The Novel Challenge

I’ve always loved to write. The inexplicable joy of reading your own writing a few months down the line while shaking your head in disbelief is reason enough for me.

My biggest literary undertaking began a couple of months ago when I decided to take part in the NaNoWriMo challenge. I wasn’t able to get anywhere near finishing it, but the process was a hoot-and-a-half. With encouragement from some awesome people(you know who you are!), I was able to get a miniscule portion of that story inside me, outside me, and onto the never-ending digital expanse of my word editor. Now, how’s that for imagery?

So, I give to you, humbly(with bowed head and everything) – the first chapter. Please, please, please, let me know what you think. I’ll post the second chapter next week(cue gasps!) if enough people think it’s any worth their time:

The Search

The Search

“I’m afraid there aren’t any Chefs available on such short notice” said the restaurant manager to the eager gentleman.

“Not even one?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, Sir. Not even one.”

“But I’m desperate! I really need a chef for my book!”

“Pardon me, did you say you needed one for your book?”

“Yeah, I’m writing a book – a novel if you please, which takes an in-depth look into a chef’s life gone awry. It’s gonna make me millions! Since I don’t know anything about chefs, I thought it would be nice to do a bit of research on them. You know how any writer worth his salt is supposed to research his characters to make his writing more believable? It’s called ‘getting under the skin of the character’–”

“Get out!” screamed the manager.

“Excuse me?”

“You want to hire a ‘Grandioso’ chef- one who is sought after by the biggest restaurateurs in the business, for some lousy two-bit book? It’s preposterous!”

“What? It’s not like I won’t pay him. In fact, he can have one percent of the royalties from the book sales, and an honourable mention in the book, although I can’t guarantee that I’ll use his real name. Makes it seem more mysterious, you know?”

“Security!”

“I’m going! I’m going!”

As he walked away, Vikram was still as determined as ever to get his writing career off the ground. He believed that he had found the easiest gimmick to get rich quickly – a writer was always only one best-seller away from becoming a billionaire, after all. And even though he didn’t know much about writing, he believed that ‘researching the character’ was absolutely essential. And since he was writing a mystery trilogy with a chef as its protagonist, he needed a chef!

Vikram looked around as he prodded on towards the bus stop. The street was chock-a-block with fancy restaurants with glass windows. His eyes lit up as he saw a sign on one such window. “Kitchen Help Wanted”, it read.

That amounts to a front row seat to a Chef’s performance, Vikram thought. What better place to observe a chef than in his kitchen.

“I hope you have the requisite experience for the position?” the manager asked him after the preliminaries were complete.

“I can boil eggs.” Vikram ventured.

“You’ve studied cooking at college, of course?”

“I boiled eggs when I was at college.” replied Vikram.

“I’m sorry, but you’re unsuitable–” the manager was interrupted midway by a voice from behind the kitchen door.

”Send him in,” the voice said.

“But Caesar, he doesn’t have the skills or the expe–” the manager began, but was
stopped yet again.

“Just send him in!”

“You heard the boss.” The manager shook his head and pointed Vikram towards the kitchen.

Vikram opened the kitchen door and walked in to see a man in a Chef’s hat chopping some vegetables on a slab. He strode out towards him and stuck out his hand in greeting.

“Hi, I’m Vikram. I saw your want ad outside and–”

“Tell me Vikram, can you boil eggs?”

“Done it all my life.”

“You’re hired,” Caesar said quickly.

Vikram scrutinized the kitchen. It was rectangular in shape and had cabinets at one end and washbasins at the other. A large marble slab encircled a pillar in the centre of the room where the major cooking-related activities seemed to take place. A bunch of wires were plugged into a switchboard near the washbasins. The other end of the wires vanished under a door to the side.

“Where is the rest of the staff?” Vikram enquired, looking around at the empty kitchen.

“What staff?” Caesar said distantly. He seemed to be busy scribbling in a small notebook he had just taken out.

“The cooking staff. You couldn’t possibly run a restaurant kitchen with just two people, can you?”

“Oh, we manage to get by.” His scribbling intensified.

“How?” asked a bewildered Vikram.

“I suppose I’d better tell you all.”

Caesar walked across the room to the door and opened it. Vikram followed him and peered inside with anticipation.

Vikram tried to make sense of what Caesar was pointing at, but all he could see in the room was a bed. A pretty bed. A pretty pink bed covered with yellow polka dots. A pretty pink bed covered with yellow polka dots that was nailed to the ceiling. He was about to utter a bunch of words in Caesar’s direction, mostly beginning with ‘wh-‘, but he had to stop himself. It had come to his sudden notice that the bed had turned into a human form and had floated down to face him. Caesar thought for a moment, decided that no answer from Caesar would be good enough for him at this point, and promptly fainted.

When Vikram came to, he found himself lying on a bed in an unfamiliar room. He tried to recollect how he got there. He looked down at the bed and thought that it reminded him of something but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He shrugged his shoulders and closed his eyes to go back to sleep. After all, he was tired and the bed was really comfortable. It wasn’t just comfortable, he thought, it was in fact the most comfortable bed he had ever slept on. He was making a mental note to go and seek out the owner post-nap and find out where he could buy himself one, when he remembered.

Caesar heard the loud shriek followed by the even louder banging on the guest room door. He allowed himself a little smile before turning to his companion. “He’s up. Let’s get ourselves introduced.”

His companion floated mistily to the drawing room door and waited patiently as Caesar opened the door and asked Vikram to calm down. He wondered if Vikram would be able to help Caesar out. But then he remembered the others that had come before him. This would end the same way too, he thought. Horribly.

“Morphy, meet Vikram. Vikram, meet Morphy,” Caesar said with every bit of nonchalance he could muster. He always enjoyed these first meetings.

“What is tha-that thing?” squeaked Vikram, as he pointed an accusing finger at Morphy.

“He’s an alien. And stop pointing, it’s rude.” Caesar slapped Vikram’s hand down.

“Nice to meet you, Vikram,” said Morphy.

“Uh,likewise,” was all Vikram could manage to splutter out.

“Maybe you should sit down.”

Vikram looked at the bed nervously.

“Don’t worry, that one’s just a plain old regular bed.” Caesar chuckled.

Reluctant, Vikram sat on the bed. I won’t able to trust any beds for a while, he thought, but was immediately conscious of what an absurd fear that was and tried to compose himself. He looked up at the alien and studied him properly for the first time. Morphy wasn’t very tall, in fact he was probably a few inches shorter than him. He had an perfect, round face and an even more perfect spherical nose to complement it. The other ‘human’ features were pretty run-of-the-mill too. He was dressed in a simple but smart striped t-shirt and long oxymoronic shorts. Morphy could almost have passed as one of us, Vikram thought, if he didn’t have just one eye. Of course, there was also the small matter of his skin being pink and yellow polka dotted and the fact that he can float.

Vikram was trying to sift through his limited encounters with science-fiction novels to remember whether Martians were supposed to be green or pink, when his thoughts were interrupted by Caesar.

“Let me try to tell you all. Again. Please try not to pass out this time.”

“It all started on April 20th, 2054. It was a bright and stormy night. With a full moon which was the cause of the brightness. I think I also saw a shooting star or two go by. Great set up, right?” Caesar began.

Vikram nodded.

“Yes, it was. I should have known something big was going to happen to me that night. I was engrossed in perfecting my signature recipes when I heard something crash… wait, this doesn’t feel right. A story like this deserves to be told–nay, experienced–better! Morphy, prepare the time machine! We’ll let Vikram see the events as they transpired that night in their full glory: in person.”

“I’m afraid the Sinetransmorgodor, or what you call the ‘time machine’, did not survive the milkshake incident. And since I cannot contact my planet anymore, the only recourse for us is to wait until your people invent inter-planetary travel so that I can ask the manufacturers to deliver the spare parts here.”

“How long will it take for us to invent it again?” Caesar asked with hopeful eyes.

“The same time as when I told you last. Five hundred and twenty-four more years.” Morphy said, glowering at Caesar. Vikram couldn’t help thinking that it was an impressive feat to achieve so effectively with a solitary eye.

“Don’t look at me like that! How was I to know that your alien technology is so susceptible to milk-based drinks? And why don’t they have a service centre in this part of the solar system? They’re the people you should be mad at!” said Caesar.

“You guys have a time machine?” Vikram asked.

“Where were we?” said Caesar, changing the subject. “Ah yes, the crash. It wasn’t very loud. I don’t think anyone except me heard it. I went to the back of the restaurant to investigate anyway. I opened the rear door to a sight out of a science-fiction movie. The entire area was covered in smoke and there was a small crater in the backyard. In the middle of that crater, lay what looked like a spaceship – black, orb-shaped, with smoke coming out of its various crevices.”

“It was a spaceship,” Morphy interjected.

“I’m telling it. Let me tell it my way!”

“All right. Go ahead.”

“In the middle of the crater was a spaceship,” continued Caesar while scowling at Morphy. “and before I could do anything, a small door slid open on one side, and a mysterious misty figure stumbled out of it.” Caesar paused for effect.

“It was me,” said Morphy.

“Why did you have to ruin it? Why?” thundered Caesar.

“It’s okay. I kinda guessed it was him anyway. Please continue.” Vikram tried to calm him down.

“Anyone else in my position might have been scared on seeing an alien walk up to them, but I stood my ground. He looked and walked kind of funny – in a sinister manner.” Caesar continued.

“I had just crash landed on an alien planet after travelling for days, maybe even months. I was tired and disoriented.” said Morphy.

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get your antennae in a bunch.”

“I don’t have antennae! Are you blind? I’ve warned you about the stereotyping before. If you do that again, I’ll–”

“What happened next?” Vikram intervened before the argument could escalate any further.

“I asked E.T. here where he came from. At which point he mumbled something incoherent and passed out. I had to drag his scrawny alien body inside and wait for him to come to. I kept expecting a knock on the restaurant door from someone in the government or the neighbouring establishments, but no one came. Luckily it was almost closing time and I didn’t have any customers to worry about.”

“By that logic, it’s always closing time here.” Morphy winked at Caesar, or he may have just blinked his eye. It was hard for Vikram to tell.

Caesar pretended not to hear the jibe and continued. “When he finally came to, after zoning out for a few hours, I tried to find out where he was from and what he was doing here. I was surprised to find that he could understand and speak English pretty well and–”

“It’s not that hard. My planet’s language had one million, five hundred and twenty eight thousand, three-hundred and twenty-eight consonants and vowels at last count. And I’m sure a few hundred thousand must have been added since I’ve lost contact. I was easily able to master hundreds of your languages, if you can call them that, during the journey.” Morphy said. “Oh, and I wasn’t mumbling incoherently before I passed out, that was Kannada – I was very well prepared.”

“You learned English and Kannada and hundreds of other languages during the journey. Right. That is, if you remember that part of the journey correctly, and I doubt you do.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Vikram.

“He says that because he’s a jerk, and also because I seem to be suffering from what you call short-term memory loss. I suspect it may be because of something that happened during the journey, but I can’t be sure.”

“Oh, how bad is it?” asked Vikram.

“He can’t even remember why he came to our planet.”

“All I remember is that I’m on an extremely confidential mission and my presence must not be detected at any cost. At any cost whatsoever.”

Vikram felt a small shiver down his spine as he heard that even though there wasn’t a hint of malice evident on Morphy’s face.

“You still haven’t answered my original question.” Vikram turned to Caesar.

“Ah, yes. How do we manage without any staff, you ask? We manage because no customer has set foot in this restaurant for weeks. Not since that cretin, Lily Legume, wrote that scathing review of my restaurant in her Bestaurant Guide.” Caesar clenched his fists. “Oh, how I despise that woman.”

“But, if there aren’t any customers, why did you hire me? How do I fit into all this?”

“Very snugly, Vikram. Very snugly.”

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

Please share the post using the links below if you like it, so that it can reach a wider audience, and I can get some more valuable feedback. Or don’t, you’ve already done more than your share by reading this post till the end and giving me your feedback – you have given me your feedback, right? 🙂 Thanks!

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DKIA: Wooing a girl with poetry and a lesson in airplane safety

Welcome to yet another edition of Dear Know-it-all(DKIA) – the place where I heal the world one question at a time. Our first question today comes from a lucky someone who’s found his soulmate but is a tad apprehensive about how to approach her:

Dear Know-it-all,

I’m in love. I knew that she was the one as soon as I landed on her Facebook profile. She was a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend. It was like we were meant to be together. The other three women I was stalking on Twitter and Foursquare paled in comparison. I knew that I couldn’t just send her any old introductory message. So, I toiled, and I toiled and then I toiled some more, then slept for a while, and then there was some more toiling until I came up with this:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I wanna makes,
Fraanship with you.

What do you think?

– Desperately hers

Dear desperately hers,

I must confess that I like your style. There are only two ways to woo a girl – the way of the gentleman and the way of the creep. I like how you’ve honed in on the latter perfectly. Let’s face it, it’s much less work. Imagine bending down to lay your jacket in every Bangalore puddle you come across in this rain! And let’s not forget those skyrocketing dry cleaning bills.

I love the poem. Just one minor bit of feedback – violets aren’t really blue, they’re violet.

Ah, true love! I’m always happy to help it along. Our second question was called-in via phone by someone who has complete disregard for the law:

Dear Know-it-all,

I am currently travelling from Mumbai to Delhi by air for the first time. Midway into the flight, the pilot started telling us about the weather outside and the route that he was going to take. A quick check on my phone(luckily I had the required maps offline because it failed to connect to the internet) revealed that it was a very roundabout way of getting there. I quickly waved the air-hostess over with my phone and asked her to tell the pilot to turn the plane around. She stared at me with a look of horror, screamed something about it being every man for himself and jumped out of the plane with her parachute.  Now one emergency landing later, I find myself alone in the plane and the authorities seem to be on their way.  So, I’m calling you to ask what just happened?

– flying newbie

Dear flying newbie,

This’ll teach you to pay attention to the air-hostess when she makes her safety announcements. Studies have shown that mobile phones in airplanes are the biggest cause of airplane crashes, way ahead of pilots doing wheelies after playing beer pong and the riots resulting from the airline running out of vegetarian meals. I hope they lock you up and throw away the key.

Such irresponsible behaviour always gets under my skin!

Well, that’s it for another edition of DKIA, try not to do anything stupid before I return. And if you do, please keep it to yourselves.

 

Technorati code: EHWYV9NWMB74

Dear Know-it-all – Summarising Shakespeare’s comedies and the perils of eloping

Hi there. Welcome to yet another edition of Dear know-it-all. The column where I try to pretend to give a damn about your various ‘problems’. Luckily, I’m getting pretty good at it. The first question for today is something I often wonder about, before going to sleep everyday too:

Dear know-it-all,

What is the gist of all of Shakespeare’s comedies? Please summarize in 300 words.

– it’s due tomorrow

Dear it’s due tomorrow,

Look under your bed for me, will you? See that brown paper bag? Pick it up. There should be an envelope inside that. Found it? Good. Now open it with your hands. Yes, it’s empty. But wait a little while.

Just a little longer.

A little more.

That should be long enough. Do you feel a sharp pain in your palms? Yeah, that’s because of the poison the envelope was laced with. You have 20 minutes to reach the hospital. Good luck.

Oh, and never send me your homework questions. It upsets me.

P.S.: You have a nice house.

P.P.S.: Don’t use your car. I think you have four flat tires. And the brake fluid may be missing.

He’ll be okay. The hospital is only 19 minutes away from his place. The next question comes from a woman with a sadly all-too-common yet heart-wrenching story:

Dear know-it-all,

I’ve been in a relationship with my friendly neighbourhood druglord for the last 3 years. He is also from a different caste and community. We had decided to elope last week after confessing our love to my parents. Imagine my shock when my parents accepted my boyfriend with open arms.  I had planned the elopement with great detail and was looking forward to the excitement, drama and controversy. The airline refused to refund my bookings too. How could my parents do this to me? What should I do next?

– nowhere to run

Dear nowhere to run,

My thoughts are with you at this difficult time. I know how much effort goes into planning and organizing a successful elopement. Parents sometimes forget how it feels to be young and in love. I would advise you to try and highlight your boyfriend’s various vices to them at any given opportunity and hope that they eventually come around. It would help if he can show them the impact that he has on society every single day. These things take time though and will require you to be patient. If all else fails, you should contact the local branch of your city’s moral police and ask them to intervene. They will surely help turn your parents/society against you two. All the best and do keep us posted.

It’s such a shame that this kind of stuff still happens in our country in this day and age. Oh well, that’s it for another edition of Dear know-it-all. It’s always a pleasure to answer your questions. Please keep sending them in. Remember, we only accept telegrams now.

Dear Know-it-all – The accent and changes to RTI

It’s time for another edition of your beloved column. Let’s face it, you can’t really do without me. I should probably check to see if I can claim this column as a tax deduction under 80C.

Our first question comes from a gullible reader who has fallen prey to yet another Internet hoax:

Dear Know-it-all,

I went to the movies with my friends today. We only had two options at our local theater – The Conjuring and Chennai Express. Since we were in the mood for some scares, we chose to see Chennai Express. I recently received a forwarded email which mentioned that anything Deepika says in her Tamil accent, when played backwards, reveals Satanic messages which affect the viewers subliminally. Is that true?

– living in fear

Dear living in fear,

Don’t be silly. It’s common knowledge that you don’t need to play her dialogues backwards to hear those messages.

It’s like no one has even heard of snopes. The next question comes from a self-proclaimed Indian patriot. Yeah, one of those guys:

Dear know-it-all,

Why is the government trying to push the changes to the RTI act? Does it think that all Indians are idiots and will let them do it?

– A true patriot.

Dear true patriot,

I don’t know about other Indians being idiots, but you certainly are one. Can’t you see that the call for amendments to the act has finally united all the political parties to fight for a common cause? Even the Independence Day speeches could not do that. I say it’s absolutely worth it even if takes a Right To Information Pact(see what I did there?) to get them to act together for once.

Dear Know-it-all,

I’ve heard rumours that the recent cricket series between India and Zimbabwe was fixed. Was it?

– A cricket fan

Dear cricket fan,

You’re right, that series was fixed. But now how you think – there were no towels or other signalling infrastructure involved. After making some detailed inquiries which included some frenzied Googling and asking Prabhakar to shoot some grainy videos, I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion – all the games were computer generated by the BCCI(I think Randy may be involved too). Now before you dismiss my claim citing the Law of Averages(even I have to be wrong one day), just answer the following question – have you ever met anyone who has claimed to have seen that particular series in person or on television? Exactly. Also, repeated attempts to get any information from Kohli who was the ‘captain’ for this ‘series’ were met with non-committal responses like ‘Who are you and what have you done to the real milkman?’ and ‘What are you doing inside my fridge?’ and ‘No, I will not give you my autograph on that!’ I rest my case.

That’s it for yet another edition. Just remember what a wise person once said before hitting that send button – ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people who ask said questions.’

Dear Know-it-all – Telangana concerns and trekking in the Himalayas

Most of you ignored the plea I made in the previous edition to stop sending me your questions. But since all of you obviously need my help really badly, I have relented to answer some more in this edition.

Our first question comes from a student who’s very worried about the recent decision of the government to doodle on the political map of the country:

Dear Know-it-all,

I’ve been having sleepless nights ever since I’ve heard about the Telangana split. How will I ever be able to memorize the names of all the states for my exams?

– A concerned student

Dear concerned student,

I’m amazed by the frivolity of your question and refuse to dignify it with a response. You are obviously not aware of the gravity of the issue that the government is trying to address here. With the recent exit of the Pune and Kochi teams, the next edition of the IPL will only last about half a year at best. The government has done the only responsible thing it could have by investing in the future of the IPL by implementing a policy of carving out new states every few months. Please think things through before sending such ignorant questions in the future.

Sometimes one just has to be firm. Oh well. The next question comes from a software engineer who has good taste in idols but is obviously deranged:

Dear Know-it-all,

I’m bored of my monotonous life and would like to live dangerously for a while like my idol Steven Segal. I’m planning to try and climb Mt. Everest next month. I’ve never actually climbed any mountains before though. In fact, I’ve never even climbed a tree. But I’m sure that it’ll be much more exciting than spending the entire day on Facebook and WhatsApp. What do you think?

– Bored software engineer with too much money

Dear bored software engineer with too much money,

I would strongly advise against doing something so impulsive and dangerous. Getting off Facebook for such a long time is something that should only be attempted by trained professionals and under appropriate supervision.

That’s it for this edition of Dear know-it-all. Remember, if you have a question, you can always Google the answer without bothering me with it.

Politicians ridiculed for thali-gate awarded honorary Doctorates, forgive nation for outrage

Mumbai, 29th July 2013.

In a surprising turn of events, the two politicians involved in thali-gate have gone from being the butt of a nation’s jokes, to being international heroes. The Indian Institute of Physics(IIP) announced in a press conference today that they have decided to confer an honorary doctorate in Physics to Raj Babbar and Rashid Masood for their discovery of time portals.

An artist’s rendition of what the entrance to the time portals might look like

“I’ve been having meals for Rs. 12 in Mumbai for as long as I could remember and was completely taken aback by the nation’s outrage at my statement. When Dr. Masood mentioned his 5-Rupee meals in Delhi I knew that something wasn’t quite right. While discussing the issue over our favourite TV show, Dr. Who, it suddenly hit us! We had stumbled upon time portals and had been eating at restaurants in the past. It was so obvious we were surprised that we hadn’t noticed it earlier. We contacted the IIP with our theory, and they confirmed it soon after. The doctorate was a pleasant surprise.” Dr. Babbar explained.

“We were very excited when Dr. Babbar told us the theory and immediately dispatched two of our best physicists to the locations. The results clearly proved that they had stumbled upon time portals, leading to the past, in Delhi and Mumbai. All this while, they had been eating at restaurants in 1943 and 1952 respectively. ” Dr. Jain(the dean of IIP) said.

“The last week has been very traumatic for both of us. I think the McBabbar jokes on Twitter were in bad taste and were very hard to digest for Dr. Babbar. Things had gotten so bad that we had to avoid walking past dark alleys for fear of being pounced upon by an answer-demanding Arnab Goswami. Some people would say that the nation owes us an apology, but we have chosen to forgive and forget.” a relieved Dr. Masood said.

Asked for his reaction to the confirmation of the discovery, Dr. Babbar said, “It was overwhelming relief followed by a sense of overwhelming responsibility. We could have kept the discovery to ourselves, but I immediately told IIP that we had to share it with the world. Babbar likes to sher, I said. Heh, Heh.”

The party celebrated by having a Rs. 2599(inclusive of taxes) buffet at the Taj. When asked why they couldn’t have catered the meal from the time portals, the spokesperson replied, “The one in Delhi is only active from 6-10 PM and we couldn’t find any volunteers to venture out on Delhi’s streets at that hour. And unfortunately, the one at Mumbai is submerged under water for the foreseeable future.”

Disclaimer: The entire article is a work of fiction. Delhi’s streets are only unsafe post 7 PM.

Dear Know-it-all – Crossing the road in Bangalore and rotating cricketers

This blog has been brought out of incidental retirement to address a growing concern – ‘the large number of growing concerns that everyone has’. It’s no secret that I have a reputation of being somewhat of a problem-solver amongst my readers. I don’t know why that is, but it gives me a plausible reason to start what I call the ‘Dear Know-it-all’ section of the blog. So if you have any questions, concerns, problems, etc., please make sure you don’t send them to me because I have a huge backlog.

Our first question comes from a long term reader who’s promised to stop sending me videos of cats if I help him out:

Dear Know-it-all,

I have recently moved to Bangalore and am having a very difficult time crossing the road due to the maddening traffic. This results in me reaching my office late and in turn making my boss look reproachfully in my direction. What should I do?

Regards,

Concerned

Dear Concerned,

Now, contrary to popular belief, crossing a road in Bangalore is not science, it’s an art. Look left, right, look left again, pray for strength, walk, jump over the open manhole, wave at the good man in the car to stop (his car, not his phone call), run, swerve right, swerve left, swerve right again, wave at the good man on the bike to stop(from doing wheelies and his bike), execute a triple twist, double spin somersault over the people coming from the other end and you’re done! Your mileage may vary.

Next up is someone with excellent taste and a question of national importance:

Dear Know-it-all,

One of my most favourite things to do(besides refreshing your site’s homepage) is watching cricket. The recent rotation policy has drawn a lot of criticism from everyone. What is your opinion on this?

Regards,

Your biggest fan!

Dear my biggest fan,

The rotation policy is obviously a Greg Chappell led conspiracy aimed at getting back at Sourav Ganguly. I tell all about it in my upcoming controversial tell-all book – ’24 ways to make pasta healthier’. In the meantime, I’ll just ask you this – have you ever seen Dhoni and Chappell together in the same room at the same time? I didn’t think so!

Until next time, this is your ever-humble know-it-all, signing out!

What’s on your mind?

Everyone knows that their status does not matter online. They’re wrong. Your status has never been more important. No, I don’t mean your ‘social status’ – no one cares about that stuff. It’s your ‘social networking status’ that can make or break you in this big, bad online world.

Every morning a Facebook user gets up, he’s faced with the inescapable question – ‘what’s on your mind?’ Research suggests that the average social networking user updates his status 384 times a day (our research is carried out by my random number generator, I call him Randy, so I generally give it a margin of error of 0.5 to 1%). If you don’t want to be a social pariah, you should be doing the same. But make no mistake, just any old status message will not do – it has to be original too. I know of a person who just couldn’t think of any new witty status updates and in a moment of desperation, recycled an older status message of his. Suffice to say, he lost his job, his wife took the kids and left him, and all his online friends banned him. He was last seen looking for new friends in the real world – it was all very sad.

So, how are some people able to come up with one interesting status after the other, while some can’t go beyond ‘just took so-and-so quiz’ messages? Is it because they lead more interesting lives you ask? Nope! It’s because they’ve read my latest book – ‘How to Update your Status and Win Friends’. Unfortunately, my publisher went bankrupt so you can’t really find that literary gem anywhere. Don’t worry though, I’ve decided to summarize the book and share the essential teachings with you right here, for free:

1. Choose the right words: Don’t say ‘I like oranges.’ Say ‘Anyone who doesn’t like oranges is an idiot!’ instead.
2. Massage the truth a little: Don’t say ‘Scratched myself in front of the telly all day.’ Say ‘Training to climb Mt. Everest.’ instead.
3. Sensationalize: Don’t say ‘Dropped my pencil.’ Say ‘I may never be able to write again!’ instead.
4. Cheat: Pick something from here.

Those are all the tips I had – it was a very thin book. Use them wisely.

The Broomie Code (patent pending)

All of my room-mates recently moved out for the usual reasons (getting married, getting transferred, going to jail). I had to make a choice – stay alone or look for a room-mate. I opted for the latter – hey you only live once, right? First few interviews and hundreds of missing spoons later, I realized that in order to ease the process, I first needed to define how the perfect room-mate should behave. So, I got thinking, and one thing led to the another, and voila – the ‘Broomie Code’ (inspired by the Bro Code’) was born. Here’s the first draft (still in the RFC stage) of the soon to be sacred code:

1. A broomie always replaces the last packet of maggi after eating it. There are no exceptions to this rule.
2. A broomie does not hog the internet bandwidth, and schedules his downloads in the night.
3. A broomie loves the same sports as you, or he gets his own TV.
4. A broomie does not watch soap operas (includes Splitsvilla/Roadies) – not even if he gets his own TV.
5. A broomie does not complain about the noise – he uses headphones to drown it out.
6. A broomie trashes his room to look worse than your room when your parents visit.
7. A broomie drags in broomies that have passed out on the wrong side of the front door no matter how late it is.
8. A broomie does not mention your burping skills in front of your female friends.
9. A broomie mentions your burping skills in front of your male friends.
10. A broomie is able to hold his liquor – at least while he is in the common area.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten but together with your help, I’m sure we can have a 100-page document ready in no time.
So, please feel free to suggest additions/modifications to this list in the comments section.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, I stay alone now.

Get real

Reality is funny. Reality is even funnier if it happens to someone else and you get to watch. To be honest, I didn’t know we had so much reality amongst us until I flipped the channel one day and I was transported to this whole new world. It was kind of surreal if you know what I mean.

Reality is traditional. A lady just chose her groom on a reality show last week. It’s so nice to see the return of traditional values in society. You must remember that swayamvars were how the ladies got hitched back in the good old days. It is very admirable of the TV guys to finally give tradition its due. I’ve always said that tradition is where it’s at nowadays. Modern thought is so last century.

Reality is noble. There’s a reality show that’s taken it upon itself to lift our society from the dredges of immorality that it has slipped into. Yes, I’m talking about the show where people are hooked up to a lie detector and are rewarded for being truthful. You know what – it moved me. I mean here’s one show that our children can learn good moral values from. How else would they learn that telling the whole world that you cheated on your wife can be a rewarding experience(worth at least 100k)? The truth can now literally set you free, of your family and friends that is, none of whom would come near you after they come to know what you really think of them. But who needs those ingrates when truth is on your side? Not you, no way!

Reality is educational. For example, I chanced upon this great show named toadies(or something similar, I forget), which is like a fountain of knowledge that just doesn’t stop giving. I learnt one of life’s biggest lessons right here – stay away from bald guys. It’s clear that they can somehow control the minds of impressionable youth and make them do whatever they want. And worst of all, they seem to have discovered how to replicate. But that’s not all, this show also teaches you valuable skills. After watching just a couple of shows, my three year old nephew had learnt five new grown up words. It would have taken him years to pick those up without their help. He has also developed some very useful lip reading skills which he puts to good use by explaining to me what the contestants are talking about(it’s not always audible over the bleeps you know).

So get real and embrace these fine specimens of television programming. After all, there’s no escaping reality.