Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Are you spineless???

David McKie at the Guardian Books muses about his ‘uncontrollable urge to seize the nearest magnifying glass and try to decipher the titles’ from the spines of books in a photograph.

Do you have this intense urge to reach for the nearest sharp instrument and use it to scratch your body parts, which in other words can be termed an itch – now imagine that we bibliophiles have a similar feeling when seeing books anywhere ;only with double the intensity.
I have known people to wade through the ocean of people in Mumbai local trains only to find out the title of the book being read by the last person seated at the last window seat near the exit.
Also if the DVD you had borrowed from your local DVD store suddenly starts imitating a mouse – with squeaks ; I am sure that there would be at least one guilty person who seeing a book featured in the movie would have hit the FF and RW buttons a few hundred times.(remember ‘Crime and Punishment’ in ‘Matchpoint’?)
Old houses with books, libraries, bookshelves in any building form other parts of this serpentine queue of obsession.

But this saga of the spine-obsessed continues to haunt those who are not.
As is evident from one of the comments ‘How about just reading 'em and shutting up about it?’ to which comes the apt reply ‘Down in the antipodes, we have something called the "tall poppy syndrome". Means that anyone who takes a risk and tries to be interesting gets shot down. Guess it happens in the northern hemisphere too. WHY shut up about it? What's wrong with conversation?’

As for me I keep looking at any books hovering in the background until the person in front feels that I am more interested in inanimate objects rather than the conversation ,wish I could say, ‘Yeah, please take the hint!’ .

(Update: Much thanks to Lotus Reads for this site.Very interesting)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This and That - Killing Batteries and DNA pendant?

As a rule I do not link to any good write-ups, but who says I live by rules!!!

Aren’t we all on the look-out for that one piece of writing which would beat the shit out of our mundane existence (ok, sorry did I say ‘we’ all, please read it as ‘I’) and that is how I stumbled across ‘Killing Batteries’ – I know, a zany name for a travelogue, I mean it does not seem to have anything to do with travel; or does it?

Currently in Tuscany for Lonely Planet’s Italy 8 and Tuscany and Umbria 5, Leif Pettersen is one helluva laughter riot - read this to know on how he landed on this job –

“How did this unlikely, professional madness come about? The gentleman who usually writes about Tuscany, nay owns it, fell ill. LP needed to fill that slot like yesterday. As I understand it, they went into their extensive Author Psychological Profiling Database (APPD) and ran a search with the following keywords: ‘Italy’ + ‘available now’ + ‘workaholic’ + ‘willing to do a four month assignment in two and a half while juggling several iron-clad magazine assignments’ + ‘weak willed’ + ‘nutter’
The rest is very recent history.”

Also his comprehensive, research-free list of hostel etiquette to live is a Must-Read for people with plans of visiting Europe in the near future.

(Update: One must read this post on what he calls good for nothing kids who later became saints and in response to my comment as to how i wish i had the courage to write on similar lines about the hindu Gods, this is what he had to say
"Zinging Hindu gods might be a bad idea. Did you see how fast they turned on Richard Gere after he kissed whatshername on the cheek? In less than 24 hours he was charged with like three felonies and burned in effigy! I ain’t an idiot. I know what lines not to cross…" :D)

(Trivia (which you can ignore): He worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, which calls for another trip to Minneapolis in search of his twin)

Now what has the DNA pendant got to do with this you ask? Thatz another story, err…another interesting blog. I was pleasantly surprised that one can actually do something with one’s own DNA – check this. Apparently one can preserve DNA(yes, the double-helix that you last read about in high school) in a life-jewel pendant or a portrait – imagine wearing a pendant made of your DNA –it would take Narcissism to new heights or perhaps it would be the ideal gift for your unsuspecting partner. :D

So what would you like to do with your DNA? (Weird question, I know)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Where is the credibility of freedom?

What was it that Rousseau said ? ‘Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains’ and looks like this adage is true to this day.

- Chandra Mohan, a student of the Fine Arts college, Baroda was arrested for (hold your breath) paintings which apparently hurt the (non-existent!) sentiments of some VHP and BJP activists. The paintings were not for public display but were exhibited for assessment for a MA in Fine arts.

“Chandramohan is being charged under sections 153A, 114, and 295 of the Penal Code for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race etc, commiting acts prejudicial to the harmony of the public.
He was denied bail and transferred to Central Jail. Emboldened by this, BJP is demanding that all
faculty and students in the department be suspended or expelled. The University has also suspended Dean Shivji Panikker who publicly backed Chandramohan.”
(Courtesy: The Statesman)

Meanwhile All-India protests are underway against the assault on the student and callous attitude of the university authorities.

Date and time for all: 14th May, 2007, 6p.m.
New Delhi - Rabindra Bhavan
Mumbai - Jehangir Gallery
Vishakapatnam - Faculty of Fine Arts, Andhra University
Cochin - Kashi Art Café
Hyderabad - Fine Arts, S N School, University of Hyderabad
Bangalore - M G Road, opposite Gandhi statue
Santiniketan - Kala Bhavan
Guwahati - Press Club

Those attending are requested to wear black and/or white.

Peter Griffin has more details on this.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Two cities and a river

Minneapolis did not extended a warm welcome to me –instead it was a cold one at minus 7 degrees even in April (statistics revealed that it was the first in 82 years that temperatures dipped in April)
Having heard about the Minnehaha Falls and the famous The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow my reaction was akin to someone who was handed a diet Pepsi when expecting a dirty martini.
If you are wondering why, see my picture below:

The sculpture garden had interesting works of art in metal and I walked all the way across the Irene Hixson Whitney Bridge just to read John Ashbery’s poem inscribed on it. And this photo below is my personal favorite considering the amateur status of my photography skills.

Think Mississippi river and you can’t help but remember Mark Twain which is infact a Mississippi River term "Mark number two” which means the second mark on the line that measured depth signified two fathoms, or twelve feet—safe depth for the steamboat.

The twin cities of St.Paul and Minneapolis are similar to Hyderabad and Secunderabad and that is definitely nothing to do with trafficJ. It is in the way that there is no exact line of demarcation between the cities and both seemed to merge into one another.
The St.Paul Cathedral close to the St.Paul downtown is a sight to behold and could easily compete with any of the famous cathedrals of Europe.
We had to cross the street to capture it’s glory on camera.

It was an all outdoor sights trip; other visits include Coon Rapid Falls, Mississippi Dam and of course how can a trip to the City of ten thousand lakes be complete without a lake? So took a long walk on the banks of Lake Calhoun stopping to admire kids making sand castles and men trying to hold on to their colorful sail boats.

A Collage of other photos of my trip is below and if anyone thinks of using it for things other than their desktop wallpaper you know whom to ask….