Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Writer is Blocked...

Writer's block...

All writers have suffered from it. Leo Tolstoy has suffered from it. P.G Wodehouse, Ian Fleming, Valmiki, Jeffery Archer- they all must have suffered from 'Writer's block' at some point or other during their glorious writing careers. Well its now the turn of one more writer in this illustrious lineage to suffer from the condition - Yours truly, Me!!!

Before, I trudge my ass further on this issue, a definition of 'Writer's block' is due:

Definition: Writer's block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity. Writer's block can also be a hindrance even when the writer feels that they already have a story in mind but can get no further than part of that story.

(Note: I have copy-pasted the definition from Wikipedia. I have writer's block and can't write - Remember? )

I noticed that I've been hindered by writer's block since this morning. Coming to terms with it was a strange, unfamiliar feeling. I arrived at my computer this morning, all pumped up and feeling the usual urge to blog. My plan was to write a classic blogpost on a very serious issue that I hold very close to my heart - " Investment and Financial Advice for Jersey Cows" . After all, I had spent days after days doing my research on this topic. I had visited hundreds of cattle-farms, interviewed millions of cows about their preferred investment and money-management methodologies. For the record, I found that 62% of the jersey cows invested their money in equity stocks, 10 % of them invested in bonds. 8 % of the cows chomped at and swallowed all of their money, because they found the taste of paper too good to resist. 10% of the cows stashed away their money in the nearest pile of hay-stack and 5% of the poor bovines hid their savings in their dung. And there were 5% of utterly stupid cows, who blindly handed over their savings to their respective doodhwalas, trusting in him to make a secure investment on their behalf. And the doodhwala went ahead and just blew away all of that money in the nearest strip-club. So all in all, I had seen that there was gross financial mismanagement among the cows - and I wanted to write an article on my blog, that provided the poor animals with sound investment advice . It was a noble cause. But horror of horrors - before I could even type half a key, I discovered that writer's block had struck me. I couldn't think about a vowel to write. I realized that I just couldn't get the neurons in my brain to shimmy out of snooze mode and get them flowing as usual. I am sad and helpless- I feel guilty of having let down all the cash cows, and I am devastated. :'-(

Come to think of it, this is not the first time I have been affected with 'writer's block'. But calamity, as they say, always strikes in the most unwelcome of times. I clearly remember during my engineering college days, I was always bothered with writer's block during the exams. What an irony. I mean here I am-bang in the middle of an examination - and the writer's block virus would make its way into the hall, zero in on me, discreetly enter my brain and wallop the neurons into a state of inactivity. So the next time you have the opportunity to see my engineering report cards, please don't blindly attribute my abysmal grades to a lazy unprepared bum. Its the writer's block virus that has to be blamed ( Dad, are you reading this!?? What does it take to convince you, huh?) Here is an excerpt from an engineering answer paper of mine from the past. You can see writer's block in its full glory.

Question 17) Explain the computer database normalization process in brief and banian ( 5 marks)

Answer: The ...

I really did try to get past the 'The' , but I was helpless, the stupid writer's block virus was already at work. You know I often think, why is that only us- the poor writers- have to be affected with this condition all the time. Its so unfair. Why doesn't writer's block affect, say, a traffic cop when he is filling out your traffic violation form? Just picture this - the cop catches you riding your two- wheeler without a helmet and trousers. He stops you in the middle of the road. You try your best to smooth-talk or bribe your way out of the situation - but fail miserably. The cop is filling out your violation ticket. Suddenly he says 'Oooh I have writer's block, I am not able to write this thing any further. So go away young man, be free, have a beer or two and ride away happily." Sad. It seldom happens with those cops. But a well-meaning writer who earnestly wants to help the cows, has to remain tied-down and frustrated with the condition.

One of the first persons I confided with and broke the news of my sad condition, was my roommate. In bachelor lifestyle, your roommates are always the default, first-in-line victims of all your actions and reactions. My roommate, the bakra that he is, always happens to be the first person to read the new posts on my blog. That is because, as soon as I hit the 'Publish' button on Blogger, I make it a point to scream into his eardrums and say "Hey dude, I have a new blog post. Read it, read it... you get to read it first". I do this even at 3 in the morning. My roommate's reaction is usually the same. He jolts awake from his sleep, gives me a big, warm smile and says "Oh wow, thank you... I'm so happy and privileged, you rotten asshole" . You see, he is a true fan. Anyways, I told him that I was suffering from writer's block and would be unable to update my blog for now. His reaction was that of genuine sympathy. First, he jumped to the ceiling in euphoric joy. Then he ran out of the building in Archimedes style and distributed sweets to the entire neighborhood. I don't know where he is right now - I think he's probably on a pilgrimage tour of all the temples in Bangalore, offering devout thanksgiving prayers. Why do I need enemies when I have friends like him. Bah!

I went to the office yesterday, still reeling under the effect of writer's block. I am thorough professional. Needless to say, my block has affected my coding ability too. You want to know how my day was eh? Here is a sample of a conversation between me and my boss.

Boss: "So Parikshith. Have you finished your code?"
Me: "Yep. Here it is"
Boss: "Heck, what is this? I thought I had asked you to write a code to streamline our business domain critical processes"
Me: "Yes, sir."
"But the code that you've written here calculates the average turnaround time required to seduce and mate with Paris Hilton!! ?? "
"Yes, sir"
"Yes my ass. Enough of your tomfoolery. Where is the original code?"
"I didn't write it sir."
"Why the hell not?"
"I am having a writer's block"
"You what?"
"A writer's block. The inability to think of writing anything"
"Oh, I see... writer's block eh?"
"Yes, sir"
"Then, I think I won't be able to sign your paycheck for this month..."
"Why not, sir"
"I have writer's block too..."

Well, nobody understands. Idiots. Anyway,I visited a doctor, next. I was hoping at least he'll be able to diagnose and offer a cure for my writer's block. Here's what happened...

Me: "Doctor, doctor... I am in big trouble"
Doc: "Sit down, young man. Just calm down. Tell me your problem"
Me: "I am suffering from writer's block"
Doc: "What?"
Me: "Writer's block"
"Writer's block? Now what is that? I think I must've bunked my classes at medical school when that was being taught"
"Oh no!!"
"But relax young man, tell me what exactly happens to you during this writer's block?"
"I can't think of anything to write about. I am unable to write anything"
"Then stay with me for a few days and write out all my prescriptions na. That should cure you"
"No no... I am not that kind of writer. I am a creative writer"
"What do you write?"
"A blog called Nonsense Aplenty"
"Hmmm... can I have a look at it?"

I gave the link of my blog to the doctor. He finally emerged from his chamber, an hour later, looking a bit hassled.

Me: "Yes, doctor?"
Doc: "I read your blog..."
Me: "Really?"
Doc: "Yes. And I think I have a diagnosis of your condition"
"Oh God! Thank you so much. So you think you can cure me, doc?"
"Yes. Let me write you a prescription. Here, have this twice daily. You may not need this for more than a day"
"Oh, thanks, doc. Err... I can't read your handwriting. What's this you have prescribed for me?"
"Rat poison..."

No more comments, ladies and gentlemen. But I shouldn't be complaining too much. Hey, everybody goes through writer's blocks. But it is the literary world that really stands to lose. Lose a lot, really. I mean, God only knows how many potentially great books have gone unwritten, unpublished, just because their respective authors suffered from serious bouts of writer's block. Some of these books, that went unpublished as a result of this situation are:
  • "Oral Hygiene" - by Emran Hashmi
  • "How To Play a Cover Drive" - by Munaf Patel
  • "124 Ways to Press a Computer Key and Get Stinkin' Rich" - by Bill Gates
  • "An Expert's Guide to Virginity" - by Paris Hilton
  • "World Peace" - by Osama bin Laden
Anyways, this writer's block is not allowing me to write anymore. I hope to get over it as soon as possible to get back to my full-fledged writing form. But please be patient, dear people. It may not happen immediately- my chances of a recovery right now is as bright as finding living bacteria in dinosaur dung. But, as Arnold Schwhatsispelling said in Terminator - "I'll be back. Where else can I go, baby? "


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pappu Can't Cook Saala....

I suffer from 'cookslexia' . For the benefit of those scratching their heads and butts in perplexion, cookslexia is 'cooking dyslexia' - the sheer inability to cook. It is the condition where a man just cant cook even if someone were to point a Colt .32 at his thick skull. It is a condition where the poor male cant distinguish between sugar and salt, between tomato soup and tomato puree, or for that matter cant tell a jar of Glucose powder from a bottle of cocaine , just because they happen to appear similar. While inside a kitchen, the cookslexic male feels like Alice in Wonderland , going oooh and aaah at everything around him ( Oooh... is that thing over there really a potato peeler?..Wow! What do they use it for?)

I've been suffering from cookslexia all my life. Till date I don't know how to boil water, forget making a glass of lemonade. My room is reverberating with loud sounds of 'Thwack' - that's all you people collectively slapping your foreheads... I know I know... But, sadly, I still remain a cookslexic. All through my life I have survived gluttoning on Mom's cooking, roommates' cooking, roommates' girlfriends' cooking, inadequately subsidised office food, Hotel Swadisht Aahar, Kakke Da Dhaba, roadside thrash cans etc. Make no mistake, I am not trying to howl away my condition on the blogosphere in vain... There have been moments where I have tried to pull up my pants, turn a blind eye to my disability, and still enter a kitchen and try to cook. Unfortunately, the only person who had the courage, conviction and the will to taste a sample of the hotch-potch delicacies that I prepared was Golu - the streetside doggie. Even Golu used to refuse my dishes and take pity on my condition sometimes. "Bow wow, Parikshith..." he used to say to me "... you poor human being, you will have to eat that all that stuff yourself? Oh poor you, you don't have to. Here, let me offer a share of my dinner... Look what I picked from the garbage can for you. Have this, this should taste better than the stuff you made". Golu is a nice dog.

Anyway, despite my disability, I strongly believe that there are times when I can cook well, regardless of what others think. There are occasions when the dishes that I had prepared turned out to be truly tasty and mouth-watering. Since these occasions were very rare, I have photographed some of the excellent ones that I prepared, which I am proudly sharing with you all. Have a look.

Masala Dosa.

Green Salad


Butter Chicken

(I'm sorry, but the chicken flew away before I could photograph it)

My female friends are quite aghast at my cooking skills, or rather the lack of it. They don't understand my fight with cookslexia. I have heard them say "That Parikshith, how can he be so dumb in cooking yaaa... and he doesn't even know how to switch on the gas stove. I mean how yaaa?? All he knows is computers, sports and sex" . Point noted, dear ladies. Well, speaking of sex, there is a gross misconception among womenfolk that sex tops a man's list of desires. That is incorrect. Sex comes in at a close #2. It is food that occupies slot #1. If you need proof, then go approach a genuinely hungry man at lunchtime and ask him if he wants to enjoy a dressed salad or an undressed Paris Hilton. You will always see him beggingly opt for the former.

To top my long list of ironies, I am a vegetarian. In other words, I don't eat anything that walks on its legs or crawls on its belly. And I would prefer to leave the fish in lakes, ponds and Oceans rather than convert my stomach into a marine aquarium. Strictly and technically speaking, the only non-vegetarian food I consume is the ubiquitous white liquid that is squirted out of a buffalo's nipples. But I must say, I have a grudging admiration towards the non-vegetarians. Hats off man!, I mean those non-veggies can survive anywhere, anyplace. Even if they were to be shipwrecked and marooned on a remote uninhabited island, they can still survive by eating 'tadpole manchurian' for dinner. But I, oh boy, am a masterpiece, ain't I? Can't eat non-vegetarian, can't cook vegetarian. Ha! Actually, I shudder to think what would happen to me, if my job requires me to be posted long-term in places where the availability of vegetarian food is as scarce as water on Mars. These places include parts of the U.S, Europe or why, even Kerala ( During a recent visit to Kerala, I approached a stranger on the roadside and asked him if there was any pure vegetarian Kerala-style restaurant nearby. He died of a lung failure caused due to excessive laughing) . Thus, common sense says that I should learn to cook. But I cant cook because I am cookslexic.

As I type away, flashbacks of a cookslexic incident from the past come rushing into my mind. It was a romantic evening in the winter of 2004, and I was flirting with a beautiful (read dumb) girl from college, at a swanky neighborhood diner. Like a typical man, I was in my elements, literally on cruise mode, interspersing smooth talk with boastful rants about extra-ordinary qualities that I possessed. Smooth talk included "Hey, isn't it cold in here? Let's go sit on the tandoor to warm things up". Boastful rants included " I have 24-inch biceps, you can't see it because the shirt is kinda thick at the sleeves..." , and " Hey did you know I am an artist too, I helped Leonardo draw Mona Lisa's eyebrows..." etc. etc. I could see from her rolled-up eyes that she was really enjoying my company and getting really impressed with me. And that is when I took it a bit too far. In a moment of pure foolishness, I told her how great a chef I was , and how friends just adored the wonderful dishes that I made. I realized my mistake a split second after I let the last syllable out of my mouth. "Oh shit, you fat-ass" , I silently screamed to myself. And just as I feared, the girl believed me and took up the matter.

Girl: "Wow, oh wow Parry. You cook too? Really haan? Wow, you know I love cooking too".
Me: "Oh nice, same pinch"
Girl: "So what dishes do you prepare? Any good Italian dishes?
Me (thinking in private:) : Italian, yeah right. I don't know how to roll a chapatti here and Mamma mia has reached Italy.
Me (responding) : "Italian, well I know just the pasta. That too only two or three varieties. Its so boring to make pastas, you know. And it is messy to make. Its been long time since I cooked pasta..."
Girl: "Oh... yeah pasta is messy. Hey you know yesterday I was trying to make samosas..."
Me: "Umm... hmmm?..."
Girl: "And I simply am not able to get its stuffing right..."
Me: "Yeah, you should know how to 'stuff it'..."
Girl: "Yeah, and I was trying and... hey do you know how to make samosas? Do you have a recipe?"
Me(thinking in private): No, no, Say no, say no - you moron
Me(responding) : "Yes, definitely."
Girl: "Oh wow! great... Can you share your recipe with me? Pleeeaase? Puh-leease?"
Me(thinking in private) : Last chance, say 'NO' , you idiot
Me(responding) : "Yes, of course! Making samosas is child's play. I know the recipe by-heart" Girl: "Oh thats great. Can you mail me the recipe tomorrow? Puh-leease!"
Me: "Sure"
Girl: " I am soooo happy"
Me(mumbling under my breath) : "And I am soooo fucked"
Girl: "Did you say something?"
Me: "No, was just wondering if I could kiss you"
Girl: "Of course not!"
Me: "Thank you."
Girl: "Ok, don't forget to send me the recipe tomorrow. Awww, you're so cute".. Nighty 'night.
Me: "Err... OK, bye"

I walked back home silently that night, fiercely resisting the urge to bang my head against every concrete structure in the vicinity. Darn,what a spot had I put myself into? Now this was a queer situation- I could not ask my folks or friends for the recipe- they would have laughed themselves to the moon and ridiculed me silly had they they got to know the reason. And I couldn't Google for it, as the girl wanted something original from me. Darn my honesty. Now- men would understand this bit of emotion- I had pride at stake. I mean here was a girl who had asked me for something , and was I going to wander about town asking for help? Certainly not, sir. I was going to do this myself. I had to do this myself. Sadly, that's what happens... when you mix boisterous male ego with unnecessary bravado and an unadulterated dose of stupidity- what you get is a dangerous moron like me. So, I rolled up my sleeves and wrote her the recipe myself. The original, delicious samosa recipe, straight from the kitchens of yours truly. I think I did a good job, I am sharing the recipe that I had sent her with you all. Have a look.

Recipe: Samosa.

Ingredients: Nothing specific, any choice of ingredients should be fine, as long as they all add up to make a samosa.


1) Take a clean pan.

2) Politely greet the spider and promptly chase away the cockroaches hiding inside the pan.

3) Pour some oil into the pan and heat it. Any oil should be fine- cooking, lubricating, sewing etc.

4) Make sure that the oil heats for a few minutes. Be patient.

5) Add 1/2 teaspoon of whatever powder that is in that little box on the shelf.. yeah that one. And then add 1/4 tablespoon of that whatchamamacallit green colored thing over there into the mixture. Gently keep stirring the pan.

6) And then pray, pray and pray. Pray to the Almighty. Light candles, chant verses, do whatever, but pray real hard.

7) If your prayers have successfully registered in the Internet servers of Heaven, then a blinding flash of white light will appear from the skies. And voila! the samosa will be found ready in the pan.

8) Serve hot.

I mailed her the recipe. Sadly, I never heard from her again. I don't know why. These stupid girls have no courtesy, I tell you. I thought she didn't like my recipe, so to make up, I sent her a lovely bouquet of cauli-flowers. No response, either. *Sob* :-'(

Well, coming back to me, I must say there have been near and dear ones who've tried to extend a hand of help , and made an effort to teach me the art of cooking. Mom was the first person to try, but quickly gave up after I burnt part of her kitchen down. There was however, one dear friend of mine- a fellow bachelor who happened to be a mindblowing cook. Now this guy was a bloody modern day aberration- a bachelor who cooked like a dream. Bah! Anyway, one fine day the great chef decided to take it on himself to teach me, his culinarily illiterate friend, the fine art of cooking. What followed next was a Commando-style training, which included fetching vegetables from the market, learning to wash them ( I always forgot this part) , using a knife in a non Bollywood-style etc. I learnt to deal with the mood swings of a pressure cooker, I went about identifying the right mix of ingredients to make edible food. Slowly and steadily I began to make progress. I started recognizing grocery items and vegetables.... the Radishes, the Beetroots, The Cabbages. I learnt to look at a Lady's finger without exclaiming "Hey no engagement ring, so she should be single!" .

But as they say, all good things must come to an end - and that's exactly what happened to my cooking sojourn. A week later, my trainer friend decided to test my knowledge. The bastard. The task he gave me was simple - "Make a bowl of sambar". That's it... I just had to prepare some sambar without any one's help or supervision. Okey-dokey, I thought. What's sambar for me... a stupid liquid that can be prepared in a flash. I sauntered into the kitchen with the kind of swagger, that would've made people think that I was Mr. Alexander going out to conquer the world. And that's when disaster struck- I had a severe attack of cookslexia. The brain went into screen-saver mode, the hands stayed firmly inside the pockets, and I stared around the kitchen, blank, perplexed, and wondering what the hell were those little boxes of ingredients doing on the kitchen shelf. I regretted the condescending opinion that I accorded to sambar a few minutes back- making sambar now seemed to be an exercise of Herculean magnitude. But I still went ahead and prepared it.

First, I boiled some water in a vessel and waited. And then I waited some more. Just before the water entered into the evaporation mode, I quietly added some yellow and orange colored Holi powder into the vessel. I stirred the mixture with a spoon until the mixture acquired a brilliant color. Then, I plucked some leaves from a nearby tree and added them for garnishing. Voila! My sambar was ready! I thought I had done a decent job. But my trainer buddy, who happened to taste it, certainly didn't think so. In fact, I had a tough time in restraining him from killing himself - he desperately wanted to jump off the terrace when I told him what the recipe was. I don't know why. But anyway, that was the last time I tried cooking.

Ok, now that you have read so far and empathize with my condition ( please suppress those smirks and the tee-hees, will ya?) , I have an earnest appeal to make. This appeal goes out to all the single and eligible ladies reading this post. Doctors say that there is only one possible medical cure for cookslexic men - MARRIAGE!!!! . No, no, I am not trying to be a chauvinistic pig here - this is really a scientific, medical opinion... I can show you the note from the illiterate doctor who diagnosed my condition. Well, all you wonderful ladies out there are so naturally endowed and blessed with extraordinary cooking talent. That is a wonderful, wonderful thing for you ladies to have. And cookslexic men like me need support, care, love, Butter Roti, Green peas masala and gajar ka halwa to survive. So, putting 2 and 2 together, dear Ladies, will anyone of you please marry me?... ( Just a sec, since this is an emotional moment, let me go find some canned tapes containing sounds of 'Awwwwww' to fill the background).

But please be forewarned, dear ladies, please don't get seduced by my rock star looks or my Greek God body. Please always remember that the package called myself, comes with a caveat of being a severely cookslexic moron. But one thing I will promise you. I will eat anything and everything that you make without a murmur of a complaint (at the count of 3, lets all go 'Awwwww'). I promise, I will eat the sandwich prepared by you, even its as burnt as charcoal ( 1-2-3 Awwwwww). I promise I will eat the curry prepared by you even if you've added all the salt from the Arabian sea into it ( 1-2-3 Awwwwww). I promise I will shower you with eloquent praise and sweet kisses, for each dish you've made for me ( 1-2-3 Awwwww) , ...even if the dishes you prepared caused me to spend an entire day in the lavatory (1-2-3 Aww... oops hold on hold on , this is the wrong line to go Awwwww) . So there, thats how it is, dear ladies. I am sure it will be a very long time before medical science discovers a new drug to cure cookslexia, so till then, I am heavily relying on one of you to marry me. :-)

OK, people. I presume the issue is settled, the matter is done and dusted. I have bared my heart, soul and stomach. I am a cookslexic. I guess that's how it will be. I am the Pappu who can't cook. And lets raise a burnt toast to that!

Culinarily yours,

*************************** THE END **********************************
**************************** GO HAVE YOUR ASPIRINS*******************