Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hindi Translation of Mediocre But Arrogant

I have often been asked if there is a Hindi Translation of Mediocre But Arrogant around the corner. I am looking for someone who can translate the story into Hindi or other Indian languages. Google has this cool feature of transliteration. A little painful at times, but certainly workable. Here is my attempt at translating the first two paras of the book. Tell me what you think of it.

नही मैं इस जंगल में कब , क्यों और कैसे टपका। क्यों मैने मा सं वि (मानवीय संसाधन विकास), यानी कि, Human Resources Development पढने की बात सोच। जिस खेल के नियम कानून और कायदे सब मेरी समझ के बाहर थे , क्यों उसे खेलना शुरू किया... एक ऐसा खेल जिसे सीखने कि ना ही मेरी ख्वाइश थी और ना हीऔकात यार, मेरी तो शुरुआत ही इन सब से बहुत दूर हुई थी।

बात सन् १९८२ की हैतब मैं
पहली बार जमशेदपुर आया, बिहार के मैनेजमेंट इन्स्टिटुट ऑफ़ जमशेदपुर में भर्तीहोनेऔर तो और तब तो ह्यूमन रिसोर्स नाम की कोई चीज़ ही नही थी । उन दिनों ह्यूमन रेसौर्सेस को Industrial Relations यानी की औद्योगिक संबंध जैसे घटिया नाम से पुकारते थेऔद्योगिक संबंध !!! लगता है कोई यौनसंबंध की बात कर रहा हैकुछ लोग इसी कोर्स को सोशल वेलफेयर के नाम से पुकारते थेनाम का सही होनाबहुत ज़रूरी हैआधा इम्प्रेशन खराब नाम से ही हो जाता हैनौकरी मिलती थी उन दिनों तो वेलफेयर अफसरकीमुझे हमेशा लगता है की वेलफेयर अफसर से हम लोगों को समाज में इज़्ज़त दिलाना रास्कल रुस्टी जैसेकिसी दिमागी इन्सान का ही काम हो सकता हैउस बन्दे ने कहा होगा, "फार्मूला को ज़रा सा बदल दो, डिब्बा बदलदो और विज्ञापन में किसी छोटी सी बिकीनी पहनी हुई कुड़ी को दिखा दोअरे मार्केटिंग देपर्त्मेंत के लोग हर सालसाबुन और टूथ पेस्ट के साथ यही तो करते हैंतो हमारा पेर्सोंनेल मैनेजमेंट और औद्योगिक समबन्ध जैसे बाबाआदम के ज़माने का नाम भी बदल कर ह्यूमन रेसौर्सेस हो गयाऔर एम् आई जे से पढने वाले छात्र HR में माहिर कहलाने लगे

दो साल तक एम् आई जे में घिसने के बाद एक दिन मुझे भी कॉरपोरेट सेक्टर में छोड़ दिया गया। वक़्त के साथ साथ मैं भी एक दिन देश के एक नामी कंपनी का HR हेड बन गया। मुझ पर एम् ई जे का ठप्पा जो लगा था। और अगर मैनेजमेंट की भाषा में बोलूँ तो यह कहिये की मेरे पास एम् ई जे का ब्रांड था।

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The RDB Generation Celebrates 60 Years of Independent India

Today is 15th August 2007. Since morning my phone has been beeping. Each time someone sends me an sms I am given a gentle electronic nudge. The first sms tells me "31 states (well, actually we have 28 states and 7 Union Territories), 1618 languages (there are 22 officially recognized languages when we last counted), 6400 castes (that could well be unless someone points me to a reliable source. Not to mention Varna वर्ण and Jati जाती distinctions), 6 major religions (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain - hey what about Parsis, Jews, B'ahais and may others I don't know of), 6 ethnic groups (Dravidian... Aryan? Is that what you are referring to?), 29 major festivals (well there is a site that lists 90 of them in alphabetical order) and 1 country. Proud to be an Indian. Happy Independence Day."

The newspapers are flashing statistics that tell us that per capita income has risen from Rs 255 in 1947 to being Rs29,382 (in 2007), Population has risen from being 300 million in 1947 to being 1.16 billion in 2007, Per capita power consumption has increased from 15.5 kwh in '47 to being 606kwh in '07 according to the Times of India. I can believe the last bit. Someone in my apartment complex has 38 light bulbs in the living room that turn up the temperature a notch above the 42 degrees celsius - approximately 107 Farenheit, in case you went into a tizzy trying to do that conversion. Not counting the electricity the ugly lava lamp is consuming that proves to be a humongous distraction while my host excuses himself to switch on the airconditioner for his two dogs that are panting to cope with the heat and humidity of Gurgaon.

That's pretty impressive. I am told that it is no longer a "Developing" country but a "transforming" one. That's like peeking while I am trying to change into a new pair of pants in the shop. You have to wait. So while you keep yourself busy and distracted with all the news clips of fat people worrying about obesity and debating fiercely whether the South Beach Diet helps you lose weight faster than the Atkins plan, there are scores of kids who remain malnourished.

Okay, we are a land of contradictions (see cell phone toting sadhu pic) and we are now a major power to reckon with. We have the power of Bollywood with us - the single largest source that can unite the country to speak one language better than what any political party has ever achieved. It has made Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan popular in the non Hindi speaking belt and takes the credit for getting Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth to the Hindi speaking audience. Rahman along with Bharat Bala made it cool to be patriotic when they sang माँ तुझे सलाम Ma Tujhe Salaam. Bollywood appeals to us all. With a range of directors and actors who can talk to the youth and the Yahoo (Young At Heart, Old Otherwise) in the same breath, we need to leverage this medium to get the people involved and to take ownership of the changes that they wish to see in the country. Bollywood needs to make it cool for everyone to make a difference to the country.

It is the ability of the powers that be to ignite the youth power that will help us build momentum. Tech savvy, impatient and ready to support the cause that appeals to them, the Rang De Basanti or RDB generation is ready to play their part in escorting the country to the centre stage of the world. They took to the streets and brought the Jessica Lall murder case to be reopened after the courts had declared it to be closed and settled - leaving the guilty to go scot free. The RDB Gen has the power and their time is now. They now need to take the other RDB Generation (for whom RDB stands for RD Burman) and take India through the next decades so that we all live to see the Incredible India of our dreams.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Brilliant Idea for Software Developers

If you ever wrote a Job Description for an author or an aspiring writer, one criteria should be spelt out in bold letters - the ability to handle rejection slips. It is a death blow to one's ego. Handling that without seeking professional help in carrying out psychological repairs is not easy.

When I was sending out my manuscript to various publishers, I had initially taken a cautious approach. I would mail my stuff with a polite covering note and add a silent prayer while licking the stamp. You can't fault me for praying. I would send off the manuscript with the same fondness with which a parent sees off their child to college. Nobody expects them to dropout.

Then came the next bit - waiting for the mailman to bring in the response. I would bunk work just so that I could be there in person to receive the million dollar advance that the publisher might be sending me. Heck that's not how the real world works. I would get a prompt response back from the publisher. Yeah how long does it take to say "NO" - which part of the "NO" are you having difficulty comprehending, my friend would ask in a helpful manner.

Priya mentioned that these days the editors send electronic rejection slips. That's taking the art of insulting to new heights. Can't you take a couple of minutes to write a few lines to the person whose dreams you are stubbing out.

The only way of coping with this impersonal rejection slip system is to seek tech support. Maybe someone will figure out a technology that lets all aspiring authors to send one copy of the manuscript to every publisher in the world simultaneously and then stay pasted on the screen until he/ she goes through the darn story syllable by syllable. Thereafter, there would be an annoying pop up that asks the publisher, "Have you sent the million bucks yet?"

The accompanying piece of software the authors will need to install will allow all rejection slips to be filtered out so that it is only the acceptance letters that flow through to the in-box. Any takers?

This blog entry was inspired by the comment Priya left on my blog. She talked about the auto-rejection slips sent by publishing houses.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

How to Get Your Novel Published?

And You Thought Writing the Novel Was the Hard Part?

You have the novel ready. And you are now ready to count the steady flow of royalty. You have practised the odd moment of living it up like a rich person. So why is the publisher not grabbing your manuscript.

Heck - that's the reality check. Your publisher needs to feel that your manuscript is going to be the next Harry Potter or whatever last made a few good millions - for the publisher. Yes... you read that right. The publisher is really trying to gauge the readership of your novel. So in a very simplistic manner, they are not really trying to figure out if your plotline was intriguing or not. They need to know how many people are likely to BUY your novel.

How do you find a publisher?

Option 1: Get yourself invited to a dinner party where publishers are hanging out. Then try and strike up a conversation with one of 'em. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Option 2: Go to a literary festival or a writers' workshop. Helps to get you in the queue to pick up a few visiting cards of publishers and employees of publishing houses. Try and listen in to the panel discussions. That always helps. Listen to other writers and editors and publishers.

Option 3: Find yourself an agent. In US they have a book called the Writers Market. You can buy it off Amazon.com or a bookstore. That lists basically, which publisher is publishing the genre of novels that yours fits in. They list names of agents who will represent you to the publishers. Here is an interview with Eric Simonoff - the agent who represented Jhumpa Lahiri. Some of the agents want a "Reading Fee" - a hefty sum of money to read your manuscript with no obligations. Heck, it is a tough world.

Option 4: Keep sending the manuscript to the publishers directly. Most websites have addresses where you can mail the manuscript. Some want electronic version, some want the hardcopy, some want a pink bulldog to go with it. Whatever they want and in whatever format they want it - you increase the probability of someone reading it if you follow instructions.

And I don't know if I should say this to you, but... well... be prepared for the famous "Rejection Slip". I was told by an engineer that the number of rejection slips will always be one less than the number of manuscripts you have mailed, since one of them will be the acceptance slip. In mathematical terms the rejection slips will be n-1 if n is the number of manuscripts mailed. Well - he was wrong. I got more rejection slips than manuscripts mailed (one publisher sent me two of those pre-printed ones).

See sample Rejection Slip below


Your writing has a refreshing style and the plotline was really gripping and fabulous.

However... - this where it gets creative -

a) we have just stopped publishing this genre/ category of novels/ poems

b) we are understaffed and will not be able to pay attention to the manuscript for the next five years/ sixty months - whichever is later!

c) you have just missed the submission deadline for the next five years.

Yours sincerely (if THAT is sinecerely, I wonder what is not)