Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Tragedy of Being Single

See most men in my age (including me) don’t want to marry or settle down is they don’t wanna miss the chance of sharing a Jacuzzi with naked supermodels, flying off to Bahamas on a whim and hooking up with random strangers, having drug-fueled-bringing-the-house-down parties and retaining their freedom. The only problem is; that this is not happening to the most of us, and will probably not happen, ever. Most of us get home from office at 8, eat Maggi or whatever is in offer in the nearest mess, jerk off and go to sleep. And weekends are spent in either sleeping (alone), watching whatever movie you can get tickets of and sharing a drink with the same old friends in the same old place with the same old jokes. To every man or woman who has Joey, Barney Stinson or the Sex and the city girls as their idol ; are you really living like them?
Ya I think by now you know what I’m getting at. The tragedy unmatched by Oresteia, Othello or Doctor Faustus, the great tragedy of being single.

And I’m not even going to mention the lack of sex in my argument.

See even when you are single you are not free, so that argument goes right out of the window, you are supposed to match so many expectations, including your own, you boss’s, your friends’, your mom’s and a lot of other people.

When you are single or rather unmarried in this case your boss expects you to stay till late, come early, take no leaves, work on weekends and go to the farthest corners of the world in a moment’s notice. Whenever you raise the slightest objection he always greets you with this line “Arey ghar pe jaake karna kya hai? Kaunsa daer se jaaoge to biwi naaraaz ho jaegi?” Or “Abhi to bachelor ho yaar, abhi to career pe focus karna chahiye, baad mae settle ho jaane ke baad aadmi nahi kar paata kuch”. So much for your personal life. While you married colleagues always get away with excuses like ‘My wife’s brother is getting married’ or ‘My daughter is unwell’ or plain old work-life balance, with a sly smile and a smirk at you.

Anybody who has house hunted in a non-student , non-IT centric locality will know how big a pain being unmarried is. This goes for girls as well, though maybe in a lesser degree. The board ‘Families Only’, ‘Bachelors not allowed’ can be seen practically on the face of every landlord. Like getting married is some kind of character certificate. I really want to shout sometimes that Dawood Ibrahim is married too, so was Charles Manson, and Osama had more than one wife! And to add to that I won’t have children who will cry at night, ring your doorbell and run, break your glass with balls or sketch on the walls. I won’t have wedding at my house where bad quality music is played for days nor will I have Jaagrans which will keep you up at night. I don’t think that occasional loud music or vomit in the stairs is so difficult to deal with. But this is what it is. Married people will get better houses and for less.

Leave houses and landlords, even pubs and discs turn you away. Like being single is a crime. Or single people are not supposed to have a drink, listen to some music and enjoy. They want you to conjure up a girl just for entering inside, which might be your reason to enter in the first place.

On top of that your married or committed friends, whenever they are away from their spouses want you to share your wild sex stories, your adventures and hear your iron resolution to stay single forever. Even if you are having fun or not it is impossible to match that kind of expectation unless you are a Rock Star. The truth that being single sometimes sucks or you might be actually be thinking on settling down is met with such absolute resistance and lectures like you said you wanted blow up the parliament.
And on the opposite extreme your mom constantly keeps reminding you that marriage is such a good idea. So if you want the recipe of Palak Paneer it is prefixed with ‘If you were married you wouldn’t need it in the first place” or if you tell her that you got a raise then the Congratulations is suffixed with “Now I think you should get married”. This goes double for girls.

Whenever two guys or two girls enter a fancy restaurant they are met with stares like they have tails hanging out. And when you want to make a reservation for hotel or resort people automatically assume you must be travelling with wife, any difference causes weird silence or clarification and re-clarifications. And after that you are either branded homosexual, terrorists, freaks or all three. A bunch of guys can have more fun in a resort than a couple ever can, except on the bed maybe.

You don’t have a default partner to go the movies only you wanna watch, concert of an artist only you have heard of and for shopping trips where you are the only one who wants to buy something. Your spouse, if he/she exists in naturally dragged along and doesn’t even make a fuss, or at least not too much.

Be it the flight, train or bus you are always moved to the other seat as people come in and say “Oh we both are together” or “Bhaaisahab aap B-2 pe seat number 16 pe jaa sakte hai kya, wo actually hamari 2 seat us dibbe mae aa gayi hai”. And it is not even a request, it is like somebody read you the Indian Penal Code clause 19 sub section 2b which states all single people are hereby banished to the least desired seat in any mode of transportation. Don’t even try to argue that you purposely booked the Side Upper Berth or you came early especially for the window seat otherwise you will be met with bickering, awkward stares and general disapproval by everyone around you, even by people who have nothing to do with is. Even when you argue with a married couple every passer-by assumes you must have done something nasty and top of that you are not even apologizing.

And the biggest torture is going out for drinks or an outing with an all couples group. Especially after the initial 10 minutes of pleasantries and cheers are over and everyone recedes to their respective corners.

I have to cut short my description of the horrors of the singles camp at this point as I gotta go out with the boys for dinner. Adios.

Eplilogue – They are many single people out there, some willingly and many un-willingly, and note that I said single and not unmarried. And both men and women. Most of them want to pair up; it is after all our naturally desired state. But despite wishing otherwise most of them are stuck in rut. And I have no clue why. At least in India you can blame the social structure a bit, lack of places for singles to mingle, stigma about women approaching first and the likes. Other places I don’t know what. Many of my friends, guys and girls have resigned themselves to the fate of arranged marriage and all of them want to find someone they love. But they are not able to. My only advice to them is take a few chances, I know I need to. But still, something somewhere is pretty fucked up in this world

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Idiot's guide to writing a book

Pre Script - Previous Image Removed as some copyright issues cropped up. Plus the guy had the decency to ask politely.

"The greatest trick Chetan Bhagat ever pulled was convincing the world that he can write. And like that, poof. Everyone's an author.... " – Prajith VM

Do you suck at your current job? Or that you like to blabber so much but nobody wants to listen? To much free time at hand but a slow internet connection? Maybe you wanna appear intellectual to a lot of people and finally finally get some respect. Or just plain want to get laid?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you need my advice. And the advice is to write a book. Yes you heard me right. Write a book. No no, don’t worry if you don’t have a story in your head, haven’t written a leave letter without googling leave letters before and can never be sure whether that was a ‘quite a show’ or ‘quiet a show’. That all can be taken care of. Basic necessities are that you should have done what most people in this country have done; done graduation from a college and work at a corporation, and of course have Microsoft Word installed in your computer with spelling and grammar suggestions on.

Of course it is going to be lengthy process, I mean writing a 100 page book even with a big ass font can be quite pain staking, and might take weeks to finish, but the place where you should be spending your anyways-worthless time is promoting your book. If J. R. R. Tolkien had spent 10 years promoting his book rather than writing it, he certainly would have died richer.

And the trick to this whole thing is writing something which your target audience can identify with. And who is your target market? Here being an MBA helps, no wonder they are churning out books faster than you can say “What the fuck! Another one?” But if you are from IIT, or been there, or appeared for it entrance exam or at least can spell it it’s a sure thing then. Then you too can add it in your book title or sub title or whatever like Love story of an IITian, Girls of IIT, Missed IIT kissed Russia and the likes, because once a Mr. C. B. wrote a bestselling novel about IIT guys and that has become a standard formula ever since, and we will stick to that formula now.

So the first thing is having a protagonist with whom everyone can identify with he’s your garden variety every-man a normal boy who has average looks, average money and slightly above average IQ and was a Ghissu in his whole academic life, not that their lives makes exciting stories but they are the people who are going to read your book, the really cool kids are out there having fun, they don’t give a shit about your book or anyone else’s for that matter. So this totally average guy (read Underdog) who’s life’s high points were eating Ratanlal’s hot samosas, scoring the highest in maths, mom’s secret recipe Paav-Bhaaji and scooter ride with friends is going to have something extraordinary happen to him. 

How is that? By meeting his dream girl. How he meets her is what sets the tone of the book. So after a struggle he enters starry eyed into a new world which like what is promised to every kid in India (get good marks in your 10th class then you are set for life, get into a good college then you are set for life, get into a good MBA college then you are set for life, get a good job then you are set for life, get in your boss’s good book and so on….) holds infinite joy and the one thing what every boy long for, yes it’s what you think it is, a girl. Now your readers have done nothing more than asking a girl for notes, or scrapping them “Hi can we be frands?” and so would your protagonist be, he either runs into the girl by chance like she is looking for a maths tutor or gets a puncture, or wants to photocopy and nobody there to help but the photocopying whiz kid or the best is she is crying on the stairs after her good looking, rich and muscled but evil boy friend broke her heart and she is looking for a shoulder to cry on;  or she talks to him first, that’s another of their fantasies. And they hit it off instantly. Slight variations can take place depending on where your novel is set in, though it has to be in the sacred three; the engineering college, the MBA college or the office where the protagonist enters the dog eat dog corporate life for the first time. Don’t try to write something like ‘Love in the times of Cholera’ or having the American civil war as the backdrop, it’s fall down on its face.

Also important is how you would describe her. You can’t write she was a stunner with 36 Ds or she had dragon tattoo over her butt crack which peeked every time she bent over! No! It has to be something your mom would approve of, maybe a few struggles after but approves of. So it must go something like she had pretty eyes  and with hair falling over face she looked like an angel, or she looked very cute and pretty in her olive green t shirt and dark blue slight flared jeans (you need to add superfluous details like that to appear a real writer). You need to add in a couple of friends, losers like him but good natured and trust worthy and having a few personality quirks for comic effect. Doesn’t need to be realistic, just whatever tickles the funny bone of the average guy, it could be anything like the guy who does to Mandir every Tuesday on his cycle or the South Indian who doesn’t know chamatkaar from balatkaar. But all this is frivolous, joists to the BIG THING!

And the big thing is ….. …. SEX. Oh yes the grand daddy of internet searches, the king of movie interests and the Holy Roman Emperor of Book Sales. And why? Two words. Sex Sells. You need to have that. You can get a little creative here, no no don’t worry not really. Only about which flaw or rather spice she has which leads to sex, like maybe she goes overboard with vodka martinis or maybe she wants comfort sex after something tragic happened to her or she is plain vanilla nympho who sneaks in your room at midnight to do it. This is where you need to get descriptive, you can skip the details like which parts of anatomy went where or how you fumbled as it was your first time (which in reality everybody does, really) but you can say that it was magical or you like having sex in confined places. In case the boy gets the girl in the very end then you can throw in a couple of Cougars who lures the boy to have the big bang with them, and albeit being tempted the boy keeps his chastity. Of course the boy was not playing the whole charade for getting into her pants so the whole thing has to be unplanned and at the spur of the moment, like in the back of the car or on the roof while her parents are watching TV.

And the final touch is the antagonist. Yes like all formulaic stories this too needs a villain, he can be your austere HOD wanting to flunk you for dating her daughter, or your prurient boss who also has eyes on the office hottie who just magically fell for you or the seven evil exes or the plain old conservative would be father-in-law who doesn’t want you to marry her daughter because you are not of the same caste, religion, financial status or part of India. And he needs need to defeat him with his wit and thorough and enduring good nature (because he doesn’t have anything else), or his knowledge of how to deliver a baby with a vacuum cleaner. So that in the end Aal Izz Well. For comic effect keep adding delirious monologues about them in the narrative like “he looked like a cross between an orangutan and an ox with the brain of a mouse, his moustache was like a fig tree over which the crows shit” Or “seeing her hand in the Aniket’s hand my heart felt like it was dipped in oil in McDonalds fry their fries only it was being heated by the fires of hell and the lava of mount doom”. Your moronic readers will confuse these with wisecracks and being imaginative.

Add a few trite and contrived settings, a little baloney and few over simplified suggestions for giving the finger to the man, to appeal the anti authoritarian readers (or rather their delusions of being anti-authoritarian or at least their never ending fantasy of having the balls to say no to their boss or professors once in their life)

Almost as an afterthought, if you think that being a good author you need to have heavy words in your novel or you just want to differentiate yourself from the LS (low society) pulp fiction routinely occurring in the book stalls of the railways stations you can put in an Ill conceived and totally unrelated poems like:

In the morning I can’t see the light
Love for her is so big a fight
If she can give me hug that is tight
My life will be alright

No need to sweat, there are plenty of half wit poets all around whose poems or prose (you don’t need to even know the difference between those two) you can use and add them as special thanks. Or even better you can run the thesaurus on every word of your paragraph once in a while so that a paragraph like this can appear –

Her ethereal beauty shimmered in the iris of my heart’s eye for a fleeting moment but in the very moment I ambianced the full measure of my ardor ad infinitum for my lady. Even the angels crooned an enchanting tone for the entity known as me and everything in world abated. There was no febrifuge for this fervor and I knew I was going to scale any knoll for her as our souls minueted and my heart retorted to the pavlovian and my our eyes entered into an eternal shibboleth.

And Voila! You have a novel for yourself. Now go to R. Publications and prepare for book signings, launch ceremonies and criticism from assholes like me! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

I too had a love story

"Not everyone in the world has the fate to cherish the fullest form of love.
Some are born,  just to experience the abbreviation of it "

Ravinder Singh from I too had a love story.

Dedicated to the memory of the girl whom I loved but could not marry

Tere jaane ka asar kuch aisa hua mujh par,
tujhe dhoondate dhoondate maine khud ko pa liya.
Like him I also want to thank her for bringing out the writer in me. Without it I might have never know what existed in me or could exist.As a 21 year old happy-go- lucky boy I was too filled up with love for her and life in general. It is she who I made me hollow inside, which gave me a chance to fill me with something else.

I don't know how my life would have been and now after 5 years I don't care either. But what I do know because she left me I saw things in this world which I didn't know existed. And I want to thank her for it, because for better or worse I am what she made me into, a monster or a man.

In the misty peaks of love true bliss is found.
But in its deepest chasms of sorrow I found myself.