Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Monogram Murders - Sophie Hannah

ok ish.

This is a Hercule Poirot, written recently  ( not Agatha Christie who had passed away before I was even born!)

I love Agatha Christies, and Poirot is an old favorite, so I gave this one a try. Its a tad overdone, but readable. 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Daughty

Interesting read. 

Caitlin writes about her experiences while working in a funeral home, and also our general relationship ( or lack thereof!) with death. Some of it deals more specifically with funeral homes and the increasingly artificial set up around it. The way the bodies are embalmed, made up, the caskets and works. Some of it may be hard to read if you are the quesy kind, but I am pretty blasé about those, so all that just seemed disappointing, even appalling. However culturally the caskets and burials are not that relatable.  

What was more relatable, and worth pondering over, was our increasing obsession with wiping away all traces of death from our lives. Our shiny urban lives, with youth creams and ads with little kids and houses and cars. The swanky hospitals, which can, supposedly, fix everything. And every time the doctor fails to prolong some life to your arbitrary standard of what it should be, we rage about the failure of the system, of the city's lack of facilities, of the dead persons carelessness, how they refused to lead the perfect life and add years to their existence. But inspite of all our efforts, every single one of us is going to die. And before us, most probably we will have to deal with the deaths of older family members. But we won't acknowledge that. 

Makes one re-think some of the death rituals that were traditionally part of our cultures, and which at least in my youth, I too brushed off as pointless. But now I wonder. Even if some of the rituals need to evolve or change, they are still needed. This burying head in the sand approach doesn't look like a good thing. 

In terms of the writing, some of it tended to get rather dragged out, but still a lot in the book that ponder-worthy.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Its been a while since I came upon someone really suffering due to someone else's close mindedness. When I say 'really', I discount a lot of small stuff. The friend who said or did something mean, yes that hurt but it passes. The workplace where crappy stuff routinely happens.. again its usually all in a days work. The pointless twitter/tv/fb wars. Again ephemeral. Illness and death.. hard but inevitable. 

But today a friend had to give up something because a higher up was prejudiced, and decided to prove his prejudice by any means, mostly foul. I tried to remind her and myself, that in the larger scheme of things, this too shall pass, but couldn't help thinking off and on, what makes a person act like that. 

The incident reminded me of work, and how one of the really good managers was amazingly prejudiced against a religion. I guess he truly believed that anywhere it was practiced was bound to fail. And yet, and yet, he never let that color the way he interacted professionally. He gave credit where it was due, and as his luck would have it, it was often due exactly where it must've hurt him. I often wondered at the dichotomy. 

But not everyone can do that, some I guess, need so desperately to believe their prejudices, that they will actively add obstacles to make someone else fail. Why do their brains stop working? 

Anyway, such is life. One has to get up and start hacking away again..