L’sLT Series | Yet Do Not Go Gently Through Life

I have been looking up poems from my past and remembering how it felt back then, and how it feels right now. Sometimes the understanding is varied. As a young girl, my understanding was different from that of my present-day mindset.

The poems were read exactly in the order they are listed below:

Death Be Not Proud – John Donne

Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas

Because I could not stop for Death – Emily Dickinson

At this point, let me stop and look at what I have collected so far. Let me take the poem in the order presented because there is a clear chronological logic to it. I read John Donne’s Death Be Not Proud, in my secondary school days. The fact that my school included the topic of death at a very early stage and partly the reason being that all parts of literature was never far from it. Take for instance, when children watched their pet breath their last right in front of them. These days you cannot protect the children from all the gory details of war and violence. Violence these days are a given. In that, when we speak of death and passing, the angle that needs to be taken is rather interesting.

Should death as a subject be introduced at an early grade? It is still a debatable question. But I feel death as a sensitive topic should be addressed early. Then I would give it a resounding, Yes! The more secular thoughts on the passing and coping with the passing is something that needs to be in the survival kit of each individual child.

The fact that each of the poet had their own way of looking at death; but then something else was also happen with the topic. By the time I reached the American poet’s version of His Majesty the Death, I had undergone much emotional changes.

John Donne’s version of what Death can accomplish is not so dramatic and back at that age it kind of gave a weird sense of pride that after the passing the soul will rise and live on. Though it was different from Hindu philosophy of circle of birth, death and rebirth, ad infinitum. I understood that maybe, yes, Death is not to be feared as much, since there was a next chance to make amends.

With this false bravery, I made progress in life, thinking that Death cannot outdo me. But yet there were such moments, when I felt maybe, I should rethink my concept of passing away and how we handle it.

Dylan Thomas also begged and beseeched his readers to not accept without putting up a brave-faced fight till the end. The various ways in which Death does challenge the human being until they are subdued to submission was explored, but the need, not to give up the fight till the last becomes an emphatic refrain with the nice touch of the Villanelle’s natural form.

A Villanelle is rather strictly structured, and the magic is in the refrain. Dylan Thomas uses it very beautifully to accomplish it. When the thoughts get grounded in the action that human take, then it becomes significantly important point to look out. Thomas’ version of how to fight it out and not be defeated in the hands of Death is a strong takeaway.

The strife and struggle that goes into the process of leaving this mortal world is something that Dylan Thomas brings out in his villanelle. I love this poetic form so much that I feel that one can get much out of those rhyming sequence. I have played around with this form for topics that were about hiding things and not giving up.

Surprisingly, when I reached high school and some American poets were also included in our repertoire of poetic studies, I first encountered Emily Dickinson with such pleasant shock that it was a new experience for me.

By my high school days, I would look upon poets and try to figure out their life stories. So, Emily was such a fascinating person and I liked the fact that she had characteristics that are close to my preferences in life.

The fact that Death gets invited into her very parlor for some nice tea and nibbling snacks kept a drummer’s beat in my mind. It is almost as if Death is a welcome guest, on whose honor the table of snack sits waiting to be attended to.

There are times when a poem can evoke images in the mind that is unique for each poem. In “Because I could not stop for Death” poem there is much that is happening which I didn’t find it in the early masculine expression to death. Somewhere there is a sense of gentleness in Emily’s version.

I am still looking out for a version of Death that is an equalizer. A more modern expression of death what it has to offer for a human being in the form of life. Somehow it is not even about living after being dead and I feel I am not that happy with the current affairs to wish to be born again. So, what should be the angle of a more modern and current version of Death which overpowers Dickinson or Thomas or Donne’s approach to the central figure called Death?

Of late, I am more mellowed, I am no longer the fiery poet who kind of thinks, that she can change the world with her words. I know the world will continue in its strides caring not for a single thing of any major concern. It is like the time has passed and the human being who watched it go by passively are none the wiser from those that actively participated in it. The passing of time is inevitable.

Death as a topic has always been my favorite. It is mysterious and filled with a unique quality of evading human understanding. Why would human beings be born and go through the various stages of life and undergo the varied aspect of life’s struggles and then, pass away? The Eastern theories and Western principles kind of clash and confront the understanding limits of this individual’s perception.

Desire to hold on to the memories of the time spent together is high, yet death dare not visit as John Donne says that after death I shall rise and be free forevermore. There was a huge change, in the way, especially the classic method of viewing death by the British poets. This stark difference in the American poets and British poets handling brings out the varied interpretation of death is the varied Indian spice of new understanding.

Life according to me is somehow filled with people, things and places. When in reality none of these should really matter, to begin with. Life is always is just about the Self – the indweller. I have had moments when I simply see things happening around me, as if in a movie theatre. I don’t know if that should raise a red card alert that the participant is no longer a participant, but merely an onlooker.

Sometimes the mind has its own way of handling sadness and despair. Some relations in life has certain special place in the human emotion and mental setup. Whenever I am very sad, I tend to create poetry that is fully loaded with heavily coded words. I am the only one who can Unicode it, pun intended.

I have learned from living that you should not give up and just let life happen on you. You should try to go out there and making little things of importance happen whatever be the outcome. The need of the moment is not to see your life as ending but beginning with a fresh start.

 

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My Language Learning Lounge

I am very picky about what I see on Television. So there is a huge debate within me for viewing a show and only when it is justified, do I watch the serial! There is a sense of purpose which moves alongside of the viewing activity.

I have always been fascinated with Language and learning new ones is such a pleasure. I love the fact that I am from a place where there are multiple languages that you could find uniqueness in each of it.

During my childhood I had for a long time just listened in to Hindi movies even if I didn’t understand the dialogue and slowly the language opened up to me. It was nearly 8 years later that I spoke my first sentence to another person who knew Hindi. That is being very brave.

I love listening to people, especially if they are excitedly talking. I don’t mind eves-dropping on conversation if it would teach me language. But I make sure I don’t judge the person since the activity was aimed for learning the language.

It began with Hindi in Chennai, Mandarin and Malay in Singapore, Spanish and Korean in San Francisco and now written Hindi and Samskritam. There is a force within me that wants to self-learn languages and to do that drama was clearly the best source. This way I will not be violating rules and eves-dropping on personal conversation.

Those days of watching Doordarshan channel was such a pleasure for me. I always felt that you learn better when you listen to songs. So Wednesday Chitrahaar was a must watch for me. I looked around and this one had a sample of the Chitrahaar I knew from my past.

Back then there was just one channel and it had a fixed duration of viewership. I think I like those days since there was more time for children to play and participate in sports.

Once the Regional Doordarshan channel came in then it became a more full time affair. I think the content in those channels were more towards regional aspects. The drama soon became a regular affair then slowly when regular serials became a daily based one, I think it happened as an unconscious affair.

When I went to Singapore the first thing that I checked out for my language learning need was to listen in on those Chinese and Malay programs. I found it a little complicated because I didn’t have a reference to their facial expression. So it was hard and that fact that I was little pre-occupied didn’t add up.

Till this day I have never been anywhere that I hated. I always had been in a state of merriment when I am in any new or old places. Even though my experiences in Singapore were a little challenging, I still look upon the city with much affection.

I wanted to see those cultural entertainment events and observe the culture without questioning any of its reasons. I love accepting culture as is and enjoy the uniqueness that is special for each culture.

The Traditional Chinese Theatre or Chinese Opera is such a wonderful experience to have and somehow it feels that drama whether in the West or East has a common element to entertain with some message. The beauty of watching the ancient drama kind of gave me a sense of continuity that seems timeless.

There is much that I learned about Language and how it becomes a part of a community. There is so much to learn and to say that you go to school only for the duration of your educational life. I feel education is something that is simple, unstoppable and happens at every turn of a human life events.

So that is when I ask myself, this question, are we really teaching love for language in the best possible way? Even now I know that if I keep exposing myself to a oral and written language then, rest assured I will also learn to write.

Language is a way of being able to express the complex thoughts in a familiar pattern of script which gets transferred between two conversing persons using a single language. Now the extent to which actual communication happens is entirely limited by the understanding levels of the participants. So though skilled are people really communicating? That is the question!

It is a weird combination of partially or complete lack of understanding of the medium of communication, thus, resulting in misinterpreted communication. For instance in the fact that most of our advertisement play on the facts of language and its usage. That way I feel there is much in the scope of the way things are being communicated.

Image Source: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Nightingale Diary 2019 | My Tryst with Diaries

The year 1988 was significant because it was the time of my maximum changes. I was growing, changing and figuring myself out, and everything was a part of the process of growing up. I had a lot of things happening in my life and for the first time in my life, I felt joy since I could pour my thoughts into a journal. I believe around the Summer of 1987, I wrote my first poem on the four seasons and partly the reason why, even today, I want to read Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार) in the originally written language.

When I came to know the four flat seasons that I had described was of no comparison to the power-packed English version of Ṛtusaṃhāra (ऋतुसंहार). I hoped and prayed that I could write so movingly like Kavi Kālidāsa (कालिदास).

These days I refrain from writing journals and have switched to analyzing the text and performing a high-level exposition to find the core values that I hold in my life. I have always been a very closed person, so I find it difficult to connect with people. But with books and texts, I am totally in connected mode.

I have never bought diaries for myself. Because usually, my father would give me his company’s complementary diary that he would have ordered to gift it to his clients. So when I planned to get a diary, he would simply hand me that year’s copy of the diary. I was happy with it since it had a lot of lines for me to fill.

I used to write in those diaries and sometimes 1989 diary would have entries till 2000. I never stopped writing diaries and I don’t know at what point I started to maintain an Online journal in MSWord format. Around 2001 I believe I began holding Journal Yeared online versions. Things became a lot more different with an online journal and somehow I never wrote as often as I did my physical diary.

But let me backtrack a little here. When I first wrote these diary entries, pouring my very soul in it, I found a sense of peace at the end of the exercise. It was almost cathartic feeling. One more interesting thing is that I always picked Reynold’s Bold pen to write. I liked it to be over thick ink stains on the pages with my hand clearly printed and which spoke of me, as someone who was over-emotional. I am over emotional to a fault sometimes, but then, I try to meditate on words and find my balance.

After many years, this January 2019, I got a book from the Nightingale Brand of Diaries in Amazon. For some reason that I cannot seems to bring myself to explain, I was fascinated with a specific type of diary. I couldn’t stop myself from buying it, but then, I didn’t have a huge budget for the diary. So I spent Rs. 135/- from Satish Sellers since I like the Diary pattern. It was about environmental themes.

When I got the B6 Diary with my favorite elements in it, my heart felt a joy of the Summer of 1987 when I wrote my first poem, which was a well-kept secret for a long time. For me, diaries are an essential way to connect with my inner being. I usually meditate with words. Even now as I am writing this there are parts of my thoughts which are clearing and expressions get refined.

But more to the Diary that I got, I am not writing a long statement in the Nightingale Diary, but merely connecting dots of thoughts to mark my understanding. This diary is used more for work and writing life. I can write my heart out on my father’s company diary and I am still searching for a diary that will allow me to pour my soul in it.

I think I miss those days when my diary and I would spend countless hours just being ourselves. My diary silent and listening; while I am garrulous and expressive. To this day, there no one as close as a diary in my life. I find my peace and joy in it.

Somehow MS Word didn’t feel like a person and a close friend just like Anne Frank’s kitty. I think I need to find my journal again and start writing my heart out. Sometimes, when you leave your heart out on your sleeve, people will squash it and leave you bruised; but a diary would never hurt you like that. That compassionate, non-judgemental diary is a gift to the shy and the social outcasts.

But overall, I was happy with the Ecologic version of the Diary even though I felt guilty that I have bought a diary for the first time in my life. I have always used leftover books and father’s company diary for my journal entries. I want to revive my writing habit and get back to verbally analyzing things in my life in written format.

I am working in the very company that makes Nightingale Diaries and much more strong branded products that take me back to my first love at first sight poem to the seasons of India. Of course, I am looking at what my life is leading me up to with all the new experiences.

In that way, my diary entries in the Nightingale brand diary is more succinct and that is not my old self. I want to probe into the very being of my self and discover myself again in restructured words and be the change that I seek within me.

My every company that I worked was always about spiritual growth for me. I go by my father’s adage if you are given a task then persistently do it until you finish it. Over the years, words have been the tools that I took to the work table and never regretted it.

Words move me, sway me, rock me to sleep, or just plain cathartic process. I want to revive hand journal writing with my special brand of pen Reynolds Bold. Someday, I would revive my passion of the first journal entry which I shared with my brother after many years. He read it and smiled and gave it back to me that felt like an encouragement to me.

 

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Podi from the Online Outlet Idlies

How many of you can remember your patti’s kaipakkuvum? I come from a joint family system where uncles, aunts and galore of cousin team up to make an experience well worth it. A brahmin household is teamed with specific food items which are exclusive to that community.

Our signature food items come in a set. Like Vetrikuzhumbu with Parruppu Thovaiyal, Sutappalam with tomato rasam seasoned in ghee and spluttered mustard, Adai with Avaiyal and Idli with Milagaipodi.

Ah! When I think of Milagaipodi, I am reminded of my mother, I learned the making this side-dish from her. When she religiously makes it and the visitors praise her effort, I think my mother felt great pride in her cooking.

Since the making of podi quantity was for a larger audience, so, I felt it was easier to buy them for just a single user. I have been searching for that specific amma’s brand of milgaipodi and have been sadly disappointed. Since even the Sharada Stores ones also was not close to Amma’s style. About a few days back one of my new friends suggested that I try Idlies an outlet of all Brahmin cuisine to check out the Podi.

I was nervous but then, I knew I am being guided by the authentic source. When I tried the Podi this past Saturday, I was lost in thoughts and missed my mom the most. I felt sentimental and remembered how my grandmother used to have idles, podi and curd combo.

There are some stylistic preferences that one would almost remember WB Yeats’ poem A Prayer for My Daughter, where he explains how girls eat crazy salads. In many ways, life is about food and various unique ways that people have it. Like for instance, having curd rice with mixture or omapodi. There are some really weird combos and I have such preferences too.

The interesting part was the fact that Podi’s package had one of the best themes and the color combo was simply fantastic. The touch of color scheme and the caricature of grandmom with the little girl in the kitchen was such a wonderful design theme.

But I am more used to the Meenakshi Ammal “Cook And See” the every new bride’s mother’s gift to her daughter. I tell you, Meenakshi Ammal used words that were hard to understand. She spoke about how to cook rice on Vengalapanai. Of course, she would describe how to do the scare thing of draining excess water.

But there was much that I learned from cooking various dishes. My mother taught me a few signature dishes which I kept repeating but I would experiment too sometimes. There are days when I feel like cooking up a storm and there are days when I would not move my being to even boil water.

But there are days, when I feel truly inspired to create a most complicated dish I take all efforts. Pappaji loved my subzi and amma didn’t like Northern spices. So I had to strike a balance for both of them. Among the many things, there is a certain food that reminds me of specific people in my family.

Food always brings the family together and binds us in a common understanding of people who you love-hate and everything in between. Podi reminded me of three people when I tasted with my idlies. My athai who passed away recently and she was a rock of Gibraltar in the kitchen. The food preparation was a joint effort of all the brothers, daughters-in-law and athai. Athai used to be the main cook with my mother making sure she gets the ingredients that are needed. So when my athai makes Podi it is wonderful to taste.

The brahmin household is never bereft of this ingredient. It is a quick breakfast side-dish solution. If you are pressed for time and cannot make the chutney, use the Podi, the all-purpose side-dish for Idly and Dosa. If the hunger factor is beyond a bearable point, pull a plate, make some quick swish Dosas and have it with podi. The countless joy of having that podi was to refresh the mind of past memories of my childhood.

 

 

 

Radha Kalyanam A Musical Event 2018| My Take

flute and feather

I came to know about Radha Kalyanam from my mother. She would reminiscence about incidents from her life. One of her past incidents was about her youngest sister’s interest in the Radha Kalyanam event more out of necessity than any spiritual import. She attended the event and participated in getting alms from the brahmin community, dancing around in the celebratory wooden press, and free meals at the end of the event. So, Radha Kalyanam was a reference that I got from my mother and I always thought of my aunt who passed away at a very young age.

I never really understood about Radha Kalyanam, since it was not my topic of interest. Naturally, I never could relate to the program format that my mother explained to me. But there were moments when I could imagine my youngest aunt jumping around the Ural or Wooden press pounding stick and finding whatever connection that she found in it.

Radha Kalyanam brought back sad notes for me and surprisingly, I attended the Radha Kalyanam for about most part on 29th and 30th December 2018. I feel that being a semi-passive audience could be a little hard on one. I definitely feel, that it the hardest to sit it out on a hard cold floor covered with a thin carpet and the AC in full blast. Apart from a bad back and butt after the program, I was left with a feeling that I really don’t know anything about Jayadevar’s “Gita Govinda” work.

My neighbor’s family has been holding this function during Marghazi Tamil month for the past three years. It usually coincides with the first day of the new year. Marghazi falls between mid-December to mid-January. Interesting thing is that Chennai climate is pretty cold in this month compared to the other months in the Tamil Calendar.

The past years, I had just quickly visited for a few moments and listened in from the comforts of my home since their function happened on their terrace. This year they had booked a hall for this function. I had no clue about the format of the program until this year and would always wonder why the singer was not doing a good job. I enjoy solo more than group singing. The only time I am fascinated by the group singing is when they have practiced a lot as a choir. The group singing is all about coordination and mellifluous voices that appear as a single unit.

This Marghazi of 2018 I felt an interesting need to attend this program and understand its import. So even when I did get the invite, I was thinking of just giving a quick visit and leave after taking tambulam. But somehow during my research on Andal’s work Thiruppavai, I came across a connecting reference to the rasaleela of Vrindavan and Andal’s call for Pavai Fasting.

The event format was not clear until I read a little more about the source work and the significance of the Radha Kalyanam. As an aftermath of attending the event, I had a hard time to forget Radha. The principal human Atmas are represented by Radha and gopikas who become unified with Krishna consciousness.

Around the second week of the new year, I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery that was making my mind so confused. Radha and Krishna’s relationship has a mystical quality to it which by the way, does not fall under the common human definition of love. But the audience can relate to the lower level resonance of love and the affection of human qualities and its human plane references.

So during my research of Radha Kalyanam, I found the following sites very informative:

So, I decided to get back to the main text written by Jayadevar in the “Gita Govind”. The Tamil version of the Astapathi of Jayadevar’s poetry is sung with great fervor of devotion. The translation of the Astapathi provided an incline into the poetic structure of the Gita Govind’s 24 verses of 8 couplets in a pastoral lyrical ballad.

There is a huge difference in the format of Thiruppavai and Gita Govind. Both speak of pastoral scenic places and settings. In the expression of love there lies the difference. The poetry is definitely conservative in the case of Andal’s Thiruppavai compared to the Astapathis. The view of the exact transliteration of the poetry may not provide a clear understanding of the central theme if the context is not fixed at the beginning.

Out of context, the Astapathi sounds very erotic since the poetic format is structured in such a way that it brings out pastoral love of Nayika and Nayak. It parallels the universal sought spiritual goal for each individual atma to get unified with the supreme Paramatma. This time Radha Kalyanam was interesting to follow and observe the various elements of the event. I am yet to find the Supreme Krishna consciousness.

In that I believe, Andal’s Nachiar Tirumozhi is closer to the Astapathi, yet Andal is very conservative in her expression. This conservative expression is essentially very south based poetry rules. Given that Andal’s exposure to various literary works at that time would have been provided by her adopted Father Periazhwar. Given that she was educated and learned to write a pastoral poem on her ishat devatha first as a communal prayer event and later as a personal one-on-one conversation leading to individual aspiration of sainthood. In that I liked the poetic quality of both the poets for different reasons. Though the pastoral quality of Gita Govind is sublime experience for me.

 

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On Being Sick in Bed While Recovery A Long Haul

From the collection “The Moment and Other Essays” by Virginia Woolf is the essay titled “On Being Ill.” I accidentally came across this essay while searching for the essay as a mode for a critique of an event. Virginia Woolf is the renowned essayist who has written many critical pieces on Essay as an appealing literary format. Since I was planning to write an essay about Radha Kalyanam that I had attended over the weekend and I was exploring critical essays for better representation of the program’s impact on me.

The program was a recital of Gita Govind by Jayadev, a 12th Century Poet but not in the originally written language. The poet’s original work was in Sanskrit; but the program was performed in Tamil, one of the South Indian languages. The performers used the translated text from Sanskrit to Tamil for the recital. The program was done with the musical rendition and had a lyrical quality to it.

The fact that various sublinks took me to this essay was rather interesting. I was recently recovering from a bout of body pain and cramped legs condition with a slight touch of fever. I was bed-ridden for a day and a half. The words that illness should have an equal place in literature along with love, jealousy, and other emotions, caught my interest. I decided to find the essay and read up.

Woolf seems to be dwelling on various aspects of illness seen from individual suffering from the ailment, visitor’s behavior, environment or space in which the individual is made to rest, the window, flowers from visitors and the view. All of these become a character, and eventually, the books lined up to read is dealt in greater detail.

A trip to heaven and back is done in the duration of having a tooth pulled out at the dentist’s chair was a dry humorous note to the essay. When the dentist becomes an angel surrounded by white cloud for the anesthesia fogged mind which is working hard to figure out dream from reality was confusing for me initially as I was swimming in the play of various description that sounded like a heavenly harp. The punchline was the fact it was a tooth pulling session at the dentist.

Surprisingly, I could relate to the thought that life’s physical ailment is not given as much importance as it should be given. I remember when I was bed-ridden for about eight months in a row, my sole companion was the books that I picked to read. Of course, I would look out of the window to watch the WoodApple Tree and Koel sitting inside the dense foliage for distraction.

The current view is the road and traffic clubbed with some green here and there. Otherwise, the entire room is a gloom. With the new Kindle device, books are no longer heavy to hold reclining. I found solace from the fact that a couple of days rest and some Crocin 650 should do the trick. After which I should be fit as a fiddle. Woolf even plays with the medicine consumed and makes it into a lyrical ballad.

But Woolf’s essay was another revelation by itself. She covers all the aspects of being ill. From the point where a sick person is someone who has quit the battlefield before the war got over. Being included in the members who ran away in fear or were brave but a fallen soldier whose valor now lay squabbled on the battlegrounds while rest of the battalion forward marches to carry on fighting erect on their feet.

She then recommends, that when a person falls sick, then they no longer are thinking of arguing or justifying deep prose. She recommends and says that poets are the best speakers of that natural causation that cheer up the mind. A healthy person who is ready to contest the theologies of the poet’s thought, would now rather hear him out without putting up an intellectual block.

Surprisingly, it reminded me of the time when I was sick for many months together, I read a collection of poems written by a girl who knew she will not last for long. She was hardly more than 13 years of age. Her aspiration, yearning and a singular desire for peace in the world were beautifully written in simple free verse form. I found the book so fascinating and so genuine, that I could take solace from the fact that my ailment was temporary, unlike her health trouble.

I totally agree that the best book to read while unwell is a collection of poems by known or unknown poets. Since the text is easy to take in, given all the stress levels. At the same time, there is an immense beauty in the lines that overpowers the sick person’s impressions of life.

Woolf chooses Shakespeare in her essay as the poet for the sick; though I would have preferred Keats. She also talks about other lesser known and popular books in circulating that were pulp fiction of the time. Her description almost equates to the regular soap serials of heroine who are unendingly facing hardship only to find momentary happiness at the end. Stories that are churned out in random order and on a regular base for light reading consumption.

I found the entire essay fascinating and relevant to my condition. Yet there are a few things, that I felt Woolf had left out, which made it seem so one-sided. There are moments in the sickness when the bodily energy is drained and the entire view is blood red with pain surrounding it. In those moments, when the outside view is just a blue pattern curtain shutting out light and there is no nature to divert, then, I believe, the mind goes in circles wallowing in thoughts that are clearly not helping the situation.

Woolf keeps to the text of cheering the sick person on the bed with things that would calm them down and give them the well-needed rest to recover. I believe the recovery achieved at the cost of gloom is one of the priceless achievement. When many days pass with no sign of hope and a healthy day in a sick person’s life seem a far cry, then I believe the victory of recovery should be talked about too. But then, her focus was on influenza and how the ailments turn the mind and perception.

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Panoramic View of History of India

Book Title: India Shastra | Reflections on the Nation in our Time

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Translator:  N/A

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Author:

This book is the first of my political books that I have ventured to read up. Shashi Tharoor as an author is very structured and articulate. His thoughts are progressive and innovative. Each chapter has been written with the mindset to expand the readers thoughts and get a general perception of true advancement of India.

As a person who has held official posts in the Indian government, he speaks erudite lingo of progress. Sometimes the best expressed thoughts create the right kind of impact on the readers. As an author I found him to be convincing with much of the intelligence of political tendency to be articulate to a fault.

Sometimes, I found him to be pro-congress in his expressions. I think that is expected given that he belongs in the Congress party. But I was disappointed that it colored some of his perceptions, I looked forward for some fair deal in voicing what Congress did wrong too. But then loyalties are stood up to by using finesse of expressions.

Book in a Nutshell:

The book is divided into 8 section under the varied topics, and sub-topics are covered with well structured thought process. This gives a reader a complete panoramic view of India’s political stand from Pre-Independence day to Modified days. The book contains some really interesting information bundled into knowledge packets. The past, present and future of India is beautifully drawn using words as a medium.

The author has been really sharp and erudite in expressing his visions, provisions for better Indian governance. The common goal of India has been given a beautiful platform to perform and excel with good and wise leadership at the helm. Is there a single party that can provide good leadership at the helm is still open for a debate?

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

Shashi Tharoor as a thinker is par excellence. His thought process is really the niche that this book enjoys and educates the readers. The fact that India at various stage of history has been bouncing back on its feet and continuing its journey of progress. As the largest live democracy India’s political engine works with its regular set of maintenance requirement.

Per se, I had no dislikes about the book; but I did felt that Shashi couldn’t prevent the voice of his party infringe his words in certain places. If BJP voices strongly against minority, then Congress goes equally loud on religion and other weaker points of BJP. But then, there is no ownership to faults in Congress governance. This could possibly be that while representing a greater machine of Democracy’s working in voting populace that will get your eyes popping, I believe the Laxmanian Common Man has to bear the brunt.

My Opinion

I must say that the book was really much more informative than the history book that I read in my school days. Given the requirement to rote learn all details, I wonder if history books do carry the truth or truth according to the group that won the war. When I read Shashi Tharoor’s history, then I wondered all the hardship of memorizing even the swatted shape of a dead mosquito in my history book doesn’t serve the purpose of educating me. But given so many wars, humans have yet to learn that war is futile and not worth all those bloodshed.

History is often written by the winners of the situation and it is angled to make the winner’s look better. But history is always is written on blood that will leave you cold and rebuked as an outcaste. But then what does the common man want of all this history upheaval? I would say that the night will follow the day and likewise, various parties may come and go; but still, public problems are just that, public problem unresolved.

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Surprised In the Summer of 2000

It was in the year 2000, that I came across Ponniyin Selvan and before that I knew nothing of this epic book. It had happened quiet by accident like much of my other experiences in life.

My father ran a family trust that had printed two books and he wanted to collect the payment for the earlier batch, so he took me along to Higginbothams, a book store in Chennai.

He left me with the books, while he went to settle the payment issue and I was left lost in the world of books displayed on the shelves. Of course, my father regretted leaving alone with the books once he saw the arm load of books that I was carrying to buy.

I was browsing the books in the shelves when I came across a book titled “The First Floods” of Ponniyin Selvan (Part 1) translated by C V Karthik Narayanan. It was the last book on the 12 books I was already holding. But after one look at this book, I moved no further and picked that book to begin reading, just when my father came searching for me.

One look at my expression and my father asked, “You are not thinking of making me pay for all those books, are you?” Well my father can be very easily convinced and I believe my sad puppy face did do its magic. But then he bargained hard and eventually I dropped all the books and chose Ponniyin Selvan alone. I was hugging the copy close to my heart as I walked out of the shop dreaming and quietly convinced that I am the actual owner of an entire world.

It was nearly two years later, that I was able to get the rest of the parts of the book. Appa got a promise from me when I got all the parts on the same day that I am not going to ask him for anything for the rest of the year and I readily agreed to not ask him anything for the rest of my life! But my father just shook his head and got me the books.

My father was a fair person who didn’t exploit the situation by asking me to give up any of my wild ways in life. Mind you, on that day I was willing enough to agree even to study the dry subject Economics too, if I had to redo my college. I was that agreeable to any conditions for the rest of the books.

To this day, if I come across a book, it would stop all my other works completely and I get warned, threatened by my mother for not doing my assigned chores. Eventually, she will give up on me as she knows nothing will stop me from completing the book. She also knew that I will bug her for the rest of her working time to just talk to her about the story that I read. There isn’t any hope for my confirming to house rules until I finish the book that had captivated my sensitivity.

Both my parents were surprised that I was so goo goo and gaa gaa about the historical novel which was popular during their young adult days. They were happy to have a conversation about the Kalki magazine being their favorite and how people in their house would fight for the copy.

Once I finished the book and I wanted the rest of the books. I reread the Part 1 book about couple of more times and every time the magic remained and never vanished from my imagination. I think I feel in love with Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan that summer of 2000.

Around that time, I was part of a Writer’s Mailing List through email. It was very basic and I was trying to get any native English speakers’ opinion on my work. I found myself wanting in trying to be calm and collected but it took me a long time to understand their critic on my works. I wished to know if I could even contemplate publishing them in the future.

I remember writing a piece that was totally inspired by Kalki’s “The First Floods.” Even today when I reread that piece of creative non-fiction, I am reminded of the causative feel that made me write. Even now I feel that magic of reading the hero on a tired horse traversing along the banks of Veeranam was so romantic for me.

When I wrote that piece I was like nothing could be more magical than the moment that I am drawing out of my memory that pure imagination. I almost felt that Chennai had turned into something special and when the Koel’s call resonated in the sky darkened with rain-bearing clouds, my heart would just sing a timeless and ageless song.

I tried really hard to read the book in Tamil since the magic of a language cannot be captured at the same level. But honestly, I think C V Karthik Narayanan had done an exemplary artistry with the translation. The rhythm of a Tamil story in English was beautifully captured. Since then, I am trying to write like Kalki but then nowhere near as yet, I am not giving up hope though. But the truth is that, if you write the way you write, the writer within will find that personal rhythm which the reader is able to connect with eventually.

My favorite character in the epic novel was Nandini and I just loved her role as a vamp. I was like rushing to read the books because there was such energy in the work that I felt enervated as the plot unfolded. I think none of the characters were willfully bad. The shades of grey that I found in their personality were such pleasure, that I found happiness in the balance expressed in the story.

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New York Public Library | Riverside

Today, I visited the New York Public Library. I entered the premises through a revolving door. I found the library so calming and soothing for my spirit. I enjoyed browsing through a lot of interesting books.

I looked longingly at the Romances and gave into my intellectual demand; and picked books by G. K. Chesterton, Shakespeare made simple, and Lewis Carroll’s piece. I must say it is really fascinating to read works written by these people.

One of my fascination is collecting Library Cards. Indian, Singapore and New York library cards are so uninspiring; but the San Francisco library card sang to a different beat.

My cousin J and I had gone to a concert by Thornetta Davis (Detroit’s Queen of Blues)  last evening. I enjoyed the songs Ms. Davis sang with such gusto. The umphoof factor of her performance was the fact, that she engaged with her audience and created a sense of belonging.

I am used to listening to concert without making any bodily movement during the rendition. So it was fascinating to watch people of varied types and ages shake their legs to the rhythmic beat.

One the first day of my stay in New York, I felt it was filled with being taken over by the view. I found the city resonate into my memory, where I have seen and felt the beat of other cities of my past.

The two cities that New York invoked from my memory was Mumbai and Singapore. Both these cities I had visited at various stages of my life. Mumbai during my middle school and Singapore post-marriage.

Mumbai was far more colourful than Singapore and New York. But all these cities are different in certain unique aspect. For instance, in the people that you find in these cities are really varied but somehow they were same in their core value aspect.

I still remember my Aunt feeling proud that Mumbaikars can hide the fact of their ailments from all. She exclaimed to me,”Watch how dressed up are the patients who visit the doctor?” I blinked a couple of times not really understanding what she was driving at.

But later in my life I understood why she placed so much importance for that external appearance of all is well attitude. But back then, I felt the doctor should know that I’m unwell, if not he would send me back with no prescription for a cure. Ah! Life moves on and what felt ridiculous at 10 make sense in 30.

Some people feel that the concrete jungle kinda leaves you hollow and bereft of your soul. It also leaves behind a sense of mad rush. But I disagree with both these points. I believe that within a small existence there is much to explore. Somehow a smaller apartment with the view of other buildings is much more comforting than the spacious spread of unoccupied land.

I must say that I enjoy J’s apartment and her kitchen is simply divine. It hardly feels like I just arrived a couple of days before to New York. I resonate to the heart of the cities beats.  Yesterday, while walking back we saw the scultpure that gets changed periodically to fit the current month’s theme.

It was mosaic tile sculpture which made the whole presentation wonderful to watch. It seemed more like a snapshot of the folktale of African origin. The spirits of the jungle was represented in the pillar. We admired it for a while and walked on. On net searching I found that it was actually an installation by Kathy Ruttenberg.

The three cities of my experience resonates to their own unique rhythm and I enjoyed the varied beats. Somehow, I can never seem to understand my own perferences and likes. I strongly believe, that it is never the place; but it is you, who determine to matching up of the city’s intrinsic beats.

 

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Feeding the Child Right

I feel truly inspired after my solids feeding session with my youngest niece D2 and the idea was to write a fairy tale; but then here I’m writing a CNF. Life is truly a wonderful gift and if one could spend time seeing it with the right attitude.

My nieces and nephews have always been my inspiration. I still remember that I wrote my first short story for my brother’s first daughter N. Then, I wrote a poem for A and for K my brother’s youngest daughter, I wrote a ballad. Then both A and K together created a partially done story-line which was converted into visual medium, my little Minions!

Whereas, in my sister’s children case, I wrote a story for my nephew D and for Niece D2, I was inspired to write a fairy tale. There was such great fun with children. Actually, D2 is watching me write lying on my lap. She wants to type too, but then I have to tell her, that “Dearest, I will give you a chance like your brother.”

Life is all about learning new things and with children you learn a lot more. My first experience with feeding my nieces and nephews began with N when she was returning to her home. We had camped in our eldest uncle’s flat in Mumbai and that is when I had the pleasure to hold N on my lap as she was fed by my SIL.

I watched her eat her solids and something in my heart moved and the story found its nebulous start to form in my mind. It took me more than three months to write that story. I even sent it to my brother to read out to the baby N who will not understand a word of it.

N was the first for so many of first time things story-wise. When we paired up to create imaginary things it used to be complete March Madness and peerless Spring Equinox. I feel that it is easier to write if I used my little family members as audience for my stories. I found stories that used them were more interesting and compelling.

My sister’s son D was so interested in Russian folk tales. I, somehow am attracted to folk tales and fairy tales, which gives me great inner pleasures to explore in great depth. I have a latest collection of folk tales by Nelson Mandela presented by SIL after her Africa vacation.

Even today, I can still feel the magic of watching Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre production of fairy tales. There is much that can be learned and unlearned with children. When we become adults our sense of finding right and wrong becomes too strong. See life with a child’s mind everything will be funny and absolutely comical.

But for the first time D2 inspired me to write a magical realism story. Why not a fairy tale that has a single heroine! It should be her adventure and doesn’t end with her married and living happily ever after in a castle in the far away rich kingdom.

Long time ago in the land far known to all the little people, there was a little baby Rose. Her father was an adventurer who was lost in the search of a unique star outside the rims of the Universe. Rose wanted to find her father, so leaves her mother’s gentle care, and goes in search of her father. With this base, any level of expansion can be done.

But then, where is the magical realism in this?! But then, it is a nebulous and much is unsaid. D2 is interested in the story since she is eager to type. Okay short break. While D2 is happily playing in her Gimboree figuring textures, I get to write.

Both my brother’s and sister’s children are keen readers and their sense of humor is so typical of fun loving children which is part of our family DNA. I enjoy reading magical realism so much, that I feel, the stories with magic in them makes them truly wonderful.

Annotated with my niece’s musical rendition of happiness that can be found in her singing voice, I find that books of fairy tales and folk tales could provide children with innumerable new understanding. Nebulous is expanding and finding it own creative energy which means it is time to write that story.

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