Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shrinking Violet

In your natural setting, I assumed I would blend in the background. Alas! all eyes boring into me, all ears picking my every sound...the very inspiration to want the earth to swallow me up.

Shrinking Violet

Couldn't you warn me the other ones were green?

PS: K & P - Yes, yet another post that will make you want to send me howlers. For your benefit, here is shrinking violet, green (synonyms 9 & 10), and this post was an attempt to explain a recent personal experience. If you are still complaining, please go jump.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Treasured Reflections

In 1963, you went to Wheelers and picked up a dozen books. I crinkled my nose and waved them away as trash. I did not want your Moravia, Fleming or Chase. I had my Austen, Woolf and Wilde. I wanted you to want what I wanted. You wanted to be you but I wanted you to be me. You left me but left behind what I did not want.


I read the Moravias and the Flemings to replay what we had. But, did we have anything? I never let that happen did I? I thought I had it all for us. I see now that Love needs the right verbs; it is not have, it should have been be.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Today is World Music Day. Yet another western labelling exercise. Apparently any non-western music is World Music. And so, by extension, Western music is Unworld Music. Really.

These labels get me all sarcastic. Anyway, Galatta has some new downloads for this occasion. By the way BBC (which I am partial to) has details on the World Music Awards for 2006 online now.

So I should be saying Happy World Music Day dear readers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fresh off a re-reading of Bath Tangle, I reacted with extraordinary delight when I chanced upon a Bath spotlight in the Telegraph.

Sounds very silly doesn't it? I bet you have no idea how it feels to just finish a Heyer and walk around with your head suspended in the Regency era. And don't you dare brand Heyer as trashy romance unless you want me to label you a sour humourless pig-person. Ah Bah!

Psst...go read These Old Shades if pig-person and Ah Bah did not make a dent.
The Jane Austen look of Fashion - sounds like nice flowing robes no? Rebecca Newton started BakerLane a few years ago on a personal whim. Interesting...

“Designers inform us clothing should reveal and entice,” says “But modesty and femininity are matters of respect, and by employing them in our designs, we aim to inspire.”

Newton says that she's not really satisfied with a lot of the stuff that mainstream fashionistas want girls and women to wear.

“I know that a lot of the modern designers - they're saying they're designing modest clothing, but I just think it's gonna be a passing trend,” Newton says. “Modesty is really an issue of the heart.”

In Newton's opinion, the clothing you wear affects the way people perceive you: “If you're dressing to get people's attention in the wrong way,” she says, “it's not showing respect - first of all to yourself and second of all to the people around you.”

“Maybe I'm over-sensitive on the issue,” she says; “but I want to be someone that people can respect and look up to, and I want to carry myself in a way that would inspire people.”

The problem, she says, is that a lot of clothing designed for modesty is part of what she calls “the feed sack” look: “A few people can pull it off, but most people end up looking kind of frumpy.”

That's how Baker Lane found its mission: “practical and pretty” clothing for the woman dissatisfied with mainstream fashion attitudes.
I admit I gaped when I read this.

In what is a new level of pretension, you can now hire guests for weddings, engagements and the like.

The next must be hiring a family when you feel like it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

In My Nostalgia for Analog, the author laments the distance created by the many modern communication devices.

When I want to get my life back, I increasingly find myself reaching for my notebook. There's nothing more satisfying than putting pen to paper.

I'm learning to write Thai, my native language. In the time it takes me to write one curved, squiggly, Sanskrit-based character I could send three e-mails. But each halting stroke of the pen conjures up 1,000 years of history; I can almost smell the sweet fragrance of jasmine flowers blooming in the tropical heat, and I feel a part again of a culture I left when I was two. I can't do this on my PDA.

In fact, Asian cultures have long stressed the importance of the pen. Chinese calligraphy is both art and meditation practice. Skilled calligraphers were known for their longevity. In China and Korea, officials measured their degree of trust and confidence in a prospective new hire by the integrity of their Kanji characters.

Yoga gurus from India talk about the hand-heart connection that is created when you write by hand. In Jewish mysticism writing is a sacred act. Careful crafting of ancient Hebrew text will bring you closer to God.

Writing helps connect you to yourself and at times with something greater outside of yourself.

Each summer I look forward to the letters I receive from an acquaintance who works at a wilderness camp in the wide expanse of Yosemite. The envelopes are long and bulky and seem out of place in my mailbox. On the outside she usually stamps a stencil of a pine cone or a flower she made at one of her art workshops. When I open the letter the words are crunched and messy, but as she tells me of the lazy days by the lake I feel the return of my connection to her -- one I don't feel when she's only a few miles away from me back home and on e-mail.

Introducing A.R.Rahman, a two CD collection of 25 songs, as the name suggests, appears to be an introduction of Rahman's music to the Western World.

I am not convinced that his best numbers have been selected. It looks like his most popular numbers have been picked up. Then again, I am saying that because I do not find a lot of my favourites selected - pray, where is Minnale, Pachai Nirame, Kandukondein Kandukondein, En Kadhale, Pudhu Vellai Mazhai and the like?

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee sounds like just the kind of book that will set a train of cherished memories going.

A proud and unrepentant biblio-addict explains how he got that way—and how books and bookstores have evolved, as well. Reading this gentle memoir/history is itself a bit like browsing in a friendly bookshop. Buzbee, who began his long tenure in the book business as a teenaged clerk at a now-defunct shop called the Upstart Crow, and who has subsequently published fiction (Fliegelman`s Desire, 1990, not reviewed), is an amiable guide.

Another review says
Rich with anecdotes, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is the perfect choice for those who relish the enduring pleasures of spending an afternoon finding just the right book.

It does not appear to have released in India yet. At least that is how it seems because it does not show up in the limited online Indian bookstores.

Update: another reco.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A slightly dated piece on the writing life of Dan Brown.

"Writing is a discipline, much like playing a musical instrument; it requires constant practice and honing of skills. For this reason, I write seven days a week. So, my routine begins at around 4 a.m. every morning, when there are no distractions. By making writing my first order of business every day, I am giving it enormous symbolic importance in my life, which helps keep me motivated. If I'm not at my desk by sunrise, I feel like I'm missing my most productive hours. In addition to starting early, I keep an antique hour glass on my desk and every hour break briefly to do push-ups, sit-ups, and some quick stretches. I find this helps keep the blood (and ideas) flowing."

Generate bile if you want to (like the rest of them smart ones), but anyone who can get up at 4am each morning has all my respect. Seriously.
Russell Shaw says, for Hillary, everything is a political calculation.

On Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton released a new guide for parents. The guide gives parents tips on how to keep their kids safe online, ensure the video games they play and the tv they watch are appropriate.

The fact that there's games, content and tv shows that are inappropriate for children is not in dispute. But to me, the timing of this report's release- and the reasons she released this report- should not be in dispute either.

That's because from her marriage to her support for the Iraq war to this latest do-goodism, Hillary has always been about political calculation.

I can envision the momentum for this report coming from a meeting between Hillary and her political consultants and pollsters. Pollsters who advised Hillary that she needed an issue to appeal to families with young children. A demographic, incidentally, that tilted rather noticeably toward the Republicans in 2004.

Anna Burnside is surprised and saddened that readers voted JK Rowling the greatest living writer in the UK. came as something of a surprise to discover that readers of The Book Magazine have voted J K Rowling as the greatest living writer in Britain. How can this be? She is no more the greatest living writer in Britain than George Galloway is the greatest living statesman, or Jack Vettriano is the greatest living artist. She is not even the greatest living writer of children’s books. She had one good idea that became a formula that she has now worked into the ground.

Her books are astoundingly successful and have made her a fortune of £435m. This does not make them works of literary merit. I don’t grudge her the money. I did grudge every minute I spent with Harry, Ron, Hermione and that bloody stone.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Zadie Smith wins the 2006 Orange Prize.
Zadie Smith has held off competition from perhaps the strongest Orange shortlist in the prize's history to take this year's award with her third novel, On Beauty.It was third time lucky for Smith, who went into tonight's ceremony as the favourite, having been shortlisted for both of her previous novels, White Teeth in 2001 and The Autograph Man in 2003.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Listening to Jigue

Reading Alan Parsons' October 2005 interview (long and good)
And if one wants to hear the oeuvre of Alan Parsons' work, Parsons will drop a few coins in the restored jukebox at his estate. "It's an AMI jukebox," said Parsons, "it's now worth a lot more than when I bought it, because the same model was featured in the movie Ghost, and I have 'Unchained Melody' from the Righteous Brothers in the jukebox. It's filled with a lot of Beatles, a lot of Shadows - I used to love listening to the Shadows - and many of the singles I worked on, as well - the only justification for listening to my old records is to have them on the jukebox. It's a great thing to have."

The joy of trying anything at least once

Life's good...

And God exists!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Would you like to do this for a living? {Shudder}
No matter how disgusted one is of being snooped, it is worse to be the one snooping.
Psychedelic blouse affecting breakfast indeed. Hilarious!

The BBC Breakfast presenter Kate Silverton had to apologise for wearing an outfit which put viewers off their cornflakes.

She appeared on the sofa yesterday in a green and yellow psychedelic blouse with a matching scarf. Viewers contacted the BBC switchboard to complain.

From books to the big screen a lot changes. Many great books become box office disasters because the movies fail to capture the essence of the book in an equally powerful manner.

The challenge for a director is to create a work that is not some kind of parasitic infection of a host literary text but has independent existence. Irritating as it can be to writers, the resulting work should be the vision of the director rather than the novelist. Obviously successful in this subsumption are the group of movies that, though derived from novels, have distracted from their origins to the extent that few would consider them eligible for this kind of survey: Psycho and Vertigo, The Parallax View and The Graduate. Each of these lives on celluloid rather than as a work on paper.

A few days ago I mentioned being uneasy about The Sea's imminent adaptation for the big screen (despite the fact that Banville will be writing the screenplay). I need to remind myself that several mediocre books have been transformed by capable directors into memorable movies and several movies match the charm of the books that inspired them (yeah Krithiga, I know, LOTR for starters).

Friday, June 02, 2006

An Ishiguro, no, make that an article on Ishiguro. Interesting bits show up here and there.
What are the odds of buying one's own copy of The Life of Pi and then returning to read an article, by sheer chance (absolutely no Googletouch), on its independent publisher? Very slim methinks. No wonder, I find it eerie. Ooooo.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti - Go read it!

On an early evening stopover at a favourite library, a few weeks ago, I borrowed a rather unusual book. Unusual because the odds of someone like me picking up a book like that is tremendously slim.

This is not really my kind of book I thought. What made me pick it up? The rather attractive cover perhaps. The title Lives in the Shadow hinting at divulged secrets perhaps. Again, I am not much of a scandal relishing reader. I prefer bland ruminations, chilly prose and dry sarcasm; dripping bits of venom are more likely to be found in my garbage bin. So why did I pick that book? Like many other pointless exercises that are best ignored for better ones, I gave up looking for a likely reason why I found myself at home, curled on a much-abused bean bag, reading Lives in the Shadow with J Krishnamurti (LitS) moments after I returned from the library.

Lives in the Shadow with J.Krishnamurti - Radha Rajagopal Sloss

It is good to be unable to predict your own self at times; to be led on a journey that you had no clue you were, or you wanted to be, a part of. I must confess I had the vaguest idea of JK's teachings before LitS. Not that I have a better idea of the teachings now, but what this book has done for me is to show me JK as a person who had distinct private and public lives. It is interesting how spiritual teachers are expected to be super-selves sans any failings; any seeming slip is viewed with disbelief and always interpreted by devotees as a hidden lesson in spiritual advancement! Given such a state of affairs, it is rare that insightful books can be written about any popular (no matter how arcane or trite the teachings may seem) spiritual teacher.

Radha Rajagopal Sloss's LitS is different from other biographies in this important aspect - her insights about JK have been based on impressions of several incidents that she witnessed over a number of years. LitS is in fact a biography of three people - the handsome Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti; his editor, associate and back-bone Rajagopal (Radha's father); his friend, brother's girlfriend and lover Rosalind Rajagopal (Radha's mother). Radha grew up having three adults oversee her activities.
But nothing about our life seemed peculiar to me, even later when some of my school friends hinted that it was...
I was very proud to say that as well as a Mummy and a Daddy I had a Krinsh, which was something no one else seemed to have.
Written with a sense of love and balance, Radha's book does not judge the lives of JK or Rosalind or Raja. Instead it explains daily life in the Ojai valley, the talks of JK (referred to as Krishna or Krinsh), JK's trips abroad, Raja's effective management skills, Rosalind's positive spirit, the various friends whose lives crossed theirs, JK's and Rosalind's twenty-five year long affair and the difficult relationship between JK and the Theosophical society.

LitS became a controversial book when it was first released in 1991 because it revealed aspects of JK's personal life that were unknown upto that point. Among JK's followers and admirers, it created quite a stir. Some related stuff here, here, here and here.

This is one book I did not want to finish reading; it was such a captivating experience that I wanted it to go on and on. I'd recommend this book to any avid reader. Truly one of the best I've read in recent times.