Lord Shiva’s New Avatar: A Pumpkin!

Pumpkins

Just this morning, I opened a news site and this is what I found.

A pumpkin wholesaler in Bokaro found an unusually large pumpkin in his stock, one unlike any he had ever seen before. What conclusion did he draw (as if there was a need for a conclusion)? Large pumpkin, oval shape.. what else is oval shaped? Shivalinga. That belongs to? Lord Shiva. Hence, the pumpkin is an avatar of Lord Shiva. See? It’s that simple. That is how you go from not knowing to knowing certainly. (Sherlock Holmes would be proud of that science of deduction).

Well, the man worshiped the pumpkin and offered it sweets, which I am positive the pumpkin refused to eat.

The news of the divine pumpkin spread like wildfire and people are flocking to the town to get a glimpse of it. Someone offered to buy the pumpkin for Rupees 5001, but the man refused to sell. After consulting with a priest, it has been decided that the pumpkin will be worshiped for a few days after which it will be cut open and distributed to devotees as prasad.

There is nothing new and noteworthy in this piece of news. It happens everyday in places where education and enlightenment has failed to reach. But what I really do want to point out in this blog is that never on such occasions has a priest or a religious group ever come forward to say that not everything that one suspects to be divine may be so. They always agree with each other! Whatever bullshit one may think up, the clergies will never ever deny it.

Why would a god come down as a pumpkin? Is it because he wants to mess with people’s minds? Or will people believe just about anything under the sun if anyone relates it to religion? Why no skepticism at all?

Is belief a blanket phenomenon that makes you believe “everything” unquestioningly? I mean, tomorrow if I start jumping up and down saying another Lord XYZ came in my dream and told me he is coming as a Pizza the next day, will the same people believe me and start ripping pizza joints all over the country?

I really would like to see at least one priest come out and say the pumpkin is not Lord Shiva because there is no reason why the god must come down as a pumpkin. A giant fruit is just that – a giant fruit.

Come on guys, have I overreacted? Don’t people take their beliefs so seriously as to make them look stupid? Isn’t unquestioning belief a double edged sword that undermines that which it claims to uphold?

Imagine, a dogmatic physicist claiming that since such a giant fruit has never been seen before, it must have come through a wormhole from another parallel universe?

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The Quotable Hitchens – 2

Hitchens 595

“I have tried for much of my life to write as if I was composing my sentences to be read posthumously.”

“I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.”

“I’ve proved to be as difficult to convert as I am to hypnotize.”

“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.”

“Religion is not going to come up with any new arguments.”

“The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy – the one that’s absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head, not just your actions and your taxes.”

“The suicide-bombing community is not absolutely 100 percent religious, but it is pretty nearly 100 percent religious.”

“There are all kinds of stupid people that annoy me but what annoys me most is a lazy argument.”

“To terrify children with the image of hell… to consider women an inferior creation. Is that good for the world?”

“To the dumb question, ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, ‘Why not?'”

“Trust is not the same as faith. A friend is someone you trust. Putting faith in anyone is a mistake.”

“Well, to the people who pray for me to not only have an agonising death, but then be reborn to have an agonising and horrible eternal life of torture, I say, ‘Well, good on you. See you there.'”

Just Write!

writingOne of the biggest problems I face when about to begin my next book is that I need to have the plot, the sub-plots, characters, etc. all figured out already. I need to know how my story is to be setup and how it is going to progress and my mind keeps wandering from the start to the finish. But since not everything is figured out yet, I start feeling as if I’ve not thought through it sufficiently and thus am unable to start. This further makes me feel as if my imagination is just not good enough to be a writer and I end up shelving that book even without having written a single word. I know it’s crazy!

But, the desire does not die away and after some time, I am back with my pen and paper thinking about some other plot which I can perhaps develop a little better. But that too often meets the same fate. I spend so much time thinking about the book but never much in actually writing it down.

The solution to this problem? Just write!

I discovered this last night. Struggling with the same problem for about an hour, I finally decided to try a different approach. I told myself that I will not worry about the book or its plot or characters. I decided that I will simply write a scene that I would love to see in any of my books and not think about what has happened before it or what will happen afterwards in the story. I didn’t even name the central character, I just called him (or her) ABCD. So, I began by writing a thrilling chase sequence in about 200 words only. It was extremely short but when I finished it, I realized that I could think of one scene each before and after the present and connect them together. I feel if I try this approach and keep going one scene at a time, I might end up inventing more about the story than I could with a pen and paper and just hoping for the perfect idea.

And in case I get stuck anywhere yet again, I can simply close this story and start writing a totally independent scene just like I did above. I might, for instance, start writing a horror scene and think only about that scene and nothing else.

What I found when I followed this strategy is that even if I had no plot in mind while starting to write, it does surprisingly gives me many better and smaller ideas that I can use to develop bigger ones in the future. Also, the fact that I am able to write down the scenes that I someday want to see in my books takes away the pressure of those ideas remaining in my head and haunting me to be written down. Completion of even a 200-word scene makes me feel a lot more positive and I can finally stop feeling stuck and start exploring more than that single scene.

I guess what I am trying to say is, the more you write the more it starts to get you. Writing is like a habit. Sometimes, it will come to you automatically but for that to happen, you need to start now. I am not a professional writer but an amateur but I recognize that the only way for me to have ideas is to write down whatever comes to my mind and not worry about the end result. As it is, writing one short scene is much better that writing no big ones. (Maybe that is why my first two publications have both been very short stories.)

And once you write that short scene, it makes you feel much better and more confident. Try it.

How do you deal with not having a completely figured out plot? Do you also give up or try something else?

Bradbury on Not Reading

Ray-Bradbury-Quote

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