Monthly Archives: July 2011

Book Review of “Growing Up In Pandupur” by Adithi and Chatura Rao

Growing Up In Pandupur

by Adithi and Chatura Rao

Though this book is essentially for kids, I’d recommend everyone to read it.

The issues addressed herein are so real and touching.

Growing up in Pandupur is a collection of 13 short stories for kids. Now, Pandupur is a fictitious township in South India. It is a figment of the authors’ imagination. And truly a brilliant imagination.

The book opens with the map of Pandupur, situated near the River Dhun.

The township has the essential necessities: a railway station, a bustling marketplace, couple of schools, some residential colonies (societies); parks, playgrounds, an orphanage; the river Dhun and of course the Dhun river dam project. So essentially engineers working on the dam project have made Pandupur their residence, with their families. And all stories connect most of the residents of that town.

The book opens with a beautiful song dedicated to the river Dhun. Creative and lyrical, the authors capture your heart already with the very first page.

Actually, the cover page of the book is so darn colorful that it catches the eye and fancy of all. The two days that I had the book on my work desk, all my colleagues walking around made sure they picked it up. It is that inviting! They all appreciated the illustration and loved whatever part they read randomly. (*Cheers Priya Kuriyan!)

Some of them have already requested me to lend them the book, while others have already bought it from Landmark. This actually shows how appealing the book is!

Coming back to the stories, all of them are beautifully penned.

The first story –“Polka-dotted Party” is about Raghav’s birthday party that he ends up celebrating at the orphanage. And why so? Well, that is for you to read and enjoy.

In “Goblins”, we see naughty Tejas reign his kingdom of fantasy world as Hobgob Supreme, enslaving other mortals. A very cute story about growing up and sibling love.

Moving on to “Changing Chintamani”, we see how little Chintamani’s life changes as he takes up football coaching during his summer vacations.

“The House Painted Blue” sees three musketeers Thangi Timmayya and her friends, the twins, Situ and Gitu, trying to solve a a funny mystery.

“Mallipoo, Free” shows how love bonds humans and animals.

“Nisha” is the story of a small girl who faces child abuse. The way the story is put actually makes it more relevant to today’s age, and how children can and should distinguish between a good touch and a bad touch.

“About Grandfathers and Trees” is a tender story about a grandfather’s demise.

“Sister Song” portrays sibling love. “For Preet” is a coming of age story, showing how girls mature faster and boys…remain boys! This one I absolutely loved!

“A Boat in the Rain” captures the heart of a young boy and the grief/anger he carries with him.

“Evenings in 201” connects Brigadier Ahmed and Rohan in quite an unexpected way.

“Warm-fuzzy” is an absolute poignant story about children and how they actually see each other.

The last story, “The River Came Home”, deals with development issues and how it affects some people, but the moral is that nothing remains forever. We have to accept the changes and draw strength from our past to move on to a better future.

Through Pandupurs’ children, Adithi and Chatura Rao weave a web of stories–life lessons in growing up: laughter and tears, insecurities, small unkindnesses and surprising friendships, stories that will resonate in the hearts and minds of children everywhere.

No fancy gizmo talk or fantasy world magic fluttering around. Everyday tales of growing up that appeals and resonates with children (and young adults) of all ages.

The setting is ideal and the imagery drawn in the readers mind is so real that you can visualize every story as you read it.

The book truly has it all – the beauty of Pandupur; the innocence of the children around; real issues that need attention; awareness towards certain topics that children refrain from talking about; topics that grown-ups do not discuss or tell kids about; all subjects woven to perfection!

The stories remain with you forever. Reading about Pandupur, I really wish to make a pit-stop at Pandavpur (a town near Mysore that inspired the authors) to capture the images in my heart.

The authors, Adithi and Chatura Rao craft such beautiful stories, bringing to life the ordinary experiences in such a marvelous way that opens your eyes and mind to a lot many things that go unnoticed. Especially for children. It teaches a lot about friendship, sibling love, growing up. The narrative is smooth and flawless.

This one is definitely a MUST HAVE/MUST READ book!

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Book Review of “The Quest For Nothing” by Anurag Anand

The Quest For Nothing

by Anurag Anand

A contemporary love story that not only provokes thought but also makes you realize the importance of the people in your life – your family.

We usually end up taking our families and our loved ones for granted. And Anurag’s novel –The Quest For Nothing quite remarkably hints at that.

The story traces Akash’s life- from his management college to his professional and personal life thereafter.

To sum up the story, quite briefly:
Akash lands himself a good corporate job soon after his MBA (very tactfully, may I add), and ends up marrying Deepali (a very caring and rooted girl) in the first half of the book. He then shifts base to Mumbai to work with the FMCG sector, with his better half and both of them end up boggled by the shackles of corporate life. Though their love doesn’t diminish, the approach does. What initially was cute and kiddish about Deepali, ends up being immature and irritating at times. What follows is the increasing distance- not just physically but emotionally too.
Yes, they start taking each other for granted. At least Akash does. Good thing is that he realizes it.

We move on to see Akash moving back to Delhi as he gets a better offer in the finance sector. Distances draw the couple further apart. He ends up worrying more about Monisha (a conniving subordinate) who uses him as a hook to retain her job with the company as recession strikes.
He also befriends a stranger online to share his woes.
Towards the end of the novel, we see Akash stuck in a life/career threatening scam, only to be saved by his wife and a dear friend Vikram.

I really don’t want to give much of the story away –because this is one book I feel you should read.

The relevance of the subject is sure to resonate with your life. Young working professionals have fallen into a rut and almost everyone ends up making a similar mistake (the one Akash makes). We place our careers ahead of our families and our lives. We take it upon us to provide a better lifestyle to the ones we love, but it leads us to a path where we end up making certain “not so right” choices. In the zest to stay ahead in the rat race and to succeed professionally, we leave our lives behind.

The characters felt real. I started to care for Deepali and Akash at a point. I maybe even used some colorful language when I felt that Akash was being a “typical male” by not cherishing what he has and instead pursuing something that he doesn’t need/deserve. That was the level of connectivity here.
Akash had a great career, a loving wife, a smooth life…until he stepped on the axe, as if quite willingly!

I cannot stress enough on how much I adore the narration and the author’s lucid writing. A very gripping read that takes you on an emotional journey spanning different cities and relationships. The brilliant twists and ardent writing makes this a page-turner.

I say, go pick this up if you haven’t still. It is really worth reading!

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Book Review of “Reality Bites” by Anurag anand

Reality Bites

By Anurag Anand

Reality Bites is a pleasant read. The story is about Atul’s hostel life and all that he faces/experiences as a hostelite.

It opens with Atul’s first day at engineering college and moves a bit into flashback revealing his hostel life in junior college.

Atul moves from Hissar to Delhi to be a part of a prestigious school (junior college) so that he can seek admission to a good engineering college after that. All this because of his dad, who wanted Atul to be either a mechanical or an electronics engineer to make the family proud. Yes, we all have faced such situations at some point or another – giving into the demands of our folks, who think we would do well in certain school/college just because someone else suggested the place, or some kid who happened to score a place in top notch engineering college having passed out from a certain school/college.

His first acquaintance, Alok, is a senior hostelite and he introduces Atul to Swati, Anirban and Bobby.
But the arrival of Atul’s room-mate Santosh (Senti) sets ground for new friendship.

Atul goes through the ups and downs of hostel and college life- making friends for life (Senti and Bengali), falling in love with the beautiful Ayesha Kapoor, spending wooping amounts on a weekend with her, indulging in frivolous passionate activity in an abandoned building near the squash court, getting his heart broken, getting into a mess, being saved by Swati, and the likes.

All the incidents in Atul’s life will bring in a smile as you read them. The narration is breezy and quite captivating. The author has a way with words.

Although, I didn’t quite get the “not so innocent” part of the love story. Was going away to Agra and staying in a hotel the “not so innocent” part? Or was Senti’s love story the “not so innocent” one? Yeah, Senti too falls in love with a girl elder to him and how he gets out of it makes for a hilarious read.

Sprinkled with humor, and garnished with some wisdom and maturity later, the story takes a peep in to the world of young adults…freshly in college – worrying about falling in and out of love, and fretting over exams and differences with friends…the cute stuff we, workaholics, have left far behind.

Quite an enjoyable read, as you lay in bed tucked in your warm blanket, with the continuous drizzle dropping the temperatures by the minute. Don’t forget the hot coffee mug by your side.

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Books and Authors that make you laugh.

I like the fact that some young authors are exploring the lost art of humor writing and coming up with funny books. Here are some of the recent few helpings (of books) that I relished.


Horn OK Please – HOPping to Conclusions by Kartik Iyengar, is a fun-tastic read. It chronicles Kartik’s journey across the country with his friends. The book is hilarious. It has anecdotes from the journey and snippets of randomness that end up instigating brain waves to ponder on the reality around us. A great read -to treasure and cherish!

Dork: The Incredible Adventures Of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese, by Sidin Vadukut, is a chronicle of a dork. Blunders, mishaps, and errors are a plenty. Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese becomes more of person than just a character. Absolutely hilarious read.

Pyramid Of Virgin Dreams by Vipul Mittra is a brilliantly written satire that reveals the professional lives of IAS officers and the babus in government offices. The books gives a good insight to the world of babudom – the tongue-n-cheek incidents, the sarcasm, the power play by the ones in higher seats, and the ass-kissing agents (Joshi), are very smartly portrayed.
Corporate Atyaachaar: The Comical Journey Of An Office Doormat by Abhay Nagarajan, tells the story of a twenty four year old financial advisor as he encounters many ‘non-financial’ experiences including a dancing dog which suffers from a memory loss, a revelation that a client enjoys hog body massages, a client who paints nude art for charity, a curious case of a ‘stubborn’ nipple and a house hunt for a missing musical mobile!

May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss by Arnab Ray, GreatBong, is a sarcastic, politically incorrect and totally irreverent look at assorted random stuff including Bollywood C-grade revenge masalas, ribald songs of the people, movie punching, fake educational institutes, stubborn bathroom flushes, unreal reality shows, the benefits of corruption, opulent weddings, brains in toaster ovens, seedy theatres and pompous non-resident Indians.

The Mad, Mad World Of Cricket by Sudhir Dhar, captures the funny side of Cricket. All illustrations depicting the witty style of the artist, take a dig at the state of the country when the Cricket season is in full bloom!

The pioneer R. K. Laxman and his quips on the Indian society through the eyes of the common man make for the best satire.

Who can ever forget P. G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories? The renowned English humorist is best known for the eccentric characters and humorous plots making his readers laugh at every single opportunity.

Oh! and one of my personal favorites is Bill Watterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes collection. Stupendous.

It sure is a difficult task to make someone smile. But it ain’t impossible. All you need (apart from brains) is a good sense of humor and an eye for details.

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Humor in Writing

Humor does rule the world. At least my world.

Reading humorous pieces livens up our day. It breaks the monotone of work and life. Most problems can be fixed with a dose of laughter. But what I like most about humor pieces is the fact that the point under scrutiny is communicated with much effect and quite intelligently. It also reflects a bit of the writer’s character trait. A writer with a good sense of humor will make sure his/her pieces amuse people.

And others on the verge of writing, here’s a bit of information on the various types of humor in writing:

Burlesque – a form of satire. Burlesque ridicules any basic style of speech or writing. (Parody makes fun of specific writings.)

Caricature – exaggeration of a person’s mental, physical, or personality traits, in wisecrack form. Most people think of sketches when you mention a caricature. But this form of humor reflects well in writing too.

Comedy – a ludicrous and amusing event or series of events designed to provide enjoyment and produce smiles or laughter usually written in a light, familiar, bantering, or satirical style. There are also topical, romantic, satirical, and verbal wit comedies.
The word comes from the French comedie which was derived from the Greco-Latin comoedia which was formed by combining komos, meaning “to revel,” and aeidein, meaning “to sing.”

Exaggeration/Hyperbole – An exaggerated witticism overstates the features, defects, or the strangeness of someone or something. Extreme exaggeration is Hyperbole.

Epigram- clever, short saying about a general group. Mostly satire about mankind.

Incongruity – Lack of harmony between two statements or events is incongruity. A particular situation leading to something totally unrelated does bring in a weirdly funny situation. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a good example of incongruity.

Irony – something that has been said or done differently than what was meant. It’s like someone says the opposite of what they mean and the listener believes the opposite of what they said.

Repartee – includes clever replies and retorts. The most common form is the insult.

Satire - wit that is critical humor. Satire is sarcasm that makes fun of something.

Surprise
– Surprise elements bring in suspense and unexpected twists. And humor eventually.

Sarcasm – this is one of the most popular forms of humor in literature. Known to be a sharp, harsh, bitter or cutting remark on something or someone, sarcasm often receives high appreciation.

Parody -humorous version of any well-known writing.

Pun
– Puns are more of word play. Jokes, one-liners and witty remarks often are composed of puns. (E.g.: What disease can one associate with cigarettes? Answer: Premature death.)

Wisecrack
– any clever remark about a particular person or thing. Wisecracks are quick wordplays about a person.

Wit -humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee. Wit is funny because of the sudden sharpness and quick perception. Wit can bite. Verbal wit is a type of humor known as Wordplay.

Another technique to induce laughter is to mold funny characters. Or give them certain personality traits that make them unique, in a funny way. Making characters give unsolicited advice (E.g.:  Advice to people who want to buy a puppy:  Don’t.); or narrating interesting anecdotes that induce laughter; or blending two or more words to make a new one (fantabulous from fantastic + fabulous) induce amusement.
(To be continued…
Books and Authors that make you laugh.
)

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Interview with Kunal Dhabalia

A renowned blogger and a lover of…words, Kunal Dhabalia is a software  professional who enjoys traveling and capturing images for life.

Here’s a quick interview with him.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Any author/book that has had the most  impact on your or your writing?

My inspiration for writing can be anybody. Most of my stories have been the result of  traffic jams. When ever I’m stuck in crawling traffic, my thoughts would veer to what  could be the story of the guy driving the bike next to me. Sometimes I think of the  start, at times I think of how the story should end, and from there the complete story  develops.
Share your experience of writing “Love All” and getting featured in Urban Shots.

Getting featured in ‘Urban Shots‘ was a scintillating experience. I had been a short  story writer for some time, and although I was getting good feedback from the  readers I did not have a good reach. That is where Ahmed stepped in and asked  me to write a short story for ‘Urban Shots’. Writing “Love All” and “Driving down the Memory Lane” was an interesting experience. I wrote the stories in 3-4 days but the editing took at least double the time. And it is very difficult to edit your own writing. Multiple re-readings and editing sessions later I finally felt that the stories were finished product.
If you had to choose one short story from Urban Shots, which one would it be and why?
‘Stick Figures’ by Vrinda Baliga. It has been told from a kid’s perspective and even then it is a very powerful read which is something quite hard to achieve. Vrinda has captured the emotions flawlessly.



Is there something else from your desk that you’d like all your readers to read?

Another anthology of short stories based on school & college life by Grey Oak Publications is already out – ‘Down the Road’. I’ve contributed a short-story in it – ‘The Accidental Author’. Apart from this I’ve been working on few more short stories for further publications. And all other random writings happen on my blog.


Many bloggers nowadays end up sequencing their blogs and getting them published. Or maybe make a full fledged story out of their experiences to get them published. What is your take on this shifting scenario where bloggers are taking their work offline to reach more people?

It is good in a sense – you reach a much wider audience. Although there is a chance, that a few of them would not enjoy the writing at all. The biggest advantage with a blog is that one has a very targeted audience. The blogger has already built a reputation, has a style of writing, the readers expect something of him/her – all of these things go for a toss as soon as the blogger reaches the offline audience. But if the writing is good enough, these things do not matter. What matters is that the writer has made an impression, and expanded his horizons.


Your idea of a vacation would include…?

Some place where I am completely cut off from the world :) No internet connection, no cell-phone towers – no external factors to distract me from spending a good time with my family.

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Book Launch of Reality Bites by Anurag Anand

5th July, Mumbai.

Landmark at Inifinity Mall was crowded as ever. But this time it was Landmark garnering most of the attention. And why not!?! Anurag Anand’s fifth novel, a fictional one, Reality Bites was launched at Landmark by eminent personalities of tinsel town – Sudhir Mishra (Director), Randeep Hooda (Actor) and reigning Pantaloons Femina Miss India World 2011, Kanishtha Dhankhar.

(L to R: Randeep Hooda, Anurag Anand, Sudhir Mishra, Kanishtha Dhankhar)

Reality Bites: a not so innocent love story, reveals the life of the protagonist Atul through his hostel and college days and his tryst with love and paternal pressure. A humorous, adventurous, contemporary love story with a myriad of emotions so relatable that you’d be hooked on to it till the very last page.
Yes, the usual gimmicks were witnessed here too: Anurag and Kanishtha were the only ones to arrive at the venue before time while the rest of celebs walked in late. But the wait was definitely worth it.

They unveiled the book at the very end, after the interactive session. Amazingly, the audience seemed quite enthusiastic about the event and shot a volley of questions as soon as the floor was set open for audience interaction. The author seemed very calm and composed, and handled the questions with much panache. Sudhir Mishra is a strong opinionated man with all the right points to make you ponder. Randeep brought in a lot of humor to the evening. For some reason, Kanishtha seemed quite formal at  her first book launch event.

Overall, quite an exciting and fun-filled evening with quips and mirth and laughter on the floor.
Anyway, I are all set to review the book soon. Let’s see you beat me to that!

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Interview with Vijayendra Haryal and Anandan Pillai

Social Media Revolution is taking the globe under its stride. A lot has been explored and a lot still needs to be uncovered. In this scenario, “Social Media Simplified” is a great attempt by Vijayendra Haryal and Anandan Pillai that points out key aspects of social media strategies, along with case studies based on Indian brands highlighting their success.

I got talking with the two authors to unearth the story behind the book.
Tell us a bit about yourself.

Vijayendra: Vijayendra Haryal is working as a Global Executive Manager with an IT company. He is a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur (Class of 2004) and did his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in 2008. His alternative interests are social media, social enterprise.

Anandan: A PhD student pursuing his doctoral program in the social media domain from Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. He has been in the academic research field for about 5 years. His research interests include social media strategy, brand communities on social media, content strategy on social media, social media RoI etc. He has published about 18 case studies and 3 research papers before co-authoring this book.

Social Media in India is still not as developed as in other countries. What got you interested in social media?

Vijayendra: For quite some time, a thought was triggered at the very basic level- what makes ventures/businesses succeed? One of the key factors for being successful is that a product or a service,  should be timed perfectly, such that the changing behavioral pattern/ attitude of the target audience, B2B or B2C, aligns with the product offering or has high propensity to adapt in reasonably short time. Social Media has captured this to perfection by addressing the Attention Deficit Disorder, increasing individuality etc. of recent times. Though I have been interested in Social Media since college days, it really caught my fancy when I got reconnected to the co-founder of http://www.volstreet.com – a non- profit portal for NGOs /CSRs  via orkut.  Also, I’ve met / worked with quite a few people who I got introduced/ reconnected via social media on interesting projects. Even this book took shape when I got reconnected to Anandan via “People You May Know” at Facebook.

Anandan: Well, be it any technology product / service, Indian users have a lag time in comparison to users in developed countries, which has been inevitable for some business reasons. However, if you notice in the past year or two the lag time has been decreasing substantially, for instance products like iPad are being launched in India almost at the same time as they are introduced in developed countries (which was not the case earlier for many products). So, Indian users have adopted social media comparatively late than their counterparts in developed countries, the growth rate has been substantial and hence we thought to contribute by sharing, with  the social media users, our understanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Would you like to share the incident that got you two together, to venture into writing a book on social media?
Vijayendra & Anandan: We both met each other first in 2007 at IIM-Ahmedabad, but lost touch in course of life and we hardly exchanged emails. All of a sudden in 2009, we met through Facebook and when we both realized our common interests, I (Vijayendra) pitched the idea of the book to Anandan, which he gradually accepted and thus began the journey of the book.

What according to you is the USP of your book?
Vijayendra & Anandan: Distinct category of readers (on the bases of their background, awareness, etc.) will derive different values from the book. Right from listing down Do’s and Don’t’s on FB and Twitter for individual users as well as organizations, we have also discussed Social Media Strategy and ROI. We believe that facets of social media unknown to you would be unraveled as you read the book and this experience will provide you with more confidence.

We’ve got very good feedback on the case studies of 30 Indian brands, which is the key USP of the book. There are a lot of social media books available in the market, but almost they are all written by authors in developed countries and hence the examples/cases they have covered are all from their geographical locations. The case studies we’ve covered are of brands operating in India and the Indian readers should be able to relate to those situations more effectively.

We also have a continuing discussion at the facebook page and twitter handle of the book thus engaging readers beyond the book.
What do you think hamper the growth of social media in India? Does your book suggest ways of overcoming them?
Vijayendra & Anandan: The Internet penetration in India is still less than 10%. This will surely increase with the recent 3 G roll out, but it will still be long way to go. Technology should be seamlessly available for users to get on these innovative technological platforms. The ways to overcome technological challenges is beyond the scope of the book, and hence hasn’t been covered in the book.
The second main reason is awareness of the opportunities for professionals as well as businesses that have evolved due to Social Media. Personal branding has also taken a whole new dimension and ways in which we work have changed. The earnest attempt of the book is to build a holistic perspective on Social Media.
Any experiences during writing the book that you’d like to share? How easy or difficult was the research process?
Vijayendra & Anandan: We both stayed at two ends of the country – Anandan at Gurgaon and Vijayendra at Chennai. So, we could never meet each other and our busy timelines didn’t allow us to interact on mobile too. Hence, the entire research, authoring process was done with the help of Google Documents. Both of us kept adding our thoughts to it and either of us could check them at our convenience and further build on. The technology enabled us to gather our thoughts, in spite of our geographical restrictions. Whenever, either of us got a thought or an idea, we either posted it in Google doc, or dropped a mail or even SMSed. The essence is not ‘losing the thought’ and capturing ‘the moment’. In our case, we ‘asynchronously’ captured ideas. Of course, being well-read and observant in the domain helped.
Any social media strategies that you used to promote your book?
Vijayendra & Anandan: The inspiration was to make the whole process from getting to know about the book, making a purchase decision and feedback ‘interactive’ and ‘transparent’.  We had to cater to the “140 character” generation, which needs ‘something exciting’ all the time.  We had our challenges as the whole country was chanting CRICKET and SACHIN in unison when the book got released. Interestingly people were updating their status messages and tweeting much more than ever before. We buzzed people in our network about the book, created an ‘online event’ launch for our Facebook Page and Twitter handle, launched a ‘ Sneak Peek’  series with very positive feedback . Then for the next thirty days, we did a “Sneak Peek” on the 30 brands that we‘d covered. Now we share different viewpoints/ recent happenings in the Social Media arena.
Technology (and media for that matter) is always first abused, then misused and finally used. What is your take on social media platforms available nowadays to people, especially the youth?
Vijayendra & Anandan: People often fail to appreciate the benefits of a technological advancement in initial stages. The youth in India is very tech savvy and they use these social media platforms extensively. They have evolved from Orkut era to the present era of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn. Apart from the fun of networking and entertainment, we think youth should also try to leverage the utilitarian benefits from these platforms. Every social media platform has a unique feature, which could be milked by the users with respect to their own field of interest and use it judiciously for their benefit.
You book definitely has a niche readership. Was it easy to find a publisher to get to print your manuscript? Any hardships faced during the whole process?
Vijayendra & Anandan: The ideal audience is anyone who wants to be more aware of social media, learn about opportunities in this field and use it to effectively to further his/her profession or business. We think that the academic community – Business Schools especially, marketing professionals, social media enthusiasts should find this interesting. So this makes it a considerable mass depending on propensity of adaptation.
Honestly, we did not have to make extensive pitches to the publishers and the response we received was positive instantaneously. I think the publishing community at large was able to understand the potential of the book and our backgrounds also further added credence.
We see your inclination towards social media. Did you not consider coming out with an e-book only? Is the e-book on its way?
Vijayendra & Anandan: E-publishing is definitely promising but we need to be doubly sure about piracy. As we gather more confidence on E-publishing and distribution, we would surely explore this option.
Any aversions faced from critics that you did not expect? What has been the overall response towards the book?
Vijayendra & Anandan: We are appreciative of all who provided feedback, comments, etc. for taking their time out to share their insights with us. We have started noting down and building on some of the inputs that we got and would like to incorporate these in “Social Media Simplified- 2.0” or an advanced version of the book. We had to and still sometimes bear with some ‘less informed’ critics too, where we do give clarifications, but that’s part of the process! So far, this has been a pretty healthy process must say.
Name the books that have had the most impact on you.

  • Engage by Brian Solis
  • The New Community Rules:  Marketing on the Social Web by Tamar Weinberg
  • Groundswell by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff


What do we see next from you?

Vijayendra & Anandan: Since this is by far the first most comprehensive book on Social Media in the Indian context and also taking into account the fact that the Social Media space is evolving very fast, we would like to come out with an advanced version of this book. A lot is going to depend on how this book is received by the audience.

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Writer’s (un)Block

 

 

So, who all have faced the proverbial random blankness of the mind that blocks all thoughts and imagination even though the hand itches and the pen (or the keyboard in today’s context) twitches to let words flow on the white background?


Ok hands down. I see you all have faced that dead-end at some point.
That my friend is the dreaded “Writer’s Block”.

Imagine reaching a dead-end, after especially a good long run. Look at it this way – going ahead is definitely questionable at that blessed moment; and tracing your steps back would sort of result in a new path- meaning a deviation from the earlier thought route. If it leads to a newer, fresher, and more exciting ideation –wow! Else…uh oh!
Here are few things you might just want to keep in mind, (or get a print out and stick on your soft board around your writing area in case you have a lousy memory).
But before I begin, No, you are not special. Every writer at some point encounters the blessed “writer’s block”. It is a part of the creative process and one thing you should do is NEVER EVER back down at that point.
So don’t cry “Why me Lord! Why me!?”
It’s not that you can’t write – it’s just that you are running out of ideas/plots/notions/thoughts/concepts/theories/opinions/inspirations/brain wave…etc.
Wise men say that a smart way to by-pass the encounter with the dreaded “writer’s block” is to actually draft an outline of your work. It makes sense. At any point if you feel stuck, or blocked, you can go back to the outline and work around it so as to not lose focus and direction. You really won’t have to look around for inspiration or dread the demons of randomness. All you would have to do is refer to the outline you chalked initially and smirk in the face of adversity!
Anyways, coming back to the pointers:
•    Go easy on yourself: Come what may, do not force yourself to write. Just close your eyes and go blank. Literally. Try it.
•    Take a break: Yes, sure go have a kitkat…go for a walk, or ride, or drive, just go – take a break. A change of environment always does good to the brain and the system associated with it.
Creativity cannot breed in closed environments.

You need to experience the noise and the ruckus outdoor. You would be surprised at the scenes you witness that would lead you to ideate new perspectives for your story.

The point is: you have to step away from the computer. Even if it is for a pee break. Spend some more time staring at yourself in the mirror. You might just stumble… upon something new, I mean.

•    Music: Believe it or not, vocal or instrumental sounds possessing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm have proven worthy of leading to new ideas and fancies that might have lay hidden under a pile of dormant notions. Don’t ya’ll like rappin’ fellas!
•    Surf, Read, Write: If you can’t step away from your desk (the compulsive freak that you are), stay put and harness the power of the internet. The bottomless information pit. Surf different sites, indulge in conversation or discussions, read different blogs or write about your day. This will in a way, get you back into the grove and restore consistency.
•    Click some more: Leave the mouse and pick up the camera for a change. Photography is great way of letting your creative juices flow. It adds variety to your imaginatoin. Plus, if you are good with the pictures, you might just have something more to add to your photo-blog, if not your resume!
•    Overcome that sensation of nothingness by doing something out of the box. Something you haven’t done earlier. Maybe something like cooking. Or boiling water. Or playing with your neighbor’s dog, cat, mouse, camel, cow, parrot, crow, baby. Anything.

•    Doodle: yes, you read that right. Try doodling. Random words, phrases, sentences. Re-read them and re-arrange them and lo! You will surely find your way out of the block.
But at no cost should you let frustration creep in. The slightest hint of doubting yourself or hesitation in proceeding with your words is a signal that you need to take a break, lest you let the woes overpower you. The pressures you face are much worse than plotting the mysteries and the miseries for your characters.

All said and done, worry not my countrymen. This menace of writer’s block shall be broken. Words will flow freely like before. Confidence will be restored. The mission has to be accomplished.

Sometimes all you need to do is hold in some patience. There is always a path around the block, waiting to be explored!

(Phew!)
And now that I’ve let it all out, I need to head back to my story writing.

Happy Reading!

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Book Review of “Beep You! Beep Hole” by Smarak Swain

Beep You Beep Hole 

By Smarak Swain

It’s not surprising to see Indians swear -with or without reason. But how it affects their personality or psyche is what they do not understand.
So, Smarak Swain presents a new perspective: of understanding human and social behavior through swearwords and slurs used by people. It tries to make sense of swearwords spoken across the length and breadth of India, differences and similarities with other societies, and finally attempts to make sense of the aroma and aesthetics in ugly, distasteful, and sexist words.
It is quite enlightening, if I am allowed to say so. It’s quite a commendable effort by Smarak Swain.
It does open up your mind to reflect on your words…or “helping verbs”, like I heard someone address them.
The book says that he has authored an academic book on Applied Psychology and has edited a collection of essays on social issues of India. I say, having seen, experienced, lived and addressed such issues, this ‘colorful language’ book can only be the ideation of such a mind.

Pick it up. You might know a bit about people around you; a bit about the culture and a lot about yourself.

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