October 22, 2006

Sodomy in Savannah!

Sexual Predators in Action

NY Times report that several rape cases have been filed against African bull elephants after they decided to sate their "animal" thirst by raping female rhinos!!!. The article adds that atleast 63 rhinos have been recently found raped and killed by these marauding bulls!. The killing, persumably, was to eliminate evidence (no one ever accused elephants of being dumb!).

I never imagined a female rhino to be a frail, vulnerable creature or a male rhinocerous to be a helpless slob who is unable to protect his partner from being dis-honoured, but i guess the difference is in the perspective!!

The article makes no mention of similar incidents involving giraffes, i imagine they have so far escaped the tragic fate due to the higher positioning of their strategic assets!. However, i would request any female giraffe who reads this blog to be careful lest the shortest among you be one day ravaged by a taller than usual elephant!

The article suggests (in an oblique way!) that the authorities are trying to keep quiet on the incidents to ward off any potential decline in tourist inflows. Assumning rhinocerous do not usually take vacaions (i could be wrong here) that would only mean Human tourists!!. Ghosh, i can only imaine the horrendous implications!!!!

When i reached the concerned parties, the Rhino association condemned the brutal acts of violence and requested death penalty for the rapists. However, YBEA (young bull elephants association) called for restraint while advocating detailed studies to get to the truth. They also claimed that several incidents were actually cases of consensual relationship but was classfied as rape by jealous male rhino's.

Interestingly, the warden of the game park denied occurence of such acts. His argument being that his wife,who looks like a rhino, has never faced any amoral advances from elephants. However, one of his juniors, who for obvious reasons didnt want to be named, dismisses that argument saying that elephants (even when mad with lust) have some taste and class!

So if any female (from rhino to humans) chances across this blog, i request them not to go for that African safari untill the rapists are brought to justice. In case, you do not wish to be terrorized to surrender your lifestyle, i suggest a bottle of Vaseline while making the trip!


Disclaimer: I guess i have to add a disclaimer here. All the events, except the original article cited, are figments of my rather fertile imagination. The article does talk about elephants raping and killing rhino's but it is a scholarly article on human-elephant conflict and related stress-induced behaviour by elephants. Highly recommend the article. Visiting Africa is absolutely safe!!!!!.

October 20, 2006

Pottanmar Pottayil!

Latest controversary in Kerala is about a police visit to the evangelical xtian enclave in Potta. It seems that the priests were operating a mental hospital without having the authority to do so. The priests say they were not operating a hospital but just a dispensary which was needed because lots of crazies visit that place!

Now thats what i would call as honesty!. Well atleast they didnt claim divine authority to operate a mental hospital!

Anyways, the opposition is crying violation of constitutionally guaranteed protection of minority interest (to do what eh?) and xtian organizations are darkly hinting at global repurcussions (mebbe the pope will step in to deal with the un-godly commies now that he has deftly dealt with the muslims!)

Actually, the govt should immediately grant them a license (and if necessary even the funds) to set up a much much larger mental hospital. Where else would you get such a large congregation of crazies who love to be treated and brainwashed!. I am not sure how they would react to mass shock therapy. But having heard about the skills of the pastors out there, i wouldnt be surprised if they manage to portray shock therapy as a kind of self-flaggellation necessary to "experience" god.

Note to NTPC: Do set up required infrastructure to supply some serious hi-voltage power to Potta!

October 15, 2006

Wheres the party tonight?

Mumbai was partying hard on friday...and i hear NYC and London were no different.

Sensex closed at all time high on friday and Bloomberg had perfect timing when it hosted it's annual party - well actually they got lucky..the party was planned much earlier. I was one of those clients who were graciously invied for the "rocking party". Commuting from Powai to Worli is no fun, even if the traffic is in the opp direction and unlimited booze awaited us at the end!. The party ofcourse was celebration time, footsoldiers of the stock market trooped in straight from dalal street (the generals ofcourse had their own plans!), but the party mood was dampened by unfavorable sex ratio (no...i dont mean the "sex" ratio..rather the % of females in attendance to the total crowd!). Dalal street, it seems, is only slightly better than an engg college in kerala in encouraging gender diversity. To be honest, the booze was good, dessert even better and we did celebrate the sensex (afterall which punter can resist a free drink?).

Once we were loaded up with all the booze we could hold it was time to make good our escape (but only after bloomberg dutifully collected our visiting cards..guess i will have to replace my office no soon!).A long time resident of Worli suggested Hard Rock Cafe for the music and the "crowd"...never been to HRC hence decided to check it out...Music was horrible (more like soft rock!!) but the scenery was good though very crowded!

Lcation of HRC was even more interesting...one side of the road were the slums and on the other side was HRC (i think it was set up in one of those old textile mills). As we got out of our cars (past mid night) the smell of urine got thru even our alcohol-dulled sensory system. On the opp side were mini-skirted drunk PYT's deftly stepping aside sleeping bodies on their way to party. As good as a "contrast" that i had ever seen. Smart kids were running brisk business selling smokes. i am sure some of these will end up as billionaires in the not so distant future. After all they have the energy, after a day of hard work (unlikely any of them are attending school), to stay awake and continue on a second job late in the night that too with a smile on their face!. Kids, the world belongs to you (not to the pudgy techies nor to the obese punters!), you shall inherit the earth while we moan about over-work, office politics, crumbling infrastructure and torn social fabirc etc etc blah blah!.

I staggered home early morning and completed the usual practises of a party night, basically calling up all my married friends on their mobile/land line and wifey's phone (if they were stupid enuff to give me that!), made sure that their wife's will be sulking the entire weekend and thus they will eagerly await a monday!

But before i drifted off (with one of those wifey's gently remonstrating about my lifestyle!), i thought about the "India story" (yeah when i am drunk i think of stock markets...i am a pervert!!!..i am coming out of the closet here!!!!).

How could it be that if India is on a "secular bull run", Sensex and Dow Jones hit all time high's on the same day??

Well...wotever..atleast i knew where the party was tonight..and i was even invited!!!!!


September 20, 2006

Shine Garments rip

During my last term in college, some of us were looking for a “chill” course and came across “international trade”, presumably full of international gyan! Unfortunately, the course was a tough cookie and remains a mystery but for one comment; “free trade benefits societies as a whole but not all individuals”.

Shine Garments was our village tailor shop (Shine being his son and my class mate) which our family frequented. Over the years, the shop grew from owner-operated to employ 5-6 people! During festivals, he would be working overtime but always found time to deliver mine on time even delaying my brother’s work (which enraged my bro). Once, I overheard him telling my dad that he refused an offer from “Gulf” as business was far too profitable to close down.

Then slowly things started to unravel. I noticed the change in my brother first; infuriated by delays and being “fashionable” he switched to “ready made”. I remained loyal for a while but soon began to like the convenience as well. The tailor noticed my absence and once caught hold of me and remonstrated and a chastened me went back to “tailor made”.

Nowadays, on trips to Kerala, I often go by his shop but never enters, partly out of embarrassment and partly because I have no reason to. But he was one of those fixtures on which you hang memories of a pleasant childhood. However, I did notice that the shop was looking less prosperous with fewer freshly stitched shirts on display. On a recent trip, I noticed that the shop had disappeared. I asked around, fearing death, and was relieved to hear that shop had been shifted to another location. Next day, I found the much smaller new shop and went up to chat with him (relieved he was alive but guilty for thinking he was not!) and asked about Shine. The answer was painful!

“Ready made” garments destroyed his business so badly that he had to fire all his employees. Hence, Shine decided to go to “Gulf” as construction labor. He still runs what is left, being too old to try his luck in “Gulf”. The main portion of his income now comes from “alteration” of “ready made” clothes but he also works 2 days a week as an in-house tailor in a garment shop.

After chatting for a while, I left and on the way back decided to get a pair of trousers stitched. But that didn’t seem enough; I represented a group which gained massively from the new economy while he represented the group of which my professor spoke; the ones who lost for the changes that benefited society as a whole!


PS: I never managed to get those 2 trousers pieces stitched; I was too lazy and instead purchased a few “ready made” back in Mumbai…unfortunately I don’t even feel guilty!

June 10, 2006

The Legends Of Kazakh

Nostalgia is a complicated word. According to this scholar Nostalgia was originally a medical condition identified by a young swiss medical student to define severe homesickness of soldiers far away from home. The common symptoms were tightening of chest/throat, pain in stomach and severe depression. Of course this was a curable disease (the cure being allowed to return home). Later, Kant observed that the people who thus returned home were usually disappointed because "they did not want to return to a "place" but rather to a "time", time of their youth". What this means is that people generally idealize the past and when faced with the not-idealized present and the fear of an uncertain future somehow yearns to return to an airbrushed past which never existed!. Thus, Nostalgia moved from being a curable medical condition to a psychological "prop" one can use while eking out a drab and often lonely existence.In fact, wikipedia says "Studies show many people believe that years or decades past people were better off than they are now, and that there had been a higher standard of living then, even if this is not always the case. This belief can be very characteristic of nostalgia, of the good ole days". .

By now you must be wondering, what my point is!!!!. Well, like everyone, i am occasionally under attack by the Nostalgia virus (especially when lonely and under the influence of 2 pegs!). Today is one such day as my dear nephew joins my alma mater. I myself joined Sainik School Kazhakootam (SSKZM)16 years ago (Jan 12, 1990 to be exact). When I started blogging, writing about school days was definitely in my mind. But then I figured that everyone has a school life and almost everyone is nostalgic about it, particularly if it is a residential school (where there is a lot of clannish pride involved).But today when i heard that my nephew joined the school, this kinda broke the dam. So, the earlier paragraph was an attempt by me to negate the super-saccharine nostalgic words that follow :)

First a brief intro about the school and why we consider it "special" . The school was a part of a chain of 17 (or 18?) schools set up in different states soon after independance by the govt of India. The idea (attributed to VK Krishna Menon, then defence minister) was to integrate the officer corps of Indian army (which till then was the preserve of princes and aristocrats) by training and encouraging students from middle-class background to join the officer corps. A parallel could be drawn by Arjun Singh when he moans about the lack of social diversity in higher-learning institutes today. Anyways, the school was modelled after the public schools of Britain (and the desi versions found in pristine valleys) where the eltie send their kids. So we were the poor man's public school (a concept which was later used by Rajiv Gandhi when he launched the Navodaya Vidyalaya system) and true to the original purpose, SSKZM has since sent more than 1000+ alumni into the officer corps and also several 1000+ into other worthwhile civilian careers!. While the original concept has been diluted a bit (with current fees not really within reach of a lower middle class family and Indian Army anyways is much more integrated than it was earlier) the system has developed admirably well.

So much for background..now lets get back to my nostalgia :). Honestly, when I heard the news about my nephew joining SSKZM, I was more worried than happy. Worried because I wasn’t sure whether he will be able to take the rough introduction that I am sure he will get. He has lived and studied coupla years in the US and I somehow couldn’t imagine him living in a tough environment like SSKZM. But then I met him last month and his infectious enthusiasm really got to me and I remembered I was like that too a long time back!. I introduced him to a dozen of my class mates who had come for my bro’s wedding and he ignored the docs, mba’s and enginners. He only had ears for the military guys and was extremely disappointed as I couldn’t fetch any Navy guys (he wants to join Navy and hence my army/air force friends didn’t impress him much!!). Anyways, I am sure Tharu will have a wonderful experience over there (just like i did) and hopefully he wont be classified as a thallu kolli as i was :)

Over the last few days I have been talking to a few of the staff members and it brought back a lot of memories. The most enduring memory is my first glimpse of school. The vast parade ground and the nearby games grounds (350 acres for 600 students is as spacious as it can get in the space-constrained kerala school system)all under water after the heavy monsoons!. It’s a memory that even today I occasionally dream of!. Oh boy, what an adventure the next 7 years turned out to be! 143 of us joined in 1990 and another 20 joined us later. Ultimately 73 of us passed out of the institution and became the class of 97!. Despite my ambitions to the contray, i really didnt set those fields on fire (i was the nerd rather!). However, the opportunities that SSKZM gave all of us were even more valuable. It gave us succesful role models with whom we could connect, it made us feel that we are special and that we could be what we wanted to be.

Almost everyone must occasionally wonder about “that moment” which forever changed their lives. To me, there is no confusion about the moment. It was when the 4 feet short, scrawny lil kid that was me had the first glimpse of those parade grounds. I guess now i will occasionally write more about some of the memories of school and there are many memories..most are sweet, some bitter-sweet and an occasional bitter experience as well.

Alrite..the title is a sham, plagarized from the novel written by late O V Vijayan. But today I had to write a blog about my school, and we answer to the call of “Kazhaks” through out our life!. Now you know why I had to use this title!


May 03, 2006

Running With Idiots

How sick can we get??

Making a 4 year old run 65 km?

Having all so called "news" channels giving live commentary?

Having 300 para-military ppl giving him "company"?

Having the poor kid mouth inane homilies like " can run as much as you want me to. I want to restore India’s pride"

awww..my gawwwwd...i want to puke!

April 26, 2006

Age of Cassandra's!

April 22nd was Earth Day. Earth day was first commemorated in 1970. The 70's was a decade when pessimism was at it's peak. The environmentalists and socio-economists were up in arms against the system and predicting the imminent demise of human society as we knew it. Today i was reading a WSJ article and figured out how Cassandra's have once again overwhelmingly taken charge of public opinion. The WSJ article (and i am inclined to believe the magazine without taking the effort to verify the sources) says that

since 1970, data in the US shows that
CO emissions down 55%
Particulate emissions down 80%
SO2 emission down by 50%
Lead emissions down by 98%

Before going further, i will admit to being a sceptic when the environmentalists tell me that world is a) dis-integrating b) will soon run out of oil/food/basic materials etc..etc. If one looks just at the present situation, I am on shaky grounds. Oil is hovering around 75$/barrel. In India people havent fully been affected by the oil price (which was less than 30$/barrel just a few years back) as government has not increased prices because of the elections (but once this election season is over i am sure they will!). All most all metal prices, be it gold, silver, copper or aluminium, are at the peak seen in the last quarter centuary. Iron, the sole hold-out has also started to move up. People are once again saying that we are going to run out of oil/metals blah blah.

The current run-up in commodity prices was also seen in 1970's and there were no shortage of cassandra's then (as there is none today!). During those days the cassandra's were predictng massive over population (before the term "human resources" were coined and before population aging became the big issue), inability to produce enough food for the world population (today starvation, where it exists, is not due to lack of production but due to civil wars/crazy economic policies), GLOBAL COOLING (yeah imagine that!) and ofcourse the perennial "we will run out of oil" cry!.

Now i have no clue whether we are going to run out of all these things. But i get damn suspicious when people just come out and say we will need xxxx million barrels of oil/day in 2025 but only yyyy million barrels will be produced!. In a way, i am in a sort of forecasting job and we know how difficult it is to forecast. Even a forecast of what one single company will do 5 years hence is just sooo error prone. Then anyone who tries to forecast oil consumption 20 years later is either lying or stupid (more likely both!!). The problem with such long-term forecasts are that they assume "all other things remaining constant" which ofcourse never does.

Who would have predicted 25 years back that Soviet Union will not exist, internet and mobile phones would change the way world lives/works and plays!, Berlin wall will crumble, Japan would suffer a mind-blowing recession and closer home coupla un-heard companies based in Bangalore will change the way the world looks at India. Did any one person predict two out of these five events which had such a huge impact in the world?. And now these fellah's are out there again..predicting how global warming will kill so many people by 2100 or how our economies will forever be ruined by scarcity of oil!.

The problem with Cassandra's is lack of self-awareness!!. In fact several of the problems they foresaw did not happen because Society actually took them serious and made amends. They also did not account for human ingenuity which created innovative solutions to these problems before it happened. The classic incident about the failure of Cassandra's is the wager between Julian Simon (optimist) and Paul Ehrlich (pessimist), both very reputed sociologist/economists. You can read about the bet here. Basically, Simon challenged Paul to name any list of commodities (Paul claimed that commodity prices will go up in future as over-population and over-usage will depelete the resources) and decide on a date when the prices (adjusted for inflation) will decide the winner. Paul chose Copper, Chrome, Nickel, Tin and Tungsten and chose the period of bet as 10 years.

You probably guess what happened 10 years hence! The price of all the five items went down once they were adjusted for inflation. Infact price of three items actually fell even in absolute terms. So much for cassandra's!!

Long live Optimism


April 03, 2006

I Told Ya!

A few months back (gosh! is it that long!) i had written a post on fav books. I had mentioned "The Man Who Knew Infinity" as my fav biography and hoped some day some one would make it into a movie. Well it looks like someone heard my prayers. Just read the news that hollywood has latched onto the book and there are not one but two movies on the anvil about Ramanujam. I am kinda sad coz i had hoped that Indian movie industry would make the movie (it might just be a bit too much to expect bollywood to do that !) but then atleast someone is making it!. The next big question is who will play the part of Ramanujam. I cant think of any one in the current indian movie industry who will be able to do that (except may be Amir Khan if he can be made to look that young...but i dont think he will look the part!). I have a crazy suggestion!. How about Dhanush? the teenage tamil hero/villian. He looks the part but exaggerates his acting. May be if he could be made to tone down his acting a bit...Naah i guess ultimately it will be some unknown actor who will get the part..I am really looking forward to this movie!!!


January 29, 2006

8 Commandments

Rules of the game are...when you finish one tag u will be given yet another tag to do :))...so thankx Silverine for the tag :)

Here i go!

Sex of the target: Female

1) She should have a great smile (ok...wrong point to start on...i can see several female chauvinistic pigs already sharpening their knife!)

2) She should like me for what i am and not what i can be made into (Eggzcuze me...i am not a lump of clay to be moulded into any shape!)

3) She should be ready to put up with my "reasonable" eccentricities and i will try to return the favor (and if i forget she is free to remind me the deal!). The not-possible eccentricities we can make a deal on.

4) she should like bald men (hint hint...dont ever tell me that i didnt warn u!)

5) She should demand her space and allow me my own space (but only occasionally can she claim that the bedroom is her space and throw me out to sleep on the couch!)

6) She should be ready to take my cooking experiments with a whole lot of tomato sauce (or else she can command the whole kitchen and i will wash up!)

7) i am quite forgetful...One of the recent gaffes that i committed was when i wished a special gal happy bday one day ahead of the actual date (hope she has forgiven me!). i will be very very glad if i could be given some hints (preferably very obvious ones!).She should understand that when i promise something...the promise isnt meant to be forever.so feel free to remind me of them occasionally. On similar lines, resoultions (even new year one's) are made to be broken so dont even expect them to be fulfilled :)

8) I like to argue..fight and make up!..ok..i dont like it..but then thats the way i am..so expect a rollercoaster ride with me..not a cruise ship experience!

so is there anyone available for the ride? :)

I shall refrain from passing on this tag to anyone (one of my new year resolutions is to be less sadistic :) )


January 06, 2006

Memoirs Of A BookWorm

I got book tagged thankx to Silverine. The tag was a long time back but the lady is a determined one! I received my ultimatum a few days (er weeks!) back and hence here I go! This gives me an opportunity to write about stuff that i always wanted to. In fact when i started blogging, i thought most of the posts will be book reviews. Never got around to doing much of that. So here goes my life in books!

The Journey Begins

When did i begin reading? I am not sure..but it certainly was quite early and my first (outside of class room) reading was probably Malayala Manorama, the tabloid favored by people of my region (central travancore), people of my community (Christians) and people of my heritage (anti-communists!).

Now why did i start reading Malayala Manorama? The reason is not too difficult to follow. When i was a kid (before i moved to boarding school) my morning study schedule was (set and strictly made to follow by my parents) went like this. Get up at 6 AM, study till 8 AM. No interruption was allowed during this time. Then one day, i imagine my father offered me and my bro the chance to read news paper during the morning study time. And boy! did we jump at the chance!. so the routine was set..wake up..sit in front of the school books eagerly awaiting the tring tring of abu chettan the newspaper man. Abu chettan ofcourse leaves the newspaper at the gate about 50 meters away from our house. Being the youngest i was given the privilege of going and collecting the newspaper before it got drenched in the rain (memory says it was always raining..but that cant be true). I was more than happy to do this..the run to the gate..waving hi to abu chettan and then walk back in slow motion to the house..trying to read the news at least in the front page. Well as soon i reach home i had to hand over the newspaper to pappa as priority was determined by seniority. Papa goes first, elder bro next and me last (thankfully mom was always too busy in the morning to read paper!). And of course in our family, never ever we allow paper to be separated into sheets and be read concurrently. I still hate people who ask me sheets out of the newspaper while i am reading!. dad takes about 30 minutes to finish the newspaper while bro is faster and I get the paper at around 7 AM. Thus begins my marathon reading, I used to read everything twice over, from advertisements to obituaries until I can see the clock chiming 8!

The next step in my metamorphism into a bookworm came during the holidays. Dear mom, always worried about my dark complexion (!!) was horrified to see me playing full day in the nearby paddy fields. It must have been her idea (to keep me inside the house during daytime) that prompted dad to bring books from his company library during holidays. Soon I began to delve into books during the holidays. I read everything, right from the M magazines to painkili novels to detective stories, anything would do for me.

On To the Wonderland of English

I moved to a boarding school at the age of 10. Till then my reading was solely in Malayalam as I wasn’t familiar with English. In the next two years, I mastered a fair bit of English and one day i gingerly picked up a tarzan book to read. I picked up tarzan because I was a big fan of tarzan and had read all tarzan books in Malayalam. Hence I assumed it would be easier for me to read the same in English. I guess Tarzan is not written in the simplest language and probably was not a good first choice for a kid. Still I plowed through the book and found out I understood most of it. Well then I re-read the entire Tarzan series in English and I was on my way into the wide world of English literature.

Unfortunately by the time I started reading in English I was about 13-14 and thus missed a whole load of children’s books. I never read any of those hardy boys/nancy drews/enid blytons or entire series of comics. While I did try to go back to those classics later in my life, I found out that it did not recreate the childhood magic which it does to people who read those books in the right age. Well one cant be expected to have everything!

Engineering college is a great place to read for leisure, especially if it is one of those old govt engineering colleges. Mass bunks were the norm, strikes were as regular as classes (if not more frequent) and I read and read everything other than engineering books, in class (whenever I attended them), in the lab and once even during an internal exam (didn’t knew the answers to the question paper anyway!). This is also the time when I started to build up my library..mostly second hand books as the monthly allowance did not allow much discretionary spending after the obligatory hostel bills, thattukada bills and kallushaap bills were paid off. Coupla years after my engineering I started working and finally I was on the way to my lifelong ambition of building up a huge library!

The Libraries I Have Been To

Toshiba Ananad, Athani
My first library. This was the employee society library of the company that dad used to work in. After a few summers of dad bringing me books from this library, he started to bring the books that I have already read. Tired of my cribbing, he took me to the library and left me there while he went off to work. I spent countless days being the only member who was browsing books there (others were employees playing cards/caroms or engaging in union talk!). It was a wonderful little library. The company closed about 8 years back and the library is sadly all but destroyed by now.

Sainik School Trivandrum
For a school of about 600 students, my school probably had one of the best libraries in kerala. Enriched by contributions from generous alumni and teachers, this was a treasure trove for all of us. Add the knowledgeable and affable Librarian Mr: Simon Peter and it is no wonder that most of the ex students of the school have fond memories of the library. He is universally loved for his love and knowledge of books. Unfortunately I did not have a good relationship with him in the beginning. I was banned from the library for two years (I believe 8th and 9th stds) after he twice found me bunking classes to sit and read in the library. But the collection there was totally awesome and later on Good ole peter sir was sympathetic and allowed me to even borrow multiple books at the same time.

Alwaye Municipal Library
Post school, through out my engineering days this was the library to go into whenever I was at home. For a Municpal library this was extremely well maintained and had a quaint stacking system. The members cannot go over and choose books but had to go thru a list of books and give our choices to the attendants who will then recover the same if they were available. This system sadly doesn’t allow for lucky accidents (when u just stumble on an author who then becomes ur fav) and with typical govt service attitude kinda attendants becomes a major pain.

Thrissur Public Library
The Cultural capital of Kerala can surely be proud of the library it owns. Huge collection, extremely friendly and knowledgeable librarians, frequent conferences with literary people easily make this place the best library I have ever been to. This is also the place where I lucked out on a complete collection of Bernard Shaw’s plays. Having read the entire book, I thought about not returning the book and paying the fine (the book was out of print) but then somehow I returned the book.

Total Number of Books I Own: Should be close to 400 and increasing at the rate of about 3 per month. I beg borrow and steal books and behave like an absolute asshole when someone wants to borrow a book from me. That sure helps me in increasing the pace of my book collection drive

Last Book Bought: The Piano Teacher

Last Book Read: A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe. One of my current favorite authors, the book is about a larger than life real estate tycoon in Atlanta. Set in the 1990’s, this is not as good as some of his other works but quite interesting

Books That Mean That Extra To me

I cannot put them in any order. Even the thought fills me with dread. So i am doing a random listing. The list is bound to favor my recent readings not by choice but by my considerably short memory. I have also removed some of the books which have come up in other similar posts for the sake of brevity (not that I have succeded in the effort!)

Bernard Shaw

He is the god!!!!, I accidentally came across four of his plays in a pavement shop and has fallen in luv with his writing ever since. For biting social sarcasm you will never find his match. His social satires can make you laugh n think at the same time. Having read all the plays written by him, my favs are Devil’s Disciple, Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Mrs: Warren’s Profession. All these books are available free on internet at Project Guttenberg

Last Temptation of Jesus Christ

Yep, this is the book that’s still on the Index maintained by Vatican. This book is a fictional attempt to strip the cloak of myth away from Jesus Christ. Nikos Kazantzakis never said this book is the ultimate truth about Christ, but this book portrays Christ as a human being prone to temptations and worries just like any of us. This should be in the reading list of any Christian and for that matter any compassionate human being. Ultimately, this book for all its failings (and there are many historical fallacies) manage to portray Jesus as an individual whom we can respect as one of our own (and not just as the mythical son of god). I am sure MT Vasudevan was inspired by this when he wrote Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha. The reversal of roles by Chadiyan Chanthu and Judas are strikingly similar.

The man who knew infinity

I rarely read biographies, because they usually are biased (for or against the character). But this is one of the best biographies I have ever read. The biography tracks the famed Indian mathematician, Ramanujam’s life, struggle, success and ultimately tragic death. A must read for ever Indian and anyone who is even remotely interested in mathematics. To me the book was even more interesting as I read this book while in Chennai and almost all the landmarks during the life of Ramanujam are still present there. Too bad that such a great book about one of the finest Indian mathematicians had to be written by an American. Mebbe one day we will see this book made into a movie jez like “A beautiful Mind”.

Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

This is the story of the wild days of America in the 60’s. Even the most conservative magazines such as wall street journal and Economist later hailed this book as the classic story of those times. This is the story of the Author hooking up with the celebrated novelist Ken Kesey as Kesey and his group of wild, LSD driven hippies travel around US of A in a painted bus. Quite a heavy reading this book is, almost as if the author himself was under the influence of LSD when he wrote it. But as an authentic account of that era, no other book matches this one. For people like us, who never experienced those innocent, free outpouring of hope and emotions, this is our guide to the swinging sixties.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

It is very rare when the hero of a classic book writes a classic of his own. The demonic hero of Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Ken Kesey, wrote this classic novel. McMurphy is the classic loner Hero and Chief Broom is the deeply troubled narrator in this book where the slow but inevitable movement towards tragedy is so overwhelming that it is a relief when the end happens. Chief Broom’s narration about how degrading life can made to be in an asylum can move you (it definitely moved me) into tears. Made in to an eponymous film starring Jack Nicholson (perfect portrayal of Mac), the book also was butchered into a Malayalam movie called Thalavattam by priyadarshan.

Loneliness of the long distance runner

Considered to be the all time classic longish short story on the mind of runners. This is strictly not a book on running, not even a book on runners (for this you should try “Once a Runner” a fav of mine), rather this book is all about the psyche of the rebel. Many of my fav books have had heroes who are loners and rebels. Occasionally I fancy myself as the torch bearer of those great souls. These are souls whom you can admire even when you don’t want to emulate them. The book is actually a collection of short stories but the best and the longest one has the same title as the book. This story is about a teenager in a juvenile correction home, who rebels against the system (portrayed by the chief warden) even when he knows that obedience will ease his life while dis-obedience will make his life a hell! The way he rebels is intriguing but his thoughts while committing the act of rebellion is pure classic. Somehow I was reminded of Catcher in the rye while reading this book and trust me Holden Caulfield pales in comparison to the teenage long distance runner

Against the gods

No this is no story of an atheist. This book is about the story of “Risk” as it developed over ages. “Risk” as in financial transactions or esoteric mathematics. I enjoyed this book because Bernstein (whose other memorable books include Power of Gold and Capital ideas) yet again managed to take a complicated academic subject and managed to make the book knowledgeable and interesting to all readers of all ilk.

Daivathinte Vikruthikal

I wanted to include one Malayalam book among my favorites here. I have read lotsa mal authors. My all time fav is Mukundan (who I believe deserve a nobel prize, neither Rushdie nor marquez has handled magical realism as well as he did) but other favs include MT, Malayattoor, OV Vijayan and Thakazhi. But for my all time fav book in Malayalam I will have to commit sacrilege and chose the above mentioned book by Mukundan and pass over OV Vijayan. Kazhakinte Ithihasangal might be the book that heralded the new literature in Malayalam but by the time I read this book (just over a few months ago) I had heard so much about the book that it almost disappointed me (my expectations were sky high). On the other hand, Daivathinte Vikruthikal was such an amazing story. Mukundan is one author who has managed to uniquely portray Mayyazhi as it was during the French colonial period and as it is now (as part of India). But more importantly, he was there to record the transition. The result is two classic books Mayyazhipuzhayude Theerangalil and Daivathinte Vikruthikal, the latter being my fav!

Ah well there are lotsa other books, hopefully I will get to write about them later. This was one of the most difficult posts for me to write. But having written, I am glad I finally did it. Thank u Silverine :)