Monday, June 25, 2007

Democracy in Action

An earnest request to all readers - you have only 11 more days to vote for the Seven New Wonders of the World. The short list of monuments is over here, so exercise your democratic right and go choose the seven monuments that you think ought to be included.

Just to make a subtle point, my list of seven included the following:

So, as they say in India,

आपसे यह आग्रह है कि आप अपने मत का उचित प्रयोग करें और हमारे चहेते ताज महल को विजयी बनाए!

And as they also say in India,

भोट फ़ॉर ताज!

Thanks goes to fellow Desicritic DesiGirl for jogging my memory and reminding me to vote through her post

Image pinched from Incredible India!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How now, Sir Salman?

Given the hullabaloo in our literary orchards recently over the be-knighting of the writer formerly known as Salman, I was trying to get my head around why I think he deserves the honour. Because when I heard that news that he was to be made a knight, I didn't think it out of place, or disagree with it at all. It just seemed appropriate. So while I was chewing over why I think its a good idea, I thought it would be good to try to express why I supported the knighthood.

Sunny Singh, however, managed to capture my thoughts pretty succinctly. I'm sure they're really her thoughts, but I just agreed with everything she said. So rather than repost, or try to say it all over again, I'm going to cop out and just redirect you to her article instead.

Oh, and by the way, can you imagine Padma Lakshmi as the first supermodel/ TV celebrity chef to become a lady? If only she'd married the man when she had the chance!

Anyway, snide comments aside, the one thing that really bugs me as a liberal Indian capitalist is the fact that India continues to be one of a handful of countries that maintains the ban of The Satanic Verses. (Most of the others are tin pot Islamic fundamentalist whackos like Iran & Pakistan). It goes against every grain of what it means to be a democracy to put in place bans like that. And that extends to ridiculous things like the MF Hussain mess, the Chandramohan fiasco, etc. What is with the stupid moral-religious police?!?! I find actions like that incredibly invasive of my personal decisions to read what I want, say what I like, and basically express my fundamental rights of freedom of choice & expression.

I'm tempted to start a campaign to un-ban the book in watch this space.

(Image pinched from Ultrabrown)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What happens After Dark?

Children of the night; dark alleyways. Lives small and limited, but simultaneously interconnected and expansive. Coincidence, destiny, chance encounters, randomness.A series of unrelated concepts & events unfolding through the course of one night. Spare, precise prose. Japanese minimalism, white walls, brushed sand, polished river pebbles.

But perhaps, most of all, a haze. That slightly nauseating dizziness, a sense walking through clouds, where images don't seem quite solid, when moving figures seem lose shape as they pass through air thicker than mercury, where the boundaries that define images begin to blur, when nothing seems real anymore. The intoxication brought on by insomnia, by fatigue, by watching the change from dark to light as a new day breaks.

All of these permeate After Dark, Haruki Murakami's latest novella. And it is a novella of several firsts. For starters, it is a short work by most standards, but doubly so for one by Murakami, whose novels tend to be long and complex narratives that allow the reader the luxury of many, many pages of the sparse prose so characteristic of his writing. Another departure for Murakami is the time span of the story, starting just before midnight and ending soon after dawn breaks the next morning. The one thing that Murakami retains is his the simplicity and honesty of his characters; their utterly ordinary lives, which are at the same time unique & quixotic.

If that seems oxymoronic, it is, because in true Murakami style, while initially each character appears, at least on the surface, to be totally unexceptional, it is when you get under their skin that their unique circumstances paint them in a more unique light. It's almost like you're walking down the street and ignore the ordinary masses all around you, but suddenly have one deconstructed in front of you to reveal the complexity within.

And then, there is the emergence of Murakami the voyeur, the film-maker. His prose veers eerily close to the tightness of a crafted script, minutely filling out the mise-en-scene; the music in the background, the colour of her jumper, the half eaten sandwich on a plate. There are directions for the cameraman, of when to pan out and take in the room, of when to focus in on the twitch of her lips as she sleeps.

What is the story? To be honest, it doesn't matter. The specifics of the events that take place during the night are irrelevant to the overall writing. There is meaning and symbolism in everything, but at the end, do the events of the night make a difference?

Ask someone who spends the entire night awake, only to see the morning wipe away all the fantasies that the darkness allows.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


So after finishing my exams last week, I finally have control over my own free time again. No more needing to lug study notes around on the London tube, or wake up on weekends workplanning my study schedules for the day. So to celebrate, I walked into a bookstore earlier this week, and sort of went a little mad...

First I saw this, which I just HAD to buy...

And my excitement was further heightened when I saw this one:

I was somewhat disappointed to know that this one isn't going to be out in the UK until September, but then soon overcame that when I realised I could buy it from Amazon and have it shipped out from the US.

So that came in today!

I'm already almost through with the Murakami - and I find it fascinating to see how his writing style has evolved over the years. It's still the same spare, whittled down prose that is classically Japanese in its minimalism, but he is suddenly so much more attentive towards the mise-en-scene. At times I get the sense that I'm not so much reading a novel as I am a screenplay - each scene, each frame is composed in his mind and almost effortlessly communicated...

Watch this space for the reviews....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Waxing Poetic...

A classic from ee cummings...

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

This one's been done to death in popular culture (remeber Cameron Diaz reciting this to Toni Collette in In Her Shoes? Or Abby reciting it to Luca in ER) Despite all that, it's still an amazing poem, and one worth sharing...
I think I just found my perfect holiday....

" This wild and rugged 11-day trek begins at the edge of the wide open plains of Argentine Patagonia and proceeds into the rugged mountains, forests and volcanoes of the Chilean Lake District. Ride through ancient larch, beech and monkey puzzle forests while learning the real meaning of the word ‘bamboozled’ as you forge a path through the bamboo thickets with experienced guides. The huge rock formations, towering overhead give rise to the myths and tales about secret cities hidden here in the Andes. The breathtaking peak of Lanin Volcano at 13,000 feet is an inspiring backdrop to this adventure."

(Check out the tour at here)

(Image courtesy Riding Tours Blog)