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DESI SATIRE August 2006

August 2006
DESI SATIRE August 2006



In a major coup for India, celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have announced that their next baby will be delivered in a remote village there. "India was an easy choice for us," Jolie said. "Where better to give birth than the country where most births are occurring?"

The couple, who have two adopted children, went to Namibia for the birth of their third child, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, putting the African country in unprecedented limelight. Until their trip, few Americans had even heard of Namibia; now it's the number one tourist destination in the southern hemisphere.

Some Americans are paying up to $5,000 to stay in the hotel room that Jolie and Pitt stayed in, while others are paying up to $20,000 to give birth in the same spot that Jolie did.

Ambika Soni, India's Tourism and Culture Minister, expects India to benefit even more. "This is a very big deal," she said. "China got the 2008 Olympic Games, but we got the 2008 Jolie-Pitt Delivery! Which event do you think will get more media coverage?"

The answer, of course, is the Jolie-Pitt delivery, if history is any indication. India can expect thousands of journalists and paparazzi to descend upon the country, dispatching countless stories and pictures for newspapers, tabloids and magazines. "If we plan this well," Soni said, "India will become the number one destination for traditional tourism as well as medical tourism. We will be able to showcase our medical facilities to westerners who would rather not pay an arm and a leg for treatment, especially when they can fly here and pay only a finger and a toe."

Soni denied rumors that India had outbid several countries for the right to host the Jolie-Pitt delivery. "They picked us," Soni said. "We did, however, send them a promotional video and a case of gulab jamuns."

Jolie said she has not decided exactly which village she will deliver the baby in, but it will probably be one with broadband cable, so people can watch on the Internet. She and Pitt are currently negotiating television rights for the delivery. "We are considering a proposal from NBC," she said. "They want to produce a reality series with various celebrities giving birth in foreign countries. I hear that Jennifer Aniston wants to give birth in New Mexico."

There is also a possibility that Jolie will star in a Bollywood movie. She is about to appear in "A Mighty Heart," a movie about slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and will be in India just in time to appear in the Bollywood knockoff.


Let me make one thing clear: I am not a plagiarist. I have never plagiarized anything, though I'm willing to admit that the title of my new book "How Gopal Mehta Got Dissed, Got Riled, and Got a Knife" is somewhat similar to the title of another young-adult novel that was recently withdrawn from bookstores. I'm also willing to admit that certain passages in my book are somewhat similar to the passages in 13 other books, seven magazine pieces, and four John Kerry speeches.

But let me reiterate: I am not a plagiarist. I am quite capable of originality. In fact, as various media outlets have reported, the dedication to my book is completely original. I wrote it myself, with a little input from Amalgam Entertainment. The input was so minimal, I applied for and was granted full copyright of the dedication page.

It should also be noted that at least 11 percent, perhaps as much as 12 percent, of my novel is fully original. I can say this with almost 60% certainty. This portion has never been printed before and has never appeared anywhere else, aside from the obscure website where I found it.

While the various other parts of my novel are not original, it's clear to my supporters, as stated in various blogs, that the combination or "amalgam" is. No one else has ever published a novel with passages copied from the same books, magazines and speeches, arranged brilliantly to create first-rate young-adult literature.

Though I take some pride in this originality, I must admit that it was wholly unintentional. I did not set out to borrow from anyone else's work. It happened quite accidentally, as the following examples will show.

Chapter 1: Several paragraphs in the opening chapter are similar to paragraphs in Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children." It has been almost 20 years since I read Rushdie's novel, but I've been cursed with a photographic memory. These paragraphs had been stored somewhere in my head and, when they came out, I thought they were my own. I felt inspired and thrilled, believing I was a brilliant writer who would win a Booker Prize and whose fourth wife would be a gorgeous model.

Chapter 2: This chapter consists mainly of a short story called "Nobody's Business." I thought it would be perfectly acceptable to put it in my book, since one of my friends had emailed it to me. His subject line – "Here's a good story for you" – led me to believe that he was passing all rights to me. I have since learned that the story was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri. In future editions of my book, I will acknowledge her contribution. I am also prepared to share royalties with her, as long as she agrees to accompany me on a promotional tour for our book. (Sharing a hotel room is optional.)

Chapter 3: This chapter consists of passages from Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" and Suketu Mehta's "Maximum City." During the research for my novel, I had taken lengthy notes from these books. When writing my novel, I consulted the notes and thought they were my own words. They sounded like something I would have written. Indeed, I did write them, but not as the original writer. To acknowledge their contributions, I have sent the authors autographed copies of my (and Jhumpa's) book. I will also name my next child "Suketu."

Chapter 4: This chapter borrows heavily from Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O'Connor stories. Since they had both passed away in the last century, it was my honest belief that their work had become public domain. I had always wanted to write like them and felt grateful that I was finally able to do so.

Chapter 5: This chapter contains entire pages from Kaavya Viswanathan's young-adult novel that was recently withdrawn from bookstores. I blame this on my research assistant, who provided me with "research material" from a number of novels. In copying from Viswanathan's novel, my assistant had inadvertently copied from several novels that Viswanathan had inadvertently copied from. Neither of us is a plagiarist, not me especially.

Chapter 6: This chapter was rewritten by someone at my book packaging company, Amalgam Entertainment, a man who apparently used to write speeches for John Kerry. I did not realize this until my friends complimented me on my character's declaration when he joins an Indian gang in New York City: "I'm Gopal Mehta, and I'm reporting for duty."

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