Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Dear Sir Naipaul

You probably do not remember me. Correction. You definitely do not remember me. Unless I am mistaken, it would be truthful to say – you do not know me. Not in the least. But like so many readers of your literary genius, I am a huge fan. Which brings me to believe that I know you. I remember the very first time that I saw you. You were in a tweed jacket, strewn across the center page of Sunday(India), holding a glass of wine. Correction. It was not you, but your photograph in the stead. And clinging around it, was your interview. One which I cannot remember much about, except that it was not well received by the aam juntaa (the common man). As you will notice, being an aspiring writer myself, I have (rather discreetly if I may add) begun the use of colloquial words in otherwise routine sentences with no specific direction. And I digress !!

The reason I am sending you this note,  which really is a letter of apology is because of a collective feeling of guilt, emptiness and delight that I have experienced in the last few weeks. These emotions were dispersed over several sporadic instances. While some of these outbursts were set off  by a complete lack of control on my part, others were in fact well anticipated. As I write to you, I feel within myself an urge to bring out what has been inside, for days. I am ashamed for what I have pampered myself with and this is my confession !!

Forgive me, Sir Vidiadhar  for I have sinned ! I have spent several hours reading your books. One after the other. Most of them notable affiliates of your non-fiction empire. And during this time, (that is when I was soaking your words in), I was most comfortably situated in one corner of my humble abode. The corner that houses a white commode. Every day (and sometimes every night), as I commenced with the business of natural evolution, my eyes have devoured your writings with the speed of a high power evacuator. There was no stopping me, if you know what I mean !!

I know, that most your books have found their place in numerous academic syllabi. They have been provided with the highest form of ambience. And I wish to assure you, that it has been no different with this wonderful piece of masonry. The respect for your work is firm. For whatever it is worth, I do have an explanation. You see privacy has been a rarity since I immersed myself in matrimonial bliss and natural parenthood. Till the day, when I devised a way to transform my stay in the lavatory to what I like to call mini-vacation. True, it did induce some curiosity and a lot more concern from my spouse, who was used to my lightning speed visits for purposes of (for lack of better word) – Number 2. And for this I apologize !!

All fed said and done, I do wish to conclude this rather boorish correspondence. As far as my reading habits are concerned, I know it is not the best of the times. But believe me when I say, it is not also the worst of the times. Specially after a heavy dinner. I do believe that somewhere you will find in yourself the heart (and maybe the stomach) to forgive me. I would be relieved to know that you value my desire to experience gastronomical and intellectual ecstasy with equal density and spontaneity !!

Warm regards

Your ardent follower – (from the times when M.J.Akbar  changed the face of newspaper journalism)

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The tags keep coming and I need to make sure I attend to their calls as and when time and lack of other ideas permit. And that surely means that if you are reading this blog, and you know I like your’s , there is every possibility that I shall tag you in the next few minutes ……if not someone else will….there is no escape …..heeeyaaahahhahaha…….ZillionBig tagged me, with a bunch of questions, all in groups of four and I will try to be as quick as possible in responding to each of them …..honestly ?? ….that is a possibility …we will see how it all works out. …so bear with me …if you will …..!!!

Four places I have lived (not in any particular order):

  • Chakmaghat: small village on the banks of the Khowai river in Tripura,India…..
  • Calcutta: need I say more ….
  • Chennai: loved the place sans the auto rikshaw drivers and the dust ….
  • Detroit: I know it sounds rough, but it really is not bad at all …….

Four T.V shows that I love(d) to watch (not in any particular order):

though several years ago, I never missed any episode of Sidharth Basu’s quiz show. I do not remember the name now. ….

Four places that I have been on vacation:

  • Rimbik (India): Just like Samaresh Majumdar mentions about this place and Sandakfu in his novel, Garbadharini…this is a glimpse of what paradise probably looks like…..
  • Autrain (Michigan) : Quaint and surrounded by the Great Lakes this is where you want to be if you like to sing to the sounds of silence…..
  • Wilmington(North Carolina): Blue, green and in between …..
  • Tirupati(India):Vacation with my wife’s family where the alludu (groom or something like that) got the royal treatment including an oil massage and the works…..

Four of my favorite food items:

Fortunately for me and my taste buds, I have too many favorites and cannot pick any four. I love to eat and I close my eyes when the food is good, while making obscene noises of content which may annoy others around me.But I do not really care, since at that very moment nothing is more important than to honor the goodness of that indulgence !!

Four websites that I visit daily:

Four places I would rather be (not in any particular order of preference):

  • Chicago: I love this city ……
  • Chennai : and I love this city as well …..
  • Charlotte (North Carolina) : and I ……..
  • Calcutta : and …..

the fact that all the places are cities whose names start with “c” is mere coincidence ….. or not ??

Four things I hope to do before I die….. (not in any particular order):

  • Start our own restaurant, serving food so good that guests “close their eyes and….
  • With a dear friend of mine,make our first movie …..me as herr direktor…
  • Hold hands and walk in the streets of Paris …not in a human chain… a little more romantic
  • Attend our son’s graduation commencement and then go to dinner with him and his very charming girlfriend or boyfriend ….(you never know…..)

Four novels I wish I was reading for the first time:

  • Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Shesher Kobita by Rabindranath Tagore
  • A House for Mr.Biswas by V.S.Naipaul
  • An Equal Music by Vikram Seth

this list is not finite and I just named the first four that I could think of. I could go on and on and on and ….. you know what I am talking about !!

Four movies that I can watch over and over again:

and just like the books, this list is unlimited ….. including Singh is Kingg….or not !!!

Four people I believe will respond to this tag:

Now is the tricky part…..I do not want anyone to feel left out ….(yeah right…!!) ….but I think I will spare one or two business bloggers …and include someone who is too busy to blog …..

I know Rads is already slammed with other tags and so I am not including her.But if she or anyone else wants to pick up the tag, please feel free to do so !! Thanks ZB for the tag. I enjoyed trying to answer the questions…..!!

Image Courtesy:here

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The last time we checked, our 6:14 had been cancelled and we had been re-booked on the 7:50,which was now delayed by couple of hours.Terminal B at EWR is probably one of the most unexciting terminals of all times.I had two options …finish the last quarter of my book or…… finish the last quarter of my book.What I did not know about, was a third available item on the menu – to relax in the NWA® lounge (courtesy:platinum member coworker).I made it a combo (the junk food effect) picking all three of the above.I even got myself some snacks while we lazed around dreading a potential cancellation (didnot happen).As we walked through the gate, I was told that I have an upgrade.I am now in 2D. I told myself – “now that I can live with, more leg room….nice”……and that was not all…..

As people started to come in, (clearly tired of the delay and the wait) – a lot of them smiled as they got close to my seat.After some doubt that they were glad to see me (but why??) or about my upgrade (really??) I realized that they were actually greeting the person next to me. I held back my ever daring curiosity and consented to politeness by not turning to look (stare rather) at who he was.That attempt lasted for about half a minute, before I had to pretend that I was getting comfortable. To give it a real touch, I slid my obese (lack of)frame on the leather and in effect got a glimpse, and almost immediately told myself – “I know who he is …he is one of the guest speakers at the Bill Maher show !!

There was this girl (she addressed him as Professor) who shook his hands and he whispered back at her – “take care now”.Then the band (from Jamaica) did the fist bump with him (each one of them). While I had been “doing nothing” in the lounge, an impromptu performance near the gate for the “professor” and other passengers had been a real hit.They were on their way to a music festival in Chicago.He wished them luck as they got lost in the crowd towards the end of the aircraft.There were few others who wished him on their way to their seats.Meanwhile I sent a text message to my friend -“sitting next to guest from the BM show, cannot figure out who he is”.Got a response – “Cool”.Yeah,that helped. ..I have to confess, for a minute there, I wished I owned one of the fancy gadgets (read:iPhone®, Voyager® etc.) where you can Google® and not have to wait till you “connect” otherwise…..and then I drifted off into my “in transit” slumber.

I finally looked him up and a cauldron of shame, embarrassment and “do not know what else to add” feelings got stirred!! I had spent close to three hours sitting next to Professor Cornel Ronald West and I had no clue who he was.All I could relate him to, was a television talk show.I felt shallow (the word I was looking for) at my lack of knowledge.Currently a Professor at Princeton University he is extremely respected for his political and moral insight.For someone, who had to actually find out who he is, I do not want to replicate that information from another website on my post. I had not spoken one word to him and that will be one of those regrets which I will not get over easily…..!!

Photo Courtesy:here

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Every Thursday evening when I open the main door, the silence in the house bothers me. It is like the silence of the hotel room but this is not home. I miss you guys even more and once again tell myself that I really do not know how long is this going to go and what is really at the end of this tunnel. But it is a Monday and there are other reasons to feel a little down so let us not go down those roads. Let us focus on other things.

Good that you both could attend the wedding reception in Chennai though I understand that he was not very happy with the constant change of hands and was furious after sometime. I would love to see how he reacts to the whole Indian experience. The country of his parents.The country about which he will always be told good things. And then one day he will grow up and ask us the question – If the country you grew up and loved was the best why did you leave it and live here ? How old will he be when he asks us the question ? Will others call him – ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) and will he come to us asking what that means ? Will he ever know about how his parents wanted to have yhim a long time back but had to wait till they thought it was the right time? Will he know all about India ? And how much do you have to know till you know everything you need to know ? Will his parents get lost in this wild chase and forget the values which they want to grow in him? I hope we both do a good job in raising him !!

John Williams is the man who creates the effect in our minds when a powerful scene is happening with his background scores.He has done OST’s for several movies and one of my favorite ones are those in Memoirs of a Geisha (from recent past) and Schindler’s List. Is it strange that when I am watching a movie, I actually pay attention to the background score? I imagine John Williams in front of his orchestra and his band members doing the magic.

Oil .. is the novel on which the movie – “There Will Be Blood” is based on. What a performance by Daniel Day Lewis !! I finished watching the movie late Saturday afternoon. Boy was I pleased that I watched it. Story about oil fields and the history of oil from California.Story of greed and money.It is not easy to make a movie like this and to act in one like this. So much power in the character of Daniel Plainview. Sometimes there are characters in movies which make you want to be one of them. For some time during watching the movie, I almost felt the anger Daniel has built up inside him over the years for the character of Eli Sunday, a priest who, let’s say has not given up his desire(s) !!

I re watched Sideways, a whole different kind of story from California. Every minute of Paul Giamatti’s acting skills is a treat and so is the passion with which he talked about the Pinot Noir. Incidentally, I downed a couple a glasses of the red beauty from Redwood Creeks, apparently winner standard wine. Virginia Madsen is beautiful and the movie has so much inner beauty in the way it talks about a person who has a hard time to find his niche. Bravo !!

This morning there was a pleasant surprise thrown at me through the Northwest kiosk. I got a free upgrade to first class. Not much really except for the banana and the tea in ceramic cup, but then …why not !! I did not catch up on my sleep like I usually do on Monday mornings on the way to New Jersey. I have just started on a new book – Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Brown. Sacha Baren Cohen has made this country infamous with his sarcastic comedy about the Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiev in his movie. I am curious to read this travelogue on the same country and see how it talks about this nation which was literally cut off from the rest of the world till a few years ago !

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unaccustomed …..

So I finished “Unaccustomed Earth” over various locations and hours in the past 4 to 5 days ! It was a good way to forget the harsh realities of my current existence ! And once again I bow down in respect (not in the true essence which involves the lower vertebrae) to Lahiri’s genius as a narrator of real life situations. Every time I read one of her works it is like I wish to be one of the protagonists. It is almost annoying to tear myself from the imaginative portrayal of my reading and get back to the mundane happenings.

I am back home from an assignment in the Garden State.Parents will be on a home (to them) bound flight this Sunday and then begins the life of the three of us for the first time since our baby was born. He is going to be a week and three months on the morrow…will be back soon probably … ciao !!

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