Thursday, March 29, 2007

Writing Workshop - X

I've been fairly regular to the writing workshop since January this year. I guess, I definitely needed the job to channel my ideas :) I have atleast 4 stories to post here but I want to start with the one I wrote tonight. Everyone liked it and also I loved writing this one :)

Prompt: "What's the most you've ever paid for something you didn't want?"

This should be fun, I told myself as I picked up The Pocket Muse. It was a small hard bound book in blue-grey with a black spine. 'Endless Inspiration' , the caption claimed. Considering how little I had written in the past few weeks, I felt I could do with some outside help.

"That will be $30.99, Ma'am," said the cashier. Man! It sucks to be in Canada*. I went home, cleared the coffee table and placed The Muse on it. Now it will beckon me everyday, willing me to write instead of being a couch potato.

Two weeks passed.
"Aren't you going to atleast open the book?" asked The Mr, amusement writ all over his face.
"How do you know I haven't? You're anyway never home in the mornings," I countered, though I knew he was right. I've barely gone past the spine.
"I need a new notebook and a fountain pen. I write better with fountain pens." With that I picked the book and moved it to the study. who ever writes sitting at the coffee table? Plus he rarely walks into the study. I can write undisturbed.

The next evening when The Mr entered the study, I was at my writing desk with a beautiful green fountain pen and brand new Van Gogh leather journal by that famous boutique. He stood over me as I calligraphed(is that a verb?) my name - 'Pon. Chidambarakumari'.

"Looks like your name will need a new book all by itself," he joked.
"Very funny," I smirked.
"So how much did all this cost?"
"Plus another 20 odd dollars" I mumbled under my breath and then added, "Creativity is priceless," my voice a tad shrill.

The Mr smiled an all-knowing smile and walked out. I opened The Muse. The 'About The Author' section ran for some 4 pages. What? Who cares about her? Show me The Muse, woman! Realizing this wasn't going to work, I closed the book and re-opened it on a random page.

Page 82: 'Second Follow Up Notice from The Department of Procrastination Prevention'.
I wrote it down neatly in my journal. I shifted myself in the chair, draped my legs over the left arm of the chair, closed my eyes and just sat there. In Anticipation.

The next thing I knew there was a loud noise. I opened my eyes and found the journal on the floor. I must've fallen asleep. I picked up the journal and looked at the prompt. What kind of lame ass prompt is that? And they paid her to publish this? I arranged the journal and The Muse neatly on the desk and walked out. I needed new cushions for the chair.

A pair of silk cushions, a new Feng Shui book, Art for the wall, 2 CDs of inspirational Bach and a box of cookies later, I was back where I started. The Mr greeted me with a raised eyebrow, as I entered the living room. Darn it! How does he do that?
I cleared my throat and announced, "I am going to be a painter."

* Writer's License.
The Missus says: Treat piece as fiction.
The Mr says: Fiction? What about the Muse which is gathering dust since last year :D And the incomplete 'paintings' piling up in the corner of our study?

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Intellectually Snobbish Bitch

I hate to be judged. More than that, I hate to be judged wrong, wrong by my standards. If you have to judge me, please to look into my ‘Personal Guide to Judging Kumari’ and pick the adjectives I have marked in Red.


I know I am a bitch. Or an intellectual snob, if you please. I can make polite conversations to you about the weather, the global warming, the shameful exit of the Indian Cricket and on why it is morally wrong to throw stones at them for the same reason though deep down you just know that even stones aren’t enough.

So as your colleague, I can make those customary grunts, fill the pauses in your monologue and nod in agreement when you cry, ‘Death to BCCI’. And when you proudly claim, “I don’t read. I just can’t sit through 100 pages’, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

How can I talk about the bloody cold and unpredictable New England weather for the entire tenure of my job? How can you work in a prestigious educational institution and NOT read? You don’t have to have read Henry James but darn it! You must’ve read Chandamama or Indian Folk tales.

Ok, so everyone needn’t be an avid reader. You could be interested in something else. Sports? Politics? Movies? I can discuss anything but I will not entertain arguments for the sake of arguing. When you judge me as a difficult person within 2 minutes of a conversation because I ignored your provocation to start an argument, I only find it funny.

Being a Tamizhian does not automatically make me anti-Hindi but talking to a North Indian who harps on it at every lunch definitely makes me want to be one. That is what I call myself now. And No, just because I understand Hindi will not make me answer your questions in Hindi. I’d rather use a language common to both of us. After all we are not in the heartland of India and not-speaking Hindi is my birthright as much as you claim it is yours to force it down my throat.

When my husband cooks and packs lunch for me, I do not automatically become a ‘Lucky woman’. Does anyone ever call my husband a lucky man just because he gets home to a clean house and a sparkling toilet? We both work and we both share responsibilities. It’s a relationship. Not drudgery.

Nowadays I avoid the Desi gang at work during lunch. I realized it is impossible to make conversations with people who haven’t really moved out of their little rooms in India. I am not stereo-typing Desi men. Hell no! The Mr is a Desi man and he is miles apart from all this and I am not saying this because I am married to him.

Yes, I devour 10 books in a month, from poetry to philosophy to chick-lit. The Mr finds it funny and awesome in the same vein. He doesn’t read so much or so often. He calls me the book worm but he also listens when I recite Frost’s ‘Fire & Ice’ and quotes it back to me on a different occasion. This from a man who has to be reminded of his own wedding anniversary :) He sits with me on the grass to listen to the Jazz Quartet and absolutely adores their rendition of Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’.

Like him, there are so many other Desi men and women who’ve made an effort at something new, gave it a shot and then made a decision. You don’t have to read Shakespeare but you have to read something, just anything to get ahead. Else all that will be left is fluff.

It’s not that I am incapable of liking people who don’t read. But I am definitely incapable of making conversations last. The people in my life, who don’t read but I still adore are the family I was born into and the friends whom I knew much before polite conversations mattered.

When I meet new people, on the T or at work, there should be a common point for us to go ahead. For me that common point is ‘interesting conversations on Life’ not about the latest sale in Macy’s. Though I agree that would be classified as informative: p

So what I am trying to say in this highly convoluted manner is, ‘not reading’ is not something to be proud of. Hey, if you have something else up your sleeve, I am okay with it. I give you the benefit of doubt and will sit and listen. But I am not weird just because I can read something other than requirement specs.

Like Oscar Wilde says, "All of us are in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." And that my friend, makes a huge difference.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

When a paper tiger meets the real Wild Cats

It is fun being a writer. Even an amateur one at that.
It's much more fun attending Writers' Conferences and meeting up other kindred spirits.
And it's most fun being the only Afro-sporting Desi chick with the longest name one can never get a tongue around :D

Saturday morning I attended the Writers' Day organized by the New Hampshire Writers Project at Manchester, NH. It was an interesting event and I learnt quite a deal about publishing, which in a nut shell is , "ain't easy!". Picked up many business cards though am not sure how many will bear fruit, but since everyone who got the mike talked about the merits of 'networking' to make it big in Writing,I walked around like a hungry hound, devouring any scrap of paper with a name scribbled across it :)

The Keynote speaker was famous Children's Book author Jane Yolen. Ok, I shall be truthful, a blog being an online diary et al. I really didn't know who Jane Yolen was until I heard her speak on the podium that day. I am impressed, ever since. She is an awesome speaker; very witty with repartees hugging her sleeves. She hails from a family of writers and she doesn't like JKR :p [As much as I love Harry Potter, I do agree with what she had to say on JKR]. The rest you can read here.

She answered all our questions jovially and I bought one of her fantasy novels - TrollBridge and had her autograph it to the heroine of my fantasy novel - Shireen. Now if only i can somehow pull myself to finish that story :(

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why it is imperative to have a girlfriend in Office...

  • So you can communicate laughter through your eyes, every time the bald, middle aged desi ~S asks, "Do you mind my teasing Kumari?" and you answer "I don't mind you at all!" and the sarcasm bounces off him.
  • To let you know that you have smudged your kajal.
  • To exchange comments on how much weight one has lost/gained and the subsequent diet plan to follow.
  • To label anyone who thinks too much of their weight as 'crazy' and laugh mindlessly at us falling in that category.
  • So you can know if that particular pair of trousers makes your butt jutt out or not.
  • To have that someone who will whisper if your bra is peeking or if there is VPL and also lend you her jacket.
  • Bitch about our respective boyfriends/husbands, as the case maybe and then go home and the hug the same Bugbear for all that he is not :)

Most important reason is because MAN ain't the same twisted-DNA!

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Yit Yees Ya Vonderfool Day!

I yam werry werry appy.

I guess, Yit yees wone of those days, like Ammukuttz says.

Do you have such days, when you wake up all light and fluffly and you just know you can’t help but smile at everything and everyone? I do and on such days, it is best not to look for reasons but just be…drenched in moments of silly happiness. A shower of dew drops.

- When the ‘Partha Mudhal Naale’ song from Vettaiyaadu Vilayadu plays on the CD player and your foot automatically taps the acceleration hoping to take you to a different level.

- When your Manager meets your wild crazy grin with an equally wild smile.

- You step onto the platform and the Red Line zooms in to pick you up.

- The mails in your inbox are NOT spam for a change.

- Having ‘I am taking a break’ conversations with your 17 year old cousin across seas, exchanging your life’s best kept secrets for a glimpse of her life’s ideals, which ofcourse never happens.

- Categorizing fundamentally flawed inane dialogues as precepts of great import.

-Swaying to ‘Chennai-600028’ moozic as the tests run to success

- Looking into the mirror and finding the sparkle in your eyes.

Like Ammukuttz claims, ve are crazy veemen.
Let us be.

Song playing: Saroja Saman Nikalo from Chennai- 600028

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Travelling Poet

Update 1: For Shub & others - Please take part. I don't want anyone to "write" poems as much as I want to read your favourites. So if you like Frost, fill a few pages with his 'Fire & Ice' & 'Meeting & Passing' else pick from Maya Angelou. Or Jim Morrison's works(Oh yes, you can add songs too :p). It's your call. So pliss to join!!! If you can read a poem/song and have legible handwriting, you are automatically IN :D

Update 2: Interested folk don't forget to mail me your address/ where you want to receive the book. I don't know how long I should wait, but i'll keep proposal 1 open for another 10 days. I plan to send out the book for proposal 2 by next week. Hopefully.

Spring is hiding behind frosty Arctic winds and there is no giant Red paint brush to colour the grey routine.

Idea: Talk to Ms.Soup

I've always wanted to have a penpal but was too lazy to write. Later in life when I did write long & dreary letters, not emails but letters, it was vastly ignored or answered over phone/internet. Bah! The curse of the unromantics.

When Mint started her CD-Exchange tree, I was too late and missed out on joining the bandwagon of revellers. But the idea got stuck in my head, like the image of a shirtless Daniel Craig on the beach :D

Anyhoo,after ‘intense brainstorming’ of 2 minutes, we’ve come up with the concept of The Travelling Poet.

Proposal 1 :

It is a book of Poems. Buy a pretty book and in your own handwriting pen down a few of your favourite poems. You could add couple of your own original verses too, if you like. Choose any one person from the list (I am assuming there would be a list of enthusiastic romantics) and send it to them. Spend the rest of the month waiting for your personalized book of poems :)

This ain’t really ‘traveling’ but atleast everyone gets a book of poems.
Ofcourse, once there is a list in place, I shall publish just the names (only names and not addresses) here and you can mail me the name of the receiver you've chosen. I will send across their PO Box#/Address. This way I can make sure everyone receives 'The Poet'.

Proposal 2:

I shall start the book with my fave poems and send it to anyone in the list (we might not have a list at all). The receiver then adds his/her favourite choices and sends it across, this way the book travels across the globe. How romantic! So the book can find you more than once if two different persons decide to send it to you and I guess we can send it to ppl not in the list as long as they promise to keep it on its course.

The points to note with this idea are :
who keeps the book in the end? -- I would love for it to come back to me :)
how do we keep track of its course? -- Maybe start a new public blog just for that.

Coming to the million-smiles question, Any Takers?

Please to leave a comment or mail me at!

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Happy Birthday Abhooobear!

It's that time of the year again... when I miss Bitsy-Pookums like never before :)


Another year away, another b'day celebrated as perfect strangers across miles. Hope you had a great time on your special day.

Missing you.

Louve you :D

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