown the "dying battery" icon and if, god forbid, the flash goes off at any time, well then pop goes the battery two pictures later. MOST FRUSTRATING. I try to remind myself of the days when the problem was running out of film or putting the film in backwards or of misjudging filmspeed -- but to no avail. It is STILL very annoying not to be able to use the camera spontaneously. gnngngngngnnnnggngggn, as Obelix might say.

Anyhow. I got back one week ago, last Saturday night, but was immediately felled by a monster cold. I mean, it had been threatening to break over my head the whole of my final week in NYC, but only really let itself go once I was back in Delhi. I didn't have a fever, so I wasn't worrying about H1N1 but omigod the FLOODS in my nose were like having twin rivers at high tide just pouring continuously. And a sensation like a saw-mill in my throat. Coupled with a desire to just burrow into my bed and DIE.

Which is pretty much what I did ALL WEEK. I have literally not stepped outside my house ever since returning -- I mean, yesterday evening I stepped into the little community park outside my front door and that was the first time I had worn outdoor shoes since removing them after the flight.

Speaking of which: it was one of those Continental Nonstops, filled to overflowing. I was scared to look out the windows in case I saw a few passengers clinging to the wings. Really. But I had planned well in advance, and had booked myself an aisle seat. My neighbour, however, was less fortunate. He seemed a very nice person, he was SO uncomplaining -- a tall, very polite and soft-spoken Afghan, he had been waiting to board a flight for two nights and this was his best bet. I even offered to give up my aisle seat in view of his discomfort but he was too polite to accept my offer. Half-way through the journey he got up and lay down in the space between the central bulkhead and the seat-backs of the middle section -- lucky for him, there was a lull in crew activity so no-one contested his use of that space. Poor man! 16 hours of being curled up like a shrimp. Yow.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rubber Cement Advertisement & Cute Child-Wit

Who would have thought that an advertisement for RUBBER CEMENT could pack so much meaning, potential political unrest and delicious mischief into an ad for sticky stuff? ONLY THE FRENCH! Go click. Sent to me by my excellent friend Anvar Alikhan.

And just in case you need something to help you wind down after having watched that ad, here's an amusement sent to me by my e-buddy Chuck:

Why do we love children? Because of these examples...
1) NUDITY
I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, 'Mom, that lady isn't wearing a seat belt!'
2) OPINIONS
On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother.
The note read, 'The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents '
3) TELL IT LIKE THEY SEE IT
A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. 'Mommy can't come to the phone to talk to you right now. She's hitting the bottle.'
4) MORE NUDITY
A little boy got lost at the YMCA and he found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, 'What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a little boy before?'
5) POLICE # 1
While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, 'Are you a cop?
‘Yes,' I answered and continued writing the report.
‘My mother said that if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?'
'Yes, that's right,' I told her..
'Well, then,' she said as she extended her foot toward me, 'would you please tie my shoe?'
6) POLICE # 2
It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me. 'Is that a dog you got back there?' he asked.
'It sure is,' I replied.
Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, 'What'd he do?'
7) THE ELDERLY
While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. The various appliances of old age unfailingly intrigued her, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, ‘The tooth fairy will never believe this!'
8) DRESSING UP
A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, 'Daddy, you shouldn't wear that suit.'
'And why not, darling?'
'You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning.'
9) REGARDING DEATH
While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year-old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cotton batting, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister's son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: 'Glory be unto the Father, and unto the Son, and into the hole he goes.' (I want that line used at my funeral!)
10) SCHOOL
A little girl had just finished her first week of school. 'I'm just wasting my time, ' she said to her mother. 'I can't read, I can't write, and they won't let me talk!'

Thursday, October 01, 2009

ISLAND COUPLES JOKE

This joke was sent to me by my cousin Prabha who lives in Italy. She prefaced the joke with a suggestion that an Indian scenario was sorely needed. I've posted my offering at the end of the list but hope that some of you might be inspired to work on your own variations!

On a chain of beautiful deserted islands in the middle of South Pacific, the following people are stranded:
Two Italian men and one Italian woman.
Two French men and one French woman.
Two German men and one German woman.
Two Greek men and one Greek woman.
Two British men and one British woman.
Two Romanian men and one Romanian woman.
Two Japanese men and one Japanese woman.
Two Chinese men and one Chinese woman.
Two Irish men and one Irish woman.
Two American men and one American woman.

and

Two Indian men and one Indian woman.



One month later, on these absolutely stunning deserted islands in the middle of nowhere, the following things have occurred:

One Italian man killed the other Italian man for the Italian woman.

The two French men and the French woman are living happily together in a ménage a trois.

The two German men have a strict weekly schedule of alternating visits with the German woman.

The two Greek men are sleeping together and the Greek woman is cooking and cleaning for them.

The two British men are waiting for someone to introduce them to the British woman.

The two Romanian men took one look at the Romanian woman and started swimming to another island.

The two Japanese men have faxed Tokyo and are awaiting instructions.

The two Chinese men have set up a pharmacy, restaurant, and laundry, and have gotten the woman pregnant in order to supply more employees for their stores.

The two Irish men have divided the island into north and south and set up a distillery. They do not remember if sex is in the picture because it gets somewhat foggy after a few pints of coconut whisky. However, they're satisfied because the British aren't having any fun.

The two American men are contemplating suicide because the American woman complains relentlessly about her body, what the sun is doing to her skin, how sand and palm trees make her look fat, the true nature of feminism, how she can do anything they can do, the necessity of fulfillment, the equal division of household chores, how her last boyfriend respected her opinion and treated her nicer than they do, and how her relationship with her mother is the root cause of all her problems, and why didn't they bring a damn cell phone so they could call 911 and get them all rescued off this forsaken deserted island in the middle of freaking nowhere so she can get her nails done and go shopping.

and

All three Indians have died in the hope that they will be reincarnated as the French ménage a trois.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Book! New BlogPost! New Title Pic!

... and also, NEW YORK. Coz that's where I am. I got here on Friday, early morning and gave the Weather Gods their chance to rain down upon the city at the PRECISE MOMENT that I was approaching my friend's address in Manhattan. The reason I know for sure that it was not any random shower is that the rain, which had been threatening to fall since the time my flight landed at 5 a.m. Newark (YES! The very airport at which a Certain Bollywood SuperNovaStar suffered an encounter with the authorities!), began to pour out in buckets two hours later within yards of my destination ...

Okay. Aside from this, all is well and I will soon start blogging my events here. But till then, here's a link to the NEW BOOK, i.e., the one I was working on all through the early months of this year,
WHERE'S THAT CAT?

Enjoy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New LINX

Just a few new links (look at the column on the right). Bizarre Fountains
is, as its name suggests a collection of oddities involving water and public spaces. I was going to pull up one of them to feature here but then decided against -- it's a little girl version of the famous Belgian "Mannikin Pis". It's charming in its way but then again ... I dunno. I've always considered Mannikin Pis vaguely annoying, since it celebrates an activity that is all too common on Indian streets but Jeanneke Pis (as the girlie version is called) appears to be a "so there!" statement. The collection of fountains is part of a web-site called VILLAGE OF JOY which has many kinds of oddities. The HOME page currently features a rather nasti-shock image, so if you're in a home situation, open with caution.


SEA SALT WITH FOOD is a foodies' paradise -- the BBC's Click Online programme talked about it, and though I've not attempted any of the items listed at the site, everything sounds delish. That's as much cooking as I can actually do (i.e., read about it), but I thought I'd pass on the link to those of you who have a more hands-on approach.

OMEGLE is an odd little site -- something between a one-night-stand and a chat-room: there's no sign-up, nothing. You go there, click and text-chat with TOTAL STRANGERS. That's it. No strings attached, no bells, no whistles and also no pix, no audio, no names. You click, you type and you (mostly) disconnect. The "Strangers" (that's the closest you get to an ID) are 300% male in hunting parties of one, looking for some hotness. If you don't admit to being female (whether or not you are! Heheh), they disconnect as fast as it takes for their neurons to process the information. The best fun is to say "Hi", own up to being female -- then say you're 56 (which is what I am). You can practically see the other party jump out of his little silver-finish tracksuit! Haha. Amusant.

[NOTE ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH: I call it Sunlight Through A Venetian Blind -- taken in my niece's warm and always welcoming apartment in Boston]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Interesting Site!

It's called ODOSKETCH, you take a few moments to sign in and you're ready to sketch!! I don't know whether this link will work but here's the sketch I made five minutes ago, using nothing more than my finger and the trackpad on my laptop -- WINDOW GIRL and believe me, quite aside from the fact that it's EASY, it's also strangely enjoyable. Sort of like painting or drawing in a dream. Most beguiling! Go try ...

Friday, August 07, 2009

First City "PHOTOONS"

I created these "photoons" as I call them, for First City Magazine, for their "Delhi My Muse, Aug 2009' issue. They had asked various citizens for our reactions to the city and this was mine -- i.e., I associate Delhirium with its monuments and of course, like many of its 14 million residents I cannot resist the urge to deface them in some way. Fortunately my way doesn't leave any lasting damage to their ancient (well the Salt March Statue's not ancient but ... whatever) surfaces.









Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Back from the Wilds

It's been ten days since my last post but I feel as if a couple of months have passed ...

Quick Overview:
JULY
22nd: departure for Bombay -- SAW ECLIPSE (partial) FROM THE AIRCRAFT!! Wanted to stand up and scream "Look! Look! We can see the eclipse!" -- but immediately thought better of it, not wanting to be responsible for the simultaneously blinding of half the passengers on the flight, as they would all then have turned and stared, which is exactly what one must NOT do. Still. Spent the rest of the flight feeling violently thrilled, all to myself. In Bom, was whisked away to a delightful boutique hotel just behind the Taj, GORDON HOUSE. Was excellently looked after by event management group SEVENTY. Loved my room. Tried to do nothing, but failed and instead called a dear friend, Caveh Munshi, and had a wonderful tea as his guest at the United Services Club at the southern tip of Colaba. It was sprinkling with rain and the waves were gray and grimy but I was awash with memories of all the many, many hours spent with friends just a hop-skip-jump further along the very same sea-front, at the TIFR all those years ago, in the early eighties.

23rd: Vodafone/Crossword Book Awards event, good fun. Met Basharat Peer at Gordon House, and also Nayantara Sehgal, who was the chief guest. At the event, my sister G was present and also Caveh. The fiction prize went to AMITAV GHOSH for Sea of Poppies and to NEEL MUKHERJEE for Past Continuous. Non-fiction to BASHARAT PEER for Curfewed Night. Translation to IRA PANDE's translation of MANOHAR SHYAM JOSHI's T'ta Professor. Was delighted to meet Usha K.R., last year's fiction prize winner, who with Mukund Padmanabhan (no relation!!) was one of the three jury members for the fiction prize this year. Was also delighted to meet Nilroy -- who was the compere for the event -- and Zigzackly at the dinner. Nayantara Sehgal joined G and Caveh and me at our table for dinner, which was very pleasant and a bit nostalgic: G had been a little girl in Paris when my parents were posted there (before I was born) and remembered meeting NS in her youth, when she and her sister Chandralekha were the reigning beauties of their era

24th: left Gordon House, had a very pleasant morning and lunch with my friend T on Warden Rd, returning to my cousin S's lovely home in Cumballa Hill for the evening and night-spend. G and V (nephew) come over for dinner and a very convivial evening is enjoyed by all, even though my cousin, a busy paediatrician has had malaria all week. She is absolutely amazing. AND she has time to be an avid and passionate reader, with a group of friends whom she meets for a monthly book-club -- now ten years old and still very lively

25th: night-spend with my friends G & J in north Bom, culminating in an extremely lively party at night, complete with tons of food and great guests, including my friend A, who lives in an apartment building literally two minutes away.

26th: lunch with A at his house and departure for Madras, with my sister G. Glad to be home with my Mom, niece, niecelet and (alas) demented hound S, who had spent all four days of G's absence pining/starving/vengeance-peeing wherever possible

27th: meeting with Tulika to hand over the original artworks of WHERE'S THAT CAT? In the evening, niece leaves for short stay in Surat; I start work on the final image in a five-page "essay" for the Indian edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul -- it's called CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE INDIAN SPIRITUAL SOUL, published by Westland and edited by VEENA SESHADRI. I've been using my tiny little drawing tablet and mostly on the mini-laptop, so that it's been a bit of an ordeal at the purely eye-strain level. But it seems to be working out, and in Madras, I am able to do some of the finishing up on G's laptop, which has a much bigger screen. But the tablet only works with the li'l fella so the last few frames still had to be fiddled with on that miniature screen

28th: attend the Madras launch of Githa Hariharan's "Fugitive Histories". The evening is almost flooded out by a sudden downpour but the conference room at the Taj Coromandel is nevertheless packed to the rafters and Githa reading goes very well, followed by an interview with Ranvir. After the launch, a few friends and I go to dinner at Ranvir and Nandi Shah's wonderful home -- it's structured like a live-in museum cum art gallery, but is amazingly user-friendly and comfortable too. Great fun. Dinner is a five-course bhel-puri extravaganza and all of us stuff ourselves to the gills

29th: finally finish the Chicken Soup piece. Struggle to post it, net not cooperating, succeed only late at night.

30th: return to Tulika to wrestle with the artwork -- fixing small glitches, deciding on the title page -- there's still a number of little things to do. Great delight to catch a glimpse of the text and titles in eight other languages -- Malayalam, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. Chicken Soup piece is accepted, a great relief for me. Return to work on short story for ... never mind! Bad juju to discuss unfinished work

31st: immediately begin working on NEXT book for Tulika. Just preliminary ideas and sketches. Meanwhile, alongside everything else, there are chats with Mum over meals and in the evenings, just around the time I normally call her (8.30 pm, every evening on the phone) when I am NOT in Mad, chats with G all through the day, chats with niecelet whenever time permits. Frequent furtive visits to the French Loaf bakery and chocolaterie down the road. In the middle of the night, I lie awake listening to the koels, babble-screaming in their musical way -- I have NO idea why they make such a racket at dead of night -- they break out at regular intervals, even at three and four a.m. What goes on? Avian politics.

August
1st: back to Tulika to do the title-banner artwork. Tea at Amethyst with G and niecelet. The heavens open while we are there, sitting at one of the tables set in the garden. While the rest of us run indoors, G stands in the open saying, "Oh it's just a little drizzle!" -- even as the rain barrels down with increased force until she is forced to sprint to the verandah where the rest of us are taking shelter. We grab a table at one of the ringside seats and have a good old tuck in, while the thunder booms overhead and the niecelet gives in to a momentary panic about maybe having to spend the night "under this table" -- an idea suggested to her by her cruelly unsympathetic grandmother (G!).

2nd: visit to a young cousin's very charming apartment. Otherwise, day spent lazing a little -- haven't actually done much of that so far. Go to airport with G to collect niece returning from Surat, accompanied by niecelet dressed in green dragon costume, complete with spikes and tail. A few people noticed, the rest behaved as if it were completely normal for a four-year-old to be attired thus. Other children in particular paid close attention, as if unsure whether to be wild with envy or withering with contempt. Mostly, their eyeballs are just trailing on the floor with sheer surprise

3rd: back to Tulika for a final visit, this time laden with cookies. Delighted to wrap the project completely. Chicken Soup is also complete now and needs only to be posted. But the in-house computers -- ALL THREE -- are not quite up to the task. I decide to return to Del for the wrap up. Still working on short story.

4th: discovered that my ticket was for the 3rd. Eek. Decide not to tell anyone, but just go ahead and buy a ticket for the same flight, same afternoon, same airline (Kingfisher). Am astonished to find that it costs less than the Jet Airways Bom/Mad fare -- really, it is beyond bizarre, judge for yourselves: Rs 5000+ for Bom/Mad, and Rs 3000+ for Mad/Del. Does it make sense? Nope. *shrug* Whatever! I buy the ticket, print it out on the upstairs computer, say goodbye to G, niece and niecelet who leave in the afternoon for a night-spend at Fisherman's Cove, where there's a weekday half-price package deal in place and then wish my Mom goodbye before leaving for the airport myself, at 3 pm, via Madras's excellent cab-hire service, FastTrack (their number is: 044-24732020). Arrive in Del at 8.30 pm, get into a pre-paid cab and am stuck in traffic for almost two hours -- i.e., just half an hour short of the flying time from Mad -- in a gigantic traffic jam that extends almost right up to Friends Colony

4th (night): grateful to be home, YOW! Continue working on short story ...

And so it goes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

AMUSEMENT ...

... and a clue to why I've been absent -- but first the amusement: this link will take you to an exchange of
comments at the Akhond of Swat on the subject of the Crossword Book Prize shortlist for this year. It became suddenly active this evening, and I think some of the points made there are worth reading.

The connection between the shortlist and my inactivity here is of course that I am about to leave for Bombay to attend the event -- time is running short and I have stacks of stuff to do and ... and ... *all the usual excuses*

Still: I DID manage to finish my picture book and am very pleased with it. Just as soon as I get clearance from my publishers, I plan to post a couple of thumbnails here.

And Ms Malcontent is lurking just around the next corner. She will return.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

MY SECRET OBSESSION

... about to be not-so-secret ...

It's a French animation site called
MINUSCULE -- short (five minutes max) animated films entirely devoted to the Private Life Of Insects (that's the series title). You can very easily Google the name and see most of them online, but I couldn't bear the poor quality of some of the uploads and besides when I REALLYREALLYREALLY like something, I believe in supporting it with purchases. So ... I asked a friend (a REALLYREALLYREALLY good friend, as you'll see) to buy the boxed DVD set for me -- 4 DVDs -- and post them to me, from Belgium, by airmail please as I had already become a junkie and was now seeing pink spiders everywhere. And he did. And I got my boxed set by airmail and I have them in my hot sticky little hands and I can play them anytime I want even though they are PAL Region 2 and out of the five available devices I have for playing stuff only ONE has successfully overcome the Ogre of Conflicting Software. And I even successfully resisted watching them until I was through working on my picture book for TULIKA BOOKS -- it's called WHERE'S THAT CAT? and is now finished, finished, FINISHED!! Whoohoo! -- as of yesterday, and I'm beyond thrilled and contented watching my little films.

So yes, I STRONGLY recommend the Minuscule series ... and I have added a permanent link to the site, in the right-hand column.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Jeff Dunham's ACHMED THE DEAD TERRORIST

Got this from my friend Viji Ghose -- unlikely as it sounds, Achmed the Dead Terrorist Skit manages to be both hilarious and strangely (okay, VERY strangely) poignant.

I did wonder, tho, whether there are some people out there who might be offended. Suicide bomber wannabes, for instance ...


And also: a link to PETER GRIFFIN's(aka ZIGZACKLY)'s soulful tribute to Michael Jackson in FORBES INDIA magazine. The article is called Creature From Another Planet and features my Moonwalker image as its illustration.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

New Link NOTICE!

Just a quick post to shine a bright light on the new link in the right-hand column -- The Akhond of Swat has taken the place of Kitabkhana at this blog -- ring out the old, ring in the new, I say! -- even though the Akhond isn't new, has been around for a while and it's my own laziness that has kept this link unposted. But I've been missing the literary amusements once offered by Kitabkhana's enormously active and talented Babu -- and though I'm not certain, as I write this, the precise nature of the clan-lines that bind the Akhond to the Babu, what I DO know is that they are so alike as to be, for all practical porpoises, the same entity.

Much rejoicing and breaking of coconuts, then, as I declare this latest link open! *cheering, fireworks, fountains of sparkling wine, pods of leaping porpoises*

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vodafone Crossword Shortlist NEWS FLASH

-- MUCH to my amazement, ESCAPE has made it to this year's Vodafone Crossword shortlist. I am very glad, esp for my publisher Picador India, and my editor Shruti Debi, coz the book had pretty much vanished from sight after its release in November last year. So this is ... very NICE.

(next morning -- shocked and saddened by the loss of The Moon Walking One --)

Here's the list of the other contenders this year:

Salman Rushdie's 'The Enchantress of Florence'
Amitav Ghosh's 'Sea of Poppies'
Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Unaccustomed Earth'
Neel Mukherjee's 'Past Continuous'
Anuradha Roy's 'An Atlas of Impossible Longings'
Preeta Samarasan's 'Evening is the Whole Day'

-- but clicking the link above, at "shortlist" will yield the Crossword Bookstores website where there's much more information. Thanks are due to Zigzackly for posting the link via Twitter.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Better Late Than Never



I've moved this announcement down here because it looked sort of misplaced between the two sets of Philosopher Riddles(and there WILL be more).

I never got around to posting a permanent link here to
ESCAPE, my most recent novel. This is more than a bit odd, but I was sort of hoping it would post itself. Ah well. It didn't. Anyone wishing to buy the book (I know there are millions of you out there ...) can link from this post or from the list of books along the right-hand margin of the screen. Of course, it can only be bought in Rupees and in India. The hordes of potential foreign buyers will either (a) have to wait for it to become available on Amazon or (b) have to besiege my publisher, Picador India with piteously worded e-mails at picadorindia@gmail.com. That will not result in them selling a book to you, BUT on the other hand, it will help them to think well of me! A good thing, at all times.

When asked for a one-line description of the book, here's what I wrote: "ESCAPE" is a dystopian adventure set in a country where all women except one little girl have been eliminated.



Ms Malcontent Sez ... #14
Smoke01
Smoke0 2
Smoke0 3
Smoke04
Smoke0 5
Smoke0 6