Month: January 2006

Rooting for Baghdatis

Firstly, a cracker of match coming up tommorrow, Baghdatis-Federer. Really do hope the match lasts five sets and Baghdatis doesn’t run out of steam at this last juncture. Last thing anyone would one want is yet another shutout by the Swiss champ. Go underdog go. ┬áSecondly, Name of the Rose turns out to be a far better read than Foucault’s Pendulum and rather like a medieval version of Sherlock Holmes (the protagonist is named William of Baskervilles, take that !!) with a generous dosage of theological discussions, philosophies and epiphanies (most of which, by the way are in Latin). Thirdly, I had the best pickle I have had in a long, long time today. I’d even go as far as to say that other than my Grandma’s gobi ka achar this is the best I have ever come across. Deli-iii-cious.

The Cal Carnivale

Made a visit today to what is undoubtedly the largest spectacle (ok, other than Durga Puja and those damn rallies, maybe) this city has to offer. And obviously, for this city famed for its intellectual pursuits, intellegentsia, Bengali Bhadraloks et al, that could only be a book fair. That is notwithstanding the fact that most people who throng the Maidan are in quest of far baser pleasures (umm..case in point, the Food Stall). Yeah, that brings me to one of my favourite topics, food. I really have to hand it over to Calcuttans. They seem to have developed some kind of an inbuilt defence mechanism, completely immunue to almost everything under the sun. They way all the street food was being devoured amidst all that dust, had to be seen to be believed. Really, its way too dusty at Maidan, especialy when it has such multitudes trampling all over it. Perhaps, things shall take a turn for the better from next year when reportedly the venue is being shifted to someplace of E.M. Bypass.
I have never really been a big fan (or even a small fan) of book fairs. Why on earth should I go and jostle to have a look at books in all that dirt and dust, when I can do that easily in the air-conditioned comfort of Oxford and Landmark. And anyway, you’re likely to get more of a discount at the College Street bookstores or even the Family Book Shop. Still, there was no way I could’ve returned empty-handed from this place.
Got Banville’s Revolutions Trilogy and Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Banville is a guy have a read a lot about and the three novels are supposed to be his best works. Ergo, my choice. Eco, on the other hand, after my experience with his previous work, was more in the nature of a calculated gamble. Perhaps, all that arcana would be easier to tolerate if the novel itself was steeped in an era where all that arcanity actually counted for something. Foucault’s Pendulum, with its abrupt leaps from contemporary to medieval climes did not have this element. I expect Name of the Rose, touted as it is, as a taut Renaissance mystery to have it.

Foucault’s Pendulum (has me hovering in suspension)

Really, this book by Eco takes the cake. Its the most fiendishly obtuse book I have ever come across. So much of assorted arcana, literary miscellany in one book does, at times become too much to handle. Started the book around a couple of hours ago and have reached a stage where one of the protagonists has devised a BASIC program (yeah, really!!, the actual code is given) for his word processor. This is nothing compared to what came before that ; ‘isochronal majesty’, ‘sapiential metaphors’, ‘diadactic pretext’, ‘damnation of panta rei’, ‘chthonian world of gas guzzlers’ and whatnot.
And what is even more exasperating is the fact that I was preparing myself for a nice, easy session after my last read, Pamuk’s Black Book. That, in itself, was quite something. And now this. You know, it literally makes you yearn for stuff like Grishams, Baldaccis, Forsyths which you can literally race through without expending either too much of your time or energy.
Still, I’ve got to finish this work so back to Mr. Eco’s unabashedly convoluted semiotic-obsessed arcana which God-alone-knows how manages to masquerade as literature.

Karma Capers

Oh Boy!! I sometimes do wonder as to what exactly is Karma, you know. The old theory ’bout what goes around comes around, as you sow, so shall you reap and so on. Today I had my VIVAs. Yet again, I started yesterday. Yet again, my prepn. was woeful. Yet again, I got lucky. Thankfully, I got some topics about which I did have some vague ideas and manged to somehow speak, rather assertively for the assigned duration. Now, I dunno whether what I was asserting was correct or not, but I was pretty emphatic about it all the same. And going by the reaction of my panel, by and large, I did manage to get the grade.
Now what I am worried about is Karma. A situation where I would have exerted my utmost (no, really!) and ended up in the dumps. Really scary proposition. But for now, just cooling off at home, VIVAs well behind me, listening to Tim McGraw and thinking which flick to catch on the weekend. Ciao.

Bloody Comrades

Scene : 11: 30 this morning. I have my timetable charted out in front of me, the to-do list staring at me right in the face. Reach the bus stop and what do I see? A massive, gargantuan rally which has completely blocked all kind of traffic. Buses? *#@$! Forget it. They are more busy plying the CPI (M) party cadres to whichever hellhole (in this case, the Maidan which is actually a pretty nice place, esp. to play cricket), they’re having their rally in. And how could our beloved cabbies be left behind. They had to join in the festivities, charging around three to four times the normal fare. The scene at the bus-stop had to be seen to be believed. Choc-a-bloc with people, most of them as exasperated and annoyed as I was, muttering and cursing under their breath. And once a bus came along…..not carrying one of those frigging red flags, pandemonium, bedlam, chaos, the works, you know. All these people were running like maniacs, pushing and shoving just to get on that bus.I actually saw one character jump on a bus already in motion, trying to grasp the conductor’s hand, who by the way himself was halfway thrust out. For one fantastic moment, suspended in midair, he looked remarkably like some kind of a trapeze artist.

I haven’t launched into this diatribe merely to convey my annoyance and displeasure at the inconveniences which I and thousands of people throughout this city were subjected to. What really gets me, is the sheer futility of these rallies. I admittedly, am woefully ignorant of the nitty-gritties of whatever political causes espoused by any party. I, at best, can only pretend to have a general notion. But, the very idea of seeing busloads upon busloads, truckloads upon truckloads of men being ferried, just you know, to fill up the numbers, is something which I find exccedingly repulsive. And from what I have heard, most of these people are actually paid to attend these rallies. Forget about ideology, this is plain, bloody hypocrisy. Well, I guess thats the way it is and it shall always be, and lets face it, I’d take CPI (M) anyday over Mamtadi.

P.S. A person died the day before. A certain Mr. Heinrich Harrer. One of the greatest mountaineers the world has ever seen and the author of possibly the best travelogue I have ever come across. Herr Harrer, you shall never climb alone.

Ahem, Ahem, Hello 2006

Well, I would have started with the old cliched Happy New Year, but then, there was nothing even remotely happy in the way 2005 ended for me. Ergo, I am not exactly in the right frame of mind to indulge in such needless pleasantries. My grades have gone right down the drain (rather, with the kind of drop I had this sem, they might have bloody ended up in the Bay of Bengal or somthing), I had to start and finish 5 research papers of around 20 pgs each in 4 days flat, and that too without any research done, my comp is so screwed up, some goddamn virus has infected it and the stupid antivirus thing keeps on giving error messages, my entire music collection is wiped out. In short, the world is going to dogs.

You know, sometimes whenever you read anything, you get the feeling you have already read something very similar before, even though the similarities might be nothing other than a byproduct of a rather hypreactive imagination. I just started Pamuk’s The Black Book today and from the very first page, the style of writing reminded me somewhat of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. This, purely based on the style of writing. On the other hand, something like The Rule of Four was eerily similar to Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land. This, purely on the basis of the content (wherein the present was trying to unravel the mysteries of the past, relying solely on a manuscript of some sort).

I’ll try to finish as much as I can of Orhan Pamuk’s book today. Will catch the Arsenal-Man U match at 1 and then format my comp. Signing off then, ciao