‘The most popular English language novelist in India’….

Chetan Bhagat catapulted to instantaneous fame with his first novel ‘Five Point Someone’ in 2004. India was dumbstruck at the sheer thought of an IIT/IIM graduate penning down a novel. This also helped him soar through the publicity ratings. Five Point Someone revolves around the lives of three students studying in India’s most prestigious temple of knowledge – IIT. The book reverberated with everywhere who underwent college education in the sub continent.

Today, Bhagat is four books old and has successfully managed to break the boundaries that demarcate literary work in India. Rupa Company, Bhagat’s publishers accredited him with the title, ‘the biggest selling English-language novelist in India’s history’. There is no dearth of titles that India has magnanimously bestowed on Bhagat. ‘Writer of the masses’, ‘Writer that made India read again’, The Times of India said, ‘a rockstar of Indian publishing’. Difficult to deem that Bhagat outsold Kushwant Singh and RK Narayan. Inevitable question, what makes more than a million people buy Chetan Bhagat’s books?

The young wordsmith thrives on simplicity. This can be clearly seen in his linear narrative style of writing, the choice of vocabulary, the plots and twists in his books. If your schooling was done in English, then you would never need to use a dictionary to read any of Chetan’s books. Effortless reading is a major crowd puller. The characters effectively strike an emotional chord with the Indian masses, especially the Middle Class youth. His characters, their lifestyle and social surroundings are carved from middle class Indians. Hence, you can almost complete the monologues of his characters at the same time empathize and root for them. This does make predictability far too high. Generous servings of drama and love, the mainstay of Indian entertainment is provided for sustenance through Bhagat’s books. Bhagat’s story telling abilities has charmed young Indians. His evocative, vibrant, simple and humorous story telling helps the character’s sentiments to echo within the reader. Character monologues are peppered with wisecracks and switches effectively from English to his regional tongue adding authenticity to the characters. Pricing has played a major role in the success of sales. All of Bhagat’s novels are prices under Rs.100, which makes it affordable to the Indian masses. Infact it is equivalent watching a movie in the theater.

Bhagat has discovered his niche. From his first novel, Bhagat has steered away from being a literary writer. His soaring popularity makes him a popular writer by profession. The critics really don’t have a choice in this.

You can read Bhagat’s interview with the NY Times here.

I have read Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, Three Mistakes, and his recent 2 States.

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Afternoon Roar – Teux Deux

Tired of making millions of to-do lists? Tired of carrying post it notes, minuscule papers with things to do scribbled on them? Missed the alarm on your phone for things to do? Well, time to unclutter your things to do lists and bring in some clarity.

Presenting… (Drum roll)… TeuxDeux. Simple, easy-to-use, browser-based to-do application. Well what makes it different from the other to-do application? Simplicity and brilliant design. TeuxDeux is a collaborative to-do application from Swiss Miss and FictiveKin. Swiss Miss aka Tina Roth Esienberg is my favorite designer. It’s a battle to close the browser when on her site. If there is something called a ‘brilliantly awesomely radical simple designer who keeps it clean’ it’s Swiss Miss.

I signed up for a TeuxDeux account. Absolutely love it! It’s simple, easy-to-figure out and use and it’s clean. This to-do application has a calming effect. I suggest you give it a try. The entire design is based on practicality and simplicity.

More on TeuxDeux by Swiss Miss,

“In TeuxDeux, you always see and entire week in front of you and you see what day of the week you’re on. Days in the past are light gray, the actual day is red and days in the future are black. You have the ability of checking items off, which is incredibly satisfying. But, you can also ‘x’ an item off, delete it, if you want to get rid of the clutter. Up to you.
Items that you didn’t take care of ‘today’ will automatically be moved to the next day. Also, you can manually drag items from one day to another time in the future.
Then there’s the “Someday Section”: Sometimes you just need to jolt down an upcoming to-do that doesn’t need to be taken care of in the immediate future. Just get it out of your head by adding it to the someday section”.

Give it a try. You will know why I am all fuzzy about TeuxDeux.

If you do want to hook TeuxDeux on your iPhone it will be possible shortly. The team is working on an iPhone application. You can follow twitter.com/teuxdeux for all the latest.

You can read more on TeuxDeux here.

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Afternoon Roar – @Chetan_Bhagat – Twitter’s latest love child

Move over Mr. Tharoor, Twitter’s latest love child is Chetan Bhagat. #chetanblocks picked up great velocity and is now a trending topic on the micro blogging site. I will block you Bhagat just got another follower – me. Wanted to experience the fuzz first hand. Bhagat has 28,772 followers on Twitter.

The war in 140 characters – (taken from Hindustan Times online – Tweet Wars)

@Chetan_Bhagat – Almost anyone who is reading my pirated books can afford the original. It hurts me a lot personally. Just sharing. Piracy kills publishers, esp domestic literature. Gives incentive writers to move westwards. Don’t do it if you care for Indian creativity. At a broader level, a society that doesn’t respect intellectual property never excels at innovation. See what kind of India u want.

@flyyoufools commented: Tying everything to India’s progress today, aren’t we?

@Chetan_Bhagat: Well it is tied to progress. Close ur eyes to it if u want to.

@flyyoufools: In a bad mood today, aren’t we? Let me guess: Royalty check came in?

@Chetan_Bhagat: Buddy, one more smart one and u r blocked. ok?

Tweeter Jojo Philip: Don’t blame the consumer. If he/she gets the product at a fifth of its cost, they have every right to pick it up.

@Chetan_Bhagat: If i can access your bank account, i have the right to steal from it?

Tweeter Jojo Philip: Piracy happens only when there is huge gap between d market cost & buying it otherwise. Greedy publishers plz note. There is a nexus between cops, illegal printers & publishers who r responsible for piracy. Attack d system, not the consumer.

@Chetan_Bhagat: nobody is greedy. if u cant afford it, dont buy it. do u steal cars if u cant afford them?

Tweeter Jojo Philip: No, i don’t steal cars, but if someone was offering me one for Rs 1000, i wud buy it. Blame the guy who is offering me this. as a consumer i have done no wrong. I have paid the guy on the street corner my hard earned Rs 100 & i did not steal it from him.

@Chetan_Bhagat: U have. ask a lawyer. And one more defense of illegal stuff and will block u. ok?

I did expect a tad bit more of sensibility from Chetan Bhagat – ‘the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history.’ per the NY Times.

Overwhelmed by the blues

Monday morning just has to be characterized by inconsolable sadness, evilness and drama. So much for thinking that Monday blues would be a thing of the past after I quit my job. Mere illusion. It’s replaced by a bigger devil – high intensity family arguments. The god knows when impending great Indian wedding does spark awful arguments and conversations. If our society didn’t over rate marriages to the zenith, there would be some amount of peace left in every household.

Is there any literature that captures the emotions during the whole process of an arranged marriage in India? The truth behind the big fat wedding, the designers, the glitz, the glam, before the couple is engulfed by true love. Something that’s in tune with reality, raw and not pseudo unlike Hindi soaps that have twisted/turned TRP inducing mindless plots on marriages and chick flicks/literature where you are single – Ms.Bridget Jones and find your match.

In case you have read something sensible and credible on arranged marriages in India, do drop in the author’s name and the book. Highly appreciated.

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Afternoon Roar – thought

“I go home, sit on the settee watching TV. It’s what I have to do to stay fit.” – Ryan Giggs on staying fit at 36

Only if it was that simple for the rest of us. Especially for a few, who bloat on love, fresh air or merely by looking at a brownie.

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Tiger, Tiger burning bright….

Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
– The Tiger, William Blake

Tiger has been burnt alright! Acknowledging transgressions and sins comes at a whooping million dollar plus. Since, he is the world’s best golfer; forgiveness can be earned in exchange for the copious millions he is ready to give. Rumored figures surround anywhere from $5/8 m.

The whole fiasco leaves Elin Nordegren, Tiger’s wife broken hearted but singing all the way to the bank. A $5/8 m compensation for cheating on her and all the millions she rightly deserves from their pre martial agreement. Reports surfaced that the couple signed an agreement before marriage; which states that Elin is eligible for $20 million if they are divorced after 10 years. Some reports claim that in another seven years of being Mrs. Tiger Wood she gets $80m. Quite an impressive deal breaker Mr. Woods is, I say.

So, what’s new? Tell me a sport that hasn’t had its share of contemptible scandals. Come to think of it, I think I haven’t heard a scandal involving chess players. Pardon my ignorance in case you have. I feel sad for Tiger’s public relation team. Years of hard work drowned, for the PR team that is.

Which do you think is the sport with the least scandal and controversy? Drop in a line.

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Afternoon roar – The Twinkle says it all….

Around 3.30ish every afternoon, I struggle to put my head through the narrow grills of my window. Staying on the sixth floor has its own perks. One of them is an aerial view of a gully (small lane) next to our apartment. A battalion of ten to fourteen year old Tendulkars, Sehwags, Gambhirs along with two Zaheers and a Bhaji line up. Their specialty is the 20-20 format of the game. The warm up consists of roughly twenty minutes, where each one is craving for attention to showcase their idol inspired style. The pitch is hard. Trees and sticks demarcate fours and sixers. There are fielders everywhere; some of the older ones double up as referees. After much debating and arguments, the toss happens, the field is set and the batsmen and fielders take their respective places. The next two hours unveil the most passionate, enthusiastic, fanatical, chaotic, untamed version of the gentleman’s game.

The kids are over powered by their fervor and zeal to recreate their idol’s perfect strokes. These young batsmen have developed their own style of walking towards the crease. Some run towards the crease, some rotate their shoulder, some wave in the air with their broken bats taped with cinema posters or tied horizontally with a rope, some say a prayer. The bowlers too come with their own rituals. The senior ones rub their hands on the ground. These young kids have already mastered the art of giving importance to cricket and player persona. As the game progresses, appeals and arguments of no ball, being stumped, leg before wicket echo through out the neighbourhood.

Amidst all the energy, the chaos, the tension, the wickets, the master strokes, a ten/twelve year old managed to catch my attention. He is a batsman who falls at number three. Dark, lanky built with a headband and glasses. He walks towards the crease, concentrating on the trip of his bat. Settles down at his place and you can’t miss the remarkable twinkle in his eyes. The twinkle in his eyes sets the mood for a magical onslaught from his bat. His tamed strokes end up as fours and sixers. The bowler can be heard mumbling. Seeing this incredible young talent I couldn’t help thinking of Tendulkar’s twinkle in his eye every time he steps on the crease.

I am an ardent follower of cricket actually truth be told, I am fanatical about the game. Tendulkar’s twinkle in his eyes, Zaheer’s roar when he bowls, Sehwag’s love affair with his bat, Dravid’s persona dubbed as the wall, Dhoni is captain cool is what turns them into champions. I have never seen the Tendulkar twinkle in anyone’s eyes till date but this kid came remarkably close. He got run out in this game but the twinkle remains deeply embedded in his eyes. I hope that his love for the game takes him places and gets him a blue jersey in the future.

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