Longest Time Span to Write a Composition

Yesterday I was researching about some south Indian Literatures. Ever since I read Yayati, I51vujhtlpl-_sx323_bo1204203200_ got curious to discover more such novels from the South Indian Library. I came across a book called Khasakkinte Itihasam(The Legend of Khasak) a Malayalam(language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala) Novel by OV Vijayan. What caught my attention was to discover the fact that it took the author 12 years to complete the novel. It seemed extraordinary as the book had just around 200 pages. Why would it take 12 years to write 200 pages? Couldn’t it have been written in one year? I could feel  that the author must have put in lots of thoughts and so would have developed the novel slowly slowly over time.

I wondered about the longest time span I have taken to write a composition. I only write small articles, blog posts, poems and the longest span I could remember of holding back before publishing my composition was 2 days. Oftentimes, I am too eager to publish my post and try to finish it as soon as possible. I don’t even proofread it properly. Something keeps nagging me at the back of mind- ‘Oh it’s alright, Just publish it’ And I do publish it. And serenity dawns in my mind. Only then I read my composition most attentively on the live page and then panic to correct the errors.

It always enchants me to hear of people who take a long period of time to publish something. I am yet ignorant of the experience of devotedly working on a composition, holding back the temptation to share, and publishing it only after taking it to perfection. But I do aspire to do it sometime. Have you ever worked devotedly for any composition, that took you a very long time to finish it?

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(Image Source: Link)

Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Amsterdam

Aha! So here I am to tell you about a recycled book I got to read. It’s called ‘Amsterdam’ and is written by Ian McEwan. This was the first book I read of McEwan. At the old book store, the book cover had caught my attention. It appeared like a thrilling tale with mystery and suspense. Furthermore, the declaration made on the book cover that the book won the 1998 Booker Prize added to my conviction that the story must be great to have deserved such honors.

As I read the book, soon I found my pace slacken becuase of lack of a gripping plot. The characters didn’t appear very interesting to me and their personalities didn’t make me eager to know about their endeavours. One of them was a music composer and the other a newspaper editor. They entered into a pact that if one of them will acquire any terminal illness, the other will help by aiding in quick demise of the other to avoid a painful existence. This, they had deduced, after seeing the horrible conditions suffered by an amorous lady who had died of cancer. This lady had dated both these men and so both of them held sympathies for her.

In the course of the story, a battle ensues between both these guys concerning the issue of morality. What one sees as the other one’s moral duty , the other dismisses it with contempt. What I could gather from it was the hypocrisy ingrained in people, to only see bad in others while justifying their own wrongs.

All in all, the book was quick to finish. The narrative wasn’t quite gripping , nor was the plot. The twists weren’t thrilling nor did I feel like taking much out of the novel. Mostly, after finishing a novel I will have plenty of quotes picked up, or some incidents to talk about or some interesting sequence in the story to think about. Unfortunately I didn’t find any such thing in this book. While I was searching online to read some published reviews, I found one published in The Guardian. I could’t agree more to the words of Sam Jordison

The fact that it won the Booker will make many people (and more and more of them in the future) assume that Amsterdam must be McEwan’s best work, when it is far from it. And if Amsterdam were the only book of his I’d read, I’d never want to read another – and so miss out on one of our best contemporary novelists.

(I am glad to post my review for the Recycled Book Reading Challenge, an initiative by Mliae! Do visit her blog to become a part and also meet bloggers who are a part of this reading challenge! )

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What makes us Human? Gossips!

“Don’t gossip” would say a stern teacher in school, “solve the sum I have given to do ” And the two buddies who were too eager to talk about the latest story about Jim’s fight with Ronny had to be curtailed.

In the evenings we meet up friends and chat all along about every other friend of us. Who is doing what, who is dating whom and who is going to get married next.

In the office, while working, the phone keeps buzzing because of the chatter that keeps going on in the Whatsapp group.

While commuting back home after office, a quick visit to Twitter exposes us to the global gossip arena. Some people are complaining about someone while another group is defending someone. One says trust this person, others say don’t trust this person. Praises, abuses, allegations, aspersions..the virtual space becomes a replica of  conventional gossip dens.

We like gossiping. We have, over time, tried to create more and more ways to gossip. No doubt the most visited sites on the internet are where gossips are facilitated to take place smoothly! Recall the success of Whatsapp? The most watched TV shows are ones which help us gossip. We love to gossip. It is in our DNA.

I am reading a book “A Brief History of Humankind” by  Yuval Noah Harari. In the book, Harari says “The new linguistic skills that modern humans acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end. Reliable information about who could be trusted meant that small bands could expand into larger bands,”

“Even today the vast majority of human communication, whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns is gossip..

“It comes so naturally to use that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.

“Rumour-mongers are the original fourth estate, journalists who inform society about and thus protect it from cheats and freeloaders.”

I read an aritcle in the Telegraph after this, in which Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, stated it nicely- “Gossip is what makes people human, because it allows us to pass on vital information about who to trust, and helps us bond with family and friends.”(1)

My reaction when I read it was to smile broadly. I never saw it this way. I like to understand the source of things we consider normal in our day to day life. I am the kind of person who dont talk much with people around and so consider gossip a waste of time.In my office I am seen as a ‘quiet person engrossed in his own world’ But now I see that I have my own way of gossiping. It is by writing in whatsapp or twitter or blog. I like reading and watching few talk shows which I like to talk about or write about later. These days, when we get exposed to so many debates on TV channels, it gives plenty of scope to gossip about who is good and who is not.Even I can’t avoid gossiping about it. It is afterall a primordial instinct to understand who to trust and who not so that we help each other be aware and keep ourselves protected in ‘our tribe’.

Concluding my thoughts, I would say that now I feel gossip as an unavoidable aspect of us. Gossip will happen. In office it often becomes a nuisance to become a subject of other’s gossip.But it will happen.We want to be part of gossip to know about people around us. It’s deeply ingrained. It is the quest to facilitate gossip which has helped us  develop language and technology and a social order.

'You can trust me on this, because I heard it from a friend of a friend of a Facebook friend.'

Word High July: Kaulayaw

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Trees resurrected

Geometrically perfected

Symbols abstract

Orderly , Intact

Silently speak

Voices antique

Wisdom thrives

Eternally immortalised

Universe condensed

Papers incensed

Solitude fills

Anticipation, thrills

Mirth O’ grief

Imaginations deep

Intimate storyteller

Obscure,Bestseller

Companion Profound

Gets one drowned

Into different worlds

While in sofa, curled!

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-r prab

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Footnotes: Books, I find, are great companions. Although I do believe it is people who are actually the most intimate companions.There was a conflict going on in my mind whether to use this word prompt to praise books or to write about a memorable relationship from past; but after reading Sneha’s poem, titled ‘A Friend’, in which she has beautifully expressed her adoration for books, I got excited and decided to write about books too!

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(Source of the above image: Harrietdevine )

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Kaulayaw

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Reading Off to Sleep

I remember reading sometimes back, on Jacquline’s blog, a post in which she stated about ‘reading off to sleep’. The idea, in the very first instant had impressed upon me a distant reminiscence. In young days, I used to have Champak, a children’s magazine, under my pillow, which was meant to be the bedtime book.I would get to the bed a bit early, so as to have sufficient time to finish a story.

The story would generally have animals as the character. There would be a deer who lost his way in a storm and went to the wise owl to get suggestion as to how to get back to his home. There would be a rabbit, having his hut in the forest, living a simple life and a jackal would try to cheat him and acquire his land, but an elderly cow would assist the rabbit and teach the jackal a lesson.

Sometimes later my sister would gift me a story book, having short stories with morals attached to them. One story would teach me not to trust anyone quickly, the other would suggest me that happiness lies in small things and we should appreciate them.Every night would be a new lesson to learn.

Sometimes, I would sleep off before finishing the story, then try to recall how much I had read while walking to the school,the next morning. The story will be resumed at night again amidst the hum of mosquitoes, flying on the other side of the mosquito net.

There was a small shop in my town, the only shop which sold books for general reading.The old uncle who ran that shop had recognized me and would always show me books he brought from the city especially for me. He used to go to the nearby city to buy his stock of new books and magazines every Wednesday and Saturday. There would be new books on display in his small decrepit store, on Thursdays and Sundays. I began my reading journey from the books and magazines bought from his shop.

These days I am trying to get back to that old habit again. A lot of time has passed and I haven’t had a proper reading schedule as such. I keep reading at random hours and there is no fixed routine of reading while in bed at night.I have decided upon some books which will be exclusively reserved for bedtime reading. I think it will be a nice change and help me find an old connection with the bygone days.

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(Image not owned by me. Image Source: thomaskinkade )

 

Weekend Exploration: Libraries

I had a day full of travelling today. As I have come to a new city and have gradually found myself settling down with the new job and new shelter, today I felt I am ready to start for the next milestone- find a library here, for my weekend hangouts.

Thanks to my brand new smartphone, the first smartphone for me, I bought for myself last week (My elder brother helped me get the best one within my budget), which helped me use Google maps and go around wandering in the city.

I found three of them .The largest one was called ‘The City Central Library’. I decided to visit that one first.But upon reaching there I found it’s closed for restoration and will open in the first week of July. It was a disappointing start!

The second one was difficult to locate, as the Google navigation was showing me I had reached ‘The British Library’, although there was no such building anywhere around. I had to walk in random directions to figure out where it was located. This one was a good library! I walked across all the bookshelves and then gathered at the helpdesk about the membership rules.Finding it affordable I signed up immediately and got an Icard too.

I thought whether to explore the third library or not.But since I had time and I had already got the taste of exploration with my new device, I decided to go for it. The third one required me to walk considerably after getting down at the nearest bus stop. This library was called the ‘Mythical Society’. With such a fascinating name, it was alluring me a lot. When I reached there I found a colossal church-like structure. All the entrances were closed and some construction work was going on at the gate. There was no security guard or any associated personnel to whom I could inquire. Lastly, I checked for their number on their website (through my new smartphone, yes! )  and made a call. The person was kind enough to send me a guy who helped me get to the library.It was located on the backside of the building.

There I found lots of book on History, Science, Arts and Social Science.The librarian told me there was no fee to use the library services, though one could not borrow books. ‘You can come and read here’ he said. That was fine. Their collection of books was impressive. I was mostly attracted towards the Science section where I found some classical editions of famous Astronomy books. It was delightful and I spent quite a long time there.

I am glad I have found these places. All I want to do on a weekend is to travel, read and  write. With such fine libraries now discovered, I am sure to have a good time during weekends, doing the three things I love to do!

Thank you for reading .I hope you all are also having a good time and doing the thing you wish to do during the awaited weekends! 🙂

PS: Although I have got a smartphone now, I am still not very active in taking photographs.(Since last 5 years I had the basic Nokia phone.I admired it for the simple life it gave me and I used to rely on my laptop for all the other works) I hope I will form that habit soon. It’s only now when I am writing it here, I realize I should have taken pics. 🙂

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(Image not owned by me.Source: moroepl)

Things Fall Apart

Is transformation good?

Have you experienced a transformation?

Have you been forced to endorse a transformation?

Did it make you feel better or made you regret?

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What is a transformation? A Change; and every change has a cost attached to it. When an individual is faced with a situation which demands him/her to change, the first question is “Is it worth it?” “What is the cost attached to it?”

The fact is we are reluctant to change. The thought of a change makes us get afraid. We get attached to our conventional ways, beliefs, and practices. They become a part of our identity and foregoing those means sacrificing a part of ourselves, which is painful.

Recently I finished reading a book called “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. It is a powerful story of a tribesman called Okonkwo. Okonkwo is a self-made man, living his tribe’s principles with deep conviction. His every activity abides by the customs and traditions of the clan. He follows each of the rituals with sincerity- from the simple act of breaking nuts and offering it to the guests who visits his hut, to the harsh obligation of performing a killing as ordained by an ancient custom. He has grown up to be an exemplary character in his community- a powerful fighter, and an able family man with three wives and five children, feeding them all with his farm produce and creating proper shelters for them to live at ease, together. It is a commendable achievement for a man whose childhood was lived in obscurity, where, an irresponsible father had wasted all money and put the family in great debts.

Okonkwo respects his culture, stands strongly for it and makes sure his children learn it and carry forward the teachings of his forefathers. But, “Things start falling apart”

A situation arises which is unthinkable! Okonkwo is faced with a scenario which is challenging his faith. A man of steel, with a concrete belief in his ancestors, has come to a time when he is witnessing an unforeseen change. The circumstance demands that either he changes himself or loses everything.

When I finished reading this tale, I was tongue-tied. I was talking about the story with everyone while I was reading it, but when I finished it, I was speechless. The thought this book wants to drive its readers to is quite profound. I felt tiny, unable to comment on the conclusion. The effect was such that I did not read a book for the next 2-3 days because I just wanted the feeling to stay undiluted for some time.

Chinua Achebe is a fine writer. He writes straightforward. He doesn’t write any redundant sentence. Perhaps he even avoids describing events of happiness and dread with much explanation, leaving it to the imagination of readers to comprehend the degree of the joy or horror of it.

I am thankful to Ebby, who had recommended me this book.

I wrote this in response to Wordepress’  Daily Prompt Transformation.

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Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Three Men In a Boat

There are three young men and their dog-Montmorency.They are all idling, smoking tobacco, except the dog, of course, and discussing how bad they are- “bad” from a medical point of view.So they decide to go on a long boating trip to heal themselves.That’s the plot of this classic novel, broadly.

Jerome K Jerome, the author of this tale, referred to as “J” in the story, is quite an amusing narrator.In the opening chapter of the book,he tells about discovering in a medical journal, a liver ailment, whose one of the symptoms is, ‘a general disinclination to work of any kind’. He gets convinced he has this disease- since childhood.And he gets aggrieved to recall his old times when everyone thrashed him for being lazy while not realizing it was because of the liver!

From my earliest infancy I have been a martyr to it. As a boy, the disease hardly ever left me for a day. They did not know, then, that it was my liver. Medical science was in a far less advanced state than now, and they used to put it down to laziness

Similarly, each of them discovers having some or the other obscure ailments and then come up with the notion of going on a weekend boating trip up the river Thames, to ‘restore their mental equilibrium’.

What we want is rest, said Harris.
Rest and a complete change, said George. The overstrain upon our brains has produced a general depression throughout the system. Change of scene, and absence of the necessity for thought, will restore the mental equilibrium.

Their trip starts from Kingston and continues till Oxford- from where they take a return course.The story was intended to be a travel narrative and J tells elaborately about the places they pass through, as they row their boats.

However, the more interesting aspect is the comic narrative of events. J describes the humor in their planning and preparation of the trip and subsequently how they face the hard and good times later in the journey.Additionally, Jerome shares some charming philosophical thoughts describing the life and the beauty of nature.

We are creatures of the sun, we men and women. We love light and life. That is why we crowd into the towns and cities, and the country grows more and more deserted every year. In the sunlight in the daytime, when Nature is alive and busy all around us, we like the open hill-sides and the deep woods well enough: but in the night, when our Mother Earth has gone to sleep, and left us waking, oh! the world seems so lonesome, and we get frightened, like children in a silent house. Then we sit and sob, and long for the gas-lit streets, and the sound of human voices, and the answering throb of human life. We feel so helpless and so little in the great stillness, when the dark trees rustle in the night-wind. There are so many ghosts about, and their silent sighs make us feel so sad. Let us gather together in the great cities, and light huge bonfires of a million gas-jets, and shout and sing together, and feel brave.

But his mind keeps rambling as he narrates.You must have a friend who is talkative and tells stories starting with-“You know once what happened..” And then gets everyone around him involved in his funny narrative. J is a similar kind of person.By the time you would have finished the book you would have read many amusing incidents which  J recollects from the past.

This book is delightful! A book to be savored!An absolute Classic! The book will keep you smiling all the time.I wanted to read the book since a long time because I had already read parts of the book in following ways-

1.An excerpt from this book was titled as  “Packing for a Picnic” and was included as a chapter in our English Course Book during Middle School.It was an amusing narrative of how packing made J scared because he always forgot to pack his toothbrush.

2.I found another excerpt included in  “The Greatest Literary works of All Time”, a book I had purchased some time ago.This particular excerpt was about J’s uncle Podger, who always boasted that he could do a task without anyone’s help but instead would make the whole house go mad because he will keep messing up the things.

So, I had a fairly nice impression of the book and wanted to read the full of it! Thankfully I read it the last month and was glad to have added it to my “Finished Reading” list.I am grateful to Mliae for hosting this lovely challenge which has ensured that I will be finishing at least one book every month.
If you want to be a part of it, do visit her blog and get acquainted with the challenge.

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Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: The Travelling Library

As I was rummaging through my old trunk filled with books, I was thrilled to see some classics lying there, unattended since quite a long time.I have to relocate so I have been going through all those closed boxes,trunks and bookshelf, where dust and insects have seemingly constructed a housing colony of their own.

Few of the books I noticed had got weak and fragile.I feared their pages might start falling off if mishandled even a bit.I decided to get them hard bound at the book binding shop.

In the evening,as I carried the satchel of old books with me, happy that they will look robust after the binding was done,I was interrupted by a friend who asked me where was I headed to.
“To the book binding shop, ” I said with delight.
“But there is no binding shop, aren’t you aware?”
“What ! There was one besides that electronics repairing store, a young man used to run the shop, I remember”
“It’s been years he closed down, must not be getting any business probably”
“Really” I was surprised “No book binding shop nearby?”
“None I know, nobody needs it anymore I guess”
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This episode unfolded yesterday evening and I had been thinking about it since morning. True, I myself now read most of the books on Kindle and search more fervently on Google rather than my thick encyclopedias. Perhaps we are living in the phase of transition.Our very next generation may view paper books with curiosity; and wonder how could we be comfortable with that, much like us, who would gape at the big floppy disks, 1.44 MB memory size, our fathers used to work with!
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Mandi wrote this beautiful story as a part of the challenge “Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner, ” which she is avidly pursuing! The story struck a chord with me as she narrated this curious tale of future generation teens who accidentally find a library and start speculating as to what sort of thing it is! I couldn’t help but smile thinking this is exactly what had been going on in my mind.I invite you to read this nice story by her, titled “The Travelling Library”.I really liked it and I am sure you too will appreciate the essence of the changing times, this story captures.

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Thanks to Roger Shippfor hosting FFftPP. Today’s sentence to be included is: “Thoseare the directions…”

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“These rocks are cool,” Tanya sad climbing on top a stack of rocks. “I wonder how and why they are formed like this?”

Tanya’s friend Crystal chimed in, ” Yeah, I wonder too. But we’re in the middle of nowhere and have no phone reception so we can’t even Google the answer. I’m questioning why my friend Tyler told me we should takeparticulardirections to see these rocks.”

Suddenly, before Tanya and Crystal’s eyes a building appeared. It was all glass but the inside was filled with millions of books and scrolls.

Crystal tried to pronounce the word on the front of the building. “It’s a library,” Tanya said. “It’s where people used to research before Google and the Internet. I’ve never seen a library. I remember…

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Albert Einstein at School

In what year Einstein,”asked the history teacher, “did the Prussians defeat the French at Waterloo?”

“I don’t know,sir,”

“Why don’t you know? You’ve been told often enough.”

“I must have forgotten.”

“Did you ever try to learn?” asked Braun.

“No, sir,” Albert replied with his usual unthinking honesty.

“Why not?”

“I can’t see any point in learning dates.One can always look them up in a book.”

Mr Braun was speechless for a few moments.

“You amaze me, Einstein.” he said at last. “Don’t you realise that one can always look most things up in books? That applies to all the facts you learn at school.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then I suppose you don’t see any point in learning facts.”

“Frankly, sir, I don’t, ” said Albert.

“Then you don’t believe in education at all?”

“Oh, yes sir, I do.I don’t think learning is education.”

“In that case,” said the history teacher with heavy sarcasm, “perhaps you will be so kind as to tell the class the Einstein theory of education.”

Albert flushed.

I think it’s not facts that matter, but ideas,” he said. “I don’t see the point in learning the dates of battles, or even which of the armies killed more men. I’d be more interested in learning why those soldiers were trying to kill each other.”

“That’s enough,” Mr Braun’s eyes were cold and cruel. “We don’t want a lecture from you, Einstein.You will stay in for an extra period today, although I don’t imagine it will do you much good.It won’t do the school any good, either. You are a disgrace, I don’t know why you continue to come.”

“It’s not my wish, sir,” Albert pointed out.

“Then you are an ungrateful boy and ought to be ashamed of yourself.I suggest you ask your father to take you away.”

Albert felt miserable when he left the school that afternoon.”I don’t think I’ll ever pass the exams for the school diploma,” he told his friend.

When his cousin Elsa came to Munich, he shared his despondency with her.

“I am sure you could learn enough to pass the exams,Albert, if you tried,” she said, “I know lots of boys who are much more stupid than you are, who get through.They say you don’t have to know anything- you don’t have to understand what you’re taught, just be able to repeat it in the exams.”

“That’s the whole trouble,” said Albert. “I’m no good at learning things by heart.”

“You don’t need to be good at it.Anyone can learn like a parrot.You just don’t try.And yet I always see you with a book under your arms,” added Elsa.”What is the one you’re reading?”

“A book on geology.”

Geology? Rocks and things? Do you learn that?”

“No.We have hardly any science at school.”

“Then why are you studying it?”

“Because I like it. Isn’t that a good enough reason?”

Elsa sighed.

“You’re right, of course, Albert, ” she said. “But it won’t help with your diploma.”

                                                                       -Excerpt from “The Young Einstein” by Patrick Pringle 

 

(I was lured to write this excerpt today, because in the afternoon, I had called one of my friends, Nitish, and I was amused to learn that he had been studying a book on Geology. I told him he had made me remember young Einstein’s story!

As I revisited this old chapter, later in the evening and read this episode once again, I  felt like sharing this story with everyone!

I like Einstein’s passion to learn, that is, in the spirit of knowing the essence of things, rather than memorising and repeating the facts. It is a blessing to be curious that way! But this passion comes with its own set of woes, which this tale very nicely captures.)

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(Image Source: Link )