“Hardywood is an imaginary world conceived by Hari Balasubramanian when he was a child. In time, this world, predominantly inspired by comics and books and populated by fictional characters, came to encompass all his activities and interests. In his late teens, he began to write articles about happenings in this world; they are meant to be read as if journalists in Hardywood wrote them. The first piece, “Facts Trivia and History of Hardywood” gives an introductory perspective of this strange world.”
Hardywood is a form of “internal organisation” created for the purpose of entertainment and recreation. The phrase/term “internal organisation”, coined several years ago, is considered to be the most accurate two-word description of Hardywood.
Hardywood is named after the Hardy Boys, teenage sleuths whose characters appeared in Franklin W Dixon’s novels. Its “recognition” or “realisation” of its own existence is said to have coincided with the novels featuring the Hardy Boys, and hence the name.
Hardywood consists of several divisions
The most important of them all, and certainly the one which binds it together, is called the Novel Industry. Recently, there has been a fair amount of dissent over the use of the word “Industry” as a tag. People claim that “Industry” adds a business-like touch to Hardywood. In the not so far away future, this naming convention that has lasted for so long may well be changed.
The main function of the Novel Industry is to “screen” novels. Screening of novels starts when the novel starts, and ends when the novel ends. In most cases there are dormant phases when a novel is being screened: there is actually no progress in the screening. This is an intermediate phase between two successive screenings of the same novel, and is sometimes very long. The complete screening of a novel is also sometimes very long depending on the nature of the novel, and the intensity of “External Affairs”.
External Affairs include all work that do not involve Hardywood, and are considered a nuisance in Hardywood. The people of Hardywood, commonly a peaceful lot, get extremely agitated and take to the streets in protest whenever External Affairs are excessive. The term External Affairs is always written with a capital E and A, to indicate how significantly disruptive they are. It is commonly believed that External Affairs are an ineradicable monstrosity, and have to be suffered.
The history of Hardywood can be easily divided into Eras
The earliest Era, consisting of 3-4 years, is called the Pre-Realisation phase, a time when Hardywood existed but was not formally recognised by its individuals. At this time the individuals of Hardywood played games: these were mostly makeshift versions of cricket. Just as novels are screened in Hardywood today, in those Pre-Realisation days, it was the age of cartoons, and therefore comics were screened. The most popular characters of this Era were from Walt Disney: Mickey Mouse, Scrooge, Pluto and their clan.
The Post Realisation phase started with the introduction of the Novel. It is a strong belief that this is the most significant historic event ever to have happened in Hardywood. Hardywood might never have existed without the Novel. To emphasise the significance of this event, dates in Hardywood are denoted by the number of years before or after the introduction of the Novel. The first novel to be screened was The Mystery at the Devil’s Paw by Franklin W Dixon featuring the Hardy Boys.
The Post Realisation Era can be clearly divided based on the type of novels screened. The first Era, which featured books of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, and the books of Enid Blyton, is called the Children’s Books Era. This Era lasted for 3 years after the introduction of the Novel. The second Era that started after the Children’s Books Era, and went on for seven years, is called Run of the Mill, and featured thrillers and espionage novels. Prominent authors of this era are Agatha Christie (the most successful to date), Alistair Maclean, Desmond Bagely, Robert Ludlum, Fredrick Forsyth (best in espionage documentary fiction), Sidney Sheldon, Len Deighton, Erle Stanley Gardener, Jack Higgins, PG Wodehouse (best in humour) and Jeffrey Archer.
The third Era, which is the ongoing one, started roughly 11 years after the introduction of the Novel. It is called the Classical Era, and has featured all sorts of great minds and intellects like George Orwell, JRR Tolkien, Aldous Huxley, Oscar Wilde, John Steinbeck, William Golding, Graham Greene, Jerome K Jerome, Somerset Maugham, RK Narayan, Ernest Hemmigway, EM Forster, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, Arthur Conan Doyle and Milan Kundera. Within the Classical Era, a period of six months – from January to August last year – is called the Tolkien Era, to recognise the unparalleled frenzy and excitement generated by the screenings of his novels, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.
Currently, Hardywood is in its fifteenth year after the Novel
In the third year after the Novel, the people of Hardywood conceived a new industry, which has subsequently come to be recognised as the Creative Industry. This Industry was formed as people then felt that the screening of novels should be complemented by the in-house production of stories, poems and, if possible, novels. Since this was a grand plan, and by no means easy, the Creative Industry’s beginnings were modest. The Industry, over the years, has had the most arduous and challenging task of maintaining people’s expectations. However, it is also the darling industry of Hardywood, and is nurtured with great care and pride. The Creative Industry made its biggest impact when the Jungle Book series of poems were released 7 years after the industry’s conception. Often, the Industry has been found guilty of not being able to complete many stories. The most recent collapse is that of the “Mysore Story”, and details of it can be found in the Hardywood Article titled “The Creative Industry Stutters”. Hardywood Articles are short articles published by the Creative Industry: these are usually critiques of novel screenings or writings on political happenings and new ventures in Hardywood.
Also, in the third year after the introduction of the novel, Hardywood Wildlife was conceived. Animals and nature have constantly occupied people’s attention since the early years, and continue to do so, although it has often been felt that this division has declined from its previous years of glory.
The people of Hardywood often felt a need for an organised leadership, and in the tenth year after the Novel, the first president of Hardywood was elected. He was a character, Angel, from Sidney Sheldon’s successful book Windmills of the Gods.
Angel was at the helm for 3 years, the longest any president has ever been. He was a product of the Run of the Mill Era which is considered the most corruptive phase in Hardywood history, mainly because the novels of this Era consisted of shallow plots and cheap thrills – with exceptions, of course. Angel’s leadership is therefore something all people of Hardywood like to forget. Frequently, the years of the Run of the Mill Era are referred to as the Dark Ages.
The next president of Hardywood was Harry Miller (also called Peter Miller), a character of Fredrick Forsyth’s The Odessa File. The Classical Era was ushered in under Miller’s reign. He also initiated the Knowledge Quest, in order to, as he stated, “fill the gaps of knowledge that plague Hardywood”. Oscar Wilde, who succeeded him two years ago, intensified the flames of the Knowledge Quest, and fueled them by starting a new division called Hardywood History and Culture early last year. It was also at this time that apart from the novels, informative non-fiction screenings of the National Geographic (either of its books or its magazines) took place.
Bolstered by these frequent informative screenings, Hardywood History flourished in a short span of time like no industry has done before, and has firmly rooted itself as an important division in Hardywood. The Smithsonian magazine, which was introduced late last year to help the Knowledge Quest, has recently been declared to be more popular than the National Geographic magazine.
The current and fourth president of Hardywood is John Steinbeck, author of the highly acclaimed novel The Grapes of Wrath
He was elected in August last year. Under his supervision, the Creative Industry is said to have matured considerably (this is a debatable claim, though). He has also made great efforts to bring Hardywood Wildlife back from the dead. So far, this has been successful. Early this year, he started a Short Story festival of British authors; and though the screenings of the festival have gone through a few rocky phases, overall it has been a grand success. Thanks to Steinbeck’s strong campaigning, history was created in Hardywood when the first translated novel was screened just a month or so ago – Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Steinbeck was also instrumental in abolishing the ranking system for novels. But his most unique effort has been the creation of a new division called Hardywood Flora, which focuses on trees, plants and the understanding of different ecosystems. (To be continued)
Hari Jagannathan Balasubramanian is assistant professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) at Amherst. He blogs at Thirty letters in my name.