Sunday, October 29, 2006

5 books I would read a MILLION times over!

1. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

I read this book for the first time when I was 16! I still remember the rainy July mornings when I used to sit in the window of my 3rd floor apartment reading about Atticus Finch! I think Atticus Finch is one of the strongest characters literature has given us. And Scout reminds me of my own childhood so it was one of the most refreshing experiences. Harper Lee is remarkable when she gives us ugly truths in a child's easy and innocent perspective. I can never have enough of this book.

2. Illusions by Richard Bach

I liked this book because it is the shortest I have ever read, but it has matter that can make you write a hundred pages. I was turned towards philosophical books after I read this when I guess I was 17.I started reading more about God and Spirituality.

3. Three men in a boat by Jerome K Jerome

I know some of the pages of this book by heart. I know the page numbers where the funniest parts are printed. It is one of the funniest books ever. It makes you laugh out aloud ( and its kind of embarrassing if you are at an airport or in a train). It beats Wodehouse in the sense of comic timing. I always read it over when I am depressed or tired.

4. The God of Small Things by Arundhati roy

This book takes you everywhere the writer wants you to go. In swampy lands filled with water lilies and banana and coconut plantations. You can sense little brown girls running up and down wearing long skirts and leaving long hair open. The political background just adds to the enigma of this book. Arundhati Roy writes as though she doesnt care a crap who reads it but that makes it all the more irresistable. Its like a bus ride through humid south India. Its very close to my heart.

5. Vyakti ani Walli by Pu. La. Deshpande

This is my most favorite marathi novel. Its a collection of literary caricatures. Some outrageously funny that they bring tears to your eyes laughing..and some so serious that you cry out of sorrow. I like the serious one called "Nanda Pradhan" the most. Its the devastating story of a devastatingly handsome guy who crosses borders but retains the inherent lonliness he is born with and destined to. This book is a part of the contents of my hand bag everytime I have to travel. :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What makes ME unique. :) begin with, this title makes me sound like this narcissist. But trust me, I am not one of those and I have never shown any symptoms either.

I think I am a product of the link-ups of the most unusual families, which makes my life seem more important than it is.
Most of the people I meet are the result of Deshpandes marrying Kulkarnees, or Nikams marrying Thorats. Theres no twist anywhere. Not that there should be, its good that marriages be made in similar communities. It just keeps the world well marked and leaves the whites and the blacks and the greys on their own.

My mother had two moms. Its one of the most difficult truths that I had to deal with as a child. Having two grandmoms ( aajis) around. And one of them comes from a highly cultured and rather snobby karade brahmin family and the other, who passed on a few years back came from a typical rustic pujari background.
They lived together, my mom's two moms and my mom's three step-brothers. But it never even occured to me as a child that they are step-siblings. They all merged together as a family and they still do. :)

So my mother's personality has a bit of sanskrit reading, mathematics, a bit of Acharya Atre, a dash of Gadkari and Kusumagraj as well as the languid backgrounds of our farmlands, the sugarcane fields, dingy farmhouses, bullock carts and aunts wearing the traditional nauwari sarees .
She was brought up by a mother who worked as a headmistress in a highschool and one who managed a difficult household that was emotionally divided by the presence of two wives.
She was blessed with an army of aunts and uncles. Some of them ( The Shrikhandes and Huzurbazars) came to meet her once a year when they came back from Russia, or America and some of them ( The Pujaris) came to see her accross a distance of 20 miles with onions and potatoes fresh from their fields.
She had Aunts who had degrees in Sanskrit from the Banaras Hindu University and a set of aunts who had significant expertise in making mango pickles.
The most important thing however is that she was loved by all of them. Though the household was ridden with frequent upheavals, my mother was cared for as much by her step-mother as her own mother. This is something that makes her life unique and mine all the more interesting.

My mom married into the Keskar Family. Again this was an inter caste marriage which was never well-recieved by my mother's in-laws who were the typically (boring) deshastha Brahmins. Who work all their life and save money and go to Kashi or Gaya or Rameshwar when they are old. :)
My dad was the "rebel" in the family. And marrying Mom was one of his biggest rebellions. :D

So I was the end product of a lot of rebellion and cultural variations.
I was raised in an ultra-nuclear family ( yeah I invented that phrase which is defined as a family where you dont see your parents on the dinner table at the same time for a stretch of 6 months because they are busy working). I was brought in a household that had grandmoms who taught me everything from marathi poetry to how to play cards.
I have uncles who own shops and farmlands to uncles who have studied at the Cambridge University and who are big time Wodehouse Fans.
I have aunts who are successful home makers and also aunts with degrees in mathematics and chemistry...and I am close to all of them. :)

I am related to people who need me to call and confirm my "apointment" before showing up for an evening tea and also people who I can go visit at midnight and still have hearty dinner and come back. ..and I do get along well with all of them. :)

I have cousins from one side, who are IIT graduates and from the other side, who have literally crawled out of their highschool exams...and needless to say I get along well with all of them.

So I guess by now you must have realized that I am not a narcissist. But I am unique because I am related to farmers, grocers, mathematicians,literaries,economists,biologists,chemists and musicians at the same time. :)