Saturday, September 25, 2010

You promised that you will die for me, now please do

When I started this blog, I wrote a couple of posts about Dan Brown and the Lost Symbol. Go ahead and read them if you have nothing better to do (here and here). I promised to write about the latest book once I read it. Since I have read all Dan Brown books, even the ones before Robert Langdon stories, this should have been easy and natural. But the problem is that between then and now, I have read some awesome literature. I have been amazed at how some of them have such intricately woven plots, or how some of them would pull even the most neutral reader into the scene just by sheer power of words. Or even books of essays that starts with an idea and builds on it with such irrefutable arguments that you either agree or are forced to think about it and then agree.

But since I keep my promises, I read the book.

And boy it was a different kind of experience. I am so brain dead that I don’t know what to write. May be it’s the fear of going over the stuff I read in my mind over again. I don't even find it as much fun making fun of it as I did in those old posts.

A book review is going to be too late now. But what I can and will tell you is the most important thing that I take out of this experience. There are two actually.

First thing first. This is an old wine in a new bottle. Just that this time someone forgot to cork the bottle properly.

You can take this idea of symbology only so far. Sooner or later you will exhaust all the words from ancient languages that can have an open interpretation. And once you do, you are going to be repetitive and painful. That is what this book is. A severely watered down version of Da Vinci Code.

The most frightening thing about the book is that at places even the author seems to be not enjoying it. That is the worst feeling that you can give to the reader.

When you refer back to your own old works over and over again, it’s bad. When it’s “the lost word” you are looking for and still title the book lost symbol, it’s bad. When in the end you take the reader down a thousand steps, just to inform that the lost word is a bible which is there somewhere around, its awesomely rotten after about 500 pages. If your story has two set of people, who believe and who don’t, don’t give me a main character (Katherine Solomon) which changes sides over and over again without so much of a warning.

And please, please, please don’t tell me in detail every little thought in the brain of a dying person. It might be fun and thoughtful, it just happens to insult my intelligence. I would rather you give me the taste of cyanide and make it firsthand this time.

So that was it people, about the book.

Here are my take-away from the experience. Sometimes staring blankly in the void can be the most awesome idea.

And I need to learn to make promises carefully.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sometimes Natha’s poop is better analyzed than the rising Yamuna waters

Few weeks back I watched this movie called Peepli [Live]. Now if you are in India and have not heard about this movie, then it’s probably because

You live under a rock in the middle of Thar desert
You tribe lives in one of the protected jungles
You are illiterate, blind, deaf, all of these
You live in a different country (at least you think so) called Tamilnadu
You live in Bombay (which is almost not India, even if you think so), and only poverty you have known is in the slums (which is more of squalor, more about unaffordable real estate and less of actual ‘going without food’ poverty).

Take your pick.

This movie is about a brother duo, who happens to be small farmers in some village in the Hindi heartland. And by extension very poor. They have mortgaged their small strip of land for their mother’s medical expenses. Since they cannot repay the loan, one of them, Natha Das Manikpuri, decides to commit suicide to get the compensation from the government.

What follows is a huge drama over the suicide, played by the frenzied media and the wily politicians. Of which the movie is touted to be a satire over. And it’s a very finely done satire. Not too understated and not overtly loud. This fine satire is the most likable thing about the movie.

You laugh through the movie and in the end go home with a compelling issue or two to think about.

While I can tell a thousand likable things about the movie like the real characters, the almost real story, the fabulous presentation and the immaculate attention to details, I will not.

That is because this post is not about reviewing the movie. Which I wanted to do but got too lazy about.

This post is just to draw attention to the current drama in the news media. The case in point my people is, the flooding of Yamuna River and the imminent floods in Delhi. Although waters did not enter the city, but we got severely flooded by all the ‘exclusive and by the minute’ reports of the water levels of Yamuna and how far above the danger mark it is flowing.

What pisses me off is to hear every day for last two weeks that by 4 pm (or near about on different days) the water will be flowing 2 meters above the danger mark. Every single day.

Monday (before 4 pm): another 2.5 cusecs of water has been released and by 4 pm Yamuna will be flowing 2 meters above the danger mark. Monday (after 4 pm):  water is currently flowing at 1.8 meters above the danger mark. Will be above 2 meters above danger mark by 4 am.

Tuesday (before 4 pm): another 1 cusec of water has been released and by 4 pm Yamuna will be flowing 2 meters above the danger mark. Tuesday (after 4 pm):  water is currently flowing at 1.8001 meters above the danger mark. Will be above 2 meters above danger mark by 4 am.


Friday (before 4 pm): another bout of rains and by 4 pm Yamuna will be flowing 2 meters above the danger mark. Friday (after 4 pm):  water is currently flowing at 1.899 meters above the danger mark. Will be above 2 meters above danger mark by 4 am.

And all of a sudden today, water has started to recede. Despite huge rainfall in the city.
If you have been feeling acute concerns about the floods in Delhi, hold on for now. You have been duped. And I wonder if you will be really concerned if it really happened. What with having exploited out of all your emotional juice.

Besides, how this flood will put the commonwealth games in jeopardy, as if it is not already. But that is another drama in its own right.

Or how dengue will be an epidemic, like it is not already.

The high point of all this is this: one fine day the news anchor is waxing eloquent about how water is above 2 meters above danger mark, a caption just next to his face showing 2.01 or some such number. And the news flash at the bottom of the screen shows 1.8 meters.

Well, we all need to know and hold on to the high points when there is flood at your door steps.

Talking of high points, one high point in the movie is this: Natha goes for the ablutions and goes absconding from thereon. Bereft of a subject, one of the news team camping there goes on to broadcast the analysis of color and consistency of Natha’s poop. That apparently helps to determine the emotional and psychological state of the person.

That was at least hilarious.

If you have friends and family in Delhi, don’t worry. They are perfectly safe. Unless they have been meditating in a tent on banks of Yamuna. In that case they deserved it.

Water logging in low lying areas is only a little worse than what you get after a day of good rainfall.

Now can I have some more analysis of Natha’s poop please!


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