Finding the Joy of Traveling In Pallavan

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There is something magical about a window seat that a travel nervous person like me can understand well. Moving sceneries produce a feeling of emotional high that no drug can replace. Window seat travel is almost an addictive drug that sets my mind dreaming like the opium induced British Poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

There have been innumerable opportunities to travel by the public transportation and it has given immense joy. My trapped spirit finds its freedom with the blowing wind through the window. The dreams that visit during the interim of the travel are spectacular to recall on lull days.

I remember a moment from my Childhood. I used to visit my maternal grandfather during my summer holidays. The house belonged to the old time architecture and so there is a step leading to the kitchen set in a little higher level to the rest of the rooms. I was once seated on the top-most step. As I sat there, I gradually slipped into an almost real-life dream of train travel.

The dream had the complete package of sound, smell, light, things and taste of the Central Station. The dream lasted for a countless time until my grandfather returned from his morning socializing. It was a Sunday and no one to mind me in the house, so I was left to my devices. My travel in the imaginary train was such a pleasure and filled with minute details, that it took me a while to shake off the imaginary train station.

Later, in my years I travelled in a real-train I was surprised that I had captured the vibrant station in my young memory without having travelled in one. The train and flight travels were very limited but it gives the mind the feeling of having explored like a mendicant. The best ones were those on the bus.

I generally tend to panic first and foremost when I am traveling by any mode of transportation. But then, within this limitation is the place, that I find my central sense of peace too. That fact surprises me more than others.

Traveling by Bus happened out of desperation because when I was in middle school and I was a grownup who took more space than the other younger passengers in the autorickshaw. So our natural choice was to take the public transport in Chennai – The Pallavan.

Life is filled with so many first times that it gets really interesting if you are not frightened always. I was so fed up with the auto discomfort that I was willing to venture in the wild of bus travel. My memory of Pallavan was the accident in which I should have been the person who got hurt instead of my little friend who got hurt in the process during the reckless driving incident.

I love traveling in an empty bus in the early hours of the dawn the most, because it comes from my semi-empty bus traveling experience. Actually during my early days I used to struggle in the crowded bus and constantly fear missing the stop. But I would still feel squished and wasted. The best solution, back then was to take the early buses which were not overcrowded.

This feeling of traveling in a semi-empty bus is such fun, that I simply had to start early and enjoy the trip. It always felt like flying on the wings of the butterfly. Gentle and smooth breeze of life crowds my being. Even today, if I start early and the roads are empty with some chill morning breeze, I almost feel that I am new born child in communion with the world.

The semi-empty buses always ensured that I got a window seat and the wind of morning breezes in with gusto. One couldn’t ask for more. Even today I take the window seat, even though, it is rather hard to navigate to the aisle and get down from the bus. But nothing can beat the joy of the window seat travel.

PS

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Unforgettable Flavors of Famous Five

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Book Title: Five Go To Demon’s Rocks

Author: Enid Blyton

Translator: N/A

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: N/A

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Enid Blyton is the most popular author in my collection of childhood reading list. There is something happening when you read as a child. I was a voracious reader since I completed my fourth grade. Back on those days I didn’t think of the author so much but of the titles more. Famous Five was my first chapter book. I was in my fourth grade summer break when I picked my first Enid Blyton’s “Five Go To Demon’s Rocks.” I was absolutely fascinated with the storyline and there such pleasure in reading it.

Story in a Nutshell:

George and her cousins form the Famous Five along with George’s Dog Timothy. Professor Quentin’s colleague Professor Hayling and his son Tinker (and monkey Mischief) arrive early and the adult get involved with their research work.

Tinker and Monkey take some time to get to be friends with George and Timothy. The rest of the team members of the Famous Five arrive. The peace quotient in the Professor’s place downscales and he eventually asks the noisy children to vacation in the Lighthouse belong to Tinker.

The five arrived with their new friend Tinker and the adventure begins in full earnestness. The rest of the story is about various hurdles and treasures that the children discovered and uncover.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked a lot of things about this book and they are the car sounds and animal sounds that Tinker’s Mischief brought out. The words used in the book was easy to understand and was smooth to read.

I disliked the fact that the story ended very soon. There was great fun happening in the Lighthouse which I wanted to continue. Maybe that was the reason why I loved moving on to the next book in the series. I remember writing down 12 books completed within the holidays.

My Opinion

Enid Blyton stories are really wonderful place to start for early independent reader and I would suggest them to the GeneZ groups of newcomers.

My Numero Uno Pratham’s Champions Programme of 2015

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I have been linked with Pratham Books from my Creative Remixes days. I had used their ‘Creative Common’ images to create an original story. So I was not unfamiliar with the organization but Champions Programme was new for me. Pratham has been creating awareness and exposure to this programme through their twitter and facebook social media spaces.

The organization aims to increase readership among children for the International Literacy day falling on the 8th of September 2015. This year’s programme was flagged off on Teacher’s Day 5th September to bring more children towards reading books. It had special connotation because the teachers bring the world of books and knowledge to a child in their unique ways.

I got to know about the Champions Programme from my co-worker Anitha Selvanathan. This year’s featured book was “The Boy and the Drum” by Umesh P N and Illustrated by Rajiv Eipe.

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The Boy and the Drum

Even though I registered for the drive of getting books to children to inculcate reading habits, I was rather excited and felt a little challenged. I am crazy about books and if I can generate interest among children for reading then the very sharing is a reward by itself.

I had planned on having a Reading session in my house for my home tuition students. But something kept egging me to seek out a bigger challenge. I wanted to share it among a larger audience since I was equally passionate about sharing a story.

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Home Tuition Students

Quite by accident, actually, I came across the Government Girls Higher Secondary School (GGHSS), Ashok Nagar, Chennai. I approached the Headmistress Mrs. R. C. Saraswathi who felt strongly about encouraging reading habits in Children.

She immediately linked me up with the Drama teacher K. S. Latha who had been a great source of help for smoothing my way for the reading drive. The school was closed for the Teacher’s Day and so we scheduled to have the reading session a day earlier on 4th September at the school.

On the D-Day, I was conscious of the enormity of my challenge but I was also happy to bring them a story to enjoy reading. The Drama teacher offered to set aside two periods for the reading and enacting session.

I was able to prep-talk the children on how to read the text without the stage instruction. The Drama teacher added in her spicy instruction to make the play alive. The selected 10 Children read the story first as a practice and then as a finale.

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10 Lively Characters of the play

(Photo Courtesy: K S Latha)

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Play in Progress

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

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The children were spirited about the reading session each trying to out-do the other in making the play come alive and giving it their touch of unique interpretation. We had a discussion session after the reading to further understand and gain insights into the story.

The Children showed such enthusiasm towards being exposed to reading that they felt an annual event would be a long wait for them. They gave me the inspiration to take these sessions to more children and give them the gift of reading and to explore stories with their imagination.

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Champions Programme 2015 Participants

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

I enjoy making the children desire befriending a book, because one gains a friend who would remain an inspiration through all seasons of life. The One Day One Story drive was the first step towards a long journey ahead. For there is nothing as rewarding as watching those sparkle in the eyes of the children who have just finished reading a story and have found enjoyment in it.

 

Insightful Bliss Seeker’s and Their Zen of Achievements

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I usually write my blogs with some music on. I am listening to Gulzar in Conversation with Tagore album. I am fascinated with the opening piece

Gulzar in Conversation with Tagore

A refugee salesman carrying a bundle of jaggery on his head was passing by a long and broad path. A buzzing umbrella of bees was hovering over his head on top of his bundle. When the sun rose, the heat from the burning fire ball started to melt the bundle of jaggery.

The innocent refugee was not aware of this fact. His thirst builds up that he begins to lick the sweat flowing down his face. He was quite surprised to taste sweetness in his sweat, as he is walking on the deserted open space all alone.

I am such an innocent refugee who is wondering at the trickling sweetness from the bundle of Tagore’s poetry placed on my head, I lick the sweetness in trickles of joy.

– Gulzar

I believe this introduction aptly links up my experience of The Bliss Catchers series which was 30th Session as per Avis Viswanathan. I accidentally came to know of this event in the facebook space. Then, I spent some time trying to find out about this talk show and saw some of Avis videos. I was curious and I love bookstores but the timing is seriously offensive for me.

Since my self-imposed curfew is 6 pm kind of a hindrance by itself; but I needed this experience so curfew got sidetracked for once. That never stopped me from worrying my brains about the ticking clock. But, despite that fact, the ladies got my entire attention.

I decided to go only at 6 pm after much debate. A lightening decision to visit the store to attend this event resulted in two important things; I got an Anchor Quick Stitch Kit and attended an exceptional event with interesting controversial insights.

AVIS Viswanathan of Avis Initiative wears multiple caps of professional ventures. He curates a talk show titled “The Bliss Catchers” to present prominent celebrity to understand their processes and their game plans to handle situations of opportunities and hurdles in their pursuit of happiness.

Today Avis was in conversation with two modern day women achievers | Ms. Janaki Sabesh and Ms. Akhila Krishnamurthy. Both these exceptional ladies were proofs to the fact that when beauty and intelligence are available in the right mix, nothing can be unachievable for the bliss seeker. Both of them come from a Tam-Braham community which supported their pursuit to intrinsic happiness in fields of Media.

I was fascinated to listen to both the ladies. Janaki and Akhila talked about their career from the subjective perspective. At times, I wanted to hear them talk about the choices that they had to make between personal commitments and professional commitments. Both of them spoke about their family backing them in their route to pursuit of happiness.

Both talked about handling different profession based requirements and how the journey started and how it moved forward. How the life process brought to their forefront those events that led to their various projects in their respective careers.

Janaki broke into a storytelling session with the group and I was totally fascinated though a little reluctant to repeat her cues for the story that she performed. Singeri Rangarajan’s Haircut Day. I would have played around the initial part of the story with putting in right date for cutting his hair and various finer points of haircuts and his superstitions that he had about haircut. But then, that’s the storyteller in me.

Those 90 minutes of conversation with them showed their various aspect of their life and choices, which resulted in their flow of lives’ achievement in their timeline. I was nervously eyeing my mobile for the ticking time. Akhila sang a song for the audience on viewer’s request during the Q&A session. But there was one question in my mind and that I wanted to ask them if they ever experienced the “state of flow” in their work. But eventually in my nervousness I asked a question about, if happy ending was really necessary for stories? Is less than happy ending acceptable? Both in stories and in concepts charted out for cultural events?

Janaki played it safe and kept to the beaten track, said she preferred to work with happy endings stories more than sad ones given the existence of sadness all around. But she did incorporate stories which is much more complex emotional materials. She believed in striking a balance. But felt happiness was more important than sadness. I slightly disagree with her; but then, that is me.

Akhila had space to work around the question and spoke of the existence of all forms of expression of human experiences pitched in the various events organized in the Arts Event Management. I was partially processing their response while waiting for Avis to windup, so I could leave ASAP but not without buying that cross stitch kit. Gulzar’s album brings me back to the present.

Gulzar voice concludes saying that the saint seeking alms is the same, so is the spiritually lost Jogi is the same, and so is that girl waiting eternally is the same ~ by Tagore.

Somehow, I don’t know how long the album has been playing for now; but within my space of writing these thoughts of my experience, I have found my positive flow and desire to have a process based conversation with both the ladies, if possible.

Thank you Avis, Janaki and Akhila! I had a wonderful time.

Pictures from the Event

 

[Photo Courtesy: Self | Need to work on my photo taking skills! :-P)]

 

Reading Out of My Comfort Zone

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Books are a way to connect with people in a cerebral fashion. When I encounter characters in a book, I tend to take sides and sometime making it compulsory, that I connect with them personally. These were during my early days of reading any kind of genres.

But after my MFA, I have come to a new understanding with what I recognize as my comfortable reading zone. These days, readings about characters are more about celebrating the differences and of course, I still take sides, though, they may not be my personal preference.

There is an interesting point about a story making sense to someone cannot relate to the story, character or plot. I am ready for stories that don’t replay the same sonata that I play in my mind space internally. The huge cacophony that I sometime hear while I encounter a unrelatable story becomes a musical of artwork of inner spaces.

Today as I was hanging out on facebook to get some ideas for writing, I found a post by my mentor. She had posted the link to video belonging to PBSNewsHour Youtube Feed.

 

When I heard the novelist and creative writing teacher Charmaine Craig, I was totally taken over by her thoughts. Then, as always the mind started to churn the information within me, a process that happens often with me. During my MFA classes, we had a syllabus including books by various writers and their works were critically viewed.

I must say that the course set my thinking mind in turmoil because I was so used to conservative reading list. My classmates’ works were actually works that I couldn’t relate to for major part. It was the hardest to read the first workshop work of my classmate whose works was to be workshopped the following week. I remember guzzling beverages available in my flat and struggling to understand it.

That is partly the reason when I review books, I tell myself, there can be a few things, which I don’t agree with; but can I peacefully accept its presence in the book, was the question. After the first semester, I had learned to read my classmates work and the syllabus in relative ease. The one take away from the experience of reading a book that you cannot relate to, is the fact that, there is another aspect to life, which might never be your reality ever.

That brings up an interesting question: Is the reality that is around us so multifaceted? And if so, then, seeing it with single prism view would be most ill-fitting task. That then, brings me to the question: Are books then not just a cerebral off-spring of the writer but a view that could be hard to relate?

Do we stand against such a book? Or the book is actually a sampler of varied range of stories floating in the World Literature?

Stories That Border on Euphemized Indian Lives

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Book Title: At Close Quarters

Author: Sonia Narayanan

Translator: N/A

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: N/A

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Sonia Narayanan is based in Bangalore and as a writer; she creates stories that are captivating with a nice human twist to it. The storyteller of these pearls of stories has a unique understanding of human mindset. The author weaves in and out of each story with relative ease and she has set them in different parts of India, thus diversifying the whole collection. The characters are built with such care and details that it showed the writer’s sparkle of writing talent.

Story in a Nutshell:

The short stories in this collection are really interesting with multiple level of flavoring, that it covers all the reader’s entertainment requirement with ease. The collection has 10 short stories set at various places and with different types of personalities. The stories start off, as if ambling into the park of storytelling, while holding the feeble thread of an audience attention with great care. These stories are emotionally mature and yet so filled with human fallacies that become the part of our everyday commoner’s life.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

More than likes, I would say I found a writer who conversed with me. I was captivated by her storytelling style. I loved the fact that the characters were either casual stroke of the brush or intricate painting of Dorian Gray personality feel. There was a taste of R. K. Narayan in the description of the settings but the characters were Sonia’s own. I enjoyed spending time in the scene, while my emotions were the crumbling fourth wall.

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book, but I did feel that she was hiding from actually placing the dark side without any obscurity. Because in the short story “Anand” I felt she played it safe and left the death of Anand’s wife as a mere apology. Maybe that is the only thing that I felt that the author was not doing it right. I think euphemism is good for certain stories and sometimes one just has to be brutally true in some stories.

But that brings up an unique question within me. Do we have to be graphically explicit in our stories to be authentic? Or just not talking about the bad stuff makes us more palatable writer of reality and social activist causes.

My Opinion

I enjoyed all the ten stories and would love to read it again. But the first impression of the stories can never be replicated. It was a wonderful Indian flavors presented in gentle spirit of being socially right. Great read!

To Read or To Write | That’s the Question

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There are two activities that I really love doing in my free time. I like to read books unending and I also love to record my emotional reactions to the specific book. Both these activities make me the person I am.

My experience as a reader and as a writer is two separate lifestyles. When I am reading I usually seek entertainment that is above board; but when I am writing I am generally over analytic coupled with a general angst to the topic.

It is haggering to be a writer than a reader. As a reader, I feel I am far more forgiving, than when I am a writer. Partly, that is the reason why I don’t even attempt to send my work out for publishing.

Writing is a very haggering process, when the topic is weighed and balanced for an authentic voice. So the amount of writing that really gets done is relatively little. I’m still learning to love the process and have a long way to go.

I am searching for a specific voice that I want to learn about and use it in my writing. I am a very slow reader generally, so it really takes time to review a book. At the end of the reading, I usually have a global feel for the story and the rest of the details get diluted as points in my mind.

Both reading and writing cannot be present at one place at the same time. Because I have seen that when one reads with a writing mindset a different kind of perspective happens. Like for instance, I am currently reading a book titled “At Close Quarters,” and I am not able to stop analyzing it as I read it.

This is my first experience of reading to analyze the content. Of course, it gets in the way of your entertainment mindset. Even when I was a student, I never analyzed the work given to me. Since I felt the point was to enjoy the reading and the story.

I always saw stories as a part of my enjoyment. There were certain topics which were interestingly handled and had entertainment factor in it. It is true that all the stories have been told. There is nothing much left for the future generation to follow. Maybe these recycled stories are just fixed motifs that get repeated within the unlimited field of storytelling.

So the question of reading over writing is more a cerebral activity for the fun of debating. My journey as a reader and as a writer has gone a long way and I believe the reader is far more active than the writer. But the writer’s thought waters are far deeper than the reader’s thought.

I think both these activities become prominent, because it is essential part of my personality. I enjoy both the activities, while I am trying to excel at writing maybe.

6 Degrees Game of Blogs | BlogAdda.com

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Book Title: 6 Degrees | Game of Blogs

Translator: N/A

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: @Amazon | @Flipkart | @SnapDeal | @Bookadda

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller: The Blogadda webportal had introduced a storytelling contest in which ten members get together to write a story. The final output of the Game of Blogs contest was the book titled “Six Degrees Game of Blogs.” There are three stories in this book written by three group of ten members:

The Awakening by Team By Lines

Entangled Lives by Team Potliwale Baba

Missing – A Journey Within by Team Tété-à-Ten

The stories by each of these team of ten had one thing in common all of them. They all got the same characters and they had to come up with a story that is complete and integrated.

Story in a Nutshell:

  • The Awakening was set in the present with aliens and human-aliens mix character.
  • Entangled Lives is a murder mystery story and how the outcome changes the lives of important characters.
  • Missing – A Journey Within is about kidnapping and how the plot revolves around it.

All the stories have been written well and of course I was happy to read it.

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the fact of collaborative story telling because I have enjoyed writing one such interactive story myself. I was happy that the team of bloggers have worked at random levels and completely via online interaction. But of the three stories I was partial to The Awakening but even in that I felt there was a need to be more futuristic.

Entangled Lives is a wonderful story because I am partial to murder mysteries. The way the bloggers took the story was interesting too. It kept reminding me of various Hercules Poirot detective novels. I had too many sleuth to compare and crime scene didn’t get my throat constricted. That was missing in this story. But it was a great read though.

Each story strayed into my imagination and remained a gentle reminder that creativity in collaboration is quiet possible. I felt the Missing – A Journey Within, the writers took a bold step in storytelling; but yet something was missing in the story. I was searching for it throughout the story. But I liked the way it ended.

My Opinion

I would recommend one time read of the Six Degrees Game of Blogs and get the feel of integrated presence of a team effort.

Passion for Books

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An hour spent in the company of a good book is actually worth in gold. Books became a main attraction almost since my elementary days. Back then, I was moved to laughter-filled-tears reading comic books. The Indian cultural thoughts were imbibed through the Amar Chitra Katha comic books. These comics were hand-me-down of my brother’s collection. Hard cardboard bound books were best to flop over on the floor and lazily read during the afternoons. The introduction to easy reader and chapter books happened in slow progress. In my third standard I was exposed to the abridged version of William Shakespeare’s plays as retold by Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb.

By the time, I was in fifth standard; I was reading Famous Five and Secret Seven chapter books by Enid Blyton. As a product from a convent education, naturally my exposure to British Writers happens to be very strong. Almost all agreeable (as per government rule) British Writers’ works was showcased in the Anglo-Indian syllabus. I had begun spending all my waking time with books when I discovered the small library in school in my eighth class. It was like showing a thirsty person an oasis in a desert of confused curricular testing. I enjoyed being in the oasis nibbling dates and drinking cool coconut milk and living a life of a royalty.

No subject is prohibited – attitude towards reading expanded my mind but sadly I couldn’t express it. I read everything from profound to trash. Any book that made me think for myself, it would be such a wonderful thing, that I would want to read the book again and again. Almost around the same time my paternal uncle’s personal collection of book arrived at our house. Among them there was an unabridged translation of the Arabian Nights which became my flop over and read while the homework stood pending ‘kinda-book.’ I became eccentric loner in slow progress because the vibrant world of the letters made reality so lukewarm. I became friends with books and especially those books that spoke of strong characters who kept cheering themselves despite difficulties in their life.

Even today I still remember the slanting afternoon sun in the month of August as it filled the class room in my eleventh standard while I watched my teacher write the title of the poem by John Keats – ‘Ode to the Nightingale’ on the black board with a chalk piece. I was transported to the summer outdoor table and a chair set under a shady tree listening in with such great musing as the bird sang. I thought and believed that I heard what Keats had heard while recording each note into that poem. That one sweeping heartfelt moment carried me into the realization that I wanted to study English Literature. But I never thought that I wanted to create such literature. But it sufficed my need for belonging in the same realms created by these great poets, writers and storytellers as a mere reader.

After much struggle, I reached my college level and at last I was studying the subject that I have come to love so much – English Literature. In all the three years that I was there I would read all my course books ahead for the joy it gave me. Dissecting was not a pleasure but more a requirement. The pleasure of just reading merely for the pure joy – Nirmal Anand (in Hindi it means ‘unadulterated happiness’) – that was enough for me. My college friends shared the same passion for books, Lucky me! A joint library card opened up the Best Seller books from casual adult reading list. My BC (British Council Library) card and AC (American Council Library) card became the portal keys to countless books of both continents. But sadly my education in Literature was lacking right until I finished my MFAW (2012) in US.

I chose courses not based on prior knowledge of the professors but merely my instinct for what I wanted to explore. During the four semesters of MFA, I found my personal identity and understood my inner calling for reading books. Yet, as a writer I was just not the same person anymore. I read books by European writers, South Asian writers, North American writers, but sadly I didn’t get a chance to read Australian writers. But books in translation and stories in resonating second language was awe inspiring for me. The reader had found her spirit’s calling. There is still much that I wish to learn and understand. The internal journey within a writer’s mind has well and truly begun.

A Well Spun 1001 Nights | Lifesaver Stories

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Book Title: Tales from the Thousand and One Nights

Translator: N/A

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy: @Amazon | @Flipkart | @SnapDeal | @BookAdda

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

The storyteller of this book is a woman with a set agenda of saving her life. Each story is well woven to provide the right kind of interest to know its conclusion and additional day of living.

Story in a Nutshell:

The stories are set in a combination of betrayal, adventure, blood and gory details. They are well spun with an interesting closure which makes sure that interest is sustained for another night. The Minister’s daughter marries the Shah to prevent untimely death of young women in the country. The Shah feeling cheated out by his betraying wife decides to get married to a young bride and have her executed on the next day.

Scheherazade is the minister’s daughter who decides to keep the Shah from killing further young women due to a unfair conclusion that all women are unfaithful. The tales to pass the night becomes so interesting that the Shah is willing to allow Scheherazade to live another night. She spins tales in such a way that she gets extra nights to live. Until eventually, the Shah understands his folly in assume all women to be unfaithful and conniving personalities.

My Likes and Dislikes

The part that I really liked was the times when the Genie used to appear. Of course the initial stories were really very dark. But later on there are changes in the stories becoming a little light-hearted. I could inference the fact that the Shah’s view on women changes with each consecutive stories. This speaks for the storytelling capacity of Scheherazade. She spins the tale is such a way that it confirms the belief system of the Shah. With each turn in the listener’s mood the stories also change.

One thing that I disliked about the stories were the presence of really dark details. The fact that the characters and setting where in and around the Middle East. The settings were not as clear as the characters motives for me. But within the limits of the storyteller’s intelligence in expanding the settings to outside world was achieved by resorting to limited setting description.

My Opinion

This book would be an excellent read for grown up readers who are fascinated by well spun creative stories. The more edited and abridged version of the story is acceptable for young readers. The stories are well told to the specific listener’s need. The magic of Arabian night settings are exceptional given the limitation in the exposure of the storyteller to the outside world