Category Archives: kailash srinivasan

Be A Man, Do The Right Thing

The incident that happened in Guwahati, in the middle of the road, reeks of so many things. It speaks volumes about us as a society, about what we’ve turned into. The men who decided to grab and claw and squeeze and yank that teenage girl, whose only ‘fault’, perhaps, was visiting a pub, were all given birth to by women. They dragged her, stripped her in public, pulled her hair and molested her in full public view, while passers-by stood and watched.

Why did we stand and watch? Why did we let this happen? Because we’re afraid of being bashed by the mob? Because we don’t really give a f*ck? Because, hey, it wasn’t our daughter, sister, or girlfriend? Or because we felt titillated by a young woman being shamed in that fashion? Answer these questions. Think about it. The answer will reveal the kind of person you are.

Read the rest of the piece here:


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Raymond Carver and me

Suspend belief for a moment. Imagine Raymond Carver didn’t succumb to lung cancer in 1988 and is still walking and writing among us. He’d be ten days off turning 74 and likely would have continued to shape the modern short story, solidifying himself even further as one of last century’s most important writers. And now imagine, upon hearing about Sincere Forms of Flattery, he agreed to do an interview with Indian writer, Kailash Srinivasan, who idolises Carver and his creative genius and chose Carver as his author for SFOF. Imagine, imagine, imagine.

We think the interview would have done a little something like this…


I’m sitting on this yellow couch, in this otherwise sparse room, waiting for Raymond Carver, and frankly, hyperventilating. Then all of a sudden he walks in, like an elephant, unperturbed and towering over everything in the room, including me, in a flannel shirt and khakis. His feet are bare. I tell him almost immediately that he looks a bit like Sean Connery, and he says, “That’s nice, thank you.”

I feel like giggling and weeping at the same time. I can feel it rising up to my throat, like vomit, and if I don’t vocalise it, it will manifest itself in some way or the other, so I blurt it out.

Me: Will you please adopt me, please?

Carver: I have always been broke. I still am. Think about it.

Me: Please, please, please teach me how to write like you. Will you? Please say yes. Yes?

Carver: (Laughs) Why would you want that? I want you to write like you, not like me. Would you rather be known as Carver Junior or Kailash Srinivasan? I like your name. Sounds intellectual. Wish I had a name like that.

Me: Would you tell me what you think of this story I wrote?

Carver: (Puts his glasses on, glances through). Cut these words in the opening paragraph, these in the middle and at the end.

Me: But it’s only 1000 words long anyway. It’s down to five hundred now.

Carver: But now, it pierces the heart with more force.

Me: Do you think I should take to drinking, work crap jobs, become a young dad, and go broke to write better?

Carver: (Laughs, again) There were these long periods of time when I did not write any fiction. How I wish I had those years back now! If I hadn’t turned to the bottle in that time, I might’ve been richer, possibly, and might’ve had a much larger volume of work.

Me: Where do you get your stories from? From your own life?

Carver: None of my stories have actually happened, but there’s always something said to me, or that I heard or witnessed, which, if it stays with me, becomes a starting point for a story. Stories can’t come out of thin air, they’re mostly referential. Everything we write has a small part of us in it.

Me: I am only allowed to ask you five questions, so I’ll have to leave now. I don’t want to.

Carver: Well, you can always email them to me. You can, of course, hang around. I can make you a Tuna sandwich, if you like. I promise not to answer any more of your questions, but I will tell you a thing or two about writing short stories.

I fall at his feet, crying, “Yes, of course I will. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t. And thank you, thank you so much for talking to me.” Then we talked of the time when he published his first story, Pastoral, and how he and his wife had driven around town with the letter of acceptance in his hands. And how that letter had given their lives some much-needed validation.


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Them Pretentious Basterds – April 2012 Issue

Them Pretentious Basterds is a brilliant, razor-sharp, online quarterly literary magazine that believes that “good writing and good art can come from anywhere.” They intend this magazine to “showcase high quality fiction, poetry and art from India.” This edition features one of my stories, Deo Volente.
What the editors said about the story: “We enjoyed the story’s tongue-in-cheek narrative, its well-meaning-but-more-than-a-little confused characters, and the best of all, the way you have converted a mundane activity into a cross between light comedy and a suspense thriller (Not quite, but enough of the genre’s trademark style in there to make us smile).”
From the editors of Them Pretentious Basterds
“Dear Reader,
We present the Teal issue of Them Pretentious Basterds magazine. Loud, uncut and in your face, the magazine features the work of 12 writers from India you wish you had heard about. This edition contains dystopic suicide bars, smoking sadhus, some repentance, and some reprieve. Mix in ball point pen illustrations, comic book art and photography, and it’s one heady cocktail of fiction, poetry and art. Click on the link below to earn authentic karma points. Go on, surprise yourself.

The Editors
Them Pretentious Basterds”

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Book Reviews: Urban Shots Love Collection

Book Reviews: Urban Shots Love Collection. Click on the links to read more : “I enjoyed Kailash Srinivasan’s ‘High Time’ because of the dialogues primarily. Natural, funny and effortless…” – “Kailash Srinivasan’s a little off beat ‘High Time‘ humored me especially because of its South Indian stereotypes…” – “High Time – hilarious play of words and expressions that turn the tables…” – “High Time (Kailash Srinivasan) – A beautiful story which will leave you in the fits of laughter” “High Time, Kailash Srinivasan, for its use of humour and sarcasm” “High Time brings its giggles and smiles.   “Some other stories worth commenting are ‘High Time’ by Kailash Srinivasan” – “Kailash Srinivasan’s ‘High Time’ is a pleasant humorous take on the prelude to arranged marriage.”

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Book Launch of Urban Shots: Love Collection

It’s just a book launch, I told myself. That was a lie. It was a BOOK LAUNCH. But then I thought, Ah, well I have been to a few before, poof! Why should this be any different? Well for starters, I was usually on this side of the panel. This side, meaning, the audience side. And I’d still feel nervous about putting forth a question to them Gods with answers to everything in their books. What if the question came out wrong? What if I spoke so fast, and gibberish, not words, spewed from my mouth? I am not one of those who could simply say, “Oops, what am I saying? This is what I meant.” I would just barge through the conversation, like an Army Tanker through a field of Tulips.

So now they tell me I am going to be on the other side of the panel. Yikesabee!! I calmed myself down by saying, Well, there will be other authors there so I’d be safe in their collective presence. The night before, I exchanged a few texts with another author friend who was going to be there also. She was going bananas and was close to the point of not turning up at all. She was thinking of excuses. “I’d say I am an Agoraphobic and that I can’t be anywhere near public places,” she said. Seeing her in that state, something changed within me. Her fear made me swallow mine. Suddenly, I felt brave and putting on a swaggering display of courage, I said, “Nothing doing. Don’t be stupid. I’ll see you there at six.”

The day of the launch was upon me. I was heading there after work. There had already been three date changes from the publisher’s end before they settled on Feb 22. In my head, there was still a tiny chance that they would postpone things again. Part of the reason was there seemed to be no publicity. I texted my friend again.

“Not happening it seems,” I said. “There’s no dope on the event.”

“Oh. Shoot. Well, let me know in case you hear anything.”

I shot a few emails to the organizers who said it was most certainly happening today.

“It’s on,” I said to my friend.

“Oh shit,” she said.

At work, my boss gauging my mood, said, “Why are you pacing around like a pregnant cat?”

“Sorry, I just have this small thing in the evening.”

“What small thing?”

“Nothing, just a small book launch. Very small, actually. I don’t even know why I am going.”

“Oh, man up, Nancy. You’ve done this before.”

On the way to the bookstore, I kept thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong: What if I got the date wrong? or maybe they are going to call me right now and say: There’s been a slight mistake. Your story was never part of the book. To make matters worse I followed a colleagues advice and took the shortcut he’d suggested. “It will cut your travel time by 30 mins,” he announced proudly. It did cut my traveling time, but it also made me even more nervous. I didn’t want to be that first guy on stage at an audition. Everyone is aware, everyone is alert. But you don’t want to be the last guy either. People are bored and eager to know when they can leave.

Upon reaching there I realized I was famished. It was better, I thought, to be ten minutes late than reach on time and sit through the entire evening with strange sounds emanating from my stomach. So I grabbed a falafel roll, which distressingly, turned out to be stale. I chomped it down anyway, tossing half of it in the bin. I paid the guy hurriedly and rushed back to the store.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the first one. Phew! I met my friend by the Gondola, where our books were stacked in the shape of a spiraling staircase, glistening like a snake under white lights. She thumbed through the book and held open for my benefit, the page that announced my story and my name. Writers should be like misers, I think. Just like every single penny makes them happy, every single, published story should make us swoon with pride. She squealed. I squealed. She leafed through to her story and started reading it like she was some third person, as if she had only just come across it.

Soon it was time to take our seats. Breathe.Breathe. My friend sat next to me and kept mumbling, “God, this is so embarrassing. Look at all these people looking at us. I don’t know why I even came,” while I just tried to keep a low profile by sinking lower than needed in my chair. After the initial introduction, and reading of passages, the book’s editor questioned every author on the panel, seven in all, about the story behind writing their respective stories. Later, the audiences were allowed to ask a few questions of their own, and there in the back row, I saw my parents proudly sitting through the proceedings.

As the evening progressed I realized I was fretting over nothing. This wasn’t so bad after all. I could get used to this. I was high on happiness. One, I was on the other side of the panel and two, there were people in the audience who had come to listen to us speak and get their books signed. It was a proud moment. Cameras were flashing, people were applauding, and then they came up to talk to us, shake our hands.

Another friend joined us for the evening as we wrapped up a great night with a delicious platter of succulent kebabs and humongous mugs of chilled goodness — Beer.

I wrote the story, High Time, as part of a short story writing competition organized by GreyOak publishers and Landmark bookstores. i was chuffed when the results were announced. High Time was also a Bookchums pick.

About the Publishers

GreyOak are relatively new in the field of publishing and have published a dozen titles. One of the distinct things about them is that they have a strong focus on writing and stories about India and/ or by Indian writers. Below is an excerpt from my story for the aforementioned anthology.

High Time is a story about a young Iyer bloke who is pestered by his parents to get hitched. Since he won’t agree otherwise, they trick him into meeting this girl. However, things don’t go as planned.


Muralikrishnan Iyer– or Krish to his friends – had turned thirty this morning. He had only just opened his eyes when his mother waltzed into his room with the biggest smile on her face.

‘Kanna,’ she cooed – an endearment she reserved for moments when there was a favour to be asked, or a touchy subject to be trod upon. ‘The good lord should save you from all evil eyes. Happy birthday, Kanna,’ she said and cupped his face in her hands, while Krish squirmed uncomfortably. ‘What, huh? What? So now that you’re thirty, your mother isn’t allowed to show any affection?’

‘Amma, please, can you just…’

‘What? Leave you alone? Okay, fine. Get ready. We’re going to Sushila Maami’s house.’

‘I am not going anywhere. I have plans.’

‘Nothing doing. You’re coming with us. I have already given my word to Sushila Maami. And Aunty has been phoning me day in, day out asking whether I’ll bring you along. Also, she wants you to sing for her some of your Sai bhajans when we’re there.’

‘What nonsense? But how can you promise someone on my behalf? I get one day from work, one day, and I have to do all this socialising with people I don’t even care about?’ Krish flung the sheets aside and stormed out of the room.

She followed him to the washbasin and spoke as he brushed. ‘Well, you might not care about her, but she loves you like her own son.’

‘Dad. Dad!’ Krish called and went to where his father was reading the newspaper. ‘Did you listen to what she just said? Tell her this is not done.’

‘What do you do for this house? Do you do dusting? Wash clothes? Buy vegetables? I mean, what do you actually do for this house?’ his father said, his tone unusually dramatic, like that of the characters from those Tamil serials he watched on Sun TV.

‘What? Wait, where’s this coming from? I’m saying something else and you are talking about something entirely different.’

‘We ask you to do one thing and you are creating such a scene. I don’t understand why.’

‘I… I…What? Never mind.’

‘Wear your kurta pyjama, that blue one. Dress decently for once.’

Krish threw up his arms. ‘Are you both even listening to what I’m saying? I don’t want to go. Period.’ He went into his room and slammed the door shut, wondering whether he’d ever have his own place and the much needed privacy.


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Title Wars: The Battle Between Publisher and Author Over a Title

How do authors settle on a title? Surely, it is not as difficult as facing the dreaded blank page. You have already made past the desert and have found the oasis. The manuscript, like a pimple, is ready for a home. Rather it already knows where it wants to go. If only one can decide upon a title.

I am no genius, unlike some authors, whose advice is to have a title first and then write the story. To me that sounds more like opening the parachute even before jumping off the plane. Why should I vote without knowing the candidates contesting in the elections? I need my story first.

So I have the story. Now what? Then my job is to identify the core theme of the story. Let’s say the story is about a spinster. The recurring theme could be her marriage. Now I try and figure out what is it that is holding it all together? Is it one special moment? Something that the protagonist says or feels or experiences? Or should I use a metaphoric title that represents the story in the best manner? And so on.

It certainly is not nuclear research, this title settling business. Mostly, it will be apparent, like indigestion. But with some pieces you will have to work a bit more to get there and occasionally, a short story or a novel will make you work the hardest that you ever have. Presently, I’m going through one of those “occasions”.

My second book is almost ready for release. It has already gone through several acid tests and from an original eighty-five thousand epic masterpiece, has sat on the gas long enough to boil down to a much muscular sixty-thousand words.But  the hardest part for me hasn’t been writing the book, for two reasons – one, I wrote this much quicker than I wrote my first. For the obvious reason that the former was a short story collection, while this is a novel. And secondly, the story almost wrote itself. The hardest part, in fact, has been deciding on a bloody title.

Why has it been so hard to decide on a title for this book? I have no clue. I know the story. I understand the characters. I bloody well wrote it. Just when I’d think, Ah, this is an appropriate title, my publisher gets back saying, I’m sorry. I don’t think this works. Look at this, instead. She and I have been going back and forth over this. She has been rejecting the ones I have been sending her and I have been discarding hers.

The other day she emailed me another suggestion for a title and seemed excited about it. She said the title was suitable because it highlighted the love interest of the protagonist and showed her importance in his life. Also, she said, the title was different and new. Though initially I was drawn to it, I didn’t act on that impulse straight away. I slept on it for two days. I asked around, checked with my friends and got a mixed response. One said it was interesting, the other said it was a run-of-the-mill title. I said the publisher thinks it was the most unconventional title ever, to which the friend said, As a reader I won’t be much intrigued. Someone said, Eeeks. And though they had no idea about what the book was about (partly because I haven’t revealed much), they vehemently commented on the choice of title.

The title is vital. It is the first thing that a reader lays his eyes on. Gives him a glimpse, if you will, a gist of the novel in one to four words. He will then look over the cover design. Then he will flip to the back page of the book, read the synopsis and if he likes that, he will arrive at the first page, but will carry on further only if you hold his interest in those first few lines. And so, the title attains a great importance.

The more I thought about her suggestion, the more I felt it was not for me, not for my book.  Two days later I told her I wasn’t comfortable with her title choice, and with that, I sent her another list of probable titles. In reply, she sent me a long e-mail explaining in great detail why she thought her title was better than all the ones I sent her. She even took the trouble to break the title in parts and explain the relevance of each part. She said, Trust me. People will pick up your book. She said, I only have your best interests at heart.

In a way, it is quite heartening that she is taking such an interest in the project and not treating it like an oh-no-not-another-one. So much so that it almost feels like we are competing with each other and trying to vilify the other’s choice of titles. Why should she get to decide? As a publisher she has a say but shooting down all my ideas! Not cool.

I never expected so much discussion with her over this. I was gearing up for a grand battle when her edits had come in. But they were fine in a very anti-climax sort of way. They were aimed at enhancing the story. I didn’t have much to protest about. In fact it was her edits that transformed a Betty into a Beckett (From Castle, for the uninitiated).

So now I am gawking at this title and don’t know what to do. It seems okay but doesn’t seem okay. It looks like it is going down the chick-lit road, and that’s my biggest apprehension. I’m thinking of agreeing and also trying to come up with a few more titles of my own at the same time. But I am blank and freaking out. She said I had to reply ASAP as she was going to print a catalogue soon with all the forthcoming titles.

“Priya and Other Do-Withoutables” (Publisher’s idea). Go or No Go?

FYI, Priya is the love interest of the protagonist and though he feels she can be done without, it really isn’t so. So sort of an underhanded humour in the title.

Going with the title, Just Another Do-Withoutable

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Stop bullshitting us

Hollywood should stop bullshitting people. Stop feeding us with a false sense of confidence and hope and romance. Because brownies don’t always have a gooey center. Romance novels are no better either. Last Kiss, Love and Other Drugs, Valentine’s Day, Love Actually, It’s Complicated, and a whole list of films that make you believe for that hour or so, that, yes, if you’re obtuse enough, if you’re expressive, persevering enough, yank your heart out and hold it in the open long enough, things can happen, love can happen, happiness is within reach. Especially now, when there are Hollywood couples that are breaking world records in courting the most number of people or staying married for the shortest while possible.

Most of these movies have spatting lovers realizing their foolishness, wishing to get back together, or ex-lovers (now single or with others, or separated for whatever reasons, infidelity being the top one), after an epiphany, rediscovering their love for each other. So we’re taken through this entire bogus journey, knowing very well where it is all going to culminate. Also, if they are seeing someone else, all of a sudden, that relationship seems loveless, as though they are sleeping with the most despicable person on this frigging planet. Oh, but he doesn’t respect me like the last fellow did. Doesn’t “value” me like he did.

There is this final scene where the audience knows that the characters are in love except the characters themselves. This scene where the hero or the heroine leaves the other’s home or office or wherever, without giving vent to their feelings. Without saying the unsaid things. Sparring and squabbling instead because they can’t believe how thick-hided the person in front of them is. How could you not see this? The weight they carry in their hearts as they walk away, or get into a taxi.

They sit in a hotel overseeing the metropolis, or at the airport thinking of all the things that could have happened or should have happened. In Bollywood, it’s running after trains in slow motion, mostly actresses (it makes for good viewing). The hero valiantly hangs on to the bar with one hand, while the other is stretched out for the girl to latch on to. He could simply pull the chain, but no, or she could get into any damn bogey in front of her, but no.

They look over at canoodling couples, the love-suffused eyes, a sweet child sandwiched between man mouth and woman mouth, old couples with wet lips, quivering hands tipping their heads together, the teary farewells. Then an old photograph of a happier time, or a note with a sappy message of love, or a highlighted paragraph in a book or a memory will wrench their heart and in that moment they will pine for their partner intensely. Mostly, both parties realize pretty much at the same time that what they are doing is stupid, that they should get their enormous egos out of their way and shadow this prospect with honesty. They will get up, grab that phone and dial their number. But no one will pick up and it will go to voice mail, or they will head back to their lover’s house and find a lock outside their door instead.

But it’s only apparent what is about to happen. The lover is standing right behind, or is at the airport, too. Or the leaver never leaves but is sitting in the waiting area, or the plane halts for some insane reason and the lovers unite with a euphoric embrace or a passionate meeting of lips. Tears, apologies, smiles, silly goose, how could you let me go?

For once, why not shove the brutal truth in the audience’s face? Why not tell them that it is f****d up? Why not show an ex-couple meeting after a long time. The long-drawn embrace, whiff of a forgotten spark. That they have come a long way. That they are not the same people any longer, veiling a broken confidence and oscillating self-worth. Getting lost on the way to finding a Thai restaurant for dinner on a 4.6 degree Celsius night, on a motorcycle. Ending up at a totally different place, eating, bantering, touching upon gray territories. Frowns, scratching past wounds, recalling good times. Driving back, gently holding on to the shoulder of the rider.

Outside her home, words come out of shivering lips, like ice cubes being dropped into a glass. She invites him up and he refuses. But accepts later. Room, warm, conversation, warmer.

‘There’s something on your cheek. Let me get it for you. There. Oh, it’s just a hair,’ he says.

‘Your sense of humor has improved. It’s relevant, much tighter, crisper,’ he says.

Then the girl yawns. ‘OK, time for me to get out. See you then.’ They embrace quickly, with the hero eager to leave.

And say, as the hero walks down the stairs, something clogs up his chest. He bumps into a skimpily-clad woman, apologizes and continues down the steps. Any other night he would have ogled. One step after the other. Every step taking him further and further. No, this can’t be it. This can’t be it. He runs back up, gasping, panting. Knocks. The girl opens the door, surprised, lets him back in.

‘I…just…can I have another hug?’

The girl looks at him strangely, and says an unsure, ‘Okkaayy.’ They hug again. He holds on tightly this time.

‘I came up because, I don’t know, I suddenly felt sick, like there’s something in here and I can’t come out with it. Look how my heart beats, like it’s on steroids.’

‘No, I believe you,’ she says.

‘No feel it,’ he says.

There’s reluctance in her eyes, her hands are on her hips. She feels his heartbeat. ‘You do realize it could be because you just ran up six floors.’

‘Yes, maybe, no. Can I have some water? I feel so nervous for some reason.’ He gulps some water from a former Cola bottle, the rim still smelling of coke.

Then in an inspired moment he reaches to kiss her. She backs away. ‘No, please, no. Let’s not complicate this.’

‘You’re right. I don’t know why I did that. I’m sorry.’

‘No need to say sorry, it is fine.’

He starts to leave. She stops him. ‘No, don’t leave like this. Sit. Please sit down.’

‘It is not fine. Just feeling a little emotional I guess.’

‘So, is it my new, improved sense of humor?’ she smiles, standing at the door.

‘Just you, but I am sorry.’ He looks here and there, his eyes darting everywhere but her face. Embarrassed he feels, humiliated, he sits on the bed, at the edge.

‘I didn’t say anything. It’s a beautiful emotion and you expressed it. In fact I’m sorry for not being able to reciprocate.’

‘I should leave,’ he says and he leaves, but not before she touches the back of his head in a you’re such a child manner.

Hollywood, learn something, be truthful, that’s the least you can do.


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