Sunday, June 29, 2008

The musty smells of a treasure chamber..

hmm can't think of a title for this post.. started with the "library smells" but realized that it sounds as if a library smells bad! Which is not what i was trying to say at all..

I went to a library today after ages, and got myself a few books. The first thing that stuck me, was the typical musty smell of books.

Brought back all the memories of the DPL, conveniently located within the apartments perimeters. the first library that started it all. The love of reading. The 10 paise membership and 5 paise fines. The Enid Blyton's, Nancy Drew, graduating to Ellery Queen. the James Hadley chase picked up by mistake, ( yes a book can actually make you want to puke! ) It was the tiny one room library , but it was such a crucial part of growing up from 8 to 14.

We moved houses later, and there were other DPLs. The same nondescript book binding ( was it green? blue ? grey? or just some shade created in the painters mixing palette? ) the prices had increased , ( ah inflation! from 10 paise to 50 paise! ) The library was much bigger, a good few rooms! But then also further from home. Change two buses and walk a bit.

But the smell was the same. The smell of books, old paper. Hope, dreams , fantasy, escape, and occasionally some learning as well!

Then there was a period of library less ness. Books were obtained mostly from friends. studies took over. then work. somewhere along the way book reading diminished. Money was easier to come by than time, or so I told myself. It was easier to pay lip service to the love of books by installing book shelves and buying books. some read, some unread, for months, even years on end. Borrowing from friends continued to be the main source of books. but then, thats mostly a smell less transaction. And it never has the same element of randomness, the thrill of discovery..

But today, after a break of a few years, I got back into a library, and remembered again, just what fun it is to inhale that musty smell, walk down a row of books, pick up an author you've wanted to read, NOT think about whether it is worth buying, and just say, lets try this and see :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I guess this is an example of what is called- non - linear narration, a rather interesting technique. The story starts at the chronological end, and works its way backward, taking you through interesting questions about "memory". The main protagonist suffers from a "condition" as he calls it - he remembers things clearly up to the day of a head injury , after that he can not make any new memories, everything fades away.

Good movie. Sort of a whodunit. Keeps you guessing from the beginning and doesn't let you down in the end!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cheezily bad Movies

So having watched a great deal of good hindi movies in past 2-3 years, i watched a couple of classic horrors on tv recently.

Started with Sharabi, and it was roaringly cheezy. Ek gana khatam nahi hota tha, ki doosra shuru ho jata tha. And of course got to see that typical naari with pallu firmly in grip.

next was Aan - men at work, which didn't seem to be a movie at all, just a collection of well known actors in different scenes. Or possibly it wasn't meant for someone of my limited IQ. I just couldn't cope with it, and had to run away from the tv and hang my head in shame.

Today was Suryavansham. Rib ticklingly atrocious. Old men, young women, pallu in hand, ( ah collector woman too - wat a pragressive movie i say!) and everyone hung up about sons and vansh. Bah.

Makes me remeber why hindi movies once made me puke. Full of caricatures of ppl, rubbing in the same society in your face, that you'd rather escape, and not an iota of creativity in sight.

Good thing I live in the times I do!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Disappearing Daughters - Gita Aravamudan

A rather disturbing book.. and it reminds you again of just how convoluted the problem is. No easy answers at all.

Some years ago I'd have flippantly remarked - things will even out all right. Or dismissed the parents as weak / cruel / stupid /uneducated morons. Now I'm not so sure.

Some of the worst offenders are the very well educated, smart, seemingly well adjusted folks, who you'd never imagine could consider such a thing. Good middle class parents , worried just that wee bit more about their sons performance at college than daughters. Parents regretting having educated their daughters so much that its hard to get them married now. Parents collecting dowry, and telling themselves that its just something to improve their daughter married life, not dowry.

No solutions in sight. Some of the numbers are very very unsettling.

Mumbai , 1984 , 7999 abortions out of 8000 were females.
Amartya Sen's estimations - 37 million Indian women missing already in 1987. Would you call those murders? Does that call for action on a war footing?
Dharmapuri , tamil nadu - 1997- 1999, over 3000 *recorded female infanticides , areas with 2 boys to 1 girl
Punjab 2001 - sex ratio below 850 in the *whole state.
south west delhi ( yes the posh well educated south delhi) - 2001 - sex ratio - 845.

Will things change? Who knows..

Saturday, June 14, 2008

dus kahaniyan

i'd seen this one a while back, but never got around to writing about it. This was a movie I'd enjoyed. A set of 10 disjoint mini movies so to speak, with no connection between them at all. Couple of the stories were good, and other mediocre ones, were lifted to a higher place by some good acting. Make you remember why people like Shabana Azmi and Nana Patekar are worth watching even when the stories and other stuff isn't wort much.

Even tho couple of them were pretty much forgettable, the overall effect was still good. Looking forward to hindi movies!

Agatha Chrisitie's

Two of them were devoured recently. Agatha Christie remains one of my favorite authors, any time I'm sick of life, or of too much heavy reading, and need something to unwind with , her mysteries are what I turn to.

This time it was "Evil Under the Sun" and "The Mystery of the Blue Train". Both were polished off in the span of a fortnight, when it was pretty hard to concentrate.

I absolutely adore Poirot! And I love the way Agatha, manages to usually pull off a surprise in spite of your best efforts in every second novel. Hope to complete all her works in this lifetime!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Things I've learnt.

  • Growing up is not about getting the answers... it about relearning the questions, and unlearning the easy answers of adolescence.

  • Unexpected kindness floats where you least expect it- from total strangers at hospitals, from seniors at the workplace. The bird with feathers still sings.

  • The best laid plans of mice n men, gang aft agley and leave us naught but grief and pain, for promised joy. - Burns got it right years ago.

  • Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want.. doesn't mean that they don't love you with everything they've got.

  • We all have reserves of strength that we can tap into and survive. jeevan kya hai, tez hawa mein deep jalana hai..