Friday, 23 February 2007

Different strokes

This is going to be one of those 'written in pen on paper' things :). I did finish reading The Inheritance of Loss while still in Bangkok. I also started reading The Alchemist. However, three people from different continents conspired to keep me occupied for a significant enough length of time to allow me to ponder a while on one before plunging into the other.

I did get the rather strong feeling when I'd started with TIoL that you need a bit of space to allow for the difference in the worlds that each narrative conjures. To not put too fine a point on this, it took me a little bit of time to form some sort of opinion of Desai's book. To be honest, I did not like it entirely. I can't say I disliked it outright, but there were too many doubts. A little too much disclosed a little too early at times, a tad too little brought to light in the end at times.

In the end, to me, it did not tell a story. Instead, it dug into the soft earth of ordinary life in extraordinary times, and brought the wriggling, cringing worms unwillingly into the light. I was about to go into 'worms of...' when I caught myself getting a bit too grandiose :). Maybe it's the altitude of 37,000 ft.

So I started with Coelho in the airport, despite being advised by two of the aforementioned three people to begin with The Curious Incident... instead. And it was over dinner at Burger King's:|. I digress here to note that, tempted by a money changer who agreed to change ridiculously small amounts of currency, I asked for some Thai coins so I could add to my collection. I got some 5 new ones:D. The 100 Baht note I got along with the 38 Baht in coins (for $5, AU) was hardly enough for half a Whopper, unfortunately, so I had to repeat the transaction. Now Thai currency, especially coins, hardly have anything on them except Thai, so I actually had to ask the girl at the counter...This is taking a bit too long.

Getting back to books, the reason I did pick up The Alchemist was the thought that it might prove to be an interesting contrast. I finished reading it a little while back, before we crossed Jakarta. Most of the cabin seems to be asleep, and even I usually try to coax a few scattered, disturbed hours of sleep at this time. But I chose to bring out The Curious Incident... from the overhead locker instead. Then, before I started, had to get up again to get the notebook and pen I now keep with me.Bubbles of thought effervescing (not very unlike Disprin dissolving in water) is a difficult thing to manage, unless dealt with thoroughly.Why I cannot sleep in an aircraft cabin even though I could manage to do so with supreme ease on train rides, short or long, I am yet to figure out.

It struck me with considerable force, that Coelho, by stripping life to the bare fundamentals has made it fantastic, unreal. As with the other book of his that I've read, there is a strong preachy essence that I can tell, some might abhor. Desai, on the contrary, heaps on the layers and skins and wraps of reality, buries the simple idyllic world in a mudslide of everything human that is dark. (But isn't that what we do?)

Or is it that I am so afraid of hope (cynical, despite all my protests, or maybe afraid, cowering from the responsibilities that hope brings in it's wake)? I squirm at the one that shows me my own life too clearly, thought I calmly live it each day and night. And I am engrossed in the one that shows what could have (and maybe still can, =)) hope is a resilient thing) be mine, but one I will never reach out for in a million years...

On to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time then. I thought I actually recognised the voice of the kid reciting on the site I had linked. Brought all sorts of bright sunny images in my head out of the blue.

Currently: insomniac
Listening to: Radiohead - Karma police

Disclaimer: All contents generated in a rarefied atmosphere, fuelled by misdirected soul-searching and severe lack of sleep. I do not claim any of it to make any sense whatsoever, or to have any basis in any kind/version/reflection of truth or reality!

1 comment:

Anu said...

Believe it or not, this is one of my favourite posts. Honest. Coz to me, it's gorgeously mad, lucid, disjointed, and unpretentiously profound all at the same time... don't ask me to explain why I feel so! Yo deseo sabía :-)