A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

T for Tolkien #AtoZChallenge

Note from the Indian Hagrid:

For a change, today, the post is written by a fellow bookworm and a friend of mine.

The talented Kishor Lakshminarayanan writes @ Blind Man’s Bluff

Over to Kishor

T

Author Name: J R R Tolkein

What can be said about the man who wrote the “one book to rule them all”? J.R.R. Tolkien, a man with a name befitting the characters in his books has inspired generation after generation with his work in the fantasy genre. Rightfully called the “father” of modern fantasy literature, Tolkien had firm roots in the past as his branches spread to the future. How you ask? Let me explain.

My first tryst with Tolkien’s work was “The Hobbit”, which a cousin gifted me on my 13th birthday. I think it was when the movies on LOTR were still being released and I got the prequel book. I later read LOTR as well and this was a time I was so much into fantasy with the whole Harry Potter mania sweeping across the globe. Though it was strongly apparent how Rowling’s work in Harry Potter was inspired from Tolkien’s works in LOTR. We all know how the whole Horcruxes was strangely familiar to the one ring and not to mention the burden of carrying one with you and the effects it has and so on, but I digress. When I said Tolkien has roots in the past, I meant the general story structure of his novels. The similarity between Harry and Tolkien’s works are there even in the Philosopher’s Stone. Tolkien’s work followed an 8-point story arc structure. A staple in most fantasy novels that came even before The Hobbit, such as Cinderella and a lot the Grimm Brothers’ works, the 8-points are as follows,

Stasis

Trigger

Quest

Surprises

Critical Choice

Climax

Reversal

Resolution

Stasis is the everyday life of our protagonist. Let’s take The Hobbit as an example. Bilbo is an ordinary hobbit leading a normal life in the shire. Trigger is an event that usually makes our protagonist go on the quest. Here we have Gandalf arriving with the band of dwarves that soon leads them to go on a quest. The quest is peppered with surprises in the form of events and new characters. This is essential there to keep the audience entertained as the story moves forward, until we reach the critical choice. Bilbo decides to keep the Arkenstone from Thorin. This leads to the climax, the battle of five armies. The reversal is the consequence of the critical choice and climax. Bilbo tries to use the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip and has a fall out with Thorin and at the end of the battle they reconcile. Resolution is the end of the current story where the protagonist reaches a new stasis, Bilbo returns to the shire a wealthy hobbit with a life-time of memories but also in possession of the ring. The new stasis will lead to the same cycle being repeated again in LOTR.

Now that I’ve broken the structure down, I’m sure it is easy to see the similarity between The Hobbit and The Philosopher’s Stone and even the other books in the same series and countless other classics. But it is not the structure alone that makes a story great, it is the world the writer creates and the characters that are flawed, interesting, and palpable.

Blogging 2017

Always on Repeat (Part 10 – The Kishore Kumar Playlist)

This list is

  1. Inspired my dad’s favorites (10 of about 85 – 90 songs, didn’t count)
  2. AKA the ‘sleep playlist’ – the one I used to hear when I was a kid to put myself to sleep. Sometimes even now.
  3. Full of songs I don’t really understand the depth or meaning of, because the language is a barrier. But is not, not for the enjoyment at least.
  4. The only thing I will hear when I want a voice that is both strong and soothing
  5. The list that has the songs my dad and I will belt out with happy and deep voices on lazy Sunday evenings.
  6. And thus, is incredibly special.

Tere Mere Milan Ki Ye Raina – Abhimaan 

This is a very special song, needless to say. One of the very first songs I’d heard when I learnt to individually appreciate the music, this song reminds me of a couple close to my heart, who linger in my memories and who sang this song with as much depth as the original. This post is a tribute to them, my favourite uncle and aunt!

Is Mod Se Jaate Hain – Aandhi

There is something about the haunting quality of this melody. I searched for the lyrics and learned them. And for this, I thank all my friends who have praised Gulzar and made me realise the importance of the meaning of the lyrics as much as the music. That made me love the song more because I could appreciate it better. The haunting voices and the meaning behind the song are what make it special.

Mere Saamne Wali Khidki Mein

This song is here purely for he fun aspect. I love this song mainly for its playful tone and though I didn’t understand this, my strongest memories of this song are my father making funny voices as he sang this because it made me giggle as a toddler, then as a kid, then as a teen, and now… you get the drift!

Yeh Kya Hua – Amar Prem

A drunkard’s song, more philosophical in nature, the subtitled version on YouTube remained as a video in my mobile for a long time because I was fascinated by the actor. One of my earliest crushes. Not minding his age, not minding that he was older than my grandfather!

Chingari Koi Bhadke – Amar Prem

The sad boat song. That is the name I had given to this song. I was fascinated by the sleep-inducing nature of the song. The standing joke in my family is that I had never heard the end of this song because I invariably fell asleep. I didn’t even know the movie name until recently

Jeevan Se Bhari – Safar

The different inflections of this song, another sleep song, I only recently appreciated the nuances of this because someone close to my heart wanted me to, and since then, this has been a special favourite. It is funny how the same song can stand for two different strong memories, both happy beyond measure.

Kuch Toh Log Kahenge – Amar Prem

One of my favourite songs ever, if I had to take the face value of it by the translation of the lyrics internet has offered to me. The song I hear whenever I want to understand that ‘people will say things; it is their business to talk’. This song has singularly calmed me down, often giving me reasons to smile after a tiring or exhausting day.

Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – Guide

This song I heard as part of a special Kishore Kumar CD that was gifted to me from another fan. The special version of this song had voice overs from other people explaining the song and praising the greatness of the singer, and thought I didn’t quite understand, I got a friend to translate and completely agree with the opinions expressed!

Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi – Aandhi

The conversational nature of the song, and the expression of love, hopes and a strange sense of exhilaration (at least that is what I feel when I hear it) are what make this my favourite. From a very controversial movie, which I have not seen much to the chagrin of my father (it is one of this favorites) this song is chosen about many other songs in my playlist and I follow the inflections here more than I would any other normal song.

Mere Naina Saawan Baadhon – Mehbooba

My list can never be complete without this song. This is special because of many reasons, many people and many memories. There are a thousand reasons why this song should have been the first in this list but according to me, this is also for a fitting finale. I love everything about this song, and fervently thank the person who gifted me the CD from which I first heard it.

This song took me back on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It is easily one of my favorites ever, because it made me reminisce about golden moments.

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

S for Stroud #AtoZChallenge

S

Author’s Name: Jonathan Stroud.

The Book(s):

Jonathan Stroud is the author of many books including the Bartimaeus series and the Lockwood and Co, series. The book I am going to talk about here is ‘The Ring of Solomon’. There are some series books you like for the author’s writing style, some others for the stories but there are some stories you love only because your favourite characters are seen in them.

For me, an ardent fan of this sequence of books, this book was a special one. Bartimaeus the djinni is one of my top ten favourite literary characters ever. Swashbuckling and cheeky by his own admission, the djinn captured the imagination of the reader in me. The Ring of Solomon was the story that gave the back story of the series, the early exploits of the djinni Bartimaeus and for me that filled the gaps I had in the series and made it all the more interesting.

The Author:

Jonathan Stroud is the author of fantasy books, and books for children and young adults. He has written the famous Bartimaeus sequence and the Lockwood and Co. series. His first book published in May 1999 was Buried Fire. The Bartimaeus series was a bestselling trilogy of books (the Ring of Solomon is a prequel).  The sarcastic and slightly egomaniacal djinni Bartimaeus is a famous character across the world.

The Memories:

The Bartimaeus series books have a special memory associated with them. I first read them during a memorable train journey. Curiously enough, it was a co passenger who gave me the book she was reading because the cover art fascinated me. I had not heard of the author before nor had I heard of the book’s title. I assumed it was something related to ‘Arabian Nights’ (Blaming the word djinni here), and was surprised to see it was not. I finished that book in that journey, and gained a friend for a lifetime. We were both in the same area, but it took us twenty years to meet each other on a journey that took us both away from home. Books recommend the best of friends indeed!

#AtoZChallenge #SforStroud

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

R for Rowling #AtoZChallenge

R

Author’s Name: Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

The Book(s):

JK Rowling is the author of the cult Harry Potter series, and needs no further introduction. This post is dedicated to the universe she created, and I am not limiting it to one book of the series. Though I love them all in different levels, I cannot single one out. The journey began for me in my early teens, and I remember reading the first book over the course of one evening. I was so engrossed with that first line that I wrote it in a diary / journal I had maintained back then and adorned it with little flowers, so I’d forever remember that first line.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.”

And from there, there was no looking back. I had rushed to the library to borrow the next book in the series, but the librarian was not really surprised. He had seen too many potterheads in his life for this to seem odd. He had reserved the next book for me, and I remember thanking him profusely. The rest of the events are a blur, but I remember traveling with Harry, and not only Harry, but everyone else. For the few hours I read those books, I learned in Hogwarts, I saw the Christmassy postcard village of Hogsmeade, and drank it all in with an unnatural thirst.

The Author:

J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter and inspired a whole generation. Millions of people across all ages grew up with the books, and those who’d already grown up read them and absorbed them, only to inspire the next generation to read. She has also written companion books to the series, and other books (The Cormoran Strike mysteries) under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. But to me, she will always be the author who created the gateway fandom, the woman who lost her billionaire status by charity, the woman who fought real life demons and incorporated mythical forms of them into her books, and the woman who taught me the importance of many things in life I’d thought were insignificant. A paragraph is not enough for me to talk about her.

The Memories:

Since Rowling is a very special author, both for me and a lot of my friends, I decided to do something different for this post alone. I had asked all of my friends their comments about the world of Harry Potter, and all the responses were individual gems I shall forever cherish. I am presenting them here as a separate post!

#AtoZChallenge #RforRowling

Blogging 2017

Oh My Rowling!

I should have known, when I asked my fellow Potterheads to share their memories and feelings about the Potter Universe, I could not really contain it in one post. So as a dedication to this special person, the author who definitely made a great change in our lives, I am writing a separate post here where I give the comments of my friends.

The comments were generated as reply to a post in Facebook and have been presented as is with no modifications. The memories range from happy to pensive to grateful, and there are multiple emotions in this single post! This shall forever be cherished.

 

“I thank the Queen with all of my heart. The woman wrote Harry Potter series and gave us a chance to fly inside that extraordinary imaginative world of Hogwarts, the series which cast a spell upon me with its very first chapter, and that fascination remained untouched till the last book.                

This is the only book series I would cherish to my grave.”

Aditti Gaur

 

“After reading the Deathly Hallows, I felt the world was not worth living in, if there was no more magic for me to look forward to. Yes, I was seriously depressed when the series ended.”

– Kala Ravi Sarathy

 

“Rowling is the real fairy god mother to most of the grownups now who had experienced her magic when they were kids. She told us it’s okay to be a bit mad; okay to stand up against our own friends at sometimes; okay to follow the spiders and okay to have a giant friend in our lives!

– Priyanka N Ram

 

“I stopped reading Harry Potter after the fifth book came out. Because I was really uninterested in the whole teenage angst thing that Harry was going through. And the pink custard lady was a drag. But, I picked it up about four years ago after my cousins pulled an all-nighter and explained to me about Snape, Dumbledore and just everything and I was like ok. Let’s do this. Now I read the whole series once a year. :)”

– Aarthi V Raman

 

“I grew up with Harry and his friends. I spent hours, picturising myself with the black robes, sorting out classes and learning spells. I laughed when Hermione got back from the Hospital wing, I was scared when a bunch of spiders chased Ron, I was jubilant when harry won the first task, fighting the dragon, all by himself and broke apart when Sirius died. I belong to that generation, that had mothers tearing HP books apart, because their kids read them beneath the bedsheet, well beyond their bedtimes. It was magical.

Harry Potter and his friends, each of them, are an integral part of my life and I sure am gonna make it mandatory for my kids to read the books.”

– Megha Sreeram

 

“After reading whole series of harry potter , more could I ask to Rowling to never stop writing about magic. Thank you for showing the true meaning of love and friendship. Real magic is with your loved ones. “

Shhruti Parekh

 

“I am currently reading A song of ice and fire of GOT series. I went to bed with a lot of food for thought. And when I woke up, the first thought I had was bathilda Bagshot. Not Ned. Not Aarya. Not even the mother of dragons, the khaleesi. It was bathilda Bagshot who greeted me in the morning and I was like “Rowling is as much a part of my papez circuit as is the hypothalamus.”

 P.S: It was involuntary. I am no huge fan of Mrs.Bagshot and yet I am wondering how even a very small character of HP series lingers over the protogonists of other series in our (potter)heads”.

 – Aparajitha Nagesh

 

“I am 34 and I am re-reading the entire Harry Potter series again after around 10-12 years. I am absolutely loving it.”

– Avishek Gupta

 

“I was 11. My classmates mostly ignored me or bullied me because I was a know-it-all. I used to read my school books in summer holidays. People thought it was weird. Also, I was friends mostly with guys. That’s when a classmate of mine was raving about Harry Potter. My mom didn’t allow me to purchase it as she thought novels are an expenditure. After searching a lot, she found a library that had this book – I borrowed and read it. That’s it – no more looking back 🙂 Harry Potter became my childhood, my adolescent, and my life. Even now, when I feel depressed, all I do is pick a HP book and read it – Magic, as they rightly say ❤ “

Srilakshmi Indrasenan

 

“I first read the Harry Potter books years ago in Germany when they came out. Two friends of mine and I would read them at the same time and then discuss things heatedly. 😀 Some years ago, I re-read the whole series in English and fell in love with it again. I still remember certain scenes or re-read a particular chapter, and I still find it impossible to choose a favourite out of the whole series”

– Devika Fernando

 

“My college days was so fun and Harry potter was one of the main reason. I remember the days where my friends will beg me to stop telling harry potter tales. Yes i used to annoy them a lot. But i have made quiet few to be a harry Potter fan. Happy days. What if a cat sees a yarn? That’s what Harry potter mean to me. I will go crazy same as cat. Will the thrill ever end? Never in my lifetime. I will make sure my daughter to be a HARRY POTTER fan too. (MOTHER’s DREAM). He he he he he he.”

Devika Ramadoss

 

“I read all the books in one after the other, almost 7 years ago. They are still fresh in my mind, I was a new mother then and Harry found a place in my heart. He is still there. Always. <3”

 – Inderpreet Kaur Uppal

 

He swoops like a bat, and acts like a git,

None is more sneaky than him even a bit.

His heart was in the wrong place, he made it right,

He died seeing green eyes, making the wizarding world bright.

—————————————————–

His eyes are green as his mother,

Or is it the colour the the failed curse?

He suffered much, seldom showing a bother,

To prevent others to suffer a fate much worse.

 

He tackled emotional abuse,

Since a younger age.

He was for bullies’ amuse,

Due to his cousin’s rage.

 

He came up above, due to his courage,

Though we say it as luck.

He withstood all of death fleer’s barrage,

And killed him with the same said luck.

  • Srivathsan V Iyengar

(Special thanks from me for these thoughtful poems about Severus Snape and Harry Potter!)

“My love for Harry Potter series increased with each book in the series . My all time favourite book is the seventh book :)”

Deepan Anand

“Read the books! Don’t depend on the movies for the story.”

 – Summerita Rhayne

 

 “I started reading Harry Potter after four volumes in the series had come out. I got hooked after reading The Philosopher’s Stone and couldn’t stop till I finished reading The Goblet of Fire. When The Order of the Phoenix came out, I pre-booked at the bookshop went there on the first day, stood in the queue and got it. I was the tallest ‘kid’ there 😀 I did the first-day-first-show thing with the last two HP books too. I loved the first five Potter books. It is hard to tell which is my favourite. At one point it was The Philosopher’s Stone, at another point it was The Goblet of Fire. I need to read them all again and try to see which one I like more now. I thought The Half Blood Prince had too many revelations and Rowling could have made it longer and could have split it up into two volumes. I didn’t like The Deathly Hallows much – I thought the climax, the final battle with Voldemort, was a damp squib. Sorry 😦 I recently read a novel called Judas by Amos Oz. That book proposes a theory which says that Judas wasn’t the betrayer but he was the closest and most favourite disciple of Jesus. It also says Judas did what Jesus commanded him to do – get the authorities to arrest him – so that Jesus can really prove that he is the Son of God. When I read that, I immediately remembered the ending of The Half Blood Prince in which Snape kills Dumbledore. I cried after I read that. I hated Snape. I wanted bad things to happen to him. Of course, it is revealed in The Deathly Hallows that Snape was following Dumbledore’s instructions and he hated doing it. I remembered that, when I read Amos Oz’ book. I realized the kind of depth that Rowling has in her book is amazing. I didn’t realize that there was so much subtext in HP. We learn new things from it everyday. I would have never discovered the Jesus-Judas reference in HP, if I hadn’t read Amos Oz’ book. The sad news is that we will never see the likes of the HP series again. Even Rowling’s later work hasn’t measured up to this.

– Vishy

“Rowling- She brought magic into my life when I desperately needed it, she is the fairy godmother that I had always yearned for, she taught me love, trust, friendship and happiness, she made me realize how grateful I should be for having a family that loves me, cares for me and keeps me safe and healthy at all times, she gave me my first crush/love which will remain special to me ALWAYS, she taught me that not everything that looks black is evil and not everything that looks white is pure, she taught me that a bully of a man is capable of loving someone unconditionally while a gentle, loving old man is capable of letting power go to his head. Most of all she taught me that LOVE is the most powerful magic that exists in this world ❤”

– Aishwarya Sudha Narayanan

 

“Harry Potter was bullied by Dudley, then Rowling herself was bullied for her politics. Just as Harry stood up, so did Rowling. It’s one reason why we love her.

So when I heard that some Potter fans bullied others because they didn’t have new books, I stood up.

You can write Harry Potter off as a children’s book, but there are some lessons within its pages that some adults still need to learn.”

 -Jean Burke Spraker

(Personal thanks for this very, very special memory which is significant for me to, in a way)

“You made me experience the mystical world of HP. I will be always thankful to you, my Lord. HP healed me. I read it during a crucial stage of my life and it kept me grounded. HP is a way of life. It must be taught to the upcoming generations. ❤❤”

Kavya Janani

 

“The rest of my life is about finding things that’ll take me into a happy pink bubble like HP did. An enjoyable experience can be rated from 1 to HP. They were more than books. They were an immersive experience. I have an immediate connection with other potterheads and I think potterheads are smart funny loyal and trustworthy.”

-Janani Baskaran

(This quote somehow summed up what I wanted to say.)

“I grew up with Harry, He’s just like that friend you turn to when life grips you with it’s horrible claws. I was a difficult kid in my adolescence and fought with my parents often. It was my 16th birthday and I received my first ever gift from my father. A hard cover “Harry Potter and the deathly hallows” hardcover copy from Higginbothams. It still remains my most treasured property, kept safe to be handed down to my daughter. Heck ! Am writing life lesson quotes based on the HP series… That needs a special kind of crazy.”

– Krupa Kadir

 

“I love Harry Potter Series….so many things I love about it but since its been real long since I read them, I’m not really able to say much. Nevertheless, I do remember how I was trying to draw parallels between stuff in it and stuff from our mythology and films. The whole green light that flashes during the killing curse for instance…seeing it on big screen, I was like ‘Omg, fighting with these spells is just like fighting with astrams in our epics, same light effect, smoke effect etc etc..” This made me feel more close to the series…and also how these days its the trend to go gaga over and totally adore the antagonist more than the protoganist be it in tamil films or hollywood films or even tv series….well for many this trend started off when they fell in love with the “joker” played by late heath ledger but for me it started way earlier when i liked and literally hero worshipped “voldemort” when they reveal about his past in half blood prince. I think HP was what made me realize that its not always about the “hero”, sometimes the supporting characters are far more fascinating and likeable.

Sowmya Lakshmi

And that, I guess, is the power of the Potter Universe. I am speechless after all this.

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

Q for Quindlen #AtoZChallenge

Q

Author’s Name: Anna Quindlen

The Book(s):

Anna Quindlen has written many books including ‘Black and Blue’, ‘Still Life with Bread Crumbs’, ‘One True thing’, ‘Every Last One’ etc. The book I am doing to discuss here is ‘One True Thing.’

Having lost near and dear ones to cancer and having watched the dreadful disease in all its full glory, I should say the book touched a raw nerve and mercilessly reopened all the wounds that had only recently scabbed. The book was an awakening for me, and though I should have prepared myself by reading the summary (I usually do that), I didn’t this time because the recommendation came from someone whose book recommendations I value so much. I kept turning the pages mindlessly, and I did not read the story – I lived it. Every new page brought me something to think about, and every new revelation about the vagaries of human relationships made me rethink the farce that every life is. I began the book early one morning and didn’t put it down until late afternoon, and in the time in between when I went about monotonous chores, my mind wandered back and forth between the pages of the book.

Will I write a review for this? I guess not. Via Ellen and Kate, Anna Quendlin has shown her deepest understanding about human relationships, about how even the most sacred of a mom – child relationship will never be about two-way love and how the love between couples is not what it seems to be. It is the subject more than the writing that got to my mind and hit way too close to my comfort zone. The terrorising slow-killer that cancer is, and all the hope of a remission and subsequent five stages of denial as the ultimate end arrives (and it is always shocking when it does) have all been brought forth beautifully. Ellen’s worry about her love life and career but ultimately her choice to stay with her mother, her slow understanding about her father’s real nature and realisation about how her mother had always held the backseat, and above all, Kate, who always knew everything but put her priorities on her love instead of pointing out faults with the people she loved, they were all very realistic human emotions that stood in my mind.

This book has become a movie, and stars my favorite actor, Meryl Streep.  But it will take some time for me to recover and prepare myself to see it. The book has left me with a hangover that will take me some time to recover from.

The Author:

Anna Quindlen is a successful author with many international bestsellers to her credit. She’s also a journalist and has authored eight novels, and one memoir. Her books have been regular in the NYT bestseller lists. She was a columnist at The New York Times. She has won the Pulitzer Prize and has many more such laurels to her name

The Memories:

I have no particular memory associated with the book because I read it only recently for this challenge. But, I sincerely thank my good friend and fellow bookworm Vishy for suggesting this book to me. I will be reading this again after some time, and in between its pages, I will find the salve to soothe the memories, and calm myself. This book will be a great addition to my bookshelf when I get the paperback of it soon. Some books are powerful memories by themselves but this book is powerful because of what it brings forth to my mind.

 

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

P for Patterson #AtoZChallenge

P

Author’s Name: James Patterson

The Book(s):

James Patterson has written many books in solo and also collaborating with many authors. His famous Alex Cross Series, Middle School Series and Women’s Murder Club series are all international bestsellers. The book I am going to talk about here is ‘First to Die’ – the first of the fifteen (as of now) books in the WMC series.

The lead characters are four women, with Detective Lindsay Boxer of SFPD narrating parts of the book in first person. A strange and shocking couple of murders occur in a hotel suite of a newly wed couple and detective Boxer is called to investigate. From there, the team of four women, a Medical Examiner, a determined Crime Reporter, an Attorney get together and solve the crime. Dubbing themselves the Women’s Murder Club, these women use all their brains and resources to find the root cause of the troubling murders. I love the characters more than the stories and have special attachment towards this series.

The Author:

James Patterson is the author of many successful, bestselling novels with an international fan base. He is popular for his series novels and his singles, most of which are in collaboration with other authors. I love only a few books of Patterson, but am very appreciative of his endeavours to make children read again. He has been very instrumental in bringing back the reading habit of middle school children in the US with his many ventures, and that is one main reason why he is a favourite author.

The Memories:

I chanced upon the first book in the WMC from the bookshelf of a very dear friend. I saw this copy tucked among other authors, but what drew me in the most to this was the state of the book – dog eared, smeared with ink blotches and in general sight a far cry away from her usually meticulous and clean bookshelf maintenance. The history of the copy was then given, and it had passed onto her from nearly five previous owners and was a treasured copy. I got it from her for reading, and I have that copy now, a pride of place in my cupboard, forever in the memory of a girl who loved books.

#AtoZChallenge #PforPatterson

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

O for Orwell #AtoZChallenge

O

Author’s name: George Orwell

The Book(s):

George Orwell is the author of many famous books including 1984 and Animal Farm. The book I am going to discuss in this post is The Animal Farm, originally known as A Fairy Story, an allegorical novella. This book was clearly a political satire, but was still enjoyable without the underlying meaning and implications. Orwell was himself a democratic socialist and his novels reflected his opinions.

The Animal Farm held more importance for me because it was something I had always wanted to read but something prevented me from sitting down to it. It being a banned book in some places only increased my interest. I finished it in under six hours with considerable gaps in reading but it did not quite match my expectation. I had a recent experience with another allegorical novella and though I did not find the nature appealing, this book is something I loved reading. The best thing I noticed was that it worked as a direct story as well as it worked as allegory.

The author:

George Orwell is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, who lived in the early half of twentieth century. He was a famous English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His works focused on the prevalent social injustice and open support of democratic socialism. He was a famous literary critic, poet and polemical journalist.

The Memories:

There are no special memories associated with this book, because I began reading this only for the A to Z challenge. I had always wanted to read this though, as I’d read a lot about both this book and the insanely famous dystopian novel 1984. I loved his writing very much, because it held my attention despite the distractions and for that, I will also subsequently read the other book.

#AtoZChallenge #OforOrwell

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

N for Narayan #AtoZChallenge

N

Author’s name: R K Narayan

The Book(s):

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayanaswami (better known as R K Narayan) is the famous author of many books including The English Teacher, Swami and Friends, The Bachelor and other beautiful novels. The book I am going to discuss here, though, is Swami and Friends. This is a semi fictional, semi autobiographical tale of a small town boy, Swami, who resides in the fictional town of Malgudi. The book was so successful and was a readers’ favourite. It was also adapted into a TV series and as a movie.

I love the original, charming writing that fills this book. It brought to my mind’s eye the fictional town of Malgudi in perfect detail and it also told me the tale of a little boy who grew up here. This was the first RK Narayan book I read and naturally I was as charmed as every other person. The book holds special memories for me and I loved it so much that I began reading all his other works with a single minded focus.

The Author:

RK Narayan is a famous Indian author who has created a fictional town of Malgudi and has made it popular by populating it with interesting characters. He has written many books, most of which are filled with relatable characters and resonate with the Indian readers. His unassuming writing style and the visual descriptions are his unique writing characteristics. And his success lay in making his readers live in Malgudi as they turned the pages to read more about its inhabitants.

The Memories:

This book is incredibly close to my heart, and is very, very special. Not a week goes by when I don’t thank my English teacher for tenth standard, Mrs. Rajeswari. She redefined teaching methods and encouraged my reading habits to a greater extent by pointing out the right books I need to take up. She diversified my habits and made me read different genres. She introduced many gems to me, and this book remains the first of her many recommendations. I had her as a teacher for only one year, but that was the most eventful year of my life. She taught us that some teachers can go beyond teaching and educating and remind us of the bigger picture, even when faced with something so strenuous as school board examinations. This book was handpicked for me from her local library and I will never forget the expression on her face as she flourished it out of her handbag like Santa Claus pulling out a toy from his gift bag. And, on that day, I learnt what it is to be excited about books. I remember the hour long discussion I had with her about the book after reading it in one sitting, and the deep inputs she gave for the same. My profession today would have made her proud, I am sure. And for that, I thank the stars in my life.

#AtoZChallenge #NforNarayan

A to Z 2017, Blogging 2017

Always On Repeat (Part – 9, the ‘old’ songs)

So this post is for some heavy level nostalgia, if I could call it that. Instead of writing about the songs that defined my childhood and teens, I traverse into the era before mine. I am going to collectively call these ‘old songs’ in the reference that any song that released before the year 1980 as ‘old’. This is mainly because I have no other large or accurate classification to collectively call these songs.

As is usual, the actual playlist contains about 34 songs, but the ones listed here are the top ten based on the MRU of my playlist.

Unnai Thaan Naan Ariven – Vaazhkai Padagu

This song is special for so many reasons. The memories associated with it, the lyrics, the beautiful rendition, and of course, the actress who is a personal favorite. The song remains one of those on my ‘permanent playlist’. I never skip this song if it comes on shuffle, and it is filled with so much of positivity, hope and good memories that this song holds a lot of significance. The lyrics, of course, hold me spellbound every time, invariably leaving me with a smile on my face.

Maharajan Ulagai Aalalaam – Karnan

The whole Karnan album was a musical hit. There are many songs in this album including the much more popular ‘Ullathil nalla ullam’ and ‘En Uyir Thozhi’ numbers. But this song is a favorite mainly because of the singers, both of whom I adore. The exceptional performance (I have never seen the actual visual) and the emotions put in the rendition make this a special song.

Chinna Kannan Azhaikiraan – Kavikkuyil

There are more than two versions of this song, but I am mentioning the one sung by the famous classical singer Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna. The great singer’s voice enthralls me in his classical songs, (especially his special touch to the Ramadasu Keerthanalu) and there are only two songs of his in movies that I love the best. This is one, and the other is the very famous ‘Oru Naal Podhuma’. This song is here purely for the voice. And the flute bits.

Dheivam Thantha Veedu – Aval Oru Thodarkathai

I somehow feel that the golden era of music is that which had all types of songs to fit all moods. More than the romantic and melodious numbers or the peppy party songs, some such songs that offer a philosophical perspective are my favorites. They are songs for all moods, the neutralisers, the ones that even out the white noise of music. This song is a personal favorite because of the voice.

Aayiram Nilave Vaa – Adimai Penn

This movie and subsequently the music album are famous for different reasons. Not going into the history of the movie or its songs, this song remains a favorite because it is one of the earliest songs sung by my favorite playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam. This song also stars my favorite cine actress, and political personality J Jayalalithaa, and is a landmark song for the many reasons.

Naalai Indha Velai Paarthu – Uyarndha Manithan

The award winning song that captured my attention the first time I heard it played out loud during a memorable bus journey in my native town. It was my first actual memory of the song though I might have heard it before. But since then, I neatly nicked it out of my father’s old songs collection and this got a pride of place in my playlist. The song I love to hear as much as I hate to see. The dubious distinction holds.

Punnagai Mannan Poovizhi Kannan – Iru Kodugal

A favorite movie, a favorite song, one of word play, hidden meanings, and much in depth reference to the actual plot of the movie. This song stuck in my head because I love to watch the movie (to the point where I never switch the channels when it is playing, much to the chagrin and amusement of my family members) and this song is the most memorable from that album.

Varavu Ettana Selavu Paththana – Bhama Vijayam

Another favorite movie, another favorite song. The classic family advice stuff rendered as a thought provoking, almost comical song. This album also contains two other favorite songs, one of which is a happy family song by co-sisters, but this one takes the cake because I invariably let out a laugh when I hear the lyrics penned by Kannadasan, and the scene acted out by little children.

Paramasivan Kazhuthilirundhu – Soorya Gandhi

The movie and its subject are almost laughing stock in today’s scenario but back when it hit the screens, the movie was a great hit due to the sacrificial lead role who endured every difficulty that could possibly arise just for the sake of the family she married into. Not quite relevant today, the movie gathers my respect for its subtle but sure portrayal of patriarchy and the wage differences between men and women. I love this song because of the presence of the poet himself on screen.

Indha Pachchai Kilikkoru – Nethikku Thalai Vanangu

Logically this should have been the first song in this list. But with other songs preceding this for various other reasons recently, this had been pushed down the list in my MRU. I like both the female and the male versions of this song, but the male version is the longer one and gets a small point more than the other version.

This list is curated from a random playlist that I keep adding to on a weekly basis as I unearth gems from my father’s collection or those I hear from TV. There is no particular rhyme or reason to the presence of these songs in the list, but they are all significant in some way.

P.S. :Easter special: there are hidden easter egg links in this post.