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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

14 May 2013

Just finished reading “The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ….

The flow of storytelling is riveting and there lies the appeal of the work.

Though the story line is the ancient epic Mahabharata, you get a completely different perspective since the narrator is Dhraupathi and you see the story once again through her prism. The success of the narration lies in the way the author takes you into the skin of Dhraupathi and gently guides you through the zigzag maze of her views and perceptions.

And often – on many occasions through the reading, you wonder – ‘yes, why not?’  - Like those occasions when she reflects on her relationship with Krishna. “Perhaps the reason Krishna and I got along so well was that we were both severely dark-skinned. In a society that looked down its patrician nose on anything except milk-and-almond hues, this was considered most unfortunate, especially for a girl….” I enjoyed reading such tongue in cheek language peppered throughout the narration.

In the opening chapters where Draupathi’s growing years are described, the language and the narration borders almost on contemporary settings. On many occasions I had a strange feeling that I was reading a modern story rather than an ancient epic! Perhaps there lies the immortality of the epic itself. The emotions and thought process are so universal that the story could have happened anywhere in the world and at any point of time! The application of contemporary thinking on an epic has not disturbed the flow at all.

However, I couldn't help a strong parallel between young Scarlett of Gone With the Wind and the young Panchali of Palace of Illusions! Even the character Dhai Ma – the maid who looks after Panchali reminded so much of Mammy, the old slave who nursed Scarlett O’Hara of GWW. In fact even Draupathi’s love for her Palace of Illusions reminded me of Scarlett’s Love for Tara – the Oharas’ family farm. Both Draupathi and Scarlett are Passionate in their goals, both have strong independent minds. The parallels can go on….!

The prose is lucid and the writing style crisp, with a dash of wit and humour thrown in. But sometimes, the linear narration gets too monotonous and you feel deprived of an omnipotent view – a narrative style that Vyasa or many other story tellers employ to narrate a story. At least I couldn't help feeling - wondering - what Karna really felt, or what thought process went inside Arjun and so on and so forth. The narration, after all, stems from Draupathi’s perception and you couldn't help wondering what exactly would have been the real thought process of each character. With Draupathi in full focus, the rest of the other characters are all in a blur! Except the character of Kunti and perhaps Karna - both of whom occupy a lot of Panchali’s thoughts and thus get more visibility. The rivalry between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and the subtle passion between Karna and Panchali are aspects where the author has employed her vibrant imagination skillfully. They run throughout the story as under currents.

A lot of attention is given to details, which of course embellishes the narrative – of Panchali’s taste for good life and her passion for cloths and jewelry. The battle field scene details are too disturbing though.
A ready-made story line is an advantage for the author. But adhering to the frame without messing up with the epic is a tight rope walk and Chitra has pulled it off very well.

If Panchali reflects on her life, could Seetha be far behind? Yeah…. Chitra Banerjee is soon coming out with her work on Ramayana…. I know that  Seetha has many questions – at least from my perspectives... Let us see how Chitra portrays them! 

07 October 2011

Steve Jobs :-(

Among all the pouring tributes to Steve Jobs of Apple, I felt two of them as very touching and apt.

One - an online chain mail as quoted in TOI - " Three apples have changed the world;  Adam's, Newton's and Steve Jobs'. "

Two - President Obama - "Steve Jobs was among the greatest of American innovators, - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it...."

Steve Jobs' Commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 became a hit instantly as soon as he delivered it. As one of the fortunate ones to attend that ceremony on that June 12th 2005, I have often wondered what made the speech so beautiful - so soul touching. Even as I heard it among the crowds gathered, I could feel that he was delivering it from his innermost part of his heart. It was early years of his cancer diagnosis. He must have gone through a lot of introspection as he faced the death so closer. While delivering his speech that day one could feel the urge in him to motivate the young and the fresh graduates towards nobler deeds in their lives. He seemed he was in a hurry to share with them everything that he learnt from life. He seemed in hurry to achieve everything - to accomplish everything that he planned to do in life. He knew he didn't have much time....... and perhaps he tried to share all these thoughts to the younger generation on that Commencement speech......

Steve Jobs - I salute you.

16 August 2011

Anna Hazare

I Support Anna Hazare - unconditionally !!!

Updated after a few months: Well, not really now !!! Observing him over the past few months - his methods, his verbal wars, some irresponsible comments - have made me take back the above words.

I am also proud to say that till date I have never given any bribe to anyone - be it any utility government agency or any other arm of the Corporation, schools etc - I always get my job done in straight forward way abiding by all the rules. And never paid a bribe.

Corruption at any level - higher or lower level - should be quelled with force.

If the throngs of Indian supporting Anna across the globe, could take a oath - and abide by it - in similar vein that they will neither take or give bribe - however small - half our battle against corruption would be won!!!

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15 December 2008

Perspectives From across the border

India’s demand for action against jihadist groups is entirely legitimate. But this must be done through international pressure upon Pakistan, says Pervez Hoodbhoy.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, chairman of the physics department at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, is a distinguished scientist and a consistent voice for peace, democracy, and friendly relations between Pakistan and India. He was interviewed recently by Cristina Otten for Focus, a German magazine, on the terror strikes in Mumbai, the reactions in Pakistan, the threat posed by jihadists, India-Pakistan relations, and other key issues. “I think India’s demand for action against jihadist groups is entirely legitimate,” Dr. Hoodbhoy comments, “but this must be done through international pressure upon Pakistan.”

What makes the LeT so different from other militant groups? Is Pakistan really moving against it?

LeT, one of the largest militant groups in Pakistan, was established over 15 years ago. It was supported by the Pakistani military and the ISI because it focussed upon fighting Indian rule in Muslim Kashmir. Today it is one of the very few extremist groups left that do not attack the military and the ISI; in contrast almost all others have turned into fierce enemies. Time will tell if the current move against LeT is serious. If serious, then the Army and the ISI will have earned the bitter enmity of yet another former ally. They dread repeating their experience with the Jaish-e-Muhammad, another formerly supported militant group. Jaish is now responsible for extreme brutalities, including torture and decapitations, of Pakistani soldiers captured in FATA. It’s a nightmarish situation for the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan has always stressed that it will deliver the first nuclear strike if it feels threatened by India. Do you see any signs of this?

About a week before Mumbai, President Asif Ali Zardari had given the assurance that Pakistan would not use nuclear weapons first. India had announced a No First Use policy almost ten years ago. But Mr. Zardari is not taken seriously by the Pakistani generals who actually control the Bomb, and India’s NFU declaration is also worthless. Cross-border raids by India could well ignite a conventional war. For many years U.S. defence strategists have gamed conflicts between Pakistan and India. They say that a conventional war will almost certainly lead to a nuclear conclusion.

Why did the assassins choose India instead of committing attacks against western allies in Afghanistan?

LeT is based in Muridke, close to Lahore. It is essentially Punjabi, which makes it linguistically and culturally quite unsuited for fighting in Afghanistan. You could say that LeT is an India-specific, Kashmir-specific group. But LeT, like other militant groups in Pakistan, sees a continuum between Indians, Americans, and Israelis. As enemies, they are all fair game.


Hindu Dated:

Monday, Dec 15, 2008

30 November 2008

And Now....??

The post Mortem

A lot of finger pointing is happening post Mumbai attacks.

But one thing stands out to me. According to the chief of fishermen Association of Mumbai, for the past four months the terrorists have been smuggling RDX into the city via coastal routes. He says he has also warned about this in a letter to the deputy chief minister and other officials.

Obviously the coastal route is an easy entry point. May be now the attention will turn to plug the coastal areas. Attention also might turn to safe guard hotels henceforth. But what if the terrorists turn to other institutions - hospitals, temples, or any other institutions? how do we go about plugging or protecting each and every building or every structure? is it possible to stop the cancer by plugging the holes on the surface?

Isn't it time to address the malice somewhere at the roots? Indian media headlines scream about the identity of the attackers tracing to places across our border. The IP address of the computer from where the email originated is from a computer across the border. The cell phone picked up from an attacker belongs to a city across the border. The eyewitness accounts of the survivors clearly point to the attackers belonging to a specific region across the border. And every newspaper puts up on the front page that the arrested terrorist, Kesab has admitted that he is a member of LeT - and every news outlet says it with adjective "supported by ISI."

And yet the leaders from across the border keep asking for "evidence". And what I don't understand is why no one is countering them with these glaring evidences?

Karan Thapar in his Devil's Advocate Interview
with President Zardari asks all kinds of questions. When Zardari talks about his own tragedy a few months ago, one does sympathize with him. Yes. The terrorist menace is everywhere. But where is the breeding ground and how to snuff it out?

When Zardari mentioned about "evidence", why didn't Karan ask point blank about the "evidences" that the entire media scream about?