girlfriend by two

 

When I first came across the word Half Girlfriend during the launch of the eponymous book written by our great Indian novelist and twenty first century intellectual Sriman Chetan Bhagat ji, I wondered what might be the meaning of such a word.

In Indian hotels, we are used to the rate card of a full plate as well as a half plate. You have half versions of tea and coffee. In Indian tradition, after marriage the girl becomes ardhangini.

Of course, the concept of ardhangini is understandable. After marriage the wife and husband become one unit. So, each unit is half of this arrangement. But, our male dominated society never uses the word ardhanga which should be the synonym to mean the husband.

Half girlfriend?

Is this  girl gifted with only half of the limbs that a normal girl has? Then, her boyfriend must indeed be a great hero to be emulated by all Chetan Bhagat devotees?  (by the way,  bhagat is derived from the word bhakt– a devotee)

Or, the protagonist boy has two girlfriends concurrently, thus, each one deserving only to be a half girlfriend?

Indian BloggersWhen I confided my confusion to a dear friend and Chetan Bhagat fan and who goes by the name Ketan, he suggested me to read the book to clear my confusion. I shuddered at the prospect. The last time I attempted to read one of his books, after two pages I had such mental indigestion that it took me two weeks to recover. Such heavy stuff.

Imagine. If I struggle for a day and break my head to make sense of only one word invented by this great innovative author, what will happen to my chetan man (conscious mind)  if I go through the whole book.

So, I let the meaning of ‘half girlfriend’ remain a mystery. What is going to happen after all. Already I am living with half a million mysteries of the universe that may not get solved in a million years to come. That includes the greatest unsolved mystery of all times, “Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?

At the same time I am afflicted by another mystery. The name half girlfriend is an insult to the women folk. To be more politically correct he could have used the word half boyfriend. Is Chetan, a misogynist?

I expected some feminist organsiations to take up the gauntlet, come in an Arnab Goswami show to  spread  the fire of protest so wide that the nation wanted to know only one thing – How dare Chetan Bhagat be more incoherent than the host of the only fire powered show in India?

The nation wide controversy would have made Chetan rolling on the floor laughing all the way to the bank while the sales figure of his books reached the moon.

But all this did not happen. Chetan did laugh his way to the bank, though. But, what happened to the feminists? Did they think it too trivial an issue considering the history of this nation in treating its female species, or, all of them got converted to the cult of Chetan Bhagat?

Of course, there were some halfhearted protest responses. One wrote a book titled Half Boyfriend. Another wrote a blog post titled Half Girlfriend/ Half Boyfriend.

A few days back,  Ketan  phoned me. He said he was speaking to me from Thailand. He had taken a short break from his vacation activities just to speak to me.

“Hey buddy. You know what. The movie trailer is out.”

“What movie?”, I asked.

“The movie based on Chetan’s  book,  Half girlfriend.” He was so enthusiastic – like  a cult member out to recruit.

“So what?”

“You wanted to know the meaning of half girlfriend. Well, see the trailer”.

He sent me the link. I opened the link and saw the trailer. My confusion got more compounded.

So what is a half girlfriend?

A character in the trailer, who seems to be the protagonist’s friend, tries to describe the boy girl relationship as – Dost se thodasa jyada, boyfriend se thoda sa kam. Somehow it makes some sense, vaguely though.

But man, how do you decide it fits the definition of a half girlfriend/boyfriend or, a half relationship.  How do you assign a numerical value to an abstract concept.

Of course, there seems nothing special about the relationship that the author tries to hype up by assigning it a value of  half. In any boy meets girl story, there comes a point from where the relationship could go either way. It is just a short lived phase of a relationship.

But the relationship must have a number. Otherwise, it will not bring good luck to the book. Thus spake Chetan’s astrologer.

Yes, it is the same astrologer that Ekta Kapoor is affiliated to. Let me reproduce the enlightened conversations between the astrologer and Chetan here:

Astrologer:  Look Chetan. I have already given alphabet K to Ekta. Knowing your type, for you no alphabet. Only numbers will do. Use any number between five and half in your title.

Chetan: Surely I will do. By the way, anybody who knows five words (three English and two Hindi) can not only understand my book, but also aspire to be a best selling author like me. But sir, after spending four rigorous years in IIT, and later on at IIM,  this much I know that half is not a natural number.

Astrologer: It is a combination of two numbers one and two. So don't worry.

After a few years Chetan wrote a book and wanted to titled it - Point Five Someone, to sound like the earlier one and to ride on its popularity all the way to his bank account. But before sending it to the publisher he wanted to have the final word of advice from his astrologer.

Chetan: Sir, I have written another book about a guy who is not even worth five points.  Shall I call the book Point Five Someone? 

Astrologer: No no. Make it more spicy. Give him a girl friend and call the book Half Girlfriend. It will achieve two things - confusion and curiosity. They go hand in hand. Good for marketing, you know. 

Chetan: By the way Sir, I thought you are an expert in astrology only. But, I see you are good in marketing too. 

Astrologer: Ha ha. Why not? let me tell you. There isn't much difference between you and me. Both us make millions by selling truckloads of bullshit.

Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. His books adorn the bookshelves of half of my friends, occupy at least half a self in any library you visit, cover half of all the total space available in leading book stores- offline or online.  He is on TV- on talk shows and f**k shows. (I was thinking of a match making show where he acts like a f**ked up host).

He writes half banal and half unintelligible centre page articles on national newspapers. Like his books, movies based on his books make millions. Ketan, says that the movies are not exact adaptations of his books, but are loosely based.

Oh God, that is the saving grace. Being loosely based, the movies can take any kind of spin off.

It is said that the Americans are so adept in sales and marketing that they can sell real estate located on the moon to the Chinese. Well, Yankey dudes, here in India we have got the baap of  all salesmen.

chetan.png
image credit: schoopwhoop.com

Uncle Moon’s Magazine

In response to Indispire Edition #163 of Indiblogger

indispire 163

Which is the first book I read all by myself?

Well, frankly speaking I do not remember. But, I can guess with a fair degree of accuracy about some of the books and magazines which were part of my reading in my early childhood.

The Magazine Chandamama being one of those. Strictly speaking, it may not fall under the category of books. But the magazine was so much part of my regular childhood reading, I would love to assign it the status of my first love with reading material outside the school curriculum.

The magazine was published in a number of Indian languages and English. I used to read the Oriya version which was titled ‘Janhamamu’.

Each issue contained a mixture of stand alone stories, serialized stories bases on mythology, classic literature, new stories, contests and knowledge tidbits suitable for schoolchildren. Every article had  accompanying colourful illustrations to create visual interest. The stories also had a moral or a practical lesson to teach.

The magazine not only delivered the stories and messages of mythologies and classical literature in an interesting and suitable way to the children, but also kindled interest for further reading. One of the serialised popular features of the magazine was the stories of Vikram and Vetal. Subsequently,  when I came across the original book, I could not resist myself reading it. Of course the magazine authors took the liberty to create their own stories in line with the originals.

At present the magazine is not in circulation, either in print of e-format. However, it survived long enough so that I could buy the magazines for my own children. Only difference being while my children had many options with regard to children’s periodicals, I had very few. Of course many local children’s magazines were available. But, nothing to beat Chandamama.

Another regular feature of the magazine was the caption contest. There were two unrelated photos, and one had to find a suitable caption linking both the photos. I tried my luck on a number of issues, even though I could never make it to the winning stage.

It is sad to know that the magazine started by B Naggi Reddy (also a famous film producer)  and Chakrapani in 1947 is no more in publication. It reached its peak in the 1970s and the 1980s, being published in thirteen languages with a circulation of 2 lakhs.

The best thing about Chandamama was that most of the stories were desi,  unlike today’s periodicals for children. Of course some times it contained abridged and illustrated versions of many western classics. Maybe, that is how I got interested in English classic literature too.

For those who would like to relive the days of Chandmama or have a taste of the magazine, here is link for the archives:

https://archive.org/details/chandamama_magazine

 

A Gripping Tale

 

School reopened after the summer vacation. Now I was in standard VII and a large number of of books had been added to the school library. Prominent among them were translated versions of abridged editions of all time western classics like Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, The Three Musketeers, Time Machine, Animal Farm, Treasure Island and many more.  Each book was a page turner. There being no provision for a librarian, our class teacher doubled up as the librarian.  Sometime, he became irritated and sometimes happy that every day I finished one book and asked for another.

However, among all those un-put-down-able books,  what stood out were the series on Sherlockc Holmes.

In fact when it comes to un-put-down-able, what comes to my mind first are the genre of thriller or detective books.

But, other than Sherlock Holmes, I hardly read any book of suspense or detective genre. Written by  Arthur Connan Doyle, the stories of Sherlock Holmes have been an evergreen fascination. I have read the stories, seen the movies and TV serials over and over again.

However, the book that I have found the most griping is  ‘Silence of the Lambs’ by Thomas Harris.

silence-of-the-lambsI came across the book in our office library way back in 199o. After reading the first chapter, there was no way I was going to stop there. Standing there in front of of the  book rack I  must have finished five or six chapters till the librarian called to say that  it was closing time.

I borrowed the book. As far as I remember other than essential breaks for bodily needs I did not sleep till I finished the book.

I do not wish to divulge anything about the contents of the book so as to spare the prospective reader of any preconceived idea. That is how one enjoys a thriller the best. Like I did. Had I read any review, any gist or any thing about the book , or even the fact that it has  been a best seller, it would have definite affected  my reading experience. (Once you read a book knowing that it is a best seller your expectations would be high)

However I would like to say this much that even though the story and its characters are interesting, what makes the  book unputdowanable is perhaps the way  the author has  arranged the contents and divided the chapters whereby one is naturally drawn to the next chapter just to find out what happens next. I am yet to find such a gripping thriller.

Subsequently, when in 1991 the novel was made into a movie, it bagged a number of Oscars and became a huge commercial success like the book. I watched the movie and enjoyed it. But, the thrilling and gripping experience that I got when I first read the book has remained unmatchable so far.

(In response to Indispire#157 at Indiblogger)

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Sunday Musings and Random Notes #8

Wishing you all a happy  wonderful New Year

First of all, here is wishing my dear reader a wonderful New Year. May you remain cheerful and passionate irrespective of whether a few wishes got fulfilled or not.

Note that I have not used the word happy. There are reasons for it –   profound and scary reasons that google threw at me in form of quotes while I was searching for something else. Take the first example:

happy-1

So there is no point in having good health and selfishness if, these are not backed by a healthy dose of stupidity. However, it provides for a lot of hope. To be happy is not that big deal after all. It paints a very rosy picture of  human society since time immemorial- the vast majority of human society have never been as unhappy as we have made it out to be.

The following one is a very strong argument as to why one should not wish another anything related to happiness:

happy-3

However, the following is the scariest of them all:

happy-4

And finally a ray of hope, provided by non other than one of those highest priests of Christianity:

happy-5

Of course, I am not sure whether all/some/any of the above quotes have been attributed to the right source. Now a days on social media, every now and then one comes across strange quotes attributed to strange people. Sometimes, people making up these quotes do not seem to have even elementary knowledge of history. So, Swami Vivekananda gives very sound advice on the side effects of social media and Mahatma Gandhi warns us about the impending disasters when one harbours thoughts like those of Donald Trump.

But I am sure the following one must have been spoken (or, at least thought of) by Adolf Hitler, who swayed even the most intelligent persons of Germany to his Nazist point of view with his banal rhetoric. I am afraid this must also be the secret of success of  writers like Chetan Bhagat churning out best sellers and Salman Khan movies making multiple crores.

happy-6

Here is wishing you again, a happy (er. sorry) , a wonderful new year. 

Three blogposts that you may have missed

I started this blog in July this year.

A blogger is not like an ideal parent for whom all children should be equal favourites. Nevertheless, he has paternal instincts. It is natural for parents to give special  attention to that child who lagged behind other siblings while at the same time proudly bringing to attention of the special skills of a particular child. The following blogposts from this year are a mix of both.

When the wrapper is considered superior to the gift inside

It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place

The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact

A Brief Note on Stephen Hawking

stephen hawking

Here is a brief introduction to Stephen Hawking from his official website: 

Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. Now the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, his other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe and The Universe in a Nutshell.

In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.’

What does not find mention in his official website is his love life. Sometimes events of his personal life gets so much media coverage that some people develop an aversion to him and ignore his contribution to science. As a person, Stephen Hawking may seem to have crossed certain boundaries of morality, particularly the ‘Indian Standard of Morality’ with multiple affairs and marriages. However, on a lighter note- considering the fact that most of his voluntary organs are not working, even the Superman should be jealous of his female fan following.

Jokes apart – his contribution to science should not be undermined whatever ‘moral’ flaws he may have. Many of the geniuses of past and present are known for their eccentricity and bizarre behavior. Stephen Hawking comes from a culture and society where his personal life is normal acceptable behaviour. Moreover, he is not a hypocrite. His whole life is in public domain. Contrast this with the life of many of our Indian leaders and famous persons. They live/ lived a double life and are/were hypocrites.An honest biographical film about Nehru was stalled time and again. What we read as history in our text books are nothing short of fiction. The stories of Stephens and Clintons would be overshadowed by the real life events of many of our adored leaders, provided these things are available in open domain.

It is surprising that a hardcore scientist like Stephen Hawking recognises the power of love.

“I’ve been privileged to gain some understanding of the way the universe operates through my work,” he writes. “But it would be an empty universe indeed without the people that I love.”

He is a great inspiration for all of us. In spite of his physical limitations, he keeps on exploring the limitless.. and he has never lost the jest for life.

“Although I’m severely disabled, I have been successful in my scientific work,” Hawking writes. “I travel widely and have been to Antarctica and Easter Island, down in a submarine and up on a zero-gravity flight. One day, I hope to go into space.”

Stephen Hawkins is a genius. His die hard attitude is an inspiration for all. I recommend my friends to read his works, at least the bestseller – THE BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME.

It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place

alice_in_wonderlandCertain lines that I came across in novels, text books and sometimes in the form of Graffiti  never made any sense then. But there was certain inexplicable quality to those lines and they remained in memory. One such line is – “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”. This appears in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. Even though the novel is recommended for children, I am sure adults will be equally delighted if they could decipher lines like these.

There came a time, may be 10 years after I had read it, when one day the meaning, or what the author indicated, by those lines came as a flash of lightning. It was one of those series of busy days, while in Air Force.  I was working on a project. Work would start at 6 am and continue sometimes upto 11 pm. It was like continuous running, both in body and mind with a  few  hours of rest in between. Then one day after may be three or four weeks, orders came from a superior authority, we have to do the project again. A little frustrated, suddenly the line- It takes all the running to keep to the same place- flashed in the mind.

In another sense, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries, all the running one does is just to keep the body and soul together. In other words the whole life is spent in fulfilling only the basic needs. Forget about progress of the individual or the family or the society. It takes all the running just to keep to the same place, so that things do not degenerate further.

I discovered another layer of meaning of this phrase after a session of meditation. I was reflecting on the affairs of life. How much ever you may achieve in terms of position, money, fame, power the final destination is the same. If your body is not burnt, for sometime a few square feet of earth is earmarked for you.  You come from nowhere and again vanish into nowhere, in between running and running. Like Adi Shankaracharya said in Bhajagovindam,

A child is obsessed in playing games, a young man is obsessed in young women, the old are obsessed with worries. Man never turns towards the divine.”

Obsession is nothing but repetitive running in the mind. As long as there is life there is physical running accompanied by running in the mind in terms of obsessions or worries. At the end of it all, one vanishes nowhere. (Of course there are theories and beliefs of rebirth, let us put them aside for the moment)

I do not know for sure whether Lewis Carrol had all the above in mind while he wrote the line. This also must have come to him as a flash of insight. Nevertheless, the line has helped to get insights about certain facts of life , or at least, express certain thoughts in a better way.

An activity is an activity, whether it is pleasurable or unpleasant. Ultimately it would tire you and leave you wherever you were. It is good  sometimes to take a break from all those runnings, physical as well as mental and spend a few day in meditation or just relaxing experiencing the pleasure of ‘doing nothing, achieving nothing and going nowhere’, neither in body nor in the mind.

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