The book thief

Set in Nazi Germany, The book thief is a unique story of a child who is in love with words. This desire makes her steal books. It is the story of her foster parents Hans  and Rosa Huberman. Papa(Hans) has silver eyes and Mama is a wardrobe of a woman. But they are gentle and kind and have no qualms in sharing their meagre life.  There is Rudy Steiner with lemon coloured hair who is the best friend and competitor of the book thief Lieder to Meminger. Integral to the story  is the Jewish fist fighter Max Vandenburg and Isla Herman 

The story brings together the lives of all these non descript characters. Its the upheavals the actions of one man the Fuehrer cause on the people living in Himmel Street. 

The book's narrator is an interesting character. I was on page 7 when I had to go back an re-read to ascertain who it was! The times were hard and it is easy to be empathetic towards the people whose lives were dragged because of one man's wish to dominate the world. But the author writes about the trying times in a flippant manner. Still he strikes the right chords. There is one section about the marching of Jews to a concentration camp. The pathos would move stones. The only thing that did not work for me was the lack of anything new. The book was as if being written for the very predictable ending that it had. And there were flashes of brilliance while depicting human emotions. But they remained as flashes only. 

The book is a good story. It is about human nature. About the urge of humans to do things like steal  things that of no material worth - just to feel good. It is a story that reiterates  the inherent goodness in man. A tragic but positive story!

Some lines from the book that packed a punch
The day was gray, the colour of Europe.

I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, thats where they begin. Their great skill is their capacity to escalate.

Eleven-year-old paranoia was powerful. Eleven-year-old relief was euphoric.

It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents.

Their heartbeats fought each other, a mess of rhythm. Liesel tries to eat ers down. Te taste of heart was not too cheerful.

Liesel crossed the bridge over the Amper River. The water was glorious and emerald and rich. She could see the stones at the bottom and hear the familiar song of water. The world did not deserve such a river.

Say something enough times and you never forget it.

True love

My little girl sits near me eating and regaining her good mood. I give her a squeeze and kiss her fore head and say ' I love you my baby'. She looks at me with the most love filled eyes and says ' I love noodles'( which she was eating at that moment.) 

No wonder they say 'the most true love is the love of food!'

Small stuff

The other day I went to the fish monger on my way back from work. I goto the small local shops in the farmer's market. I chose 2 salmon fillet cos that is exactly what Chiyaa likes. I opened my wallet to pay the bill. And I noticed there was not a single note of currency! I had not been robbed. K had chosen to sneak some dosh. I apologised to the fish monger and said I would not be able to make the purchase since I did not have any cash. 

One of them said 'you can use a card' I thought they meant I could use my card to withdraw some amount and pay them. The ATM machine was a walk away and the trip would have delayed my time of picking up Chiyaa. Not that it would brought the world down but my OCD would not like it. So I said ' sorry it's a bit of a walk. I will get the fish later  '. That's when the guy said 'no use your card here'. I asked ' oh you got a card machine!?'( It was a very small shop and I did not expect them to deal in anything but currency notes) The guy said ' Yea we have a card machine ' There was another person near him who was washing the place ( It was close to 1700 and most shops close by that time. Since this was a fish vendor 's they were cleaning up the stalls of the blood and gut and other remains of fish) Then he said, 'you can even do your washing here love'. I smiled. I stepped into the shop to put my card. 

Then I heard the man doing the washing say'what are you thinking?' He was talking to a lady standing at the shop. She was an elderly frail woman. She said 'I am dreaming.' 
Guy 1 said ' dreaming about me?' Washing guy said 'no of course dreaming about me ' 
Guy 1 responded'oh yes he looks good in a corset.'  
Washing guy responded ' yes I do look in a corset' 
Guy 1 said ' even your boy friend agrees to it '  
The old lady, I, the two men and some shoppers broke into laughter hearing this banter. I was chuckling for quite some time. They asked me to mind my step on my way back since it was all a bit slippery after the wash. 

It is these small gestures that make one s day isn't it?

What a weekend

Before you get your hopes up and then crushed by the end of the post - let me warn you. Nothing phenomenal happened :| But I am a worshipper of the God of Small Things. And I also wanted to write something :) So here goes. 

Well Friday was not a typical end of week work day for me. Generally  the 6th day of the week work either gets too bothersome that I can't wait for it to get over. Or it is so slack that again I can't wait for it to get over. But this Friday it cruised along to destination 'logical conclusion'. Woo hoo! Shop closed @ 1600. Hit  the gym. I try to sneak in 20 mins of gymming every alternate day of the week. Its not possible all the time and it's definitely not enough. But then something is better than nothing. Lately K recommended that strength training is better for toning down rather than running like a hamster on a treadmill. I was always a cardio freak. I enjoyed it more cos I could catch up on some catchy music ;) Then the wise man of the house quoted that strength would give better effect in  lesser  time. Well.... Why not try. Try I did. And K felt it was working! So the really short gym sessions are adding up to something thanks to K's recommendation. 

After the exercise there is another exercise which I don't quite look forward to. Picking up Chiyaa. Don't get me wrong. I want her home. Its her mood that is the pro. The mood of the toddler every day is volatile - much like the weather around here. Some days she can be an angel, munching her snacks, chatting away, playing by herself and then drifting off to bed. Some days she can be a tantrum Queen with nothing distracting her from her bad state of mind. Friday was one of her latter days. She seemed fine in her room. The moment we got near the pram she started wailing! I man handled ( woman handled?) her into the push chair and started  the journey home. The 10 mins walk seemed like eternity! When lo and behold suddenly what do we see? No not daddy. :P An earthworm! She has been seeing a worm in a book which we keep calling 'the wriggly worm'. So seeing a real wriggly worm in the street was like me bumping into SRK!!!! Just like the mere mention of SRK can keep me chirpy for a while, the worm kept her happy till dinner time. God bless you, you little creature. You may be small but you are so important!

K came home and offered to make dinner. It  was simply amazing! What did he make you ask? Oh well he made Maggi ;) It was perfectly soft with still the right amount of sogginess and soupiness. I made scrambled eggs to go with it since Maggi with scrambled eggs is just the wow combination. Dinner done it was back to back episodes of modern family till it was time for night night :)

Hmm I have filled half a page and I am still on Friday! The rest of the weekend in the next post then :D

The Lowland

 Jhumpa Lahiri writes about displaced people. She writes about misplaced people. She writes about India, more specifically Calcutta. She writes about being a migrant in a developed nation. She writes about the quandaries at home. She writes about the freedom but rootless-ness abroad. A lot of her writing resonates with me. Maybe because I was in Cal for quite a while, maybe because I am a migrant at the moment. JL  writes about human bonds. Bonds that add meaning to existence, bonds that suffocate. This book starts as the story of 2 brothers 15 months apart. They are veritable dopplegangers. As they grow they evolve. Subhash is the composed, measured one while Udayan is the passionate, impulsive idealist. They branch and embrace other characters. Gauri the strong willed, cerebral lady is thus introduced. The changes she impacts are far reaching. Unprecedented. 

The characters are strong. As a reader I was at no point sitting on the fence. I knew who I was rooting for and who I to use a mild term 'did not like'. Apart from the characters and the peep into their psyche, the book was like time travel. Not jerky. But smooth. Fluid. It spanned 4 generations and when each was presented it was like a different view after the bend in a river. It was like seeing the same thing in a different perspective each time. It was like being in a carousel and the same thing seeming  different after a turn.

I loved the way she has expressed some very real and likely situations. The part where she narrates a character dealing with insomnia made me feel so frustrated and helpless. The bereavement felt by another  pulled my heart strings. Anger, reticence, despair - each page is drenched in a variety of emotions.

The book is a journey. The book is an emotional unfolding. The book is a sheer masterpiece.