Saturday, 27 December 2008

Book review : The Fountainhead

A spectacle. This book is one of the strongest and heaviest books that I've read. Its strength is evident in almost each of its dialogue. Heavier on the mind with each page. It is not the one that you can while away your time with. It requires your full attention, if you are to understand it.

It has a good plot. One that brings out the virtues of the hero easily and shows at the same time how difficult it is to have them. The hero is portrayed brilliantly. I cannot think of anything else I've read that depicts the hero so wonderfully. It is conspicuous that each of the characters are built with a lot of thinking. The things written are not an outcome of a passing thought, but of one that took quite an effort on the part of Miss Rand, or no effort at all if one can be born with such rare talent.

There are five chief characters according to me. A simple plot, if one looks only on the outset. You have a victim, the man who wants only publicity. There is a villain, the one who pulls down all the things of greatness to mediocrity and with such ease that almost appears effortless. He is a power seeker and the worst bilge rat amongst the many that he rules over. There is a helpless bystander, who could well have been the hero but couldn't endure the path nor the resistance in the path. Not at the cost of his life's greatest work. Then there is the hero, the noble soul, the fountainhead of all achievement. And the heroine, the one who believes in the hero and suffers and endures it, though many times I felt she is deranged.

This is the story of a man against the world and its prejudice, human will against a blind majority. I do not believe in everything that has been said in this book, but I can say with conviction that what has been said was someone's greatest beliefs. You can see it in the way in which it is told.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, though in the middle and at more than a couple of occasions I felt quite annoyed. I must say that I couldn't put this book down even then.

There are some books that I can't compare to anything else, books that I don't feel should be compared with anything else and that it would only be an insult to it, and the mind behind it, if that were done. This one would go without any doubt into that category and I am glad that I've had the chance to read it. It is not often that one comes against something spectacular and notices that even after 49 years of its first release, it still is a best seller and that it has a long way to go.

Monday, 22 September 2008

That day in the sunset...

It was time for sunset when they were sitting there. They had come there for a drive, a thing that both of them love to do, more so when they were with each other. But he always hated driving. "I am sick of this traffic and pollution", he once said and she knew he wasn't ubercool. She always knew it. But far away from the city and its dust, they were happy that they drove there. She loved to come with him. Anywhere he was, she likes to be around. He was happy that it was mutual.

The trees beneath where they were were very thick. What this meant was that it formed a dark background behind her and it contrasted perfectly with the yellowish-orange salwar that she was wearing. As they were holding hands, a rather troubling frown covered her face. Those two wide eyes narrowed a bit as she was about to speak. She looked to him, opened her mouth and quickly dropped the thought as though it was forbidden. It was too late now, she knew. Everytime she had some stupid doubt, he would come and rub it off, as though it was a small dust speck on an otherwise flashing mirror. And everytime she thought it was better to shut her mouth than ask another one of those not-so-silly-to-me doubts, she would have already made her intentions clear that she was about to speak. Knowing this, he placed his arm across her lovingly, and asked what it was that dared to bother his darling.

"You shouldn't lie, okay?"

"Okay. You know I won't do that when I am with you"

"Okay then. It was something that this stupid guy was saying"

He wanted to say that it was foolish to think about anything else when they were together, but he knew he makes lots of mistakes and having quickly got this thought, he immediately rejected it and regretted having even had such a thought. Saying that would not only darken the mood, but also the vanilla who said it. He did what he should do. He listened.

"You see I am really not worried much about this. You know me. But sometimes it bothers one. Why should he be telling me things? I know it's just a joke. But sometimes it really bothers me. Sometimes you make such stupid jokes too. But not regarding this one and I know you won't", and she smiled. It seemed to make her happy that he didn't do many things that bothered her. Or having learnt that some things bother her, he began to avoid joking about them. She liked him for it. For changing himself to prevent making her sad.

Then as though someone was trying to hear her, she looked either ways, then looked straight at him and asked the million dollar question.

"Do I look fat?"

She paused. She was still wondering if she should have asked him that. But he was, as Rachel put it in Friends, "The apple of her eye" and she would ask him anything and everything. It wasn't even a second that she was in thought that she felt the arm across her shoulder loosen. "Have I said something wrong? No, I was just asking him. He loves me anyway, have I spoken anything else?"

The hand that loosened across her shoulder took her left hand, then clasped it with both his hands and said

"Dear sweet vanilla ice-cream, you look lovely" and then blinked both his eyes in a flash. This was something that he learnt from her, apart from learning to live, learning to love and many more. This was her signal of love and affection. That she liked him, even during the times when they were only friends. She felt happy now. She was expecting something like "It's the dress", "Not at all", but she knew she was a bit on the other side of the weighing machine's pointer.

A smile. Then a small giggle. It was more than a mere giggle. Then a hug.

"Am I really lovely? You know, I think that I am lovely too. But it was only my mom who said it first"

"Dearest, you were always lovely. I change the tense, you are always lovely. Even in that horrible nightgown that you wore that wednesday, you were charming. And now when the sun shines on your face and you look with those wide eyes with full of innocence, I'd bet those Greek warriors who launched those thousand ships would have said "ahoy there" and stopped filling fuel to stay till the sun went down. Now, they would've probably stayed on but I would be too angry to have you there in front of them and hence would have talked them into going to Troy for keeping their promise, however absurd it might be"

"That's sweet of you. You know you talk too much sometimes. Give explanations that are really out of the blue. But I like you for all these"

Then after she had him hugging her till her heart felt that it was now okay again, and until they rocked sideways for a good long time, she broke loose and scurried across to fetch her camera.

"Hey, it's a bit dark now. I should've taken it earlier. I will still get a print of this and write what you've told today"

"You remember all of it?"

"Not the garbage. Only.."


She giggled. "I like to do that to you. Okay baba, I remember most of it. If I ask you again, you would come up with another way of saying that. I know", she said smiling.

"Yeah, yeah. Apni hi kisi ada se poochlo. You are the one who makes me say things, so they're not entirely my words"

"Done, now. Lets go and have pani-puri"

" I thought you don't like them much"

"Yes, but you do. I'll be happy to see you eating"

She had that angel smile on her face again. That was her. She does things that make him happy whenever he makes her feel good about herself. Cursing why the sun sets so soon and thanking at the same time that she was with her during that sunset, he started his bike.

"It's a long dusty way back. Wanna do something to make up for this ?", he said with his mischeivous smile.

"Ahahaha. Idiot"

Not that he wanted anything apart from her majesty's presence the next time, but he wanted her to say that and smile again. Sometimes, being called an idiot actually makes him feel that he's on the top of the world.

Crazy are the ways of love.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Those Lucky Chimes

Ever wondered why those wind chimes of Feng Shui bring luck to the people who keep them in their houses? How can four hollow metal pipes hung in a room where most of the wind flows, bring the Lady Luck into their home ? This is just a musing.
Well, I am not going to answer these questions sensibly, but I’ll tell you what I feel about these chimes and the luck they bring. You see there are a number of things involved in this. First, we should agree upon what luck is and that depends mostly on whether you believe in it or not. Luck is something that happens out of the blue when you do all that you can and the rest is left to the other external factors. Good luck or bad luck depends on the individual. Good luck now, may, in the long run, be actually bad luck. Anyway, that is what I think of luck as, and you need not agree with it. No problem, amigos.
I’ll let go of the other things we should be aware of, thinking that you already know them. So you see, I was home the last Saturday and we had this wind chime hung in the middle of our hall, just beside the dining table and that’s a place where lot of wind flows. It was tinkling around and was pleasant on the ears. It felt good to hear that sound after all the noise I’d been through to reach my home. In the afternoon when I decided to rest (as I was feeling terribly tired, thanks to the new four lane roads from Hyderabad until Nizamabad, where we take a turn). Anyway, I just laid down on my bed and was going into deep sleep when I was interrupted, I mean when my sleep was interrupted. “Tinkle, tinkle”. I didn’t have much energy to open my eyes and look at what caused that. Owing to the deep slumber, my mind wasn’t functioning properly and it was only after a couple of minutes that I realised that it was those damn wind chimes that were causing a hindrance to my sleep. Of course, they need not be damned, but when you are out of sleep on a bumpy bus the whole night then you’d expect some solace when you are at home. The music was good though. But it was so occasional that it started to disturb me. I thought the whole point of having that was to soothe our mind and now here it was working against its whole purpose of existence. It was then that it dawned to me (you are free to disagree again) that may be this disturbance, this thing that I considered then as "nuisance" might have a meaning.
I thought about these mysterious four-piped metals and found that these things were hanging near the windows of many of my friends homes as well. But when I went back after a couple of weeks or a month, they were gone. Either they were packed and kept in the store room or they were moved to a place where the wind blows infrequently. Either way, they were not in the path of the wind anymore.
I asked others as well and they came back with the same reply “It tinkles quite frequently and in a manner which would make me go mad”. But now I think it is to be kept in windy places with a purpose. As you go on hearing it tinkle, you build patience. My inactivity, my laziness, my whatever-you-call-that-thing-when-you-can’t-wake-up, led me to the discovery that these chimes also build patience. And may be, just may be this might also be one of the reasons why it exists. As you build patience, you grow up to be a better person, you do things better way (or not!). Mostly, being patient pays off.
And this might just be one of those silly reasons that I search for. At least this discovery made me sleep that day amidst those tinkles, and not just sleep, a peaceful sleep.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

The King of Clay

Truly. Rafael Nadal is once again the French Open winner, beating Federer on clay again. He's got his fourth French Open cup in a row now. It's a real great inspiration to watch him play. But this time Federer wasn't his usual self. Didn't play well at all. Probably wasn't his day at all or did Nadal make him feel out of place? I don't know. But being a Nadal fan, I liked watching the match. I am just saying that I liked the match, not loved it. Because Federer wasn't at his best, and it would have been far interesting if Nadal beat him while he was at his best.

Anyway, now that the match is over, I look forward to watching the opening match of Spain. Hey, Euro 2008 is on. And viva Espanyol !

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Running to stand still

How can someone come up with something like that? Ever since I've heard these four words, I have been asking myself this one question. How can someone write words like that? Then it strikes to me that this work could only be that of the masters: U2.

From the time I've started to explore U2, they always came up with a new all-time high, be it through the guitar of The Edge, Mr.Clayton , or the beats of Mr.Mullen Jr, or different octaves that are distinctly Bono-ic or most importantly for me, the lyrics. Bono is truly a genious. He writes so well, sings through his heart and soul and you can feel music. That is what I consider truly marvelous. You have to feel music. That's what I say. It is universal, so is Love. And when it's U2, you have music and love. And then it forms a masterpiece. Period.

I'll like to talk more, even though you might argue that there are better bands (for which I say "okay. For each, his own"). I'd like you to listen to the songs sung by these artists. They are of top quality. And it just makes me wonder sometimes, why I wasn't aware of this earlier, why I wasn't there to see these men perform live. That's just me talking, talking. But coming to the point, you have to give yourself time to feel their music. Initially, I was attracted only by a few songs. It was only when I started listening to the others more carefully that I found how much I missed them. Everytime I listen to them, listen to a new song of theirs that I haven't already heard (Yes, I haven't heard all of theirs), I feel a new surge of emotions within me. Some of which I haven't myself found till now. Their music talks. Even the guitar talks.

Thank you U2 for opening a world full of possiblities to me. A world so full of Love and beauty. A world full of music.

If there's anything above the level called "fan", like being a worshipper, then I am that for U2. And I am sad that I find fewer fans, here in India.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The answer between saying Yes and No

Yes. There is mostly a way or two when you don't want to answer that troubling 'Yes' or 'No' question. Ofcourse, it depends on how well you handle the situation. If you are a novice, you still need to read that thin line between when to tweak things, and when not to. Simple or stupid as it may sound, the answer is this: Change the topic. Yes. It works, and it worked a number of times for me. Whenever you are faced with this question, try shifting the conversation to another topic which is well related.
Unless you are good at it, try not to change the topic abruptly. Mostly, good one-liners are a great way to change the subject. That solves most of the questions and gives you enough time to come up with a good answer, or better yet, lets you escape while the other person is still laughing because of your witty reply. I just make sure that I don't lie unnecessarily. Sometimes one-liners just pop out of the head. Sometimes you hear something but you change it to suit your style, your way, and then you might use that somewhere.
A word of caution. This is only for situations where you have to really get out of. Where you really don't want to say a 'yes' or a 'no'. In case you use that often, it would be paradise lost. And better not cheat. Broken hearts spell doom to your relationships and it costs a lot. Plus you'll be hurt too.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Did I say I want a leave ?

Considering that I thought I would be learning to take leaves, as a part of my "Equipping oneself with Real-time Job-Experience", a book that I once thought of writing as a part of all the drama's I'd have done, I can now say that I haven't been close to even being in the vicinity of "Being Successful". Sad. Pathetic, in fact. Coming to think of it, when I once took leave for the Telugu new year (Ugadi), my PL even commented "New year comes every year. But this project won't". And I knew it would be a tough time for my book. That I've taken that leave for the new year, is another point. But the thing is, falling down from keeping my regular health and mastering "The Art of Losing", my whole perception of taking the leave has changed. Too bad. I haven't thought that my plan would back fire right from my first place where the whole origin of the thought is challenged. Anyway, I had to take sick leave of almost two months which made my whole set of leaves to zephyr, saving the sick leaves that come in every new quarter. And now, I have got a transfer of location, the basis of which was that I have committed "not to take leave until 3 months", the period which is going to end soon, and the reason for this blog entry.
Right now, my job profile is so good that I hardly want to take leave. Being a point-of-contact for a team which uses a software product that fails as often as the power cuts that used to occur in Shakkarnagar during the 90's, really is a challenging, though not intimidating job. And I tell you the frequency of power cuts was really high.
Enough now. I think I'll rethink my strategies, and change the title of my book to "21 Proven ways to pretend you're working". And hey, this is not about being idle. It is useful for that too but the purpose of this one would be to tell your manager that you are working when you are really, seriously working. Yes, there are managers who think you don't work even though you do. And it all depends on how you tell it. As for me, I have already got appreciated from my Delivery Manager within a period of two-months-odd-days of joining the project. A task which I myself used to consider tougher than reading Garfield. You don't know, I hate that silly cat and strongly believe it is a meaningless piece of crap. No offense. But really all that boring cat with its bulging eyes does is watch an ant move from one end of the panel to the other until you feel so irritated that you might go to your boss and say "You're fired". By the way, did this comparison go right ? I guess it doesn't matter anyway.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The era of Songs

Most of my life can be viewed as series of era's of Songs, mostly intermittent. The thing is, I become attached to a few set of songs, and mostly from one singer, for a definite period of time and anytime I listen to those songs, I'll be reminded of the period of my life when I used to sing them. And I sing these songs until I get ones that I didn't listen to earlier.

Right now, its U2 that I am humming. Man, you should listen to some of their songs. You see their lyrics are so vague that most of those who listen to them feel that they are written especially for them. And that is considered one of the reasons why U2 is arguably the best band around since long time, the 80's. They have such beautiful beats and The Edge is wonderful on the guitar. Do you know this guy is so good at guitar (Electric guitar) that he experimented playing the electric guitar with a magnetic pic. You know, the effect of magnetic field over electric field, and all that stuff that we learnt in our Plus 2.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Clash of the Titans

Yes, I know its exaggerated. But it was Liverpool vs Arsenal played for the third time in seven days, and looking from my red tinted glasses, I found only happiness when we(Liverpudlians, aka the Kops, aka The Reds) thrashed life out of Arsenal. I know this is going over the top, but hey, Arsenal played wonderfully in the first half. But then we do come back from the dead too often. And this time, we struck in the last 6 minutes of the game and the gunners had to go home disappointed. But you guys really played well, I mean the whole season ofcourse. So as we gear up for the upcoming semi-final against Chelsea (BTW, this is football that I am talking about. Coming from a cricket-fanatic nation, I had to say that. And this is Champions league that I am talking about). Hopefully, we'll meet either Barcelona or the Red Devils (Man U's) in the final and I sincerely hope it would be Man U that we thrash.

I am not a crazy Liverpudlian as such, but I just love the way Gerrard plays. So as I am still trying to manage life, I find relief in watching these matches.
Hail Football. And don't call it Soccer. It's football always.