The Saleem Sinai effect :)

I thought it’s time I took a look at my blog, blew off the dust that must have gathered and maybe get it back in shape. Also, since it’s vacation and I’m practically jobless, it’s not like I can give the “I’m busy” excuse and ask my ‘inner voice’ to shut up every time it points at my blog and asks me to do something about it. And with some friends who keep asking me to blog, I hardly had an option.

To be honest, I can’t really think of anything much to blog about. So, to get myself back into the flow, I thought I would just write about the book I read last. I started reading ‘Midnight’s Children’ sometime by February end and, much to my relief and happiness, finished it a few days ago! Finally! It’s very slow, and boring, at times. I felt it had a lot of unnecessary details and digressions. If I were to read it again, I doubt I would be patient enough to finish it. But did I like it? YES! Would I recommend it to you? YES!

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Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie is a book that was adjudged the ‘Booker of Bookers’ – the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first twenty-five years – in 1993. When I started reading it, I was curious. I wanted to know what made this book so great that it was given the Booker of Bookers title. As I progressed, I was confused. By the time I finished it, I wasn’t bothered. Whatever might have been the reason [for the award], whatever it might or might not have won, I loved it. I don’t know if it makes sense but I have a kind of bond with every book I read. Maybe not with the books I didn’t like. But with most other books, I do. Inspite of the way it irritated and frustrated me, I think I have ‘bonded’ with this book. And that’s what is important to me, as a reader.

Coming to the book, one point I strongly felt is regarding the implied focus of the book and its actual one. The title and the blurb/outline on the back cover lead you to believe this book is about the Midnight’s Children. My friend was reading this book before me and once, when I asked her how it was going, she said, “I reached Book Two (the book is divided into three parts) and yet, nothing seems to be happening.” I didn’t understand what she meant but once I started reading, I did. If you read this book, thinking it’s about Midnight’s Children, you might end up being very much disappointed. Because Midnight’s Children is just a part of it. Not even a major part, I’m afraid.

This book truly and totally belongs to Saleem Sinai, the narrator and protagonist, born on the exact moment of India’s independence, (and as a result, gifted with extraordinary powers). It is Saleem’s biography; one which he writes, and at the same time, narrates to his ‘mighty pickle-woman’, Padma. Saleem irritates, frustrates, confuses you just as much as he evokes your interest, moves you to laughter or tears and creates a place for himself in your mind. He can go on with his elaborate thoughts that are way too detailed and end up getting on your nerves. There have been many instances when I felt, “Why can’t he just shut up and get on with the story?” But then, that is how Saleem is, and after awhile, you get used to it…and the next time, you will be prepared for his rant. He digresses way too much but he is also adept (super-adept!!) at keeping you hooked (throwing in interesting bits about what lies ahead). He is one hell of a writer-narrator, I must say! I know it’s Rushdie who should be appreciated but, well, I think I’m too attached to Saleem to realize the difference. [And, anyway, when I appreciate Saleem, it’s basically Rushdie I’m talking about, in an indirect way]

Like I said, it’s Saleem’s biography. And he relates it in a very detailed way, including very minute facts. You get to know absolutely everything, right from the details of his grandfather’s marriage, his parents’ life before his birth, all the ‘unspeakable’ acts he committed, the people who changed his life, so on…until his death. I’d be surprised if you have ever read a biography more detailed than Saleem’s. And, I forgot an important part. Saleem, being connected to India by his birth, relates the country’s historical and major events in a parallel manner. Which is brilliant, I think! The work of a genius, in fact. The writing style is kind of unconventional (different would be an understatement) but I loved it, nevertheless.

I’ve grown to love the character and am so attached to him (obviously, I know, literally, everything about him!!). So, well, I could go on. If you intend to read this book at some point, go ahead. I hope you will have the patience it demands and love it as much as I did. Only advice I’d give is: Don’t read it for Midnight’s Children; read it for Saleem.

This is the most favourite quote from the book. I think it kind of defines the book, and Saleem, as well. And what I loved most about it is the strikingly beautiful truth it talks about.

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A World Where Safety is a Distant Dream

Winter has set in, very abruptly. One morning, when I woke up, it was unusually cold. Like, very perceptibly cold. And when the same happened the next day, it was supposed to mean that winter had arrived. Well, winter or not, there is no respite from the sweltering heat during the rest of the day!

Anyhow, I don’t intend to delve deeper into small talk. Getting straight to the point, all of a sudden, I feel like I’m being pelted with news/stories of brutalities. First, I was emotionally perturbed since I was reading Lucky. And then, there was the Connecticut

Victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and Nancy Lanza and her son Adam

Victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and Nancy Lanza and her son Adam

massacre last week. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. While reading the news article, I felt confused, helpless and terrified. Not terrified by the incident, terrified by man. Has the world come to such a situation that any random person (mentally unstable or not) can just go around killing innocent people? Kinda makes you wonder how sane the person next to you is. Just in case they decide to pull out a gun and shoot you down (and NO, I am not joking…James Holmes & Adam Lanza should serve as enough evidence). [Another recent incident I found while googling]

On Sunday, I watched Talaash, a new Bollywood movie starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor. It is a mystery thriller, revolving around the red-light district in Mumbai. Apart from having an excellent script, acting, dialogues and cinematography, the movie was emotionally gripping for me. Even after nearly a week, it still hasn’t left my mind. It led me to think very deeply about sex workers and their lives. Like Kareena’s character mentions in the movie, they are not even counted as part of the population and nobody cares about what happens to them.

And, just when I was slowly getting over it and falling back into the routine, I hear of this gang-rape that happened in Delhi. A 23-year

Follow the image link to read another moving post

Follow the image link to read another moving post

old girl was gang-raped in a moving bus in India’s capital city, brutally tortured, stripped and thrown out of the bus, along with the male friend who had been with her. The doctors testify that they have never seen such brutality on a victim of sexual assault. The girl has undergone a few surgeries, doctors hope she will recover but then, even if she does, she won’t be able to lead a normal life. Thanks to a bunch of demons who were too blind to see the suffering they were inflicting on another human being.

When I read about this incident, more than hurt or anger, I felt mentally weak and numb. Like I was weary, fed up, irritated at the government, people, everyone for letting it happen over and over again. I hadn’t known much of the gruesome details but happened to come across this FB post. I’m disgusted, appalled and numbed by shock. I try to create the situation in my head but, whatever I do, I cannot understand how a man could do something so destructive, let alone the thought of 5 others supporting and joining him.

I don’t know much about the girl. I don’t even know her name. But, like me, she was a young girl, who had dreams and aspirations for her life ahead…all of it shattered within hours. I can imagine the pain and torment she must have gone through, even though my imagination would be nowhere near what she actually endured. Come another controversy, and we might forget this girl, she will recede in our memories as the victim of the Delhi gang-rape. But I hope she pulls through, lives (in the true sense of the word), and does it with a strength that will put her rapists to shame. I hope she fulfills all those dreams that seem broken now, and retrieves the happiness that seems lost to her now.

I’m not vain enough to think that my blog post or FB update or heated discussions can actually make a big impact. But whatever impact it may create, I need to react. And this is my way of reacting, raising my voice against such atrocities and supporting the girl.

Hoping for a safer, better, brighter future ahead…[sounds too cliché? I haven’t completed the sentence]…for every girl in the country! 🙂

Malum consilium quod mutari non potest ;)

Hey! 🙂 Well, I hadn’t expected to be back so soon. But I am! 🙂 With lots to talk about. Obviously!

So, I’m back in Kerala. It’s been around 5 days since I got here yet it feels like I’ve been here for a long time now. I’m staying with my cousin and sister. It’s a relief having them here…helps me get over the occasional bouts of loneliness  that hit me. We went out on a couple of nights. I had my first experience of shopping for foodstuff by myself (with the cousin). We had to think of what all we would need for the week, stay within the budget and make sensible buys. It was interesting…and fun, in some ways. 🙂 After the first couple of days of eating out, we have been trying to cook stuff at home. And, even though it may not be as good as what mom used to make back at home, we seem to be doing fine for now. 🙂

There has been a huge change in my plans. Yes, I’m still planning to work…no change there. But in a different place. A city nearer to home but far away (way better, that is) in terms of lifestyle. And during the past couple of days, I’ve been busy job-hunting. I’m supposed to be disturbed by the sudden twist…but to be honest, I’m excited. The new plan, if everything goes fine, would mean double the experiences I’d have had with the previous plan. The idea is this: my cousins suggested that instead of moving off to a completely new place in a completely different state, I could work in a place over here (in Kerala) for a few months. That way, I’d get a taste of how it is to live by myself and will be better able to handle things when I go to a new place. Makes sense. And since it involves more places, more opportunities and more of everything, I thought I would give it a try. When else would I get to do this? So, I’m surprisingly very happy about the change in plans… 🙂 Looking forward to it.

And, that’s about what I’ve been upto. I’ve missed blogging…I’ve missed putting my thoughts into words and letting it out over here. Yesterday, when I opened up the WordPress homepage, it felt so awesome and I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt like I was back in a space where I belong…after a very long time (even though I keep reminding myself it’s just been 5 days or so!). I have a lot of catching up to do, I’ll get to that, eventually. 🙂

Moving On Can Be Super-Scary!

I just have two more weeks left! I don’t believe this. I can’t believe almost two months have gone by so fast! I’m already going crazy, thinking of the hell lot of stuff I’ll have to do once I get back. And apart from the tension, one emotion that’s been disturbing me is the sorrow of leaving. Once I start working, I have no idea when I’ll be able to come here on a vacation like this. For now, I’m just pushing aside that thought. For later.

It might sound stupid to some and crazy to some others. Even I’m amazed at what I’m about to embark on. I have absolutely no idea about what to do or how to go about with things, once I get back to India. I’m planning to move to a city that’s completely new and strange to me. I don’t even have close friends there! And I have no plan, not even a rough idea of how I intend to make this happen. Am I scared? Hell, yes, I am. Am I tensed? Yes, very much, even though I’m keeping a large part of it for later.

I seriously don’t know how I am going to find a place to stay, live by myself, manage everything by myself in a completely new city… I did NOT tell my parents about how scared I’m. I don’t think I ever will. They are already pretty freaked out and tensed. They tried tempting me with the idea of working over here. But I stayed firm on my decision. Anyway, I don’t want them to know I’m super-clueless, too. All that worry could be injurious to their health. 🙂

I did talk about this with some friends. Some of them said they believed I could do it, that I’d be able to pull through these situations. But a couple of my closest friends (one of them being Saba) were really concerned and asked me to think well before deciding. Saba, in particular, was super-worried. She tried her best to talk me into staying here. And, to be frank, she made me think about a lot of aspects that hadn’t occurred to me. Anyhow, eventually, she supported me in my decision. Not because I convinced her or anything (I doubt I’ll ever be able to do that!). But because she knows me.

For one thing, I’m firm (read: stubborn) when it comes to my decisions. Another thing, as she rightly pointed out, is that if I fall for my parents’ suggestion and stay back, I’ll never be able to feel fully happy. I will always wonder how things would have turned out had I gone forward with my plan. And it will keep gnawing at my happiness. So, she told me that it’s better that I go ahead with my decision. Otherwise I’ll never be happy. 🙂 I love her for saying that!

I’m aware of the risk I’m taking. I know things can go wrong. Very wrong. But, let’s just be positive. And, even if something goes wrong, I know I’ll deal with it somehow. That’s what life is about, after all. That’s how you learn to live! Exactly why I want to take this risk. I want to get out of the comfort zone that I’ve been in all these years, know what it is like to live by myself, deal with problems on my own…experience life. 🙂

Lot of hopes, dreams…and yes, a tiny bit of worries. Let’s wait and see how things turn out to be! 🙂

How’s Life ?

Last day, while chatting with Merlin, she asked me how I was feeling. And  I told her, without a second thought, that I was feeling great! She asked me if there was a specific reason and I didn’t have any. I mean, I’m just happy. I’m not exactly doing much over here. In fact, all I do is catch up with the movies/music I missed, read, loaf around, talk to Ann, so on. If I were back at Kerala, I’d probably be telling you about how bored and fed up I’m with the same situation.

There’s something about this place that really connects to me…brings back the happiness that I don’t feel elsewhere! I feel more myself, happier …and the best part is I don’t feel the need to search for happiness. Back there, I used to feel like something is missing, that I need to search for that ‘something’ to make myself feel better. Over here, I can sense a kind of completeness from within. 🙂 Which is exactly why I love this place!

Every time I come here on vacation, I rediscover the zeal for life…then, I go back and lose it… only to come here and find it again. It’s incredible how places can have so much of influence on you, right? 🙂 I’m in love with RAK for the sheer joy it always gives me…for the way it awakens all my dreams and hopes! How’s life going with you? 🙂