Saturday, August 27, 2005


The Bibliophile in Me

I pick up the tag from Neil and here is my account of books since they have been an inseparable part of my life.

To quote Somerset Maugham "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the miseries of life". I have always found this quote so true. Reading for me is definitely a refuge.The first few stories that I read were from comics and I simply loved reading Phantom, Mandrake and the likes. The novel that I remember reading first was a Hardy Boys mystery which my aunt actually forced upon me. Ever since then, I havent ever had an occasion wherein I did not have anything to flip through. I would have devoured countless Hard Boys and Nancy Drews. Of course, there was also the likeable "Three Investigators" and Blyton's "The Five Find Outers" which I simply adored. I cannot help but mention here that there is one author who was my favourite then and continues to remain so. I started reading Agatha Christie when I was 13 and it’s probably her penchant for weaving ingenious plots which continues to have me hooked to her books even now.

Moving on, I became interested in the books of Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley. Then came the contemporary writers in Archer, Grisham, Forsyth, Follet, Patterson, Higgins, Hailey, etc who have always had their share of readers. It would be criminal if I don’t mention writers like Richmal Crompton, James Herriot, Wodehouse and Cronin. These are writers who I believe can never write a bad book.

I haven’t mentioned many Indian writers here but there is a fair share of them whom I have read and enjoyed. R.K. Narayan, Upamanyu Chaterjee, Vikram Seth to name a few.

I unfortunately was never into classics like Shakespeare or Dickens so the list below would never feature books from these writers.

Total Number Of Books I Own: I have always been a collector of books, be it technical or fiction. At least this seems to be the norm ever since I started earning. So I own plenty of books and the fact that I run out of space to keep them makes me want to lend books to others :). Honestly, I enjoy seeing my collection grow and I know that I am gonna read the books I collect eventually.
My main hobby now is to collect all the books of Graham Greene who for me is among the finest writers.

Last Book Bought: The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh

Last Book Read: The World According to Garp by John Irving – This is a marvelous book by an author who many perceive to have inherited the qualities of Charles Dickens (of course, not everybody agrees with this perception) in his writings. Irving is known to create very unique characters and Garp is no different. The book is funny, sad, perverse and intelligent and makes great reading from start to finish.

Books That Mean a Lot to Me

1. Catch 22 by Josef Heller: I have often asked how can a book be hilarious and yet so thought provoking? This allegory is a masterpiece and Yossarian is probably among the most unforgettable characters created in a book that describes the insanity behind war.
2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Never has a book and its plot haunted me like this one did. This is a classic from the pen of the Nobel Prize winning author. A must read for its brilliant characterization.
3. Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger: This is one amazing book and Salinger is an amazing writer. The book is about siblings Franny and Zooey and how they vent their frustrations with the world around them. Read it to appreciate the insight and intelligence of the writer.
4. Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene: It’s hard for me not to mention the work of my favorite writer in this list. Heart of the Matter is for me the work of a master story teller. As with all Greene’s this book has a pretty simple plot but it’s the characters that layer the story line so beautifully to make it complex and compelling. Coupled with this is the religious undertone that is so much a part of all Greene’s works. Might not be for all tastes because of its pace and setting but for me this is at the top of my list.
5. Misery by Stephen King: “Horror” is the first thing that comes to mind when King is mentioned. Misery is probably the best book that I have read in this genre maybe because there are no ghosts and witches in this one, but quite believable characters. Yet, the author manages to create an aura of spookiness and gore that makes for a riveting read.
6. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer: This is not an easy book to forget though I read it ages back. It’s a book that’s been my favorite for some time now and I never fail to recommend this to others. Again, its the two unforgettable characters that the writer has created that makes this book so good.

These are the books that immediately comes to mind. The list is however endless. I am sure there have been other wonderful books that deserve mention here but which I cannot now remember. Meanwhile, I continue to look out for more such books. As Mark Twain once said
"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

Finally, I pass on the tag to those who I think haven’t been tagged as yet.


Sunday, August 14, 2005


The Case of the Black Canine

For the past few days, the object of my scrutiny has been a black dog. The otherwise nondescript street animal has this fetish for two-wheelers. I first encountered the dog a month back when I was on my two-wheeler and the dog emerged out of nowhere and started running behind me. It took me a little long to register and the dog had gained on me pretty fast and was right beside me. I pressed on the accelerator at the right moment and raced away leaving it gasping behind me. I had not seen the animal before on that road and this act sure caught me by surprise. It reminded me so much of one short story by James Herriot who describes a delightful dog that would race his car from the one of the farms to the main road, every time he visited the farm to treat the animals there. Since I frequent this road pretty often, I became wary of the animal after that day and it’s become something of a hobby to observe it. I do not know its real intentions, maybe it is to race the vehicle or simply to get a nip at the rider, whatever it is I found it pretty strange. I notice the dog repeating the act for all the vehicles. It would start at a precise point and then run along for some distance, then on reaching the end of its territory run back and wait for its next victim. Since the road is devoid of heavy traffic, the vehicles would easily avoid the dog and I am not sure it has ever succeeded in its mission. However this does not deter it from tirelessly pursuing the goal. I even tried to get a look into its psyche, on a particular weekend I caught sight of the dog at its usual start position from the corner of the eye, and just as it raced behind me and started gaining on me I braked to halt at the side of the road. As I had guessed, it did not follow me further; it did not probably want to win because its victim had conceded so tamely. For it to savor success, it needed a fair and square victory.

Then as suddenly as it first appeared, I noticed the dog had disappeared one day. Many possibilities arise, it could have succeeded in what it achieved and strayed off somewhere else, or people could have complained and therefore it was taken away or another harrowing possibility was that it got run over by a vehicle. One things for sure, it was not the kind to accept defeat and no way would it have gone away thinking that its task was impossible. I am conscious of the animal each time I take that road and who knows it could be there somewhere, this hiatus could be a ruse to take the rider by surprise the next time it decides to spring onto the road and the ‘race track’.

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