Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Things Neither Here nor There

Have completed all the paperwork and course requirements and now am "vetti" (idle, to the uninitiated), in every sense of the term. Totally enjoy this feeling of time hanging on my hands. Went recently and bought some books to kill time.

My first stop was Higgin Bothams. One of the attractions of this place is the architecture which is quintessentially Mount Road. Or does Higgin Bothams define quintessential Mount Road? The high ceilings, those long fans hanging from those ceilings, the mosaic flooring always leads me on a nostalgic trip reminding me of the company quarters in Virudhunagar (that famous Chettiar stronghold) where I was born. Often, I step in just for the feel but end up buying something. This time around, bought a collection of Feluda stories by Satyajit Ray. Originally written in Bengali, I bought an admirably done translation by a Gopa Majumdar. I found it the perfect companion to spend these hot summer afternoons with. The author employs a by now familiar "Holmesian" approach to solving crimes. However, the charm lies in the fact that the story is told from the viewpoint of the teenaged Topshe (Felu's Watson). This technique of narration from a child's point of view is extremely powerful in terms of appeal, as it exploits a fundamental human yearning to regain lost innocence. In the pithy saying "Ignorance is bliss", I suspect that the word ignorance is used in the sense of innocence.

The same technique is used to brilliant effect in Bapsi Sidhwa's Ice Candy Man. Partition can be captured at many levels, but the story captures it from a child's perspective and the book takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride. Seeing the world through Lenny's "childish" perspective brings out the essence of the emotions and the absurdity of the much touted big picture vividly.

The point to be noted in the cases of successful "narratives-from-a-child's-point-of-view" works is that they do not dumb down the children. In fact, they are presented as highly observant individuals whose logical faculties are in the process of refinement. To me, this is the best way to represent younger characters in fiction. There is a personal undertone here as well. When I was younger, one of my constant gripes was how adults suddenly lowered their standards while talking to people of my age, when just some time earlier, we would have discussed something as intelligently as them if not more!

Then went to Landmark at Spencer's and picked up two works by Kafka for what I thought was a steal in Landmark! (280 each :)) Some more books and a couple of CDs. Now, a regular reader may blanch at the last sentence. Those movies are available in that great free repository that shall not be named, then isn't it not an indiscretion to buy them? Umm... I really love these two movies. Buying them - for some reason - gives a sense of ownership, a feeling of entitlement to enjoy them better. Or to put it another way, paying for it is my way of silent homage to the directors! I do it all the time for books. Ideally, would love to read all books in the second hand first and then buy the original. Most of the times it is not possible or I succumb to impulse purchases. But when it clicks, the process of book appreciation seems complete, holistic and I feel strangely better! My motivation for buying the rather expensive (I thought) collection of Feluda was based on two stories I read in the Library.

But at the end of the day, I must admit that I exceeded my budget. However, I do not like going to Lily Pond because a) I don't the general din in the place, b) it would be unbearable in summer and c) the shops do not have a desirable range. Have these guys even heard of Blossoms at Bangalore! I have a strong suspicion that going to Blossoms and purchasing a similar collection would have been cheaper, Volvo fares included! But then again I was never one to plan these things optimally. Pleasure immediately obtained, (i.e when in the mood for that type of pleasure), is better than pleasure delayed is my credo!

1 comment:

Anand said...

which movies?