Tuesday, March 28, 2017

More about books, e books and some re reading

I finally bought a Kindle last month. After months of reading( mainly free samples and some unsatisfactorily converted e-books ) on the Kindle app on my cell and consequent eye strain , I gathered enough courage to switch over to electronic  format of books.

As expected ,as soon as I bought it, I went on buying e-books that were comparatively cheap.I got some good e-books at really low price ,as low as Rs.39.

These include….

1.An unsuitable boy...Karan Johar

2. Khullam Khulla...Rishi Kapoor

3. Why I write ..essays by Saadat Hasan Manto

4.Sapiens ,a brief history of humankind...Yuval Harari

5.Chai,chai...Biswanath Rai

6.Hot tea across India...Rishad Saam Mehta

7.Chasing monsoon by Alexander Frater

8.A strange kind of Paradise by Sam Miller

9.When the road beckons..another travelogue

Then there were other books which were not so cheap,but I bought anyway because I wanted to read them….

1.Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders

2.Chillies and Porridge ...essays on food,edited by Meeta Kapoor

3.An anthology : First 3 novels in the Thursday Next series by Jasper fforde

4.Popcorn essayists edited by Jai Arjun Singh

5.The little Paris bookshop by Nina George

6.Would you like some bread with that book,essays by Veena Venugopal

7.Wild mind...essays on craft of writing by Natalie Goldberg

( Warning : I will post reviews of many of these books !)

In addition, I also ‘purchased’ several other books which were free,some classics like Thoreau and Sherlock Holmes and some romantic novels. These, I may never read…. The lure of free,cheap things !!!

I read around 7 books during last month ( my kindle arrived on 13th February) and read a few partially.That number surely gives me a feeling of becoming even more reclusive and withdrawn from life after the grand entry of kindle  ! (Or it may be due to a minor illness for which I was at home on sick leave…)

But then one can not give up on the paper books so easily…. they are part of your life,you made a promise to the book , when you purchased it….. of giving a loving attention ….nurturing it , taming it…..

After almost one and a half month , today I went through all my paper books. This was for updating my book list-to see how many books are still untouched  and to  rearrange it by size( I know it is a silly way but I see it as the only effective way to solve my space crunch.)

I discovered that almost 25-30% books are still unread. It is likely that I may never read some of those books( These include ,for example, How Proust can change your life, The lexus and the olive tree,The undercover economist, 4 novels by Henry James etc.)I wonder what made me buy these….a really low price,an attractive cover, some books which may be winners of  literary prizes ,some very enthusiastic and positive review of the book or a feeling that I must read this book to become a well read person….

But I still can not bring myself to give away those books...what if my reading taste changed when I am 65 ?

I also came across several  books which I love and wanted to re-read them immediately. I started with St.Exupery’s ‘The little prince ‘ and a very tiny short story book by Khushwant Singh.

Short stories by Khushwant Singh : I actually don't remember where I got this particular book,there is no inscription.It is an outlook exclusive,which has one original story-’The princess of kahin nahin ‘and 2 stories which have been published previously in Collected stories of Khushwant Singh.(The bottom pincher and India is a strange country) .I have a feeling that I got it from a raddi shop for Rs.5 or 10.

As the introduction says,K. S.’s short stories are brimming with fun ,malice and vividly drawn characters. I especially enjoy the malice ….

All 3 stories are great . I can not write more about it because of the possibility that my review will have more words that the story. In short, the first story is about a gossip mongering,attention seeking lady who calls her Princess (the suffix ‘of Kahin nahin ‘is supplied by the narrator.) The second  is about a parsi gentleman who is a bottom pincher(a hilarious story) . The last one ‘India is a strange country ‘ is a story of an Englishman (and his dog) whose puzzling behaviour is suddenly seen in a new perspective after a tragic event in his life.

K.S.’s short stories are based on people he met,he changed the names ,put them in colorful circumstances and weaved wonderfully entertaining stories. They remind me of short stories by Maugham.

A tiny gem in my collection….

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Every year I decide to finish the books which I already have,before buying more.

This year is no exception.I have started reading and finishing the books which I have already bought.But this hasn't stopped me from buying more books. 

I have already bought 9 books last month, 6 brand new marathi and 3 secondhand English.

I have finished 2 marathi books and 4 english books of the previous lot that I bought from Amazon. In between , I read a few from my local library. So roughly my speed has been more than one book per week,which is good,considering I have a 6 day,8 hour job and of the remaining few hours I devote 1 hour daily to my subject reading too.

Here is a short summary of the books read in January -

1.सय - by Sai Paranjape- I am going in reverse. I finished this today,just before lunch. Writing about it first,because it is very fresh in my mind.

The book is about the famous director’s journey in films and theatre . There is no mention of her TV serials,it would have been interesting to read about them too.The book does not have many stories from her personal life,which is actually fine,her creative journey deserves more attention in my opinion.

 She mentions the fact that it is not an autobiography but she writes a few pages about meeting her Russian father. 

I liked the book because she has written about the origin and development of her films and dramas. I have watched a few of her plays (‘Sakkhe shejari’ and its revival ‘Punha sakkhe shejari’...translation is ‘Close neighbours ‘ : both the plays were entertaining and light hearted.) I have also watched a few movies ...Sparsh ,Katha and Chashme Baddoor. In her movies,she narrates the stories of ordinary people in a very entertaining way.

2.कुंपणापलिकडचा देश :पाकिस्तान :by Manisha Tikekar- My family fears that I have become a ‘Pakiphile’, if there is such a word . 

This is my second book on Pakistan,after ‘Lahore’ ,I have written about which here. A third one is sitting in my bookcase...

The author stayed in Pakistan for a few months in 1990s when she was doing some research. The book is about the  people and culture ,a little history and more about the modern day citizens..their views,their aspirations and life. I liked it because it dwells in the now, the present mindset of the educated people in Pakistan.

3. Mr.Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore by Robin Sloan: A literary mystery,involving an endearing old man ,a secret society and an eccentric bookstore full of books written in a secret language.I have a soft corner about novels with a literary background.This actually des erves a full length review....let's see when that happens...

4. The love song of Miss.Queenie Hennessy:

I have read the first book which was written from Harold Fry’s point of view. I have written about it here.

The central theme of the book is the idea of unrequited love, loving someone from far away,without him being even aware of it, loving someone for being a good and a gentle human being .Harold Fry is not a conventionally good looking man ,just an ordinary middle aged fellow, but Queenie loves him even then. This book is the about the journey of that love. This  journey that Queenie undertakes is healing and so is her solitude,but at some point her suffering starts feeling pointless.On the whole,I think the first book was better.

5.Death is now my neighbour : A Colin Dexter,Inspector Morse mystery- A detective story is always welcome and Inspector Morse is a favourite...probably his love of classics and cryptic crosswords appeals to me.There is a BBC TV series on Morse novels,which I might watch some time in future...I actually prefer books to television adaptations,only exception is book number 8 in this list.

6.Magpie murders:Anthony Horowitz-I started 2017 with this book.This was actually ordered by my son, who loves reading mysteries. This serves as a much needed break in the preparation of his 10th boards. He loved the book,I found it a bit childish.But the idea of a novel within the novel was great.So,another literary fiction.

7.The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society: An extremely lovable and feel good novel. Just the thing needed after stressful workdays.

This book in written entirely in letter form,which is unique.It is about a group of people who discover books amidst the second world war. They are helped by these books when everything around them is bleak and hopeless. Another literary fiction.

8.Pride and Prejudice : Read it because I wanted to see how much true the movie and the TV version is to the book.

Now,I am in that space,where I have many books but can not decide which one to pick...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Love actually.....

Any emotion is not easy to describe. I believe that pure,single emotions are rare. They will always comprise of a mixture of various shades of multiple emotions,sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another.

Love is particularly complex. That is because the qualities which made you love a person might make you dislike him or her.

Love ,like most emotions, evolves and grows over time. Definition of love changes over time , varies from person to person(Just like God ! Is that why they say Love is God and vice versa ?).I will not talk about all types of love here ,which will include mother-child or friend’s love or love for animals or things like books. Just the romantic love.

There have been different definitions of the love in various books and movies.

‘Love is a verb ‘proclaimed one so called self help book. It may be, but doing things for your partner because you want to show your love, even if you don't actually love her, will not qualify as Love. It will be just a discharge of a duty.and no one would like to accept such an obligation.

‘Love is friendship ‘was a motto of many bollywood flicks, although a few new movies show a different side of this - so called friendzoning. “I love you , but not that way !” May be, to an extent love needs friendship ,but it needs something beyond that  too.

Many movies and books say that love will mean reading of silence between the words or understanding your loved one without him or her saying things actually. Well, that would mean,familiarity more than love. Or perhaps magic - mind reading.

Initial surge of love feels like excitement . It causes expansion of the self when you think everything is beautiful. This phase is caused by hormones and it does not/can not stay forever. Sooner or later it will turn into one or all of the above feelings . That is the changing dynamic of love which everybody experiences. This will involve friendship,companionship,communication , also trust and co-dependency.

Love to me means growing together -learning  and growing old.

(I have always disliked talking about this topic….as this topic is intensely personal…but a friend had suggested this topic long back. This one is for you,friend !!)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Carpe diem !!

I am attending a training workshop on ISO 15189 from last 3 days. Being away from my routine work has suddenly stimulated by brain. I have been writing and writing since last two days. Unfortunately,all my friends who read and like my writing are busy. No readers for this writer( or a scribbler ?) this weekend ! Surprisingly, I find that this hasn't stopped me . ( Should I say ‘unfortunately’ ?)  

It is very much likely that after this frenzied activity,my brain will go into hibernation. It has happened before. It is logical : anything in excess,howmuch ever good ,can be nauseating after a certain point. I will disappear from the blogging scene for many months and reappear when I attend my next training workshop !

Tomorrow is the last day of workshop !

I tell myself  - Carpe Diem !

Oh , Mr.Darcy....

Last week I had fever. Not viral or bacterial , but an actor fever ,which I seem to suffer from,now in my forties. As my friend S. says ,we have been such good girls in our med.school,in our twenties,we had absolutely no time for crushes. Now in our forties, it is totally pardonable ,to develop a crush on an utterly handsome and very much unattainable person.

So this was a ‘Colin Firth’ fever. It developed after watching the BBC drama Pride and Prejudice. Now if you think I am going to describe my ailment in detail , you couldn't be more wrong. But still , I can't help saying this much -. I watched 5 movies in 4 days in addition to P& P !

P & P was really good , I think it was the best adaptation amongst all that I saw. CF was very good and so was Jennifer Ehle who played Elizabeth Bennet. She was the most convincing of all Lizzies : beautiful,poised,mature. (The adaptations of P & P that I watched are-
1.Aishwarya Rai’s Bride and Prejudice - beautiful but stony lead pair and totally embarrassing song and dance sequences.

2. Keira Knightley's movie P&P( 2005) : This was good but Keira as Elizabeth did not fit in spite of good acting. Both Darcy and Lizzie looked much too young and there were slight modifications in some scenes in the book. But still , it was a good movie.
3. Trishna - This was a serial aired on D.D. when I was in school. It was based on P&P . It was very popular and I loved it very much then. But thinking back, I knew the lead actor (Tarun Dhanrajgir ) was quite expressionless. Sangeeta Handa , who was Lizzie ( I don't remember her Indianized name) was loud and looked terrible while crying. Only actor who became slightly famous was Kaushalya/Kittu Gidwani playing Indian Lydia. Oh yes..Irshad Hashmi playing Mr.Collins was good ,if not better ,than the English ones. )

After watching the movie ,I got the book from the library the next day and tried matching it scene by scene. The 1995 BBC drama was quite faithful even though the most famous lake scene was an addendum. I am ashamed to say, I preferred watching it than reading !

Anyway, that set me on a journey of watching all Colin Firth movies. I watched

Importance of being Earnest : I have always loved Oscar Wilde and I think this play had the most witty dialogues of all. It is probably the most famous of all the plays of Wilde. Again ,I was very impressed with Colin Firth who played ‘Earnest ‘

Bridget Jones's Diary ,part 1,2 & 3 : Well, I am not proud of watching these movies. But remember ? I had high fever then ! They are entertaining and pointless. But CF is divine, even in the last part ,where he looks and plays an older Mr.Darcy. Apparently, CF did these movies,so that he could play a slightly mocking caricature of perfect english gentleman - Mr.Darcy. But then, Colin is always Colin.( I always think of him as Colin. My fantasies ,however,are utterly innocuous. I am traveling in a plane with him and I tell him how much I admired him in his movie The King's speech….)

Love actually : Good concept : love in life of differnt people ,whose stories unfold at the same time.  CF looked very very handsome. But Hugh Grant as the Prime minister looked even better and his role was meatier,too.

The King’s speech : This was the best of his movies that I saw. The struggle of King George the sixth,to fight his speech impairment  was powerfully played by Colin Firth. Initial ‘Kingliness ‘, feeling of helplessness, struggle,anger and ultimate triumph were utterly convincing. He even won an Oscar for this role.

A single man : This is the movie I want to watch but I can not find anywhere. I have seen a few scenes on youtube and they really are powerful. It is the story of a gay professor ,  whose partner has died in a car accident. He has lost his ability to feel and is so utterly desolate that he decides to end his life.It is his journey on the last day of his life where he experiences everything very intensly. I hope I would be able to watch this movie sometime in future.

Magic in moonlight : This one is available on youtube but I did not like it. Colin as a cynical magician did not appeal to me and I did not like the lead actress Emma Stone.

So….that is that….my film journey last week….all thanks to Mr.Darcy….

NB : There was a non CF film I saw last week, and I loved it very much. It was called ‘Midnight in Paris’. I did not know any of the actors ,but it was a Woody Allen film. Very interesting concept : a Hollywood screenwriter,in process of writing his first novel visits Paris. He loves the city and feels it would have been even more charming in 1920s. By the stroke of midnight, he is transported to the 20s,where he meets,Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway…. Unusual and writerly fantasy !

Patriot ?

Am I a patriotic person ? Before pondering over this question, I would like to think over a more fundamental question : what are the traits of a patriot ? Let me get to the answer by another way :What are the traits of a non patriotic person ?
26th January is approaching. People will be seized by a fierce wave of patriotism. They will put miniature flags in their cars, some may pin it to their clothes. Television channels will screen Gandhi or Shaheed or Rang de basanti. Radio and TV channels will also play hours of patriotic songs. Children and their parents ,sometimes reluctantly ,will attend the flag hoisting ceremony but no one will grumble aloud or you will be called un-patriotic (Pakistani in worst cases!)
On the same day, Mahira Khan’s Raees will be released.I have a strong feeling that this might not go down well with our super patriotic politicians. There will be a ban or at least a protest statement. If things have been settled between them and the producers ,nothing will happen. But then media will be unhappy. There will be interviews and clips of Mahira making negative statements about Bollywood will be shown. Even if they are made jokingly, nobody will take them as such. And Bollywood means India, somebody making a bad statement about our silly film industry is abusing our great country. If ,God forbid, anybody tries to defend Mahira,saying that she is pretty and acts well and please see the context in which this statement is made, he will be labelled as a traitor,a pro pakistani etc etc.We have been there last year. This is our statement of patriotism. As long as you do that, you are free to spit/litter on the roads, use plastic bags, hoard black money,evade taxes, drink and drive, pay bribes . And yes, you are also free to throw out legal citizens of your own country from your state because you feel they steal your job opportunities. Mahira, you have no chance at all ! We are justified and We are patriots !!
I hope I am not a patriot if this is the definition of patriotism.
Why do people think so literally ? Playing national anthem at the beginning of movies and plays will make people …..patriots ??
Why patriotism can not be expressed as reverence of beauty and diversity ? Respect for something which is different from you ? Why it can't be expressed in doing something positive and helpful for our country and its people ? It can be really a small thing like planting a tree or not spitting on roads to stop the spread of TB.
With advent of globalisation, boundaries of countries are dissolving. We are scared of Trump because he might reduce the job opportunities of non American people. But we do not hesitate to ignore merit because of caste/state/language/religion of our own countrymen.
I dream of an India ,where all people are really equal and they care for their country.
But I still don't know whether I am a patriot….

Learning never stops

Learning never stops. It never should. Only dead stop growing,at least in this world. They might be growing in other world,if it exists. You are learning from the moment you are born,but I guess that is what is programmed in your genes. What you learn in schools is decided by the board of examinations. A lucky few may learn something of real value in schools. For the rest,it is the life itself who is the best teacher.

Like most people,I too,have learnt a lot from this life. Most of the learning came retrospectively , after the event passed. When I was living the event ,I could only sense the pain and hardship. Like most, I too have showered verbal abuses on the life which was throwing so many lemons( problems!) at me. I still haven't learnt to welcome and enjoy problems or the art of making lemonade from life's lemons , but hey ! Hope never dies !

I can not write everything that I have learnt in these last -- years … It would be an autobiography. ( I will definitely write one , if/when I become great….can't decide between if and when….)

Last year,I changed my job. It was a culture shock to join my present organization,my last job being extremely structured and busy. I could not get used to the slow pace and laid back work culture. I felt I had joined a primary school after finishing Ph.D. I was frustrated and had frequent thoughts of running away. But I stayed. Consequently, I have learnt that every place  has its merits. Some will teach you advanced techniques. Some will teach you problem solving at absolute grass root level, which you have forgotten in this advanced technological world. You should have the right attitude, open mind and  should be ready to learn . With perseverance and never-say-die-attitude you can learn to bear or even enjoy, most situations. I have .