Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The secret of the nagas

You know what they say about cats and curiosity. Well, I hate cats but I still seem to have their trait. I was swallowed alive by this book and came out after a lot of struggle. I wonder what made Amish write a book 2. Oh come on, isnt it obvious? It was the resounding success of book one. Considering i am one of the few idiots who bought a copy of the first book, i should not be ideally surprised. Considering that he had a golden chance to become the Chetan Bhagat for Mythology fiction, he just grabbed it.

The book begins where the previous one left, the attempt on Sati's life. Shiva graduates from smoking pot from Tibet to smoking pot from different parts of India. Wow! They coined the term India when he was around. Did you know that now? There are a host of crazy characters in this book and man, i do miss the author's simple English.He has tried big words and deeper characterization and left the reader wondering what he was actually reading about. You have a host of new characters in the book and some of the older characters get more screen space. Kali, Ganesha, Anandmayi, Ayurvati,Karthick, Parushuram and of course the 180 year old virgin. When he can use terms like that to denote a heroines anguish, why cant I?!!!

The plot revolves around Shiva's attempt at understanding evil - at which he again fails miserably and his trials to penetrate into the Naga land and vanquish them. The charm of book one is completely gone and you are left wondering about the meaning of the series of unrelated events which are supposed to be amazing coincidences put together by the author to make you sympathize and understand his characters better. Sati and Shiva are parted for sometime and you read two diverging story lines. The worst part of the book is of course the ending where the "secret" of the Nagas is revealed. I really regret the time i picked the book from Ranjini. I should have just let it lie there.

Day Dreams

In the light that shines at me
I see all that I wanted to be
Could it be a delusion i wonder?
For what is not should not be bright
Why does the beautiful white light
remind me of broken dreams?
I wish I knew.. But i want not to run.
For facing it does place me in the light
I so have come to love...

Being the thinker I am, I ponder again
Does what can never be - always seem romantic?
No matter what the fate was - that was prevented?
Sadly I am forced to admit
for mortals never can grow too far away
from desires they concoct

Slowly it begins to burn - the brightness unfamiliar
I know its time to let go
The thoughts around what was
For I know I have let go of the dreams
Never did i think that mere thoughts
of an old shadow can burn
I finally understand that a mere insect
I became - almost burnt by a deadly flame

My thoughts and logic I thank
for reminding me that what creates can also kill.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The time traveller

Another poem i had submitted for the same competition. :)

Theme : Memoirs are made of this

I travel across time and space without moving an inch
In a place preserved in the mists of time, I smell the fresh rain
I watch the girl walk by, the one i used to be
her tears at her first failure merging with the rain drops
I only wish to tell her, there is something better out there
I know I cant - time will tell.

Her carefully protected certificates pull me back again
I watch emotionless as a younger me steps up to receive
the adulation and appreciation of a spell bound audience
Time the most effective and beautiful teacher
stands by me and says, its just the memories that stay.
Someday, even they will pass away, so live my dear, while you can

Of Mickey mouse, rings and letters

I had written this poem for a competition in my office. I am delighted because i won!!

Theme : Three trinkets

He marched forward - still following old orders
Into the land of the almost dead - unwittingly into his own doom
Blind and deaf by choice, he marched
Bogged down by the burden he carried

He feels for the mickey mouse watch in his right pocket
his comrade's dying wish - a gift to his ill son
He remembers the shining ring in his bag
bought for another's beloved who knew not
that before oaths were sworn, death collected her dues
Nestled deep inside the bag,his last letter
hoping to be delivered someday by someone
reminding the world that exist he did

Clear skies and sudden storms

You set out when you think the sky is clear. There is no sign of a cloud. But still, knowing that the geography is prone to sudden rains, you take an umbrella with you as you think that should protect you from the rain drops that might choose to fall on a sudden whim.

Everything is fine and you happily breathe in the fresh air and marvel at the beauty that life is. You admire the flapping of a butterfly wings.Then it all begins. The storm clouds gather and it begins to pour. Your umbrella is useless and ends up being a burden for you not only get drenched but also fight a losing battle in the process. You just let it fly away and push forward resolutely through the storm. You know you'll be soaked to the skin. The process is not enjoyable or romantic as the movies show it to be for you are exhausted and cold is not the best of companions. You trudge forward all the resolution slowly dying away and just the will to survive left. The storm passes and before you can recover yet another one comes by. Rather than fight fate, you give up long enough to surrender to it and slowly walk against the wind for you have to reach your destination.

How do you learn a lesson from such a storm? The only way you can avoid it is if you never head out. But is life in a cage even if it is a golden one? Where there are beautiful fields there is bound to be some pests. The ups and the downs continue coming and there is no way you can have one without the other. At the end of the day all that's left is this philosophy and you can carry on with life with the belief that the lower you fall, the higher your chance for growth.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Luka and the fire of life

I had read Haroun and the sea of stories as a kid and loved the book. When i noticed another children's book by Rushdie, I just grabbed it. Unfortunately, either because i have grown up or because the book was not that great, I did not enjoy this one as much.

The plot is simple. Luka is the younger brother of Haroun who lives with his father Rashid Khalifa the Shah of Blah, his mother Soraya and of course his brother Haroun. Luka accidentally curses a local circus ring master who loses control of his animals and his circus. A few days after this incident, Rashid falls asleep and does not wake up from the sleep. He is caught in a world of dreams and it is upto Luka with his two friends, Dog - the bear and Bear - the dog to find the fire of life to revive his dad. He is accompanied in this dangerous quest by Nobodaddy who is a creature from the magical world supposed to symbolize Rashid's death, a fiery Soraya, who is a princess in the magic world, two memory elephants and of course Solomon's magic carpet. Whether he manages to retrieve the fire or not forms the rest of the plot.

Rushdie has built the whole story in the form of a video game. In the initial pages you watch Luka collect lives and hope that there is going to be something interesting in the book. The author immediately lets you down in the part where Luka has an riddle match with the man of the river. He then boards an boat called the "Argo" and loses multiple lives there. There are multiple levels which i frankly dont remember and he gets to save his progress with the help of golden buttons at the end of each. I don't know whether the author was trying to pay a tribute to video games or make fun of the same and he left me quite confused. If it was meant as a tribute, I wonder why he wants to praise something which is so addictive and destructive. If he was poking fun, well considering i had to force myself through the multiple pages, i did not find anything too funny. The jokes, i realized were not jokes at all! A good read if you have nothing better to do. But if like me you cannot leave a book midway, don't start it unless you are ready for something very different and perhaps tiring in a way. 

Meri Brother ki dulhan

I really needed something light after watching Rockstar and I thankfully found this DVD we had bought a long time ago. A very refreshing movie with a young and lively star cast. Imran Khan does his usual chocolate boy role with ease. Katrina looks gorgeous and she does not have to worry about acting as the role doesn't demand much from her. The plot is predictable and that makes it all the more enjoyable. A very good pop corn movie that you should watch after you leave your brains behind. The songs are hummable and though some of the star cast cannot act (like the brother's ex gf), it doesn't make too much of a difference and you can still watch the movie at least once.


The story about a boy who becomes a Rockstar. Notice that the boy never grows up to be a man. That is one thing that is missing in the movie. However, the real hero here is A.R.Rahman.The movie is poignant, funny in places and absolutely touching in some more. Ranbir has done a really good job and I really think that this has been the best performance of his till date. Nargis needs to learn to act. Though she had a brilliant role, she did not do enough justice to it. The screen play is fast and though there are some missing pieces, it is a good watch.  You dont see the marriage of the heroine, you don't know whether the hero knows to draw that line between love and lust. There are some places where you feel that the emotions could have been brought out better. But then, nothing in life is without its faults and this is a good package overall.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saraswathi Sabatham

I love watching old tamil movies. This one was an old favorite where the three goddesses (saraswathi, lakshmi and parvathy) each representing education, wealth and bravery have a competition among themselves to decide which of the three is better. In order to prove a point they bless three commoners - a dumb man becomes a poet, a beggar becomes a queen and a coward becomes a brave warrior. The three mortals peg their talents against each other in an attempt to subdue the other two. What follows next is the story of "Saraswathy Sabatham". The first one hour has good songs and the highlight is Padmini dancing. I have to admit none of the Munnis and Sheilas can ever compete with her for either grace or beauty. I watched the dance some two three times as i really loved it. The songs are much better than the ones you get to hear and though not all were good, were quite soothing to hear. 
I do not completely agree with the male chauvnistic way of looking at the world, but still, apart from that part the movie was a good and interesting watch. I now have to find kadalikka neramillai somehow. :)

Dugout Rooftop

Koramangala has a lot of good places to eat in and this is one of the best i have had in sometime. The place is located near the jyoti nivas college closer to the forum side of the road. The place was surprisingly empty on a Saturday noon. However, the food was quite good. Their starters were tasty and the best part was the dessert! The service was quick and the waiters were quick to anticipate any requirement. The main course was not spectacular. But it was hot and easy on the tongue. The dessert had jalebis, semiya payasam and coconut barfi.All of it was awesome and jalebis were the best part of the menu. The buffet cost around Rs.245 per person and that i think was quite reasonable considering the spread.  If you want to have a quite meal in a nice and peaceful surrounding, or even if you want a good place to eat with a group of friends, i would definitely recommend this place. 

Tintin and the secret of the unicorn

Hmm. Let me get this straight - this is only slightly inspired by the tintin i so love. However, the movie was an amazing watch. You have quick witted tintin, a crazy captain haddock and of course the cute and adorable Snowy. The direction is fantastic and not five minutes go by before you starting laughing your heads off. The screenplay is tight and you dont even feel the long running time.
Dreamworks has created yet another nice watch and the 3D effects are quite good. Thankfully this time around fame has changed its 3-D glasses and we could actually enjoy the movie much better. The plot is a combination of "The crab with golden claws" and "The secret of the unicorn". However, in this movie, haddock and snowy have a considerable part to play compared to the book. 
You also have a very interesting villain "Saccharine" and he is quite funny in his own way. The henchmen are quite believable and you watch with eyes glued to the screen as tintin and haddock escape from them. The eagle who hangs around with the villain and the scenes where you get to watch the Milanese Nightingale are hilarious. The Thompsons of course are an integral part of the plot and their interaction with the pick pocket leaves you wanting to strangle them as you laugh along. You pity the poor pick pocket! The movie is quite predictable in some aspects but despite all that i would definitely recommend spending some time in a theater watching this work of art. I would love to watch it again!!!

The pregnant King

He wrote Jaya - which has till now been one of the best books i had read about the Mahabharatha. He let me down a little with Seven Secrets of Shiva. However, i decided to give him a chance and bought "The Pregnant King" which will now easily top my list of bad purchases. I literally had to force myself to finish it.

The story is about a family in a mythical kingdom. The king's son faces death and in an attempt to make sure the kingdom has a heir, they get him married to a woman who is smart enough to rule the kingdom till her son grows up. She however is unable to give up the power and keeps postponing his coronation stating that until he has a kid, he cannot be a ruler. You see a lot of conflict and there was so much scope for a very philosophical and interesting story. 

The story talks about Dharma - which is all about creating a social truth and not personal ones. So you have a queen who has all the right talents but cannot be a ruler and only a guardian by virtue of her being female, you have a king who wants to be a poet but cannot as it is his duty to take care of his kingdom and finally the king who cannot be father and ends up being a mother, stuck somewhere in the middle because of his sad state. I wonder if this interpretation of Dharma is not without its faults.I agree that life is not about always getting what you want and that sometimes you have to surrender to your circumstances. But life is not as cruel as the author wants it to be. The author had taken the sensitive subject of sexuality and has really handled it quite badly. He has not elaborated as much as he could have on change and how in many ways things really don't change. A huge disappointment.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman

A Neil Gaiman masterpiece through and through. He keeps the reader spell bound from the beginning and his characters crazy and unpredictable in a predictable sort of way till the very end!

I enjoyed this book a lot and I stayed up well into the night to finish it. The book follows the two boys of Anansi the spider or the story teller character whom we met in the American Gods. He dies and his son Charles, does not mourn the father he hardly knew. However, he does go to the funeral and bury his old man. He comes to know that he has a brother called Spider and that his father was the god of mischief. Things go berserk from this time around as Spider comes in and slowly takes over Charles life and his fiancee. Charles now has to fight and get back his life from the elusive spider. How he manages to do the same and the lessons he learns in the process forms the rest of this brilliant read.

I would recommend Gaiman any day and he has re-established himself in my favorite authors list with this mind blowing piece of fiction. :)

Three quarter chinese - not a quarter nice

I had seriously expected more of this place. It is like in the last 3 years, whenever i was supposed to have gone here,something had happened and i had ended going some place else.Maybe, i should have realized then that it was divine intervention and not gone to this place now. :)

The three things that contribute to my decision to never ever go to this place :

1. Service : It took us around 10 minutes after we were seated to get a menu in a half empty restaurant. The food took another 30 minutes after we ordered and of course re-ordered. The waiters were hardly anywhere to be seen and i had the feeling the ones which materialised from time to time were simply sleep walking
2. Variety : The vegetarian selection was very poor. But then ,considering it is a chinese restaurant i let it pass only to be told that of the stuff listed in the menu half of it was not there. For those of you saying "veg in a chinese restaurant, you ought to be crazy!", well i have news. More than half the non veg items were missing as well! Talk about rotten luck
3.Cost : Everything was over priced and i could not fathom a single reason as to why it was so.

A word of caution - stay away! Eat at 20 feet high right above it or visit the other places in the same road if you are hungry

The orange girl - Jostein Gaarder

His Sophies World is my most favorite book till date. I would have named this blog so had i read it earlier but then, i thought it was too much of a tribute which i might grow out of someday and be unable to change. :) Hence the name with my one ability i know i will never grow out of if I am still writing this blog.

Anyway now that i have imparted some interesting titbit, let me get back to reviewing the book. It was a very good read. A love letter written for his 4 year old son by a dying father. A letter the boy comes to read 11 years after his father's death when he is 15. The father relates to an important incident in his life when he sees a beautiful girl carrying a bag of oranges in a train. He loses sight of her and goes crazy hunting for her. The author has us enthralled with the book. He makes us wonder who the orange girl was and what her motivation could be. He makes us think of the world as a fairy tale and everyday as a beautiful miracle for when you get down to it, not even two oranges are like and we continue looking at the world in a scientific way forgetting the magic all around us. Here I had to agree with the author for I have felt myself a lot of times that my explaining things, we take away the magic in them. Science is also a bane in as much as it is a boon to us.

Read this book if you believe in love and the fairy tale that this life is. Yet another good read.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

This again belongs to a series of books I had wanted to read but never got around to reading.

An awesome funny and interesting read.Some parts of it kinda made me relive my school days and I cant help but admire the way the author has woven the images with the text and conveyed the everyday life of a sixth grader. I am sure that people closer to the culture would have enjoyed it all the more. The author had me shedding tears of laughter at places. A very good read. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ring for Jeeves

Apparently Jeeves appears without Bertie in just one book. This happens to be the same. To me, Wodehouse embodies the spirit of British humour or rather, my limited knowledge of British humor stems from this man and i just so love him. I wonder how he is able to write such a clean book and make sure the reader still enjoys the same. Some of our modern day's so called comic writers and actors have to learn from this mastermind.

The plot is simple which makes this a good read all the more. William, the ninth earl Rowcester has Jeeves temporarily in his employment as Bertie is attending a school for the rich to adjust to the impending social revolution. Like most Earls in Wodehouse's world, he is broke and in an attempt to make money he doubles as a bookie with Jeeves as his assistant. All is well in Paradise until a bet at huge odds is won and he is left without any money to pay Captain Briggs. The events go for a toss when he discovers their true identity and demands his money back. To add further comic situations, a rich widow wants to purchase Rowcester Abbey and she also happens to be the Captain and Bill's flame. As always everything is fine in the end but how they reach the climax makes for excellent reading. I would anyday recommend Wodehouse. He is just amazing even if predictable.