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Archive for July, 2009

This is a short story i started last night. Just a start. Have to finish it. Maybe sometime.

He lit a cigarette and slowly sank down into his chair. The lights were turned dim, almost off, so the room was dark. ‘I like the dark’ he thought to himself, ‘ I like the dark because then I can see the past, ghosts, only ghosts, but more or less real’. He stared intently at the fire tamed b/w his finger tips. He stared almost as to command it. It was at his mercy. To do his bidding. He felt awash by power over nature.  And then the ghosts came.

The music slowly settled over the room, like a fog. The fog that blanketed the ghosts; Vague, hazy images, just at his finger tips. If he reached far enough, he could almost touch them. Evaporating into a mist if he reached too far. Leaving his heart heavy, like weighed down to the bottom of the ocean with  lead. A prisoner convicted of the dying by drowning, content and at peace with his fate. There was no struggle, no pain, no regret, only naked truth.

They always went gentle on him, the ghosts, always. Cloying him. Slowly drawing him in, like a virgin on her marital bed. He never got used to it. He never saw; they’re seducing him, laying down bread crumbs to follow.

Slowly he succumbed to them, the red glow of the cigarette flickering at his finger tips.

‘The music’ He quietly thought, ‘Its always the music that brings them back from the depths. Raising them to its sweet song’

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Pindi Photoshoot

Pindi Ruins

Pindi Ruins

Edit: This is the first decent piece in a while. I am thinking of doing a full fledged article on it. Would be same, maybe a little edits and more detail. Wrote it in the office, a little rushed.

Note: I sent this post to The Friday Times as an article after making said edits. The editor asked me to remove this post as they cannot publish something off a blog it self. So after it is published by next friday, i shall put it back up.

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For a week or so now, i have not had a break through creative idea. Either in writing or in photography or in painting. Its gotten to a point where its starting to piss me off. So em browsing through tons and tons of photographs online, hoping to see something that might click.

I dont want to do portraits on the roof or in my room against a black back drop i have. Its getting old now. Playing around with some hold pics in Lightroom, just for fun.

What i want is some new work, some new idea for a portrait or something.

Maybe its also the summer heat. Leave you lazy and brain dead, not having the will to do anything by lay and watch tv or read a book.

Speaking of books, i got Mrs Dalloway by Virgina Wolf, finally. Since i had watched the Hours years back, i have been wanting to read it. But these classic novels are as dense as they get. I am so used to reading contemporary fiction that classics sort of start to bore me.

Something i found that intrests my eye.

Image by .robbie

Image by .robbie

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Eclipse

PAKISTAN-SCIENCE-ASTRONOMY-ECLIPSE-ASIAThere was a Solar Eclipse. 6 min of darkness over Asia, and i had no idea. I dont know how i missed it. And now browsing the pictures over the internet, i find myself saying, could have been me, taking that shot. Me me me. Ah well. If i live to see the next one, till then!

And here is how the pakistani people react to it. Bury children in the sand, hoping they would be healed. It would be lucky if they didnt go blind from exposure to the UV rays.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/12-children+buried+up+to+their+necks+for+eclipse+healing–bi-10

Raza my editor emailed me about when my next piece is coming. I’ve lost my mojo. But i shouldnt loose my head. I’l be uploading whatever i write here too.

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peshawer

So here i am in peshawer, at the heartland of the taliban uprising. Will bombs start dropping in on me plunging the city back into the medival ages, without phones and tv and internet. I highly doubt it. people arent hiding away in bunkers or going around town wearing bulletproof vests. They’r going about their daily lives in the same manner everyone else is. Hoping they dont get killed, kidnapped or blown away.

Before leaving islamabad, my only concern was the number of ‘security checks’ we would have to pass through enroute… but voila, there were almost none. The motor way was one long highway to speed on. And before you know it, you’ve entered the once, beautiful city.

It still has a character of its own, like an old couple, the people and the city have gone through much together, but they still cling on to each other for hope and warmth.

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I just disovered the cool effect of rear curtain flash! I had my cousin run from my room up the corridor towards me, and i caught a nice blur behind him as he ran past me, and a solid him at the end of the fine blur. The photo’s suck in terms of compositon and aesthetics but man did i learn a neat trick. Next time em doing long exposures of incoming traffic, i’l use this. Create some cool photo’s hopefully. I am not going to upload the photo’s i just took past midnight on my deviant page.

More on rear curtain flash? For the benefit of anyone who might or might not be reading this, here’s a lil excerpt from Yanik Photography school (http://yanikphotoschool.com/tips/the-joys-of-rear-curtain-flash/)

Not convinced yet? Let’s say you’re at a wedding shooting indoors and it’s quite dark. You have your trusty SB-800 or 580EX II on your camera, set to default front curtain, and you’re shooting in Aperture Priority (A) mode. What’s your slowest shutter speed? Go ahead check. You can check it with your built-in flash as well, it’ll be the same. So? Yup, you got it. You can’t go below 1/60 sec. in P or A mode. Why? The camera’s smart and doesn’t want you to make blury photos, that’s why. :) What will happen at 1/60 sec. in a dark room? A properly exposed subject (by the flash) and a completely dark background loosing all the ambiance of the party.
vide The Joys of Rear Curtain Flash!
If your camera is set to rear curtain, you can be in any mode (P, A, S /Tv and M) and the camera will adjust to the ambient light then fire the flash at the end of the exposure.

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Vikram Seth

A Suitable Boy-Vikram Seth

A Suitable Boy-Vikram Seth

This isnt just to fill the space. Well ok maybe it is, since em sitting in my grey cubicle with zero privacy and a lot of glances towards my monitor. But then, why should i care. I am cheating my measly income.

QID sent me a link, ‘Asian Window’ http://www.asianwindow.com. Ablessing if your looking to read some interesting selection of articles and interviews. What better way to spend your days, idlying away.

My thoughts are crisscrossed in my head, and i cant untangle them to write something orignal. So i’l paste an excerpt from an interview with Vikram Seth, author of a Suitable Boy. On the subject of money for writing. It echoes with my own.

Young Vikram Seth sunbathing in San Fransisco

Young Vikram Seth sunbathing in San Fransisco

Vikram Seth’s announcement last week of a sequel to his popular novel A Suitable Boy, came as a shot in the arm for the publishing industry plunged into its worst-ever crisis. Penguin grabbed the English language rights (except in the US) for a record advance, reportedly around Rs 14 crore. Lying lazily in bed in his heritage country house in UK, the literary superstar talks with Sheela Reddy about almost everything under the sun but the actual writing. You are the first Indian writer to have got, and continue to get, a big advance, in a way professionalising writing, making it possible to earn a living from it without resorting to a day job?

I never thought that would happen.

Money was never a motivation but it gives me the time to concentrate on writing and other things that interest me.
If you look at my first two novels—The Golden Gate and A Suitable Boy—no one would have thought they would get a decent advance—and of course, The Golden Gate didn’t. That (money) was never my initial motivation. But I am very grateful that it actually gives me the
time to concentrate on writing and other things that interest me, rather than being tied to some other kind of job. Or worse, a job involving words which I think depletes one of a particular kind of energy. Money is not your initial motivation for writing, but you still fight hard to ensure you get a high advance?

Absolutely. I wish I had a patron, but I don’t. Anything that I live on is what I’ve earned myself. Those books of mine that are remunerative—I’m not talking about poetry here—take years to write, and I am never sure they’ll be successful. So writing is a risk in more senses than one.

Over the short period when you are negotiating, you might as well bring to bear all your economic knowledge and all your close reading of whatever is on offer. I think that’s only right. I wish more writers would do it. So you think all writers should hire a good agent?
My working methods are too boring for words. I am erratic and lazy. I write in bed. In fact, I’m lying in bed right now.

I think a good agent is important but a writer shouldn’t just depend on the agent. He (or she) should also familiarise himself with the rather boring terms of the (publisher’s) contract, and see if he wants to give away certain rights or not.

What’s your advice to a writer on how to fight for a good advance?

I think a lot depends on what your bargaining power is. I don’t know how much bargaining power I would have had at the beginning. But even at the beginning one should read the contract and not be so grateful that you just roll over and accept whatever a publisher demands. Publishers are tough cookies.

Does taking a big advance place a burden on you?

A little bit, yes. By having taken an advance I am in a kind of debt, so I have to write the book. It’s true that Penguin is a large company and wouldn’t go bust if I didn’t write a book that gave them adequate sales, but since people have put their trust in me, I have to at least try to deliver a manuscript within a reasonable period. Now whether that puts too much pressure on me or not, I’d say on the whole, not. Because I wouldn’t have tendered the book in the first place if I was not already enthused about writing it.

Could you describe your working methods—a typical writing day?

No, no, it’s too boring for words. I am a very erratic and lazy person. I write in bed. In fact, I am lying in bed during this interview, staring at a pleasant view and thinking: I’d better get up now. The problem with too beautiful a view is that it’s alright for the mulling stage. But for the writing stage, you want to be somewhere without a view, especially if it is very different from what you’re writing.
Contd on http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20090720&fname=AVikram+Seth&sid=1

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