Posts

Showing posts from April, 2013

MLA: Member of__

Image
The school was quiet except the regular high pitch accent from an English teacher, who had been in charge of the vacation class. The April sun blazed above the tile roofed building and the day was hot.
The time was close to midday and the traffic was milder too. Any kid of voice that interrupted the class was minimal, which was a very impressive factor for the teacher, who was actually fed up from the otherwise roar of the traffic and the chattering of the 1500 students of the school.
He preferred the vacation classes to regular ones. 
The teacher’s preference for the vacation class had one more reason, other than the noise factor—time. During the vacation class, he could experiment with his teaching, provide better opportunities for the students to express themselves, and there was more time to do activities in the classroom rather than the regular school days.
The class was under his total control. There was less interference by the Head Master or anyone else, much like the noise…

Season of the Witch

Image
At first, I thought this would be a movie about the great witch-hunt during the second part of fifteenth century to the early eighteenth, and the usual sympathizing with those people who were fried and grilled on stakes in public. But then there is a twist. One of the witches that is hanged and drowned as part of the exorcism ritual as per the ‘Book of Solomon’, comes alive and kills the priest who performs the rituals.
Season of the Witch was released in 2011 and directed by Dominic Sena. Nicolas Cage plays the protagonist, a Teutonic Knight named Behmen von Bleibruck. He and his friend and companion, Felson (Ron Perlman) decide they should quit the crusade. The massacre of the innocent people in the name of god is out of their comprehensibility of justice.
As they return, they pass through villages hit by the disastrous plague. Black Death had claimed not just villages but cities as well. The two horsemen are spotted by the military in the city and are recognized. As the deserters of…

Lungi: The Story Continues.

Image
This is part fiction and part darn non-fiction “Don’t you dare, poke a staff in the eye of an angry mammoth!” An outrageous Mohanlal shouts at the villains in the Malayalam movie, Narasimham (2000). As part of the accompanying gesticulations, he slops his right shoulder down at an angle and raises the left leg and tags the white dhoti up, folding it around his waste, ready to attack the baddies.
“What shall I do sir? My father asks me to wear a lungi at home. A full NO to Bermuda shorts!” The student asks over the phone. I stand puzzled.
Then I try saying; “The white dhoti, “mundu” is the traditional male clothing in Kerala. It’s part of the formal dressing style and is used for most of the auspicious occasions such as festivities in temples and marriages, you know. Even kings wrap a dhoti in order to show their affluence and importance. The informal version of dhoti is ‘lungi’. Look at the variety of colours that are available for lungi. In most of the households, male members of the …

Lungi: the memoir of a middle class youngster

Image
This is non-fiction. What happened was, today evening one of my students called me. A boy, who is a multi-talented performer of sort. His is a dancer, and when he dances the whole crowd gathers around and rocks away along with his natural moves. He says he never learnt dancing, but it comes to him naturally. The unknown source of creativity somehow springs into his mind and fills everything around him with a magic, very unique. He is good at his studies too, although uses his gifts to sometimes cut corners. The best part about him is that he never gives up at anything. Unlike his teacher.
“Hello, sir!” he said excited due to some reason, and with an usual cheerfulness in his voice. After some initial hesitation and usual introductory cookies, we immediately came down to business. He turned to sharing his problems and I to the digging for stories. I knew this boy might have something really wonderful and surprising to share with me. Intuition, you can call it.
He had a story to tell.
Th…

Have a Car. Do you Care?

Image
Meeting a childhood friend is always a refreshing experience. Somehow, what felt like old, past, ghost-like, dead and gone appear ‘refreshing’, new and approachable with the appearance of a childhood friend.
It was the day when Narendra Modi came to Sivagiri Madam, pilgrim centre, the tomb of Sri Narayana Guru, one of the foremost social reformers Kerala has seen, and made the place known in the northern parts of India. I did not have anything else to do, so I went to the city, thinking I could buy some fried chicken from KFC.
It was a hot day. I bought a burger, a Combo of Friend Chicken, French Fries and a Vanilla Blue. After eating the chicken, I thought why shouldn’t I go out and take in some sea breeze. So I went to the beach. I had the burger with me still and some Vanilla Blue. I sat on a concrete bench, took the breeze on the face, and watched the waves crashing on the wet sandy shore. Right then, I felt I might meet someone I knew.
I did not see anyone I knew, around, never e…

The Easter of Bibliocracy

Image
Can books save humanity?

Hell, no.
Then why do we celebrate the World Book Day?
Apparently, some influential people want us to believe that books can change the world, the time, and the people, and save the asses of the disillusioned rich. At some point in time, someone with power, some megalo seemed to have discovered that there is a chunk of time for leisure, available for those who work in factories, offices, schools and also for those with no jobs and no prospect of getting any in the future. This leisure time became the subject of a great scrutiny in the bureaucratic level throughout the world, after the Cold War. The age-old dictum ‘an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop’ was an archetypal threat they all felt. What if the Devil himself decides to establish his base camp in those many idle minds? Clearly, it was a warning sign, because the bureaucrats were outnumbered had the multitudes with loads of leisure time lodged the Devil in their murky hearts.
Plans were plotted, meetings …

Which is Batman’s Best Gadget?

Image
What Serves Batman Best?!
Bat plane, Bat car, or The Bat, an all purpose flying machine that Lucius Fox presents to Bruce Wayne, which one is the most efficient tool of Batman?
What attracted me as a kid towards Batman was his vulnerability. The thought that he could fail was enough for me to unshackle myself from the meta-fantasy of the Superman, the hero of perfections. (Not completely, though, which I later realized.)
However, among battles between good and evil, Batman relies on a number of surprise gadgets which were fun to watch and enthralling to imagine on your side; what impressed me the most was the rope. But then there was Spiderman, with a genetically generated spider-web-shooting gland on his wrist!
Batman has still got the grounds, because he always has the specially designed vehicles and daggers or darts. Some darts, are designed to look like bats. Only Batman has custom designed cars and bikes and planes. They have their names too—bat bike, bat plane, bat car and so …

The Dark Knight Rises

Image
For the first time Batman bored me. Not the movie, but Batman. He was old and grumpy and sad and desperate and hopeless about life, about being Batman.
However, with a really good story line and terse screen writing, the movie is entertaining. There is one character that appears to be worth an enemy for the Bat guy—Bane, the muscle man and wizard of the ‘cone-revolution’, in The Dark Knight Rises. Bane comes to town, proclaims to be a ‘liberator’ and conquers Gotham city in no time, with the help of cones and inmates of the state prison. What attracts the most is his accent and voice that booms out through some sort of a mask that—we understand at the end—helps him breathe.
Bane used to be a member of the League of Shadows, the same bunch of supremely wrought fighters who taught Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego (clarification for those who are too much into the Marvel Universe and ignore the DC entirely) how to kick some asses.
Batman’s tricks and skills are inefficient in front of Ba…

The Racketeer Book Review; Published Soon

Image
“I’ve seen this a hundred times in movies, TV shows, and in real-life court reporting—the last, frantic farewell look of the condemned. What do you think about as you’re leaving the courtroom and you’re mot going home? The truth is that nothing is clear.” Malcolm Bannister was sent away for a crime he did not commit. He is a lawyer but he is in prison. However, the mainstream society, the world of the power jugglers finds him an interesting hook to solve a murder. In fact, it is Mr. Bannister himself who comes out saying he can help.
After reading the thoroughly enjoyable John Grisham book The Confession, I decided to get my hands on Grisham’s latest bestseller The Racketeer, published in 2012. You can expect my review of The Racketeer soon.
Rule 35 is a part of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The rule says that if a defendant helps the system in prosecuting another person, he or she can get a reduction in their sentence. The Racketeer has another legal significance too. RICO…

The Confession

Image
The Confession follows the story of Donte Drumm, a young black who was convicted for the murder of his school mate called Nicole Yarber. The story begins with the showing up of the real killer, Travis Boyette. The killer meets a Lutheran minister in his church office, Keith Schroeder. This was in Kansas and the execution of Donte Drumm was planned in Huntsville, Texas. Keith’s adventure to take the real killer to Texas, in order to stop the execution is a nerve jangling episode in the novel.
During this trip the two sides of the society confronts each other—one; the ethical and moral side represented by Keith Schroeder and two; the chaotic immoral side in Travis Boyette. During their sparse, but meaningful conversation, Keith investigates into the depths of the stinking and murky self of Boyette. He was in jail as a kid and was addicted to the world of porn, all thanks to his uncle. In Boyette’s own words, “[t]he juvenile justice system does nothing but cultivate career criminals. So…

Reality of Injustice

Image
In the summer vacation of 2013, I reopened The Confession. I had just finished J. Krishnamurthy’s philosophical treatise Freedom from the Known. The hardcore philosophy left me to wonder if I shouldn't need a light weight book as a dessert, after a heavy and tiring feast.
So I decided to get my hands on The Confession.
I still remembered the story where I left it off, two years back. Once I reentered to the story universe, it caught me. I stayed there, bowed my head in obeisance, mostly because of the lack of many other options, at the start. I wanted to experiment with including different writers into my reading list. There was little else I could do during daytime at the moment. I worked on Wall of Colours during nighttime. And my day life was occupied with killing time. I had other two tomes in perusal during this period; Charles Dickens was one of them and Salman Rushdie the other. Due to the fact that a young man sitting at home all through the daytime could create caustic f…

How New Age Spirituality Kept Grisham at Bay

Image
Two years back, one of my students’ mentioned that John Grisham is his favourite writer. Due to the disgraceful fact that I had never before talked to someone who can give me some serious information or advice about Grisham, I enjoyed talking with this boy. Later, on another occasion, in a seminar, in which the student and I were present, the presenter of a paper commented that all popular writers like Grisham, pack their books with some formula. They have someone murdered in the beginning, then some sex in the second chapter, then some fight, then a chase and then finally, the death of the villain. My student got agitated by this comment. He murmured into my ear that John Grisham never pushed sex on your face and in his stories, the good guys died too. I was mighty impressed. The professor was dumb.  
Much like the situation I suggested in the previous post here, I found a John Grisham title in one of the local book stores in the city. The year was 2010 and the book was The Confessio…

John Grisham in India?

Image
John Grisham is America’s beloved writer. He writes legal thrillers that until a certain period in my life I thought boring.
In Kerala, the southern most state in India, the land that buckles the Western Ghats with the Arabian Sea, the place where people speak a language called Malayalam and the culture where there are more people aspiring to learn English than the total population of United Kingdom, there will be at least one Grisham thriller in every library and reading room.
A quick note on the difference between libraries and reading rooms—well, libraries generally function under a trust or institution. Reading rooms are established by political parties. They will have a fairly good library inside the building, not just newspapers and magazines. But the books the reading rooms keep will always be influenced and inspired and incubated under the heat and sweat of the political propaganda the respective party deals with.   
Left or right, red or white, Grisham can surely be found in…