Friday, September 28, 2007

Sacred Games

Although I wouldn’t count it among my favourite books, I quite enjoyed reading ‘Shantaram’ last year; mostly for its close-up view of the politics of the infamous-yet-awe-inspiring Mumbai underworld.

Bollywood has always glamourised tales of ‘poor-man-turned-powerful’ as well as ‘don-with-ethics’; told umpteen times in the 80s mostly with Amitabh portraying a diamond-smuggler; and lately there have been good mafia movies like Company & Sarkar. However the underworld has rarely shown up in good Indian literature (or maybe I missed those books).

Last week I borrowed Vikram Chandra’s ‘Sacred Games’ from a friend and I’m only half-way through the book now, but I already like the way the author has dealt with the theme. The food-chains in the mafia, the police force, political parties & even Bollywood are portrayed as flesh-and-blood persons. The power struggle, corruption & politics of it all make a gripping story, but they’re only secondary. The characters make this book worth reading. They all look, feel & smell like Mumbai.

PS: Have you noticed how Indian authors & movie-makers have suddenly become cool about the usage of hindi profanities? :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just Another Thought

We sat in silence one day & I realised,
'Silence' need not be the lack of words;
It could often speak truth instead of babble.

I saw a soaring dove one day & I realised,
'White' need not be the lack of colours;
it could often be the union of all the vibrant ones.

I saw a girl reading one day & I realised,
'Solitude' need not be the lack of people;
It could often be time spent with yourself.

I smiled to myself today & I realised,
'Bliss' need not be the lack of troubles;
It often is a constellation of happy moments.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Arithmetic of Life and Death

I bought a delightful little book the other day called "The Arithmetic of Life & Death" written by mathematician George Shaffner. Its a book which approaches arithmetic the way 'Freakonomics' approached economics (although this book came about much before Freakonomics). Its simple, meant for lay-men, and seeks to explain the world & its ways through math. Well, I thought most of the arguments in the book were too simplistic, but I didnt mind reading them because they were quite interesting.

What I did love about the book was the wit & humour. This is the opening line of the book..."Since six billion people now occupy the planet earth, one could conclude that human life is as common as dirt in Denmark".

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hubble Telescope Pictures

I saw these pictures of the space taken from the Hubble Space Telescope & I was so amazed & astonished by them, I just had to post them. It's not that I didn’t know that the universe is massive, but to see it captured on camera is something else!

This picture is of the Sombrero Galaxy, which has 800 billion suns & 50,000 light years wide. Unbelievable! One of those rare occassions when we feel proud of being the most intelligent species on the planet!

PS: Would the 'God's Eye View' of the universe look like this?

Update: This picture also reminds me of one of the fables I'd read in a Khalil Gibran book:
A fish said to another fish, "Above this sea of ours there is another sea, with creatures swimming in it -- and they live there even as we live here." The fish replied, "Pure fancy! Pure fancy! When you know that everything that leaves our sea by even an inch, and stays out of it, dies. What proof have you of other lives in other seas?"