Thursday, September 14, 2006

Being Funny in French!

This is my attempt at being funny in French! Flaubert, of course, has nothing to worry about…yet. But considering that it was written about 6 weeks into my basic French course (1-A) at Alliance Française, I think it is not a bad little piece. Maybe Flaubert WILL have something to worry about by the time I have finished up to the advanced level ;)

Dialogue avec le directeur de l’Alliance Française
Auteur : Poltu

- Alliance Française, Vinita à l’appareil, J’écoute

- Allô, bonjour madame, Je voudrais parler au directeur de l’Alliance Française

- Attendez, je vous passe le directeur

- Vélo ici

- Je ne voudrais pas acheter un vélo. Je voudrais parler au directeur de l’Alliance Française

- Je suis Rad Vélo, le directeur de l’Alliance Française

- Ah ! Vélo…c’est un nom comique !

- Oui, je déteste mon père.

- Rad n’est pas un nom Français non plus.

- Oui, c’est Allemand pour Vélo. Ma mère est allemande

- C’est un prénom drôle. Votre mère est comédienne.

- Oui, je déteste ma mère

- Dommage, c’est la vie

- Oui, Comment est-ce que je peux vous aider ?

- Je suis étudiant en 1A le matin. Je voudrais un transfert au cour du soir.

- Parlez avec le réceptionniste. Ne me dérangez pas.

- J'ai parlé à la réception. Nous avons eu un petit désaccord.

- Ah ! Vous êtes le garçon, qui a cassé la fenêtre de la réception

- Oui

- Et l’ordinateur.

- Oui

- Et le nez du réceptionniste

- Oui

- Pourquoi voudriez-vous le transfert tellement ?

- Cela ne vous concerne pas!

- Bon. Au Revoir !

- Attendez, s’il vous plaît!

- Oui ?

- J’ai un problème avec la circulation, avec mon bureau, avec ma professeur, avec ma vie. Qu’est-ce que vous-voudriez entendre ?

- La vérité

- Bon. C’est une belle fille dans le cours du soir….

- Alors, vous pensez que l’Alliance Française est un lieu pour regarder les belles
étudiantes ?

- Oui, et les belles professeurs.

- Ça alors! Tu as le cerveau comme le petit-déjeuner du chien ! Il faut le laver.

- Vieux gazon, tu as le cerveau d’un buffle mort !

- Quoi ?

- Rien.

- Tu as l’esprit comme un chimpanzé non lavé

- Tu chauvesouris géronte, tu as le visage du derrière d’un babouin !

- Pardon ?

- Rien

- Tu as dit quelque chose

- Rien, rien. Attendez ! Vous-êtes d’accord, l’anglais est la langue des commerçants ?

- Bien sûr!

- Et l’italien est la langue de poésie ?

- Peut-être

- Et l’allemand est la langue des chevaux ?

- Naturellement !

- Et le français est la langue d’Amour ?

- Oui ! Oui ! Oui ! Cent fois, Oui !

- C’est un crime de chercher l’Amour dans le cours de français ?

- C’est juste !

- Vous êtes d’accord pour le transfert ?

- Oui ! Mais, qui est la fille ?

- Je ne sais pas son nom. Elle est petite, et elle a les cheveux crépu.

- Ah ! Et un nez petit et vif ?

- Oui

- Et elle a les yeux bleus-verts ?

- Oui

- Et elle a la ligne comme celle de Brigitte Bardot ?

- Oui

- Je suis désolé ! Je ne suis pas d’accord pour votre transfert.

- Quoi ? Vous avez dit oui à l’instant.

- Il ya un petit problème…Je l'aime moi-même.

- Ça alors!

- Oui

- Mais, tu es vieux !

- Oui

- Et tu es chauve !

- Oui

- Et tu es demi-sourd

- Oui

- Et tu ressemble à un babouin scié

- Oui, mais tu as un million d’euros a la banque ?

- Non

- Moi, j’en ai. Tu as un Mercedes-Benz avec un chauffeur ?

- Non

- Moi, j’en ai. Tu as un appartement dans la rue Lavelle ?

- Non

- Moi, j’en ai. Tu as rendez-vous avec la fille au restaurant demain ?

- Non

- Moi, j’en ai. Alors…Na ! Na ! Na !

- Merde !

- Oui

- Merde de chien !

- Oui

- Merde de chat !

- Oui. La vie c’est une grande merde!

- Oui

- Au revoir ! Meilleure chance la prochaine fois.

- Au revoir !

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Perl's Script

Perl’s Script

Sample Chapters: XXXXXX

I started this book about six months ago, and it has just been completed. More or less.

This was planned as a Wodehousean humor novel (google for P.G.Wodehouse if you don’t know what the term means), but transposed to Bangalore and based in a typical software company. The final product is vaguely Wodehousean, in that it depends for its humor on wordplay and snappy cross-talk. The plot however is not really Wodehousean, because it relates the tale of Hari, a middle aged middle manager in an IT company (something like myself), who loses his job in the middle of a down turn and starts a web-development company. No earls, missing pigs and stolen amber statuettes here!

In the process of starting this company, he meets a lot of interesting customers, and most of the humor comes out of these interactions: A yoga guru, a condom kingpin, and a German R&D engineer. In stages, the company takes shape.

At some point, Perl enters his life as a business partner. She is extraordinary beautiful and super-competent. Hari falls deliriously in love with her. But he is married, and so is she. At this point the novel becomes faintly autobiographical and just a little bit mushy. The story of Hari and Perl is almost entirely fictional, but some of the emotions and experiences that Hari undergoes are inspired by my own feelings when I fell madly in love with someone. And Perl is VERY loosely based on the woman I loved. Some of the dialogs and events are also based on what had happened between us, but highly fictionalized. Writing about the fictional Perl was important to me personally, as it helped me get over my sense of loss, after my true love left me. I refer to this in another post (TRLGLLH)

Perl is very central to the book, and very important to me personally. Perl’s name is spelled Perl rather than Pearl for obvious reasons: as a play on the Perl scripting language, as this is a book about software developers. The title too is a very obvious play on the same thing.

In the second half, the book keeps teetering between mushiness and humor, and ends on a positive, humorous note. I personally think this mix, which is VERY un-Wodehousean, works well enough. Wodehouse, of course, avoided mush and sentimentality like the plague except in one or two notable exceptions like Heavy Weather, which is sentimental in patches.

A slight disappointment is the German section. When I was plotting the book, I was convinced there was a mine of humor waiting to be excavated in a German gearbox manufacturer. Unfortunately, when I started writing, I couldn’t produce any laugh-aloud comic moments out of it. But it has a kind of gentle underlying humor. After massaging those chapters, I bought in some loud humor using some standard Wodehousean devices, but it is still one of the slower sections. But on the whole, it is nice in other ways, and is critical to the plot, so I have left it in. I was anyway aiming for something a more than straight comedy, unlike Wodehouse. It is something between a straight comedy and literary fiction. Unlike Wodehouse, I hope to win the Booker prize someday J. Literary fiction wins Booker prizes; comedy doesn’t, unfortunately.

Be warned: there are lots and lots of sexual references in the book. VERY un-Wodehousean indeed. No sex scenes however. It is still straight humor, without obscenity or innuendos. It is just that I don’t cringe at talking openly about sex and bowl movements and other personal matters, and joking about it, unlike my mentor PGW.

Actually, even Wodehouse makes occasional references to sex. Two incidents I remember off-hand are firstly in “Pigs Have Wings”, where Beach the butler receives a photograph with the picture of a nude woman, which goes to Earl Emsworth by mistake, and there is some banter about sex. Secondly, in “Uncle Dynamite”, there is some cross-talk about strong silent men taming proud beauties with a flick of the hunting crop on the old spot, and Sally going around in the “nood”. Of course, in typical PGW fashion, it is done in an innocent and childlike manner.

Actually, my references are equally innocuous and childlike. The only difference between me and PGW is that he must have ten such incidents scattered amongst his entire oeuvre of ninety novels, and I probably have fifty such references in the course of a single novel. But my approach towards sex is basically the same as his, playful and childlike. This is not put-on; I genuinely share the same attitude. I consider sex as something pure and beautiful and innocent, and for the life of me cannot understand the nudge-nudge wink-wink furtive attitude towards sex of most of my fellow human beings. If you read TRLGLLH, you will understand my position, that it is the final beautiful culmination of the dance of Yin and Yang, which God has based the central design of the universe upon. But I am moving into the territory of my first book here.

The status today: I had set myself a target of 75000 words, and it is stuck at about 72500 words, and I have run out of plot. It is for all practical purposes complete, were it not for this artificial target that I have set myself. Actually, 72500 is also a fairly decent size.

I have already started sending it out to publishers and agents. The editor, if I am lucky enough to get one, will anyway ask me to make changes, and I can push it past 75000 at that stage.

The great thing about comedy is that you can massage existing dialogs indefinitely and pad the novel with additional incidental dialogs, and push it past any figure you want, as long as you can sustain the humor. Readers accept it in a comedy, and even expect it.

The hard thing about comedy is that it has to be, well, comic. And that requires moments of inspiration.

If I can get a publisher, I may be working on this book for another six months until the editor is satisfied. If I can’t, I will finish it as best as I can myself, and self-publish it. In this case, it should be done in another month or so. I couldn’t possibly work any more on it: I’m already starting to get fatigued and am looking forward to the next project.

Look in again in November/December 2006. It may be available for sale here at that time, if I decide to self-publish it. Until then, you can read the sample chapters.

Sample Chapters: XXXXXX

PS: If you are an agent or a publisher, and would like the full MS, or would like to like to get in touch with me for any other reason, please post a comment. Comments on this blog are moderated, I get to see them and choose if they are to be displayed. Naturally, I will treat such comments in confidence

The Raving Lunatics Guide to Life Love and Happiness

The Raving Lunatics Guide to Life Love and Happiness

TRLGLLH for short. Pronounced Trol-Gluh.

Sample Chapters: XXXXXX

This was a book I wrote two years ago (completed mid 2005). It was at the end of a very bad phase in my life. My mother died in a fire, and I felt alone for the first time in my life. My father died of lung cancer. I was having a series of disasters in my department at work, my wife divorced me, and I lost most of my money. The worst blow was when I fell desperately in love with a beautiful woman, who I thought was my true soul mate. I was convinced we knew each other from past lives. We had a short, brilliant, exuberant affair, which blew my mind to smithereens. After that she dumped me. It is always traumatic, getting dumped. Getting dumped by someone whom you love so desperately, after you connect so deeply, is an unbelievable nightmare. I attempted suicide a couple of times. I started thinking about life. About the core truth behind happiness and sadness. About the purpose of life. This book is the result of all that thinking.

Writing this book helped me overcome most of my trauma, and reading it should help anyone else who is depressed and suicidal. It still didn’t help me get over that girl. Writing my second book and my T-bird helped me do that. I have since managed to move on in life and grow spiritually, and this book doesn’t connect to me as deeply as it did two years ago. But I believe the vision I had at the time was a valid vision, and the book contains an essential truth. It is just that the vision has been ingrained into my psyche and lifestyle, and I take it for granted now. But it will be of use to others who have not reached this stage yet.

It doesn’t contain any simple formula or magic trick. It is just a different way of looking at life, and understanding what is really going on out there. Stuff which your priest or mullah or guru can’t tell you, and which a New-Age pseudo would rather tie you in knots with verbiage than tell you.

It is a kind of a New-Age spiritual, a vaguely Deepak Chopraish, Neal Donaldish kind of stuff, but with a humorous touch. It is written in plain English, without all that maddening mumbo-jumbo you get in New Age books. It is also cheeky and irreverent, and happily punctures all sorts of egos. It also has a lot of controversial ideas and statements and is completely politically incorrect: I hate any kind of hypocrisy and double standards. A lot of people are gonna get very annoyed with me when it comes out!

I discovered a surprising ability to draw nice cartoons, and I have drawn a funny cartoon to go with each chapter.

It also has bits of autobiography in it, so it is a very personal book, in some senses. It also has bits of creative writing, and most of it is written as a piece of literary prose, rather than as a preachy here-I-stand-on-a-pedestal-and-teach-you-lesser-mortals self-help book. I rather fancy myself as a novelist than a Deepak Chopra/Robin Sharma clone.

I like to think it doesn’t fit into any one genre, and straddles multiple genres like a big floppy indefinable ‘thing’.

Current Status: I am still trying to get it published. I have sent it to numerous Agents and publishers without much success. I still haven’t discovered what those weirdoes look for. I know I am saying it myself, but looking at the kind of junk that gets published nowadays, I can’t believe this stuff is not considered good enough. I’ll try for another few months and then self-publish it on or something. Come back in Dec 2006, you may be able to purchase it here as an e-book or as an on-demand book. Until then, you can read the sample chapters.

Sample Chapters: XXXXXX

PS: If you are an agent or a publisher, and would like the full MS, or would like to like to get in touch with me for any other reason, please post a comment. Comments on this blog are moderated, I get to see them and choose if they are to be displayed. Naturally, I will treat such comments in confidence

T-bird and I

In the beginning, there was fear, misery, a longing for things that could not be, a lack of direction and a sense of purpose in life. In a word: unhappiness, desolation, bafflement (OK that’s three words but we’ll let that go). God saw this misery, and God was moved. And God said, “Let there be T-bird”, and the heavens rumbled, and into the life of a wretched miserable son-of-a-whatnot in the fair village of Banguluru, by the sea of Muddywala, there appeared a glorious vision of flaming red, shining chrome, and thumping piston music, and his world was never the same again.

But seriously, my life has changed ever since my Thunderbird bought me (No, you don’t buy Thunderbirds, they buy you). The internet is full of purple passionate prose deifying this wondrous bike from the Enfield India stable, and all of it is true. So here I go, adding my bit to the anthology.

In my case, I guess the effect was a bit stronger, since I upgraded directly from an aging, battered Kinetic Honda to a Thunderbird. No disrespect to this old machine. It has faithfully and uncomplainingly carried me and my women for the last 15 years. Finally, the poor dear has started showing signs of age and has cylinder compression problems, in addition to gouts, arthritis and varicose veins. I had a choice between spending more on getting the piston retooled than I would get for selling it off second hand, or getting a new baby.

Now, something strange happens when you cross forty. You suddenly realize that life has passed you by, and you will soon die, and you haven’t got around to living yet. Suddenly you lose all fears and inhibitions and start living life the way you should have, in the first place, if you hadn’t been such an ass. I had always envied people riding powerful motorcycles, but had settled for a safe low-powered gearless scooter, as it was more ‘practical’ and ‘convenient’ and ‘easy to ride’. In reality, I was scared of the beast.

So, when it came to replacing my old girl, I decided, in line with my mid-life resolution to be courageous, to buy the biggest and beastliest beast the Indian market has to offer: namely, the aforementioned T-bird. Surprisingly, T-bird and I took to each other instantly. I got used to its powerful pick-up within fifteen minutes of getting on it, and I got used to the foot gears (which I used to have nightmares about) within half an hour. I was a little shame-faced about being afraid of something so easy, for so many years.

In a day, I was ready to let rip on the highways. Oh me God! What an experience. It was like floating on air. The other junk on the road (sorry, I mean the other cars, trucks, bullock carts and whatnots) just seemed to disappear lazily in the slipstream. The wind hit me like a solid wall and nearly lifted me off my seat. T-bird seemed to be stationary. It was the earth which seemed to be revolving under it. For the first time in my life, I found myself singing Steppenwolf’s “born to be wild”. I know that’s a bit of a cliché, but I finally realized what that song was all about. Especially that bit about ‘heavy metal thunder’.

Finally, I was in a position to pay back all those louts riding the 100CC wonders that flood the Indian market, who had for years sneered at me riding my old scooter. Did I do it? No. To whom the T-bird has come, the wretches riding Hero Hondas, TVS’s and the other 100CC junk are non-people. One does not see them, they blur into the background.

Did my life change? Yes it did. Suddenly, I stopped obsessing about women, and crying at nights about the girl who dumped me. I stopped worrying about being insulted by my boss. Suddenly, women were immaterial. Bosses were immaterial. Work was immaterial. When I was with my T-bird, there was just the two of us. The world did not exist. When I was not with my T-bird, I dreamt about it. It fulfilled every need I ever had.

Is T-bird male or female? It is difficult to say. It looks beautiful, gorgeous, curvy: prettier than the most exciting woman I have ever known. On the other hand, it is also a macho beast. I used to call my old Kinetic Honda Ol’Girl, and she liked it. I tried calling T-bird Swee-Baby and hugging it, and T-bird did not like it one bit. Every time I referred to it by that name while riding, or entertained any passionate thoughts about it, T-bird hit back by stalling, skidding or nearly ramming into someone. I have changed to a safely asexual Ol’Buddy, and T-bird does not seem to mind that. I also avoid having any amorous thoughts while riding, and we get along fine. Of course, once T-bird is parked in the garage and I am safe in bed, I am free to think romantic thoughts about T-bird. T-bird hasn’t yet learnt to climb the stairs, open the door to my apartment and give me a biff on the head. Not yet. One day it might.

I do know I’ve stopped having sexual fantasies about women since T-bird came. Does that say more about T-bird’s gender or my sexual predilections?

Only one real disappointment. When I was buying the bike, I had this vague vision of long rides with babes in the great outdoors, or what passes for it around Bangalore. Till date: nary a babe. Haven’t managed to get a single babe to ride it yet. There was this special friend I really wanted to take for a ride. Just one ride. One little itty-bitty ride, to sort-of inaugurate it properly. I begged, I wheedled, I sulked, I cajoled. Nope, she wouldn’t even touch it, far from riding on it. She only deigned to look at it from a safe distance of three feet, and said, in a flat kinda voice, “nice bike”.

I thought it would be a babe magnet. I do get lots of envious looks from other people when I stop at the red lights (yes, once in a while even a T-bird has to stop at a red light), from the other sods riding Hero Honda and the ilk. All male. Babes don’t even look at it. Once in a while they look at me, when I’m wearing a nice shirt and the beard is trimmed. At me, never at T-bird. I’ve come to the conclusion that all women are daft and we men are crazy to spend so much time tormenting ourselves about them. We all need a T-bird in our life.

One little grouse. There is a silly little sticker on the petrol tank saying “you are riding a 100 year old legend”, that stares you in the face all the time. All right, already!! We all KNOW we are riding a legend. You don’t have to rub it in, in this crass fashion. It spoils the whole effect. I hope the sticker drops off on its own some day. I’m afraid of trying to remove it, in case the paint gets scratched. Please Enfield, stop putting this silly marketing sticker on our T-birds.

I do hope too many people don’t read this blog and go out and buy a T-bird. First of all, you can’t do it. A T-bird has to decide to buy you. A T-bird comes to you only when you are mentally and spiritually ready for it. If you want a T-bird to come to you, meditate, do yoga, and learn to be kind to small furry creatures and little homeless children.

More importantly, we like being a small exclusive club. It would be so sad if T-birds became as ubiquitous as those ghastly Hero Honda’s and Bajaj Pulsars. That would end the dream. Of course, the bean counters at Enfield’s Madras office might love it.

If you expected a technical review of Thunderbird, I guess you would be disappointed with this post. I am supposed to be some sort of an engineer, but at heart I am a poet and all technical specs are dross. The only thing that is important to me is that T-bird is my mysterious magic carpet that has bought happiness back to me. If you are an aficionado of tech specs, you can do no better than to go to the Thunderbird web-site:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Hello World

Like a good software programmer, I start my blog with a hello world posting!


I am 42, a Software Programmer turned manager turned writer. I have written two books (A humorous Novel and a funny spiritual) and have started a third. I also plan to undertake freelance contract writing.

In this blog, I plan to talk about my writing carreer, provide synopsis and samples of my work, and write humorous sketches on topics that interest me.

more later...