Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Frankly Speaking – the sure shot way of losing your social media friends

Also published on Huffington Post India

Sharing political and religious beliefs on social media is like airing your dirty laundry. It forces your ‘friends’ to show the true colours of their laundry as well. Once you wash your dirty laundry in the same lot as theirs, your pristine whites may get damaged for life. 

If you are tired of being a like enthusiast on Facebook and ‘hahaha good one’ samaritan on Twitter that everybody loves, I suggest you start sharing your beliefs on religion and politics. This is a foolproof method to awaken the dormant Arnab Goswami (ArG) in your dearest online friends. Beliefs, for the uninitiated, is like the softest, worn-out tee-shirt that you’ve held on to for years. All of us have one and we stubbornly refuse to let go of it even as it waits to be reborn as a duster or a mop. Slipping into its soft fabric is the closest we feel to our mother’s womb – where we felt safe from the heartless world of loudmouths. So, when an opinionated cretin’s grating voice such as yours infiltrates their warm, soft cocoon, their ArG comes out in full force.

Interestingly, this process will greatly facilitate in bringing out your own argumentative ArG as well. Pretty soon, we’ll be reduced to a hollering mass as we point fingers accusingly at each other, our eyes blazing with righteousness. Everybody will engage in the fine art of debating each other’s views by screaming more loudly.

The only way to counter your enemy is to behave exactly like them.


Before you begin this exercise, I suggest you develop paper thin skin by scrubbing yourself daily with dailies. The print media ensures we begin our day on a cheerful note by publishing reports on rapes, murders, ungrateful sloganeering students charged with sedition, Jats going on a rampage to show the government who the boss is. Once your skin has reached the correct level of bristliness, power your words with your supressed anger, imagine the audience as your spouse and start typing. Make sure each sentence ends with a string of exclamation marks longer than the Great Wall of China!!!! Be liberal with the usage of terms like pseudo-intellectuals, bhakts, right-wingers, anti-national, presstitute, or feminazi, depending on your favourite bias. Convincing yourself that everyone but you is a fool, helps greatly. Also, make sure you close your mind with a secure lock.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Decoding Amit Sharma, the man behind False Ceilings.




When you are part of the blogosphere, you discover a person through their blog. You end up associating them with emotions their words conjure. When I finally met Amit after years of following his blog, I had a stupid grin pasted on my face. Don’t blame me, blame him for writing a hilarious account of how a Gurgaonite enjoys monsoon amidst puddles and waterfalls while river-rafting in his car.

For those who do not know Amit, behind the easy humour lies a sensitive man with a dogged determination to bring his passion to fruition. In his case his first novel ‘False Ceilings’ that he wrote during his years in Manchester. If you are familiar with the functioning of the publishing world, you will be aware that the agony, heartburn, sleepless nights begins after you have submitted your manuscript. That’s when all the hard-work begins and only the fittest can survive the ‘agnipariksha’. I have yet to ask Amit if at any time he felt like Sita wanting the earth to open up and swallow him alive.

Good thing is, I have asked a few our friends to ask Amit a few cringe-worthy questions. I believe this exercise will help him trim down his list of Facebook friends.

Purba Ray: Once your book was out, you would have obviously asked blogger friends to review it. What were the weirdest reactions you got when you asked them?

Amit Sharma: To be honest, most of my Facebook and blogging friends were genuinely happy but there was an eccentric, unpredictable category. There was one guy who asked for a blurb so that he could decide whether he was interested or not. No congratulations, no hey-how-are-you? Just a cold reply. I sent him the blurb anyway. As expected, he refused as he didn’t fancy the genre. Then there were some who behaved as if I have asked them to kill the Queen of England. I was so amused by the airs and the noses pointed to the sky that I wanted to capture the moment somehow.

Besides my FB friends, I also approached a few bloggers unknown to me and book review websites. A majority of them never replied back, even after three follow-up mails. Piece of advice – If you are sending out your book to a reviewer you don’t know personally, read his previous reviews. A person who is physically incapable of moving his mouse pointer beyond a three star rating for any book on Goodreads (including the classics) will land your book in you-know-where. And some reviewers write such tacky reviews (and even have the audacity to ask for money) that you would be better off without them.

Kanchana Banerjee: Amit, you’ve dedicated your book to your demons. That’s quite a strange dedication, especially for the first book. Can you explain this? What are those demons and did writing the book exorcise them?

Amit Sharma: There is one character in the book that is based on my life experiences (clichéd, I know). But there is a point in the book where our paths fork out. He goes towards becoming someone that I always dreaded that I might turn into. And I go towards the real me who walked out of the abyss and refused the misery. It wasn’t easy to write him or any of the six main characters as the story is 60% true. Their relationship, their poison is true. I fought those demons to complete every page. And when I wrote the last page, it was like nailing a coffin shut. I always thought that I would never find enough courage to pull everything out of me. So, when I exorcised those demons, I laughed heartily and dedicated the book to them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why I Don’t Get ‘let us inside the Shani temple’ Kind of Activism

Also published on Huffington Post India
Pic Courtesy - IndianExpress.com

The last few years I have come across an evolving brand of feminism - women who are so proud to be a feminist that they’ll flaunt it like their newly acquired Birkin. Mostly hashtag feminists, they’ll mount the high horse of morality and slay anyone who disagrees with them. And then there is this other set that treats it like leprosy and cannot stop telling anyone who’s willing to listen - I am not a feminist, yaa. Please, please, don’t stop loving me! Here, let me post yet another cleavage shot to prove my point.

Little wonder I feel like a borderline feminist. I don’t relate to either of them. I felt acutely embarrassed when I didn’t get women outraging about women who keep a Karvachauth fast to be able to remain a Mrs for the rest of their life. Had it been to protest against its blatant commercialisation, I would have happily joined in. I mean this is the time when salons, jewellery and sari stores do roaring business and women get to strut their stuff in embellishments bright enough to light up Times Square, right? But calling it a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women hungry and at the mercy of their husbands is a little too much to digest. If she can starve for an upcoming wedding, or to fit into her new skinnies, why not for a man and also get to make him feel guilty as hell!

If we expect men to respect the life choices we make, why can’t we respect another woman’s choice to starve for her husband’s long life! Remember, all good men are either married or gay and one of them happens to be your spouse.

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