Friday, May 25, 2007

Shantaram



Yesterday I asked a friend of mine not to post reviews of books and movies on her blogs. But here I am writing my next blog about a book which is occupying most of the hours that I am awake.

Well I won’t write a review on “Shantaram”, because I think there will be ample number of people who would have done the same.

What I want to voice is the influence the book has had over me.

The novel is set in Mumbai. And each page is seeped in the atmosphere of Aamchi Mumbai.

As I sit in the platform and read through the pages of the novel, it’s as if I am tele-ported to Bombay. Most novels have this effect on me since I have a vivid imagination. I construct the places and people in the novels in detail. But this novel seamlessly throws me into the lives of the characters. It’s never like I read 2-3 lines and then I get into the flow of things. On the contrary it’s more like even as I am walking on the streets of Hyderabad, I have the sights and sounds of Mumbai zipping past me. From the slums of Bombay, to the crowded trains, to the swank hotels – there has been not a single instance where I had to read a line twice to get the picture. Rather there are umpteen instances when I re-read the lines to re-live the incident.

The incidents that have been mentioned in this novel are not earth shattering events. But the way the nuances have been outlined and the way the sheer indomitableness of the human spirit that has been described-it leaves me speechless and eloquent at the same time.

Simplicity is said to have an intangible charm. After reading Shantaram I know the worth of this saying. The author has down played many events and gone on an even pace as if he is writing a diary. There is no embellishment and no hype in any page. In spite of that I am all agog to read. I can feel a taut wire of suspense; I can feel an undercurrent of mystery as if I am reading a thriller.

Each sentence in the novel is a full of wisdom. I am tempted to underline each and every printed letter. I read some sentences again and again so that I can commit them to memory. But each time I remember one sentence of profound wisdom, I stumble upon another, some sentences down the line. And I wish I had some supernatural memory to have the whole book in my head. But Alas! God has given me limited capacities to learn. : (

The book is replete with examples which show the author’s keen sense of observation. And many a times I mouth the words “exactly” and “how true” when he makes a comment on a certain situation. He uses just the right words to convey the message. And that ensures the message makes the impact.

I am said to have a very transparent face. It’s easy for people to decipher my feelings from my expressions. I am sure while reading my face must be a kaleidoscope of expressions. Many times I have caught myself cringe my nose in disgust or raise my eyebrows in astonishment or release a gasp of breath in relief.

Well, the novel is like surreal force on me. I wonder when I might be able to come out of the enchantment of Shantaram.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My God!



It was a bad day. Work was mundane in the office. There were awful traffic jams. I was forced to walk for quite a long distance and was getting irritated with the whole affair. I wanted to get home ASAP. That’s when I just thought I might as well start thinking of my next blog. So I thought I would write about the traffic in Hyderabad. I walked on forming the rough draft of the blog mentally. Then I stumbled on a mound of earth and fell down. I scratched my palm and feet. I got a bit irritated and sent a complaint to the heavens. I screamed within,”Oh God! Why such a pathetic day?”

That’s when I thought hey! I can write about my God.

My belief in God is strange (others say so, though I find it logical). I am always reminded of a story when I think of him.

When I was in school our Moral Science teacher once narrated this story.

She said, once there was a man sitting on the banks of a river and thinking about God.

He saw a small child dig a hole in the bank. The child then ran to the river to get some water and poured it in the hole. He went on doing this for quite some time. Curious, the man called the child and asked him what he was doing. The child replied that he was trying to empty the river and put all the water in the hole he had dug. The man started laughing and said it was impossible. The child was a bit crest-fallen. But then he asked the man what he was doing. The man replied that he was trying to understand God.

The child laughed hard and said that it might be possible to that he would empty the river into his hole, but it is impossible to understand God. Because God is limitless and unfathomable.

This is the crux of my belief in God.


When I go to temples, my friends say I should put some amount of money when I take the Aarti. It is like we offer some thing in return for his blessings. I comply with their wishes; because I don’t want to show case my debating prowess in a temple. But in my heart of hearts I am like, come on God would not want these change coins.

And my daily interactions with Him are pretty casual.

On the way to my office there is a Ganesh temple. It is a very small temple on the street. But India being the land of the devout, it is usually crowded for the good part of the day. And every day I make it a point to say hi to Him. But some days down the line, the journey to office started getting a bit frustrating as trains got too delayed from their schedule and got too crowded. So one day I shot a prayer to the deity, “Give me a safe and comfortable journey today”. And that day the train was bang on time and I traveled like a queen, with very few people standing in the train.

After that day every day I say the same prayer to him. It’s not that every day I get a seat and the train is never delayed. But usually I have some company to entertain me if the train is too much off the schedule. The days I don’t get a seat, the weather is so nice that I forget about the standing completely. Other days I end up meeting some one interesting if I am standing and making new friends. So each day He answers my prayer in his own sweet way.

And some days He answers my prayers just at the nick of time. I see the “hand of God” when the electricity comes back when I ask Him. Or when He sends the bus after I have stood for no longer than 10 minutes at the bus-stop; because He knows that my patience threshold is low. Or when He stops the rain when I am about to go for shopping : ). Really I can’t think of the zillions of times when He has done the right thing at the right time.

I don’t believe in fasting and performing rituals for appeasement of deities. I am also not a temple freak because I feel closer and more in sync with God in my own small room. My belief in Him is too informal and for some borders on being profane.

But one of my friends says, my belief in God makes her believe in Him.

Amen. : )

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My daddy Strongest :)




Well this is one of my favorite anecdotes and I thought I might as well put it in my blog.


The incident happened when I was in standard 12th and was preparing for my board exams. Like any other diligent student I used to waste the whole day and burn the midnight oil.


It was one such day when it was well past 2 A.M in the morning and I was studying. My study table used to be right in the center of the room. And from the place where I was seated, I faced a window.


All of a sudden there was a creak! I was like, yeah things do go bump in the night but where did that creak come from? I continued to study when the creak steadied and increased in decibel level. I looked up and saw two eyes staring at me from the window. I was petrified.


There was a person staring at me from the window! From his dark face two alert eyes peered at me, the whites of his eyes scaring the living day lights out of me.


Suddenly I sprang to my feet and ran to my father’s room and woke him. Poor thing he was fast asleep. I told him breathlessly, “Dad there is some one staring from my room’s windows.” My dad was woken from a real deep sleep.

(He is a very sound sleeper like me : ) and he too loves sleeping like me : ) )


He was like why, what where. I repeated my self.


Then he got onto his feet as if I had hit him with a hot iron and ran to my room.


There he screamed at the top of his voice.

(He has a very loud voice. Even his yawns can reach people in the ground floor from our first floor house :)),”Where is my GUN? Come on Cherrie BRING MY GUNNNNNNN”. At that point there was the sound of some one scurrying through our garden.


Then my dad ran out to the house to scare the trespasser in case he was still there.


After we had made sure there was no one he came into the house. I was still shivering. Then he told me that it must have been a petty thief and told me to go to sleep ASAP.


Well the next morning we came to know that in each and every house in the colony there had been a theft the previous night. Some ones coat had been stolen, someone’s slippers and still some one else’s cycle. It was only our house which was spared because of the diligent night watchwoman :)


But I am all gaga about the way my father handled the situation. Woken in the middle of the night, he had the presence of mind to handle the situation in the best possible way. My daddy strongestttttttttt :)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Write Right


I was pondering for quite a long time what to write next. And I decided to write on my love for writing :). Simple, yeah?


I have been writing since I was three. Ok ok that was a joke. (I know some of the readers who know me will comment there she goes displaying her gift of gaff and spurts another of her atrocious jokes. But this is my space so I will spew as many poor jokes as I want.)


Factually, I have been writing since I was in standard 5 I think. That time I used to hang around with a girl called Lipsa. Now we both used to compose poems and write stories and tell each other. I remember having written poems like “My Dear Carmel School”, “My Mom”, “My Dad” and many other interesting and captivating topics. Now some of you might be wondering why did I spare my sister and not write an ode to her. Well I did write a poem for her too. It was called “Meri Behna”. Yes I used to write poems in Hindi also. Lipsa and I used to write on myriad topics and then correct the grammar and punctuations of each others works. We were pretty careful about the alliterations, the rhyming, and proper use of all the concepts that we learnt in the poetry classes.


In standard 8 I think Lipsa left the school because her father got transferred to some other town. But my tryst with writing continued. Now I had matured into topics such as “Kashmir-Valley of Silence” (that’s one of my personal favorites),”Why so much greed” (this was inspired from the “Hawala” and other scams which had rocked the nation during late 90s), etc.


My proficiency at churning literary master pieces continued till I reached Class10. This is the time where each and ever student is forced to concentrate on studies and sideline all other interesting engagements. So after 10th I was completely out of touch with writing.


Then suddenly I got a chance to wake up the creator within when I saw a call for essays in Times of India. This was an all India contest organized by Indian Institute of Agricultural Research. The topic was “Industrialization of Agriculture”. I pored over the Economic and Political Weekly journals (which my mother supplied at a blinding rate, she being an economist) and wrote the essay. My dad was also “inspired” and put on his thinking cap and sent an entry to the contest.


And 4 months down the line on an august day in September, we got a letter from Delhi. I had won the 3rd prize in the contest. And surprise, dad had come first. It was an epoch making moment in my life.


After that I used to literally re-read Times of India to get hold of any essay contest that was organized by any one. So I ended up writing for contests organized by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Cottage Industry, Government of Maharashtra, Ministry of Tourism, Government of Meghalaya and any god forsaken institute you can think of. I never struck gold again, but, I learnt a lot, because I had to do a lot of research to compose my works (Seriously).


After my graduation, I contributed to contests organized by Competition Success Review and some of my essays were found worthy enough to be published. :)


Once I started working, I hardly got time to write any thing. So I used to channel my creative energies into writing mails. They came to be termed as “long mails”. The recipients were friends and the contents included everything concerning me from what I did the last day, my ethical, moral and professional dilemmas, the cold wars at home with my room mates, the deluge of problems I faced at office and all and sundry topics.


Some days down the line I learnt of the concept of blogging. And when a friend of mine whom I least expected to write, joined the bandwagon of bloggers I was seriously incited. But then one well wisher suggested, that blogging was too public. It would be better if I restricted myself to “long mails” to put forth my thoughts.


But then, who can put a stop on the resurgent tides of writing. So finally on 24th of April, 2007, I claimed my space on the web. So here I am, this is me, and no one can stop me from blogging.


(Ahem the last line is so nice)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Coffee Faux Pas


I go by the comments on my past blogs to write on the future ones. A friend of mine told that my blogs were a bit too long, so this is going to be a short one :).


Well this blog pertains to an incident which happened when I was at Karthik‘s place one evening. Some guests came over to visit them. So his mom asked me to prepare coffee for them. As I went to make coffee into the kitchen, Karthik came to help me. I was instructed not to add the sugar into the milk but add it later. And the coffee decoction was already prepared. So I religiously boiled the milk. Then I put the sugar into the glasses in which the coffee was to be served. Then I added adequate amounts of decoction and milk into the glasses. I was about to mix the sugar in the glasses that Mr. Know All Karthik stepped in and said, “No, No we don’t mix the sugar in the coffee. Its Tamil style, you are not supposed to mix it. You put a small container under the glass and they will mix it themselves by pouring the coffee back and forth from the glass into the container.” I felt ok it was his home turf after all. So I put the glasses in a tray and went ahead to serve the same.


The guests were all pretty pleased with my sweet “homely” girl role playing. I served coffee to all of them. And waited for them to mix the coffee and savour it. But to my utter horror they started sipping the coffee straight from the glasses. It must have tasted awful as I could clearly read from their faces :(. I could not stand onlooker to the scene, and I said,”Uncle, Aunty, I have not mixed the sugar. So could you please mix it?”


At that point Karthik’s mother and the guests burst out laughing. Then I told that Karthik had told me to uphold Tamil tradition and not mix the sugar in the coffee. Then they mixed the sugar and had it, and I think perfunctorily said that the coffee was good :(.


But I was not able to recover from the public disgrace for a long time.


I don’t know whether the ruffian Karthik did this on purpose or it was unintentional (as he claims it to be). But I hope he gets his just deserts some day when he pays a visit to Orissa.

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