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Showing posts from August, 2017

How are rugs and books related

As a child, I was pretty indifferent to rugs or carpets. Back at home, they always existed. They were scrubbed and vacuumed and dirtied and dribbled upon and I didn't quite imagine life without it. Till I moved out. 
Basic amenities do not cover rugs, far less, carpets. The first few days I didn't mind, basking in my new-fangled independence, traipsing over bare floors with un-socked feet. Eventually though, the irremovable stains on the bathroom floors made it clear that, in the absence of carpetting, a near-permanent use of slippers is a must.
Then came the winters. It brought the chill from all possible directions, including and especially, the floor. The soles of my feet must have been frostbitten on a regular basis and I yearned for the luxury of a nice woolly carpet to sink my feet in. As a conscientious student out making her life (not very successfully), I chose to brave the chilblains (they were not, really). 
It wasn't until I was married that I invested in carp…

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell

Genre: Autobiography (may be a bit fictionalised, but who cares!) Rating: 4.5/5

When you are down and out and in need of some form of strong restorative, My Family and Other Animals is the medicine to resort to. Contrary to popular belief, you need not be in love with animals (though it certainly helps if you are) to read this book. It is a slap on the face of turmoil and a reminder that when life is down in the dumps, there are always a few cicadas around to marvel at (or whatever catches your fancy). 
My Family and Other Animals is not the first of Gerald Durrell's writing expeditions, but it sure is his masterpiece. By the time he had begun writing this book, he was a reasonably seasoned hand at mounting expeditions and collecting animals all over the globe. In 1956, recovering from a bout of jaundice, Durrell penned this sweet little piece of work about his life as a child on the Greek island of Corfu. 
My Family and Other Animals is a collection of short stories, mapping the e…

Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

Genre: Thriller Rating: 5/5

'Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.' The epic opening line to Rebecca ushers the unsuspecting readers into the docile, slightly sad life of a young girl, who shall remain nameless throughout. Rebecca is one of the crowning works of Daphne Du Maurier, the others being The Scapegoat, My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica. It can be safely proclaimed that nothing really comes close to Rebecca
Rebecca starts as a meek little story, like its protagonist. It seems as timid as Little Women, wherein a young girl is swept off her feet by the taciturn, kind gentleman Monsieur Maxim de Winter. It ends in the two getting married within a fortnight of their meeting.

The marital life of the girl starts like any other, filled with trepidation, doubt and a lot of love. As days pass, she finds cues in her magnificent marital home - Manderley - and gets acquainted with the household. Not everyone is friendly, certainly not a particular Mrs. Danvers - who is ope…

I am currently reading...

The Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This is proving to be a very empowering read, which I believe was the whole point of the book anyway. For those judge a book by its cover (which is also pretty badass), it really doesn't seem to even skirt the edges of feminism. At its crudest, it is a collection of stories and their analyses to help rediscover what it means to be a woman. If it sounds redundant, then it goes to show howo much we need this book. 
I must say, books of this kind are not up my alley. It feels too verbose (even by my standards) and the bluntness induced by my utter worldly view of things makes it really difficult for me to penetrate the exuberance of being a woman, as noted in the book. I am just three chapters down, so it wouldn't possibly be wise to quote a favourite right now, but La Loba seems very ethereal. The whole concept of some force (our own, presumably) that can join broken, littered pieces, is deeply appealing. 
Newspapers a…

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Genre: Classic, Drama Rating: 5/5
There is no arguing the sheer brilliance of John Steinbeck. The long list of accolades and the controversy he had courted in his days (some of which still continues) is proof of his influence in the current society. Some deem him (astoundingly) mediocre, partly on account if his opinionated take on events; others, consider his work as American classic. Neither argument is completely false, though I, personally, align myself with the latter. If it would be possible to keep aside for a moment, the political ramifications of Steinbeck's work, one cannot deny the strength of his writings. He does not waste words; his economy only accentuates the somewhat lean personality of the settings and the characters. Everything is stripped unappealingy bare and covered flimsily with sardonic humour. A bit like J.D. Salinger, in some ways, but with a bigger lens on the society.    
The man is a Nobel laureate (the logic of which, too, is widely contested), and his…

The Friday Feeling

The tedious march that began on Monday is coming to a halt by today evening... the week is wrapping up and I am unwrapping myself from the cocoon of drudgery to welcome, with open arms, the onset of the weekend. 
I know my weekend won't amount to much (the more the the anticipation, the more I sleep). Here's the plan, anyway. I shall compare on Monday on a wistful note. 
Will read:  The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Manfred. I can't possibly deal with the views of Clarissa Estes in Women Who Run With The Wolves against the backdrop of those of the megalomaniac Hitler. Manfred keeps reminding me of Montreux and is so my happy place.  Will bake: Egg muffins. I just learnt that they are super easy and non-messy. And the husband loves it. So.  Will visit: The aquarium store! Yay! I have been circulating the water in my aquarium this past week and it is sitting pretty and petite, churning water and bubbles, waiting for its inhabitants. I miss my original brood, though. Sig…

I am currently reading...

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. This is a heavy read and a very big one (I am only at 7% on my Kindle and I began a week back). 
My interest in this book was piqued by a colleague who is in the habit of picking up and tackling esoteric volumes that leave me feeling markedly inferior. Of course, I had let the complex slide, until a couple of weeks back, when I was at the theatre watching Dunkirk (what an amazing movie!), and realised that I am an ignorant fool. That night, I downloaded the book on my Kindle. 
So far I have reached only upto the parts where the young Adolf Hitler has just completed the Munich Beerhall Putsch. The chapter ends with snippets of Mein Kampf.  Those parts were probably the hardest and I had to reread each paragraph twice to get through the convoluted language and the horribly twisted ideology (I mean, how did people fall for this in the first place ?). That, right there, is slowing me down too. 
The preliminary details about Hitler…

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 5/5

Stories about expats make for a very touching read. As a Bengali myself, I have revelled in reading about the idiosyncrasies of my community. But somewhere, they touch a bittersweet chord. I may not have stayed long enough to be a pure-bred Bengali, but snippets from my culture still fill me with a sense of love and belonging. 
The Namesake was all about the prodigal son. Set in Massachusetts, the story chronicles the life of one Nikhil Gogol Ganguli, starting from the time his parents met and set shop in the city and ending in him finding his way back. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli lead a very docile life in Massachusetts; Ashoke as a professor with the MIT and Ashima, as a new bride, coming to terms with a whole new kind of life, both as a married woman and in an alien country. Baby Gogol, named after the Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol, journeys through life as more of an American than as a Bengali, creating sweet memories and clashes along the way. The ab…

The Fatal Englishman - Three Short Lives by Sebastian Faulks

Genre: Biography
Rating: 4/5
There is something romantic about the English way of living; it has perhaps become more so now. Even the English themselves no longer stay the same way as during the wide span of time of Sebastian Faulks' work. It certainly wasn't romantic back then. The English have had their share of the good and the bad; they have been hated and revered. And through all of this, like in every other civilisation, the society and its principles have ruled the overarching impression we have created of and about them. But really, we are all humans; how different can we be after all ? Not much it seems. 
The Fatal Englishman  is set over seven odd decades, and chronicles the prodigy (in more ways , referring to things beyond just talent) of three remarkable British citizens. The common tie is the fact that they all died terribly young, barely having touched the thirties. They all hailed from different aspects of life - Christopher (Kit) Wood - a well-remembered (if not…