The Thing About Siblings.

My family, er, layout is a little complicated compared to most families. I grew up as an only child, but I had a half-brother, and my half-brother had a half-brother who also sort of felt like my brother, except I never really saw them. They lived in Muscat, and later moved to New York. I'd speak to my brother's brother, who, fuck it, is my brother, on birthdays. My brother and I were more in touch, but off and on. We'd go through phases where we talked a lot, and then we didn't talk, and then we'd talk a lot again.

It was a strange kind of set-up, but because it was the only thing I'd ever known, I never thought of it as strange. But then, I started growing up, and I'd meet people, and inevitably, I would be asked the question - "Do you have any siblings?"

My god. The horror. It was always the one question I dreaded. I never knew the answer.

I felt like an only child because I grew up as an only child. But I did have a brother. And my brother had a brother. But that was just such a long story. So my options were this:

1) I am an only child.

2) I have a brother.

3) I have two brothers.

4) I cannot answer your question.

I usually just mixed up options 1-3. And I was always fair. If I told someone I was an only child, I'd tell the next person that I had a brother, and the person after that would hear about two brothers, and then I'd go back to being an only child again.

See what I mean? Horror-ful.

But they both moved back to India when I was a teenager, and I got to know them better then. And now that I'm living with my brother - for the first time in my life - I finally know what it's like to really really have a sibling.


But I'm in an unfair position. I'm eight years younger, physically weaker, and dependent on the aforementioned brother for a roof over my head. What does this mean? It means I have no power.

And let me tell you people something: having no power sucks. IT SUCKS. IT SUCKETH. My brother is very aware of this and is determined to take advantage of it. We're eerily alike. If I'd have been in his position, I'd have done the same. But I'm not. Therefore the suckage.

He makes up songs about me. They are all variations of this line: "Trishi-fishy is a loser." And the tune he uses is the Spice Girls' Wannabe which I tried turning into a weapon. I failed. And what bugs me is this: he's not being witty. He's being stupid. But whatever he's doing is working, because I have no response. Do I make up a song about him and sing it? But that's just being a copycat. Do I ignore him? Ignoring him is so sad, it's like I'm not sharp enough to come up with a good comeback.

(I fear I'm not sharp enough to come up with a good comeback. It's like that song strips me of what wit I like to think I have.)

Physical violence, I only use now and then, when he really pisses me off. But even that only serves to highlight my weakness because he's 6 foot tall and weighs a lot more than I do. He basically just wraps his arms around me and lifts me off the ground while I kick ineffectually at the air. Or he bends my wrist back until I start shouting: a shout that carries with it heart-rendering tones of rage, pain and humiliation.

Unfortunately my brother doesn't have a heart to, er, render.

We get on each other's nerves occasionally. He objects to the fact that I hang my towel over his towel, that I don't squeeze toothpaste from the bottom (apparently this is a crime worthy of hell), and that I'm lazy and undisciplined, and that I'm spoiled and flighty, and that...the list goes on.

I mostly object to the fact that I'm not in a position to object to anything.

But the thing about siblings is, I guess, they keep it real. Even more than parents do. And my brother is a particular fan of keeping it real.

"Trisha, you're an extremely fucked up person."

I launch into a huge speech demonstrating my lack of fucked up-ness.

"Shut up. Don't make excuses. Never make excuses."

Alright, I said. I won't make excuses. But what do you think I should do about it?

"Stop talking."

And then he passes me a joint and we settle down to watch Buffy with SIL. And it's in those moments, when I'm sitting between my brother and sister watching vampires get annihilated, with three dogs leaping around us trying to eat each other, and my stepmother popping her head into the room to rant about some sort of social injustice, and the tree over the balcony rustling its leaves to add to the commotion...it's in those moments that I feel safe and loved and happy. It's in those moments that I really, really appreciate having a sibling. Especially one like my brother.

And there I sit, bathed in fraternal love.

Until the off-tune strains of 'Trishi-fishy is a loser' start up again.


Your sense of self is torn. You realized, a few years ago, that you have certain instincts that most people - even yourself - see as forbidden. Worse, bad. Bad enough to be close to evil. And you make excuses.

Certain parts of human nature shouldn't be suppressed.

This is who I am.

It's because of a deep issue that lies in the twisted trail that is my past and it's inadvertently messed me up. 

It's ruined me.

And you like being ruined. It makes comfort and security seem dull. It makes you feel wild and reckless and free. You think it's the instinct, the close-to-evil instinct, that you should be fighting against, but really, that's what you're fighting for. Because you feel it defines you somehow. And everyone loves definitions.

I'm not going to be a definition anymore.
I'm not going to be ruined anymore either.


Today, Pooja the receptionist, asked me when I'd officially start as a full-time employee. She needed to know so she could 'add me to the system'. (Yikes.)

I didn't know. So I checked my appointment letter (which has been carefully placed in a safe, secure place - ha, that rhymed, did you notice?) and realized the momentous event would occur on Monday. And that meant that today - today - was my last day as an intern. And not just an intern for Temple, oh no. Probably, it's the last time I'll ever be an intern. Ever. Because, now that I've had a proper, full time job, why on earth would I go back to being an intern or a trainee? It could happen, of course. If life doesn't do what I tell it, or want it, to do. But let's not go there right now.

Anyway, this is also the last day I'm going to be able to take a day off, or take a half day, without anything getting cut from my pay.

I came to this realisation over a delicious Bloody Mary in a jam jar (long story) with my colleague, Harshita. And I realized I needed to celebrate it in some way.

So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to switch off my computer at 4 pm, hours earlier than usual, walk out of this office, go to the wine shop near home, pick up a bottle of extremely cheap vodka, and celebrate my beginning as an underpaid copywriter. And Harshita will fake a tooth-ache so I don't have to celebrate alone.

And mourn the fact that for years on end, I will never be able to take a half-day, without it making a dent in my salary.

But then again, I do get business cards.

Life, you baffling temptress. 


I'm trying to do that thing where I appreciate life deeply, live it to the fullest, treat it as a wonderful gift, etc.

Interesting things that happened today:

1. I signed my first ever job contract and have ceased to be an intern/trainee. My formal title is Creative Consultant which sounds extremely kick ass. I guess it's one of those things where you begin to actually work, get shitty pay, be a cog in the machine, and it's all happy and wonderful because you're an official creative consultant, damn it, who's signed a tangible contract with a thick black pen.

2. This should go with the previous point, but it's too important not to have a point to itself. I'm getting business cards. In my name. That will have Trisha Dutt, Creative Consultant (unless they get bitchy and put Junior Copywriter) on it. I will get drunk and hand the cards out to hipster-looking people I meet at parties. Oh, what fun. What bliss. So what if I'm a cog, I'm a cog with business cards, baby.

3. I went out to lunch with some colleagues. We were at this bar called Peco's, and a hijra entered and went to the bartender and held out her (his?) hand and the bartender put some cash in it and then the hijra walked out again, hips swaying triumphantly.

4. I spent more than a couple of hours walking around with my fly undone.

5. I had a long conversation with the office accountant about life and stuff, and he said, very wisely at one point, "Life takes time." Ain't that the truth.

6. I saw a man with a handlebar moustache. And a man teaching his toddler son how to ride a bicycle. And a middle-aged lady who was walking down the road, suddenly stopped, bent down, picked up a long tree branch, and started walking again, with a swagger this time, holding it aloft as if it were Anduril itself. That was really nice actually. A really nice thing to see.

Yes, yes, this has been a good exercise. This will go down in memory as an average day, and I am especially glad to have discovered the many surprises and delights an average day can bring. (Although it works the other way around too.) But I think I would be gladder if I could take a half day, ignore my deadlines, go home, get very stoned, and watch Buffy for the rest of the day.

But I won't. Because I really need to live up to those business cards. I'll act up if I'm referred to as Junior Copywriter on them though. So it's a win-win situation as usual. 


A Guide for Budding Copywriters: How Not to Write a Kick-Ass Headline.

I remember, before I plunged into advertising, boasting about how good at it I'd be because I enjoy lying so much. I was wrong - the point of it is not to lie well; the point of it is to find something, whether a feature or an angle, that is true, and painstakingly build on that.

There are other things I've learnt too. Unfortunately, the ability to write an awesome, mind-boggling outstanding headline is not one of them. (Yet.) But I am an optimist...in this specific context. And so, taking inspiration from Edison, I comfort myself with the thought that, while I have not mastered a single technique for producing a good headline, I have learnt many ways which do not produce a good headline.

And yes, that is progress.

Here are a few that I'd like to share.

1. Obsessively googling things such as "How to think of a brilliant headline", "How to think of a brilliant headline in ten minutes" and "Can stupid people make themselves smarter".

2. Making a word tree, with random words connected to your brief linked to each other. A lot of useless advice on the internet told me to do this, but the end result was my scribbling monkeys around the page.

3. Smoking an unhealthy number of cigarettes and pacing up and down the entire office, glaring at the art people.

4. Setting self into a state of relaxation by sitting on a bench in a quiet courtyard with the wind blowing through the trees. It won't make you think of a headline. It will make you think of Goa.

5. Meeting friends at a bar, getting intoxicated, and attempting to find inspiration by bouncing ideas off said friends. It will not lead to inspiration. It will lead to a humiliating confession about how you one day want to have two secretaries called #1 and #2, and adopt a Chinese baby called Michiko after you turn forty.

6. Attempting to rhyme (unless absolutely called for.) For instance, "It's time to walk the line during Lakme Fashion Time". I would like to clarify that Lakme is not a client, I'm not completely sure Lakme Fashion Time actually exists, it just sounds vaguely familiar, and I would choke on my own spit and pass out in the bathroom never to wake again before showing anyone a line like that. Although worse ones have popped up in my head. That's the way the wind blows.

7. Boasting about the company or the product. Unfortunately, this is something that I've been asked to do occasionally. "Try and make the client sound good in the headline, they will probably approve that." Yeah, the client probably will approve that, because they have no fucking clue what makes for a decent ad, but the point isn't to butter up the client so they'll approve the headline. The point is to generate attention, interest and sales, and the only way to do that is to focus on what potential consumers need.

8. Attempting to pass off something vague as a headline because it sounds good. People aren't stupid, man. Okay, they are, but thinking of them as stupid doesn't help. I always think of what David Ogilvy said here, and imagine people I know - my mother, perhaps, or a friend, or even an acquaintance depending on context - reading the ad. Yeah, so it's very easy to be vague, and convenient, but though vagueness often makes for a nice-to-read headline, you'll promptly forget  what it says about ten minutes later, even though you've written it. Which obviously defeats the purpose.


I actually can't think of anything else. Mostly because now that I've started writing this, all that comes to mind are tips on how-to-write-good-headlines. So obviously knowing what not to do, helps you stumble your way towards what you should do.

But I won't pretend to advise you on that.


See point 1.