City of Lost Love Songs.

I’m a lazy writer. I knew that pretty early on. I stop and start writing projects, with spurts of energy followed by weeks or months of neglect.

But, this month I managed to finish a project I’ve been working on for a couple of years, a novel which is now out as an e-book and a Amazon. It is also available at Barnes and Noble.

I wouldn’t have completed it if it weren’t for =Daily Kos, where I’ve been writing regularly for the past few years after lurking for ages. The feedback from this group of readers (both positive and negative) convinced me I had something to say and some ability to reach people through words. Over time, I remembered that I could complete projects, and hitting the publish button on DK a few hundred times was good preparation for hitting it on a far lengthier project.

If you want a break this summer from the insanity that is currently our country, read my book.

A small sample:

I don’t want to talk about old people. I don’t want to have to think about their small minds and old hatreds. They are dying and the sooner they are gone the better. I want to talk about the new India around me. That’s what interests me. And these kids speak English with a confidence few of their parents ever had. So, I choose to relate their stories in their language.

It was 11:30pm, time to close the stall. Two streetlights bathed it in a bright yellow light. Old habits die hard. Though it had been years since anyone had tried to come for me, I looked around to make sure there was no one around. The stray Laxman was sleeping in the nook I’d created for him and he woke as I stepped off the platform. This is when he earns his keep. He circled the stall, and loped off to a twenty-foot distance like he knew I expected. He would keep watch while I turned my back to the street and locked up.

I reached under the platform to pull out the sawed-off double-barrel shotgun I place there every morning. I turned on the safety and swung it under my right shoulder. The Glock pistol I’d had for ten years was in my shoulder holster, under the Nehru jacket I wore every day. They were both expensive, too expensive for a paanwallah who runs his own stall. But like I said, old habits die hard, and carrying them was a very old habit.

— @subirgrewal

Why are some Indians protesting Slumdog Millionaire.

There’s a class of Indian who has become very comfortable with the fairy-tale that India is populated entirely by well-educated, hyper-intelligent computer engineers, doctors and managers. Slumdog Millionaire is an affront to their egos because it vividly projects the stark reality of life for most Indians in the cities, not the fantasy indulged in by the elite 2% who travel all over the world and would like their friends to imagine India in colorful weddings, the Taj Mahal and gleaming banks of computers.

The reality is that India is deeply fractured along the lines of class, religion and wealth. It’s a place where legal authority is too often used to oppress, and justice is delayed. A country where politicians manipulate public disturbances and pogroms to further their own careers. A society which has been trying to stitch itself together into a cohesive whole, but has nightmarish episodes of tribal violence.

Bombay is filthy and bustling, but within it lie pockets of beauty and serenity. I despair whenever I think of the criminal gangs and mobs who seem to rule the city, but then a random act of kindness or example of civic responsibility from an unexpected quarter makes me hopeful. Like the rest of India, Bombay is more prosperous than it was a few years ago. People coming of age today have bigger dreams than their parents ever did, and a greater likelihood of having them realized. In broad terms, this is true for virtually everyone, and the movie captures this. Jamal works at a BPO, after all, where being muslim is largely unremarkable.

The movie is reasonably accurate in its setting and those bothered by its depiction of India should start working on improving the lot of the most underprivileged amongst them and stop harping on about perceived blows to their over-sized egos. A good place to start would be ensuring every child has access to a quality education at no cost.