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Showing posts from May, 2006
The Legends of KhazakBy O.V.Vijayan
It is easy to see why this book is considered such a seminal work of fiction in Indian literature. Published first as a novel in 1969 (it was serialized in the Mathrubhoomi Weekly a year before), it pre-dates a lot of the magic realism that Rushdie brought to the fore by more than a decade. But The Legends of Khazak is not just a tale of magic-realism. A lot of the fables in the book are very real for a Keralite. They are reminiscent of stories that you grow up hearing – the ‘velichappaadu’ (oracle), the ‘poothams’ (ghosts), the ‘yakshis’ (spectres), all are familiar. As they are for the villagers of Khazak, these are an everyday presence, real and true, not just a part of some writer’s fantasy.
The tale is of Ravi’s – a would-be astrophysicist who chooses to come to the remote village of Khazak to teach at a single-teacher school. Khazak has not seen a school before. And so the conflicts between the local madrassa, the Hindu paathshaala and the new s…
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Cloud Atlas
By David Mitchell

A riveting read. My first David Mitchell and this will definitely not be my last. What strikes me when I read him is how comfortable Mitchell is in so many different worlds. The book is a series of 6 different but strangely interconnected stories set in different geographies and different times, varing from the Pacific Islands in the 19th century to Europe in the early 20th, to a Reagan-era California to a 21st century middle America, a clone-era somewhere in the future and an even further future after the fall of civilization. The connections between the stories are tenuous - there is a strange birthmark that travels across characters and diaries and manuscripts of one character from one time period are found by characters in other periods. Most of the narrative is in first person and that is what makes it so amazing. Mitchell manages to get the differences in language and narrative patterns between the different worlds down so pat - the early 20th century…

Cheong Fat Tze mansion

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Cheong Fat Tze mansion
Originally uploaded by paronair.
The 'blue' mansion in Penang. A heritage building over a century old, this perfectly feng-shui-ed home belonged to a Chinese businessman. His rags-to-riches story had him dubbed the Chinese Rockefeller. Currently the house proves to be a popular tourist attraction, it being one of the few original Chinese courtyard mansions left.

Tioman

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Tioman
Originally uploaded by paronair.Rated one of the ten most beautiful islands in the world by Time magazine sometime in the late 70s, Tioman was also the setting for the magical island of Bali Hai in the film South Pacific. For me, Tioman was the my first weekend getaway from Singapore. It was also the site of my first snorkelling attempt. It's a beautiful island, though thronging with tourists from Singapore and Malaysia.

Bali

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Bali
Originally uploaded by paronair.
Have seen this a million times on postcards. Yet being there was special.
Sputnik Sweetheartby Haruki MurakamiSputnik Sweetheart is not one one of Murakami’s most representative books – or so people who have read a number of his books tell me. But it’s different enough from normal for me to recognize this writer as unique. For one, the book has a Japanese setting without anything in it being particularly Japanese. Other than the names of the characters and the places, the story could be set anywhere, in any of the big cities of the world. So there is no exoticisation (if there is such a word) of a culture – nothing at all like, for instance, Memoirs of a Geisha. For another, while the novel tells a seemingly normal story, there is always an undercurrent of the surreal which gets magnified as the story progresses.The narrator of the story, identified only as K, is in love with a childhood friend, Sumire, a writer. Sumire’s life is untidy and chaotic, with no fixed plan, unsympathetic to a commercial world outside. The only steadying influence is K, a school …