Hi! Welcome to my site

Powered by Shaanmenon

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?


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Micheal Crichton!

'Blogito, Ergo Sum!' ...yea...i have been Blogging!... and more than that.. i have been reading too.. I thought its time i wrote something on my favorite author of all times.. the writer with no paralells... Micheal Crichton!

Micheal Crichton....call him a science fiction writer, or film script writer and producer or even film director...he does justice to all the roles that he had taken in life...the underlying part is...his film related works starts from his books...talking of his book... or rather sci-fi thrillers,

...a harward medical graduate, he is a member of the prestigeous american Phi-Beta-Kappa society during his study days. during his medical school days, he wrote books under the pseudonym John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. It says...this pen name was adopted to reflect his amazing height (he is 6 feet 9 inches). Lange in german means "Tall" and Hudson is a famous dwarf in early england.

Most of crichton's works ends in tragedy in a way... intending that anyhting in developmental science, goes wrong in the end..examples of cloning and chaos theory in Jurassic Park, Time Travels in Timeline, or "affects" of nanotechnology in Prey, Chrichton has been warning us of off-track usage of technology.

...nevertheless, his novels continued fascinating me from the time i read his first book 'Disclosure' (which i read jsut for the tiltilating stuff i saw in teh movie)..to the latest - Next - his books have been explaining and making me understand science better...A point to be added here is that this man has amazed me with his range...from History (Timeline) to Nanotechnology (Prey) to Psycology (Disclosure and Sphere) Medicine (Coma, A Case in Need) to Aircraft engineering (Airframe), he has attempted at every known technology..and did it wonderfully too...

Other Colors and Essays!

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!

Ira Levin... Lives on....

Ira Levin (27.08.1929 - 12.11.2007)

We all die a little when we loose our dear ones... On Nov 12, 2007, I too died a little. Ira Levin is no more.... he was one of the most exciting horror novelists of our times... be it his first novel 'A Kiss before Dying', or 'Rosemary's Baby' or 'The Boys from Brazil' or 'Stepford wives' or his latest one 'Son of Rosemary'... he continued to thrill and make us shudder with its emotional horror... may he live till eternity through his books....

Fear of Freedom!

Fear of Freedom - A Book Review
Author : Erich Fromm
Publisher : Rouletedge

Fear of Freedom – What caught my eye when I saw the review of this book on my ‘British Council Recommends’ email was indeed the title. We humans live with all kinds of phobias. But do we fear freedom? That intrigued me…and as it normally happens… I then decided to get into the skin of it… and that’s what I did… it took me a while, for no bookstores in Delhi had this book in its stock. But thanks to a very close friend of mine, I got the same as a gift…out of the blue. It was a pleasant surprise, indeed.

Well, Fear of Freedom is a great book and as it always happens with such great books, it takes a hell of a time to finish them…(to get into the depths I mean)…I am still reading it and is yet to finish the book (figuratively)…though I had covered the ‘finis’ twice!

The main topic that is covered in this book is that ‘Man’, being the most ‘Deformed’ creature in the universe and freaky, and is only because of his power of thinking. Self awareness, reason and imagination helps man emerge from the dependent child he was... and as he becomes the Independent Adult... he becomes an anomaly...cut off from nature and urniverse...he is then left with no choice but to define himself with the world with human relationships and creative work or else seek a ‘false’ security with the environment by destroying his freedom and the integrity of the self that he proudly acquired during his formative years. It is a fact that men cannot live without the cooperation of others.

Thus is born his intense need to escape this terrifying sense of helplessness and aloneness that the ‘individuation’ (which he calls as freedom) lands him with. The psycologist that he is, the author is of the view that it’s only through “reason, productiveness and love” that man can solve the problem of this aloneness and achieve a new ‘Union” with the world around him. Because when one becomes the individual, he stands alone and faces the world in all its perilous and overpowering aspects. The only alternative he then has is to either get away this burden into new submissions and dependencies – escape mechanisms – we humans look for when we are confronted with solitude. Detailed chapters are devoted to explain ideas like ‘Oedipus complex, Nazism, and even ‘Narcissistic personality disorder, etc in this context.

The point to ponder over here is the fact that humans are so concerned and so alone that they completely lose themselves in relationships of dependence that take away their freedom. we can see this tendency of the individual to go to the extent that limits their own growth and freedom.

In this book, the author does emphasis that capitalism has been quite disastrous in this regard : far from solving the problem on man’s alienation, it worsens it to a large extent. Capitalism and individualism thrust upon man an unprecedented freedom that was “bound to create a deep feeling of insecurity, powerlessness, aloneness and anxiety”.

Thus, Fromm fills the book with a prognosis of how the idea of freedom has developed since mediveal ages and reformation periods. There are chapters on the "Psychology of Nazism", 'Freedom and Democracy" and "facets of freedom for modern man", most importantly, there is an investigation into how people seek to escape freedom through "authoritarianism", "Destructiveness" and 'Automation Conformity" (escape mechanisms according to the author)

Personally, I could find answers on what is the ‘self’. And how one’s own feelings and thoughts can be subdued and thus make them cease to be part of their ‘self. The psychology of ‘Fascism’, ‘Nazism’, and the inter-relation between freedom and democracy have been analysed in quite a detail, which I didn’t heed much. The analysis of the individual, his emergence from the child, and ultimately the illusions of the adulthood have been dealt with pretty nicely. Somewhere along, to my horror, I found, the conflict between wanting to "break free" and to "belong" is a topic I could easily identify with.

...One is required to fetch and read the book, just for the simple fact that once read, it just helps us to reason as to why some of the aggressive traits exist within us, and in turn helps us control them. what was interesting is that though the book gave me some familir material which i had read before – Games People Play by Eric Berne, and Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand – but with a different connotation and transformed into a first rate psycho-analysis. This was achieved because each line in the book bears extraordinary sharpness of observation. You’ll understand what I meant here, only by picking up the book and reading it.

Kite Runner by Khaled Hossieni!

has anyone read this wonderful novel written by Khaled Hossieni... ever since i read him in this book, i have been a fan of his writings...

... the book is all about life in afganistan with all its stuggles... narrated through a life in barren terrain, at times frozen by teh chilly winds.. or other times.. heat waves with dust... with only cannon shots to hear inbetween.. .. its really horrific at time... and it tempts us to think the horrors that foreign armies caused in that country!

The Secret!

Rhonda Byrne's 'The Secret' is one of the 'Off-the-shelf' inspirational books i have read in recent times... her philosophy of people manifesting thought is nothing new but psycologist's Carl S Jung redescribed with lots of salt and pepper.... books like these does nothing but cause some very real world problems by immersing people in a dream world, where material possessions can be gained by simply visualising them. it adds, if bad things happen, then you are to blame... and its all our fault... else it is the 'power-behind' and ur thoughts... how can that be...? you are over-rating God with this....Rhonda Byrne..!!!! certainly a thumbs down..>!!!!!!!

Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather

well...its one of the best in my library... well.. i wouldnt call it a novel or any book... its basically... the author's diary notes.... his scribblings.. as the caption or the book says... its truy his 'struggle to become a person'..and as we read it, quite amazingly, we find it that it was our struggle too.... Sample this.....

....The more i attempted to "be me.." the more "me's" i found there were....

...the whole book is a collection of such one, two three or four liners....scribbled in his solitude... and is a worth while book to own...and read it when one is alone...

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

...a very small book written by Richard Bach...like 'Who moved my Cheese'... but the philosophy applicable to the peanut seller to the CEO of Microsoft... its a small book.. so small that one can finish it in 15 minutes!!!!

The Hunt for the Red October!

about espinoage books... i think the greatest in that genre is the one by Tom Clancy 'The Hunt for Red October'...there is a movie too.. based on that book.. and played by Sean Connery... the movie is as good as the book....!

it all starts with the US Navy spotting a Submarine on its Sonar..heading towards US Coast... it turns out to be 'Red October'... the most advanced nuclear submarine in the world...The US is worried... it thinks Red October is coming to attack .. to drop a bomb... and more to it.. the sub is commanded by one of the most fearsome naval officers.. Marco Ramius....

But Ramius is not attacking... he is Defecting... along with the most advanced ship USSR ever made.. along with its officers... so Soviets have a plan.. they inform US embassy that a nuc sub with a mad captain is on its prowl... Ramius has his own reasons for defecting... Now.. US has only one option.. hunt down the submarine...and destroy it... (thats what USSR wants... better than US getting its hands on the technology!)

...But there is one man in US..who thinks otherwise FBI agent.. Jack Ryne...his intuition tells him that the Ramius is not on a attack agenda... but rather defecting.. but no one in US believes him... but still Ryne must go...along with the hunters.. to convince him... and get Ramius and the priceless sailboat to US...

...thus starts a game of cat and mouse... and the whole of the book is about what Ramius and Ryne and also the entire crew...and they think and outwit each other....!!!!

... Read the book for the psycology of two people who are out there to convince... outwit and win... all the while fighting themselves not to loose....

...remarkable book... a must read... !!!!

Fountainhead!

.... one of the greatest books i have ever read... when i first saw it... seeing the size.. i said... 'Ummmm.... I dont think'...but somehow i started...and i soon found the idea of objectivism... was just what the doctor ordered for me.... thus began a journey with Ayn Rand...

she managed to create a whole group of followers with her "Atlas Shrugged" and "Fountainhed"..

.. the philosophy that u get from this book is amazing... one should read this book at every stage of one's life... and the philosphy that one gets each time is different... amazing no....?????