Browse Archives

By Category

By Date

My Friend Sancho

My first novel, My Friend Sancho, is now on the stands across India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.

To buy it online from the US, click here.

I am currently on a book tour to promote the book. Please check out our schedule of city launches. India Uncut readers are invited to all of them, no pass required, so do drop in and say hello.

If you're interested, do join the Facebook group for My Friend Sancho

Click here for more about my publisher, Hachette India.

And ah, my posts on India Uncut about My Friend Sancho can be found here.

Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Category Archives: Personal

Girls without nipples, and ding-dong disease

Check out I Used to Believe, an awesome site that collects silly beliefs that people had as children. A few examples:

Quarter of an hour is 25 minutes.

If you don’t hold your breath as you pass a cemetery you will die or become possessed.

You can get pregnant from kissing.

You must marry someone with the same surname as you.

Oral sex is talking about sex.

Chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

Great delight. Should I confess? Okay, a couple of mine:

1] When I was a kid, certainly years before puberty, a school friend asked me what women’s breasts looked like. “They’re like balloons,” I informed him. “Girls don’t have nipples.”

2] As time went by, I discovered that women had nipples. One day a classmate asked me how girls masturbated. I wanted to appear knowledgeable, so I quickly improvised and said, “They play with their nipples.” (I was in a boys school, naturally.)

3] For a few weeks after I discovered erections, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I’d seen my ding-dong in two states, but in all the pictures I saw of statues of naked men, there was only one kind of ding-dong depicted. I thought I might have a ding-dong disease.

4] At different stages in my childhood, I have even believed in God and palmistry and benevolent government. I also believed in the concept of soul mates. The horror!

Enough! No more! It’s your turn now, comments are open, do share your silly childhood beliefs. And don’t comment on mine, please. Thank you.

(Link via Marginal Revolution.)

Posted by Amit Varma on 21 March, 2007 in Personal


In 2001 when I took up a job at Wisden, I told myself that this would be the last job of my life, I’d become a full-time writer after this. Well, that gig lasted a bit longer than I’d expected, as Wisden bought Cricinfo and I was its managing editor for a while in India, but I finally managed to break loose late last year. Immense relief came. Vast quantities of freedom unleashed itself upon me.

This does present a problem, though. Every once in a while people ask me what I do, and will not be satisfied with any answer I give. If I say I’m a blogger, they look at me as if I’m mad. If I say I’m a writer, they look at me as if I’m crazy. If I say I make crosswords for a living, they check my temperature, their clammy palm trembling on my sensuous forehead.

So I simply say I’m unemployed, and smile widely. I tried this at a quiz at NMIMS a few days ago (report here), when the finalists were announced. It was an open quiz, and all the other teams were from corporations or colleges. When our turn came to introduce ourselves, the quizmaster, a Kolkata veteran named Gautam Ghosh (not the blogger), asked me where we were from.

“We’re from nowhere,” I said. “At least I’m not. I’m unemployed.”

Mr Ghosh’s mouth fell open. “You are what?” he asked, his voice tinged with obvious concern.


Posted by Amit Varma on 20 March, 2007 in Personal

The thing with comments

I have often explained why I don’t open comments on the blog, but, on the urging of many readers and friends, I’ve decided to try it out on select posts on this blog—not all of them. Be good.

Posted by Amit Varma on 20 March, 2007 in Personal

On golf, and writing

In a wonderful series where masters and their protégés talk about each other, the young golfer Henrietta Brockway says:

Golf is pretty addictive. You hit 20 bad shots, then you hit one good one. You want to hit that good one again and again so you just keep trying and trying and trying.

I think that’s true of writing as well. But here’s the problem: in golf, you know when you hit a bad shot, because it hits a bunker or goes into the woods or misses the green by a long way. In writing, it’s not so clear, and depends on an individual’s judgement. Some writers could think that every shot is a good shot, and fool themselves into easy satisfaction. Others could set their bar too high, and be forever scared to write because their definition of a good shot is one that Calvino or Kundera played, and no beginning writer can compete against those. I think the ones that make it minimise the self-delusion, but have the courage to persevere even when they are racked with self-doubt, as all good writers inevitably are at some point.

Needless to say, writing about writing is easier than the writing itself. Pah.

Posted by Amit Varma on 10 March, 2007 in Personal | Small thoughts

What our books say about us

I was browsing through some of my old posts, in sheer disgust, when I came across the book-tag meme. Remember that? It was a meme that demanded that we list down our favourite books and suchlike, and a whole bunch of Indian bloggers, not yet cynical enough at the time, duly did so. A lot of it is fascinating reading, and as I’ve spent the last 40 minutes revisiting those posts, I might as well point you to them as well. Here’s my response to the book tag, and here’s my list of all the other book-taggers.

The dominant meme these days, of course, is the “Ignore All Memes” meme. That works for me!

Posted by Amit Varma on 10 March, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Personal

On internet connections

Dear readers

For your enjoyment, an email conversation is reproduced below, between me and my kind friend Manish Vij, who has consented to the publication of this most-enlightening exchange. Please read from the top. As I am blogging this via broadband, the grain of rice in front of me lies unsullied.

Warm regards and Happy Holi



Posted by Amit Varma on 04 March, 2007 in India | Personal

Guilt. Despair! Panic!

So much to do, so little time. On a regular basis these days, I go through the cycle mentioned in the headline of this post. I wake up in the morning (somehow!), get to work, and soon fall behind schedule. Sometimes non-IU work does not allow me to post on this blog until lunch: immense guilt then comes. (As I mentioned here, guilt is a key reason for the frequency of my posts.) If, FSM forbid, I cannot blog by evening, despair sets it. And if the sun sets and the blog is still showing yesterday’s post, panic happens. I go on the internet then, and feel paralysed. What to blog? How can I make up for an entire day gone by?

Pretty much the same phenomenon happens with email as well. Often, when I am travelling, even if it is for a day, the emails pile up. So I use the immensely useful functionality that Gmail has, of starring a mail. The action is supposed to be my way of telling myself, “This is important and I will reply to this email later.” But the message that effectively gets communicated is, “You don’t have to worry about this right now. Chill. Do something else. You can come back to this.”

And, of course, I never do. If fact, the starred mails are so many, and so guilt-inducing, that I’m in denial much of the time. I do not dare to click on the folder. Panic arises at the thought, and alternates with resignation. No doubt I have lost many friends in this way, and upset many readers. Sigh. Weep. Wail.

It has to be said, though, that readers of my blog have less cause for complaint than those who correspond with me. I am, after all, writing a post now—not an email.

Also see: An earlier post on this predicament.

Posted by Amit Varma on 02 March, 2007 in Blogging | Personal

Blowjob Nation

Caitlin Flanagan writes in the Atlantic Monthly:

The moms in my set are convinced—they’re certain; they know for a fact—that all over the city, in the very best schools, in the nicest families, in the leafiest neighborhoods, twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls are performing oral sex on as many boys as they can. They’re ducking into janitors’ closets between classes to do it; they’re doing it on school buses, and in bathrooms, libraries, and stairwells. They’re making bar mitzvah presents of the act, and performing it at “train parties”: boys lined up on one side of the room, girls working their way down the row. The circle jerk of old—shivering Boy Scouts huddled together in the forest primeval, desperately trying to spank out the first few drops of their own manhood—has apparently moved indoors, and now (death knell of the Eagle Scout?) there’s a bevy of willing girls to do the work.

In her piece, Flanagan tells us about how the nature of teenage sexuality has changed in her lifetime. She is horrified by what she calls “Blowjob Nation,” and believes that we are “raising children in a kind of post-apocalyptic landscape in which no forces beyond individual households—individual mothers and fathers—are protecting children from pornography and violent entertainment.”


Posted by Amit Varma on 28 February, 2007 in Miscellaneous | Personal

Full RSS feeds and email subscription now available

India Uncut is a work in progress, and we take feedback very seriously. Many readers wrote in to me complaining about partial RSS feeds, so I’m pleased to announce that every section of this site now has its own RSS feed, which will carry posts in toto. (The Extrowords crossword cannot be replicated in a feed, so that will have a few sample clues to give you a taste of what to expect.)

So, to get to the point, here come the feeds. Please copy the urls below and paste them into whichever feed reader you use. If you use Bloglines, that subscription link is provided, simply open it in a new window.

The India Uncut Blog: (Bloglines users, click here.)

Linkastic: (Bloglines.)

Rave Out: (Bloglines.)

Workoutable: (Bloglines.)

Extrowords: (Bloglines.)

There is also a combined India Uncut feed you can subscribe to, which carries content from all these sections except Linkastic. (The volume of posts there would overwhelm the rest of the content.) That feed is here: (Bloglines.)

If you want to subscribe to the content of the above feed by email, you’ll find a place to leave your email ID on the right column.

In spite of all this, I hope you continue coming to the site itself. We’ve worked very hard to make it look good and function well, and will be introducing new features, and maybe sections, as time goes by. Also, you can only play the Extrowords crossword on the site. Have you had a crack at it yet?

I also get asked about comments. Well, comments are open on Rave Out, and will be opened once in a while for selected posts on the India Uncut Blog.

Please keep the feedback coming, either by using the contact form here, or by emailing me directly. I often fail to reply to all the emails I get, because of the sheer volume of them, but I take all feedback seriously, and I thank you in advance!

Posted by Amit Varma on 27 February, 2007 in Personal

La Sania

Yesterday I was at dinner with some friends at a restaurant, and there was a television set near us showing some tennis. One of us looked at the menu and, making her mind up about what to eat, said, “Lasagna!”

Another friend, gazing at the TV screen, remarked, “Yes, she’s winning.”

Posted by Amit Varma on 27 February, 2007 in Personal | Sport

Loving poetry again

Do you find poetry intimidating? I do. I don’t understand most of the poems I read these days, or the ones I listen to at literary gatherings like the Kitab Fest that I’ve been attending this weekend. Sometimes I feel bewildered, sometimes I feel sleepy, and often I feel inadequate. I’ve told myself that perhaps I just don’t get it, like some people are tone deaf or colour blind.

But some poetry does give me pleasure. The work of Philip Larkin, for example, or Vikram Seth. And at the Jaipur Lit fest last month, I thoroughly enjoyed Jeet Thayil’s reading. I landed up at his reading at Prithvi Theater a few hours ago, thus, duly prepared to shoot it with my cellphone video recorder, and upload it later for your enjoyment. There was no electricity, and the reading happened in torchlight, so my recording hasn’t come out too good. Most importantly, the sound volume is just too low, and I have no idea of how to make it louder. So I won’t upload that, but I’ll simply ask you, if you ever hear that Thayil is reading in your city, to go over and ask for the “how to” poems and the ghazal about Malayalam. Even if you’ve never liked a poem in your life, you’ll love these.

What kind of a scoundrel would I be if I didn’t leave with some nice poetry now? So here, check out Billy Collins reading The Dead:


Posted by Amit Varma on 26 February, 2007 in Arts and entertainment | Personal

Last chance to vote in the Indibloggies

Today is the last day of voting in the Indibloggies. If you feel India Uncut deserves to win Indiblog of the Year, please do vote. I suspect it’s going to be a close contest this time, and every vote counts.

You do not need to have a blog to vote—that field is optional. A valid email ID is enough. And voting is optional in all categories, so you can vote in as few or as many of them as you wish.

Posted by Amit Varma on 20 February, 2007 in Personal

“He’s not Mallu. He’s Cthulhu”

These were the very words uttered by a certain Koch-head friend earlier today about the noble Ravikiran Rao. Pestilential quantities of joy exploded, quite apt before a Roger Waters concert with a giant flying pig.

Previous posts on Eldritch horror: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Posted by Amit Varma on 19 February, 2007 in Personal

Take that Goog

I went to the airport today morning to receive a friend who was coming from Delhi to attend the Roger Waters concert, and while waiting at Arrival, I checked out the signs that people were holding up. One guy had a sign that said Bhogle. The guy besides him had a sign that said Google.

And you know just how I pronounced the second one, don’t you?

Posted by Amit Varma on 18 February, 2007 in Personal

Welcome to India Uncut

After much delay, let me finally welcome you to India Uncut!

I first discussed the blueprint of this site with MadMan, who has designed and programmed it, in March last year. Immense procrastination ensued, largely on my part, but we finally got round to working on it a couple of months ago. A brief introduction to each of its sections follows below, taken from my detailed note on how this site came to be and what it contains, “About India Uncut.


Posted by Amit Varma on 15 February, 2007 in Blogging | Personal

Blogs—The New Journalism

The piece below by me appeared on January 19, 2005 in the Indian Express as “The world according to me”. That headline wasn’t mine, though. I’d also posted it on India Uncut.

Towards the end of December, just after the tsunami struck, I told a journalist friend of mine that I was planning to travel through coastal Tamil Nadu to report on the aftermath of the disaster. “Ah, excellent,” he said, “Which publication you going to write for?”

“I’m not going to write for any publication,” I replied. “I’m going to blog.” He looked at me incredulously.


Posted by Amit Varma on 15 February, 2007 in Blogging | Essays and Op-Eds | Personal

Page 7 of 7 pages « First  <  5 6 7