Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Comprenez Vous?

Something tells me I will never be understood in my lifetime.

When I began my chequered career, or less dramatically, when I got my first job, I had certain aspirations for myself. I wanted my resume to be varied and eclectic. In fact, at the time of retirement (which is now barely five months away), I wanted my resume to list jobs beginning with each alphabet – acrobatics, baby-sitting, cherry cultivation, and so on.

But I seem to be stuck in a rut. Ever since I started out, my jobs, though varied in industry and pay-scale (swings between low and lower), are consistently word-based.

So, instead of my resume illumined with variety brought on by ‘acrobatics, baby-sitting, or cherry cultivation’, it is dowdened with ‘analyzing content, briefing content, contenting content.. et cetera, ad nauseum.’

Even the blank Microsoft Word document yawns as I re-write my resume and profile my third job. ‘So, anything different this time?’, it mocks.

Software ridicule aside, I have made my peace. Writing is what I can do with a modicum of comfort and competence; therefore, I will make my living being a wordsmith. And the world and its aunty know that.

Oh well. Things could have been worse.

My aspirations have now turned to writing different things – like for a food magazine, or about horses, or about babies. I would love to write about the different gurgles that babies make. Gurgles are like enthusiastic little burps that suddenly discover a tune. They are so jaunty. If ever I am stranded on a mountain with no company, I would like to have the sounds of babies’ gurgles with me. One must remember simple times.

Every night, I go to bed thinking that I will get an opportunity to write something luminescent and wonderful the next morning. The blank ‘.doc’ cynic will get teary eyed and choke, ‘Mukta, I never knew..sniff!’

So, I get all tingly and numb with excitement when I see an email from a mighty important agent. The mail reads:

‘Dear Mukta,’ (yes? yes?),

We have gone through your job profile (my mind cruises in bliss, my time has finally come. I shall be discovered now) and we have just the job for you. (Can one really die of happiness? If yes, its rigor mortis for me right away.)

Given your experience and talent (where is everyone when I want to read aloud?), we are very certain you’ll be the perfect candidate for the position. (Gosh!)

We are looking for a canteen administrator (Screech! Halt! My calm cruise just got stuck in a ditch.)

A ‘canteen administrator’….A canteen administrator!

I hurriedly go through my resume. What, in there, could possibly have given anyone the impression that I was suited to administrate a canteen?

Let’s see –

Job 1: Sold perfumes. Wrote reports about selling perfumes.

Job 2: Edited and wrote articles for a law website. Interacted with lawyers. (Hmm..perhaps this could be construed as experience in having a difficult and thankless job. Yet, canteen administrator? Nah!)

Job 3: Wrote, edited, reviewed articles – freelance.

Job 4: Wrote, edited, reviewed articles – chained to a desk.

Job 5: Wrote, edited…(okay, the stupid document has started yawning.)

Jobs 6 and 7: same.

So pray tell, stupid job agent who evoked reactions in me that a million exclamation and question marks cannot do justice to…how the hell am I the ‘perfect candidate’ to be a canteen administrator? Or did you think that ‘content’ and ‘canteen’ is pretty much in the same vicinity since they sound similar?

Anyway, thank you very much but I will not be a ‘canteen administrator’.

But I would like to cut hair – not yours, though. Hmpph!

Okay, so job agents don’t understand you, even if you’ve given every detail down to the lining of your intestine in your resume.

That’s what friends are for.

No they are not.

My pal, A, calls up from Chennai. He is the wittiest, most scathing minds I have ever met. And what’s more, he used to write a blog. He has stopped now because he is bored. The tedium of genius.

He tells me that he wants to write a book. Or as he puts it, ‘I f***ing want to write a bloody book.’

And he wants me to tell him if people actually read anything that has too many profanities.

I answer like the Oracle of Delphi. He is a wonderful storyteller – not good, or great, or fantastic – but wonderful. His language is spot on, his descriptions are piercing, and the most important thing – he is an honest guy. He writes from the heart. For all the finesse that is brought on by cerebral writing, it can never come close to anything written simply and truly.

‘But what about all the bad language?’

‘You don’t use it for effect, A…you use foul language because that’s the way you think. You are very very clever and sometimes very clever people use foul language.’

Of course, he doesn’t use foul language ‘sometimes’ – every waking moment is more like it. But there’s such variety, it’s delightful. There are the usual diddles – bloody, ‘f***’, etc. etc. And there are plenty more where a person’s entire genealogy is scupshed in dank water and mud. And where someone’s nostrils are compared to a hyena’s behind. He has a gift with the tongue-lash.

But A isn’t convinced.

‘You’ve read all these thick-thick books,’ he says. (That’s me – the chick who does the thick-thick reading.) ‘Have you read any with loads of bad words?’

In response, I tell him of a queer book that I read recently, ‘Venus as a Boy’ by Luke Sutherland. It’s about a bisexual who has a divine gift of sex. Whenever he sleeps with someone, that person sees heaven. The book is filled with invectives and grisly details (this guy takes hormone pills to become a woman. That description of when he first sees the mound of breast forming on him made me queasy.) Yet, that book is distinct – grainy, brittle at times, sharp and jagged. There’s a beautiful moment when the woman he’s in love with is with his best friend. He sits outside the house-boat and throws pebbles over water – watching them skid endlessly into the horizon. Suddenly, the girl sneaks up to him and says, ‘Not bad, young god.’ Poignant.

I explain all this and finish by telling him that ‘Venus as a boy’ is an uncomfortable book, true – but you won’t find another one like it.

He listens. Pauses. Chirps, ‘Hey! He makes people see heaven when he f***s them, is it? I once saw a porn movie like that…You sure you didn’t get that story on cable?’

Pretty sure. Wannabe canteen administrators don’t watch things like that. Bored writers? That’s another story.


The wanderer said...

This 'A from chennai' is a close pal of mine. Also sort-of responsible for my coming to lionbridge. And oh yes he's a brilliant writer, but he worries that if one took away the expletives, he wouldn't be left with much vocabulary. :)

New Dik On The Blog said...

I know where you got 'that story' from. Good Will Humping.

Mukta said...

Hey wanderer,

Really?! I thought he didn't like tha place, so he wouldn't recommend anyone to be there. :-)

Or maybe he doesn't like you. he he!



the harlequin said...

@ Mukta: Jivha. A couldn't be him, could he?

@Wanderer: Lionbridge? Funny. My neighbour works for Lionbridge in Bombay. Small world, isn't it?

Mukta said...

Hi Harlequin,

? - yes. A is 'him'. You know 'A'?

neha said...

Oh Mukta, thanks for a laugh. I have looked really bizarre laughing out so loud at the screen. But thanks for that!

Today is good.

Vikram said...

Awesome writing. I'm new here but something tells me I won't be new anymore... hehe :D

the harlequin said...

Golly. You know Jivha? The man behind the HTML? 'A' is Jivha? Whoa!

madhavan said...

Vernon God Little -- that's the book your friend A should be reading. Full of profanities from starttofinish but incredible writing. About a 14-year-old who's framed for a school shoot-out. Written by an ex-con called JBC Pierre. Incidentally, it won the Booker.

Mukta said...

Hi Neha,

Anyone clicked you while you were getting bizarre? hee hee! Sure would like to see that...

Hey vikram,


Hi Harlequin,

Nope..I don't know THAT 'A'..:-)

Hey Madhavan,

Thanks for keeping the Pulp Fiction watch. Very very nice of you. And I will most certainly read Vernon God Little now! :-)

neha said...

Nah, thank goodness!!