This and that

M has asked for a grand return to blogging and my parents have been pestering me with a ‘Nothing new on the blog?’ every other day. Now I don’t know anything about grand, but a mini-comeback of sorts seems to be in order, methinks! (Notice how I love to play at being a heroine, comeback and all?) 🙂

So where have I been? Busy with work and house-guests mostly. Lots of bloggable stuff did happen in between and I would have loved to blog about it if only I could remember any of it! But let me do a quick recap of what I do remember before I forget it all in the next two minutes. Who’s interested, you ask? Hey, I am, for starters!

I read two very interesting books – ‘A Fine Balance‘ by Rohinton Mistry and ‘The Palace of Illusions‘ by Chitra Banerjee Divakurani – in the past few weeks. Of the two, I loved ‘A Fine Balance’, an exceptionally sensitive and thought-provoking book that I’m ashamed to say I had put off reading all this while.

(It happens a lot with me these days – my instincts tell me a book/movie is going to be good but I opt for a more pleasant but less meaningful option in a ‘Who wants to get depressed in one’s free time?’ kind of mood, only to get back to the serious stuff later and wonder ‘How could I’ve imagined this would be boring?’)

The wonderful part about ‘A Fine Balance’ for me was the multiple layers to the story, with each layer being being introduced bit-by-bit till everything came together beautifully in the end to create – a fine balance – what else? Simply amazing stuff, I tell you!

The story starts with an uncle-nephew pair, tailors fleeing from horrific caste-based violence in their village to make a new life in Bombay. (The author does not name the sea-side metropolis where the story is set, but it cannot be anything other than my beloved Bombay to me!)

Their employer, Dina Shroff, comes across as a typical heartless employer at the outset, until you are introduced to her side of the story which is when you start disliking the tailors for threatening this lonely widow’s spirited bid for independence. Then just as suddenly you are taken back to the tailors’ side of the story where you realize how cruel their struggle for existence is too.

And so on till you finally give up judging any of the characters and start appreciating the gigantic jigsaw puzzle that is their lives. (The novel calls it a quilt instead – a beautiful metaphor considering that the three main characters in the story stitch clothes for a living while one of them actually makes a quilt from the leftover scraps.) Read this book for a refresher course on perspectives, I say!

And although I wouldn’t use the same superlatives for ‘The Palace of Illusions’, it is still an interesting read, offering a completely different perspective of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The book presents the story from Draupadi’s point of view and it’s fascinating to realize how ‘normal’ the narrative appears when seen from her perspective.

I’m not sure if ‘normal’ is the right word to use. What I mean is that we tend to think of the Mahabharata as a myth, a fantastic tale of Gods and God-like men and women, but it appears so much more real and believable when told from her first-person point of view. I was particularly struck by Draupadi’s relationship with Krishna. (I was surprised to learn that the two were close friends btw.)

Throughout the narrative, Draupadi experiences a strange sense of calm and happiness while in his presence but can never understand why. And as she looks back on her life in her dying moments, the mystery remains – who is Krishna? Is he really divine? It is this delightfully personal take on what is essentially beaten-to-death mythology that made this book so interesting to me. Not a personal favorite, but a good read nevertheless.

And then we saw a couple of good movies – ‘The Pursuit of Happiness‘, a simple but inspiring movie that might be just what the doctor ordered if you happen to be going through some tough times in your life and ‘Welcome‘, a total no-brainer but fultoo time-pass movie that both the husband and I thoroughly enjoyed.

A completely mad movie that kept getting crazier and crazier till we stopped trying to predict what new form of insanity would come next, ‘Welcome’ is a fun choice for a lazy weekend late-night watch at home. I know not everyone will agree with me on this and I hesitate to say more after the beating I got here when I last confessed my enjoyment of a similar movie, ‘Dhamaal’ – perhaps I’ve said too much already!

Finally, the piece-de-resistance. The husband and I went mountain-climbing with a friend from office last Saturday. 1300 feet, rocky mountain patches and my unenviable fitness levels, now that’s not a good combination at all! But will-power and a temperament that hates to give up before strangers took me right up to the summit. Honestly, I think I would have given up mid-way were it only the husband and me climbing.

And I’m glad we weren’t and I didn’t because the view from above was worth every bit of the effort and then some more! (Funny how every hiker ends up saying that, isn’t it?) Anyhow, we loved the whole experience so much that we want to go for a hike every weekend this summer. (Whoever is still reading my blog, please don’t forget to ask me about this every Monday for the next few months!)

And with that I’ll wrap up this long ramble of a post and let you guys speak for a change. If anyone is reading this, please do not forget to say ‘hi’ before you leave. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my stat counter crossed 10000 hits in the period that I was away, and I am mighty curious to know the kind folks who’ve been sweet enough to take it up there. So please to write and thanks and all that, okay? Okay, I should really stop now. Over and out!


8 responses to “This and that

  1. Whoo! you’ve been really busy ! Good you’re back!

    I soo want to read that book ‘Palace of Illusions’ now! I’ve heard enough and I’m succumbing to its 5-star review soon! That reminds me of a book I completed reading and haven’t blogged about it 🙂

    Mountain-climbing must’ve been exhausting, isn’t it? I have NIL stamina when it comes to such adventures, unfortunately 😦 But I’m sure what you see from top is worth every step you took 🙂

  2. Oh no! I totally forgot to congratulate you on having 10,000 visitors !! You go gurl !! Hearty wishes 🙂

  3. ohhh…i can’t wait to read those 2 books…thanks for the recommendation! Seems like you had fun…..I’m posting my blog link this time. Do visit sometime, though I don’t post as much as I used to. 🙂

    cheers, trupti

  4. Being an old-fashioned, traditionalist – double adjectives are to reflect its depth – I would rather say “Hello”, rather than “Hi”.

    That you have picked the thread of penning your thoughts again, augurs well for us.

    Happy writing (equally happy, but quite easy reading for us).

    A bouquet of flowers on accumulating over 10,000 visits to the site.

  5. Thanks Timepass and M!

    I’d really be interested in your views on these books M. Do share them once you’re done!

    Hey Trupti, welcome back! I visited your site yesterday and left a comment too. You have a real treasure-trove of recipes out there. Loved it! 🙂

    And thank you very much for the bouquet of flowers Baba. The flowers are beautiful! 🙂

  6. Heheh yes it was me lurking around! I have ‘A fine Balance’ waiting for me at home to read and have been dying to read ‘The Palace of Illusions’ as well…will let you know what I think of it when I am done 🙂

  7. Wow, I am flattered to know you’ve visited me Silvara. I enjoy your blog too! Will look forward to your thoughts on the books…

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