Thursday, October 28, 2010

Get Haunted

Turning to jack-o-lanterns or to old raconteurs to miniate your Halloween is so passé; nowadays, it is all about the personal experience of feeling the first-hand-tickle of the paranormal world. Put on your plangent outfits and grab a handful of the thoroughly churned paranormal delicacies, like "Ghost Adventures," "Ghost Hunters" and many more, haunting the showtimes day and night. Switch on your television any time of the day, and you are sure to have the hell scared out of you. With the whole TRP world ready with first hand confirmation that the heretofore unknown, and, dare I say, unimportant, world of the dead is just a click away, you have no other option but to let your pavid hearts take the shock. Teeth into a few episodes of these paranormal soaps, and you will be convinced that death is not a simple finale anymore. Hang in there, baby, there is much more to come!

Now, touching the business of discovering ghosts and serving them up in a platter may seem to some folks as lusorious amusement; but it isn't that easy, I tell you. Ask Zak Bagans, the host of "Ghost Adventures," and this DJ-turned-ghost-hunter will tell you how difficult the process of rousing the dead is. They run around with their EVPs and EMF detectors and such sophisticated gadgets to catch that one snippet that might hit the skeptics squarely in the nose and end one and for all the argument for whether there is indeed life after death. Fully conversant with the life-style of the dead, Bagans and his gang have had such astounding experiences as being possessed by spirits and encountering half-cooked apparitions.  But isn’t being so close to the spirits stuck between the stages of afterlife dangerous? You bet it is, and that is why they do it; and that's why we watch them do it deriving voyeuristic fearful pleasure from their deadly encounters with the otherworld.

And how do the spirits feel about this infringement of their privacy? I wonder if they are thrilled by the newly earned stardom these paranormal shows have given them. Right now, from what we see in the television, they do not mind much this intrusion of the reality television into their nebulous lives. Perhaps they are as deluded as us; or are confused not knowing what to expect or deduce from these endless questionnaire sessions with the relentless paranormal investigators. May be, just like us, they experience short-lived distractions from these shows. Who knows?

Trick or treat ? -- Wish you a Happy Halloween!!

I just finished carving my first pumpkin. Initially, it took me a few hard stabs to get into the core; but then I did it. I guess the pent up energy and hibernating calories finally found one happy outlet. And here it is--drum roll, please--my happy--ee--lantern:

Wish you all a very Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rain, rain, here you come-- A vlog

A rainy day in Nashville

Monday, October 25, 2010

Visiting the Mountain of the Moon in pen and paper, etc.

Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay and his Hemingway-styled narrative "Chander Pahar"-- a story that won him innumerable accolades from readers of all ages--is a complete life-enriching experience. It is a book in whose chapters you relieve history once written, probably in the medium glow of an evening lantern, by one of the greatest writers of all time. I never so much could find proper words to appreciate the story, and how I feel after every time I finish reading it. So, to taste this fascinating narrative down to the bones, I have decided to start translating it.  An official translation of the book does exist in the market; yet, it is more my personal initiative to pay this wonderful author my humble homage. I cannot tell you how amazing it felt when I found myself searching for the right words, losing myself in the labyrinth of plain Bengali colloquialisms, and ultimately, hitting on the right phrase and settling a puzzling sentence. I have never considered myself as a translator; but now I see that translating texts is as much fun as drooling over them. Since it all amounts to the same thing--writing for fun. As open-minded as I am today, I can tell you without the slightest doubt in my mind that I am unsuitable for the world. I dwell in my own secluded nook--which is currently the cemented floor of my patio--and fill page after page with absent minded eccentric thoughts. Yet, there is so much fun in the whole process that now I can say that I am ready to give up a prospective career just for the fun of writing. I haven't discovered the joys of writing in this crazy, open-hearted way before; and now, suddenly, I feel a door has opened up and I could see myself drawn out of the clichéd imago of life that we are all born to be either homemakers or semi-formal career ladies. Well, I frankly do not care how stupid people think I am becoming with every passing day because I have started living a part of my dream in my own daily life. Nowadays, I do nothing but wake up every morning and pen down the morning ramblings, then indulge in a jorum of mountain-high knowledge by reading some of my favorite authors, and then, after lunch, I get back to my own stories, as stupid as they are, I try to polish and edit them, after that, around evening, I finish my daily work and head with bull-eyed attention to the television set. Frankly, there is nothing extraordinary in the procession of events in my day, but I somehow feel life should be this way--natural and unsharpened. 

. Fall is in the air and the drying leaves and emaciating trees with almost-barren branches have become the pivotal point of my interest. I am thinking of grabbing a fair-sized pumpkin sometime this week and taking a thousand pictures of the tree just outside our apartment drooping under the weight of abundant yellow leaves.

 Everything looks so magical this time of the year. 

Anyways, so much for today; let the void prevail and let the ticking clock fill my life with the sweetest rhythm of the day:-)


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Movie Review: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger


Woody Allen's new movie "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" provides a much-needed respite to culture shocked movie goers trying their best to acclimate to the ever-changing social troposphere. In Woody's movie our over-strained nerves taste the smooth wine like richness of retrograded filmology where we enjoy the subtle background music and nod our heads to the character developments in the plot and say, "There, there…I believe you've got it." If you feel that films should be — vintage, old-timey, and pleasant, this icebox of shifting morals is sure to be your joy ride. What amazes me is that this cinema being so different from the snazzy "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" or the plump-plotted "Match Point" portrays Woody's creative abilities in the same no-nonsense level. Stripped off of much of the flamboyance and glamour of the last Woody Allen blockbuster, the new movie shows a side of Woody we haven’t much appreciated in the past—a calmer Woody with calmer judgment and nerves.

The story, which is no space-age unique, thrives in skillful character sketching brought to life by the amazing artistry of the pivotal actors cast in this creation. The narrative begins with Helena (Gemma Jones), a lovelorn heroine recently separated from her husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) an old-youth who leaves her and marries a promiscuous deity turned stay-at-home pleasure packet, Charmaine (Lucy Punch), goes to a fortune-teller to know the possibilities of her future. Helena is an over-strained lump of emotion that thrives on self-blaming and has once tried to end it all. The clairvoyance of the prognostic, however, sees a roseate future for Helena along with a fair chance of meeting an interesting stranger. Meanwhile, Helena's daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) has her own battles to fight. Stuck in a frustrated marital bond with a slugabed writer of a husband, Sally feels incarcerated in her cluttered apartment, neck-deep in books and her husband's failed raconteuring attempts, and flirts with her art-gallery owner boss Greg (Antonio Banderas). Sally's husband, Roy (Josh Brolin), a cabby and an ex-medical student, sees himself more as a writer than a man of the world. Although after his one finished piece of art—a novel that has been his sole name-work till now, he has failed considerably in his attempts to weave up a story, he is hopeful with his latest fictional creation. He feels divinely linked with his muse — an esoteric creature in red, a lady who is the sum-total of all the perfection in humankind — now more than ever. This woman, a musical goddess called Dia (Frieda Pinto), gives Roy all the hope of a bright future and Roy caves in by divorcing his wife and deciding to marry her. Sally, on the other hand, sees her love life stuck in a dead zone when she discovers her suave superior having an affair with her friend. The story is stretched and the characters and sent to their extremes: Alfie finds out that a fallen woman is too hard to pet; Helena fights for love with a deceased competitor; Roy's new novel is rejected and he steals the lifework of his friend who has had an accident and is now in coma; Sully wants to start a new life but finds the renaissance a tad too hard on the pocket. As the plot reaches its crescendo, we see the ultimate truth of existence coming to life: despite our best efforts, all our life's establishments do not always bear fruit.

Close your critical eyes and dig in for the drama is my advice to you if you decide to head to the theater to scoop up this woody dish. Certain obviousness and loose ends might hit you in the face, yet you digest it all and try to get to the core. At certain points the plot appears too deliberate for even the charming Gemma Jones to pull it through. But love it or loathe it, it is the weary pointlessness of the whole creation that strikes an unusual chord in the illusion-inflicted flicker.

Like several of Woody Allen classics and failed attempts, we find in "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" the common Woody ingredients: a frustrated writer looking for a big break, ample promiscuity, loose morals, and a twist ending. In fact, this movie, like the others, has the same pale-eyed cynical outlook on life, although blanketed for easy swallowing. The exquisite playfulness of the theme gives the movie an unusual vim; however, you can't help feeling somewhat disappointed with the whole effort. Woody has masterfully strewn the bits, added variation, piquant moments, yet the overall dish is not as grand as you had expected it to be; especially after the rather Brobdingnagian success of his last effort. You feel the stellar cast is thoroughly wasted in this blunt drama. The movie seems such an anachronism in the 3D-flick enriched market, and that explains why our theater didn’t even have its name posted among the featured movies of the week. I cannot say if it is Helena's unshakable faith or the sheer emptiness and mortality envisaged in the scheme that got me through with it, but in the end I did come out of the theater feeling victorious gloating, once more, over Uncle Woody's comic appraisal of human life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Short Story in “A Rainbow Feast: New Asian Short Stories" published by Marhsall Cavendish

My short story "The Gambler" has recently been published in the wonderful anthology "A Rainbow Feast: New Asian Short Stories" edited by Mohammad Quayum. The book is a cornucopia of amazing short fiction written by literary artists from all over the world. It has been a great honor for me to see my work featured among the works of such great fiction writers. To buy the book please go to:

Here are some of the pictures of this zaftig fictional treat:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ahoy, Daily Grind! -- How to get started after a hiatus

Picture Courtesy:

I don't know why, but I just cannot stop writing about writing. This may sound significantly inane, especially if you belong to that puritanical orthographic club, yet for a writer whose words are like her babies that have been ignored for a hebdomad, returning to writing and writing about writing are the only things on her mind.To be a writer is to be something super or below humanity; you deserve no holidays, no breaks whatsoever from your persevering schedule, and you if take one without the prior approval of your left and right brains, you are going to end up in a soup, as I have:-(  Not to worry though, returning from a brief hiatus to your normal free-flowing mode is easier than portrayed by several heavyweight fiction specialists. You simply need to scratch the "fun" fixture from your diurnal routine. Cease to be a habitue of the fun and entertainment land, and you will begin to see imagination roll up more vividly. Most people think that writers tend to be secluded animals, I believe a certain amount of seclusion does have some advantage. You need not be a pariah, but not one word worth writing will pop up if you continuously allow yourself a heavy dose of party life. On the other hand, experiences always count, so a once in a while glass of wine is better than being a teetotaler. What I am saying is that too much of fun is bad if you seriously want to become a writer. Having just had the worst two days of post-party-syndrome, it took me 60 pages of free-writing to get back to crafting one readable sentence. And this I blame entirely on my week-long hiatus. I treasure my word weaving capacity which, if the day is good, creates some really good paragraphs; however in the past two days all I have written was plain old smack. I am not in a position to give writing advice, since I dwell on an inchoate stage myself, yet I feel that if you, like me, have decided to take advantage of the iota of imagination you have, get to work as soon as possible. Don't waste your days drooling over your friends' happy Facebook lives, or the good old shilly-shallying, get to your cheapest notebook and write. Of course, most of the pages I write are junk, and I toss them into the trash box without a shudder, yet, I generally finish 3 seventy-sheet exercise books in a month writing my morning thoughts for one whole hour. "Now, what should I write?" You ask. Anything that comes to your mind; do not edit, just write. This process of writing without editing is called "free-writing" and this, I tell you, is one full-proof process that will yield fabulous results if done overtime. Remember writing is a painful process that, just like your own self, matures with age and continuous hard work. If you sit at your desk for one day, get a good piece and deduce that you are a born writer, then, my friend, you have not tasted blood yet. What you feel, the pride, that is, will melt into thin air once you get to the core. And to get to the core you need to do two things: Write everyday and read everyday. The brain needs materials to work with, and it is your duty to give it its fodder. Read the best works of the genre you are interested in and then think about what you have read as soon as you finish reading. A daily routine always helps when you are processing your new-found data. Give yourself ample time in the morning to read, and then a good one or two hours in the afternoon to write. Here, getting back to free-writing, the best tip is to write in the morning when you have just seen the daylight peep into your room. The trick is to rub your eyes, get your writing book and pen and jam across the page anything that spontaneously comes out. Do it for one whole hour, and then get to your usual businesses. If you cannot manage good-morrow-writing, write in the afternoon instead. Remember you need to persevere for years before you get one good work; however, writing everyday is like practice-playing and will lead you to goal sooner than you think.

Well, enough writing consultation for you today; it is time I get back to polishing my own skills. Have a wonderful day and happy writing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Media Overdose



             How much is too much?                               

Talk about modern irrealism, and we have a thousand lashing tales at hand. From liberal to conservative from Main Street to back alley, media nowadays lives on slander. Turn on the idiot box and you will see muscle-bound faces, iracund and gory, filled with political theosophists turning their heads into the ever-changing political array of events. From Obama to heretofore non existent political diva, Christine O'Donnell, every political and apolitical character is subject to the omnipotent media. Gone are the days of tasting a news as it is, devoid of the spice and pepper, we now have "views" mixed with actual news to such an inextricable level that it becomes impossible, if not implausible altogether, to make up our own minds regarding one social or political issue without being deliberately thrown in the herd of for-or-against people. We can not stand being apathetic to something as trivial as Bristol Palin's dance performance; we got to have views about everything. And for that sole purpose of view formation we have our 24/7 news channels featuring political analysts who with their nerd-glasses and sardonic tongue provide wondrous hypotyposis of whatz up with the world and how America and the rest of the world will drown even before the apocalypse. To tell you the truth, I am tired of the charade. It is not any longer a question of blue or red, good or bad, decision or indecision; it is a question of deliberate demagogy. Our political stars are our new-age heroes--all powerful with muscular authority, ready to save us with more words and less action, inserting fear into our minds and proving comic or tragic solutions that might make no sense to us, yet we accept them with raving applaud. From Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck to Stephen Colbert and his compatriot, Jon Stewart, they are all busy slashing one another, denouncing each others' views to such a level that things are getting out of hand. These days it is difficult to possess a steady view of political character.  We now have good-days and bad-days; some days our political orators would talk good about a person, some days they would talk dirty to boost us the ratings of their abstemious shows. It's all a game, give and take, slander and libel. Who can we trust, the liberal or the conservative? What's the difference? They are the two colors of one chameleon; their ideas may differ, yet they belong to the same species--brain-washing media. They are the new stand up performers whose honeysuckle verbiage makes our dinnertime more exciting and exhilarating. And we feel, more than ever, that we are active part of this media. In a sense we are, Tweeting and discussing news, and adding more and more weight to the internet junk box. We talk and talk about a bit of news until it is eclipsed by juicy Nuevo happenings. Then we forget the old bit of tale and get on with the new one, giving it our undivided attention. History is defunct to us, we live for the day.

With the overactive social media ruling our lives, feelings and emotions of a person have taken a back seat. Sometimes I feel we are all part of one reality show or the other. How many of you portray your true nature in the pixellete world? Only a fraction, I guess. We try to deform reality, make bad jealously good. The other side of a pixellete island must and must be greener. We add taglines making our, kind-of-good, average lives look deliciously decadent. The same is true for the media we keep; they make pea-sized news-bits seem Brobdingnagian in look and importance. And that, my friend, leads us to giving more importance than needed to things like your friend's Facebook status or a Chinese winning a Nobel Peace prize. I see less hoo-hah about USA bagging the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and more about China grabbing the Peace award. Frankly, people, we got to get over our imago of this oriental land.

But no talk about the nuances of new media is finished without the recent Rick Sanchez drama that made CNN fire the proprietor of the Las Fotos del Dia (I thought that segment was the best part of his show). Adios Amigo, said CNN to Rick when he called Jon Stewart "a bigot," and the news world thriving under the scepter of the "Jewish" people. "Offensive," you are correct; but what made Rick take the front seat in the slandering contest? It was Jon Stewart's comic relief. I love Stewart; I remember laughing my guts out to certain Sanchez jokes myself. But now I feel that it is too much we are indulging in. People are being ruined; people are getting betrayed, harassed, accused of bigotry without legitimate proof, all for what: our unquenchable thirst for vile comedy. Here I should add that comedy can thrive without despicable, low-grade references to respectable people of the community. But is it possible for us to get back to clean comedy and clean sitcoms after having tasted the forbidden fruit of wicked media slandering? That is the question I cannot answer.

I don’t think that the talk about the legitimate effect of new-media will ever end. It is one un-ending debate where both parties have their say. But unless we come to a singular deduction, we may never call ourselves wise intellectuals of the day. The media tantrum has degraded our morality to an all time low. I wonder if we can re-boost our systems and get back to clean media where no body is hurt or degraded for no apparent reason. Right now, I hope we do get back to square one and think things over before devouring another bit of our ever-popular pulp-media.

 P.S. Pictures from the internet.