Author Archives: Humerus

Few Things That Can Happen If I Dare To Ask Twitter People For Coffee, And They Say Yes

A few minutes ago, I came across this hilarious post on The New Yorker about the author imagining (or not) everything that is likely to happen if she asks a new acquaintance for coffee. While I’m still chuckling over the things written there, I decided to reimagine this scenario for myself and make a few tweaks. Given how nearly 973 hair on my head have gone grey during my time on social media, viz Twitter, I’m imagining this as a first time meet-up with someone who I know through Twitter (HEY SO WHAT IF I’M NOT AN INFLUENZA?). And some desi realities added of course.

1. I will DM them. They will not reply.

2. I will DM them again.

3. They will reply after 34 days and say they’re busy over their cousin’s wedding due to happen in two years.

4. I will DM them again.

5. They will reply and say yes. We will exchange 56 DMs and agree on a time and venue.

6. I will reach 45 minutes before the scheduled time. They will reach two hours later.

7. They will arrive, we will meet at the entrance. I will open the door on their face.

8. We will pull out our phones and check in on Swarm, Facebook, Pluto, Gotham City.

9. They will make funny hand gestures while placing their order and I’ll go ahead with an awkward pronunciation of cappuccino.

10. They will tell me about their latest trip to NYC and I’ll be wiping the mud off my 750rs jeans.

11. We’ll click selfies and 900 photos of the coffee and food for Instagram.

12. They’ll ask me to send the photos as soon as you get home ya because you know ya.

13. One friend I last spoke to in 1922 will suddenly spot me there and give awkward looks like I plan to rob his house.

14. Our phone will lose network coverage because you know ya 3G ya so bad ya.

15. We’ll still be staring into our phones.

16. I’ll try to be intense and spill the food on my clothes.

17. We’ll actually start talking to and liking each other.

18. Unicorns


Seven Secrets of the Goddess – Review


Yet another author whose works I’ve become a complete fan of – Devdutt Pattanaik. If there is too much hype surrounding him today, I would say every bit of it is worth it. I started reading his books from his later viz Shikhandi being the first one and now this. I have come across his other ‘Seven Secrets’ series titles and hope to read all of them in due course of time. Because one can only imagine how much knowledge – the sheer depth of it – can be contained within one person.

Like there is a pioneer in every genre of writing, I would say Pattanaik has taken up that space when it comes to demystifying Hindu mythology. And this is coming from someone who has been a staunch atheist for the better part of his life. And whose reading of Hindu mythology has been confined to children’s textbooks with colourful art and observation of family or community rituals.

Without going into the merits or demerits of my own beliefs in this regard, I can objectively say that a writer deserves all the more credit when he or she manages to deconstruct complex subjects to make it appealing to every kind of reader. Without compromising on quality everywhere. Maybe I’m saying purely from the point of a view of a reader who delves in the sheer pleasure of reading before anything else. Even then, Pattanaik’s writings have a huge significance today, given the constant churning and questioning of cultural foundations of society. It’s not a bad thing and Pattanaik only helps further this cause, while espousing the belief of ‘multiple truths.’ That is a belief I stand by personally. It would be easy to confuse this with ‘multiculturalism.’ But I would say multiple truths are more universal in scope – because even the tiniest of human groups have differences that they need to work with constantly – just like life partners.

Like Shikhandi, Seven Secrets of the Goddess talks of the very vital aspect – the role of women in society. It goes from the extreme ie Kali to the very mild ie Gauri and every aspect that lies in between. Pattanaik elaborates on every version of tales relating to Gods and Goddesses as seen by different communities of India. The influence of Western, Islamic and other cultures on Hinduism is also dealt with in this regard. And from this emerges a very interesting narrative which I believe also explains the current dynamic of Indian politics.

Concepts like gender and feminism perhaps cannot be explained merely with a few chapters or references to religion/mythology if one wants to view everything through a rational perspective. The author, having been trained in medical science himself, does not ignore this fact. Which is why he balances the spiritual and material references very carefully. This encourages critical thinking and doesn’t just end up being a portrait of a religion that has been wronged by others or seeks to stand out. It seeks to inform without a bias in an age where objectivity is like proverbial needle in the haystack.

To get your copy of the book, visit Flipkart

Under Delhi – Review


Let me start this review by being brutally (honestly?) honest here: I’m a huge fan of Sorabh’s work. On the screen and stage mainly as a standup comedian. And I’m aware that this is not his first book. But to be brutally (!) honest again, I could not make much out of his first book – The Wednesday Soul – though it had the similar Delhi Belle vigilante as the protagonist/theme. But maybe it was not meant for a mortal like me. Having said that, I can surely his next – Under Delhi – makes up for my experience in so many ways. And I’m also being brutally honest here! (!). I have always known that the best standups are also among the best writers. And Sorabh proves that no less with this cracker of a pre-Diwali read in Under Delhi. For those (which surely includes zillions of people) aware of his razor sharp jokes and sketches, this is more of a treat since the one liners and metaphors are trademark Sorabh Pant.

And this is totally besides the fact that a lot of the latest standup shows, including Sorabh’s, have been talking about women’s safety in India and especially in Delhi. Much as I hate to stereotype the national capital, having lived there and so on, the fact remains sadly that the city’s men (most, NOT ALL, please read between the lines before you plan to kill me) are Yo Yo Honey Singhs in real life. And so are a lot of men in other cities but yes, I agree that the Capital gets more media attention than other cities and towns. Besides, some of the offenders are actually from the heartland like Bihar and UP, as the book also shows. I found shades of Lisbeth Salander (Dragon Tattoo) in Tanya Bisht – the protagonist of Under Delhi and I liked that. I also loved the characters that defy the so-called Delhi man stereotype. And many words and phrases across characters and chapters in the book clearly show the author knows what he’s doing. That classic head vs heart struggle of a vigilante is also portrayed nicely. All in all, an awesome reading experience because dark humour is one of the toughest genres to excel in yet gives highs like no other!

So, if this review proved helpful then go right across to Flipkart and buy the book!

This Divided Island – Review


So here comes the second book review on the blog. And this time, a much more intense book – dealing with nothing less than war. Trying to write on topics like war is very tricky. Because it’s not just about justifying the pains or gains of either side, but trying to clear the painful haze the imagery of war forms in the mind – be it a movie or a book. This is what the author of this book Samanth Subramanian has stressed on, and very rightly so.

This Divided Island plays like a very slow reel of torture – and talks of torture itself in physical through well as emotional methods. This is one of those books that I took my time to finish, because I had to pause quite a few times while reading to really take in the depth of the events unfolding in the pages. I have read a lot of fiction talking of human suffering – physical as well as emotional. But then, it is just that – fiction. I’m not writing off the credibility of fiction writers here, but non fiction surely tends to rattle the strongest of minds. At the same time, this book reads at times like a spy thriller and at times like a romantic tale gone wrong. Some could point this out as a weakness of the book, but I would say it frees the reader of monotony.

Subramanian’s liberal use of adjectives and some very amusing metaphors are what show his brilliance as a writer. He talks of a country – Sri Lanka in this case – that is not just divided, but torn to shreds through the years of conflict that leave permanent scars in the minds of its citizens – or at least those affected by it. The author has also played the able reporter here – careful in not taking oh so clear sides but still not hesitating to depict which party may have committed the “greater wrong.”  The central characters, if I were to say it like that, in his book are quite intriguing, with their twisted identities and emotions. That again adds to the nice fictionesque touch of the book. The other interesting (or maybe alarming) thing about this book is the charting of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as a religion very different from what so many of us perceive.

One could object to the (at times) too graphic descriptions of suffering in This Divided Island. But then, this book is not for the faint hearted. Civil wars and internal displacements are such things that have layers and layers of history, to borrow the author’s analogy towards the end of the book. And the more one probes these layers, the louder the screams get. That is why, I do feel grateful at times that we do not have a physical time machine yet.

You can get the book here

God is a Gamer – Review


I’ve mostly confined my so-called book reviews to Goodreads till now. But henceforth, some or a lot of that wisdom shall be spouted on my otherwise mixed topic blog as well! So, I start off with God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian. I’ve come across a number of previous titles by the author but managed to read one finally this time! Given his background in finance and management, it is only apt Subramanian’s books deal with the same. Having said that, it also helps that my day job also involves things to do with finance. Hence, I could surely relate a lot to the book. And the premise of bitcoin-based fiction is definitely exciting. But, the book somehow loses grip while building up the suspense, or maybe does not try to build it. Either way, that was maybe the only disappointing part about the story I think. Otherwise, this is truly unputdownable fiction. The characters are slick and true reflections of things that are 21st century. Like a thoroughly action-packed read, Subramanian manages to squeeze in the best of locations and settings for the novel. And maybe that tends to undo it at times, as mentioned earlier, as one progresses towards the so-called climax or suspense. Because, I do not want to know all the time what the most eligible bachelor in town is wearing, or maybe Tony sounds more like a Goan cook than a Federal agent. Still, a very interesting plot development and outlining of the key characters.

Definitely recommended if you’re looking for current affairs based fiction with the twists and turns. Rating? Maybe a 3.5 on 5.

Get the book here

It is 2014

It is 2014. Why? Because it was 2013 exactly 365 days ago. Ok, now that we’re done with that, these are some of the depressing/amusing/annoying/irritating/next random adjective things still happening on the internet in 2014. In other words, it is 2014 and we the people are still:

1. Outraging at hind limb in oral orifice comments of people known to the world a little more than us and our Twitter followers

2. Engaging in sly tweet wars

3. Poking fun at movie stars body anomalies

4. Leaving Twitter because of random reasons like no.3

5. Making heart-shaped signs at EDM concerts

6. Going to EDM concerts

7. Displaying their mediocrity online [like this blog] in the name of ‘art’ or more esoteric words

8. Posting pictures of their misspelt names on Starbucks coffee cups [most of y’all make that up anyway]

9. Taking part in and organising hashtag-based Twitter contests 

10. Tweeting with this hashtag – #ForeverAlone [while at a gathering to really ensure their stuck in phone screen hearts and minds are disowned for real by their friends and family]

11. Drunk tweeting [seriously?]

12. Creating confession pages [because no.2 wasn’t enough]

13. Writing Namo4Pm in Twitter bios [what, I thought social media had made him PM already?]

14.  Tweeting about traffic

15. Tweeting about more traffic

16. Still tweeting about traffic

17. Engaging in Dalli Roxx vs Bombay Suxx online wars

18. Doling out lovemaking advice, because only eggs get laid, c’mon!

19. Reading Thought Catalog articles

20. Reading 67 Things on Buzz Feed articles [meta alert! meta alert!]

21. Counting down to their birthdays [aww it’s okay we get it]

22. Making bucket lists

23. Pretending to be anonymous on 17 different social media accounts

24. Tweeting about weather

25. Tweeting about rainy weather

26. Tweeting about rainy + chilly weather

27. Trying to win imaginary wordplay championships

28. Aggregating profoundly out of depth and unoriginal stuff on their ‘social media ventures’

29. Taking selfies

30. Still reading my blog [well, yay]

Do I hate the peeps who do the above? Not really, because I’ve indulged in and still, on occasions, in a lot of those. And some of you are really good at it while you’re at it. But then, it is 2014. Anyway. 

Some Questions/Observations

Yet another attack on a woman, yet another round of outrage on social media. Yes, ‘yet another.’ Terribly cliched but terribly true. Make your own time frames regarding this phase and sit back. Me? No, don’t worry, I’m far from qualified to be part of any worthwhile protest or show of anger – offline and online (well, almost). The most I do is message my female friends in the concerned city, just like last time, to ‘stay safe.’ How will they manage to do so – is something they know best. Take that as a helpless statement or whatever, but some things need not be analysed to great degrees I guess. Having said all this, there’s the usual spurt of angry tweets demanding all sorts of justice for the rapists, seeking changes in the broader scenario and so on. The anger is justified, yes. But, does online discussion turn into anything concrete? Does it need to? Maybe yes, given that such things can affect us the moment we start thinking we’re immune to them. But honestly, much as the online crowd will like to point towards a negative answer, I will still say the jury is out on this, given the complexities of our society and all that jazz. And no, I’m not getting into why the inter-city debate is pointless as well, because there are more tweets saying so rather than the Delhi vs Mumbai thoughts they seem to negate. Neither am I qualified enough to talk about the causes and circumstances leading to crimes against women – in and outside their home. So let me just say I’m pointing out some things I noticed from an overcrowded drawing room discussion to you, with my own two cents added:

1. Don’t treat rape as crime against women but as a crime and act of violence only. Rather, as just another law and order problem. I am sorry, but a thief doesn’t exactly “rape” your jewellery or cash when he robs you. You may think I’m oversimplifying my observation but trust me I’m not. Though I get where these arguments come from, mainly to get clearer on the implementation bit, I’m not sure that works entirely. On the other side, there is the constant argument as well that a crime against women is something more serious in nature and stems from deep-rooted misogyny in society. I tend to agree with that. But at the same time. I’m against generalisation or absolutisation of any kind. Many will advocate some sort of vigilante treatment or the other for rapists. But trust me, that can only be a knee-jerk reaction. Hence, we could look at it as a law and order but not just another crime, perhaps? Just wondering.

2. Women need to be armed/protected. Well, yes they do, given what keeps on happening. But then, apart from the fact that it reflects such a sorry state of affairs we seem to be living in, what about the women facing domestic violence? Do you ask them to carry a can of pepper spray at home as well constantly so they can get back at their violators within the family as well? Yes, I know that’s a stupid thought but then, is divorce also that easy an option. From the many personal instances I know if my female friends, I don’t think it is. So, when some or a lot of women say no, I will not take extra steps to defend myself. I need to feel free in my own city and roads wearing whatever I want to, I would tend to say yes, why not. Otherwise, doesn’t the notion of equality, as utopian as it may sound, get defeated entirely? So why not at least aim to get there, while keeping the men (since all of them are not rapists) as well as women vigilant till then? Again, just wondering.

3. Paid media shields the names of Muslim rapists. These rapists must be from the heartlands as well. Since social media is not without its share of bizarre, so there.

4. Rape jokes need to stop. Much as I support this, given again how funny social media can be, it’s really difficult to impose disciplinary norms on adults expressing themselves in online fora. Moreover, who do we blame here? Men, or women as well? Given how recently one “influencer” used the “rape” analogy for a totally unrelated episode (while proclaiming to be a chivalrous gent all this while), who exactly decides where to draw the line? Or, is there any line at all or is it something we do to feel good about ourselves during such times? This is probably the trickiest ground to tread. And a lot more could be said on this, in an entirely different blog post maybe.

These are my thoughts, and surely not all of it. I’ve tried to jot down as much as I could. And will continue thinking aloud on this in 140 characters for a few more days maybe.

Colaba to Bandra in a UFO

I’m not good at writing stories at all. And all the more when it comes to something of this type – relating a dream as wacky and loony as this. But thanks to the age of social media, I could feel this blogpost writing itself in parallel when the dream was playing out in my head early this morning (#socialmediacelebs). What was on my mind really? Maybe that could be taken up in another blogpost, or not at all,  given it’s (only) a dream after all. But a minimal background with regard to the places in the said dream does need to be provided here.

For those of us who live in Bombay or have visited the city a fair number of times, Colaba and Bandra are two areas we somehow cannot miss. The first one is located in what Bombay dwellers call ‘Town’ (as distinguished from the Suburbs) and houses very old buildings, eating establishments etc. The second one is a comparatively newer area, located in the Suburbs but at the edge of Town and houses the flashier segments (oops!) of the city, like newer watering holes etc. The dream in a way connects these two areas, and in a way as whacky as possible.

I’m waiting to meet someone in Colaba on a lazy weekend afternoon. It’s quite hot, and more importantly, humid. And it doesn’t help that my friend is already running late and I’ve to while away my time simply walking up and down the Colaba causeway. As I wait for her to turn up, I notice some sort of a silver streak of light emanating vertically from one of the numerous old buildings on this stretch of road. Curious, I move closer to it and see a concave glass door concealing a shaft. Such a contraption in such a building? [hey, this is dream, remember?] So I get curiouser (?) and try to enter the shaft. The moment I move closer, a shiny disc-like thing swiftly descended into it, much like an elevator. And as if on cue, the shaft door and the door of the disc slid to reveal the interior. And, like any other dream, I walked in. Nothing remarkable, except that it look like an idli crossed with an elevator. A glass idli at that. But oh well, the glass idli had a couple of pod-like chairs in it. So yeah, I walked in and sat on one of the chairs.

As soon as my entry was complete, glass idli started moving, first vertically, like an elevator, with a glamorous view of Colaba, the Gateway, etc etc. And that’s when the best part kicked in – on ascending a height equivalent of about 15 stories, glass idli started making a horizontal dash. Right, my very first ride in a UFO across the Maximum City skies. On top of that, idli-UFO was following a set track, pretty much straight. Just like a drift race on an invisible sky track. Just about then, a screen popped up right across me, giving a full display of the traffic below. BEST buses, autorickshaws, cars and everyone and everything else jostling for space on the famed roads (or not) of Bombay. So, it was as if idlUFO was cutting right across the dreaded traffic of Bombay, but not quite.

And slowly, the splendid Turners and Carters of Bandra started coming into view. Quite obviously though, in about a fourth of the time it takes to commute between Colaba and the so-called Queen of the Suburbs. IdlUFO was beginning to slow down now, pretty close to an eating place which was named like a confectionary. And just as I was beginning to royally descend the steps of my uncalled for sky cab, I felt I was about to hit the floor from my bed. Good Morning. 


Open Letter to Online Crush

Hey there

So here it is – an open letter to you! Don’t worry – I’m not going to load this with sappy stuff with barrels full. Neither will I make it something like “hey listen, I don’t like messing around ok”. Let’s strike a balance here, what say? Some of the old-fashioned stuff, and some of the neat modern practicalities. Let’s take a walk, by the sea, amidst traffic, in the chaos or out of it. Let’s talk about things – over a cup of coffee. And make this about there’s no tomorrow, or maybe there is. But let’s not put too much thought into it. Let’s make this about what I (and maybe you) feel it should be about – the Present.

I can only see you in the virtual world yet. I haven’t met you in reality. Don’t know if I ever will. But if I do, maybe there will be some scope to do the things mentioned above! Who knows, really, who knows? I have some ideas about who you are, and if you are still waiting for your perfect one or have found him already. But I do know that it’s difficult not to smile when I see you tweet to me. Sometimes, you’re silly. At other times, soothingly intelligent. But most or all of the times – the harbinger of good vibes (as I see it). Is it about your display picture? Why not? Why shouldn’t it be? But do you know, that having had some experience behind the lens, I do know which smiles are fake, and which frowns are real. But, it’s not just about your picture, is it? You may disagree, and so will the world. Should it matter? All I know is that I have a crush on you, the good old-fashioned thing like a schoolboy, even at this age, yes. Though that does not mean in the least that I giggle like a schoolboy simply because you happen to be of the opposite sex. [Digressing: a lot of so-called men in this country think like schoolboys, and end up doing up all sorts of things to women, I guess] And as I’m writing this, I see you tweeting about how beat you are, and me not reaching out to your mentions tab. Scared. Being an idiot. Right, no better than a schoolboy, am I? Despite that, we discuss little things on the timeline, share little joys and just generally feel good about each other. I like that.

Having said all that, there’s this ‘extreme and irrevocable’ (a phrase used frequently in a book by one of my favourite authors – Murakami) ‘goodness’ (excuse this murder of English) I feel for you. It cannot be as deep as love, nor can it be as fleeting as an infatuation (I do like to believe a crush is some notches above it). Or maybe there is no way to describe what I feel. 

But I can very clearly say this: thank you. Thank you very much for waving out to me and wishing me a hello in the crowd of curses that inhabit social networking. Even if all this is virtual, thank you for doing all this – making me feel good about myself and letting me get back on my feet and hop around (as left footed as I may be). You’re awesome, from whatever I know of you and may you continue to be so. I wish that sincerely for you.




Characters We Love

So yesterday, I undertook this small crowdsourcing (yeah, even I like using cool words) project on Twitter. I asked people what their favourite fictional character(s) from books is/are, using the hashtag #CharactersILove. And yes, a lot of women answered with Howard Roark. But the list wasn’t so predictable as well. There were some interesting names indeed. So, here goes:

1. @RootKanal – Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

2. @rbd_sqrl – Scott Pilgrim and Susie Bones

3. @BillyMcBoney – Marvin from THGG

4. @_DesiPsycho – Lin & Didier Levy from Shantaram, Agastya Sen from English August

5. @AreyOhChampa – Sherlock, Alice

6. @1203JanE – Howard Roark and Dominique Francon from The Fountainhead

7. @WhysoDrunk – Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird and John Yossarian from Catch 22.

8. @Rhythmnguitars – Rebecca from novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier and the women of Saadat Hassan Manto.

9. @thenesseeffect – Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird

10. @nari_ssist – Howard Roark

11. @thebongbabe – Marvin, Jeeves, John Galt from Atlas Shrugged and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

12. @LizaSaha – Howard Roark and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights

13. @juneymb – Hercule Poirot

14. @vivekisms – Queen Elizabeth II from The Uncommon Reader, Roxanne from Bel Canto, Julian from The Song is You, Justine from The Alexandria Quartet, Bennie from A Visit to The Goon Squad, David from The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, Eiji Miyake from number9dream, Wendy from This is Where I Leave You,  Zenia from The Robber Bride, Renee from The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Saladin Chamcha from The Satanic Verses, Pecola from The Bluest Eye, Gustave from A Wild Ride Through the Night, Emma from Madam Bovary and finally (as he told me) Anna from Anna Karenina.

And here are some of my inputs, which I also tweeted: Rajkumar from The Glass Palace, Adrian Finn from A Sense of an Ending, Ishigami from The Devotion of Suspect X and Mikal from The Blind Man’s Garden.