Tag Archives: Literature

Blossoming Roses – my story on Wattpad

While going through my folders I came across a set of short stories that I wrote many years ago. They have just been lying around on my computer so decided to put them on Wattpad one by one.

I heard the wind blowing through the trees as I rounded the bend that led to her house. Her house was not difficult to find, as on that road, for miles, there was only one house, hers – she had told on the phone. Massive, saint-like “Bargads” bowed and danced as if in a trance, shaking off excess leaves that swirled in little eddies. Occasionally a twig drifted down, startling me out of my reverie. I could see her house now across the barley field, covered with the golden rays of the late-afternoon sun; the door seemed open. She was expecting me? I, as usual was running late. But that was according to my plan. I hadn’t informed her that I was coming that day.

Read the full story on Wattpad.

Why mythology sells in India

This blog post seems to have been written in a hurry, but it raises a very interesting question: why are Indians so obsessed with its mythological stories and why these stories are being told and retold in various forms?

First, I don’t think Indians are obsessed with mythology; many Indians are obsessed with religion and this somehow gets interconnected with the mythological stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata and second, to be frank, these stories are awesome. You can derive hundreds of stories, without even changing them, from just Ramayana and Mahabharata, leave alone other tales.

Regarding why they are being rewritten, I agree that originality lacks in the current milieu, and this is not just applicable to rewriting mythological literature. Classic Bollywood songs are remixed on a routine basis and even if they try to be original, they’re mostly mimicking sufi and folk music.

This lack of effort and originality has also permeated writing. It’s easier to tell a tale that already exists and people can relate to.

Mythological stories that have been a part of our culture have this strange effect: even if you listen to them or read them again and again, somehow you never find them boring. This may also be because mythological stories are rarely enjoyed in isolation. Millions of people, you’re consciously or unconsciously aware, have read these stories or one or another form of them. So there is an invisible connection with a large mass when you are reading these stories. You feel a part of a group, a part of a cult. Add a new writing style, some contextual twists and there you have got it, practically a new piece to sell to your readers.

Besides, very few countries have such a rich tapestry of mythological stories that don’t just deliver religious messages, but also teach you morality and human values, and are replete with heroism that everybody can relate to. For example, in Mahabharata it is sometimes very difficult to decide who is a hero and who is a villain; every sort of conflict you can find in its various plots. The line that divides good and evil is constantly being blurred. Ramayana, comparatively, has clear definitions of right and wrong, but on every occasion it teaches you how to take difficult decisions even when you don’t want to take them.

There is also an underlying effort to reconnect with one’s roots in India. The Indian culture is being attacked from the outside and from within and the younger generation, clueless about how to react, tries to cling to these stories as a defence mechanism.

You will actually be able to consume books

Book Capsules

Recently I came across an article (I’ve lost the link) that talked about the near-future possibility of you being able to “swallow” information, such as books, theories, research papers, and even stories and novels, as pills and capsules, instead of having to go through them page by page.

It may seem quite far-fetched at this moment, but in terms of biology there is nothing extraordinary in this possibility. Brain, after all, stores information by arranging and rearranging brain cells and imprinting electro-magnetic impulses. There are already hellucinogenic drugs that can alter out perception of reality. What if the information can be sent through our blood streams instead of using sensory inputs? Artificial limbs can already tell whether the fingers are touching different temperature and different sensations. People can reach orgasm via cyber sex. This is not the issue.

I’m just wondering, do we read books for the experience, or get the information into our brains? Is knowledge just about knowing, or is it a collection of our physical and emotional expepriences that we go through while acquiring that knowledge?

The article said you will be able to learn a language by popping a capsule or you will be able to read War and Peace by simply taking a pill. This basically means that along with printed and digital versions, you may also get “capsule” versions of the books.

Of course people have different notions of what an experience is. More and more people are preferring digital books (Kindle, Nook, Play Books) despite the fact we all miss that feel of holding an actual book, feeling and smelling its pages. You can carry an entire library in your palm and I’m pretty sure within the foreseable future the concept of visiting libraries and scouring through books is going to be a thing of the past and in fact, we may no longer have the book shelves in our homes and offices. This is natural, evolutionary process, whether we like it or not.

People read books for two reasons: to entertain themselves, and to educate or inform themselves. You can’t entertain yourself by suddenly coming to know of the contents of an entertaining book. Suddenly knowing Mcbeth isn’t the same as reading its lines individually, halting for thinking, engaging in mental debate and feeling the anguish of the characters. The Mcbeth capsule may simply reveal the story to you, it even may make it easier to recall certain pessages and dialogs, but it doesn’t make you a part of the story, which is why we normally read stories. We develop an empathy, or an aversion towards characters and circumstances when we need a novel or a play, that won’t be there is we simply swallow it.

Link

It’s an interesting relationship that book lovers have with the Internet: most would rather read a physical book than something on an iPad or Kindle, and even though an Amazon purchase is just two or three clicks away, dedicated readers would rather take a trip to their local indie bookstore. Yet the literary world occupies a decent-sized space on the web. Readers, writers, publishers, editors, and everybody in between are tweeting, Tumbling, blogging, and probably even Vine-ing about their favorite books. In case the demise of Google Reader threw your literary Internet browsing into a dark void, here’s a list of 25 book sites to bookmark.

Read more.

 

Talking about vocabulary

These days I am reading On Writing by Stephen King. Like any other contemporary writer he advises aspiring writers not to go overboard with difficult words and you don’t need a comprehensive vocabulary in order to write a great book. I totally agree with him despite the fact that I love reading and using words that are not used in day-to-day interactions.

But yes, you can easily make out if a writer is simply being superfluous or he or she actually means to use a particular word. It also depends on your general style and your audience. You don’t need to tone down your language just because some people won’t be able to understand it. If painters started worrying about whether people will be able to decipher their paintings or not, they won’t be able to paint at all, especially the exponents of modern art. The empty paper or the blank screen in front of you is your canvas, the words are your brush and paints, and your sentence formations are the strokes that you use to create your masterpiece. In case they complain that you are hard to read, you should either change the way you write, or you should target a different audience.

I have no problem if occasionally I have to use a dictionary in order to understand what a writer is trying to convey. I don’t hold this against him or her. In fact I love learning new words so much that I consider it my own drawback if, while reading a book, I have to refer to a dictionary repeatedly.

Language is a tool and you use this tool to make an impact. While writing you should keep this in mind. What is your objective? Is your message important or the words you use to convey your message? Of course a certain degree of erudition is important because when it comes to dumbing down, there is no stopping to it. The language you use for the college going audience, or even banking professionals, is going to be quite different than the language you use for 5th graders.

For me, and I’m sure there are many people like me, good literature is like classical music. In order to appreciate it, you have to spend some time to understand it. You cannot appreciate Dhrupad without knowing its intricacies. Similarly, simple text devoid of captivating words can be a drab experience.

Can you express complex thoughts in simple words? Yes, you definitely can. Read Milan Kundera to experience that.

There was a time when I used to use a thesaurus a lot. My main aim was to find alternative words, not necessarily difficult, but that sounded good to me. Even these days I occasionally use a thesaurus, but not in order to find words that I don’t know, but in order to find words I’m somehow unable to come up with. For instance, all of a sudden I cannot remember a word I would like to use to express something, but I know a similar, related word. So I start with that word – and thanks to hypertext thesaurus tools these days – I start drilling down until I come across the word I want to use.

Somewhere in the book Stephen King says, “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.”

While I totally agree, sometimes when you simply appear in your undergarments, it becomes a bit odd.