Thursday, December 20, 2007

the kite runner

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the most heart-wrenching, appealing tale I have read in recent times.

It has mixed emotions in it, in every sense. It has the innocence of childhood, real sorrows of the world, there are relationships, a lots of them, strong ones and weak ones.

I liked the vivid imagery it pictures about the happy-life at Kabul pre-Taliban. I could get the picture more clearly as I have lived in Iran, and those Persian phrases which pop-up in the book were familiar because of the Persian I had learnt back in Iran.

This book has some amazing twists in the story. And they are handled wonderfully well. It also has strong characterizations, even the smallest of character is shaped well, they sure are going to live in your head for long time even after you put down the book.

Well, it's a sad book. Because world isn't fair to all people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

toastmasters speech - 4

I did my fourth speech at Toastmasters club last Sunday. Speech objectives and guidelines for this speech is titled 'working with words', which means the speech should use good, simple, easy-to-follow language; it should also use literary devices like similes, metaphors, alliterations, and dyads and triads.

Keeping all this in mind, writing this speech is quite tough, specially for me as I am a technical writer; I am always expected to write in simple language and avoid flowery words.

So, I came up with this over-the-top and exaggerated type of subject for this speech, which gave me scope to achieve the speech objectives. In my speech I tell my audience how I fail to come up with a speech.

* * * *

1, 2, 3... Full stop!

It was a nightmarish nightmare. It was like desiring to see John Abraham in your dreams and dreadingly getting Shakti Kapoor instead. It was like finding a desert all of a sudden amidst western ghat's evergreen rain forests. It was like getting to know that there won’t be masala dosas served in Bangalore’s darshini outlets anymore.

I was dejected, disgusted, and devastated. I had fallen short and failed, no matter how fervently I tried. The news gave me bigger shock than the one Rahul Dravid would’ve got when he got to know that he was dropped from the one-day series against Pakistan! No matter how hard I tried to hide the fact, it kept popping up in my mind… just like Amitabh Bachchan’s ads pop-up in every other TV channel no matter how hard and quick you press buttons of your remote control.

Toastmasters, the fact is... I am... a 3-speech toastmaster. I couldn't come up with one more speech! I just couldn't write a speech no matter how hard I tried! It looked like I could anything else... I could look as good as Deepika Padukone; I could make more news than Rakhi Sawant; I could even grow taller than Husna Ayesha[1], but... I couldn’t come up with one more speech! I was, I am, and I will be a 3-speech toastmaster! I could even bear a 21-day fast, but not this tormenting truth!

It was tough to take terms with the truth! All the fun and frolic in my life faded away. The otherwise-evergreen factors in my life - enjoyment, excitement, entertainment – their existence evaporated. Whenever I went, whatever I did... this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster hit me on my face all the time, like Himesh Reshammiya's voice. I started feeling more miserable than 'Sanjay Saawariya Bhansali'! I no longer could enjoy pan-fried noodles at mainland china – the tempting tasty thing I love more than my life.

Even coffee didn't give any kick! My days were as miserable as days in office when the vending machine was out-of-order! Roar of a tiger I heard at midnight during a trek didn’t interest me either, it only indicated that even an animal could get more vocal than me. In the menu cards of restaurants I kept searching for words to use in my speech. Even a movie at gloriously grand gold class didn’t bring down my grimace.

Well, you might want to know what I did to overcome this problem. Ask me what not I did! At times I took a crystal clean white sheet, wrote the title of my speech on top... underlined it, made a flowery box around it, overwrote it using another color pen... and I wrote the lyrics of ‘dard-e-disco’ underneath!

Some times I would come up with a great opening, write it enthusiastically... but then my mind would go as blank as Rani Mukerji's world in the movie Black. It felt like Sehwag, hitting fours and sixes in the first over, and then getting out cheaply at gully in the second!

Someone once told me ‘you can get a speech topic everywhere, even in a casual conversation with your friends’. So, I started watching for words when my friends spoke to me. Soon my friends started avoiding me; they said I was worse than an irritating LIC agent!

I searched for ideas in every nook and corner of my world. I started looking for one-liners and anecdotes in the hoardings instead of enjoying a Milind Soman or a Kunal Kapoor picture! I suspected my own sanity when I realized that I was looking for vocabulary even in a Shahrukh Khan interview in TV! Newspapers, magazines, movies, and even Ekta Kapoor serials... I desperately searched everywhere for inspiration... in vain!

Friends, I have to live rest of my life with this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster, just like Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi live with an Aishwarya Rai... sorry, Bachchan dump. They say ‘failure is the stepping stone for success’. But for me, this failure is like an elevator stuck midway while I’m in it. I can only take heart to say that this horrendous truth is a humbling experience. On the face of this earth, I am going to remain a 3-speech toastmaster.

* * * *
[1] Husna Ayesha is a tall girl among the audience.

* * * *

Speech was very well received. People appreciated the references and examples I used from the world of cinema, cricket, and food.

My mentor had warned me that this speech doesn't have a 'message' or a 'take-home value', but I argued with him saying I want the speech to be fully entertaining, not preachy at all. My friend Smitha rightly points out that 'message of this speech is that every speech need not have a message'. And I so agree with her :)