Tag Archives: Books and Literature

The Sad Tale Of My Very Fat Royalty Payments

The Imperative Subterfuge (When Eva Braun Met Gandhi)

The Imperative Subterfuge (When Eva Braun Met Gandhi)

So, first, I thought I’ll go for some prime real estate in London. Preferably the townhouse next to JK Rowling so I could go borrow sugar or the occasional copy of her next book written under an innocent pseudonym whenever I wanted. But then I worried that her neighborhood might be infested with the Russian Mafia of many hues – after all, they are the only folks buying property in London, as per the newspapers. I didn’t want to get shot just because I don’t have a ‘Y’ and a ‘Z’ in my name.

In any case, one book was hardly likely to cause that kind of monetary windfall, so I pegged my sights a bit lower.

I thought, how about an expensive holiday? I considered Brazil, Turkey, Egypt and Japan, the only four places I might be interested in as a tourist (I am not much of a traveler). A quick Google search on the first three landed me on news reports of Anna Hazare – Kejriwal styled street demonstrations (or British soccer fan styled hooliganism, take your pick). Mental images of me at a hospital getting six stitches on my forehead because a stone (or broken beer bottle, take your pick) landed there promptly made me scratch those country off the list. As for Japan, I still remember the tsunami videos quite well. (I just saw them recently in fact – someone was passing those off as “Must Watch Video From Uttarakhand!”)

Good that the luxury travel plans were scaled down from 100 to 0, quite likely that the royalty checks were not going to be that substantial anyway.

Maybe I’ll just upgrade to a brand new computer, I thought next. My old laptop is still going great, but it is 5 years old. And, it runs Windows Vista, for goodness sakes. ‘How’s your Windows 8 laptop doing’, I asked a friend. It was not nice to see a grown man weep like that.

So, no computer either.

New phone, you suggest? Yep, I suggested that to myself, too, only to find out that the iPhone 5S (or 6) is still a few months away. Plus, no one buys Apple these days and I won’t touch Android.

All this happened while I patiently waited to hear back from the kind editors at Amazon Kindle Singles. They had been reviewing my debut book – The Imperative Subterfuge (When Eva Braun Met Gandhi) – for several weeks. Yesterday, they wrote back to me declining my request to have my novel be considered as a Kindle Single, but offering me to go ahead and release it via Kindle Direct Publishing. Rejection! I instantly felt kinship with Rahul Gandhi – a pretty face and yet no takers.

Amidst watered down images of JK Rowling, that luxury spa in Rio, and the swankiest new iPhone, the image distortions possibly caused by welled up eyes and heartache, I did just that – self-publish my first book via Amazon last night. (For the worriers, the heartache was because of some terrible samosas I ate the evening before, so STOP worrying!)

And now that I am a self-published author who is unlikely to see any large (or small) royalty checks in his mailbox anytime soon, I will just have to settle for a self-funded ice cream at best. But, in order to afford that, YOU, my dear reader, will have to go and check out my book at the Amazon store. And download a copy.

Won’t you do that for me? And while you are at it, do spread the word around as far and wide as you possibly can!

 

Note : You don’t need a Kindle device for reading the ebook. All you need to have is the Kindle App on your smartphone, tablet or PC. Click here to get the free app for your preferred device.

 

 

Deride Without Prejudice

In the past year, I have come across but just a handful of blogs that are aimed at readers with discerning taste. Among the best of those is Subho’s Jejune Diet (SJD, for short), managed by the extremely well-versed Subhorup Dasgupta. His choice of topic is always compelling, his writing style articulate, and his narration captivating. So imagine my delight (and surprise) when he asked me to do a guest post for him, despite the potty mouth that I am!

I hope that with this piece, I have done justice to what his cultivated audience expects to read at SJD. I must say, I had a blast writing this post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Thanks, Subho, for the opportunity!

 

janeaustentea

Hundreds of years ago, a plain Jane English writer called Jane Austin wrote an epochal novel called ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Quite miraculous that she would achieve that, for, the woman had heard nothing of Blogging in her day. Despite that, how she procured the clarity of thought, the grasp of storytelling technique, and dry wit and humour, attributes that all Indian Bloggers are naturally blessed with the first time they hold aloft a pen, we shall never know.

Anyway, my research has shown that Miss Austin may not have found it that facile to produce her seminal work, as proven by the multiple versions of Chapter 47 that she wrote longhand, one of which I have reproduced here. Moreover, I found it quite interesting that this particular trashed piece alludes to a certain beverage that Subhorup has great affinity to – making this a remarkably serendipitous find! Read on to find out more.

I wish Miss Austin had retained this passage in the book instead of the inferior one that she ultimately went with. Had her writing been of the Blogosphere born, that lapse of judgment would have never occurred.

Ah, well.

 

Read the rest at Subho’s blog using the link below. And don’t miss the glorious introduction he has given me at the top. Frankly, no kinder words have ever been expressed! I shall cherish them for a lifetime.

 

http://subhorup.blogspot.in/2013/04/rickie-khosla-jane-austen-blend-of-tea.html

 

 

Choco- Raspberry Delite Anyone?

Part-time Market Researcher but full-time Observer and Thinker Achala Srivatsa is back with this absolutely hysterical essay that will have you rolling on the floor like a, well, a rolling pin. If you are a foodie (and by that I mean you don’t entirely mind popping something solid in your mouth occasionally) you have got to read this! 

 

(Stolen from The Healthy Voyager website given my own lack of artistic talent))

(Stolen from The Healthy Voyager website given my own lack of artistic talent))

Practically everyone I know claims to be a foodie these days (a broad term that could mean anything from “I eat like a pig and Darshini is my  second home” to “You must try my sous vide salmon with chanterelle duxelle and a hint of wild fennel pollen” or “my rajma recipe is a closely guarded family secret”). Our home-grown NRI friends who visit for 2 weeks also call themselves foodies, which essentially means they spend 2 weeks running around to every local restaurant and immersing their being in assorted deep-fried products dipped into condiments that are off the charts on heat and ferocity. Much of those two weeks are also, not surprisingly, spent reading War and Peace in a toilet. But I digress.

India is now neck deep in cook books of an astonishing range and variety, not to mention cookery shows of every description. Do you want to make a refreshing drink to be enjoyed by the pool? Chances are someone on some channel is muddling together mint and sugar as we speak.

I discovered this the other day as I browsed at my local book store. It was truly educational and here for your benefit is a summation of the fruits of my labour.

  1. At one extreme is the new bride’s go-to guide for all things South Indian. Written by a  “Maami Rajammal” with the picture of a formidable looking woman (usually with a slight moustache) to lend authenticity. This book will tell you how to make “curds” from scratch, the recipes for 20 types of chutneys using the peel of a ridge gourd and 15 different rasams. Recipes will sternly instruct you to “ take a good amount of tamarind…” Precisely what that means is, literally, anyone’s guess.
  2. The next category I uncovered was a slew of slim paperbacks on snacks, for every occasion (Tea Time Snacks/ Pre bedtime snacks and so on). These appear to be aimed at young mothers with recipes focusing on fried thingies of various descriptions. A half-hearted attempt at amping up the health factor can be seen – “Add a cup of sprouts”. Clearly written quite hurriedly, I was charmed by one recipe that started off calling for a cup of chopped onions, later forgetting about the onions completely.
  3. Then you have a series of books that claim to offer specialized cuisines – Rajasthan, Punjab etc. Some of these seem authentic, others not so much. Call me a cynic but I look askance at “authentic” recipes that call for a cup of tomato ketchup.
  4. Cookbooks on the Woman’s Era lines – easily recognizable by the way they fiercely hang on in a limpet-like fashion to  recipes from the ‘70s – “Blancmange”, “Raspberry Delite”, “Chocolate-Pista Surprise” and so on. Bellbottoms and beehive hairdos! By the way, if you know what a blancmange is – consider yourself officially old.
  5. The ethnographic school of cookery – Where Jamie does Tuscany and works up a froth over fresh zucchini flowers, baby artichokes, dusty purple grapes exploding with sweetness blah. Do NOT read these books. Let me tell you what happens – First you identify a recipe you get all excited about – let’s say enchiladas with a chipotle sauce . Then you walk into your local supermarket and hmm, chipotle seems to be a problem. But hey, you are a creative cook, so a little improv is in order. So you shift gear – from chipotle to badgis from Central Karnataka, from fingerling potatoes to whatever’s available, from Vidalia onions to your local pyaaz and for some reason the end product tastes strangely like a dosa. Mexican food’s over-rated anyway.

 

Frustrated at every turn, stuffed to the gills with stuffed karelas drowning in sweet ketchup, I turned to our local Food Channel for inspiration. Here’s what I found.

  • Sanjeev Kapoor’s wooden, sickly smile every hour on the hour –  either fusing cuisines  feverishly – here cooking biryani with truffle shavings, there grating paneer on to pasta or cooking “healthy” sweets with ghee and sugar substitutes.  Is it just me or have others realized that  ever since he’s shaven that moustache off, he has this – “I could give you this recipe but then I’d have to kill you – or myself” look on his face. A bit tough for a TV chef that.
  • Wanna be Sanjeev Kapoors – with the same puppet like movements and and stilted manner of speaking always ending with “ab aapki mint coriander hing mojito lassi tayar hai
  • Indian women with strangely accented English teaching (presumably) a befuddled western audience how to make “potatoes spiced with a hint of cumin” and such like.
  • Two men checking out every dive, dhaba and Udipi hotel in search of…mediocre food? Almost every time I watch this, the two have a conversation somewhat like this…“This idli is…round and white” or “the fried dal tastes pretty much like dal that’s been fried”. My point is – so why is a 30 minute program based on a restaurant that seems to be a non-event?

 

So anyway, I have decided to have another crack at those enchiladas. I hear my local supermarket’s just started stocking chipotles.

 

The Mythological Thrill Of The Chick Lit!

 

I walked into the Indian Writers section at the Landmark Book Store the other day. The Fiction area was well stocked with new material, with fancy covers with fancier titles. I flipped through a few. The jacket write ups sounded intriguing. However, and interestingly, all the books I checked out could be neatly arranged into two distinct genres – they were either of one kind or the other one.

Now, since my own book (which is going to be awesome when it is ready in 2026, as I keep telling myself) is going nowhere very slowly, I think I will need a new profession in the interim. I could become a Book Jacket Copywriter! How come? Well, one, I can make any rubbish sound exciting, and two, there are only two genres that Indians love to read anyway. So, how difficult could it be to break into this career?

As a first step towards putting together a portfolio, I have prepared two jacket templates, based on self-imagined pieces of undoubtedly brilliant fiction – one for each of the two genres I just alluded to. A little bit of edits and these templates can be universally applied to any book that is sent my way by the marketing departments at Harpers or Penguin. Hey, Folks at Harpers and Penguin, I am open for business!

2012 : Time for the pre-historic plunder to begin again!

 

Here’s the jacket template for the first genre. The Mythological Thriller.

The Unholy Legend of the Kamasura’s Bindu : Part I of the Aryabhata Trilogy

By Sunando Bhattacharjee

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Kama Asuras and the Puru Asuras, the two warring kingdoms of the planet of Chirubhan were at war unto death. The Purus were defeated eventually after the 1000 year war. Amidst the pillage that followed, a band of the Purus managed to pack whatever was left of their universe in a small glass cage and sneaked their way out to a galaxy millions of light years away. They found a new home. They called it Prithvi, or Earth, and they hid there for centuries.

Cut to the present. According to the great Aryabhata’s astro-mathematical calculations, the Kama Asuras are bound to uncover the trails of their old battle adversary again in 2012. The grand prize they seek is the Puru Universe, saved inside a tiny round glass cage the size of a child’s marble. It is safe in the house of Puru Rajkumar, the anointed king, hiding in plain sight as the one-time failed actor son of a Bollywood legend. Safe, did we say? Not quite, because Puru Rajkumar’s 4 year old son just swallowed it thinking it was a marble.

As the doctors work hard to extricate the swallowed glass ball, the Kamas and the Purus are set to meet again in another royal battle for universal domination. But first, they must frisk through the badgered child’s potty and liberate the marble. And by that, we mean, the Universe. It’s a shitty task but whoever said Winning was easy? So, who will win this battle for supremacy this time?

This 279 page legend of a book will keep you up nights. Grab Part I of this historical trilogy at your nearest bookstore today! Remember, the Kamasuras are coming!

(Standard Requirements of this genre : Of course, all of the above is rubbish, doesn’t make any sense, and all that ‘history’ and ‘mythology’ has been pulled straight out of the imaginary writer’s fat ass, but, hey, at least it’s a trilogy! All Mythological Thrillers come in threes. And with a jacket as impressive as the one that I have written, readers are bound to throng bookstores to buy their copy – quite like Mika clamouring all over for a free kiss from Rakhi Sawant. By the way, since the title had to have at least two mythological names in it, one cooked-up and one sorta identifiable, I chose Kamasura and Aryabhata. Bindu, is just that boobylicious moll from 1960-70’s Bollywood, but the word fits well here, right?)  

I Love You Even More Than Too Much

 

On to Genre no. 2. The Chick Lit.

Da Lovisstory Of Da Miss’d Calls : (SMS : Sid Marries Shraddha) : By Loveleena Poojary Anand

Their eyes met in class and there was unbridled passion from the word go. Unfortunately, they were both seeing different people at the time. It was a complication they would cloak with their surreptitious coitus – in the bathroom, at the library, behind the refrigerator even. He would give a missed call, and she would come. She would give a missed call, and he would cum.

Endless charades later, as they were about to leave college, they discovered this was love. Their older, as-yet-unsuspecting loves were dumped (in about 3 chapters of sheer torment for everyone – and by that I really mean e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y).

Find out how amidst career, sex, parents, sex, day-to-day drudgery, sex, marriage, sex, other things and plenty of sex, Sid and Shreds find out that true love conquers everything. As they say to each other at the end of their travails, in their quaint American parlance – “If it ain’t love, it ain’t anything.” The End. Or is it just the Beginning?

This 291 page Requiem to Love is sure to rip your heart out, chop it into little pieces and then reassemble most of it back. You will find out how YOU are Sid and Shreds. A love story that spares nothing. (And no one) Get your copy TODAY!

(Standard requirements of this genre : Boy and Girl must come from (and have met at) a premier educational institution. Check. They must use Hinglish and SMS lingo liberally. Check. As mst the authr wen he/she narates de storie. Chk. Boy must be tall and handsome, with an athletic body. Check. Girl should be slim, very pretty, with “long dark lustrous hair, eyes like saucers, and a full bosom”. Absolutely. Plenty of melodrama is a must, mainly in the form of misunderstandings. Check. She smokes, and he hates that she smokes. Yup. He cooks very well. Aww, yes, yes. They must go at it like rabbits – and by that we mean p-l-e-n-t-y of pre-marital sex. Check. Her mother must be worried about her marriage. Of course. LIVE IN relationship is essential. Double check. Love triangle? Triple Check. They must be “Software Engineers” by profession. Check. Oh, and lastly, there must be plenty of the slopy writing, grammertical error and spellng mistakes. We would’nt have any it other way.)  

 

Look What They Have Done To My Hero- A RabidSherlockian Rant!

No less Lady Watson herself, friend and ninja-market-researcher Achala Srivatsa is in a bad mood. Wouldn’t you be if someone made a mockery of your favourite superhero? (For starters, STOP CALLING HIM A SUPERHERO!)

Sherlock Holmes. NOT the star of “Apocalyptic Cabal Part V” (The new must-have video game this holiday season. Rated M)

 

These past few years have seen several adaptations of Sir ACD’s Sherlock Holmes. We had Robert Downey Jr’s “Crouching Holmes Sleeping Watson” version with ninja type flying kicks, a semi-nude Holmes, we had the scarfed up sociopathic and, frankly, nasty Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s mini-series “Sherlock”, and now we have “Elementary”, where Sherlock Holmes is a woman …no wait, Watson’s an American woman of Asian origin while Sherlock Holmes is as Brit as…well, Sherlock Holmes.

Now, I am a notorious purist when it comes to my literary and celluloid heroes and my best friends will tell you I frothed at the mouth when they messed around with James Bond (hey, My name is Bond not Heathcliff… stop the maudlin melodrama and man up with some martinis –not beer!). But I gritted my teeth and swore I’d enjoy these adaptations even if it killed me.

So I smiled sweetly and painfully through RDJ’s first movie which had a positively skanky Holmes on drugs, on steroids and worse, but joined my fellow Sherlockians and exclaimed over the vigour and fun of that movie. I stoutly refused to watch the second one but did manage to watch a bit of it and cringed.

Sherlock was fun, I admit, but this must be said – what’s with the fiendish complexity? There has been enough hand wringing over the portrayal of Holmes as a sociopath and I will not bore everyone again on that, but seriously – when did Holmes become so horribly unpleasant? Yes, I loved the clever little touches; I loved the mystery around Mycroft, the use of texting blah blah.

And then I saw a bit of “Elementary” because that was all I could take and snapped. I have had ENOUGH!

I am sick of being politely excited about “modern day” adaptations of a classic that I have loved all my life, that inspired me and excited me and still gives me a thrill when I read the opening lines of some of my favourite stories.

I say enough. Enough of female Watsons (a sober companion, for God’s sake?), enough of clever technology, enough of silly acronyms (H.O.U.N.D???), enough of seeing Holmes as a social misfit, tripping on all kinds of drugs, wallowing in a filthy room, tattooed, muscled and with prostitutes wandering through his rooms (and no, she was not there to complain about the depth to which the parsley had sunk into the butter on a hot day)

I would like to see a revival of the original canons… Please

  • Give me my funny Holmes in The Noble Bachelor “by the same logic Lestrade, every man’s body should be in the vicinity of his wardrobe”
  • Give my self-deprecating Holmes – “she waved us to our respective chairs like a reverend abbess greeting two rather leprous mendicants. If your head is inclined to swell, my dear Watson, take a course of Miss Violet de Merville” (Illustrious Client)
  • Give me the Holmes who has a magically soothing effect on distraught women – the Holmes in the Speckled Band, the Copper Beeches
  • Speaking of….give me the thrill of the Speckled Band again. Please. If you can create a story that has the terror, the drama and has the ability to thrill you – in the original sense of the word thrill – do so. If you cannot –stick to the bloody original!
  • Which takes me to my next point – if you want to introduce Holmes to an  audience that has no clue what a Sherlock is,  give them A Study in Scarlet – murder, lust, revenge, mystery, adventure, German letters scrawled in blood?  Why look elsewhere?

If the argument is that a 21st century “digitally native” audience needs a tattooed Holmes, I beg to differ. I am sure that today’s young people are perfectly capable of comprehending that before the 21st century was a 20th and before that a 19th century where people were- you know, different. When they used the English language with precision and a tattoo meant you’d been working on a ship and words like fresh, curious, terrible and grotesque were used to mean exactly what they said.