Conversations With God

A 55-word short after a long time…

I donated money to the local temple, and got God’s GoogleTalk id in return.

“yo,” I said.


“You’re the first lady ever to respond to my IMs. Thanks.”

“gentleman, but ur welcome.”

“Goddamn! eh… sorry.”

“thatz ok, whaddya want?”

“Secret of Immortality.”

“take a cupful of…”

“Go on”

“can’t. your 55 words are up.”

Previous efforts: 1 2

Get in line, please – there’s enough prizes for everyone!

A New Yorker review of The Economy of Prestige, a book by James English where he argues that “the threat of scandal” is essential to the viabilty of a literary award, and that it is “at least as important that the prize go to the wrong person as that it go to the right one.” That explains Banville. (sorry Lavanya).

When the first Nobel Prize in Literature went to Sully Prudhomme, in 1901, the choice was regarded as a scandal, since Leo Tolstoy happened to be alive. The Swedish Academy was so unnerved by the public criticism it received that its members made a point of passing over Tolstoy for the rest of his life—just to show, apparently, that they knew what they were doing the first time around—honoring instead such immortals as Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, José Echegaray, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Giosuè Carducci, Rudolf Eucken, and Selma Lagerlöf.

English says that for prizes to “matter” they need to be thought of as “fundamentally scandalous” by the public – scandalous in the sense that art should really have nothing to do with winning or losing.

In English’s view, therefore, [Toni] Morrison’s friends and admirers violated the protocols of prize-bashing not because they publicly criticized the choice of the National Book Award judges but because they acknowledged that the award really matters, that it is (in their words) a “keystone honor” that helps to validate a book and establish its author. Their statement pointed out, in the frankest terms, that there is a literary marketplace, and that power and authority–“cultural capital,” to use the term that English borrows from the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu–accrue to those who succeed in it. Art does not receive its reward in Heaven; it is one of the things that belong to Caesar.

English speculates that this willingness to speak without embarrassment about the significance of prizes and awards, and about the whole economy of cultural production and consumption, may, paradoxically, signal the demise of the prize system.

The book also sounds a hopeful note for wannabe creators:

There are now more movie awards given out every year–about nine thousand–than there are new movies, and the number of literary prizes is climbing much faster than the number of books published.

Nice. I’ll remember that for the next time I run into an award winning writer.

Blog Mela: Nomination Call

Update: I’ve assigned seven people to start working on collating posts, and they tell me they’ll be ready tomorrow. Pliss to bear with us until then.

This blog will host the Bharateeya Blog Mela this week, and all the underlings that work for etcetera (Motto: We pay you after only 85 emails) join the boss man in inviting you to nominate posts, subject to the following edicts:

  • Posts must be written by Indians, or have an Indian connection of some sort.
  • Posts must be dated between the 16th and the 22nd of December 2005.
  • Only nominations received before midnight on the 22nd will be considered for the mela
  • Nomination does not guarantee publication, non-nomination does not preclude publication. In other words, we will get one of the underlings to scour the web for posts.
  • One post per writer, please.

Delusions Of Grandeur

I have been unable to sleep over the last few days. While mean people might think it is just jetlag, the truth couldn’t be farther away. The truth is, I can’t sleep because I am worried. Very worried.

Blogging seems to be an activity with a very limited lifetime, and quite a few people are retiring rather early. Burnt out, bored, tired, whatever. As I toss and turn, I know that some day in the future, I will have to call it a day. And when I do, what would I leave behind? What will I be remembered for?

You see, dear reader, I am worried about my legacy. I am also slightly concerned about dozing off at work tomorrow, but let’s set that aside for a minute and talk about my legacy.

After giving it a lot of thought (three nights, no sleep) I think I have figured out what I need to do – I need to transfer my considerable knowledge of almost everything under the sun (except Konkani classical music) to people. After some more thought (one night, no sleep) I have decided that the best place for me to start this process would be movies.

Bad angle, no teardropAs I write this, visions of numerologically correct movie titles that say “Thanks to Stochhasticcca” or “A Klassic Koncieved at Karthik’s Blag” cloud my mind. Maybe someone from Hollywood’ll pick up these lessons, and when she wins an Oscar she’ll say “I owe it all to Karthik”, as tear drops roll down her cheeks, fall on her neck and continue on downwards. Nice. Why did I not think of this earlier?

I will sleep a little and then come back and start off with the first lesson in the Stochastica Sinema School Series.


Please, these are not the tears I meantI am up now, and visions of that lonely tear drop still linger. Tempting as it is to start off with the acting school for women, I will selflessly start off the first lesson with tips on writing good punch lines for Indian movies.

But the truth is, if you don’t know how to write good punch lines, you will never make it big as a screenwriter in any language but Hindi. To be successful in Hindi, screenwriters need to make it big in Hollywood first. And oh, before I forget, the acting school for women will meet next week, soon after I get my haircut.

Let’s start with a question.

A fat man is beating up fit people. Unable to bear the overpowering strength of his flab, the fit guys have no option but to try and electrocute the fat man. But he is stronger than that, so the moment the wires touch him, the power station that generated the electricity that dared approach the fat man explodes. Spectacularly.

The fat man turns to the fit guys, and tells them, “Don’t be shocked! I can shock electricity!” He then swishes his hands, turns around and walks away in slow motion – the camera focusing on his fat ass. [Navin, you know now.]

What did he just do?

Answer, students, is that he just mouthed a punch line.

A punch line, to start off with a formal definition is:

1. A pithy piece of gibberish.
2. Spoken by mostly fat men in lead roles, but there are exceptions.
3. The point of which is to (appear to) highlight the virtues of the speaker.
4. The speaker of the line is the subject. (In other words, fat man on himself).

Another example of a punch line would be:

“If you try to touch a woman when George is around, George will turn into a man and turn you into a woman.”

Notice that George is the speaker, and the subtext of the sentence is that George would castrate the toucher. This technique of referring to oneself by one’s first name is quite popular and is employed in every other punch line. It is something you should file away for future use.

We will close this part of the lesson with a few more examples. Please try writing some more at home, and test them out by saying them out loud in crowded places. If you get into trouble, sue me, please.

Whenever people are in need, I help them. I can’t help doing this.

God might forgive you for this sin, but I will never forgive you. May God forgive me.

A type of punch line that is less frequently used is the pithy sentence about nothing. These are mostly spoken by the hero to a skimpily clad girl. After this sentence is spoken, the girl usually falls in love with the hero.

For a woman, not wearing mini-skirts is the only way to skirt trouble.

If you wear a dress with a plunging neckline
On you bad men will want to recline.
On them lies no blame,
for you have no shame.


The amount of trouble you invite is inversely proportional to the amount of clothes you wear.

This is only for classy movies, I think. Will work in A centers.

If your blouse is always cut high
and you act shy (by lowering your eye)
no man will open his fly
this is not a lie.

This one is poetic, so please email me before using this in your movie.

After the girl falls in love, she will proceed to dance with the hero on the alps, clad in a bikini. It is quite important to not have your leading man speak any punch lines now.

We are almost at the end of our lesson, folks. The last type of punch line is similar to the first type, except that some leading men don’t feel comfortable talking about themselves all the time. In such cases, we have a comedian mouth the line and this gives us the latitude to make it even more outrageous.

Lo and Behold!
Brother will turn sand into gold;
the young into old;
He will never be sold.

If you make women cry,
Brother will take a pan
put you in there and fry
you until you turn tan.

Nice observation, student number 1. Yes, indeed, a comedian should always call the hero brother.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the end of Stochastica Sinema School Lesson #1.


Before you leave, remember this: I am an electrical fire. Even water cannot touch me. Let me go back to sleep now.

Conversations with (nearly) dead blogs

“Wake up, will ya?”

“I am not sleeping.”

“Oh yeah? That’s good to know. So are you dead then?”

“Do I look dead to you?”

“I see that sarcasm goes right over your head. Let me ask you this then: what the heck have you been up to? Am I not in your scheme of things anymore?”

“Hmm… I traveled half way around the world, and saw my hometown ravaged by a freak storm. Trees down. Traffic lights out. People without power, homes without roofs. The trees especially, what a waste.”

“Oh, I see. Very sad. But how come you’re grinning now?”

“Coz I called my dentist, and his voice mail said something funny.”


“Due to the hurricane last week (it said) our voice mail system was down, so we didn’t get all of your messages. We all know how hard this can be. But stay strong, and together we’ll get through this adversity. Thank you for calling.”

“Why is that funny again?”

“God, you are worse than me. But then that’s why you are in my scheme of things, you make me feel good.”

The Da Vinci Pendulum

Talking about Foucault’s Pendulum, there is a sense in which you did the Da Vinci Code before Dan Brown did. Of course, you did it as a myth that takes on a strange reality and he did it as it was historical truth.

I told Dan Brown’s story. My characters are his. I gave the broad picture of this kind of literature.

Umberto Eco
, in The Hindu. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that Mr. Eco is claiming he is Dan Brown’s inspiration. Oh, well, Christmas is approaching and I guess people want to confess to their crimes. Good Lord, please spare Umberto. He is just a professor who writes books on Sundays.

A visitor most unwelcome

A few months abroad. Fun, but still, home being what it is, we want to come back. Just walk around, check the yard, read junk mail, clean the AC filter, etc. (if I listed out seventeen more things, this could be my to-do list).

After several phone calls to travel agents, we finally work out the most complicated itinerary ever that involves (among other things) a quick one week trip back home.

One week.

And guess who decides to greet us on arrival? This unpleasant woman. Sigh.