To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee, A Coffee Table Review

Writing a review is akin to saying goodbye to a novel that has kept you company, but you’ve the last pages of.

This book starts off with a statement by a child in its voice- the entire novel is in the child- Jean Louise Scout’s voice. The statement is about how her brother Jem had a bruise in his hand and what it’s origins were. Slowly weaved across events, time and the maturing of the two children, in the backdrop of a court case against a Negro, the book captivates its reader and pulls them into the town that it takes place in. Every event is connected and the connections are a wonder to behold.

Seeing a prejudiced world from the discerning eyes of a child is refreshing. It goes to show how much an adult brain can sometimes be dulled by beliefs permeating in the society immediately around them without considering the truth of the matter or reflecting on the hypocrite that they are when they find it fit to say black people are beneath them but find Hitler doing the same on the extreme end of the scale atrocious. This is further enhanced when Scout contrasts the two and is confused as to how people can hear themselves speak and not listen to the grave mistakes they make.

I also enjoyed the absolute savage comments made by Scout, a particular one regarding a woman who she compares to the Mount Everest, saying “…to Mount Everest: throughout my early life, she was cold and there“.

There is also an underlying note about not hunting a Mockingbird because they don’t do anything but provide sweet melodies. This is referred to in later situations as well.

Overall, an enjoyable read with a writing style that engages the reader extensively.

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The Kite Runner-Khaled Hosseini, A Coffee Table Review

For you, a thousand times over.
This one line overwhelms you with emotions after reading The Kite Runner. Beautifully written, it is set in the streets of Kabul at a time when the innocence of the children was not yet snatched away by the onset of war. It is the tale of two boys, Amir, a sunni, trying hard to gain his father’s appreciation and Hassan, a shia, the son of a worker whose first word was “Amir”. The caste system and the thoughts people have in relation to that is portrayed realistically. The emotions of the children grow to instigate certain circumstances that wrench your heart, as when Amir speaks of his underlying jealousy about Hassan’s inbuilt purity, intellect, hardiness and favouritism from his father and when he fools around with Hassan knowing he will devotedly listen to Amir. Every instance has some effect on the whole picture and the story interweaves the connections intricately, ending by inducing a smile on your face. As much as I would have liked to stop the book in between because it made me sad, I couldn’t because there was always hope and I badly wanted a sliver of happiness.

A book that cannot be put down, that makes you understand war at the ground level and the collective changes in the psychology of a society that it causes.

The Book Hunters of Katpadi- Pradeep Sebastian, A Coffee Table Review

Choosing mostly to rely on the library for my books, this is the second book that I’ve hunted for (the first being “For the Love of Physics” by Walter Lewin) due to its marked absence from the libraries that I frequent to. I tried a couple of bookshops and kept obsessively checking if either Amazon or Flipkart started delivery to my area (there was a flood recently) until finally, I was able to order it. Needless to say, the happiness of finally being able to do so was exhilarating.

The reason for this obsession starts with reading the author’s articles in Literary Review, The Hindu. Being a Typophile, he wrote about rare book collecting, the joy of walking into a bookshop because it was raining and unexpectedly finding a book searched for a long time, about a genre I had not heard of till then, bibliomystery; and I tried googling him to find out if he maintained a blog. Which lead me to two novels he’d written, the title “book hunters” appealed more to me and I began my search for the said book.

Most reviewers of the book critiqued it for the fact that though the author tried to write fiction, he is so accustomed to writing non fiction that that is what the book became. I understood the extent of it when I read the book.

The book, in itself, is a slow-paced mystery- not a thriller that leaves you gripping the edge of your seat. However, I think it is more than compensated by the number of bibliographic facts thrown around all over the book- every other page includes some kind of history.

It seems to me only bookworms adoring anything bibliographic in nature would enjoy the book. I, for one, am glad I bought the book because it is worth revisiting for all the facts and book references it contains.

The story starts with one of a kind rare book shop in India, Biblio, and the two women who run it- Neela and Kayal. It revolves around Richard Burton, whose significance is built by the author with detailed paragraphs dedicated to him. Burton’s written work is proclaimed to have been possessed by Kenton, a school teacher. Kayal is to look into the authenticity of the work. This particular work is known to be elusive to all the collectors over the years and many doubt its existence because Burton is known to create stories about himself as well. Meanwhile, there is another thread running with a Reverend Father of a college accusing Biblio of stealing the manuscripts kept in the college library. These independent stories finally collide in one antiquarian auction and culminate with solving the recurring background thoughts running through the book.

Overall, take the book only if you have an obsession with book-related topics. If you do, you’re in for a treat.

Catch Me If You Can- Frank Abagnale Jr., A Coffee Table Review

A story that makes your jaw drop because of the veracity of it, Catch Me If You Can is a novel written by the conman Frank Abagnale Jr. Reading the autobiography of the author was enough to make me recheck whether I’d ended up reading the summary of a novel because of its surreal nature. In the book, the author takes the reader through the entirety of his life, his pretending to be a pilot, a professor, a lawyer and what not and swindling banks on the side, and finally culminates with a satisfying and wonderful ending.

It also makes you wonder about prisons because the state of one prison portrayed in the book is so excessively brutal beyond imagination unless one has already seen such depictions elsewhere.

The book was made into a movie going by the same name. A series, “White Collar”, was also made based on it. I’ve not seen the movie yet, but the series is enjoyable.

On a final note, given my short attention span with respect to sticking to a given book, it’s a wonder when I do finish a book.

A good read, overall.

Confession

Books, for me, is akin to a sumptuous never ending buffet of whose dishes, I only but get to taste before getting distracted by the dish beside it.

My friend and I discussed this phenomena and it was his idea that there were two kinds of avid readers: the linear and the circular. The linear ones finish a book before moving on to the next, but have plenty in line to be read and the circular ones start every book as and when they get their hands on it and end up not finishing most. I happen to be of the latter category.

If someone were to ask me what I was currently reading, I’d probably ask them, “in what hour of the day do you refer to?” Apart from my physical books, I load a couple of books into my kindle “just in case” I was outside and had to read. So my reading schedule goes like, read hard bound books in the room, take kindle whenever I go out, read from kindle while eating etc.

In fact, the reason I bought the kindle was because I tend to take multiple books with me so that I have books for every mood of mine. My back grunts, but I just cannot be any place without the calming effect of knowing the presence of my books close at hand.

And now, I tend to take my kindle and a paper back to go with it.

Well, let me now read the book I have with me at the moment, “The Book Hunters of Katpadi” by Pradeep Sebastian.

Just another article, it shall remain

When one witnesses rules borne out of stupidity, one cannot remain silent and let it be. In this specific case, rules borne out of a need to suppress women. Heck, why do something against the perpetrators when you can make the victims feel more helpless and more like to-be-victims.

This is with reference to a rule in my college which says that every inmate of the Ladies Hostel is to report their presence to an authority every night at 9 pm.

Never mind the fact that within a few months I would be out in the world. Never mind letting 18 year old people start living their life by their choices. Enforce strict rules as to where they can be, and at what times. Don’t let them make the decision for themselves. Don’t let them use their own acquired knowledge. Because of course, women don’t know how to cross the road at night.

Then again, let the Male population decide for themselves where they want to be and what they want to do. Because, duh, they can think for themselves. Why consider the fact that more college men than women die by drunken driving accidents? They can make their own choices. They know how to cross the roads at night, even when they’re drunk. Obviously.

The next hilarious thing is a book to record the movements of women on holidays. Whilst it is good to know where people are in case of emergencies, you cannot write the true destinations in some situations because they don’t want you to be there. However, nobody cares where the guys are, even in case of an emergency, apparently.

But of what use is another article, but as an addition to endless streams of those because the ones who make the decisions either completely believe the above or want a total restriction on Women. Either way, I do not see objective people at the helm.

Letters to no one in particular

There are select few professors who can excite the curiosity in a student, and I had the fortune of learning under two such people. One of whom, is currently teaching a course in my college.

Being very enthusiastic about the way he described an impulse function, I tried explaining the same to my friend who is not in the same branch. However, where before we used to have such discussions frequently- where I listen to her elaboration on her subjects and she mine- this time, she replied that she had more interesting things to read in her phone.

Yeah, sucks a lot.

To the point though, we are so defined by time and social media that we do not engage in discussion pertaining to subjects other than our own. Which is a pity, I must say. To listen to any topic, explained well enough is an enlightening phenomenon in itself, to be deprived of which is to numb down your mind, to narrow it, to only be able to see the subject of your choice.

Besides, the time spent on mindless scrolling through Facebook could very well be lessened to incorporate such discussions.

Today morning, I was sitting with The Hindu paper, which is an extra delight on Sunday, and I was reading, as always, Mr. Mathrubootham’s column first. Only, he was away on vacation and a reader was writing about him- about his cynical attitude. I usually call it a middle-aged complaining attitude, which was my stimuli to write this letter.

Before you follow the link, point to note – J Mathrubootham is a middle aged Tamil man, and he makes certain that that is understood from his writings. The letters are humorously interspersed with Tamil words and the accent is clearly Tamil.

An article from J Mathrubootham (in case you have not read his letters yet)

Chapter 2

Prologue

Chapter 1

I stared, blankly, at Tanya – probably long enough to creep her out and stimulate her to ask me whether I was okay.

I really wasn’t sure.

I nodded, anyway, and headed to the Library. The one place that held answers, right after the mind, itself. And because the mind is usually muddled up, it is the most reliable place.

As I strolled through the mighty columns of voluminous books – new and old, alike, I felt my mind calm down. Although not enough to reach my state of nothingness. Like I said, books are a necessary supplement to the mind.

Upon reaching the row where books of the universe started, I scanned peripherally for anything that seemed to be relevant. My brain kept wandering back to the forms that I had felt earlier. However, with nothing more than consciousness filled forms, I knew I wouldn’t be able to infer much.

There was a new book on Earth – a compilation of everything we knew about it. According to it, Earth cannot send a message instantaneously across vast space. Which meant that Earth had this information a while ago, which meant that the people of Praeceps were closer. Perhaps it was the chill atmosphere in the library, but I felt goosebumps all over my hands.

“Ahem.” The soft voice of Gela broke my train of thoughts and I turned to acknowledge her presence.

“Hello, mother” Yes, we are a family tied to the mind and its endless possibilities. The concern in her eyes pulled me closer to her and I embraced her, saying “It’ll be alright”

“I was prohibited from distressing you so as to let you find more about them.” She inhaled deep breaths and I realised she was doing all she could to maintain a calm exterior. Having had her husband taken away from her by a space mishap, I was the only family to her and she is ever more fiercely protective of me for that very reason.

“I figured” It wasn’t rocket science to arrive at that conclusion, given my mother’s otherwise over-sharing methods.

“Glad that Tanya spilled it though.” I knew that, too. It is very hard for Gela to not tell me everything that she goes through.

She stepped back, and stated “You will not get hurt. Not on my watch. Ever.”

I smiled at her receding steps, basking in the comfort that mother’s love is. And in that moment of tranquility, my mind was stilled and I sensed the forms, again. They were looking for me. I could see that. Looking was a mild word. Searching the depths of the galaxies is more like it. I tried probing for the reason. I could usually sense figures, but maybe that was because I have been accustomed to Boomba’s people and I find it hard to see other figures. The word danger kept reoccurring and I wondered – who was the danger and to whom? Suddenly, I felt my mind being searched. Taken aback, I realised, for the first time, that there were more like me. Not knowing whether they were with intentions good or bad with respect to me, I tried shutting the probing entity out.

Having had no practice in this, it drained all my energy.

I was found, a whole six hours later, by Tanya, lying on the wooden floor of the library, pale and with a barely discernible pulse.

Alzheimer’s – An awareness message

This post is borne out of necessity to spread awareness about alzheimer’s. To set the right mentality and outlook towards it. I am not a doctor, however, and not studying to be one either, so I do not have the medical terms for it. I do know extensively about it and I hope  this post helps someone to deal with it better.

Alzheimer’s is the disease of forgetfulness, among other things. It starts off as a spatial disorientation. Perhaps the person forgets the way to the bathroom that is attached to the room they are currently sitting in. They find multiple doors confusing, so a toilet door must be labelled so and maybe the light inside it could be left on for identification.

They also begin to lose a hold over how far different places are. They might think two cities in two different states can be shuttled by walking.

They start dreaming about events and believe with utmost certainty that said events took place. They might question you as to why you made them sleep in some other house and brought them back the next morning.

They get distracted easily by the lights outside the window at night, which may cause disturbance to them. Even if the lights are not of much intensity. When this is noticed, cover the windows with curtains.

They might forget that they had a meal already – keep everything on a schedule. So that they know that, say, at 7:30 they will get their dinner.

Sometimes they might disagree to eat. Coax them to eat a little. Or if completely impossible, give them a sweet so as to maintain their sugar levels.

Slowly, they reach the last stage of alzheimer’s – personality change is one of the symptoms. They show sexual tendencies and speak out in a grossly sexual manner which come as a shock to the close ones. This is just the disease. They don’t realise the change. Sometimes they’re normal and sometime’s they are not. But when this change happens, you must take care of everyone who interacts with the person. Warn the people beforehand and don’t let someone with the person without supervision. These sexual tendencies come with a burst of energy as well.

Alzheimer’s is a disease to which a cure has not been found yet. The existing medications mostly decrease the energy level so as to decrease excitations but might lead to further problems. It might make the person drowsy to the extent that they get bed ridden over time. It might lead to them falling down because of drowsiness while walking. This might lead to a vegetative state which is even more difficult to manage.

The only solution is to play a kind of hide-and-seek. To not give rise to a situation where they can manifest their sexual intentions.

They must be taken care of with utmost precision. Every mood change must be noted for future reference. All the current medications are on a trial and error basis. What works for one may not work for another. It has to be adjusted over a period of time with due diligence.

And most of all, people need to start understanding alzheimer’s better. No, your loved one has not become evil. They just got affected by a disease. Take good care of them. They need your love.

Lastly, when I now read of instances of misbehaviour of old men or women, I wonder – were they affected by alzheimer’s? Because it is a real possibility and when they are taken to court, this must be checked into.

Similarly, when people visit old age homes, they must be warned of alzheimer patients and given a tutorial on how to behave around them. It is really hard for people to accept the occurrences of these sexually intended movements, but they need to keep in mind – it is a disease. It is to be treated thus.

Link to some background details

Stages of Alzheimer’s

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