Mere Desh Ki Dharti – II

After having gone through Anavish’s anavashyam, let us talk about good times. Let us reminisce about the wonderful pumpkin-sambars, or the mellifluous stuffed brinjal or the alluring bhindis, or even the world’s best carrot halwa, payasam and appam! Oh yes, my mother is a wonderful cook, who gets into her groove once a year when her favorite son (it helps that I am the only one, that automatically makes me the favorite) visits her. What can I say about the excellent coffees or the relaxing head massages that I commanded with a slightly raised call — “Amma”. How do I chronicle the shameful way I manipulated my parents into massaging oil into my head for over 20 minutes, by often referring to the fact that I shall be gone soon? Can one actually express in words the joy at being with family, especially when one is treated like a King? Oh, things were not always like this, leaving home and staying in a phoren country helps a LOT! Parents think that you are constantly underfed and have no way of securing any sort of comfort, especially if you are like me and are not a big fan of communicating! Well, the wonderful relaxation aside, I managed to get many tranquil hours of reading — super yay! Apart from devouring The Economist (excellent mag I must say) and Time, every week I visited a bookstore — Landmark — thrice, leading to incredible amount of purchases. You see, put me in front of books and I am like a child in a candy-store. I want everything that I see! I had to exercise tremendous self-control and I ended up with only about 20-odd books! 😉 Add to that list some books that I had taken with me from the US, some that I found in my Mumbai flat and some that I had bought off the street and I was in book-paradise.

Summarizing everything I read is going to take a long time, and truthfully, I am not even sure I remember all the books that I read, so let me do a quick round up.

I managed to read Grisham’s Ford Country Stories and The Confession — both are ok, the former Grisham’s first foray into short story writing. I think Grisham lost his mojo after The Painted House. He is still very readable, but I am left underwhelmed after I read him, quite unlike before.

I also read DickensOliver Twist — what a wonderful piece of literature. I have to admit, I am falling in love with Dickens,and my reading shelf has three more works from his stables!

Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things is a wonderful piece of literature; as I have always maintained, this female can write. Her command over the English language is comparable to very few. Although beautiful for the language, the book as such was pretty average — if only she had devoted more time in developing her characters, instead of describing Kerala with so much detail, things would have been different. On a side note, if this book won the Booker Prize, I am totally at a loss to justify Adiga’s White Tiger winning it at a later date!

Chetan Bhagat surprised me with The Three Mistakes of My Life, I was expecting a poor book, based on reviews, but this one was markedly better than the debacle at the call center. With this, I complete everything that Bhagat has written! Yay!

I also managed to read Karan Bajaj’s Johnny Gone Down, his second novel — in one night! I must say, HarperCollins selling this book at 99 bucks is a superb idea. If you can do it with this book, why not with all others — it will end piracy once and for all! The book itself is ok, though remarkable for the story. Bajaj’s imagination is something I appreciate, and according to my mother, his writing style is similar to mine…hmmm.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald followed, and this thin book was ok. Nothing out of the world to justify its presence on top 100 books of all time; apparently, there is a deeper secondary meaning in the story — one that I could see, but could not appreciate as much.

I devoured my gift, Stephen King’s Duma Key — this was vintage King. The story was fast paced — I managed 100 pages in a 2 hour train ride, where I slept for an hour!, and had a cohesiveness that he lacks sometimes. Justifies my fascination with King.

The best discovery on this trip, was Saki. I just picked up his Complete Short Stories on a whim — I had heard of him, but was seriously over-budget that day, and my acquiescing mother (who would prefer if I spent the same money on clothes) did not begrudge me this wonderful piece of literature. Saki has Wodehousian humor, and similar settings (though his societies are supposed to be Edwardian or something, I could not care less), and is a master of the shorter tales. I thought Roald Dahl was good, but this guy is a genius (yes, O. Henry ranks up there too). His stories are ridiculously funny and are a wonderful look at the frivolity of human existence. Oh Saki, I love thee!

 

I bought a couple of other books which owing to my “going overboard” could not be brought back — Srimad Bhagvatham (whose first 100 pages I read, pretty sweet), and the Mahabharata, both by Kamala Subramaniam. These gargantuan books will probably slowly find their way to my now-completely-full book shelf. Oh, and my miserable craving mind is urging me to get the works of William Trevor — mind, let us first read what we have — that will surely take months, given that I am back in the US and my laptop-loving habits have kicked in!

So, happy times, good food, great company, wonderful reading (I think I missed a couple), relaxation — pure bliss! What else could a man ask for? Oh, yes, I also managed to catch all the matches in the India vs. South Africa series and managed to watch many of my favorite singing competitions! Also, many many many movies, including Tamizh (Manmadan Ambu was disappointing, VA Quarter Cutting enjoyable, New was perverted)! Now I am back to the drudgery of independent life….I am so happy (read the sarcasm)!

Anush

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