Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reading List - 2013

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
3. The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi
4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig - I need to read this book again, in its own time.
5. The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi
6. The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reading List - 2012

Did not do very well with the book reading last year. Doing only slightly better this time. Will keep you posted.

1. Noon by Aatish Taseer (If every life was a story with a begining, middle and an end; mine wouldn't be one of them. That is how this story is. But a good one)
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Fiction. American classic, an awesome novel)
3. One Hundred years of solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Fiction. Surreal, interesting and complicated)
4. Letters to a young poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (Collection of letters. Its a must read for everyone)
5. Girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson (Fiction. Book number two of millennium trilogy, enough said)
6. A walk in the woods by Bill Bryson (Travel. Describing his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail. I would even read his laundry list)
7. The Peter Principle by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull (Business/Humor. I know, strange. But the principle is in practice everywhere around us.)
8. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (Fiction. A nice little heartwarming read)
9. The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (Comic strips, and well, INDISPENSABLE)
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
11. Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple
12. Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
13. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
14. The Duel - Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power by Tariq Ali
15. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
16. Close Range (Wyoming Stories 1) by Annie Proulx
17. The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind
18. 1491 - New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
19. Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke

If not numbers, at least I did some variety this year.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's given. We will take over


[Another of those 100 words. I guess only this can keep this blog alive. Well, I hope not.]

“So many Indian people here, do you have some kind of holiday today?”
On the way back from the fireworks a random oriental featured American asked me.
“So many people in India. Population very high maan. Of course they gotta go somewhere for vacation. Might as well go to US. Can’t tell. I am no Indian maan. I’m Jamaica maan.” I said, but the last part.
In other news, after much thoughtful analysis, some sharp kids figured out why Niagara is the honeymoon capital of the world. Apparently, there isn’t much to do there to tire the newlyweds.
Who knew?


Saturday, September 10, 2011

I hate you like I love you

“Now listen to this my fellow Americans, this is what the Japanese would have heard that morning on 18th April 1942. This is the sound that struck the fear in the hearts of the Japanese for the first time in the Second World War. This is the war cry of Jimmy Doolittle that shattered the Japanese confidence and made America believe that Pearl Harbor was just an aberration. This is the announcement to the world that America will not be defeated. The sweet whisper in every American ear that America will remain independent, come what may.” The announcer shrieked the welcome to the B-25J bomber with that in the Dayton air show this year.

White people were getting their tans and sunburns and the dark skins were getting darker still. The sun was mercilessly beating down baking everyone who has gathered to see the biggest air show in the birth place of aviation.

Americans would probably never know what it is like being ruled by a foreign power, but they surely understand that it’s a very important thing to not know that. When the deafening roar of the engines heralded the B-25s every one clapped their hearts out.

It was almost cute compared to the other monstrous beauties that were its descendents. Everyone cheered the sight of the B-25. Everyone cheered except the small Asian looking family next to us.

During the enactment called “Tora Tora Tora” earlier, faces of the adults in the family, in rapt attention and awe like everyone else had still managed to betray their hearts. I could tell that this family was of Japanese extraction.

“Tora Tora Tora”, the same announcer had solemnly told everyone, “is a salute to every brave man who fell on both sides. It’s not vilification of a nation, my friends; it’s enacting a sad day in American history”. They probably plan the show in a way that the announcers can get over with other acts before playing themselves.

Only the sun was same to everyone, equally torturous. Only the kids were really enjoying the show, even those yellow kids. Sun did not bother them and everything else in the show was equally awesome.

P.S
The title of the post is title of a new song. Sigh! They are so much more funny.
And here is a list of performances at the show.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Giving it back


A colleague did a scintillating performance in the youth festival organized by the local Indian association couple of weeks back.
Reacting to the video posted on facebook, an American colleague sulked that we did not invite him.
‘Indian people don’t invite Americans to Indian dance parties’, he said, ‘it’s bad, it’s almost racist’.
He could but did not take offence to my retort, ‘how do you like it now, white man’.
Good thing that we maintain a healthy balance of annoying each other. And of course three Indian people with music and time is a dance party. There's no invitation.

P.S.
This is my first 100 word post. No, don't count the postscript. I will try to do it often, sometimes funny sometimes serious. It is fun. I will love it if you told me if you liked the idea.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I need your blessings only

I have always liked travelling in trains. It is the next best thing to driving, especially for long distances. You are not boxed in a seat. You get to walk around if you want or if like me, can happily lie down and doze off. You are much at ease. You make new friends, can have long and animated face to face discussions about anything important or not. You can’t do all this stuff in a flight. 

I too fly for the sake of time, but I spend my time cramped and hoping the guy sitting next to me does not sneeze. Bacteria are not exactly the thing which you want to take home from a journey.

God forbid, but I can only pity you if you have a newly minted couple in the seats next to you in a flight. But that is another story for another day.

So it was a nice comfortable train journey. Reading, sleeping then reading some more, checking out the cuteness of fellow passengers, sleeping again, you know, the regular stuff.

I was lying down, concentrating hard trying to figure out a figure, when I overheard someone talking about this great shaman. This was the man who bestows his blessings and goodness to everyone unconditionally.

Now everyone knows that there are many such in India. Everyone knows that all of them have a hotline with God. Some of them can levitate others can conjure sweets and gold out of thin air. Everyone knows that they are rich people. And everyone knows that you ought to donate large sums to their charities out of the kindness of your heart and to promote their noble deeds.

And I agree to it. I mean, look at how many jobs such people generate. If for nothing, I support them for that. Last I heard they were planning to have advanced courses on how to become a popular god men and women as a part of the poverty and unemployment alleviation plans. No, everyone does not know this.

So this great man (let’s call him guru henceforth in this true story, it’s easy to type) was talked about because he ran his trade somewhere near to where the train was passing through at that time. As luck would have it, while the discussion and debates on his holiness were on, the train came to an abrupt screeching halt.

On enquiry it was found that there was some fault with the rails ahead and we have to wait till that gets fixed. Now that can be shocking or not so shocking depending on where you are on the globe at the moment. I, for one, was not too surprised.

Enterprising as we are in India, we strive to get something out of even the most hopeless situations. And we are optimistic as hell. Someone thought aloud that that was a sign that we should go visit the guru.

Some of us took that idea and ran with it (pun, eh?). But who would pass on that divine opportunity? So a group of us got ready to trek to the guru’s abode.

Good thing about not knowing where you are going is that you are ready to take anything that comes. Or you just don't care.

It’s a darn good thing too, for when I reached there I found that the guru was none other than the local police officer, with a handlebar moustache and all. Also, the guru’s abode was a police station, or maybe it was the other way round.

There was this long queue that was there, meandering through many checkpoints. There was a booth where you were security screened and then a booth where you had to pay huge sums as offering to the guru, all of your own free will. They even gave you receipts for this so that you could flaunt it at home and show off amongst your friends. There also was a booth selling lemonade.

I wouldn’t bore you with the details of how long and boring the queue was. Not to mention extremely hot and stuffy hallway the queue was going through. It was just the expectant joy of being in the company of the guru that kept us all going.

Then the moment came when I was in the presence of divinity. The guru police officer had such a look on his face that I was tongue tied. I don’t know how to describe what I felt there.

I would have described it as overwhelming if this word would not have got overwhelmed with the burden of the feelings I intended to put on it. It was too much of a good thing. It probably was way too much of it, and all I wanted to do at the moment was to leave and go back to the mundane.

And then the serene voice floated to my ears.

“What do you want?”

“I want nothing, just your blessings.”

He smiled, chuckled even, and said, “Yes that is ok, but what do you want”. He gently patted my arm saying this.

My eyes tightly shut, I managed to mumble, “I want your blessings only”.

He says, “Yes, you have my blessing. But what do you want?”

He patted a lot harder this time. As if he was almost slapping my arm. Much like a doctor slaps the arms of unconscious patients to bring them back. Why, I think I heard him giggle too.

Perplexed, I opened my eyes, only to see the steward from the train's dining car grinning right next to my face.

I acted as if nothing has happened and everything is normal and promptly ordered the regular chicken dinner.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reading List - 2011

This is turning out to be not so great year for reading. Read my last year's Reading list. Here is a list of what I have been able to manage this year


  1. Crime and Punishment by  Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Drama, an awesome one)
  2. This will change Everything : Ideas That Will Shape the Future by Mr. John Brockman (Ideas from an assortment of people about what they think will change the world. Good, but the ideas have just been touched upon, could have done with some elaboration)
  3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Historical novel and a very good one)
  4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Sci-fi/romantic and very fascinating)
  5. Superfeakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (Freaky Economics, a book perhaps marred by the expectation from a sequel of its predecessor. Good one in its own right)
  6. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (A novel. The booker guys know their stuff)
  7. 1984 by George Orwell (A novel. Ah! what a novel)
  8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Super engaging read)
  9. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (Another must read)

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