#WorldBookDay

So world book day today… Sending all of you who love to read a happy day. Which brings me to, what kind of a reader are you? Does that question sound weird? 

I have my reading days where I cannot put down a book, and continue reading without a care for food or drink, rain or shine. Then there are those set of days when I have my reading blocs where I wouldn’t touch a book if I can help it. Then there are days in between where I have a book or two around me which I’ll be reading from. My prof tells me to read at least 1000 words a day, and read three books at the same time, a morning, lunch and evening book varying in plot, its degree of intensity and genre. 

I just finished reading “The Killing of Polly Carter” a few days ago. A breeze of a read, a very similar style to Agathe Christie kind of murder mysteries and solving them. It reminded me of one of Mrs Marple’s cases she solved in the Caribbean when she was on vacation. 

The timing of things! 

A friend and I were reading up on this famous war journalist, Martha Gelhorn, a few weeks ago. In the beginning the name didn’t ring a bell, but over the hour we learnt she was one of the pioneers in war journalism in the last century who covered every war during her active lifetime. The coincidence of all this, is when another friend of mine brought a book, a collection of war articles, written by Ernest Hemingway, to our book meet totally unaware of my earlier reading.

Gelhorn and Hemingway were married for a brief period during the 1940s. I’m amused at the timing of things. 

First I get to read about Gelhorn, her adventures as a journalist, bits and pieces from her articles, her association with Hemingway who inspired her to write about the Spanish War which catapulted her into this field… And then to receive a collection of Hemingway articles … Lovely! 

Shall I be your Summer’s Day … 

“… a trickle of hot sweat rolled from his cheek, down his neck and into his shirt collar, and suddenly every inch of his skin under his suit seemed to prickle from the blistering heat…” (79) The Killing of Polly Carter, Robert Thorogood. 

Tell me a fav line from the book you are reading. I found this an apt description of what I feel when I’m out in the sun these days. And Thorogood has put its scorching hot and I want to take a shower right now feeling into words. 

Bliss

“You have no idea how good it is to see you again.. ” (210) #HarryPotterAndTheCursedChild

When the Amazon guy came in yesterday, he told me a bunch of rubbish, I didn’t find it “beatiful at all” He didn’t have the card swiping machine and I didn’t have enough cash to pay. We had a fight. I gave him a piece of my mind. I was so furious I had to take a break to get my cool back. This morning at around 9 the guy calls me again and says, “Madam, I have the machine, when should I come.” He came within 10 minutes, gave me the package, I paid. We became friends over harry potter, and a pack of yumfills. It has been a lovely day today, meeting Harry, Ron and Hermoine, all over again after so many years through the new and old writing. In a very blissful state at the moment, having finished reading something I had craved for, and musing over characters, places, certain paragraphs, sentences, quotes, and their camaraderie, sharing it with friends who have already read, who are reading still. It has been an interesting day so far. Hugs to all the HP fans 🙂 doesn’t it all come down to that finally. 😉 (no spoilers)

Ok, one spoiler, can’t resist .. when Hermione and Scorpius reply together and Ron says “Blimey! there are two of them .. ” well I thought of Quaid’s reaction in the Parent Trap (1998)b391f2ad72f9a313a7e86faf2a44012f

 

Running with kites and ice candy

13439179_10209538624720524_6918929968065842659_nOf all the books I have read so far, I will not re-read the Kite Runner! It took a month or more for me to get out of that book after I finished reading it. In addition to it being one of my longest reads I’ve undertaken so far. The trauma Hosseini describes was getting to me so much and becoming so real, that I had to stop reading, take a break, do some thing for a fresh vibe, and then get back. Sometimes I wonder why I took the pains to finish reading it after all the catharsis it made me go through. But it is with some books, like it is with some people, they entice you.. and drag you back into them, and then make you feel the pain!

The Ice Candy Man comes a close second. Earth wasn’t as cathartic as the novel, even though Aamir Khan played his devious part pretty well. But the read, as a standalone as well as companions to Kartography and Noor, spelled trouble for me. I’ve already re-read it once. But that would be it, I guess. Urvasi Bhutalia’s The Other Side of Silence can make up the third which is a collection of memoirs of people who experience the Partition! Let me add Manto’s short story Khol Do to this list. The link takes you to the story online!

#MondayMusingsGoes without saying that reading experience of these pieces is such because they are written really well. It affects the senses it targets in the reader! Some books need to read just once, their impression lasts for a lifetime.

If I could unread a book so I could read it again for the first time, give me Harry Potter – Book 1, I would love to be mesmerized again entering Diagon Alley and Platform 10 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, give me a Phantom, or Tintin or Batman! The fact is, I never get tired of Harry Potter or these comics, or Blyton stories, or Alice in Wonderland, or Midnight’s Children or…  I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve re-read them even when I have known the story from any where in the book. I’ll add Shaffer’s epistolary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Cussler’s Trojan Odyssey, the book that introduced me to who else but the ever so dashing, Dirk Pitt.

July begins with books! Re-read, un-read or your Current Read. Let’s makes a list.

Book Buddies

You tell me, what goes absolutely hand in hand with a book for you? I’m listing a few random partners.

1. A cup of coffee
2. A bottle of water
3. A piece of cake
4. A packet of chips
5. A pillow
6. A comfortable chair
7. A mattress
8. A corner beside the cupboard
9. A lone time
10. A flight ticket

Personally for me, an untouched coffee and an unopened bottle of water, a half eaten piece of cake and unopened packet of chips are indications of a good book… Or the level of concentration the book has taken me into.. I rarely eat while I read. For that matter, I don’t even keep food or a drink nearby while I am at it. It is very distracting to begin with. Cakes and chips are so messy, they even stick to the pages of the book!! or the reader! So, eating means having napkins around, wiping hands on it frequently after every bite!! 😉 😉 my best partner then is a flight ticket .. I can take a seat at an airport lounge and later in an plane, fasten the seat belt and read.. It can also be a cushion .. 🙂

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pins n ashes

oo oo oo oo oo oo

There is some strange connection between food and books, more than the two Os right in the middle of their names. Books have stories of food, and food times can also be book times.. (Not juat reading, it can be a time to discuss books too) (Although it is not a very good practice to follow) I am kind of intrigued by this connection, a connection that has made itself evident because books and foods are part of my favourite things.. I love to cook, and take pictures of food.. Some recipes come through books, such as my initial cooking experiments were all done from recipes in these cookbooks from MJ’s collection (I used to cook so that I could surprise them for snacks at coffee time in the evenings) habits die hard.. I continue to do the same even now when I’m at home 🙂

Regarding reading, I am not a compulsive reader at that. I read at my own pace, I enjoy my books, I live the lives of the characters, re-read my favourite parts, make customized bookmarks for each book, jot down memoirs of the book purchases and the book journeys .. Discuss books extensively with book crazy friends, rip their narratives apart as part of work and find interpretations, make connections partly because of my training and partly because it has become second nature.

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As far back as I can remember, I remember a stack of books next to my mother wherever she sat in the house. A stack of all kinds of dictionaries, books, magazines, newspapers, bits of papers that came as covers for things.. And the practice continues with the next generation through me. Wherever I stay there are always books around so many so that sometimes, I use them as table stands and such 😀 to manage space. Regarding lists of books read, since my way of life I choice is reading I happen to have read a lot of genres… At a least all those books listed in the must read group of 100 and 1000 books of the millennium and the century and the decade courtesy course work and curiosity.

Do I read while I eat.. Not really. I listen while eat .. (Audio books as they are called and it does open a whole new world).

oo oo oo oo
PS. Habits die hard .. The habit of blogging for the last 31 days stays on the 32nd day..

A Book Bias …

I sometimes wonder what it is to be biased ….. (Even when I have my own strong likes and dislikes.. Still..)

And then an example falls from nearby. I was horrified, and horrified is the word, the other day when my sibling sent me a picture of a box set he had purchased at a sale at landmark. I wanted to bury myself in the sand.. I thought it was peculiar that the mother also shared a part of the horror 😛 Birds of the same feather! The books were from Paulo Coehlo. About 10 of them. I comfort myself that they look lovely on the shelf with their colourful spines 😛

I remember, about 8-10 years ago, I was made to read two books, one the alchemist and the other the monk who sold his Ferrari at gun point, almost. I read with great difficulty, especially the Ferrari book because it made no sense to me at many levels. The alchemist I cracked one day after I had kept it aside after starting it like some 10 or 12 times. Almost at gunpoint, because I couldn’t say no to the person who asked me to read! It took me I don’t know over a year to complete these two books. The other time I willingly set myself to read a book of the same genre is Eat Pray Love, I loved the eat part of it a lot, I would suggest to people, read the eat and close the book. After alchemist with its universe conspires theory was a comfort pillow and quotable…  I took up, his other books. But at the end of each book I read, all he had to say were the same things, directly or indirectly. I stopped! I stopped reading also because all this self help was getting to me! I needed to help myself to get out of these artificial self helping and motivating books. But I am in a minority group, the larger majority love PC books! they loved the positive energy in selling the ferari, somebody else buying it, discarding it on the road and walking the desert or climbing a mountain… scuba diving as recent as Hrithik Roshan’s Zindagi..

I’ve understood I am allergic to this induced kind of self help in any media format! More so because I feel only I can help myself, no books, no people, no miracle can do that.. yes they can motivate! but finally it is upto the person.. It is easy to understood why I was horrified when there was a pic of a box set from the sibling! Well it could be a book bias, anyways, I’m so sure, the sibling will come back with the same thoughts.. but the realization that I have a book/author bias is getting to me!! .. In search for another word … a euphemism….. 😀

Blogathon’16 Day 27

Why not Karna and Prof. Snape

Hindu mythology would have a ready answer in karma for what happened to Karna.. it may also have an explanation that he chose to be in the evil company of Duryodhana and his scheming brothers rather than the five Pandavas…  however, who would side with the castist Pandavas after what they said to him during the exhibition match between the two set of cousins.. However, the epic is written with a teleological argument where the good triumphs and here the good was always the Pandava brothers from the every beginning. It is a different matter that in the end who was seated in heaven! 🙂 😛

professor-severus-snape

It is not a similar argument with Snape. However, Snape did what he did out of his unending love since childhood for Lily Potter. He did join the Voldermot’s army, the villains in the Potter series for his own reasons. He then came back to seek Dumbledore‘s help and later help the headmaster to bring Voldemort down for years at end. In the process the man secured the hate of every “so harry potter fan” character in the book in spite of his expertise in the dark arts or the different times when he saved Potter and the rest of the school.

Two characters that are layered, like a stack of cheese.. or say like well made parantha or a kerala parota..

The troubles when a character who is inherently good, (please do note that good is always in relative to the bad, there is no stationary trait of good or bad) is shown from the beginning in bad light and hated for their daily ways. In case of Snape he is consistently shown as he is for over 7 books. In the case of Karna, almost the entire epic, except in bits and pieces. However, in the case of Karna, the reader always knew his lineage….. in case of Snape, nobody knew anything, except some of us die hard readers of Potter profess we had an inkling about him 😛 😉 Is that an injustice to a character….

It is but natural that as a reader we are prone to dislike that bad character because for the ardent reader in us, it is the hero of the book who is the loved one with all their flaws. So we have a tendency to love Harry Potter, and not to love/like Snape even when it is revealed in the end of Book 1 that Snape was trying to help Potter rather than sending curses to make him to fall from his broom for the Quidditch. So anybody who does anything against Potter, is our enemy, therefore Snape becomes ours… anybody who is against the 5 brothers and sides with their opposition has our dislike… therefore in spite of knowing about Kunti‘s teenage fancy, we have an empathy towards Karna, but no like 😉

If we need to compare two characters, why not ProfSnape from Rowling‘s Harry Potter series and Karna from the Mahabharata. Two characters of great merit, in the space of the story they were born into and matured. Nevertheless they are part of the rival team. Or more aptly, they seemed to be part of the rival team by the majority of the characters in the story as well as the audience for most part while  the story progresses, until may be it is time for the climax that leads to a hurried resolution. Such that, their so called bad character and their traits are remembered for the most part, rather than the last bits where their true sacrifice and stature is revealed.

However, we talk about them like in a blog post or in an article in hindsight, which is the best appreciation for a role… 🙂 😉

Work in progress..

Piggy backing on an earlier post I wrote on between breaks.. Images courtesy: Google

Have you realized that Akbar and Shakespeare are contemporaries?

Let me start with a question, list 10 Mughal Emperors in Indian History? Write them down somewhere..  I’ll come back to that later, but before that I need to share with you my excitement about the title of the post.

If you put British History and Indian History side by side, you’ll come to know that Akbar and Shakespeare are contemporary to each other. Strange? I thought they lived in different worlds, Oh! they did, but those different world were their different continents. However, they lived their lives almost during the same years.

Time for another fact. Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Akbar died in 1605, Shakespeare lived a decade longer and died in 1616.

All this, when set out in this fashion makes me feel rather excited about information in general and about these people in particular. I have never put Shakespeare and Akbar together before. I knew their dates, works and their years individually within their context, and the context of say, East India Company and the Plymouth, but never in this way, across countries. By that same logic, the second battle of Panipat was fought in 1556. It was in 1558 that Elizabeth became the Queen of England. Here in what has become India today, a 14 year old Akbar makes a statement in the battle field against Hemu, and there, Elizabeth succeeds her sister Mary and start making statements and tries to bring peace!

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I’ve been reading Alex Rutherford for quite a while now. I read his first two books on Babar and Humayun, I picked up Akbar then and then Jahangir. He has written about Shah Jahan too in his latest book released this year. It so happened that while visiting a friend (and as is practice) I was attracted to her book shelf. She had just finished reading the first book in the series on Babar. She lent it to me and there I began my journey with Rutherford through one of my fav periods in Indian history. Favourite because with Mughal history in class 7 our class got an amazing history teacher. She made us or rather me love history (I can speak for myself and not my classmates as such) and since it all began with the Mughals, it is a special love.

So if you ask me the question name 10 Mughal Emperors I would scratch my head, because I have only studied 7. Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurengazeb and Bahadur Shah Zafar. William Dalrymple has made the last Mughal Ruler famous with his book, The Last Mughal, just think of that cover pic! Now who are the other 3 if I have to complete a 10 point list. This question is also borrowed. I happened to watch it on a TV Quiz show, where according to its format, each team is asked list 10 names of a topic of their choice from a list in a stipulated time. When this question came, I was genuinely puzzled. Because my school history textbook gave me only 7 prominent names, I raked my memory, avoided the enticing google to get answers.. but nothing appeared in my head from school memory. When the quiz master revealed the answers I was taken aback to see the names!

To test if I was the only one who was taken aback and puzzled by this question and ignorant about the remaining rulers, I put forth this question to an assorted group of my friends, this is a varied group who studied in different schools in different parts of India, under different school boards. I was wishing at least one of them would give me at least an 8th name. One of the first counter questions most of them asked was “how come 10” is it a list of Mughal Emperors of India or in Mughal History as a whole starting with Timur! “Isn’t it 7”  was other counter question, and they all listed the names they knew in chronological order.

The problem seems to lie in the way history is taught in our schools. Between Aurangazeb and Bahadur Shah Zafar there are many Mughal Emperors, but the textbooks we studied consolidated all their names into either one or two paragraphs or to a page, when these seven were given dedicated chapters.

Coming back to excitement about the contemporaneity, that bit of information still excites me, sharing it with you, if you too like me is beginning to see the connection.