Sunday, September 27, 2015

Us - David Nicholls

Every individual on this planet has a unique approach towards life...Most of the times they clash when two people from entirely different perspectives on life live together under the same roof...The marriage of the wild and crazy artist Connie and the very ordinary and stable scientist Douglas is a complete mismatch though they fall in love with each other following the universal law,'The opposites attract'..But could love be the only ingredient required for a successful marriage ?..No,right ?..There are so many other factors that influence a relationship..Here at this very point,starts the story of Douglas and Connie and their only son Albie(or Egg-his nickname),the 'Us' family..

Image courtesy Google
'Us' was written by David Nicholls,followed by his most popular work 'One Day'..Its is the story of Douglas Petersen who tries to save his drowning relationships with his wife and seventeen year old son..Douglas narrates the story to us..To rekindle the love and affection in their relationship they  plan a grand tour to Europe..Douglas feels that he could be able to convince Connie and eventually everything would fall into place by the end of this trip..But whether it happen the way he wish it to be  is the remaining part of the story...'Us' is all about relationships and life perspectives..Also there are some wonderful psychological illustrations..No doubt the writer is a master storyteller with wonderful flow of narration but reading travelogues is a kinda boring for me..I couldn't enjoy them much,for I believe in only experiencing them..Otherwise,readers who can enjoy reading about places would find some wonderful descriptions about Amsterdam night life,Venice streets and Barcelona beaches etc..When it comes to Douglas-Connie's and Douglas-Albie's relationships the author maintained a decent composure through out the novel while judging characters..It's hard for the readers to take sides because everyone appears right on their own way..However we feel a little more concerned about Douglas who is although very caring and loving person but lacks creative and intellectual streak like Connie and Albie..But is love is all about PDAs and creative kinda expression in this typical age of technology ? Still thinking....

Pages :412

Here I'm sharing few favourite lines from the book,

I had always been led to believe that ageing was a slow and gradual process, the creep of a glacier. Now I realise that it happens in a rush, like snow falling off a roof.

It is not necessary to be seen to be right about everything, even when that is the case.

Soon I found myself sitting between two actors on drugs, a position that, a number of peer-reviewed research papers have since confirmed, is precisely the worst place a biochemist can be.

I don’t really think it’s my “scene”, Karen.’

Emotional intelligence, the perfect oxymoron! 

It seemed the tendency to wilfully misinterpret jokes was contagious.

Don’t you see?’ said Connie, hurling cutlery at the drawer. ‘Even if it’s hard, he has to try! If he loves it, we have to let him try. Why must you always have to stomp on his dreams?
I’ve got nothing against his dreams as long as they’re attainable.’ 
‘But if they’re attainable then they’re not dreams!
And that’s why it’s a waste of time!’ I said. ‘The problem with telling people that they can do anything they want to do is that it is objectively, factually inaccurate. Otherwise the whole world would just be ballet dancers and pop stars.

When did it start, Douglas?’ she said, her voice low. ‘When did you start to drain the passion out of everything.

After nearly a quarter of a century, the questions about our distant pasts have all been posed and we’re left with ‘how was your day?’ and ‘when will you be home?’ and ‘have you put the bins out?’ Our biographies involve each other so intrinsically now that we’re both on nearly every page. We know the answers because we were there, and so curiosity becomes hard to maintain; replaced, I suppose, by nostalgia.

There’s a saying, cited in popular song, that if you love someone you must set them free. Well, that’s just nonsense. If you love someone, you bind them to you with heavy metal chains.

Weddings turn the bride and groom into performers.

Was it the happiest day of our lives? Probably not, if only because the truly happy days tend not to involve so much organisation, are rarely so public or so expensive. The happy ones sneak up, unexpected.

Well I can tell you now that married life is not a plateau, not at all. There are ravines and great jagged peaks and hidden crevasses that send the both of you scrabbling into darkness. Then there are dull, parched stretches that you feel will never end, and much of the journey is in fraught silence, and sometimes you can’t see the other person at all, sometimes they drift off very far away from you, quite out of sight, and the journey is hard. It is just very, very, very hard.

Grief is as much about regret for what you’ve never had as sadness for what you’ve lost.

Humans, I mean. It feels too much like a test, like surviving in the wilderness. It’s a good experience to have, one is pleased to have succeeded, but it’s still not the best. I miss company.

But perhaps it’s a delusion for each generation to think that they know better than their parents. If this were true, then parental wisdom would increase with time like the processing power of computer chips, refining over generations, and we’d now be living in some utopia of openness and understanding.

The great virtue of defeat, once accepted, is that it at least allows one to rest.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Solitude speaks

Image courtesy Google
A says, You can not live like this..This is not a free world..After all you are part of this society.
B says,Yes I'm...I'm not a Zombie to live alone..

A says,But you've never been part of our society..
B says, What do you mean by "being part of society" ? Allowing the society to have control over me ?? on my thoughts ? my life ?

A says,Not control but ,you don't mingle with people easily..They say you are egoistic..
B says,No I do..Perhaps they are not in my crowd..I'm a bit choosy..And whosoever branded me as an egoistic person must have attempted several times to get control over me and failed..

A says,You must find happiness in people's company..
B says,I'm happy by myself...If I'm not self sufficient then only I need someone else to complete me..

A says,You better go and live in Himalayas then.
B says,To live a life one wishes to live,one need not renounce the society..I'd love to explore this world as much as you'd love to do so..

A says,then why don't you try to mingle with those crowds.
B says,that's because I feel sad and uncomfortable among crowds..

A says,You are selfish then...
B says,No................................................Well then,Yes.......If you say so because I'm,a small atom of this universe,trying to live my tiny life on my terms...but not up to your expectations..

Monday, August 24, 2015

You are not so smart - David McRaney

After a long long time,I'm back here with my new reading experience..However,I'm tired of spilling my silly opinions on various topics and rigid preconceived notions and pseudo intellectual blabberings everywhere..Somehow,I got terribly bored with the verbal expressions of every damn experience..I know I know I've started again...:P

Let me come to the point..I recently finished reading "You are not so smart" by David McRaney..This comes under nonfiction category,Yeah,after a long time I picked a book from this genre..No story to tell you here,but I would like to share few interesting lines from the book..Though I enjoyed the read,I skipped some experimental parts related to psychology..Here are few of my favourite lines from the book..Don't forget to read the last paragraph on conformity.

Image courtesy Google

THE MISCONCEPTION: You are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is.
THE TRUTH: You are as deluded as the rest of us, but that’s OK, it keeps you sane.

You are naturally hindered into thinking in certain ways and not others, and the world around you is the product of dealing with these biases, not overcoming them.

You are a story you tell yourself. You engage in introspection, and with great confidence you see the history of your life with all the characters and settings—and you at the center as protagonist in the tale of who you are. This is all a great, beautiful confabulation without which you could not function.

THE MISCONCEPTION: You know when you are being influenced and how it is affecting your behavior.
THE TRUTH: You are unaware of the constant nudging you receive from
ideas formed in your unconscious mind.

THE MISCONCEPTION: You know when you are lying to yourself.
THE TRUTH: You are often ignorant of your motivations and create fictional narratives to explain your decisions, emotions, and history without realizing it.

You want to be right about how you see the world, so you seek out information
that confirms your beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.people weren’t buying books for the information, they were buying them for the confirmation. (Some time back,I said the same lines while talking about my reading habits..:P)

Over time, by never seeking the antithetical, through accumulating subscriptions to magazines, stacks of books, and hours of television, you can become so confident in your worldview that no one can dissuade you. Remember, there’s always someone out there willing to sell eyeballs to advertisers by offering a guaranteed audience of people looking for validation. Ask yourself if you are in that audience. In science, you move closer to the truth by seeking evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the same method should inform your opinions as well.

THE MISCONCEPTION: After you learn something new, you remember how you were once ignorant or wrong.
THE TRUTH: You often look back on the things you’ve just learned and assume you knew them or believed them all along.

Charles Darwin said it best: “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does
knowledge.” Whether it’s playing guitar or writing short stories or telling jokes or taking photos—whatever—amateurs are far more likely to think they are experts than actual experts are.

THE MISCONCEPTION: You are more concerned with the validity of information than the person delivering it.
THE TRUTH: The status and credentials of an individual greatly influence your perception of that individual’s message.

When you see the opinions of some people as better than others on the merit of their status or training alone, you are arguing from authority.

THE MISCONCEPTION: If you can’t trust someone, you should ignore that person’s claims.
THE TRUTH: What someone says and why they say it should be judged

THE MISCONCEPTION: People who are losing at the game of life must have done something to deserve it.
THE TRUTH: The beneficiaries of good fortune often do nothing to earn it, and bad people often get away with their actions without consequences.

On fashion and consumerism,
Wait long enough, and what was once mainstream will fall into obscurity. When that happens, it will become valuable again to those looking for authenticity or irony or cleverness. The value, then, is not intrinsic. The thing itself doesn’t have as much value as the perception of how it was obtained or why it is possessed. Once enough people join in, like with oversized glasses frames or slap bracelets, the status gained from owning the item or being a fan of the band is lost, and the search begins again.You would compete like this no matter how society was constructed. Competition for status is built into the human experience at the biological level. Poor people compete with resources. The middle class competes with selection. The wealthy compete with possessions.You sold out long ago in one way or another. The specifics of who you sell to and how much you make—those are only details.

A wonderful description about conformity,
Most people, especially those in Western cultures, like to see themselves as individuals, as people who march to a different beat. You are probably the same sort of person. You value your individuality and see yourself as a nonconformist with unique taste, but ask yourself: How far does this nonconformity go? Do you live in an igloo made of boar tusks in the Arizona desert while refusing to drink the public water supply? Do you speak a language you and your sister created as children and lick strangers on the face during the closing credits of dollar-theater matinees? When other people applaud, do you clap your feet together and boo? To truly refuse to conform to the norms of your culture and the laws of the land would be a daunting exercise in futility. You may not agree with the zeitgeist, but you know conformity is part of the game of life.Chances are, you pick your battles and let a lot of things slide. If you travel to a foreign country, you look to
others as guides on how to behave. When you visit someone else’s home, you do as that person does. In a college classroom you sit quietly and take notes. If you join a gym or start a new job, the first thing you do is look for clues as to how to behave. You shave your legs or your face. You wear deodorant. You conform. As psychologist Noam Shpancer explains on his blog, “We are often not even aware when we are conforming. It is our home base, our default mode.” Shpancer says you conform because social acceptance is built into your brain. To thrive, you know you need allies. You get a better picture of the world when you can receive information from multiple sources. You need friends because outcasts are cut off from valuable resources. So when you are around others, you look for cues as to how to behave, and you use the information offered by your peers to make better decisions. When everyone you know tells you about an awesome app for your phone or a book you should read, it sways you. If all of your friends tell you to avoid a certain part of town or a brand of cheese, you take their advice. Conformity is a survival mechanism.

The world outside your head and the world inside it are not identical. The information flowing into consciousness from your senses is not only limited by your attention, but also edited before it arrives. Once there, it mixes like paint with all the other thoughts and perceptions swirling inside your cranium. The way you feel, the culture you grew up in, the task at hand, the chaos of technology and society—it all creates a granular, busy visual world. Only a slice of it arrives in your mind. Despite this, the great circus of human activity and invention goes on. You choose what to see more than you realize, and then you form beliefs without taking into account your selective vision. You can’t do much about it other than to choose wisely when it is important. Don’t put faith in your senses when you wear a hands-free headset in the car or lose yourself in a book in a public place. The unexpected isn’t guaranteed to jar you out of your daydream.

THE MISCONCEPTION: You are one person, and your happiness is based
on being content with your life.
THE TRUTH: You are multiple selves, and happiness is based on satisfying
all of them.

Happy reading friends..:)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Gokarna - Karnataka

Gokarna means Cow's ear..It is one of the foremost holy places in India..The main temple's deity is Lord Siva who is worshiped as Gokarneshwara or Mahabaleswara..It is not only a temple town but also a holiday destination..The place looked fabulous with streets having shops on both sides and traditional brick houses..There are several beaches here and also as this place is nearby Goa,we saw many foreigners passing through the streets.
Here are few pics taken during our visit to the temple,

The entrance of the temple,
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Chariot in temple premises...
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
The flowers for worshiping
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
A stall of Puja articles..
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Loved the colourful embroidered umbrellas..
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
A shopkeeper making drums,A very happy person he is..:)
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia

Kollur - Mookambika temple - Karnataka

Kollur Mookambika temple also known as 'Shri Kshetram' is situated in the Udupi Disctrict of Karnataka..We started after lunch from Sringeri,nearly at 1.45 pm and reached Kollur at 4.30 pm..On the way there is a beautiful sunset point in the rain forest..Here are few pics taken while our visit to the temple.
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia
Copyright A Homemaker's Utopia

Sunday, May 24, 2015

An artist of the floating world - Kazuo Ishiguro

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers
'An artist of the floating world' is written by Kazuo Ishiguro who was born in Nagasaki moved to England when he was five..This work has won Whitbread Prize..The story was set in Japan,a couple of years after world war II..It is the story of a retired famous artist  Masuji Ono..The novel is narrated by Ono himself where he describes about the conditions of Japan before and after war..With his wife and son killed in the war,he lives with his younger daughter Noriko..The elder daugher Setsuko was already married and she has a son named Ichiro and Noriko was yet to get married..Ono feels Noriko's engagement was cancelled as the boy's party were concerned about his past..He constantly sees himself responsible for the war in some way and feels guilty that war made things difficult for Noriko..Also after war,the youth was not happy with the elders's choice of adopting imperialism..However people like Ono were very proud of their choices when they were young..Thus,Ono not only struggles to cope with the changing cultural patterns of society but also suffers from guilt.

Image Courtesy Google
 The story moves further when Ono narrates his youth as a student at Mori-san..When he was young, Ono chooses imperialism is the best option for his nation,and he uses his art as a medium to provoke people against politicians..Eventually he becomes an outcast when his teacher Mori-san sends him out of his art school for being disloyal to the society..At one point Ono says,'I cannot be an artist of the floating world'..But after Japan lost in the war,the war damage questions his very life choices..The tremendous social and cultural changes of his city makes him feel like his choices were wrong in the past..But in the end,he accepts all his mistakes from his past achievements with out regrets.

I want to start reading Ishiguro with his most acclaimed Booker Prize winning work,'The Remains of the Day'..But somehow the appealing title of this book made me read it first..It's very fitting title for the story..So far I did not know about his other works but this one book,I particularly loved it very much..With his wonderful pace of narration you'll certainly have the experience of 'floating world' in Ono's story..The repercussions of adopting imperialism in Japan were very well depicted in the novel..The story appears to be very slow but at the end you feel like you heard a lot while very little had been told..The best part about the book is Ono's reminiscences.

Here are few lines from the book,

One evening not so long ago, I was standing on that little wooden bridge and saw away in the distance two columns of smoke rising from the rubble. Perhaps it was government workers continuing some interminably slow programme; or perhaps children indulging in some delinquent game. But the sight of those columns against the sky put me in a melancholy mood. They were like pyres at some abandoned funeral. A graveyard, Mrs Kawakami says, and when one remembers all those people who once frequented the area, one cannot help seeing it that way.

Having said this, I must say I find it hard to understand how any man who values his self-respect would wish for long to avoid responsibility for his past deeds; it may not always be in easy thing, but there is certainly a satisfaction and dignity to be gained in coming to terms with the mistakes one has made in the course of one’s life. In any case, there is surely no great shame in mistakes made in the best of faith. It is surely a thing far more shameful to be unable or unwilling to acknowledge them.

Kazuo Ishiguro-Courtesy Google
I liked these things very much...Mori-san's words to Ono..
Gisaburo is an unhappy man. He’s had a sad life. His talent has gone to ruin. Those he once loved have long since died or deserted him. Even in our younger days, he was already a lonely, sad character.’ Mori-san paused a moment. Then he went on: ‘But then sometimes we used to drink and enjoy ourselves with the women of the pleasure quarters, and Gisaburo would become happy. Those women would tell him all the things he wanted to hear, and for the night anyway, he’d be able to believe them. Once the morning came, of course, he was too intelligent a man to go on believing such things. But Gisaburo didn’t value those nights any the less for that. The best things, he always used to say, are put together of a night and vanish with the morning. What people call the floating world, Ono, was a world Gisaburo knew how to value.

It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of a world when one doubts its very validity.

It is not, I fancy, a feeling many people will come to experience. The likes of the Tortoise — the likes of Shintaro — they may plod on, competent and inoffensive, but their kind will never know the sort of happiness I felt that day. For their kind do not know what it is to risk everything in the endeavour to rise above the mediocre.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Fall - Albert Camus

Seems it's philosophy season for me..It's Camus work again..Albeit I made several attempts to stay away,I would easily drawn to this without much effort...Lately I was introduced to the concept of absurd philosophy by Hesse's Steppenwolf..Just a strange coincidence,I found a lot of similarities between these two concepts of Existentialism..Must say a timely read for me..In fact these kind of  reads take a huge toll on me..After finishing one such book,I could't make myself read any sort of lighter tone work for some time,perhaps it's due to lack of emphasis..Is it a sort of obsession ?..Or 'Crisis',might be the precise word !!! After staying in Hesse's world for a little while,I dared to read Camus thinking that perhaps I might understand this man now..But do I ? Let me be honest..Not yet fully..It's not a beautiful tale or surface work to be crystal clear..It is all about a person's most honest and profound thoughts which you anyway compare with your's through out reading..So in the end,the feel of inadequacy strikes you for sure..Cause it's very difficult to come to easy conclusions when it's all about mind game.
Image courtesy Google
Sorry I was off the path..However,attempting to analyze a Camus work is nothing but sheer audacity..All you could do is 'just read'...'The Fall' is Camus's second novel for me after 'The Stranger'..I picked this book some time back but at that time it was beyond my grasp..So,I gave a second read now..Though,I must admit that I struggled at some parts to understand him..I read some sentences twice and thrice..But it's worth reading..Here you'll meet Jean Baptiste Clamence,a lawyer by profession,in a bar called 'Mexico City',in Amsterdam..He calls himself as a 'Judge-Penitent'..Eventually he'll let you know what it is meant for..The narration was in the first person..While reading it appears like it's Clamence's confession  but slowly he includes you in his deep analysis and asks you to put your feet in his shoes..Some wonderful arguments were made on morality,judgments,religion,power,connections and relations...Certainly it is one of the few books that will stretch your nerves..Finally it's a highly recommended and a must read work on 'Existentialism'..

Albert Camus - Image courtesy Google
Here I'm quoting few favourite lines from the book,

Haven’t you noticed that our society is organized for this kind of liquidation? You have heard, of course, of those tiny fish in the rivers of Brazil that attack the unwary swimmer by thousands and with swift little nibbles clean him up in a few minutes, leaving only an immaculate skeleton? Well, that’s what their organization is. “Do you want a good clean life? Like everybody else?” You say yes, of course. How can one say no? “O.K. You’ll be cleaned up. Here’s a job, a family, and organized leisure activities.” And the little teeth attack the flesh, right down to the bone.
But I am unjust. I shouldn’t say their organization. It is ours, after all: it’s a question of which will clean up the other.

I was at ease in everything, to be sure, but at the same time satisfied with nothing.

It seemed to me that I was half unlearning what I had never learned and yet knew so well — how to live. Yes, I think it was probably then that everything began.

I wasn’t good enough to forgive offenses, but eventually I always forgot them. And the man who thought I hated him couldn’t get over seeing me tip my hat to him with a smile. According to his nature, he would then admire my nobility of character or scorn my ill breeding without realizing that my reason was simpler: I had forgotten his very name.

I lived consequently without any other continuity than that, from day to day, of I, I, I. From day to day women, from day to day virtue or vice, from day to day, like dogs — but every day myself secure at my post. Thus I progressed on the surface of life, in the realm of words as it were, never in reality. All those books barely read, those friends barely loved, those cities barely visited, those women barely possessed! I went through the gestures out of boredom or absentmindedness. Then came human beings; they wanted to cling, but there was nothing to cling to, and that was unfortunate — for them. As for me, I forgot. I never remembered anything but myself.

Some cry: “Love me!” Others: “Don’t love me!” But a certain genus, the worst and most unhappy, cries: “Don’t love me and be faithful to me!

Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death.. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism. So if there were the least certainty that one could enjoy the show, it would be worth proving to them what they are unwilling to believe and thus amazing them.

One dies if necessary, one breaks rather than bending. But I bend, because I continue to love myself.

I encountered hostility especially among those who knew me only at a distance without my knowing them myself. Doubtless they suspected me of living fully, given up completely to happiness; and that cannot be forgiven. The look of success, when it is worn in a certain way, would infuriate a jackass.

Your successes and happiness are forgiven you only if you generously consent to share them. But to be happy it is essential not to be too concerned with others.

Happy and judged, or absolved and wretched. As for me, the injustice was even greater: I was condemned for past successes. For a long time I had lived in the illusion of a general agreement, whereas, from all sides, judgments, arrows, mockeries rained upon me, inattentive and smiling. The day I was alerted I became lucid; I received all the wounds at the same time and lost my strength all at once. The whole universe then began to laugh at me.

But especially because wealth shields from immediate judgment, takes you out of the subway crowd to enclose you in a chromium-plated automobile, isolates you in huge protected lawns, Pullmans, first-class cabins. Wealth, cher ami, is not quite acquittal, but reprieve, and that’s always worth taking.

Above all, don’t believe your friends when they ask you to be sincere with them. They merely hope you will encourage them in the good opinion they have of themselves by providing them with the additional assurance they will find in your promise of sincerity. How could sincerity be a condition of friendship? A liking for truth at any cost is a passion that spares nothing and that nothing resists. It’s a vice, at times a comfort, or a selfishness. Therefore, if you are in that situation, don’t hesitate: promise to tell the truth and then lie as best you can. You will satisfy their hidden desire and doubly prove your affection.

Then I realized, as a result of delving in my memory, that modesty helped me to shine, humility to conquer, and virtue to oppress. I used to wage war by peaceful means and eventually used to achieve, through disinterested means, everything I desired. For instance, I never complained that my birthday was overlooked; people were even surprised, with a touch of admiration, by my discretion on this subject. But the reason for my disinterestedness was even more discreet: I longed to be forgotten in order to be able to complain to myself.

With its flat shores, lost in the fog, there’s no saying where it begins or ends. So we are steaming along without any landmark; we can’t gauge our speed.We are making progress and yet nothing is changing. It’s not navigation but dreaming.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The absolutely true dairy of a part-time Indian - Sherman Alexie

If I start reading a book I've got a habit of reading it fully whether it is good or bad..But some time back 'The Catcher in the rye' forced me to break that practice..Somehow,I was too impatient towards the narration..Now when I was reading 'The Absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian' I felt the narration was so similar to that book..But the difference here is,I loved this one..I remembered Oscar Wilde's quote somehow,"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”...The Author simply followed that rule in his semi-autobiographical work..Despite of many heartbreaking revelations,Author Sherman Alexie maintained the witty narration throughout the book.

Image courtesy Google
This is the story of a fourteen year old young boy Arnold Spirit Jr. known as Junior from Spokane Indian reservation (Native Americans) in Wellpinit..This weird boy with few physical disabilities(a huge head and very little body),lives with his father,mother,sister and grandmother..Rowdy was his best buddy and Eugone his uncle..Drawing comics was Junior's hobby..Junior refers to his home reservation as 'the rez'..In many ways, Junior is engulfed by the emotional realities of his life and his community..Like many other families in the rez,his family was also very poor and Junior's parents,Rowdy's father,and others in their community are alcohol addicts..They get in to that habit to escape from their cursed lives..Eventually Junior's family suffers the lose of his grandmother and sister because of that habit..At one point he says, "I'm fourteen years old and I've been to forty-two funerals," Junior says. "That's really the biggest difference between Indians and white people." In the community if Wellpinit, everyone is related, everyone is valued, everyone lives a hardscrabble life, everyone is at risk for early death, and the loss of one person is a loss to the community. Compare Wellpinit to Reardan, whose residents have greater access to social services, health care, and wealth, and people are socially distanced from each other."

Junior's ordinary life takes a tremendous turn when he decides to join the White's school in Reardan..By then he is the only Indian boy in Reardan school other than the school Mascot...Nevertheless,in that school,he become friends with beautiful Penelope,the Giant boy-Roger and and the genius-Gordy who respect him and stand by his side..Besides,his community turns against him for his decision..Rowdy starts hating him,also he stands against him in Basket ball match..Now the question is,whether Junior succeeds in erasing his odd man out image from Whites community ? Whether he would be accepted back from his Wellpinit community for his betrayal as an Indian ? When we got to the end of the book,where Arnold and Rowdy play basketball,the result of the game leads to further consequences in the story..The book is about Junior's internal struggle as a member of Spokane Indian reservation who was helplessly living a life without dreams,opportunities or any possibilities..This is his battle against racism and white power structure..Apart from the hilarious narration,beautiful comics given by Ellen Forney at suitable situations is one of the best part of the book..The language used is so simple and purely native American..Motivating and amusing yet intense and piercing this 'National book award' winning work is one of the best in young adult fiction..

By drawing cartoons, Junior feels safe. He says,
I draw because words are too unpredictable. I draw because words are too limited. If you speak and write in English, or Spanish, or Chinese, or any other language, then only a certain percentage of human beings will get your meaning.But when you draw a picture, everybody can understand it.

He describes his home reservation with great sarcasm as "located approximately one million miles north of Important and two billion miles west of Happy."

"It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you're poor because you're stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you're stupid and ugly because you're Indian. And because you're Indian you start believing that you're destined to be poor. It's an ugly circle and there's nothing you can do about it. Poverty doesn't give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor."

Sherman Alexie-Image Courtesy Google
 Here are few lines from the book,

And trust me, there are times when the last thing you want to hear is the truth.

Rowdy and I are inseparable. 'Because Geometry Is Not a Country Somewhere Near France'

He smiled mysteriously. Adults are so good at smiling mysteriously. Do they go to  college for that?

Gordy said. "If you're good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can't be wrong."

"Okay, so it's like each of these books is a mystery. Every single book is a mystery. And if you read all the books ever written, it's like you've read one giant mystery. And no matter how much you learn, you just keep on learning there is so much more you need to learn.

Travelling between Reardan and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger.I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other.It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn't pay well at all.

Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.

I used to think the world was broken down by tribes," I said. "By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not.

Here are Junior's favourite books,I made a list of my favorite books: 1. The Grapes of Wrath 2. Catcher in the Rye 3. Fat Kid Rules the World 4. Tangerine 5. Feed 6. Catalyst 7. Invisible Man    8.Fools Crow 9. Jar of Fools.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

Steppenwolf - Hermann Hesse

Absolutely brilliant..!!!

Harry Haller notebooks found with a headline..""Not for every one ---  For mad people only"..

For me,'Steppenwolf' is Hesse's second novel after 'Siddhartha'..The later was a haunting read,but after reading this,that work seems like a tiny tale..I picked up this book taking Siddhartha's lighter tone in to account,but it turned out to be absolutely complex and abstruse philosophy..Yes you heard me right,philosophy again..'Steppenwolf' was written by the German-Swiss Noble laureate,Hermann Hesse,who was immensely influenced by the mysticism of Eastern philosophy..

Courtesy Google
This work is an autobiographical work of Hesse himself as the protagonist Harry Haller,a fifty year old man's inwards journey,which explains the phenomenon of mid-life crisis..Abandoned by his wife he vanishes from society in to deep isolation with suicidal instincts..He would ready to test the limits of human suffering while staying in an attic with his books,away from bourgeoisie life...Inability to 'play the game of life' is something that characterizes Haller from the outset of the novel..Harry finds his dual personality as a human being and a wolf(wolf of steppes)..'The human' is a world of ideas, feelings, culture, domesticated and sublimated nature where as 'a wolf' is a dark world of instincts,savagery, cruelty, nature unsublimated and raw..A pamphlet that comes into his hands after a night out drinking,entirely changes his perspective of life..With the help of people like,Hermione-His ideal woman of love,Pablo-The musician and Maria-The prostitute,Harry comes out as a changed man,full of life after the Magic theater (a metaphor) sequence..

A prominent genre in German literature is the 'Bildungsroman' or novel of education...In contrast to the broadly realist novel traditions of England and France it focuses on the development of a central character from inexperienced youth to eventual maturity.Wider social concerns, while by no means ignored, tend to play a subordinate role to this process of personal education, in which philosophical ideas also often have a major role to play..We can say,Hesse’s Steppenwolf is a ‘Bildungsroman’,but with a variation in that Harry is at the outset already a highly educated man,a great author and sophisticated connoisseur of literature and classical music.

""Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast!’ Such crude dualism is still central to Western thought, it is argued, despite the fact that Indian philosophy long ago exposed it as a delusion, since in reality human beings consist of multiple souls.""

The author says,'Of all my works Steppenwolf seems to me to be the one that has been more frequently and more drastically misunderstood than any other'...The writing appears to be partly pathological, partly beautiful fantasies rich in ideas,but slowly evokes the positive,serene world of peace..Harry's discussions regarding 'Lord Krishna' reveals that the author was greatly influenced by Indian philosophy and 'Karma Siddhantha'...In one or the other way we all could  relate and identify ourselves with the 'Steppenwolf' image..Unlike my earlier reads it took long time to fully digest the content..Even after finishing this book,I feel like staying in Hesse's world for some more time...This book is strictly for people who are very familiar with the paths of isolation..Definitely not an easy read,you need to be cent percent there,while reading..Although Steppenwolf’s story is one of sickness and crisis, these do not end in death or destruction. On the contrary: they result in a cure...Being a Gemini I could easily relate myself to Harry's dual nature which is always in conflict..There are also few parts I failed to understand..But I loved the book to the core that I would definitely give it a second read some time.

Here are few more interesting lines from the book,

As a body every human being is a single entity, as a soul never. Traditionally literature too, even at its most sophisticated, operates with ostensibly whole, ostensibly unified characters. In literature as we know it so far, the genre most highly regarded by experts and connoisseurs is drama. Rightly so, for drama offers the greatest opportunity to represent the self as multiple, or might do so, if only outward appearances didn’t contradict this impression, each individual character being deceptively portrayed as a unity because he or she is inevitably encased in a unique, unified and self-contained body.

“Most people have no desire to swim until they are able to.” Isn’t that a laugh? Of course they don’t want to swim! After all, they were born to live on dry land, not in water. Nor, of course, do they want to think. They weren’t made to think, but to live! It’s true, and anyone who makes thinking his priority may well go far as a thinker, but when all’s said and done he has just mistaken water for dry land, and one of these days he’ll drown.’

What we think of as acts of cruelty are in reality nothing of the kind. Someone from the Middle Ages would still find the whole style of our present-day life abhorrent, but cruel, horrifying and barbaric in a quite different way. Every age, every culture, every ethos and tradition has a style of its own, has the varieties of gentleness and harshness, of beauty and cruelty that are appropriate to it. Each age will take certain kinds of suffering for granted, will patiently accept certain wrongs. Human life becomes a real hell of suffering only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap. Required to live in the Middle Ages, someone from the Graeco-Roman period would have died a wretched death by suffocation, just as a savage inevitably would in the midst our civilization.

Now, there are times when a whole generation gets caught to such an extent between two eras, two styles of life, that nothing comes naturally to it since it has lost all sense of morality, security and innocence. A man of Nietzsche’s mettle had to endure our present misery more than a generation in advance. Today, thousands are enduring what he had to suffer alone and without being understood.

Harry’s case, on the other hand, was different. In him the human being and the wolf went their own separate ways. Far from helping one another, they were like mortal enemies in constant conflict, each causing the other nothing but grief. When two mortal enemies are locked in one mind and body, life is a miserable business. Well, to each his lot. None of us has it easy.

Just as there are exceptions to every rule, and one lone sinner may under certain circumstances be more pleasing to God than ninety-nine righteous people.

Every human type has its hallmarks, its personal signatures. Each has its virtues and vices, its own deadly sin.

Those who live for power are destroyed by power, those who live for money by money; service is the ruin of the servile, pleasure the ruin of the pleasure-seeker. Thus it was Steppenwolf’s independence that proved his downfall.

Members of the bourgeoisie are therefore essentially creatures weak in vital energy,timid  individuals, afraid ever to abandon themselves, easy to govern. That is why they have replaced power by majority rule, replaced force by the rule of law, and replaced responsibility by the ballot box.

My life may have been arduous, wayward and unhappy, my experience of humankind’s bitter fate causing me to renounce and reject a great deal, but it had been rich, proud and rich, a life – even its misery – fit for a king. No matter how pitifully I might waste what little time was left to me before finally going under, my life was essentially a noble one. It had a profile and pedigree. Not content with cheap rewards, I had aimed for the stars.

What we here term the art of reconstruction is a way of filling in the gaps in science’s inadequate view of human psychology. To those people who have experienced the disintegration of their selves, we demonstrate that they can reassemble the pieces in a new order of their own choosing whenever they like. They are thus in a position to master the infinite variety of moves in life’s game. Just as writers create a drama from a handful of characters, we are forever able to regroup the separate pieces of our dismantled selves and thus offer them new roles to play, new excitements, situations that are constantly fresh. Look what I mean!

Published  Penguin Modern Classics

Paperback, 222 pages