Books

Sister Celebrity

My sister has been quite the creative genius but this one is beyond cool. She has recently been published by Writers Workshop which I believe was Vikram Seth’s first big break among other such eminent Indian writers. Her book of poems is called “Inklings: A Collection in Free Verse” and it is available in limited edition. She has also been featured in the local newspaper, Deccan Chronicle here. She can be followed on her blog.

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Books

The Open Road

An enthralling account of the 14th Dalai Lama’s life and travels  – this book was the dark horse of my Christmas getaway pickmeups. Pico Iyer echoes your thoughts for the most part but repeatedly makes observations that are nothing short of revelations. Perhaps, its because this book makes you feel like a kid again, discovering something new and that feeling has almost become alien to some of us. Its often the subtle and conversational writing that draws you in and this non-preachy quality is rare for books of its genre. Read the book!

Books

Guerilla Warfare

Che Guevara’s very own manual to lead and fight in a guerilla war is a wonderful read. The crisp writing style displays a clarity of thought that is refreshing in times where books tend to be overly complicated. Its only the pictures of the rifle-molotov-cocktails and the like that make you realise that this was truly meant to be a survival manual. The book hooks you in and makes you empathise with the hardships, purpose and discipline that is commonplace in a guerilla troop.

There are couple of sections that I particularly liked; Che talks about how women are no less resistant than men in guerilla warfare though they tend to be weaker. He argues that women play an extraordinary importance in the battle and that their role needs to be acknowledged in an atmosphere where they tend to be underestimated.

The last section is an epilogue which describes the situation in Cuba. The writing transforms – it becomes so much more powerful with a passion and a strength of conviction that tends to scare. This section is a fitting end to an amazing piece of work from a revolutionary.

Books, Movies

Interpreting the Namesake

Poignant and funny, intelligent and awkward, this is one of the rare books that has been made into a wonderful movie. It tends to make an even deeper impression if you identify with the protagonist. Googol is unlucky enough to be subjected to a name that he doesn’t understand or like. He is stifled by Indian culture and incessant fraternising with fellow Bengali families.

Mira Nair paints the screen with the rich hues of Indian life often in sharp contrast with the American way. Gogol grapples with his parents’ overtly Indian lifestyle, resents his shared heritage with an eccentric author and eventually embraces ordinary life in the States. Ashoke’s death is a cruel reminder of his duties – to his family and to himself.

Books

Inconsistencies in Law

“By recognizing variation in the law, we are accepting the idea that no one rule can be thought of as ‘natural’. The law is seen as an imposed order, a response to political and social tradition and not something sent from heaven. The law can change; the law can vary from place to place. And in those changes and variations, the law, like any social product, reflects the persistent conflicts and contradictions within society.

There is a tension between our common desire that the law be uniform and certain and our wish that it somehow meet the needs of justice in the individual case. There are conflicting roles of judges, the decision-making elite in a democratic society. Should judges conform to popular sentiment? Should judges somehow watch for the welfare of those who come before them? Should they assist the ignorant, or just apply disinterestedly the machinery of the law?

There are differing concepts of duties to the parties of a lawsuit. Should they be forced to aid each other in some kind of higher service to the truth, or were the plaintiff and defendant independent gladiators, going at each other with no holds barred? What is the community’s stake in the just resolution of disputes? How much does the idea of a right require an individual to enforce it on his own?”

-Excerpt from “One L” by Scott Turow

Books

The Algebra of Infinite Justice

by Arundhati Roy. This book came highly recommended which is the only reason I picked it up after the fiasco with The God of Small Things. I’ve held the opinion that Roy is quite opportunistic for her role in the Narmada Bachao Andholan (Save the Narmada campaign) but I cannot recall the source of this opinion nor the reasons.

This book makes me want to go “Ohh myyy Gaaawd” like Janice from Friends. The foreword (by John Berger) claims that the book is well argued. Right. Not unless he thinks empty rhetoric and an illogical rant constitutes an argument. Here’s an excerpt from her first essay where she laments the fact that India has gone nuclear.

“Our cities and forests, our fields and villages will burn for days. Rivers will turn to poison. The air will become fire. The wind will spread the flames. When everything there is to burn has been burned and the fires die, the smoke will rise and shut out the sun. The earth will be enveloped in darkness. There will be no day. Only interminable night. Temperatures will drop to far below zero and nuclear winter will set in. Water will turn into toxic ice. Radioactive fallout will seep through the earth and contaminate ground water. Most living things, animal and vegetable, fish and fowl will die. Only rats and cockroaches will breed and multiply and compete with foraging, relict humans for what little food there is.”

Jeez. All I ask for is a little logic.