Wednesday, July 27, 2005

'In aid of a cause' and more

Metro Plus Bangalore carried an interview yesterday with someone I know and happen to be related to. It is nice to see his tough work on AIDS/HIV prevention being showcased.

Kottke revisited the Nike personalized "sweatshop" shoes email that caused a furore some years ago.

Among the totally limited food reading that I do, this is one site that I visit often. And it is not just because I simply love pasta.

I read through the Chennai restaurant list that I posted earlier and found out that many of my favourite places were missing. So I am thinking of writing a "hundred different restaurants in Chennai" list. If you live/love Chennai and its restaurants, please do drop me a line about your favourite restaurants in this city, I'll really appreciate the help. Thanks.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Sunday morning mixed bag

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." - the opening lines in Pride & Prejudice that have a "fame life" of their own. I discovered yesterday that Jane Austen did not even write these lines! Oh you nosy Cassandra!

Po Bronson's Grotto caught my fancy sometime ago but I never got a chance to mention it. It is somewhat a working chummery. I like this idea because it changes the fact the working on your own means working alone. Disparate groups can motivate and nurture independent workers. Interesting.

Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters is my favorite among his works. I really admired the style of writing in Raise High... and here is why. Franny & Zooey ranks a close second. Catcher in the Rye was never my number one probably because I do not relate to the angst of the growing male having never had an inkling of it myself!

Open Writing looks worthy of some surfing.

A quick run through of Chennai's restaurants - pretty good list of the better ones (this list for Vimal).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

discovering Metacritic

Did I finish Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince?

Am I going to write a review?

Did I like the book?

Did the ending affect me?
Yes. I expected the ending but was sad nevertheless.

How would I rate the book?
8/10. Rowling is in her elements. She sets the stage well for the last book in the series.

What am I posting about?
Metacritic - the site looks really good. Pity I did not get to it sooner. (Thanks to Jason Kottke for the pointer to Metacritic). Here is the Metacritic review of HP6.

Why read Harry Potter?
Some years ago, a colleague of mine asked me this question in an extremely snide manner. "I think it is rubbish. Such a waste of time", she said. I asked her if she had read any of the Harry Potter books before she decided it was rubbish. She assumed a look of extreme self-importance and said, "I don't have to read to find out. I just know." Well, what could I have said to her after that? Know-it-alls don't really need any "telling to", do they? I merely wondered how much more of life she had missed and will miss because she "just knows". Whatever. I digressed quite a bit.

I read Harry Potter for the sheer imaginative genius of its writer. The inventiveness, the use of allegory, the simple joy of fast paced fantasy, the ability to appeal to people irrespective of (or should I say 'inspite of' ?) age - amazing are the elements Rowling employs. And to put her down as a 'pedestrian' writer simply because people can actually understand her sentences is being terribly unfair to her. IMHO it is far more difficult to keep things simple; writing complex stuff that sounds oh-so-over-the-head is much easier by comparison.

What next?
Let me see...some reading on the historical allusions used in the Harry Potter series? Maybe.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I have been away from the blogging world for almost a fortnight now. Many nice events demanded attention. I shifted to a neat new apartment that boasts of plenty of sunshine, breeze and good cheer. The clincher for me was the beautiful Flame of the Forest tree in full bloom right next to the most inviting balcony. My husband and I made the shifting effort a mini project and planned stuff to great detail. It was a fun experience. More on that soon, this note is just to explain the silence.

And, the shifting did not deter me from getting my copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (Note to self: take that counter code off from the sidebar). I started reading it last night. So if things are sleepy around here for the next couple of days, you will know why. Slughorn beckons, chao!

Quite a Coke

One of the little things I like to do on Chennai's Nungambakkam High Road ( is also called MG Road huh?) is to take a quick look at the hoarding close to Hotel Taj Coromandel. This hoarding is a Sharad Haksar spot and every now and then his latest photo shot comes up here. I often laugh a lot at his latest addition (they are really good) and then turn around and discuss it if I am travelling along with someone.

A few days ago, I appreciated his shot of empty water pots in front of a Coke van. It now appears that this photo is creating quite a stir.

Bravo Sharad!

FYI: On Sharad Haksar dot com the Coke ad is picture 7 on his portfolio

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Spotted by chance, accepted with a smile.

One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers' plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.
-John Muir,naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Austen Blog

I am reading Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence. This interesting biography tries to link a number of events and people in Austen's life to the characters in her works. On my favorite Austen, 'Pride & Prejudice', Spence offers the theory that Elizabeth Bennet is based on Tom Lefroy, the love of Jane's life, and Mr.Darcy is based on Jane herself. More on the book when I complete it.

Meanwhile, in the Austen fan world, there is a new star on the lines of the Leaky Cauldron of Harry Potter fame. Enjoy the Austen blog.

The Namesake

In her own life Ashima has lived in only five houses: her parents' flat in Calcutta, her in-laws' house for one month, the house they rented in Cambridge, living below the Montogomerys, the faculty apartment on campus, and, lastly, the one they own now. One hand, five homes. A lifetime in a fist.
-The Namesake, Page 167

The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question.
-Nikolai Gogol, "The Overcoat" (Title quote in The Namesake)

Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel, The Namesake, is yet another book that deals with the life of an immigrant family in the USA. The story does not have very many surprises for the reader. The usual twists and turns in an ordinary life are captured well in the author's sharp observations. Lahiri's characters are well-defined, the story spans three decades across two continents.

The Namesake remains a good book and does not become an exceptional book because there is nothing in it that sets it apart from a Divakaruni book.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Recalling the Reluctant Messiah

Imagine the universe beautiful and just and perfect.
Then be sure of one thing:
The Is has imagined it quite a bit better than you have.
The original sin is to limit the Is. —Don't.

Richard Bach, whose Illusions remains one of my all-time favorites, had a strong influence on my thinking all those years ago. Donald Shimoda lives on alongside Jonathan Livingston Seagull, tossing out nuggets of wisdom.

I was taken aback when I first heard of the Richard-Leslie divorce because one hardly likes shattered fairy tales. But then, fairy tales have their own message, one that changes along with its reader. And Richard Bach never proclaimed to be God.

More quotes from Richard Bach's works here and here.

I will get to the Messiah's Handbook someday.

Funny Fights

I was playing around in GoogleFight a few minutes back and 'Google' scored higher than 'God'; 'Bill Gates' higher than 'Linus Torvalds'; 'Aishwarya Rai' lower than 'Mother Teresa'; 'Dan Brown' higher than 'Salman Rushdie'; 'Sting' higher than both 'Bryan Adams' and 'Def Leppard' but marginally lower than the 'Beatles';

So much for page ranking, pop culture and a peep-hole view of Internet ecology.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Harry Potter and the brouhaha

The difficulty of pre-ordering Harry Potter book 6 online (link courtesy

I know how this feels because I pre-ordered book 5 through Sify and it was delivered two days after the release. I had promised a friend of mine that I will buy her a copy as well and I remember walking into Landmark on the release date and easily picking up book 5 from the display. I felt rather stupid about pre-ordering and then waiting for the book to be delivered while my friend read and finished her copy.

This time, I am just going to do a walk-in and I am not staying up for the midnight release either because midnight in the UK is rather behind :)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Hotel du Lac

Written by Anita Brookner.

Winner of the 1984 Booker prize.

Try this to see for yourself the various comments in printed matter about Hotel du Lac.

Is this the Hotel du Lac that inspired her? But I think this one stands a better chance.

Anita Brookner on BrainyQuote.

Like always, I find a lot of good things to say about this book. However I shall restrict myself to one comment - Brookner has the genius to transform a mundane romance into a reflective gem by using the conversational mode with a masterly touch. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations in this book.

Post-it mosaic

This is neat (link courtesy