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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Other Colors & Essays by Orhan Pamuk


Orhan Pamuk once famously quoted..."when i speak of writing, what comes to my mind is not a novel, a poem or a literary tradition, but it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, alone, sitting on a table, turning to himself...".  And yet his writings are loneliness filled to the brim with memories, the sights and sounds of his surroundings, people's voices, dreams etc.

The idea of loneliness of the writer is an important theme in Orhan Pamuk's writings and he goes back to this theme repeatedly.  As an occidental turkish, influenced by Foydor Dostoevsky, Pamuk's "Other Colors & Essays" depicts every shades of life.  Even the Black, Grey and the White are colors here...

...The book starts with "...for 30 long years i have been writing..." for those who read his previous book 'Istanbul' would remember how he wrote the finis for it.  He concluded it by "...I dont want to be an artist, I want to be a writer...".  This book is all about the intervening period between that ending and this beginning.  A Must read book, to celebrate one's solitude, sans any fanfare, but still...loads of drama!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My First Award for Blogging....



Well... I'm so happy to share with you, my first recognition that came my way. To tell you the truth, this is the first time i have ever tried posting for a contest...and somehow i am lucky enough to feature in the best 'five'.... thanks to all my readers .. as also my friends and my wife who inspire me to write and post.... also, a big thanks to that unknown friend who convinced me to sent an entry to this particular contest.. Thank You all...

You can read my entry here : Old Books, Old Memoirs - The Fountainhead

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old Books, Old Memoirs - The Fountainhead

Friends of Books - Library that delivers and I connect with bloggers at BlogAdda.com



1989 it was, and I was a petite 12 year old, and I along with my classmates, a group of 45 students, in our Seventh Grade.  We were part of the Bharathamatha Family, a Christian Missionary Convent, when this young and vivacious teacher took charge of our English Class.  Her Name was Sushma Menon and when she entered, the whole of 40 boys were awed by her charm.  Little did we know that she was married and not ‘just out of college’ as we had thought when we first saw her.

Anyhow, the first class it has been, and as usual she started with introductions, first with herself and then asking us each one to introduce ourselves and then tell her as also the rest of us about our reading habits.  So we were to tell our names, and the book that we were currently reading. So we started one by one.  Ironically, we were not avid readers then, and even if some of us (including me!) read anything, we just about graduated to  the Sidney Sheldons and Harrold Robbins types. 

The introduction started, and when the turn came to the brightest boy of the class (I would name him as Manish),  he jumped up from his desk to tell ma’am his name as also the book he was reading with much pride for himself.  “Ma’am, I am Manish, and these days I am reading ‘Enid Blyton’.  

Ma’am retored back… “Enid Blyton????, My five year old son reads it.” Having hurt the pride of the brightest boy in our class, we look at Sushma Ma’am, only to see her smiling wryly at our admissions at our reading habits.  She continued.  “Children, I would give you a book, and in a month, you need to finish it and give me a review of the same.”

And for this assignment, she divided the class of 45 into ten groups and I don’t know from where, she managed 10 pirated copies of ‘Fountainhead’ and gave a book each to each group.  Thus began our sojourn of books and I must say, that one assignment given by that winsome teacher has indeed changed my (or rather, the entire classes’) reading habit.

Now, coming to this book, I think, it is one of the one of the greatest books I have ever read.  When I first saw it, seeing the size, I said, 'Ummmm.... I dont think'.  The book was almost 750 pages on paperback, and the print was pretty small.  But somehow I started. Or rather, I had to start for the Review assignment that my ma’am had given me. I soon found the idea of objectivism was just what the doctor ordered for me. Thus began a journey with Ayn Rand and her brand of philosophy of objectivism. 

Fountainhead is a romantic and philosophical novel which centers around an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark and his struggle against what Rand described as "second-handers"—those who attempt to live through others, placing others above self. Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.  Roark is Ayn Rand's embodiment of the human spirit, and his struggle represents the triumph of individualism over collectivism.  In the climax of the story, Roark seems doomed, but he rouses the courtroom with a speech about the value of ego and the need to remain true to oneself. Wynand, a Newspaper Mogul, one of the main characters of the novel, finally grasped the nature of the "power" he thought Roark held, asks Roark to design one last building, a skyscraper that will testify to the supremacy of man: "Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours...and could have been mine.".  Indeed the Monument is built. 

More of her books followed and it was only then I realized that Ayn Rand has written a better book than this one (Atlas Shrugged, her Magnum Opus), though it was Fountainhead which made her popular. 

Ayn Rand, American-Russian Writer, was once referred by someone as the ‘Most Courageous Man in America’.  Yes, indeed it was a compliment which pleased the author, for she was a WOMAN and not a man.  Ayn Rand managed to create a whole group of followers with her books her philosophy and her idea of objectivism. 

Fountainhead indeed has been a part of my bookshelf since that time, almost 21 years now, and I have always felt the urge to read and re-read it whenever I find time, or rather, whenever I think I need to refuel myself with the philosophy Ayn Rand propounded.  It’s just very difficult to let that book go from my hands to others, as it has indeed become a very vital part of my life.  I went on to recommend this book and continue doing so to my friends, colleagues and other acquaintances, but I always say, buy that book yourself, and don’t borrow it, for it is worth it. 

As a last word, the philosophy that one gets from this book is amazing. I think, one should read this book at every stage of one's life, and the philosophy that one gets from this book, each time is different.

Amazing no....?????

Friday, June 6, 2008

The 3 Mistakes of my Life!!

Last sunday, I was on my usual mall crawling and shoppin spree, and out of my inclination, I stepped into the corner bookshop. My idea was to pick up the new Chetan Bhagat novella, the 3 Mistakes of my life. When I was about to pay up, I discovered to my delight, as his earlier books, this one too..cost very little just 95 bucks...! These days, a movie in a multiplex in delhi costs about 200 bucks, add to that a bucket of popcorn and a mug of cola, and with that money, I could buy all three of his books, still saving me some for my grub!

But quite unlike the movie at the multiplex, the book is delighting, fresh and just out of the stable...and as usual, just like in his earlier books, Chetan Bhagat indulges in some preaching too and yes of course on his fav topic.. self-development. if on first time it was the Three IIT'ians, and then it were the five Call Centres', this time it is the turn of three friends from Ahmedabad, who are inturn bonded together with the three things that excited Indians always - Cricket, Politics and Religion!

Talking about Chetan Bhagat himself, his language is still the same, not literary...simple, to the point, and crisp with a 'I-too-can-write-this' stuff! But this time around, he has become a more matured a writer, with the plot more dramatic and certainly has come of age as a writer. As withhis earlier films, this one too is keeping me longing to be made into a bollywood movie, simply coz it can be made into a good relishing movie in the genre of a 'Dil Chahta Hei' or a 'Jhankaar Beats'.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns!

...if you ask me the author whose books that i read recently, then it has to be Khaled Hosseini. Here, ofcourse, i have to discount the books that i read anew (I do have this habit of going back to a book, reading it in a differnt way, from the first time), and here when i talk of Hosseini, I must mention, the u-turn that has happened to me regarding Hosseini, from the time i heard about 'Kite Runner' and the time i finished 'A Thosand Splendid Suns'

..."One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls..."

One can see many things corresponding to Hosseini's earlier novel 'Kite Runner'. Two things united Afghanisatan, in its pre-70's era - Kite flying, and Kabul's Cultural space consisting of its Musicians and Poets.

...Khaled Hossieni, predictably, obviously for his second novel, goes to this umbilical cord, and takes out the title from this poem...'A Thousand Splendid Suns". Continuining from where he left in Kite Runner, the winter chill and the dry windes are harsher here...Kite Runner was all about two children, torn by the russians and the war after. This novel is about two women torn first by their own men, then, the soviets, the warlords and finally the Taliban. Their marital sufferings are pretty grotesque, and so is the social one that prevails outside their homes. Like Kite Runner , the theme of underlying guilt, Paralles can be seeb in the guilt Amir lives with all along his life with that one act of Cowardice in Kite runner with Mariam's guilt in abandoning her mother and in laila's guilt towards her own children. Kite Runner was all about two kids, and their fathers, Here its two women, attached to their mothers, but had to leave them due to the circumstances that prevailed, two women who at first couldnt stand the sight of each other, but finally gets united when they finally finds out that their lives are not much different afterall. All the while, we are made to go through brutal images of marital abuses, rape, violence and grotesque descriptions on the way Taliban ran the country.

Hosseini recreates the Hero out of Ahmed Shah Moussoud, emphasises the villians in Taliban, Rabbani and Doustum, doesn't even leave the late Najibullah alone - by etching the details of his execution so badly - and towards the end, reveals the reclaimed heavan called Kabul under Hamid Karzai. ...This made me wonder! Is Khaled Hosseini an American Agent? Having escaped to USA via Peshawar, when the soviets invade afghanistan, no one else can he be! And here he returns, to salvage a lost war... coming out with a propaganda that is part of an INFORMATION WARFARE that american agents are unleashing, so that Bush can finally win his war on Terror. A War that american badly wants to win, having lost it on ground.

A book wherein guilt and supreme sacrifice become a Hosseini Trademark, is all quite readable. Kite Runner was written in a more simple language, and as the theme grew from two kids, to two women, the language grows up too, to reveal a more mature and subtle one. But, everything about the book should stop therein...the language..and the trauma of the two women characters and their personal lives, and the moment one starts thinking and goes beyond their personal lives to one that involves the whole, one is taken for a ride...!

So having read about soviet occupation, the waging warlords, and the taliban, i wonder, why isnt anyone writing about the occupation of American forces in afghanistan or Iraq? Or is it that there are plenty of such books, but they never see the light outside Iraq or afghanistan? Or will Hosseini be planning his next novel on the travails of Iraqi and Afghani people unleashed by the US Marines?