Unusual Occupations

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book Review - The Brown Sahebs by Anupam Srivastava


The brown Sahebs, much as it is a work on fiction, follows a close account of not –so fictitious characters that we know from the Indian independence era. Gandhi is possibly the only one who appears as Gandhi while the rest have their names and characters ever so slightly changed.

It is an account of the how the British colonial legacy was deliberately preserved when the reins of power changed from the British – the white Sahebs to the Indians – the Brown Sahebs on 15th August 1947.

The origin of the ostentatious show of power exhibited by the British was copied by the elite Oxbridge educated Indian politicians in stark contrast the the very ideals of simplicity and austerity that formed the fundamentals of the freedom struggle under Gandhi. 

The story revolves around the power brokers in Lutyen's Delhi. When the British left, India's elite helped themselves to the ministerial berths and the perquisites that accompany them. Right from the British built bungalows of Lutyen’s Delhi to the now infamous lal batti culture even after almost 60 plus ears of Indian Independence has been featured in minute detail.





As much as Anupam Srivastava attempts  to portray a near realistic account of the dealings among the political power brokers  of Delhi  that assembled soon after the Indian  independence and the distancing of a dejected and frail Gandhi, from active politics after the Indian Independence. The very Gandhi whose mass appeal and power had been instrumental in gathering the momentum for the freedom struggle. 

All this has been portrayed from the perspective of a fiery young  journalist  whose newspaper later ends up being the mouthpiece of the government  when its editor Shyam Dubey sells the soul of his newspaper in exchange of  a ministerial berth in the newly formed cabinet.   

No prizes for guessing who Shyam Dubey , Vidya Babu and his daughter Komal in real life could have been.         

The emergence and re-emergence of Aam Admi Party over the past few years espousing similar struggles and ideologies espoused by the protagonist of the novel Pratap influenced by Gandhi makes one draw similarities between Arvind Kejrwal ‘s ( earlier) incarnation of the fiery rebel influenced by Anna Hazare. 

Mercifully though Kejriwal has not done spiderman like stunts walking the walls of red fort . His stunts seem far more realistic when he boarded the metro from Kaushambi. Afterall he was the one known for his dharnas at the Ram lila maidan at the slightest pretext.  The novel traces the roots of why Indian  politics is what it is today, as it shaped from the characters who influenced it from the pre Indian  independence era.


If there is one thing one could fault Anupam Srivastava, the Author is for his storytelling style.  

Power corrupts. That is the simple moral of the story. The universality of the story could have easily appealed to the world audience.  Had the novel been slightly more ambitious and written keeping a broader section of audience, there would have been more detailing on various nuances that are so unique to India particularly to north India’s culture.  The author assumes that the reader would be well aware of the context. The story is written with the naïve assumption that the reader is an Indian, is familiar with the past and present power politics of Delhi, understands the nuances that form an essential fabric of the caste/ class politics of the north Indian hinterland and has followed through the independence movements of India.

Sometimes one wonders if the book has been hastily written keeping a very narrow section of audience in mind.

The story has all the ingredients needed for a novel.   Historical fiction, power struggle, young hero, love triangle, philandering power brokers and a flash forward to present day climax.

It almost feels like the author is terribly shy detailing emotions and relationships. The narration of the relationship building on between  Malati – Pratap – Kavita could have been dealt with in better detail and sensitivity. The same holds good for the father –son relationship between the Raja and the Prince – Pratap. The build-up of these relationships has been hastily rushed through or has been dealt with in a very matter-of-factly way.       

The transition from journalistic and academic reporting to being a story teller is possibly what the author could have worked on before taking the manuscript to the publishers.  


Overall it is a very good attempt in storytelling. Its success lies in the fact that  it connects the dots of today's crass display of political power and its origins relating them to the incidents in history that have shaped the current power and political structure in India.  




The review for the Brown Sahebs has been written and published as a customer review for Amazon.com 

You can buy the book online here at  Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.in/The-Brown-Sahebs-Srivastava-Anupam/dp/9380828314

Saturday, December 12, 2015

All that is white is not pure and pristine...

All that is white is not pure and pristine...

White is the colour of  the pristine snow… 

But in Bangalore you never really know ..
Here white is the colour of the Toxic waste
Untreated sewage discharged into the lake.


This pristine white foam  that greets  the residents of lake view apartments during their morning walk hides a darker truth--it is the toxic waste . The  foam frothing from the  outlets of the streams that join the Vartur lake in Whitefield, Bangalore  is a result of the water in the lake having high content of ammonia and phosphate and very low dissolved oxygen. Sewage from many parts of the city is released into the lake, leaving it extremely polluted.  

The man from Bangalore Municipal Corporation is seen spraying something possibly to quell the foam so that it does not froth and pour over into the bridge. There is only so much he could do .  

With Builders encroaching land near the lake to build' lake-view' apartments for their 'up market' customers in lands with dubious records of title ownership ( lands adjoining 300 metres from the lake are not supposed to be fit for construction). Clearly some cash or kind must have moved hands sometime somewhere before these upmarket apartments came up on this lake shore.  there. 
The Municipality has no obligation to provide for sewage pipes or reat the sewage as these are encroachers . Upmarket encroachers.    It is thus that the sewage from about 100,000 and more households of high rise buildings is let into the  small stream that flows into the now diminishing Vartur lake. When it is monsoon time the lake overflows with not only rain water but with untreated sewage.  High levels of E-coli bacteria found in untreated sewage percolates the groundwater table and causes waterborne diseases.  

Hence we treat our tap water with massive amounts of chlorine and purify them via purifiers.  
We cannot take chances with what we drink, so we buy our drinking water from branded water manufacturers.
Around our vicinity are leading hospitals with 24/7 emergency care who provide excellent medical care to their  patients.  
Our employers provide us with generous  health insurance benefits to mitigate  the risk of high costs incurred due to hospitalization.

The hospitals, The water tankers, those who brand our drinking water, the real estate developers and the presumably happy residents of the up-market lake view high rise apartments...
Economically speaking everyone wins... it is a win win situation. 
It is always Economy over ecology.  

It is besides the point that the residents never open their windows because there is no fresh air.
The unbearable stench of the frothing lake forces them to keep their french windows shut.  



Was it Winston Churchill who said behind 'every great development lies a dark crime committed way down in history' or some such thing …       


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Life's lessons from the jumbo ..



Here is a video that is probably gone viral on Facebook and youtube.

There is very little you feel like writing  after you see this and reflect ...

Sounds rather familiar is'nt it ...


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Powerful is the fury of nature



The incessant rains lashing the city of Chennai and its suburbs has left the city paralyzed. And the rains do not seem to abate. With fresh rains predicted in the next 48 hours on the bay of Bengal owing to the formation of another depression one wonders if there is a bigger message hidden within natures fury.


Yesterdays  earthquake that measured 7.1 on the Richter scale off the Indian ocean only served to deepen the anxiety.


Some say it is the global warming and others say it is the el nino effect.
There are others who now claim they predicted this days months even centuries ago.



Who knows. The blueprint of how the universe will function has already been laid out and there is nothing human beings can do to change this.


It is in times like these that we realize how fragile a foundation our lives are built upon.


How much we are dependent on the certainty of a calm predictable ecosystem to cooperate with us to help us achieve our petty achievements and go about making a living.



This post is a submission for Thursday photo challenge where the Theme this week is

 "POWERFUL" (Storm, Ocean Waves, Animals, Muscular, Ideas, Car, Truck,...)

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Learnings from unexpected sources...


A dear friend lost her mother today.  She had been care worn for a couple of months now tending to her ailing mother.  Her mother suffered from brain tumour which had relapsed and had affected her neuro motor abilities in many ways.  For the last few weeks my friend had been oscillating with feelings of pity, anxiety, irritability, guilt  and helplessness at her mother’s condition.
 
Death, especially of a loved one, someone you have known all your life can be a cathartic experience.
  A mother is someone  you grow up seeing as a young person , strong and powerful and then over time as you move on to embrace adulthood and middle age, time catches up and then you watch them slowly grow hunched,  senile,  helpless and old.

My friend and I talked.  We were talking after a long time. She told me it had been an emotionally and physically draining phase for her.  But as she spoke, she said she had realized the bright side of what she was going through. 

This is an experience that brings one to look at one’s own life, thinking of one’s own vulnerabilities and suffering that is in store for us in our old age. 

That reflection is an experience young and middle aged people in western countries largely miss out on.  Retirement communities where the elderly get relegated to once they are unable to care for themselves, would largely shield from the outside world the suffering especially the emotional suffering that the elderly go through as they approach the final stages of their life.     

As much as caring for an ailing elderly person can be a financial and emotional strain for other family members, caring for the elderly and watching them approach death prepares us for our own. And that is an invaluable experience. It reminds us of our own immortality and its inevitability.  A reality about which we scarcely think of in the busy cacophony of our everyday lives.

I actually felt a relief for my friend.  Relief for the agony that she had been going through.  She would take some time to heal. But eventually even this shall pass.  

When speaking to her she talked as though we had been talking to each other for years.  She commiserated with me  for the death of my grandmother and told me her experience was very similar to what I had written about and that she found solace in reading my account of it.  

I was really touched and I think this was the moment my own self doubts were cleared about my potential to be a writer in my own right.  

What better acknowledgement  could a writer get than this.  A long lost friend who seemed to know all about my life solely based on the blogs that I had been writing.

Thank you my dear friend …may you find peace and relief... and may my writer’s block clear up with this unintended compliment at the most unlikeliest of times.   


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Delirious depressions



About a week ago when I started off with this book, there was a cyclonic depression that developed in the Bay of Bengal.  The city of Chennai, about 300 miles from where we live has had an unprecedented downpour and the city is flooded. The city’s lakes have overflown,  storm water drains have choked and the sewage drains are overflowing, causing the otherwise drought ridden city’s urban infrastructure to crumble down.  The Indian Air force has been summoned to ensure that the casualties are reduced and the city survives the deluge.

Relatively speaking Bangalore, experiences its seasons very mildly.  Situated, probably equidistant, from the bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea and elevated at about 360 feet from sea level, the weather here is just beautiful. 

We are a country blessed with abundant sunlight and we do not appreciate a sunny day like many other ‘English’ speaking countries do.  The sun, for us, is always scorching hot and makes us tan.  In our country where 'fair and lovely' skin whitening cream sells like hot cakes tanning is known to cause serious self esteem issues. 

Ah … here I digress.

I was telling you how Bangalore feels beautiful at this time. It is getting a little nippy, but then a sweater and a monkey cap is all we need to keep ourselves warm. 

Small talk about the weather is just so un-bangalorean. Because we know, not too many cities in our country are blessed with weather like ours for most time of the year.  So we would rather count our blessings and pity the rather unfortunate ones.

Our small talk is usually about traffic.  It is rather always about the traffic. Because the infrastructure for our public transport system is still being built, and money is so abundant with the multinational companies who have set up shops in our city that as a part of our benefits package we get chauffeur driven cars to come to work.  It is beside the point that about 90% of those who come by these chauffeur driven cars earn nothing more than the chauffeur himself does, if not much lesser. But what they do is so crucial to the MNC’s day to day running that they would much rather ensure they are at work come-what-may and therefore send them a chauffeur driven car to get to work on time.  

Our cabs are no limousines.  Most of them are second hand or  third hand hand-me downs that have been dumped because they are no more road-worthy.  But then our roads are not any more  worthier. With a little under the table money at the RTO ( Road traffic office or something like that ... ) you can easily get a road-worthiness certificate. 

Our chauffeurs are nothing like the Jeeves in P G Wodehouse novels. Or was he a valet or a butler ... anyway chauffeur, valet, butler… does not  matter as long as you get the drift. 

As I was saying our drivers , chauffeurs  … they are betel leaf chewing, beedi smoking, toddy drinking ( mostly off –duty)  macho men from the most poverty stricken rural parts of the country.  When on duty these frustrated souls  sometimes swear,  spit and hit ( other vehicles, cows or people ) inorder to get their indispensable passengers to the work place on time. If they get late by a few minutes, their salaries are proportionately cut. 

When that happens at a large scale, then the rural Indian economy suffers.  And that is not at all good. This actually is the fundamental theory behind the urban traffic chaos.  

Our public transport system is still being built and in some places being rebuilt. So then it is no surprise that our roads have to carry the load of  cars and vans who ferry their very crucial passengers  to their work place.

When incessant rains lash over the bay of Bengal or the Arabian sea we do experience our showers. Sometimes light,  sometimes heavy.   But irrespective of whether they are light or heavy, our fragile roads built with fragile materials bear the brunt.

Our roads are currently in such a state that if you were a damn good photographer you could take close-up shots of our potholes and they could pass off as the  arial  view of the grand canyon shot from a helicopter.

I call up my cousin in Chennai to check if all is well, what with all these floods and water logging. Her's is a very demanding job. She works for one such company where she maintains the daily feed and updates from the websites for a client who is America's leading cosmetics brand. Their online portal  has recently been launched. They recently published  a press release that said they 'plan to penetrate aggressively into the Asian markets with a focus to capture 6-8% of the competitor's marketshare by the end of this year'.  

 Which essentially means that atleast 6-8% of housewives from Kanpur to Kualalampur, Behrampur to Beijing and Tiruchy to Thailand will soon be made to realize it is too downmarket to use anything from freshly ground turmeric powder to raw papaya fruit peels picked from their backyard for a facial scrub and would soon go on to buy the latest 'acai berry facial pack with anti-aging properties' made from hand picked berries grown in the amazon rain forests.  Atleast that is what the Television ad that repeatedly blares during the commercial breaks between the afternoon soap operas has been trying to convince them. If the cost seems to make them or their husbands have second thoughts, then it has reassured them that afterall they are ‘really worth it’.

My cousin from Chennai whose daily job it is to track their sales and ensure technical support for their portal says that the BCP ( business continuity plan) has been invoked through a world wide call tree yesterday and her counterpart in Manila will be taking charge tommorrow. For someone whose Monday blues start normally from Friday evenings, she is ecstatic about this unexpected holiday. 
  
It is on days like these that we, Bangaloreans wish we had rains like our coastal cousins. 

On Sunday evening when we, Bangaloreans are going through their our monday blues, In Chennai, they are worshipping their weatherman.  He appears on television channels in his safari suit with a long stick in his hand pointing to a black and white satellite picture showing the storm  clouds looming over the Bay of Bengal and grimly announces that they would cross the city in the next 24-48 hours.  Yippee ...take your own sweet time, you hear the chennaite screaming with joy.

 When it is monday morning the schools will be closed, the colleges will have postponed their exams indefinitely and the IT/ BPO companies that are so essential for the survival of the US economy will have invoked their business continuity plan.

Invoking BCP means the minions in other alternate locations like Pune, Poland or Philippines are doing a 16 hour work day and picking up the workload so that the likes of our Cosmetics giant who contributes to the health of US economy feels none of the effects of the deluge caused by the depression in the bay of Bengal that has brought one of its offshore location’s daily grind to a complete standstill.

Those working 16 hour days in Pune, Poland or Phillippines will hardly complain. They know Chennai will generously reciprocate the next time when there is a shoot out in Pune or a typhoon in Philippines. After all this is not like cyclone Sandy or the 9/11.   

Things like that happen all the time in third world countries.   

Here I shall pause as I need to pick up my cup of ginger tea and onion bajji  that may soon get cold, given the weather.   

And then I will get a little serious and write the book review of Hanya Yaganihara’s grim book 'A little life' that was in the booker shortlist for 2015 which I finished just this afternoon.  

They grey overcast sky, the incessant drizzle and the depression  provided the perfect backdrop for the novel.  I could not have chosen a better time to read / listen to the book.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Shakespeare - Wallah





It is one of those rare movies where the actors enact their own life story (in most parts) and as themselves.

In real life Geoffrey Kendal playing Tony Cunningham in the movie arrived in India in 1944 along with his wife Laura Liddell, playing Clara Cunningham, and was the Actor – manager of the theatre troupe Shakespearana that toured the length and breadth of India playing mostly Shakespeare plays at palaces of Maharajas, Boarding schools, in local town auditoriums and even in street corners or wherever else they could put together an interested audience who could cover up the costs. 

Theatre as a performing art, at all times has never been a very lucrative profession. Some of today’s talented and successful actors try and manage that delicate balance between theatre their first love and its cash rich cousin the movies in order to pay the bills and yet continue to pursue their passion.


Struggling with the onslaught of Bollywood allure as well as the dwindling popularity of Shakespeare plays in a newly independent India from where the English as well as the Anglo Indian patrons of Classic Shakespearean English theatre were fast leaving the country, Geoffrey Kendal and his troupe struggled and yet passionately toured the country through the 1950’s imprinting an indelible love for Shakespearean theatre among the boys and girls educated in the 1950's boarding schools in India.

Set in that backdrop, the story is partly reel but mostly real depiction of that deeply passionate love story of how the Suave Shashi kapoor, fell in love with Jennifer Kendal, 
(played by her sister Felicity Kendal in the movie) who toured with her parents playing young female roles in Shakespeare plays as part of the theatre troupe - Shakespearana.  
 
Madhur Jaffrey plays the role of Miss Manjula a successful, sought after and famous Bollywood heroine, unappreciative of the subtle nuances of the Theatre art, much to the annoyance of her rich lover Sanju, played by Shashi Kapoor in the movie. 


It is at this point in time that the real and reel stories diverge slightly.   
The movie ends as we see Lizzie Cunningham played by Felicity Kendal leave India to go back home, to England (where she has never been to ) because that is where her mother thinks her future lies.

And true to the story in real life, Felicity Kendal made a successful career as a theatre and movie actor in England.

In real life, Jennifer Kendal went on to marry the handsome Kapoor (possibly breaking the hearts of millions of women not only of her generation but of generations to come), shaped a successful Bollywood career for him, raised a family of three children who grew up to be people in their own right and most importantly gave a fresh lease of life to the modern Indian theatre scene through Prithvi theatre.    

All before Jennifer Kendal succumbed to cancer in 1984 leaving behind her parents, sister, three young children and a devastated husband whose personal and professional life went on a downward spiral from then on.
Shakespeare wallah is a unique movie in that respect. At least three out of the many characters are playing their real life stories in the movie.  It is a shame Jennifer’s real life role was played in the movie by her more glamorous sister Felicity younger to her by 11 years.  Jennifer herself plays a small and insignificant role as Mrs. Bowden, owner of the boarding house - Gleneagles.



Written by Ruth Prawer Jabhwala, directed by James Ivory and Produced by  Ismail Merchant this Black and white classic was released in the United Kingdom in 1965.

Satyajit Ray composed the music for the film.  
You cannot help but bow down to the sheer magic of Subrata Mitra’s black and white photography especially the breathtaking misty hill station of Kasauli where a good part of the film has been shot.      





If you appreciate classical movies of that genre  you can watch this movie’ free ‘on you tube.  

P.S :Yes, the best things in life mostly come free. 
For everything else there is the overpriced  multiplex at the mall nearest to you. 



 P. P. S: Jennifer you lucky woman … just how, just how ... did you manage to keep that fellow so resolutely a one woman man !!! … pchhh… :(

      
             

   

Friday, November 06, 2015

The incredible joy of being the SantaClaus


This is a submission for Thursday photo challenge where the theme for the week is

"TREATS" (Candy, Chocolate Bar, Cake, Pie, Ice Cream, Comfort Food,...)








Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dreams wishes and ambitions

It is the day of Ayudha Pooja.

I take my car to the temple for the annual worship of my vehicle that enables me to drive to work and make my living.

A coconut, four lemons, a flower garland and two hundred rupee notes is what it takes for me to broker with goddesses of wealth, knowledge and power ( Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga ) to express my gratitude and also throw in my wishes for the future through the priest who has been doing this for my car for five years now.

As the priest goes through this ritual children from the nearby huts where construction workers live swarm up around my car. The tractors, that,  later in the day pick up garbage from the streets do their early morning rounds when they arrive to pick up the workers to take them to building construction sites for work.  In the afternoons when their parents are at work the children loiter around the temple. Some of them go to the government school run by the municipality more often than not for the free afternoon meals offered there.

Today however is a special day. It is a holiday at the school on account of festivities and therefore there is a lot of activity at the temple.The boys are here to pick up the pieces of the sweet coconut that the priest would break after he performs the Pooja for the cars.

Many people would come to the temple to get their cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles and hand carts blessed by the goddess on this auspicious day.  Some would even choose to buy their vehicle today.

The priest applies kumkum to my steering wheel and goes around with the incense stick incensing the insides and outsides of my car while the two tall boys try and have quick glance on the insides of my car. I get a little uneasy and keep a close watch on them.
My head tells me to be cautious and to shoo them away.
My heart tells me they could mean no harm, so I should let them be.
Just a curious bunch of boys trying to look inside a car.

'New car' says one of them to the other.
'Does not look like a new one' retorts the other in Tamil presumably their native language.

Suspecting I do not understand Tamil the older / bolder one asks me in English "new car madam ?"

To encourage his English I tell him in English that it is not new but 5 years old.
He translates to the other boy and reconfirms to him that the car isn't new.

How much ? He asks.
What ? I ask, a little perplexed with the way the conversation was getting slightly intrusive.

How-much-money -car? He puts together the sentence.

5 lacs 5 years ago I say.

In that typical boisterous boyish way he tells the other boy that the car costs 5 crores, in Tamil.

I correct him and reply in Tamil saying 5 lacs and not 5 crores.
5 crore, I tell him would be 500 lacs.

Oh !!  he exclaims to acknowledge that he stands corrected.

I instinctively know that in his mind he is calculating how much 5 lacs would be.

I also know that he has decided he would buy one when he gets there.

I am certain that when he gets there it will bring him an immense sense of pride and achievement atleast for a while.

Well,,, to each their own dreams wishes  and ambitions !!!.


This post was written for Write tribe's # Monday musings...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The best exotic marigold market ...





Tucked away in the second floor at the KR market is the marigold wholesale market. On an ordinary day where tons and tons of marigold and woven over long threads for fresh flower decorations across temples, marraige halls and funeral procession across the city.  









This is a post for the Thursday photo challenge where the theme this week is
  ORANGE (Fruit, Vegetables, Flowers, Signs, Clothing, Vehicles,...)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Year of the Runaways - Sunjeev Sahota - Book review



The Year of the Runaways - Sunjeev Sahota 


‘ Unputdownable’ could be the apt word to describe the book.


It is no thriller. Sunjeev Sahota’s ‘The Year of the Runaways’ is a neatly crafted work on the struggles of migrants desperate to earn a living in the hope of making it big someday in an economically struggling England. 

The narrative is so well researched, intricately described and honestly portrayed that it gets difficult to find a fault with the novel. The main reason behind it is simply that it is probably so close to the near truth that it does not read like a fiction.

You meander through the heart wrenching poverty of Bihar, the caste politics of small town Punjab, the desperations of families struggling to make a living, the promise of the west as a one stop solution solve all the financial woes and most of all the heart wrenching exploitation of the immigrants, illegal or otherwise who throng Europe, particularly England in search of a better future o merely to escape the brutality of their lives in the Indian sub-continent.

Sunjeev Sahota’s characters are clear about their morals, each one of them wearing their heart over their sleeves, a martyr in the making with a never say no attitude about them.  They could come across completely self centered, ambitious, vulnerable, naïve and last but not the least victims of their own circumstances.

The novel primary focus is on the struggles of immigrants particularly the ones that illegally immigrate and constantly live with the fear of deportation.  The story moves back and forth and is centered primarily around three characters Randeep, Avatar, and Tochi.  Narinder the British born home schooled girl from a Sikh family caught amidst circumstances that bring her to a point where she agrees to be the Visa wife to aid one of the immigrants into a safe passage into England in exchange of money.

The story is hard hitting and heart wrenching from the beginning to the end. But it is the epilogue that is the clincher.  I do not want this to be a spoiler alert … read the book in its entirety.  Avoid if you are depressed and are looking for some escapism.

It is a book that will leave you in a state of melancholy mixed with the kind of bliss that you experience when you stumble upon a sincerely rendered piece of work.     

Certainly my personal favorite for the Man Booker Prize 2015.  
        



Satin Island - by Tom McCarthy - Book review


Satin Island - by Tom McCarthy


McCarthy’s Satin Island is’nt a book with any kind  of format and structure. It breaks all conventions of what structure a novel would generally follow and probably questions the necessity of a format. To be fair it follows a strict format that reads like a corporate dossier. By the time you are through into a couple of chapters you wonder if this structure is meant to be satirical or if this is a deliberate attempt at conveying something.  

Brutally honest, unashamedly ambiguous and written like a bullet point corporate power point presentation, it is the ramblings of a consultant employed by a corporate consulting firm. U – the main protagonist of the novel if you may call him so is an ethnographer -anthropologist  employed by his boss Peymann to help bring in an ethnographers perspective for a massive project they have just won. Throughout the novel U is rambling about perhaps tyring to tell the reader and assembly of his thoughts and bring out the point through a connection, point out the missing links or atleast
 lead you through an understanding.  

The book reads like a journal of the daily happenings in his life, about his ramblings on the search engine on the internet and on the minute insignificant observations that he makes about people around him, like a chance remark  by his girlfriend , the ramblings of his terminally ill friend afflicted with thyroid cancer and the minister who buckles and unbuckles her shoes underneath the table as she is attending a debrief meeting on the project.      

At  less than 200 pages it was the shortest amongst the Man booker shortlist for this year.   I picked it up first for that main reason. (I do not count the book by pages anymore. I listen to them and this was the 6 hour something which appealed to me since I could finish the book faster than any of the others) . How wrong I was in that assumption.

Do not be fooled by how short the book is.  Every 30 seconds I found myself rewinding to ponder over the point made. I wish I had more time to ponder over.  Not that I was in any kind of hurry to finish the book, but this one is a more leisurely read.
The one that you would take with you on a solitary holiday or when you have the time to let yourself aimlessly wander. 

If you are not exactly a fan of ambiguity then this one certainly is not your cup of tea. But definitely worth exploring if you enjoy experiencing something different yet strange and profound.  

Not my strong recommendation for the Booker prize but definitely one that will garner many votes just because it has a style that is what in India we would called ‘hatke’, literally translated would mean different from all others, rather unconventional.    

      

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Man Booker Prize 2015 - Shortlists


On my book shelf for October are :

A Spool of Blue Thread By Anne Tyler

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Brief History of Seven killings by  Marlon James

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

Satin Island by  Tom McCarthy   


Reviews will follow soon ...
Meanwhile  the Man Booker prize itself will be announced on Tuesday the 13th of October.



P.S : I happily drive two and a half hours ( both ways) through maddening traffic every weekday , spend hours in my kitchen garden over weekends, dust, clean, dishwash and look forward to doing every bit of monotonous work without complaining.
Thank you Audible.

2015 Reading Challenge

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Twilight in the sky


This is a submission for the Photo theme for Thursday where the theme for this week is

NIGHT" (Dark, Low Light, Twilight, Evening, Shadows, Long Exposure, City Lights,...)

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Basavanagudi walk

Basavanagudi  walk

Starting at the foot steps at the famous big bull temple in Basavanagudi the Basavanagudi Darshan Walk was a walk into the almost 500 year old history of the city that has now burst and expanded way beyond it seams for what was conceived by its then Cheftain Kempe Gowda.

Ancient Clock tower built around 1537 
With four clock towers connected by a mud wall that ran across marking the city boundaries legend had it that if the city expanded beyond the boundaries great misfortune will fall upon the settlement.

Bangalore city - dubbed the silicon valley of the east ironically seems to have been blessed with fortune much to the disdain of the ancient legend. But Mansoor Ali our Tour guide conducting the walk thinks otherwise. Perhaps the city's mounting garbage problems, nearly  poisoned water bodies the maddening urban chaos are warning signals for the misfortune that awaits the city in the no so distant future, he says. 

As a relatively new immigrant into this city who has made it home for the past five years, I have taken many an American across to the old city of Bangalore … particularly to Basavanagudi  for  a quick dose of 'Indian Heritage' for the time strapped visitor to India. 

But the walk with Mansoor Ali of Bengaluru by foot  was very different and enlightening. Do not go by his name, he could put a pious Hindu to shame with his indepth knowledge of Hindu mythology and the familiar ease with which  he walks you across the ancient temple town of Basavanagudi. 

An architect by profession, and a native resident of Basavanagudi,  Mansoor has not just the knowledge but the experience of having grown up in times when the city around him transformed  unrecognizably into the arguably ugly monster that it has turned out to be. 

The priestly abode - about 450 years old 




A keen insight into the temples of Basavanagudi combined with a lot of history and trivia thrown in made it nice heritage walk.  Visiting the cave temple of Gavipuram and a sneak peek into the 450 year old house of the temple priests who live besides the temple was when the true experience of a heritage walk sinked into us.  For, to experience the heritage one needs to see how its original inhabitants live  today.  Very little of it is still preserved and thanks to a very resourceful Mansoor we just walked into the house of the priest and caught him unguarded resting bare chested in his cot when his wife emerged from the kitchen with a wet towel draped over her hair.  It was a cute moment when she coyly  hesitated to get photographed with us saying she was not dressed for the occasion.

Ah .. women the world over are the same .. remarked my fellow Canadian walker who was thoroughly enjoying his insights of a 100% genuine local experience.