Monday, September 17, 2012

30 Years

Or a little more.

The time it took for Mom to get promoted.

The fact suddenly hit me. We, our generation that is, are so used to hopping around to get better, fat packages, and higher bands, that we have lost the ability to realise the intensity, hardships, and at times joy of working in the same place for 3 to 4 decades.

Wow! That's just commendable.

There is also the case of P's mom. Who got promoted and was transferred to a place called Chandrapur. At an age of 50. A challenging place, demanding position, and a lot of distance from relatives and kids. Only if we had an ounce of our parent's energy. We took it all for granted, and for slow learners like me, took a long time to realise it.

I remember in school days when people used to ask me what my mom does, as we Indians are probingly wont to, I used to shyly tell them "Staff Nurse", fearing that people might judge me, again as some of us are wont to! I remember how Dad had told me that Bill Clinton's mother was a Nurse too. I am sure he wanted to motivate me to get better grades, but that somehow helped get over the insecurity. All it took was probably that example and maybe a little bit of growing up.

Now she is a Sister in the same local Government hospital.

All it took was 30 years.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Stopover by Ram Prakash and Deepa Pinto - Book Review

The StopoverThe Stopover by Ram Prakash


I got a few sample pages from this book for a review. The following words, voice, opinions are my own.

My rating (for the pages I read): 3 stars

I won’t call myself as the clich├ęd “amateur photographer”, but, yes, I do love photography. In addition, I don’t believe that you have to have an SLR camera to be a photographer (although the quality is impeccable!). A capturing lens, an eye for beauty (or horror, irony, joy) in anything around you can help create lovely art. Add to that absorbing lines about the picture and things mystify further.

With The Stopover, the author manages to go several steps farther and weaves stories around stunning photographs. “4 stories, in 4 locations, brought alive with over 100 photos,” is the way this book is described.

I read the story "The Tibetan Wheel of Wisdom," revolving around Varun and his trip to Leh, Ladakh. The photographs are beautiful and the story is engrossing. At times, the pictures and story blend well (look for a picture of the ever calm Buddha, the source that strengthens the anguished and its positioning); at times one overshadows the other, while at times one orphans the other.

I wonder if this book is a gamble. After looking at an image, you perceive things very subjectively, individually. There could be a large overlap of these perceptions when two people see the same picture, but several factors add to the beauty of an image. In this case, we see the pictures and try to feel what the protagonist must be feeling. This works with some pictures, but for some you keep looking for a picture that matches the poetry created by the words and your imagination.

I would like to read the remaining stories and see how they blend with other scenic pictures and how the stories are concluded.


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Monday, September 10, 2012

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman - Book Review

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For almost 2 years Good Omens, bought in an online shopping frenzy, was lying on the bookshelf waiting to be devoured. I recently picked it up because I wanted a fun, light book.

Fun it totally is! Lightness is ineffably subjective. I mean, look at these lines:
"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."
OR
"Heaven and Hell aren't running things any more, it's like the whole planet is a Third World country that's finally got the Bomb."
Makes you think?

I must confess that the story does seem to be disjointed at times. But eventually everything falls into place as you keep reading, and chuckling. It’s got the Pratchett stamp all over it. I bet Gaiman loved emulating, improvising, and challenging Sir Pterry more and more! And Mr. Terry P answered the challenge in style! They filled the book with funny lines, characters, and references that crack you up beyond chuckling, at times! There are references to Queen, Baskin Robbins, 1984, Star Wars, and BBC. I am sure there could be some more gems that escaped me. There were two such moments that made me think about the awesomeness of ideas in this book:
- The line "Bureaucrats from hell" reminded me of Perdido Street Station
- You know the movie where they travel through phone lines, don’t you? Some characters in this book do the same and there is another funny twist after this travelling business.

While I liked all these amazing moments, I absolutely loved the involvement of Dog the Hellhound (and his metamorphosis!), The Angels (and their bromance!), Grievous Bodily Harm, Embarrassing Personal Problems Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Thumped Them No Alcohol Lager, and Really Cool People (Super!). Even the other human characters are enjoyable in their crazy roles.

It was amazing to read Pratchett and Gaiman writing about each other and their experiences while writing this book. These guys had fun writing this book, shouting about it across to each other, and produced one of the funniest books that I have read.

If you loved the following line, you sure will have a good time reading this book:
"It'd be a funny old world, he reflected, if demons went round trusting one another."
OR
"You start thinking: it can't be a great cosmic game of chess, it has to be just very complicated Solitaire."

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