Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Existential crisis??

Sometimes life makes me wonder if its worth it all. No I am not a suicide case and I love my life and my awesome self too much to even harbour those thoughts. I am talking about the means we take to an end. I had come home from work and as wondering what to do rather than watch television when it stuck me. I haven't read a full book (apart from emoticons - the book in which my short story has come in) in the last two weeks. Travel and work and my recent obsession with getting three stars in angry birds had kept me occupied. I was so ashamed. Don't ask me why, I can't explain. I picked up a Colin dexter I am going to review soon so that's a good thing which happened out of the introspection.

Not the only thing though as my thoughts have a way of catching up even if I distract them. We all have some dreams or goals which we hold really close to our heart. Sometimes what we do reflects the dream and sometimes it is as far from it as anything can be. Sometimes we air sure what we want and we keep trying different things to figure it all out. In my case, I don't know at times on how to categorise myself. I love my work and I love my hobby which I hope to turn into a career. Club this with my other loves like cooking and I often don't have time to do anything justice. At times, I wonder if it is worth it all. At times I know it is and that this is preventing me from decaying. I wonder how long I can sustain the interest I have and if being interested in so many things that are wildly different from each other is sane in the first place. Of course I become difficult to stereotype as career woman or housewife or crazy eccentric writer nut and that's good but the society has been built to cater to stereotypes and not being one might make fitting in difficult in a few instances.

Anyway after rambling to random and not so random strangers who hopefully frequent my blog, I am feeling a little better as I know that as popular as stereotypes are, not everyone is one and there might be someone who will summarise the entire post in a sentence and say,she wants the world and is eating everyone's head as getting it is difficult.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The drama called life

In this beautiful drama
that unfolds all around me
I try to stand aside
and be a silent spectator
silence the one trait i never could master
betrays me all over again

Here i am once again stepping in
and interacting with the amazing actors

Oh! What roles they play
How many masks they don
I try to see through
I try to interpret
and mask after mask greets me

Here i stand strangely naked
and the wave of life
comes crashing into me

The hawks around
come flying by
ready to peck out the exposed skin

There aint no mask to guard me
There aint no paint to save
The shield of truth rises up
Trying so hard to protect
radiating the light of truth

I wonder if
in a world of mirrors
a single ray of bright light
can wreck complete havoc

The survival instincts of a lost world
kick in and my survival is questioned
Will the shield of truth of suffice?
Will a mask pop in?

I know not
I just root for changelessness

The chimes

In the stars up above
I see a dream
I see a sliver of beautiful hope
I see the seed of harmony slowly take root

The sound of chimes wake me up
And reality gives me a warm kiss
Sending shivers down my spine

In the ceiling up above
I see a bright light
I see the barriers raised and ready to prevent even hope
I choose to see no more

I cant help but wonder
about the chimes that warn me
every waking moment of all my days

The dreams i keep chasing
through the long dead routes
Routes full of things keeping me awake
for the dreams that laugh at me
Mock my process mock my means

All i can do is block the sound
and just keep running

The paradox of choice

For all the roads that stretch ahead
for all the modes that stand around
for all the destinations that welcome me
i wonder what to choose

I wonder why and i hope
Limitless possibilities, Limitless destinations
Limited life to live those in
Limited time to dance in the rain

I wonder if for all these somewhere
Limitless lives i have to lead
Limitless universes i can exist in
I can only hope and dream
and sincerely wish that lose out I do not

Someday somewhere ill reach the stars

Someday somewhere ill reach the stars
Someday somewhere ill pass them by
Someday somewhere ill kiss them goodbye

Someday somewhere I know will come
For each today and here i see
New stars popping up just for me
The present so alive beckons
The past newly buried sighs
For dreams and desires so easily morph
For hope and love so easily inspire

There I can visualise tomorrows star
Tomorrows star yet to be born
Tomorrows star made for me

Here today I remember the older stars
The ones forgotten long past
The ones slowly slipping away

Someday somewhere ill greet the stars again
Someday somewhere ill pause to watch

Till then ill chase the elusive dreams
Till then ill breathe the cold air
Till then ill survive remembering
Someday somewhere I met them before
Someday somewhere ill meet them again


Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rebel without a cause

As I stand by waiting for my emotions to subside
I look in the mirror hoping to see the truth
All I see there is just another rebel
All I see there is just another life

I hope against hope that it ain't true
I wish with all my heart that time would prove it false too
I want to fight, I want to stand my ground
But I want not to be just another rebel without a cause
I want not to be just another lost soul seeking non existent solace

I watch time fly by and I travel all the way back
I look into your eyes and see the truth that was
I wake up and find it gone far away
I know not what to do
I know not where to go
I know not whom to trust
I want not to be just another rebel
A lost rebel without a cause

The anger creeps up refusing to be controlled
The sorrow breaks out cracking open self imposed dams
I become an impassioned observer and watch spell bound
As a look alike moves forward to battle
As she weaves through crowds and faces certain emotional death
As she holds her ground juggling her shields around

And I hope against hope
That I ain't just another rebel without a cause
That I ain't fighting a battle I know nothing about
That I ain't just another lost soul

But know I do that hoped I have in vain
And in its typical fashion life has come back one full circle
And it's my turn now to face newly found music
That its my turn now to be the misunderstood villain
That its my turn now to rebel
I watch and wait to pass on the baton someday
To the one looking me in the eye now
And looming larger than life.



Sent from my iPad

The wait

Here I stand waiting for the candle

In the darkness around that envelops me

Hoping for sight in the land of blind men

Here I stand straining to hear

The sound of a match being lit somewhere far away

By some familiar stranger

Here I stand hoping for the glimpse of a dim light

That would travel across miles to reach me

If only to give me a glimmer of hope

No matter how feeble

 

Here I stand not knowing what else to do

Too used to the helplessness to be embarrassed

Too used to the darkness to be scared

Here I stand knowing just that things will change

For the only thing permanent is that lady, my friend

Whose every breath morphs the world around leaving it familiarly unfamiliar

 

Here I stand waiting for her to do something

Hoping this aint the part of the world

Forgotten and untouched even by her

For then ill have to greet doomed familiarity

With contempt and maybe joy

Then ill greet the bleak changelessness

With maybe no emotion – for none will be left by then.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Festivities galore

I loved festivals as a kid as I got to buy new clothes. However Diwali is something I have a very soft if mushy corner for. The lights, crackers, new clothes, food and the overall awesome atmosphere is something to enjoy and live in.

I had come down to my home from bangalore and we went to a lesser known picnic spot yesterday. While I was going around the town and nearby villages yesterday I saw the contagious atmosphere. Everyone was wearing new clothes and was bustling around. Unsurprisingly a lot of men were drunk! I still cannot understand celebrating joy or happiness or drowning ones sorrow in drinking. For someone who is high on life, that just doesn't make sense.

I was thinking for the nth time as to how festivals help spread the wealth around. A lot of industries and people dependent on them make good during this time. Automobiles, textiles, jewelry making etc etc are just a few items on the top of the funnel. To the few I know who call all this a waste of money I'd just like to point out how what one spends becomes the income for another. A lot of our social and cultural celebrations work for the larger good that way. Despite the commercialisation I'd say to some extent it still does.

Now that I have tried to put a coherent paragraph together let me go eat sweets. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pratchett marathon - Making money

The second book in the moist von Lipwig series after going postal. I enjoyed reading going postal again and was wondering as to why I did not like the series so much last time. Well, this book is the reason. The last two or three chapters rather. Let me give a review rather than jump around.

The plot begins with Moist von Lipwig running the post office effortlessly. He is bored and tries to break into his own office. When he is wondering about the whole point of his clean existence especially when his sweetheart is not around, The Patrician tasks him with meeting the old lady who is the current chairman of the royal bank of Ankh Morpork. She takes a liking to him and leaves her wealth to her dog and the dog mr.fusspot to Lipwig. She dies peacefully in her sleep and by her will and the conditions in it Lipwig takes over his new role. He is now the chairman of the almost bankrupt bank.

He begins his duties with a bang and loads of opposition. He comes up with interesting ideas and a trusting public eats out of his hand. He tries to juggle his duties in the bank with spending time with his sweetheart ms.dearheart who has been on a secret mission to get hold of a few golems and has just returned. Add to this the crazy antics of the lavishes to whom the bank belongs and the plot is pretty racy and well etched. But the finale is way too slow in coming. The book fizzes out and he is not able to sell the sizzle there.

The characterisation of Lipwig is interesting and I think I've started liking his cheek and confidence a lot. Cosmo Lavish as the man obsessed with being like the Patrician gives room for a few laughs if nothing else. Ms.Dearheart aka spike is adorable and her interactions with Lipwig are in a strange way romantic and funny. Mr.bent and Hubert, Gladys the golem are a few interesting characters I'd like to see in some more books. The watch and the patrician are around and are so typical that reading about them has now become like discussing with a friend the characteristics and eccentricities of another favourite friend. :)

But overall despite being a decent read, the slow plot put me off a bit and I wouldn't recommend this to someone wanting to start Pratchett though to a mature fan, this would be an enjoyable affair.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pratchett marathon - Thud!

A mystery and a discworld story with Pratchetts trade mark style. I would not have missed rereading it especially with my new found liking for Vimes.

The plot begins with the murder of a hamcrusher a dwarf higher up ( a deep downer you see) who has been spreading discontent among dwarves and the murderer is suspected to be a troll. It doesn't help things that the death occurs on the eve of the battle of koom valley the place where a war was fought thousands of years ago by dwarves and trolls. A day that has a lot of cultural significance to both. It doesn't help that there is already enough discontent without this event. It doesn't help that the dwarves decide to hush it up. It doesn't help that they refuse to cooperate once the issue comes to the light.

You have an angry Vimes trying to get down to the bottom of the mines to investigate, disturbed occasionally by an inspector auditing the department, by his personal commitment to read to his son and a city ready to become a battle ground. He manages to tackle all this in his typical style and it is so beautiful to read. While Vimes is battling his inner demons a vampire joins the watch and unwittingly uncovers a deadly secret buried in the depths of the city with Angua. The revelation clubbed with the summoning dark, a dwarf symbol meant to invoke dread and a force a few million years old leads Vimes on a wild goose chase across countries to the very place it all began.

There you have it a decent plot. Racial discrimination and prejudice is one of the strongest themes in the book and I applaud Pratchett's ability to create characters shrouded in grey whose depth just astounds you. Vimes as the loving father, the hen pecked husband, the serious cop and the commanding commander is a good study. You root for his cynicism and you can't help liking a guy who hates everyone equally and is a straight arrow though not the sharpest knife. The vampire Sally is a new character in this book and the way she is able to handle herself in a world not too ready for her is also well portrayed. The best part is of course the numerous dwarves and trolls and the way the author can bring out their similarities and differences. Be it the deep downers or the normal cops just wanting to live their lives or brick the lost troll or detritus or Mr.Shine or the Grag, or hemcleveer all of them have something interesting.

That is the magic of the book. The ability to show that despite the differences, there are some similarities. The ability to use humour to speak not necessarily to preach. The ability to convert a thought into a coherent story with numerous sub plots.

The portrayal in Thud of the two groups is similar to a lot of situations we see in the real world. The Israel crisis, England's colonial past of course the racism there was in the us. When I think about all that I just hope that there is a solution somewhere. Then the realist in me wakes up and asks me to go back to my dreams. For that is where there is going to be equality. That is where there is going to be peace. But here is where I will tell you to go read the book.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Pratchett marathon - Going Postal

This is the first Moist von Lipwig story and I think this was made into a tv series as well. I read this just last year but so many other books have been consumed in the mean while that I was able to savour it this time around too.

Moist von Lipwig is a con man who meets a just end as Albert Spangler in Ankh Morpork. The patrician pulls off an angel act and revives Moist and offers him the job of a post master general of Ankh Morpork. After his attempted escape is foiled by his parole officer, the golem Mr.Pump, Moist slowly settles into the old and decrepit post office full of undelivered letters and unsolved mysteries. The previous generals had their careers cut short by untimely death and Lipwig tries really hard to not join the long list. He is aided in his quest to revive the post office by a bunch of old men, a crazy collector and his own desire to impress a certain smoking woman who handles the golem trust. He revives the place and unwittingly and sometimes knowingly ruffles the feathers of a lot of powerful men in the city especially the ones who run the clacks or the mechanisms for transmitting a lot of information really fast. How he pulls off the biggest con in his life forms the rest of the plot.

The characterisation of Lipwig is splendid. You can't help liking an honest trickster so full of life and so ready for a show. I enjoyed his various theatrics like the golden suit, his public proposals, his false bravado and of course his penchant for identifying what makes a man tick. He is an amazing read and so shallow and so deep. The gods blessing him was the best trick of the lot and brought out the deeper shades in his character. Adora belle dear heart as his lady love is another interesting study. Her cynicism and the way she refuses to be impressed are commendable. Her love for the golems and the philosophy I found there was something that will stay with me for a bit. The gullible men in the post office and their attempts to stick to the regulations are hilarious.

Reacher gilt, as the brain behind the clacks company, despite being a bit one dimensional is still a good opponent who finds new lows to stoop to every other day. I was so able to visualise the conversation between him and Lipwig. There are a few more characters and apart from the Patrician none of them linger much in my mind. Maybe cos they are so typical.

There are a few other things I enjoyed in the book. The collectors, the small changes in the stamp, the pigeon eater, the smoking gnu and of course the golems. The hammer cannot be blamed for what the hand does.The book has some elements of mystic and mystery but the former is not touched upon much except in a few bits like where Lipwig is initiated and also where he is able to see the office come live. It gives way and is lost in the drama of life. Maybe because I love dreams so much I wanted to see more of the mysticism. But yeah, I can't have everything now, can I?

An entertaining read which is sometimes a wee bit too real. It reminded me of the gilts and the parks of the world and made me wonder why we root for Lipwigs. There is no ideal so we stick to something. Anything that we can cling on to.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Pratchett marathon - Monstrous regiment

This is one of the first Pratchetts I read and it was instrumental in me going ahead and reading a lot more. Now that I have said it when i am reading it in the right order I have to admit I wasn't as impressed. True it's better than a lot of books out there but it's nowhere in my top ten books by Pratchett.

Countries are at war and Polly, a native of borgovia, a country ruled by the whims and fancies of a crazy god, cuts her hair off and joins the army to find her lost brother. She walks the walk, spits, swears and belches loudly and manages to pass off as a man aided by a pair of socks a silent mystery man gives her. Over a period of time she realises that her entire squad, all that's left of the ins and outs led by an inept captain and a strange sergeant comprises of women. All of them have hidden agendas of their own and are unwittingly placed in the limelight. How they fight not just the enemies but also their inner battles and serve the 'Duchess' forms the rest of the plot.

The book has numerous themes - religion, war, belief, duty and of course the main theme is the battle of the sexes. As with most Discworld books they are explored well but not in too much detail except for the battle of sexes and it is hilarious. The religious theme with the crazy god who declares abominations all the time is thought provoking. Unfortunately Practchett does not delve too deep into it. I guess after the treatment of war in Jingo he decided not to focus on that aspect much and he restricts himself to touching upon the futility of the same through the smaller sub plots that show as to how loyalty cannot feed a man and just a plain sense of duty cannot save your life and finally how at the end of the day, the enemy is just a tired soldier like you.

The book has a lot of new characters and hence though I was not looking forward to them, I enjoyed the unbiased story telling. Polly perks as a cheeky recruit is a very good study and her observations are so spot on! Wazzer, tonker and the other recruits did not catch my fancy much and I loved Polly and stuck to her. The sergeant was an interesting personality as well but he is no way comparable to some of the other characters like Vimes. Vimes, Angua and a few other characters feature as well but though they play an important role in the plot, they do not get enough limelight. It's Polly and Pratchett's book through and through.

In a world where the glass ceiling exists and people just pretend it is not there, this book is still relevant. In a world where women have to be better than men to be even given a nod of acknowledgment in a few places, this book is relevant. In a world where stupidity dictates a person and sometimes a countries life, this book is relevant. In a world where there is no Nuggan declaring abominations but just plain normal human beings sitting and calling them out, this book is relevant. But in a world ruled by Pratchett's humour this unfortunately to me is not. Read it for the philosophy, wit and plot but not for Pratchett. There are other books for that like Small Gods, Hogfather, Guards! Guards! Etc.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Pratchett marathon - Night watch

A watch book without carrot. So obviously I did not like it much when I read it two years ago. But with life having taught me a few bitter lessons, this time around, I enjoyed it a lot.

The plot begins with Sam Vimes chasing a murderous assailant through the streets of Ankh Morpork on 25th of May (ha ha ) a day made famous for the conspiracy that changed the city years ago. He catches up with Carcer in the high energy magic building and thanks to the history monks experiment lands back 30 years in time with Carcer.

He is right in the middle of action impersonating a certain John Keel who was the hero of the revolution as his entry in the past ended up ending Keels life. He has to ensure that he saves people from the crazy despot ruling the city. Especially a young copper called Sam Vimes. He races against crazy guards of the day watch, his own policemen who are unsure of their loyalties and a bunch of seamstresses who are not sure as to what he is to just live through a few days and go back to his future. How he manages all that and not change history is the rest of the story. The book is fast and the plot finale well executed.

Vimes is awesome. His anger, confusion, sorrow and surprise are very human and I connected so well with his John Keel. His standing up to the unmentionables, his education of the younger Sam and just his presence was awe inspiring. I often wondered as to how someone like this is not at all like the lost and irritated Vimes seen in Guards! guards! But then, John Keel is the Duke Vimes and not the copper who was living with this mother. You still saw the righteous anger and his ability to stand up against anyone who tried to destroy peace. So it is ok.

The night watch cops were so real. Their cowardice, malice and plain humanness reminded me of a few people I think I know and I was really happy to see Pratchett bring out traits so beautifully well. Nobby and Reg's antics were a treat to read as well and since i knew how they turned out i enjoyed it all the more so. Pratchett's mockery of the dictators and the conviction he essays through Vimes in stating that one would be just like another was a sentiment I applauded. The political drama in India and my reaction to the same is just like Vimes. But the I ain't no copper so I wonder if I should even comment.

Vetinari makes an appearance as a tricky little assassin and I enjoyed reading his bits. His composure, calm and confident arrogance were right there and I could see the Patrician I so love in the making. The history monks, Mrs.Palm, Dibbler and a Dr.Lawn are a few characters who don't have much screen space. But are essential to the plot. I did not like Carcer's portrayal much. He was a little one dimensional for my taste.

Then they say, you can't win them all. So I'd just say, read the book for it is very very real and very very beautiful. Definitely the best Vimes book after Guards! Guards!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Pratchett marathon - The last hero

I stumbled upon the illustrated version of this book in a sale in Madurai and I just grabbed it. Since I was going through the Pratchett marathon I thought I'd get to it in the right time. I finally did.

Like I've mentioned numerous times before, Rincewind is one of my least favourite characters and Carrot just the opposite. This book has both plus awesome illustrations. Sadly I enjoyed the illustrations more than the book.

We last saw Cohen and the silver horde becoming the rulers of the counterweight continent. However, settling down does not agree with them and they decide to go on one last mission. That of returning the celestial fire back to the Gods. They 'convince' a reluctant bard to accompany them to write a saga in their name. Ankh Morpork by virtue of having the right kind of people with the right kind of attitude is requested by nations of the world to stop this mission as once the barbarians ( the silver horde are a bunch of barbarians btw) blast the device they are carrying around in the abode of the gods, it would spell the end of the universe as most of them know it. Be it trolls,humans or dwarves all of them want to hang on to their dear lives.

The solution is proposed by the ever reliable Leonard de Quirm ( the inventor of the gonne) as magic cannot work near the Cori Celesti( the abode of gods). He builds a machine which can fly with the propelling power of swamp dragons and he sets out with Carrot and Rincewind. Whether they manage to save the world is the rest of the plot.

Like I said, the illustrations were Awesome. Despite the sheer number of dragons involved the book lacked a certain fire which most discworld books have. Rincewind has become too boring and why Pratchett prefers the eternal coward over DEATH I don't understand. The silver hordes antics are very much like what we saw in Interesting times and I did not enjoy reading it as much this time around. Still they do have a charm and since the book is about true bravery and the cruelty of age, I could relate to some parts of it.

An ok read but definitely not the book you want to describe your discworld experience by.

Pratchett marathon -The truth

Truth is a strange thing. Truth is stranger than fiction. Truth sometimes has to be protected by a body of lies. Etc etc. we've all heard one or the other thing like this. This book by Pratchett is beautiful not because it gives lines like this but because it shows by example. It is scary as it is so god damn real. It is hopeful for just the same reason.

The plot is about Ankhs first official newspaper started by the right minded William de worde, the son of a capitalist father trying to earn his own living. He is a very strange creature for another reason and that is that he believes in the truth. After his success in monthly newsletters to distant places, a happy accident with the movable type inspires him to begin a newspaper for the public. As luck would have it, Vertinari is also in trouble over a minor misunderstanding involving oodles of cash, a knife and an almost dead secretary. William with the help of Sacharissa, Otto the vampire and a bunch of dwarves tries to get to the bottom of it all. Life teaches him a few things along the way including but not limited to the publics off handed treatment of the truth, the interest in strangely shaped vegetables and of course about assassins who are not always polit and who have something more than mere Death in mind.

The characters are nicely etched. I loved William and his sidekicks were ok. However, the evil ones did not scare me. The crazy firm trying to help the committee to overthrow the Patrician, the mysterious lawyer paying them in jewels, they were all too stereotypical and thankfully did not get much screen space. What got to me was the common man and his flippant attitude towards everything. Still, it was balanced by people like William who remind me there is still some hope in this mad world. ( why am I talking about earth here? Is it cos its eerily similar to recent this happening or is it because I am talking about the discworld and not earth? You'll never know and I hope neither will I)

Gaspode and the beggars make a reappearance in the book and they provide enough light moments to make you forget the gravity of the situation. The plots there, the humours there and of course the satire and philosophy is too damn evident to even the most thick headed. But what's missing is the fantasy. A vampire and a zombie and even the werewolf cannot make up for it. So though I'd call this an awesome book, I'd say don't think of discworld when reading this. :)