Word of the Week #133:

Porcine

Say… What do you think about bacon?

I had some a couple of hours ago, and I just could not stop thinking about it. So, as one does, I decided to write about it.

You know, there are some things over which Western pop culture tends to obsess, right?

We all know the OG, the hotdogs and the hamburgers, the pizzas and the apple pies. Now, I still love a warm slice of apple pie, especially with some sugar and cinnamon dusted on top and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream, and firmly believe that people who cannot appreciate a good pizza simply should not be allowed to mate.

However, the Holy Grail has always been this thin strip of fatty cured meat which, quite honestly, always seemed far too overrated. I mean, it cannot be so good that grown men would swoon over it.

Little did I know that its majesty cannot be described. It needs to be experienced first-hand to be truly appreciated.

Of course, all of this love cannot good for my heart, right? Or all of this cholesterol…

But I can’t help falling in love with you.

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Word of the Week #132:

Bide

Think of a profession. Any profession.

No, I am not going to guess which one you are thinking about. That is not what I do here…

No, think of a good profession, one that you wish was yours.

Okay, turns out, I will be guessing…

I guess a common answer would be a professional athlete. That is fun, after all, right?

Well, I agree, playing for money does sound fun. But think of it this way. Is every aspect of the profession fun?

Now, I am not talking about the mental aspect, just yet. Being able to take a pressure, the weight of expectations of your fanbase may not always be fun, but some people are still better equipped to handle it than others, right?

No, the parts that nobody would enjoy are the more mundane ones. Things like the incessant travel. Nobody wants to take a cross-country flight after every game. But, it is something you cannot avoid.

It is the same for musicians, singers, comedians and such. You have to travel before you get to perform.

Lawyers have to do lots of unglamorous things, like examining briefs and filing motions and visiting jails. It is not all courtroom drama.

Now, I don’t know what part of being a doctor is fun… I do not understand that profession, to be honest.

But, you see, that is how all professions work. You need to do some of the annoying stuff in order to do the stuff you love.

It is like eating on orange. Nobody enjoys peeling an orange. But if you like eating an orange, you have to endure peeling it.

Being a writer is the same. There are so many parts that drive me so crazy: Editing, querying, marketing, dealing with publishers… None of it is really fun.

But you are done with all that, you get to do what you really love. Just sit back, and keep writing all day.

That’s the dream, right?

Well, I look forward to the day it comes true, once again…

Of course, I remember a time when my Mom would peel the oranges for me. A convenient system, you know.

If only I could find an agent to handle all the peeling for me, now…

HWAITING!

Word of the Week #131:

Besotted

You know, books and burgers are more similar than you would expect.

Both are best enjoyed alone, which is partly why I love them.

Both get judged by their outermost layers which are meant to cover and protect the juicy stuff between.

Both have the same test of quality: If it is great, you will finish it without setting it down even once.

I had the pleasure of enjoying a burger earlier tonight which passed this test this test with flying colours.

I mean, it would have had to be pretty good for me to write about it in the first place, right?

In fact, I loved it so much that I am strongly considering going back there tomorrow afternoon and having the same burger once again.

After all, if lightning has struck a place once, it is most likely to strike there again, right?

Wait, that is not how that proverb goes… But it should, you know.

Lightning always strikes for a reason.

Word of the Week #130:

Facsimile

Let me start off by asking you a question. Did you know what Fax actually stands for?

Well, not much anymore, right?

Such cheap shot… I know…

Anyway, let me tell you something I really do not like. No, I’m not talking about copy machines. I have nothing against them. After all, the ability to copy dozens of chapters worth of notes in a matter of hours is nothing short of divine.

Do you know how many of the 50 highest grossing movies of all time are not an adaptation, sequel, prequel or spin-off of an existing piece of art? 5!

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Well, of those five movies, three were created by Disney, one of which was inspired by Hamlet.

The other two of those five, which also happen to be the two highest grossing movies ever, were Avatar and Titanic, both written by James Cameroon. And even Titanic was based on real life events, right?

So, how many of those 50 movies can be called truly original? 3? Is that not insane?

Still, I can accept that adaptations are more than just copies. They do add a lot to the original artwork. After all, Hermione was always a memorable character, but Emma Watson’s performance made it unforgettable.

What I truly cannot stand are these reboots and remakes that keep popping up and ruining something wonderful. And this is especially palpable among live-action adaptions in animated series.

Let us take an example. Have you seen Death Note? Well, for the uninitiated, let me just say that Death Note is one of the best anime series ever made. It follows the life of a young boy with extreme intelligence, ethics and discipline, and how his acquisition of a divine object leads him down a dark path.

Good story, right?

Now, Netflix decided to make a live-action adaptation, and they had to make a few changes to the plot to make it more palatable to American audiences. Is that difficult? Apparently not. Eliminate the intelligence, ethics and discipline from the protagonist, and you have an American-style plot ready for production.

And this is still not the worst of the worst. But let us not go down that particular rabbit hole, or we will be here all night.

Let us just bunker down, and prepare to weather this torrent of faecal remains of the things we know and love…

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

— Ecclesiastes 1:9

Word of the Week #129:

Supernumerary

You know what I truly dislike about this country? The labour laws… Or perhaps the seeming lack thereof.

How many hours is an average person expected to work in a week? In most reasonable parts of the world, the answer is 40. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. As I said, reasonable.

In India, however, the answer can jump up to 60. The law actually states 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, but who cares about that, right?

In most parts of the world, every employee gets around 35 days of paid leave every year. Plus weekends, which gives us roughly 140 days a year. In India? 25… So adding a lone Sunday each week, we get around 80.

Add to that the geographical size, lack of affordable and reliable transportation, and the high concentration of jobs in urban centres, odds are you would not get to visit your home more than twice or thrice every year.

And, as I probably do not even need to mention, the pay is far from stellar.

Growing up, I was always led to believe that we work in order to live, but I do not see much evidence of life around here.

Knowing all this, one might wonder just how this can continue, right? Why do we, in India, tolerate such treatment for so little compensation?

Well, the answer is simple. If you don’t, someone else will.

We are a nation of many people. Too many people. Way too many people.

And as the workforce keeps growing, the employment opportunities struggle to keep up. It does not take a genius to realise this system is built to implode.

I just hope I do not get caught in the aftershocks.

Word of the Week #128:

Exemplar

Even though I am a writer, this was never meant to be a literary blog, per se. However, tonight, let us talk about writing.

One thing I strongly dislike about far too many people in the literary world is the lack of width in their understanding and appreciation of books.

Each one of them would seem to only enjoy a particular way of writing, and any choosing not to employ the same is considered a folly.

Now, nobody appreciates one’s right to personal preference, but when it seeks to lay down a framework that every writer is expected to follow, we have a problem.

Among many other things, there is one edict every writer has always heard: Show, don’t tell.

There is some logic to it, of course.

As the website of a popular editor summarises it:

“Showing makes the writing vivid and more descriptive. Showing also helps readers experience the story by allowing them to interpret the descriptions of places, actions, and scenes.

Telling, on the other hand, is flat and boring and limits the experience for the reader. It also tells editors and agents you’re an amateur. After all, if the very first rule of writing is show, don’t tell, then telling says you don’t know the first thing about writing.”

Sure, that is, in general, pretty sound advice. Setting a scene, letting the readers draw conclusions for themselves, it all makes sense right? Of course, it only works when the perspective is of a proverbial fly-on-the-wall.

The rule is applicable only if you are employing a Third Person Objective narrative. Surprisingly narrow scope for such an important rule, right?

Now, I do not use this style of narrative very often. I have a strong preference for Character Voice. I like my characters to drive the narrative, and telling what the character thinks or feels can often be a part of it. It adds meat to the character, and also adds uncertainty into the narrative.

Think of this scenario. You are writing a novel that talks about a case of sexual harassment in an office.

Which approach would you prefer:

  1. Every chapter written objectively, documenting the actions and words of the characters.
  2. Different chapters written from the perspectives of different characters. Maybe the harasser’s male colleagues describe him as a wonderful guy who always gets the job done, and his female colleagues describe him as a creep who never lets them feel comfortable in the workplace.

Is either approach better than the other? No, they are just two different ways to turn one story into two distinct books. And there is no reason why both cannot be good.

At the end of the day, it is your story, and you get to decide how you write it.

As long as you are smart about it, you can show and tell.

Word of the Week #127:

Gastronomy

I like cheesecakes and I cannot lie
You other brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty plate
And a cheesecake in your face
You get sprung!

I love good food.

Maybe you’ve had a long, dreary week. Maybe your spouse is being especially annoying. Maybe you didn’t get any sleep because your cat peed in your bed.

Whatever may go wrong in the world, the moment you put that first spoonful of cheesecake in your mouth, all your pain and sorrow just melts along with its soft, creamy love…

Unless you are lactose intolerant, perhaps. Or diabetic.

Still, you know what I mean, right? Food does have the power to change the world, your world, from the inside.

It is not surprising that I love good food. Who doesn’t, right?

Well, at least that is what I used to think, till I really went out in the world and met more people.

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

— Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I often notice that people who have no appreciation for good food are rather bland individuals.

I mean, look at this:

Or this:

Or this:

How can I ever trust someone who does not love these, right? Sounds reasonable to me.

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”

— George Bernard Shaw

So give me some cheesecake, and you will see how much I can love you.