March Update

So the reason I’ve been completely absent from this space stems from a combination of guilt, and the absolute lack of ideas for content meant for the blog. The latter gives way to the former I suppose. It’s going to be close to a year since I posted anything original here as well, and that makes me feel bittersweet. Once upon a time, that was the dream – to be published so regularly that you didn’t have time for the blog. The thing about dreams, though, is the moment you get catch hold of one, or at least think you’ve caught hold of one, it changes inside the very hands you’ve trapped it in.

When I was around twenty (or was it twenty one?), I’d made this 25 things to do before 25 list. Looking back now, at the ripe old age of twenty seven, the list is plain silly, and at times reeks of desperation (one of the items on the list was “don’t be a virgin”). Here’s the thing though – with the exception of seeing New York City, I’ve ticked all the boxes, and in some cases I’ve done better than that list ever thought I would. This will tell you two things – the first being that twenty (one) year old me had zero creativity. The second, is that there really is no reason for me to sound as agitated as I do right now, after all, I’d scaled the mountain that I set my sights on when I was younger, did I not?

As it turns out, the mountain is a pedestrian platform and I’m actually a centipede.

Anyway, back to the blog – instead of reposting stuff that I’ve been writing for The Hindu, I’ve decided that instead, I will just go back to sharing mundanities from my life, like how sometime the last week when a director of a major sitcom told me that my review of his show was “nice”. Just Aaron Korsh guys, you know, the director of Suits, no big deal.

You can read the review he’s talking about, here

It

{This is a short story I wrote for the Madras Mag Anthology. It is a wonderful book, full of gems from authors the like of Srinath Perur, Sharanya Manivannan, MR Sharan, among others, and it’s an absolute honour to be rubbing shoulders with writers of that calibre! It’s published by a super hip independent publisher, Mulligatawny Books, and by purchasing the anthology, you’ll be supporting quality Indian writing. You can buy it on Amazon, here.} 

Sarah’s cousin
Natasha’s Labrador had given birth to six puppies, of which five had already
found homes across the city. The last one came to us, something that Amma was
not pleased about. What is that thing, she had asked Shrinidhi when she
showed up at the door with a card board box that had holes and a puppy. Take it
back right now. Shrinidhi, however, had different plans. She had been asking
Amma for a dog for two years now, supplemented her pleas with research that had
been the result of googling “How dogs make life better”, and even changed Amma’s
phone wallpaper from photos of Srinivasa Perumal to photos of adorable, fluffy
Golden Retriever puppies, but had never gotten what she wanted. Amma said they
were dirty, and Appa, who worked twelve hours a day in his legal practice, was
too exhausted by the time he came home to have a different opinion.
She had been on the
verge of giving up when Sarah had told her during Lunch Break about her cousin
Natasha’s Labrador, Choochoo Arockiaraj, and how they were having trouble
giving the last puppy in her litter away. Why wouldn’t anyone want a puppy,
Shrinidhi had asked Sarah. That’s because these puppies are a cross, replied
Sarah knowledgeably. Natasha’s parents didn’t realise that Choochoo was in her
heat when they took her out for a walk, and the neighbours’ male mongrel-hound,
Dimitri, who was also on his walk, had seduced her. Her neighbours were
Germans, and they were so happy about the pairing, that they immediately told
Natasha that they’d not only take half the litter, but also pay for the vet and
pregnancy. Shrinidhi nodded sagely, although she didn’t really understand what
a dog being in the heat meant, after which she asked Sarah if she could take
the last puppy. That, as they say, was that. Natasha was outside the school
campus the next evening with the cardboard box laced with newspaper that housed
the puppy, a chew toy, and a separate box with puppy food. Thank you so
much, Natasha had told her. You’re doing an amazing thing! You’re going to love
it! I’ve given you enough food to last you a week, and feel free to ask me
anything about her, she said, pointing to the larger box.
Shrinidhi had had
exactly three questions – how old the puppy was (she’s seventy days old now),
whether she needed shots (she needs a booster on the 7th, I’ve already paid the
vet – I’ll text you his address), and whether she could eat Thayir Saadham (hmmm,
give her vegetarian puppy food first, Pedigree has it, with curd, definitely,
because it’s good for their coats, also give her boiled vegetables but once
she’s six months old, Thayir Saadham, why not. Just google to be sure).
Once she got her answers she knew that the little puppy she was carrying
wouldn’t just help her finish her lunch, but also be her companion for life.
When Shrinidhi
suggested that they keep the puppy in the little verandah across the hall, Amma
only cussed in response. Azhukku Shaniyan. Keep it in your room, with
your mess. Appa had told her the same, and also that it would help her bond
with the puppy better. And so, Shrinidhi kept the puppy in her room. She opened
up the box where she had been putting away Birthday and
falling-at-the-feet-of-elders money to buy a dog on her own, and spent the rest
of the day shopping online for the puppy, feeding her, and cleaning up the
dog’s piss and poop. 
Amma, why don’t you
name her? Shrinidhi had offered the next day. 
Her? asked Amma incredulously. It
is an it. I am not naming it. I don’t even like it. 
Fine,
said Shrinidhi. That’s what I’ll name her. I’ll call her Adhu
Excellent
name, said Amma. Now that the Punyojanam is done, shall I make some
Carrot Payasam to celebrate? 
Shrinidhi stalked back to her room, and
came back five minutes later to ask Amma if she could have a hundred rupees to
buy her a few tennis balls. Amma said no. Appa gave her the money on the
condition that she didn’t tell Amma.   
Adhu, whose name
soon morphed into Addhu, and then Addhooo, was an adorable little puppy. She
had inherited her mother’s droopy ears, short hind legs, stubby nose, and her
father’s jet-black coat. She was of soft, timid temperament and was happy to be
sleeping on most days, and whenever Shrinidhi brought her to the hall, it’s her
home too she would say, Adhu was happy to just lie flat under the fan with
all four of her paws spread out, making her look like a cuddly version of the
macabre tiger skin trophy carpets that one saw in the houses of rich,
villainous men in Tamil Cinema.
Despite the puppy’s
obvious cuteness which had won all the other hearts in the house, Amma
continued to show spite towards the dog. Ignore your mother, Appa told
Shrinidhi. She’s been stressed and irritated all week. Prabha Atthai is due to
call about her trip today.  
Prabha Atthai was Appa’s first cousin,
and older to him by about ten years. The only child of her parents, she moved
to the United States in the early eighties after marrying – Amma preferred to
use the word capturing – a mild mannered neurologist who was making good money,
and continued to do so. She rarely visited India, it was exhausting, she would
say with her newly acquired twang, preferring instead to fly her parents to the
States. Five
years ago she had lost her parents in quick succession,
and ended up spending a fair amount of time with Appa because he was the only
lawyer who would help sort out her parents’ wills, house deeds, and other
formalities without charging anything.  Before she left to the US, she called home,
and spoke to Appa about how grateful she was, and that as a token of her
gratitude, she would come to India more often, and stay with us. Appa had
welcomed the idea heartily, much to Amma’s displeasure. If only you were less
compassionate, she had told him. We would have got a BMW ten years ago.
The first time Prabha
Atthai visited us, she hauled her suitcase across the airport to the Tirusulam
subway station, took the train to Mambalam, and walked through the
morning-after muck of Ranganathan Street to reach our house which was on the
other side. Your city is so dirty, she’d accused once she got home. Look at
what I had to get through to come here. 
Why didn’t you take a cab, Amma had
asked. 
A cab costs Rs.450. Don’t you have a driver? Please send him from now.
Prabha Atthai’s
schedule in Chennai was the same each trip.  As soon as she got home, which would usually
be in the middle of the night, she would insist on waking us up immediately so
that she could give us our gifts – items she had carefully picked out herself
from the dollar store. You don’t get anything like this here, do you, she would
ask, pointing to the acrylic pen stands and Jolly Rancher hard candies that she
would get us year after year. The only way we were allowed to go back to sleep
was if we said no.
Every morning, she
would sit in the dining table, and draw up a long list of cousins and relatives
to visit that day. She would then have breakfast, and talk. She would talk
about her life before she got married, her life after, life in the States, and
how life would have been if she hadn’t gone. It wasn’t the talking that
bothered Amma as much as Prabha Atthai’s need to have a pertinent response. If
Amma so much as hmm-ed, Prabha Atthai would turn her nose up, after which she
would repeat the entire story again for Amma’s benefit, and the rest of the day
would be spent on more such one sided storytelling, apart from lunch and dinner.
Prabha Atthai ran out of stories quickly, and would often repeat her favourites
– Amma, after listening to the story of how she saw Bujji Periamma elope with
her Professor back in the eighties for roughly the thirtieth time, made the
mistake of telling Prabha Atthai that she already knew the story. Prabha Atthai,
who was quick to get offended, wasn’t one to give up.
She stopped telling
stories, and started doling out advice instead – she would advise Amma on
everything she thought Amma would benefit from, but her core focus was on how
Amma had raised her daughters. Your daughters have too much freedom. Why did
you put them in a Convent? They’re probably eating Non Vegetarian food behind
your back. If you give your daughters smart phones, they will get boyfriends. For
four years, Amma handled it with great finesse, choosing to comment in a
neutral manner. Last year, however, Prabha Atthai crossed the line by straying
from her chosen topic of daughter rearing, to commenting on Amma’s cooking,
more specifically, by telling her that her Paruppu
Thogayal
could use some improvement. 
Amma started giving her the silent treatment, and two days later, Prabha
Atthai left to Latha Periamma’s house for the remainder of the trip. Things
sorted themselves out the way these things usually sort themselves out – Amma
and Appa had a fight, but neither Amma nor Atthai acknowledged or confronted
the other about the incident.
 Prabha Atthai called on schedule to inform Amma
about her trip, the timings of her flight, and whether the driver would be
coming to pick her up. By the way, Amma had told her.  We have a dog in the house. I hope you’re
alright with them.
Dog? What dog? When?
Amma told her the
entire story about Shrinidhi and Choochoo Arockiaraj. It’s annoying, but it’s
here. I can’t do anything. Do you have a problem with dogs?
Please don’t be upset
about what I’m going to tell you, Prabha Atthai said. But I am deathly allergic
to dogs. 
Oh, said Amma. I never knew about this. 
That’s because of who I am,
she replied. I don’t like burdening people with my problems. Why should I give
you one more worry? You must have enough with those daughters of yours. Anyway,
this is the problem. Even if I so much as see dogs, I develop a cough and a
severe rash. Is there any way to give her away before my trip to Chennai?
I’m sorry, said
Amma. I’ve tried everything. Shrinidhi just won’t listen. The only way the dog
is leaving the house is if Shri takes it along to her husband’s house after she
gets married. 
Shrinidhi has to get married before the dog leaves? asked Prabha Athai. Who knows when that will happen! Or if that will happen at
all! 
I know, said Amma. The times we live in. 
I suppose I should go to Latha’s
house right away this time. 
I suppose, replied Amma. 
Ok then, bye. I’ll call you
later. 
Bye, good night, said Amma and waited to hear the click sound of the
call getting cut. She continued to stand with her ear on the phone as the
events of the past fifteen minutes sank into her.
We had Carrot Payasam
for dessert that evening.

Stories For The Hindu

I’m now a full time contributor for The Hindu – basically, I’m still working as a CA in practice, but I’ll be writing for The Hindu exclusively. My content will be split into a column called “Spoiler Alert”, which will be about Television, and other stories of general interest. I’ve already got 4 stories published, which I’ll link here. In the future, I will be cross posting whatever I write for The Hindu on my blog as well, because why not. 

{Spoiler Alert}

{General Interest}

And to think my journey to here started from a blog! 15 year old me is FREAKING OUT right now. 

The Right Thing

Recently, I was faced with the rather unpleasant task of “doing the right thing”. It involved making a difficult phone call to someone I respected greatly and telling her that, contrary to everything that I had told her since that moment, I was no different from every other selfish, opportunistic ladder-climber she had encountered thus far. 
As an avid avoider of confrontation, this phone call not only took me a while to make, but also had me making several other phone calls to friends and family, seeking advice on what to do, and whether my idea of changing my name to Maria-Abdul Sivagnanam and starting a new life in Rameswaram was a good alternative solution. It so happened that despite the inherent genius in the Maria-Abdul idea, everyone I had asked told me to make the phone call as soon as I could. One of them went on to say “Don’t worry, it’ll be just like pulling out a bandaid, and it’ll be over before you know it.” 
This was comforting to me, because I’m a clumsy girl, and I’ve pulled a fair number of band aids out over the years. There is a slight twinge of pain, yes, but if I worked quickly, even that slight discomfort could be avoided. I went to the extent of hoping that it would be like one of those waterproof band aids which quietly slip off by themselves. 

I made the phone call half an hour later and by the end of it, the only thing that was on my mind was why “like taking a wax strip off” wasn’t a mainstream phrase yet, because that was what the entire experience felt like – excruciatingly painful, and although I knew that it was for the best and things would become smooth real soon, all I felt after I done was raw, stung, sensitive, and just really, really red. 

Me, everyday. 

The Scion of Ikshvaku – II

(I live-blogged reading the book’s first 4 chapters here)In what feels like one of the greatest feats I have accomplished since clearing my Chartered Accountancy and learning to cook without calling a fire engine, I have read, nay, finished reading the Scion of Ikshvaku. It took a lot of willpower to plough through this book – will power I didn’t know I possessed.

There is no doubt that this book is terrible, but I would still urge you to read it because it is one of those so bad that it’s good type of books – the entire time you’re reading the book, you will struggle between choosing to turn the page or rip the book in two, and the former will win if you paid Rs.350/- for it, or are reading it in an expensive device. Here are the times when I felt like ripping it up but didn’t –

 

  • In my previous post, I had I had said a lot about how it was 1700000 BC, etc. That was a mistake, because the according to the book’s timeline, the story is based in 3400 B.C – (roughly) around the same time the Indus Valley Civilization was shaping up, and it is in this period that are mentions of rotor blades, of surgical procedures, and most notably, India, right in the first few chapters. If you thought this was bad, it gets worse. We get to read about ayuralays that have freakin’ lobbies, policemen, courtrooms, and judges who interpret “clauses of the laws”, scientific experiments, glass and metal, diplomatic offices, and existential crises, and biological warfare. BIOLOGICAL WARFARE! Dei, wheel only was invented 600 years ago da! And you are already on to biological warfare! Vitta you’ll bring in the U.S Army and President Bush also.
  • It is evident that Ram is not the favourite of Dashrath because as far as he’s concerned, the newborn was the reason he lost the battle – to the point where all the nobility refer to him as “the taint of 7,032” (I was disappointed by this actually. Only “taint of 7,032?” No Ayodhyan news crier asking him if he feels responsible and that the nation wants to know?)
  • 3 year old Lakshman has a lisp. It’s quite adorable if it weren’t for the fact that he lithpth in englith throughout the thapter. Like how’th that even poththible.
  • Bharat’s serial dating. “This is his fifth girlfriend” muses Ram at the beginning of Chapter 7. Fifth girlfriend. I mean what is this? Keeping up with the Ikshvakus?
  • The part of the book which frustrated me the most was in the 6th chapter – the princes are in their gurukul with Vashishta, where they discuss the origins of civilization. Shatrughnan, in 3400 BC, tells us about the origins of civilization, and about the Vedic people of this yug (who probably practised #yog).

“The Ice Age is not a theory. It is a fact”
“Yes Guruji,” said Shatrughnan. “Since sea levels were a lot lower, the Indian landmass extended a lot farther into the sea. The island of Lanka, the demon-king Raavan’s kingdom, was joined to the Indian landmass. Gujarat and Konkan also reached out into the sea” …..”Two great civilizations existed in India during the Ice Age. One in south eastern India called the Sangamtamil, which included a small portion of the Lankan landmass, along with large tracts of land that are now underwater. The course of the river Kaveri was much broader and longer at the time. This rich and powerful empire was ruled by the Pandya dynasty.”
“And?”
“The other civilization, Dwarka, spread across large parts of the landmass, off the coast of Modern Gujarat and Konkan. It now lies submerged. It was ruled by the Yadav dynasty, the descendants of Yadu”
“Carry on”
“Sea levels rose dramatically at the end of the Ice Age. The Sangamtamils and Dwarka civilizations were destroyed, their heartland now lying under the sea. The survivors, led by Lord Manu, the father of our nation, escaped up north and began life once again. They called themselves the people of vidya, knowledge; the Vedic people. We are their proud descendants.”

 

    •  Shatrughnan talks about Gujarat and Konkan. GUJARAT AND KONKAN. Whether he also drew their borders on India Outline map as part of geography test? (There are also mentions of Kathmandu and Egypt further down in the book)
    • Sangamtamil. Ada paavigala! Naanga dhaan kadachoma? A little back history: The Sangam age began in 6th Century BC, but let’s not forget the fact that there ARE mentions of the Chola/Pandya kings in the epics, most notably in the Mahabharata.When you set a story in a certain period, you are obligated to stay true to that period – I’m not saying that books have to be like amazingly perfect in terms of history, but the ridiculousness in this just unbearable. Point being: Feel free to make up fictional kingdoms! Why not just Tamils? Or the Dravidians? Altering or making fiction out of real history (unless it is a very specific story which set in that age, the first example that comes to mind is Wolf Hall), and in a scale like this, is just irresponsible.
    • Pandyas were destroyed before the onset of the Ikshvaku dynasty it seems. If Nedunchezhiyan knew about this, he would rise from his grave and give this book a 0 rating on Amazon along with a ‘not satisfied wat a disappointment, plz don’t buy ths book…s crap’ review.
    • Dwarka – I am fairly certain that the last Yadav emperor per the timeline that this book is following is Sharad Yadav.
  • Apart from history-geography kodumai that is prevalent through the book, Ram, Lakshman and Dashrath use words like “Dammit”, “Why the hell?”, “Wow!”, and most notably, “Touché” (French. They speak FRENCH!) quite liberally.
  • There’s even a retelling of the 2012 rape case in the book – a well loved female character is violated and her naked body is strewn in public. The entire city is furious and rises to protest for justice, only for the courts to tell them that since the perpetrator is a minor, he will not be executed. This is, however, the only ‘modern’ incident in this book. I’m hoping the second book will have an incident ‘inspired’ by 2002/1984, and the third, Auschwitz.

 

  • There’s also this line from the book where Manthara tells Kaikeyi that she could use her two boons since the Raghu clan would never go back on their word. She says, Raghukul reet sadaa chali aayi, pran jaaye par vachan na jaaye. My knowledge of hindi may be limited but I AM SURE that this was where the dialogue was taken from.

  • Separating the book from everything that I’ve written above – the style of writing, the history, everything. If you were to forgive everything and strip it down to the message – it just feels like one long sermon that the author wants to give us about how the ideal modern Indian society should be, right from the futility of religion based fighting (God is one! Satyam Ekam!) to respecting the laws of the land (the ‘rape’).
  • Throughout the time I read this book, I would insist that my husband would listen to my dramatic readings of particularly awful paragraphs. Once I finished the book and listed everything that I’ve listed here, the lawyer that I live with took it upon himself to defend the author to the best of his abilities. The language is what the bulk of readers understand, he said. It is what is accessible. Maybe Amish, now that he is an author with mass reach, felt like he needed to use his readership base to convey a larger message for greater good.
I promised myself I wouldn’t use a gif in this post, but here it is.
  • We did ponder, however, about how so many people were raving about this book. How? Where were the 0 star reviews? We took it upon ourselves to scour through reviews on the internet. When I found that around 50 odd people had given it a ‘1’ star review, I was ecstatic. Look! I told S. Discerning readers! Turns out, the 1 star reviews were consistently for this reason:
If you are an aspiring novelist, in India, from India, looking to write a good book for India, I suggest you pack your bags and head for the hills.

 

Liveblogging The Scion Of Ikshvaku – I

So I bought into the hype and purchased a copy of The Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish the previous day. I had skipped his Meluha series (simply because there was so much attention around it) and so I actually had no impression about his writing, other than that it was hugely popular. I started reading it this morning, and it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences – I ended up sitting down on my desk with a pencil and started circling and underlining sentences and passages. I gave it the benefit of doubt for about 1 more chapter after which I had SO many thoughts that I felt that I should actually live-blog reading it. This book has 30 chapters, so I’m going to divide this into 6 posts of 5 chapters each – assuming ofcourse, that I actually finish it. So here goes! (keep refreshing the page for updates)

Chapter 1
The book begins with Rama trying to shoot something and the generic descriptions of his lean-ness, tall-ness, etc.

“It’s moving Dada” whispered Lakshman to his elder brother.

While I understand the need to italicise Dada in order to highlight Lakshman’s secret bong-ness, I don’t understand why “his elder brother” is highlighted. What is the special emphasis for? I’ve this habit of reading italicized text in Kamal Hassan’s voice so this is just making the book unnecessarily dramatic for me.

Ram however, doesn’t seem to be too concerned about Lakshman’s loud whispering and is more concerned about releasing the arrow. Ram of course, kills the deer a whopping 4 paragraphs later despite Lakshman’s constant whispering in his ear and after making some vital adjustments to his interfering angavastram (did you read it in Kamal’s voice too?), which, as a frequent saree wearer, I can relate to.

Ram and Lakshman then go to the dead deer and profusely apologise ancient apologies and pray that it’s soul will find purpose. I’m fairly certain that that dead deer’s soul, upon hearing this, would’ve been like othadei


Anyway Ram and Lakshman are walking back talking about how there is some conspiracy that is afoot and Lakshman is fairly convinced that Bharat has something do with it but Ram’s like Lakshman! and if this was a tamil serial they’d be alternating between their shocked and defiant faces with a guy wailing in the background but it’s not.

Now there is a mention of Jatayu, who Lakshman refers to as Vulture Man because of his big nose and bald head. So apparently Jatayu is a Naga, a class of people who are “born with deformities” and were ostracised in Sapt Sindhu, the Land of the Seven Rivers. This is all wrong, because per Hindu mythology, Jatayu, is the son  nephew (thanks @kskarun!) of Garuda (the Eagle), who happened to be the greatest enemy of the Nagas. Calling Jatayu a Naga is one thing, BUT OSTRACIZING A RACE BECAUSE THEY HAD LARGE NOSES? OH THE HUMANITY!

Ok this is getting better. Ram and Lakshman are minutes away from their camp when they hear it.

A forceful scream!

A forceful scream. A FORCEFUL SCREAM – which begs the question: what the hell is a forceful scream? What is this scream forcing you to do?

The  distance made faint her frantic struggle. But it was clearly Sita. She was calling out to her husband. 

“…Raaam!”

“…Sitaaaaa!”

This is a slightly condensed version of the paragraph but I could read this part a 100 times and never stop feeling amused.

So Ram and Lakshman are running and Sita is screaming and it’s all very dramatic, when:

“They heard the loud whump, whump, whump of Rotor Blades….This was Raavan’s legendary Pushpak Vimaan, his flying vehicle

ROTOR BLADES. ROTOR BLADES. This isn’t the Pushpak Vimaan (which could actually be a great brand name for men’s underwear. Pushpak Vimaan Baniyans and Jattis. Pushpak Vimaan, Saare Jahaan. Sounds good), it’s the fucking Marine One or something. ROTOR BLADES. Excuse me. I need a minute.

So after Ram’s seen the Lanka One take off with Sita, he spots a wounded Jatayu, who is very helpful in giving him this key piece of information “Raavan’s…kidnapped…her” before he drops dead.

“SITAAAA”

The chapter ends thus. Normally I would stop reading here, but today I am in the mood to soldier on.



Chapter 2
The book is going back 33 years to the Port of Karachapa in the Western Sea to a pretty intense flashback. Dashrath (pronounced “Dash-rat”) is offering prayers to Parshu Ram for a victorious campaign. There is a bit of backstory about how he made the empire more prosperous and had become “Chakravarti Samrat, or the Universal Emperor” (I hope you’re reading it in Kamal Hassan’s voice as well).
Anyway, so the kingdom is in pretty deep shit with the wars and everything because Dashrath is an elitist Kshatriya Douchenugget who has no regard for the trading class despite reaping huge profits from the “Trader King”, Kubaer (this guy really needs a primer on how to use vowels efficiently).

So Kubaer got a little tired of Dashrath’s shitty behaviour and did some cost cutting, thereby cutting a portion of the commission which King D believed was his. Shots were fired (I’m just using a popular phrase here, but given this book and the rotor blade incident I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the soldiers had a 17000000 BC Machine gun) and now Dashrath is ready to get into war and teach him a lesson despite petty concerns like his resources which have been stretched out immensely and the fact that the treasury has no money.

“Apparently, My Lord, ” said Mrigasya, “it is not Kubaer who is calling the shots”

Ok so I totally (almost) predicted this. Ofcourse Kubaer isn’t calling the shots, because it is 17000000 BC and movies weren’t invented then and therefore neither were directors, the men who directed the scenes and literally “called the shot” which is from where this phrase is derived. {edit! So I did some snooping and apparently this phrase was derived from this game called “Curling” in Scotland which was played in the 1500s. For what it’s worth, the usage is still BS} But according to the author, Kubaer isn’t calling the shots because his “head of trading security force” is.

*dramatic pause*

“His name is Raavan” 

So the book now briefly moves to Kosala, where there is some history about Dashrath’s 3 wives and about how Kausalya is about to go into labour (“it appeared to be the real thing”). Thankfully the paragraph ends soon after, and we are back at the war scene.

Dashrath and Kubaer (“the fabulously wealthy trader”) are trying to negotiate for peace one last time, but Fab-K, though nervous, doesn’t back down and cites decreasing trade margins as a reason for the cuts. Dashrath tries to make him see reason with some impeccable logic, such as:

“I am not a trader! I am an emperor! Civilized people understand that difference”  

This unsuccessful meeting ends with Dashrath yelling some more, only for Raavan (with his “rippling musculature” and other such 50 shades of Grey type qualities) to openly smirk at Dashrath and tell him that he will be defeated by the Lankan armies.

“I assure you, I’ll be waiting,” said Jagdish Raavan

The rest of the chapter is essentially Dashrath screaming to Kaikeyi while she feeds him roti.

Chapter 3
Only two more and we can all go to bed! Kausalya is having trouble giving birth because instead of focussing on pushing the baby out all she can think about is how King D totes ignores her all the time now.

“All she desired was a fraction of the time and attenion that Dashrath lavished on his favourite wife, Kaikeyi”

Oh but it gets better.

“She soldiered on determinedly, refusing the doctor permission to perform a surgical procedure to extract the baby from her womb”

The only thing that is missing now from the scene is Venniradai Moorthy going “Nurse, sub-zero solution”.

Kausalya continues to devote her energy to doing everything except pushing the baby out. Now she’s thinking about the name, and decides that he will be named after The Sixth Vishnu, followed by some explanation about how Vishnu isn’t a god, but a title etc. Whatevs. She decides on Ram.

Cut to Kind Doucherath who is taking on “Kubaer’s eunuch forces” (seriously?). After great deliberation and strategising, he chooses suchivyuha, which is actually the same formation which I remember watching in 300, except there’s no rock around them and they’re on a beach and surrounded by ships and a fort which house impeccable archers who shoot arrows left right and centre. Dashrath gets stabbed and falls, but only after about 7 paragraphs of him going on in capslock.

Kaikeyi decides that it’s up to her to save her husband now and charges on to the field to retrieve her husband. She gets pretty pissed on the way too.

“Damn you, Lord Surya!”

Damn you, Lord Surya. Damn you. Damn.

She does manage to save her husband – although she does get injured by an arrow because she thought the soldier would be chivalrous and let her pass (with a cup or three of tea maybe). Yay!

We’re back at Kosala now. Kausalya has delivered a boy! A boy who was born exactly at midday – which brings a bit of a conundrum because according to their astrologer, a boy born before midday would be remembered as the greatest in history, and a boy born after midday would suffer great personal misfortune. “Are you sure he was born exactly at midday?” the astrologer asks. Yes, I checked it on my Casio Digital watch with calibrated time sensors”, said the doctor. [Not a line in the book, but should be].

Chapter 4
Sage Vashishta, the royal sage of Ayodhya rolls in to town. Some gandalf like descriptions follow. We find out that after the war, Ayodhya has, predictably, fallen into penury, but hasn’t lost power because it’s subordinates are even weaker. Then we get to hear some history – but not just any ordinary history, the history of creation itself, and how the Ayodhyans (not to be confused with Anirudhians) viewed themselves. This is some amazing shit.

“It was believed that at the centre of the universe of this primeval ocean, billions of years ago, the universe was born when The One, Ekam, split into a great big bang, thus activating the cycle of creation…..the One God, Ekam, popularly known in modern times as Brahman or Paramatma

Modern times, guys. Modern times. Anyway, after more boring history about the once great Ayodhya, Vashista takes some time to look at the Braavos style statues in the entrance of the city, which is of the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, but Amish has really put in some effort in ensuring that we will never be able to figure out if they are Gods or if they are men. Mahadev is a title, as is Vishnu, and Brahma is “one of the greatest scientists ever”.

I am, in honesty, ok with this, because the paragraphs that follow in this chapter make the previous chapters seem like they were written by Rushdie. So Vashishta offers prayers to the trinity because he is about to start a rebellion. They are amazing prayers, after which he takes some soil from the ground and slaps it on his forehead, Yejaman Rajni style.

“This soil is worth more than my life to me. I love my country. I love my India”

This is all very patriotic and amazing EXCEPT IT’S A RETELLING OF THE RAMAYANA AND THIS IS VASHISHTA AND HOW THE FUCK CAN HE LOVE INDIA HOW THE FUCK CAN HE EVEN SAY IT’S INDIA IT’S FUCKING 1700000 BC I AM SORRY I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE.

“A small group of people walked solemnly in the distance, wearing robes of blue, the holy colour of the divine”

The absurdity doesn’t stop. It just doesn’t stop. Robes! Ayodhya had holy people who wore robes! Wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a mention of the Ayodhyan Pope next.

Now we find out that Dashrath has 4 sons in all now, apart from Ram, and that Vashishta has his eyes set on Ram and Bharat because one of them would help him fulfill his mission. Vashishta then draws his ancient scabbard which has been inscribed with the words Parshu Ram in “an ancient script”, but looks suspiciously like emoji. The chapter ends with Vashishta taking a blood oath to “make his rebellion succeed, or die trying.”

#Thoo

If only I had taken a brain oath to avoid this book.

30th June 2015, 10.30 PM: That’s all from me for today, friends! I know I had said I would blog 5 chapters, but surviving 4 was hard enough. I’ll be back tomorrow if you guys want the liveblog, that is. Let me know if you do!

What a Karvaad

[I had posted this in my Gif Blog (I have a gif blog, guys), and I thought that it merited a cross post, so.]  

The phrase “What a Karvaad” originated in the hugely popular comedy film,  “Singaravelan”, which released in the early 90s. Literally translated, it means, “What a dried fish!”, which isn’t really something that you’d want to tell someone, but this phrase has been used ever since the movie released (and very much more so the last decade) to express express excitement over something, eg: “Hey man, I just got hired at BigStartup!” “Woah, What a Karvaad! What is the pay like?”

Interestingly, this line was said by Charlie, and not, unlike popular opinion, Vadivelu – the phrase is probably attributed to him because he spouts a great number of hilarious lines in the film (which are still very popular in modern tamil pop culture today, most notably, Onga Sattae Mele Evlooo Button). 
Anyway, the reason I am writing this is because I just had a horrible day dream (a daymare?) where, about 15 years in the future, I said “Woah, What a Karvaad” to my kid, and then she googled it, and landed up at a youtube video of Dhanush doing Kutthu dance and decided that that was where I must have got this phrase from.  

A Short Post

Confession: The first thing I thought of when I opened the “Post” page to talk about my birthday, was to write a “26 Things You Learn When You’re 26” listicle – it’s become a bit of a disease. Anyway, I started this post out thinking I’ll dole out age based advice, but I’m not going to because there’s enough on this blog already.

I know you don’t particularly care to know, but I insist on informing you that I am doing well. Job’s going well, I’ve been getting some nice writing assignments, I’m yet to give up on anything good this year, I’ve been giving some time for hobbies, and of course, I’m still getting sly tweeted about, which as we all know, is one of the greatest barometers of success in 2015.

I’m working on a pretty exciting project right now, which I’ll tell you guys about, soon-ish. Also, if you’re one of the grand total of five people who enjoy The Daily Dinosaur, great news! It’s up and running again. I hope you’re having a good weekend!

Yennai Arindhaal

What really frustrated me about Yennai Arindhaal was the severely predictable Gautham Menon police movie elements – the middle class dad of the 80’s who constantly talks in English about following your heart, the modern, strong independent heroine who pursues the hero, the heroine with a past who you know is going to die a gruesome death, Daniel Balaji, and ofcourse, the adopted daughter. The only missing element in this movie, surprisingly, was the mention of love-making phrase. (Edit: I know he talks about going to the medical shop, but it isn’t the mention of sex as much as it is the actual reciting of the phrase “I want to make love to you” that I’m talking about)
Other than that, I actually enjoyed the movie. Ajith is such a good looking guy, really, and in the flash back with the moustache on, first class. It was evident that he stuck to the brief that he received from his director, and it worked, unlike Anushka’s Zooey Deschanel inspired haircut. Arun Vijay though, what a guy! This movie is his big break and I totally see him being cast as a six pack having savvy gangster dude with a mildly high pitched voice in a lot of movies henceforth. If only he’d button his shirt now.
Trisha & Ajith are actually a very cute screen couple. It’d be nice to see more of them on screen. I’m pretty curious to see where her acting career goes now with getting married and everything.
On the whole, I liked Yennai Arindhaal, despite it being about 20-25 minutes too long. If you like Ajith, you will love this movie. Seriously, what a good looking guy. 

A Gif For Monday

So, I was watching Thiruvalaiyadal yesterday (let’s just call it research) and for those of you who haven’t watched the film, I recommend it heartily purely based on the entertainment quotient that lies in Sivaji’s epic Thaandavam.

While the entire Thaandavam needed to be condensed into a reaction gif to express un-expressable levels of anger, there was one particular moment for me which I just HAD to gif and share, stat.

Hope you’re having a good Monday, and if you want an entire collection of Sivaji Ganesan gifs, leave a comment!