Pissed, And How

So, ten days after I buy the DVD-writer, it conks out. This morning, I put in a blank CD to burn my collection of Studio Ghibli albums. Nero goes to 100%, and then, while writing the lead-out, there was some kind of error, and I had one more CD to add to my pile of burnt-but-not-quite-well-done discs. Then the fun begins. I put in another blank CD to burn the same files again. Disc not Detected. Another. Disc not detected. Close Nero, and insert a data disc. Disc not Detected yet again, and can you please stop making my light blink so much, it hurts, says the DVD Writer.


Deep breath. Change cables. Try again. Doesn’t work. Change from secondary slave to secondary master. Doesn’t work. Check same configuration with year-old DVD drive. Works. Conclusion: One Ten-day old drive, used four times, dead.

So I took the receipt, packed the drive and brought it over to the office. Got the sysadmin to try it on his machine. Same symptoms, it detects the drive at first, then after I try to burn a CD, it kicks the bloody bucket.

Took an hour’s leave from the office and went over to Messrs Railton Computers, SP Road. Twenty rupees and five traffic jams later, I find the bloody shop closed. ‘Shop will open tomorrow i.e 26th April’ is what a printout at the front reads.

I am pissed. I really am. I am so pissed that if you come near me now, you would probably gag at the smell of ammonia and lose your lunch. I am so pissed that…that…that I can’t think of anything else to explain how pissed I am. You will have to take my word for it.

* * *

Ah, well, pissiness down by a few degrees, because of – TADA! – vijucat‘s package which arrived at the Hyderabad office today morning. Thankfully, Chandru picked it up for me, the guard indeed had no idea who Mr. Beatzo Phreniac was. Vijay-sir, all I can say is Thank You, Thank You, Arigato Gozaimas, the stuff rocks.

* * *

Ah, and I got Preacher in the mail just now, all 70 issues snug in a box. Yippeee!!! I am not pissed at all, as of now. Will just wait until tomorrow, and get the DVD-writer fixed.

* * *

GAK! Got a mail from fabmall, which says:

Now, at long last, the ultimate Far Side book has arrived as a hefty, deluxe, two-volume slipcased set. Printed in full-color on specially milled paper, The Complete Far Side is a lavish production that takes its place alongside collector’s-edition art books

Rs 5,564/- (21% off) Buy Now

Ok. That’s it. I think I am dying of sensory overload.

Hold on, I had an epiphany, one of these deep things that flash in front of you before you die. I think today just proved the Law of Averages as applied to my life.

Right, off to die now.


Reading Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok Banker. I had already formed a very bad opinion about the book after reading a couple of pages at Odyssey quite sometime ago; and the Terrible Attitude of the writer towards negative reviewers – contentedbloke‘s Amazon review, to be precise. But curiousity got the better of me, and so…

What IS this guy trying to do? He seems to be rewriting the Ramayana as a fantasy novel, terrible plot twists and Dark Lords and Joseph Campbell fundaes intact. Which is not a bad thing at all, we have had enough of watered-down grandmother’s tales – and I cannot think of any English version of the Ramayana which is long enough – there have always been bits and stories chopped away,unlike the Mahabharata, which has the Kishori Mohan Ganguli version as the definitive retelling.

It would have been a good thing, except for the fact that Mr Ashok K Banker is what one might indelicately describe as a hack. One might also call him a Tolkien-wannabe, but that would be a serious insult to Tolkien. He’s at best a Robert Jordan-wannabe, and let me tell you, I don’t like Robert Jordan at all. I think Robert Jordan is a Tolkien-wannabe, and at times a Robert E Howard-wannabe, like when he is writing Conan The Barbarian fan-fiction ( It’s of course a tragedy of sorts that people like Robert Jordan manage to get their fan-fiction published, and then go on making a career out of even more badly written fan-fiction).

Oh my gosh, the language. At the beginning of the book, Ashok K Banker says – “I simply used the way I speak, an amalgam of English-Hindi-Urdu-Sanskrit, and various terms from Indian languages. I deliberately used anachronisms like the term ‘abs’ or ‘morph’ because these were how I referred to these events.” This unique methodology yields sentences like this: “The red-beaded rudraksh mala around his neck , all marked him for a hermit returning from a long, hard tapasya. His gaunt face and deep-set eyes completed the portrait of a forest penitent, a tapasvi sadhu.” One line that makes sense to me because I am from India and know Hindi. But a fantasy reader picking up the book? “rudraksh”, “mala”, “tapasya” in one line, “tapasvi” and “sadhu” in the next – anyone would give up in disgust. I am disgusted becauuse the words don’t gel together at all, in either language.

Some more samples: “It was familiar with creatures that changed their bhes-bhav at will.” “In the bright light of the purnima moon, he could see the helmeted heads and speartips of the night watch patrolling the south grounds, moving in perfect unison in the regular rhythmic four-count pattern of a normal chowkidari sweep.” I mean, come on!!! “Purnima moon”??? What’s wrong with saying “full moon”? Does it make the full moon less exotic to be called “full” rather than “purnima”? Besides, the English equivalent is not “purnima”, it’s “poornima”, which tells me that Ashok K Banker’s Hindi is as seriously fucked-up as his English.

The dialogue – oh, boy oh boy, it’s that perfect B-movie screenplay that will never be made. Probably if you translate the lines spoken by the protagonists word for word into Hindi, you will get the same pompous mish-mash that’s the staple in our hallowed Ramanand Sagar-sir’s serials. For instance –

“It looked like a giant vulture. That round head, long hooked beak, that hunched back. But there was something odd about the body. It was broader than a bird, differently shaped, almost like a -”

“A man? A giant man-vulture, is that what it looked like, young novice?”
Young novice. George Lucas can get away with “You’ve done well, Young Padawan” in every other line, and that makes Mr Ashok K Banker feel he can too. Well, George Lucas is a multimillionaire, and he can get his characters to say whatever he pleases. You, on the other hand, young Ashok K Banker, have a lot to learn. Young novice. Humph.

Mr Ashok K Banker also says, at the beginning: “I based every section, very scene, every character’s dialogues and acctions on the previous Ramayanas, be it Valmiki, Kamban, Tulsidas, or Vyasa, and even the various Puranas.” In the first chapter, he has Rama do things like scan his bedchamber “with the sharpness of a panther with the scent of stag in its nostrils”, and carry a yard and a half of Kosala steel in his hand and do acrobatic martial asanas, while breathing in the pranayam style (whatever that means) while the Dark Lord Ravana sends him subliminal messages saying things like – “You will watch your birth-mother savaged beyond recognition, your clan-mothers and sisters impregnated by my rakshasas, your father and brothers eaten while still alive etc etc blah blah blah, oh, and yeah, the samay chakra, your sacred wheel of time, will repeat the cycle of birth and suffering infinitely.”

Wow. That’s all I can say. The last time I heard lines like this was while watching this film called Rudraksh. I wonder which version of the Ramayana that scene was based on.

Oh, great, now they have started talking about the Last Great Asura War. I am going to give this book thirty minutes more of my time, and then bid this fanfic writer a nighty-night.

Afterword: The stuff above was written last night. I read for about 15 more minutes, and gave up. Watched Stephen Chow’s Fight Back To School 2, a nice comedy that washed away the dregs of frustration brought about by PoA. I think these US publishers are really smart people – they have refused to release the subsequent books in the series until Banker cleans up his act (i.e his writing), and he refused. A vriddha dog can hardly learn new tricks, after all.


Shiny Happy Happy Shiny

As it turns out, I have been mispelling a writer’s name. Inspite of having read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, it took me a google search to figure out that Susanna Clarke’s first name is *not* spelt “Susannah”. Damn. Which means that the teeny little disclaimer about perfect spelling on my user-info does not hold good any longer. I swear – if I had a knife nearby, and if I wasn’t so chicken-hearted, I would be slicing off my little finger in disgrace.

Couple of happy things:

  • I bought myself a complete set of the six Akira graphic novels on eBay. And a set of Daredevil, issues 26-69, the delectable Brian Bendis/Alex Maleev run from the same seller.
  • Discovered the joys of Berke Breathed’s lovely comic series Bloom County. Got some of the collected volumes off a sale for 50 rupees each. It was the sight of the dog pushing the wheelchair of a Vietnam vet, both quoting Star Trek, that brought me to this conclusion. Highly recommended.
  • My Andrew Vachss collection is now technically complete. I have all the books until Pain Management (2001), which is fifteen books in all. I haven’t seen the newer novels in stores anywhere in India.
  • Picked up a first-edition copy of Gods, Demons and Others by RK Narayan (with the dust jacket intact) for 100 Rs. This was one of the first books I bought with my own money, sometime in December 1988, and I don’t really remember where the copy is, right now. But getting this version made me real happy. I loved the delightful tone of voice in which RK Narayan narrated these stories, when I read this book the first time – inspite of knowing most of them by heart ( courtesy Amar Chitra Katha.

The more Takeshi Kitano movies I watch, the more convinced I am that the guy is the Japanese equivalent of Shah Rukh Khan, playing different facets of himself in all his movies. But then, the joy of watching a Kitano movie lies in observing the cliches that he has mastered – the silent, brooding protagonist, the in-your-face violence that launches itself in extremely creative ways, Joe Hisaishi’s scores, the wisecracking foil played by Susumu Terajima, and the self-destructive ending. It’s not a problem being repetitive ( after all, most classic rockers made a fortune out of repetitiveness), it’s a problem when the repetitiveness becomes in-your-face, loud, and crass. None of these are attributes I would associate with a Kitano movie. Fireworks was a picture-perfect film. Every other minute of the movie, I would want to pause the player and just observe the frame, each moment a cinematographic masterpiece. After a very, very long time, I have this urge to paint (which is not necessarily a good thing, I know), because of this movie.

Whoa whoa whoa, what do we have here? Francois Ozon’s Swimming Pool is all set to be released in Delhi sometime in March, and Bangalore/Chennai in April. Not bad at all, though this will be the good-bits version, or maybe the good-bits-are-hidden-but-you-can-try-make-sense-out-of-what-we-show-you-version as decreed by our hallowed Censor Board.

I live in a country where you get live albums by Isaac Hayes at book sales for 60 Rupees a CD. I don’t know whether to be glad or pissed. ( Pissed because had I been a little late, someone else would have bought that CD. Damn)

Did anyone notice the market for old comics in India? A fine example – Blossom Book House is selling copies of Indrajal comics from the seventies and eighties for 20-25 Rs each. Issues that have a cover price of 1-2 rs, and which are missing covers are being put up with these kind of prices, and surprisingly, people are buying them at those prices. Everytime I go there, the issues I saw the last time are gone, and more copies have come in, with similar prices. Makes me glad I filched all those old Indrajal comics off assorted cousins and uncles a decade ago.

The more I look at Paris Hilton, the more I am reminded of Kareena Kapoor. Not a good thing.