Because I am Happy!

With the fresh year awaiting down at the corner, I am all filled with happiness and gratitude for the lovely year I had lived! The love of family I received, the memories with friends I made, the cool projects I handled in my job, the fun I had with my colleagues during work, the trust I received from my manager, the awesome bloggers I got to interact with on WordPress, the wonderful books I got to read, the silly mistakes I did and embarrassed myself and then laughed it over! I am feeling deeply contented with the time I have lived!

Doesn’t  it feel awesome to celebrate the happiness together! Join me to the beats of this awesome Happiness song!

 

“Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”

 

You Tube Link (In case it doesn’t play here)

I hope to listen to your happiness songs too and know how your year had been! Do invite me to join to the beats of your happiness song! Stay Happy!

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You cannot catch me, I am the Gingerbread Man

Once there lived an old man, an old woman, and a little boy. One day, the old woman was baking bread. With the dough that was left over, she made a Gingerbread Man with the little boy’s help. The old woman made the shape of the Gingerbread Man. The boy put two black currants as his eyes, and a red cherry as the nose, a crescent-shaped apple slice as the smiley mouth, and three grapes as three buttons on his shirt.

Then the old woman popped the Gingerbread Man into the oven, and went out to the garden. The little boy waited by the oven. He was very hungry.

After a while, the oven door opened suddenly, and the Gingerbread Man leapt out! The boy was amazed. The Gingerbread Man ran towards the door and raced down the garden.

The boy could not believe his eyes, but he soon yelled out, “Help! The Gingerbread Man is getting away!”

The old man, who was repairing his lawn mower, and the old woman, ran after the Gingerbread Man, shouting and screaming. The little boy joined them. So all three began to chase the Gingerbread Man.

However, the Gingerbread Man, still racing, shouted to them,
“Run! Run! As fast as you can! But you cannot catch me. I am the Gingerbread Man!”

Soon, a spotted dog saw the Gingerbread Man and joined in the chase. He barked, “If I catch you, I will gobble you up.”

A hungry cow grazing in the barn saw the Gingerbread Man, and she also wanted to take a bite. “I will get you and munch on you,” she screeched.

She joined the little boy, the old man, the old woman, and the dog in chasing the Gingerbread Man.

However, the Gingerbread Man, still racing, shouted to them,
“Run! Run! As fast as you can! But you cannot catch me. I am the Gingerbread Man!”

At the end of the lane, three mowers were busy cutting grass. When they saw the Gingerbread Man, they stopped working, and wanted to eat him. They also ran after the Gingerbread Man.

Thus, the little boy, the old man, the old woman, the spotted dog, the hungry cow, and the three mowers were chasing the Gingerbread Man. However, the Gingerbread Man, still racing, shouted to them,
“Run! Run! As fast as you can! But you cannot catch me. I am the Gingerbread Man!”

After a while, the Gingerbread Man reached a farm. Standing at the gate, were two piglets waiting for the farmer to feed them. They were really hungry. When they saw the Gingerbread Man, they jumped out, and joined in the chase.

Thus, the little boy, the old man, the old woman, the spotted dog, the hungry cow, the three mowers, and the two piglets were chasing the Gingerbread Man.

However, the Gingerbread Man, still racing, shouted to them,
“Run! Run! As fast as you can! But you cannot catch me. I am the Gingerbread Man!”

As the Gingerbread Man raced on, a pony grazing on a meadow saw him. The pony thought the Gingerbread Man would be very tasty. “I will devour you in a couple of bites!” said the pony, and began to trot after the Gingerbread Man.

Thus, the little boy, the old man, the old woman, the spotted dog, the hungry cow, the three mowers, the two piglets and the pony were chasing the Gingerbread Man.

However, the Gingerbread Man, still racing, shouted to them,
“Run! Run! As fast as you can! But you cannot catch me. I am the Gingerbread Man!”

The Gingerbread Man raced faster than ever, and soon reached a riverbank. The river seemed quite deep. He gazed down at the water, and sighed, “Oh dear! What shall I do? I don’t know how to swim. They will catch me and eat me.”

.

 

Just then a cunning fox came to him and said- ‘I will help you cross the river, donot worry. Climb on my back’ The gingerbread man climbed over it.

As they were in the middle of the river, the fox asked the Gingerbread Man to climb over it’s nose as the water was rising high. When the Gingerbread man climbed on his nose, the fox jerked its snout up, throwing the Gingerbread Man up in the air. The fox opened it’s greedy mouth to gulp it in, but a dove was flying by and the Gingerbreadman caught its tail and swung with it to jump to the other shore, and ran towards the woods.

‘I won’t spare you’ shouted the fox and climbed the shore. Meanwhile the little boy, the old man, the old woman, the spotted dog, the hungry cow, the three mowers, the two piglets and the pony also reached the other side.

They looked left and right and hither and tither and yonder and tonder but they couldn’t find the Gingerbreadman.’Oh we have lost it’ they groaned. So they all got sad and returned to their homes.

Since then, whenever they slept at night, they would dream of working in the garden or walking in the fields and a tiny figure would run besides them and they will run after it, hungrily!

‘Wait, Wait I want to eat you man’

And the tiny figure will say, as it ran forever away from their clutches-

“Run Run as fast as you can! You can not catch me, I am the Gingerbread Man.”

****

 

Afterwords: I got a chance to revisit the story of Gingerbread Man today, after so many years! I immensely liked the beautiful artwork by Carol of Gingerbread Man which prompted me to get back to the story once again.   I read the story published on kidsworldfun.com. I loved experiencing again the zest, playfullness and energy of the Gingerbread Man. It wanted to be free and was proud to outrun everyone who tried to catch it. It was unfortunate it reached the river and it did not know how to swim and the cunning fox devoured it.

Few days back, I had shared a post Should Wizard Hit Mommy in which I had shared a thought that children stories should have more practical endings. But today I felt that children stories should have happy endings! As I read the Gingerbread Man today, I didn’t like the fact that such a free spirited character should meet such a morbid conclusion. So, I re-wrote this story, borrowing the original content from kidsworldfun.com, and then introducing a new ending to the story after Gingerbread Man reaches the river.

I think a character like Gingerbread Man, who got alive so mysteriously and displayed such vivacity should remain alive and keep haunting people with it’s memorable lines!

gin

 

Let Me Tell You A Story

Hello Dear Friends, I hope you all had a nice weekend! I read a novella (a short Novel) this weekend, called Vaadivaasal (Arena), written by CS Chellappa in 1949. The story was so interesting I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Today I felt like telling the story to you all. I have retold the story below concisely in my own language. It’s a story about pride. I hope you too will like it!

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There is a huge village crowd gathered at the arena. One of the biggest sports of the time is going to start. In the adjoining enclosure, bulls are being brought. They are decorated and a cloth is wound across their sharp horns. This is the sports of Jallikattu, the fight between man and the beast. One by one, bulls will be let lose in the arena and daring men, will jump in and try to subdue the bulls, untangle the cloth from its horn, signifying their victory over the beast and keep the cloth piece as a badge of honour, valor, power and masculinity. But there is no guarantee of life. Blood will be spilt, and if somebody’s luck is covered with dark clouds, there may be deaths too.

Several years ago, a brave man with the name of Ambuli became popular for defeating lots of bulls and claiming several badges of honor. But one particular bull, named Kaari, a magnanimous beast with powers equal to that of an elephant, tramples Ambuli, throws him in air, and with its sharp horns, tears his body. Ambuli is rescued but he only lives for a short duration, before dying he tells his son, “My son..you must.. “ He dies before completing the sentence. This bull becomes the most dreaded bull since then. It’s owner is the landlord himself, the organiser of this sport.

The bull grows even more powerful and its skin becomes tough as leather under landlord’s care, because his servants feed it with nutritious food and trains it in ferocious manoeuvers. Every year when the sport is organized, the bull is brought into the arena at last, with great drumbeats, and all the men are thrown an open challenge, and magnificent rewards are announced. But who can beat the wild beast Kaari! Only blood spills and bones break. People feel scared of the bull. ‘The landlord’s bull is invincible.’ ‘ It had killed the bravest of men Ambuli. How can anyone else stand before it.’ And the landlord’s pride surges and he smiles cunningly at this.

Several years later, today we are at the same arena where the incident of Ambuli getting killed had happened. Two young men are standing near the enclosure. One is called Picchi and the other, Marudan. Picchi has come to participate in the sport and Marudan his friend has come to support him. An old man standing next to them, who has witnessed several of this sports in past, feels inclined to speak about the popular bulls to these yongsters, as the scene is set for the event. The crowd gets excited as the sports begin. Amidst the chaos and excitement and heat of the sun, the bulls are let in one by one and daring men jump in to show their valor. But Picchi jumps in only when the most powerful of the bulls are let in. He subdues them all and instantly becomes a center of attraction for the crowd. ‘Will this valiant youth beat the demon beast Kaari?’ people start talking like this. ‘No No, Kaari is invincible. The landlord has fed it and made it strong and wicked like himself. No one can beat it.’

As time passes, the moment arrives when Kaari has to be let in. Amidst the clarion of drum beats the arrival of Kaari in the arena is announced. It walks in majestically like a king. The landlord’s chest swells with pride. ‘Oh look at the beast! How arrogant! It seems like human more than an animal.’ ‘Poor Picchi will be torn apart’ The old man also becomes sad. He has developed affection for Picchi. He warns him and recalls the fateful day when he had seen the bravest of the men, Ambuli, get killed by Kaari. He gets anxious for Picchi and even suggests that he should not go to fight Kaari. But Picchi says with conviction- ‘I will go! I need to regain my father’s lost pride!’ The old man’s heart skips a beat when he realizes that Picchi is actually Ambuli’s son!

When Kaari enters the arena, Picchi jumps in at once, the crowd goes mad with excitement, fear and beastly instincts. Picchi jumps and catches hold of the bull’s hump with one hand and swiftly catches his one horn with the other hand. The bull tries to shake him away, and roars like a lion. But Picchi holds him tight and tries to twist its horn to one side. The bull gets furious and starts jumping to throw Picchi away. Picchi sways with the bull’s body like a doll. After three powerful jumps, incessant shaking of head and ferocious roars, the bull starts to get tired but Picchi is still holding fast, though the sweat in his palms causes the loosening of his grips.  In one sudden jerk by the bull, Picchi is thrown up in air and the bull makes an attack on the falling body of Picchi. The horn pierces the thigh of Picchi, making him shriek and clench his teeth but at the same instant Picchi rips the cloth piece from its horn and falls on floor with a thud and dust rises up in the air. Picchi has snatched the cloth from its horn! Picchi has got victory! Marudan pulls his body out from the arena just before the bull tries to charge on him and kill him.

While Picchi is saved, the bull gets mad with rage. It charges towards the crowd of people and tramples upon whosoever comes its way. Blood is spilt and a stampede ensues. The bull runs towards the river, its horn soaked in blood and it roars like a lunatic. It goes to the river bank and starts excavating land with its horns.

‘ Kaari is defeated!’ ‘The landlord’s bull is defeated’ ‘Oh the brave man’ ‘Lift him , stop his blood’ ‘He is our hero’ people talk like this in excitement. The old man’s eyes become wet with tears. ‘The son has regained the pride of his father’ he says. Meanwhile the landlord shows no expression on his face. He leaves the scene quietly. And with few of his servants goes to the river side. He sees Kaari and the madness that has come over it. The beast continues to roar and scrape earth with its horns, raising dust all over. The landlord looks around. There is no villager in sight. All are celebrating their new hero there at the arena. He takes out his revolver, aims at the bull and shoots it down. The bull dies with a groan. The landlord gives it a brief cold look, then turns back and starts walking back towards the arena.

***

“If an animal’s pride is hurt, it leads to destruction; it’s the same with a man’s pride too!”

9780198097471

The Strange Case of Billy Biswas (A Novel)

“The most futile cry of man is his wish to be understood”

First thing first- The novel has been very nicely written. The language is simple and the articulation is neat. I admired the vocabulary and sentence forms the author used in his narration.

Synopsis

The narrator meets a person called Billy and becomes friends with him instantly. Both of them were students in America when they first meet. Billy is an affable guy with an aura of charm, delighting every one with his quick wits and engaging conversations. Soon, destiny brings them back to India, and Billy slowly begins to lose his glamour as he starts brooding upon his identity in a philosophical sense. He feels dejected by the excessive materialism he sees around him-people hankering for money, unnecessary showoffs and extravagant lifestyles. I can explain his dismay in the words of Dave Ramsey — ‘We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.’

He decides to marry and expects life to become cheerful again but it does not help.(I agree with this fact) He only becomes more irritable and quarrelsome. Being an anthropologist, he often goes to expeditions to remote villages to study the lifestyle of tribal people. During one such visit, to a village in central India something remarkable happens and he disappears.

The Author

When I was reading the reviews of this book, I found many reviewers pointing out that the author has unjustly remained an obscure figure despite being such a fine writer. His caliber can be appreciated from the fact that he has already been honoured with India’s one of the most notable literary awards (Sahitya Academy Award) in 1982 for his novel The Last Labyrinth. He earned his MS degree from MIT, USA and hence his novels always carry some reminiscence from those days. His family lived in the holy city of Varanasi, which influenced his philosophical cravings.

In Quest for a Meaningful Life

What I loved in the novel was this theme, where a smart, educated guy is driven by his longing to find a meaningful life. I believe in simplicity and find verbose lifestyle quite obnoxious.Therefore, I was quite compassionate towards the character, Billy , who held a strong determination to go against the crowd, the conventional life, because he knew his inner being, his soul will not be satisfied unless he followed his heart. In course, he commits mistakes, learns his lessons when it is too late and conducts acts which only aggrandizes his perils, but it is all these imperfections which gives a more human touch to his character. The portrayal of the fact that the society suppresses such people is also an important part of the theme.

The strange case of Billy Biswal had at last been disposed of. It had been disposed of in the only manner that a human society knows of disposing its rebels, its seers, its true lovers.

I liked the mystical touch the author has given to the whole episode. Billy’s encounter with the tribe rituals, the ancient ruins and the folklores the tribal people live by, makes an intriguing read. You will like the character of the narrator, who tries his best to do everything for his friend Billy, but just one little mistake by him jeopardizes Billy’s extraordinary endeavour. The only element I felt missing was the final conclusion. There is no conclusive idea in the novel, just a narration of the state of affairs which anyways is, thought provoking.

Conclusion

This book is a quick read (240 pages). I finished it in two days in 3 sessions. I will recommend it to anyone who likes such topics as following one’s heart and also who likes philosophical themed stories.The novel is rich in imparting a feeling of adventure, suspense and curiosity. It will surely make an interesting read under the cozy winter sun.

“This is where I belong. This is what I have always dreamt of”

the-strange-case-of-billy-biswal

Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Easter Island (A Novel)

Easter Island

I read about this mysterious island in a book titled ‘World Famous Unsolved Mysteries’ several years ago. Since then it has always arrested my interest even at the slightest mention of it. Therefore, when I stumbled upon this book titled “Easter Island: A Novel” at the old book store, I bought it instantly. The highlight on the back cover suggested a tale of mystery where two stories, belonging to two different eras begin to unfold in this mystical island and finds an interesting conclusion as the stories intersect each other.

Synopsis

There are two stories which we get to hear in this book. The first is the story of Elsa Beazely ,her troubled sister Alice, and her second husband Edward, whom she has recently married. This story is set in 1913, when they visit Easter Island for a scientific expedition. Elsa feels that such a trip would help her move on with her past despondencies and also make her sister feel good with a change of atmosphere. The second story, set in 1970s, is that of Greer Farraday, an American botanist who recently lost her husband (her husband was alleged to have stolen her research works to attain fame for himself.) She too has come to Easter island to get rid from her past and complete her research work on flowering plants, for which the secluded ecosystem of Easter Island provides a perfect research ground.

Both these stories progress at a slow pace. Nothing surprising happens. A reader only relishes the experience of staying in a remote, mystery laden Easter Island, with its sparse population, simple lifestyle and unexplained historical folklores. The claim made that the two stories intersect each other in interesting way is misleading. They don’t connect in any significant manner. Perhaps there is no thrill in both the stories; the only delight of the novel is the experience of living in the quiet and esoteric Easter Island.

The Author

Jennifer Vanderbes has been quite earnestly lauded for this debut novel of hers. It also won her Washington Post Book World and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of 2003. I gathered she has written quite a lot of non-fiction on the subject of botany. Undoubtedly it reflects in this novel too. The character Greer, the botanist, goes at length to explain about her research on angiosperms (seed-bearing vascular plants) The whole of the second last chapter in this novel is the research paper published by the character Greer at the end of her research. This chapter was quite obtrusive as it broke the flow of what I was reading.

Experiencing the Isolation

The only good thing about this book, as I have stated, was to get a feeling of life in Easter Island. The population is sparse and in the novel it is depicted that everyone knows each other. There are no big factories or industry. Every such good is transported from Chile, once in a month. People place their orders and after a month the supplies arrive on ships. People line up to collect their orders.

The island’s past is shrouded in mystery and people don’t seem to have a clear account of its history. The gigantic statues, called moai, have many versions of folklores as to why and how they were created, although the scientists are unable to agree on any of those theories. Explorers and Voyagers have been bumping upon this island and writing accounts, expressing perplexity over its variety of flora and fauna despite being cut-off from any landmass by thousands of miles. The author invokes commentary from such famous explorers like Captain James Cook, Charles Darwin etc. Additionally she introduces us to rongorongo, an unsolved mystery of Easter Island. Rongorongo is a system of glyphs which appears to be writing or proto-writing and it has not been deciphered yet.

With such a mystical backdrop, the endeavor of Greer, to try to move on with her past seems a fair plot. I liked few lines where the sense of isolation and peace is evoked.

“She became aware of the silence all around her, broken only by the slight slap of water against her boots. Here I am, she thought. In the middle of a crater on the most remote island in the world. Reeds rising all around me; all I can see is sky. Not a voice, not a rustle to be heard.”

“On the rocks, about twenty yards from her, she spotted a plate covered with a metal lid, a halo of steam curling from its edges. It was odd, this abandoned meal, but then again, the island seemed governed by its own rules and rituals”

“She takes a deep breath. There is a moment of silence between them as they watch the port chandlers pack up their goods for the evening, as these last signs of familiar civilization rumble their carts into the distance.”

Conclusion

This story is interesting only if you like Easter Island and a little bit of reading about plants(since we have a botanist character here). The story, in itself is not quite gripping. The pace of story is slow and it is only the mystical feeling of the islands that is appealing. It makes for a fine reading on a sluggish rainy day.

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(I am glad to post my review for the Recycled Book Reading Challenge, an interesting initiative by a curios reader and explorer, Mliae! Do visit her blog and learn lots about her life experiemnts! PS- Its snowing on her blog these days! 😀 )