Tagged :o

It has happened again!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ (oh)

I am tagged.

And once again… it’s Pingu !!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ (ohooooo)

Rules of this tag is – (direct Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V from Pingu’s page :p)

1. Name the person who tagged you with a link to his/her blog.

2. Describe what you are asked to do – in this case, publish the 5th paragraph of page 123 of the book you are currently reading. (If the page does not have a 5th paragraph, take the last paragraph. And if the book doesnโ€™t have page 123, take the last page.)

3. Tag five people.

Before I start, a small Introduction to my reading habits –

By nature, I prefer books that don’t make me feel guilty about abandoning them after I complete a particular chapter. I usually do that for two other things, to feed my stomach with food (preferably tasty) or feed my mind with senseless television (the sensible part is usually boring).

Again by nature, novels are designed to end every chapter with suspense. So you see the problem. I can’t remember a single novel which I have put down (that includes my all time favourite Harry Potter Series) before I have read the last letter of the last page. I remember staying up till 6 in the morning reading Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix.

I’m more interested in Short Story collections than loooong novels. Books filled with Short Stories are so much better because I can finish one story in less than 10 minutes, and take a nice break after that ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Now for The Tag

Because of the above mentioned reasons, I have developed a habit of reading a set of books on a rotation basis. Finish 2 chapters here, pick up another book, and read 3 more there…

That is exactly what I’m doing now. The books I’m currently reading are 3…

1. The First Refuge of Scoundrels (TJS George collection)

2. Malgudi Days

3. Chicken Soup for the Soul

And all of these are books which I can read, re-read, re-re-read, without a moment of boredom.

I found it so hard to select one. I was even thinking maybe I should leave them and turn to Harry Potter for the tag. But in the end, I thought it will be nice to write on all the 3. (this is going to be a loooong post….)

Book 1: The First Refuge of Scoundrels

The First Refuge of Scoundrels

This was a book lent to me by Suba chellam in the year which I don’t remember. (note to Suba: don’t worry di.. I’ll return this and Spirals without fail next month ๐Ÿ˜€ ). The other two are my books hehe.

Forgive the small image, this was all I could find ๐Ÿ˜ฆ .

TJS George writes in such a bold and practical way that you can’t help but feel proud that such people still exist in India. After reading a few columns of his in this book, I have made it a point to follow his latest articles online whenever possible.

There are so many truths about the Government and the politicians that we all know, but for some reason refuse to acknowledge or speak up against. That is because one of the truths is, these people hold power – and will do anything to keep it. Politicians may be just as bad as the ones projected in the movies. But sadly, unlike movies, life is not a show that ends ‘happily-ever-after’ the moment Good triumphs over Evil.

Every person who claims to be a citizen of India should read this book. It gives such a precise account of things that may not always be what they seem. It speaks of people misusing their power and influence.

Forget the speeches and campaigns. In the end, it’s all about interest. Not of the party, but of the leader. Hypocrisies unfolding before our eyes time and again prove that it is no longer the Party that has a Leader. It’s the Leader who has a Party.

To quote Paragraph 5 of Page 123 – (Oh why didn’t I get a PDF of this.. I have to type out the whole thing ๐Ÿ˜ฆ )

You will of course remain President of the Congress. A nominee of yours will be the Congress candidate for prime ministership. All you have to do is rule yourself out of that post. By making a public declaration to that effect, you will mark a historic turn-around.

As you might have guessed, the above paragraph is addressing Sonia Gandhi. The columns is titled “Do it.Open letter to Sonia Gandhi.Do it.”

I wonder if Sonia had read this column ๐Ÿ™‚ . This was written months before she ‘sacrificed’ the offer to become the Prime Minister in 2004.

…All you have to do is rule yourself out of that post. By making a public declaration to that effect, you will mark a historic turn-around.

And George was right, she did exactly that, and it will forever be remembered either as a great sacrifice or a political masterstroke. Whatever it was, it completely silenced, for the moment, the opposition which had been playing the ‘Foreign PM’ card as a significant part of its campaign.

Ok I have told enough about this book, over to Book No. 2!!!

Book 2: Malgudi Days

Malgudi DaysRK Narayan is one of my favourite writers. And Malgudi Days is a book I cannot forget for its simple, realistic stories.

What I like so much about this book is the honesty with which human emotions are dealt.

Every character in this book is someone we might find among our family, friends circle or simply meet on the street. The reactions given to each situation is what you or I might feel if we faced the same.

For that reason alone, I was able to instantly connect with most of the people portrayed in the book.

To quote Paragraph 5 of Page 123 –

But Sambu’s friend was adamant. Sambu had to go alone and see the picture. It was an attempt at a new style in Tamil films-a modern story with a minimum of music. It was the story of Kumari, a young girl who refused to marry at fourteen but wanted to study in a university and earn an independent living, and was cast away by her stern father (Sambu’s father) and forgiven in the end.

“A SHADOW” is a moving story of a young boy Sambu, whose father was an actor in movies. He dies six months before the release of his last film, Kumari.

Little Sambu finds solace in ‘seeing’ his father everyday at the theatre. On the last day of the show, after much persuasion, Sambu takes his mother along with him to watch the movie.

Minutes after the movie starts, the poor woman faints with the sea of emotions that flood her heart when she sees her dead husband on screen. She is attended to by the people in the audience. She opens her eyes and tells Sambu “Let us go away.”

It’s not fit for me to describe the final scene. I will let the book do it for me.

(The final paragraph)

“Yes, Mother.” He fetched a jutka and helped her into it. As he was climbing into it himself, from the darkened hall a familiar voice said, “Kumari! Will you go out or shall I throw you out?” Sambu’s heart became heavy and he burst into tears: he was affected by his mother’s breakdown and by the feeling that this was the final parting from his faher. They were changing the picture next day.

Book 3: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Chicken Soup set of stories are special.

Special because they take us on a journey into the very essence of our souls…

Special because they teach us that there is a God inside every human being…

Special because they inspire us to reach for our dreams and aspirations, and help others to do the same…

Special because they tell us to look within our hearts and know who we are…

There are so many more reasons why they are special. And it is not all about some fictional heroes. It holds real stories of real people. Ordinary human beings who went on to do extraordinary things because their hearts told them to.

We all wish to be good all through our lives. Most people just don’t know how to go about it. Especially in Indian Society, something as simple as picking up a paper on the road and throwing it into the dustbin is seen with surprise. That is how unfamiliar we are with acts of goodness. And that is why we are being duped again and again by politicians who promise to make India a more harmonious nation. It is because we don’t know how to do it.

Let’s all be nice and make this world a better place.

Well, getting back to the book ๐Ÿ™‚ –

To quote Paragraph 4 of Page 123 – (the page doesn’t have paragraph 5… and the 4th one runs all the way upto the middle of page 124… oh my aching fingers… I really should have got that PDF!!!!!)

When I was very little, I loved to go to cemeteries with him. To me, the cemeteries were quiet, calm places full of life stories-millions of them which I conjured in my own imagination. Just the name and dates of a person’s life were enough for me. I would imagine whole scenarios about how that person lived and what kind of family he had had. I would infuse the dead of rural Indiana with all manner of mystery. Some of the graves belonged to long-lost royalty or heroes who had perished saving others. And, sometimes, I imagined that a grave bore a lover who, having met an untimely demise, would finally be forever united with the loved one in a better place. (I really believe that adults read obituaries for pretty much the same reason – to catch a glimpse of another’s life encapsulated, with all the details left to the imagination.)

This story is by Marsha Arons, whom Google tells me is a writer, author and teacher of English. In “One Small Stone, Unforgotten”, she tells of her childhood when her parents moved to Indiana, USA from Russia. Her father was a landscape gardener who tended to cemeteries as well. Marsha grows up with the cemeteries as her playgrounds.

The above lines beautifully describe the imagination of a child and, in a more subtle way, a spark of innocence within it. We see a cemetery as a place full of dead people. Rarely do we stop and think that they were all like us once, with each grave holding within it feelings that were never shown, truths that were never told and dreams that were never true.

Little Marsha thinks, and delightfully weaves tales of how each person lived his life.

As she grows up, she begins to feel bored with the surroundings and her simple parents, and wishes to feel important. She gets into university to follow her dreams.

She comes home for a winter vacation.

One morning, her father asks her to visit a grave and lay a stone. And he wants it to be done the same day. She does as she is told, and goes to the grave. There she sees a woman in her fifties. As Marsha leaves the stone on the grave, she notes that it is the grave of a five-year old child, who had died that very day 15 years ago.

The woman, who is the mother of the child, asks Marsha where her father is. Marsha tells her that he is not well and that she has come to leave the stones.

The woman then says these words before she leaves –

“… You see, when my child died, I came often to the grave to visit him. It is our custom to leave a stone on the marker. It lets the world know that the one who is buried here is not forgotten but is remembered and missed. But then we moved away… so many painful memories… all of us moved. There was no one left to visit the grave and I was afraid that he would be all alone. But your father marked the grave every time he came. Each time I have returned here, I have seen the stone and it has comforted me. Your father is the kind of man who would ease the suffering of a mother’s heart even though we are strangers.”

Marsha leaves the place feeling warm in that cold winter evening.

*** THE END ***

There!!! I have done my tag 3 times :p…

Hmmm… what next…

Tag five people…but who???

Seriously I can’t think of five more people, almost everyone I know in blogosphere has been tagged already (and completed it too… that leaves me with so little choice!!!)

There is one girl who does very rare updates, and hasn’t completed this tag from Pingu. So from my end, I’ll dump the same one again on her head :p.

Suba

60 Minutes in the Air

Doing anything for the first time is exciting. Last week I got the chance to take a flight to Chennai ๐Ÿ™‚ . Well this is not my first flight. My first journey was when I was very young and I have very vague memories of it. I flew with my family to Bangalore. Things I remember about it:

1. It was for a duration of 45 minutes

2. My mummy showing me the clouds ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Sleeping through most of it

So this time it was almost like a first-time experience, and it was so new and strange it would be a sin not to write it down.

My Air Deccan flight to Chennai was scheduled at 7.30 AM. Getting up early morning is a very scary thought. I was afraid I would doze off and miss it. Thankfully, circumstances in my office made sure I stayed there till 3 in the morning. I had just enough time to go home, pack and wait for the call taxi to arrive.

On reaching the airport and receiving my boarding pass, I was told to wait for security check. The next 30 minutes were very annoying. Kingfisher found it very necessary to keep annoucing the message “Kingfisher announces the departure of its flight to Nagpur, Chennai and New Delhi. All passengers are requested to report for boarding through Gate No.1 in the ground floor Security Lounge.” Well I don’t remember the exact message. I have a bad memory, considering the same message was repeated around 25 times. But you see I didn’t sleep all night, so I can be excused for not being very attentive.

While this exciting message was flowing into my ears, another microphone at the other end of the floor started creating some sounds of its own. And it was so far away I didn’t even follow what was being said there. I was subjected to 3 types of sounds at a time.. “Kingfisher announces…”, that ‘far away’ sound, and the television near by. I looked at the people around. Some sitting as bored as I was, some talking on phone (wonder if they worried about the variety of sounds coming through…), and some smartly dressed uncles reading Financial Times with intense concentration.

If it was not for the faint words that spelt out my flight number, I probably wouldn’t have realized I was supposed to go for security check. Once I did realize it, I walked toward the Security Check area. But the watchman mama there refused to let me in ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . When I told him my flight number, time and that security check was announced, he asked with a grumpy face “Kahan announce kiya? Jao.” I was beginning to get very upset. Thankfully, another passenger with better speech skills than me came and told mama that they had indeed announced security check, and finally I was let in.

The worst was over, and now I just had to wait for the boarding to be announced. But there too,Kingfisher was blaring out its messages and I was wondering if I would miss the boarding call for my flight ๐Ÿ˜ฎ . Thankfully I didn’t.

I finally stepped into my flight and took a window seat (yay!!!). The cabin crew started a demonstration of safety precautions which I found most amusing ๐Ÿ™‚ . For one thing, the anna doing the demo did not seem to the least interested in it, and I didn’t understand a word anyway, except the one about seat-belts.

The plane started moving after a good 20 minutes and I there I was finally about to fly ๐Ÿ˜€ . After 5 minutes of moving in the runway, the plane took off. My ears did block a bit, but only for a few seconds. I looked out the window, what a sight! Especially those little blocks on the ground :p.

It seemed very nice, to see before my own eyes – long brown spaces, with green blotches and those little rectangles in the ground – a sight which I have only seen in Google Maps.

In a few minutes, we were among the clouds. Was a beautiful sight. My fear of life was the only thing that kept me from breaking the window, stretching out my hand and catching those pretty white bunch of delights. And I looked down at the ground and oh! what nice little dots there were on it. And the water below was like a large blue sheet. All this while, my poor iPod was singing away not realizing I was occupied with more interesting things.

I glanced away from the window, and found a wonderful work of art inside the plane which I did not notice, being so pre-occupied with sights outside the window. Some child, or adult who behaved like a child, had found a very artistic way of writing the letters A,B,C,D,E,F and G in the gap between my window and the next. H was written too, but for some reason the line on the left of ‘H’ had not stopped where it should have, and ran all the way down to seat level.

As I was examining this strange work of art, an announcement came up advertising some programs/offers which I could not understand. Thanks to the large amount of time I spend on the Internet, I started thinking ads only came with things that were free. Well maybe not… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Soon enough, the plane arrived in Chennai… wish I had flown a little longer ๐Ÿ™‚ . It was nice while it lasted. The akka in the cabin crew had a smile stuck to her face with fevicol as she thanked everyone for flying Air Deccan. Oh it must hurt to keep smiling for such a long time. The poor akka

For some strange reason, my return flight wasn’t as exciting (maybe because I didn’t get a jannal ora seat ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ), and I spent my time listening to my iPod and resting my eyes.

I only went on this trip because I could not get enough time off from work to travel by train. But I would do it more often if they didn’t charge so much hehe..

Sights

This poem has been sleeping in my Drafts section for more than a month… finally completed it ๐Ÿ™‚

I rested my eyes

Feeling a curtain of darkness

Closing down before my sight

And delved into myself

A chirp woke me

And there before me

Was a little winged beauty

Captivating me in silence

Wanting to see something more beautiful

I closed my eyes again

There came a loud screech

And there before me

Lay the montionless little bird

Prey to a hungry feline

Not wishing to see the sight

I closed my eyes again

Minutes after, I stand confused

Should my eyes remain closed to the world

Fearing the gory sights that I may see…

Or Should I let the sights flood into my mind

Hoping to see the beauty there is…