Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stop and Stare

I miss reading. I miss the feeling of being caught in the magic of a different world created by a writer. I miss the wait for the plot to unravel. To me every book is like a beautifully wrapped gift, and I love the process of cutting open the ribbons, tearing the paper and discovering the beauty of the present inside. More than the present, the element of surprise.. And then the reverse engineering process of "I should have seen this coming". But more than any of that, just the idea of the different world and the ability of someone to keep u there.

And I miss falling in love with the characters. I cannot love any real person as much as I love John Galt. Or the little prince. (Look, he has gone to sleep!) Somewhat lesser, Sydney Carton. Maybe, one can only conceive of a perfect person. But that's beside the point. From Tariq to Bartimaeus, from Severus Snape to Rahel and Estha and Velutha, from Dorothy to Elizabeth Bennet, why, even Uriah Heep to Madame Defarge- each character has almost been alive in some way in my life- how could I forget any of them?
For someone like me, who can almost get high on reading and whose dream paradise is just a huge library (like the one the Beast gifts Beauty in "The Beauty and the Beast!), this is bad. I do watch a few TV series and movies here and there, but really, they are a little superficial to me. They can never captivate me like the feel of paper. And the image of the different world playing in my head. (Maybe because I get to pick the faces! :P)

So why am I writing about this now? Two reasons. One, Georgia Tech has robbed me of my novel reading time. I was definitely reading more in Bangalore, even if not enough. And here it is not just that time is limited, but that I know reading any novel is going to make me feel guilty tomorrow. And then I think if all of it was worth it. If you think about it, giving up Khaled Hosseini to read HLA papers sounds like a bad deal. The bad part is I do enjoy reading tech books (Quantitative Neurophysiology was simply fascinating!). But somewhere deep down not reading much fiction kills something in u that is lively and creative and optimistic. Grad school makes u analyze and over analyze and draw graphs for everything. And make a Zipf's law out of an otherwise enjoyable reading of Moby Dick! (One of my recent examples include thinking of drawing a graph out of heating times and pause times while making gobhi 65!). While the thinking is all good and everything, it makes you
too prone to making mathematical models of everything. Over-sensible. And less open to the miraculous possibilities of the world. It makes you forget that statistical probability is still a probability- that something might be 99% improbable and might still happen. That probability vanishes at the moment of the occurrence of the event. Or maybe it is not grad school! Maybe they are signs of growing old! :( Anyway, I miss the slow pleasure of novel reading on lazy afternoons (and early mornings! ;) )

The second thing is I somehow miss the good books. I know I am talking like an old woman here, but for some reason, lately, I have found too many books not worth being called that and becoming so over-popular that it has become too tedious to find a good book. Of course I haven't read all the good ones. And of course, there are many good ones. But for some reason, the quality of general reviewing has somehow gone down, especially for Indian writing. Anybody who has seen a Bollywood movie seems to think he can write and that is such a disaster. And I am not even going to start on the Chetan Bhagat syndrome here. Maybe it is because Sujatha died! Point being, I need to find some reviewer who reviews books sensibly or find a good author whose books I haven't finished.

But the second point is kinda minor. The first is the one I am more concerned about. What I really wanted to do with this post was to remind myself (and others like me) to stop rationalizing too much. To read good fiction once in a while. Classics. Novels. Stories woven by master narrators. Watch plays (I missed watching "Rent" :( :( :( ). Listen to symphonies. Listen to Ganesh-Kumaresh. Watch some Bharatanatyam performance. Walk in the mornings watching the sky turn red.  

Stop. And stare

P.S: Thanks Srinath for pointing out the typo on Bharatanatyam. Though if you ask me, considering that it is a Tamil word, maybe we should spell it as Baradanattiyam :P

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