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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Even if you are giving a Syed Haider Raza masterpiece the most cursory of looks, its hard to miss the 'Bindu' or the dot. Depending on which way you look at it, it is in turns a manifestation of the centre of the canvas, the frame or the universe. The iconic 'Bindu' makes its distinct mark in most of the paintings on display for the first time in Singapore. Realms of possibilities open through the geometric designs. The lines may be seemingly distinct, the colours stunning and in that moment as you go from blue, to beige to a stunning orange then red, you are drawn into the web of its creator. I fall in love with two of the pieces, I know I shouldn't even attempt checking the price, the pieces are priceless after all. Though if money is no object and you have cash to spare, US $40,000 could start some talking.

It can't for me, even if I dug really deep, so I absorb myself into deeper admiration of the work this artist who celebrated 85 years on the 22nd of February. Together with M.F. Husain, K.H. Ara and F.N. Souza, Raza started the Progressive Artists' Group. Formed in 1947, the Group made a vital contribution to the contemporary art movement in India by seeking a new form to describe the Indian reality immediately after the country's independence. The group may not have had a very long run - it dissolved in 1956 - but it gave the pre-eminent Indian artists of our times the form, voice and platform they were looking for.

It's been manifested through the acclaimed art works of these masters. Some like Raza moved away from Indian shores, though the ties that bound them to their roots drew them back. A scholarship from the French government to study art in 1950 took Raza to the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Expectedly, he shone, his paintings got the attention they deserved and the awards poured in. In 1956, he was awarded the Prix de la Critique, various exhibitions around the globe followed. Then came the prestigious Padma Shri awarded by the Indian government in 1981.

The awards didn't stop the critical examination apparent in his work. Take 'Germination' for instance or the rendition of 'Om' - all of which together with the other pieces on display take you from germination, growth, decay and resurgence all in one master sweep. If geometry is at work here, it happens to be that of the sublime. As I take one last look at the pieces before heading home, I know, I for one couldn't ask for a more fitting tribute to a real master.

'Celebrating 85 Years of Raza' is on at the SG Private Banking Gallery at the Alliance Francaise, 1 Sarkies Road, Singapore till the 3rd of March. Gallery opens 11am-7pm.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007


This is another book that I've been unable to put down. Anita Amirrezvani's 'The Blood of Flowers' was acquired for a six-figure sum, took nine years to research and write. The author who lives in the US made several trips to Iran to work on this book and the labour clearly shows. To be released in May this year, it's been the talk of publishing circles. And for good reason. It journeys to 17th century Iran tracking the amazing journey of a young Iranian girl and her mother. Breathtaking in its sweep, it brings alive the unfortunate twist in their lives after her father dies. Survival depends on compromise and perfecting the art of knotting carpets. Watch this space for the full review in May.

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Pages 184.
Hamish Hamilton.
March 2007.

This is possibly the longest I've waited from the time I've read a book I loved to the time I've written about it. Since its a day to go before the month changes to March, thought the wait should end. This was after all a brilliant read, and the fingers have been itching to punch out those words and say it aloud.

The story begins at a cafe table in Lahore. Here Changez , a Pakistani man narrates the tale that's led to his fateful meeting with an American stranger. The strains of unease are apparent as Changez starts talking about his life which was in every sense of the term an immigrant's dream of America.

A student at Princeton, he lands a dream job with an elite firm specialising in the valuation of companies. It is the kind of job where you whip your visiting card and you can awe an audience with not your name, rather that of the company. The kind that comes complete with the joy of business class travel, five star hotels and a few shattered dreams that only can the discerning can see. It is typically the kind of job that thrives on the energy of New York. It is here that Changez believes he has found himself and the love of his life.

"Looking back now, I see there was a certain symmetry to the situation: I felt I was entering in New York the very same social class that my family was falling out of in Lahore. Perhaps this accounted for a good part of the comfort and satisfaction I found in my new environment. But an even greater part of my happiness in those days was due to being in the regular company of Erica."

Nothing seems to stop Changez's rise to the top, not even thoughts of home. The power of love gives him that imagined sense of invincibility. Something that has the power to change in an instant. That moment comes in the form of September 11. No, there are no descriptions of the familiar rubble, the cries for help. As you turn page after riveting page, the changes work subtly but more powerfully.

Our worlds get transformed. Author Mohsin Hamid knows. Post 9/11, he has been held in questioning rooms at JFK Airport. While things never got nasty, it did make him feel unwelcome.

It is perhaps that sense of unease that makes 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' take the tone he does in the second half of the book:
"As a society, you were unwilling to reflect upon the shared pain that united you with those that attacked you. You retreated into myths of your own difference, assumptions of your own superiority."

It is such an America that Changez and his creator want to change. With that Hamid brings the clash between the East and the West to the fore in a book that like the name of its creator is all about change - subtle, imagined, nuanced.

No surprise that 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' was the talk of the London Book Fair and went on to get the UK, US, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian and Dutch deals simultaneously. It is Hamid's second novel and looks all set to add to the track record he set with his debut - 'Moth Smoke'. Published in 10 languages, Moth Smoke won a Betty Trask Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Clearly, Hamid's is a voice to watch.

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Expectedly, royalty reigned at the 79th Academy Awards. There was no fight for Helen Mirren's portrayal of The Queen. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Queen" she said rather matter of factly, earring in one hand, the clutch of her purse in the other. I wanted her to win so I cheered.

I was also pitting for Forrest Whitaker's brutal portrayal of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. It was heartening to see him take home the coveted statue for his first Oscar nod.

Ditto for Jennifer Hudson, whose vocal chords did it for her in Dreamgirls. She got the well-deserved Best Supporting Actress nod, never find the fact that "America didn't vote for her."

The Academy though did vote for some blue-blooded film royalty. 26 years, 6 Oscar nominations later, they handed it over to the creator of 'Raging Bull' and 'Taxi Driver.' Martin Scorsese was expectedly shocked. "Could you check the envelope?" he requested. They did and 'The Departed' ended up walking away with the Best Picture Oscar too. Fantastic news for remakes. So what if the East is stealing the thunder, at least the remakes are. The Departed took inspiration from the popular 2002 Hong Kong thriller, 'Infernal Affairs' and went back with four Oscars. Significant, considering no picture was - including Best Picture.

Not that I cared much for the Best Picture as long as the over-hyped Babel didn't take the gold star home. Babel didn't work for me. The story lines appeared far too contrived to be connected, in particular the rifle that brought the Japanese strings together. It seemed like one of those movies that give you the grand globalisation spiel with a clear eye on the awards. Cate Blanchett was wasted in most of the movie, where she lay dying for the better part. It had its moments, pity they were too far and few between.

My favourite remains 'Dreamgirls' but that didn't even make the cut. So there you are. The Oscar showed that the best or the most lobbied films and stars don't always get it. Blood Diamond another memorable movie hardly got its Oscar moment nor did actors Leonardo di Caprio or Peter O'Toole.

Deepa Mehta's Water didn't win either.

In the end, like most other years there was no shock and no awe. Another year where the Oscars went by doing some predictable things and facing some 'Inconvenient Truths'.


Sunday, February 18, 2007


Is disappointing. Mercifully, clocking a little less than two hours it's short. After all there's only so much of slow mo's, zoom ins, zoom outs, eye frames that the audience can take before sleep beckons. The setting may be stunning, the framing of the shots perfect from start to finish, but the movie lacks a strong script which manifests itself in the weak plot that unfolds.

The first half is a backgrounder. You spend the second half hoping things will get better. They never do. The palace intrigues hardly pull you to the edge of your seat, Amitabh Bachchan as Eklavya maybe shedding tears, but there is no sobbing to be heard in the hall. Instead its the whisperings: 'Is it going to get better?' followed by 'Is it going to get over?'

By the end of it all, the line of kids sitting in the row in front of us and my twosome exclaim almost in unison 'that was the most boring movie I've seen.' Wonder who Vidhu Vinod Chopra would want to slap now - the critics, the adults or the baba log?

I, though have only myself to blame. Had I listened to Zafar's words and read this review by Khaled Mohammed, I'd have saved myself the grief and been mildly satisfied with the DVD. It would have meant the luxury of forwarding at least half the movie. As Khaled rightly points out about the characters - "All of them are as unbelievable as apple trees in Andheri."

Now, if the selectors for the 'O' list still don't get it, here is the plea. Please don't even think of sending it to the Oscars. Never mind the setting and cinematography....Boman Irani aka the King's rendition of the Shakespearen sonnets are enough to wilt even the rosiest of roses. And that's just the start. Best to keep those daggers drawn.

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Sikhs love having their pictures taken, so says Andrew Kelly. He should know since he went through a 1GB card in one afternoon. He's got the proof, complete with the bhangra beat. If you can't figure out the lyrics its loosely translated as 'Beware of Boys.'

After his photographic success in Melbourne, Andrew plans to train his lens on India. Read more here and stay dressed for it.

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Roopinder Singh, Author, Journalist now shutterbug extraordinaire, pointed me to this fantastic website aptly titled Sikh Chic. It's featured some of his writing and photographs (including this one), so do drop by to take a look.

Smart layout, easy navigation, great articles and best of all a celebration of films for, about and by Sikhs. The Spinning Wheel Film Festival is an examination of Sikh lives through a wide genre of films - shorts, docus, indies, narratives - the works. If you have something that fits the bill, you know where to go.

A fine start indeed but if one could ask for more, I'd like Sikh Chic to track the lives of Sikh war heroes across the globe. That would be some journey, some remembrance and a reminder of some names we may have forgotten.

I say this because I have a vested interest - my Nanaji, Brigadier Sampuran Singh was a war hero. Though beyond the mention at the College of Combat, a brief write-up on a book on war heroes, I often wonder how many soldiers - sung and unsung - who are truly worthy of emulation are remembered today.

Tracking their lives is an idea I've pitched several times to several people but beyond the occasional nod, haanji's, bilkul, I haven't heard more about it. Perhaps, Sikh Chic is where I should head.

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Friday, February 16, 2007


I'm half way through the book which is turning out to be a tough read. Not that it badly written or anything but there are so many parts where the brutality is so excessive that you can't help but put it down. To think human beings are capable of inflicting so much pain on others. Not only grown-ups... in Chris Gardner's case he bore the brunt of an abusive step-father as a child. Yet, he survived, determined above all to be a good human being.

Mercifully, the movie movie inspired by the book does not dwell on those parts. In fact, I was dreading wathcing a picturisation of some of those entirely forgettable events. It starts with Will Smith playing Gardner - the talented salesman who seems to have more than a stroke of bad luck. He's almost driven himself to dire circumstances by investing in some bone density machines that are supposed to be revolutionary and better than X-Ray machines. Trouble is, the doctors who are supposed to be investing in them think so. Nor does his wife, who eventually walks out on him.

He knows he is on the brink of losing everything, but he is certain he will not lose his child - a role played to perfection in reel by Smith's real-life son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. Together with his Dad, he captures the essence of life on the street. It is a stirring and soul-searching journey as Gardner works his way through an internship at a stock brokerage by clocking in the hours in novel ways. He wouldn't put the phone down, he wouldn't drink water to avoid toilet breaks, he would run to pick up his son from child-care, then run for the bus to make it in time for a room at the shelter. "This part of my life is called Running," he tells us matter of factly.

With virtually no family, friends or money, life turns out to be some Pursuit. It's got Will Smith a well-deserved Academy nomination. Winning it though will be quite another story considering he's pitted against the likes of Forrest Whittaker and Leonardo di Caprio this year.

Smith as Gardner plays his role with quiet dignity. The movie won't move you to copious tears but it will give you that ache in your heart and make you realise yet again how little it takes to be truly happy.

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Since this blog is on a green track (momentarily), here's another personality who deserves a post of his own. One who has shown that it is possible to balance the ethics of business with that of the environment.

I met Gehan de Silva, CEO of Jetwing Eco Holidays, thanks to the spectacular room given to us at The Lighthouse. In one of few chats, he mentioned his work briefly. It already seemed like a lot.

For starters how often do you come across a trained engineer turned banker turning his job on the big bucks in London to return home to don the garb of a conservationist.

Gehan did just that when he moved back to Sri Lanka to train his pen, his lens and his creative energies on building an eco-tourism industry in the country. Putting his money exactly where his mouth is, he started by showing to the world and the sceptics alike that championing conservation and research into it can pay off financially. Today, Jetwing Hotels and Jetwing Eco Holidays are synonymous with sustainable tourism. You only have to stay at one of their properties to figure that out for yourself.

A savvy media lobbyist, Gehan's name is almost everywhere. When he is not at work on another book, he is busy penning articles for print or making appeareances on television. All of these are driven to one end - conserving our rich bio-diversity for generations to come.

The message may be emerging out of Sri Lanka, but its one that resonates across the world.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007


I first heard of Jin Pyn through an email that I thought had been inadvertently addressed to me. I wrote back, she apologised (there was no need) and I knew in that instant, I had to get my hands on her book - 'The Elephant and The Tree'.

Then the book arrived and she mentioned she also had a film. Given that anything visual is always welcome, I told her I'd love to see it. The final edits took her a couple of weeks and when it finally did arrive, it was love at first sight.

Adult Voice: Wake up, it's time to tell the story....
Baby Elephant: I'm an elephant and I can count to three...

Adult Voice: No, no, not that...
Baby Elephant: Huh, I'm an elephant not a tree...

Adult Voice: Not again...
Baby Elephant: I'm an elephant who loves trees...
Ok, I'm awake now...."

With that begins the charming tale of elephants and trees. It was selected by Singapore's Media Development Authority and National Book Development Council's First-Time Writers and Illustrators Initiative. In addition to that, she is being groomed to be a wildlife film-maker and has been handpicked by Animal Planet from a long-list of 34,000 applicants.

You mention the laurels and Jin Pyn is modest to brush them off. All she cares about is her message that is so evocatively narrated through her book and her short film. She has spent time with the elephants in Chiang Mai, she is passionate about the way they are treated and how they can be given a decent life. I've read her thoughts (worthy of a book of its own) on what led to the book and the movie and it's enough to stir even hardened souls.

Such is the power of her pen that through her book and her short film, she hopes to make everyone realise that "life isn't about ourselves." To that end, part of the proceeds from the book and the film are being channelled into an elephant welfare fund. Little surprise that wherever she is going, she is touching hearts and changing minds.

This is one name to watch out for, so track her on the web and on her blog and feel free to do your bit for the elephants. You can start with the merchandise.

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Sharon's done a comprehensive post on this. We've exchanged a couple of emails, she's kindly posted my comments on her blog.

You possibly know the categories and the short-list already. If not, its all here.

In terms of South Asian writing, I'm delighted to see Vikram Chandra and Yasmine Gooneratne in the shortlist but I am dismayed by the categorisation.

If Africa can be a category unto itself why not South Asia? Is our writing not competitive enough, not good enough or simply not enough?

What's even more confounding about the categorisation is the clubbing of South Asia with Europe. I could understand a South Asia/South-East Asia club, 'Europe and South Asia' beats me.

So while we get the token representation through Chandra and Gooneratne, if you were to look the 'Best First Book' shortlist, its entirely dominated by entries from Britain. Seriously?

The Saffron Kitchen, by Yasmin Crowther (UK) Abacus/Little Brown
The Mathematics of Love, by Emma Darwin (UK) Headline/Review
This Time of Dying, by Reina James (UK) Portobello
Giraffe, by J M Ledgard (UK), Jonathan Cape
Londonstani, by Gautam Malkani (UK), Fourth Estate
In the Country of Men, by Hisham Matar (UK), Viking
The Amnesia Clinic, by James Scudamore (UK), Harvill Secker

Again delighted to see Hisham Matar, not sure of the rest.

Judging our writing this year are esteemed folks from this panel. They are literary forces to reckon with it, but was it really that difficult to get South Asian or South-East Asian representation on this panel?

At a time when you know who is dominating the lit lists, this prize for one calls for a serious re-look. Giving some thought to its categories could just be the start.

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Forgot to put this bit in yesterday. McCall Smith also delved on sentences, paragraphs and the like.

At one point, he spoke of excessive words often without pauses. Referring to Marcel Proust he pointed to the joy of lengthy sentences. He uttered these words with such conviction that it has to be tried to be believed:
"You can print out a Proust paragraph and if you were to cut it without pausing you could actually wrap a wine bottle twice."

I haven't tried it, but the next time I'm out of gift wrapper, I know I only have to reach out for my Proust. Enlightenment all round.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


We all buy books that we don't read.
Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History in Time', Vikram Seth's 'A Suitable Boy'.

The first line is important often that's the only line readers read.

I had no characters, no plot but there was no other problem.

Such were the revelations that flowed freely at the talk delivered by the creator of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith.

On a Tuesday night, the Playden at Singapore's Arts House came alive with the sound of unbridled laughter, often the author's own. I've spent the better part of this morning, trying to imitate it, much to the amusement of everyone around.

"He doesn't actually laugh like that?"
"You bet he does, I have it on tape," I respond.

That laughter was enough to send my camera rolling literally at least thrice resulting in rather shaky visuals at some points. Apart from the visuals I came back educated and entertained, quite like the rest of the audience that queued for almost an hour to get their books signed.

Such is the charm of McCall Smith.

I first read him and met him when I was putting together a special for the Singapore Writers Festival and was charmed by his characters, Mma 'Precious' Ramotswe in particular. It was a character that he had seen 15 years before he actually created it. The picture was that of a woman chasing a chicken in Botswana. That's the power of that aha moment. That's also why he advocated the need for a little notebook (red or otherwise) to jot down your thoughts because you never quite know when it'll all fit together.

A 'serial writer' several of his books and characters have been based on things he's heard, events he's seen or comments that have touched him. He's happy to give his readers what they want - cake eating, tea drinking, fixing cars, or fixing life's other problems. Along the way, his books have ended up doing a lot for his readers and for Botswana as well.

"You know there is actually a No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Tour. A one-day tour and a two-day tour. I don't know what they do over two days, I guess they probably take it slower."

Apart from the tours in Botswana, he's been doing the rounds with 'Blue Shoes and Happiness.' Yes, the apprentices are still apprentices, but he did assure everyone present something will move along in their lives. Considering he's got 11 books planned in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, it might take a bit of waiting.

"A reader once wrote to me and asked how long does stay an apprentice in Botswana? (immense laughter all round) So I'll have to do something with them," he revealed as he talked about the immensely popular series.

The stories will continue and will be read by people across the world in over 40 languages. While on one level, his stories seem to be that of the characters that the growing legion of McCall Smith fans have come to love, they are also a celebration of life itself. In a rare serious moment in the talk, McCall Smith acknowledged, "there are problems and there always will be, but there are also lots of people who lead lives of quality and dignity in exceptionally difficult circumstances" and it is there lives that he has chosen to talk about and chronicle.

Like a master calligrapher, he spoke of the brush stroke, the one fluid touch that help draw attention to an issue or a problem rather than drumming about it ceaselessly. His books have more than proved that. "The bush tea sellers love me."

He talked about his characters. 'Precious' which was the same of his friend's daughter, ended up being scribbled somewhere in his note pad and got a life of its own the series.

There was no time for scribbling though when it came to 44 Scotland Street series. It all started with a column he wrote that was followed by lunch with the Editor of The Scotsman paper. In his piece, McCall Smith had said it was a pity that the days of serial novels in newspapers were over. As it turned out, not quite. The Editor proposed a serialised novel, to which the author responded:
"I couldn't do it weekly."
"Whoever, said weekly, we'd like it daily."

With that there was no turning back. Real people ended up being characters in the stories that followed resulting in 'Espresso Tales' and more.

Fiction, McCall Smith admitted is created in the sub-conscious mind, little ideas, little things people say, hence the importance of listening.

As someone who has delved into the minds of readers it was interesting to see a question on whether J K Rowling would kill Harry Potter and what impact would this have on young readers. McCall Smith had it spot on. He couldn't imagine what Rowling would do with Potter, "it will reveal itself on the said date at the said time." But children, he pointed out are exceptionally resilient, they are used to monsters, they are used to things being eaten up, so long as the end result is something guey.

With that, he left us adults with lots of points to ponder over before starting on book signing, which went long past dinner. Whoever said writers had it easy?

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


Watch it all here


Thursday, February 08, 2007


He published his first book - a children's book at the age of 28, went on to publish 40 more books, then he introduced 'PRECIOUS' - the founder of the first ladies detective agency in Botswana to readers in Britian. It all started as a short story which grew into a set of stories, then a novel and quite simply changed its creator's and readers lives forever.

At last count, the series boasted more than six million copies in print and that's in English alone! It earned two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by the Times Literary Supplement

To think it all started when the distinguished Professor of Medical Law and best selling novelist Alexander McCall Smith saw a woman chasing a chicken around her yard in Botswana. The woman became the inspiration for the series. Though the author has admitted it took 15 long years from the time he saw her to bringing her alive in print. A lesson to be learnt in character building.

Interestingly enough The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series was first published by Polygon, a small Edinburgh-based publishing house. There was no major marketing campaign, word-of-mouth took it everywhere and it became the phenomenon it is today.

The gentle Professor has since given up Medical Law to write full time and he's back with Blue Shoes and Happiness. Intense delight pervades as he re-visits Singapore. Hear him at the Arts House on Tuesday, the 15th. Too precious a talk to be missed.

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There's lots more Sri Lanka to go but my books are piling up. I know the publicists want me to wait for this one. It will be out in March. So look out for Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I finished reading a proof in two straight nights - yes, the eyes hurt forever and copious coffee drinking followed at work, but it was worth every eye-burning moment. It's post 9/11 America and no you haven't heard the story before. I haven't read his first book - the critcally acclaimed Moth Smoke, though I do know it won the awards and set the bar for the second book. Well, it definitely doesn't disappoint. And buzz, buzz, he will be at this year's Ubud Writers Festival together with lots of other exciting authors. Pull that calendar and start marking the dates.

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I joined the old Lady of Boribundar in the good old days. When copy had to be edited on actual scripts which took a painstakingly long time to emerge out of the printer. The salmon sheets had to be attached to the copy with an indication of the font size, the upper lower cases marked for the heading and the sub-heading. Once you did all of that it would be sent to the Chief Sub-Editor, who if you were a newbie, would routinely spike your copy.

If you were lucky, it would make it to the copy checker, who would in a sheer demonstration of prowess make a couple more changes then put it back in a red tray to send it back for the Chief Sub to look at. All of that would then make it to the type-setter, bromides would emerge from a freezing room. They would be put back on a tray, sent back to the desk. The Chief Sub would look at his clock. If he was the confident sort, he'd take the lead and get cracking on his pages. The not so self-assured ones would wait for the Bombay Times headlines to arrive before deciding on their pages. Then with lotsa bromides in hand, we would all march to the paste-up room to start making the pages. Once that process was completed, it would go the camera room for the negative of the real page which would then make it to the press located strategically on the other side of time.

Those were the days. Laborious but lots of fun. We discovered so many things, often by looking at the negatives. On night, for instance, just as we were walking out I glanced at the negative and felt the R.K. Laxman was ulta-pulta. Imagine that! I told the Chief Sub about it who shrugged it off as the 'paper is upside down no'. So we walked to our waiting van and had driven past C.G. Road, when the Chief Sub started having his doubts. Given that we didn't have the luxury of cell phones, we had to turn the van back to get to the newsroom. The page was on its way to press and we intercepted it just in time to realise the said cartoon was indeed upside down.

A lot has changed since then. Blogs, for instance, give you total control of your content (in a sense) and the medium itself. You can cut, copy, paste without having to go through the whole selection and rejection change. Getting content out there is almost as easy or as difficult as the speed at which you - the writer can generate it. We spoke about this, after the blog panel got on, then off, then on again at the Ubud Writers Festival. A comment on media, straddling between three - print, TV and blogs was something that stirred one of the participants there who first mentioned the word 'workshop.'

Having never addressed anyone beyond my children and facing rejection as a teacher in the extreme degree when it came to teaching them, I wasn't sure if I was entirely upto. But you never know till you try. So when Libby asked if I'd like to do a workshop at the Galle Literary Festival, I decided it was time to get my act together and go through the world of print, TV and blogs - worlds I live in.

The venue provided by Amangalla was perfect for straddling between worlds as it were. And my master-class even more so. There were two students on holiday from Melbourne and their enthusiasm and ability to pick the right angles as well as pitches for stories was amazing. The Brandix team taught me so many ways of pitching more than just their own products. Rohanti Alahakoon, an award-winning poet entrusted me with some of her work. Sanjiva Gauthamadasa from 'The Lighthouse' taught me more than a thing or two about marketing 'single estate tea.'

Gehan de Sliva (a separate post on him shall follow) turned out to be an eco-warrior in corporate clothing. Janet de Neefe, as always touched me by her sheer presence. And at the end of the three hours, I'd learnt as much from the charged participants as I hope they did for me.

So when the question was asked : "Would you do again?"
I responded, "If you give me the platform, absolutely."

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