Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deflowering A Virgin

Chai, Chai was easy to write. All I needed to do was travel to the small towns, roam the streets, visit the bars, meet people, take notes and return to Chennai.

Back in Chennai, when I sat down to write the book, which was several months after I had finished travelling, I realised I had very little notes to fall back on. I had hardly taken any, except for jotting down facts such as names and years. As a result, Chai, Chai was written almost entirely out of memory. Fortunately, my memory was intact to the last ray of the setting sun, or so I would like to believe. I guess you tend to remember more when you soak in an experience rather than merely record it: the spontaneity of a stray, but fruitful, conversation can be easily killed the moment you whip out your notebook.

Whatever the case, it is much easier to write about a place when you travel there and return home to do the writing. You know you've got what you had gone there to get, and in case you have missed out something, just too bad: you can't travel to that godforsaken place all over again to gather those details. You make do with whatever material you have at your disposal -- notes or in the form of memory -- and you get going with the writing.

But how do you write about the place you live in? When you travel to a place and come back back to write about it, it is the distance in terms of location and lapsed time that makes you 'look back' at that place. Only when you look back that you introspect, and only when you introspect that you write stuff that is meaningful.

But while working on a portrait of Chennai, which is my next project, I do not have the luxury of looking back. I do not have the luxury of collecting material in one go and then shutting myself from the world to finish the book. Each day I get to see Chennai, and the Chennai that I see is always different from the one I had seen the day before. I am growing with the city, and the city is growing with me.

So how do I distinguish between raw material for my book and daily dose for my life? When do I play the role of a writer who has been on a visit to the city since 2001, and when do I behave like a resident who has been living here for nine years? It's a tough job, trying to change hats every minute and trying to sniff material for a book out of your daily life.

But it's a job I am determined to accomplish, and my guiding spirit would be the expectation set by a surgeon friend, also a Chennaiite, who wrote to me after finishing Chai, Chai: "You have passed the exam! I loved your book. When you write about Chennai, consider that you are deflowering a virgin. Tell me things that as a Chennaiite I did not bother to get to know and make me feel ashamed of that fact."

Her email has made my job suddenly so easy. You can always trust a surgeon to teach you a thing or two about precision.


janani sampath said...

This is the difference, I see, between the two....

Chai Chai was an insight into a hidden world, or a veiled existence. The book on Chennai will be an experience-cum-analysis-cum- discovery.

All the best :)

Anonymous said...

I liked the ending..."You can always trust a surgeon to teach you a thing or two about precision."

Nice. You have 'cut' the point across quite clearly.

Soumya said...

Long,long ago,Chennai used to be our X'mas vacation destination. The last time I was there,it was Madras and right now,I can remember only the smell of the river Coovam- it is probably a drain now!

Pearl said...

Mr Ghosh Its a very thought provoking post for sure. And quite crass too. You know as a writer I always wonder how to write a story to seduce the reader with the first line. But writing of a book like deflowering a virgin is really a similie that i find very very hard to digest!

I dont know how aesthetically inclined you are...but reallly deflowering a virgin?!!!

I could have understood this about making love to the city in which you live in like making love to your own wife. Where you are the only man(hopefully!) who knows every little wrinkle every little mole. But what does deflowering a virgin have to do with writing a book.
I thought books are made in more thoughtful and committed spaces, rather than in the crassness of a male ego out to 'deflower a virgin'!

Anonymous said...

I am assuming you are a lady in question since you talk about the "male ego". Well listen up dearie, your writing is as crass as your thinking. For one "deflowering" by itself gives respect to the woman as being chaste. Nowadays when we talk of gender equality we are also talking about sexual freedom so in case you are "culture driven" consider this as a rarity.Secondly, life,love,sex and writing is all entwined in a mesh called creativity and if you are born in this land of love and kamasutra then wake up and learn to believe it.If you can dream of "seducing" your readers with an opening line then this author has every right to "deflower" a city like chennai especially when he is about to open our eyes to "undiscovered wrinkles and moles" in its hidden crevices. Wow! arent you just waiting to get a whiff of what's to come when we creatively bring forth hidden pleasures of this untouched beauty.
P.S. When you help a woman discover herself you are being a gentleman and not egoistic. when you forcefully rip her apart, it is termed egotistic.
P.S I am perhaps a surgeon? Maybe but then again maybe not? but hell I am a woman.

Anonymous said...

Even I cdn't digest this title.Such words are used unnecessarily and then you only wonder ..

Let the Ganga mail remain Gangotri rather than what it is in Kanpur.


Pearl said...

Dear Anonymous,

I really am enjoying this debate. I only wish you had a name for I atleast would have liked to see eye to eye while debating this.
Anyways I take your point about my being as crass as any other writer. Well there is a certain energy in crassness for sure. I read the post only because it was titled 'Deflowering a Virgin'.
What I meant by 'male ego' was the power equation attached to sex. Its got nothing to do with conventional gender for sure.

For havent you being a woman described the act of deflowering pleasureable!(Pleasurable only for the one deflowering and obviously not the poor deflowered flower I guess!! what a shame!)

So you obviously come from the school which belives that calling a woman 'chaste' is giving respect to her! wow!3 cheers to the school of thought you follow. The patriarchs/ feudal lords of the world will be very pleased you!

My only point was why should the poor deflowered flower be made to look like such a victim!( and I dont see why the poor virgin hasnt gotten pleasure out of the act?!)
Deflowering has very regressive connotations for me. Where as seduction is a very two way term( men and women can both seduce each other)
I would have thought that a writer like Mr Ghosh would have cared more about the similies that he uses. But maybe he too belongs to the (Deflower the virgins for excitement school of thought.)

Best of luck to your creativity of discovering cities by deflowering them like Virgins.

PS: I really wish to meet you, if your idea of discovering yourself is by being 'deflowered' by a man!

Meanwhile I really would like to hear a line or two from Mr Ghosh who I am sure must be basking in the attension he is drawing by this rag fight! :) We all love attention and controversy dont we Mr Ghosh?

Anonymous said...

Sweetheart. Kindly re-read the post and my reply.Understand the grammar. Stop being the hypocritical "virgin". You obviously do not understand classic seduction or romance. What makes you think that in consensual sex or in a conventional marriage the woman "if" unil then has never experienced sex would not derive pleasure out of the experience? Who are we to assume anyone's ideas or mindsets(virgin,non virgin,man or woman) UNLESS you have experienced the patriarchal/feudal side ONLY? Well too bad then.Dont apply your assumptions of power,ego,power quotient or any such thing universally. There is lots of diversity in nature and sex. If you had the experience of being the "withered" flower in the whole deal, just remember there are worse situations. But I know many others who have enjoyed the total experience of being in the arms of the man they would soon grow to love, after the traditional first night.So there you go.Its my only request to not attach"power quotient" to any statement or gender or animals or whatever "to quote you" but enjoy the deeper meaning and romance involved. Or if this convent bred grammar does not seep in, better still watch as many tamil and hindi films you can to get a taste of what we grew up with and chew on your thoughts. High time you realized that there are virgins (male or female)who yearn for that tender touch and discovery-both gaining emotionally,spiritually and mentally out of the experience. The world will be what you see or percieve it as. Life is also about balance -so for every good human being there is one who is bad and rips creativity (ha ha). I am actually enjoying this.No hard feelings ,but to each his own. Our author I presume (in case you are on an accusation spree) has had only consensual sex until date. He is not a rapist?!. And if his lovely wife is reading this, she will second it. And baby, If you are saying that the author you presume"would make love to the city like making love to a wife whose beauty spots"hopefully" only he would know" sure takes the cake for the most demeaning statement made with respect to a woman. Think hard baby. Always be optimistic and think ahead.
And I forgot to ask or rather mention. PURPLE SLIT. Well lady you are kindling my imagination. I could write a poem on the "purpleslit". If I had a name it would definitely not be "anatomy" and neither would it be suggestive. There are surely ganges drenched names for the lady that thinks "straight". Take care.

Pearl said...

Well I am all for poems on 'Purpleslit' although if you cared for words and their meanings/connotations you would have noticed that the name is purplesilt and not 'purpleslit'! :)

I am almost falling for your ferocious defending of Mr Ghosh's words.You surely have a lot of knack for imagining words and terms! And then going lengths to explain what they should mean to others!

I wasnt in the least bit interested in making this personal. All I really wanted to understand was How does a simile like 'Deflowering' work in the context of constructing a city in which one has lived in.

Thanks for the tutorial! Do I owe you any money for all the cutting open of the (T)issue. I wasnt raising this up with you Honey. I was talking to Mr Ghosh! I thought this was his blog!

Anonymous said...

You have me floored. For one- I like the way your blog identity teases the eyes of the reader. You have many victims. Bloggers post midnight will certainly enjoy the "seductive musings of purpleslit" which plays mindgames by fooling the eyes.Secondly,during the daytime you will have the alert intellectuals who will wonder about the faceless beauty writing her blog and perhaps dream about how they can decipher"purplesilt".WOW. Leave"deflowering" as an aesthetic referal to uncovering.While "virgin" could refer to anything hiterto untouched or unravelled. I give credit to both of us for cutting open the (T)issue. this statement is the best so far. Mr.Ghosh will defend himself or rather no one owes anyone an explanantion as in the defensive sense,but perhaps with all this discussion he is already deflowering his mind for an answer. I have never laughed so much. Good day! :-)

Anonymous said...

Ladies, chill! The debate made me run a google search and this is what I found. Read and enjoy!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous @ 6.42 am and later

I agree with Purplesilt. One can't hide her/his dark face underneath a good layer of talcum...even if she or he does, it won't last long. Similarly you can't defend a point, which isn't aesthetically appealing to many a reader with your pompous language or convent education (Which you seem to possess in proportions larger than required). The simile expressed here “Deflowering a Virgin" is crass. No doubt about it. Several other bloggers have expressed the same. Apart from being downright ridiculous, it fails to express what is being deflowered?? How can a city be deflowered? Chennai is like a huge mammoth city. Once you enter it, physically or technically, you are bewitched; the city is not deflowered at your physical or otherwise presence. Going by the same grammar rules (which you seem to strongly standby and support), anything which is of manly in nature takes on a masculine gender. Edifices and the places where these structures are erected undoubtedly take on a masculine gender. Therefore, Deflowering a Virgin is not only crass but also grammatically in correct. Now, now, don’t come asking why a male can’t be deflowered. I guess there is another word for a man being deflowered. I live it to you to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms Anon,

From the way u r fiercely defending Mr Ghosh, it is very obvious that u r the surgeon friend from whom the author has unfortunately drawn the inspiration on 'deflowering a virgin.' Well, i find ur argument and language very crass.Any woman with self-respect will definitely object to the simile. I suggest that Mr Ghosh use his brain while writing instead of borrowing it from his surgeon friend.

Anonymous said...

Now after all the debate here, will Mr.Ghosh come forward and tell us if he has ever deflowered a virgin in his life?
Only then we will have an opportunity to know how good he is in the deflowering business.
One thing is sure Mr.Ghose. You have some hard core regular visitors to your blogs here and they will defend you at all cost.


Anonymous said...

Hi Preetam, it has taken you this long to realise Bishu has regular visitors who will defend him? Let me tell you he has a wall of women defending him and I am one of the bricks! Beware dear!

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7.57
All it takes to demolish a wall is the removal of one brick.
Thereafter it is a matter of time.
However if your prayers are strong,your brick may escape.


Deepika said...

well well... a creative writer, if I understand that term better, is different from any other in the sense that he liberates words from the confines of their absolute literal meaning, and that's what separates poets/writers from the rest!


janani sampath said...

'Deflowering a virgin' is used aesthetically in this post. This is much ado about nothing.

I see it like this: virgin here is Chennai, a city that is not discussed in great detail unlike other metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Cal. Deflowering is discovering its beauty and joy, and it is not that Mr Ghosh has invented that word.... I don't see anything crass abt it.. by that logic,even sex sounds crass..

Creative license ppl... as simple as that...

Anonymous said...

Ms Purplesilt,

With reference to your first comment which triggered off this barrage of commentary I would like to draw your attention to your own crassness which supersedes Mr Ghosh’s or that of his surgeon friend’s in the way you have made a personal comment-
“I could have understood this about making love to the city in which you live in like making love to your own wife. Where you are the only man (hopefully!) who knows every little wrinkle every little mole.
Now being a woman if you do not flinch to make assumptous derogatory remarks on a man’s wife, whosoever’s it may be (just in case you want to wriggle out of this statement by saying you meant wives in general) how can you expect much respect from men.
So woman get off your high handed horse and stop projecting yourself as an aesthetic writer as you claim through this statement(You know as a writer I always wonder how to write a story to seduce the reader with the first line. But writing of a book like deflowering a virgin is really a similie that i find very very hard to digest!)......cause you are neither asthetic or a writer of any calibre.....just a judgemental gas balloon.
Moreover I wish you had the brains since you obviously don’t have the flair for creativity to respect another’s creative expression and to understand that a doctor or a surgeon’s way of looking at things is quite different from that of a writer and that is what Mr Ghosh was trying to project through his blog ..... about how surgeons have a clinical view to creativity as well. If the surgeon happens to be a gynaecologist his/her way of expression may take from his/her profession and life, just as a software engineer might want to describe things in his language and feel comfortable doing so.

Dr. Santosh Nair.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton Dr.Santhosh. You made your point very clear. The same sentence I quoted in my counter statement to "purplesilt" with reference to "wife". Definitely demeaning. ButI guess we have gone beyond that now and "aal ees vell". As for the "anons" talking irrelevently about a certain "masculine gender" and "deflowering a male" or "brick walls"- you just cured insomnia.Hope you are not regular bloggers. But hey thanks a lot for revealing the other side of creativity-like clinical cures for sleep disorders.Boy am I loving it.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Ah, a classic case of a mountain being made out of a molehill! Before reading on, please read comment no. 4.

Ms Purplesilt, since you started it all, a few thoughts directed at you. You are being like a cub reporter who was assigned to cover a seminar on, say, global warming, and who comes back to the office and types a 500-word story on what the speakers wore and not what they spoke. The point is you missed the point.

I wonder how someone who is so close-minded about usage of words and expressions and who takes them so literally can even think of writing, leave alone seducing the reader.

I would find it perfectly acceptable and even admirable if a female admirer of Salinger or Henry Miller were to say, "Ooh boy, his prose fucks your mind. He just rapes you with what he writes!" I would not admonish her saying, "How could you be raped by someone's prose? How could you use the word 'rape'? You have no dignity?"

Going by your own mindset, if I were your reader, I would be deeply offended if I discovered you were actually 'seducing' me into your writings instead of just letting me read them. "How could you seduce me into reading you, lady! Don't you know I am a much married man?"

Likewise, if you were a man Ms Purplesilt, and if you were still into seducing readers into your writings, one could not have ruled out a female reader crying foul: "Mr Purplesilt, I thought I was only reading your posts, I had no idea that you had actually seduced me into them! You have deflowered me!"

Do you get what I mean?

As for being 'crass', please reread my post as well your comment. Maybe you will see the light.


P.S. Phew! That was a long comment. With some embellishments -- a 'seductive' intro, an engaging middle and a 'deflowering' ending -- it could have made a separate post! What a waste.

Pearl said...

:) I am glad you finally spoke Mr Ghosh and cleared my mind. I am in fact a cub-reporter(compared to your experince) and a little charged about certain usages of words. All I wanted was in fact understanding and some light on what you speak.

I get your point with this explanation. And I really have this great danger of falling for the clothes of people in a global warming story( In fact there was a conference being proposed where every body would be naked just to drive home the point that global warming is real and threatning!)
Now what a waste it would be if I focussed on what they said and not on what they wore.
Similarly I personally felt a little revolted by the expression. Please reread my comment it was though provoking because it was crass too. And maybe I do come from a squeamish/ cultured/colored point of view on that. But more than the political incorrectness of the simile i wasnt sure how it fitted with the rest of the post.
It was the sudden jolt from that beautiful place of constructing a loved city to SPLASH- Deflower the virgin. Somehow for me the expression screams of an aggresive attack on something beautiful(pious-sic!) with no mutual exchange. Well your blog, your language. You have all the artistic freedom to write whatever you wish..but since you confused me a little I shot across this comment.

I really would think a writer like you giving freely of his time and talent to a project is bringing more than just 'deflowering'
But then again that is my reading of deflowering- all of you seem to suggest that its the most holy thing that could have happened.
Anyways- Too much attension the deflowered flower.
I must thank your surgeon friend for such a rancid spirid exchange of words...its been fun being a total 'bitch' I did it after a long time too!
I must admit it only heartens me as a writer when so many people give their time to reading and commenting. Something surely is working in your writing Mr. Ghosh!

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

And then peace prevailed, and we all lived happily ever after :)

Anonymous said...

I wish it were so easy, for you to go out and say things about a city, which I as a Chennai girl would not know. Well, All the best :) This is would like to see and no, unlike your surgeon friend I am not easily impressed.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

@'Chennai girl': We all know everything about our cities, or so we believe. But the idea is to see/show things in a different light. For example, you may be seeing an astrologer sitting on the pavement outside your house ever since you were a child; in other words, you know OF him. But how much do you know ABOUT him? Multiply the case of the astrologer with 15 other such instances and you know nothing about your own city!

Soumya said...

My Goodness!!!!! And, I dismissed the title!! I thought the doctor meant 'Take care. Treat her gently'!

Anonymous said...

Not a chance :-) the doctor certainly did mean "Take care and treat her gently" as we should be doing to whichever city we live in.But in a deeper meaning the doctor meant" discover her and unravel the mysteries" and it could not have been more suitably expressed as in the author's statement-How much do you know "About" everything?. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Huff! Mr Ghosh I would have never visited your blog so many times in a day. I have been reading the comments with so much intrest. and I did feel like a spectator when the court is in session. I admired the way your advocate, the surgeon, argued your case (You are a real criminal to have allowed this :-)). Great going doctor. the procecutor Purplesilt was equally good as well. I loved the way she pushed nd provoked you to speak. I am an observer, not a judge. Btw, i can't resist asking you this -- is this some kind of a promo for your book? Like the promos before big budget movies are released? ;-).. another anon!

Anonymous said...

Next thing we will hear Mr.Ghosh saying is, "I was fucked by breakfast. It came across dressed so sexily."

Thus, I am sure he will go on to invent a new dictionary of idioms and phrases. While he is at it, all his supporters will hail him as "the writer" of the century.

Kudos to him and his supporters!

Anonymous said...

Yaayy.. I was waiting for one more hit and the sadistic me was granted the wish pretty quickly. Well can definitely put it this way- The breakfast was served "hot" and yet it was so "soft" and "literally crumbled under my touch" it lay on a pristine white plate (read virgin)waiting to be savoured and mixed in my creative juices..I wanted to play a bit more and so emptied another "sizzling" accompaniment over it and as it soaked up the liquid..the combined aroma clouded my senses and then next thing I know.. I was using my manly hands to mix and get a mouthful. Tasted like heaven. It blew my "every" sense-sight,smell,taste,feel and why even the sound of the food swishing in my mouth-mixed with my juice was orgasmic. Darling anon- crude is for the "also ran" while "aesthetics" is for the WO/MAN on top! go get a life sweetheart or just "savour" the tastes of these lessons and learn! just like how we ate piping hot idlis and sambhar in the para above..

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Anon@12.37 PM: I rarely have breakfast because I wake up close to lunch time. But your words make me see breakfast in a new light!

Drop the scalpel, surgeon, and park yourself in front of the computer: you are the writer of the century!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Gosh. doctor, when is you next BOOK release

Anonymous said...

Im not sure whether the term used here is apt or not (im not a literary genius). But writing in a lucid simple language that is understood by one and all makes a good writer. More so for autobiogrophies and for travelogues. Language needs simple treatmment not a complicated surgery to be reach the masses. This one seems like Sahshi Tharoors tweets:) I hope im not raking up another controversy. Chill out guys. Need no more heat than the already furious summer.

Jisha said...


I would like to get to read your book too! I am an Indian student studying in the US, any ways I can get hold of a copy please?



Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12.37

what????????????????? Where did you do your schooling?!!!!

Anonymous said...

please post something...anything so that the latest post has a decent title....the present one is truly repulsive.
Right,it's ur blog, ur way...still for readers sake pl pl..:-)