May 4th, 2008

boy with dog

The Coucal Collaterals

Saturday, the 3rd of May 2008 saw me attend my first ever book launch. With this book launch, I now know two published authors personally, one of them being my friend Vikarna's dad - Dr.Krishna Rao who wrote the book whose launch I attended, and the other being a certain Aswath Venkataraman a.k.a Kodhi, who's book launch I wasn't invited to. Aswath is a cheap guy.

It was quite surprising that the book - The Coucal Collaterals, whose initial draft I had read almost three years ago was being released initially in Kannada, rather than the original language that it was written in, and due credit here has to go to Dr.Rao's father, Shri K.K.R Rao, who diligently mastered the use of computers in general and word processing software in particular in order to get the hang of sitting and translating his son's work into Kannada.

The book launch wasn't a glitzy affair and it was more of an intimate thing which was attended by close friends of the author, but it was a nice experience overall, considering it is a fervent and quite open ambition of mine as well to be a published author some day.

Of course, getting stuff printed in magazines and on other websites doesn't count because of the funda of sharing space, and as greedy and megalomaniacal as I am, I want my own book out some day, so that I can live off the royalties generated, sipping apple vodka martinis while lazing on a hammock in the shade in some nice place with not so much humidity, while dreaming about the next idea for a piece I have to write. Alternatively, I would love to scout around for a travel writer's job, but that can be done only in due time.

Back to the book launch - it was a touching affair where a lot of things were highlighted almost simultaneously. The pride that a set of parents took in their son's achievement of getting a serious and simultaneously entertaining book written, the love and respect a son had for his father who so painstakingly translated the book because he believed in his son's work, the sheer emotional high that a published author ends up having whilst seeing his work bear fruition, not to mention the fact that my attempts to help get his book published had the author himself thank me no less than twice during the speech he made to the audience, making me go simply red, but also making me feel proud and happy at the same time, for having been an active part of the proceedings.

The after launch gathering where one got to partake on some Glenfiddich single malt whiskey was also quite an entertaining affair, where my handy backpack's contents were viewed with suspicion because I had produced a bottle opener, a pen and a notepad from it on demand. Of course, I also had other items including a Lonely Planet guide to Israel and the Palestinian territories, a digicam, an 'I am Legend' DVD, a bottle of water and some Tibetan lucky charm coins, but thankfully nobody really asked for that.

This post might not necessarily make too much sense to anyone who doesn't really understand the context behind this narrative, but I figured out that it was an important occasion that required documentation nevertheless. It is seldom that I would venture to elucidate my specific emotions explicitly on a public forum, even though it might be my own personal space, but as I look back and read through this post, I figured I've let my guard down enough already.

The book's english version shall soon be out in October and it will be published and distributed by a publishing house in Kolkata and you shall know more about it in the days to come, possibly with s few hyperlinks or even a review of the piece by yours truly on some website or perhaps even on a newspaper!

Watch this space. Or the feed reader equivalent of the same.
boy with dog

Wine Snobbery Further Mystified

I am not a wine snob. I just know that wine comes in red and white varieties, and some of it is cheap and some of it is expensive and some of it is three days old, like in the Golconda variety types or some of it is so old that it predates Jesus himself.

That is all I know about wine. Honest. Nothing more and nothing less. Maybe if some wines contain fruits, I can identify it. I can tell the difference between wine that is bitter and wine that isn't so bitter, and post that, I can figure out that drinking some wine makes me thirstier while partaking some doesn't really make me reach out for the water glass so much.

I have noticed that a glass of wine comes in handy while sometimes eating something chickeny, simply because it helps the taste, perhaps. Unless I have made wanton assumptions regarding the same based on how I have seen someone else do the same thing and enjoy himself/ herself immensely and ape him/ her because it seems cool to do so. But assumptions notwithstanding, it is something that I am used to and can, if necessary, sip a glass of wine or two while having an exquisite meal in a fancy place.

Not that it happens more than once in twelve years, like the Kumbh Mela, but you get my drift.

Of course, I am not judging anyone who really likes wine and knows their stuff here. Wine tasting and partaking in copious enough quantities is not something I can't afford even in my wildest dreams, and even if I could afford it, I think I would rather spend that money on buying some comics or maybe investing in server space for my website (for which, incidentally, I'd be more than glad to accept donations either in INR, USD or even in USB sticks of 1 GB or multiples there of. Just leave a comment and I will give you the address to courier said donations to).

However, the more I read through the wine list in certain places that I have been to, because (a) someone is treating me or (b) I am totally off my mind and I am incorrectly under the impression that I can shell out cash that I could use to otherwise feed myself for an entire month if I choose to eat wholesome vegetarian food or cook the same at home, the more I think of how it must be a cool job to sit and be a wine critic.

Go ahead, pick up a wine glass, sniff it, take a sip, rinse your mouth with it, soak in its taste before you swallow it. Then comes the most vital part. Take a Barron's GRE book with word lists on it. It has fifty of them.

Just like one used to play book cricket in class at school where it was not really interesting enough to listen to the teacher, just randomly open a page and scan through the words there. If the word has something to do with anything related to food, DO NOT USE IT. No self-respecting wine critic would call a wine as "yummy, tasty, sweet, bitter, contains grapes" and so on and so forth.

Instead, pick on words like "bubbly, effervescent, full bodied, ebullient, sparkling, saucy, audacious, formidable, tingly", which would ostensibly look like one would be describing a person while one would actually be describing a wine.

Now how a wine can be saucy and audacious, while being naughty on occasion and twittering with joy and happiness and occasionally headingly nauseous is something that only the person who came up with the terms would be able to explain cogently, whilst other wine snobs would nod their agreement and wannabe wine snobs would probably try to map these words to what their taste buds were being exposed to, and lose both their sense of taste as well as their vocabulary at the same time, albeit only temporarily, thankfully.

However, to those cheap people (like yours truly) who'd rather just drink Grover or Golconda red wine, or on occasion drink a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chenin Blanc or some champagne when necessary, thereby ensuring that they'd never be invited to a wine snob's party, this whole thing is nothing beyond funny mumbo jumbo that would serve no purpose except to build up one's verbal repertiore.

Could it then perhaps be, for the cheap set of people, a case of sour grapes?
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