Reading List – April 2017

Currently I am reading Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels.

  1. The Cuckoo’s Calling
  2. The Silkworm
  3. A Career of Evil

    I had finished the first book the series in March. I am now on the 3rd book. While the books are not exactly classic crime fiction but they are well worth reading once. Don’t go searching for Christie’s Poirot in them. 

    Advertisements

    NINETY ONE

    Is there a word which describes how I feel about Men in general? Probably not. Or may be I don’t know it. And no I was not thinking of the word ‘feminist’. Everything about them is horrible.  Yes now you see this post is going to be a rant  I have tried my best not to rant on this blog but let’s just say being married to a man makes it difficult not to rant. So here are my top 5 pet peeves about Men:

    1. I simply cannot understand the latest obsession with facial hair.  These beards and stubble and moustache and what not are too damn icky. I have always known men who I have admired to be clean shaven. And this latest trend does not translate well when followed by normal everyday men walking around in your local market. I have been told by some that adding those horrible facial hair makes these men look more matured or whatever else they need to be like. But I think it just makes them look unkempt. The well groomed men with those fancy hair do or beard are models and since you are basically in a different rat race following them blindly makes you look like a dirty mice.
    2. From the facial hair I come to hairy legs. Why wear shorts when neither do you have good legs nor the height or looks to carry them off. Just because you watch American television where men wear shorts at home and outside doesn’t mean you should wear them to local market, mall or movies. If you aren’t in shape please don’t make us cringe with the vision of those hairy bow legs. And there I am body shamming men.
    3. Skinny jeans and narrow trousers do not fit everyone with different body types. So buy fashion that suits you. Just because you have seen people team darker colors with beige / brown pants doesn’t mean you should. Also a green short with brown pants makes you look like a tree. If you don’t understand color stick to what you are comfortable.  It will.make you boring but not a fashion disaster. And as you get to your middle age for heavens sake stop wearing round neck T’s with that pot belly. Basically get better advice on your wardrobe. Too many men think they look great in their pointy toe shoes. No they don’t.  They remind me of jesters. 
    4. If you have never expanded your horizon to good books please don’t quote Chetan Bhagat. He is a foolish man who makes you all look extra level dumb. Same goes for movies. If your level is Sultan don’t quote Jurassic Park. You haven’t watched Casablanca or sound of music there is soemthing lacking in your upbringing. I am judging you. If you can’t speak one complete sentence in English and try to inform me that you are VP of some start up, I’m rolling my eyes and walking away. If you do own a decent vocabulary and still insist on being monosyllabic you are basically dumb.men should read more , watch better movies, learn more and not rest on their big cars and bank balances to be seen as attractive or eligible hell even worth out time.
    5.  The last one is simple.  We all know you dont really like pink or supprt femibists. You snigger behind womens back. Call them names. Any woman  except your mother and sister is a slutty, whore, fat, ugly, bitch, etc etc.   Stop being imbeciles and juvenile.  Grow a pair of whatever you need to grow and feel your emotions, talk about them, express them don’t bottle them up. Because after a while we will stop wondering and caring what you are thinking. And that is what’s happening all around you. While you are busy judging women’s morality we are forgetting to bother about your existence. So wake up and stop being a man. Be a human being.

    And if you can’t open much about the above just doesn’t out. You know go extinct. Like the dodo. It will probably save the planet more than planting 10000 saplings. 

    Anyone else feel that way.

    THE END

    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.

    FIFTY NINE

    wowtop5-the-alchemist

    “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

    We all dream and as dreamers wonder whether these dreams will ever come true. Paulo Cohelo’s modern fable, as some call it, is a manifesto for today’s dreamers. If you have read this book, you know what I am talking about. This is that book which for some reason seems like the first book to tell you that you must have courage in believing in your dreams and pursuing them is part of your destiny and to deny yourself a shot at your destiny is wrong.

    Like always I will not bother with the summary of the book, because it is important to read the book. However, if anyone wishes to refresh their memory here is a piece that will help.

     

    Here is an important trivia, The Alchemist went on to sell more copies than any other book in the history of Brazil, and thus made it into the Guinness Book of Records. The book was published in Brazil in 1988, but over the years it has been translated into 61 languages. The popularity of the book extends across diverse cultural, social and religious background. That’s what makes this one of the iconic books of the 20th Century.

    A lot of philosophical thought is woven within the story of The Alchemist, and as a reader I did not perhaps fully appreciate or understand them. But something very primitive yet modern is found throughout the narration, the human obsession with life, love, destiny, fate and finally dreams. Somehow, the book resonates with all the bitter truths, half truths, worries, desires, misgivings of every man and that is probably the reason it is popular across the world.

    Apart from its philosophical content, I found a deep spiritual vein running through the book that attracted me to it more. Here was a modern fable containing references to philosophy and a world of spiritual pursuits and yet sometimes it seemed like a book on motivation, almost like a self help book. My reason for putting this book amidst the top 10 picks is the mixed feeling it generated in me. On one hand it was a book that spoke of great things and sometimes it made me remember badly written self help guides for students attempting competitive exams.

    What remained with me even after all these years about this book is the concept of ‘personal myth’ propagated by Cohelo, the belief that we are the heroes of our own intricate tale of valor and glory and suffering, thus we must pursue what is our destiny that which we see through our dreams. This work by Cohelo always comes to mind because the way it has touched every reader with the simplicity of language and meaning with which it showcases the symbolism and spreads the words of wisdom & philosophy so easily and penetrates even the most cynical mind.

    It gives hope and motivation that is much needed.

    THE END.

    Reference Sources: Gradesaver.com, Google images for book cover.

    FIFTY ONE

    5320-M

    The next book I will be talking about from my Top Pick of Ten is a play by Agatha Christie. Many of you probably already know this; it is the longest running play in the world. In fact, when I write this article the St. Martin’s Theatre, West Street, London is currently taking bookings for shows till 27th June 2015.

    “The Mousetrap is celebrating the 62nd year of a record breaking run during which over 25,000 performances have been given. It is quite simply a great piece of theatrical history because of what it is, a whodunit written by the greatest crime writer of all time.”

    The play premiered at the Ambassadors theater in 1952 and played there for 22 years, before moving next door to the St Martin’s theater where it has played ever since. It celebrated its 60th year in 2012.

    I am a die-hard Agatha Christie fan and till about a decade back I was immersed in her Poirot and Mrs. Marple stories & novels, reading anything and everything I could lay my hands upon from the school library, the British Council Library, US Consulate Library, friends and family. Before I read the play in 2007, I had read a short story collection by Christie, Three Blind Mice and Other Short stories. While reading The Mousetrap I was confused as the shadow of the earlier story. It took me long to discover that The Mousetrap is actually based on the short story Three Blind Mice, written by Christie. The play was renamed later. There is a bit of trivia which I learnt from Wikipedia, behind the naming of the play. It says, “The suggestion to call it The Mousetrap came from Christie’s son-in-law, Anthony Hicks. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, “The Mousetrap” is Hamlet’s answer to Claudius’s inquiry about the name of the play whose prologue and first scene the court has just observed (III, ii). The play is actually The Murder of Gonzago, but Hamlet answers metaphorically, since “the play’s the thing” in which he intends to “catch the conscience of the king.”

    Enough on trivia about the play, and when I say this, I also request any interested reader to visit Wikipedia for more tidbits. But this is my review of the play which I have never watched only read and my reason (if I can verbalize them) for this being the top ten on my list. Just don’t read the **spoiler** sprung by Wikipedia about the twist ending of the play. Instead, go read the book.

    I will come back to the Twist ending or plot twist of the play which makes it so enjoyable. I love whodunits, primarily because it’s like a game where the reader participates like a detective himself/herself and takes a stab ( pardon the pun) at guessing who is the murderer. And let’s just say Christie makes a fool of me every time. The Mousetrap is no exception.

    For anyone else the play might be reminiscent of everything that is staid, stagnant and plain boring but for me the play is full of drama and mystery. You see while reading this play I am constantly reminded of the Bollywood movies in 1980’s and 1990’s where the present day action was pre-destined because of some incident that happened a generation ago. Christie’s play works on a similar theme, but this being a whodunit; I am at a loss to describe the play, without spoilers. The plot of the play is what makes it innovative to me. Although many critics find it stultifying and believe that having been adapted from a short story, the play falls short of the need of action to be accepted as good theater.

    Reading the play especially in the light of having read Three Blind Mice, I feel a goose bump as the nursery rhyme of the same name hovers in my head. The intricacy of intrigue among the characters in the play makes it difficult to be the all-knowing detective. There is however, one shortcoming that is perhaps the result of the twist ending, the reader of the play has no history of the characters to fall back on and it is in the history that the answer lies hidden.

    Pardon my comparison with Bollywood movies, but strangely I am willing to dub this work of Christie as one of those formula plots that work well with the audience, to put them in awe and leave them surprised. Be it a formula, the plot twist works well according to me in view of the atmosphere and setting of the play. In a room full of strangers where the reader does not know who is real and who is playing a part, who is telling the truth and who is making up stories, it is easy to imagine a convoluted explanation of the murder that remains unknown to the reader till the final Act revelation.

    The play is essentially very simplistic in nature; it has a lot of dialogues, very little action. The play does not ask the reader to have special knowledge not does it attempts to give the reader any insight into the mind of the criminal or the method and the motive. Yet it contains enough ‘masala’ (pardon the cliché) to keep the reader glued to it, waiting for the end. At in the end is this twist that had left me childishly happy at having been fooled yet another time by Mrs. Christie. As a play from one of my favorite author The Mousetrap happens to be my favorite in the current list of top ten books.

    THE END.

    Reference Sources:  Google [ Booke Cover] , Wikipedia, St. Martin’s Theatre site, The Gaurdian