Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kim

I have always found it uncomfortable reading Rudyard Kipling. I admit I am biasied. He was the classic colonial sahib, disdainful towards the colonized junta, and smug about the supposed superiority of his own race.

While reading his works, Kipling’s personal attitude often prevents me from enjoying them. There is always a feeling at the back of my head that he is disdainfully sneering at people like me for not being European. So however good the story, the feeling that, “I wish you were here so that I could slap you” remains. That is the reason I did not really enjoy the Jungle Book. I really like Kipling’s poetry, it contains humor, is simple and rather likable. “Akbar’s Bridge” is a brilliant example, “If” one of the most inspiring poems I’ve ever read is one of them. But the poem never overshadows the poet (though “If” comes very, very close), and one can never forget that it is Kipling who wrote it.

Kim, on the other hand is one book that mesmerized me. While I read it, It enveloped me , I was immersed in the rich tapestry of 19th Century India. All the characters were vividly drawn. I could feel them, see them and felt that if only I had tried I could actually speak with them. From the academic, na├»ve and tender-hearted Buddhist Lama in search of a legendary river, the quick Afghan who supposedly dealt in horses, the Antique Dealer of Simla to Kim himself – each character had an identity. The story was fast paced and took me through a wonderfully adventurous journey across Northern British India, and at the same time it was effortlessly seeped with culture, not forced but unobtrusively in the background, forming in part the essence of the novel.

At no point while reading Kim, did I feel Kipling’s presence. It was as if I was witnessing the story as it unfolded.

A story like Kim loses nothing even when re-read. And I know why. It is as because all the characters, all the places in the book have souls of their own. I love this book, I adore this story and I don’t care if Kipling wrote it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Is Mulayam mulayam in the head?

There are very few people in this world who love to hate computers. Mulayam Singh Yadav is one of them.

While most political parties promise progress (even though they have no intention of keeping them), the Samajwadi Party has taken it upon itself to promise banning the use of computers (along with teaching English in schools) where ever possible. The foolishness of this idea (in terms of loss to the nation) as well as the brilliance of it as far as Mulayam's vote bank politics is concerned is obvious, and hardly needs delving into in this blog.

I appreciate the non-hypocrisy of the SP as far as their outlook in bettering the lives of their fellow man is concerned. They are open about the fact that they do not want independent thinking rational beings in their constituencies, but pet dogs: subjects dependent on the goodwill of the government in terms of manufactured jobs, reservations and doles.

The scary thing however is that Yadav has "served" as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh three times and once as the Union Defense Minister which naturally means that he has won elections several times, and may be re-elected once again. What is worse, he may actually keep his promises this time.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I was thrilled to read about "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" in day before yesterday's Times of India. It has been a long time since I have had anything entertaining to read, and P&P&Z seems to be the perfect way of breaking my fast.

P&P has always been one of my favorite books, and seeing it adapted with zombie-slaying protagonists is promising. While some purists may puke, as 85% of the text remains the same, the results are sure to be hilarious.

Now, if only I could find a bookstore in Mumbai stocking the book...