Monday, February 8, 2016

Right Ho, Jeeves

Synopsis:  Bertie Wooster is back from a refreshing holiday from Cannes where he spent time with his Aunt Dahlia, Cousin Angela and one Lady Basset.  Now in his abode in London, he is surprised to get a telegram from his Aunt asking him to immediately come to Brinkley Court (where she resides) to attend some urgent matters.  Meanwhile Jeeves, his buter, is helping one of Bertie's old school pal by the name Gussie Fink-Nottle, who is a nerd and an authority on newts to woo Lady Basset.  Lady Basset who happens to be family friend of Aunt Dahlia is staying at Brinkley Court currently.  Around the same time cousin Angela breaks off her engagement with Tuppy Glossop, who also happens to a school pal of Bertie.  Being of chivalrous nature, Bertie rushes to Brinkley court to amend the relations between Angela and Glossop as well as to unite the pair of Gussie Fink-Nottle and Lady Basset.  But chivalry is not enough in the world of PG Wodehouse and the brilliant Bertie schemes tend to turn Brinkley court into a disaster zone.  But then Bertie has Jeeves, doesn’t he?

Right Ho, Jeeves (Jeeves, #6)Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One word will suffice, hilarious!

View all my reviews

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sherlock Holmes - The complete novels and stories

The world's greatest detective and his trusted aide never disappoint.  No matter how many times you go through their adventures, the dark grey mist which surrounds London does not appear to be much threatening, thanks to these tenants of 221B Baker Street.

The set shown in the picture was picked up by me from the now defunct Alphabet Book Store in Kadavanthara, Kochi, back in August 2005.  The two volumes contains all the Novels, Novellas, Short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyal starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  It is a collector's delight and a book connoisseur's dream.  After all isn't it elementary .......!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Two States - the story of my marriage

This is a somewhat fictionalized autobiographical account of how the writer, Chetan Bhagat, met his better half during his IIM days.   The protagonist of the story, Krish Malhotra is a Punjabi guy, who falls for Ananya Swaminathan, a Chennail girl, his classmate at IIM-A.   The story recounts the difficulties he has to face to bring together two of India’s polar opposite communities together inside a marriage mandapam.  The writing is laced with humor, sarcasm, and witty references.

Synopsis:  The story as is usual for Chetan Bhagat, starts with Krish’s visit to a psychiatrist after suffering a nervous breakdown.   He narrates to her (psychiatrist), how he met Ananya for the first time, how they get going.  Krish comes from a Pubjabi middle class family in Delhi.  His father was working in army and has been a unsuccessful entrepreneur in his civilian life.  His mother has been a housewife all her life.  Their family life has never been good.  Studying hard and as a result having a brilliant academic credential was Krish’s way to escape from the daily quarrels at home and also to keep his mind occupied.  Ananya on the other hand comes from a upper middle class family from Chennai.  Her father is working in PSU Bank.  She has a younger brother who is an aspiring IIT geek.  Her mother is a house wife who loves carnatic music and is a amateur singer.
Thus the family of both Krish & Ananya are  as different as they come.   However, both of them are hell bent on making their relationship work.   During convocation ceremony, Krish & Ananya try to get a bonding session between their family.  As Krish is not on speaking terms with his father, his mother is the attendee from his side.  Ananya’s full family is there on the eve.  The bonding session turns out to be a fiasco with both families sticking to their stereotypes about the other community brief skirmishes ensue despite the firefighting done by Ananya & Krish.

Krish, who gets a job with Citibank, deliberately chooses Chennai for his training.  He uses this period of time to get close to Ananya’s family.  He tutors Ananya’s brother for IIT entrance.   He eventually wins Ananya’s father on his side by helping him with a power point presentation.  Last but not least, he gets a show for ananya’s mother, where she shares the stage with legends SPB & Hariharan.  Her singing is widely appreciated.  Thus he conquers the last frontier as far as Chennai is concerned.

Now comes the bigger hurdle.  To convince his Punjabi  community, which mainly consists of his mother’s relatives.  Krish’s training is over & he opts for Delhi.  Ananya to comes to Delhi as part of her corporate work for 1 week. Ananya wins over his younger cousins, but winning over Krish’s Mom still remains a distant dream.   Krish is not concerned with taking his father’s approval for the wedding, as he has always remained aloof.  Krish & Ananya take their family to Goa for another session of bonding which turns out a bigger disaster than their first one.  Ananya finally gives up on reconciliation efforts as she thinks it is difficult for her Punjabi in-laws to accept a South Indian Bride.   This leads to the nervous breakdown which finally culminates in the meeting with psychiatrist.  His love story seems to be doomed, when suddenly out of nowhere, an unexpected player turns up and helps to break the ice, and eventually sets in a motion a chain of events concluding with the marriage of Krish & Ananya (Tamil Wedding).
My views:  There is something in the writing of Chetan Bhagat, which touches the raw nerve of youth.    The soaring book sales and that Movie makers are queing up for bagging movie rights are sufficient proof of that.   The reader will be chuckling even while going through the scenes where Krish suffers a nervous breakdown.  It is because of the underlying sarcasm and dark humor, which I believe, is his greatest USP.

I chanced upon this book when it came out in 2009, but at that time, I had read all three of his writings, (Five Point Someone, One Night @ Callcenter & Three Mistakes of my life) and a cursory glance at the beginning led me to think that Chetan Bhagat is again using his time tested formulaic method to tell a story (present – past – present).  However, I believe, this is the first time Chetan Bhagat is trying to be preachy (though I agree with what he has to say).  He insists that Indian youths should marry outside their community in order to break the stronghold of caste & community & thereby espousing true national integration.  Overall, this is a book you should pick up on a long travel & and it will keep you hooked till the end. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Death be not proud

I did not have any idea that it was a gem of a book that I had picked up from that second hand shop.  "Death be not proud"  as the name suggests deals with death and ought to leave the reader emotionally drained and depressed towards the end, but that is not the case.  As the author, John Guther Sr. himself says - "There are other criteria for measuring a life as well as its duration, quality, intensity.  But for us there is no compensation, except that we can go to him though he cannot come to us.  For others, I would say that it was his spirit and only his spirit that kept him alive against such dreadful obstacles for so long - this is the central pith and substance of what I am trying to write as a mournful tribute not only to Johny but to the power, the wealth, the unconquerable beauty of human spirit, will and soul."

For people who love books, this will be a great read, a book which will set you thinking about the ingenuity of human spirit and the great gift that ever day brings along.

SYNOPSIS:  This is the story of John Gunther Jr. who was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of brain and given only weeks to live.  He not only did fight it out for 15 months, but completed his class assignments without attending classes, received his diploma along with his classmates, undergoing all the formalities including a quarter mile walk to church on the day of convocation.  (This is a boy who had just turned 17 and was losing his left side strength and functions).  In the meantime, between the heavily straining operations, he found to communicate with Albert Einstein on "Unified field theory," had serious discussions with the doctors regarding the tumor, the tests, the results and also brought a smile to the face of everyone who came in touch with him, from the liftman to the nurses, doctors, barber, not to forget other patients.

Let me finish this post with Johny's prayer.

                                          Unbeliever's prayer
Almighty God
Forgive me for my agnosticism
For I shall try to keep it gentle, not cynical
nor a bad influence
And O!
if thou are truly in the heaven
accept my gratitude
for all thy gifts
and I shall try
to fight the good fight.

~ John Gunther Jr
May 1946.

NOTE:  This post was written in February 2007 while I was working in Coimbatore. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Chosen

"The Chosen" is a book written by American Jewish Rabbi Chaim Potok.  Since the writer is a rabbi, the book deals extensively with Jewish culture, and one would come across a lot of words particular to this religion.  But what makes this book great is the captivating story that it unfolds.

The story has got 2 protagonists, Reuven Malters, who is also the narrator, an orthodox Jew and Danny Saunders, a Hasidic Jew (Hasidic sect are very very conservative).  Reuven's father, David Malter is a teacher, religious scholar with a scientific and secular outlook, whereas Danny's father Reb. Isaac Saunders is the head of Hasidic sect and comes across as a religious fanatic who is quite angry with David Malter for propagating his secular and scientific outlook as well as later for actively supporting  Zionism.

This is the story of friendship that develops between Reuven and Danny despite their basic differences over several issues.  Reuven is an extrovert, who is brilliant in mathematics and is a good student of Talmud, whereas Danny is an introvert, who takes a lot of time to open up and possesses photographic memory and is very much ahead of Reuven as far as Talmud learning is concerned.

The story is full of conflicts.  There is this conflict of ideas between David Malter (Reuven's father) and Reb. Isaac Saunders (Danny's father).  There is also this conflict between Judaism and the secular American world as both Orthodox and Hasidic Jews are immigrants trying to fit into liberal and secular American culture.  There is conflict between Danny and his father as Danny does not want to occupy the position of patriarch of Hasidic sect, which usually the eldest son of the leader inherits, instead he wants to study psychoanalysis and do research on it.  There is conflict of ideas between Reuven and Danny due to their difference in upbringing.

In spite of carrying so much contrast and conflict, this also is a beautiful story of friendship between 2 boys, and later 2 young men (as the boys grow up), also this is a story of 2 fathers who love their sons in entirely different ways.

This book gave me an insight into Judaism as well as a peak into Jewish mind in the aftermath of World war II and the Holocaust and is certainly the best book that I have read in 2011 and will certainly count it as one among my favorites.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Doctor in love

The monsoon has started to make its presence felt in Kerala, and I am rather feeling it acutely in the form of power outage one day, then internet unavailability on the other.  It was one such day..err..night when I was without net and all the thundering and lightening going on in the background that I turned to my much neglected and dilapidated bookshelf.  The archeologist in me was suddenly alive and I started digging.  (My book shelf is more like a mound so one has to really dig).  After digging deep, at last I was able to come up with Richard Gordon's "Doctor in love."  It is a book I had purchased some time back and had entirely forgotten.  Now the time was ripe, and so off I went to the land of Dr. Richard Gordon, an intern at St. Swithin's hospital, who during a bout of jaundice falls in love, gets duped, vows to remain bachelor, and then when all was going fine and he least expected, love happens again, this time sweeping him off his feet and the story ends with tying of nuptial.  With his queer friends and queerer mentor, Dr. Richard Gordon's world is funny and I had a great time reading this book.

Did I enjoy this more because I am an MT, well, I cannot really say so, but perhaps the medicals humors made more sense to me due to my work and training, but still I guess those who love reading should enjoy this one.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested ~ Sir. Francis Bacon.

After reading Siddartha, written by Hermann Hesse, this old quote from Sir Francis Bacon kept on reverberating in my mind, for Siddartha certainly comes under the third kind of books mentioned by him.

The story set in the times of Gautam Buddha tells about the search for the true self by a young man named Siddartha.  Written in simple yet lyrical style, the story leaves a profound impact on the readers mind and poses some very straight, but complex questions regarding life and God, the answer to which Siddhartha himself has been unable to find, which forces him to set off in a non-traditional path for self discovery.

This book is based on the Advaita school of thought, which states that God resides in the self only, but the self because of maya/deception is unable to realize God.

This is also the story of friendship, between Siddartha and Govinda (childhood friends) and also between that of Siddartha and Vasudeva (the boatman), who later on becomes a sort of mentor to Siddartha.

Another amazing thing about this book is that it was written in German, still the translation has been able to convey the subtleties, and thanks to the translation, the thoughts of Siddartha and Hermann Hesse would never be lost to people not knowing German language.