Sunday, September 04, 2005

Going Places

A friend just bought me a book. Though it is not a travelogue, it certainly has gone around the world. I’m talking about that well-known Indian literary export, the Kama Sutra.

What’s unusual about the copy I have ?

Well, the contents are Vatsyayana’s, an Indian, but this abbreviated version was penned by a Sophia Mortensen, a Brit I think. (The publishers are rather dishonest though, they’ve simply printed her name on the cover and not Vatsyayana’s). The publishers are from the U.K., the paper from China, and the book was bought at a second-hand bookstore in Johannesburg.

And I live in India, so the book has indeed gone places.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

UNusual tales

If you’re the kind who detests fairy tales where the princess is an ideal Aryan beauty who sits like an unfermented idli till the Prince (an ideal Aryan hero) arrives, do read this book by Manjula Padmanabhan : Unprincess.

It is a scathing but hilarious inversion of the usual fairy tale narrative -

From Princes who ‘heroically’ play Nintendo instead of dealing with a crisis, to Princesses who worry if they’ll have time to doll up before a life-threatening situation, this book has it all. Of course, the real heroes are ordinary girls and boys who happen to think beyond what they’ve been told to, and can therefore cope with giants and the like.

Apart from acidic observations on the fairy tale mode of narration, the set of 3 stories also question our notions of ‘beautiful’, ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’… ooh, they are fun.

And, the sweet chutney on the bhelpuri as far as I’m concerned, are the accompanying illustrations. Do get a copy for yourself, and even more important, make sure all the kids you know read it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the ink cloth advertisement

My friend’s mother told me about this experience that a friend of hers had, and since I’m going thro an uncreative patch, I shall tell you the same story. Besides, it deals with the impact of adverts, a favourite hobby-horse of mine –

The friend’s mother’s friend was once upon a time, cleaning out a cupboard full of odds and ends, when she found a bottle f ink. Meaning to throw it away, she placed it on the floor and continued with her spring-cleaning.

In her earnest pursuit of cobwebs and junk, she forgot about the bottle on the floor and knocked it over. The cap was loose, so the ink flowed out and formed a bright blue puddle on the floor. Not wanting to leave blue footprints all over the house, she called out to her son (about 6 or 7 years old then), and asked him to bring a cloth to wipe the ink off the floor.

The boy returned 5 mins later, brandishing a fresh sanitary napkin in his hand. The suitably horrified mother asked him where he had found that, and why he had brought that, and not an innocuous bit of cloth. The child innocently replied that he’d seen her keep these things in the bathroom cupboard, and that he knew it was for wiping off ink. He told her very seriously, that he’d seen it on T.V – that you can pour a glass of blue ink onto the pad, and it wouldn’t spill.

Maybe this triggered off the ‘Cloth is for curtains (and wiping ink)’ ad ? I wonder…

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cooking Up Haikus

I’m feeling disgustingly virtuous cos I’ve been doing more than my usual share of housework for the past 2 weeks. And on Sunday, ambition reared its silly head - I decided to make soup for dinner. This, in spite of the fact that I was feeling terribly sleepy and in a mental state that could cope with the intricacies of mixing curd and rice only if given an instruction manual.
But, like I said, ambition reared its silly head. And soup it was. Or almost wasn’t, cos after cooking the veggies, I did something brilliant. Poured the stuff carefully into the mixie, covered it properly, and switched the mixie on. The hitch ?
After 5 mins, I discovered that I had been grimly hanging on to the to-be-mashed stuff which was on the kitchen counter, while the mixie whirred on container-less 2 feet away.
If only it was that the thought that counts, sigh.

Therefore this haiku I shall inflict on thee –

Mundane and constant,
Housework and cobwebs are dull -
They darken corners.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Precision, and starch.
My handloom sari speaks of
Corporate values.


When your mind’s an empty
Throw away the pen.
Cast off your writer’s hat;
Let the wind blow your fear
Let it ruffle your hair and,
For all ideas start as insignificant;
Gentle ripples;
Paper boats in the literary sea.
Soak in the sun,
Doze under the tree
Of your previous work:
Who’d have dreamt that a seedling
Would cast shade over the gardener ?
Throw away the pen,
And paint on your eggshell –
There are many ways
Of telling a story.