Friday, July 18, 2014

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR
"I am haunted by humans."

Unusually,these words were delivered from the mouth of 'Death'..Yes death..Death pities mankind for destructing themselves on the name of culture and racism..He was also terrified by seeing the suffering of innocent lives under the rule of dictatorship..'The Book Thief' was written by Markus Zusak,in which the death himself is the narrator..This book falls under the category of adult/Historical fiction in which the plot was set in the period of world war-2,when Hitler was the chancellor of Nazi Germany..
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The story starts with the death of Werner,brother of Liesel Meminger in a train to Munich,Germany..Liesel's mother Paula,who is a communist,forcibly gives her up for adoption to the couple Hans Hubermann and Rosa..Thus the eleven year old Liesel arrives at 33,Himmel street in Molching to stay with her foster parents..Himmel Street was not exactly the model of idyllic Molching living.It was well known as a relatively poor neighborhood..The story progresses by introducing us to the wonderful lives of an Accordionist,A Jewish fist fighter,A wardrobe woman,A boy-ardent fan of Jessie Owens and finally The book thief with no words..There is no great story in this book but captivating narration is the key part,or as we call,'Hero' of the story..Somehow,I felt that,this is not just the story of a book thief (Liesel) alone,but a collection of stories depicting  several lives..There is plenty enough lot to explain each and  every character in this story because every person in this story seems beautiful in his/her own way..I mean except 'the Fuhrer'..O.k,lets go further with a "Heil Hitler".. :P

Coming to the characters,
If there was one thing about Liesel Meminger,her thieving was not gratuitous. She
only stole books on what she felt was a need to have basis..She steals The 'Gravedigger's Handbook' in memory of her late brother..But she doesn't know how to read..Then her 'Papa' Hans teaches her in the basement when she wake up at midnight with nightmares..The reading helps to forget her past torment..Gradually stealing and reading books calms her soul..Later,she reads to the people of Himmel street in the basement,when they get together to protect themselves from bombings..The words distract them from the fear of death..

The once Jewish fist fighter,Max who was given shelter by Hans (to keep his word to his late friend),strives to breath under the open sky for he had not seen the outside world for twenty two months..

In the basement of 33 Himmel Street, Max Vandenburg could feel the fists of an entire nation. One by one they climbed into the ring and beat him down. They made him bleed. They let him suffer. Millions of them—until one last time, when he gathered himself to his feet . . .He watched the next person climb through the ropes. It was a girl, and as she slowly crossed the canvas, he noticed a tear torn down her left cheek. In her right hand was a newspaper. “The crossword,” she gently said, “is empty,” and she held it out to him.Dark.Nothing but dark just basement..just jew.

Hans Hubermann in Liesel's words,
Who else would do some painting for the price of half a cigarette? That was Papa,that was typical, and I loved him.

Rosa Hubermann - the good woman for a crisis..In the beginning she appears to be so rude and ordinary,but Max's arrival,unfolds her kind heart veiled by rudeness.

Do you ever heard the existence of 'Possessive Books'? Yeah,this is certainly one of a kind..Because it never allowed me to exist in the reality while reading it..The illustrations kept me  spellbound with the blinding white of the snow,red rain clouds and chocolate death and constantly made me feel the floating clouds of Himmel street..The best part of the book is the poetic expressions and sarcastic narrations of Death.It depicts the strange distinctions between the cruelty of mankind and kindness of death..

Death describes the air of a situation with the help of colours...Emotions,war atmosphere,suffering and melancholy were depicted in terms of colours,so that we could experience the gloominess of situation.

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses.In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.As I’ve been alluding to, my one saving grace is distraction. It keeps me sane. It helps me cope.
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We come across many heart melting illustrations of war period in this book..The generous man Hans giving bread to a Jewish prisoner,Later Rudy and Liesel taking the task from him in his absence and hiding in trees..Indignity and helplessness of Max for he to become a burden to the poor Hans family and his struggle for existence in the basement..Michale's suicide note and Frau Holtzapfel's open invitation to death..And the list goes on..

'Thank you'.For Max Vandenburg, those were the two most pitiful words he could possibly say, rivaled only by I’m sorry.There was a constant urge to speak both expressions, spurred on by the affliction of guilt.How many times in those first few hours of awakeness did he feel like walking out of that basement and leaving the house altogether? It must have been hundreds.Each time, though, it was only a twinge.

When Max fell ill with severe cold,Liesel prays for his life and reads to him,She brings him 13 gifts.
He was the second snowman to be melting away before her eyes, only this one was different. It was a paradox.The colder he became, the more he melted.

Death's job troubles in his own words,
They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you.He asks for more.

Few more lines from book,I loved every bit of it..What to do !!

It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on,coughing and searching, and finding.

In the tree shadows, Liesel watched the boy. How things had changed, from fruit stealer to bread giver. His blond hair, although darkening, was like a candle. She heard his stomach growl—and he was giving people bread.

Silence was not quiet or calm, and it was not peace.

I’m compelled to continue on, because although it’s not true for every person on earth, it’s true for the vast majority—that death waits for no man—and if he does, he doesn’t usually wait very long.

“Maybe if we say ‘heil Hitler’ and then steal something, we’ll be all right.”

In your situation, a dead Jew is just as dangerous as a live one, if not worse.

Life had altered in the wildest possible way, but it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened..Imagine smiling after a slap in the face.Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.That was the business of hiding a Jew.

For now, Rudy and Liesel made their way onto Himmel Street in the rain.He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world.She was the book thief without the words.

It’s much easier, she realized, to be on the verge of something than to actually be it. This would still take time.

It's a wonderful story full of emotions..In particular,this book is for book lovers..Who ever feel the touch of a paper and  love the smell of books and beautiful words would definitely fall in love with this book...And here is the proof,

Steadily, the room shrank, till the book thief could touch the shelves within a few small steps. She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like an instrument, or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them. One shelf against the other. And she laughed. Her voice was sprawled out, high in her throat, and when she eventually stopped and stood in the middle of the room, she spent many minutes looking from the shelves to her fingers and back again.How many books had she touched? How many had she felt?

This book was also made in to a movie in 2013.
My heartfelt thanks to my dear friend Latha Jee for recommending such a wonderful book..:)

Pages :592
Price :Rs.374 /-
Publisher : RHUK

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Coimbatore times..

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This post is nothing but an ode to the heavenly city Coimbatore..I'm missing it a lot.Especially the Coimbatore monsoons..Indeed,I've a natural tendency of falling in love with every place,I live..Its just a matter of  more or less...that's it..:-).When we got transferred to Coimbatore,the second largest city in T.N,we've no idea about the place..The only impression I've on this place is,that it's the victim of major bomb blasts in 1998..The city is major commercial centre in Tamilnadu known as the Manchester of South India..It is also an important textile manufacturing hub of the state..Naturally we took an advantage of buying so many cloths ( that will be sufficient for the coming 5 years by the way..:-)..Our credit card bills were always high.:(.Here I'm sharing few pics of the places in and around Coimbatore..

Avinashi temple...
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On the way to Kovai kutralum...
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 The Aliyar reservoir..
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Orange sunset (from our balcony)
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Sculptural beauty in Perur Patteeswara Swamy temple
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Our house was located in a very nice area but far from the heart of the city....Some corn fields and domestic cattle were there near by our house...The best thing in Coimbatore is its fantastic weather...Between June and August,you will surely have an eye feast of Coimbatore monsoons...Race course road was our favourite hang out place..

I liked it for one more reason,There is a huge population of Telugu speaking people whose ancestors settled there since long period...There are traces of Vijayanagara dynasty also..

Aliyar Dam,
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Pollachhi
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Udagamandalam ( Ooty-the queen of hills ) is nearest hill station for Coimbatore..Its just 98 km from Cbe...The Pollachhi road is simply awesome with trees on both sides and good coconut plantations.We enjoyed some long drives in that way..There are so many famous temples near by the city like Marudamalai,Perur Patteeswarar temple,Avinashi,Mariamman koil etc....its simply 1 to 1 1/2 hr.drive to reach all these places...The famous Isha Yoga centre of Sadguru,Sri Jaggi Vasudev  is also very near to Coimbatore..We got few visits over there..The Dhyana linga of Isha is very huge...We came across so many simple pleasures and bagged some nice experiences in that beautiful city...Missing you Coimbatore.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indigo:Selected Stories - Satyajit Ray


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A sheer entertainment and pleasure...Satyajit Ray's Indigo is a wonderful compilation of 21 stories..Some of the stories were translated by the author himself and some by Gopa Majumdar.

These stories would certainly bring one's childhood back..I observed one common thing in all these stories,every ending leaves us in a great feeling of amazement..For the first time,I feel confused to choose my favourite story among these because I loved each and every story equally...Every story is unique and different in its own way..This book,I enjoyed very much after being fed up with  regular monotonous stories with similar success matra..


I strongly feel that the one,who intensely connected with his childhood can only write such kind of tales..These stories often reflected the fairy tale world,childish illusions,subconscious fears and insecurities..Furthermore,nevertheless living in a civilized society,most of the lead roles in these stories are completely isolated lives..The protagonists mostly love to be alone and are very close to nature and pets than to people or society..They observe very minute details in day to day life and had a unique way of imagination..Although,the stories about ghosts and haunted houses are pretty enthralling,we couldn't believe that a person like Satyajit Ray,who is one of the greatest auteurs of Indian cinema can wrote such wonderful stories..Through out reading,we keep wondering about his unusual love towards the supernatural element..Of course,the Feluda kind of magic is proved to be a huge success among children and adults..I'm sure,there is a child in this author..Mentioning about Deodar trees,Shimul trees and Mimosa plants proclaims the authors love towards nature..
Image from Google
Here I'm sharing few lines from the book,
From 'The Hungry Septopus':
Abhijit could never sit still.He was very much a city man;the beauties of nature offered by the country side,the leaves on a peepal tree,trembling in a slight breeze,or the call of an unknown bird,did nothing to move him.

From 'The small world of Sadananda':
How could she have known that people could pester me by saying,'Why are you so glum when your name means 'ever-happy' ? Such fools! As if laughing like a jackass was the only way to show that one was happy..

I get fun out of things which most people don't even notice.

From 'The Pterodactyl's Egg':
People think science has progressed only in the west.And that nothing has happened in this country.I tell you,a tremendous lot has indeed happened here,but how many know about it ? We were never a nation to show off our knowledge,were we ? The true artist has always stayed in the background. hasn't he ? Look at our history.Does anyone know the names of the painters who drew on the walls of Ajanta ? Who carved the temple of Ellora out of ancient hills ? Who created the Bhairavi raga,Who created the Vedas ?

The story,'Patol Babu,Film Star' reminded me of a plot in the movie,'Bombay Talkies' named 'Star'..The movie plot seemed so similar..Coming to the book,the stories are very simple with non-complicated descriptions,yet we feel,there is something in depth happening in the story and the final impression turned out to be so rich..If I have to choose my favourite stories among these,which is so hard,I liked  'Ashamanja Babu's Dog','Mr.Eccentric','The Pterodactyl's egg' And ofcourse 'Pikoo's Dairy'.After reading these stories,now I completely understood the magical and child-hearted mind behind the master piece Pather Panchali.

Pages :264
Publisher :Penguin Modern Classics
Price :350/-

Enjoy reading..Bye for now friends :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Love birds

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Chori chori chupke chupke...I caught them secretly..:P
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chennai bites-1


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I always had few preconceived opinions on film industry (television or movie) before moving to Chennai..But I've to change my mind after seeing their hard work and dedication while making  films..There is a studio near by our house and we happened to see few shootings over there..There is always a large unit working there..The workers and assistants have to work really hard regardless of weather conditions.I often see them sleeping on bare floor in the end of a hectic shooting day..
The thing I like the most is,they mind their own business..We seldom saw them arguing or shouting..I really liked the way they work in a well disciplined manner..:)
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Movie stuff...
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Junior artists waiting for the shoot..
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Lunch time for them..
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Just like that..


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Hello friends,After long time I'm posting some thing here..Thought posting few pics..Don't laugh at me if they look a bit weird and crazy..(Aah..I hear you)..These clicks were taken randomly.. Just like that..:)

Isn't she cute ??

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Lazy feet captured..
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The fencing that grabbed my attention..
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I love colours..Pinkish onions are not exception..
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The red magic..
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The best thing about olive oil is it's colour and the lovely yellowish tiny bottle..:P
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Colours again..
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Cups are always my favourite...What about you ???
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Kancheepuram (Kanchi)

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We are actually travelling freaks but due to various reasons we're confined to home since long time..Moreover after coming to Chennai we haven't visited much places around here..So this weekend we planned to visit Kanchi..Kancheepuram popularly known as Kanchi is one of the  nearest places to Chennai,just 71 km and easily reached by car..Due to hot summer season we started early at 6 am and reached there with in 1 and half hrs.Kanchi is known as the city of thousand temples..There are two parts named as Vishnu Kanchi and Siva Kanchi..
We visited Kamakshi Amman temple,Varadaraja Perumal temple,Ekambareswara temple and Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam..Here are few pics..

Wonderful pillars inside Ekambareswarar temple..
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Temple elephants inside Kamakshi Amman Koil.. 

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Below is Varadaraja Perumal Temple.One more significant thing in Varadaraja Perumal Temple is the sculptures of two lizards carved on the ceiling,One is a Golden lizard and other is a Silver lizard along with the sculptures of the Sun and the Moon..Here,paintings on the walls of temple were completely lost their charm..
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Below is the Kampai Tirtha,temple tank of Ekabareswarar temple.
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The sacred tree which fulfills wishes..
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Ekambareswarar temple
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 Kamakshi Amman temple..
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The entrance of Ekambareswarar temple
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The sacred mango tree in the Ekambareswarar temple in the below picture is 3,500 years old..
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Crowd was a bit less as we started early so easily finished visiting all the temples before noon..All the temples remain closed in between 12pm to 4pm..

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fire on the Mountain - Anita Desai


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The novel 'The Fire on the Mountain' is a constant squabble between fiction and reality of life..One of the finest novelists of India,Anitha Desai has won the prestigious Sahitya Akademy award for this book..
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The main character in the story,Nanda Kaul lives at Carignano,completely isolated and alone in the mountains of Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh)..Being fed up with her past busy life as Ex-Vice Chancellor's wife she so much longs for lonely life in peace..After fulfilling the responsibilities towards her family,she moves to Carignano after her husband's death and starts living there calmly..Her frozen heart starts melting with the undesirable visit of her great grand daughter Raka..To her amazement,Raka is so similar to her..Not any of her children were like that..On the other hand,Raka is too much in to herself  and ignores Nanda Kaul,wandering like a free bird in the mountains,enjoying nature..But Nanda Kaul strives to spend her time with her,wish to open up to her..But Raka doesn't like her great grand mother's company..She wants to explore the nature on her own..

Raka wanted only one thing-to be left alone and pursue her own secret life amongst the rocks and pines of Kasauli.If Nanda Kaul was a recluse out of vengeance for a long life of duty and obligation,her great grand daughter was a recluse by nature,by instinct.She had not arrived at this condition by a long route of rejection and sacrifice-she was born to it,simply.

Meanwhile Nanda's childhood friend Ila Das visits Carignano and Nanda feels more uncomfortable for intruding into her peaceful life..Now,the story further deals with the emotional aspects of the three different personalities who doesn't even slightly go out of their way,protecting their identities and shells in such odd company..

Fantasy and fairy tales had their place in life,she knew it so well.Why then did she tell the child the truth ? Who wanted truth ? Who could stand it ? Nobody.Not even herself. 

Why ,it's been a little bit of the past come alive.As if the past still existed here and I could simply come and visit it and have a cup of tea with it when I was tired of the present.

The author successfully presented the darker sides of life in a milder tone of tranquility..Nature lovers really enjoy this book because there are some beautiful illustrations about mountains of Kasauli..In the beginning,  this book makes you feel like,life is a wonderful journey if we choose nature as our companion..You'll fall in love with each and every line till then..Characterization and personality disorders of Ila Das also makes you smile sometimes..But slowly helplessness,vexation and bitter realities of life in those beautiful mountains take the front row and dilutes the beauty of the nature..I'm sure when you finish reading this book,your heart fill with bitterness and despair..I was spellbound by the author's narrating  style.Would love to read more books from her.I must say it is one of the best from a woman writer..Happy reading friends :-)