The Plot Story: Chapter 5

Not-so-wee Chapter

If you thought my woes had ended with the punfriendly Miss Puniverse from Pune, you were wrong. Once Pundora’s box is punlocked, woes are punfortunately punstoppable.

Numerous emails have arrived from the continent of Europe, mostly commending me for how I conducted myself during the breakup. The most notable commendations come from Lisbon, Portugal (saying I have the dignity of Magellan); Athens, Greece (saying I have the integrity of Odysseus); Tirana, Albania (saying I have the nobility of Mother Teresa); and Stockholm, Sweden (saying I deserve the Nobel Prize for nobility).

A nice person in Nice, France, says Winkie has an existential problem and something must be done about it immédiatement. He can’t be guillotined now it’s a capital offence, but he should be put in the Bastille so he’s not a menace to society. (The Singaporean version was that Winkie should be fined, since he can’t be caned.)

Of the two emails from Italy, one comes from the place I most want to visit: Florence. The writer is a wealthy dowager who very graciously invites me to stay in her villa and bask under the Tuscan sun for as long as I wish. The only condition is that I must eat pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because that’s all she eats.

The dowager has apparently not read “Insult to Injuria Formae,” where I say I’ve said ciao to pasta, but I nevertheless appreciate her offer. It almost makes up for her compatriot’s email, which comes from a man in Rome who did something I’d describe as the most unkindest cut if it weren’t bad grammar. I’m still too shaken to speak about it, but I’m thankful that the cut has at least left me alive. Perhaps it’s because the Ides of March are come and gone.


Several writers have shared (many at considerable length) their own breakup stories. If I were handing out prizes, the one from Vladivostok, Russia, would win hands down. It makes my breakup with Winkie look about as romantic as an Everly Brothers number. The story is one of doomed love, and in the end the writer’s lover kills herself by jumping in front of a train. Now why hasn’t he thought of making this into a book or movie?

Speaking of movies, several Bollywood directors have written asking for the film rights. One says his best scriptwriter is already working on a script titled Winky aur Pinky. He tells me it’s a love story with a happy ending. Does Bollywood have any other kind?

I’m guessing there’ll be the bare minimum of dialogue, delivered by people wearing the bare minimum. There’ll be tons of blood and gore (done with paint, because the public can see through ketchup). And of course, there’ll be singing and dancing galore (but not to or of Everly Brothers numbers). All I need to do is sign the dotted line and I’ll be richer by one crore eleven lakhs. I desperately need one crore eleven lakhs, but not desperately enough to be called Pinky. What’s more, I object to the liberties they have taken with Winkie’s name.


While on the subject of love, I might as well tell you about the email from Santiago, Chile. Santiago (for that’s also the writer’s name) has offered to take Winkie’s place. His letter was written in Spanish – perhaps he thought I knew the language, having lived in LA for so long, but I only know “No hablo español.” I also know that “muchas gracias” means “thanks much,” and seeing it at the beginning and end of his email I assumed that he was writing to thank me for my definition of plot. Naturally, I wanted to read it in its entirety.

I copy-and-pasted Santiago’s letter into the online translator and it turned out to be a passionate declaration of love – passionate being the operative word. Truth be told, the letter was replete with a certain kind of content. Knowing how you detest that sort of stuff, I won’t repeat it.


Contrary to what you may be thinking, the email from Santiago in Santiago was not my favorite. It wasn’t even my second favorite. That comes from my favorite place: Wigtown, Scotland.

The writer is one Mrs. M. C. Duff, who thanks me for being such a nice wee lassie and mentioning Robbie Burns in “The Definition of Plot.” Mrs. M. C. Duff is a new reader. She found my blog by searching for “gang aft a-gley wordpress,” and it thrilled her wee heart that I’d said Robbie Burns had put it lucidly (everyone else calls it gibberish).

Thanks to Robbie Burns, Mrs. M. C. Duff has read everything I’ve published – on my blog, that is. She hasn’t yet read my book but promises to check it out when it’s available at her library. I’d ask her to buy Pioneer Boulevard on Amazon or at one of Wigtown’s many bookstores, but I won’t. Paying for what I write will ruin her track record, and I’d never want to ruin the track record of anyone who said wee Winkie was a naughty lad to make such a nice wee lassie cry.

After reading everything I’ve published on my blog, Mrs. M. C. Duff visited the About page, through which she found the About page of my website. There she discovered that her wee town is my favorite place, so she has invited me over for a wee cuppa. She says if I will bring the tea, milk, and sugar, she’ll provide the water. Which, all things considered, is pretty generous.


My favorite email comes from a penguin reader in Antarctica, who signs off as Major Ursa Le Guin (I’m guessing that’s a penguin name). He says my post “How I Became A Writer” was “pretty warm,” which I take is the Cold Continent’s equivalent of pretty cool. Not knowing that I dislike politics, Maj. Le Guin has sent me his treatise on Antarctican politics, The Boiling Plot.

Despite my distaste for politics, The Boiling Plot was an absorbing read, but I can’t discuss it with you because the major has asked me not to discuss it with the hoi polloi. (Actually, he used a far more insulting term for you, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.) If you want to know what’s in The Boiling Plot, you’ll just have to write your own plot story and hope that Maj. Le Guin finds it interesting enough to contact you.


The Plot Story: Chapter 4

A Brief History

Since I had mentioned Britain and her former colonies in the previous chapter, “What Joe Stretch Taught Me,” and since the former colony I know best is India, it follows that I give you a brief history of British Indian history. (If you don’t like history, or if you don’t like brief history, you may skip the next paragraph.)

In the year 1600, around the time Hamlet first asked who would fardels bear and other rhetorical questions, the good Queen Bess, fed up with the rowdiness in her realm, decided it was time to spice up her subjects’ diet and also add a little something to their water. So she granted a Royal Charter to the future East India Company (the Charter being a grocery list for spices and tea) and bid them set sail at once. Set sail at once did the future East India Company, bearing the royal grocery list – and the rest, as they say, is British Indian history.

When British Indian history ended in 1947, British English was replaced by what has come to be known as Indian English – a variety notorious (among other things) for its obsession with puns. Having been subjected to Indian English since childhood, I wasn’t surprised, when the emails started pouring in from India, that they all contained a pun or two (many, many more). Some were smutty, but most were nutty.

For instance, someone in Shillong suggests I change my blog’s name to Collected Plots. Someone in Gandhinagar suggests I change my book’s name to Pioneer Bollyvard. And someone whose city shall remain unnamed suggests I change my name to something so absurd, it will remain unnamed.


A lady from Pune, the city where I grew up, thanks me for inspiring her to write Punjabier Boulevard, a collection of stories set in Pune’s Punjabi community. Then she goes on to say that I was not punny enough for a Puneite in the Winkie section of “The Definition of Plot.” Let me say the rest in her words:

It left me punderwhelmed (and that’s a punderstatement). Maybe my standards are punrealistically high, but I’m not Miss Puniverse for nothing. I won the title by punlocking Pundora’s box in the initial rounds, and then punequivocally pundermining the two punner-ups in the final. In response to the last question – “What’s the pun reason you deserve the crown?” – I punflinchingly punleashed the knockout pun: “Because I punderstand that puneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

According to Miss Puniverse, I should have described the breakup and my subsequent breakdown as follows, to make it punique:

Winkie told me he had kissed “Cathy’s Crown” and it was time to “Break Up Little Susie.” I wanted to “Talk Right Back” and say I’m Sharon, “Don’t Shame Me” like this, but we were at the station so I “Let It Be” and did my “Crying in the Train.” Throughout the journey I kept saying I don’t “Love Flirts,” and the other passengers stared as if I was “So Mad.” I “Dislike Strangers” – especially strange men called Winkie. My “Ex-Love Is Strange” and I’m “So Mad” at him that “All I Have to Do Is Scream.” I’d take out a morcha screaming “Hai Hai Love,” but the police will do a laathi charge and I’ll end up with an “Ebony Eye.” You may be “Devoted to Yuvraj,” but I want a Rajkumar. And I can wait for him, I’m in no hurry. My motto is “Why Hurry.”

Miss Puniverse says that like me, she also obtained her pundergraduate degree from Fergusson College and her master’s from Pune Puniversity. She looks forward to meeting me – in Pune or in the Punited States – and concludes with what she’ll pundoubtedly call the pun line:


Punita Pundole, Pune’s Punctilious Pundit

I can’t tell if Punita Pundole is a pun name or not. Both are actual Indian names, so maybe it puns in the family. Either way, she can keep her Miss Puniverse crown. Had I described the breakup as she suggests, “The Definition of Plot” wouldn’t even have got that one like.

I’m not punaware that my quoting and punquoting “Pune’s Punctilious Pundit” means this chapter is punlikely to get even one like . . . But at least that way it can’t get a punlike. So all in all, the puniverse is not punfair.