THIRTY THREE

One of my favorite genre of literature is Short Story. I have been brought up on the staple diet of short stories authored by O’ Henry, Rabindranath Tagore, Daphne Du Maurier, W.somerset Maugham, Wilkie Collins, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. In the delving into the world of pop fiction Jeffrey Archer’s short stories are closest to my heart. Although he may have less chance of being studied at the University in some point in future, my love for him is yet to be diminished.

I have been re visiting his collection of short stories recently. This book comprised of the three earlier collections named as To Cut a Long Story ShortCat o’ Nine Tales and And Thereby Hangs a Tale.

I am sure many of the readers of the blog have already read some parts of his vast collection but for my own satisfaction I share with you the first story that begins the collection named, To Cut a Long Story Short. In the Preface to the book, the author himself says that he came across this story named Death Speaks, in his travels.

It was originally translated from Arabic, and despite extensive research, the author remains ‘Anon’, though the tale appeared in Somerset Maugham’s play Sheppey, and later as a preface to John O’ Hara’s Appointment in Samarra.

I have rarely come across a better example of the simple art of storytelling.

DEATH SPEAKS

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to the market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was int he market place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from the city, and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market place and he saw me standing in the crowd and h came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him in Samarra.

Hope you enjoyed reading this one.

THE END.

Reference Sources: Jeffrey Archer’s To Cut a Long Story Short.

Disclaimer: In reproducing the story published in the book mentioned above, I do not seek to violate the copyright of the author and this is only used as a quote with full credit to the author as mentioned in the post.

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THIRTY TWO

The FIFA World Cup 2014 dubbed the biggest show on Earth etc etc started off with a inaudible bang on 12th June in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When Brazil won the rights to host this edition of the FIFA WC back in 2007 many promises and plans were devised and presented but sadly after 7 years many of those remain unexecuted.

Certain sections of the media has been quiet about these severe lack in infrastructure and the protests that continue in the country over the drain on its economic resources to host the most expensive World Cup yet.

The $11.5 billion spending on the event, three times the amount spent by South Africa in 2010, in contrast with deplorable conditions in the health and education sectors, has converted the World Cup into an unfortunate white elephant for a sizeable section of Brazilian society to rile at.

Deaths of construction workers, delays in stadium building, spiraling costs and, finally, issues with mobile connectivity in a number of stadiums are just a few of the many problems. In fact out of the 12 stadiums being built as venues for the games to be played one doesn’t have a roof yet and 5 others are in various stages of incompletion. Thus, only 6 stadiums are available for game play. Not to mention the 244 km long traffic snarl that recently affected Sao Paulo. The promised Metro rail has not met its deadline, experts believe it will take another 3 years to complete. So, the football fans will have to take public transport by road or drive their vehicle in order to reach the Venues. Although the President of Brazil inaugurated the new section of the Sao Paulo international airport terminal, the reality is this terminal will not be handling the projected number of incoming flights as it is not fully functional.

The protests against the misappropriation of funds and the cloud of allegation against the Government departments and official continue even the World Cup begins. May be the only counter to this aggression is Brazil’s team winning this edition of World Cup. But what if they lose, what will be the repercussions? Will the players security come under threat or their families be at risk of being attacked? The wrath of the public already irked may come down heavily on them.

We are all familiar with countries using the sporting events as a fast track urban development method, a means to an end, where hosting mega events like these is a prestige project with much political score. We know that such projects can bring unprecedented and exponential urban regeneration like seen in the case of the Olympic held in Barcelona in 1992 but on the other hand we have the stark example of utter failure in our own country, with the Commonwealth Games hosted at Delhi in 2010.

Hope springs eternal in the human heart, despite the speculation about South Africa to successfully host the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the nation did stand strong and deliver. In fact, the horrendous build up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, was also followed by a decent show.

In the lead up to this edition of the World Cup the favorites to win the tournament are not clear. There are far too many contenders, Germany , Spain and Belgium are the European favorites, and Portugal and England have a half decent chance to make it to the finals, if the argument stands that a win is essential for the Brazilian team in order to make this event a true success  to their countrymen then Brazil has the biggest stake.

Brazil known to be the Mecca of football is struggling with the clash between the fantasy of winning the World Cup a record 6th time and the loss of faith and disillusionment over its Government’s decision to host an event that is showing no return on investment. Can then the fantasy of the game rise above the stark reality of economic oppression and poverty and the lack of infrastructure and inability of developing countries to host big international mega events or shall the failure of Brazil result in loss of hosting rights to the Olympic Games in 2016?

THE END.

THIRTY ONE

A vacation is like a taking a break from the mundane routine and that means my trip back home gave me an unwelcome break from blogging. I had the fantasy that being back home meant I would unleash my opinions on to the unsuspecting readers of my blog. I did some unloading of sentiments that were burdening my soul. That done I lost all the steam to write and thus for over 15 days there hasn’t been a post. Now that I am back to my routine life, the ‘comeback’ post of sorts, needed something extra. But there was nothing of consequence that I wanted to speak about. There are a few things which have been on my mind but they are too small to form an individual post.

How about I pile all those small niggling thoughts into this one post, after all, this is blog for scribbling!

With the new age advertisement where the bride to be is a mother of a little girl, yes, I refer to the Tanishq ad comes another attempt at removing stigma of a divorced father, by Bombay Dyeing. Not all ads get the tone right, the teenage daughter gives advice to her newly divorced Dad to pick up colorful towels for the home, stating the one line which tries to include all the information of the ad. The ad fails to nudge any part of the heart and remains a wannabe idea following the important stride made by Tanishq.

The season finale of several Amercian TV shows hit the screens during the last month. Each of the show had disappointing finale, be it [spoliers!!] the death of Dean in Supernatural, Richard’s car crash in Castle [ discussed in my blog post, Read Here] , Mass murder and massacre of 4 major characters by Dr. Lecter in Hannibal, Sheldon Cooper leaves town in The Big Bang Theory. After all these shocks I am not sure whether I am looking forward to the next seasons or am I left with no feelings and excitement to tide me over this summer break.

The Bollywood movie bandwagon has come to a standstill for me with many unpalatable films hitting the theater every Friday. There is the hash of a bad book in 2 States, the so called big debut of Shroff son in Heropanti… overall a disappointing summer according to me, even the Akshay Kumar starrer Holiday is a bust, so say the reviews, I haven’t had the heart to venture out to the multiplex.

In Hollywood movies the return of the X men – this time in 3D was good, but the convoluted storyline started getting to me. The influx of too much emotion also left the movie a few minutes longer than necessary. The end of the movie was melodramatic and theatrical. Somehow Wolverine wasn’t much fun without his crazy stunts, too much CG can ruin a movie this is yet another example of it.

Over all entertainment wise this summer has been pretty boring.

So much for a everyday, un-researched , random scribbling about what’s on my mind. Hope the next few posts will have something new and interesting to offer to the readers.

 

Till then….