Illiteracy has literacy in it !

Disclaimer: This is no longer the Booker-winning material I’d promised 😀 😀 😀 This post is just random ramblings of mine, after I lost faith in KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board), my computer, my mind and my memory. 😀 This has been typed in less than 10 minutes. Saved before I log off / power goes off. Published before reading it even once, before checking for literary quality.

Title inspired by Suda’s post here. 😉 Post inspired by my recent book-shopping experience! 😀

The plan had been on for almost 3 days. The first day, my friend ditched. The second day, my memory ditched. The third day, gmail ditched! 😀 (kept chatting and didn’t notice the time). Finally, I decided to get the mission accomplished, come rain or hail. Well, came rain! 😀 (Thank God dad let me take the car…er er…go with my bro in the car, I mean…I drive only in race courses 😀

Walked into Book Store 1 with a lot of joy…and stopped short when the door closed behind me! Have you people ever strolled into a room in the most casual way, expecting it to be deserted — only to find it milling with a lot of people? Well, something of the sort happened — only, it was the other way round! 😀 After squeezing my way through the eternally crowded Crosswords and Landmarks of Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, entering a book store and finding it totally empty was like a punch on my face! Hehe…there was just me in there! And oh yes, the shopkeeper too! 😐

After getting over the shock (and the shocked expression of the surprised shopkeeper 😀 ), I went towards the first row of books…I had to find Namesake, and get it couriered asap to a friend! So I decided not to spend too much time browsing and ask the shopkeeper instead…and well, the poor guy also must be quite bored, considering the crowd in that place! 😀 My conversation with the shopkeeper (Sk) that followed:

Me (smiling): Hi…do you have this book called Namesake ?

Sk (blank stare, then enlightened smile): Aah, yes… (comes out from behind the counter)…Ummmm…Baby’s Day, right?

Me: What?! No no…Namesake (wondering if there is a book called Baby’s Day at all)

Sk (walking around 2 shelves): Mmmm…aha…uh uh…what’s the name of the book again?

Me (trying to be polite and helpful): Name. Sake. Namesake. Remember? It was made into a movie and all…with Tabu in it…

Sk: Who’s book is it? Author’s name?

Me (rolling eyes): Jhumpa Lahiri…Indian author.

Sk: Hehe…no lady…I’m asking for the author’s name!

Me (at the height of sarcasm): Ente ponnu maashe… ithrem budhimuttipichathil njaan athiyaayi khedikkunnu… thaangal avide poyi irunnolu tto… njaan thannathaane kandupidicholaam… please… onnu pokuo? (read as “Get lost, you duffer!”) 😀

I never found the book. I asked for 5 other books. He had heard of none. And it’s considered one of the best book stores here! “It’s out-of-stock”, he said sometime later. (Bah! He doesn’t even know which book he’s talking about!) 😐

Book Store 2 —

Me (smiling): Hi…do you have this book called Namesake ?

Sk (blank stare): What? Who is the author?

Me (pissed already; rolling eyes): Jhumpa Lahiri…

Sk: Enthu? Aaru?? Thelichu para koche!

Me (in my mind): Thelichu parayaan sowkaryamilledo… panna ma… ma… allenki athuvenda… mathanga thalaya ! 😀 😀

I walked out!

Book Store 3 —

Me (with a grim face and no patience): Excuse me, there’s this Indian author called Jhumpa Lahiri…I’m looking for…”

Sk: Namesake ? I’m sorry, it’s sold out. We’ve ordered new stock, though! We do have her latest, Unaccustomed Earth. Would you like to buy that?

Me (highly impressed and satisfied; wouldn’t have cared if I died that instant): Oh! Yes, please! Thank you! 🙂

I bought it though I didn’t want it!

They say Kerala is the most literate state in India — with a whopping 90+% literacy and all that…well, from what I see, literacy stops at being able to write, count and read basic stuff! There was an article I read recently which said those Keralites who were once honoured for attaining literacy now hardly knows how to write their very names! It spoke of this lady who was honoured high up on the stage before a thumping crowd of one lakh people and became an instant celebrity 11 years ago as a neo-literate. She now represents the nearly 12 lakh people who have lapsed back to illiteracy — and has trouble writing “Kerala” in Malayalam! Height of irony, I say!

Why blame poor Sk for not knowing ‘Namesake’ ? (I was frustrated that a book store owner doesn’t know the books’ and authors’ names. The poor thing’s out-of-touch with the literary world that does not exist anymore in the country’s most literate* state!) No one reads anything any more! From what I see, libraries will soon become burial grounds for the dying books in it! Book stores will close down and these spaces would be taken up for political party meetings and dharnas 😀

Dharnas and march pasts every other day! Hartal — a new right and a colossal decree that brings cities to standstill — the right of every citizen, the hatchet of every party. Active strikes that house itself in front of the state capital’s Secratariat for days together…students who throw their colleges/education to the devil and risk their lives for the various Student’s Party(s) that take birth everyday. There is no hope for Kerala…except for one —

The only hope Keralites can now have for this naturally beautiful place’s salvation is to leave it alone and go off to Bangalore like I did… (er er…I meant leave the State and go elsewhere! ) 😀

Kerala — God’s own country. Yet, God is on vacation elsewhere, playing with ‘yo-yo’s 😀

*About literacy, on 19 January 2007, DNA reported that “Kerala still rules”. Wikipedia says “Mizoram has topped the list with 91.1 % literacy. Kerala comes a close second with 90.8% literacy rate.” (This wiki-page was last updated on 10 August 2008…so couldn’t be too old an article. If it’s wrong information, please blame Wiki (and anyone who knows the correct figures, please update! 😀 )

Image coutesy: fotolia.com

Book review: Life of Pi (yann martel)

A novel. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2002.

Winner of my heart! (I’m now feeling ashamed that I did not read it much earlier.)

Anyone who likes reading and lives the life of a passionate bookworm, please crawl into this one at the earliest! And it will crawl into your heart as effortlessly as Richard Parker twitches his ears! 😀

Life of Pi has been a book I’ve been wanting to read for as long as I can remember…but somehow, never got my hands on it. Until recently, I went to Crossword with a friend who insisted I read it — and actually bought it for me!

The day I opened it, it gripped me. I sacrificed breakfast, lunch, dinner and sleep so that I could feast myself on Pi’s interesting life. And after the first two pages, I realised with shock that Pi was the name of the protagonist, a little boy; and not the name of the tiger on the book cover (“inspired by Calvin & Hobbes, perhaps, but on a more serious note”, I’d always thought!) 😀 😀 😀

I’m generally a very fast reader…and usually complete a 300 page book in less than 5 hours (yes, if I start on a book, I always sacrifice on food and sleep 😀 😀 …can never keep one down till I’m done with it). But with this book, I couldn’t bring myself to ‘want to finish’ it…in fact, the fact that the book would soon get over made me paranoid! I took 4 long days to finish it…calling up / messaging my friend now and then to say “This book is amazing…love it…” and the like!

Yesterday, I completed it. I was sad. I was thrilled. I was grateful. I was elated. I was angry. I was furious. I was in awe. I was stupefied. I was amazed. I was repentant. I was extremely thankful..and indebted.

I was sad the book was over; thrilled that I finally managed to get it and grateful to my friend for giving it to me; elated that Pi survived; angry and furious at 2 characters for not trusting Pi; stupefied at the realisation of what ‘life’ can turn one into; amazed that Pi could live through all of that; repentant to all my friends for not listening to them earlier and reading this long back; thankful to my dad for instilling reading habit in me…and highly indebted to Yann Martel for writing this book.

Oh, all you people! You just have to read this book. No other book has moved me the way this one has (the only other one I still vividly remember is The Da Vinci Code, but that was more of a stupefying effect than such a turmoil of emotions!) I still haven’t recovered from the exhilaration of Pi’s experiences, which one would automatically experience too. I still can feel Richard Parker, can still see his muscular body, shining coat and prusten 🙂 I wish I could meet him (though it wouldn’t affect him in the slightest manner; that much is evident in the way he walks off as the story reaches an end)…I cant imagine any other living being to be as amazing as him any more! 😀

Oh…I wish my brain (I do have a small one, how ever idle it may be 😀 ) would soon wash out all memories of this book so I can read it all over again!

Life of Pi…awwwwwh! I loved it…and forever will be in awe of Yann’s penmanship!

P.S: Post inspired by Nikhil‘s post on a book he is reading. I have never done a book review (though this can hardly be called one) ever before….and hope Its not as bad as I think it is 😀 😀 😀

“If I had a choice…”…well, i’d abolish tags :D

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
Don’t remember! (The last time i was in a theatre was for U, Me aur Hum, which is hardly a film.
(If you havent seen it till date, please, pat yourselves on your back!)

2. What book are you reading?
P.G. Wodehouse—all the time 😀

3. Favorite board game?
Monopoly! No game can beat it 🙂

4. Favorite magazine?
RD, of course!

5. Favorite smells?
Smell of my mom…and the rain…and myself…:D

6. Favorite sounds?
The Sound of Silence…and everything in The Sound of Music.

7. Worst feeling in the world?
Having to wake up in the morning.

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
Aah…it’s just a dream…not the alarm, really!

9. Favorite fast food place?
Kitchen at home 😀

10. Future child’s name?
Ummmm…haven’t discussed yet 😀

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….?
…write a book, print it and publish it!! 😀

12. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
I will…soon 😀

13. Storms—cool or scary?
Neither…its sexy! Love it 😉

14. Favorite drink?
Iced tea (HAS to be from Pizza Hut)

15. Finish this statement, “If I had the time, I would….”?
Sleep more! 😀

16. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
As long as it is veg…yes! 😀

17. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?
Black…it’s always been brown!

18. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?
Trivandrum (since birth!), Guruvayur (2 yrs), Delhi (2 months), Chennai (2 weeks), Mumbai (2 months), Bangalore (going on…), Coimbatore (in and out)…

19. Favorite sports to watch?
800mtrs in the Olympics, in my dream—..for which I  need to sleep 😀

20. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?
RJ – all nice things about him are all over my blog 😀 (right, RJ?)

21. What’s under your bed?
Whatever it is, it’s bringing me a loooootta sleep…and I’m loving it 😀

22. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
Oh yes, yes, yes……exactly as I am: just a lil more tall, a lil more beautiful, and a lil more intelligent 😀 . Actually, no, then it wudnt be me. 😀

23. Morning person or night owl?
Don’t mind either, as long as I can sleep 🙂

24. Over easy, or sunny side up?
Does it help one get more sleep, whatever it is?

25. Favorite place to relax?
Bed.

26. Favorite pie?
22/7

27. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Not an ice-cream person…pastry, yessssss!

28. Of all the people you tagged this to, who’s most likely to respond first?
Uh uh…whoever wants to, will…I guess 😀 …i’m not tagging anyone, as I’m the last person to publish this among all my blog friends…so… 😀