So many books, so little time…..

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‘Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.’——-Anonymous.

Isn’t this quote the best? (By the way, the title of the post is also a quote by Frank Zappa) I think it expresses my feelings perfectly. For me, books are one of the best things in the world. Seriously, can you think of anything better that shows you the whole world in such a wonderful way, while you are comfortably sitting at home in your favourite armchair? I can’t.

Every book you read is different. Some books stay with you for your entire life but almost all the books you read have some kind of effect on your way of thinking, of perceiving the world. It’s amazing really, what a single book can do. I don’t really remember the first book I ever read,but I remember reading different volumes of ‘Stories for Children’. They all had nice, colourful illustrations and all the stories had morals…’Slow and steady wins the race’ , ‘Look before you leap’ , ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’. There were also short stories from Panchatantra, The Jataka Tales, Akbar and Birbal. Some of life’s very first lessons were through books. Plus there were all the stories from mythology that my grandparents and my parents told me as a child. All these shaped the perception and understanding of my world. 

In my primary school years, the author I read the most was Enid Blyton. Her stories are loved by kids all over the world. It was a particular delight to go to the library and choose books to read as a child (thanks to my parents I had a library membership from a very young age). Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Faraway Tree, Malory Towers, The Naughtiest Girl are my earliest memories of children’s books. Later it was Caroline Keene’s Nancy Drew and Frank.W.Dixon’s Hardy Boys. These are the books I read the most but there are many, many more books I read. Then there were comics like Tinkle, Archie, magazines like Champak. Books have given me a lot in life. Enjoyment, life-lessons, different ways of looking at the world and also many different worlds which I would never have been aware about. 

I have been to many cities around the world and I have been to different centuries and times. All by reading books. I have also been on a trip around the galaxy (The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy), to The Shire ( The Lord of The Rings) and to Hogwarts (Harry Potter, this is one place I wish really existed). I don’t know, maybe these places really do exist? Atleast in my world they do because they are some of my most favourite places. Places I can escape to when the ‘real’ world becomes a bit too much.

I could go on and on about books. There is so much to say about them. I already have many books that I own but haven’t got around to reading yet. That’s because I have bought many of them together but obviously it will be some time before I will have finished reading them all. Then there are new books I keep learning about in my class, some that the teacher recommends, some my classmates have read, some as references to our course. In all my notebooks, on various pages, are names of books and authors that I have yet to read. I keep noting them down as and when I hear of books I haven’t read yet. I have no idea if I can manage to read them all, but atleast I can try.

So many books and so little time!!!

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Liebster Award!!!!!

Hello!! I have some good news!!! I have been nominated for the Liebster Award!!! It’s an award by bloggers for their fellow bloggers. Thank you Ravenclawsam for nominating me!! ( Too many exclamation marks i know but I am very excited!!!).Image

I am going to go in order here. So the first thing I have to do is post the rules for the nominees of the award. Here goes…

1.Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog. (Already done!)

2.You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.( Coming up).

3.You must nominate 10 of your favourite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.

4.You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

Let’s start answering some questions then!

1.Tell me your blogging story (how it started, why you did it, how different is it from what you thought it’d be, in a good way or bad way etc. Basically I’m giving you space to ramble on about your blog. In fact, throw in the link to your favourite post by yourself as a bonus).

For the last 5 years I was a student of Science. But in a surprise decision I decided to pursue a post graduation in English Literature. The idea of starting a blog was actually given to me by my Microbiology professor. And I have to say, I have definitely benefited from it. My professors encouraged me to take up whatever interested me and for that I am really very grateful to them, because that kind of support is always required for such a big decision. My professor told me  that in order to be a good English student I would have to write really well and a blog would help me in that direction. So I started Anything and Everything the very next day. I didn’t really write regularly. When I met my professor again in December he asked me about my blog and once more told me to continue writing, infact he told me that I should write everyday. So it was him, again, who gave me the encouragement and inspiration to write more regularly ( you know my one-post-per-week decision). Blogging about various things has really given me a very good outlet to my thoughts and feelings. I really think it is helping me in my course too because I am able to write much better now. Reading other people’s blogs is also a huge plus.

2.What is your idea of heaven? (All you atheists: don’t wriggle out of this one- tell me something!)

Heaven, according to me, is a place where one is very happy. So my idea of heaven is a place where I am with my family and my best friends. So I suppose my heaven is right here on Earth because being with my favourite people gives me the most happiness. Oh and there also have to be many books because reading makes me happy too.

3.What, according to you, is the future of books?

The future of books is quite secure, I think. There is no doubt that people read on digital book readers and mobile phones too but a good, old book beats everything. The feeling of holding a book in your hand, turning its pages, the smell of a new book…nothing’s going to beat that ever. Books are here forever.

4. If you could change one thing about your country/ society in general, what would it be?

Now this is a tough question. But, the first thing that comes to my mind is the illiteracy. If Illiteracy is eradicated completely, I think a lot of problems in our country can be solved. That is why programs like Teach India are a very good step for development.

5.Your one big regret.

Okay so I don’t think I have any big regrets but I think it would have helped if I had opted for an arts course right from the start instead of at the post graduation level. But it’s not really a regret because I have enjoyed studying science too and the last 5 years have been great. And I definitely don’t think that anything I have studied is going to go waste because I believe that anything you learn is just as important and useful, no matter what you do later.

6.What inspires you to write?

Everything that goes on around me, probably. That’s because when you see,hear, read about the things around you it leads to some thoughts and perceptions on your part. I like to write about what I have thought , so I write. 

7.Your favourite authors (I’m not limiting you in any way- list as many as you want)

This is a tough one, too. That’s because I haven’t read many specific-author books. I look at the book more than the author, if the book appeals to me I read it. So there are many authors I have read but not many books by the same authors. But I will write, obviously.

Enid Blyton ( Famous Five and Secret Seven…the basis of my reading habit)

J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter!!!!)

Lee Child

Meg Cabot ( the Princess Diaries)

Jeffery Archer

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)

Julia Quinn

I can still think of loads of books that I have loved so I’ll just mention them too ( can’t resist not mentioning them)…

Shantaram ( Gregory David Roberts)

Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

Mrityunjay (Shivaji Sawant)

A Walk To Remember (Nicholas Sparks)

Surely You’re Joking Mr.Feynman (Richard Feynman) 

Alive (Paul Piers Read)

Ok, I should stop. I can go on and on and on. Next question.

8.Tell me 3 really funny jokes (Not a question- just making provisions in case the rest of your blog bores me- Haha! I am kidding!)

Really? My blog is not boring, do you really need 3 jokes?

1.Customer: Waiter, do you serve crabs?

Waiter: Please sit down sir, we serve everyone.

2.”Yes – yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under our window, boy?
“Listening to the news,” said Harry in a resigned voice.
His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage.
“Listening to the news! Again?
“Well, it changes every day, you see,” said Harry.

3.He who laughs last thinks slowest.

9.. What would be the title of your autobiography?

That’s a good one. But I don’t know. I haven’t even done enough to write an autobiography yet. But you have definitely got me thinking .

10.What do you think is the Ultimate Question to The Life, Universe and Everything?

Good one, again. My question would be,’Is this real or has this been happening inside my head?’ I know the answer to this question is not 42 but if I had to ask, I would ask this.

It was so much fun answering these questions. Ravenclawsam if you have any more fun questions I can’t wait to answer them. So, moving forward, I have to nominate 10 blogs now. So here are my nominations:

1.The Quixotic Reader

2.Ravenclawsam

3.The Odd Land of Me

4.Malhar Mali

5.Makarand’s Musings

6.Oscarpotterhead

7.Caption-a Day

8.The Harry Potter Medicinal Re-Read

9.An Academic Life

10.Horcruxes, Heroes and Harry Potter

My questions are:

1.How did you start blogging?

2.The song that means the most to you.

3.Who is your most favourite person in the world?

4.Any 5 books that you think everyone should read.

5.If you could live somewhere other than you own country where would it be?

6.What does happiness mean to you?

7.Harry Potter or Twilight?

8.If you were not what you are now ( in terms of profession or education), what would you be?

9.Most memorable day in your life.

10.Your favourite sport.

So that’s it people. Thank you,again, Ravenclawsam for nominating me.

‘Epic’ Stories….

I am hearing the word ‘epic’ a lot now a days. I am also studying epic poetry in this semester. Hence the inspiration for this post.

Indian Mythology is one of the richest in the world. I have always been ,and still am, very fascinated with mythological stories. There are said to be 33 crore Gods in Hindu mythology. So you realize the number of stories associated with them. Obviously I don’t know all of them but I do know some. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two of the greatest epics in Hindu mythology and most Indian kids read about them or listen to stories from the two epics in their childhoods. My childhood wasn’t very different. But in the past couple of years these stories have somehow become more pronounced for me.

I haven’t read the Mahabharata in its entirety as yet but I have read two versions of it. One is Karna’s story, a book titled ‘Mrityunjay’ by Shivaji Sawant (after reading this book, Karna has become one of my most favourite characters in the epic. Even if he is a tragic hero.) and the other is Mahabharata from Draupadi’s perspective, titled ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Diwakaruni. These two books have brought The Mahabharata back in my life. Now I can’t wait to read the entire original epic. The same has happened with The Ramayana. We have to study different versions of the Ramayana for our second semester and so I have just finished reading Ramayana by C.Rajagopalachari. But, where the Ramayana is concerned, it is seen that there are various versions of it. People in South India believe something different than the people in North India etc. The basic story is the same but people see it from different perspectives and hence the different versions. Some communities even consider Ravana as the real hero of the epic. Infact, I am also reading ‘Asura’ by Anand Neelakantan. It is the story of the Ramayana but from the asura’s perspective i.e. Ravana’s perspective. Should be an interesting read.

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These epics are so fascinating because Indian culture closely follows them. These texts are considered very important even in the study of religion. For me as a literature student the text is not , particularly, a religious text but a text which has to be studied to understand Indian customs, traditions and beliefs better. It’s really surprising though that having lived in India my whole life, there are so many things that I am not aware of. Last week we attended a seminar where a professor of religious studies had come from a Canadian University. He knew so many stories about Hindu mythology and he had a very good knowledge of so many things concerning religions. It was surprising because he knew a lot more than us, inspite of not being Indian. But, I don’t think the problem is us precisely. The thing about living in India and reading about mythology is that one tends to be overwhelmed by the amount of literature available for reading. There are so many languages, so many religions, so many beliefs and customs that it becomes quite impossible to be aware about all of them. 

We are constantly hearing about different customs from all over the country. Keeping track is tricky. But that’s the beauty of it, I suppose. Right from a young age kids in India are taught about religions and some people would look at it as discriminating but I think it helps in understanding people because, after all, the kids have to grow up and live in a secular country. An understanding and tolerance of all religions is essential in their upbringing. That is why the epics are enjoyed by all kinds of people. Personally for me The Mahabharata is more fascinating because of its characters and the complex story-line. But the recent re-reading of The Ramayana has brought it into focus once again. I am very excited about reading more about it.

These epics are, for me, a way of reconnecting to many things…my childhood, my culture, my country. They are helping in the understanding of various things in a country as diverse as mine. They have stories which, though written centuries ago, seem relevant even today because they are, essentially, stories about people. 

That’s it for this week. But, I will definitely write about any more interesting stories I read. That reminds me, I have not written a single post about books! I can’t imagine how , but it’s surprising considering how I am constantly reading some book or the other. Maybe I will write about it in my next post. And feel free to write about any interesting perspectives about these epics that you might have in the comments. It’ll be very interesting to read.

Arrogant, Narcissist Or Just Human?

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I just watched the second episode of Sherlock Season 3. It was awwwsome (you know some things just have to be described as awww…). Benedict Cumberbatch is doing an absolutely brilliant job, he is too good! 

I have always liked Sherlock Holmes, you know. I have read the first volume of his stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and I think he is an incredibly good writer and Sherlock Holmes is one of the most loved detectives. From the stories it is very easy to see that Sherlock is a very intelligent, smart and extremely observant person. I mean seriously, the number of things he just notices like that! 

But here I am more specifically talking about The TV series Sherlock. On the 31st of December and the 1st of January there was a kind of Sherlock marathon on TV. That’s when I saw the series for the first time. I have to say I have never liked any TV series in so short a time, 2 days, I didn’t even see all the 6 episodes! That’s another thing, 3 episodes per season? Who does that? Apparently the Sherlock people do. Anyway,the point is moot since there’s nothing I can do about it.

So, to continue…Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock is really, really good. In the earlier episodes we see a Sherlock who is (as the title says) arrogant and a narcissist, but season 3 of the series kind of changes the image I think. In the first episode of season 3 , Sherlock returns from the ‘dead’ (for poor Watson atleast he was dead). I thought that episode 1 was extremely funny and I was just waiting for the moment when Watson would react. He didn’t disappoint at all. Sherlock deserved all those punches he got. I mean, who does that huh? You tell your one and only friend (Sherlock’s words, not mine) that you are dead and you expect him to be okay with it when you tell him that you were alive all the time? And the second episode! It’s Watson and Mary’s wedding day and Sherlock is the Best Man. The look on his face when Watson tells him that he’s going to be the Best Man ( and the subsequent realisation that he is Watson’s best friend)!! Epic! 

His speech just shows that he is just as human as everyone else. Okay so he does speak about how he finds marriage futile and all that, but still. Infact, he even says that marriage and murder are similar because it happens between two people and ends when one of them dies.’ Can you believe that? Anyway. He is quite ignorant to the reason behind Watson’s anger with him in the first episode but I don’t think it’s true. Mary asks him,’You don’t know anything about human nature, do you?’ and he says,’ Human? No. Nature? No.’ The second episode kind of refutes his claims though.

He seems so vulnerable somehow. Arrogant, selfish, extremely clever, yes, but vulnerable, more human than ever (whatever he may let us believe). I just think that that’s the beauty of his character. He is odd, most people wouldn’t even like him if they met him. But this portrayal of Sherlock’s character in the series is different somehow. In the movies, Robert Downey Junior does a really good job too. But this human side of him in the series is something not considered before (or atleast I haven’t come across anything like that). He is, always has been, a loner. Even Watson is surprised when he realizes that Sherlock’s parents are still alive. He has a brother too, who is also just as brilliant. But we never see him associated with everyone around him, not unless it’s absolutely necessary, anyway. 

He is only human though. The last part of the episode I saw today proves it. He loves dancing he said, he just needs someone to dance with (he doesn’t say that of course, wouldn’t go with the image, you know). 

The next episode is the last of season 3. Over already! I hope they start the fourth season soon. Such a lovable character, Sherlock, isn’t he?

Link

Read it!!!!

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/11/neville-longbottom-is-the-most-important-person-in-harry-potter

This is a post I found online and I really, really liked it. It’s very well written too. It has been written by Emily Asher-Perrin and I think she has done a brilliant job of understanding Neville’s character in the Harry Potter books. 

Neville was always in the background, a clumsy but innocent boy. In the first book he was just someone who is one of Harry’s classmates. But by the simple fact that Dumbledore awards Gryffindor 10 points and acknowledges Neville’s bravery is proof enough that Rowling has great things in store for him. By the end of the seventh book we are completely convinced. Neville is a character which proves that we make ourselves, our decisions determine our lives. Remember Dumbledore said to Harry once,”It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Neville symbolizes the statement, doesn’t he?

Neville’s development from the stumbling boy in Book 1 to a true ( since he can take Gryffindor’s sword from the Sorting Hat) and brave Gryffindor in Book 7 is very inspiring. In the grand scheme of things Neville sometimes becomes secondary to the trio. But his character is still one of the most loved in the books (and it helps too that Matthew Lewis plays Neville!).

Quote

” When I was 5 …

” When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

—John Lennon.

Explains so much, doesn’t it?

Aside

Resolutions Or Solutions

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

I know it’s been more than a month since I last wrote, but that is about to change. Call it my New Year’s Resolution if you like. I have decided…wait for it……to write one post per week!! (Provided you are as excited about reading my posts as I am about writing them….or the exclamation marks won’t make a point.)

In reality, resolutions and me don’t really get along so well but I am going to try anyway. Writing this blog is something I enjoy very much and I am determined to try this ‘one post per week’ thing. The problem I believe is that I am very lazy. There are sooo many thoughts and ideas zooming around in my head but actually sitting and writing about them takes time. So I am starting with a minimum of one post, hopefully I will write more as the year progresses. 

So, another year has gone by, have we learnt anything new? I think we learn something new everyday but we don’t really pay attention to it. It just gets lost in our thoughts eventually. I am sometimes amazed by how much people think, me included. I mean, obviously, we are supposed to think, we are thinking beings and all that. But shouldn’t there be a limit or something? Don’t you feel sometimes that the amount of time we spend thinking about our problems is more than what is needed to solve them? We spend so much time thinking that we don’t realize when life passes us by and then comes regret. I am in complete agreement with proverbs like ‘Think before you leap’, but that does not mean we keep thinking and never leap. 

It’s important to let things be, too. Some things are just meant to happen and I really do believe that. I am a very indecisive kind of a person, so what I am saying here applies to me too. In a way. See, this is actually a really good example of what I want to say. We know what our faults are and most of the times we also know what we can do to correct them. But do we correct them? Or do we just say ‘it’s not a big deal’? These ‘not a big deals’ end up becoming much bigger than anticipated. Those become our major problems. I read recently in one book ( Be Careful What You Wish For by Alexandra Potter)—‘things that we don’t say at the right time have a way of coming back to us’. that applies to a lot of things in life.

My whole point in this tirade being that we should be able to recognize our faults and work on them. Only acknowledging them will not help. We learn new things everyday, it is only a matter of recognizing them. Grab hold of all the opportunities, you know and live, not regret. 

How’s that for a new year’s post? It’s really as much for me as it is for you. It is, after all, a new year, a new beginning, and we need to do new things. We should probably not think of resolutions because they tend to be broken sooner or later. Maybe we should just do what we feel is right for us. 

Here’s hoping that we have all learned from our mistakes of last year and that 2014 will be an awesome year! Happy 2014 and I will (definitely) write again next week. I am an eternal optimist about improving myself,really!