It’s in Sapna

February 4, 2011

This kind of headline would normally be on Indian TV with the caption: Breaking News. Which is a sad comment on the depths that TV news reporting has sunk to.

However, the fact remains that I’m excited to learn that my book is now available in a real-live bookshop in Bangalore. Sapna has half a dozen branches in the city, so anyone who doesn’t like to buy online can look for the Sapna nearest them. And anyone who finds it in a bookshop other than Sapna is welcome to post a comment here.

Here’s photographic evidence – see there, right next to the Billing @ Ground Floor sign? That’s my book!

Worth Every Gasp at Sapna bookstore

Worth Every Gasp at Sapna bookstore

Thanks to Supriya for the news of the day. And the photo! With friends like you and Prakash, who needs Marketing?


February 4, 2011

This is getting scary. So many reasons to celebrate in such a short time can only mean that there is some particularly nasty crisis looming. In fact, I already have an inkling of what shape that tragedy is going to take.

But for now, it’s more good news: Distinction. In the Archaeology assignment that I somehow wrote and sent out three days early in the middle of December.

This Archaeology course is really different from anything I’ve studied before. Not just because it’s a different subject, but because the system of teaching and the expectations from the student are so different. As I’ve mentioned before, the whole idea of an open-book exam is absurd in the Indian education context, where opening a book during an exam is called cheating. So this strange new style of studying and being assessed took some getting used to. And even after finishing five modules, I still never know, when I write my assignment and send it out, whether I’ve done well or not.

Take this last assignment. I chose to write about the early writing systems because it is a very fascinating subject. But, though it was, of course, part of the module, there was very little material on it in the course work. Given that I was somehow squeezing studies into an already packed schedule, I’d have been wiser to choose something that was covered much more extensively in the course material. But I decided that I was studying this Archaeology course purely out of interest and not for the purpose of getting a good score. So the only thing that made sense was to pick the topic that was the most interesting to me.

Writing is not just a passion, not just my profession; it’s what I do best. I’m good at it not just because I love the language and I have a sense of the sound and rhythm of the language, but because I also love the whole “information architecture” aspect of it. I love to take a mass of unorganized information and put it together sensibly and coherently, and weave a story out of it. I love to dissect, analyze, assimilate, and narrate. It’s what I do in my blog and in my job. So it’s what I do when I’m writing my assignments as well. For me, that’s the easy part, the fun part.

The difficult part is knowing where to get the information, how much information to get, and – most worryingly – knowing what I have knowingly or un-knowingly left out. I’m never worried about whether what I’ve put together is correct or well connected or well expressed. But I always worry about whether it is the most relevant and important subset of information.

And that’s why I never worry about whether I will pass an exam, not even with this strange new system of studies. Of course I will pass – that is beyond doubt. I only wonder about whether I will get glowing feedback, or lots of constructive criticism. (Thankfully, they don’t seem to give destructive criticism in the University of Leicester.)

My latest feedback said: Overall an excellent and thoughtful study of the topic, with an excellent structure and conclusion. Very thoroughly researched and very well presented.

Wow! I know there’s going to be a big disappointment in store for me just around the corner, but for tonight, I’m going to savour those words.

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