If you are Chetan Bhagat, ignore all of this and jump right to the end.

I’ve defended Chetan Bhagat during almost every outrage cycle. Examples here and here. I’ve even been called a fanboy. My friends will attest to that. I think he’s picked on unfairly for his views and people project their perception of his dumbness on every sentence he says—not unlike a certain young Gandhi. Perhaps there is even a tinge of envy in some critiques.

But I do think there are some things he just doesn’t get. When he talks about ideas, he’s too simplistic. (Anyone here likes memes?) And when he talks about “writing”, lord save us all.

The internet was alive with the sound of outrage when I woke up today. He’d written something over at Huffington Post outlining why he wasn’t popular in the West. We’ll set aside the irony of writing in the Huffington Post to complain about Westerners ignoring him. Let’s instead dive right into his column. It’s bad, it’s what makes him a bad writer and it’s so much fun editing what he writes! (His words in bold.)

English is the new caste system, complete with levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism.->English *proficiency* is the new caste system, complete with levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism.

To use “complete with”, there have to be a few more ways the metaphor works other than “levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism”. There aren’t here. So it’s not “complete with”; that’s all there is to it. Let’s instead try: English proficiency is the new caste system, with levels of proficiency translating to various levels to elitism.

Now the latter part of the sentence is really just explaining the metaphor, but we’ll let that slide in the interest of explanation.

However, because I write in simple English, my books have managed to be a bridge between Indians who speak English well and Indians who speak little English.

How are his books a bridge? A bridge connects two things. How are they connecting those two categories of readers? From what anyone can tell, it’s a bridge that starts from Indians who come from vernacular backgrounds and stays there. The only person that bridge is connecting his readers to is Chetan Bhagat. (And there’s nothing wrong with writing for people who don’t speak English in an ornate manner or with a few errors! Language is a tool for communication and if you’re communicating your thoughts across in words from that language, you’re speaking that language as far as I am concerned.)

Further, the phrase “Indians who speak English well” isn’t in contrast to “Indians who speak little English“. Who’s to say those speaking little English also speak bad English? They might speak perfect English; they could just be introverts.

Let’s instead try: However, because I write in simplified English, my books have managed to connect to Indians for whom English is not a primary language of thought.

I am fortunate to have a wide reach of readers, including Indians irrespective of age, gender, class or location.

Reach” is geographical, so “range” works better. And “including Indians irrespective of” just sounds odd.

Let’s try this: I am fortunate to have a wide range of readers, who identify with my books regardless of age, gender, class or location.

All sects can read and enjoy my books.

I’m fairly certain he means religions here. So let’s make the previous sentence: age, gender, class, religion or location.

My simple stories are set in contemporary India and reflect society as it is today. 

If you’re not face-palming already, I suggest you do so RIGHT NOW! What’s wrong with that sentence, you ask?

Contemporary India = reflect society as it is today, you silly verbose writer! That’s the whole point of inventing the word “contemporary”, so you don’t have to spell out what it means!

And that may be one reason why the West is not so interested in me.

Not so interested” is odd phrasing. It’s like being a little pregnant. Since his whole piece is whining about lack of Western interest (Why is that still a thing? Why are we still craving for Western attention?), let’s go with: And that might be one reason why the West is not interested in my books.

I also changed “may” to “might” because it’s more pure, and “me” to “my books” because “me” sounds like the whining of a teenage girl who’s just being dumped for the first time in her life.

 I write the actual reality of India

Unless Chetan Bhagat is literally scripting reality, let’s try: I write about the reality of India.

And “Actual reality” is the same as reality. If it’s not actual reality, it’s not reality.

My characters are looking for jobs while falling in love. 

Nothing wrong with that sentence, but maybe that’s why they’re still looking for jobs?

Who wants to read about such Indians — those who work in multinational banks and shop in malls?

Ambiguous sentence. Are the Indians those who work in multinational banks and shop in malls, or is he posing the question to those Indians?

Let’s instead try: Who wants to read about such Indians who work in multinational banks and shop in malls?

Also, the answer: EVERY-FUCKING-ONE, if it’s written well and in engrossing prose!

The India that has sold abroad is typically India with lotus ponds and simple villagers. 

Classic strawman!

Quick: tell me 5 instances of recent India-based art that were about lotus ponds and simple villagers?

Anyone?

*crickets*

The last thing we tried to sell abroad about simple villagers was Lagaan which didn’t win an Oscar because—you guessed it—the West wasn’t interested in our simple villagers.

Those who ride elephants and climb up coconut trees and that is all they want to do in life. 

Doesn’t ring a bell either. WHERE IS HE GETTING ALL THIS STUFF FROM?

 If there is a villager in my book, chances are he will be visiting a cyber café, checking his phone or trying to get ahead in life.

Not “or trying to get ahead in life“, try “and trying to get ahead in life”. Unless those three actions are mutually exclusive.

Don’t know if the West is ready for or interested in that India.

Yes they are, you fucking whiner! JUST WRITE IT WELL!

I write to bring about change in my country, towards the direction of economic progress

You’re either bringing about change in your country “towards economic progress” or “in the direction of economic progress”. What the fuck is “towards the direction of economic progress“?

Also, timeout! What’s with repeating the phrase “my country”? You’re not a ten-year old kid writing an essay. It’s “our country” once you’re old enough to write a decent sentence.

Oh wait ..

I wrap my easy-read stories

I wrap my easy-to-read stories

that is how I feel I can contribute towards my nation.

I don’t know what’s wrong with his direction sense but he needs to see someone about it. Let’s instead try: That is how I feel I can contribute to the nation.

He allowed his daughter to marry her boyfriend, ending a two-year long bitter, acrimonious opposition.

What’s acrimonious a synonym for? I’ll give you one guess.

It’s “bitter”.

The girl’s father even set up a stall in the wedding function, offering all guests a copy of the book 2 States

Formatting: The girl’s father even set up a stall at the wedding function, offering all guests a copy of the book 2 States.

Props though for calling it a wedding and not a marriage. See this is why I like him .. a little.

Perhaps this also partly explains limited awareness about my work in the West. I have never really aspired to that goal.

Wait .. what?

Then why the fuck did I read this badly written few-hundred word column on why the West is ignoring this awesome and revolutionary writer who shares a name with that other revolutionary, Bhagat, as if it were some conspiracy hatched at the 25th reunion of the 1980 batch of pretentious St. Stephen’s alumni?!?!

Seriously, what the fuck?

***

I’ll spell it out in less than a hundred words: The reason Westerners don’t love Chetan Bhagat’s writing is the same as why the Indian elite don’t. They’d rather read someone else they like better in the same time because no one has hours to waste on a book just so someone doesn’t accuse them of conspiring against this writer who is probably the fucking richest writer in India!

An underdog can whine about being a victim, not the most famous writer in India! So cut the crap, okay?

***

Until today I didn’t realize he had gone so deep into victimhood.  I went over to his Twitter feed where looks like he loves to wallow in it.

Here’s his latest tweet, a retweet from @AdviceToWriters:

Like any passive-aggressive adolescent, the subtext here seems to be that the West ignores him therefore he is lonely (with just hundreds of millions of readers), and therefore he is exceptional?

And here’s a tweet he wrote, again today:

OK, what’s wrong with that metaphor? I’ll give you one guess.

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU FLY WITHOUT OPENING YOUR WINGS, YOU DIMWIT?!

I didn’t have the time or drive to scroll further down. What I saw was enough to convince me he’s the Deepak Chopra of writers.

***

Here’s what I’d like to say to Chetan Bhagat if he ever gets this:

Dude, honestly, I think you tell stories that people like and find interesting. That makes you a good *storyteller*. Don’t get caught up in this debate of whether you’re a good writer. There’s no reason for you to give a fuck about whether you’re a good writer. That is not what made you famous. And if that’s what you’re after, you can’t win it—atleast not the way you write right now. You’ll end up being mocked for bringing a butter knife to a lightsaber fight, you’ll feel victimized as a result, write about being victimized by identifying all the wrong reasons, and get mocked for it (and the writing) all over again. It’ll never end. Here’s what I’d recommend as a fellow human being:

Just stick with the storytelling part of things that you’re good at. It’ll save you loads of time and perhaps result in more content for your loyal readers. That content obviously adds value to their lives—and it is worth pursuing with all your efforts.

Let that be your legacy.

P.S. Please hire a good editor who proofreads everything you write—tweet, column or book. It’ll be worth the investment.

The Seventh Continent:

*

What a breathtaking bird’s eye view!

Lesser known fact: You can even climb mountains in Antartica. Its tallest peak, Mount Vinson, is quite popular among mountaineers.

The Supreme Court declined to review its (frankly, despicable) judgement upholding section 377 of the IPC that bans unnatural sexual acts, and thereby criminalizes homosexuals who have sex.

Vikram Seth wrote this heartbreaking poem in response:

Through Love’s Great Power

Through love’s great power to be made whole

In mind and body, heart and soul -

Through freedom to find joy, or be

By dint of joy itself set free

In love and in companionhood:

This is the true and natural good.

To undo justice, and to seek

To quash the rights that guard the weak -

To sneer at love, and wrench apart

The bonds of body, mind and heart

With specious reason and no rhyme:

This is the true unnatural crime.

****

The people who believe homosexuality needs to be brushed under the carpet, how long until they realize they are on the wrong side of history? They’ve gotten it badly wrong. Likewise for cultural and linguistic xenophobes, and those holding on to male chauvinism, religion, caste, and other outdated concepts that have astonishingly made it to the 21st century. There’s only so much time for which one can delay what’s obviously going to happen. All of these will change over years and decades, whether someone likes it or not. But a decade is a long time in our flicker of an existence on this planet. It would be nice if our fellow human beings were treated equally sooner so they could pursue life and happiness like we all do.

Meanwhile the opponents are hoping to hold the fort for a few decades, so they wouldn’t have to live to see around them the things they dislike. In all likelihood, they’re going to have to figure out a way to deal with it.

Here’s something to start (or end) your day with:

*

Where have I been?

Travelling, mountaineering, paragliding, backpacking, hiking; rescuing people, being rescued, but still safe, in one piece and living through some great experiences. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

****

Let’s see if I can restart this blog around some theme that suits me right now. News You Can’t Use was apt when I was invested in current affairs and cared enough to comment. Now, I can’t give less of a fuck. But there are countless other interesting topics in the world.

Let’s talk about those.

Rakesh Kumar, the new censor board CEO, gave an interview today that ranged from What is he smoking? to Is this guy for real? Real he is and he’ll soon be hard at work protecting us from perverted filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Bharadwaj.

***

First day on the job. This feels great! After being transferred around endlessly for rail accidents that were not my fault, this job will be a definite change of pace. I get paid to kick back and relax and watch movies all day long. Plus I get to judge them. Whatay win!

There’s much to accomplish in the coming months. I have a feeling people will appreciate my legacy. Some people will be pissed off but hey, even Gandhi had haters.

Oh, new e-mail from subordinate. It just says, “I Found this on YouTube!”. Must be some lewd filmmaker trying to get around the censor board by releasing his film on YouTube. What he doesn’t know is that the censor applies to all videos made or released in India. Note to self: Send notice to YouTube to get all their videos reviewed by us.

Time to do some censoring!

*cracks fingers, hits play.*

Alright, this is starting with an old guy. So far, so good. Note to self: Too many movies about old guys falling in love with teen girls and vice versa. Gotta crack down on those.

Water suggestively splashing on his face. Why is the water white? Ah, I get it! This has to be a money shot! THERE’S C-U-M SPLASHING ON HIS FACE! THAT TOO IN THE FIRST SCENE! In our times, even pornos had better story lines. Ah, Sholay! Good porno, great acting. Anyway, this scene definitely needs to be cut.

Old man keeps fondling something in the air. It’s gotta be a suggestive gesture for fingering someone! Note to self: Showing the middle finger in movies needs to be illegal. It’s basically a fingering technique! I know it because my wife used it on me once. Must admit it felt good.

Is he groping someone or something? We’ll never know. What we do know is this scene is definitely being cut.

He’s definitely grabbing imaginary boobs. I saw both his hands grab imaginary boobs. You can’t fool me! CUT!

This movie which I can only imagine is a porno has *horrible* music. Also, why are they using music that clearly sounds Indian? Are they trying to overlay Indian music on this to make our culture look bad? Note to self: Crack down on explicit representations of our culture. That reminds me, buy a hammer and nail before the next trip to Ajanta. Gotta fix those caves.

Back to the video, this guy is also doing some very explicit gestures with his mouth. Is this how they’re getting around not being able to show oral sex on screen these days?!?! Disgusting! CUT!

Alright now we’re outdoors with a group of men. If you show an orgy, I’m shutting this film studio down. If you show a gay orgy, I’m shutting the whole internet down!

Okay a fisherman with a really large dildo. Oh wait, that might be an oar. Or is it an oar that’s a metaphor for a dildo? This is getting weird. CUT!

Okay next scene. 3 women and 10 men! On a vehicle. Their vehicle is shaking. This can only mean they’re having S-E-X! ON THE ROAD! IN PUBLIC! CUT!

Now they’re showing the Taj Mahal. Man’s greatest erection for a woman. Haha that joke always cracks me up. Note to self: Do Google search on whether Muslims really have larger penises then Hindus.

The scene, CUT!

A woman in white is now making lewd and suggestive expressions. WHY IS EVERYONE TRYING TO TURN ME ON?!?! She’s definitely wearing red lipstick. Slut. CUT! Hehe that rhymes.

Now there are camels. What do camels have? Humps. What does humping mean?! THAT’S RIGHT! YOU THINK I WOULDN’T GET THAT  REFERENCE?! CUT!

Two guys doing something very strange while rocking on a rope behind the camels. This is beyond XXX. This is NSFL material. CUT!

Is that a young Ron Jeremy walking on the beach? But the scene looks okay. It can stay.

Another suggestive old people orgy scene. Cut! WHY WOULD THESE MONSTERS DO SUCH SUGGESTIVE THINGS WITH OUR OLD PEOPLE?!?!

*fast forward*

Guy on elephant. Looks alright. Nope, he’s topless. OH NO! CLOSE UP OF TOPESS GUY! That’s illegal. Cut. First time I’ve seeing the closeup of a guy topless. Not as gross as I feared.

*adjusts crotch*

Now some guy very slowly rowing his boat. No, wait! Another sex toy reference. CUT! CUT! CUT!  Why do people put all sorts of weird things in their bodies these days? Note to self: Ban hot dogs in India.

Some people getting off a train with a really satisfied expression on their faces. I’ve sees horrible things in trains but even I don’t want to see what they did inside this train. Cut!

*fast forward*

Finally some fully and colorfully clothed people. Whoa! Whoa! CHILDREN! This is definitely illegal in like 100 countries! I SHOULD CLOSE THIS WINDOW BEFORE COPS COME AFTER ME! ABOBT! ABORT! ABORT!

***

A few minutes later, a YouTube employee gets an e-mail.

“This is the CEO of the Censor Board of India. Please do the needful to remove this video from your site asap: Mile Sur Mera Tumhara.”

I have often mentioned Into The Wild here as one of the books (and movies) that influenced me the most. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, stop right here. There are spoilers ahead.

*

Into The Wild was written by Jon Krakauer, first as a long-form piece for Outside magazine, and later expanded into the book. A fair bit of Chris McCandless’ journey after he left home is unknown. Jon did his best to trace Chris’ path using people’s accounts of brief interactions with Chris—people who’d written to him after reading the Outside piece. But one mystery was never adequately solved: What caused Chris’ death. It was some sort of food poisoning from a plant, Jon surmised, and wrote as much in the Outside piece. He corrected it to a different plant in the book but that too was never proven.

In a piece published yesterday at the New Yorker, Jon with the help of one Ronald Hamilton’s research paper solves the mystery as well as it could be  based on the meagre evidence.

The Guardian has an excellent long-form piece on the gang-rape in Delhi that shook us all. Please read it.

I’ll even go so far as to say it captures contemporary India very well. The piece made me realize that it wasn’t so much a perfect storm of things being wrong that led to the crime occurring. It is that they all were wrong and will continue to be wrong for the foreseeable future. And women in India are walking in this minefield every single day.

That thought almost makes me despair.

I am rediscovering Nazia Hassan over the past few days. She was a gem of a person, a far better person than a singer—and she was a damn good singer.

Knowing the tragic end of her story, I’m unable to get past this song by Nazia and Zoheb. It a bit like she gave us a song to remember her by.

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks about Trayvon Martin and why such incidents will continue to occur.

Here’s something right about humanity:

*

and something wrong.

via @bandra_girl

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers