After not having the opportunity to travel in the past coupe of months, I guess I have fallen into the rut of not reading enough. The 10 day vacation was a welcome break in many ways – and I was able to catch upon 2 books from the list of half a dozen that I have been craftily updating..
The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) – I had not read any detailed reviews of this book anywhere but had known that the book was making waves all over. When I started reading the book, it took me a few seconds to understand the style of the novel, where dear Balram Halwai, the self-made, half-baked, semi-psycopathic, self-proclaimed philosopher, White Tiger narrates the story of modern India through a series of letters to the Chinese Premier (Wen Jiabao). Throughout the book, Adiga has managed to spice up the story which is narrated in more of a confession narrative style, with crass & crude remarks only the likes of Balram and their background can make, thus giving him the veil of not getting judged by his (Adiga’s) readers on his political or social stance. The story itself can be analyzed, dissected and probably put into case studies, for what Adiga has tried to portray in this novel is not just how rich and poor live in modern India, but also to subtly bring out the general Indian psyche in the age of call centers and BPOs. As a story, it was well written. If the book has to be judged on any literary merits, then at the risk of being termed snobbish, I will not give it more than a C+. I would love to ask Adiga his real intention behind trying to use the Chinese premier as the medium here (you do hear about several comparisons between India and China throughout the book, mostly mentioned in a matter of fact manner without sounding patriotic or unpatriotic). Of course, critics like those who called SdM an anti-India movie will do/have done the same for this book as well, which is not surprising to me, as I felt squirmy reading about certain incidents & felt disgusted about certain people in the book.
Netherland (Joseph O’Neill) – Chuck Ramkissoon is a character. I mean. He truly is. “There is a limit to what Americans can understand. The limit is Cricket.” I may have paraphrased what he said. But this line gives true color to his character. An immigrant, living in NYC, where one can make a living through so many legal and illegal ways, Chuck is a very complicated and a highly ambitious kind of guy, who always seemed to have a small plan and a big one for anything he did. And he meets Hans. The story is really about the very unusual friendship these 2 share with the game of cricket bringing them together under very strange circumstances in New York City after 09/11, where both of them were trying to make a new home land, away from their mother land. Oh, I almost forgot to add – the real backdrop of the story is the love between Hans and his lawyer wife, or how they rediscover it, after they get separated. I highly recommend this novel just for its originality and for bringing out the true essence of a cricket loving immigrant’s feeling in America.
Blue – Chiggy Wiggy, is a catchy pop number set to a simple groove but to a wide assortment of digitized sounds..The Bhangra fusion takes time to sink in and when it does, you feel the brilliance. Aaj Dil and Rehanuma are the kind of songs that makes you wonder how laterally a musician can think when trying to make a racy romantic number to suit an action movie, while making sure there is room for genuine melody. Bhola Tujhe is a great sounding ballad more along the lines of recently done JTYJN types. Blue Theme is thumping, rocking, pumping and absolutely naughty (specially the Bhangra type percussion that is thrown in between) – Only one man can come up with this kind of a number, because it needs a lot of mastery over rhythm. Finally, my 2 picks of the album are Fiqrana and Yaar Mila. Fiqrana is truly innovative and becomes addictive after a few hearings while Yaar Mila is instantly catchy. A well packaged album by Rahman for today’s fast food audience.
Men in Blue – After being No. 1 ODI team for 16 hours, Indians managed to win the Compaq trophy. I didn’t follow the matches but it was heartening to see Tendulkar plunder in the final. Great going Dhoni!
Note to Potro -Are you going to be able to carry it forward, after what you did in the Flushing Meadows? Beating Nadal and Federer back to back…?? Great job.
And finally a note to Federer, “It is ok. You had a streak going for 5 straight years..and If there is anyone else who deserved the US open this year other than you, it is him. You just couldn’t get your serves in..and I think you also made too many unforced errors without reading the bounce of the ball well. Great acceptance speech btw..”