Tuesday 19 May 2015

No romance - A short story

The question was always out there. As she would pick up the phone, as she would turn around the corner, as she would turn the leaf of her favourite book. She kept looking at the question and postponing it. He had asked her to start dating. She detested the enthusiasm but hadn't really planned anything for him. She never thought ahead.

'Why do people plan?' She thought it took away all the romance from the moments of life. Ah! The irony! She was always taken to be the least romantic person in the room. She was romantic but in an unromantic way. Romance is a funny word. Its dictionary meaning can never convey the true meaning. A romantic person essentially wants to pursue happiness- eagerly and madly. She was eager and mad in her own way. It made her set certain criteria and rules; and before she could match them with the world's standards of romance, the race had begun. So as an individual, she was romantic but, to the world, and especially to him- she seemed like a crazy cat lady who just wants to be left alone.

He was persuasive- never budged. After a while, the perpetual question turned into a staring contest for him and he couldn't blink. He held the question like a soldier following orders. She eventually said yes. Not because she suddenly fell in love but, because a certain time period had passed. She said yes because it would have been rude not to. She did make sure that she liked him enough to say yes though.

So, what do you get when you put two such people together? One who may or may not be sure but, tries hard (the guy). The other who is unsure and detests trying at all (the girl). You get an arrangement which is only half romantic. One person wants to cuddle, the other likes her space. One wants to kiss, the other likes to talk and see where things go. One has a specific destination and the other doesn't like the idea of sailing with a goal in mind. So, both agreed that they were dating but only one wanted to steer the ship.

He brought her roses, she scoffed at him. He sent romantic letters and she used them as coasters. After a while, he realized that she wasn't into it. He retracted all the red carpets he had rolled out. And as the ocean recedes from the shore, his gestures receded leaving behind nothing but sand. Just sand.

It turned into a relationship with no romance. No one offered to feed the other with the spoon at public places. No one wanted to hold the other's hand while walking. No one tried to steal kisses when the moment seemed right. It bothered him to an extent but not so much. She wasn't even aware that something was amiss. So, it went on.

Then one day, as they were walking together. He turned around, went down on a knee and asked her to marry him. She smiled and asked 'really?' He froze there. He couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or playful and also, he didn't know the answer to her 'really?'

They both still stand in that park. Frozen. Not a single finger has moved ever since. People come, watch them and leave. They stand like that in rain. A small puddle of water is formed below their legs. Then as the sun shines, the water recedes and sand is left behind. Just sand.

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Saturday 16 May 2015

Why do an MDS?

BDS graduates in India face a unique dilemma. Not so unique though because it has already been faced by MBBS graduates. A bachelor of dental surgery is supposed to be a general dentist. A dentist who can take care of routine dental procedures like fillings, extractions, scaling and dentures. But, sadly the value is being eroded away at a fast pace. Now fresher dental graduates are considered good-for-nothing-quacks. Yes, they are considered to be inept and their education is considered inefficient.

This is largely true in urban cases. The BDS degree still holds some merit in smaller towns but, going by the history of the once coveted MBBS degree, the dignity of the profession is on the decline. Soon, in smaller towns too, you would be called 'just a BDS' instead of a general dental practitioner.

The fault largely lies with the 'competition gene' firmly imbibed in our DNA. We need to rank and file things. We do not care much about the actual essence of things but their effects on the society. Nobody gives two hoots about the job description of an IAS officer but, we know that the job entails free government bungalow and car plus truckloads of raw masculine power. Similarly, we do not care what an MDS means but in our little minds, it is somehow superior to BDS and hence must be preferred.

The roots of this general mental retardation of society as a whole can be reflecting our television serials with dumbed down plots, our cinema with mindless entertainers and everything else. Somehow, the smartest nation on Earth has managed to become the dumbest.

No one quite understands that an MDS (Master of Dental Surgery) is a specialist. His practice specializes in a particular field of dentistry. He doesn't become superior to a BDS. He becomes good at a particular thing at the cost of not being so good at general things (usually). So, a general dental practitioner is needed. He is the link between specialists and the public. He is the one takes care of minor, uncomplicated cases so that the MDS can focus on special, complex cases if he wishes to.

A BDS is essentially a healthcare provider with a broader approach. An experienced BDS can even manage complicated cases provided he keeps himself up-to-date with the latest knowledge and keeps broadening his horizons.

But, that BDS will soon be extinct. A society runs on reward systems. If you the reward from being a general dentist, everyone will start doing MDS. Then there will be no general practitioners in theory as everyone will be a specialist of something. Of course it will be only theoretical because practically, everyone will be doing general practice despite doing an MDS.

That is not a catastrophic situation for the society. It will get its doctors. The only thing that will suffer is ethics and academics. These two anyway make the slightest of whispers before dying out. So, they will die and no one will notice. Just like we buried MBBS, we will bury BDS six feet under and carry on with our lives.

Soon, people will do BDS to do MDS and then be able to earn money. Nobody will ask what subject did you have in your MDS because MDS will just stand for 'a good dentist' while BDS will stand for 'a half-baked dentist' in India. Meanwhile in America, where the science of dentistry has flourished, the highest paid profession is dentists and most of them are general practitioners- DDS (an equivalent of the meek Indian BDS).

This post is not a call to action because I am sure things are not going to change with just one blogpost. It is just my weltanschauung.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Meetup with Kulpreet Yadav: 10 steps to writing a bestseller

After reading Catching the Departed, I was super eager to meet the author and shower accolades on him for writing such immensely readable spy thriller. On April 12, we finally had a chance to catch up and it was amazing. People showed up in large numbers and the people at the venue were friendly and helpful.

Here is a link to the meetup's page- http://www.meetup.com/Talking-Books-in-Delhi/events/221076372/

The best part was that we had people from all walks of life showing up and ideas merging seamlessly. I felt the brunt of being the organizer because I had to step aside from time to time to coordinate with members and give them directions to the venue. Even then, all the words that went into my ears sporadically were enough to leave me inspired and awe-struck.

The author talked about the differences between commercial fiction and literary fiction. His talk was essentially about commercial fiction wherein he laid emphasis on easy language with short sentences and their impact.

He shared tricks of good fiction writing with us. Reading the work aloud, getting it reviewed by a neutral reviewer being a few of them. He also talked about diligence and discipline.

The session was interactive and people asked him questions and he patiently replied. Me and Rohit Ainapur had already read the book so, we had some specific queries. We laid out our questions regarding pace of the novel, role of female protagonist in it among other things. His replies were satisfactory and helpful toward understanding the intent of the author while designing the plot.

The conversation kept flowing even when the event got over and I talked to the author about the financial aspect of writing as a career choice. He laid out the difficulties that befall one's path when he chooses to take up writing professionally. He emphasized that one has to have a back-up plan.

We talked about Haryanvi people and their rustic nature. He told us more about his family and background. Then he talked about his upcoming novel in the Andy Karana series. He revealed that the novel has Goan backdrop and it was enough for me to start drooling. I am sure the next one will be even better. He also talked about how he wanted a vulnerable hero. I urged him to increase the theatrics in the novels. I told him that a Karna is incomplete without an Arjuna. He took my advice to notice.

All in all, it was a nice experience. The day made my life fuller and richer. Hope to see such lovely people more and more.

Sunday picnic with Shweta Taneja

On March 22 this year, my meetup group Talking Books in Delhi met for a Sunday picnic in the Lodhi Gardens with author Shweta Taneja. Here are some of the highlights from the meet-

Here is the link to the meetup- http://www.meetup.com/Talking-Books-in-Delhi/events/221050231/

We sat down under a tree in front of the Bada Gumbad monument and conversation began to flow. One of our members Mr Neeraj was kind enough to bring a basket full of oranges for everyone. He also brought water in a wine bottle which was a disappointment.

Shweta began to talk about her interest in the occult and what went into the making of her book - Cult of Chaos. She talked about she had always been attracted to the genre of urban fantasies and that's why decided to write her first novel in the same genre.

One of the members was curious about the research that went into the making of the novel. We were all pretty surprised on the revelation that the author had actually gone to haunted places and aghori sadhus to research for her novel. The tales sent shivers down our spine.

On being asked if she would recommend her book to the faint-hearted, her answer was an emphatic no. The novel strictly is for adults and contains graphic content.

One of the group members began the debate about whether tantra is really a science or just superstition. The author was a firm believer in tantra and its powers. Another member mentioned that tantra is just a means to achieve proximity to God. Shweta seemed to disagree with such an oversimplification but the conversation went on.

Mr K K Verma had brought his own books on 'un-learning' and left us some copies. It was all in all, a delightful experience and everyone learned one thing or the other from it. The topics discussed were as varied as spirituality, yoga, meditation and politics.

A got an author signed copy for myself and am yet to read it. Kshitij mention a book called Aghora which is also now on my to-read list. This is an extremely vast field of study and I feel, there is a lot to be understood about the occult sciences.

I feel thankful to everyone who showed up and made the event a success. Here's hoping that this caravan goes on.