Saturday, December 29, 2007

In Anticipation

The new year cometh only too soon. 'Tis time that I sit down to resolve what is to befall. Here lies my concocted list for thy reading pleasure.

To turn this blog into a haven for narcissus and the pitiful likes of that young man.

To bear in mind that I am,before all things, a diva.

To write with prolixity and redeem myself from the pitfalls of my embarrassing past as a 'writer'.

To write more poetry, the kind that rhymes and makes sense.

To perfect the art of reviewing a book that has been reviewed several times before.

The Writer and the Coffee Bean

Virginia Woolf spectacularly mentioned, in 'A Room of One's Own', that a woman needed a room of her own and five hundred pounds a year in order to write. This was sometime in the early 20th century when post Victorian folks preferred the ritual of the 'English tea'. As a 21st century writer it is quite safe to say,'A writer(irrespective of genetic makeup) needs access to a cafe, a few bucks to buy some coffee and plenty of goodwill to appease the cafe owner'.

I don't mean to sound presumptuous but this is something I see every time I visit cafes belonging to the 'Barista' chain. I invariably see someone sitting at a corner scribbling away furiously;a future writer perhaps.On some occasions there are couples or groups of people heatedly discussing something and then scribbling away at what looks like the script for a play.Such people are never asked to leave, they order very little and they are probably the last ones to leave. I may be guilty of wishful thinking but I am not alone in my assumption and I have concrete evidence to support it.

It turns out that J.K. Rowling started her career by scribbling away on paper napkins at cafes. A lot of struggling freelancers meet fellow writers at cafes. Films romanticize the illicit relation between the writer and the coffee bean. So one must wonder how the writer fell for the coffee bean in the first place? Was it an outcome of an unspoken tradition handed down from one generation of writers to the next, or was it a mild form of substance abuse? The former is more likely because writers seldom deny allegiance or homage to their forerunners.I prefer the latter.

On a personal note; coffee only makes the mind more effective for the sake of software development with a tinge of self-imposed insomnia.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Wilde Man Doth Wander

One wouldn't expect Oscar Wilde to write 'The Soul of a Man Under Socialism'. It isn't common for a self confessed dandy to make politics his muse.It is better for folks who obsess with things such as beauty and aesthetics to refrain from soiling their hands with all the mud slinging of politics. It is quite apparent from Wilde's essay, that while writing it, he was more misguided than the man who claimed to declare nothing but his genius.

Wilde claims that socialism will burgeon a sense of individualism among people.He says; that since people will not be concerned with issues of property and ownership, they will invest more time in evolving themselves rather than in the acquisition of material resources.Wilde believes that socialism will encourage individuality from other strata of society apart from the rich.He argues that since socialism compels all people to be on an equal standing,the need for altruism(in Wilde's opinion, the sole cause for human degradation)will be completely eliminated.Thus people be more concerned with developing the artistic temperament and a questioning mind rather than helping others.

While Wilde's intentions for the betterment of the human condition are apparent; his ramblings are,as I mentioned earlier,misguided. He says, and I quote,'Individualism, then, is what through socialism we are to attain.As a natural result,the State must give up all idea of government.' Perhaps, Mr. Wilde attributes certain qualities to society that it doesn't possess. For instance, who is to decide what comprises the state? Mr Wilde decries the use of human beings for manual labour and thus thinks it will be better to use machinery to clean the streets and to work in mines. The machinery will be provided by the 'state', the same 'state' that doesn't govern.It seems to appear that people are only supposed to invent and create and while the state provides all the support and the environment.Even if the state were an abstract entity, who is to turn that abstraction into a tangible entity?

Mr. Wilde paints a utopic portrait of the same society that humiliated him for his 'individuality' and cared more about his sexual preference than his contribution to the arts. He probably forgot that the foundation of every human society(even the one he lived in) was based on power.Perhaps he was in denial about the territorial nature that is inherent in every human being.If society were as Mr. Wilde intended it to be;there would be no fashion,no mass media(something that he censures when he mentions journalism),no competition and above all things, there would be widespread unemployment among gossip columnists.Sounds almost perfect doesn't it? Then again, of what use is a perfect world?

Speaking of perfection, I am nevertheless willing to forgive that glitch in Mr. Wilde's argument thanks to his near perfect prose. I still respect what Mr. Wilde writes about art(three fourths of the essay concerns art, there is practically no mention of politics towards the end).One should treat 'The Soul of a Man Under Socialism' as a treatise on art and its definition and just forget that Mr. Wilde ever had a political view.Wilde's idea of socialism bears close resemblance to a subdued form of anarchy. I am inclined to agree with George Bernard Shaw who found Wilde's essay very witty and entertaining but that it had nothing to do with socialism. It is unfortunate that Wilde wrote the essay before the world could come to a collective agreement on the true nature of socialism.It is however amusing to note that this is one of his more celebrated works and that it was the anthem on the lips of younger Victorians.So much for a two hundred year long generation gap!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Looking Back in Awe

I finished reading 'The Brothers Karamazov' today. I will not write about it because I fear my words will taint those of a sublime genius.Fortunately; I have enough courage to admit that I am nearly devoid of an unshakable belief system thanks to the cross examination of such a system by Mr. Dostoyevsky.You haven't lived if you haven't read 'The Brothers Karamazov'. Amen!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Letter to the Artist

If we could all be dreamers,
Then we wouldn't try to cease
being lost in hopeless reverie.
If there could be rivers
Of endless expertise
We wouldn't swing between impression and integrity.

I watch your blood curl;
As it falls from the dagger that aligns
Expression with worthless lines
Of illusion, that unfurl
Themselves in the stealthy designs
Of a broken mind scattered across a million shrines.

If we could choose to sever
Reason from reverie
Eternal dreamers we would be.
If only we could endeavor
To merge what is stoic with all things free,
Art wouldn't be a necessity.

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Inhabitants in the Reading Room

I have two new gems in the reading room. 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Dostoyevsky (It's time I started calling the author Fyodor) and 'Love' by Toni Morrison. I have shelved 'Love' to a spot that is a tad difficult to reach because I find 'The Brothers Karamazov' extremely stimulating for the intellect. 'The Brothers Karamazov' must be the first Dostoyevsky masterpiece that I have read without shutting my eyes in despair.

Dostoyevsky argues about more things than just the usual grind (morality, hypocrisy and cruelty). He raves about the possible existence of God and Satan(I now believe I have the right to call him Fyodor, my agnostic soulmate),the right of a man to drink his cup of life and the usual tussle between matters of the flesh and those of the heart.I have never encountered 19th century Russian literature filled with so much blatant debauchery and so many twisted connotations.I like it!

Reading status:
Pages read:430
Pages left:610

P.S: I promise a blog entry that appears less histrionic and more 'processed'. The kind that one would expect from an adult.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The City of Joy

Whoever decided to call Kolkata(or Calcutta) the 'City of Joy' must have either possessed a smug sense of irony or one of complete denial. At first sight Kolkata seems far from 'joyous' to the naive visitor. If one steps out of a train at the Howrah station and makes one's way grudgingly into the taxi stand, one is hit by the hot stench of the city's odour.The taxi now moves out of the station, over the famous Howrah bridge(still a magnificent tribute to architecture) and drives into 'the city of joy'.The sights and sounds don't exactly exude a sense of rapture.Perhaps I'm searching for joy in the wrong places.

I was born in Kolkata,but raised in Bangalore.My relationship with Kolkata,after more than 20 years, is still rather vague in terms of sentiment.Since Kolkata is the land of my ancestors, I make trips to the city once in two years. Every visit feels like the first time. I don't seem to be able to make peace with the city, or its people or all that it represents.To me, Kolkata represents a thorn of masochistic pleasure; the kind that makes me throw back my head and declare ,"thank god I don't live here".

When I think of Kolkata, I reminisce about schoolgirls with oily braids and schoolboys wearing 'readymade' ties running across the street with their near hysterical mothers. I see married women, wearing their hair in tight knots, the hair parted to make way for 'sindoor'(the glistening red substance that is the mark of all married women).I see middle aged men, carrying jute bags and newspapers on their way to work in the cruel,scorching heat. I see citizens seated,with momentary airs of superiority, on the backs of threadbare rickshaw pullers; who jog breathlessly as they pull their passengers from one street to another.The most lingering and troublesome memory of all would be the one of elderly folk; sitting haplessly at street corners or in front porches of houses,the last sparkle of life glistening through thick cylindrical spectacles, how reproachfully they watch youngsters, tourists and strangers like me.I have often complained to my parents that there aren't enough young people in Kolkata. My mother always said, 'all the young people have left'.

Outsiders have always considered Kolkata to be steeped in art and culture. It is the land of the intellectuals. I love the art but haven't made peace with the culture and I am still searching for my one cup of joy.I know of people who don't want to leave the city at any cost, they say they are happy and will not find that kind of bliss anywhere else.Perhaps it is that small iota of joy that comes from being satisfied with less or from belonging to a city with a colossal history.Maybe it comes from the lights of Chowringhee, from scraps of the city's colonial past,from ancient houses that stand tall as a quiet testimony to neglect or from the collective spirit of human pride and generosity.Yet, how can there be bliss in the midst of so much suffering? Does joy come from suffering with dignity(something that the people of Kolkata do with tremendous panache)? Does joy come from being accustomed to hardship and indifference? Perhaps for the people of the 'city of joy', it comes from a fleeting sense of denial that makes everything seem acceptable.

My present state confirms that my premise is faulty. I am still looking for joy in the wrong places.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

When Divas Insult

The art of the insult isn't quaint
It takes enough nerve and grit
And imagination to paint
A picture as grim as a legal writ.

Divas imagine,they splurge, they dance
On thin invisible air.
Divas fly at the nearest chance
To be uncaring and unfair.

So when divas and insults meet
Sparks of debauchery fill common speech.
Divas storm the earth in a renegade fleet
Pushing propriety out of common reach.

But the world still chooses to smile,
As they follow in the ignorant bliss
Of malapropism coated with sugary guile,
Only to fall into the senseless,verbose cranial abyss.

Five Minute Love

I have been thinking a great deal about 'speed dating', probably an outcome of my love life that isn't even remotely abstract. What started as an experiment seems to be the path to bliss for a lot of people. There are two lines of people, they shift from desk to desk, like raw material along an assembly line, looking at strange new faces and trying to fathom if they ought to take the next step. Each encounter lasts five minutes, long enough to make a lasting impression I suppose!

A person has exactly 300 seconds to decide if the face in front belongs to a benevolent angel or to an anthropological error. Speed dating scores even lower than blind dating because there isn't enough room for stimulating conversation or even a misanthropic yet well meaning insult.Even for people who live a lifetime in a minute, speed dating can be quite a turn off if the prospective date doesn't.

I cannot bring myself to attend a speed dating extravaganza. It takes me a little more than 300 seconds to make an impression and a fair assumption about 'where it will go'. In my books speed dating holds the same importance as the average saccharine coated paranormal encounter.

It takes a little more than five minutes to fall in love.

To Dickens, An Old Friend

Charles Dickens always evokes a sense of nostalgia in me.My tryst with classic literature began with an abridged version of 'A Tale of Two Cities' (an edition made specially for children). I was only eight then, and I was astounded by the man's ability to tell a story.I probably learned more about the French revolution from Dickens than I did from my history textbook. I then went on to watch a film version of 'Oliver Twist'. In the seventh grade we had an abridged version of 'Great Expectations' as our reading text.I instantly fell in love with Pip and Estella and more importantly with the work of Dickens.I was ,quite understandably, miffed by the, on screen, modern day adaptation of 'Great Expectations' starring Ethan Hawke and Gwenneth Paltrow.By then I had enough of abridged versions of Dickens' work. So a year later I read 'David Copperfield', all eight hundred and twenty six pages of it. I have never felt as accomplished as I did when I read the last word on the last page of 'David Copperfield'.

As I got older and disillusionment befell(as it befalls all young people sometime or the other), I drifted away from Dickens.I found him too 'whiny' as I put it(or low brow as I meant it). How could you expect me to lap up Rand and Dickens at the same time? Dickens indirectly pleaded for social reform in an age where man and machine were treated as one and the same. He wrote of human cruelty and sacrifice with a simplicity that was nauseating at times. Dickens used humour and jest to cover up for the stark deficiencies in human character. Yet, like every child who drifts away from a favourite toy, I drifted away from Dickens. I moved on to darker pastures, to complexity, to things I couldn't comprehend but loved all the same.

A few days back,I saw the film version of 'Great Expectations' again(the one that I nearly loathed). I remembered Dickens with a sense of grief and regret. When we abandon old friends because they fail to fill a void, that same void gets filled, unconsciously, with a measure of guilt that is quite inexplainable. Maturity has taught me that we cannot expect people to voluntarily complete us. They can only help us seek completion if we allow them. Dickens had so much to say, it's just that I didn't listen closely enough.

For all that it is worth, here's to Charles Dickens - an old friend with a rare spark.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Neurosis: In Blank Verse

I stand in the tittering rain
Facing a tinted window;
My clothes tattered,
My toes trembling,
My eyes red from tortuous strain.
I squint so I may behold
What goes on behind translucent doors.
There are people
Seated around a table.
Oh how they talk, how they chatter
How they rattle on
In endless banter.
What they speak I do not hear
But I guess I have a faint inkling.
They laugh at those that aren't present.
Probably at one who stands outside
On tenterhooks;
At times in harsh sunlight,
At times in intimidating thunder.
How endlessly they mock
The plight and the absence
Of near yet faceless strangers.
When they rise to leave,
I leave too
Out of sheer discretion.
I turn back to investigate and to overcome
The supposed last blow to my reputation.
I find no trace of my antecedents,
Or room for my exploits.
The only things left
Are empty wine glasses
And irrevocably scarred pride.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An Affair that Doesn't End

I believe that there exists a bond between writers and their readers that is often bizzare and sometimes metaphysical. I am often at a loss to comprehend my affinity towards dead folks who lived by the pen.Thus, I am quite amused by the outcome of this cranial attachment that extends beyond the grave.

As a 15 year old, I was obsessed with Mr. Wilde. Quite the unlikely choice for a 'straight' young girl who should have been obsessed with the likes of Justin Timberlake. What on earth did I see in the dandy, homosexual, aesthete who was quite the open narcissist ? More than what the eye could see I suppose. What the eye cannot see the mind will construe. I had a hunger for Wilde's work because I firmly believed, that under all the paraphernalia was a writer of more greatness and sensitivity than was attributed to him. I fed on the sheer magnetic power of Wilde's wit to the extent that I had started ,unconsciously, to quote him at chat sites(We didn't have social networks back then).I still quote Wilde and reread his work till I am sufficiently amused and nostalgic of a time gone by.

I discovered Dostoyevsky two years later. I found him to be tremendously gifted and observant in a terrifying way. If I were to pass him by in the street I would shoot a glance at him and not care to speak to him even if he asked for the time. I share a quaint and strained relationship with Kafka. Partly because I feel intense pain in his work and partly because I'm afraid I'd stutter if I met him in person.

My present muse is D.H. Lawrence. I am yet to ascertain the level of frivolity and nonchalance of the whole deal. Never have I come across a post Victorian writer who dared to put women outside the 'suffering is the badge of my tribe' stereotype.Reading 'Sons and Lovers' plummeted the reader-writer bond to a whole new level.When was the last time you met a man who nearly celebrated the 'Oedipus Rex complex' and gave snakes more credit than he gave men? I'm hooked again! This one is here to stay!

p.s. In case my regular readers are wondering why I never had a wireless, cranial relationship with Marquez; it's because I hope to meet him in person someday.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cliches and Junk

It's time for familiarity. Time for the diva to do next year's spring cleaning four months in advance. I haven't cleared my cache of all the hoarded cliches and frankly my dear I do give a damn about platitude ! Here are some of the things that are flying out of the blog-reference.

Runaway hit: In the context of films;the only thing that runs away is all the precious, hard earned money spent by starry eyed spectators.

Coalition government: An unnervingly popular term used extensively in Indian politics. Since no party ever seems to get the clear majority; a coalition is something like a 'many-way' marriage of convenience. In reality, a coalition is an open ground for infidelity,defection and debauchery of the despicable kind. There is nothing positive or beneficial about it. Hence, I hereby condemn the phrase to a miserable end!

Classified information: We in Divaland live for the gossip, period.

Multiculturalism: Another political term used incorrectly by the proponents of political correctness. We can dip the entire human race in crimson paint, roll them to the same size, raise them under identical environmental conditions and make them genetically asexual. Intolerance is still inevitable. Let us not credit ourselves with traits we do not possess.

Spiritual: The most exploited term in the English language (and in other locales as well). It is 'hip' now to be spiritual. Anything that becomes 'hip' eventually loses its charm. Let us strike the word 'spiritual' from our dictionaries before it dies an unbecoming death.

Now who is going to take a little walk to the trash can, any volunteers?

Jude the Obscure

Sometime in the year 1999, I developed an inclination towards adaptations. I was a naive teenager, little did I anticipate that eight years on I would dread the sound of the word 'adaptation'. Back then, I would watch the movie and then read the book. That's how I discovered 'Jude the Obscure' (Possible spoiler at the end read at your own risk).

'Jude the Obscure' is the only book by Thomas Hardy that I have read to completion. I have always found Hardy's books to be a little slow and perhaps a little rustic for my liking.Surprisingly, with 'Jude the Obscure' the pages flew faster than I could read. All this was inspired by 'Jude', a cinematic adaptation of the book starring Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston. I was struck by the simple yet raw tragedy that is so common in Hardy's work. I grabbed the book from the school library before anyone else could borrow it.

As it turned out, the film was a lot more explicit yet a lot less heart wrenching than the book. I felt a tingle of regret when I read that it was the last novel Hardy ever wrote (it is said that he stopped writing novels because of personal tragedy and because of the way 'Jude the Obscure' was received). I couldn't get enough of Jude, the ill fated yet ambitious intellectual, torn between two diametrically opposite women. Hardy had mastered the art of crafting complex women who make themselves miserable and crush others with the sheer power of their misery. I remember despising Arabella, the scheming and gold digging wife who was crass and uncouth. I remember trying to understand Sue; the progressive young woman who falls in love with Jude, has two children out of wedlock and then marries another man out of penitence.

Hardy captures the slow degradation of a man,his life and his work. Hardy indirectly censured society for its hypocrisy and double standards. Unlike Hardy's other heroines who bore children out of wedlock as a consequence of rape or deceit, Sue bore two children out of wedlock by sheer choice. Eventually no amount of idealism and forward thinking can save the unfortunate couple from poverty,alienation and isolation. Sue and Jude part ways, quite differently than they did in the film.

It must have been too much of a cynosure for post Victorian propriety; hence the lukewarm critical response and Hardy's unceremonious exit from writing as he knew it.Luckily it was more than enough for an angst ridden teenager who grew up to be a nonchalant diva.

p.s. - According to my dear friend 'Wikipedia'; D. H. Lawrence (or as I call him : the near pornographic bad boy of post Victorian literature) was puzzled by Sue's impulses and has written an essay on her (full of explicit speculation on the 'unnatural' cravings of the human female I suppose). I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Perils of Adaptation

Adapting a great work of literature for the screen is a daunting task. It is very rare to find an adaptation outdoing the original work.I came across one adaptation that was ambitious yet a tad pitiful.I have always maintained that Dostoyevsky's 'Crime and Punishment' (or for that matter any work of Dostoyevsky's) is a nightmare in the context of adaptation.

To start with, one would need an actor with tremendous stamina and acting prowess to play Raskolnikov, the protagonist who wavers between sanity and guilt. Next, one would require a reverent screenwriter who is capable of constructing a screenplay that is accurate,insightful and in line with Dostoyevsky's original vision. One would also need scrupulous attention in the department of art direction and cinematography to recreate 19th century Russia as seen through the eyes of the writer and the protagonist.

Menahem Golan's modern day adaptation of 'Crime and Punishment' falls just short of all the above.It took me a while to figure out that it was a modern day adaptation, because the actors seemed to be under the impression that they were in 19th century Russia. The dialog is shifty and inconsistent. It swings between 19th century propriety and 21st century debauchery, peppered with phrases like 'I kicked his a**' and 'Oh mother I love you so'.

Crispin Glover's Raskolnikov is more like a psychotic slacker than the benevolent yet neurotic intellectual that readers love. I was disappointed in the way Raskolnikov's character was handled. He is portrayed as chatty and confrontational as opposed to the introvert stricken with guilt and illness.Vanessa Redgrave, who plays the protagonist's mother, puts a little too much class in her portrayal of the slightly boorish Mrs. Raskolnikov.The supporting cast, all except for John Hurt, make very little of an impression. There are a flurry of American and English accents. The only elements of Russian life are the names of the characters and the costumes worn by the priests and members of the police force.A viewer who hasn't read the book is bound to feel cheated enough to censure Dostoyevsky's body of work.

I was a little hesitant to write this entry as I am still appreciative of the intention behind the film, but as it turns out I'm not alone in my opinion.On the bright side,I am left with nothing but awe for the complexity of Dostoyevsky's work. Here's something that cannot be tainted or twisted by any amount of 'Hollywood tweaking'.

ps: I picked the minimal white template for readers who care more for content than for color.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Befuddled Infidelity

Readers with a finite reserve of patience tend to exercise a policy of non-exclusivity with their books. The linguistic bourgeoisie call it 'multi-tasking' and the blunt call it literary infidelity.I am guilty of straying ever so often. At present, I am doing the best I can to spend as much 'quality time' with the two books I'm reading (without raising so much as a whiff of suspicion). A seasoned bibliophile, like yours truly, eventually starts to believe that books are enigmatic creatures with exceptional powers.

It all started when I attempted to read 'Ulysees'. I remember abandoning that God-forsaken book to read 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'. I still haven't completed reading 'Ulysees'. I cannot bear to look at the James Joyce classic,lying on the shelf, laden with dust and neglect; while I slither by with another book.

The past few months have been filled with such acts of deceit. I read 'Three Men in a Boat'; followed by the simultaneous reading of 'Sons and Lovers' and 'Summer Moonshine'. I seem to excel in the craft of stealth and guile because I am currently reading 'Love' by Toni Morrison interlaced with pieces from 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Dostoevsky.

The result of all this 'two-timing' is a gigantic culmination of muddled opinions squirming to make sense.While Dostoevsky and Morrison excel in their portrayal of the human condition to fine precision; I cannot boast of the same precision when it comes to literary appreciation.

The crowning glory is that I'm not morose with guilt. I don't crave the time when I would take months to complete a novel because I wanted every syllable to sink in.They say 'Time and tide wait for no man'. I suppose it is now apt to say that 'Time, tide and Divas with books wait for no craft'!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Diva like Bette

When I think of Bette Davis I am mesmerized. I am not sure whether it comes from a sense of awe or intimidation. Bette was something like a blot of rebellion on the predictable canvass of conventional Hollywood. Bette wasn't beautiful but her face was striking; leaving something tantalizing, something terrifying and incongruous to the one who beheld it.

Bette had no Godfathers. She wasn't an ambitious child star with a promising career as an adult. She had an uncharacteristic air that generated dislike in a society that treated women like inanimate objects. She was a diva on screen as she was in reality (she openly disagreed with producers and 'the big guys'). I can still see her as the southern belle in 'Jezbel', as the eternal seductress, the adulteress,the crone and even as Queen Elizabeth I. Her large, dramatic eyes made love and committed treason with equal panache. Perhaps that explains the term 'Bette Davis eyes'.

Bette's life was laced with its own share of drama and tragedy.She died,without any regrets, at the age of ,81 from cancer.

As a continuing tribute to divas past and present; here's to Bette the eternal diva, may her legacy continue to inspire other divas alike.

Still Under the Knife

A Diva can never be too happy with a new makeover. This time the blog template is turning black (as a tribute to my darker side and to blackmail my readers into buying a copy of 'The Brothers Karamazov'). I have a pink template for my space at livejournal and do not fancy anymore redundancy. Readers with a problem may voice their concerns. Readers with that extra bit of concern may offer to write a template that I can integrate with my blog. The final decision is left to the last whim of the Diva.Basta!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Makeover Time

Of the three people who voted in the 'does the blog need a new template poll'; two want a template change. Perhaps these individuals shall be kind enough to make suggestions to that effect.Till then I shall pick a new template from the list that blogger provides.I am looking forward to all your comments.
- The curt and terse Diva.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In Search of Stereotypes

This is inspired by an earlier entry on male stereotypes in literature . I decided to make an attempt in unearthing female stereotypes in literature. I was particularly struck by the common thread of suffering borne by most women in classical literature.Here are some of the usual suspects.

The plain and poor sufferer who lands the jackpot: You can find her in the likes of 'Jane Eyre'. It seems almost necessary that such women should be orphans with cruel aunts.Fortunately a simple twist of fate(and tonnes of good karma) is enough to turn a penurious plain Jane into a wealthy benefactress with a rich husband.

The pretty sufferer who continues to suffer: It seems cruel that classic writers should make all the pretty ones suffer but it happens all the time. 'The Beautiful and the Damned' don't belong to any economic class in particular. I found several of this kind in the typical Thomas Hardy novel.Catherine from 'Wuthering Heights' falls safely into this stereotype and so does Daisy from 'The Great Gatsby'.Classic writers have a tendency to make beautiful rebels the epitome of suffering.As though to imply,'all who rebel must suffer'.

The naive neophyte: You can find her in almost any piece of Victorian or post-Victorian satire. She is a young socialite with plenty of misplaced wit and an equal amount of charm to make up for it.She is not well read but is educated enough to make intelligent sounding conversation.She is talented enough to sing,play the piano,embroider and give the most charming tea parties. She usually has impeccable taste in clothes, accessories and men. The naive neophyte is however a threat to the general mental well being of society. Her little social experiments tend to create more of a stir than necessary. She learns, in more embarrassing ways than one, to exercise some restraint on her creativity.

The haughty socialite: Another regular like the previous stereotype. She comes with a rather vulgar inheritance, has all the dandies trailing behind her, is uncommonly beautiful and above all things a Victorian snob. Victorian literature can be quite unyielding to all its lovely suffering ladies. Several of them tend to lose their lovers to the claws of the haughty socialite.

The courtesan aka the mistress: Ever so often, men like to keep mistresses. Men of royal descent tend to satisfy themselves with courtesans while lesser royals and others alike have the pleasure of keeping mistresses. The 'other woman' also suffers in silence as she makes up for the 'deficiencies of the wife'. She is showered with dresses, trinkets and an enviable allowance but never a wedding ring. In most cases such women end up as retired recluses who train other unfortunate women to do exactly the same.

Whoever said it was easy being a woman?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When Divas Meditate

There came a fine fateful day,
The air was fresh and light.
There was a diva ,looking over the sunny bay,
Feeling overly righteous and upright.

How calm, how blissful,she wondered aloud
The saint in her conscience scaling new heights.
How vile,she thought,it is to cloud
One's divinity with earthly delights.

Then there came a tidal wave;
Splashing,raging without remorse.
Her silken stockings the diva couldn't save
And all benevolence lost its momentary recourse.

Woe of woes to them, who forfeit reason
So they may live to be unreasonable.
Woe of woes to the diva who revels in treason
So she may appear fashionable.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Clingy Rant

When I consider my past,
I see old time as I'd recall reverie,
The fading shadow of an old flag mast.
I try to embrace time;
Till it is entwined,never to be free
From the dreary swing of clock chime.
I wander with my life's silhouette,
Trailing behind all that is left of me
In a melancholy duet.
I deny that I am deprived
The luxury of longevity,
And that, all these years,only time has survived.

For the sake of Posterity

You Should Be A Poet

You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.
And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery...
Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.
You're already naturally a poet, even if you've never written a poem.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Moral of the Story

I remember my good old kindergarten days when the teacher would narrate one of Aesop's fables and ask us to figure out the 'moral of the story'. At present, I object most passionately to the use of the word 'moral' in the context of literature. In my opinion some of the best literature, irrespective of language, thrives on several instances of immorality. Nevertheless, for the sake of nostalgia, I shall write about things we can learn from the following books.

Name of the book: 'Three Men in a Boat(to say nothing of the dog)'
Moral: It is never a bad idea for a hypochondriac to go on an 'idyllic' vacation along the river Thames(with his dog) to discover that he is actually fit as a fiddle.

Name of the book: 'Love in the time of Cholera'
Moral: No matter how many 'flings' a man may choose to have over a period of four decades, he can never get enough of his now married childhood sweetheart.

Name of the book: 'Jane Eyre'
Moral: Calamity forces opposites to attract. The almost penniless,kind hearted and plain looking heroine will always end up with the wealthy but bestial protagonist.

Name of the book:'Lady Chatterley's Lover'
Moral: Aristocratic ladies unhappily married to crippled war veterans are likely to elope with rustic but 'hunky' game keepers.

Name of the book: 'The Good Earth'
Moral: The younger generation will gladly dump the one thing that the older generation strives to protect.

Name of the book: 'The Great Gatsby'
Moral: Never admit to a crime your former lover committed, whatever is left of the affair is destined for doom.

That's all for now little ones. A moral a day keeps the censor board at bay.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Closer to Death: An Old Obsession

There was a time when I tried very hard,with little success, to be an angst ridden teenager. My sense of rebellion sprung out of nowhere; completely lacking impetus and purpose. At thirteen, I avoided school activities as a part of my 'Rebel Without a Cause' agenda. I would come back home,while a lot of other kids stayed back at school, and attempt to write 'dark' (to be swallowed with a pinch of salt) poetry (the kind that rhymed badly).

I read a lot of articles on psychology, philosophy and spirituality. I claimed at the the time to have understood all that I read (a tall claim that my twenty-something self will gladly contest). At fourteen, I joined the school choir; the 'darkness' subsided and the rhythm was less offensive. The angst mellowed and I felt 'empty' as I didn't have a worthy source of motivation.

Come sweet sixteen, and yours truly was a high school musical actress with a brand new obsession; death! Emily Dickenson personified a gentleman with great 'civility' in her poem 'Because I Could Not Stop for Death'. 'Death be not Proud' proclaimed John Donne in his sonnet to death. 'Do not go gentle..' said Dylan Thomas in a poem dedicated to his father. It is interesting to know that the stead of the Hindu God of Death, Yama, is a dog (my favourite mammal). I was quite taken by idea of two distinct possibilities; one of immortality and the other of temporary uncertainty(better known as mortality).I pondered and bickered, I personified and glorified, I wrote and scribbled till the day I had enough.

I never have and probably never will write a verse on death. (There is a catch; I am too fickle minded to make assertive statements.) I prefer life and I love being a diva!

P.S. : If my readers wish, I can post corrected and less embarrassing versions of some of the 'dark' poetry (if I am able to locate the manuscripts stashed away in shame).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Vacation in Divaland : Why it never Happens

Jerome K. Jerome has inspired many a soul in Divaland to attempt a vacation of the 'Three Men in a Boat' type. Except that the people in Divaland are more conscientious of the choices they make being the control freaks that they are. Since Divaland exists in my head and so do all its citizens, I take sole responsibility for this fictitious piece of not-so-wishful thinking.

The proposed vacation will be taken on the banks of a secluded lake. Since I don't own a boat, I will drive to the spot.

List of things(and creatures) to be taken(assuming that the car has enough room for all of them)

Two dogs(at least)
A waterproof tent
A novel
A portable gas stove
A portable oven
A bag of pasta
A bag of vegetables
A chunk of cheese
Crockery and cutlery
A sketchbook
A decent supply of pencils,erasers and pencil sharpeners
A box of watercolours and brushes of all sizes
The new eau de toilet collection
A blanket and mattress
Insect repellent and a rat trap
A supply of dog food and toys

Fatalism: why it always fails

The dogs tend to get sick of eating dog food after a day or two.They start to realize that 'human food' and the human way of living is far more gratifying than anything characteristically canine. The dogs will go on an indefinite hunger strike till restored to their original state with a dose of macaroni and cheese. Cooking on a portable stove is not that pleasant. One can only cook a small bit at a time. The kitchen equipment tends to get a little tedious and the diva can hardly show off her prowess as a star chef.

The portable oven is never of any use as there isn't enough battery supply to bake anything.(One must never risk using the car battery for one's culinary needs.)The eau de toilet, the novel and the sketchbook are probably the only things that offer comfort to a diva stranded by a lake with two uncooperative dogs. As if that weren't enough;I haven't mentioned the perils of transporting the dogs and all the equipment to the vacation site.

At the end of all this consideration one realizes that pure bliss can be found in the comfort of one's own backyard on any day of the week and at any time of the day. Even the dogs seem to agree!

Moral of the story- No wonder people in Divaland have such nice backyards!

Updates From the Reading Room

It all happened the day after my birthday. I was out with a close friend and happened to stumble upon one of my favourite book stores(entirely on purpose). I was elated to see a clearance sale going on, so I marched in after having convinced my friend that it would be a great way to relax. I narrowed my choices down to 'The Diaries' of Kafka and 'Three Men in a Boat' by Jerome K. Jerome. I picked the latter(it is the appropriate choice for a girl who just got older).

'Three Men in a Boat' is about three dysfunctional men who decide to go on a trip to relieve themselves of the many tribulations of life. They take along a dog named 'Montmorency' and a lot of other paraphernalia on a boat for an idyllic week along the Thames. The book chronicles the entire 'vacation' from its conception to every last glitch and disaster. The author claims that it is based on incidents that actually took place. 'Three Men in a Boat,by the author's own admission, isn't endowed with literary brilliance or excessive verbosity. It scores because of the writer's excellent sense of satire and fatalism. The book is timeless in its appeal and is here to leave yet another generation of readers in splits.

Reading statistics:
pages read-122
pages left-101

Instances of inspiration: The book inspires people in Divaland to go on idyllic vacations with their dogs.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Wayward Attempt at Redemption

Forgive me dear reader for I have sinned, it has been more than a month since my last apology and it happens to be my first confession of the sort.

First, I am guilty of wrath. I find it infuriating that celebrities seem to have the birthright to churn out 'bestsellers' that are laden with errors and multiple instances of bad writing. I also find it annoying that books of substance don't get their share of recognition at the appropriate time.

Second, I am guilty of envy. I envy bloggers who get book deals, period.

Third, I am guilty of sloth. I don't invest enough thought and research into the books I'm reading and thus end up writing 'bloggish' book reviews.

Fourth, I am guilty of greed. I want unlimited domain space without having to shell out a dime. I only make apologetic entries so I may gain Karma points at the smallest drop of benevolence from a forgiving reader.

Fifth, I am guilty of pride. I am too proud to admit that my blog gets an average of 10 hits per day. I am also too proud to acknowledge my imperfection as a writer and a poet.

Sixth, I am guilty of lust. I cannot stop thinking of the work of D.H. Lawrence. It is my 'sloth' that prevents the thought from spilling in the direction of full blown obsession.

I do not stake claim to gluttony as I like eating as much as I like Dan Brown (do we see pride laced with a little envy?).

Forgive me dear reader. I will condemn myself to a week of penance and refrain from blogging till I have something worth writing about.

Friday, September 21, 2007

When Reading Becomes an Acquired Taste

The whole concept of acquiring the taste to read is bizzare with respect to the context of my blog; nevertheless I found out, the hard way, that sometimes one needs to acquire a certain taste to tackle an entry on the reading list. Ernest Hemmingway is and will always remain a celebrated Nobel Laureate as long as human memory persists. My mother warned me saying,'Hemmingway is an acquired taste, you may not like him'. I still went ahead and read 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', Hemmingway's ode to the Spanish civil war written in a moderate undertone. I predicted a more explosive and heartbreakingly tragic end to the book than the one Hemmingway put forth. Besides,diva that I am, I am not particularly fond of lucid undertones in literature.

I now understand people who dislike Marquez. A lot of readers feel 'cheated' after reading 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. I wouldn't go far enough to accuse Hemmingway of 'cheating' but I will go far enough to say that I couldn't immerse myself in his work. If it takes time to get accustomed to wine then Hemmingway must be like Sherry, dry yet burning on the inside. I have decided to forgo my quest of discovering Hemmingway through his work. I am reading 'Sons and Lovers' by D.H. Lawrence for consolation.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

C'est Tres Embarrassant !

Even the average perfectionist likes to take an innocent pride in his or her work. I stake claim to the same when it comes to my blog. I am rarely satisfied with my entries when I click on 'publish post'; they are either too immature or bleak and incomplete. It takes a while before I can warm up to my work and say to myself, 'this is what I should do for a living'. It takes a few weeks or even months for this to happen, and when it does I feel my virgoan-ego bursting with an excess of self-acclaim. All of this is short lived till I come across an embarrassing ambiguity. My sentences tend to be long with an excessive use of punctuation (mostly at inappropriate places) and French . While I hurriedly correct the structural vilification, I hardly get respite from the French parts. I don't have localization enabled, hence I cannot use accented characters. I can only sweat and swear, 'C'est tres embarrassant'.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Kafka's Blog

Franz Kafka was an enigmatic microcosm. He still is an esoteric phenomenon thanks to the nature of his work. He writes of men who think they've become insects. He walks you through a stream of consciousness till you wake and struggle to grasp the fact that you exist. Writers like Kafka are rarer today than they were in his time. No struggling writer desirous of commercial success would dare 'pull a Kafka' on his or her readers. Bloggers with alternate sources of income (like yours truly who doesn't rake a dime from her blog) have other luxuries that leave enough room (and free domain space) for open introspection.

I imagine the 'Kafka blogspot' to be less egotistical and hardly flamboyant when compared to its counterparts. Kafka would have picked a template minimal and threadbare enough to make the average web designer cringe. I can imagine a site meter,hidden at some shameful corner, ticking away abysmally as the occasional smog of curiosity makes its way to the site. I don't know Kafka well enough to toy with the idea of a visual 'Kafka blog', it seems too presumptuous at the moment.

On a less cynical note, I imagine the 'Kafka blogspot' to be the most satisfying place on the web for those who take the trouble to analyze each and every syllable. I see great depth in terse sentences, typed out with haste so that ideas don't drift past the thinker. I see lines euphemistic enough to speak of human folly without the slightest intent of offense. I can imagine impatient readers casting away Kafka's work because it needs too much retrospection and demands excessive thought. Publishers would have had nothing but contempt for Kafka, the man whose brilliance just falls short of controversy.

Perhaps Kafka was ahead of his time and perhaps he is ahead of ours.It is some wonder that he was discovered when he was. I still could be wrong about his blogspot though.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

It Happens only in India: The use of Reincarnation to meet Freudian Ends

Sigmund Freud is fortunate enough to have died before the advent of the 21st century and well before the coming of 'The Great Indian Spiritual Renaissance' (as I like to call it). 'The Great Indian Spiritual Renaissance' relies heavily on the way Indian conscience plays truant with its owner. Most Indians are a tad guilty for neglecting their traditions and for completely disregarding their roots.Speaking of Freudian ends; Freud once hinted that all psychological afflictions can be traced back to seemingly innocuous incidents of the past(mostly those from an individual's childhood). A new Indian school of thought has extended the Freudian premise to hint that some psychological afflictions are deep seated enough to be traced to a previous life!

Irrespective of whether this is another feather in the cap for the proponents of feel good soul searching, or whether this is a publicity stunt gone embarrassingly wrong; people are lapping it up. The new global economy has not only helped a bunch of Indians to get vulgarly rich; it has also helped a few prodigal sheep to return to the mystical flock. Indians have rediscovered yoga, vaastu (the Indian counterpart of feng-shui), religion, alternative healing and now reincarnation. Even the new-age shrink has found a plethora of riches stashed away behind the 'eternity of the human soul'. It is said that the soul remembers all that it has been through, life after life, and it is conditioned by its memory. It has left denial seekers rumbling in ecstasy and the rest like me just reeling. Sadly the human spirit is made out to be less resilient than it really is.

Hence ,to explain my penchant for acting like a diva, my imaginary shrink would tell me this, 'You are not a diva because you imagine you are one. You are a diva because you were one in a past life!' (I think I just heard Freud screech in agony.) Don't take responsibility for your problems little ones, your poor little soul has taken a lot already!

ps: I sorely miss the good old days when people just blamed their genes for all their little quirks, I can barely handle all the filthy laundry from one life!

Saturday, September 01, 2007


You know web 2.0 has gone too far when you find Virginia Woolf on MySpace. Voila ! Here she is with 'A Space of Her Own' . I'd like to acknowledge my source Blogging Woolf for the unexpected link.

Updates From the Reading Room

'For Whom the Bell Tolls' isn't your typical war-inspired novel. For starters, it is written by Ernest Hemmingway, thus it is written in an undertone without a hint of exaggeration. Probably Hemmingway's purpose wasn't to so much to chronicle the war as it was to bring out what war does to people. Hemmingway's characters, though underplayed, are rich in their own right. After reading a little more than 300 pages, I'm starting to wonder if Hemmingway liked to play metaphysical pranks on his readers by making his work so unbearably simple and excruciatingly slow.

The only thing that keeps me from dismissing the book as a a masterful literary dead end is Hemmingway's empathy towards his characters and his staunch belief in the cause of the anti-Franco republicans. It seems as though he might spring out from the dead any moment to say, 'I love these people, I know their suffering like I know my own'. What more can one expect from a man who supposedly gave an existential interpretation of bullfighting in 'Death in the Afternoon'(who knows I might read it someday).

Current reading status :-
Pages read:322
Pages left:168
Proposed date of completion: By the end of September.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Not All Rants Must Rhyme- Blank Rant 1.0

I dream of colour and form
I wait for them to merge.
I wait for them to merge
So I may seek comfort
In things that make sense,
In things that seem complete,
In things I know and comprehend.
When often I lie
In pensive state,
In restive mood,
Or in cerebral dread.
I seek my past to come forth
And fill my dream
With the light of familiarity.
Craven I must seem;
To them who crave uncertainty,
To them who torment danger
And to them who taunt death.
But it takes great strength
To bear what is trite
And to bask with blind glee
In the rays of familiar light.

Anarchy and why it isn't Practical

One can often hear me muttering to myself, 'this is not democracy it's anarchy'. After a few hours of introspection I generally realize the implications of anarchy. Here's why anarchy will never be a successful form of government (here's why it fails in Diva-Land).

Anarchy will enable the kind of apostrophe abuse that will leave literature junkies reeling with consternation and literature non-junkies on the brink of war.

With anarchy all subtlety will die. Insults and compliments alike will be reduced to mere platitude, the kind that I have been trying to eliminate since the conception of this blog.

Anarchy will kill creativity! If there is no censorship on apostrophe abuse and platitude, people will start to assume that they can construct sentences without even the slightest attempt at cerebration.

Without anarchy there will no longer be heated debates on 'the state versus the individual'. The two entities will become so blurred that no one will remember which is which.

Bookstore owners in Diva-Land will have to start handing out unpublished manuscripts for free owing to the excessive theft of published, bound and well edited material. They will have to resort to organized theft in order to survive.

Dinnertime will no longer be a time for relaxation and culinary reflection.

We at Diva-Land hereby do not support anarchy or its derivatives. The world is problematic enough the way it is!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

From the Epitaph of a Dying (or nearly dead) Art

"Here lies Poetry; born around the time the human race discovered the joy of mixing rhythm and syllable died when the human race discovered impatience. Lived as a fugitive, coveted by men and women alike, taken several shapes and forms only to be shun into obscurity with the advent of its gargantuan caricature, the novel. Was often taken for granted and misused. Sole refuge of lovers and musicians. Died from years of neglect in isolation. Will be sorely missed by the few that would rather spend a lifetime reading a single terse verse than spend a day reading a 500 page book. Poetry, thy life wasn't in vain. Resurrect thyself in due time."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Isolation Makes good Writing

It takes more than just valour and a misplaced sense of chivalry to write. It requires a sense of detachment, a complete distaste for convention and an impulsive need to express without necessarily making an impression. No wonder writers often starve!

They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To

'The Actor's Studio' revolutionized and redefined the actor's craft. The instructors and coaches promulgated 'the method' that required actors to empathize intensely with their respective characters in order to play them. Some the most celebrated actors who swear by 'the method' are Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman and Daniel Day Lewis. Method actors are known to have gone to great lengths to bring characters to the screen. For instance; Dustin Hoffman deprived himself of a night of sleep in order to appear convincing as a sleep deprived man running from the Nazis in 'Marathon Man'. Daniel Day Lewis is almost infamous for the extent to which the method is internalized in him. When he played Christy Brown, the Irish artist plagued by cerebral palsy, in 'My Left Foot'; he confined himself to a wheelchair all day, sitting in a contorted manner like those with cerebral palsy, and practiced painting with his left foot. Some of the crew members had to spoon-feed him, because he refused to leave his wheelchair. It is said that he didn't uncoil himself from his posture when one of Christy Brown's relatives came to meet him !

There was a time when 'the method' didn't exist. An entire generation of actors gave us stellar performances without its use. Lawrence Olivier is the most outstanding example. He played the Nazi in 'Marathon Man', opposite Dustin Hoffman, his craft indubitable. When Olivier came to know about Dustin Hoffman's sleep deprivation he only asked, 'Can't the boy just act ?'. Peter O'toole, the actor most blatantly insulted by the Academy of Arts and Motion Pictures, played T.E. Lawrence with the most incredible ease. David Lean, the director, said of O'toole, 'The boy is Lawrence'. O'toole had no use for the method. One must also mention Richard Burton, Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. Peter Sellers was almost chameleon-like. He slithered from being the intellectually challenged inspector in 'The Pink Panther' movies ,to the exaggerated Indian actor in 'The Party', to the alcoholic writer in 'Lolita'. I have lost count of the number of characters Sellers played in 'Doctor Strangelove or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'.

Present day actors and actresses use 'the method' as the default actors' manual. We have actresses, like Charlize Theron and Renee Zellweger, piling on pounds and turning themselves ugly to fit a character. But can any of them stand up to Elizabeth Taylor in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'. Who can forget the guile of Betty Davis and the torment of Garbo. Acting is fundamentally all about make believe. It treads that fine, almost invisible, line between imagination and reality. Little wonder then, that several method actors struggle to do equal justice to characters that are both real and fictitious. Dear actors where is thy craft? They don't make 'em like they used to.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Clearing the Smog

A lot of people must think that I have utter disdain for mainstream fiction, so I have decided to come clean and say it as it really is. I am really no one to judge someone else's work, but at the same time I have the right to admit whether I loved or hated a book. I have nothing against people who love mainstream fiction and I don't think that books that fall outside the mainstream are necessarily 'high brow'. The only issue I have with mainstream fiction is the forgettable quality that can be attributed to most of the books churned out. I can sit through something by Sidney Sheldon or Jackie Collins, but not with the same enthusiasm and patience with which I can absorb Dostoyevsky or Marquez. Oscar Wilde said,'People are neither good nor bad, just boring or tedious'. I suppose one can say the same about books. Every reader has the right to his or her own expectations. I will only say this to all my readers; all comments and entries on this blog are meant to be taken with buckets of salt (common, rock and all the other varieties of salt). Its not like I get paid to write this stuff!

ps: I'd like to thank my readers for commenting on my blog on such a regular basis. It makes the diva very pleased and 'pimps' up site statistics. However,the diva is always right.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yet Another Useless Apology

As a rule of thumb divas never apologize for anything, but since I'm not your average diva with an eye for anarchy here's an apology. There may be several inconsistencies in my blog. I may say one thing in an entry and revoke it in the next one, but isn't that what being a diva is all about? Asking for champagne and caviar one moment and then turning it down the next moment, threatening to throw a tantrum if there is no red wine and cheese. So in light of developments that are less anachronistic than they seem; I apologize sincerely and without humility for my half hearted attempt at being such a diva!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Living to Understand Hemmingway

Reading Hemmingway is like making conversation with a child. It seems so simple, but it is deceptive because you can't unravel the mind behind the facade. Hemmingway writes with painstaking simplicity. One doesn't need to be a walking lexicon or a doctorate in metaphysics to interpret his prose. But a reader is bound to give in to frustration when he or she tries to empathise with the writer himself.

I have been reading 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', a piece of fiction set in the background of the Spanish Civil war (in the time of Franco). Hemmingway sympathized with the left-leaning republicans who fought the Franco regime. Hemmingway's characters are more dark and complex when one starts to retrospect. The book is slow and ,as is often said about Hemmingway's writing style, 'understated'. I am often left wondering at the end of each chapter, 'Did I miss something? Did I read it too quickly?'; yet,strangely enough,I feel the urge to rummage through every page the man has ever written.

So here are a few statistics about the general reading pace.

Number of pages: 490
Number of pages read: 188
Number of pages left: 302
Estimated time of completion: Hopefully within this quarter assuming the availability of favourable circumstances.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Moment of Truth

You're Part Diva

You know that a girl's gotta work it to get her way in the world.
And while you aren't about to throw a tantrum at every turn...
You do amp up the drama when you know you need it.
You mix charm, honesty, and kindness to get ahead.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

To Oscar Wilde

Fair aesthete;
Born of Narcissus and pride.
I defy thy convention,
As this piece I write.
I wreak insult on thy craft;
I make it look weak and trite.
The only honour I bestow on thee,
Is the lie in the third line.

But how else, I ask in humility,
Do I leave thy genius unscathed
From the aspersions of naivety?
If I were to imitate thee,Blasphemy it would be!
I'd rather seek refuge in this quaint little skill,
The art of the insult; thy boots are not for me to fill!

Seasons of Mist and Melodrama

In diva-land the seasons are innumerable and highly repetitive.Seasons of mist and melodrama occur sporadically; without warning or hesitation. There is plenty of sulking and scowl-practice, the kind that puts Victoria Beckham to shame. It is that time of the year when the diva decides that her bookshelf could use a little, 'primping'. (I didn't say 'pimping' because it isn't feasible to pimp a bookshelf in any sense. Books are either well written or unbearable, not moral or perverse.) After a week of contemplation, the diva heads out,generally in the scorching sun, armed with an umbrella that is used only when it rains. It is officially the week of the book-prowl!

There is something about the larger bookshops that is very annoying in a rather satisfying way. It is always endearing to watch little children huddled near the 'Harry Potter' section, at least the younger generation is reading! It is amusing to watch wannabe bibliophiles who strut around the 'fiction' section browsing attentively through the likes of Sheldon, Brown and the rest with a 'faux' air of intellectualism. It is pitiful to watch tormented young students, brimming with ambition as they scourge the academic section. The staff at large bookstores love to stalk their customers, piping up occasionally with a chirpy 'may I help you?' . More often than not, the diva walks out of a large bookstore empty handed and muttering. Large bookstores tend to stir the need for caffeine in the diva, and thus she heads to the nearest coffee shop, sipping the coolest coffee till hell freezes over. Its been an hour and not a single book!

There are bookshops that are smaller and lesser known, but that is never a deterrent as far as the diva is concerned. They don't have a fancy database, but the staff are astute enough to know where a particular book can be found. One can sometimes find treasure, lying undiscovered on the dusty shelves of an insignificant 'mom and pop store'. (I found 'Love in the Time of Cholera' at such a place.)

All of the above is well and good if one knows what one wants (which is rarely the case with the Diva). The Diva then decides that she needs to do more research to make the pimping (err primping) more effective.After a week of research, the diva is back! If she is lucky enough to get herself the right merchandise, the season ends. If not, the season returns, generally after a hiatus of six months.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Paris J'taime !

I don't know how many times I've muttered those words to myself without actually having been there!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Fountainhead

It is rare to find a TV channel broadcasting a film scripted by Ayn Rand. It is even rarer if the film starrs Gary Cooper in the role of Howard Roark. 'The Fountainhead' sparks off that gleam of recognition whenever one speaks of Ayn Rand.

I read 'The Fountainhead' two weeks before my 16th birthday. I had never heard of objectivism before and was quite taken by Ms. Rand's ideas. The book had more than 600 pages, and I read each one more feverishly than the other. I still remember, the book had a separate section for each principal character. It takes more than two hours to do justice to a book ideologically ahead of its time (and of the present as well). This is where the movie fails. Gary Cooper's Howard Roark is indifferent but not nonchalant enough. Ellsworth Toohey isn't obnoxious enough and Peter Keating isn't the doormat-like lump of desperate slime I had envisioned him to be. Gail Wynand isn't depicted as a vulnerable model of ambition and the most disappointing of all is Dominique Francon. Patricia Neal is Dominique Francon, but only superficially. She almost comes across as some sort of lovelorn desperately seeking blonde.

The only uplifting moments in the film are the few lines that are picked up from the book. The soundtrack is the only thing in synch the tone of the film.There are instances of Ms. Rand's ideology but they are shadowed by the film's inability to conform to Ms. Rand's brilliance.I wouldn't recommend it to the average objectivist nor would I recommend it to the average movie buff.Mediocre attempts at objectivism are not worth the trouble.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Unbearable Irony of Being Ms Potter

I like to think of J.K. Rowling as Ms. Potter. I have never read a single Harry Potter book to the completion, I have only watched the films over and over several times. When I think of Ms. Potter's rise from an unemployed single mother surviving on scraps of mercy from the government to the writer coveted by every other publisher; I am both amazed and dismayed. Amazed because her rags to riches story is too surreal to be true and dismayed because I sense her agony.

There are few writers who grow as their characters do. There are even fewer who can make their characters mature convincingly as they move seamlessly from one book to the next. Unlike Richmal Crompton's William, who is always eleven years old irrespective of the decade the book is set in, or Enid Blyton's characters, who are as mature at sixteen as they were at twelve; Harry Potter and his friends go through all the pain that comes with growing up. Little wonder then, that no one wants Harry Potter to die or to become obsolete; with the exception of J.K. Rowling herself.

As some sort of writer myself, I often find myself being drawn to my characters. I develop an affinity towards something that came out of the subconscious. One can imagine the amount of love Ms. Potter must have for Harry, his friends and the others. So why on earth does she want to kill them? It is because Ms. Rowling is first a writer and then the maker of Harry Potter. As an established writer, she can now afford the luxury of experimenting with versatility. Unfortunately, she is stuck with 'The Curse of the Potter', the kind of anathema that will not allow her to write a more 'adult' book for quite some time. Not to mention, all the clever little stunts pulled off by the publishers,pirates and others alike.

I only wonder what Ms. Potter has to say to all this.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

One for the Media

Since when did newspapers decide to replace tabloids? Why has reading the news become more complicated than getting a cup of coffee without any frills?

Imagine going into a coffee shop saying , 'Un cafe, s'il vous plait', and getting a warm cup of coffee as dark as sin! Unfortunately, I don't have the same luxury with my newspaper. Not anymore! Print journalism is dead, and I didn't kill it (which is the worst part).

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Bibliophile Recollects

All entries made under this tag will contain recollections about books I have read earlier this century and some others that I read in the previous century. A very nagging memory is the one of 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte. I read it when I was 12 and preparing for my school exams. I envy the fact that I had plenty of free time aside for reading. We didn't have an internet connection back then. Therefore any reading I did was based entirely on the next whimsical gut feeling and all interpretations (whether accurate or tangential) were made on the basis of uneducated guesses.

My mother, a bibliophile in her own right, bought a collection of three novels. Each novel written by a different Bronte sister. She praised 'Jane Eyre', claimed that 'Wuthering Heights' was meant for older readers and seemed pretty lukewarm about 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' (I hope that's the correct title of Anne Bronte's only book). So I started to read 'Jane Eyre', with great voracity and an equal amount of stealth owing to certain 'academic' engagements.

I am surprised at how 'Jane Eyre' facilitated the bridging of the wide gap between Enid Blyton and classic literature. 'Jane Eyre' is the partial biopic of a woman who lived under some of the most unfortunate and extraordinary circumstances. It chronicles her life from the time she is a little girl with a cruel aunt to the time she marries a rather unlikely man. 'Jane Eyre' stands out more for its characters than for its literary quality. It fades in comparison to 'Wuthering Heights' despite its resounding success at the time of its publication. Charlotte Bronte gives vent to the secret need of almost every woman (even the most rational) in the form of a strong,silent, tortured yet vulnerable male protagonist. Such characters seem to be a hallmark of the 'Bronte' craft (if you've read 'Wuthering Heights' then the male lead of 'Jane Eyre' is a sophistacated kind of Heathcliff).

To me, 'Jane Eyre' marks the beginning of my foray into the exploration of classic literature. I have never looked back since then and have quite recently diversified to things more modern. The bibliophile is and will always be on the prowl. More to follow in the next entry.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Agnostic Prays

To empty spaces I do whisper
'Who is it that exists ?'
I get no answer.

I shine my lantern in the dark
I seek form and shape,
The silence is deafening and stark.

In humble posture, I genuflect
With hope of recognition,
I am left alone to reflect.

I wander,
Till the days,months and years
Are churned into senseless matter.

Now I am here,
Bereft of identity and faith,
And here I will remain, year after year.

The Urban Legend of the Blogger

There exists a wide generation gap between those who blog and those who don't. The former view the latter with some amount of skepticism. Bloggers are often regarded as 'exhibitionists' and 'loners clamouring for attention at the cost of ruining their fingertips' (I just cooked up the second phrase). To the non-blogging community, bloggers must seem like something of an urban legend. Here's the urban legend of the blogger.

The lonesome blogger is one who spends every living,breathing hour stranded in front of a computer. Identity is an affliciton; hence a blogger is more of an 'it' than either a 'he' or 'she'. The blogger loathes the fact that it gets more acclaim as an invisible non-entity than it does as a being with life. It spews all its wrath on harmless, lifeless electronic equipment in the form of rants of sensational bitterness. Some bloggers are even said to have cracked under pressure. The blogger may not own a chainsaw or any other instrument for the purpose of massacare. In fact, a majority of them are assumed to be cowards who take shelter under the unlikely aegis of anonymity. Despite all the laughable attributes consecrated upon the blogging community; bloggers are perhaps the most formidable group of people (coming in a close second to tabloid journalists).

Interestingly enough,I don't fit the 'urban legend' profile and neither do any of the other bloggers I know personally. No wonder my blog gets an average of 10 hits per day!

Friday, July 06, 2007


I had reverted to a differnt blogger template and had asked my readers to rate the template. Devadutta (a connoisseur of web design) said that the previous theme was in synch with my 'contemprorary style'. Without further ado I will revert to the old template and keep it for a while.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Off to Ireland with a Stopover at Spain

In other words, I decided to take a slight detour in my quest to finish reading 'Ulysees'. I have decided to read 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' by Ernest Hemmingway to mitigate the 'Ulysees' effect (Hence the reference to Spain). I apologise with utmost sincerity to all James Joyce afficionados for such utter disrespect.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Scribe Cometh!

I am referring to the name of the new template I am using for the blog. I can't believe it's called 'Scribe'. I decided to give my blog a touch of the medieval(or is it Elizabethian or Victorian ?) to mitigate the sheer redundancy of using the same template for a year. Feel free to pass any comments on the new look (keep in mind, I'm still a diva!)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Living to Read Ulysees

After I succesfully completed reading 'Living to Tell the Tale' by Marquez(in the future I intend to refer to Marquez as Gabito or Gabo as his loved ones call him); I decided to tackle something quite different-'Ulysees' by James Joyce. Gabito has said enough and more to regenerate any curiosity that I had lost in Joyce's most celebrated work.

I had purchased my copy of 'Ulysees' at a book fair three years ago. I was struck by Joyce's complete disregard for spelling and grammar. I was also alarmed by the infestation of Latin and French phrases in the book. (I have gotten over the French ones but I have decided to ignore the Latin ones.) If it weren't for Gabito I would never have attempted to read it and the book would have become yet another untouched relic for the bookshelf. One must appreciate the fact that Gabito read it in Spanish! (I cannot imagine what lengths the translator must have gone to.)

I treat 'Ulysees' as a sort of sequel to 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Stephen Dedalus is a character featured in both. I initially expected 'Ulysees' to be a lot like 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'; with a lucid narration, a stream of consciousness that wasn't haphazard and a less cynical Stephen Dedalus. 'Ulysees' is a challenge, quite a massive one. Joyce seems to have an antipathy towards punctuation and an affinity towards the abstruse. Nevertheless, after 44 pages of reading, 'Ulysees' has challenged every preconceived notion I held about structure and construction. It is surprisingly the most stimulating work I have read. I cannot wait to meet Leopold Bloom (the other protagonist). The novel switches abruptly between the author's narration and the thought process of its characters. I don't care how long I take to finish it!

I am guilty of a certain crime against literature though. I read a rather condensed and somewhat animated version of 'Ulysees' a few years back, namely 'Ulysees for Dummies'. Take a look at this one if Joyce gets on your nerves.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Agnostic Conscience

People often ask me if I'm an atheist. I don't bow my head in prayer at religious places, I don't endorse religion and I treat 'faith' and 'God' as abstract concepts. To clear any misconceptions that one might have about me; I am agnostic.I don't know what is responsible for creation and its purpose, and I am not willing to make any assumptions in that direction.

I cannot prove the existence or the inexistence of a 'superior being' that is responsible for creation. Therefore I am neither a theist nor an atheist.(This is as categorical as it gets. Faith aside, my agnosticism doesn't make me a communist.)

To explain agnosticism to those who don't understand its implication I have my own little quip:
A believer thinks he/she knows who is responsible for creation. An atheist will probably ask 'what is responsible for creation', instead of 'who'. One who is agnostic will simply say 'I don't know who or what is responsible'.

Faith and its many derivatives have always been a source of conflict and tribulation in my life. To an extent that, at present, I have decided to become obsessed with the superficial in order to field any questions pertaining to my origin and purpose. I will come up with an answer later! (In other words, I am content being your regular Diva.)

ps: The entries on art,wine and all things fine will resume after the 'pseudo-spiritual' crisis is resolved.

Living to Read the Tale- Part II

I am still reading 'Living to Tell the Tale' ! The book is nearly in tatters; after being stuffed hurriedly and mercilessly into different bags of various sizes, being doused with rain (twice), and after long hours spent flipping through pages of a fond recollection of an uncommon life. I am now reading the part where Marquez describes the affliction, the conflict and the satisfaction that comes from being a struggling writer. (I find it distressing that nearly every great writer has almost starved to death sometime or the other.) More to follow in part III.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Angels and Demons

I vowed, after reading 'The Da Vinci Code', that I would never pick up anything written by Dan Brown again. Unfortunately, as fate would have it,I read 'Angels and Demons' out of sheer boredom. Dan Brown exhibits an uncanny ability for picking new victims. In 'Angels and Demons' he picks on an ancient sect called 'The Illuminati', the Roman Catholic church(I don't know why Brown is so obsessed with the papal election) and this time he has made sure that even the CERN isn't left out. Other minor victims of Brown's 'craft' include artists like Raphael,astronomers like Galileo and of course the Freemasons.

The book exhibits all the typical qualities of a typical Dan Brown novel. A fast paced plot with plenty of hidden innuendos, Robert Langdon (whom we also met in 'The Da Vinci Code'), an enigmatic heroine with skeletons in her closet, lots of other enigmatic folks with skeletons in their respective closets, secret sects, works of art,flashbacks and above all a story with a predictable end. 'Angels and Demons' outdoes 'The Da Vinci Code' with its histrionics and overly dramatized orations.

The story starts with the ghastly murder of a scientist at the CERN. A group called the 'Illuminati' claims responsibility for it by (surprise surprise!) engraving the group logo on the corpse. This is clearly bad news for the Roman Catholic church because the Illuminati are supposed to possess power,clout and unbeatable intellect. All this on the day of the papal election! The lives of four cardinals are in danger. Can Robert Landgdon and the heroine save the day? Sounds all too familiar doesn't it?

It still amazes me how Dan Brown garners so much revenue by writing the most pathetically constructed books.There may be several factual inconsistencies but apparently, sensationalism suffices to quench the human need to interpret the truth.

On a more positive note, I find the logo of the Illuminati quite crafty. It spells 'Illuminati' even when held upside down.So as some consolation here's a picture of the 'Illuminati' logo(courtesy-Wikipedia).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Of Cyberspace Sorcery and Bytes of Nothing

Cyberspace can be cruel. At one instant there is sheer narcissistic pleasure from being the cynosure of a zillion bored eyeballs, and the next moment there is the sense of longing from hours of isolation. 'Cyberspace sorcery' , in my opinion, comprises all the necessary necromancy required to gain that daily dose of fame.(Its duration sometimes exceeds the 15 second threshold.)
I have indulged in my share of voodoo. I have tried numerous blog templates (at my desperate best I have changed the template thrice in a single day). I tried google adsense (till the advertisements made the blog look tacky), a creative commons license (I even updated from version 2.5 to version 3.0), links to blogs I like, a wikipedia link to the book I'm currently reading (and haven't finished) and other random additions. My blog is even listed in the directory of 'delightful blogs'!
At the end of it all, I feel as though my existence is now reduced to nothing but a sequence of bytes that I don't really consider 'significant'. I feel like a shallow exorcist who merely made the 'spookies' migrate to a more lucrative abode. So much for spicy site statistics!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

To Inspiration

Don't speak of higher existence
Or of infinite radiance.
Don't speak of ideas sublime
Or of ideals divine.
How you elude my senses,
You fiend in angel's dress.
How you scar every guess
With your intentional distress.
I stand at a cross road,
Hiding behind your open abode,
Waiting to catch you by surprise
When you strut in your garbled disguise.
Dear inspiration, come forth I beseech,
My reason is in a cloud,when you are far from common reach.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Treading on Quicksand

Owing to the most annoying of circumstances, all activity on this blog is suspended till further notice. The inconvenience is deeply regretted (assuming that lack of blog-activity is inconvenient).

ps: Blogging shall resume after a return to convenience.

When Literary Giants Speak : Part II

This is a sequel to another post with a similar title . Here's another lesson in writer-gab.

The great Indian novel : How to write one sentence in 200,000 different ways and then find 200,000 euphemisms for each of the initial alternatives. Continue the process recursively till you have a manuscript that's too heavy to handle.

Colonial hangover: One of the prerequisites for the great Indian novel.

ABCD: 'American Born Confused Desi', a prerequisite for great Indian novels born to the west of the Atlantic.

To be continued....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Unravelling the Rubaiyat

I never buy books in hardcover, but I made an exception when I purchased a copy of 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' at a bookstore. I fell in love with the binding, the typesetting and the illustrations. All this for a mere INR 295, considering that the Rubaiyat is the most celebrated work of Omar Khayyam. What thrilled me even more was the fact that this particular copy had two successive editions of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat.

We all know that even the most learned and objective translation is a scarce representation of the original work. Khayyam wrote in Persian in the 12th century. It is said that some of the quatrains were not actually written by Khayyam but were attributed to him. To my knowledge, there exist upto five editions of the translation. There are subtle differences between the first and second editions. It is quite possible that Fitzgerald added his ideas and possibly wrote a few of the quatrains himself. This is true especially in the later editions. The challenge thus lies in guessing which of the verses were actually penned by Khayyam himself.

Khayyam was a man of reason and scientific temperament.He was a mathematician, alchemist, doctor and poet all rolled into one. People often think of Khayyam as 'a sufi mystic', something ironic as Khayyam appears to have nothing but scorn for mysticism. I am inclined to believe that Khayyam was a skeptic (I will go far enough to suggest that he was probably agnostic). I sometimes use this verse as a mechanism to defend my agnosticism.

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd, and their mouths are stopt with Dust.

Religion and controversey aside, the Rubaiyat is the most sensual treat a poet can deliver. It is rich in melancholic romanticism and has a charming yet witty pessimism,with roses and wine strewn all over its lines to claim that mortality is merely a consequence and not a choice.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Living to Read the Tale

There are some who live to write and others who live to read. I have been reading 'Living to Tell the Tale' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for almost the entire semester and I still have 300 pages left! Nevertheless I claim enough qualification to make the following statement :

Marquez's work is the culmination of literary genius and empathetic observation stemming from a a compassionate understanding of the human condition. He mixes wit, myth and conviction to create stories that are more tangible than reality. It is thus not surprising that his work draws heavily from his life. There are few writers who can exude the kind of lyrical charm that crosses linguistic barriers and glitches in translation.

ps: I'm still working on it. I promise a full-fledged scoop when I'm done.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Let us Walk in the Clouds if the Earth is too Bare...

Utopia is real; as real as a circle of dust drawn around the abyss of human imagination with the idea of curtailing its reach.

Diva's Doomsday Prediction

This post has been inspired in part by the content of the preceding one and in part by all the talk of climate change. There has been so much finger-pointing and name-calling that people seemed to have overlooked the stark prospect of doomsday. The end is nearer than we think!

Move over Nostradamus, thy predilections are archaic!

Listen with care fellow beings, the end cometh close. On a hapless day in a hapless season in some hapless century not chronologically far from the present it will come- the hour of doom. It shall not spare a single soul from its desolate blow. The earth will be a shrunken monster; gnarling, hungry and intoxicated by thirst. Men and women(if they still exist) will roam from terrain to terrain, their backs bent from the weight of their material wealth, in search of a morsel to eat and a drop to drink. The 'Oracle'(aka Big Brother) will deem that all creatures must inhabit a bunker so they may not behold the coming of doom. For decades will humans throng underground bunkers; feeding on synthetic food and liquid, not daring to look to the sky for fear of going blind. One fine day, when all the 'Oracles' are dead, human curiosity will give in. Out of their bunkers these creatures will stroll to see the earth intact, just as they left it. The day of doom will be an orchestration, vile enough to hurt narcissistic pride.

Doomsday will not be the day the human race breaths its last. It will be the day that human stupidity supercedes all wit.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Doomsday Humour at its Razzie Best

There are films that are intentionally hilarious and there are films that are unintentionally hilarious. 'End of Days' is one such film. It tickles every sensibility till it gets offensive. 'End of Days' was an independent venture starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gabriel Byrne. Released very aptly in the year 1999,it came up with yet another bizarre doomsday theory, outdoing 'Rosemary's Baby','The Omen' and other Lucifer-infested films at apocalyptic histrionics.The film swept the U.S Box office and 'The Razzies' with equal panache.

Arnie plays Jericho,a decent yet drunken cop, disillusioned with God after the death of his wife and daughter. Gabriel Byrne plays a suave industrialist who is possessed by Satan,two days before the 1st of January 2000 (the supposed beginning of doom).Gabriel Byrne's Satan is an Armani clad smooth talker with an eye for the ladies. He is particularly interested in Christine York, the young woman ill-fated enough to bear the progeny of Lucifer (it has been decided well in advance, we know because she was born with a special mark on her arm). Christine York (played by Robin Tunney) is a troubled young woman who sees visions of being seduced by Byrne's character. She loathes him because she fears that she might end up liking him.

As I mentioned earlier, the film is a winner for its idiotic premise. Satan is slated to reproduce and swarm the world with baby Lucifers on the 31st of December 1999. It is important to note that 1999 has special significance. Since 666 is the ultimate Satanic numerical, when inverted it reads 999 as in 1999. Thus at the start of the new millennium, the world is in for a sinful treat! The catholic church is on a hunt to find Christine York and kill her so that she doesn't abet Satan in his quest to taint the saintly globe. Jericho becomes aware of all this through an illogical and grotesque sequence of events and vows to protect Christine from the devil and his advances.

The film has its share of one liners. 'I have come for my wife,Christine come to me!' seems to be the best pick up line Satan can come up with. Satan is anatomically very similar to the terminator. He is entitled to automatic recovery from gun shots, punches and grenade attacks. Arnie tries very hard to make it appear that he has been taking acting lessons. The dialogue is painfully crass and the plot even more so. The acting is wooden and had me rolling with laughter. It is sad that an actor of Mr. Byrne's caliber felt compelled to be a part of such a mindless box-office bungle. The ending is predictable and lame. Thankfully, as one of my girlfriends said, 'Gabriel Byrne looks hot!' He is definitely worth all the eye-candy.

Watch it at your own risk!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Death Blow to Blogging

I read an article by a journalist who, apparently with a lot of glee, wrote of the phenomenon called the 'zombie blog'. A zombie blog is one that floats around blogosphere; obsolete from years of neglect. The writer goes on to cite the example of Lindsey Lohan's zombie blog( the latest entry dates back to the year 2003). I have decided to go undercover to reveal the cause behind this alarming new trend.

Hypothesis 1- As stated by the writer of the article, bloggers have lost the time and the inclination to blog and have thus moved on to greener pastures. Apparently their minds are not as flourishingly green as they were previously!j

Hypothesis 2- I think that blogging has done some people a ton of good. They have either met 'that special person' who made them say 'sayonara' to singlehood, or they have a new lucarative writing contract after getting a lot of attention from publishers, pop-culture enthusiasts and probably even legal quarters.

Hypothesis 3- The conspiracy theory! There are way too many politicians with blogs. Segolene Royal, the French socialist presidential candidate has one, Derek Obama, Hillary Clinton several others are hopping on to the blog-wagon. Where on earth are regular folks ,like you and I , going to find available domains with unlimited space to chronicle every thought and sentiment ?

Hypothesis 4 - An extension of the conspiracy theory ; last year 'Time' magazine chose the average human being as 'the person of the year'. I can sense the curling of blood in celebrity veins.....

Enough speculation! What do you think?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

When Literary Giants Speak.......

When literary giants (the ones of medium stature, not small enough to be insignificant and not large enough to be humble) speak in alien tongues, they often confound the masses in order to mask the juvenile sense of what they truly intend to say. Read on for some clarity as the Diva attempts to decrypt 'writergab'.

'Writers block' - A phenomenon used by the Hollywood blockbuster to exonerate the shallow screenwriter. This form of comic relief can also be adopted by struggling writers who don't have a 'masterpiece' and need the most lame excuse to explain their condition.

'The creative process' - A phrase used when writers use tissues, table napkins, and discarded pieces of paper to chronicle their thoughts. (Shhhh! Don't bring up the word processor!)

'Literary genius'- Someone who says 'I need a fair cup of inspiration to stir my soul' instead of saying 'One cup of coffee please'.

'Poetic License' - Not all writers excell in spelling and grammar, but publishers will cut them some slack if they call it 'poetry'.

'Coffee' - It really means coffee, but all writers love to come across as caffine addicts. After all, a caffine addiction is legal and adorable. (Writers like coffee because Red Bull is illegal in some countries.)

'Existentialism' - When a writer claims to be an existentialist, it means that he or she has written the most meaningless mangle of words ever.

'Metaphor' - The signature of literary genius. (Refer to the definition of 'literary genius' given above.)

To be continued....

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Truth about Alice and Bob

This story took place centuries ago, in the quaint Mediterranean city of art and culture, Florence. The Renaissance was at its peak. There are no instances of threats to network security, plagiarism or the likes in this simple story that inspired the need for secure communication.
When Roberto beheld Alicia's face for the first time, little did he know of the impending repurcussions of that single gaze. He saw her at the festival of the sacred Madonna. There was to be a masque after the divine procession. The sun was about to set, the street was covered by swarms of people wearing masks. Roberto had slipped out of his mansion without the knowledge of his father and his servant Lorenzo. Masques were for common folk, not for pure aristocratic blood. Roberto had a protected childhood, away from the streets of Florence, so that his mind wouldn't be tainted by the radicals who preached new things. Roberto heard the commotion in the street and sauntered quietly out of the house to satisfy his curiosity.
She was beside him. He noticed her uncanny beauty when she took off her mask to gain respite from the heat. She had raven coloured hair, deep blue eyes and a startled expression. She noticed him and covered her face quickly. He later came to know that she was Alicia, daughter of Alonso the skilled cobbler. Thereafter, Roberto made several trips to Alonso's workshop, everytime with a pair of boots that needed mending, with the hope of seeing Alicia. She would come in occasionally, bearing refreshment for Alonso's customers, casting a cursory glance in Roberto's direction. Within a few weeks the two found themselves in the middle of a whirlwind romance, to the knowledge of almost everyone in Florence. The families soon became aware of this affair. 'It is shameful! You are a disgrace!' , hollered Roberto's father. 'They are not people like us', dismissed Alicia's father, as he locked her up in the basement. Young lovers back then didn't have the luxury of computers or the internet, but they had the sympathy of their friends and servants. Alicia's trusted friend Maria and Roberto's servant Lorenzo devised a cunning scheme that would enable the lovers to correspond with each other through letters. Roberto would send Lorenzo on an errand. Lorenzo would carry 'the letter' in a special crevice in the sole of his boot. He would travel through a forgotten underground passage to meet Maria and hand the letter to her.
The correspondence served no purpose. In a few months Roberto was married, against his wishes, to the plain daughter of a wealthy landlord. (It is said that the keeper of records in the mayor's office detested Roberto's wife so much that he erased any trace of her existence from the official books. People prefer to call her Trudy for no apparent reason.) Alicia was married to Gattusso, the local idiot, as punishment for her disobedience. The lovers felt more vulnerable than they ever had. Trudy was a shrewd woman who did more than mind her own business. She soon became aware of her husband's illicit affair. Alicia started to receive anonymous death threats.
Alicia and Roberto started to use codes for their messages. The letters were routed cleverly, they passed through several hands before they reached their rightful receipients. Still, Trudy wasn't to be deterred. Not only did she figure out the codes, she also worked out the way the letters travelled on different days of the week. Roberto and Alicia were found guilty of adultery by the church and the government. Alicia's father, knowing that his life in Florence was doomed, moved with his family to the quiet town of Tuscany. Roberto, disillusioned and devasted, died an untimely death at the age of 30. It is not known what became of Alicia and Trudy.