January 22, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve gone on a trek, about five years. The last time I went, the most difficult part of the trek was a pain in my knee, which flared up right away when I did 20 km on day 1, some of it extremely steep. Never having been particularly fit, I’ve always been reduced to a gasping, panting, quivering heap by any ascent on a trek, but I usually hang in there in the belief that I’ve seen worse. And that’s an easy belief to cling to given that our first trek was ridiculously difficult and scary.

I’ve also had my share of panic moments. Not for a while, though. The last was probably back in 2005, where on two memorable occasions, a gushing body of water that I was immersed in up to my thighs threatened to carry me away. In the treks since then, I’ve been in some difficult situations, I’ve been tired, I’ve even been lost, but I’ve never been scared in the same way.

So Madhugiri came as a surprise.

Madhugiri is a small hill which is home to a fort constructed in about 1670. It’s a comfortable two hour drive from Bangalore, so it was supposed to be picnic, a one-day picnic. We were part of a larger group: the four of us, another family of four and two other guys without their families. One of the guys was born and brought up in that town, so he knew the fort well. Without him, we’d have gone and enjoyed the place anyway, but I really doubt we’d have kept going all the way to the top.

A couple of years ago, Amit and I had taken the kids to the fort at Chitradurga, and of course, we’ve seen various other forts in Delhi, Rajasthan, Daulatabad… so we thought we knew what to expect. It was hot, it was steep, there were rocks and walls and gateways. All par for the course. The initial part, though steep, was easy enough to walk or climb and there was a metal railing (mysteriously wound around with barbed wire at regular intervals) to hang on to if you needed it.

And then there was this vast sheet of rock sloping at some impossible angle. There were notches cut into the rock, but not so comforting as to be able to call them steps. And the railing suddenly disappeared. It reappeared after a short gap, and then turned into a very substantial and comforting looking wall, but before attaining the sanctuary of the wall, there was the GAP. And the GAP must be crossed.

I couldn’t shoot at this point, so this is a picture from someone else’s blog to illustrate what I mean
It’s not that the stretch leading up to the GAP was very easy or reassuring or safe, but it had a railing. I summoned up enough courage to lodge myself against it while I tucked my camera into the camera bag on my shoulders. The GAP was not to be attempted with a camera in one hand.

With my heart in my mouth and a cold sweat on my hands, I turned my back to the drop, almost spread-eagled myself across the bare rock, and edged my way across the GAP. The kids came next, and how they managed it, I don’t know. I was too petrified to even help them. And there was no way to offer a help hand anyway – you could only place the tip of your shoe in each notch and you could barely reach the next person ahead of you or behind you while you stretched towards the next notch.

At any rate, those of us who had attempted this stretch made it safely across the GAP. Three of our party elected to stop well short of it. I wonder how it looked from there, watching us inching our way across that unguarded slope.

The fun wasn’t over yet, though. Next we had a vast stretch of rock to climb over. It was dry and not slippery, and not as scary as the GAP, but it was steep. I thought my calf muscles would snap. Amit’s shoes decided to part company with their soles and he slipped and fell flat on his stomach. That took care of the bottle he was holding in one hand. It wasn’t an easy task, for him to haul all seven feet back into what passed for vertical on that slope.

At last, we reached the top of the slope, where the ground leveled out, albeit briefly. From this point on, there was no apparent path onward. There were chalk arrows on the ground, but it wasn’t clear what you were climbing towards. Before this, there had always been a path, a wall, a doorway, something to beckon you on. Now, just the arrows.

We followed them anyway, over rocks, through a small cave-like structure, onwards, upwards, to another level and then there was the DOOR. The DOOR was just another doorway, the kind you see several of in any self-respecting fort. But this wasn’t just another doorway, this was the DOOR. And the DOOR looked out over a precipice. One hell of a way to welcome visitors. It was perched right on the edge of the hill, so that if you missed your footing and happened to fall in just the wrong place…

Here’s another photo that I didn’t take. This link goes to the blog I’ve borrowed this from. I’ve also added the photo here, but with no claims to having shot it. You see where that girl in the red t-shirt is? That’s called being between a rock and a hard place
I don’t know how they could ever have had a proper route through the DOOR. The broken wall on one side offered one terrifying option, and the rock on the other side had an incline of a mere 80 degrees, offering another impossible option. Between these two there lay a short stretch of rather difficult-but-preferable-to-the-alternatives option, which we all attempted with varying degrees of skill and elan. (Why is it that when you know that looking down into the precipice is going to scare the living daylights out of you, you are inexorably drawn to looking down into the precipice? Whatever happens to the survival instinct at such times? Why does it flee and leave you to battle with vertigo unaided?)

After the DOOR, there was another short climb, and suddenly there it was. The temple at the top of the hill.
It looked more like a fort than a temple, but after making it all the way there, I suppose a temple was more appropriate. Forget meeting the king – you just want to thank your maker for letting you get up there alive and ask him to help you get back down in the same state. I imagine if any invading emperor ever got all the way up there, the king, if there were one, might clap him on the back and offer him a cup of tea (if not something stronger). At any rate, I doubt anyone could create murder and mayhem by the time they reached the top. So it’s a pretty effective defensive strategy, albeit somewhat suicidal as well.

Madhugiri_Fort_Dec_2017_48Alright, the view was great. It always is, when you get to the top. It was peaceful, the wind had died away, the sun was welcome, there was nobody else up there but us. But, nagging away at the back of my mind was the thought of the descent. The DOOR. The GAP. Oh my god!

I was so nervous going through the door that I even resorted to making loud nonsensical conversation and giggling hysterically at it. I don’t think anyone else in our group, including the kids, was as traumatized by it as I was.

But then we came to the GAP and that was the great leveler. I doubt anyone has ever got through that and not been scared shitless. Amit went first, and much to my alarm, he started off facing outwards, so that his entire body weight was leaning out over the abyss. Thankfully, he turned sideways at some point. Mini was behind him. She was scared, but brave. I called to Amit to help her along, but really there was nothing he could have done. You have to make it across on your own – there’s no way you can have someone stand next to you and hold your hand.

Tara went next. She was petrified and almost whimpering out loud. I was equally petrified, but I knew I couldn’t afford to show it. I started talking to her and egging her on, comforting her, encouraging her, just another step, almost there, keep going, that’s it. The effect, of course, was that my pep talk worked on me as much as it did on her, and having to think of encouraging things to say helped me not think about how steep and how brutal the fall would be.

It was easily the scariest thing I’ve done in at least ten years, made even scarier because the kids were with us.

The rest of the descent was easy enough. Going up had taken two-and-a-half hours. Going down took about half that time. And the rest of it was a picnic. Except that I couldn’t walk straight for the next several days, my legs were so stiff. The kids were fine, of course, bouncing around as though they’d only gone for a walk in the park. Amit was fine, of course, although his shoes lost both their soles and never did recover from that.

As for me… I have a new benchmark. The next time I attempt to do something difficult or scary, I just have to remind myself: I’ve done Madhugiri. If I can do that, I can do (almost) anything.


2016: My Year in Books

January 9, 2017

For the second year running, I managed to average one book every two weeks. Not bad, huh?

For the record, here’s the list:

  1. Kafka on the Shore by Harumi Murakami – Off to a flying start, one might say. One Murakami down the hatch and things can only get better. I mean, Murakami is awesome… but one per year is about all one can manage without losing one’s marbles.
  2. Revival by Stephen King – He’s the boss! Every book of his is a masterpiece!
  3. The Green Mile by Stephen King – Ok, he’s still the boss, but it’s difficult to take two slightly similar books of his one after the other. Still, an unforgettable book.
  4. The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry – I picked this one up at the library just because I liked the title and the blurb. Weird but interesting book.
  5. Disgrace by Jussi Adler Olson – Good book, but not great. I’ve read others by this author (Mercy, Redemption), and all of them are good, but not great.
  6. The Help by Kathryn Stackett – Oddly enough, I enjoyed this very much. Again, I picked it up at the library in a “what’ve-I-got-to-lose” kind of way because I don’t really go for this period nor for serious black/white discrimination kind of themes… but it was extremely interesting and kept me hooked.
  7. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – I read this only because it was by JK Rowling, and I enjoyed it immensely.
  8. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri – Not such an enthralling book.
  9. The Third Twin by Ken Follet – Ok, I picked this one up at the library only because it had “twin” in the title. And after all, Ken Follet, so it should be ok. It turned out to be too old-fashioned and rather superficial – both characters and plot lacked depth. At the time it was written, it might have been more cutting-edge, I suppose.
  10. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon – I’d read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time more than a decade ago, and I picked up this book just to see what the author was up to these days. Turned out to be quite an interesting book about a somewhat weird (but believable) family.
  11. Flesh and Blood by Jonathan Kellerman – A run of the mill serial murderer book.
  12. Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud – I loved the Bartimaeus series, so I was looking around for something by the same author and this is what I found. Once I read the first of the series, I was hooked. Fantasy, but such fun!
  13. The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie – Another slightly-weird-family with a wedding in the offing book. The third this year! Quite interesting.
  14. Gone by Lisa Gardner – Apparently I quite enjoyed this book, but I can’t for the life of me remember anything about it, so it must have been rather forgettable. I read it in July.
  15. Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud – A delightful book a step up from Enid Blyton. Well, I don’t think one ever entirely outgrows Enid Blyton, so why not? A 14-year-old boy runs away from his protected and sheltered home to fight a war and cover himself in glory.
  16. Tar Baby by Toni Morrison – Good lord, why do I even try to read these literary books? This book drove me crazy. Started off so well, I loved it, and then it went on and on and completely lost the plot and my interest as well. And ended with a whimper, to top it off.

17, 18, 19. Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud – Ah, great, back to light, easy, fun reading. And like desert after veggies, I got myself a triple helping. The Whispering Skull and The Hollow Boy and then, to my chagrin, I had to wait several weeks for The Creeping Shadow. In fact, not all the books are equally good… but all of them are good.

20. Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchet – Two fabulous fantasy writers collaborating on one book? How can it not be awesome?

21. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith – The third book in the series. I didn’t like this one that much – too much relationship stuff going on and too little whodunit.

22. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – Again, an odd choice for me, because I stay away from books about the Second World War. This one wasn’t depressing (the war was just in the background, really) but it was just way too weird with way too many lesbians. Why do I even pick up these books?

23. The Gunslinger by Stephen King – I’d been waiting to get my hands on the first of the Dark Tower series but when I finally did, I didn’t like it. Most upsetting, given that I was expecting to like it. The combination of Western and Fantasy (or plain weird, in Stephen King’s case) just didn’t work for me.

24. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu – Probably the most memorable book of the year (which is saying a lot, given that it’s competing with Lockwood & Co, to say nothing of Kafka on the Shore). I loved the first half of the book, but then it began to demand a little too much willing suspension of disbelief even for Sci-fi. The first half was so interesting, though, that I will probably pick up the next book in the series.

25. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin – Alright, this really is a children’s book, but it’s a delightful read. I loved the way the story was woven in and out of a fairy tale, complete with dragons and kings and the man in the moon. Beautiful!

26. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Another amazing book and possibly a contender for most memorable book of the year. Fantasy again, yes, but the setting is fabulous. Also, along with Good Omens, it’s a book that I need to go back and read a second time to understand all that’s going on. A great book to end the year on.

New Year, Old Resolutions

January 3, 2017

They’ve been on my list for the last ten years at least – not resolutions so much, they’re more of a wish list:

  • Two kids
  • Two books
  • Two dogs

Well, the dogs mysteriously turned into cats along the way, but that apart, the last entrant on that list came into my life in 2014, when my second book, Adopted Miracles, was published.

There’ve also been, for a very very long time, another two items on that wish list:

  • Improve at tennis
  • Lose weight

The score on that front is not so great. But you can’t have everything, after all, and it is and always has been a question of priorities. And while I might not make it to Wimbledon in this lifetime, my tennis is not so bad (Davis Cup level at any rate).

So, what’s on my list for 2017?

Well, cats don’t make too many demands on their parents, apart from regular feeding, but when it comes to kids it’s another matter. You’re never quite “done” with them, are you? You can never really strike that one off the list as achieved.

But, while that part of life goes on for the next few decades, there’s another area where I can shoot at a moving goal-post: my books. The third one’s ready to hit the stands any day now. And what a journey it’s been.

The idea for Survivors rattled around in my head for a couple of years before I finally started to write it. And although I wrote it in a single stretch of about three months, as I did with my other manuscripts, in a way the germination of the idea and even some of the research for the book took place over a period of months before I started writing. I was done writing it in early 2012 and it’s the only one of my three works that have been published so far, that found a publisher within a matter of weeks. That, for a change, was the easy part.

After that, it’s been a long, tedious wait to see my book finally come to life.

And now it has! At last! It’s good to start the year with a new book hitting the stands, so no complaints on that front.

Meanwhile, however, I’ve been busy… and consequently there are another four unpublished works in the queue. No, I haven’t found a publisher yet. Oddly enough, having had something published doesn’t seem to make the search for a publisher any easier. According to my erstwhile agent, it might even work against you, if your existing books died in obscurity.

So here’s my wishlist for the coming year.

  • Edit three of my existing manuscripts
  • Find a publisher for at least one
  • And of course, lose weight and improve at tennis.

That’s a tall order. By the time I finish office work and housework for the day, I barely have enough energy left to drag myself upstairs and collapse in bed. Making time to edit my manuscripts and snag a publisher is a difficult-to-impossible task. And when I do manage to spend the time I need to on those tasks, I’m too tired to drag myself out of bed at 5.15 a.m and reach the tennis court by six. So definitely, all three of those objectives aren’t achievable in one year. And if I have to pick, I know where my priorities are (and always have been).

But, well… lots to look back on and lots to look ahead to. Whoever said “the years to come seem waste of breath; a waste of breath the years behind” (or words to that effect) should have tried writing books. (Come to think of it, maybe he did.)

A Night to Remember

December 22, 2016

What a night.

I went to bed at 10 p.m. as usual, but was kept awake by the sound of water running out. You should know that we’re a bit fanatic about water around here. There’s nothing that Amit won’t do to save half a cup of water – and this is our lovingly harvested rain water contributed by a scanty monsoon and a cyclone that I’m talking about. Ordinarily, after the November or December cyclone, we have sufficient water to see us through a clear two months. After that, it’s back to Cauvery water until the April thundershowers arrive. And if you think Cauvery water is good, well, you certainly haven’t tasted rain water then.

So when we hear water running out, we tend to be a bit paranoid about it. Had we left a tap running somewhere? Was there a leak? We tried to convince ourselves that it originated somewhere across the road, but couldn’t refrain from further investigation. So we got ourselves out of bed, stumbled downstairs and went all the way out into the street, where we discovered (to our relief) that the neighbours appeared to have left a garden tap running. It being 10.30 by this time, we didn’t think it wise to knock on their door and tell them this. Anyway, the flow had pretty much stopped; perhaps their tank had emptied.

We went back to bed and fell asleep, only to be awoken three hours later by the sound of water gushing somewhere close at hand. It’s not the rainy season anymore, there’s absolutely no reason for water to be gushing anywhere closer than the Cauvery itself (if even that can bring itself to gush after the miserable monsoon we had this year). The sound had unobtrusively entered my dreams but it was Amit who jumped out of bed first. I guess the gushing had been part of the background for quite a while by then.

This time, it was in our house. A tap had broken and fallen off the wall. That’s right – apparently such things can happen, and since they can, they will … at 1.30 a.m. when you’re peacefully asleep, leaving the water to run for ages before you wake up and do something about it. Of course, it could have been worse. It could have happened while we were away. Or while we’d inadvertently left the pump on.

As it happened, we were only asleep not away and the pump was off, so the broken tap drained our overhead tank (which had about 600 litres of water at the time) but didn’t have an opportunity to drain the underground tank (which stores around 12,000 litres when it’s full – and it was pretty close to full, thanks to the cyclone).

So, at 1.30 a.m. Amit goes charging out to turn off the water supply to that tap, leaving me to hold the tap in place as tightly as I can to prevent the last few of the 600 litres from going down the drain with the rest of it.

And then all we have to do is mop up the mess and get back to bed.

We can still hear the water gurgling merrily through our reed bed, into our gray water tank, and out into the drain – because our gray water tank wasn’t expecting a sudden influx of close to 600 litres and so it overflowed, of course.

Added to that, the street dogs barking endlessly, thrilled to bits at our predicament or just exchanging the news of the night with friends near and far; either way effortlessly (and possibly unintentionally) keeping us awake and miserable for a very long time.

I fell asleep eventually, but the night wasn’t done with me just yet. The next time my sleep was broken – rudely, at that – by the howling of the burglar alarm. And when I say howling, I actually mean shrieking like a banshee. I’ve never heard a banshee screaming – ok, let’s be honest, I don’t actually know what a banshee is – but I’m convinced it can’t sound any worse than our burglar alarm. It was 4.45 a.m. by now, so it was unlikely to be a burglar trying to get into the house; more likely just the wretched pesky cats triggering the motion sensor; but I had to leap out of bed to shut off the infernal racket before it woke the entire neighbourhood and also drove me insane, which it can do in 15 seconds flat. It had to be me leaping out of bed this time, mind you. Unless there’s water running, Amit’s no good at leaping out of bed.

Grumbling and swearing, I declined to search for imaginary intruders and fell back into my bed – only to be awoken 15 minutes later by the neighbours washing their driveway. What the…??? I simply do not understand what drives people to do this futile thing at this ungodly hour of day. To add to my woes, the dogs were barking again (perhaps they had never stopped) and the neighbours’ running tap was running again (not the same neighbours who were washing their driveway, mind; we have neighbours on every side around here). Perhaps, now that it was early morning and Cauvery water would have started flowing, it had a fresh stock of water to send in a rivulet down the lane.

Fifteen restless minutes later, my alarm went off.

Naturally, as soon as I’d turned off the wretched thing, I fell blissfully asleep, only to leap out of bed 20 minutes later with a curse when I realized I was late for tennis. Of course I went for tennis. Since it’s still dark at 6 a.m. these days, there’s nothing amiss in going a few minutes late. I jumped into the car, drove off, and started the windshield wiper to clear the fog. With a clunk, one wiper fell off and landed on the bonnet.

Never in my long and eventful life (in a manner of speaking) have I had a more entertaining night than last night.



August 25, 2016

Yes ten. That’s how old the kids are today.

I can’t believe it.

Nine odd years ago, in the first few days after these bundles of infinite energy had just come home with us, I remember wondering how I would even make it to the end of the week, let alone the next so many years! The prospect was unthinkable, unimaginable, beyond unbelievable. Overwhelming.

And shameful. After all, this was what I’d signed up for, hoped for, prayed for. And I was so, so lucky. Twins. For someone who couldn’t even conceive, what are the odds?

Confused? Well, it was confusing, I can tell you that. I was lucky, but exhausted. Satisfied, but … was that depression around the fringes of what should have been fulfillment?

The days crept by. They learnt to walk. I learnt to breath (yes, I’d forgotten how, for a while there). We got by. We had fun, sometimes. We tore our hair out, a lot. We were a family, like any other. Despite the odds.

And now they’re ten. Not babies, not toddlers, not kids, not even children any more. My girls. My daughters. Almost grown up. Sometimes I can see the grown up in them – just a fleeting glimpse.

When they were small, people used to tell me, once in a way, how lucky I was to have kids that age. Time goes by so fast, they’d say. Enjoy it while it lasts, they’d say. Of course, this was from people whose kids were now in their twenties or older. Those days were safely in the realm of ancient, sepia-tinted memories to the giver of those words of wisdom. To the receiver? I didn’t feel lucky, most of the time. Given the circumstances of how our family came to be, I never forgot, can never forget, how lucky I really am. How blessed. But that doesn’t mean that I actually felt lucky all the time, every moment of every day. Does that ever happen? Can every moment of a parenting journey ever be one of unmitigated joy, happiness, and good fortune? Surely not. We all have those moments of tiredness, frustration, wretchedness, when the kids do their best to drive us up the wall and succeed.

But ten.

When they were small, the problems were small, but at that moment, they were overwhelming. Toilet training for instance. Twins, remember? Tantrums. Trying to get them to just bloody go to sleep! Illnesses and war wounds. Sunday evenings spent hunting for a doctor, any doctor. And when they couldn’t properly talk… just trying to understand the need of the moment. The constant worrying – is she hot, is she cold, is she sleepy, is she hungry, is she sick, is she about to fall sick, does something hurt…

All of that’s gone away.

But who said it would be easier? That was just a hope we clung to, desperately, to get through those years. It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different.

There are the battles we fight these days, and there are the battles waiting to be fought in the years ahead. But right now I know this: I no longer worry about making it through the next week. And I can’t wait to see what happens over the next ten years… and beyond.

Because All Good Things Must…

September 17, 2015

And so, this lovely break too comes to an end. Sigh.

I have to admit that I didn’t achieve nearly as much as I thought I would. On the other hand though, I did the main task, which was to write a book, and I did it faster than I thought I would.

Three months ago, I had a rosy notion that I would spend mornings researching and writing my new book, and in the afternoons I would edit some of my existing drafts. No such luck. It turns out that I really can’t write one thing in the morning and edit another in the afternoon. The writing had me completely immersed in that world, and I must say it was wonderful.

In the past, I’ve never had the luxury of being able to focus completely and entirely on the book I’m writing. I’ve always had something else take the role of Job Number One. It was usually work, but when I wrote the adoption book, it was looking after twin toddlers – and what a Job Number One that is! So this time, apart from the usual, mundane household chores, the fact that writing my book was Job Number One was a wonderful experience. I don’t know if the book has turned out any better for it, but the writing experience was definitely much more delightful.

The book itself is perhaps not quite as way out and fantastical as I would have wanted it to be. I”m satisfied with what it is, but it’s not way out there. I somehow don’t think I can write something that’s completely way out there – like fantasy or magical realism. I’m far too grounded to really let go and fly. Pity, but that’s the way it is. Still, it says all I wanted it to say (I think), and that’s a nice feeling.

On the publishing front, I don’t have much hope for any of my languishing masterpieces. I’ll keep pegging away at trying to get an agent or a publisher, but I’m not optimistic. I’m going to set a timeout and after that, I’m just going to give up on the whole endeavour as a lost cause. Oh well. At least two of them saw the light of day, however briefly. (And there’s always self-publishing to consider. My heart is not in it, but it is an option. Let’s see.)

Meanwhile, my long list of other things to get done while I’m on a holiday just didn’t happen. I did manage to organize the tons of data that I’ve accumulated on scattered devices over the years. You know – 2000-odd photos and videos of the kids, another few hundred photos of recent travels, articles that were published online many years ago and have since disappeared, the only remaining copy now on an ancient hard disk that is on the verge of becoming unusable. I had to rush it over to a data recovery lab where they managed to extract 40 GB of data from it, including photos from the kids’ birthday last year, which I had somehow managed not to replicate anywhere else. I didn’t, however, get around to painting the metal spiral staircase outside, or the lamp posts that line the garden, or polishing the teak dining table, or scrubbing the tiles, or any of that fun stuff. I haven’t even managed to shop for some new music online, which I’m hoping I might still get around to in the tiny sliver of time I have left before the madness of work swallows me up once again.

I did survive two whole months of five-days-a-week yoga, without missing too many classes. On the whole, having got this far, I’m inclined to say that I like it – it is nice, that all-stretched-out feeling. It helps that I can actually do most of the asanas that I’ve tried so far (and of course, I can ignore the ones that I can’t do at all). I’m going to try and keep it up at least three days a week after I resume work… but let’s see how that goes. It is tiring.

And that’s about it. A mixed report card, some good, some not so good. Either way, it’s been a fabulous break. I’ve enjoyed taking a long leisurely hour over my breakfast with a book. I’ve enjoyed being around when the kids get home from school, starting homework at the happy hour of 5 instead of the cranky hour of 6.30, sometimes sneaking off to the library to get us a fresh set of books. I’ve gone through ten books in this break… fabulous!

And now, I’m looking forward to getting back to work… but I know life is going to go back to being crazy hectic when I do. Oh well. It was good while it lasted.

More than half way… or less?

August 27, 2015

So, obviously, I’ve lost track of the days. I think I’m at Day 43, but to be honest, I can’t really count that far. 🙂

I do know that 43 is not more than half way to 90. But then, the thing is, I’m not counting up to 90 anymore anyway. Being the restless sort, when I realized that my book was coming along lickety-split*, I promptly informed my boss that he could have me back sooner, if he had some work for me. Of course he did. And so I’m to join back in just over three weeks from now.

(*That’s an actual word, by the way. You wouldn’t have thought it, but Webster’s says it is. You could also, apparently, say lickety-brindle, or lickety-cut, but those I’ve never heard of.)

Originally, I’d planned to go on holiday if I managed to get my book written before my leave ran out. I wasn’t at all sure I would get the thing written in 90 days, but then, I’m never sure of any writing project until it’s half done. When it became clear that it was half done, I planned a nice ten-day trip to (where else?) Leh. But, sigh, I had to give it up in the end.

Why? Well… I have to admit that I’m not optimistic about finding a publisher for this book, much less one who’ll give me a nice fat advance. It’s not exactly mainstream, this one. (Not that the others have been mainstream either, but this one is a little further out.) I’ve looked very briefly at the self-publishing options, but I’m not enthused by them. All the same, how long can you wait and hope?

And so, I’ve set myself a deadline. If I keep trying to find a publisher and nothing happens by the end of next year, I’m going to take all four of my unpublished books and go the self-publishing way. And that costs money – quite a bit of money. More than I’ve made from my books so far (which is a pittance, actually).

As I’ve said before, taking unpaid leave to write a book that you’re fairly certain is never going to make you money is pretty stupid… well, we’ll call it a labor of love, but it’s still pretty stupid. Spending more money to make that manuscript an actual book is… well, never mind. In short, it makes sense to skip the holiday and get back to work.

Meanwhile, I haven’t done any work on the books I had planned to edit. As it turned out, I wasn’t capable of writing one book in the first half of the day and editing another in the second half. I was so utterly involved in the book I was writing that I practically couldn’t think of anything else. So there’s still some work to be done, that I thought would keep me busy for the next three weeks.

But then… I sent my book to my mother to read and she came back with so much feedback that it seems I will need to do a major revision to it right away. There goes the next three weeks. And I have a long to-do list (more of a wishlist, really) of things I’d like to get done while I’m on “holiday”.

So while I seem to be more than half way through my leave, it turns out that I might well be less than half way through my work. This is where things start to get interesting.

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