Joanie Pariera is a published author. Her short stories have appeared in literary magazines and she’s won various other laurels for her writing. Follow this blog where she share articles and resources on Fiction.
The last of the main characters of Graffiti- A Novel, Upasana, is Rene’s best friend. She is introduced along with her husband Harish Patel (Hari). Apparently Upasana (Upi) has known Rene all her life. They went to the same college and later go to work for the same I.T. multinational in Bangalore, India. She would describe herself simply as a ‘serious-minded professional’.
Rene and Upasana complement each other like two halves of a sweet, delectable, apple pie. As with all relationships envied by the onlooker this one too has a few unpleasant shades that are well hidden and camouflaged, over this need to bond, by the ones in it.
Between Rene and Upi, Rene is the one that finds life more challenging. After all Upi seems to have everything under control while Rene is more like a speck in the wind. As the story progresses, the source of Upasana’s strength, her inner core, undergoes a dramatic shift as disillusionment takes over, over a certain aspect of her life she could not control. She struggles to break free. Still as strong, Upasana embarks on a different path, making no bones about it.
As a friend, Upasana, is always ready with advice and a warm hug; that is what she does best. She assesses people and tells them who they are because someone has to. One might be tempted to draw up a comparison chart between Rene and Upi. And here Vipin obliges. Vipin, the man who thinks he is in love with one woman but has an affair with the other. Through his voice we see the two women in black and white. We may not always agree with Vipin’s opinions but we sure are entertained.
Eventually Upasana does get to see the life Rene herself is enduring and then comes her moment of truth. Will Rene be there for her, like she was always there for Rene?
Graffiti – A Novel, has a lot of wonderful real-world characters, and Upasana is one of my favorites.
I don’t know too many people that are that excited about Hawaii Five-O
b. The hook was great – A plane crash – people are lost.. in a jungle…beautiful people are lost in a beautiful jungle full of mysterious beings and what-nots
To some extent yeah…
c. And they kept it coming – the twists: That actually got people irritated…
d. The unique Flashback & Flash-forward format – Many viewers have gushed over this as unique in their blogs and articles and podcasts. But no, this isn’t that unique. Flashback is of course flashback, but Flash-Forward wasn’t even real flash-forward. This, you realize only later. It is just a stop-gap term they used while they kept with the storyline that many felt was going nowhere. (I am sure many will disagree) Flash-Forward is how we know things are going to be okay, even though what was going on in present-time indicated hopeless misery. The ending is what clarifies what the flash-forward really meant, but then I am flash-forwarding to the end of this article without providing any incentive for you to stick around.
e. The music – Have you tuned off a drama because the music was bad? I haven’t. This is just a subjective opinion, as always, but the music was a big draw here, and yet, I would watch LOST even without the background score.
f. It blends the mystical with the rational and the spiritual with science, making it all relevant in the same sphere – I wonder if anybody noticed? LOST took a premise ‘A’ for example, and oftentimes explained it four different ways, each time bringing in a different reasoning – either mystical, rationalist, spiritual, or scientific. Each time the conclusion was the same. This was the basis for the whole show.
When I see people comparing it with ‘LEFTOVERS’ I wonder what they are seeing? ‘LEFTOVERS’ just explores an unexplained phenomenon through the eyes of the people left behind on earth after the phenomenon is over. That is it. There is no rationale. People explore it in different ways –faulty science that seems more like a scam even if some swear by it, spiritual mumbo jumbo. LEFTOVERS does feel more practical, and real-world than LOST, given how naturally unstructured it is, even if the phenomenon at its fulcrum itself is purely phantasmagorical. It is however obvious that LEFTOVERS was inspired by LOST. LEFTOVERS is more like the story of the people who were everywhere but on that island, missing the people on it.
g. All of the above – to some extent, but not what is on ‘THE CROSSING’. (Cringe) I think that show would have done better if the LOST reference hadn’t been made at the outset. Also read this -> Guardian Article
h. What I believe is on the top of the list of reasons – LOST explored the concept of time travel in a new and exciting way that went beyond anything we’d already been exposed to, at least on T.V. . (I’m sure graphic novels have explored the concept of alternative timelines) It was still a hypothetical pseudo-science, but so believable and so logical.
i. Also, in LOST was a seemingly impossible-to-overcome nemesis. LOST created the ultimate super-villain. What is worse that the strongest villain there is? One that is invisible and immortal? One that’s literally as flighty as the wind? LOST raised the stakes there and then did something even better – it met the challenges it set for itself quite convincingly.
j. The Ending – Actually most people hated the ending. It wasn’t clear to begin with, and some parts seemed to indicate a shoddy job. Also, no matter how good a job the hero does of getting the villain, fans want it all for him, not just the philosophical ‘win’, that the hero himself chooses for himself. Mainstream entertainment cannot experiment with the value it provides by sacrificing the main lead for the greater good of its plot. (I’m sure they knew that. That is why they stuck it in the end) There LOST went too far, and yet it was forgiven, eventually. People went back to it again and again. I think the finale bought for LOST its repeat value. If people saw the ending for what it was meant to be, I’m sure they love it now.
One can get so immersed inside the nine-to-five world, it can become home. Imagine that such a person is suddenly introduced to a very real outside world entity, a man larger than life, a man who overshadows everything and everyone around? What do you think will happen? At the very least, there is exposure. There is a creative corner developing in your brain, one that allows the notion of outside world possibilities to creep in.
Here is this accomplished person, who went from school to college to campus to workplace, following the route many like her took to their corporate world success. Complacent in her happiness she forgets that there are others, with vastly different goals, and if she doesn’t, she eyes them from afar through an uncaring peripheral view. But to be forced to interact with someone like that? Someone who cannot but help bring objectivity into your life?
Rene was never prepared for Mark. Rene wasn’t just a desk-worm, she was a self-ostracized desk-worm who withheld willingly. Mark, the handsome, flamboyant, hugely successful ‘Ad Film Maker’ with a chip on his shoulder, is like the boat she does not want to get on even if she’s drowning, because she’s just too mad that her own boat was swept away by a hurricane.
An ordinary man might have walked away from this complicated situation, but not Mark. He does everything to make sure that she is unable to say no, and he does it all with a careless determination. He never shies away from intruding or invading her sacred space, to the extent that any written law hasn’t specifically disallowed. Does he go too far? Hell, yeah!!
Persuasion is an art, and many find it charming. It could be said that one man’s persuasive techniques is another man’s stalking. Graffiti tells the story of this man whom you may recognize in a different avatar around you, because every woman knows such a person, or has at least heard of one.
Mark the hellbent lover’s tactics will excite, thrill, aggravate, shock, and sometimes make you feel sick to your stomach. So does he win?
My mother had some strict rules about how we should perceive the almighty God. He is omnipotent. He is the greatest.
He was alarmist as far as I was concerned. (Yes, these days I do feel his presence, whenever I feel close to winning the lottery, or when I get to any place on time.)
My mother was pious. I couldn’t see the justification because she suffered from asthma without any divine intervention or relief. Whenever I tried to get into a debate about this, she would always silence me. Sometimes we would get into arguments.
Like the time she said harboring feelings of revenge was sinful, and I persisted with, “But what if the person is genuinely evil?”
“God will take care of that.”
“He’ll show the right people (like law enforcement) the right way, but failing that he will make sure the evil end up in hell.”
“But I want to see him suffer now. Everybody wants that. That is what law enforcement is about.”
“No, law enforcement is about correction, not revenge.”
So I put it all together. A man who wrongs me could walk free. I must just sit and watch and wait for other humans or God himself to take care of this. If he does end up in hell, I will never know. Or, I might end up there myself if I continue to hate this person. He could be reborn a moron (Karma for evil), and I could be the one forced to interact with him in my own next life (karma for hating, you know).
So I really hoped all of what she believed was bullshit.
Pournami is introduced to us dead. She torments more than the ones who survive her death. She torments strangers by infiltrating their dreams with messages they feel compelled to decode.
Pournami is a prime example of the traditional Indian female who only lives by the conservative Indian code book, never breaking any rules. She meets the male protagonist Vipin when he begins following her around while they’re both pursuing their engineering degrees at the same university. Pournami being who she is never encourages him, and yet things get wild. Vipin being who he is manages to create an opportunity for himself, and somehow comers her into agreeing to let him take his proposal to her father. That’s the only way she’ll do it. The ‘arranged’ way. The rest is history.
When the novel begins, she’s already dead, leaving Vipin a grieving widower for the next three hundred odd pages. Yet, she’s never forgotten, and therefore her essence is splattered all over, her flavor unique among the other living protagonists who are all so progressive they’d have never been friends.
Pournami which means ‘full moon’ in most Indian languages represents the magical that’s part of anything traditionally Indian that’s being left behind as we charge ahead towards progress. She’s the ending of an era, an era where Indian women embraced the traditional without question and happily. With her gone, we see the scoffing at ‘arranged’ anything, and the embracing of cross cultural unions with the parents’ approval. We see the line between old India and the new vanishing, so that all that remains is a unique blend that could still only be Indian, and a fond hazy memory of what used to be.
Just in case we get nostalgic, there she is, dependable ways of the bygone days, waving us off in a surprise twist at the end of this novel.
Do writing supplies motivate you? Does stationery have special meaning for you? Do you see it offering more than just the utilitarian value?
My journey into writing began like anybody else’s would have. It began the minute I was handed a pencil. I don’t remember my first doodle of course – my parents didn’t save it and I don’t think it would have helped remind me even if they had – but I did carry my first grade notebooks around for quite a while. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps I was a budding narcist who couldn’t stop admiring her own penmanship, or maybe I just wanted to hold on to my very first notebook as long as I could. I don’t have it now but I can still recall the red and blue lines on white pages, grouped together in fours, going all the way to the bottom of the page. These notebooks were meant to help develop a good handwriting in English. A typical kindergartener fills these pages with alphabets, one letter on each page, writing them out like an imposition.
Fun Fact: Try doing that now. It can be very relaxing.
Stationery was always important for me growing up. Who doesn’t remember going gaga over novelty erasers, pencil cases of all kinds including the ones shaped like your favorite superhero, and the very essential ‘geometry box’.
I was introduced to my first word processor years after I’d finished high school. It was magical. People are mostly drawn to the computer because of this one program – the word processor. Once you get started you are hooked.
I don’t know how it is for everyone out there but I could never make a complete transition. I was, for a very long time, heavily dependent on the printed page to make edits; it is what I was used to. Reading the written word on paper as opposed to on screen is what I was used to. I don’t print as much anymore – why do it when you shouldn’t need to – but I do feel a sense of loss. It’s like I have become used to existing without an essential organ that I can never forget.
Fun Fact: My second novel ‘Twisted Doubles’ was written entirely on the iPad all while dealing with this sense of loss.
I still print out short stories and articles. I use every implement available that helps people who still favor paper. The highlighter, the marker, sticky tabs, sharpies and whatnot, all arranged neatly on my writing desk and color coordinated (Clutter on my desk equals confusion in my head). The one thing in my stationery kit I have no use for anymore is liquid paper.
It may be too soon to write that ‘Ode to Paper’, but I think liquid paper is definitely out.