Sunday, 16 August 2015

Review of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Best part is language. She writes prose but in a poetic language. She plays with words like little children plays with toys. She is genius of word play. 

two examples:

“...the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.
That is their mystery and their magic.” 
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“But what was there to say?
Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons. Only that there was a snuffling in the hollows at the base of a lovely throat. Only that a hard honey-colored shoulder had a semicircle of teethmarks on it. Only that they held each other close, long after it was over. Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.
Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.” 
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

A very strong statement on caste system, hypocrisy of indian society, misogynistic attitude. A must read for every Indian and all others too

Review of LInda Goodman Sun Sign

It is very cleverly written. So clever that you feel u r every sun sign from Aries to piesces. Its heresy, imaginary, unscientific, illogical and absurd. But still u look up for your DoB many times and check your sun sign again and again. It is written so cleverly you force yourself to believe the qualities of your so called sin sign (pun intended). 

Its the majority opinion that its not science. Sun is star. Moon is satellite. But still considered for calculations. How the stars, planets and satellite and there relative motion affect our lives is beyond comprehension. And even if they do how it can be calculated mathematically. The qualities attributed to different planets is based on mythology, arbitrary and imaginary. Like Jupiter for education or Venus for sex. The signs also named after the shape of a particular constellation which they represent. And then she impose the quality of that particular shape on that sign people. Like Leo or lions have qualities of lions. Libra looks like a scale so she says they r always confused and unable to take decisions. SO to cut a long story short it is all imaginary.

All in all a fun read

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Review of Along came a spider

Touted as a path breaking novel on a split personality psycho. Maybe it is. But I read it after watching 7 seasons of criminal minds. That may be a reason I am not impressed.
But that is not the only reason. Pace is too slow. The hero Alex Cross is no Sherlock or poirot. James made him black but I don't find any particular reason for that. Soneji the split personality lunatic is too smart to be true.
Detective work is very low grade or non existent. Soneji is caught by luck more than deduction. Climax seemed forced and Hollywood inspired.

Review of Ashadh Ka Ek Din by Mohan Rakesh

Ashadh Ka Ek Din (Hindi: आषाढ़ का एक दिन, One Day in the season of rain) is a debut Hindi play by Mohan Rakesh in 1958. Since the month of Ashadh (beginning on 22 June and ending on 22 July) is usually the onset period of the monsoon in North India, the name can be understood to mean One day during the Monsoon. The title of the play derives from the opening line of the Sanskrit dramatist Kalidas's play Meghadūta (Sanskrit: मेघदूत literally "cloud (Megh) messenger (Doot)").

The play is divided into three acts.

First Act:

The love of poet Kalidas and Mallika is not approved by Mallika's mother, Ambika. At this time, Kalidas has composed his first long poem Ritusambar. He wins recognition in the court of Ujjaini and the king has sent his horsemen to bring him. Another villager by the name of Vilom (also interested in Mallika) says that if Kalidas leaves for Ujjaini, he must take Mallika along. Kalidas, however, does not wish to go from the mountain-valley where they all stay. Finally, Mallika persuades him to leave.

Second Act:

A few years have passed. Kalidas, a great poet now, is passing through his native valley with his queen Priyagumanjari on his way to Kashmir. The queen meets Mallika. Kalidas, however, does not visit them. Mallika's mother is not surprised. Vilom is.

Third Act:

Mallika's mother (Ambika) has died. Mallika has given in to Vilom and she has a child by him. Just then Kalidas returns. He finds that the life of Mallika, the drunkard Vilom, and the child is complete without him. After an explanation of his own life and an encounter with Vilom, he leaves the palce, while Mallika goes in to attend the crying child.


The main lead character of the story is Malika. Are you surprised that it is not Kalidas? But Mallika is the heart and soul of the story. She gives up everything even her love for Kalidasa so that he becomes successful. She is his inspiration. She shows how true love should be. Maillka’s love is inspiring, unquestioning, devoted, sacrificing and she ask nothing in return.

Even though Kalidas marries queen Priyangumanjari, Mallika remians  his only love and inspiration. Kalidas Says to Mallika

“The backdrop of Kumarshambhav is this Himalaya and the ascetic Uma is you. The pain of Yaksha of Meghdoot is my pain and the the bruised by separation Yakshini is you- even though I imagined myself here and you in the city. Only you were in front of me as Shakuntala of “Abhigyan Shakuntalam”.

Mallika is the epitome of love. She is a metaphor of true love.

Kalidasa is neither good nor bad. He is extremely talented but he is afraid and a coward. In village he vows never to marry and on that pretext he does not marry Mallika. He is called to Ujjaini, but initially he does not go because he is not confident that after seeing poverty how will he behave in affluence. And his fears prove correct. He marries Priyangumanjri and becomes King of Kashmir. But he is never able to forget Mallika. Finally when he come again to her she is married with a kid. Then he says

“Kalidas: I said I wanted to start over. This was the fight between desire and time. But now is see that time is much more powerful because…
Mallika : Because?
Kalidas: Because it does not wait.”

Such a profound truth. Time waits for no one. Not even for the great poet Kalidasa.

Vilom seems to be a villain on surface but he is not. He is s metaphor of an average person who lacks talent and thus he is bitter. Because of this bitterness he says things to hurt others whereas talented people like Kalidas camouflage that in fancy words.   

Vilom: Who is Vilom? An unsuccessful Kalidasa. And Kalidasa? A successful Vilom. Both of us are cery near to each other.
Kalidas: Indeed. All opposites are very near to each other.
Vilom: It is good that you accept this truth.

Priyangumanjari is a typical upper class spoilt brat who thinks they can buy anything with money. She is arrogant, well read and bred and feels Mallika is a threat. She unsuccessfully tries to bribe her and marry her off to her servants.

Matul and Ambika are elders who have betterment of their wards in heart and think they know better.

Rangini and Sngini and Anuswar and Anunasik provide comic relief and also they are a caricature of pseudo intellectual middle class society and typical red tapism.

Use of Imagery, Symbols, Metaphors

This is a must read for literature lovers. Mohan Rakesh evokes powerful imagery.

Rainy day means some tragedy is about to arrive.
Entry of Ambika with lightning shows terror.
The fading voice of Kalidasa foot beautifully shows that Mallika and he can never unite.

Sample this powerful imagery of a crying baby which shows they can never unite;

Kalidas: Life is still left. We can start over.
The baby starts crying.
Kalidasa: Mallika!
Mallika looks at him.
Kalidasa: Who is crying?
Mallika: This is my present.

This one sentence says it all. Baby has come and there is no chance left for their union.

The most powerful metaphor is when he describes an epic written by her tears.

Kalidasa: You made these papers by your own hands so that I will create my greatest epic on these.
He flips the papers and then stops
There are water drops at many places which is not rain drops undoubtedly. Apparently you have written so much with your eyes on these blank papers. And not only with eyes, these have become dirty with perspiration at many places, dry flower petals have left their mark at many places. Your nails has pared them at many places, your teeth and bitten. Apart from this color of summer’s sun, paper dust of winter and dampness of this home… come these papers are blank now Mallika? An epic has been written on these.

The cruelty of poverty as told by Mallika:

Mallika: You have written that one shortcoming is camouflaged by a group of virtues as stigma is camouflaged in moon light; but poverty can not be hidden. Even in hundreds of virtues. Not only it is not hidden, it shadows those hundreds of virtues- it destroys them one by one.


This is a path breaking Hindi play. It is supposed to be a historical romance. But that is oversimplification. It is not a play which glorifies past or dwells just in the emotions of love. It has love, hate, satire, reality, comedy and pretty much everything else.
It is set in an ancient period but it can be set easily in any era. We have memorable characters like Kalidasa, Mallika, Priyangumanjari, Vilom etc all around us. A must read for all those who like quality literature. It has been staged extensively.

A parting shot:

The condition of Kalidasa in final act is quiet similar to a gem from Jagjit Singh immortal ghazals written by Majaz Lakhnawi..

अब मेरे पास तुम आई हो तो क्या आई हो?

मैने माना के तुम इक पैकर-ए-रानाई हो
चमन-ए-दहर में रूह-ए-चमन आराई हो
तलत-ए-मेहर हो फ़िरदौस की बरनाई हो
बिन्त-ए-महताब हो गर्दूं से उतर आई हो

मुझसे मिलने में अब अंदेशा-ए-रुसवाई है
मैने खुद अपने किये की ये सज़ा पाई है

ख़ाक में आह मिलाई है जवानी मैने
शोलाज़ारों में जलाई है जवानी मैने
शहर-ए-ख़ूबां में गंवाई है जवानी मैने
ख़्वाबगाहों में गंवाई है जवानी मैने

हुस्न ने जब भी इनायत की नज़र ड़ाली है
मेरे पैमान-ए-मोहब्बत ने सिपर ड़ाली है

उन दिनों मुझ पे क़यामत का जुनूं तारी था
सर पे सरशरी-ओ-इशरत का जुनूं तारी था
माहपारों से मोहब्बत का जुनूं तारी था
शहरयारों से रक़ाबत का जुनूं तारी था

एक बिस्तर-ए-मखमल-ओ-संजाब थी दुनिया मेरी
एक रंगीन-ओ-हसीं ख्वाब थी दुनिया मेरी

क्या सुनोगी मेरी मजरूह जवानी की पुकार
मेरी फ़रियाद-ए-जिगरदोज़ मेरा नाला-ए-ज़ार
शिद्दत-ए-कर्ब में ड़ूबी हुई मेरी गुफ़्तार
मै के खुद अपने मज़ाक़-ए-तरब आगीं का शिकार

वो गुदाज़-ए-दिल-ए-मरहूम कहां से लाऊँ
अब मै वो जज़्बा-ए-मासूम कहां से लाऊँ

ہو اب میرے پاس تم آیؑی ہو تو کیا آیؑی
ab mere paas tum aayee ho to kya aayee ho
(You have come to me now .. it is too late !)

میں نے مانا کہ تم اک پیکر ے رنایؑی ہو
maiN ne maana ke tum ik paikar-e-raanayee ho
(I confess that you are an embodiment of beauty !)

چمن -ے - دہر میں ، روح چمن آراییؑ  ہو
chaman-e-daher meiN rooh-e-chaman-arayee ho
(You are the soul of this beautiful garden of the earth !)

طلت-ے- مہر ہو ، فردوس کی برناییؑ ہو
tallat-e-meher ho firdaus ki barnai ho
(You have a gentle face and youth of paradise !)

بنت-ے-مہتاب ہو، گردوں سے اتر آییؑ ہو
bint-e-mehtaab ho gardooN se utar aayee ho
(You are the daughter of the Moon and have come down from the heavens !)

مجھ سے ملنے میں اب اندیشہ-ے- رسواٰییؑ ہے
Mujh se milne meiN ab andesha-e-ruswaayee hai
(If you meet me now, there are chances of being dishonourable !)

میں نے خود اپنے کیےؑ کی سزا پاییؑ ہے
maiN ne khud apne kiye ki ye saza paayee hai
(I am facing the punishment of what I have done !)
اب میرے پاس تم آیؑی ہو تو کیا آیؑی ہو
ab mere paas tum aayee ho to kya aayee ho
ان دنوں مجھ پہ قیامت کا جنوں طاری تھا
un dinon mujh pe qayamat ka junooN taari thaa
(Those days (when you loved me) I was intoxicated with my youth !)

سر پہ سرشاری-و-عشرت کا جنوں طاری تھا
sar pe sarshaari-o-ishrat ka junooN taari thaa
(I was obsessed with merry- making !)

ماہ پاروں سے محبت کا جنوں طاری تھا
maah-paaroN se mohabbat ka junooN taari thaa
(I was infatuated with the love of beautiful women !)

شہر یارون سے رقابت کا جنوں تاری تھا
shehr yaaroN se raqabat ka junooN taari thaa
(I was possessed with the enmity of my rivals !)

بستر-ے-مخمل-و-سنجاب تھی دنیا میری
bistar-e-makhmal-o-sanjaab thee duniya meri
(My life was fixated with the beautiful beds of velvet and fur !)

اک رنگین-و-حسین خواب تھی دنیا میری
ik rangeen-o-haseen khwaab thee duniya meri
(My life was like a colorful and a beautiful dream !)
کیا سنو گی میری مجروح جوانی کی پکار
kya suno gi meri majrooh jawaani ki pukaar
(I do not want to describe to you my injured youth !)

میری فریاد-ے-جگر دوز میرا لالا-ے-زار
meri fariyaad-e-jigar- doz mera lala-e-zaar
(I do not want to tell you) my laments and moans !)

شدت-ے-کرب میں ڈوبی ہوییؑ میری گفتار
shiddhat-e-karb meiN doobi hui meri guftaar
(and) my talking full of agony and anguish !)

میں کہ خود اپنے مزاق-ے- تربغی کا شکار
maiN ke khud apne mazak-e-tarbgee ka shikaar
(I am the victim of my self-deceit !)

وہ گداز-ے-دل-ے-مغمون کہاں سے لاوؑں
woh gudaaz-e-dil-e-magmoom kahan se laaooN
(From where should I bring softness of distraught heart?)

اب میں وہ جزبہ-ے-معصوم کہان سے لاوؑں
ab mein wo zazba-e-masoom kahan se laaooN
(How I can create the feelings of Innocence !)
اب میرے پاس تم آیؑی ہو تو کیا آیؑی ہو
ab mere pass tum aayee ho to kya aayee ho

Sunday, 2 August 2015

International Friendship Day

Today is international friendship day i.e. 2nd August. Earlier, on 27 July 2011 the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 30 July as "International Day of Friendship". But nowadays it is celebrated on the first Sunday of August rather than 30 July.
How many days do we need? Apparently more than 365 because now we have reached a stage where we have to cram three or more days on a single day. Like recently on 21 June we celebrated World Music Day, Father's Day and International Yoga Day simultaneously. I think the concept of giving special attention to a particular cause or relationship goes for a toss in instances like this.
A brief history thanks to Wikipedia:-
Friendship Day was originally promoted by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards in 1930, intended to be 2 August and a day when people celebrated their friendships by sending cards. The second of August was chosen as the center of the largest lull between holiday celebrations. Friendship Day was promoted by the greeting card National Association during the 1920s but met with consumer resistance - given that it was too obviously a commercial gimmick to promote greetings cards. By the 1940s the number of Friendship Day cards available in the US had dwindled and the holiday largely died out there. There is no evidence to date for its uptake in Europe; however, it has been kept alive and revitalised in Asia, where several countries have adopted it.
In honor of Friendship Day in 1998, Nane Annan, wife of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world's Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. The event was co-sponsored by the U.N. Department of Public Information and Disney Enterprises, and was co-hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford.
Some friends acknowledge each other with exchanges of gifts and cards on this day. Friendship bands are very popular in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of South America. With the advent of social networking sites, Friendship Day is also being celebrated online. The commercialization of the Friendship Day celebrations has led to some dismissing it as a "marketing gimmick".
The intended purpose of celebrating days may be to promote a cause or an idea (World Environment Day is celebrated every year on 5 June); raise awareness (World AIDS Day, 1 December); romantic (Valentine day Feb 14);  saving institution of marriage (Wife day is celebrated every year on the 2nd Sunday of the July month); family relations (mother’s day, father’s day) etc.
In a way it’s a very good idea. As they say every day is a friendship, valentine, husband, wife, mother, father etc day and there is no need to celebrate it on a particular given day. But It makes the person feel special for one day. So there is no harm. As such we pray daily and God is in our heart 27x7 but still we celebrate X-mas, Id, Holi, Diwali, Ram Navmi, Krishna Janamashtmi etc.
 Some days or week are of Indian origin and they serve their purpose. Like we celebrate 14 Nov (Birthday of our first PM JL Nehru who loved children) as Children’s day.
We celebrate 14 Sept as Hindi Day as because on this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India had adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the official language of the Republic of India. Hindi weeks or fortnights are celebrated in September and it raises awareness about using Hindi.
We celebrate pulse polio weeks, which is a UN initiative, throughout the year and it helped eradicate polio from India.
Recently our PM Narendra Modi celebrated 21 June as International Yoga Day. Hopefully it will increase soft power of India in the world.
So in a way there is no harm in celebrating days, weeks or months as long as these help to promote a cause.
Biggest criticism of these days is that these are marketing gimmicks of big corporations. This is true to some extent.
Secondly as there are so many days that even 365 days are not sufficient. So this becomes a self-defeating exercise as too much of everything is bad.
 Sometime rowdy boys harass and stalk innocent girls, who are not interested in them, on days like valentine, rose, friendship etc. So it becomes misogynistic and ugly. On the other hand Hindu/ Muslim and other right wing activists oppose these on religious grounds and say these are against Indian culture. They harass publicly, genuine couples who are in love. This leads to very unpleasant situations and hooliganism.
Moreover relation centric days like mother, father, husband, wife etc is a poor idea in a sense that these can’t help much if we are morally and emotionally bankrupt. In some countries children don’t respect their parents and say that they are simply the byproduct of their lust. Similarly in the countries where divorce rate is too high days like husband/ wife can’t help much. These days becomes redundant and sham.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Review of Uneasy Money by PG Wodehouse

My introduction to Wodehouse. I simply loved it. I have not heard about Wodehouse at that time. I was travelling with my friend in the train who was reading it and completed it before her stop. So while deboarding she gifted it to me. And what a book it was. Pure pleasure. I finished it before Delhi came.

It is not like other books of the master. This is a simple love story. Though there are his usual trademark elements, but that is not all. It has a innocent romance too. Elizabeth Boyd is a treat. She is simply superb.

A must read for all Wodehouse fans. Even those who don't like him (though i doubt such a person exists) they can read it as a love story.

Review of From Sex to Superconsciousness by Osho

कही की ईट कही का रोड़ा भानुमति ने कुनबा जोड़ा.

"From Sex to Superconsciousness" (Hindi "संभोग से समाधि की और") by Shri Chandra Mohan Jain aka Acharya Rajneesh  aka Osho's most famous and most controversial book.
He takes eastern philosophy and interprets it in a bizzare way. He is something like Indian Dan Brown. like brown, Osho also takes historical and religious facts and then draws very improbable concusions. But he is more than brown; a self proclaimed God and is not just any garden variety godmen. Godmen are dime a dozen in India but osho is exceptional. Bhagwan Rajneesh. Osho is his name given by himself and derived from word oceanic meaning dissolving into ocean.
He is almost a genius, very well read, sharp analytical mind, very good with words, has vast vocabulary like Shakespeare and persuasive too. he had a large following all around the world. He was too hot to handle even for a free country like USA and was deported to India. He had 93 Rolls Royce cars at one point of time and many female lovers.
Anyway he has a new perspective and should be read once.         

Review of Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda

“Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda” literally means “The seventh horse pulling the chariot of the sun.” It is one of the books of which I first saw the movie and then read the book. Movie by Shyam Benegal is brilliant so is Manik Mulla played by Rajat Kapoor. Usually in case of movie adaptations of literature movie is disappointing. But in this rare case both are brilliant.

The novel is in narration style where Manik Mulla (name is very suggestive Hindu and Muslim both) tells story of failed romance of three women, to his friends on seven lazy summer afternoons. There are three heroines Jamuna (a simple middle class homely girl), Leela or Lily (the intellectual, independent, strong, feminist) and Satti (a feisty lower class woman). All three were in love with Manik Mulla at different points of time. Jamuna couldn’t marry her lover Tanna, because he is a coward and subsequently married off to an old man who dies. Widow Jamuna finds solace and happiness in extramarital relationship with a tongewala. Leela is married to Tanna, the coward lover of Jamuna and she is dissatisfied because he is not strong and intellectual enough to be her husband. The third one, Satti love Manik mulla but she is raped and murdered by Mahesar Dayal, evil father of Tanna. This novel looks at the disappointments faced by these women when it comes to love and how they cope up with their lives.

Dharamveer Bharti initially was in Prayogawadi (experimentalism) camp. This was a movement in Hindi literature called Prayogawad (led by Vatsayan agayeya) which concentrated on human misery, depression, aloofness, loneliness, helplessness and was totally cut off from society. it was influenced by Kafka, Freud and all which concentrated mainly on psychological aspect of humans and ignored the social aspect completely. In fact this hindi novel is translated in English by Agyeya titled "The Sun's Seventh Horse" (see cover above). Its opposite of it was Pragatiwad (Progressivism) influenced by Marxist, Leninist philosophy and promoted socialism.

His earlier novel “Gunaho ka Dewta” (another classic) is experimental. But later on he realized the limitations of experimentalism. So in a course correction he wrote “Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda” which is progressive and experimental both.

Manik says:

“It is true that love is conditioned by economic factors; but that love is another name for economic dependence is, a travesty of the truth, for, though it can not be denied love touches the strings of beauty deep down in the recesses of soul and wakens them to music, it fills us with a sense of grace, light and moral upliftment.”

Something about the style of writing. It is very unique, ingenious, surreal, and original. Nowhere you will see such a lyrical writing style in prose which alternates seamlessly between present and past; real and imaginary; dreams and life. Manik says about style of narration:

“Oh technique! Emphasis on technique is merely a sign of immature, the experimenter, the man who has not yet mastered his medium”.

This book brings out the trial and tribulations of Hindu middle class which is grappling with the problems of caste, creed, conventions, financial constraints, unmatched marriages, unfulfilled desires, weak position of women in Indian society etc.

Although the novel ends on a positive note. As per Hindu mythology the Sun god is travelling in the sky in a chariot pulled by seven horses. The seventh horse is the horse of dreams, aspirations and future. In the end it is shown that other six horses are injured and the seventh horse takes the sun into a hopeful future.
Manik Mulla thus emphasizes this point in the end of novel:

"The Love which cannot contribute to social progress and individual development, is not love"......