27 September, 2007

The Ten Commandments

by Samit Basu

The ground was cracked and dry and bleak, and dark clouds streaked the angry sky
As Moses crawled his weary wander down the slopes of Mount Sinai.
His head was bowed, his back was bent, he carried stone tablets of truth
He wished he'd known this day would come; he'd have done push-ups as a youth.
He halted by a rugged rock and laid down the twin slabs of stone.
He looked around and started as he saw that he was not alone.
A vision of delight now stood before him, fashionably clad.
Her eyes were bright and sparkling, her presence made him strangely glad.
'I've heard you have a manuscript,' she said, 'so can I take a look?
'I've heard you're wise and mesmerizing, Mo; It's time you wrote a book!'
'This isn't mine,' said Moses, 'It's the word of God Omniscient.'
'So you would be his agent, right? You'd get a fair fifteen percent.'

With slender hands she reached out and picked up the stones and Moses stared
She read them calmly. 'Ten Commandments. Good title. There's something there.
Ten simple rules to help you lead your life, to guide and show you how,
Great concept. There's a market, too – self-help's very big right now.
Let's see -You are the Lord. Hello. You're number one. Well, great, congrats.
I can't use idols? Really? Um, including beads and prayer mats?
Don't use your name in vain – whatever that means, well, fair enough.
Oh this one's nice – well done. I promise to take weekends off.
Honour my parents. Cool. Don't murder. Does meat-eating count?
Good stuff so far – This launch should work best as a Sermon on a Mount.
Don't commit adultery. Good. Unless, of course, you're really pissed.
Don't steal, ok, don't bear false witness? What? How does that make the list?
Don't covet your neighbour's house. House across the street okay?
Don't covet your neighbour's wife. That's easy, man, my neighbour's gay.
That's it? That's all? I see. Well, Mo, I'll say this - you might think me daft
But this needs work. It's promising, but this is only your first draft.
These rules are fine, but they're the kind people can work out on their own.
A bit generic, no? And what a stern and distant tone!
I see you're aiming this at the mass market, but a little trust
Wont hurt; a little faith and understanding is a total must.
The Ten Commandments must be well thought out or they'll give it a miss.
These wont work, 'cos even I can think of better ones--ten rules like this.'

'Rule One: Thou Shalt Get Off Thy Lazy Ass And Get A Life,
Thou shalt not moan or groan or bitch or throw thy toaster at thy wife.
Thou art definitely good at something, find it, use it, try and do thy best.
Do what makes thee happy, take an honest shot and screw the rest.

Rule Two: Thou Shalt Be Gorgeous. Thou Shalt Be One Sexy Guy or Gal,
Let glamour be thy middle name, and merriment thy truest pal.
Care not for sneers and jeers or fears of scorn; thou art born to rule.
It matters not what other people think; be thyself, thou art cool.

Rule Three: Though Shalt Live Life In Full, and Experience Every Hour.
Ambition's fine, and so are dreams, but let them not your days devour.
In striving for the mountaintop thou must pause, take in the view,
The little things, the secret songs, the dusty paths, the dawn, the dew,
Let's drop the nature metaphors; thou must shop, and read, and lobsters eat,
Dance, and learn, and cry, and yearn, and party whilst thou hast thy feet.

Rule Four: Thou Shalt Love. This one is tough, but easy too,
Love, and learn to love again, and love until thy face turn blue.
Love that passes, love that lasts, love that haunts, inspires and lingers
Self-love too, but not too much, lest thou hurt thy lovely fingers.

Rule Five is not so soppy: Thou Shalt Be Silly sums it up,
Life's a joke, a laugh, a dream, a wine-glass, not a bitter cup,
Thou shalt perform most diverse acts of looniness; thou shalt be random,
Thou shalt make them giggle, thus earning glad, undying fandom.

Rule Six: Thou Shalt Listen. Thou Shalt Care, Thou Shalt Reply,
Be thou part of others' lives, let them find thee standing by
In times of need, let them remember joyous smiles and soft-held hands.
Share their dreams, soothe their screams, be patient, try to understand.
I'm sorry if this sounds too pious; I'm no angel, but I try.
Won't answer thy every text but there's no harm in aiming high.

Rule Seven: Thou Shalt Always Make An Everlasting, Bold Impact.
Work or play, night or day, they must heed your every act.
Thou shalt be different, be unique, wow them all with style and grace,
Remember; if thou leavst no mark, thou art but a waste of space.

Rule Eight: Thou Shalt Love Thy Body, every bump and bulge and loop
Thou shalt worship at its altar; thou shalt learn to hula-hoop.
Thou mayst try other stuff as well, other ways to move thy pelvis,
Trust my word on this one, though; hooping makes thee feel like Elvis.

Rule Nine: Thou Shalt Break These Rules. Make New Ones, or thou art fools,
Thou shalt not blindly follow me just because I art so cool.
Thou shalt live by thine own rules, and question all that thou art told,
Without, of course, being obnoxious, and making all thy friends feel old.

Rule Ten: I Could Come Up With More, But I Won't, For I Am Nice.
And I could make this longer, but that would increase the cover price.
These are your Ten Commandments, Mo, now write them all in twelve-point size
In double-space. You got a three-book deal. Well? Will that suffice?'

There's no real suspense in this tale, for we all know what happened next.
Rose-toed Moses then supposed the stranger sought to ruin his text.
He would not change; He spurned her help, he blindly sought a vanity press,
And this, alas, you see, is why the world is now in such a mess.

But sometimes strangers cross your path when least expected, bringing smiles,
Sometimes smiles can touch your heart and make you wait and think a while.
Sometimes thoughts can make your silences turn light, fire dreams anew
And if sometimes your luck runs true, you might find your Shakti too.

22 September, 2007

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation announces the inaugural 2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize

Sept 27, 2007
7 PM
Charbagh, British Council

September 27 would have been the writer and editor Shakti Bhatt's 27th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, her friends will read from her work and remember her with poetry, short fiction, and music.

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation will announce the inaugural 2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize.

All are welcome.

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation is a non-profit trust set up by her family to keep her memory alive. It wishes to reward first-time authors of all ages.

announces the inaugural

2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize

The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize is a cash award of one lakh rupees.

A 3-member panel of judges will shortlist entries. The 2008 panel of judges includes William Dalrymple and Kamila Shamsie.

We invite entries in the following genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism) and drama.

Open to first-time authors of all ages.
The book must be published between June 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008.
Only books published in India are eligible.
Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.
Vanity press publications are ineligible.

Deadline for entries is July 15, 2008.

Jeet will be happy to answer specific questions.

If you would like the mailing address of the foundation, to send in your book, or if you have queries for Jeet, please leave a comment with your email address.

27th September

A series of events commemorating and celebrating Shakti Bhatt have been planned over three days around her 27th birthday.

The Shakti Bhatt Memorial Reading & Tribute
Thursday September 27
7 pm
The British Council, 17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi

September 27 would have been the Shakti's 27th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, her friends will read from her work and remember her with poetry, short fiction, and music. The Shakti Bhatt Foundation, set up by her family to keep her memory alive, will announce the inaugural 2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize.

Thursday September 27, 2007
After the British Council event (see above)
N-30 Jangpura Extension, First Floor, Side Entrance, Near Eros Cinema

After the British Council event, Shakti's friends and family will be gathering to celebrate her birthday. Please do bring along anyone and everyone who knew and met Shakti, anyone who would like to remember her. There'll be food and music - please also bring a bottle of whatever you are drinking. For more information, contact Lesley Esteves at lesley DOT esteves AT gmail DOT com.

Open Baithak
Friday September 28
6.30 pm - 9 pm
The Queen's Gallery, British Council, 17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi

At Open Baithak, a series of performance poetry events, Shakti will be remembered and her video shorts will be screened. Write to Monica Mody for more details at openbaithak AT gmail DOT com.

Caferati's first annual Celebrating Shakti Bhatt Workshop
Sunday September 30
Time 4 pm
The Attic, Regal Building, Parliament Street, New Delhi

Caferati's Delhi Chapter is hosting the first Annual Celebrating Shakti Bhatt Workshop. The first session (on Indian poetic forms in English poetry) will run from 4-5:30pm and the second (on editing for creative writers) from 6-7:30pm or so. Read more about this event here. Space is limited, so please let the organisers know if you plan to attend by mailing: zaidiannie, anita.vasudeva, dan.husain, manishalakhe, or zigzackly (all AT gmail DOT com)

After the workshop, Caferati plans to go out to drink a toast to Shakti, and to enjoy the company of friends over a cheery dinner. All participants are welcome to join in, and pay for whatever they drink or eat.

Looking forward to sharing and celebrating together with you all,

-Friends of Shakti and Jeet