SEVENTY FIVE

I am coming back to the 10 favorite book review today. I return with one of my very early favorites, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I believe this is the book that got me hooked onto Indian writings in English. I also believe that the first time I read it, I was not at the appropriate age to appreciate the true genius of the writing. It took me several more readings to come close to the core of the book. But today I will do a short post on the words that pulled me to this book and made it one of my favorite.

But if I plunged into that bit head first many would be at a loss, so I shall, how do i say, begin at the beginning, from the Book one of Midnight’s Children entitled “The Perforated Sheet”. What is this perforated sheet? Well, the history of Saleem begins from the first time his father Dr. Aziz met his future wife. Their first meeting went something like this.

Into a spacious bedchamber that was as ill-lit as the rest of the house; although here there were shafts of dusty sunlight seeping in through a fanlight high on one wall. These fusty rays illuminated a scene as remarkable as anything the Doctor had ever witnessed: a tableau of such surpassing strangeness that his feet began to twitch towards the door once again. Two more women, also built like professional wrestlers, stood stiffly in the light, each holding one corner of an enormous white bedsheet, their arms raised high above their heads so that the sheet hung between them like a curtain. Mr Ghani welled up out of the murk surrounding the sunlit sheet and permitted the nonplussed Aadam to stare stupidly at the peculiar tableau for perhaps half a minute, at the end of which, and before a word had been spoken, the Doctor made a discovery: In the very centre of the sheet, a hole had been cut, a crude circle about seven inches in diameter. ‘Close the door, ayah,’ Ghani instructed the first of the lady wrestlers, and then, turning to Aziz, became confidential. This town contains many good-for-nothings who have on occasion tried to climb into my daughter’s room. She needs,’ he nodded at the three musclebound women, ‘protectors.’ Aziz was still looking at the perforated sheet. Ghani said, ‘All right, come on, you will examine my Naseem right now. Pronto.’ My grandfather peered around the room. ‘But where is she, Ghani Sahib?’ he blurted out finally. The lady wrestlers adopted supercilious expressions and, it seemed to him, tightened their musculatures, just in case he intended to try something fancy. ‘Ah, I see your confusion,’ Ghani said, his poisonous smile broadening, ‘You Europe-returned chappies forget certain things. Doctor Sahib, my daughter is a decent girl, it goes without saying. She does not flaunt her body under the noses of strange men. You will understand that you cannot be permitted to see her, no, not in any circumstances; accordingly I have required her to be positioned behind that sheet. She stands there, like a good girl.’ A frantic note had crept into Doctor Aziz’s voice. ‘Ghani Sahib, tell me how I am to examine her without looking at her?’ Ghani smiled on. ‘You will kindly specify which portion of my daughter it is necessary to inspect. I will then issue her with my instructions to place the required segment against that hole which you see there. And so, in this fashion the thing may be achieved.’ ‘But what, in any event, does the lady complain of?’-my grandfather, despairingly. To which Mr Ghani, his eyes rising upwards in their sockets, his smile twisting into a grimace of grief, replied: ‘The poor child! She has a terrible, a too dreadful stomachache.’ ‘In that case,’ Doctor Aziz said with some restraint, ‘will she show me her stomach, please.’

So gradually Doctor Aziz came to have a picture of Naseem in his mind, a badly-fitting collage of her severally-inspected parts. This phantasm of a partitioned woman began to haunt him, and not only in his dreams. Glued together by his imagination, she accompanied him on all his rounds, she moved into the front room of his mind, so that waking and sleeping he could feel in his fingertips the softness of her ticklish skin or the perfect tiny wrists or the beauty of the ankles; he could smell her scent of lavender and chambeli; he could hear her voice and her helpless laughter of a little girl; but she was headless, because he had never seen her face.

These words haunted me for the longest time, the idea of a bygone era where a man and a woman fell in love with each other, one part of body at a time. It seemed romantic and old worldly and to the teenage mind already bubbling with anticipation of love, longing and romantic thoughts this seemed to be the epitome of Romance, the kind one can only read and never experience. For many years my idea about love had been based on loving someone in such a manner as to be able to love every part of them.

The importance of that perforated sheet with which I began this post is yet to be discussed.

The perforated sheet through which Aadam Aziz falls in love with his future wife performs several different symbolic functions throughout the novel. Unable to see his future wife as a whole, Aadam falls in love with her in pieces. As a result, their love never has a cohesive unity that holds them together. Their love is fragmented, just as their daughter Amina’s attempts to fall in love with her husband are also fragmented. Haunted by the memory of her previous husband, Amina embarks on a campaign to fall in love with her new husband in sections, just as her father once fell in love with her mother. Despite her best attempts, Amina and Ahmed’s love also lacks the completion and unity necessary for genuine love to thrive. The hole of the perforated sheet represents a portal for vision but also a void that goes unfilled. The perforated sheet makes one final appearance with Jamila Singer: in an attempt to preserve her purity, she shrouds herself completely, except for a single hole for her lips. The perforated sheet, in addition to preserving her purity, also reduces to her to nothing more than a voice. The sheet becomes a veil that separates her from the rest of the world and reflects her inability to accept affection.

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children has many other motiffs, symbols and themes but one blog post will not do justice to them. I hope to write about them some time in the future but for now I leave you to ponder about the moment or moments that made you fall in love with you Lover. Was there a ‘perforated sheet’ that played an important part? Did you try to love someone in parts?

THE END.

SEVENTY FOUR

As a Human Resource professional I have to constantly monitor the discipline at workplace which includes monitoring the leaves taken by employees. During induction we tell all our new employees that they must plan their leaves as much as possible and inform the supervisor in time to seek permission. We advice them to always ensure proper communication of their leave plan to their supervisor in advance.
So, when ‘infant terrible’ of Indian politics Mr. Rahul Gandhi made a leave application and went on a sabbatical, I was impressed by his professional approach. He was a big shot in one of the leading political parties of the country. He had every opportunity to take a few days off by informing his mother. He didn’t necessarily have to seek a formal leave approval from the parties administrative supervisor. But he he did it nonetheless. And for being professional and following the rule book the media gave him flak.
Okay I don’t necessarily think Rahul Baba is the next PM or the next leader of Congress,  but I can appreciate a man’s attempt to do something the right way. Many have argued that post the country wide debacle of the party his timing for leave was inappropriate. I believe that such an opinion is short sighted and merely an attempt to impress one’s own sense of moral and ethical code on someone else.
When the party was defeated post an extremely strenuous pre poll campaign,  he decided to take a few days off with permission. I am assuming he did so because he needed to recharge his batteries, come back with renewed energy. And what’s the harm in that. Politics is his profession and he sought to take a break before he jumped back into work just like any one of us would do. Some would argue being a political leader means it is one’s calling and there cannot be personal time or leave from it. But the profession of doctor,  lawyer, even that of a reporter is a calling and have their own ethics,  in their case do none of them take a day off for personal work or a leisure trip with the family.
On one hand we applaud the “common man” leader for being just like the next guy on the bus and appreciate when he wants zero preferential treatment,  on the other hand we mock Rahul Gandhi for going on a leave and do not spare him even on his return. We the public have every right to judge the leaders we have chosen but do we have the right to mock someone we have rejected by public mandate? He no longer influences our taxes or our roti, kapda and makaan issues, then why indulge in such senseless and crude mockery. When we cry ourselves hoarse demanding better political leaders should we not aspire to be better public.

THE END.

SEVENTY THREE

India lost the cricket world cup and suddenly everyone was clamoring for Virat Kohli’s head.
Nope, you didn’t really believe that did you. If you follow trending topics on social media and if that can be considered the reflection of general public opinion then we the public were not really interested in statistics, law of averages,  other logical arguments, we were busy being sexist and juvenile, we were busy and happy to blame this lady called Anushka Sharma for the loss. In case you are confused about which team I am referring to,  don’t be,  because yes it is the Men’s cricket team I am talking about. So, where does this lady pop up from. Well, she happened to hop on a flight from India and turned up to watch the semi final match of India. And India lost. So, it is her fault. Why you ask? Oh that’s the simplest logic, she is the girl friend if Virat and the moment he saw her in the stadium he forgot that it was the world cup semi final and got out cheaply. The rest of his team members struggled too. But who cares,  its not as if their girl friends were there watching the match at the stadium. This one was and even reacted when Virat got out. Oh did I mention this lady does some movies in Bollywood. So, most people know her not just as Kohli’s girl friend in fact it wouldn’t be wrong to say, Kohli is Anushka’s boy friend. But it doesn’t suit our sexist attitude. So we will stick to blame the girl who we recognize and not the girls who are not as famous as their cricketer boy friends… Or the wives,  oh no no.. Wives are the sacred cows one cannot touch. The cheap lil piece of trash who gets seen with Kohli at airports and obviously is sleeping with him is fair game.
That’s what we were thinking when we attacked her, and we know it and you know what we will never admit it.
The saddest part sexist men were joined by their jealous women to gang up against the girl who probably got to hug Kohli after the team lost. Oh didn’t you think that? She probably got a hug back and some romantic sweet nothings after your horrid tweets and Arnab Goswami’s mad ranting left her sad.
So you do realize now nothing you say, however cruel and crude your words, you can’t really touch them. Hope you feel better now.
Good luck for next time… You get to take out your personal frustrations out over a professional sporting event against a person who has absolutely no connection with the result or outcome of the event.

THE END.

SEVENTY TWO

My love for easy reads borders on obsession. After I have made that statement I need to explain what are these easy reads. I am a self professed bibliophile which means on a day off from work I would rather sit and read than go out. But my favourite kind of books are the “unputdownables”, where one chases the story across the pages, turning each page in anticipation of what will happen next. Hence it is obvious why I term them “easy reads”,  because I don’t have to make any effort to read then, they pull me into their world and I make the journey. The other  reason I like such books is one you don’t have to take a break from reading to process a lot,  meaning the story can be grasped without getting lost in myriad sub plots and it contains such dialogue or description or action that takes the story forward in a natural progression instead of stagnating it.
So, I love my Foresyth, Ludlum of the old school and Archer of the new. Typically, I find my choices of leisure reading to gravitate towards crime fiction, humour,  adventure or spy thrillers. I find Agatha Christie, Satyajit Ray’s Feluda,  Shorodindu’s Byomkesh good to read in crime fiction. The catch is although I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes the character, I find the books a little tedious to read. In fact,  with my love for crime fiction so apparent to me I attempted to read the Oxford Book of American Detective Stories. I am still struggling with it. One reason could be because an collection like this has a variety of writing which means one has to constantly reset one’s mind before starting a new story. And because these are primarily short stories it is even difficult to leave them in the middle which can happen as I also read when I commute to work.
In the midst of my struggle with detective stories I picked up the new Jeffrey Archer, the fourth part of the Clifton Chronicles. One of my pet peeves about book or movie or TV  series is when the next book,  movie or season of the series is about to release I must recap the previous parts before I catch up with the new one. So, Archer’s new book led me back to his previous three best sellers. And I went through his new book in about 16 hours. That’s what has got me thinking, it is not so much that I have become busy and have less time to read, but it seems to me my addiction to easy reads has taken its toll on my ability to read other books and naturally I gravitate towards them instead of attempting to read something new or different. I believe my concentration levels are dipping because I find myself retaining less and less of what I read.
But as they say having a realisation is a good place to start with. Hence, I am looking to build back my ability to read and process variety of writings. But in the meantime I am very tempted to go back to Byomkesh series one more time. Perhaps, my worrying about my reading ability need not be so critical because after all classics and bestsellers are meant to have mass appeal and bring back the reader to the familiar story and characters over and over again.
Here’s to reading books without judgement and enjoying the experience.
THE END.

SEVENTY ONE

Well, I have reached the seventieth post with some attempt to follow the daily prompt from NaBloPoMo, but that source of idea generation dried up my writing completely. I realized it was not that I didn’t have ideas to write about, I just didn’t have the time to pen down or in this case type the words and thoughts. So,  out goes the very inspiring daily prompts. It couldn’t keep me hooked onto my blog but that was not because they lacked something. It was just not my cup of tea. My self image has been that of free independent mind that follows whims and fancies, the rebel without a cause and all that. So, writing within strict boundaries wasn’t my thing. I must admit here that even before I started using the daily prompts I had been sceptical about my productivity from them. My fears have been proven right.
But this has done something else for me, it has made realise for the need to blog on the go. So I opened my wordpress app and I am typing away happily. I think the primary cause of staying away from the blog was not managing my time and not drafting a post when the idea sprang up in my head. So, now that I am in the home stretch for that elusive 100th post I hope to push myself harder. I must mention here that I am particularly impressed by a fellow blogger who has been showing wonderful discipline pushing herself to post one blog write up a day. I AM TRULY FEELING INSPIRED.
Today has been one of those days when I have had a chance to make a mental note of few things I would like to talk about. To begin the attempt at making it to the hundredth post I thought I will add my two cents to the net neutrality debate raging in the social media and the internet. From the time the news broke about Airtel launching its Airtel Zero service I was taken aback by the lame attempt by the stagnant telecom industry to open new revenue options. If this is what they are paying their thinktank to come up with then there is a major lack of entrepreneurial acumen. What makes the debate critical is the Government suddenly becoming involved in this. Where does the governing body stand? In the aftermath of the 3g and 2g scams the question becomes even more paramount and everything comes under the darkness of suspicion. To add fuel to fire Mark Zuckerberg decides to make his pitch of internetdotorg because he wants to bring the world wide web to the remotest part of India and give free access to some websites and of course Facebook to the rural population.
In the day and age where I find every one from my maid, my autowala, my milkman and the local kirana shop owner in whatsapp I am not surprised that telecom service providers are wanting an unfair share of the pie from a viber or a whatsapp or a skype. Here are the same people who touted their fast 3g and laughable 4g network for video calls through third party apps but of course now they want to bill the consumer or the company for the voice call or the messages sent because their sms and call packs are no longer bringing in profit, partly because the price undercutting they have indulged in.
Facebook and Zuckerberg have their own agenda, they want to get more people on their platform where Facebook becomes synonymous to the internet. That’s always been the business strategy of Mark Zuckerberg, whatever else he may be he is to begin with an entrepreneur who is out to make profit. So,  the forced download of the ridiculous app that is facebook messenger as a competition to free messaging apps like hike, whatsapp and viber.
What irritated me was his sad attempt to defend his position by touting the poverty stricken developing country which needs his great benevolence to step out of ignorance to the light of knowledge. Mark Zuckerberg has been doing much good work but I am afraid he has developed a God complex or at least sounds like that in his little condescending speech that keeps popping up as a sponsored link when I log onto Facebook. What’s worse they have a Hindi translation too! Their audacity is astonishing.
I enjoyed reading the comments on his original post on Facebook,  Indians spoke from a logical point and perspective questioning his veiled attempt to pass off a social media platform as the alternative to the real treasure trove of information that is the Internet. The supporters of Mark prett much told Indians to shut up and accept the benevolent offering and say Thank you or just get lost. Our south asians neighbours begged Mr. Zuckerberg to visit their country and give them free internet too. I have a strong feeling the common Indian shall also be taken by that pitch, the ‘free’  stuff. But is it really free, is it not like being told change the God you worship and I shall grant you freedom, cure, benefits etc. Yes, I fear this is what’s going to happen.
Whatever Mr. Zuckerberg has planned, I am wearily watching the news, afraid that I may wake up to a day when I may have to make a premium payment for writing a blog post.

#netneutrality #savetheinternet

THE END