Friday, December 31, 2010

Revisiting Best Seller and Amsterdam - Boekenmarkt at Spui

The Book Market at Spui -  a favourite haunt of Sandeep and Dr. Roy.

Among Sandeep's many purchases here was Pablo Neruda's Love. According to him:  “Neruda’s Love. I got it for 2 euro from the Boekenmarkt at Spui today. That’s the diversity of Amsterdam. You can buy love for twenty minutes for fifty euro ... or can get it for a life time for as little as two ..."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Amsterdam and Best Seller Revisited - Boom Chicago

At one of Simon van der Wiel's favourite haunts in Amsterdam - the Boom Chicago comedy show.

Other than drawing Simon to the city with its side splitting attractions, the Show also provides Dr. Suprakash Roy inspiration with its punchline iPhone therefore I am.

Creative Juices flow at Jay's Juice Shop

Jay Garrido is visibly delighted at featuring in a real novel.
It is seated in front of his shop, drinking from the glasses served by him and his lovely assistant Nicci, Sandeep paraphrases the Mahabharata and the Gita for Simon.

The Second Amazon Review

The second review on Amazon has come in. Read on

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Journal of Commonwealth Literature about Big Apple 2 Bites

"Arunabha Sengupta’s second novel Big Apple Two Bites shows the varied responses of Indian software professionals on deputation in New York. Some grumble about the food and culture, others direct all
their efforts towards saving money. His first novel Labyrinth (2004) presented young software engineers on their fi rst job in Chennai. Here a more experienced professional is sent to New York as a consultant on a project, once before and once after 9/11. Sen’s time in New York revolves around the Japanese martial art form Aikido, and an attractive colleague, Allison Palmer. The novelist deals with great sensitivity with
the issues of 9/11, the loss of jobs in the software sector, and disillusion with the corporate environment. There is a lot of enjoyable humour. The entire book is written in the second person, adding a touch of freshness to the narrative."

Due to the curious world of traditional publishing in India, this novel is intermittently available - although there is a  constant demand for it and every review has been favourable. The same fate is suffered by Doppelganger Days in The Best Seller. I am on my way to ensuring constant availability on Amazon and other sales channels within the next couple of months.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flights of Fancy

When I look back at the past year, I realise that a major part of the second draft of the book was written as I shuttled between Amsterdam and Zurich on KLM.
So, did I revel in the flights of fancy? Did I reach rarefied heights of creativity? Or did I look at the world with a CEO like vision where truth and fiction merge into each other?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Zijn of Niet Zijn

Shakespeare could have written a sequel to Hamlet set in Amsterdam, but the Dutch would have never got around to deciding between to be and not to be. The whole play would have been an existential drama around conference tables.

- Sandeep Gupta in The Best Seller

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Be or Not To Be in the modern world

The struggling author and his literature loving lady friend take time off to script a modern day back cover blurb for the mass market paperback edition of the greatest play of all time.

Jonathan Kellerman meets Stephen King.

There is something rotten in the State of Denmark. A father murdered. A family betrayed. A fall into madness.

When young Prince Hamlet returns for his Father’s funeral, into the sea-swept Scandinavian landscape and the sensuous charms of oomph oozing Ophelia, he finds all is not well. Murder most foul has left its treacherous mark in the clandestine corridors of the royal palace. Exploring the darkest corners of the human mind, the tale unfolds as a riveting mix of lust, power, intrigue and retribution. Terrifying yet funny, chilling yet deep, 

Hamlet is an erotic psychological thriller set in the phantasmagorical world, etched with mind games and sword fights in equal measure.

New York Times Bestseller.
The winner of the Rendell Award ... 
A sensational new author.

Rip Roaring Action – James Hadley Chase

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blog of Simple Simon: Lessons amidst Red Alert

Blog of Simple Simon: Lessons amidst Red Alert:

Simon van der Wiel reflects on his interactions with Professor P. Lal. Why did someone who could honestly have the title of his autobiography as 'My Name is Red' decide to opt for 'Lessons'?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

From the 'Acknowledgements'

My heart goes out to the small, select and splendid fan club who waited patiently during the long, long gap between the publication of Big Apple 2 Bites and this novel.  I do hope their vigil and encouragement will be rewarded.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Available on Amazon

The Best Seller is now available on

To go to the Amazon page of the book, just click on the picture.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Best Seller: Professor Lal

The Best Seller: Professor Lal:

This book is dedicated to Professor Lal - the lotus that remained unperturbed in the midst of mounds of slush pile.

Just a few weeks before the final publication, he passed away, leaving this world for another - his own final definitive trans-creation across the banks and shoals of time and space.

It was in late 2008 that I spoke to him about the possibility of his playing a role in my new novel. As ever he let the spirit of Literature free, asking me to go ahead and write whatever I wanted to - with that twinkle in his eye planting seeds of doubt in my mind about the enormity of the task.

Getting into the Professor's mind, trying to gauge his probable reactions to events, meant wading deep in the immensity of his erudition, his scholarship and his wisdom. Every sentence uttered or penned by his fictitious avatar in the novel took ages of crafting, design and refining - to do justice to his wizardry with words and pen.

Many of the lessons learnt through his kindness and wisdom are included in the pages.It was my dream to present him with the first copy, to revel in his amusement at reading about himself in fictional form. I took a tad too long to finish the work ... a dream that never materialised as the sublime soul went into eternal sleep.

At this moment, I remember a piece of wisdom shared by him - in his one of a kind memoirs Lessons. Llife is nothing but a sum total of connections that we make. Connections with people that define what we are. And this is one connection that will never cease because it has redefined me.The torch of self expression lighted by him will show the way forever.for me and others touched by him in different pivotal moments of our lives.

Blog of Simple Simon: Pizza Corporosa - Over the Topping

Blog of Simple Simon: Pizza Corporosa - Over the Topping:

How would a corporate organisation go about cutting pizza? -
Simon van der Wiel wonders about the innovations

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dr. Roy's Web Wisdom: Retweet Your Revolution

Dr. Suprakash Roy wonders whether Facebook and Twitter are really tools for Social Activism and Revolution ... or are they for casting apologetic small change onto the plate of social issues as the juggernaut of life hurtles us along.

Dr. Roy's Web Wisdom: Retweet Your Revolution: "My young politically conscious friend, the lovely Shruti Rattan, continues to view my cynicism about the internet and its effects on the wor..."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Take on Gita and the Mahabharata - an edited excerpt from the novel

A few posts back, the Jay's Juice shop was introduced.

The following takes place in front of the shop in Harlemmerdijk, with the Dutch character Simon van der Wiel talking to the protagonist. The theme of Gita and the Mahabharata is often revisited in the novel, but it is here that the hero paraphrases the epic for his Western friend in his irreverent style.


"God bless you, Jay. I will definitely have some of the wheat extracts, but nothing to beat coconut to start off. It's auspicious."

He turned mellower with every sip. We sat on the bench outside the shop, the merry crowd of Amsterdammers and tourists passing us by on the trendy street. The moment seemed opportune. So, I asked him if he would spend some time explaining the background of the Gita. He almost choked on his drink.

"I am the worst person to do anything of that kind, my friend. The English language is my medium. I revel in irony, understatements and cynicism that characterises it. Indian epics depict the thoughts, emotions and ideals of a more pastoral order. I am someone who can use the Gita as a frivolous tool, for meaningless inanities like crisis combating conferences. But I lay no claims to doing justice through paraphrases, or coming remotely close."

The arrogant humility was infectious. I said that post conference I had done some reading up on the classic.
"A lot of people seem to have been influenced by it. Schopenhauer, Isherwood, Huxley, Emerson. I would like to know more. From what I read, it seems to be a dialogue full of advice – part of a bigger epic. A kind of Indian Sermon on the Mount."

The consultant shook his head.
"Sermon on the Mount? Gita is nothing remotely like it. It is a dialogue that takes place on the battlefield, with armies ready to plunge into the bloodiest of wars. Arjuna, who receives the advice, is not a monk, but a warrior by birth, training and circumstance. The lessons learnt and the doubts raised do not need renunciation of the world or monastic setting for application. That's why they are as effective even in the crisis ridden financial world."

"I have read about the battle. A showdown between the good and evil forces …"

My friend corrected me again.
"Indian mythology does not paint the world in black and white, Simon. The cause of the war was convoluted. Both sides were full of great warriors, a lot of them virtuous. None were saints, most were sinners. As human beings are supposed to be. Circumstances forced them on different sides."

"Didn't Krishna, the god, the avatar, join the ones who had truth on their side?"

"Yes, but it was the choice of man. And Krishna participated as a charioteer. I would say he was the patron saint of Consultants."

I laughed.
"Aren't you afraid of blasphemy, my friend?"

"Blasphemy? Indian gods are sinners in their own right. Krishna loved good things in life. Women, wealth … And he did not do a thing during the Mahabharata war except bring destruction to feuding clans through contradictory advice."

I mentioned that I could perhaps understand what he meant by irony, but could not start to appreciate the humour without knowing the background.

As the sun shone on the balmy day, the colourful people walked across on the street, Jay and his help poured glass after glass of varieties of juice, my buddy relented.

"The synopsis of the Mahabharata. Well, the first thing to understand is that the epic is a compilation of narratives. Strikingly modern after several thousand years. Give me a moment, my friend, let me compile a back cover blurb for you. Let the excellent juices augment my creative ones."

He closed his eyes and extended his head backward.

"The epic is a collection of eighteen volumes, the story of the descendants of King Bharata. Plenty of storylines and sub plots. I will just cover the main theme that led to the war. How should a blurb of the mammoth epic read?"

He opened his eyes again with a strange gleam of energy.
"When Pandu, the king of Hastinapur, dies in dangerous throes of sexual fulfilment, the Pandava brothers find their rights to the throne challenged by cousin Duryodhana, son of the blind caretaking king Dhritarashtra. As they grow up amongst fierce rivalry, they escape clandestine murder plots to go into hiding in the forests. When Arjuna, in the guise of a Brahmin, wins the sultry and sensuous Draupadi in swayamvar, they live in liberated polyandry … "

"Aren't you getting carried away? I realise I am easy to deceive, but  …"

He stopped me.
"Believe me when I tell you, that's more or less how it goes. Pandu was cursed to a painful death by copulation … a strange interplay of karma, because he had mistaken a sage for a deer and had killed him just as he was on the threshold of ecstasy."

"In that case, how were the five brothers born?"

"Immaculate conception predating the Christ. That's one version. If the king had problems in getting it up, it was perfectly legitimate for hermits or gods to rise to the occasion and fill the gap … well, I told you I am not the right person for paraphrasing the epic."

"Could we go ahead with the story, without taking the back cover out of Harold Robbins?"

Fresh glasses of juice were served by the girl. His eyes followed her on her way back into the shop.
 "Well, it gets to be more Ian Fleming. So, the hundred Kaurava brothers, led by Duryodhana, now know Pandavas are alive and well."

"Were the Kauravas also immaculately conceived?"

"Both the fathers of the Pandavas and Kauravas were. However, it might have been a case of self fulfilling fantasy played out by the author. Vyasa himself impregnated the royal grand-moms. The Kauravas, on the other hand, constitute the first documented record of test tube babies."

"You are kidding."

"I speak the truth. The Mahabharata contains everything that has ever existed. However, to carry on, Duryodhana relented by giving a small barren piece of land to the brothers, but they worked on it Israeli mode, converting it into a super city through alliances and construction contracts. They lived happily, visited by Krishna from time to time. Arjuna went on frequent marrying sprees.
“Duryodhana now arranged this game of dice – a true casino royal. Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, gambled away his property, his brothers, himself and ultimately their common wife, Draupadi. Speak of mortgage linked derivatives leading to crisis. Draupadi was disrobed in court, the template for future fashion shows. That too in front of the king, who missed out on the excitement, being blind. Bhima, the second brother, pledged revenge. The Pandavas were banished for twelve years and had to stay incognito for one more."

“No wonder they resorted to battle.”

"Well, they did complete the thirteen years, full of action, adventure, intrigue and sex. Yet, when they returned, the throne was refused. Both the sides now went gathering forces through mergers, acquisitions, alliances and joint ventures – with some pretty neat recruitment policies. And then there was war. A gory eighteen day affair broadcasted ESPN style."

"Say that again …"

"The blind king had already missed out on the disrobing of Draupadi, but he wanted to catch the action of the war live. So, he recruited the services of Sanjaya, who narrated the eighteen days non-stop."

I was confused.
"It does seem to be a battle between good and evil."

"That's from the big picture as corporate gurus will tell you, painting things in black and white. However, when you go down to the resource level – character by character – there are so many interplays between circumstances and choices. There is no universal good and evil. Even the embodiment of Dharma lies through his teeth and resorts to gambling. That's what makes it a masterpiece.
"The general of the Kauravas was the grandfather of the warring princes, Bhishma the patriarch, a man who had pledged to serve the throne of Hastinapur, while simultaneously vowing celibacy. Bound by his own contracts, the personification of zealous self sacrificing corporate over-commitment, blessed and cursed at the same time with death by wish. Ultimately he lies on a bed of arrows, but still cannot die without seeing the end of it all and advising Yudhisthira on the art of administration.
“There is Drona, the commander of the Kauravas once Bhishma lies on his prolonged deathbed. He is the master teacher, who loves Arjuna, his best student. But, he is devoted to the throne, and cannot desert the Kauravas.
“There is Karna, the long lost brother of the Pandavas, probably the result of a juvenile fling, attributed to yet another immaculate conception. He is often portrayed as the tragic hero, generous to a fault, but devoted to Duryodhana. He is killed by Arjuna as he tries to pull out the sinking wheel of his chariot. On the advice of Krishna.
“The Pandavas win the righteous war through a number of deceptions, bending of rules, literal blows under the belt, ignoble warfare – all instigated by the consultant who makes the difference."

I chuckled.

"So, Krishna is a patron saint of consultants?"

"Yes, and the Gita is his manifesto. When Arjuna waits for the battle to begin, he asks Krishna, his charioteer, to take him to the middle of the battlefield, to take a look at the enemy. Seeing his elders, brothers, friends and loved ones, he is overcome with grief and refuses to fight. And then the consultant takes over. He brainwashes Arjuna through eighteen chapters."

I told him that in his blasphemous way, he was providing a great stepping stone to my understanding of the work. This inspired him to further details.

"Krishna at first takes the role of the harsh human resource guy, refusing to accept resignation. He reminds him of professional duty. He says that the body dies, but the eternal soul enters another being. So, it is not
totally wrong to kill.
"When Arjuna is not convinced, he asks him to look at the bigger picture, work for the greater good, without attaching importance to the fruits of labour.
"Next there is a phase of self marketing as a guru. Krishna speaks of his experience as a consultant. How he comes into the picture whenever it is time to reward the good and punish the evil.
 "When Arjuna asks whether it is better to resign or work, the master consultant nonchalantly tells him that work is worship.
"He teaches the confused warrior how to focus his faculties on the goal and nothing else. The goal in this case is the consultant himself. He is now gradually taking over the mind and free will.
"He teaches his student the path of knowledge, the knowledge again being limited to what he projects it to be.
"When Arjuna wonders about the material world and the ridiculousness of it beyond death, Krishna tells him of ways to obtain a retirement plan by focusing on him.
"He projects his multiple dimensions as an embodiment of every being, someone to call upon in all circumstances.
"He narrates how he is the supreme power of material and spiritual world. The brain of the warrior is clouded, and accepts the consultant as his guru.
"Having convinced his protégé, Krishna proceeds to dazzle him with a breathtaking presentation. It is here that he resorts to magic.
"Having numbed the mind, he talks about shoes and strings and sealing wax. The benefits of the process of devotion, the field and its knower, the nature and the nurturer, divine and anti divine nature, the three primary characteristics, qualities, about cutting through the wish fulfilling tree with a sword of detachment.
"Having confused him into believing that he is empowered, Krishna tells him to choose his path based on his own dharma … subtly hinting at the way he has laid out for him.
"Tell me, can you think of a more successful consultant? In the end, Arjuna is convinced to fight, kill his friends and brothers, respected and loved ones."
He went into prolonged silence, probably reflecting on the exposition. When Jay stepped out to refill our glasses, he lifted his hand to stop him. "Amsterdam is notoriously short of free public toilets, my friend. Another glass and I will have to file for bankruptcy."

"So that is the Mahabharata in a nutshell?" I asked.

"The Mahabharata cannot be fit into a nutshell, Simon. The war ends with the ninth volume. It is followed by nine more, various sub plots, diversions, all linked together by a thread. Some of the lessons are indeed intriguing.

“Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, can charge through a particular enemy formation, but cannot break out of it.  In the end he is killed in an unequal battle with seven great charioteers. Aren't we all in his place?"

He turned and smiled.

"You know what the greatest lesson of the epic is? After the all consuming war, Pandavas emerge victorious to find that they are the sole survivours save a handful. Who do they rule over in this kingdom of the dead? The entire struggle has been for absolutely nothing. Summed up by Shakespeare in one glorious line …"

"Sound and fury signifying nothing," we chorused and laughed.

"Hope you have enjoyed the abridged tale told by an idiot," he signed off.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blog of Simple Simon: The Template of Homo Cubiculum

Simon van der Wiel reflects on the cubicle creatures following the examples set by their ancient ancestors as they run after their holy grail ... appraisal rating.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Welcome to Jay's Juice Shop

Along with Professor Lal, Jay Garrido and his lovely assistant are some of the other real life characters to appear in the novel.

An Aruban by birth, Jay sells drinks in Amsterdam with a difference. In his shop, one can literally toast one's health.

Selling all sorts of fruit and vegetable juices, along with free words of encouragement to lead a healthy life, Jay also grows his own wheat for incredibly healthy extracts.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blog of Simple Simon: Performance Reviews - The Third Sin - The Most Har...

His part in the novel over, now Simon discusses Performance Appraisals and Dr. Deming ...

Blog of Simple Simon: Performance Reviews - The Third Sin - The Most Har...: "Come September, there is a sociological season change in my workplace. My buddy calls it the coming of the harvest months. There is a purpo..."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Meet Shruti

This brilliant and creative soul resides in Amsterdam.  Be it across the chess board or library shelves, she can match the author protagonist move for move, word for word.
She is equally at home decked in a ghagra choli or wielding a hockey stick, dissecting the European Union or penning hilarious haikus.

Tagline : The size of the footprint does not matter as long as I have walked

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Proof on its way

The design of the interior has been re-reviewed ... and the proof is on its way...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Design in Progress ... so are thoughts

Okayed the cover and the interior design with  some suggestions.

Every day new things take place ,,, and every new thing seems to slip into the surface of the storyline... a novel becomes life and life the novel ... each new experience cries to be penned down (keyed in)
Is this what is known as the artist becoming one with his work?
Audacity - calling oneself an artist ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cover Choices Update

Decided to use Web 2.0 for choosing the cover ... The participation of people was really great.
And this new way of doing things is covered in some detail in the book ...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Have I said all?

With every new experience, I end up worrying that the book does not really reflect this aspect of life.
But then, there is always a next one. However, will there be another one this intense and vast in the immediate future? I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Judging by the Cover

Had a consultation session with the cover designer. Wonder whether a lot of the ideas are lost in translation.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meet Dr. Roy

Relinquishing his flourishing psychiatry practice in a chamber of College Street, Kolkata, Dr. Suprakash Roy renounces the world in search of truth.

Well, not exactly. His domain just changes as joins the Leiden University to research Cognitive Psychology in the networked worldview where virtual reality takes on a new meaning.

He is equally fascinated by Blackberry Addiction among the middle managers and Live Sex Shows of the Red Light District.

What if a power with vested interest started manipulating Wikipedia?
Find out What goes on in the mind of a shrink

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Well into the Final Trimester

The long awaited novel is finally going through the publishing process.

Set mostly in Amsterdam and moving through the rest of Europe, the West Coast of USA and  India, as well as the bright streets and the murky alleys of virtual world, this has been a labour of love and hate, started with passionate fervour and rewritten from scratch after the first 200 pages.

I will probably not etch pictures of life on such a large canvas again for a while. This has taken three calendar years of my life and scooped away a large chunk of my innermost being.

Hope to see you curled up with the 500 plus pages before the end of the year. Be careful, for the entertaining journey will not always be agreeable.

The image to the right is not the cover which is being designed at this moment. However, it wonderfully depicts the well loved city where most of the action takes place.