Saturday, May 24, 2008

Whispers from the Reading Room

There has been a flurry of covert activity in the reading room.I've been reading with such haste that the activity assumes the importance of breathing or existing.I decided to write this entry so that I wouldn't forgo the pleasure of reminiscence.

Let me start with Victor Hugo.I became interested in his work after I read that he was Ayn Rand's favorite writer.I started reading 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' with a big chunk of bias. For some reason I expected it to be a soppy story written for children thanks to the animated and abridged versions of the book.There is more to 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' than just the usual grind about an unseemly creature with a beautiful heart.I loved Hugo's picturesque description of medieval Paris,its architecture and its people and his observations on philosophy and on the dichotomy of human nature.

I then moved on to R.K. Narayan,my favorite among Indian writers who express themselves in English. His style is quirky and very peculiarly Indian.He captures the essence of life between the time that India was still an English colony and the time of its independence.His stories have unapologetic,tongue in cheek revelations about the Indian condition(a superset of what is known as the human condition).

I then read a collection of bone-chilling stories by Daphne Du Maurier as I felt I could do with some 'light reading'.The intrepid blogger then decided to turn into the intrepid reader.I wanted to read 'O Jerusalem' by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. I offhandedly mentioned to my dad that I was looking for the book but couldn't find it.He then told me that it had been stashed away in a rather inconvenient corner of the loft.I realized that the procurement of this gem would be a test of both strength and skill. Since I'm more craven than I imagine myself to be,'O Jerusalem' will have to wait.

So here I am at present reading 'Anna Karenina' by Tolstoy.I seem to enjoy Tolstoy's impressions on marital infidelity more than I enjoy his reverie on war.I'm reading this one at lightening speed. Hopefully I'll be able to do the same when I revisit 'War and Peace' towards the end of this year.

The future of the reading room: I was considering reading these two books at the same time.'We the Living', Ayn Rand's scathing anti-communist account of life during the Russian revolution, and 'Mother',the pro red-guard hit by Maxim Gorky.I sometimes wonder if reading makes people insane....

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Intrepid Blogger

I have the misfortune of being someone who loves to write, and loves it even more if the numbers on the blog counter are of obscene proportions.I tend to overlook the fact that I have very few claims to either fame or infamy.It can be a tad disconcerting to maintain a blog that gets about a 100 hits in a few months.Not that I particularly envy Indian actors whose paychecks have more digits than my blog counter.I find it intriguing to find newspapers literally printing transcripts of 'star-blogs'; with all the mud-slinging,finger pointing,name calling and other antics akin to those of four year old kindergarten students.Where does that leave yours truly? In a rut with blogger.com,a silly css template and no domain space!

Since divas need to give themselves airs in order to survive;I hereby induct myself into the institution of the intrepid blogger.The intrepid blogger thrives like a tiny being that bears ten times its weight and runs the risk of being crushed to an unrecognizable pulp.The intrepid blogger will blog till the hosting site vanishes into oblivion or till web 2.0 is deprecated and the craft of blogging is dead.If one can measure pride and vulnerability,then the intrepid blogger can boast of having an abundance of both.There isn't time for bitterness because there is so much to rant and rave about.

In the self-obsessed realm of blogging, only the valiant survive.It takes courage for the insignificant to shower themselves with indulgence in public.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mushy Rant version 8.05

If love were all about
Silver moons,crystal seas,
Words whispered in roundabout
Heart wrenching pleas;
Perhaps I'd be a writer
Of greater eloquence and grace.
I would capture,with dignity,the finer
Aspects of a torrid lovers' embrace.
Since love isn't imagination's ward;
I am constrained in articulation.
Thus I must be content with the menial reward
Of yesterday's cerebration.
Perhaps a distant thought
Would suffice to carry forth with ease
A hard earned sentiment wrought
From the depths of human expertise.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Standing Still

The power of existence is enough to overwhelm.It overrides all effects of time and space and makes one feel quite numb,utterly useless and completely devoid of sensation or sense.People often constrain themselves,perhaps intentionally,to feel the void of existence and its endless bickering.One individual didn't intend to grant himself this privilege. I needn't mention his name.People who have been students will see a little bit of themselves in him.I can however call him 'X'.

'X' sits in a grimy classroom in some woe begotten college in India.He hasn't eaten since the night before.The classroom is now a makeshift examination hall.'X' sits with a 2B pencil,an eraser,an OMR sheet and a question paper.The splinters of wood from the dilapidated desk are cutting through his shirt into his skin,the question paper looks like a delicate parchment with a cryptic script and the invigilator looks like a fossil with tremendous glasses.

The girl sitting to his left nibbles on the tip of her pencil,she nervously runs her fingers through her hair and then darkens one of the bubbles on the OMR sheet.The boy sitting to his right smirks to himself and nods his head as he answers a question.'X' looks down at his answer sheet.He wonders about the pristine purity of an empty answer sheet, a sharp 2B pencil and a hairdo that hasn't suffered the ravages of the education system.He smiles at the perfection of his hairstyle.Just the right amount of gel mixed with the right conditioner, not too much spike and at the same time not too droopy.It took him two hours to get it right.Perhaps the boy in front with the dark circles spent those precious two hours clutching flashcards and cramming formulae scribbled down at the last minute.

'X' is suddenly hit by the lull of having to exist. How did this spec of time and space fit into the larger plan? Was it significant enough for him to spend three hours in the sweltering heat with a roomful of strangers? He had gone over all the well meaning advice from parents,friends and extended family. He replayed his responses to their endless questions over and over again.All of it fitted together like a script that is so badly written that it becomes a masterpiece in its own right.The warning bell is rung.'X' gazes lovingly at the graffiti and the wisdom,etched so carefully on the desks of decrepit institutions, by hapless students waiting in vain to be inspired.

It is now time to submit the answer sheets.'X' is the first to hand in his sheet. Another test,another OMR sheet with the mark of nothingness.The examiner shoots him the look of disgust that the elderly tend to reserve for their younger counterparts.'Write your name,useless fellow',he says.'X' simply does as he is told.