Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Read today, while commuting to work, among the endless chatter of my fellow commuters, a beautiful story `Home' by Anton Chekhov. An advocate comes home in the evening and is informed by the governess of his 7 year old son that she has noticed his son smoking. The rest of the story deals with how a father is unable to convince his son that smoking is bad. Until in the end it is bedtime for his son and as usual he tell him a story, which he usually improvises, like most fathers. In that story the emperor's son, who was just twenty, was a good boy, but had a bad fault of smoking, dies because of smoking. The advocate son shudders on hearing this and vows that he will never smoke again. These lines from the story are really good: Medicine should be sweet, truth beautiful, and man has had this foolish habit since the days of Adam . . . though, indeed, perhaps it is all natural, and ought to be so. . . . There are many deceptions and delusions in nature that serve a purpose." Very true. You can read this story, which is on-line.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I feel helpless every evening. Read on if you are interested to know why.

Every evening, after leaving office, after an honest day's work, my only wish, like any good husband and father, is to reach home as soon as I can, and be with my family. And my immediate aim after alighting from the office bus is to catch my beloved 5:59 p.m. Titwala local train. Well, I am able to catch it on some lucky days and on most of the days I am unable and feel helpless. The reason behind my helplessness are the numerous hawkers who now occupy almost all the available space in the CST subway, which I must pass in order to catch my beloved local train. Take today, it was 5:55 p.m. when the office bus reached, I alighted the steps to the subway and found, as usual, there were just numerous people and some of them were curiously standing in the middle and on the sides of the subway and if you are regular user of the subway, then you know these are the illegal hawkers, occupying precious spaces meant for ordinary walkers like me. These hawkers hamper the smooth movement of commuters. Sigh, as on most of the days, I reached the platform half a minute late and saw my beloved train leaving the platform. Exasperation, wrath and indignation were the emotions which filled my mind, which is subsequently filled in by the feeling of helplessness. And the next train to my destination is in 20 minutes. More feeling of helplessness.

The subway was constructed with a twin aim : to smooth the traffic on the busy CST junction and to enable faster and efficient conveyance of thousands of commuters who must use it to catch train of their destination. While the traffic on the road above subway seems to be smooth, people like me just feel helplessness as it take more and more time every day to cross the subway. Will the higher authorities, Municipal corporation of Mumbai city and the Central Railway take the steps to remove the unauthorized hawkers and enable people like me to catch our favourite trains. Hope they will do. But hope has no relation to reason. Feeling helpless again.

Another good read

After finishing The Perplexity of Hariya Hercules by Manohar Shyam Joshi, I felt hungry for more books written by Joshiji. I search and found that one of his book T’ta Professor has been published by Pengiun. Feeling little impatient I looked if I could purchased it from an online bookstore. I was pleasantly surprised to come across, and purchased it immediately. T'Ta Professor made for some good reading over last weekend. It is comic-tragic-erotic-sad in turn and the first few pages are really hilarious. The translation, by Ira Pandey, is excellent. I would recommend this book. You can read the full-fledged review of this book here and here.

I would also recommend Flipkart, which seems to have excellent stock of books, both in English and Hindi. If one buy books worth more than Rs. 100/-, there is no shipping charges, within India. And they give discount on most of the books. It is India's answer to

Just out of curiosity I searched Flipkart two days ago to see if they have T'Ta Professor as written in Hindi by Joshiji. It was indeed available with them, but was currently out of stock. I clicked on the notify me button. I was pleasantly surprised to receive email from them that this book has become available. Needless to say I ordered it immediately and am waiting eagerly for it arrive. The Hindi version is priced at, believe it or not, just Rs. 30/-, while the English translation version is at Rs. 199/-. Curious.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good read

Yesterday I finished reading `The perplexity of Hariya Hercules' by Manohar Shyam Joshi. It has been translated from Hindi. It made for a good reading and since this was slim book I was able to finish it in a few days. Though something is lost in translation (for exmaple `.... something wasn't right, there was something black in the lentils', which would have read in Hindi as `Dal main kuch kaala hai'), the translation was quite fluent.

The book tells about adventures or rather mis-adventures of Hariya, who is a clerk in the home department in Delhi, and Hercules in his name refers to the brand of cycle he used to ride. He selflessly attains to all the needs of his invalid father. After his father dies, he is left with a trunk, the contains of which which leads to perplexity of Hariya and to his misadventures and sudden disappearance. This leads to various tales about his disappearance based on hearsay and half-truths and various accounts are recorded in this book.

I particularly liked this part which appears towards the end of the book `The more we investigated and theorized the more facts and theories piled up, making it all the more difficult to determine what was true and what false. Was something false that seemed true or what it a truth that looked false?' Is'nt this true of people around us or what we read in the newspapers. Truth seldom comes out and we have draw our own theories.

Book is highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reading record

Yesterday I finished reading `Difficult Daughters'' by Manju Kapur. It is the first novel written by her. I had started reading it on Feb. 26 and it took me some time to read it. The book tells the story of Virmati, who is the eldest of the 11 children, and tells the story her younger days, and of her marriage with a professor, who is already married, and ends during the time of India's independence. Most of the story is set in the pre-partition days and is well written in some parts, but I found the ending of the book quite abrupt. Anyway, I am glad that I was able to finish it.

An uncanny thing happened when I was reading the book. Near the end of the book, an incident is narrated during which the father of the heroine of the book, Virmati, dies after he is pushed around by the crowd. I do not why I felt sad after reading that particular part. Immediately after I got a call from my niece, telling me that her father, who was under treatment in a hospital, has died suddenly and unexpectedly. I was quite shaken to hear that sad news, and it put me off to reading this book for a few days.

The next in line is `The perplexity of Hariya Hercules', by Manohar Shyam Joshi which is translated from Hindi. It is a silm book (only 155 pages).