Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reviewer in the high

You know what, I was reading Salinger. And I feel sorta weird after the book. You see, it’s like this. Whenever I read some book (except Sheldons and the like), I mean any book that has any sorta feeling in it, I have to review it. Or at least say something about it. Books and movies leave me with a million words surging in my head. So here I am. Writing about Salinger. But I can’t review him, you know. The book was written some 50 yrs ago. (I think I’m wrong about that, but honestly, who cares?) And I am sure if you google, you’ll find a million reviews. And it wasn’t all that great a book for a review. Just a very very weird book that left u feeling weird too. And ruined your language (which I am sure you can see in this review).

How did I get to the book? Well, I had heard of Salinger of course, but I never caught hold of his books. And last week I was reading this beautiful short story where the gal says she is reading him. And since it was vacation, I thought I’d do a google on him. I couldn’t find the books initially, of course. I mean, not free editions. But finally I did. And then I just started reading this afternoon. Its only 115 pages, so u can finish it in less than half a day. And it’s quite a fast read- what with ungrammatical language and very simply understandable stuff. But the funny thing is you don’t understand what’s happening till the end. And honestly, I thought I only liked the last two-three pages. But once I was done, I could get the whole point. And then suddenly, I knew I liked the book.

God, that sound pretty much like a post-script to “Catcher in the Rye”- same tone, I admit. And I’m sure u wouldn’t understand this post at all unless u read it right after the book. Anyway, what I got outta the book was- the problem of a guy who really didn’t fit into this so-called suave and sophisticated world. That’s really a good issue to write a book about. And the really wonderful thing is, if u asked an Indian to write a book about a guy that didn’t fit, he would make the protagonist a real weirdo. And he would exaggerate situations beyond despair. And in the end he would kill the hero or something. As if weird people can’t live on. Honestly, till I finished the book, I was half expecting the guy to die or something. Or I thought that they would put him in an asylum soon. It’s the thing with us, you know- Indians are so crazy about the system. They just wanna run the mad rat race, however mad it gets. And the worst part is, even when they want to laugh at the system they do it in such a stereotypical way, u get sick of it. Maybe we should name our capital “cliché”. It would suit the country.

Anyway, this book is quite humourous, if u get to understand the humour at all. And it’s also quite insightful. (I know our college MOC guys call anything from the HOD’s welcome addresses to the chairmen’s vote of thanks “insightful”, but this time I mean it!) And it got u thinking about the world- about how crazy it really is. And about the people who live life the way they want and not the way they have to (I know that phrase is another of those clichés, but I really couldn’t think up anything else, u know.) And come on, why do we all have to earn and smile at everyone we hate and be called cultured? THAT is the question the book asks. And a very good question. I could, of course, go about answering it, but that would make our discussion too long. Anyway, the point is that society creates these crazy rules that are really not necessary for us as individuals. And it is true that the world would be a mad place without those rules. But then it is probably a mad place anyway.

(Incidentally, I picked this quote today afternoon, and till now, I didn’t realize how much it fit the book I read. It says- “Society needs rules that are quite meaningless as individuals. For example, it doesn’t matter if a car goes on the right side of the road or the left. But when there are many cars it makes all the difference!”)

Then there was this thing about innocence- how a guy cannot remain innocent for too long in this world. In Salinger style, I should say “it killed me”. It is one of the few things I often wonder about- the fact that innocence is so terribly lost in this world. And it’s such a pity. But I am not too sure if we’ll all be happy if everyone retained their innocence as adults. We’d probably get tired of that too. Anyway, that was a beautiful thing about the book.
There is more, actually. Like how the guy uses decent language though it’s all colloquial. Take any book today and you find it full of filthy language. And this book wasn’t at all classical. It was very much American schoolish. But no obscenity. (Unless u think ‘bastard’ is an obscene word!) Or maybe even if he talks obscene stuff, they don’t sound bad! At least they didn’t get me disgusted.

And there is also this part about brother-sister relationships. It’s not the way they show it in our novels and movies, u know. U must have a younger sibling to know what it feels like. But every minute the Caulfield guy was admiring his sis, I knew exactly what he felt. Younger siblings can drive you crazy at times. (both positive and negative) And he had captured that feeling pretty well. Not sentimental or any sobby stuff. Just the fact of liking your sister or brother and having a great time with them.

Anyway, the book wasn’t a whiff of fresh air into your mind or anything poetic of that sort that reviewers usually say. Nor did it stir a storm of revolution into your heart. It just made u think about the world. Actually, I dunno. I’ll only say, try reading the book sometime. It may be worth it.

P.S.:- I just read (about ten minutes after first publishing this post) in wikipedia that this was one of the most challenged book etc. and that it has too much profanity, quite contrary to what I thought. But maybe there is so much more profanity in the world today. Another thing is that the book is supposed to be abt a guy who is "growing up". I leave you to read all those interpretations. I ve written exactly wat I thought about the book. If it is not the right interpretation, well, there is wiki neway! :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dead mists

This is another of the poems I wrote the other day, and you can see it is very much in the same tone as the rest. I leave the 'kindred spirit' metaphor open to your interpretation...

As the city pulls the thin shroud of mist over itself,

Falling deaf ears to the calling thrushes and nightingales
I watch the skyline- the silhouettes of buildings
and look for you amidst the shadows, and the whispering winds.
I know you shall not appear though your heart beats still-
Death was so much better to handle!
The sun rises in understanding pity-
the only kindred spirit alive watching over a dead city,
bright as a bride’s cheeks or my mother’s fiery bindi
my sole accomplice in mourning over loneliness!
The only other to have found love and not known how to claim it!
I know the cruel sorcerer time shall show me
Your love and long walks with someone else,
And I don’t wish for an escape, or oblivion, I only seek a rebirth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


(This one is slightly abstract, and that is probably why I am particularly fond of it. there is some pleasure in knowing that not evryone might understand what you are saying, you know... :D ;) )

Words pop like mushrooms in my mind, waiting to materialize in ink-
brave bridegrooms awaiting their marriage with my thoughts.
I write and write, and they come in greater numbers,
maybe it’s my war with the words,
Yet I feel only a little compassion for them, no hatred!
After all, they are my sole companions in love,
and grief.
Guileless souls that know not their own purpose for me,
Know not that love blossomed in my heart but once
And that it was stillborn!
I pity them for they are unaware of your greatness
Of how I thought you gave meaning to this futile world.
Or maybe, they know, and only revolt out of their own sorrow
"And maybe when they blunder into my poems, they seek but oblivion!!!"

P.S:- For those of you who realised, the last line IS by Sylvia Plath- rather a modification of what she wrote. The original reads- "And when they blunder into bed, they seek but oblivion", talking about two lovers. However, when I first read the line, I could only think of words blundering into poetry, so I used it here; and to pay due reverence to the original, put that line in quotes.


I know I haven't been around for quite a while. But by now, you are probably used to it!! Anyway, here is a poem that I wrote yesterday morning (There are a few others I wrote too, but not got much time to put them up now. Maybe some other time this week....). It is titled "Perception" and I ll leave you to guess why.. :) :)

Forests of green and lemon yellow, birds of purple plumes
Sunlight on dewdrops and primroses on the brook side…
As I walk along the mountain paths, not so struck by the beauty
The clouds try to charm me and the twittering behind- music
Yet my ears have become tone deaf today!
I have never walked with you on these paths,
Never once told you how much I love the moon,
Never did we have the time to speak of my dreams, and yours
But all through there had been a chance, a silent promise…
Maybe they were only fireflies and I mistook them
But I always thought these footprints shall be filled by yours,
And today, when I know you shall not return,
Though the beauty remains guileless and chaste- I only think-
"What a magnificent waste!"