Book Love.

 

 

This month I read some really awesome books. Books which I loved so much that I want everyone around to read and enjoy them. (And thank me profusely for recommending it to them:))).

I always wonder how it is, that in a bookstore which has thousands of books, we reach for ones which we really end up liking?

Unfortunately, my city does not have a bookstore, at least the kind that makes me drool and dream. Hence, whenever we go to Bangalore, I am armed with a list of books which I have picked up from goodreads, amazon, instagram and some blogs that I follow.

This time though, I decided to give this a miss. I entered with absolutely no idea of what I was about to lay my hands on and no expectations either. This led me to lesser known authors, authors from countries that I had never even heard of before and different genres than what I was used to reading.

And the pleasure of delving into these is unexplainable. Some of them were breezy feel good reads, some others more profound and deep.Reading them I feel, broadened my horizons, made me think, understand perspectives that I had not thought of before and made me more accepting and thankful of the life I have with the numerous uncounted blessings which I take for granted.

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Now, I feel that the books somehow chose me and not the other way round. By divine providence! If I am sounding sort of mystical and philosophic, I think I need to blame it squarely on one of the books that I just finished reading called the “Forty rules of love” by a Turkish author called Elif Shafak. The books revolves around a forty year old housewife who has just embarked on her first assignment to write a report as a book editor.

Ella, the protagonist seems to have a secure, happy life on the surface. Somehow,  a husband of twenty years, his secret affairs, and taking care of three children and their problems have made her disgruntled with life. As an escape, she takes to reading the manuscript which the agent has sent her.

The book contains two stories. One of Ella’s life, and the other, the story in the manuscript. This story occurs in the thirteenth century in Baghdad and Konya. The story is of the friendship between the great poet Rumi and a Sufi saint called The Shams of Tabriz.The book describes life in the thirteenth century and its social mileu beautifully.

It takes us through a journey of learning how we take certain diktats of our faith and religion a little too concretely for our own good. It shows how Rumi, who was first a preacher with no clue about poetry slowly evolves into one under the spell of his friend. It tells us about the forty rules of love that Shams applies to different times in his life. And how those same rules which were thought of, so many hundreds of years ago, apply to Ella’s life of now.

And this makes for a beautiful, mystical, unputdownable read.

After something this philosophical, I opened another called “The hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared  by a Swedish author called Jonas Jonasson. The book is weirdly funny, if I can call it that. The events which occur in the book, (starting literally with a centenarian climbing out of the window of his old home on the day of his birthday) seem bizarre, but plausible. This book too, has two parallel stories running side by side. One of Alan’s ( The hundred year olds’ ) past and one of his present.  Alan is so unassuming a person, that he accepts anything and everything in life with a calmness that bordered on autistic! It so happens that Allan’s life follows a series of events through the first and second world war, where he is involved in the most important of events,( like opining on the final make of the atom bomb), which script history! But without waiting for the accolades or understanding the contribution he has made, he moves on to the next adventure.

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I learnt quite a bit of history from this book about the two wars, much more than I had in my school. Though the story becomes sort of queer at the end, it still made some bit of sense. (Now, I am sounding weird!). I have never read something so eccentric and unconventional, and loved it! If nothing, this book can be recommended reading for history in schools!

 

The other beautiful book I read was “Our moon has blood clots” by Rahul Pandit, which explains the exodus of the Kashmiri pandits. The author, who has suffered the horrors of the exodus writes about problems which he faced growing up, in such an uncertain scenario. It is so beautiful and hard hitting at the same time. I think I will save it for another post.

For this weekend, I have now picked on “The bookseller of Kabul”.

What have you read this month??

 

 

 

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A monsoon day in Agumbe.

 

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Early in the morning

 

Visiting a rainforest has always been on my wish list. One of my childhood fantasies  (fueled by Robin Cook’s Congo), was to discover something unique and useful, like some magic herb or a new species of animal, watching giant man eating plants in their gory splendor, living off fresh forest produce, finding beautiful waterfalls and living in handmade tree houses or old forgotten log cabins. Sort of Tarzan, Anaconda and Robinhood rolled into one. Of course as age and logic grew, (or so I would like to assume, atleast in the case of logic), the fantasies sobered down to real ones of camping in the wilds keeping as much distance as possible from the reptile species!

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Most of these ideas used to float around in my brain when we would be travelling between destinations and all that was available to see out the car or bus window would be dark, unpenetrable forests for miles on end. Those were times when cars had rudimentary stereos, buses were basic and we did not have the luxury of earphones!

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can you spot the waterfall far far away

Travelling from Mangalore to Shimoga entailed crossing the Western ghats from Agumbe. This was one leg of the journey which was considered with a bit of apprehension. We would make sure to climb down the mountains when there was broad daylight, and kids would be asked to sit quiet for the fear of disturbing the driver. We would suddenly see some animals in the wild, darting across the road in a blink and you miss kind of way, probably as startled by us, as we were of them.  Over  years of deforestation, the stretch became infamous more for the Naxal movement rather than the wild animals crossing our paths.

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Is it not a great place for a tree house? 

 

 

As kids, the half hour journey down the ghats would seem twice as long and scary. This was probably why I failed to appreciate the wonder existing right before my eyes, all the while fantasizing about something way beyond.

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a hair pin bend
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Agumbe lake

Now the forests are threadbare, and there seem to be noisy people and plastic strewn around everywhere. But come monsoon, every year, the Western ghats become a sight of abundant lush green beauty. I now understand at least a bit of the anxiety with which the environmentalists rue the the loss the natural habitats. To lose such beauty to deforestation seems a crime deserving life imprisonment. And paradoxically, this makes Agumbe more beautiful for me. I feel that I should savor its beauty for as long as we allow it to be, and try in any possible way to help preserve a gem existing literally in our backyards before we lose it forever.

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Agumbe is a small village nestled in the midst of the Western ghats in Shimoga district of Karnataka. Till recently, it owned the unique distinction of being called the “Chirapunji of the south”, because it received the highest rainfall in the whole of South India. A title it seems to be fast losing, due to declining rainfall in this region.

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Agumbe village

The forest is home to about  150 species of frogs and 85 of snakes  (who knew there were so many types) and still counting. Apart from these, it is home to other animals like monkeys, langurs , hornbills, leopards and flying lizards.

The village has a rustic charm and seems to be stuck in a time warp, only broken by the addition of kurkure packets of varied colors hanging from most tiny shops! This charm made for its choice as the famous “Malgudi” in R.K.Narayan’s famous serial Malgudi days.

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The house where Malgudi days was shot

This time, when I got a chance to go to Mangalore, I was prepared. To enjoy the green and the charm that is Agumbe. And enjoy I did.  I now wish for a log cabin in Agumbe, where I am doing some ecological conservation work. Me and my day dreams!

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