Thursday, November 21, 2013

Agatha Christie- Sittaford Mystery

The first page of Sittaford Mystery itself leaps into a suspense. The seance was the perfect way to set the pace of book. And by the end of the first chapter we have a murder. It is almost a perfect start to a novel. But alas the book somehow fails hold on to the impact in the coming chapters.

We all know that Christie is known for including multiple sub-plots to the main plot to keep the mystery intense.  Somehow the sub-plots don't seem to gel well with the main theme. In this there are two sub-plots. One dealing with the Willets and Brain Pearson and the other with Jenifer Gardner and her husband.  The mystery around Willet somehow does seem interesting but fails to garner any suspense around it.  And finally when the mystery does come out , the reader will feel " is that it?".  In Christie's other books like "After the funeral" or "They do it with Mirrors" there are some very interesting sub-plots which somehow only add to the mystery. Sittaford Mystery was a big disappointment in that area.

The unraveling of the mystery also passable but nothing extraordinary. There is just one single "Aha" moment in the mystery which solves the murder. You can almost push down to one page.  The rest somehow doesn't add up to the solving of the mystery. In "Murder at Vicarage" Christie marvelously adds the plot of a mysterious woman, a daughter and Mrs Price's theory and many other things which embellish the whole plot. Here there is one single moment of truth which also is not extraordinary.

One thing which seems wrong to me is why Mrs Willet would invite all her neighbors to her house if her purpose of taking the house was what they mentioned in the book? Seems illogical. But she does invite everybody and that's where the whole murder plot starts. There is another love triangle as well in the story which to me seemed very tiresome. I couldn't garner any emotion for the the two characters who sort of solve the mystery. All in all the book was not very satisfactory. My standard of Christie is so high that I cant seem to settle for anything less.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 2005

Recently bought an DVD of Pride and Prejudice movie made in 2005 featuring Keira Knightley and Matthew Mcfadyen. Well I was sorely disappointed with the movie and its adaptation of the most famous books by Jane Austen. They digressed too much from the original book which sort of made it bland.

Now where do I start? The first scene where the Bennett family is introduced was itself a turn off for me. In the book  the girls don't scream like mad girls when they hear that Mr. Bingley has rented Netherfield. It seemed so out of character for Lizzie and Jane to participate in the screaming. Even Mr. Bennett didn't react the way he does in the book.I think the 1995 version of BBC adaptation nailed it.
And the ball where Mr Darcy is first seen  looked so artificial to me. Mr Darcy's expression  didn't seem proud or haughty(which is what it should have been) ,to me he seemed as if he were suffering from some sort of constipation(seriously!) And Lizzie's constant smirk or arrogant smile made me feel as if she were Mr.Darcy and not the real one! 

I understand the the 2 hour version needs sharp editing and requires more work in retaining important parts of the book and excluding not so important ones but look how "Persuasion"(1995 movie) was done. They condensed the book into a beautiful movie with fantastic editing. P&P somehow failed in that department.There is one scene in the book where Eliza runs across dirty fields to Netherfield and dirties her petticoats in the process. I think from that scene onward Mr.Darcy develops an attraction towards Eliza. But that scene was so fleeting that it hardly left any effect on me.Even the proposal scene where he comes near her as if to kiss her and she also leans slightly towards him  was sort of turn off.That scene  shouldn't have shown such an intimacy from Eliza.Her feelings towards him change only after she reads the letter he writes explaining his action and revealing Wickham's true colours. Why did they have to show Eliza leaning towards him? That didn't seem correct to me.

I somehow didn't enjoy the scene where Lizzie visits Pemberley with her Aunt and Uncle as well. She thinks he is not in town but is shocked to find him in Pemberley itself. But her discovery was shown as snooping according to me. She snoops on Darcy and Georgiana (this is scene is not there in the book) through a gap in the door. Lizzie who is so righteous  doing this seemed out of character.If I were Lizzie I will simply run back as soon I discover them(Darcy and his sister).Why didn't they keep the original scene? It was so romantic in the book ,should've been even more romantic on a screen! And what can you say  of the scene where Lizzie gets a letter from Jane informing her about the elopement of Lydia.

First of all why did they have to keep her aunt and uncle in the scene? If Darcy and Lizzie were alone the scene whould've had more romance! And the way Keira Knightley reacted to the letter was so funny.She comes out of the room with tears and goes back to the room.She comes out again but howling this time ! I mean I felt like laughing at her reaction. This scene alone could've been the most romantic of all!

And the proposal scene where she runs across the fields to find Mr.Darcy is sort of ok. The feelings seemed to come across on the faces of the lead actors.
But over all the film sort of underwhelmed me.If only they had kept all the original Jane Austen scenes! Jane knew women's heart like no one! Only she knew that women feel the same in 1700 and 2013 :-).

Monday, July 29, 2013

All about Kambha-composting in your backyard

I still remember how we got introduced to the Kambha. We had gone to a friends' house and there we saw a set of three pot-like units one on top of each other.We got curious and asked them about it.They told us that it was composting unit made out kitchen waste! We were  impressed.So much that we bought our own Kambha few months later. We took a bigger one considering the amount of kitchen waste we generate every day ( We are a family of five). It cost us around thirteen hundred bucks.So just wanted to  enlighten those who are new to it and want to try it out.

How does it look like?
This is the three tired  unit we bought.You can check more varieties in the daily dump site(search for "daily dump"  in Google). There are various sizes according to the kitchen waste you generate. There is even a small,cute one for kids!

Kambha 3 Tiered Large

How do you use it?

We first start by dumping all the kitchen waste the top-most (call it A). We keep doing it until it becomes three fourths full.Remember to stir the contents once in a while.Once the pot is 3/4ths full ,you need to transfer its content to the second pot (called B) .Your A pot again ready for use.Once it is 3/4ths full again we need to shift the contents of B to C(the bottom-most post) and after this we need to shift contents of A to B .Your A is empty again and is ready to use.After a month or so (initially it may take longer) you will find that the contents of bottom-pot have turned into manure.Trust me the smell coming from it will be like the smell of soil.

What all kitchen waste can we dump/not dump?

We dump vegetable peels,fruit peels(all fruits),coffee and tea decoction,dry leaves. We are not supposed to add coconut shell,seeds etc because they don't decompose.Do not add any plastic material to it.They say we can dump leftover food as well but we don't as ours is an apartment and we feel it may emanate bad odour.
(Maybe it is our imagination,but we have never tried it).

How does the manure look like?
Here is how the manure looks like.The one you see in the bucket.

What are the issues you may face with it?
- if yours is an apartment then unless you have a sit out or an balcony big enough it would be advisable to use a smaller one.

-Flies : During summer we faced a major problem with the flies.When I say flies I mean the fruit flies.They were virtually everywhere. Then we found a golden solution for it!. In Apple cider (vinegar, we found it in a supermarket) we poured some liquid dish-washing soap and added some water into it We used a wide transparent bowl for it(plastic).All the flies fell right into it and that was the end of it :).

- Bad odor :This you may get when you go closer to the Kambha. But otherwise there wont be any strong odor.

- You need to allot 1 hour of your weekend time once a month to move the contents from A to B to C.   But trust me its worth it.

What do you do with the manure?

You can use it for your own plants or give it to your friends and neighbors. The manure generated is very rich and the plants will grow very well organically.On the daily dump site you would find a leave-it pot as well for you to store your manure.

Where can I buy one?

We bought it from a nursery Check out more details on the daily dump site.

The site has detailed text on using the Kambha and other FAQs you may have.
After the use of Kambha our wet-waste has come down to one fourth! We are very happy about it :).

Guys go for it and do your bit for the environment.

Happy Composting.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Symbiosis in LIfe

Sometimes I keep wondering,what is it that is driving us to do a thing and not do a thing?  But I am sure many will come up with the answer "happiness".But I would say that what we actually want from life is "contentment" and feeling of completeness.  This alone opens the key of happiness. But the question is when do we feel content? i.e. when can you say confidently that "Ah,today every thing happened the way I wanted" . So what leads to contentment is "being in control". I know this sounds like maths and set theory :). How is this possible? This is possible only when we maintain a symbiotic relation with the environment (which includes our family,our work place and the society in general and of course the present circumstances) we are living in. 

Whatever day to day decisions we take if we take them keeping the rest of the environment in mind then we will be happy.But if the decisions taken are with half heart then you will not feel happy and content. For instance if we wanted one kind of movie and your friend wants to see another.And somehow she manages to take you to her choice of movie if you go grudgingly than you will not be content at the end of the day. But if we build our personality in such a way that we learn to accept small oppositions with complete heart and not fuss over it then your contentment quotient will definitely rise. If we refuse to change ourselves even for a small thing then we will end up with more bitterness and discontentment. Its better to use our judgement in these kind of cases,by asking ourselves this question " By giving into the other person ,am I jeopardizing  my personality and life in anyway?".If your heart tells you "No" then you will accept the decision with complete heart. But remember that life is too short to grudge and fret over silly things.Think long term always.

But sometimes we come to a state which you can call a "crossroad" state. This is the state in which where you go  determines your coming future and may entirely change your life. That state we all go through while picking up our careers,switching careers/giving up a career/getting married/ becoming a parent/buying a house /investment involving risk etc. But for these decisions our complete approval of heart is a MUST. If go in one way and finally regret it then nothing can be worse than that. You suffer and you contentment quotient comes down and so does your happiness.While taking these decisions it is very important to understand how your path will impact you and your environment. If we only think of only ourselves and forget the environment than it will lead to conflicts and confusion. Its very important that the whole environment is in the same page as you before you go ahead. The symbiosis is the key. 

But there is another case where after you have taken your decision and have gone ahead with it ,you realize that things are actually not going as smoothly as you anticipated.Then what to do? Then place yourself at "crossroads" again and revisit the decision once more. Sometimes life is not about YOU always .We need to consider people around us .But if you mind is clear about the decision you made in the first place and still people around you are not cooperating with you , plan your path in a way as to not involve those who are not interested in your path . I know it is not that simple. But life is all about workaround isn't it?

There are thousand ways to reach a place but what path you choose makes all the difference to your life. Its good to concentrate on the path rather than the goal. Because after you have reached your goal with no symbiosis then there will be no one around you  to appreciate it and will that give you happiness?

Monday, July 01, 2013

Dance of Shiva

When we read stories about Shiva's tandava ,we wondered if its possible that a person's dance in fury can evoke so much destruction.Today we have no choice but to believe it! When Shiva danced in Kedarnath destruction unleashed and trampled many on its way. But why did Shiva dance? What provoked him to dance in such a way that the entire population could be wiped out through his single pose?  I am sure many know the answer to this in their hearts.Humans!

We humans alone provoked him  .We abused the God given nature .We didn't let the moutains be as they were.We plundered them for coal,minerals,ore .We broke mountains and joined them again by road! We cut all the trees on the mountains ,which held the precious soil on to its roots, leading to landslides. We became greedy and  made lodges at Shiva's abode. We traded,bargained, sold in front of HIS eyes. We  burdened the mountains with more feet .We sliced the rivers to have light in our house but not realising that this will submerge many more houses in the process. We pushed ,pushed hard and asked the nature to perform miracles to fulfill our needs.And nature has given you its answer in action.IF YOU PUSH ME,I AM GOING TO SHOW MY TANDAV.

 All in the name of love and affection for God..He doesn't want our love in pretensions .He wants it in our actions.He wants us to be a true human first .To help others in need.To have a charitable mind.To understand that His purpose of life is indeed helping the humans to understand that our purpose of life also should be help others. Today to see a child lose his parents or other way round makes our heart bleed.Let us pledge not to cross the limits with nature.If we do then we have to do it at the cost of a life of your loved one.Lets not burden our mother nature more.Let us first stop what we are doing first and think and then re-plan the future of our children.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Jiah Khan's story

Jiah Khan is making headlines again but sadly for something nobody is happy about.Such young life wasted away for reasons unknown. But what saddens me more the way people are discussing the whole subject from suicide to depression to love failure. I wish people will leave her alone. Why torture that soul  ?

 I see every body discussing Jiah  Khan's life and her alleged boyfriend Suraj as if both were some public property .There are at least four articles printed in media mostly discussing  whether Suraj is in the wrong/Jiah was depressed/Was it love failure? etc. etc. Please give them a break .Stop judging both of them! Firstly we have no idea what happened between them .Only Jiah and Suraj will know the truth .And one of them is not in this world anymore . Its up to the law now .Whatever course of action is taken will be based on  evidences ,testimonies and rest of the technical jargon. That's the only way to treat this case .Jiah's family and Suraj's family should only be the parties involved. It would be best if the rest of media doesn't judge,pass comments and keep playing the guessing game and start endless discussions on suicide.This is such  a personal matter ,kindly keep it personal.

I really hope and pray that the truth comes out and Jiah's soul will truly rest in peace!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Education vs "Education"

I always wondered what educating someone meant. When I was young I  thought it was studying well and scoring good marks.How wrong can one be! I have grown now :). But I still see many viewing education with the same view of marks and degrees. But what truly is education?

According to me ,you are truly educated :

- When you are sensitive enough to make sure that you don't hurt others.

- When you have the compassion in you to realize that your actions indeed have consequences.

- When you respect elders for their age if not for anything else!(Like giving them your seat in the bus!)

- When you have conversations with people instead of arguments

- When you know that Winning always doesn't mean success

- When you are positive and optimistic in dealing every  situation

- When  you accept pain and happiness with same equanimity

- When integrity,honesty are part of your soul and reflect in every work you do.

- When you know how to conduct yourself in public

 - When you don't break queues by cheating to get your work done faster.

-  When you don't litter your surroundings and make and effort to keep it clean.

- When you do not waste natural resources and make an effort to save it or use it judiciously at every opportunity.

- When you can assimilate a good thought and implement it .

- When you know status ,titles are mere words and they itself do not signify anything about you.

- When you understand dignity of every profession and do not run any one profession down.

- and last but not the least ,when you know "education" is continuous and has not duration(like your degree).

Am I right?  :)

Monday, June 03, 2013

Everybody has the right to live

Everybody in this world deserves to live as they want to as long as they are not coming in between principles of others. But world is such a strange place,we are constantly advising people around us,always telling them what needs to be done ,what wrongs were done in the past and what wrongs they are doing now. I think it is best that the person himself learns from his mistakes and gain experience and then realise that what they had was not correct indeed. That way they will repeat the mistake or understand how to deal better. Of course the whole world is full of "I told you so" category but what to do? If we do not want advise then it is better to make mistakes and bear the digs at you.

I just want freedom for everybody.Everybody should feel so free that they can speak their mind without thinking so much about the other persons perception of us. This live and let live policy is the best policy I have ever come across.Please try it! :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Portrait of a Marriage" Pearl S Buck

When I picked up this book from my library ,I must confess ,I was prejudiced.But I was proven wrong .And I am glad I was proven wrong!  Coming to the story ,it is about two individual  (diametrically opposite ones!) in love ,how they  stay together till the end despite their disagreements .How symbiosis is achieved with conflicts.

Ruth and William are the lovers and the story is spread across three major parts of their lives.The first part reveals how they meet and fall in love and unite .The second one is about Ruth's silent fight with  William's eccentricities and her struggle to raise her kids without William's help. The third is about acceptance of each other in a beautiful way . 

William belongs to the upper class  but he  is restless there .  His peace comes with Ruth. When Ruth is unhappy in New York he agrees to  leave the city and live in her farmhouse with her parents. Ruth only can stir his soul and he feels if she is unhappy then he cannot be happy either. I found Ruth's behavior a bit selfish that she cannot adjust to the city even when William tries his best to accommodate her .She withdraws and pushes William away from her.William longs for her physically but when he confronts her finds out that she can be herself only when she is in her place he agrees to move to the country.He is inspired and complete only when Ruth is happy.

They move back and the next stage starts .They have two girls and a boy.The boy is a rebel. William has no connection with their rearing.He just paints .He has no interest in farming and he still is inspired by Ruth only.His love for her has increased four fold .Ruth grudgingly accepts that if she admonishes him in anyway he may leave her and go back to the city life .The burden of his sacrifice is always felt. She will endure his disinterest ,his zero earning power to keep him with her. She silently agrees with him in everything.The one thing which keeps them together always is their strong passion for each other.

The turning point of their life is when one day William visits his parents and is suddenly stuck by the fact that he is not "himself"  anymore.His paintings are not reaching anybody.The depth is gone. William's father suggests that he  go on tour on his own and search for his passion again . William is in two minds .When he reaches home he sees Ruth with a whip in her hand trying to whip her son Hal. William is shocked. He suddenly feels the harshness of Ruth and for the first time is repelled by her. He almost decides to leave because this Ruth is not his Ruth  .Ruth tries to please him physically as well but he is determined to leave.But by morning he sees that Hal has run away and Ruth is heartbroken.And when he sees her that way he cannot but stay back.Because he realizes she is his purpose of being.If she is unhappy he cannot be happy anywhere. Life continues till Hal returns .The children grow up,Mary is like her mom.Jill like William and Hal is a simply a new personality altogether.

Children grow up and finally  leave to find their destinies .Mary is married to farm guy(William is not happy but accepts).Jill goes away with William's ex-lover(Ruth learns to accept this ) and Hal marries a girl from Paris and settles there. Ruth always frets about her children but William has only eyes for Ruth 
Old age catches up with them and the William's time is up.Ruth always rebukes him for "not being a man" but William hardly reacts. When he finally dies in sleep ,Ruth realizes that they both loved each other always and love was the only thing which bound them together. The novel ends on this note.

William doesn't earn money,he won't participate in family affairs ,he simply paints . Ruth won't adjust in William's city ,she is always insecure,she feels threatened,she rebukes him for his weaknesses. But in all this they find love and learn to live with their differences so that they both can stay together forever.They cannot part with each other. That's the truth they  constantly discover. The love story makes you feel sad ,angry and sometimes helpless as well  .But is definitely engaging and worth a read.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ms Marple vs Mr Poirot

Ok by now everybody knows that I am a huge Agatha Christie fan .Of all her creations I love her works which involves Mr Poirot or Ms Marple. Although Christie has written only 13 novels with Ms Marple as the investigator  I still love Ms Marple more than anybody else. The other books she has written with Parker Pyne ,Tommy and Tuppence aren't many and somehow was not able to read them with lots of interest. Ok now lets come to Mr Poirot and Ms Marple. They both investigate crimes .Thats the only thing which is common between them.In terms of character they are poles apart.Let me list down a few of them.

Methodical vs Haphazardness

Poirot is extremely methodical in his process of investigation as well as in his personal life. He adjusts ashtrays ,makes sure his stuff are kept properly in its place (Ms Lemon /George sure help him in this!) .Although  Watson  tries to mellow it down ,Poirot doesn't budge. He must do things in an order. And surprisingly the order lies in his head. He hates anybody who is not methodical  in their approach(any Poirot story we take up is definitely an instance of this) and thats where Ms Marple enters the picture.Her investigation process is totally haphazard. She has no method but does have a sharp eye and an ear.With the help of these both she manages to crack every crime piece. The thirteen problems is an fantastic example of this. She manages to guess her nephew's impending marriage just by his and his fiance's behaviour which nobody else observe. Otherwise she has no process at all. Just observe each day and create a jigsaw piece and finally piece it together to crack the crime.

To the point vs Digress-er

Poirot hates anybody who digress and do not get to the point faster. How many times we see that the witness at the scene of crime especially maids  go on and on and on and hardly get to the point .He himself gets to the point very quickly and asks questions which are only relevant  Ms Marple on the other hand is a total digress-er .At one point she talks of the crime and in another about the milk man or the delivery boy.Only later we realize that what she spoke at that time has some relevance to the crime. But at the specific moment it seems as if she is scatting and kind of puts off the rest of the people around her.

Boastful ,Proud,immodest vs Self demeaning

It is very clear who is boastful. The greatest detective the world has seen ever :).Yep Mr. Poirot. He keeps praising himself so much that at one point you want shake him up and request him to be more modest. But modesty is not his cup of tea sorry sirop :D. Whereas our Ms Marple keeps telling that she hardly has gone out St Mary Mead and she can only judge based on her experiences in her place. She hardly takes credit for any work she has done  .At first she seems as if she is totally out her mind and she doesn't even correct anybody who believes it to be the case. That is one of the main reason why I love Ms. Marple.


Poirot being Poirot gives too much importance to his appearance. He is immaculately  dressed and his mustaches take up most of his time.And Ms Marple hardly takes her appearance into account.She just worried about her rheumatism and health and nothing else.

Ok these are the things I can think of .If anybody else can add anything else I would love to hear.


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Women's day

Women's day is around the corner  and I am sure  many articles will come up with topics like these "How to manage work life and home life ", "Women in our society","Crimes against women" etc. The whole fact that these topics are written every year   around women's day is in itself a wonder to me .

The articles are written every year simply because nothing has changed. The women is still talked about ,discussed about  . The chat shows,tv channels , newspapers and in our own households. Crimes again women are on the rise. As far as I  know dowry harassment is still rampant.Not a day goes without hearing the word "rape" . The wives are getting beaten up and yes their opinions still don't matter. And of course the girls are still "items" (It is a shame that top actors themselves want to be called "item" girls). Now of course the positive side of it is that people are  growing aware of the evils in our society. The news channels are not leaving a single stone unturned (maybe for sensationalism ,don't know the motive)  to get the news across to us.  But I always wondered what is the reason behind all this? Why does a woman still need a "Women's day" to tell the world she is just another human being  . Why does she need this special attention ?Why does she have to scream and tell  "I am a woman ,respect me?"  These questions have never come up for a man! And it will never.I am sure about it.

The whole answer lies(I feel) in the way  women are made . Their physical  make up I mean. And of course this led for the man to behave in a certain way which the women endured meekly and  now it won't stop! The very act of procreation is designed in such a way that women's power is diminished. Makes her physically weak. And this gave man the great power to dominate .And he assumed (I guess) that if he can dominate in the act of procreation,he can do the same in all walks of life. This included things like beating her up(he is physically stronger) , screaming at her(show of power again), impose himself on her (without her permission), assume that women have no brains so there is no need to ask her for her opinion(coming from the same dominating personality) .Because the man was physically stronger  he would go out and get the wood ,build house etc. And the women had to make sure their men ate well and ended up cooking.But who added rules like after marriage the woman should go to the man's house ,that she should assume his name, that her children also should bear the father's name is a bit obscure.But whoever did ,should be blamed partly for all this mess. And in our country, the exchange of money during the marriage is an additional evil  to whole "disrespect for women" scenario.

The positive side is that people are aware now. Our own men have realized that what their ancestors did was wrong. Many are treating their  partners as equals. But unfortunately that is just the 2% of the population. The rest are still in the dark(including the women). Womenfolk please wake up! If your dignity is being shamed then question it.If someone is treating you like an physical object then stand up and fight and if you are not aware of what you want from life then please please educate yourself. Education will enlighten you!

Here is wishing every woman  a happy "Women's day".I only  wish that such a day should never be celebrated but only used as a tool to help women understand that they are equals as well.

Friday, March 01, 2013

A Poem


Two inches on this side and  hundred inches  on that side,
I am of the same colour.
I grow trees, feed animals, fill myself with water  that’s all I know.
Here or there it is the same for the blind me.
Yet they colour me with red for the same me.
They pushed down the wall to grab me with greedy hands.
They plunder me to have me.
I cry but they don’t hear the deaf ones.
God Let me be .Please.

I flow from beginning to the end to meet my sea.
Am I in the temple land or land of kings?
Here or there it is the same for the blind me.
I quench thirst and nurture life, that’s all I know.
They fight for me, they cut me into half, they stop me.
I roar and weep yet none hear, the deaf ones.
God let me just flow .Please.

I know to love and nurture
And in return I want the same. That’s all I know.
I am a human too with emotions and self respect.
Why am I treated like an object?
They ravage me, poke me, and murder my respect.
I shout for help ,I scream ,the bus moves.
My country shouts for justice yet none hear,the deaf ones.
God, just let me live with respect.Please.

I was made by you to help you .That’s all I know.
The more they have me the more they are happy.
They use me to hurt, murder and cheat  .
Their greed for me turns them to monsters.
 I cannot cry, I cannot weep. I cannot feel.
I am just a green paper. I can just pass on.
God, is there a way out of this ?Please?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

God sees the truth but waits

Yesterday I read a short story by Leo Tolstoy named "God sees the truth but waits" .I am sure many have either read it or have seen adaptation of it on either small or big screen. For those who haven't  ,this is the gist. It is about a man Ivan ,a merchant , who  travels to another town on a business errand.On the way he meets a merchant  ( a rich one with lots of money on him) .They both stay in a lodge in the same room. Ivan leaves by early morning to finish of his reminded of his journey.   He reaches the town and finds that police are waiting for him . They inform him that  the merchant with he shared a room has been murdered brutally with a knife and they suspect him of the murder. They search his bag and find a blood stained knife.They arrest him despite Ivan's denials.He is wrongly implicated and gets a life sentence for his deed. Even his wife wont believe that he did not commit the murder. Ivan is heartbroken and resigns to fate . He leads a amicable life in the prison. He sort of becomes a messiah for everyone.Then one day  a new prisoner comes. Soon Ivan learns that this was the man who killed the merchant and placed the knife in Ivan's bag. Ivan is angry.He feels a feeling of vengeance rising in him . One day  Ivan finds the man digging a hole  to escape from the prison . The man asks Ivan to not let the word out and in turn promises Ivan that he will let him escape as well. The man is caught and police ask Ivan if he had seen the man digging the hole. Now it is turn of Ivan to get his revenge .To implicate the man to quench his anger. But he doesn't. He tells the police that he cannot say anything. The police let the man go. The man  is remorseful now. He begs Ivan for forgiveness  and weeps. Ivan  forgives him   and then he feels very light. The burden of vengeance,anger,misery vanishes from him. He is no longer suffering.  His heart gets cleansed. The man goes to the police and tells the truth about killing the merchant  and the police are ready to release Ivan .But on the day of the release Ivan dies.

It is very difficult to not get moved by such a story. Ivan's pain,helplessness,misery ,loneliness pushes across to the reader. We feel his sadness.But the story is not about hopelessness but it is about keeping the hope alive in our hearts. God watches everything. And when Ivan's moment of truth came  Ivan's heart is not the same anymore. He is a wise man . A man who realizes the smallness of everything before forgiveness. The moment Ivan's heart forgives the man  ,he becomes free. God has released him from the burden. Resigning to the fate helps Ivan. But I differ in this. Ivan's release came too late. He deserved much better life   but God waited. The story makes you feel for Ivan. But I couldn't say the same about God. Why did he wait? When he saw the truth ,why did he wait? What was his purpose? I wish God could answer this to me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why ?

I ask GOD these questions and I imagine him answering me thus.

Why is the sky blue?
Let your  life be as serene and calm  as the beautiful blue colour always .If you forget it just look up .

What is the sea showing me?
Appearances can be deceptive.You will know the multitude of life which is under me.

What are the birds telling me?
You are on your own once you get your  wings.

Why does the sun set?
After a sunny day comes the night .Both are part of life.

Why did you make trees?
To make you understand what unconditional love means.

Why did you give us earthquakes?
To tell you that burden is not a good things.It bursts out if the pressure is more.

Why does flute make such  a sound.
Music is around us  .We  are yet to notice it.

Why did you give me illness?
You are a machine which needs oiling  time to time .

Why did you give me anger.
To fight injustice.

Why did you make of this colour.
To make this world even more colourful

Why did you make religion.
I did not make it.

What is the difference between right and wrong?
Right has a conscience and wrong doesn't know what it means.

Why can't I see you?
You can't see the air and yet you are alive because of it. I am the invisible faith which  makes you alive with hope.

Why you take away my loved ones?
Birth and Death is part of cycle.Everybody must go through their turn.

What gift is the best gift you gave me.
The ability to forget and fogive.

How to be always happy?
Just live and let live.

What will happen in my future?
What you do now lays foundation for your future.

Thank you God.

Monday, February 11, 2013

TV then and now!

I belong to the late seventies generation  ,so when we were growing up  Doordarshan was the only channel and our curiosity for animation was satisfied by mickey mouse cartoons every Sunday.That's it. Later on when we grew up  , we loved Buniyaad /hum log/Kachi dhoop/hum chaar/karamchand .of course Vikram Betal was eagerly awaited as well :).Ok I am becoming too nostalgic.But I have heard  many tell me this , that those TV days were the real days.It was all quality .There were just thirteen episodes and yet what an impression they have left on us.  The characters are still in our hearts.  Karamchand and his carrot,Betal's silver hair ,  Ramayan, Mahabharath   ,can anybody forget them?  Does anybody remember afternoon transmission?  and of course our own dose of bollywood through "Chitrahaar SadaaBahaar"  and Sunday morning's "Rangoli". The list goes on and on...

Why are they still in our hearts? Its probably due to the little/measured doses of variety every week  which only made us ask for more. It was so precious for us.  But that is only one end. The TV shows in itself were of such high quality in terms of creativity,casting etc (I am not referring to the transmission quality(remember "rukavat ke liye khed hai?")) . The script was so strong and bound that it stood above everything else. Be it Buniyaad,Premchand's stories or Ek Kahaani(based on stories from all over the world like O.Henry etc) .  The respect for the programme grew automatically just by the script of the show. Also the best of Indian talent had only this channel to showcase their talent which kind of made sure that the cream of India was showcased to the spectators.  One more important factor was the monitory value for the show.Because the competition was almost nil ,there was no fear of losing out any money. 

But alas! the advent of cable TV changed all that. Zee TV,Start Plus entered the market.They started making their own shows.The talent got divided. The marketing strategies became more business like . More the TRP ,more the profit. Let creativity go to hell. Audience loves romance? Then just give them romance every minute even if the scene doesn't require it.  That was the state. And of course ,the entrance of Ekta Kapoor changed the whole scene all over again.The trend she started in late nineties is still continuing till date. Mediocrity has creep-ed into all the shows with no room for any novelty. And who can forget reality shows. I have no idea why we all love people shouting at each other openly on TV.They are crying,rolling in mud,abusing each other ,stealing girlfriends, tearing each other apart.And audience is loving it.

God please give me the eighties television. I wish somebody sets up a channel which will have only re-runs of the oldies and I am sure many like will watch it. What say guys?

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Epiphany yet to come

Have you every come across a stage when you have thought ,"God what am I doing?" or "What should I do ?"  .I am sure many have. I am at that stage right now. When I was young ,I knew that I need to study hard if I have to do something in life.Yes that was the primary goal. And with the education I automatically acquired other  basic skills (respecting another human being,being polite to others etc) .But primary aim was still to become some entity in life (to get a job ,earn money).I was able to reach the goal to a maximum extent. And then something happened. My child was born.Life took a 180 degree turn.My mind and heart told me only one thing ."Be there for your child" ,"Make sure you are with him while he learns to crawl,walk ,run,giggle " .And I listened to my heart.I became a stay-at-home ,no sorry..I became a MOM in total(home or no home don't matter I guess). And the journey has been nothing less than fruitful. The initial hurdles were tough(mentally   and physically owing to surge hormones !!) but  once your child grows into a boy who is asking questions ,answering questions,talking sense, being naughty in a cute way ,giving you back the love which was one way few months back ,you know that what you did for him is actually worth it.

Now your child has graduated to school.He has expanded his horizon.He has more people to interact with .He has realized that world is not just you. It has friends,teachers ,security uncles,driver uncles ,vegetable vendors, ayahs :). Then comes the free time! You think ok I have to something now.But the question is what. In the  4 years of my home time I have realized one thing that I do not want to go back to my old job.I have realized that I am more attracted towards literature and writing.But what field do I choose to fulfill it?  Sometimes my heart tells me to turn into a philanthropist  because the world is not as cozy as it looks.There are people who are still struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes my heart tells me to become a teacher ,a noble profession indeed.Sometimes to write stories . Sometimes to  make jewelry which I have taken up as a hobby. I am still confused.I know I need to do something  ,but what? Something which satisfies me and yet doesn't make me feel tied. I am still waiting for that revelation to come to me. My epiphany is yet to come. Till then I will wait. :)

Wish me luck.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Why I love Jane Austen

Jane Austen is loved by many today. She is my personal favorite as well.She got her share of fame a bit late but imagine people loving her even today ! She is still able to sell copies of her books without the help of anybody :) even today. There must be something about her way of writing which attracts people. The reason why I love her are  many .
Firstly ,she understands different set of people. She has characters who are vain ,who are proud,who are kind , who are conservative  and many more. Her research in characters is pretty detailed. And she never actually points our the real character of the person .But she unfolds it via the character's speech. Just by the  vulgar enthusiasm of Mrs Bennett we know how eager she is to get her daughter's married off to RICH men. She is the trapping kind and will even make her daughter fall sick so that she is in company of Mr.Bingley! How cruel!  Mr.Collins,Mary everybody have a different character which can only amuse the reader even more! But what we must appreciate is the way she gather these characters into one single enclosure and creates an array which keep interacting with each other to make the final picutue.I am sure everybody will agree with me here.  Even smaller characters like Mr Hurst  and Lady Catherine's daughter Anne  add to this picture and complete it.
She was the original Mills and Boon writer! Everything has changed in today's world but human nature has remained the same. Girls still want romance and of course men are still unexpressive except in actions :). How Jane Austen has captured that ! When  Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) silently broods but yet his every glance watch Anne  ,we are almost drooling :). The feelings of jealousy , love ,indifference  add upto the masala  of romance  and readers wont complain. But what class ! A glance here  ,a look there ,a dance are enough to set the hearts to race.Say hello to our first harlequin writer!

That was about romance but her effective use of language is where she scores a point above the rest. The language flows and a sentence running into two -three lines will feel like one(unlike others). When I was very young ,I found it hard to assimilate some of the words. When she wrote "ablution" and learnt it meant washing up ,I was like "wow". But now when I read them I realise that she made a perfect choice of words .The words sort of complete her thoughts so well and send it across to the reader in a effective way.

And her way describing places  and things is definitely eye-catching. When she described Pemberly (Pride and...) ,you imagined it to be a beuatiful scenic palace and thats what it turned out to be in the movie as well. The way she describes Derbyshire moors or the moors at the cottage in Sense and Sensibilty  makes you feel you have visited England ! And of course her favourite place ,Bath. Bath has featured many times in her books and it shows that it has influenced her in a strong way.

There are many more but I would say pick up the book yourself and experience Austen !

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What I learnt from my child.

When your child is born ,you are awestruck in the begining and then slowly the daily routine of wiping,cleaning,feeding ,making them sleep gets you and we stop watching our own child .We stop to observe how nature is unfolding itself before you in the form of your child. And in small ways your child is teaching you small things which make up the essence of the universe.
When your child cries for  three things  i.e hunger,sleep or ill-health he is telling us that these are the basic things we need at any point of time irrespective of our status.Take care of these three things.
When your child smiles as the first form of communication he is teaching us the easiest and the simplest way to communicate with any human being in this world.Just smile!
When your child learns to say his own code words/signs for letting us know what he feels like or what he wants he is telling us the importance of language in our lives.
When he  cries that he wouldn't go to school leaving his lovely home and his set of people and yet has a ball of his time in school once he actually goes there, he is telling us that every body is averse to change BUT it is possible to adapt to the change if we try.
When your child is able to sleep to a lullaby (don't know how!) you realize music is a beautiful instrument to solve problems!
When your child insists on having the a toy and refuses to accept any other alternative is actually showing  the individuality as a trait with which every human being is endowed.
When he loves you no matter how much you rebuke him or scold him  he is showing us what unconditional love is all about.
When he runs and falls and yet springs back to run again  shows us that failure is stepping stone of success indeed.
When he describes people by their dress colour  and not by their religion/caste/skin colour he is showing us the innocent eyes of a human being before these divisions happened.
There are countless more!  Let's observe our children and learn something from them everyday.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mills and Boon  and girls

I always wondered on why many girls love mills and boons when we know that nothing can be far from the truth.  Ok  if we pick a mills and boon now  these are definitely going to be in it ,contradict me if I am wrong!

First -The guy is definitely a rich man. When I say rich it is filthy rich!He has his own helipad on top of his house and yep he owns a set of islands as well not to forget a hotel in each of the country he visits and so has his own private suite! and nope these are not inheritances!Our guy has singlehandedly built this empire right from scratch. And guess what, he is just thirty now!.Wow .What a man sorry what a superman!!

Second-Now lets take the girl. The girl is definitely young, around 20 and has red hair ,auburn hair with unbelievable shades..not to forget her eyes which are usually blue,green and even grey.Black and brown is emitted.Thats too common! Of course her waist one span and her stomach is as flat as the surface of tiled floor. And legs.....which go on and on! Did I forget her docile nature which easily yields to every demand of the guy starting from marriage to giving and  heir!Yep you heard it right! :).

Third - Now we all love exotic places dont we? Greece,Italy,Spain sound fantastic.Yes they sound fantastic on paper full of passion.If our belongs to one of these countries it will surely fuel the passion between the guy and the girl.So just set the whole  scene in these countries and voila  we have a passionate story in hand.But remember the guy should belong to these coubtries not the girl.A English guy and a spanish girl? Nah doesn't sound that passionate. A English girl and a Greek hunk? Yep that sounds perfect!

Yea so go ahead and start writing your own and make sure you add all the three.. not to forget right doses of intimate scenes :)


Monday, January 21, 2013

The sonnets are almost all constructed from three four-line stanzas (called quatrains) and a final couplet composed in iambic pentameter (a meter used extensively in Shakespeare's plays) with the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg (this form is now known as the Shakespearean sonnet).The beginning of the third quatrain usually shifts in mood either a revelation or epiphany.Shakespeare wrote a total of 154 sonnets at the zenith of sonnet hysteria in England.

Theme of his sonnets
It is very clear that most of his sonnets are addressed to a young man whose charm, generosity and beauty are praised to heights. It is believed that the young man is most probably the Earl of Southampton. A total of 126 sonnets are addressed to this man and the rest of 26 are to a woman, referred to a Dark Lady, .The lady is suspected to be Mary Fitton .It is believed that there were some misunderstandings between the three and Shakespeare showed his displeasure through his sonnets during that phase. Most of the sonnets speak of love in general and explore subjects of misunderstandings, disappointment, betrayal etc.

Use of imagery
The lyrical quality of Shakespearean sonnets is maintained but the use of imager y is far from conventional. The images used indicate complex, emotional and intellectual feelings. Abstract images, concrete images like nature and human life are used abundantly. The imagery is either simile or a metaphor. There are many images he has used be it litreral, perceptual, visual, tactile, auditory (sound) or even images pertaining to taste.

Shakespeare's sonnet number 33
The sonnet number 33 is an important sonnet in terms of Shakespeare’s relationship with his male friend .The sonnet marks the misunderstanding between the two and Shakespeare’s unhappiness over it. Here is the   text of the sonnet:
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth

Paraphrasing of it :
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,

Shakespeare states that he has witnessed glorious mornings with sun(sovereign eye) kissing the mountain tops and lending it beauty and dignity .Likewise Sun(his friend)  has showered his full glory and kindness on him lending him beauty and love.
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
But the sun sometimes gets hidden by the ugly clouds which mask his face and hide it from us and sometimes the celestial sun sets in the west without us even noticing it.

Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now.

Even Shakespeare’s sun (his friend) who once shone on him with kindness is now hidden by the ugly clouds of misunderstandings .Shakespeare is very sad about it .
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth
But Shakespeare has no disdain towards his friend. Because he feels that when  the celestial sun  itself can be hidden by the ugly clouds  how can the earthly sun(his friend) escape such a fate. Shakespeare comes to term with it in a poignant way.

Books and children
''Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.'' (John Ruskin,Sesame and Lillies(1865)). What Ruskin told us  some 150 years back is still valid.Don't you think? How many of us feel so proud and happy that such and such book has made so much of  an impression that it is etched into our souls. A school textbook,an article from a magazine,an Enid Blyton's story , a Jane Austen's novel  or even a grandma's lullaby ,anything that has taught us something ,taught us to understand the  intricacies of life.We all understand the value of books don;t we? We all know how it contributed to our growth as a person. But before I move on further ,I want to make sure I convey this message that when I talk about books adding value to our lives   the value is to our soul alone  and nothing monetory.

What makes me feel sad today is that books have taken a backbench in a child's life.The advent of technology has eased our life no doubt but it has robbed us of our books. Tablet games, Playstations are fun but how much value can they add in the long run? Children see gadgets as a toy rather than a learning tool , which is very natural considering their maturity level.A book is not that complicated.A book is a book. The child needs a real book with real pages.The joy of doing naughty things like Dennis ,to fly on a carpet like Alddin,to see  beautiful Snow White , or to listen to Pied Piper's addictive music .Has your child experienced all these?We have ,when we were children. I remember taking so many book from the library during the summer holidays and literally devouring them.
So what can a book do to a child anyway. Ok I am no expert in children psycholgy but I feel a book will add dash of imagination to a child's mind.He/she will be able visulaise what the author writes in the book and enter the magical world of the book.This also helps them understand what's real and what's not. Reading a story to the child from a book and making him co-relate the pictures and words is a fruitful exercise. The child understands words in pictures. What a fantastic teaching that is .Today the same concept is used in presentations, White Papers etc. A picture is worth a thousand words indeed!. The books meant for learning to read definitely help the child to start reading earlier.The Encyclopaedias are a life-long treasure for a child. They can easily match what they see in real life to the book. How about newspapers? The science and technology section and children's sections are worth a shot.

But can the child do all this alone? NO. He needs our help. The parents and guardians around the child should make time for reading books . We need to sit with the child and first assure him that we are also part of the wonderful book reading journey. Once the child is secure he will pay attention to us. When this becomes a habit the child automatically will read and show interest towards reading.Buy a book as a gift to the child. Toys are good but books are good too. They are the best gift we can give to a child. Put in a effort to select a book by the age group and what may add value to the child in future. Read bedtime stories to the child.The activity not only strengthens parent child relationship but also makes a place in the child's heart .Read-aloud books are fantastic in terms of their simplicity and age -appropriateness. There are many libraries  today which deliver book at doorstep. Browse a book for your child and get it delivered.The child will love it when a book comes all the way to him ! It will rouse his interest.Try it!

Sometimes parents tend to feel they maybe burdening the child if they introduce the child to books which may seem high level.But don't let this deter you.Every piece of information is worth sharing with your child.Nothing is too difficult or small for him.The child sees the information as information only.His  virtue of judgement is still raw hence the child absorbs whatever information we give him in its original form without attaching anything too it. A sample of this is ,my son could tell all planet's name and even their moons at the age of three. And boy how he enjoyed the journey of "space".The book which made him learn all this was a "3D planet book". He still loves it.

So go ahead and grab a book and let your child enter the world of "bookdom" and  watch how it can add value to his life.A stepping stone in his life!All the best.