Sunday, March 29, 2015

Family life - Akhil Sharma

The 2015 Folio award winning novel 'Family life' is the second novel after 'The obedient father' ,written by the Indo-American author Akhil Sharma..The autobiographical memoir,based upon his childhood experiences took nearly nine long years to complete.The story is narrated in the first person,by eight year old boy Ajay..It all starts in Delhi,when the two boys,Ajay(8) and his elder brother,Birju receive their visa for America.

Image from Google
The Mishra family moves to America in the late seventies as America opened doors to immigration policy..The parents with high expectations,Mr.and Mrs. Mishra were very happy when their elder son,Birju got admission in the prestigious Bronx high school of science..Though Birju adopted the new culture in no time,Ajay struggles to fit in the new society..The family's dreams were shattered altogether when Birju(15) met with a major accident in the swimming pool and he remains brain damaged..The story is all about Ajay's childhood fears and the complexities of family life..The book also discussed immigration issues.

For me,the best part about Ajay's character is his passion for reading and his interest in Hemingway..As a child,he was a huge fan of him..He says,though he did not read much of his works he read 'about him' just because he wants to adopt his writing style..

Here is Ajay about Hemingway,

'Having read Hemingway, I knew that I should just push all the exotic things to the side as if they didn’t matter, that this was how one used exoticism—by not bothering to explain.'

'As I read about Hemingway having been to Spain and France, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe that an actual person had gotten to go to Spain and France. What was even more amazing was that this man had done it without being a doctor or an engineer. Till then I had thought that the only way to have a good life was to have one of these two professions. As I sat there reading, I got happier and happier. To have a life where one traveled, where one did what one wanted, seemed like being rich.'

Read the following lines..Here I can relate myself to Ajay for he also feels that sometimes reading is a great escape from hard reality..
Reading these books I had the feeling that I was being transformed. I felt like I was being connected to a world where stories were written and where they were studied. Feeling myself being connected, I had the sense that I was being taken away from my own life and brought into a world that was glamorous, where people did pleasurable things, where people did not worry all the time.

In the following sentences,I agree with Ajay about Hemingway's 'The Old man and the sea',
An essayist wrote that The Old Man and the Sea is full of factual inaccuracies, that it is impossible to carry miles of fishing line on one’s shoulder. I read about Hemingway’s mistakes and felt that what probably matters in a book is its emotional truth and not whether small facts are accurate.

The novel widely discussed about the problems of NRI life,their fears and complexities in the alien country..However the family was in terrible suffering after Birju's accident,they had to hide their tears in the alien society..Unlike in homeland,Ajay constantly feels terrible need to prove his identity in the new world for which he keep telling many lies to his school friends for sympathy..He and his mother Subha hide Mr.Mishra's drinking habbit for the sake of propriety and respect from the society..However,Subha's role appear to be a nagging wife and doting mother,I very much liked the way she handled her circumstances with dignity..She is the one who gave her hundred percent to her family when compared to her husband Mr.Mishra who tried to escapes from the reality with his drinking habbit..Though the narration is very honest and bold from an eight year old boy's point of view, Ajay's thoughts were too mean to be sympathetic towards him..As he remain unwanted after Birju's accident,he alone fights his own fears in the alien country while his parents are no longer ready to help in his sadness as they are too busy handling their own issues while taking care of  Birju,the brain damaged son.Though it was a serious read,also there was an undercurrent of dark humour,which made the narration quite interesting..This work is a pretty good example,that all dollar dreams won't lead to colourful lives.

Akhil Sharma - Image from Google
Few more lines from the book,

I had decided to tell Rita I loved her. This was because from having watched Hindi movies, it seemed that if one was to have a relationship with a girl, one had to be in love.

This surprises me because you always expect people who matter a great deal to you to end up leading glamorous lives.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Beauty and Sadness - Yasunari Kawabata

Erotic sadness...The first ever Japanese Noble laureate Yasunari Kawabata's 'Beauty and Sadness' is a placid,passionate and elegant love story..Though the story mainly describes the love of Miss Ueno Otoko and Oki,there is another similar tale of love between Otoko and Keiko..The story takes off when Toshio Oki,a 54 year old novelist travels to Kyoto to meet his ex love Otoko,after 24 years...

Image from Google

Otoko,a painter by profession was only half his age when Oki seduced her at the age of 15..Later,she delivers a dead baby and tries to commit suicide out of depression but luckily she survives...Oki would not marry her as he was already a married man with a son..Otoko's mother leaves Tokyo hoping a new life for her daughter..But Otoko's love is so pure that she couldn't welcome another person in her life,thus she remains unmarried..Also her reputation was at stake when Oki fictionalizes his affair with this 15 year old girl,which turns in to a well acclaimed work  and brings him huge success..But Otoko still loves him as before..Besides Keiko,a pupil of Otoko loves her most ardently..It seems they also had a relationship in this story..Keiko couldn't stand Otoko suffering her whole life because of a selfish man,so she wants to take revenge..What happened to the two lives on their different paths of love is the next story..

Yasunari Kawabata-Image from Google
Here are few lines from the book,

"You're more than I deserve. It's a love I never dreamed I'd find. Happiness like this is worth dying for..." Even now Oki's words had not faded from her memory. The dialogue in his novel echoed them and seemed to have taken on a life apart from either Oki or herself. Perhaps the lovers of old were no more, but she had the nostalgic consolation, in the midst of her sadness, that their love was forever enshrined in a work of art.

To link whatever she saw and heard with her love was nothing less than to be alive. Her awareness of her body was inseparable from her memory of his embrace.

“I suppose even a woman's hatred is a kind of love.” 

Her awareness of her body was inseparable from her memory of his embrace.

One day while writing a letter Otoko happened to open the dictionary to the character for "think." As she scanned its other meanings ("yearn for," "be unable to forget," "be sad") she felt her chest tighten. She was afraid to touch the dictionary — Oki was even there. Innumerable words reminded her of him.

The story tells how far a woman would go when she truely loves somebody..This novel is a well crafted painting which brings out various abstract shades of woman's personality..The author chose Otoko and Keiko to represent two different kinds of womanly love..On one end,Otoko's love is a fine blend of sacrifice and patience,on the other end,Keiko's love is fierce and comes out of hatred and revenge...But the author succeeded in convincing that the purity of love on both sides is same...Otoko mirrors a passionate lover who never expects anything from a mean person like Oki,but only loves him..Keiko,a fierce personality who could go  to any level and would break every rule for the happiness of her lover..The title was very apt for this novel which says that there always exist both beauty and sadness in love.This was my first book from Yasunari Kawabata,I loved his style of narration and looking forward to read few more works from him.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Murudeshwara (Murudeshwar) Karnataka

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Murudeshwar was situated in the coast of Arabian sea in Bhatkal taluk in Uttara Kannada district,Karnata..It is famous for the largest Lord Shiva Idol and Mudeshwar temple..The town is also connected with Konkan railway route..We got out accommodation at RNS guest house which is situated in temple premises...

Let us take the picture tour of the temple..

The main entrance of the temple...

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Terrific view from the 18th floor of the temple gopuram (temple tower)
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A beautiful sight from our stay...
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The temple tower...
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View from our hotel room..
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach

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An extremely short novel with a good message,'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' was written by an American author,Richard Bach..It depicts the life of ambitious bird,Jonathan Livingston Seagull,who resembles all those special individuals who strive to attain perfection in whatever they do..The story was told using metaphors like birds,flight,sky and flock etc and it has some beautiful pictures fitting the narration.
Image from google
Completely dissatisfied with his routine life,Jonathan Seagull tries to reach perfection in flying..(Here 'flying' was used as a metaphor for the thing which is most important in a person's life)..In that process,the bird practices various methods in flying which seems almost impossible for any ordinary seagull..Thus considering his actions as inappropriate and rebellious,all the seagulls in the flock outcasts him..Outcast by the flock Jonathan still keeps his practice on..After learning every pleasure in flying,kindness and love in another world,he returns with his newly found abilities along with his few companions to teach his methods to his own flock on earth..Though,initially,the seagulls restrain Jonathan and company,they slowly spellbound by his flying techniques and join him to learn his perfect ways of flight..After some time,when Jonathan moves to another place leaving his companions (he treats them as equals) back to train his flock,the story takes a new turn..The flock slowly avoid concentrating on the flight techniques and starts praising Jonathan as God..They show utmost interest in learning about smaller to smaller details about him and his appearance and all..Creating a virtual image of Jonathan,they spend their time worshiping him and singing songs of his glory..Thus the flock remains ordinary without knowing any special ways of living..Thus they miss real joy of living (flying)..They left struck at the outer layer of Jonathan's life.

This story reveals the actual reality that we seldom follow/learn the great ways of ideal lives,instead we worship their Godly image..Thus we form rules and limitations and start living in those closed circles not knowing the significance of Freedom..Jonathan's story reveals this very fact that freedom is the foremost thing in anyone's life..Setting limitations and living within  boundaries take us nowhere and we truly miss the joy of living.

Here are few lines from the book..

Is there no such place as heaven?” “No, Jonathan, there is no such place. Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.

It always works, when you know what you’re doing.

He spoke of very simple things—that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form..

“The only answer I can see, Jonathan, is that you are pretty well a one-in-a-million bird. Most of us came along ever so slowly. We went from one world into another that was almost exactly like it, forgetting right away where we had come from, not caring where we were headed, living for the moment. Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand! And then another hundred lives until we began to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sringeri : Sarada peetam - Sringeri Mutt

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Our starting point to reach Sringeri was Horanadu..We started at 8.30 am and reached Sringeri at around 11.30 am..On the way we stopped at two points,one is Kalasa where there is a Swayambhoolinga temple and another one is Rambapuri where there is a Rukmini Acharya ashram ..It is the first Veerasaiva kshetra among five kshetras...(Srisailam,Ujjain,Kedarnatha and Kasi) I felt this ashram was not having great significance when compared to the remaining places..
Our schedule did not allow us to meet the present Jagadguru Shankaracharya,Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji..Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada established the first of the four Amnaya Peethams at Sringeri around twelve centuries ago to foster the sacred tradition of Sanatana Dharma.
Here are the few pics from Sringeri Mutt..

The entrance of the temple..

Sringeri Sarada peetam

Sculptural beauty.. 

Sri Saradamba temple in the temple complex.. 

This is the place my kid loved the most..The pond was filled with plenty of fish

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Chennai Book Fair - 2015 : Kid's Special

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I deliberately missed last year's Chennai book fair as the number of books I'm reading is considerably less than the books that are piling up in my shelves...Being mother of a single child I've many more responsibilities and duties other than being a 'book worm'..Thus I'm dragging myself to household duties and most importantly to fulfill my primary duties as a mother...

I always try to keep 'reading' as a hobby,but you never know when it will take the form of an obsession...Anyways,my kiddoo always complain about my blog posts that I'm very partial,and I always post pics about my books but not his books..So this year I promised him that I'll post few pics of his books here..Though he already have some books like Akbar Birbal,Tenali Rama,Panchatantra,Jathaka tales,Vikram-Bethal etc etc..(There is a huge list you know)..This year I added few more to his reading list..Among them maximum are story books (He love them) for his age group besides a couple of activity and puzzle books..Among 700 plus stalls Chinmaya mission stall was really good for kids books.

I couldn't stop buying few more books for myself as I'm already there :P..I found some very rare books for very low prices at the road side book sellers in front of the Book Fair..We spent a whole tiresome day (after our vacation) in the Book Fair..My kid got so exhausted,that he asked his Dad if he would take him home,he would give him hundred rupees.:))

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Udupi : Srikrishna temple : Karnataka

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Udupi was famous for Srikrishna temple or Srikrishna Matt...We reached Udupi from Gokarna around 9.30 pm...It is 178 km from Gokarna and it took approximately 3 and half hours to reach there via cab...Without any difficulty we easily found the accommodation in the temple guest house even it was night time..Our stay,Srinivasa residency was very comfortable hotel with tidy rooms and good service..After the tiresome journey we took rest for the day and the next morning we went for darshan..Regarding darshan,It was a blissful experience and just beyond words..

The unique feature of Sri Krishna Mutt is that the God is worshipped only through a window with nine holes called the Navagraha Kitiki.The window is exquisitely carved and silver - plated. It has been a tradition in this temple to worship the Lord only through this window. There was a story regarding this tradition..(from Wiki)Once Kanakadasa, a pious worshiper and devotee of Lord Krishna, was staying in a makeshift hermitage in front of Krishna mutt. There was an earthquake in the night and the outer temple wall cracked such a way that there was a wide enough opening for Kanakadasa to have darshana of the idol. Till today, devotees still worship Lord Krishna by praying through the same window where kanakadasa was seeing the offerings/Pooja from outside.It is known as Kanakanakhindi, and is decorated by an arch named after him. A statue has also been erected. A similar window covers the immediate front of the Idol and is called Navagraha kindi.

The entrance of the Udupi Srikrishna temple....

The temple tank...

The Chariots in front of the temple