Books, Lit Fests, News, Movies, Art, Fashion and TV of course... "I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book." - GROUCHO MARX

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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I am in the business of news. More often than not, it's bad news. A blast here, another there.

Senseless acts of killing from Iraq to Afghanistan to Kashmir to Sri Lanka to East Timor. Having spent close to 15 years in various newsrooms, looking at horrible pictures of bodies, often charred beyond recognition, I am still stunned by how much pain we as human beings can inflict on another one of our own kind.

As I take the early morning steps to the newsroom, it's a silent prayer for peace. That, of course, is before I start looking at the wires and the pictures. Every morning, as it unfolds, is marred by violence is some part of our unsettled world. Just as this morning was.

I logged in to see award-winning Sri Lankan author Nihal de Silva's (of 'The Road From Elephant Pass' & 'Ginirella Conspiracy' fame) name in one of the wires.

At first glance, it seemed innocuous enough. The story ran:

"Award-winning Sri Lankan author Nihal is among those feared dead in a wildlife park blast."

The name rang a bell. Nihal happens to be a good friend of Captain Elmo Jayawardena - the awe-inspiring Singapore Airlines pilot, who doubles up as an author and humanitarian.

I did another search and this showed up:
"How much more pain can we take? How many more years are we going to go on?" asked leading local artist Anoma Wijewardene, whose latest exhibition was inspired by hopes for peace but now coincides with a new rash of death - that of award-winning local author Nihal de Silva.

"I really wonder how many images how many words, how many tears, how many lives, how many deaths it will take before we understand that we are our killing ourselves, we are self destructing," she said. "This is the fourth friend I have lost."

Nihal and seven others were killed by suspected Tamil Tiger landmines while tracking wild elephants in a park in the island's northwest. The Tigers denied any hand in the incident."

Hoping against hope, I immediately emailed Captain Elmo and Janet de Neefe - Nihal was supposed to be at this year's Ubud Writers Festival.

There was a sense of dread, the news was true, somehow I waited for Captain to tell me it wasn't.
But that was not to be... He responded with this moving tribute:

"Dear Deepika and Janet
He will be buried today. I wrote this for him - the least I could do.


Nihal de Silva is no more. He had his last round of life in the fairways of the Wilpattu National Game Park, a place he loved so much.

Was there a meaning to his tragic death? Why did he have to die so cruelly and brutally? A man who had nothing to do with the ethnic conflict that has plagued us all for so long?

He was only an ordinary human being, like the rest of us; played his lousy golf and sold water and wrote brave and beautiful prose. Nihal won the Gratiaen Award and the State Literary Award, writing courageously about political parasites and their terminal torture of a nation and its helpless masses.

His death has no direct connection to anything ethnic or anything political. That is the absurdity of it all. Why a man gets wiped away from the face of the earth for going to look at elephants and stepping on a land mine that has been placed to demark the boundary between sanity and insanity.

Nihal was my friend, Shirley is my friend and Shanik and Shamal are my friends. What do I tell them? I tell them the same as I would tell anyone, that Nihal de Silva was a wonderful human being who walked this planet in steps that bothered none; an adoring husband and a loving father and a wonderful friend to all.

One thing he knew well was to laugh, and he laughed and we laughed. The last time we met we went to eat 'oppers and 'ot curry in Nawala and talked about going to Bali to a writer's festival in September for which we were both invited.

Now there is no more Bali, no more Nihal and no more laughter for me to share with him.

Good-bye Nihal, my dear friend of the risibility we wrote and idiocy we planned to write. Sometimes I wonder whether you ever knew how much I appreciated you as an author or for that matter how much I will miss you as a friend.

Good bye ABVB - this is from BVB- the line is only for us, where ever you maybe.

The sadness swallows me and the absurdity is almost insane.

I cannot write anymore, the key board is wet." - ELMO JAYAWARDENA

It may be business as usual for you, but before you set out for the day... take a moment to pause, reflect and remember Nihal and all those people who die for the very things that they have lived for.

For the record, the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972.

More than 200 people died last month alone despite a four-year truce between government forces and the rebels, brokered by Norway.

Isn't it time for someone, somewhere to do something beyond just talking about an uneasy peace?

Friday, May 26, 2006


If you have been wondering:
- Why your boss is hugely overpaid and you can't share their pain when they get a pay cut?

- Why some people are doomed losers in the property market?
(that's us by the way - we are still answering that burning question - How does one lose money on property? For 30 easy tips or more, Bala and I are just an email away!)

- Why is it that the rich nations get richer, the poor, what else but poorer?

- What is it that the Supermarkets don't want you to know?

- Most significantly, why does your cappuccino cost the horrendous amount that it does?

- How China grew rich?
Then this is just the book for you.

If not, then look for other ways to spend your weekend. I read it in one sitting and entirely agreed with Steven D Levitt's bold endorsement "Required Reading."

If the author of Freakonomics says that, who am I to disagree?


Some folks have it, others don't - stage presence that is. Some can get on stage and get the audience jumping and jiving in minutes. Think A R Rahman (that was a surprise, but the man did it in Singapore), think Kailash Kher - the man packs punch for someone his size, think Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan.

So when two of India's hottest voices got together to rock Singapore at a stage that has been brought alive by the likes of 'Queen' - the Australian version, there sure was reason to party.

It was KK teaming up with none other than the crooner of the moment - Sunidhi Chauhan.

Between the two of them, they have hits like 'Dhoom Machale', 'Aa bhi ja', 'Kaisi Paheli Zindagani', 'Sajna ve Sajna' - Sunidhi.
'Dus Bahane', 'Tu Aashiqui Hai', 'It's the time to Disco', 'Chodh aaye hum woh galiyan' - K K.

With a list like that, there was reason to have audience tearing their lungs, hair and clothes.

That's just what they did when KK took centre-stage. His band was good. Even when he hit the expected high notes, the music didn't drown the sound. And like 'Queen' did before him, he proved The Esplanade is not just a venue that appears to be seemingly perfect for the opera.

He had the audience on their feet, swaying to his beat, one Aunty even presenting her dupatta while jiving to the best of KK including the stunning number from Iqbal.

In a moment that evoked visions of Shah Rukh in his 'Kal Ho Na Ho' just chill, chill moments, KK even got an usher who was doing his best to keep the dancing feet off the stage to 'SMILE'. With his sizzling, high energy foot tapping numbers, he had set the stage on fire. All Sunidhi needed to do was maintain that tempo.

Being a child prodigy, all of 22 now, the expectations were expectedly high. Somehow, Sunidhi simply failed to capitalise and take the show to the next level.

Her song selection appeared a bit strange. After all that dancing, no one wants to be lulled back into their seats. Guess, it would have been alright, if one were to hear her voice only, but it kept getting lost in the medley of her band. She tried her best to get the audience on their toes, forgetting that's something that comes from within.

You give the rocking music, the dancing sure will follow. While I love Sunidhi's voice, particularly that soulful number in Fanaa, I feel she still has
some time to go, before taking to the stage solo.

KK, though is quite another story. Teaming him up with the other KK - Kailash Kher - now that would be something and you wouldn't even need 10 good reasons to party.


On most mornings, I feel like this. Blame it on waking up five days a week at 2am or earlier. On Fridays, I want to feel like this.... end up feeling amazingly energized. Shall I blame it on the weekend?

Monday, May 22, 2006


There are days when your kids send you spiralling into a state of disbelief.

Yesterday, happened to be one of them. First, my three year old arrived face all flushed, shirt pulled out of his shorts, flinging his legs samurai like, ready to take me on.

"What happened?", I asked puzzled.

"R (let him remain unnamed, lest the parents visit this blog, highly unlikely, though the world's small) told me SHAADD-UP. I angry."

"So what did you do?", I asked.

"I SHAADD-UP", he said proudly.

"Then why are you flinging your arms and legs at me now," I asked even more flustered.

"Mamma, I very angry now."

There it was another case, of my mild fella who only believes in venting his anger on his mom and his sis. So much for standing up for oneself.

Speaking of the sis, having survived the samurai punches, I got an even bigger blow when my six year old going on 20 matter of factly declared in the course of her exam work.

"Today, my teacher was very angry."

Me: "Why?"

Aneesha: "Because this girl _ said F### to this boy _."

Me: "What?"

Aneesha: "Don't get excited Mamma. _ and _ say it all the time in the playground."

Me: "I hope you are NOT using it."

Aneesha: "Why, is it a bad word?"

Me: Yes

Aneesha: "What does it mean?"

Me: Hyper-ventilating, desperately attempting to change the topic. "Never mind whatever happened to Pretty's nest, did Grace blow it away? And don't ever use that word, EVER, OK."

There it is, you can curtail the TV, mind your P's, Q's and F's but they'll pick up all they don't need to know from some place that is simply beyond your control.

So if anyone knows more ways of keeping them safe and not turning beetroot red as the questions start getting increasingly complex - mail me.

I'm all ears, after being flung at the deep end not once but twice in a day. Speak of double whammys.

Then as the wise ones say 'the kids, they teach us.'


We all know make-up maketh a woman. To what extent though? Check out this Mid-Day piece to figure out what's in a face without grease-paint. Pretty faces will never be the same again....


The mere mention of that meeting evokes a sense of dread in me. For one, you get allocated a certain time. On paper, its five minutes per teacher. Heaving, huffing, breathless, you reach the scene in the perpetual hope that a schedule will be a schedule. Things will stick to the stipulated time. They almost never do. For one, some parents prefer learning all about their child from the teachers, which I believe, really shouldn't be the case. After all if as a Mom and a Dad you don't know your child, who else will?

So things as they stand unfolded in a rather predictable fashion on Saturday.

Fast, forward, backward, whichever way you roll, you'll get one of those parents who will hold up the queue. Somehow, the said person will also lack the vision of hindsight and will not for once budge his or head to shed just a glance at what's happening right behind their back.

Hence, when a certain lady in green rather appropriately took over even more rightly, charge of my daughter's Environmental Studies teacher, I lined up first for 10 minutes, then the clock started ticking away, soon it was another 20 minutes, before I knew it I had already been standing there for a good 30 minutes.

Just what is it that these parents discuss, I often wonder? More so when it involves frustrating waits.

As far as I am concerned, there are only three options:
a) Your child is coping
b) Your child isn't coping
c) Your child desperately needs help (if that's the case then, as a parent you desperately need another session)

Well, given the sheer length of the conversation, I'd safely think a one-on-one session was what this particular parent would need. But I didn't really care as long as I could get my five minute's worth.

Having met the teacher earlier, I wasn't expecting much, so the nature of the chat didn't come as a surprise. As I'd anticipated, I heard more about the taming of daughter's thick mane, than on her ability to cope with the academics itself - the nature of that chat merits another post, something I'll save for later.

In a hurry to end the taming of my kiddoes wild mane and even wilder spirit, I asked if she was doing fine is class.

Then it all unfolded, "yes, but, she can do with better concentration."

"Oh, ok, thank you," I said having heard that line so many times before.

Of course, whenever I'm thrown that bit about concentration, the first thought that flashes through my mind is whether the teacher himself or herself is getting it right.

Often, teachers who have the right amount of passion and dedication for the job, never have a problem getting kids to concentrate in class. Even the thoughts they share about their child come flourished with tons of optimism. For them the glass is always half full, the shades always white. Then again, such 'Teacher Men and Women' are far and few between.

Which is partly why, when I meet Aneesha's subject teachers I was simply blown away. Having spent a good four years hearing more rants than raves, their comments came as a real whiff of fresh air.

Both of them praised her spirit of independence, enterprise and determination to help.

In fact, virtually bringing tears to my eyes, was her calm and composed class teacher, who said these words that I shall treasure for the rest of my life:

"I am really fortunate to have Aneesha in my class, she is a very fine child. You have done a fine job of bringing her up."

I hope these words will ring true even when she steps into her wise teenage years. The time when she will apparently know more than the sum of Bala and my brains.

Till then I'm gonna count my blessings to have her as my lil gal who truly brings out the best in me..... with or without her untamed hair that is.

Friday, May 19, 2006


By Gregory David Roberts
Publisher Abacus. 2003.

Most books can be read and reviewed. Or so I think. Books like 'Shantaram' though are far and few between. Beyond being just another book, they happen belong to a class if work, reading which can transform life the way you've known it.

If you think your life sucks, try for a moment follow 'Shantaram's' footsteps and spend maybe a day, or if a day sounds a bit too much a couple of hours in a crowded Bombay slum. If that seems easy, then make the path slightly more challenging by taking a couple of steps into the Arthur Road prison. Too easy. Then head to Afghanistan only to be confronted by hostile forces whichever side you choose look at.

Even as the bullets whiz through every conceivable corner, keep your faith alive, continue believing in the essential goodness of people around you. Something that becomes manifest only in moments of adversity.

They say a lot of things are not for the faint-hearted. So I'll be honest. Not that I was born with that proverbial silver-spoon in my mouth, but I really couldn't undertake even half of the amazing journeys that Australian author Gregory David Roberts takes you on. And each of these unfold bit by bit in this remarkable work that is clearly a long labour of love.

After all, this book has been 11 years in the making, Roberts has seen a couple of drafts destroyed by the prison guards. Though he refused to let that dent his spirit and carried on with what he knew best. That included a lot of stuff that sounds confessional, a lot of stuff that is gripping, a whole lot more moving - all of which works together to put this magnum opus in that rare category that I love to call 'unputdownable.'

A magnum opus it truly is. At 936 pages in its trade paper version, the journey is not for the light wristed. In the one month that I spent reading it, I perfected the art of using extra cushions to get the reading posture right.

I laughed when the journey first began. A journey that saw Lin, the protagonist being transformed into a person he probably himself imagined he could be. His discovery of the eager eyed, wide-smiled guide Prabhakar, the travel to the village, the subsequent move to Prabhakar's village. Then there are Lin's intriguing circle of friends who almost come alive as you flip to the next page with bated breath.

I have this picture of Karla, Vikram, Maurizio, Lettie, Kaderbhai and a whole lot of others. Which is partly why I wait I just can't wait to see if Johnny Depp's cinematic version will do justice to all of them or at least to some of them. Will they leap out of the movie screen, just as they do in the pages of the book?

It's going to be sometime before we figure that out, in the interim you could get things going by getting a copy of 'Shantaram' and embarking on a journey that will certainly help you see the white in the black.

Most of you, have already heard this from me, but I am going to say it one more time, after all who's to stop me, this is my space - if there is one book you intend to read in your lifetime, make it 'Shantaram'.

I won't end this without sharing my favourite Shantaram bits though:

"Nobody is ever naked in India. And especially, nobody is naked without clothes. do you take a shower?
....By wearing the over-underpants over underpants."

"There's a truth deeper than experience. It's beyond what we see, or even what we feel. It's an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and the reality from the perception. We're helpless, usually, in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it, like the cost of knowing love, is sometimes greater than any hear would willingly pay. It doesn't always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart, just as Prabhakar told it to me, just as I'm telling it to you now."

"The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men, he said. It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds, and bad deeds. Men are just men - it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good and evil."

"I stood in the harsh electric light of that new tunnel, in Bombay's Arthur Road Prison, and I wanted to laugh. Hey guys, I wanted to say, can't you be a little more original? But I couldn't speak. Fear dries a man's mouth, and hate strangles him. That's why hate has no great literature: real fear and real hate have no words."

"That's how we keep this crazy place together - with the heart.... India is the heart. It's the heart that keeps us together. There's no place with people, like my people, Lin. There's no heart like the INDIAN HEART."

Need I say more?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


It isn't often that we get shots this perfect. At least not with the two of us. At home either one of the kids is jostling for attention, Dhruv wants to be in the frame, he's still 3, you see, Aneesha fretting and frowning about being asked to be part of the frame, she's 6, so you know... So we usually end up with an eye here or a frown there kind of shot.

This was different though. For a start there was Kingfisher, that brought out that wide smile on Bala's face. He was also photographed by the Kingfisher men, solo, though I reckon it wouldn't make it to the famous calender coz as we all know a suit just can't match a swim suit or shall I say a Speedo.

Enough of that, the occasion of this shot also marked our little search for the formula of happiness. No, we didn't derive our own happiness quotient, but were soon to watch the theatrical opening of the 'New Zealand, New Thinking Festival.' Thanks to the kindness of all the wonderful Kiwis I have met in the last one and a half year, this invite was a treasured one.

I had heard tons about New Zealand's Indian ink Theatre Company and this was a clearly an opening not to be missed.

After all they were back with 'The Candlestickmaker' together with 'Krishnan's Dairy' - both of which have smashed box office records in both New Zealand and the UK. To date, over 140,000 people across the world have watched these plays, a response that has even taken the Indian ink pioneers - the remarkable Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis by surprise.

It isn't everyday that ideas are born with a 'serious laugh', but that was pretty much how the story of their theatre group began. They wanted to use humour to help people lighten up and then slip in something serious. And the seriousness sure does come in 'masked' with a lot of fun and adventure. By combining Western theatrical traditions with Indian flavours, their plays set out to narrate stories that cut across cultures to touch just about everyone in the audience.

That's precisely what 'The Candlestickmaker' did that night. It was a discovery of black holes, a tribute to the Nobel prize winning astrophysicist Subramanyam Chandrashekhar. Then there is the young New Zealand student, Lonely Planet in hand, who sets off to discover India but ends up unravelling some mysteries of the universe instead. And it is through some of those mysteries, that the sheer joys of life unfold.

'The Candlestickmaker' packed profound messages and while everyone played their part to perfection both on and off stage, the evening clearly belonged to the immensely talented Jacob Rajan, who flitted through the many characters in a way that only the best actors can.

If you haven't already heard it - Indian ink's shows are certainly not to be missed. So if they do head to a theatre near you, you know exactly what to do.

Of course, there's also a cinematic version of 'Krishnan's Dairy' in the works, but then nothing beats the sheer pleasure of theatre - with or without the Kingfisher.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


You sneeze until the lungs feel like they are going to pop. You freeze with the chills. The knees go weak, each time you attempt to stand. The computer becomes a blur, the tears come pouring, then the people around you start blurring. So you pop the panadol and tell yourself it's going to be alright. After all that magic pill has worked for years, why should it not another time?

Along the way, you forget, that you have been punishing your body, pushing it to the extreme, waking up at all the wrong hours - even if it means getting to work. Not getting that proverbial much-needed rest along the way. Then one day, after all those years of Panadol popping, the wonder in a circle simply doesn't work.

Something along those lines happened to me last week. Yes, I've been prone to the usual rounds of cough, cold, sneezes, but nothing that the off the counter pill couldn't fix.

Not this time round. Showing up at work despite seeing the stars during the day, I was confident of breezing past the day. That was till every bone in my body started complaining. Soon it was way too much and with a much needed spurt of energy, I got my aching self home. From there things deteriorated quick time. A full blown fever, with spectacularly enlarged tonsils only compounded matters.

Each time I attempted to lift my head from my pillow, my brain (or whatever was left of it, seemed to soar). That was till the doctor peered deep into it and diagnosed it as a mother of all flus. I thought two or three days would fix it all.

Never been so wrong. Soon the voice was gone. The kids were pleased. They fought at will for a week. Though when they did take the brief respites they often worried about the mortal question: "Are you dying?" That was sweet, the frankness of their concern.

A week later, the body is back, but the spirit is still weak.

I am up, not quite about.... living in the eternal hope that my sandy throat will live to see better days. Till then I sip my honey and lime before I get back to the books.

Monday, May 01, 2006


The Match by Romesh Gunesekera. Publisher Bloomsbury. Pages 320. Price Singapore $28.50. 2006.

My reading over the past couple of weeks has been over-shadowed by an obsession with Shantaram. Yes, the wrist breaking magnum opus that takes you to India and beyond. In fact, I have been so fearing a life post Shantaram, that now that I am down to the last 100 pages, I am reading a page a day. Will explain all of that in another post.

But the go slow read also means that I have freed myself to delve into some other books that have been sitting on my book shelf for days, weeks, months. One of them happens to be Chetan Bhagat's 'One Night At A Call Centre' which is missing all the writing hiccups that slowed the pace of 'Five Point Someone'. Read it in a day, must admit it was fun and breezy. Given its conversational style, the movie in the works comes as absolutely no surprise.

Another book that came way was simply spectacular.

We all know there are books and there are more books. Some original, some plagiarised, some fun, some clearly not to be touched - even with that proverbial barge pole.

But when you get something that gives you a mix of Manila, London and Sri Lanka with a heady dose of cricket thrown in, you've got the cricket buff in me hooked for sure. And if it comes from none other than the award-winning author, who in the past has given us works like 'Monkfish Moon', 'Reef', 'Heaven's Edge' and 'The Sandglass' to contend with, its more than enough reason to stay up all night.

Well, if you haven't already guessed it, I'm speaking of Romesh Gunesekera. His brilliant first novel dealt with lost innocence in the final years before the war. Since then, he has dealt with love, longing and loss, but the treatment you get in 'The Match' is simply stirring.

With two key cricket matches bookending this work, the symbolism is unparalleled. One takes place at a time of great upheaval in Manila, another at the Oval in London.

The story is told largely through Sunny. We meet him as a teenager growing up with his father, a Sri Lankan journalist turned Public Relations professional who moved to Manila to be part of the 'free press'. Something that had been promised in the Philippines before all the rapidly unfolding political events made it all fall apart.

Sunny's mother committed suicide (something he would discover much later) and growing up with a rather distant father, he is hungry to find out all about love. The first whiff of love surfaces and disappears in the form of a crush he has on the stunning Tina. It all unfolds at a cricket match, organised with a couple of expatriates living in Manila.

You feel the heady rush as the wickets are pulled out, the gloves donned, the wickets and wind screens smashed - not necessarily in that order. From there things move on to London, where Sunny pretty much ambles along with his life, drops out of engineering, discovers photography and love in the form of Clara.

It is with her that he gets his share of the joys of fatherhood. Gunesekera's prose truly sings when he talks about the deeper issues of being away in a home far away from home.

A process of self-discovery marks Sunny's voyage to to Sri Lanka. It is through that journey that the chaos that is rapidly unfolding in Sri Lanka is subtly captured, shaking and stirring you to the very core.

Like it's happening in real life, you have the Norwegian peace keepers at work on the ground and the Sri Lankan cricket team taking the game to "full decibel level" at the Oval where they clash with India.

It is here that you witness the "possibility of a renewal", of an unsettled past coming to grips with the present to take on what could perhaps be an even more gripping future.

Like all of his past work, Gunesekera's 'The Match' is all of this and a whole lot more, which is why, in my view, it is more than just essential reading for our times.


From the time I heard of the massive US $500,000 advance given by Little Brown to a yet to be published 17 year old to the time I received the shocking pink promo material, together with that take note of me picture of the author with her parents, this was one book I had my eyes on.

After all, let alone writing, at 17 I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. And here was a Harvard sopohomore walking with not just a stunning book deal but also a movie deal for her two book debut that kicked off with the widely hyped 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got A Life.'

So here I was all ready to pen my here's looking at you babe piece in honour of Kaavya Viswanathan.

That was before Harvard Crimson and Opalgate happened.

Even before that a couple of posts had made hints of a lack of originality and the fact "that we've heard this story before". Lacking blow by blow accounts that sounded more of a reviewers gripe.

Harvard Crimson though came up with some strikingly similar passages, in terms of not just language but structure too. That merely strengthened reason to believe that these were lift-offs. And lift-offs they were from celebrated columnist and writer Megan McCafferty's 'Sloppy Firsts' and 'Second Helpings'.

Sample this for instance:

McCafferty's book, page 6: "Sabrina was the brainy Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: Pretty or smart."
Kaavya's novel, page 39: "Moneypenny was the brainy female character. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: smart or pretty."

McCafferty's novel, page 68: "Tanning was the closest that Sara came to having a hobby, other than gossiping, that is. Even the webbing between her fingers was the color of coffee without cream. Even for someone with her Italian heritage and dark coloring, it was unnatural and alienlike."
Kaavya's novel, page 48: "It was obvious that next to casual hookups, tanning was her extracurricular activity of choice. Every visible inch of skin matched the color and texture of her Louis Vuitton backpack. Even combined with her dark hair and Italian heritage, she looked deep-fried."

So the list goes on... In all over 40 passages have been identified so far. It didn't help matters that when McCafferty's publishers dubbed the plagiarism as "identity theft", Kaavya merely spoke of them as "unintentional and unconscious" and part of a process that she had "internalised." As the storm was ensuing, she made her appearance on the 'Today' show with Katie Couric, standing by her version of the story.

Yes, we all internalise the writing that we love, maybe even quote it in parts. But internalising is one thing, carrying it to the public domain quite another. I mean if you have nothing original to say, why bother writing it in the first place. And we are not just talking about an article, a paragraph, we are perhaps even looking at the entire structure of the book.

As the saga unfolds quick time, the over hyped novel has been pulled off book shelves. That's not all, Dreamworks is looking for ways to cut its losses and a movie is definitely out of the way.

However, what is confounding about this entire saga are the deeper issues it brings to the fore. How did it get past the entire publishing machinery? Do publishers really accept everything in good faith? I mean are there really no checks and balances? What about the entire promotional machinery that does selling even the book can speak about itself? And just what happens when the dust settles? Does the issue merely outlive Opal's shelf life and do we move on with works that mirror shadows of the real truth.

A cause for concern, possibly to some extent for the publishers but more so for readers worldwide who through the written word are always on the look out for stories that would somehow be too good to be true.

Second week of April: Excitement ran high as Kaavya's first book hit The New York Times' national bestseller list.

April 25: The young writer had to issue an apology for passages plagiarised from Megan McCafferty's 'Sloppy Firsts' and 'Second Helpings'.

April 26: McCafferty's publishers contemplated legal action against Kaavya Viswanathan.

April 27: The teenager took a few days off from Harvard.

April 28: Kaavya's novel withdrawn from bookstores. Soon the film to be made by Dreamworks was also dropped.