Monday, 9 July 2012

This post is for verifying the Technorati claim that I am the author of this blog. The code is CSZEKNERWB6P. Hello to Technorati Team.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

'Classic' - A book which people praise and don't read.
     Mark Twain

I started reading 'Les Miserables' few weeks ago. Given that I am notorious for leaving books midway, I didn't hope to last that long(pun intended). I have not finished it but by now I know that I will finish it sooner or later. When I started, the early chapters about Bishop Myriel life were not exactly what I am used to reading. But within those lengthy sentences and myriad discussions on religion were little gems which I unearthed. 

"Madame Magloire," said he, "fetch me a chair. My greatness [grandeur] does not reach as far as that shelf."

"Place your hopes in the man from whom you do not inherit."

"There is M. Geborand purchasing paradise for a sou."

"To be a saint is the exception; to be an upright man is the rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright."

"Ecclesiastes calls you the All-powerful; the Maccabees call you the Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians calls you liberty; Baruch calls you Immensity; the Psalms call you Wisdom and Truth; John calls you Light; the Books of Kings call you Lord; Exodus calls you Providence; Leviticus, Sanctity; Esdras, Justice; the creation calls you God; man calls you Father; but Solomon calls you Compassion, and that is the most beautiful of all your names."

"There is a way of avoiding which resembles seeking."

I can go on and on but I must admit that Hugo is a master of prose. His thoughts on every subject is piercing as well as candid. Maybe it is time that I should pay back a visit to 'A Tale of two Cities' and finish another epic. Is it just me or anyone else also is out there who thinks that the habit of reading improves with practice. As much as I love my Harry Potter and Christie and Doyle, I am beginning to realize that I am not averse to Dumas and Dickens too. They are kind of growing on me. I was giving up on them but they are not giving up on me. And Thank God for that.

Maybe I am beginning to realize what my dear friend Bardicvoice wrote once, "Classics are called classics because they teach us something. They teach us morals and values." It is true. Among contemporary writers, there is no one to write a single book which contains wit, drama, history, morals, discourses, theories, theology all in a single masterpiece like Hugo.

Everyone can take a pick from what they like in 'Les Miserables'. It is a treasure trove of ideas and I feel that every time I take a dive, I emerge with a handful of pearls. Oh, Great Masters! Your fingers were touched with the essence of God, your quills were filled with ink of angels. No matter how hard anyone tries, no one can even began to ascend the dizzying heights of the literary mountain where these masters reside.

How lucky I am to be able to read the classics and how proud I am to be able to glean even little drops of wisdom from the vast oceans these classics contain.

Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. 
    Marcel proust.

And I am discerning things about myself through these books which were hidden from my soul. 

As I am turning the last pages of a book, I am opening a new page of my destiny.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

 Never go to bed angry, stay up and fight. 
William Congreve 

Yes, this used to be my motto. Letting go of your ego and pride is the most difficult thing in the world. For me, my temper has always been my Achilles heel. I am very very short tempered, more so with a select few. Although for some time past, I’ve been trying very hard to control it. I have observed that whatever they say in the rulebooks about controlling temper flies first thing out of your head, whenever you are in rage. How many of us can count to ten before replying back in anger? How many of us have the nerves to go out of the room instead of staying there and prove one-upmanship over another? How many of us can actually think about positive things, when all which comes to mind is ‘screw you’? I belong to the last category.

To put a lid on your retort is the hardest thing possible. I have been there, countless times. Every time I fly off the handle, I regret afterwards. I always promise myself that no matter what happens, I will not reply. Whatever the provocation will be, I will remain quiet. But, the pleasure of a sharp retort, the sweet taste of scoring one over another, the lingering aftertaste of a remark well placed, the licking and nursing of wounded pride, is almost irresistible. Always, I rationalize afterwards that it was okay. I was not in the wrong, the other person provoked me. I was not going to say anything but they left me no choice!  Ah! The joys of being the(seemingly) rational one.

But in one secret corner of my heart, I knew all along that the choice lies with me. ‘The Power lies within’. I know I can control whether I want to reply or not. Its my prerogative. But yes, to exercise this prerogative is the hardest, hardest thing.

Once I read somewhere that a person went to a seer and started insulting him. The seer remained silent. That person went on and on. All this while, his disciples were seething with rage. They wanted to confront the man but the seer restrained them with a gesture and continued smiling at that man with calming serenity. When that person finally became quiet (I think because of surprise that the seer was not replying to his insults) he asked the seer as to why he has not said even a single word? The seer smiled and asked him that if you come to me bearing a basket of fruits and I decline to have anything from that basket, whose fruits will that be? That person replied “mine”. The seer said that the same way I declined to accept your words so your words are yours alone and do not affect me. That man realized the meaning of what that sage was trying to say and he fell on sage’s feet and begged for forgiveness. 

Moral of the story – It is easy to remain silent when the other person is a stranger. I would have given anything to be present there to listen to his reply if instead of that man, the sage was being taken to task by his mother-in-law.

As for me, I am trying to live by what Benjamin Franklin said, ”Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment”.

Friday, 30 March 2012

It is necessary to do right, 
it is not necessary to be happy.

I was reading 'Eight Cousins' by Louisa Alcott where I encountered these lines. How true yet it is so difficult to put these thoughts into action. While reading, I was also wondering about 'Literature'! Yes, literature. Exactly, what is literature? Why is there an unwritten rule which forbids delightful books to be put in the category of literature and labels them with unflattering tags of  'Entertainers', 'Young Adult', 'Fantasy', 'Thrillers' .... well, you get my drift. Why is writing short sentences in easy to read English is not deemed worthy of 'serious' work? Great writers like Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Louisa Alcott and many others are clubbed into unimaginative categories of Crime Fiction or Children Writers, while 'The Great Gatsby' is routinely paraded onto the all time great classics you-must-read list. 

While I have nothing against Mr. Fitzgerald and I have read and liked (may be not that much as I enjoyed so called crime thrillers and children stories)'The Great Gatsby', the point I am trying to make is that entertainment can also be classic! Suppose I were to write a book in which a single sentence wraps up a whole paragraph and I fill that paragraph with enchanting descriptions of my surroundings (you know the pitter-patter of rain, tumultuous clouds, breathtaking countryside, sun, roses, moon, stars and the whole she-bang) or my inner turmoil (nerve-wracking passions, fits of rage, scandalous love, unceasing nightmares), will that book qualify as a serious book even if the whole story or 'plot' (shameless me!) can be written in three lines.

I would like to clarify that I don't intend to demean the classics or great literary works. My only bone of contention is that why on earth do we classify a book as serious if 98% of the population fails to understand it or can not read it without the help of a dictionary. Are the great books written only for 2% of the Intelligensia? We have made reading snobbish! People who think themselves as super duper high brows looks down upon anyone who meekly ventures to say that he enjoys Dan Brown and Sidney Sheldon instead of Salman Rushdie and Dumas. It is fashionable to discredit Harry Potter, Twilight, Narnia, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, and Robert Langdon but they are also delightful. As beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, the same way its up to us to imbibe what we want from any book.

You can learn mastery of the plot from Christie, careful observation from Holmes, Loyalty and friendship from potter, and lastly real feelings from Bella. Its not crime to love two people at once, to feel torn between them, know your shortcomings, have self-doubts. Its all natural and part of our everyday lives. Sadly yet, we are quick to condemn them to 'Entertainment' backwaters while reserving front row seats for unending prose.

Writing short, crisp sentences is also an art which is not easily learnt. To engage and delight thousands of minds is no mean feat. I just feel that we should read what we love and not just what we have to. Literature is yours to cherish, yours to nurture, yours to create, yours to delight and yours to love, not to scorn or - look down upon.

Friday, 16 March 2012

To paraphrase Shakespeare,

Its better to have loved and lost,
then to marry the one you love and nag him/her forever....

Bad joke but kinds of conveys the essence of reality. Isn't it so? Two people meet, fall head over heals (or heals over head in some cases), vow to love and cherish each other for the rest of their lives, to live happily ever-after and then poof... Out goes the love, the fondness for each other, the chemistry and in comes nagging, fights, headaches... (not necessarily in that order). So what happens? How does the person for whom you fought with whole world including your parents, friends and your dog suddenly becomes the person with whom you are having most fights. (Pillow fights not included). 

At the risk of this first paragraph sounding like the cliched opening of a new ''relationship self-help book'', I stick my neck out and say "Hey I am not an expert of marriage, love or relationships''. But one thing I know and that is if you truly love a person (yes, in the cliched sense of the similar word, again!), then after all the fights, the disagreements, there still exist that spark which was there when you first met him/her and thought, hey, this is the one with whom I am gonna grow old with.

Now for an interesting fact. People who are truly soul-mates, they are alike almost to the T. I mean, its not a clear or visible fact but if you study their behavior minutely, the inner working of their minds is almost similar. Their dealings with people, their attitude towards life, its so similar. Observe some couples around you, who are married for a few years and seem happy too. It will be quite apparent. Its like if one of them is fond of finer things in life, the other will be too, although out worldly it seem that one is big spender while other is careful with money. Or if one is reserved, the other one will be too, while to others they may seem haughty.

Observe some people! It will be quite apparent. I have heard somewhere that after 15-20 years of marriage, couples not only behave but even start to look like each other, like brother and sister. Bizarre, but almost true. My grandmum used to say that the only relation which stays true and unbreakable to the end is that of husband and wife. Your kids will grow up and leave you to set up their own nest, your parents will grow old and leave you to be with God, you brother-sisters will be busy with their own families. In the end, it will be just the two of you. For better or worse..... Amen.

As for me, I believe in the axiom, "Either make him/her yours or become his/hers". Thats the only trick I know, for happily ever afters.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What about your connection to God? Have you ever asked for anything? The answer must be undoubtedly yes! But has it been granted? Always? I have very unique relationship with God. To me, he (sorry gender-sensitive folks. can't imagine him as she!) is the perfect embodiment of friend, big brother, guide, philosopher all rolled into one. And yes, whatever I wished for has been granted. Always! BUT... and that's a big but. But always with caveats. Its like somehow there was a fine print which I was supposed to read but which I didn't obviously and then, well, paid for later.

Its something on the lines of a story read ages ago. Story of Devil's Paw, in which a husband and wife go to a place called Devil's Paw, where, supposedly wishes are granted. They wish for money. When they come back, they find out that their only son has died in a road accident and they are the sole owners of a hefty insurance policy. Scary. It is. Has something like this happened to you too? When you wished for something and that 'something' is granted to you but only at the cost of something else.

It has happened to me. Twice. I wished, got what I wanted, lost someone... both times. Then I wizened up. Or so I thought! (How can anyone consider oneself to be wiser than God in first place?) I wished once more, adding a rider, that I won't give anything or anyone in trade. My wish got granted again, twice again. Both times with a 'conditions apply' written somewhere in a corner. For first wish, I lost my peace of mind and for second... time of my loved ones. 

Now I have truly wizened up and stopped asking for anything. I only pray and say thanks for all the wonderful persons in my life, for many blissful hours spent with my family which alas, I did not cherish before, while I was living them. Now that those people are no more, I regret not doing enough for them when they were alive. 

How can people say that they don't regret anything in their life? That they wouldn't change anything in their lives if given a second chance. Is anyone so perfect? I, for myself know that I would change a lot of things if given a second chance. Somethings, some people I would like to erase completely, while for some, I haven't done simply enough. How I would cherish them now, if given a second chance. Truly, you know the true worth of someone only when they are no longer with you. Thank you God. For everything.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Currently the book I am reading is Madame Bovary. I would love to write a paragraph or two describing the lush portrait of life representing 1800s or croon about the lyrical language but sorry, I am really hopeless at such writing. All I can say is that it is a nice book. Which automatically puts me in the category of ''non-serious'' reader. Damn! In my last blog (actually my first, but it gives the impression that you are oh-so-late in discovering me) I think I gave the impression that I didn't like 'Tale of two cities' or 'The brothers karamazov'. It isn't s so . All I was  trying to say that although they are great books by equally great writers, maybe I am not up to it. To appreciate the finer quality! Yet, my sole purpose to read all classics is that I will be able to say that yes, I have read them all.

In doing that, I admit that I liked them all. Particular favorite is "The Count of Mount Cristo". Alexandre Dumas weaves a tale of passion, betrayal, revenge so skillfully that it puts many current generation mystery romance writers to shame. But yes after reading that, I must admit that 'The Three Musketeers' was not quite up to that benchmark. It was good but not great. By now my favorite genre must have been crystal clear. Fast paced, thrillers with a good deal of romance thrown in. Purists may shake their head but that's the way I am.

I have read all Sydney Sheldon novels and loved them. Tried to read 'Lord of the rings' quite a few times but kept it back after few pages. However, Harry Potter and Twilight series are my all time favorites. How many times I have wished that one day I may be able to pen down a book so magical. The imagination of Ms Rowling and Ms Meyer knows no bounds. When I started reading first part of Potter, I used to stay awake till 2 am in the night and read. As I was reading the seventh and final book, anxiety pangs set in. That's it. No more mystery, no more magic, no potter after it. The first few days after that was very tough. I scoured Rowling's website, fansites, kept searching for more. It took some time to detach myself from pottermania.

Same thing happened few years later with twilight. Right from the word go, I was sucked (pun intended) into the beautiful, absurdly romantic world of Bella and Edward. After I finished reading, I again kept asking for more. I read 'Midnight Sun', devoured Stephanie's site, prayed like hell to get an idea too in my dreams... But nada. My dreams were technicolor as ever but no vampires, no fairies, no magicians. nothing.

All those people who are critical of both these works and dismiss them as YA entertainment fantasy, should at least try their hand once at writing even remotely similar to these two. I think the results will be there for all to see. These books once again reinforced the outdated ideas of love, loyalty and friendship. On second thoughts may be I should also try my hand at writing anything remotely similar to the books I found not-so-great. I know I can never write a 'Wuthering Heights' or 'War of the Worlds' or 'Tale of two cities'. But then, to each his own. With this sobering thought, I take leave.