December 27, 2010

Love In the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I have just finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera but I do not know how to rate it. I read umpteen reviews about it to see how others felt about it. Most of the people seem to have mixed feelings about the book too and do not seem to know whether to love it or hate it. I didn’t love it, definitely not, but I was struck by something within it.

The book was not an easy read for me and had me googling a lot to read about Caribbean culture, history and life, which I found particularly interesting. I liked the manner in which the story is woven and the way in which the plot unfolded, but did not find the style of narration much to my liking. The narration in third party did not help much at all and I did not find myself being able to connect with any of the characters in the book.

The book is about young Florentino Ariza and his passionate love for the beautiful Fermina Daza. However, Fermina’s father opposes the relation and takes her away for a year. When she returns, she is disillusioned at the sight of Florentino who was eagerly waiting for her and gets married to one of the most eligible bachelor, Dr.Juevnal Urbino. Florentino cannot get over his love for her and decides to wait patiently and optimistically for her. Opportunity comes his way after Fermina’s husband dies falling from a mango tree while trying to save his parrot. Florentino approaches her and tries to win her back after more than half a century.

None of the main characters, Florentino Ariza , Fermina Daza or Dr. Urbino,were likeable. Florentino comes across as a selfish and self destructive man at the same time. I found him very boring, with a shallow personality, totally wasting his life lost in love.  His sexual escapades were quite revolting, especially the affair with the young girl who he was guardian to and all those other hapless widows. I could not find any reason why Florentino found Fermina different or better than all the women he came across. I could not understand why, in the first place, he was not giving himself a chance to love any of the others. Also I did not understand why the author was depicting all the widowed women out there as desperate. The detailed explanation and narrative also was quite boring at times and had me sighing a lot! Any by the way, what was the relevance of the character of Jeremiah Saint-Amour. Probably to show that death is an inescapable finality of life!

My husband was left wondering why I was laboring over a book if I was not able to enjoy it. But I could not explain to him why I did not feel like leaving the book mid way through, and why on the contrary, I was immersed in it. Probably because I still have a thing for love stories! Probably, a re-read and a better analysis at a later stage will help me to understand and love the book better. Hmmmm.. deep down, I feel this is a book to be loved. I just have to learn to love it!  and yes, I will revisit this one once more!

And in the meantime, any of you who have read the book and loved it, please throw some light on this for me, will you?

December 26, 2010

Remebering 26/12/2004

I feel Indra’s smile is among the best I have come across. Its very genuine and lights up his dark, boyish face with total sincerity. I was introduced to this boy from Jaffna when I joined the branch office in 2003. He must have been in his early twenties and was employed by a cleaning company for a very low salary. He used to spend his lunch break cleaning our office and a few cars to supplement his income. He was the main bread winner of a large family and must have led a hand to mouth existence to ensure that he could send the monthly draft to his family back home to meet their expenses.

His sense of duty and punctuality was surprising. He did his humble job of vacuuming, mopping and dusting with total involvement. Even a tiny speck of dust would not miss his earnest duster. He would walk over the place and supervise his own work. On those rare days where he noticed something was not to his complete satisfaction, he would not think twice about getting the vacuum / duster out once again. Such was his commitment and his sense of responsibility. He never forgot to wish and exchange pleasantries with each and everyone in the office albeit shyly.

Towards the middle of 2004, he informed us that he is going back to his home country as he had got another job that would earn him a few more hundreds of dirhams. As per the laws of the country, he would have to exit and would have a ban of 6 months imposed. He intended to return after the ban period. He introduced us to a friend of his and requested us to let him take over his job at our office. We agreed though we missed Indra’s smile and his dedication. Eventually, he was pushed to the depths of our memory.

Until one day after Dec 26th, we were informed by his friend that Indra’s home which was along the coast was dragged away and swallowed by the tsunami. He had no further information about Indra or his family. We do not know whether he was in Jaffna then or whether he had returned to UAE after the ban. We do not know whether he still has the large family for whom he had to work tirelessly. We do not know if he has gone on with life and is still able to flash that innocent, bright smile of his!

On this day, let’s take a moment out of our busy life to remember and pray for the thousands of innocent people who were victimized by the furious giant waves of the Indian Ocean in 2004!

December 21, 2010

Taking Stock of 2010!

Here we are at the fag end of 2010 and this is the best time to take stock of the year that is whistling by.

On a personal level 2010 for me was a grey year. Though we were blessed with abundance of comforts (thank God for that!!) and things were generally smooth without any mishaps (touch wood!), I am currently immersed in a sea of negative energy and have been worrying and stressing myself out as never before. Where does all this negative energy come from?? Well, to begin with, I have identified a few people who have been gloriously passing it on to me and sucking out all my energy endlessly. No hard feelings towards them and thanks to them, I have thought about and learnt of new ways to interact with such kind. The sad part is that I have not yet been able to successfully implement these methods yet!! I have also identified the negative energy in my thinking and now this is definitely easier to deal with. But since I am straying away from my stock taking here, I leave that aside for the time being!

Since I like to view the negative aspects in the shadow of the positivity only, I begin with the plusses:

• I will start with nothing less than the crowing glory of this year. As with any one else, a place I can call my own has been a major item on my long term goals and this year I was successfully able to accomplish that. A small apartment, in a small town is all that it is but for me it is a dream fulfilled. The installments are paid up and if everything goes well, the apartment will be all ours in March 2011!!

• Completion of the Associateship was the checking off of a goal for the year! This is something I should have done last year but allowed myself a leniency since I was occupied with more demanding things such as hmmm… pregnancy and childbirth!!

• Motherhood has taken over me totally and I am enjoying the role of being a mom of two thoroughly! Sometime back I came across this post on identity by COS. At this stage of my life, I love being identified as a mother and that is how I want to be identified! Each milestone of Aarush and each development of Appu has given me immense joy and pride! This year has witnessed Appu’s evolvement into a confident young girl with a strong personality of her own and look forward to the continuous development on this front!

And now on to the minuses.....

• Career – Sadly, there were not many days I woke up this year looking forward to work and its related challenges neither were there many days I went to bed satisfied at having had a fulfilling day! For the first time in 13 years I can say that this is the year I have not truly loved what I have been doing. Neither a glorious promotion nor ample authority helped! Having to say good bye to some very close and supportive colleagues was not very helpful either! I have considered various options, change of role, change of place, change of field etc! All I can say now is that the coming year will definitely see a major change as far as career is concerned, for better or worse only time will tell.

• Health and beauty –ALL TIME LOW!! 20 kgs overweight, creaking knees, immeasurable waistline, grey blotchy skin, dry flyaway hair! Add to this an irrepressible craving for crunches and munches, religious mid night snacking, regular bingeing, an aversion towards physical activity of any sort - need I say more. All the alarms are ringing wildly and its time I sit up and take note and do something effective and soon!!

• Social Life – A lot of scope for improvement on this one! I have not been able to give the due attention to some precious friends of mine. I have been avoiding a few of them intentionally as I did not want to burden them with the aforesaid negative energy though I do know that something as invaluable as their patient hearing would have eased out things for me! On a brighter note, I have been able to develop relations with relatives! I am quite reticent and mostly plain lazy to keep in touch with relatives!

Ahh…that feels good! After having taken a stock, I feel that things were not so bad after all! A lot of new things learnt and realized, and lot of changes and amends to me made, a lot more to look forward to …isn’t that just what keeps life going! Cheers!

December 13, 2010

Thank You, Mr. Falker

When I picked up this book from the highly discounted sale at “Borders”, little did I know that I was laying my hands on a true treasure!  This is an autobiographical story written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco and tells and inspiring story based on the author’s learning disability.

Little Trisha loves the world of books and enjoys being read to. But she struggles to read on her own and finds that all the letters and numbers get jumbled up. To make matters worse she also has to hide from her classmates who bully her and call her dumb and finds solace in drawing. Help comes to her in the form of Mr. Falker, her fifth grade teacher who understands her misery and discovers her incredible artistic ability. With his efforts, she learns to successfully tackle her disability. Appu found the story very moving and was touched to the core by Trisha’s plight!

This book will be a definite source of support and reassurance for all those young ones struggling with learning disability.

Johnny Johnny..

Eating Sugar?
Telling lies?
Open your mouth!

December 7, 2010

2011 South Asian Challenge

Just happened to read about the 2011 South Aisan Challenge from Monika and Swaram and I am so excited about it!

I have been a book lover for as long as I can remember.  Books are a big part of my life and I love surrouding myself with books though of late this is the only thing that I seem to be doing, surrounding myself with more and more books and not actually reading them. Still I can proudly say that at any point of time, I would be having at least a book in my current reading list.  Allz not lost yet!

So when I came across this Challenge, I thought of grabbing up the opportunity.  I have been reading more books by Indian Authors lately and this seems to gel in so well with my current interest.  (Out of the measly 12 books that I read in 2010, 7 are by Indian Authors!!) Its also such a great opportunity to come across new authors.  This is also the first time that I am taking up any kind of challenge here and really have no clue as to how well I will be able to progress with the time constraints.  But why to put limits ….. I am ambitious and planning to read at least 10 South Asian books in 2011!  Here’s a list I have drawn up immediately upon hearing of the challenge.  Longing to start working on this and to add more!

1)      The Mistress of Spices – Chitra Banerjee
2)      The House of Blue Mangoes – David Davidar
3)      Shalimar The Clown – Salman Rushdie
4)      Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
5)      Saraswati Park – Anjali Jospeh
6)      Six Suspects – Vikas Swarup
7)      The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai (This is a re-read partly.  I am not sure if it counts)
8)     Mahashwetha - Sudha Murthy

So while you read up more about the challenge, I will go ahead and sign up here.  Happy reading to you all!

December 1, 2010

Whats the issue?

This one from Appu had me rolling with laughter.

We were travelling from Oman border with cousins and we had to present our passports to the officials at the border. Appu took back the passport from my cousin and while flipping through it asks:

Appu – “A, did you have any problem in 2005?”
My cousin starts thinking deeply and replies: “No, why did you ask?”
Appu – “Then why is it written here date of issue 2005?”