Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Give me one good reason why anybody should read The God Of Small Things

On a reckless evening when I could have just about done the craziest thing, I went to a library and got myself a membership. The regular vanilla that some people think I am (not without reasons), this was the most reckless thing-to-do that I could think of.

As a result, I treated myself to this new rush and made a list of books that I would like to read before I die. Since there is no possibility of attaching an exact date to that event, I started thinking - technically speaking it could be anytime now. I started with 'The God of small things' by Arundhati Roy.

I knew roughly the outline of the story and the cause that the book stands for. Ten years ago, when I read a passage of the book and wondered what it meant, I had the good sense to put it away. I had however put it down in my mind's 'read when you are older' list of books. Not because I would not understand the story, but because I could not enjoy the prose. A book, in my mind, is a piece of dark chocolate, one with 72% cocoa..something that has to be relished.

As I said, a social cause is weaved into the story - untouchability. As I tested waters with the first pages, I enjoyed the rich prose and the layered style of writing, the setting is in Kerala, there is liberal usage of malayam words and phrases. As I kept reading, I realised that it is a very dark tale indeed. It is the story of twins Rahel and Esthappen, their misfortunate life and the misfortunate lives of others in their family. all of their lives are muddled in despair and darkness. It is very disturbing to read and having to know the characters.

I have not completed the book, but it has left me with only sad and depressing images..A lecherous police officer who taps on a woman's breast with his stick as her two children watch, a spinster aunt who had never had anything in life to cheer for and thus enjoys others' miseries, husbands who beat their wives, for the kick of it, another who does not hesitate to push his wife into prostitution, children taught by their mother never to trust or love anyone easily, the low caste man who gets killed for the sole reason that he loved a woman from the upper caste, and the ultimate act of incest where the twins end up having sex with each other at the age of 31, having met after a long gap

I understand that the issue of untouchability had been addressed and probably the author was against untouchability and perhaps thats why she weaved such a disturbing tale around it. Now, why should we tell such dark and complicated tales to address our issues?? So that people read it and the awareness is spread that untouchability is indeed bad?? The book's prose is so intricate and complex that the people who appreciate it already have a very clear idea that untouchability is bad.. Even if they didnt know about it, there is really no need to tell them dark and shady stories to explain to them how bad untouchability actually is. Arundhati Roy, respecting their intelligence, could have just painted a bright banner that said 'Untouchability is a sin, It affects lives' and leave it at that.

All people who ever lived on the face of the earth have gone through their share of disturbing incidents in their lives. What is the necessity of reaffirming their back-of-the-mind belief that life is a bitch?? Yes, the writing is excellent, maybe we can call it art. But why does art has to be profanity? So glaring and so disturbing?

As I turned page after depressing page of the book, I kept looking at the face of the author that was printed at the back cover. How disturbed and distraughted should one be to express such depressing filth in a story? What ghosts have haunted this pretty lady that she wants other people to experience it as well?? Because she can really make us experience her book, such is her writing. plush and intricate. I found just one reason to read the book, but that does not necessarily mean that I will finish reading it. This is going to be the second book in my life that I never wanted to finish. And believe me, I have read my share of absolute trash, but have always completed reading them, for reasons I do not know..

Ok, call me shallow, call me a blockhead, call me boring, downright normal, someone who does not appreciate the complexities. But what the heck! why should I appreciate it if its complex?? Agreed, I appreciate Chetan Bhagat, but that does not go to say I do not appreciate Ayn Rand or Abdul Kalam's books. We live in a world that is stranger than fiction, it is dark, it is complex, it is disgusting, but why should we document and celebrate pain and muck? Isn't it best not prosed, taught and handed over for generations to come?

Sneha

Friday, November 20, 2009

This weekend, Lets pray

One of the best weekend messages I received in recent months!
This weekend, Lets pray
















Monday, November 16, 2009

Conversations with mom

It was difficult looking at her face like this..especially because my cheeks were hot, it felt different. and i felt shy, i had never spoken anything like this to her before, nor had i felt anything like this before.. quietly confused, but not very troubled, I turned away from her face, but curled up in her loving arms.

Its hard to see my mother like this, relaxed. I hardly ever saw her relaxing. This was an exceptional sunday afternoon and we were just lying down for an afternoon nap.

She nudged me on.."Go on, tell me..". I was smiling away from her, she couldn't see my face, but felt my smile anyway. "She hugged me warmly and said "its ok molu, tell me"

"Mom...mummy, there is this guy in school.."

"hmm...?"

"he is very nice. he talks to me sometimes.. he is very funny and he looks..you know"

"hmm.."

Now I felt my mother smile. "I just like looking at him. I mean.. when we stand at the main grounds during the assembly sessions, he is very tall. I keep looking at him"

"He is the leader of his class so he stands first in his class line, you know all classes form lines, separate girls' line and boys' line.."

My mother was stroking my hair gently, probably musing over the fact that her little girl had suddenly grown up and now she as a mother was facing the difficult task of guiding her through the years of distractions that lay ahead of her young life.

She cleared her throat, still hugging me and stroking my hair, she said "When you grow up, its natural that you feel like this.. It is a feeling that comes and goes. It need not mean anything, sometimes if you see something that you like in a person, you get attracted to it.. It can be anything, for example - you like tall people, so when you see tall guys, you will naturally have a liking to that person. And when you see more things that are good in that person, you develop more liking towards him"

Though I was listening to my mother, in my head, I was playing again and again the last conversation that he had with me. He had liked my drawings and he told me that I should enter in the drawing competition that was coming up.

"Its not wrong to feel this, but you have to remember, you have to study first, get good marks. Get a nice job."

"If you get distracted now, how will you do your homework and get good marks"

That hit home, I was suddenly all attention. tall boy's face popped away like a bubble. I wasn't sure about the job part, but I definitely wanted the marks. If I dont get really good marks, Madhu would get the general proficiency prize this year. I couldn't possibly let that happen.

"There is time for that also, you know, to get interested in boys. Its all a matter of.."

"Ok mummy, what time is it?? I will go study now, tomorrow we have the science test" Suddenly Madhu's face started floating around in my little head. I jumped out of the bed and started walking away. The moment had passed and all of a sudden, I got troubled.. What would my mom think of me now that my little dirty secret is out? Maybe I shouldnt have spoken about it.. She must be really disappointed in me..

Before I left the room, I turned and looked at my mother. there was a smile on her face - that was the one reason that holds this memory in my not so little head, even now..

Sneha

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stephen Covey* and John Grisham** revisit paatti vada sutta kadhai

The way it was:
The paatti was making hot delectable vada under the tree. The crow stole the vada and just when he was about to eat it, there came the fox with his own plans of eating the vada. Since the crow was on top of the tree and out of reach, the fox decided to be mean. the crow had the vada in his beak. The fox told the crow that he had a wonderful voice and would he sing a song for him? Flattered, the crow opened his mouth to sing and lo, the vada slipped down. The fox caught it in mid air and off he went with his tasty lunch!

Bringing on the paradigm:
Irreversible and un-pardonable.. The 'paatty' should be given a total paradigm view of the events that followed her unthoughtful action of open-fire cooking of the vada.
Gravely important events that were caused/could have been caused:

  1. By making the vada in the open space, she endangered the surrounding trees from a forest fire! She chaffed the whole grass area with her firewood anyway. She would be sued by the Friends of Green Trust
  2. The crow stole the vada. This could have been tactically avoided if paatty had thought through her strategy before sending everybody concerned into a downward spiral. This case needs a new paradigm: The paatty had put the crow in the way of unsolicited temptation, the crow was the victim of the situation.
  3. The fox not only humiliated the crow with his ill intentions, but put the crow in a situation where he had to face his insecurities
  4. The crow went into depression, fell into bad company and started taking party drugs to dance through the night and to get over the emotional trauma. He had to be checked in to rehab by 'Mrs.Crow' - Who in the first place had not cared enough to make lunch for Mr.Crow and indirectly caused him to steal the vada. This is what happens when you do not love and care for your family. Always give care for your loved ones, Make this your nineth habit.
Last I heard, the crow was going to sue the paatti for punitive damages.

Reference:
*Stephen Covey - author of self help books like 7 habits of highly effective people
**John Grisham - author of several legal dramas (fiction)

Sneha

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The guilty generation

  • Punishing yourself for no apparent reason.
  • Living a loser's life by letting go what could be yours if you had focussed and worked towards it,
  • Wanting to have no interest in people, work and the things around you...

In other words,

  • Penance,
  • Sacrifice,
  • Denial of worldly pleasures..

Sometimes we are a confused lot. What should ideally be considered as a psychiatric condition that should be cured is considered as righteousness and spirituality. If a person loses interest in everything around him, inflicts pain on himself, runs away from happiness like its a plague, shouldnt we take him to a doctor and get his head examined? Much worse, what if he starts preaching these things to other people and calls it religion?

Should we acknowledge and agree that we should feel guilty for happiness or should we just tell him to shut up and get lost?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The sour grape sob

Well, somebody stole my DSLR camera, the one which I got after years of yearning and saving :(
Ever since, I have been consoling myself with facts and stories. Here is the latest one, I call it the the sour grape sob-

You know...actually its ok that I do not have a DSLR. A camera is a camera, A point and shoot camera takes pictures too! And thats basically the purpose, to take pictures.

Have you checked the prices of DSLRs? I am appalled by the amount of money that one has to pay for each and every added feature in the DSLR. Live view on the screen adds atleast 10 K to 15 K. Capturing video easily costs about 30 K more. I would get all these features and more in a P&S, and I wont have to pay a fortune.

And the weight of that thing?? I could carry the P&S camera in the pocket, but the DSLR equipment actually needs a big bag! Who wants to carry an exclusive bag just for the camera?

The pictures come out nice, of course, but its expensive, it needs care, its heavy, besides... that grape is so sour! for folks who are wondering what the connection is, kindly refer to the story of the fox and the grape to understand the emotions involved..
Sneha

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A gay day

Inching to number one in various area, in population growth, in software production, in tea exports..would like to be first in so many other areas, but 118th position in accepting change. I read in a daily that 117 countries had legalised and acknowledged the freedom of a homosexual individual's sexual preference as a natural right before an Indian high court could take a change of stand about it, 2 days ago.

Still not without opposition, religious 'leaders', self proclaimed moral polices and all and sundry rising the cry of violating the order of nature, India finally, but not totally willingly opens an eye to what its majority considers a stigma. On a landmark day, a landmark judgement was made and now love is legal for a special minority. Indian judiciary does not consider homosexuality a criminal offense anymore. The judgement was passed in the high court, yes, media people are debating the fact that there still could be cranky straight people who cannot accept this judgement and might appeal in the supreme court. That possibility is not entirely closed.

Though things look nice and pink on paper, few more decades may have to pass before Indians stop looking at homosexuality as a stigma. What is very worrying is the level of ignorance among people about this. Many still think that homosexuality is a choice of the individual. We have spent so much of time designing and refining our 'orders of nature' that it is not going to be easy for us to realise that our design is not actually perfect.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A sunset a day

Yes! I was there! on the cleanest beach that i had ever seen. Now you would say 'thats not saying much!'. Thats precisely why I uploaded the photo. check out the different shades of blue on the waters. While some blues are caused by cloud shadows, most shades are caused due to difference in the depth.


The purpose of boasting about the crystal clear waters, the pristine beach and the sunset is not just to get you jealous. Its to get you jealous over the fact that I was there, not on vacation, but on work!! Yes, I am evil again >:D

And well, i have photos of almost every sunset of the 2 weeks that I had (!) to be there. But then you see, it will use up my blog space. So I am gonna spare you for now. Bay of Nacala in Mozambique, south east coast of Africa. Jokes apart.. the place is really beautiful.


Friday, April 17, 2009

The voting face

An image by Times of India, no mention of the photographer. The photo is reported to be taken in a village near Hyderabad called Pargi.


This is a photograph that shows the faces of the majority of the voting population of the nation. The 'aam' aadhmi.

Though educated, though drilled down with all the civics that the education system could afford to provide, its people like me who dont go to their home towns, leaving the jobs/family/etc., to cast their vote. I am not proud of not doing it..

Anyway..with TATA tea doing the public service advertisements and the movie stars endorsing and recommending voting to all the citizens, if the netizens do decide to take some pain and vote, I think the BJP will almost win these elections - considering just the fact that the prime ministerial candidate has been spending money like water on internet advertisements. People spending time on websites are sure to start thinking that L K Advani is 'a leader with a difference'. Thats not to say I like the party coming to power, thats like one of the country's nightmare coming true. Was just wondering how the BJP/Mr.Advani have so much of funds for spending for all this net presence..
Besides those ads are great stress busters. gives me a good laugh.

Well, my point is..that was some great photography.

Not so great scanning though..sorry folks

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Move over pink chaddi, its Shoe time!

The new icon of human emotions, the one piece of human belonging that effectively exhibits human wrath - shoes. The pink chaddi's days of glory are over, shoes are now enjoying the mantel of the ultimate insult. Starting with George Bush Junior, world over, politicians are getting the brunt in the form of the new ambassador for brunts, the shoe.

The home minister Mr.P Chidambaram looked more amused than shocked when an emotionally challanged journalist hurled (but missed) a shoe at him during a press conference. this sikh aint great at aiming i understand. The minister had refused to argue with the journalist on whether the CBI is right about the 1984 anti-sikh riot report submitted to the court, this caused the journalist to 'protest' and hence the hurling.

and since the journalist was let off without any charge, I have been thinking.. We all must probably visit the shoe stores around the time of discount sales. What with the elections round the corner, you never know when you run into politicians. Well, for that matter, why stop with politicians? Anger is anger, where is that stupid neighbour of mine who parked his bike in my parking slot? and that friend of mine who...well actually i forgot what he did, but he is also getting a shoe for sure!

You see, this is meant to happen. We are a civilization, we need to progress, and where is the use if the progress is only in the area of technology? There should be emotional progress, bring on the shoes!

Jokes apart, the truth of the matter is that, some people just dont take their feet seriously, how will they walk after flinging one of their shoes at someone? I am quite positive that the home minister did not return the journalist's shoe. Thats quite rude of him actually.

By the way, if you are planning a shoe attack, carry an extra pair. For better emotional satisfaction, plan a twin shoe attack, why throw just one shoe and be left with its pair? Actually, if you have enough attacks planned, you can get a good quote from a shoe seller, maybe you can think of buying them wholesale. Cutting costs will help, now being recession time and all..So, as I said, we can think of more options, we are a thinking lot, arent we? civilised lot to be more precise.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

FUD!

You might already know, FUD is not a relative of a colourful member of our vocabulory. Its something I have, its something all of us have. Its one thing that I am just not able to get rid of totally. But then, if I did get rid of it, I would become the head of the ISRO. well, that would complicate things a lot. A lot.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. In short, FUD. A tactic used widely in sales by sales people of well established companies, to sell their products. When a customer has some doubt about a competitor product, sales people of the better known company capitalise on this uncertainty to sell more of their products.

FUD - also a reason why I am not a rocket scientist. There is always a silver lining you see. That lining is for you people (if you didnt grasp what is intended here). If i were a rocket scientist, then God sure will have to come down to save the universe.

Unknown territory offers all of us loads of FUD. The bolder brethren, better known as 'the successful people' are the ones who are ready to face the fear, uncertainty and doubt of things that they do not know clearly, but yet overcome the FUD factors. Mostly they are rewarded with success, sometimes they do not get immediate success, but it sure adds to their experience and perhaps makes them wiser; Conditions apply.

This happens everyday to us, perhaps every hour, with every action that we do that is not included in our routine. When we do not know the exact outcome or the possible outcome of some action, we hesitate. Ranging from taking an alternate road route instead of sticking to the regular route to trying out a new job instead of sticking to the same profile that you have handled in the past years, FUD rules and rocks! While we hesitate and choose not to take risks, one of two things have happened - we missed out on a good opportunity or we missed getting hurt.

The objective of this post is not to create a manual on breaking your FUD, if you are interested in it, theres google - for providing inputs for the manual. Here, I am just acknowledging this entity, identifying it as a threat but also as a sort of a balancing agent that keeps us from becoming over confident. Where there is uncertainty and doubt, there is also a lot of preparation, that is good, but where there is fear, we fail to take up the opportunities that come by our way. Try to get a hang on this. I sure am trying.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The White Tiger

Courtesy to a kind friend, I got to read the book The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. This book has won the Man Booker prize for the year 2008. So I had absolutely no doubts about the literary quality of Adiga’s writing. After all, how many books have been so honoured? Another thing I knew without any doubt even before reading the reviews and comments was the fact that the book was strong on a social cause. For obvious reasons, you cannot blame me if I thought the social cause was wild life conservation. It does voice about life conservation. Conservation of millions of lives that are treated less amiably than wild animals – the poor, people whose lives are lived by the rich because of the fact that they do not have the money and power to live their own lives. The white tiger is all about the ocean wide divide of the rich and the poor in the biggest democratic nation in the world.

Balram Halwai, the protagonist of the novel is born into a financially deprived household in a village on the banks of the river Ganga. How his life progresses from innocence to psychopathic to prosperity in alterations of darkness and light is narrated by Balram himself. The book is an extensive letter to the Chinese emissary, Mr. Wen Jiabao. Jiabao comes visiting India and his agenda includes meeting the highly successful entrepreneurs of India, to learn the nuances of entrepreneurship. The emissary will also be enlightened on the ‘success’ story of the way of India's governance, that is the democracy in the nation. Owing to the irony here, I am forced to quote Balram’s ex employer - ‘What a fucking joke!’ indeed.

Dark, ironic, sarcastic, sad, wicked, humourous in parts, innocent in parts: these are the words and phrases that could possibly describe Aravind Adiga’s debut novel. One word that I have left out so that I can singly highlight it is ‘Angry’. It is an angry book, that anger will reflect even from you when you read it. When you see the author’s face that is printed on the back cover, you will surely find it difficult to believe that this work of calculated anger is a product of that smiling person’s brain.

The language used is very fundamental, only rarely does few big words creep into the work. The very first few pages set the mood of the narration. From there on the book oozes with ridicule for the whole governance system and its leaders. Adiga has brought so many topics to the surface, not really examining them, but thrusting them on the face of the readers. Some of them are topics which nobody dares to probe and question fearing the uproar of communities, majority and otherwise. Exploitation of the poor, child labour, the practise of dowry, half-baked politicians as leaders of the country, overrating of the polluted river Ganga, religious divisions, people worshipping multiple gods with no sense of spirituality whatsoever, employers framing servants for crimes, the corrupted-to-root police force - For all these and more, the author uses the mouth piece of the illiterate, oppressed and psychically challenged Balram to sound off his concerns about the ‘free’ India. Though subtly, he has also questioned extremely delicate topics like the supposed effectiveness of Gandhian principles.

The book essays how the ignorant Balram’s mind gets twisted due to oppression and how it leads him to being irrational and radically evil. Reading through the book, you will tend to stop and think that though shameful, what has been narrated could well be the true story of a good percentage of people living in the Independent India. The writer points out that India has always been two different countries, he describes them as the light and the darkness.

In one of the reviews on the internet, a book seller admits that the sales of this book has risen since the honorary recognition given to it, but he personally does not like selling the book since he thinks that the author has insulted our country. This has been the case for the three most recent Indian books that won the Man Booker prize. Arundhati Roy's "god of small things' and Kiran Desai's "Inheritance of Loss' suffered the same fate in the hands of the angry Indian reader/reviewer. In another review a popular daily has rightly noted that the Indian tourism board will not like Aravind Adiga for what he has written in his book. It is sure to raise eyebrows across borders too, though what I hope Adiga wanted was to raise some Indian eyebrows, forcing people to think, follow the thoughts by action.