A commentary on psyche and suffering

“Why, at such a time as this, I ought to snap my fingers at aestheticism and all the rest of it; and yet, I am all at once as particular as a dog looking for a corner?”

After a series of relentless obstacles from a severe fit of cold ripening to a fever, to vacationing in hill-stations and conning the science of “making perfectly round dosas and chappatis” so I don’t bring ignominy to my family as I step into another (insert face-palm gif raised to infinity) I ended up finishing Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment with a pang of bittersweetness; bitter for it is always devastating to end a splendid book and sweet (kind of) for an edifying ending.

To write that this book is good or even excellent would be an understatement. Crime and Punishment is glorious. It is not your Mills&Boons for a light read on a park bench, for a short flight and it’s definitely not worth for skimming and flitting. You have got to soak it all in- well, you will- because Dostoyevsky’s narration of the mental constitution just has so much to offer, the composition is impeccable-looking like something that was conjured by a spell- it makes you think how we live our lives, what makes us human, perceptions of despotism, poverty, the mind of all, nihilism and a civilization to mention a few.

The fascinating thing about this is that Dostoyevsky traverses his whole psychoanalysis in a book, as the scrutiny of a man who commits a murder and how he is, in turn, punished for it. Despite a lot of characters all sounding similar with a syllable or two for distinction- Dmitri Prokofych Razumikhin, Porfiry Petrovich, Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin- Dostoyevsky takes the reader deep into the character’s mind, like it is similar to a commentary on the psyche of the mind and suffering and why we suffer like we do.

“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart.”

 

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Brownie points if you got this.

Even though Crime and Punishment is a minefield of remarkable quotes, I chose this below and the one at the beginning:

“When choosing between the river and confession, why had he preferred the latter? Was the desire to live so difficult to conquer?”

 

 

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History Happened While You Were Hungover

A lizard from the far-future at one point observes, “all time was one instant, all space one point.”

Apart from scrambling for the dictionary more than often, this book has got me hooked! You might wonder how I like nearly every other book that I read; the thing is I really find it ill of me to not like books/certain plots for various reasons. There are some books though that I’ve had a hard time getting through, halted halfway which I don’t write about. So if I write about a book, it means I really like it and it has etched an impact on me some way or the other or I plainly enjoy reading a novel for the pure pleasure of it.

Now, enough of that explanatory overture (yep, yours truly has been listening to a lot of classical music lately). So I’m reading a book right now, by Ned Beauman – The Teleportation Accident and whilst I was on page 69 (as the odds would have it), a fanged unorthodox idea sunk its teeth into my brain; why not review the book as I read it and post it all together … chronologically?!

And that’s what I did and I apologize for that in advance.

May 2, 2018

Dear diary

My day was bad. The chapatti I had for dinner did something to my tummy and it looks like I may have to lease the lavatory on a one-day contract.

Where were we? Oh, yes; The Teleportation Accident. The plot of this book still seems unclear even though I’m on page 69! Beauman has spilt his tea all over the place. I am quite not able to pin down a genre on this book. It’s not an erotica for sure but there are more than required compositions of carnal festivities for 69 pages, it is set in 1931 and dwells deeply about Berlin but that doesn’t make this historical fiction does it, the satire is prolific but I wouldn’t go as far as shelving this under Humor and it definitely is not noir – all the lights are on.

Maybe I should get past 69. So you might wonder what got me “hooked” when the mere genre-ascertaining has been disarray for me; the vignettes, kids the vivid vignettes. Allow me the pleasure of showcasing some for you –

On being inebriated Beauman writes: It transformed him into an emotional equivalent of one of those strange Peruvian frogs with transparent skin exposing their jumpy little hearts.

On Adele Hitler’s (whom we’re yet to confirm if she is related to the Hitler) eyes: Most tender eyes that Loeser had ever seen but also the most astonishingly baroque, with each iris showing a spray of gold around the pupil like the corona around the eclipse with a dappled band of blue and green, within an outline of grey as distinct as a pencil mark and then beyond that an expanse of moist white that did not betray even the faintest red vein but sheltered at its inner corner a perfect tear duct like a tiny pink sapphire.

On escalators: Never in your life will you have seen so many apparently healthy adults queuing up for the privilege of standing still.

On how the rich laugh: Nearby he heard one of those startling explosions of communal laughter that are distributed at random intervals through parties like moisture pockets in a fireplace log.

These are just a few. Now you see why I want to keep going despite the dubiety.

May 3, 2018

To put it concisely, the plot has moved from the Weimar Republic to Paris and the protagonist has switched from the German named Egon Loeser to Herbert Wolf Scramsfield, an American in Paris. I’m on the 92nd page and the plot… well, it escalated quickly. We’re in Paris, in 1934 now.

But back to the start for a bit.

In 1931, Loeser, who works at a theatre, sets a stage for a play on Lavicini (a carpenter, a set designer himself and Loeser’s apotheosis, paragon… call it what you want, he adored that guy and has done a lot of research on him). As a tribute to Lavicini, Loeser and his three other friends plan to bring out a play in a tiny Berlin theatre. That play is based on an incident wherein 1679, Lavicini builds a machine called Extraordinary Mechanism for the Almost Instantaneous Transport of Persons from Place to Place, in simple terms: a Teleportation Device. This device on its attempt at Theatre des Encornets in Paris collapses, killing 25 members of the audience and the set designer Adriano Lavicini, the machine is immediately condemned and also believed that it was possessed by some devil and thought to have had infernal features. It has so much history, darting through time carelessly but Beauman has a way through his words that makes this rapid time-travel from past to present, present to past, future to past through the present and the Section – C Grammar of the 4th standard English paper fair to middling.

But on the contrary, I think Beauman riffled through a dictionary, held a random page, closed his eyes, placed his index finger on some word and just spliced the word to the sentence he was writing. Or his vocabulary is just exemplary. The surreal plot swivels here and there aimlessly, there are so many open-ended patches but I’d read the book just for the motley of idiosyncratic, incredibly graphic phrases. The book is just so quotable that my book is almost indecipherable with all that pencil markings! And the cover is even better.

May 7, 2018

Dang it! I’m done with 76% of the book. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. No more in Paris either. It’s Los Angeles, baby!

(Weimar Republic (Germany) > Paris, France > LA, USA)

Gosh. There are too many characters to keep up with and then there’s the physics of time and space, all the science behind time traveling, the technical know-how of the Teleportation Device, mechanics and the engineering of set-building, infidelity of the bourgeois’ relationships, literary realism, past, present and future happening all at once. And our anti-hero protagonist is beyond knee deep in being in love with Adele Hister (now Hister from Hitler, to avoid people from misinterpreting that she’s somehow related to Hitler) and devoted rerererere-reading Midnight At The Nursing Academy, that he misses out on important, slightly-of-consequence Nazis dictatorship, the Holocaust and basically the World Wars – politics and world affairs in general mainly because he’s hungover most of the time and partly due to him shunning Politics away.

ARGH. HOW DO I EVEN BOIL THIS BOOK DOWN TO A REVIEW?

Note:  Given the kind of a lazy person with way too many aiyo-amma suspirations I am, I have duly neglected my promise of chronologically reviewing this book.

May 13, 2018

Not sure if I am done with the book or if the book did me.

The ending was worth sticking to a plot that went bonkers the word it made sense it to me. It was all worth it. It was all worth it. It was all worth it.

Zeitgeisterbahnhofe (four endings)

The book comes down to four equally mind-bending endings. I am still blown away by the raw brilliance of how neither of the four endings came together like how I thought this book would gird up to the finale.

giphy

shook

Online

Welcome Welcome boys and girls into a more distracted world

Comprised of all the things you knew but older now (that’s me and you)

The things inside post

‘Don’t you mind’ reflect upon a recent time

Where you and I were both online and part of a collective mind

And still are we online you see but with much more consultancy

In groups we search ironically to find our self identity

Embracing femininity, skeptics of affinity

Maybe neither actually

Deleting all civility

And fearing most proximity

But that has happened ‘obviously’ if you look retrospectively

But that’s my point, that hindsight there

Its captured our collective stare

A constant daze at our bygone days, seduced by programmed time delays

Inside our phones our needs has grown

For inside there, we’re not alone

You see it’s not all doom and gloom

Just sanctify ‘outside your room’

It’s easy when you’re made aware

A more authentic captured stare

And something else to celebrate the fact that we can stay up late

And share and care and make aware some stranger who is over there

And change and mould and right some wrongs

Whilst streaming all our favourite songs

Left and right grow more apart but you can click just

‘ADD TO CART’.

A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS by THE 1975

A post shared by The1975 (@the1975) on

*Conditions Apply

That sale was one of a kind. It was plastered all over the front page of the Hindu for over a week which made it hard to not take note of it.

Sell what you don’t want, and we’ll pay you the current-MRP of that! Big Bazaar’s Big Sale!

I don’t know what kind of a “sale” that was; none has seen one like that.

People couldn’t believe their eyes. All that the Race Course walkers, the herbal soup/kadalai sellers, the daily visitors of Sharadambal kovil, all that anyone in the vicinity of Race Course could talk about were the Big Sale. Personally, it didn’t have much effect on me, my mom or my dad, we never spoke of it. The fever did not get to us. Yet.

The main reason Big Bazaar executed this brainwave of an idea was that they were opening a new branch of their outlet in Race Course and this was their best way promoting it, at least it seemed like it. The sale was on a Sunday. And Sundays are when I wake after ten a.m. have brunch, catch a KTV movie at noon and then a mudhal-muraiyaaga-super hit-thirai kaatchi on Sun TV at 6pm while having some idlis or dosas for dinner and hit the sack dreading Monday and its blues.

But that Sunday, I woke up to all sorts of cacophony and clamour, the clock on the wall facing my bed said 7:30 a.m. What on earth is everyone doing at such an hour, that too on a Sunday?

“Wake up, wake up, wake up Janani.”

Amma kept talking as an attempt to rouse me as she sifted through my cupboards and then the shelves and I was still on my bed groaning and yawning and trying to make small talk but my un-brushed mouth reeked that even my dad in the next room said “first brush your teeth then you can grace us with your wisdom.”

“Do you want these books anymore? This Famous Five, Nancy Drew indha picture books la.”, amma asked holding up a copy and dusting it simultaneously.

“Don’t even touch them amma. You know that I don’t give away my books, why are you even asking.” I replied, by then I was hanging awkwardly from the sides of the bed and looking at my mom upside down. It took me an eternity to get out of the bed, as always despite my mom’s ceaseless efforts of switching the fan off, pulling my blankets off, opening up the curtains and pulling me by my arms.

Nothing got me out of bed but this did; “Inga paaru I am going to tell just once more, to get up and get ready or else…” said my mom. I have been in this situation so many times in my life up to now but I still have no idea what comes after “or else…” I know better than to ask what comes after it.

***

“Okay, so now I’m ready. Where are you going?”

“What did you just ask?”

It was a second later that I realized that I blurted out the question that you are not even supposed to blurt out. It is considered a bad omen to ask a person where he is going, for those who don’t know. We take superstitions seriously, very seriously. So I modified the question a bit and asked, “From where will we be coming back?” soon enough to not get amma hot about it.

“Big Bazaar.”

“What why? I thought we weren’t going to that thing.”

“We are now. Go take those stuff,” she said pointing to a huge pile of old cups and plates “and put them in those cartons and bring the gunny bags from the garage.” I saw dad and my brother taping up stacks of newspapers worth of at least six months’ quantity. “Akka, I dumped some of your old stuff in that box over there. Paathu sollu.” said my brother. It was fine I guess. I didn’t even bother to look. I was still groggy in my head and brain wasn’t completely ON. I needed coffee.

“Jananiiiii, where are those gunny bags???”

I took them to amma and asked “why are you giving away so much stuff? I like that blow-up chair. It’s there in the box,” I said pointing to a box.

“You will say this now and two days later, andha chair engeyo irukum nee engeyo irupa. It’s better we sell it now while this exchange sale thing is still there. It is only for today theriyuma? We better make use of it. Every in this neighbourhood is going to it. Why should we alone not go?”

Ohhhhhhhh. Okay, so this is why we are going.

“Keeping up with Zeitgeist, eh!”

In a matter of few minutes the car flooded with scarcely taped cartons and jute bags and gunny sacks. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if passersby mistook us for a family that was shifting places. In a while, we reached BB. To this day, I’ve never seen Big Bazaar as crowded as that day. The whole population of Race Course was there, with their scraps of every kind you could think of; clothes, electronics, barely broken decors, furniture etcetera, etcetera. People brought old dabba TVs and refrigerators on autos and all. So much for Race Course being posh and rich. And man, how much trash did people even have!!

Moreover, everyone who wanted swap this garbage for money had to buy a form, fill out the details and there was a kilometre wide queue for that. While dad looked into that, we unloaded the stuff from dicky, from under our seats, from on our laps and had a cup of tea and samosa each as we watched our neighbours unload even more than ours from their car. The place had never been livelier. People were about to get rid of all the junk and get money in return!!!! Yaaaay! Uncles and Aunties have never been happier.

do you think they’d exchange gold and all? I’ve been wanting to exchange this ring for a while…Big Bazaar la gold iruka enna?”

 “paaah, finally giving away these thousand Vikatans for some good rate. That paper-kaaran said he’ll not accept more than 5 rupees per copy, Big Bazaar will get for at least 15 rupees, I know. Enna oru deal!”

 “Big Bazaar na Big Bazaar dhaan ya!”

 “With the return money, apdiye we can buy provisions here itself and go. Semma idea no?” said one uncle and his aunty rolled her eyes beneath the soda-buddi and replied “first exchange this and come, then we’ll see about that. Kumaran Thangamaligai la some offer, I want to buy one ring, maybe we can buy that. That Kamala bought one last week. Hmph.”

***

It was more than an hour, the new BB food court was bustling as it was time for breakfast. Even though most of them who’d come to BB for this offer, lived in the proximity of less than a kilometre, they ate here despite the extravagant pricing. One vadai for 55 bucks.

Yov.

Convert 55 rupees to dollars and buy a vadai in New York, it wouldn’t cost as much as BB. But no one wanted to lose their spot in the queue, so it was a good day for BB food court.

Few minutes into “exchanging”, there was a commotion. An Iyer uncle was furious and raging. After all, he was the first one line. Apparently, he’d come in at 6am to exchange his BPL black and white television set and his wire-knit 60s lounge chair with a gunny sack of not such prominent items. Iyer uncle was given a pink sheet of low-quality paper and a bunch of light-blue sheets. He read it and threw up his hands in frustration, walked towards the counter and called “I want to see the manager!” A person wearing a black BB t-shirt and a BB cap led that uncle to the side of the building and pointed something to him.

“Janani, go see what is there and come.”

I guess the curiosity was mutual, apart from all holding places in the queue, the crowded headed towards that side of the building where hung a huge billboard with the terms and conditions in Time New Roman size 48.

 

*IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR VALUED GOODS, YOU WILL BE PROVIDED WITH COUPONS THAT CAN BE EXCHANGED FOR YOUR PURCHASE EVERYTIME YOU BUY FOR MORE THAN 1000/- ONLY AT BIG BAZAAR!

 $$ ONCE IN A LIFETIME DEAL $$

 

*offer valid for a year

 Wait. WHAT?

Being the dumb, 14-year old I was. I ran down to my parents and said, “I think you have to buy something for 1000/- today and only then they’d take our stuff. And apparently, they’ll give us coupons also aama.” My dad looked ridiculed like what is this girl even saying. He made me stand in the line with amma and went to check it for himself. On returning, he said “which part of that billboard text didn’t you understand, Janani?” and my parents looked at me like they wanted a refund for all the money spent on my education.

Amma: So what is even written over there?

Dad: They’ll give us coupons now it seems for all our stuff. Then with those coupons, we can buy things from BB only when we’ve already bought for 1000 rupees.

Amma: I knew something was fishy. How will they give money for a broken TV, button-less radio, torn t-shirts and all! We should’ve known. What shall we do now?

Dad: What else. Exchange for coupons only. I can’t unpack all this back at home once again.

Basically, every other family that ransacked their garbage and loaded stuff that had even the slightest crack came to the same conclusion. The 55 rupees vadai didn’t leave us with enough energy to even tolerate the then baking sun let alone reset-up the trash once again. Most people stayed back, with their what-do-with-the-exchange-money-plans turned to tacky light-blue coupons of different denominations. Eventually, our turn came, dad was quetching his strong disapproval to the employees who could do nothing but say you can always use the coupons, sir. Furthermore, we had already posted the terms and conditions, sir.

Like hell you did. Where? At a dark alley towards the side of your building. You should’ve published this on the Hindu front-page, we’d have at least got a good Sunday morning sleep.

My brother, amma and I were done shifting the junk which they weighed duly and gave us a quite hefty sheaf of coupons for 20,000 rupees.

Thank you for participating in this bonanza exchange offer, sir. Can you give us your mobile number so we can send you SMS’ on upcoming offers in the future? The employee said.

And I don’t think my family and I have ever glared at anyone that furiously and the car ride back home was expectedly silent. We stepped in after a weird morning to a spic-and-span dwelling. “Well, at the house is clean and ridden of the piled rubbish.” said amma. “At the cost of 20,000 bucks”, replied dad.

***

Among the junk-pile that BB confiscated was my phone. It came free with BSNL broadband connection.  It was a beaten-up one with silver buttons that clicked and clacked so bloody loudly. I could’ve recorded a tune out of it every time I typed a sentence but it had its own cons. Past sleep time, if I texted or typed out something on the phone, my mom in the next room would know.

“Keep the phone down and sleep, Janani.”

And there went my first phone for a 100 rupees blue coupon that we eventually substituted for the original Monopoly currency that we misplaced.

 

Gallery

Easy like a Sunday evening

My Sunday through a series of photos! 😀

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Two bees and a honeysuckle.

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A try at painting, towards late afternoon.

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*_*

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These flowers have cotton for petals.

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Looks a bit grim, no?

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Foliage…?

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A book on us and how we’re destroying our habitat slowly. #WakeUpCall

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Silhouette of a bare tree in the front yard.

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Whitey! ❤

 

 

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Some more flowers towards the compound wall.

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A few more, now creeping on the gate.

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The whole picture.

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Inedible orange cherries.

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Through the looking grass.

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Some flowers twinkle while others don’t.

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A Tale of Two Leaves

Continue reading

#VirtueMoir

I’ve tried to keep the gifs non-NSFW 😛

It’s been exactly a month since I fell down the #VirtueMoir rabbit hole and I’ve never been happier. It all started with PyeongChang Winter Olympics’ ice dancing performance by Maia and Alex Shibs, it was Recommended by YouTube to me. To my complete surprise, given that, that was the first time I saw an ice dance program, the music was Coldplay’s Paradise and it was love at first sight! I never knew that ice dancers danced to popular songs. Hell! I didn’t know there was an event called ice dancing. Wasn’t ice dancing and ice skating the same? I was wrong. Ice dancing is so much much much more beautiful than skating.

After an hour of watching the Shib Sibs, I realized that I’d watched over fifteen videos of the Shibs interviews, off-rink games, their vlogs and saved a few HD wallpapers of them doing dance routines. I was goddamn hooked to it. When I was done with almost 50% of their total videos on YouTube, I was notified that the upload-er had uploaded two more ice dancing Olympic performances. One was from France and the other by Canada. France had more views so I clicked on that and again, I was mind-blown. No kidding. Theymanoeuvredd on ice like swans, so graceful and peaceful. Oh, and the music was Beethoven’s Moonlight.

*hyperventilates internally at the thought of that video*

And now Canada. This happens to be the best thing that YouTube has ever notified me and the same time it also happens to be the absolute, exquisite slow ice dancing death of me. I have reached that point where I’ve tried to flip and shrivel like Virtue-Moir at the Roxaaaaaaaane bit and spiralled down into a fall and almost twisted my leg. Watch the video, get addicted to it, give me company and try to twist your leg too!

TESSA VIRTUE AND SCOTT MOIR, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?

Four million people, FOUR MILLION PEOPLE live-streamed this performance, making this the most streamed Olympic event only after their own Canadian ice hockey team, it makes so much sense because Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir is what Ed Sheeran sang about in Perfect, they are what He Is We ft. Owl City’s All About Us lyrics mean, Virtue-Moir performance to Moulin Rouge is the answer to life and it’s meaning. It’s not 42. You were wrong, Douglas Adams. You were wrong.

This performance bewitched me, like it did to the rest of the world and Ellen DeGeneres. I have lost count of the number of times I watched this. The last time I shipped two people this hard was Trisha and Vijay in Ghilli when I was eleven. Anyways, I was convinced that Virtue and Moir were married or were dating, at least. They harmonized like Switzerland and beauty. I’m sorry for that shitty example. How about … they went together like yin and yang. There, that’s better.

But NO. Yin and Yang are not dating, guys. So … they’re married? Haha, I thought so too. But again, NO.

Apparently, they are platonic business partners and best friends.

Now look at the platonic business partners and best friends below and tell me what you see.

tenor

*now kiss*

Figure Skating - PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, Gangneung, Korea - 20 Feb 2018

Virtue-Moir, congrats on the gold though.

I literally reacted like this, like the rest of the world, probably like you right now.

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But then I had to invalidate my instincts and guts that they were not actually together. So I dissected their interviews, TED talk, their off-rink game shows, Twitter thread of gifs showing the totally “business-platonic-partners” just doing their own thaaaang.

Listen, they finish off each other’s sentence, they keeping looking into each other’s eyes, Scott says Tessa’s hair smells like strawberry and her eyes are gorgeous green, Tessa knows the hangry and jealous-Scott faces, they met when they were 7 and 9 each and have been best of friends since. Together for 21 years now and you are playing “platonic blah blah blah” card, Virtue-Moir? Nuh-uh. Nope. And there’s so much much much more!

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*ahem ahem*

*rolls my eyes until the eyeballs fall off the sockets*

They even have a TV show on them called Tessa and Scott! Ugh, come on. Stopping playing games with my heart and potentially my future because I honestly spend a wholesome 3-4 hours on #VirtueMoir every single day.

Just look at these, guys.

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ummmmmm erm guys, tone down the PDA pls?

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stare-down contest while dancing on ice. #nice

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oh scott

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Get married. It feels like your parents actually saw “joshiyam” and put you together when you were young. So much “porutham”.

Now tell me my instincts were wrong.

A book as old as me

An abundance of adjectives, rich allegories, social stigmas, decrees on love, the 60’s Kerala; it’s rise of communism and the tale of two kids. This book radiates profound parables of belonging, reconciling love and loss and savouring solitude without suffering loneliness. It is very much similar to the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, A God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy makes you bittersweet, sad and happy at the same time, makes you weary of reading but you’re unable to put it down. A paradox. The plot flits between the adult selves of Rahel and Esthapen (the outlandish, eccentric, twin protagonists of the book) and the little versions of themselves. The story, told in both their voices, begins with a finicky sculpting of a hot, brooding summer in Ayemenem (a town in Kerala where the story is set). The twins are gloriously mismatched like a pair of fingerprints, similar yet different.

It is operose with melancholy and stirs even the robotic guts of your heart. The twins, Rahel and Estha are born to an opprobrious, Bengali father and Malayali mother, a Christian who ceaselessly brings ignominy to their miscellanea of a family. Their mother, a widely read rebel who taught them enough to say “excuse me” before interrupting her in Public and loved the twins enough to let them go, raises her kids in Ayemenem at her mother’s place with her brother, Chacko, an Oxford graduate, who’s had a pitiful marriage to a Margaret, a Brit and they have kid Sophie before divorcing and their grand-aunt lives with them propagating seeds of her early disappointment in love. The story orbits around these characters, their broken, flawed lineaments and its effect on the twins. It deals with two portions, to be blunt; the part before Sophie’s arrival at Ayemenem and After, both parts are equally haunting. The main reason for the success of this book is the soreness of truth, the quality of tragic resonance, the breathtaking beauty of Roy’s pick of words and the inert anguish with which the book concludes. It’s the third time I read this book in a span of four months and I thought I’d defninitely have to write about it. This review (sort-of) does no justice to the book but again, something is better than nothing.

Bottom-line: If you are a sucker for adjectives, A God Of Small Things is your vade mecum.

And here’s an add on.

A Dead Man Can’t Run Forever

If Suits is your frontrunner on the TV Shows list, John Grisham should be the frontrunner on your Books list.

The Partner by John Grisham: sort of a review

Patrick ought to count his blessings that Vakeel Vandumurugan didn’t handle his case because if he was, Patrick would be dead lang syne, that too for the second time.

Now, The Partner is a serious, racy novel plethoric with legal innuendos, long names (too many of them too to keep track of, in fact), shrewd, savvy characters and an exalting case charged for murder and robbery on a man who returned from the dead, all packed in 410 pages (actually depends on the edition you choose) under John Grisham’s finesse. Patrick Lanignan, a young lawyer was found dead (with a pelvic bone for evidence, since his car caught fire and burned to a near wipeout) by the interstates of Biloxi, they buried him under a sizable tree, sniffled and sobbed for him and went on with their lives after his memorial service. The only person happy for this tragic cataclysm was his wife, Trudy who gained two million dollars on his insurance that she never knew about. Four years later, a high-end detective agency finds him in the countryside of Brazil, getting ready for his morning jog. Grisham then reveals that Patrick (or Danilo, his Brazilian alter ego) had pulled a Brobdingnagian heist of ninety million dollars right before he faked his own death.

He is captured by the detective agency to be tortured remorselessly on repeated questioning of the whereabouts of the money he stole. The news about the capture of the dead man on the run brought back slews of interested groups; the FBI (they were just curious but well, they’re the FBI), Benny Aricia (they man who owned the ninety million dollars), Patrick/Danilo’s ex partners of the legal firm he worked for pre-death, the insurance company that paid up two million dollars to his wife, the guy his wife was cheating on and basically, the town of Biloxi on a whole with many question on their mind but the soundest one being – whose pelvic bone was that the State police found then?. And to further surprise, barely a million out of the ninety million dollars stash were spent by Patrick. He lived tight and miserly in Brazil, with all the dough.

Only through few more pages comes to light that there is a completely extraneous reason for this heist. Patrick and his confidante, a Brazilian lawyer unravel the mystery like opening some fruit; peeling off one layer at a time to Patrick’s newly recruited lawyer, Sandy who is also an old friend, a classmate from college and a pallbearer in his funeral to defend him against his multiple capital charges. Writing further about this book would do injustice to you if you are planning on reading it and injustice to the movie (Water for Elephants, yeah I’m watching just now and for the first time) that I’ve kept on Pause.

I’ll end with this – towards the last chapter of the book, Patrick’s capital charge of a maximum thirty years of incarceration gets dropped and plummets down to a penalty of maximum one-year imprisonment for something he did (avoiding a spoiler alert here). This book was like reading Suits; if Harvey was charged and Michael defended him; only a hundred times better. And it ends with a sudden turnabout of events that you don’t see coming. I wouldn’t rank it above the Rainmaker or A Time To Kill but this is on par with the Street Lawyer and fairly good book.

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Me, myself and the damned resolutions!

First of all, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR GUYS!!

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Second, I read this illuminating but a tedious post couple of years ago on this day and I wanted to share the condensed version of it with you all.  But before that here’s the Me, myself part of the title’s explanation: I am an ultra failure when it comes to resolutions. As a kid, I would write a bulleted list of all the things I ought to get done that year which was something like this

  • Workout Maths every day. Get A+ in Maths and Hindi. I flunked Maths and as it turned out to be, I grew allergic to Hindi.

Varaadha padippa vaa vaa na, epdi varum?

  • Play tennis better than previous.

I don’t know if the quality of my game improved but I definitely dredged out a large chunk of my neighbours’ already deteriorating wall from hours and hours of exhausting wall tennis. I mean, the magnitude of my wall tennis was such that my that time neighbour developed a toothache from it, I dismantled a make-shift garage with asbestos (it fell down completely one day and I just walked away like I did nothing but one thatha next door was watching discreetly with the pretense of reading a book and he gave me away) and I might have busted my brother’s forehead when I went for a backhand. So this resolution went really went (maybe not for others around me, unfortunately, but definitely well for me).

  • Eat more vegetables and more bananas. (I still hate bananas. And vegetables.)
  • Practice paatu every day. (I don’t think any of my practice session went past S P S.)
  • Watch less of TV and read more. I did read more but I saw TV as much as earlier.

So as you can see the indisputable fact of me being a sheer failure when it comes to resolutions. Oh wait wait wait, last one…

  • LOSE WEIGHT. How did I forget this? This resolution is like the pizhaiyaar suzhi of Resolutions List. Complete complete complete miserable piece of failure I am, when it comes to food. How can I eat vegetables and bananas when I hate them? And how can I lose weight if I am to eat vegetables and bananas and not eat my pizza and my Karachi cookies?

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So I was done once and for all with those damned resolutions and I came across this post with simple, beautiful “resolutions” for every day. 1) It didn’t have any of those low-carb, no cake, no chicken diet plans 2) It didn’t have targets like FINISH TRIGONOMETRY AND QUADRATIC EQUATIONS or whatever 3) It did not require any physical effort. Easy-peasy no? Actually, yes. These 15 or so resolution helped me a great deal – like an inventory to a meaningful life – and I hope it has an equal effect on you.

15 RESOLUTIONS FROM SOME GREAT MINDS

  • Walk and be more present. – Thoreau
  • Keep a diary. – Virgina Woolf
  • Make your life wider than longer. – Seneca
  • Define yourself. – Anna Smith
  • Break free from your ego. – Alan Watts
  • Cultivate a growth mindset. – Dweck
  • Turn haters into fans. – Benjamin Franklin
  • Think rather than know. – Hannah Arendt
  • Let go of perfection. – Anna Lamott
  • Master your critical thinking. – Carl Sagan
  • Get lost to find yourself. – Rebecca Solnit
  • Be like water. – Bruce Lee
  • Choose courage over cynicism. – Maya Angelou
  • Cultivate true friendship. – Emerson
  • Live by your own standards. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Here’s to hoping 2018 treats us well. And kick some ass this year, guys!! 🙂

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