Word of the Week #74:

Blitzkrieg

Now, now, I am not making a reference to World War II and all.

Sensible adults don’t need to be told that Nazis are bad, okay? That is like saying kittens are cute. You’d have to be a special kind of stupid to not know that.

No, I am referring to the title of the final chapter of Arrkaya: Immortals.

You see, this has been an amazing month, and we would like to end it with an announcement I have been waiting to make for quite a while.

After 35 chapters,
122 scenes,
513 pages,
2750 paragraphs,
92,958 words,
countless days of hard work,

I can say that, as of today, Book Two is finally complete.

Time to pop the champaign, yeah? Well Not really…

You see, this is just the first draft, and the work has not even nearly begun.

Nonetheless, we are near, and we could not be more pleased.

Arrkaya: Immortals, coming soon…

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Word of the Week #73:

Ornithology

There is one proverb that always comes to my mind, whenever I meet other writers, and for obvious reasons.

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

However, we don’t spend the entire time flocking around, pardon my French.

Occasionally, we do spread our wings. Occasionally, we even race one another.

We tend to begin by invoking the names of our ancestors, the pterodactyls, the true pioneers who literally set the bar for us all to fly over. This essentially began our game of an Inverted Limbo.

After all, what is the point of being a bird if you won’t fly.

Apologies to all the ostriches and the emus and the late dodos.

Now, once we do take flight, it is obvious that while all of these birds may share a love for the skies, but they do not necessarily fly exactly the same way.

Unfortunately, there are far too many fledglings who would rather stayed perched on their branch and twitter.

Some ducks just flap about a few feet from the ground, but if that works for them, what can one say…

Some, like the swan, manage to earn the adoration of the entire world for a plethora of reasons, and the fact that they can fly is hardly anything more than a side-note.

Then, there are the true masters of the sky, the eagles and the falcons, whose flight and majesty humbles all terrestrial beings. The fledglings tweet about how much they wish they could fly as high, but actually do little else.

So, after such encounters, one question is natural to rise in one’s mind: What am I?

Fortunately, in my case, the answer is quite obvious.

Let us check all the facts:

I am bad with short, swift flights. Simply horrible. I just cannot get going.
I generally take quite some time and effort to take off, and the sight is far from pretty.
Even when I do take flight, I am not the fastest or the highest or the most elegant of them all.
I have been known to sleep while flying… Or fly while sleeping…
It is common knowledge that a saline liquid is always dripping for my nose.
And finally, and most importantly, once I am up there, I am not coming down. Often for hours, occasionally even days. I can simply go farther and longer than most would ever dare try.

So, what am I? As I said, the answer is quite obvious. I am an Albatross.

What are you?

Word of the Week #72:

Sovereignty

Well, yes, this is indeed a day for celebration.

The roads are filled with men and women waving the tricolour, and the screen with speeches and colourful highlights of our relatively young nation.

Yes, this is, for the most part, a day for celebration.

After all, in most respects, we have arguably come farther in these 70 years than any other country, with the exception of China. Of course, anyone who knows anything about China would know the exact reason for that.

And if you don’t know, just ask Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Oh wait, you can’t, can you?

Anyway, let us return to our own territory, and let us make merry, for this is a day for celebration.

However, as I’m sure a teacher of mine would have reminded us, it is also a day for introspection.

Yes, we have make far, but this is still not nearly far enough, is it?

To quote the very first speech made in Independent India, or was it the last one made prior to independence… Anyway, the quote is what matters, here.

“That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today.”

— Jawaharlal Nehru, Tryst with Destiny

It is quite obvious that despite having achieved freedom from our colonial rulers, we haven’t yet succeeded in ridding our land of the plethora of problems that plague it.

Since I am not a JNU student, I probably wouldn’t just suddenly start chanting out the entire list. You live here, you know it as well as anyone else; if you don’t, you should probably be on the list…

Today, we stand at an undeniably interesting juncture in our planet’s history. A shift in the balance of power is already underway, and we have the opportunity to not just observe this historic moment, but mould it with our own will.

How exactly will that pan out? Time will tell, I suppose…

Word of the Week #71:

Fettuccini

Now, now, the plan here is not to rave about Italian cuisine. I should save that for another time.

No, today, we talk about, well, today…

This day happens to be my old school’s Foundation Day, upon which we organise a city-wide Spelling Bee competition, and I was simply overjoyed to have been invited to the event.

Continue reading Word of the Week #71:

Word of the Week #70:

Dissent

As a kid, I was usually quite well liked by elders. You see, I have always been nice and cute and smart. People tend to like that in kids.

However, as I grew older and smarter, I found that there were a couple of aspect of my personality that seemed to prick certain grown-ups.

You see, I was always an inquisitive kid. When someone would tell me something, or ask me to do something a certain way, I thought a very reasonable response was, “Why?”

At that age, it is bizarre to think I would not have actually intended to challenge the authority of the aforementioned elders. What kid ever thinks that way?

Now, as a few more years passed, this habit of mine evolved to the next level.

Now, not only was I completely unafraid of asking “Why?”, I was also assertive enough in the face of their floundering responses to say, “No.”

Needless to say, such behaviour was not without its consequences. Some teachers may have been convinced this disobedience needed to be flogged out of me, but corporal punishments were not in vogue anymore, and juvenile attempts at public shaming had to suffice. Some parents believed I was a bad influence on their kids.

I have always hoped people would look at this with equanimity and ask themselves who is a worse influence on impressionable minds: a child who seeks to understand before he obeys, and thereby chooses to disobey if he disagrees, or a supposed ‘grown-up’ who cannot even defend his beliefs to the aforementioned child, and thereby sees him as a threat.

“Inevitably it follows that anyone with an independent mind must become ‘one who resists or opposes an authority or established convention’: a rebel
And if enough people come to agree with—and follow—the REBEL, we now have a DEVIL.
Until, of course, still more people agree. And then, finally, we have… GREATNESS.”
― Nicholas Tharcher, Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation

The times have changed, since. We are the grown-ups now. It is time for us to shape the world we have inherited.

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Do we want our children to stay silent, or do we want them to speak out?

It is now for us to decide.

Word of the Week #69:

Tryst

So, this past week has hurtled by, as I have been forced to just sit and watch; not that I was particularly ill or anything of that sort, of course. When am I not ill, anyway…

Nah, I guess there are just some weeks like this one.

It is, however, disconcerting when we consider the fact that the end of the contract with my current publisher is no longer at the horizon—it is now very much in the forefront—and I have barely begun working on the editing and rewriting required to prepare the second edition of Book One.

I will admit, as have many readers already observed, that the first edition could have used a little more time and work than it was afforded. Well, I am wiser now.

To write is human, to edit is divine.
—Stephen King

Add to that the fact that the manuscript of Book Two is still not quite completely ready and one can very well begun to hyperventilate.

Quite honestly, this is one of those few instances where the word ‘deadline’ could literally be true.

But, as I keep proving to myself more than to anyone else, I am made of sterner stuff than that. Moreover, it have always found it easier to concentrate on a task when it begins to seem, to an uninitiated onlooker, overwhelming.

If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.
—Mario Andretti

So, now that the going has gotten tough, it is time for me to get going.

Au revoir.

Word of the Week #68:

Petrichor

Even as I write this, I can hear the clouds rumbling in the background, as the storm comes rolling over from, presumably, the Bay of Bengal.

In stark contrast to Western Literature, which has largely portrayed storms and rains as being dreary and foreboding at best, folk culture closer home has had more favourable response. And, of course, one need not look too far to understand the reasons behind the same.

You see, living in a tropical peninsula almost entirely reliant on the monsoons for survival pretty much guarantees a positive reaction upon the arrival of the rains.

Sure, a couple of weeks in, as we now are, we might sit indoors grumbling about the muddy roads and the stinky shirts and the recurrent network troubles, and the possibilities of going outdoors that might have existed, but for the weather, and yet you will have to admit: You did smile when the scent of the moist earth first wafted into your homes.

It is only fair, I would say. The love for the rain, it is a part of our heritage.

And now that the storm is breaking, what more can we do, but sit indoors with an Agatha Christie in one hand and a warm snack in the other… Really, what more do you need?