Category Archives: Book Reviews
Words about words.
I am generally not a fan of Chick Lit or any novel/movie which has love story in it. Probably because I don’t think real life gives you a fairy tale that these typically portray.However, when I got a call from an old friend of mine informing me that she has released her debut novel, I ordered this one immediately- Shades of Adolescence by Harshita Sharma.
What I picked up thinking it’s going to be same old Cliche Chetan Bhagat kinda novel turned out to be much more. Yes, it has a love story in it but the book in itself is also about friendships, schools, those days of mischief, going around the city in your two-wheeler, hiding trivial things from parents considering it to be a big top secret, the phase of having first crush, falling in and out of love, favorite subjects, favorite teachers and much more!
You have to read it yourself to find out. The book has it’s own highs and lows, moments when you say ” Oh Wow!! I remember those days” or when you feel ” Crap! I really don’t want to think of the time when this happened to me” but then it’s all part of a package.
We all went through that phase of adolescence and the shades it brings with it. Reading through the novel, brought back many memories and I felt as if I am re-living those days.
The way Harshita has developed her plot is commendable too. Though I felt at times that the characters or the plot at that very instant is half baked and it could have been better, but overall I enjoyed it a lot, especially the end. Knowing Harshita personally, I knew she wouldn’t write something that’s conventional. But the way she has projected her characters, made me feel a part of their lives, which in itself is a great thing to achieve.
There are very few who read my blog but if you reading this, I would urge you to get this one. You’ll not regret. And if you’re a budding author too, I’m sure you’ll know how much time one invests to write and to publish a novel is a big deal. I hope you enjoy reading this one.
Cheers to Harshita!
“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.”
Shantaram is one of my favourites now. If I make a list of top 10 favourite books, this will definitely feature in Top 5.
It is based in Mumbai city for most part of the plot and is an autobiography plus part fiction of life of the author Gregory David Roberts. Anything related to Mumbai anyways excites me. The city has a charm I can’t get over. I have stayed in Mumbai for a few years and If I ever have a chance, I would love to go back. Despite the crowd, the distance and the high cost of living, the warmth of the place makes you forget every pain!
I am not sure how much of it is true and how much is fiction. However the part set in Mumbai more or less seems like true incident. Entering a new city, experiencing village, slum, making friends, everything was so beautifully written. I can’t even count the number of “quotable lines” from this book. Some of them that I’ve mentioned below were amazing to read and feel.
The whole war part wasn’t very engrossing. Probably, I say so because it moved away from Mumbai. But the plot seemed very fabricated. Yet, I would say it was well written. For me, personally, how good an author is comes from how well he ends his books. The climax of Shantaram was just perfect for me.
The below lines have no spoilers whatsoever. If you’ve already read the book, this may bring back fond memories. If you haven’t, this probably will make you wanna read it.
1. Civilisation is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.
2. The only force more cynical and ruthless than the business of politics is the politics of big business.
3. When you judge the power that is in a person, you must judge their capacities as both friend and as enemy.
4. Some women are like that. Some loves are like that. Most loves are like that, from what I can see. Your heart starts to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. You throw your pride out to keep it afloat , and your self respect and your independence. After a while you start throwing people out- your friends, everyone you used to know. And it’s still not enough. The lifeboat is still sinking, and you know it’s going to take you down with it. I hVe seen it happen to a lot of girls here. I think that’s why I am sick of love.
5. Optimism is the first cousin of love and it’s exactly like love in three ways: it’s pushy, it has no real sense of humor and it turns up where you least expect it.
6. A dream is a place where wish and fear met. When the wish and the fear are exactly the same , he said, we call the dream a nightmare.
7. Poverty and pride are devoted blood brothers until one, always and inevitably , kills the other.
8. The burden of happiness can only be relieved by the balm of suffering.
9. When we are young, we ThNk that suffering is something that’s done to us. When we get older- when the steel door slams shut, in one way or another, we know that real suffering is measured by what’s taken away from us.
10. You are not a man until you give your love, truly and freely, to a child. And you are not a good man until you earn the love, truly an freely, of a child in return.
11. Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be.
12. One of he ironies of courage, and the reason why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for someone else than we do for ourselves alone.
13. They were poor, tired, worried men, but they were Indian, and any Indian man will tell you that although love might not have been invented in India, it was certainly perfected there.
14. Fear dries a man’s mouth and hate strangles him. Thats why hate has no great literature: real hate and real fear have no words.
15. People haven’t stopped believing in love. They haven’t stopped wanting to be in love. They just don’t believe in happy ending anymore. They still believe in love, and falling in love, but they know now that…they know that romances almost never end as well as they begin.
16. It was just that all the hope had been so empty, so meaningless. And if you prove to a man how vain his hope is, how vain his hoping was, you kill the bright , believing part of him that wants to be loved.
17. In the face of all that is so wrong with the world, the very worst thing you can do is to survive. And yet you must survive. It is this dilemma that makes us believe and cling to the lie that we have a soul, and that there is a God who cares about its fate.And now you have it.
18.There’s a kind of luck that is not much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that’s not much more than doing the right thing in the right way, and both really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate filled moment.
19. Justice is a judgement that is both fair and forgiving. Justice is not done until everyone is satisfied, even those who offend us and must be punished by us. Justice is not the only way we punish those who do wrong. It is also the way we save them.
20. Are we ever justified in what we do? When we act, even with the best of intentions, when we interfere with the world, we always risk a new disaster that mightn’t be of our making, but that wouldn’t occur without our action. Some of the worst wrongs were caused by people who tried to change things.
21. It’s impossible to despise someone you honestly pity, and tu shun someone you truly love.
22. At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won’t stop loving them, even after they’re dead and gone.
While there were many many more lines that I would love to share, but they are just so many and so long that I’m quite lazy to type. And honestly, I feel reading it in the entire context would make much more sense.
Shantaram is definitely a must read!
This was the last book of the year 2015 and it felt great to have read it. I was told before reading it that you may not like it- since it is based on something that is quite old, which we don’t see anymore. But I personally didn’t feel disconnected ever.
Maybe because we have seen discrimination in so many movies or read about it in different books- that it doesn’t seem to be an alien concept.
To Kill a Mocking Bird is the story narrated by Jean Louise Finch about her father Attitus Finch and her family, in the midst of a law suit against rape and racial inequality that Atticus is fighting against.
There are no quotable lines in this book. It is narrated by a child and the language is kept simple and lucid.
Multiple reasons why I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet read.
First, the narration is great. Looking at things from a child’s perspective was different. Their arguments and reasons makes us think too.
Second, The plot deals with serious issues but is dealt with extreme delicacy. It has humour, innocence, wisdom and learning.
Third, I loved the way relations were portrayed. Father-daughter, aunt-niece, neighbours, between friends. everything was carefully and neatly laid out.
Fourth, It shows an ideal parenting technique. The way Atticus deals with Jem or Scout is just amazing. Harpee Lee may not be a lawyer but she has sure sketched a character who thinks, talks and behaves like one. Atticus is extremely level headed and poised and I loved the way his character has been written.
I don’t have any more reasons. Probably, I don’t remember any more. I can only ask you to read it. It is a lovely book.
Robinson Crusoe is a classic written by Daniel Defoe in the early 1700s. It is a story of a man who is castaway in a remote island and how he spends 30 years there before finding a way to return back to his country.
This book also is the plot for the Tom Hanks movie Cast away, if it interests you somehow.
I generally like to read Classics- not because they are famous books written by famous authors, but because they are genuinely beautifully written. Well, mostly!
I typically pickup books which are well known or well appreciated. Most of my reviews will also be all praises for the quotes and the lines. Robinson Crusoe, sadly, doesn’t qualify on my favourites list. There are a few reasons. Firstly, it is a very old book. I can appreciate the fact that the plot and the language used might have been path breaking at that time, it however fails to impress me now. Secondly, I don’t like texts that speak so much about God and providence and illustrate that without an omnipotent force, everything is a lost cause. Every second line in Robinson Crusoe seems the same. Thirdly, there are books which depict joy and sorrow or grief beautifully. But usage of floods and storms and violence in this book, which was very apt and widely popular in those days, it failed to connect with me now.
I won’t call it a must read. But if you’re someone who enjoys reading classics in general, who can give this a try!
Below are some of the lines that I enjoyed from the book. However, beyond a point, I stopped jotting it down and just focussed on finishing the book!
1. I know not what to call this, not will I urge that it is a secret overruling decree, that hurries us on to the instruments of our own destruction, even though it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our eyes open.
2. I have since often observed, how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, to that reason which ought to guide them in such cases- viz that thy are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed. Of the returning, which only can make then be esteemed wise men.
3. For sudden joys, like griefs, confound at first.
4. How strange a chequer-work of providence is the life of man! And by what secret different springs are the affections hurried about, as different circumstances present! Today we love what tomorrow we hate; today we seek what tomorrow we shun; today we desire what tomorrow we fear, nay, even tremble at the apprehensions of.
5. Fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself, when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about.
6. How infinitely good that providence is, which has provided , in its government of mankind, such narrow bounds to his sight and knowledge if things, and though he walks in the midst if so many thousand dangers, the sight of which, if discovered to him, would distract his mind and sink his spirits, he is kept serene and calm, by having the events of things his from his eyes, and knowing nothing of the dangers which surround him.
Freakonomics was one book which was quite hyped even during my college days. I wasn’t much of a reader back then except for reading chetan bhagat and sheldon or fan brown. I started reading voraciously only a few years ago.
I had heard great things about this book – the unique way to present facts with data and to ask questions we never even thought of asking before.
Did the book disappoint me? Definitely no.
This was the first book I picked up this year and finished in 2 weeks despite the long vacation I took in between. For a book this interesting, 2 week is actually quite long.
The part about what’s in it for real estate agents or the incentives for day care centre was a great read personally. However what was a revelation for me was the first chapter on what makes ideal parents. We had several hypothesis or myths that we can call now. Some of them I personally believed in too but the research proved them all wrong. The only regret here is that the topic itself is too large and so obscure that the authors could only present the results out of the statistical data. However the explanations to some of them have been left open.
While it was made clear that genetics play a much larger role than inculcated habits that parents try to develop on early years, it still is misleading. Ex the comparison of a child being born with many books at home and the one who reads a lot and still scores poor.
The answer given was that the child with many books at home is more intelligent due to genes – fact that his parents read a lot and hence have a higher IQ. But even if we assume the child who reads a lot has weak genes or parents with lower IQ, how can he score lower just with this attribute. It is like challenging the learning ability itself. Expecting the authors to answer is also not fair as they have written with an intention to answer common myths with the help of research and data.
Overall, the book was enriching. It makes you think differently and even after finishing it, it leaves you with a lot of questions you would want to find answers for.
It isn’t just economics and it is not just philosophy. It is an interesting mix of both science and common sense which was really great. A must read!
Cat’s Cradle is definitely one of the most creative books I have read so far. Not just creative, it is humorous and uses major Satire in its plot. I haven’t read any other Kurt Vonnegut book. Slaughter Five is on my To read list but I won’t be picking it up anytime soon. But Cat’s cradle is something everyone should try.
The guy just created a new religion out of nothing!!
Kurt Vonnegut mixes science with the new religion Bokononism in a beautiful way. I have read a short story by him once- 2BR02B which equally amazed me. Kurt has a nice blend of science fiction with a human touch to it. Stories like these cannot be just an inspiration from real world.
What I really liked about Cat’s cradle was that it was well structured. We know from the first page that the protagonist is conducting a research for his book on what happened in the lives of important people on the day atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. However, we are also told in the same chapter that he did not finish the book because he later realized the purpose of his life and move towards Bokonon and Bokoninism. Every chapter progressed constructively and it kept you hooked to the plot.
This book again, like Old Man and Sea wasn’t quotable- you didn’t have lines that floored you, except a few. One that i remember is ” Peculiar Travel suggestion are dancing lessons from God”. It wasn’t about philosophy anyways. It was more of a satire on humanity in general. Creation of Ice-9 , how we in general trade it for personal favors or how unreasonable we are and all of this was interweaved with some or the other character.
The end is like a parallel world- destruction of the human race because Bokonon feels humans are so stupid that it is better to freeze everything with Ice-Nine and laugh at the God who created us.
Even if a genre like this doesn’t interest you, I would recommend read 2BR02B first, and if you happen to like it, give Cat’s cradle a shot. It is a book not every reader will enjoy. A typical Chetan Bhagat/ love story reader may not appreciate the creativity.
It is always disappointing when you have written an entire review and as a last step, click on something to upload the book cover pic and the entire thing just vanishes!! 😦
Anyways, I’ll retype everything. I really wanted to have at least one post on the first day of the year to keep the ball rolling on the other days!
I’ll start with Happy New year 2016!! Last year was when I started my blog and I have been very lazy with it. I hardly write a few book/ movie reviews, started a crappy Daily Quote series, posted a travelogue and that is all. I read more than 25 books in one year but haven’t reviewed all. There were days when I saw back to back movies but I didn’t review any of them. Same is the case with my almost dormant Zomato account.
Well, I am here to change things my friends! Starting with this book review of Old man and the sea.
This book is a short story by Ernest Hemingway and was published in 1950s. It won Pulitzer and was one of the major reasons why Hemingway won Nobel for Literature. It is a very short book, probably can be finished in a single sitting. Books like this, Animal Farm or The great Gatsby makes me wonder how a book so small as these can be so profound. It amazes me that when I sit to write something, it takes me 3 lines to make a point when these authors will probably use just half a line.
The book is about Santiago- or the Old Man who is a fisherman consider unlucky as he hadn’t caught a fish in 84 days! The story is about his sailing trip on the 85th day and if the day changes things for him.
While Santiago is the main protagonist, we sure have others playing an important role- The beautiful Marlin with the fighting spirit of a competent adversary for Santiago, Manolin- The young boy who is like a son to Santiago and who is shown to have the innocence and compassion which most of the others lose in the process of “growing up”. While the relation between Manolin and Santiago constituted hardly 5% of the plot; it however was the best for me. The discussion about football player Joe, the faith and confidence in each other- the relation was something each of us share with someone at least once in our lifetime.
The story, the end can have multiple interpretations, multiple lessons that we learn. Times when we tire our or burn out completely in order to accomplish something only to end up with nothing. But does it really mean we are left with nothing at all?
When Santiago tries to catch the fish, all he thinks of his how others will feel when they see how big a fish he’s caught. Or how much money it’ll fetch or how many people it could feed.
The struggle for so many days practically ends up to nothing, or that’s what we feel. Sometimes the fact that we struggle itself earns us respect and value even if that doesn’t get us money or livelihood.
I do not have any lines or quotes from this book. The story was fiction plus philosophy and was really profound but you never find something that you would want to quote. This is something I had heard about Hemingway even before. His writing style is very unique and simple. There is nothing flowery and yet it connects with you somewhere.
I recommend this book to anyone who genuinely enjoys reading quality books!
This book is a must read for all Classic Fans. Irrespective of which Era you prefer, the 1800s, the 20th century writers or modern literature, classics have a different flavor and certain books must be read. Dickens is one such author.
Not that I don’t enjoy Modern writing. I read anything and everything; except Love stories. i don’t mind watching movies but reading love stories, strict No!
Charles Dickens writes huge books. Quick fact- he was paid by word, so the more number of words, the more he gets paid. Copperfield is relatively shorter and brilliant.I have established this previously that I enjoy character sketches. Hence Copperfield was a treat for me.
Firstly, I really liked the name- of the book and the protagonist. Secondly, the book is one roller coaster ride. Ups and downs, shock, surprise, anger, happiness, sadness and you end up feeling great . < That’s not a spoiler by the way!>. There were a lot of places where I felt how profound this particular para is. But then I was so engrossed reading, that I didn’t feel like writing it down. Now that has been months since I completed the book, I don’t remember!
Below are notes from the book. They are very few. Typing them takes time and I was really enjoying reading.
1. Of all the times of mine that time has in his grip, there is none that in one retrospect I can smile at half so much , and think of half so tenderly.
2. Are tears the dewdrops of the heart?
3. There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose
4. Hold me to your heart , my husband! Never cast me out! Do not speak or think of disparity between us, for there is none , except in all my many imperfections. Every succeeding year, I have known this better, as I have esteemed you more and more. Oh, take me to your heart, my husband, for my love was founded on a rock, and it endures!
5. Love is like The first mistaken impulse of an in disciplined heart
6. But sometimes when I took her up, and felt that she was lighter in my arms, a dead blank feeling came upon me, as if I were approaching to some frozen region yet unseen, that numbed my life. I avoided the recognition of this feeling by any name, or by any communing with myself; until one night, when it was very strong upon me, and my aunt had left her with a parting cry of ‘good night little blossom’, I sat down at my desk alone and tried to think, oh what a fatal name it was , and how the blossom withered in it’s bloom upon the tree!
7. Closer in my arms, nearer to my heart, her trembling hand upon my shoulder , her sweet eyes shining through her tears, on mine! ” I went away, dear Agnes, loving you. I stayed away, loving you. I returned home, loving you. ”
8. O Agnes, o my soul, so may thy face be by me when I close my life indeed; so may I, when realities are melting from me, like the shadows which I now dismiss, still find thee near me, pointing upward!
Somerset Maugham was never on my reading list until early this year. Two reasons why it made it here:
a. I went to this awesome pub in Chennai- Moon and six pence at Hotel Hablis. The nam adapted from Maugham’s book was so catchy that I immediately wanted to read one of his work.
b. A friend of mine shared few lines from this book and I instantly fell in love with the thought process.
So, here I am. Almost two months after finishing this book, I am finding time to write the review.
My reviews, as usual won’t be long about description and plot. I don’t believe in writing such book reviews. Movies are different. You can tell about characters, acting, song, so much to explain. Books are an entirely difference genre. You should not know anything about it except the author and whether or not you enjoy such books. And to help you make that decision, I will put up “non spoiler” lines/ quotes from the book. And you’ll know if you like it as much as I do.
The book is a character study. A young boy becomes an orphan, moves with his uncle and how he grows to become a fine aimless man, till he eventually finds his way into the big world and lives happily every after. That’s all that’s there to the plot. But the journey is Oh so beautiful.
I could totally relate to Philip. I am as clueless about my life as Philip was in the book- except that by now, he had quite figured out his passion! Nonetheless, the love and hatred, change of beliefs, passion towards fellow beings, friends, finding love, everything was so natural that you kept turning the page to know what’s gonna follow.
Below are few quotes- some of them are absolutely brilliant! 11,12 and 13 were my favourites.
1. She was a barren woman and even though it was clearly god’s will that she should be childless, she could scarcely bear to look at little children sometimes, her heart aches so- the tears rose to her eyes and one by one , slowly, rolled down her cheeks. Philip watched her in amazement. She took out her handkerchief and now she cried without restraint. Suddenly Philip realised that she was crying because if what he had said, and he was sorry. He went up to her silently and kissed her. It was the first kiss he had ever given to her without being asked. And the poor lady, so small in her black satin, shrivelled up and sallow, with her funny corkscrew curls, took the little boy on her lap and put her arms around him an wept As though her heart would break. But her tears were partly tears of happiness, for she felt that the strangeness between them was gone. She loved him with a new love because he had made her suffer.
2. As long as you accept it rebelliously it can only cause you shame. But if you looked upon it as a cross that was given to you to bear only because your shoulders were strong enough to bear it, a sign of god’s favour, then it would be a source of happiness to you instead of misery
3. The companionship of Hayward was the worst possible thing for Philip. He was a man who saw nothing for himself, but only through a literary atmosphere, and he was dangerous because he had deceived himself into sincerity. He honestly mistook his sensuality for romantic emotion, his vacillation for the artistic temperament, an his idleness for philosophic calm. His mind, vulgar in its effort at refinement, saw everything a little larger than life size, with the outlines blurred, in a golden mist of sentimentality. He lied and never knew that he lied, and when it was pointed out to him said that lies were beautiful. He was an idealist
4. It seemed to him that he waited for at least 5 min, trying to make up his mind; and his hand trembled. He would willingly have bolted , but he was afraid of the remorse which he knew would seize him. It was like getting on the highest diving board in a swimming bath; it looked nothing from below , but when you got up there and stared down at the water your heart sank; and the only that forced you to dive was the shame of coming down meekly by the steps you had climbed up.
5. You will find as you grow older that the first thing needful to make the world a tolerable place to live in is to recognise the inevitable selfishness of humanity. You demand unselfishness from others , which is a preposterous claim that thy should sacrifice their desires to yours. Why should they? When you are reconciled to the fact that each is for himself in the world you will ask less from your fellows. They will not disappoint you, and you will look upon them more charitably. Men seek but one thing in life – their pleasure.
6. Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make use of the other five.
7. It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it is too late. It does not improve the temper.
8. Love was like a parasite in his heart, nourishing a hateful existence on his life’s blood; it absorbed his existence so intensely that e could take pleasure in nothing else.
9. Sometimes he awoke in the morning and felt nothing; for he thought he was free; he loved no longer; but in a little while, as he grew wide awake, the pain settled in his heart , and he knew that he was not cured yet.though he yearned or Mildred so madly he despised her. He thought to himself that there could be no greater torture in the world than at the same time to love and to contempt.
10 beauty is put into things by painters and poets. They create beauty. In themselves there is nothing to choose between the campanile of Giotto and a factory chimney. And then beautiful things grow rich with the emotion that they have aroused in succeeding generations. That is why old things are more beautiful than modern. The ode on a grecian urn is more lovely now that when it was written, because for a hundred years lovers have read it and sick at heart taken comfort in its lines.
11. When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for ME, and it becomes part of me; I have got out of the book all that’s any use to me, and I can’t get anything more if I read it a dozen times. You see, it seems to me, one’s like a closed bud, and most of what one reads and does has no effect at all; but there are certain things that have a peculiar significance for one, and they open a petal; and the petals open one by one; and at last the flower is there.
12. Of course I knew you never loved me as much as I loved you, she moaned. I am afraid that’s always the case, he said. There’s always one who loves and one who let’s himself be loved.
13. The only way to live is to forget that you’re going to die. Death is unimportant. The fear of it should never influence a single action of the wise man. I know that I shall die struggling for breath, and I know that I shall be horribly afraid. I know that I shall not be able to keep myself from regretting bitterly the life that has brought me to such a pass; but I disown that regret. I now, weak, old, diseased, poor, dying, hold still my soul in my hands, and I regret nothing.
This is the first Amitav Ghosh that I picked up. I had heard great things about Shadow Lined and The glass palace. Somehow happened to lay my hands on this first!
The book started slow- In 1930s- description of family, Calcutta, Bangladesh , relatives etc.And gradually the book picked up pace. I initially could stop to type down beautiful lines or para. But after a while, all I wanted to do was to keep reading without a stop. It was that good!
We can judge a man by what he writes and the way he writes. There are people who are creative, some who are visionaries. Ghosh is one of them. ( Amitav Ghosh, I mean !). How beautifully he describes scenes, different places, history- it feels as if we are right there- living in a boundary less world.
The part of the book where the protagonist and his group are looking at old photographs and were describing what they thought was happening and how the picture was clicked- I found it very unique. I somehow loved the way he book was written. I generally like first person narrative- more than second or third person. It gives a more personal touch.
Another good thing about the plot was that though we hear the story from one man’s point of view, we have several characters and all of their interpretations are given equal important. Best thing that we never feel lost. The story goes back and forth in time, introduces new people and new stories but you accept all of them as your own.
I also liked the way it ended. The book was never meant to be a suspense, but somehow, you get involved in the story that you never see it coming, till you cover 2/3rd of book! I won’t give any spoilers. You have to read it to understand it better.
Below are just a few lines I really liked. Of course, as mentioned it covers less than half the book. Post that, I was busy just enjoying the read!
1. And still, I knew that the sights Tridib saw in his imagination were infinitely more detailed, more precise than anything I would ever see. He said to me once that one could never know anything except through desire, real desire, which was not the same thing as greed or lust; a pure, painful and primitive desire, a longing for everything that was not in oneself, a torment of the flesh, that carried one beyond the limit of one’s own mind to other times and other places, and even, if one was lucky, to a place where there was no border between oneself and one’s image in the mirror.
2. For Ila, the current was the real; it was as though she lived in a present which was like an airlock in a canal, shut away from the tidewaters of the past and the future by steel floodgates.
3. And so, as always, it was Ila- Ila of whom it was said when we were children, that she and I were so alike that I could have been her twin- it was that very Ila who baffled me yet again with mystery of difference.
4. Walking along the deserted avenue, I found myself crying, not so much in grief as anger that my parents had not informed me in time, so that i could be there when they cremated her. I climbed up the steep road that led to the monument on the Ridge, and sitting there, on the grass, i found my anger ebbing away. There seemed to be something fitting, after all, in the manner in which I had learnt of my grandmother’s death: she had always been too passionate a person to find real place in my tidy late- bourgeois world, the world that I had inherited, in which examinations were more important than death.
5. I would look at the advertisements for diamonds and jewellery in the British Sunday magazines, or i would read their accounts of film star romances and i would wonder why it so happens that it is in this state, the state we call love, that people are most driven to enumerate and quantify, when the state itself, or so those very magazines tell us, is the obverse, the antithesis, of the notions of number and quantity. I wonder what the circumstances could be that would prompt a man to tell a journalist exactly how much money he had spent, down tp the last pound or dollar, on buying a car or an island for the woman he loved; I would wonder why the advertisements hinted so carefully at the exact price of the jewellery they urged men to buy for their girlfriends, why a girl had attempted suicide exactly nine times to get back the man she loved, why I had been driven to count all the yards that I had walked when I went to see Ila. I could think of no answer, except that it is because that state, love, is so utterly alien to that other idea without which we cannot live as human beings- the idea of justice. It is only because love is so profoundly the enemy of justice that our minds, shrinking in horror from its true nature, try to tame it by uniting it with its opposite: it is though we say to ourselves- he bought her a diamond worth exactly so much, in the hope that if we apply all the metaphors of normality, that if we heap them high enough, we shall, in the end, to able to approximate that state metaphorically.
The lines sound poetic somehow. If you enjoy this writing style, pick up any Amitav Ghosh book and you’d love it!