Nov 28, 2011

Books || Stephen King ~ On Writing

A few months ago, I made a list of the things I enjoy doing, deciding to spend time doing each of these. Writing was on that list.

In an effort to understand writing better, I attended a Sunday workshop on creative writing. As it turned out, I didn't end up learning anything great over there. What did happen however, was that as I was participating in the various writing exercises, I realized how easily words came to me. And how they never stopped.

I decided to spend more time pursuing the art of writing. I got regular on my blog. I opened up Word docs at random and started to type. Suddenly, I was surrounded by diaries and notepads, scribbling away furiously. Read-able or not, writing is the one thing that absorbs me completely, holds my attention, as long as it pleases. My muse can have me, take me away, anytime, anywhere. Its wish is my command.

Anyway, there are two books I read that further inspired me to take my writing seriously. And, I'd like to talk about one of them today. It's written by Stephen King, and it's called ON WRITING.

The best thing that happened to me after I read this book was that I started to believe that I could write too. Earlier, when I read great and wonderful books, I used to wish I could write like that too, but I thought I never could. Mr. King reconfirmed that for me. Through his book he told me, of course, I could never write like that. But I could write like only I could. I could tell the stories that only I could tell, through my perceptions, that are unique to me. It was encouraging. I began to write more.

King puts forth his theory about the different kinds writers there are. This has stayed with me, and I think about it almost everyday. He says the four different kinds of writers are: Bad Writer, Competent Writer, Good Writer and Great Writer.

The interesting part is this: according to King, a bad writer can never become a competent one, and a good writer can never become a great one. But a competent writer can certainly hope, aspire and work towards becoming a good one. I have somehow taken the liberty to assume myself a competent writer, and spend every day of my life trying to become a good one. I hope I shall succeed some day.

I would say that this book is a must-read for anyone hoping to take up writing at some point in their lives. Even if you don't, the book is still an interesting read. Try it!

You can purchase the book here, or here.

I'll leave you with a quote from the book:

"Stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position."

Do you know of any inspiring books on writing? Please do share!

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Nov 27, 2011

Kolaveri Veri!


(Note: Flicked this off FB. Original cartoon seems to be from here:
Oh, and please excuse the cows. They're just Moo-ing around for a while!)

Nov 23, 2011

Blog Under Maintenance.

Apologies to you if the sudden changes have shocked you. I am in the process of re-designing my blog. And I'm doing it myself from scratch! :D So it's going to take a while. No, I'm not taking a break from writing. Posts will be up as usual, no respite for you from those, I'm afraid. But odd things may pop up every once in a while and disappear mysteriously.

To the few people who read my blog regularly and are kind enough to read this post, I will let you in on a secret. When my blog is ready in its new avatar, there will be a surprise to go along with it! Yippee! I love surprises, don't you?

Hope I get around to completing this pretty soon!

Nov 22, 2011

My First Short Story

This is my first-ever attempt at fiction. I actually wrote this more than a month ago. When I read what I wrote, I was for some reason, deeply embarrassed. I put it away and felt myself wince inwardly whenever I thought about it. I opened it again today, and decided that it had to be posted. Good or bad, I wrote it and I would never get anywhere if I did not share it, I thought. 

So here it is. If you happen to read it, I would value any words of encouragement, advice, and feedback. Thanks!

The Postman’s Story

Nanjappa was getting old. He was tired all the time and he could feel it in his bones. His skin, once tight and rough, seemed limp and soft now. His muscles sagged and his shoulders drooped slightly as he walked. With just a couple of years to go before he could retire from his duties as a postman, he carried on with his daily routine out of mere habit.

He hadn’t always been like this. In his younger days, Nanjappa was full of vigour, excited about his job. He wore a smile on his face, collecting and delivering letters in his small town. The townsfolk were not great in number; they always recognized him when he was on rounds. He had a smile for everyone and sometimes he even stopped to chat for a while.

No, the postman job hadn’t been too bad after all. It was just right for him, simple enough for his average intelligence, strenuous enough for his hardworking nature. He had always been physically strong. Riding his bicycle for most part of the day was never too hard for him. He loved meeting people and talking to them every day.

The job got him through a lot. He had seen to the education of his two children. They were all grown up now, and had left the town to lead their own lives. He was able to make a decent living all right, provide well for his wife and make sure they would live comfortably in their old age with a little help from their son.

And yet, he couldn’t wait to retire. He was tired. Everything seemed to have lost its luster. The people he used to meet earlier were either old or dead. A newer generation had occupied the town. A generation that seemed to have no time for letters. No time for anything at all, let alone the simple pleasures of life. They seemed aloof and busy. Nanjappa felt lost. 

That morning was no different from the others. Having reported to the office at 8 AM, Nanjappa set out for his rounds, emptying the post boxes. He had followed the same route every day for forty years now. He went about it zombie-like; his mind was always elsewhere. Something gripped his heart, a sort of sadness that would not let go.

He reached the post box outside the Boys School. There were hardly ever any letters in that one. He opened the lock to the door at the back and found a small pile at the bottom which he pulled out. He always looked through the letters before he stacked and put them in his bag. Sometimes people put rubbish in the post box. 

Looking at envelopes cheered him up a little. The neatly printed addresses in block letters and carefully pasted postage stamps were a familiar sight that brought him comfort. Running his fingers over the handwriting of the people of that town made him feel connected to them.

As he made his way through the pile, he stopped at a strange looking letter. In fact, it wasn’t a letter at all. It was thick, a makeshift envelope from paper torn out of a child’s notebook. Across the center, written in pencil, where the words, “To  - The Nuspaper.”  He looked at it for a few minutes, unsure of what to do. He then stuffed it into his pocket. It would have to wait. 

He trudged through the rest of his day, relieved to get back home by sunset. His wife greeted him as usual with a cup of steaming hot tea, which he took out to his usual place in the small verandah. Comfortably seated on his cane chair, he closed his eyes and sipped the tea, allowing its aroma to relax him for a while. He laid his free hand on his chest, feeling something bumpy in his pocket. In an instant, he remembered the childish scrawl.

Pulling out the letter, he turned it over once and then tore it open. Out fell a couple of more folded sheets of notebook paper, filled with the same writing in pencil. He spread them out and read:

Roudi Sheetar
In my colony today, there was a big sound. Many pipal were shouting on the street. My amma and abba were scard. They told me to go inside my room and hide under the bed. Then they loked all the doors and windos in the house. Then they also came and sat on my bed. When they did not see me, I slowly looked outside the window.

There were many men and boys on the road.  Maybe hundrid, thouzand. They had big-big stones and sticks in there hands. They were all showting and jumping up and down. They were trying to beat each other with the stones. There was lot of roudygiri. They were not afraid. They looked like very brave men. I saw our galli ke ladke also – Mallik, Faisal bhai, Imran, e tc. They were looking angry.

Suddanly, all the people became quite. They were looking back. Now they were looking afraid. Then I saw one big, big man coming. He came and stood in the middal. He was the biggest man. His hands were big with big big mussals. His hair was long. Some pippal went and stood behined him. The other men were trying to go and haid. The big man shouted loudly. Then he started running. The others were afrad of him and running away like my abba’s chickans.

He caut some men and started beating them. His was doing too good faiting. I got very ecksited.  I also started shouting Dishum Dishum! It was like the cinema fighting on the TV. Then my abba heared me. He pulled my ear and scolded me. Then he pushed me under the bed and told me - stay there.

After some time, I heared some pulice siran. Then everything became quite. Then my amma and abba asked me to come out and amma went to make chai for everybod. I went to amma and asked her who was that big man. She did not tell. She told to go and read my books.

In the night I heared amma and abba talking. Then I understud evrything. That big man’s name is Roudi Sheetar. He is a bad man, my abba was saying. He was telling to amma that he is afraid about me. I done know why. But this is the story about Sheetar Uncle. 

Dear nuspaper,
I like to write storys. My mama said that his freind wrote storys put in some magzins. I don know any magzins. Only nysupaper. So I told my friend and he told if we put it in the post box, it will go to nuspaper. Till now I sended ten. You did not put anything. Plise put my story in tommoros paper. I will be waiting.
Yasseen - III A.

Nanjappa was laughing out loud. It had been a very long time since he had even smiled. Hearing him, his wife came out too. He read the story to her, and they laughed together. They agreed that it was the sweetest thing they had ever heard of.

Nanjappa was impressed with the lad and wanted to do something nice for him. So he thought about it for a long time, and then he crafted a little note of his own.

Dear Yasseen,
We read your story. It was very good. We read it to our children too, who are of your age, and they liked it very much. However, we do not put children’s stories in our newspaper. When you become big like your abba, you send us stories and we will print them. But please keep sending your stories now, our children want to hear more.

Yours Respectfully,
The Newspaper.

He gave it to the watchman of the Boys School and asked him to pass it on to Yasseen of III A. The watchman gladly agreed to do so, being an old friend of Nanjappa’s.

Nanjappa hoped it would work. He hoped that the boy would keep writing, that he would get to read more of these delightful creations. He wasn’t disappointed. A few days later, he found another letter from Yasseen waiting for him, with a new story about Kabootars, and a thank you note to the nysupaper uncle.

Nanjappa was overjoyed. After a long time, he felt he had a connection again, a human connection. It was something to rejoice. He began each day with vigour, looking forward to the time he would open the post box near the Boys school. Every two or three days, there would be a new story waiting for him. Sometimes he sent a few praises and comments back to the boy in little notes, through the watchman.

He was a changed man now. He felt energy returning to his body, a spring came into his step. He caught himself whistling one day, something he hadn’t done in years. The little boy’s stories, simple as they were, had a magical, healing effect upon him. He was happy again. Happy in his heart.

This routine of exchanging stories and notes went on for about two years, until it was time for Nanjappa to retire. By now, he had a stack of papers, placed neatly in a cardboard folder. He would read them every single day, he decided, with his hot cup of evening tea.


Twenty years had passed and Nanjappa was now a frail old man. His beloved wife had long left him, and he lived with his son in the city. He kept to himself mostly; his grandchildren were all grown up and there wasn’t really anyone to talk to. He lived in a tiny room on the first floor of his son’s bungalow, everything he needed was there. For company, he still had his faithful old folder of stories woven by a child, which he hadn’t failed to read every single day since he had retired. These stories were his only escape, a small sign of solace in an otherwise incomprehensible world.

He was reading the newspaper one Sunday morning, through his bottle-thick glasses. An article in the supplement caught his attention. It was written by a man reminiscing about his childhood years. Now a famous writer, he told of how he began his journey by writing stories to a mysterious person who communicated with him through the postbox outside his school. Nanjappa felt his heart stop for a split second. Could this be the same boy? He read on excitedly.

The writer went on to describe his innocent joy when he received a response from the newspaper he wrote to. He believed he was in touch with them for around two years. It was only when he was much older that he realized it couldn’t have been the newspaper that wrote back to him. He talked about his deep gratitude to the person who really did reply, whose readership spurred him on to write more.

Nanjappa was now positive about the identity of the writer. His eyes skipped to the bottom of the article. Yasseen, it said. There was a contact number below it.

His eyes filled with tears. He hurried over to his son, asking to dial the number for him. With shaking hands, he took the mobile, listening to the ring. A man answered. They spoke for a while.

A week later, there was a visitor at the door for Nanjappa. A young man clad in a white kurta and pyjama ran up the stairs to finally meet his first reader. He entered the room and immediately embraced the old man with the wispy gray hair. They had never met before, yet they spoke with the familiarity of old buddies. The great difference in their age seemed hardly a barrier.

After a few hours, the young man, visibly elated, left the house with an old, dusty folder cradled in his arms.  He held it as though it was his most valuable possession. Inside his room, the old gentleman lay down gently on the bed, a blissful smile slowly unfolding on his crinkly lips.

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Nov 21, 2011


There are very few guilty pleasures I indulge in. And massages are on top of my list. I actually keep away from them because I’m afraid I’ll get addicted for life, but sometimes I just give in.

I blame Google for this. They had a great massage policy for employees. Dirt cheap, really. And you could go like, everyday if you wanted to. The first one I ever got was a nice deep tissue massage right after gym. The pleasure was, oh well, nothing short of orgasmic (blushes deeply :D). Since then I’ve been hooked.

Foot massages, back massages, body massages, I love them all. There have been days when I’ve thought that if someone asked me to choose between a chocolate and a massage, I would choose the latter. An hour-long massage with some warm oil, a quarter of an hour in the steam room, a nice long shower, followed by some herbal tea. This leaves my body feeling so light, I almost fly out of the spa. If I ever win the lottery, I will keep something aside for the “Sumitra Massage Fund”. It is my long-cherished dream to go on a week-long spa vacation. Perhaps someday I’ll write a bestseller and become rich enough to afford it.

I’ve had a few weird massages too. Once I went to this place for a foot reflexology. It was nothing like I expected. The masseuse used a long stone with a pointy edge all over my feet. It was like paying for torture. I did not like that.

My favourite is the Thai massage. It’s a fully dressed one, so there’s very little mess involved. And it’s just great for aches. They do this thing at the end where they twist your back around and your spine goes “pop-pop-pop-pop.” It’s the most relieving thing ever, and it’s really hard to hold back a long moan. :D

I’ve just had the most heavenly massage today. Found this spa called Body Craft in Indiranagar, near my place. They got a 30% discount for ladies, so I jumped at the opportunity. So as I’m writing this, I’m actually floating 2 ft above my chair.

I went for a Traditional Indian massage with olive oil. Very nice, the masseuse was nice and friendly, she got the pressure just right. The customer service was great. Although the massage rooms were quite small, they were neat. I found the place a little less expensive compared to some other spas. The only thing wrong was the designing of the steam room. It had a kind of gap in the door so the room didn’t get as hot as I would have liked. But otherwise, nice service at a good price.

I’m terribly relaxed and sleepy, so I think I’ll go to bed early tonight. My mind is totally blank!

(Note: I paid for my own massage, and Body Craft did not pay me to write this. They have nothing to do with this post. Image credit:

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Nov 14, 2011

Three Years!

Three beautiful years it's been. :-) Three years ago today, my life changed forever... for the better. I got married! Reposting something that I wrote more than three years ago, reliving the memories...

It was a saturday evening and they were bored. Bored of the usual routines of weekdays and weekends. She wanted to try out something new.. do something that they didn't do often.. something outdoor-sy. He wanted to do something spontaneous.

They decided to meet the following morning. He was to pick her up from her place. They had no idea what they were going to do.

He picked her up as decided and stopped the bike a few miles away while they thought about where to go. The weather was amazing and too good to waste indoors. They were all in for some physical activity, and also something not too fancy. Exploring the city and visiting old monuments had always been a long-postponed-thing they wanted to do together. After five minutes and some quick decisions, they found themselves heading towards Golconda fort.. he hadn't been there since he was a kid and she always had an interest for places of historical importance..

A long, lovely drive later.. they reached their destination. The lovely aroma of corn-cobs roasted on coal (or charcoal.. whatever) greeted them and they had to have some to complement the weather. It felt simply amazing. As they entered the fort along with the other average sunday sight-seers, they could almost sense the long lost grandeur and magical old times associated with the fort's boundary walls.

They decided on not engaging a guide, but exploring the fort themselves. They bought a small book about the place that was also a map which told them that the place was almost a 1000 years old.. They were amazed at the architecture and the sheer intelligence and craftsmanship of the people those days. They talked about how it was a shame that all that wisdom was never passed down to future generations.

As they steadily climbed up the hill through the fort, they marveled at almost everything that met their sight. She was lost imagining how the kings and queens of yore would have lived.. and who might have walked those very pathways just a several hundred years ago. He was busy figuring out how the fort must have been planned, where the secret passageways could have been and how the water storage and circulation system was planned. They shared their thoughts and had a great time reaching the very top of the fort where there was a small temple.. and then a biradari where the king would come up for a view of the country side. They climbed to the top of the biradari and stood at a window looking down on the entire city.. and how beautiful it was from up there, with the cool breeze blowing.. they could almost here the king's musicians playing old sufi music on a lazy sunday afternoon....

They started their walk down-hill in high spirits.. She made up a story about their unrequited-love of a thousand years ago.. how she was a beautiful arabian princess who visited this fort with her father, and he was a tax-minister at the fort and the only person who did not look up to admire her beauty.. eventually they fell in love and were imprisoned for life, as the world did not understand their love. He looked at her seriously and said that to him she is an arabian princess right now. It was cheesy, but it made her feel good. They held hands and went skipping down the stone steps. She slipped once and sat hard on her bottom and they had a good laugh.

They were now entering the area where the king and queen's bedrooms were built and on the way they found a place that looked like an ancient courtyard.. rectangular, with beautiful arches in the walls and stone steps along the sides. It was empty and she suggested they rest there for a while to get away from the crowd and catch their breath as well. He agreed.

They went in and sat on the steps, drank some water and talked about the fort for a while. He asked her if she liked this place, and she said that she did, very much. Then from nowhere, he whipped out a pen and a notepad and said that he wanted help in putting on paper all the things that he felt for her, all the stuff that he had difficulty, or did not know how to express. She said that she would be glad to help him and suggested that he could start of by listing some of her qualities that he liked a lot. He went on to list a page full of nice words like caring, loving, understanding.. and so on. She stopped him and asked what all these words meant as they were general words used on any person. He then took the time to explain how he saw each of those qualities in her and how he felt that he was incredibly lucky to have her in his life. He went on speaking until she realised how well he understood her and there were tears in her eyes. There were some people coming and going in to the courtyard, but time seemed to have stood still as they were lost in their own happy world.

He said that having said all this, he had something to give her. He took out a small green box from his pocket, held it before her and asked her to open it. She felt excited as she opened the box. To her surprise, she found a long red string in there. It was confusing.. what was he trying to give her? He smiled, tied the string around her left ring finger, and held the other end in his hand. He asked her to close her eyes and try to feel through the string what he felt for her. She did feel an incredible bond and a close connection between them. Then he asked her to open her eyes and look up at the pretty clouds.. as she was doing that, she felt something slide through the string and onto her finger. She looked down and saw a diamond ring glittering on her finger. She looked at him in shock and surprise and he asked her if she would marry him. She was speechless for a minute and then she said yes. It was the happiest moment of their lives. They were so happy that they dint even think to hug each other. It was just so happy.

She had realized that the one person who understood her better than anyone else was asking her to be his wife. What more could she ever ever want. He was saying something about the significance of the ring and the diamonds and what he would like her to think every time she looked at the ring.. but she wasn't listening too well. She was so overwhelmingly happy.

After a while and some more talking, they decided it was time to leave. As they got up, she asked him why he chose this place. He said it was so full of rich stories and he wanted their own story to be linked with something that was etched in history and time. She asked him where he got the idea of the string and all. He said he saw it in a movie and liked it a lot.

She thought it was cheesy.. But it made her feel awesome. :-)

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