The Inheriatnce of Loss – Kiran Desai

It won the Man Booker Prize in 2006.

This is a truly fantastic work by Kiran Desai, completely deserving of all the accolades that she has gotten for it. Although set in 1980’s , the book is a window giving us the glimpse of current immigration, globalization, economic disparity, terrorism, fundamentalism and social(class, caste and creed) problems in the Indian society. While it raises questions about all important issues from all sides, it also weaves many heart wrenching tales alongside. The description of Kalimpongt lifestyle and beauty is mesmerizing. The moral, ethical and philosophical musings are spread all over the book. The reader is expected to hear both the sides of stories of every dilemma and make up his/her own mind. Its a work of genius. To be so impartially written and yet invoking every possible feeling. That of pain, hope, pity, guilt, anger, disgust, indifference, ridicule, romance. All it does not give is a feeling of unadulterated joy. But then there is the question that is it even possible?

A wonderful book!! Definitely recommended with all sincerity


What if I were a doormat?

What if I were a doormat ?

People would come at a door and see me first thing. If I am cute, they will smile in their heads and say “cute mat!. I wonder if the girl is cute too.”. If I am rugged and bad they would be a little off and say in their heads again “hmm! I hope the bitch is not that bad”. If I am nice and cozy they would think of a happy family and lots of kids and pray that the kids be behaved enough. If I am thick and normal and undifferentiated and not noticeable..well…they would not notice me and step on me right away. Well, everyone would do that eventually anyhow. They will see me, step on me, rub off the dust of their shoes, their bothers, their sad faces and put on a smile. I will serve them as a friend, philosopher and guide. I will give them a chance and hints of the insiders by being in the shape and size and color and texture that I am in. Sometimes, they will stare hard at me and think of things to say. I help them there too. To say things to others. To go and meet others. To polish themselves before presenting.  As a step to the other side. They’ll stomp on me. Sometimes lightly, sometimes hard, sometimes they’ll just walk. They will cleanse their soles ( souls) on me, make me dirty and walk away. Not once looking at me when their jobs are done. Not once thanking. Not once valuing what I do for them. Not once giving me importance. But there I would stay! To welcome them again and again. To get booted yet again. Sometimes with messages printed on my forehead. I would stay. Even if I wished it or not I would be there! Unappreciated, undervalued, overused, neglected and to absorb dirt. I would take on different shapes and sizes and colors but all I’ll ever get is the dirt and the boot. I will take it all. I will live it all from the moment my life begins as a doormat to the moment it ends as one.

You ask me what if I were to be a doormat? Am I not one already? Yes, I am a doormat right now.

happy birthday maa

Today was my mom’s birthday! I wished her on phone. That was all I could do. I so wished to be with her to make her day a pleasure and as fantastic as I could. But all I did was sit here in my room and call her twice. These distances. They suck! Sometimes, I so wish to be living at home all the time. I hope next birthday is a compensation of all missed birthdays.

My mom is a very sweet and gentle caring human being with so much of love in her. She is a great hostess and life of parties. She has got this beautiful smile and such a sense of fashion ( which I could never learn from her). Even amazing are her culinary skills. So organized, so lively, so full of passion and concern. She loves one and all and she is so simple at heart. I love her and I will be lucky if I even get 10% of those qualities. What would our lives have been without her care is unimaginable. She is devoted to the family like anything.

And yet, we end up hurting her sometimes, end up speaking rudely or fighting over small matters. But, how forgiving is she. How large hearted.

I love you mummy. Even if it might not show in my ways and conduct, what I have for you is all respect and love. I am proud to be your daughter and I could not thank God enough for it. You rule our worlds and we acknowledge and applaud each and every of your efforts and loving gesture.

May you live a life filled with love, happiness and care. May the world be the blossoming garden of dreams.

Movie Review: Jodha Akbar

I saw Jodha Akbar last night and I liked the movie. I did. It was visually stunning. All compliments to the director and the cinematographer. Battle scenes as well as the most tender of the scenes are shot with equal aplomb. Hritik Roshan is totally rocking as Akbar and to my surprise, Aishwarya plays Jodha just as well. The costumes, oh my god! They are rich, extravagant and amazingly beautiful. The sets..too good. The camera angles are nice and so is the choreography in the song Azeemo-shan-shehenshah. Music by Rehman is not his best but surely it fits the movie and suits the mood. Sonu Sood plays a brilliant supporting role and so does Ila Arun. The shots of elephants and horses are brilliant.

Thats the praise part and I am impressed by the movie. However, it is not without its flaws. It certainly is not at the level of Troy but it would be extremely unfair to compare it to Troy and such and don’t do it but what I am saying is that if there had been more money and resources, Gowariker would have done even better. Make no mistake that the movie is a depiction of history. It is a completely fictitious love tale involving historical figures as big as Akbar. The background and some of the battles are recorded in the history but that’s it. There is no account of the love story between Jodha and Akbar in historical texts. In fact, there is doubt as to if Jodha Bai was Akbar’s wife or daughter-in-law. But what is certain is that Akbar had a Rajput wife ( who was made to convert to Islam, as against what is shown in the picture ). But that does not really matter if you see the movie as a tale told without worrying about its historical accuracy. I believe we should give movies that freedom.

It was an aesthetically pleasing movie all along and well paced. That is why the 3.5 hour length did not matter that much. Hritik looked damn good! For one moment I could not think of him as anyone else other than Akbar. He got into the groove so well. Aishwarya did what she does best: looking stunningly beautiful as an Indian woman. Man! She looked so gorgeous in the Neeta Lulla costumes.

Beautiful movie and laudable effort by Gowariker. I think it could not have been what it is if the director was someone else. The scenes are shot and connected with a keen eye and mastery. Although the story is pretty melodramatic but Ashutosh handles it well.
Applause! One can watch it once if they are even a tad romantic and a little bit more open minded who can tolerate a little tweaking of history.

Chomsky for beginners – David Cogswell, Paul Gordon

This a book introducing the uninitiated to the world of Chomsky. The book has been written by David Cogswell and the illustrations in the book are by Paul Gordon, but I write as the writer of the book both the names because illustrations are as glaring as the words themselves.

About the book: The moment I issued it today, I knew I was going to finish it at once. First because it is short and second because it’s very very interesting. The concept of writing a book introducing a person and his such serious thoughts in a children book format with big fonts and caricatures all over worked superbly for me. I mean,  I just loved that. To specially mention the illustrations, they are from downright comical to satirical complementing the serious writing going along.  The initiative of the publication ( Orient-Longman) to introduce such pressing subjects is laudable too.

About the topic of the book: It introduces Chomsky and his ideas to us . Although I had heard about Chomsky before, a few times, I had no idea that he was thinking and doing such brilliant stuff. The things he has pointed out range from plainly shocking to extremely interesting. And his urge to not be just dumb receptors of whatever is fed to our minds but make use of it and critically analyze stuff is appealing. Although, the book mainly focuses on and targets American audience, being a part of the major economic interests of the American corporation I don’t think that as an Indian, I can turn a blind eye to it. More so because our government and private sectors try hard to emulate that notion of ideality which America represents but in actuality is a pier of them (as pointed by Chomsky).

I think everyone should read this book once. Particularly, the developed and developing countries. No, actually all of them should.

Chaos – James Gleick

Chaos is wonderful wonderful book for all those lovers of nature and its workings. Moreover, it draws on the scientific phenomena which helped scientists reach the present state of chaos. It traces the history and origin of chaos as an interdisciplinary scientific discipline.

The book is rich with glimpses of experiments and thoughts and theories related to chaos. It tells us how the pioneers felt, how the field emerged and how it is being applied to other streams. That all is very interesting but what is most fascinating is the topic itself : CHAOS.

How there is order in chaos. How seemingly random phenomena are not so random. How even most simple of systems are so complex. How and when there are changes from normal to chaotic situations. How beautiful are the Mandelbrot sets. How everything is nothing but a non linear dynamical system and linearity is as far from reality as possible. How dissipation is an agency of order in the dynamical systems. How biology, ecology, physics, chemistry, maths are all but based on the one thing – chaos is systems. It is plain beautiful, specially the pages which are interspersed with the complicated yet orderly in some way drawings of Julia sets and Mandelbrot sets.

The book is filled with mathematical and physical jargon so a familiarity with some of these concepts is necessary for understanding the nature and significance of the discoveries but a reader with even some knowledge can understand the beauty even if not fully as is being described by Gleick. The sheer amount of information that the book contains shows how much research he has done and his efforts are very successful since the book certainly charms and intrigues the reader.

For me personally, it came at the right time to remind me of the beauty of science and the pleasures its pursuit brings. It has once again got me interested in my subject in a way in which I never was. For all maths and physics enthusiasts this is a must read.

Tata Nano

Tata Nano has been a topic of much debate since it has been put before the world. It is going to be the cheapest car in the world. No mean feat that is. And kudos to Ratan Tata for pulling that. It is exemplary. But as good as it sounds as an achievement, it has created quite a furore in economic and political circles. There are plenty of issues which are in focus which I am jotting here:

  • Congestion of already congested, narrow roads.
  • Pollution
  • Safety, Accidents
  • Fuel Price and Consumption
  • Market Reception and success
  • How will it help the economy

We already know what condition our roads are in. They are narrow, congested even with the few four wheelers that are there and pot holes abound. In this situation if there is a car with every household what will the condition be we can hardly imagine. To this the arguments are that the deteriorated condition will force the government to take action and better the roads. That’s being fairly optimistic but I think that is possible.

It will enable the lower middle class to be owning a vehicle ( a four wheeler) who might have had a two wheeler till now and in that sense, it reduces the number and chances of accidents ( two wheelers being more risky ). But, there are also questions being raised about the safety in Nano as in if an accident occurs then the riders are prone to getting hurt. About these aspects I think that as the demand increases, the technology will better itself and safety measures and fuel efficiency will improve.

The question of pollution stays and there will be a definite increase in pollution.For this I think we should not blame nano solely but urge the engineers to find a really good way to curb pollution. Fuel prices and consumption will be affected. I am not so sure about the numbers but someone told me that two wheelers saved fuel while a 4 wheeler drank more of it. But we are here reducing the number of two wheelers so that saves some fuel. I am lost on the fuel aspect here. Enlighten me someone, if you will.

As far as I see, there will be a welcome given to Nano since now most of the lower middle class would be able to afford a car and that would mean an improved standard of living, a better status and to some extent increase in confidence.

How it helps the economy? Well, for one more production would mean more jobs, more utilization of materials hence growth. As Tata proposes to issue the parts to be assembled at various assembly centres run as franchises, it would employ many people. So, it increases employment, however slightly. Slight is better than naught after all.

There is the SEZ issue of Nandigram also attached to it. Tata Nano has come forth with many polemical strings attached to it. Only time will tell whether it is for the good or for the worse but this much is clear that it has come at a time and in a way where it will do nothing to curb or prevent environmental degradation but is surely an emblem of hope and signal of the rise of new, innovative corporate India.

I am optimistic about it.