Monday, September 28, 2020

The Challenges Faced by an Author


Editing is perhaps the most challenging of all activities in the life of an author. Once the author realises that the story is complete, she is ready to set up a scaffold of indifference towards whatever comes up in the manuscript. Although one, has assuredly enough written the draft, it is out of one's control to face the words and lines that come up in the reading process. 


The reading process endows its inbuilt challenges upon the author. The act of reading what one has written is often a process full of wonders- wondering who wrote these lines or, wondering when I wrote this crap. 


Those authors who are experienced in their craft know that only a scaffold of indifference can help us. First, they stand upon this scaffold and then observe the writing with a degree of distance and with an ample dose of indifference. Whatever comes up in this manuscript, I don't bother appreciating or criticising the author of this stuff. 


This indifference can be identified with that earlier form of abstinence or ascetic zeal that we often read about in mythologies. 


The first step in an editing process is reading the manuscript, which is always a process, filled with wonders, let me repeat. 


If you are wondering why I am, suddenly coming back to one of the oldest questions that my blog dealt with in the past, the answer is that I am editing the new anthology that I am publishing. 


The title of the said anthology is not revealed yet. It will be soon. 


So what do you think is the second stage in the editing process? Do let me know in the comments below.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

How I Successfully Remained Unnoticeable?

When you are reading this title, you might even think that I am referring to my personal life. Those who know me personally are bound to think on those lines. If you are not thinking in those lines, then it’s certain that you don’t know me enough. Before moving further with this post, please subscribe to this blog by using your email id. I assure you that it will be worth it because you’ll get all the updates first hand. 

About getting noticed or grabbing people’s attention, I never had a real problem. This is because I am taller than the average Indian. Even if I am standing in a crowd, you might notice me from a distance. I am six feet two. 

The story that I am going to tell you is not about one of those occasions when you’d have discovered me in a crowd. This is about the post that I made on my Instagram page a couple of days ago. 

I went to Mattannur, a municipality which neighbours Kannur International Airport with my father a couple of days ago. My visit was mostly necessitated by the need for a vehicle for my father to travel. My father wanted to do an important business there. So he asked me if I could drive him. I was all for it as the day was getting weary and certain matters were getting on my nerves. 

The driving felt like a fresh splash of water on my face. Once we were in Mattannur, my father got off near the bus stand. I had to wait for him for the next thirty minutes. I went ahead and looked for a parking space. On the Mattannur- Iritty road, I found a place marked as “Car Parking by Mattannur Municipality”. It felt like a first of its kind step by the Municipality. Mattannur town always struggled to find enough space for vehicle parking and long traffic snarl-ups were a recurring reality, especially when the planes were flying. 

The car parking board was a relief. I found a space there. I had seen a newly opened bakery nearby as I was pulling over. I decided I would go there and see if there was anything I could buy for my nephew. 

As I was about to open the door, the noise intensified. A bunch of street dogs surrounded my vehicle. One of them went under the WagonR that stood in front of me. The rest of the dogs that followed him started a ruckus that made me jump. There were many. It was an intimidating scene, with their bare teeth and eyes full of rage.

I made an Instagram video to tell my friends about it. I couldn’t show the dogs in it. So I thought I would write a blog post about the incident. Here it is!

The biggest challenge was to let go of the desire to purchase something. I had to remain in my vehicle. When the dogs changed their location slightly, the owner of the WagonR came back and drove the car away. 

I saw that the dog was still hiding underneath the car. A swarm of dogs surrounded that one just as the car drove away. As he ran for another cover, the other dogs followed. I couldn’t make sense of the event. Perhaps, it was an initiation ceremony or some form of concerted attack. 

Until I returned from the parking space, the fear of dogs lingered in me. 

My Instagram link: 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Buying Groceries and Poverty Line: The Life of Someone Above the Poverty Line

Have you read all the other posts about my day out after Onam to do Three Tasks? These three tasks are included in four blog posts, which is a single long post that I broke into four parts for the less patient lot of you. 

One is here

Two is here

Three is here

Before reading the fourth part Subscribe to my blog by using the box to the right. Give your email id so that all new updates and the latest information regarding the many necessities of life shall be delivered directly to you, first hand through your email inbox!


Distribution of Kerala's free Onam kit to begin on Thursday | Kerala News |  Manorama

There are Alternative and Allopathic medicine centres that give free treatment and supply free medicines to the public, irrespective of your social class. 


After waiting for about half an hour, the ration shop keeper was able to distribute the kits. Between seeing the kits with our eyes and receiving them, there were several phone calls that the shopkeeper placed to some officials in the government to update their system with the number of kits received. This was because everything has to run through the database of the supply chain. Satisfactory it was and worth the wait, when I received the bulky free kit in a white cloth bag, with a coconut oil pack served separately along with the bag. I presume that the kits that were supplied in our ration shops did not have the coconut oil inside the cloth bag. The ration shop people added the coconut oil additionally to the pack.  


The third reason for getting out on the road on the day was to go for some grocery shopping. It doesn’t mean that the free grocery kit from the ration shop wasn’t enough for me. I needed some other items that were not in the kit, like rice. So I went to the nearby town of Chalode. The car was still burning like an oven. It was parked under the sun for a long time near the ration shop. 


By the time I reached home, I was tired, but the VPP and the free kit was enough to cheer up my spirit. So even though the body was tired, my mind was in high spirits. 


I hope you also received your free Onam Kit. I heard some people criticize that Onam Kits are being distributed after Onam. It is true. But it’s free and it looks like it’s good quality material. Does it matter anymore, now that it is being served and is fulfilling the purpose? The beneficiaries of the kit differ in the categorization of social class based on income. Based on the type of ration cards many others have already received the kits before Onam. That’s condescending for me to say that. But these categorizations are based on some census data, I think, which might not always reveal the truth about our financial matters. For example, even though my family owns a white ration card (Above the Poverty Line, according to the government), I was bankrupt during the COVID-19 lockdown period, which means even now. The money that I used to buy groceries is borrowed money. So you can imagine the reality behind the different kinds of ration cards. 


If you received your Free Onam Kit, please comment YES below. 


Subscribe to my blog using your email id. Write it in the box on the right side of the blog. Every blog post and update will be delivered to your email inbox for free. You’ll be notified of all the adventures, first hand. 


Stay safe. 


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Comment if you like this post. 

Onam Free Kit in Detail: See what Happened!

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Ration sugar will not be so sweet any more in Tamil Nadu - The Hindu

I moved towards the bottle of gum. The bottle of gum in post offices is well known in India to have adhesive qualities only slightly better than pure water. So I hesitantly took the gum with an old pen sticking out of the bottleneck. To my utter surprise, the gum looked great. I pasted the opening of the cover using the gum and it worked.  


If it is my ignorance that caused me the confusion regarding the sealing of the cover in Book Post VPP and if you know the details about this service, please comment below so that others reading this might be able to make use of the information. 


I came out of the post office and went to the ration shop near the locality. It was also the day when food kits for Onam festival were delivered at the ration shop. It was the free Onam food kit for ‘White ration cardholders’. 


A big supply of the said food kit had just arrived and the information regarding the number of kits was to be updated in the distribution software. The shopkeeper told me to wait until his machine is updated. I waited in front of the shop with a couple of others. The free Onam kit was the second reason I went out on that day. 


In Kerala, you get a lot of free stuff, that includes food. The state of Kerala basks in the somewhat utopian spirit of socialism in its cultural outlook. The Free Onam Kit was sponsored by the government of Kerala and it contained eleven items from packed coconut oil to Pappadam, the wafer that Keralited eat with any feast. For a small family, the items would suffice to eat lavishly for at least one week. 


If you are not from Kerala and visited the state in the past, you might have noticed that in restaurants, small or big, you’ll get free drinking water. This would be good quality, boiled water, in most cases, depending on the total hygiene of the restaurant in consideration. This is one of the examples of how the state of Kerala implements the distribution of goods in public. This ideal is blended with the spirit of the ordinary people, rather than being a political ideology. 


India Post Tracking: Sending a Book as VPP

Hi there, welcome back to the continuation of the previous post. If you have not subscribed to my blog, please do so by using your email id in the box to the right of the blog. You will get all notification in your email inbox. Comment below if you have any questions. 

Following TNIE reportage India Post says bugs being fixed, extra security  layer added- The New Indian Express

VPP means Value Payable Post. It’s a service to send goods run by the Indian Postal Service. Here is a link that you can use to read about this service and make the best use of it if you are in India. For authors and publishers, this service is a boon when Amazon, Flipkart and other service providers are not performing up to their best.,the%20agency%20of%20the%20Post


Sending a VPP necessitated me to go to the post office. In the past, when I attempted this service the postmaster told me that I shouldn’t seal the cover. I had the book covered with good packing material and it was tightly sealed with duct tape. Following the postmaster’s advice, I removed the duct tape and placed the book in the cover without sealing it while sending it as VPP Book Post. The advantage for a Book Post is that it cost a meagre amount on stamp duty. 


Armed with the experience of sending a book post and VPP I went to the post office this time, excited at the prospect of selling a copy of my book. The postmaster was busy beyond what I had ever seen in my post office. I waited for him to finish that work. Two gentlemen were also waiting to get it finished. The postmaster spoke to them about something that I didn’t understand. It was the business of the two gentlemen there. I kept my distance from them while making sure the address on the pack was correct. 


When my turn came, the postmaster asked me to also write the from-address on the cover. In my excited hurry, I had defenestrated the necessities required by the postal department to carry my message across to the other person. So I filled the from-address and waited. He asked me to seal the cover, pointing towards a bottle of gum. 


I confirmed the instruction by asking him a second time, “should I seal the cover?” 


“Yes, you should,” he said. 


Free Onam Kit 2020: Tons of Free Groceries

 In Kerala, You Get Tons of Free Stuff and that Include Food


The other day, I went out. It’s a pandemic situation. The good angel in my mind kept warning me that it was not safe to go out on a random day without a solid reason. I had solid reasons. Yes, not just one but three solid reasons. But before I tell you what transpired, subscribe to my blog and comment if you are new here with a solid “HI”. I hope you understand when I talk about “going out” as if it's a matter of life and death. The pandemic situation is not just a regional problem, the frames of references overlapping across cultures and regions. 


After the COVID-19 pandemic struck us all like a lightning bolt out of the blue, we had gone into hiding in self-imposed exile. No one can prepare you for the end of the world, or the end of anything, for that matter. It comes and takes you by surprise. 


With my day job at a total loss of sensibility and finances (that's all I can say about it right now), I was hoping that people would now start reading Ebooks more than before in India as everything was now going online. Online classes and online teaching are now vogues. So I was hoping that digital books would soar in sales. My publisher also pushed my faith in this direction. We were all hoping that the losses incurred by the lack of sales in paperback books would be somehow covered “miraculously” by the sales number of ebooks. However, to tell you the truth, ebooks always sell at lower prices and the margins would therefore be very less. We put some of my books on Google Play Store. My book Don't Stare into Magic is doing good there. But it is a free ebook. So I get no income out of selling it. 


In these exhausting circumstances, I got an order for one of my print books from a nearby place. A stranger called me one day and asked if I had a copy. I had to concentrate on my memory to recollect that I had copies of the book at home. The person said that he came to know about my books through a WhatsApp group that we were members in. He asked me to send the book to him via VPP. 


If you want to read all the posts in continuation, go to the links below:

part 2

part 3

part 4

Monday, September 7, 2020

Mammootty Age

Those who are familiar with the grand spectacle of Malayalam cinema celebrate this day for a particular reason. 

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The Indian Commentator

Today, 7 September 2020 people who are familiar with the grand spectacle of Malayalam cinema celebrate the birthday of Mammootty, the person they call the Megastar. 

There is a reason why he is called the Megastar. His films haven’t exhausted their capacity to put us in awe, thanks mostly to his acting skills and the earth-shaking looks he renders while on screen. 

The first Mammootty film I watched was “Oru Vadakkan Veeragaatha”. That was when I was studying in my first standard. My sister was just a year or two. We watched the film from Mattannur, now a municipality, near Kannur International Airport. 

In Pics: Age is just a number for superstar Mammootty | Hindi Movie News -  Times of India

It was a feast for my young imagination. The warrior riding on horseback was the hero of my frontier fantasies. It was Mammootty, who portrayed the protagonist, Chandu. With M T Vasudevan Nair’s screenplay and storytelling prowess, Hariharan, the director created Magic on screen. 

Mammootty is the favourite Malayalam film star for my parents too. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we went out with our whole family to Mattannur to watch his then-latest release Shylock. It was a feast for those who carry the fascination for Mammootty in their veins. 

Back in the days when I watched  “Oru Vadakkan Veeragaatha”, Mattannur was just a small town. We watched Shylock in a multiplex theatre with earth-shaking sound and visual quality, in a small town that was ready to be the centre of all attraction in North Kerala with the arrival of the airport. 

Times change, and it changes fast. My sister and I grew up, just like the town of Mattannur. 

Mammootty evolved too. His films carry the many polarities of Kerala culture. If you are not from Kerala and want to study about the state and its culture, I recommend you to watch all Mammootty films back to back. His work still amazes and entertain audiences and exhaust film historians, and it’s a long career too. Some may call this the Mammootty Age of Malayalam cinema, due to this reason. 

Let’s wish him a happy birthday. He was born on 7 September 1951, a year after India became a democratic republic. 

Share your birthday wishes to Megastar Mammookka, as his fans would love to address him, in the comment box below. We will share the link of your comments with Mammookka on his twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. 

VIRAL PIC] Mammootty shares 'work from home' selfie; fans comment, 'Age is  nothing for Mammookkaa'

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Online Classes and the End of the World


Hi there. I am here to tell you that life on earth as we know it has changed. 

Change is transformation. But every time something transforms, it is either for the best or the worst. There would be those with the middle ground too- people affected with not much harm or not much comfort

One of the changes in the COVID-19 infected world is that we went online for everything. Teaching, being my day job, occupies the majority of my concerns when I am online. Unfortunately, that meant only one thing- my writing life suffered. I didn’t get enough time to spend on my passion or hobbies and also heard my colleagues complain about not having enough time to spend with their family. 

Because I spent more time online, just like my colleagues, I stumbled upon a video interview by Dr Sashi Tharoor. In that video, he narrated a funny incident from a meeting that he attended in some school. One of the students asked him which new word would he want them to learn that day. To that question, Dr Tharoor answered that the word he wanted them to study that day was “read”, so that they can read new books and learn new words by themselves, without having anyone to teach them new vocabulary. Perhaps online teaching necessitated all of us teachers to relocate ourselves to the digital space. This need not force us to defenestrate reading, the good old alchemy-formula for having a stimulating intellectual life. 

Reading can take a number of different forms since books are now accessible in different formats and readers are willing to try those different formats. It’s a time to pause and think for both students and teachers alike. 

Another piece of thought that is not as complacent as reading books is finding online teaching jobs. Some of us teachers are presently employed at physical institutions like colleges and schools. We are in the online English teaching job because of a certain change in the situation. Mind you, here comes the word- change. The transformation from an assistant professor in the college campus to a teacher of online classes is difficult to digest for some of us and we expect to see the situation change back to what we usually thought to be “normal”. This means that an online teaching job from home is not what we signed up for. 

Being forced to do something is always painful, more than expected. There are two forms of online teaching- synchronous and asynchronous online teaching. Synchronous online teaching means those live classes we attend to. Asynchronous online teaching means the recorded classes that we receive from teachers, which are previously recorded in audio or video format. 

When the educational system transformed into an invisible collapse that only a few sensed, parents came into our radar for showing the responsibility for their offsprings’ well being. How many of the parents are getting involved in their children’s online classes?  

Parental involvement has become more important in education than at any other time. In the system before the COVID-19, it was information that was traded in classrooms. Now it’s data. The information has taken the form of data that reaches students. It becomes the responsibility of the student to use the data they receive from the online teachers to put to the best use possible. They can use that data to improve their skills, to personal development, and a plethora of other purposes. However, in some cases, they cannot do it on their own. Distractions are abundant in the farrago of the online learning context. In the ensuing confusion, parental care will be crucial in guiding the student safely through the many layers of data during the online classes, the end of the world as we know it. 

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