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Penguin: ‘’Get me the Khajuraho orgy capture. Pronto.”

Wendy: Sir, this is not porn. My book covers the grave interpretation and inter-relation between History and Religi…”

Penguin: ‘’Lady, you will be the grave of me. You stick to writing. Leave the sales pitch to me. I need eyeballs for your 800 pages of dry research. Now where is that orgy?”

Wendy: ‘I warn you, this will backfire. In the age of wendysocial media, a misleading cover page that does not match inner contents will never sell.”

Penguin: ”Then match the contents with the cover-page. Unless you have a better idea.”

PA: “Eureka! Ban it.” 

Wendy: “You dolt. We are discussing how to market the book; not how to blanket it…”

Penguin: “PA, you are promoted! Lady, ever heard of the forbidden apple? Adam-Eve would have never bit into it if not for the lure of the guilty pleasure.”

PA: ‘’I know all too well. My kids wont eat that damn apple until I drown it in sugar, custard and cinnamon. I even need to sneak broccoli into pasta.”

Penguin: “Shush! Make it controversial. Let’s publicize this book as an insult to Hindus. We have very thin skins, our tender sentiments bruise easily. Especially when a non-Indian does it. Never mind what we do with our religion ourselves.”

Wendy: ‘’What do you do with it?”

Penguin: “The Bhagwad Gita, for instance. We pass it from one dirty hand to another; extortionist, smuggler, murderer. It stands as mute witness to blatant perjury, exploitation and injustice. Meanwhile, Gandhari holds up the scales and smirks in her dark corner. So, as my PA says, pry open the wounds and let the blood spurt!” untitled

Wendy: ‘’I don’t understand. We came to discuss publicity tactics for my book. This is defamation.”

PA: “There is a difference???”

Penguin: “Her naïveté warms my heart. So then, when there is controversy,50 % will flare into a rage and demand our blood; 50 % will rush to defend our freedom of expression. The remaining…”

Wendy: ‘’Err..you used up all 100%”

PA: “Quiet! He markets books. Don’t teach him how to twist figures and tally percentages.”

Wendy: ‘’Woof, woof.Thump, thump.”

PA: ‘’Meow. Scratch!”

Penguin: ‘’ Now, now, behave like humans. The 50% defenders will purchase it, to protect their skin and to show-off a copy on their book-shelf…”

PA: (sotto voce) “Who knows, some of them may even read it!”

Penguin:’’I heard that. The protesting 50% have to buy it. I mean, if they need to provide proof to the court, they will need to scan, peruse and highlight the controversial passages. Hence, we get the protestors as our customers!”

PA: ‘’Teeny-weeny doubt. How will we sell the book if there is a ban?”

Penguin:’’Child, I rely on Gandhari for that. She will grant us a 6 month golden-period between now and the ban. We smirk all the way to my bank in these 6 months. Besides, there is pdf, wmv, e-pub…”

Wendy:’’I object strongly. I have put years of research into the book. Now I have to survive on snarls, slogans and smut?”

Penguin:’’ Incredible…you can even create poetry! Did you just mention smut? The smuttier, the better. That will expand my customer base; to include all those who will purchase the book; if only to flick through the pages and zero in on the smutty sexual innuendoes.”

Wendy:’’You are demeaning my work, my patience, my art…”

Penguin:’’Did I mention the 3-book contract?”

Wendy: “Gulp. 3 book contract?”

Penguin:’’Your Hinduism has sparked a tangential volcano in my mind. We have 36,000 Gods. Maybe even 330 million. Now, imagine one controversy per God. Let’s begin with Dwarka and its orgies.”

Wendy:’’ (Splutter, gasp, blanch) What blasphemy is this? I am a researcher……not a …”

Penguin:’’Then Re-Search. Discover. Uncover. Rip the lid off. We Indians believe History only when researched and chronicled by foreigners. Now imagine the 16,000 wives pining in Dwarka, their frustration, the cat-fights, the harem politics…”

Wendy:’’ Harem? You are confusing the Mughals with…”

Penguin:’’Whatever. Who cares? Just make it juicy and we will suck it up. “

Wendy:’’You are insane.”

Penguin:’’Why would I be a publisher if I wasn’t insane? Now bring on the Khajuraho book-cover, please. Honestly, I am a God-send to the publishing world. I need to get a patent on this ban-trick before others try the same.”

Wendy:’’ India is a democracy. To ban is the act of Tali-ban.”

PA: “Sir, on that note…de taali!”