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

Advertisements

Recycled Book Reading Challenge: Of Human Bondage

I finished reading the book ‘Of Human Bondage’ by Somerset Maugham. It uses the character of Philip to demonstrate how human beings, ever after birth, gets bonded by  his/her uncontrolled emotions and prejudices. In an attempt to find a meaning of existence, Philip gets entangled in the complexities of life where he finds himself helpless and indecisive. He is in a constant quest to unravel what happiness means but whatever ideals he develops, he fails to abide by them and succumbs to his uncurtailed desires.

Philip, since birth had a club foot and bore an infiriority complex because of that. He wanted to get loved but he didn’t love himself. His own fears, hatred and apprehensions weighed upon him, making him irritable and prejudiced. He met Mildred, a selfish greedy lady, and fell in love with her. She didn’t love him though and continued to humiliate him. He thought he will be able to make her love him, but it never happened, yet he continued to grovel infront of her and spend away his hard saved pennies to satisfy her extravagant desires. It makes a reader question whether he was mad to do that. Perhaps he was insanely trapped by the chains of his own uncontrolled mind.

I believe there are two groups of people- One who lives life in simple terms, that is conventionally, normally. The other group is too curious to accept things immediately. They want to unravel such philosophical dimensions first, like what is life and why are we born. This path is somewhat dicey because in the absence of a  firm guidance, one may end up forming ideals which will misdirect them. This second class of people is what Philip represents.  His quest to understand the meaning of life leads him to raise fine questions, but in the absence of a learned guide, he ends up making shallow conclusions. It leads him to  deny the veracity of the Divine and belive that life is meaningless; human existence is nothing but a biological accident and so there is no such thing as ‘morality’. The purpose of life is the pursuit of pleasure and nothing more. Incidentally, he derives joy in inflicting himself pain and succumbing to his maddening desire of wanting the love of selfish Milderd although he hates himself for that.

I would blame the vicar, his uncle, in whose custody he grew up after the demise of his parents. When Philip first began to understand about life and raised such queries like what it meant that ‘with faith one can move mountains’, the vicar answered him coldly and never bothered to understand his curiosity and intentions. Had he tutored the child lovingly, he would atleast have given Philip’s young mind some idea of morality and meaning of life rather than keeping him ignorant because of which Phillip was still struggling with basic questions even during his mature adult days. Having no solid foundational philosophy comparing which he could judge his revelations, he was bound to succumb to any fickle idea that seemed convenient to him at the moment. The result was he failed miserably all the time, hurt himself, and always lived in a state of deception, thinking that he had finally found answers and attained freedom, while in actuality he only strengthened the stranglehold of ‘bondage’ around him.

(PS: I had been missing being a part of Recycled Book Reading Challenge, a wonderful initiative by Mliae. I want to dedicate this review as my October entry for the challenge. It feels so therapeutic to get back to the habit of reading and writing!  I am thankful to a friend of mine at office for recommending me this book, and prompting me to read it. It has helped me get back to my reading schedule! )

51zzjmazqgl-_sx302_bo1204203200_

Word High July:Paraluman

 

paintings

Expressive adoration

Creative provocation

Subtle forms

Unchained of norms

Sentiments flow

Colors glow

Animals trees

Veiled breeze

Eyes through life

Unseen plights

Despondent joy

A scene of Troy

Portraits yore

Myths Folklore

Aria of heart

Blissful art

.

-r prab

.

(Source of above Image : Google )

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

july-18

banner-1

Word High July: Gunita

257043

Unbound Store of Memories

The Nature’s present moment

Is the existing territory

Even the second just passed

Is now a file in memory

.

The Nature, all her works

Since eons in the past

Preserved data in the brains

We are Nature’s database so vast

.

Ever since the creation of life

Love hatred hopes and vice

Every observation we ever made

Gathering experiences far and wide

.

A video recorder to save the motion

We keep a camera to click

Moments of our lives that matter

In computers and hard disks

.

 

A memory device our brain

With the mysterious sub-conscious mind

We are Nature’s hard disks where

Everything about everything (since eternity) she can find

.

-r prab

 

(This may sound an eerie composition. But I think our capability to remember things , is miraculous and mysterious. It is only because we have a memory, we can perceive the flow of time, otherwise it will all be just a ‘Now’ , no ‘Past’.

When I was studying electronics in college I realized how complex it is to store bits of data in electronics circuit. To comprehend what happens in our minds, so much more powerful and dynamic, with a mysterious ‘sub conscious’ part always made me wonder. We don’t even know how much we know. The dreams and strange recollections always mystify us. We may never know the full truth. I wonder that if we cannot control the memory of our own subconscious mind, who does? May be Nature will reveal to us someday.)

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

 

july-4

 

banner-1

Word High July: Timpi

kfp11

Meeting the Monk

In this troubled and hectic generation

Oh how can I have a great transformation

To live with peace

When restlessness will cease

And there will be a blissful rejuvenation

.

I went to the monk who meditated on the hill

Eyes closed and there sitting very still

Oh how can I live

The knowledge you give

Some wisdom in me O Master, please do instill

.

The monk with compassion began to dictate

Heaven or hell O child, your mind can create

Learn it to reign

Let not it gain

The temptations by training thyself to meditate!

.

-r prab

 

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

july-2

banner-1

Single Tasking or Multi Tasking?

When I was in college, and preparing for my interviews, one question that needed to get prepared for was ‘Are you multi tasking ?’ I always thought of the answer in affirmative. The memory of working on my laptop, doing digital designs, with a text book open wide besides the machine, and a friend in the room to talk to, surely convinced me.

But now, here at the job I have begun to realise the fallacy of my proposition.In college, things were not as serious as here.I could take a chance of being casual with my report writing, hoping one of my group memebers in the subject will correct any error. However, here the accountability lies solely upon me for my reports. I have to be careful and vigilant. Any discrepancy will attract hostile reponses during the meetings. While at college, mistakes could only lead to loss of some marks( which we never bothered about) here, mistakes mean not just being looked upon as lousy, but also unreliable and untrustworthy. Stakes are high.

In this context it becomes utterly necessary to be focussed on the task at hand, and complete it with undivided attention.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell

A task completed with such mindset induces confidence and conviction during the presentation, and hence I arrived at the conclusion that I will be a ‘single tasking’ person.Though it doesn’t sound quite adventurous, yet, I am endorsing this thinking with a firm resolve. I realised that single tasking also helps maintain a peace of mind.Doing too many things at the same time may sound like they all will get finished soon, but it burns up the mental energy too fast and in the end, nothing is accomplished properly.(while the mind continues to be in agitation)

Multitasking gone mad.

I have extended this thought to my day to day life too. Single tasking, in all my endeavors. While reading, no music. While music, no walking on streets. While talking on phone, no writing my reports, and while surfing internet, no more than 2 tabs at a time! I want the peace to reign my time! Single Tasking is the norm from hence.

(PS.- Today I got the notification of having completed 1 year on WordPress.The message made me smile.I used to write on blogspot initially.I tried to recall how I had decided to start on WordPress.I can’t recall.I think I had started just like that.It was a great decision, though. It changed my life. I found a great community here.I feel immensely contented and happy to be a part of this world. )

Wordpress_

3 Day Quote Challenge II, Day 3

Ah, and here comes the lovely weekend!

I hope everyone gets a chance to take a break from their routine errands and to do every sort of thing they can to help them shed the baggage of exhaustion and get closer to peace and rejuvenation!
***
I am just completing reading the book Contact by Carl Sagan! Let me give you a sneak peak of it!(that is , if you haven’t read it, or haven’t watched the movie which had followed the book release, more than 2 decades ago! I know I am too late !) Anyways here it goes-

Earth’s radio telescope intercepts unnatural signals from the Star system of Vega, 26 Light years away.It is thought to be some remote and advanced civilization communicating!As the scientists start deciphering their coded signals, and reveal the ‘Message‘ suddenly the whole human community is appalled. The signals are instructing humans to undertake a project!

But who are sending those signals- And will undertaking that project benefit us – or annihilate us- We can’t send them back the signals, as it will take 26 years to reach them! We can only start working on the project – and can’t know their intent unless we complete the task- and see for ourselves what does it lead to!But will it get completed amidst the commotion of arguments from scientists, statesmen and religious leaders of the world?

A delightful read, which gives insights about human behavior from different countries with different beliefs, responding to such cases which concerns the fate of Humanity as a whole.

What  I liked the best in the story is, how the subject of space science, when we start contemplating the vastness of cosmos,  lifts our consciousness to such higher levels that we start feeling more contentedness with every human being. The subject makes us more compassionate and meditative.

I will like to quote this part from the book, which beautifully captures the essence of this feeling!

contact

With this I conclude my this edition of 3 Day Quote Challenge!

***

I am grateful to Spiritual Journey for kindly nominating me for this challenge! At her blog she has an archive of prolific quotes, motivational stories and compelling spiritual thoughts that will surely impart you with profound perspectives about life! Do visit her blog!

Furthermore, I am grateful to Ebby for also nominating me for this challenge! Ebby is a wonderful conversationalist and she writes about social issues she feels deeply about! A charming and lively personality who writes lucidly, you would surely like reading through her blog.

Thank you very much!