Monday, November 28, 2011

A fine balance

I love anything Indian - cuisine, couture or culture. Same goes for books too. I simply love Indian authors. R.K. Narayanan is an all time fav with others like Shashi Tharoor, Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh being authors I love going back to. Last week when I finished reading "A fine balance" by Rohinton Mistry, I had another name to add to my list of "wow" authors.

A fine balance is the story of four people from different background who end up having a strangely symbiotic relationship. Its a weird juxtaposition of Dina Dayal, a Parsi widow; OmPrakash and Ishvar, two tailors and Maneck a student. Its an odd ensemble, but the way life makes strange partners is something to be watched out for. I loved the backdrop of each character that the author provides. Its elaborate but not boring in the slightest bit.

There are a host of supporting characters - 

  • Shankar - the limbless beggar who is strangely optimistic inspite of his physical deformities
  • Beggarmaster - the one who employs Shankar and ends up having a link with the four main characters 
  • Maneck's mom and dad - who rue the loss of pristine mountain beauty in their quaint hilly town and somehow end up distancing Maneck as a result  of misplaced angst
  • Rajaram - a slum dweller with the tailors who again ends up having a lot of say in the flow of things.
  • Ashraf Chacha - the guru for the tailors
There is a lot of characterization and a lot of sub plots. It ends up making the book 614 pages thick, but somehow there is not a bit which feel extraneous. Every bit is relevant and ties up neatly. Some of the twists and turns might seem  a bit too fantastical - but then the book is a work of fiction. Set in the 1970s, the backdrop itself is an interesting revelation. 

Being a die hard optimist, the book's macabre turn of events and pathos did not bog me down. But then, some episodes may put off the very emotional ones - cos there is only so much suffering one can see. Taste for yourself and see, if this Booker nominee  ends up painting the world in shades of black or shades of grey for you. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

End tak sab acha ho hi jaata hai

Disclaimer : Philo post ahead :P

The other day I was with a bunch of people who were reminiscing about days gone by and about India. I was going with the flow for sometime after which they lost me.

I am ok with musing about by-gone days. But then the optimist in me, somehow feels, things work out for the better not for worse. Don't they? In our childhood there are not much burdens to carry and studies and games make up life. There in untold fun in it but studies are utterly painful too ( Gosh I cannot fathom how I ploughed through all the huge chapters on Dravidian history and Indian Independence struggle! and I can never ever surmount entrance examinations) It works up to a joyous worklife. Deadlines are dreaded and Monday morning blues are a norm, but then the joy of splurging at a mall, being able to get something extra special for parents 25th wedding anniversary are things we can do only now. All leads up to getting married and setting a family. Its horrendous cleaning someone else's mess and having chores for additional people but then the sense of belonging is not something that cannot be done away. The stage of building one's nest and then seeing the young ones fly is tough work, but then don't they say, they are rocks in the river bed which give the river its song. The retirement phase might spell boredom for many, but then is'nt this the time to help the young ones grapple with their lives and catch up on all the wonderful reading in the world.

Maybe I sound annoyingly optimistic and maybe I am looking at the world through rose tinted glass which have an extra film of gloss for me. I do not deny that life is tough in each and every stage. But then I see more sense in seeing the good rather than the bad. I do understand the feeling of homesickness and ruing about life back in India, but I feel its healthier to enjoy the good at any place while the opportunity presents itself. Once back in the home-land, its time to savor the delights for it would mindless to wish for life else where then. Same goes for any situation and scenario, is nt it better to keep the good parts and forget the, er... not so good ones?