Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Books read in recent times

First of all, by 'recent times', I am not exactly referring to yesterday or past week but the past 12 months :D. My reading rate has been appalling over this time (due to several reasons ;) ). Though I must have read close to a 70-80 research papers (many just introduction and conclusion so that they could be discarded as irrelevant), I only managed to read a few books. Hence there are not many books that I am in a position to discuss now. The plus point, however, is that my choice of books has been pretty good and I have enjoyed most of the books that I read.

» My autobiography - Charlie Chaplin: I have only read a couple of other autobiographies, and this was by far the best of them all. Right from his poor beginnings to meteoric rise in popularity to being assailed by various people for various reasons, he narrates all events in an enthralling way with a hint of dark humour, I guess much like his movies. Statutory warning: Reading the book will make you want to watch all those movies asap, so better be prepared with the CDs etc before you start reading.

» For Esme, with love and squalor - J. D. Salinger: I picked up this book as it was the most attractive of the Salinger books in our library. No, I did not read any review about it and had no inkling of what to expect. After reading, I was slightly disappointed as perhaps I was expecting a bit more from the Salinger of Catcher in the Rye fame :D. It is a collection of short stories (took a while for me to figure that out :D, as I initially thought he was just introducing different characters in different chapters) and I wasn't able to see the point in some of them. However, the short story of the same title was pretty good along with a few others (that I dont remember now :-s).

» The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut: Now, this was pretty awesome. The sarcasm and satire of the book just kills you with its ingenuity and humour. It is a science fiction of a different kind and the story moves from Earth to Mars and back to earth and then yeah, to Titan. It has an all powerful but subservient alien, mind-controlling and pain-inflicting devices, space shuttles, Earth attacked by soldiers exported from earth and train in Mars and so on. It has an idiotic multi-billionaire, an omniscient future knowing person, a glass-doll but later rugged woman and her illegitimate son and so on. I can't do it justice, you need to read it to appreciate it :D.

» Sweet Thursday - John Steinbeck: A pleasant story which is both funny and warm with an excellent narration style. The characters leave strong impressions even long after they cease to exist. All in all, a feel good novel and as most such novels ought to be, it is a love story, though of a different kind. It is actually a sequel to another novel, but I read this one directly and thoroughly enjoyed it.
PS- the librarian was mighty impressed when she noticed me getting this book issued ;)

» The curious incident of the dog in the night-time: Mark Haddon: This book has a very high reputation and not without reason. A must read is all I can say. I absolutely loved it, having read it on a one-day journey to London and back .. quite a coincidence that is, though. Why? you will know when you read it :P.

» 5 People you meet in heaven - Mitch Albom: I don't know, how I end up reading such books sometimes. They sound interesting because of their titles and their reviews, but once you read, you are left with that feeling of promises not being fulfilled. This is on the lines of the 'Alchemist' with an influence of 'The Christmas Carol' as some important people from the life of a dead man show him how his life was not so useless after all. I guess, the book attempts to provide some hope to people who find their lives quite insignificant :P. Did not impress me though.

» The Thought Gang - Tibor Fischer: I went to the library to pick up some other book but picked up this one instead. Why? The back page review was captivating! The context of the story is also so novel- a philosophy professor at Cambridge University turns into a uncatchable peaceful bank robber in France! He also has a one-hand-one-leg but very powerful associate who is a veteran criminal and falls for his philosophy. Together they form the 'thought gang' and rob banks while showering the bystanders with philosophical musings. Yeah, the book is continually peppered with references to Ionian philosophy and those ancient philosophers about whom I have no clue. But, the form of writing is so different and the story so humourous that together it turns out to be a terrific combination.

» The monk who sold his Ferrari - Robin Sharma: Aah, I had no clue about the contents of this book. But, having seen it in the favourite books lists of lots and lots of people, I assumed it should be good. However, it turned out to be a preachy self-help, improve your life dramatically by following these hazy but obvious steps that everyone knows but no one implements kind of book. The most impressive part of the book is the title :P. The book got so tiresome that I skipped a lot of pages jumping ahead to see if the next chapter had any awesome revelation hidden among its folds, only to repeat the steps and reaching the end :P. Well, what to say, I am sorry I don't like self-help books :D.

» Saturday - Ian McEwan: Set in the modern day scenario of terror threats and anti-war protests, the story is about a not-so-usual saturday in the life of a well-to-do, decent, generally happy neurosurgeon based in London. Told from the point of view of this doctor, the story conveys his various emotions, fears, love, confusion etc pretty well. Well, you get to read all this in any review :P. What particularly captured my attention was the way author easily keeps you captivated even when there might not be much happening in terms of the story. The doctor's thoughts keep going back to his memories and thats how we get to know the background of the characters. I guess this book is a nice example of how to tell a good story in an excellent manner. Now, I want to read his other works particularly Atonement and Amsterdam.

» An Equal Music - Vikram Seth: I love his poems but never read any novel, so when I found this book in a second-hand book sale, I immediately grabbed it. That was back in February. Yet, I have just finished half the book. It wasn't easy reading for a musically-ignorant person like me who didn't even know that there existed other western string instruments than guitar and violin, like say viola and cello. Yeah, the story is about a musician and his sorry life :P. Narrated in first person, the protagonist is a depressed loser and reading the book manages to depress you too :D. Hence I stopped. Also, there is a lot of music jargon that I had to read through without understanding a bit. Anyway, some day I hope to complete it :).

Book that I will soon start reading- Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham. No, its not a cookery or a brewery book :P. It about authors ... yeah authors who write literature.
Other books on my shelf in wait for a reading are: Catch-22, The Inheritance of loss and the Golden Gate.

Monday, October 15, 2007


¬ After a long time I feel like writing without the idea of what to write. There is nothing concrete that I want to say, nothing I want to narrate. But I feel I have to write (type rather) and so I do. By the way that reminds me, when was the last time that you have written a letter i.e literally written a letter to some one using pen/pencil and paper and posted it using snail mail? Yeah, small memo/todo/message notes are not what I am asking about. A proper letter like we all used to write sometimes in that bygone era :P.

¬ I realised that more often my weekends are more hectic than my weekdays. Hecticity being measured by the number of hours I spend at home (not doing any work). By this I dont mean that I work on weekends or anything.

¬ I find that sometimes, some one comments on an old post. And since I do not have any kind of comment notification enabled, I do not get to read it unless I go through the archives. And no, I dont do that normally.

¬ Now for the serious stuff. Aah, am kidding, there is no serious stuff, there shouldnt be any serious stuff! It's all just blah. Like the ones below:-
Sometimes you need a pain to experience the joy.
Sometimes, you need to close your eyes to see the light.
Sometimes, you need to lose the thing to comprehend its importance.
(I just came up with these .. though the last one is a common one, oft repeated in various forms)

¬ I am 23 years old. This is the 'prime' year. The previous ones were 19, 17, 13, 11 etc but the next one will only come after 6 years at 29 (and then 31). I dont know why, but it's kind of scary!

Click, click and click.
left, right and still.
scroll, up and down
cause smile and frown.

with a wiry tail
send a dull email
and the reddy glow
helps the PC flow

become dirty, stick!
sudden, very sick
end up in the trash.
And then a new mouse
comes joins its new house

I guess this is one of my rare verses in which all the lines in a single stanza have the same number of syllables. Dont ask what prompted me to write this!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A walk on a bad day ...

What do you do with days that stubbornly refuse to have a single decent thing about them but are associated with an abundance of annoyance??

--- By the way,

Ever tried walking with your eyes closed? If not, try it on a silent, deserted pavement (alongside a straight deserted road) with no chance of bumping into anyone/anything other than the fences and parked cars and find out how far you are able to go before you succumb to the irrepressible urge to open your eyes.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

An year .. I have been here

Somehow, searching for something, I ended up reading some of my early posts (nov-dec 2004) and wondered at how different and care-free my blogging was back then. I used to jump from topic to topic in the post, sometimes touching upon completely different topics in the same sentence!

Also, did I mention that I have completed an year, living alone in a foreign country? To be precise, as of today, it is 1 year + 1 month + 1 week + 1 day .. I think, didnt bother to be calculate exactly.

In the course of this year, I finished an year of cooking, an year of 'agent-research', an year of meeting people from all parts of the world ranging from Brazil and Australia to Europe and Ghana! It also marks completing an year of being paid regularly (the TAships in IIIT dont really count), as well as self-managing all my issues (from banks to bills).

It was an year of several trips (a lot of south England, Hyderabad+Delhi, Wales, Paris, a bit of north England and Switzerland). An year of watching several TV-series (continuing Lost and PrisonBreak and all of Battlestar Galactica, MITM, Seinfeld, Friends, HIMYM, Heroes etc), many many movies but reading very few books :(.

It was also an year spent by corresponding with your old close friends by chat /phone /orkut /facebook /batch-mails to realising you haven't known a single person in this country for more than an year (Blair, Beckham etc don't count, I mean personally knowing someone and they knowing me too)

It has also been an year of blogging in bursts and living in moments :)

this is not a PS: too many 'an year' in the post
this is still not a PS: I hope 'an year' is grammatically right? :-s

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yet another day

Looking up at the night sky, which was still bright enough to discern the clouds even as the time was galloping towards midnight, he wondered at the sorry state of his poor heart, at how mercilessly he has been suppressing his never decreasing desire. The unspoken wish has crippled his usual jolly self and made him a lost, miserable wanderer. Of course, neither his countenance nor his outward behaviour ever disclosed a tiny hint of his inner turmoil.

He wondered how long he could go along like this. While everything is seemingly fine, he no longer finds any joy in his activities, in any of his activities. He has easily dissected his condition into the minutest possible pieces and deduced that his want was just a want for love in general and not her in particular. But, since she is the only attractive one in the vicinity for a long time, the want has donned her effervescent face. Furthermore, there is no denying that it was her gorgeous presence and her gregarious interaction that had initiated this whole tasteless issue.

He looked up at the night sky again, sighed at the clouds and turned back. Today didn't feel right for the ultimate jump into eternity either. So he went back to live another day ... yet again.

Savour this piece of fiction for some time as there won't be any posts for the rest of this week :)

Monday, October 01, 2007

away ...

I want to keep away from myself today !