Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Devil and Miss Prym - Review(?)

Someone is too good, because he is deprived of the opportunity to become bad. This is the single thread driving the whole story and Paulo Coelho has dealt with convoluted human feeling in a commendable way.

Viscos, is a small remote village, filled with innocent and hardworking people, secluded from modernity of the rest of the world. A stranger arrives, with the sole motive of persuading the villagers to commit a murder. The motive may sound peculiar and complex, but Paulo Coelho’s novels deals with human aberrations and do not care much to mingle with real world.

The stranger selects Prym Chantal, to spread the news among the villagers. Chantal, a smart young girl, who knows that she deserves more than working in bar cum lodge as clerk and attendant, is dispossessed of the greeneries of life. The deal looks lucrative. 11 bars of gold for the one who commits a murder within a week. Chantal has two options, either she can commit the murder herself or, she can convey it to the villagers.

The confusions of Chantal, and her inability to steal the gold and runaway, which she brands as her cowardice, are depicted excellently.

Another interesting character is Betra, the oldest of Viscos citizens. Had it been someother novel, her habit of getting clues from nature and talking telepathically with her husband who expired 15 years back may sound strange and would make us wonder whether it is some novel dealing with ghosts and supernatural powers. But not when the author is Paulo Coelho. He stresses on colossal power of mind and almost makes us believe what he says. In fact, Betra becomes the first to know that devil (the stranger) has come to village.

In straight contrast to Alchemist, where much was left to the reader to decide and understand, here the author comes out with his own views and arguments, which makes things interesting somewhere and arguable at some points.

The whole novel stresses on one point. Be it be the stranger who wants to turn the village into a murderous gang, or the Head Priest who convinces himself in persuading the villagers to commit the murder only because, he believes that the guilt feeling would make them turn towards God, or Miss Chantal herself, who chooses to steal the gold and run away when the whole village blames her for spreading the word of stranger among them, one thing is made clear. Man passes on his failures and wants to turn the world devilish just as revenge towards the cruelty of fate towards him.

May be that is true. Failures and misfortunes turn us against God. When things do not happen the way it ought to, that too worsening the situations, men do rethink about his faith in Almighty. Why the hell should someone dare to shun God when all on earth goes well with him? Rather, one would not take the risk of shunning Him for he has the genuine fear of losing something if he earns the wrath of Him. But for someone who is in deep loss (the stranger), who has never tasted success (like Chantal for example), God means nothing at all.

The small short stories, which were inserted professionally, without making us feel odd, does the intended work correctly. I was browsing thorough The Monk who sold his Ferrari earlier, and found that Robin Sharma was bold enough to lift and use some of these in his book.

When we choose to do what the crowd does, least we bother about ethics and genuineness. Head Priest and few others convince easily the whole village to kill Betra and to earn the reward.

How the brave Chantal sets to stop this forms the rest of the story. Chantal gets assurance from the stranger that she would be rewarded even if the murder does not happen. The lecture she gives to the villagers when they are all ready to shoot at the unconscious Betra could have been a bit more convincing. Had it been a movie or drama, a spectator would have come out with a contemptuous comment at this place. But this being a novel, that lacuna does not seem obvious.

As far as I could infer, author tries to prove that by preventing Betra’s murder, devil is outsmarted. Chantal, who does this job of saving the human values, was assured already of the reward. Thus, some selfish motives can be assumed to have driven Chantal, though ultimately good prevails. This defeats the whole motive of novel and lands us back to square one. We can conclude it this way. Human values can be saved from devils of frustration and vengeance, if a sum of huge money is given to someone to safeguard the community from losing its purity. That sounds funny.

Yet, novel throws up a different form of thought, and Paulo, for most of the times, comes out with convincing answers. For sure a thought provoking number from the author of Alchemist.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Book Tagging

Happened to read an article in Sunday magazine of The Hindu. It was about blog world and famous bloggers. Not sure whether the author herself( Ramya Kannan) is a blogger or a regular columnist in Hindu. Anyways, was happy that blogging activity is getting the necessary underscore.

As I was thinking about it and was browsing Bharat’s blog, came to know abt this book tagging game. The game goes like this. U have to tag 5 books u read and 5 bloggers u admire. (atleast I construed it that way). Actually, I admire Bharat’s immense writing skills, and he was my inspiration to enter into the blog world. But again, the rule is that, u r not supposed to tag the one who tagged u.

I am convinced that I should become a part of this game and be an honest player too. The easier part first ie about the books.

I don’t want to classify myself as a voracious reader, though I want to be one. I am a late starter as far as reading habit is concerned and my bookshelf houses just more than a dozen numbers. Still, let me quote the books I liked.


This was the book, which terribly inspired me. Having ventured Higginbothoms n number of times, not even once I bothered to investigate into its novel section, for I was under thorough misconception that thrillers and fictions couldn’t feed one’s mind. But this time I forced myself, since we thought of presenting a book for our friend. I did not hear anything about Paulo Ceolho when I was browsing this book; just by flipping few pages I was convinced that it is something worth presenting.

So, having taken the great responsibility of selecting a good book, I ought to check whether my choice was right. Thus I became the first user of that intended gift. Was moved so much that I started collecting books and more books and have some dozen books in a span of 9 months. Read it to experience it.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull:

This is in line with alchemist. Well-written short story(?) by Richard Bach. Just runs to 15 pages and really worth reading. It is available online for free.

Full Moon:

Fiction by PGW. Also my first book by PGW. Realized the magic words can create. Knew how differently common things can be put forth before us. Real good one.

Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less:

Again my first one by Jeffrey Archer. I cannot rate this as very interesting. Definitely worth reading.

Ponniyin Selvan:

In the list of good books, one cannot afford to ignore great Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan. I never thought a historical novel could be made so interesting. I almost became mad about this book and read it in just 5 days. If u know tamil well and love reading, this book will be irresistible.

Vandaargal Vendraargal:

I am averse to tamil magazines like kumudam and ananda vigadan, for I believe that they make a living feeding cheap taste of public. But fortunately, I got this Vandaargal Vendraargal by Vikatan Publications, since I had the patience to peep into its contents. Madhan has done an excellent job of innovative narration of historical events in an interesting fashion, that u cannot not keep this book away till u get to complete it. I went through it twice and still feel like reading it again.

Now ended up quoting more than my quota of 5 books. But I don’t think I will be able to do the same thing for blogs.

Here my choice goes:


Blogger with a difference. She maintains more than 3 blog sites, though I won’t say she equally contributes to all the three as each one serves a different purpose. Her excellent command over English and Tamil makes the visit to her site a memorable experience.


I was introduced to English short stories in her site. The grip over the language and the real emotional stories demands a revisit.


This blogger needs no introduction. He blogs in Tamil and a real good writer.

Ashok Gurumurthy:

A young fierce blogger who always wants to fight with the readers of his blog. More than his blogs, the comments section makes an interesting reading. An honest and fierce blogger.

Some of these bloggers r so popular that already someone would have book tagged. But my choice remains the same irrespective of that fact.

This leaves me one short of blogger I admire. Shows that I have to spend more time on blogspot. Know well that the blog world accommodates n number of great writers. But I follow only very few links.

With the satisfaction that I have made a genuine effort, I now wind up.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Daily Ordeal

Started towards office. There were 4 options before me. Going in my neighbor’s car, seeking my father’s help, to curse the public transport and use it too or to use a private auto.

The first option got exhausted when my ego did not allow me to cling to my neighbor’s car, despite the fact that he volunteered dropping me. My father was already shouting that he was behind schedule, and I was pretty sure that any request from my side would be rejected out rightly. The last option was almost closed since I have taken a resolution not to go by auto. I made it a practice to go by autorickshaw daily, that my conscience started questioning me about my laziness and the price I pay for it. That was a bit heavy. Rs. 60 per day. Amounts to Rs1500 per month. Already a good part of my wealth was shared with autowalas last month and I did not want to become cleaned out by doing the same mistake.

That gave me no option, but to go by the same old state transport. When I went to bus stand, there again I had three options. There were 3 buses going to my destination, and I stood confused, which one to choose. After carefully analyzing all the three, I went inside the one, which was populous, hoping that some preliminary investigation about the departure time would have already done by the people inside.

I made myself comfortable, managing to find a place to sit. Soon the passengers became restless and I found some leaving the bus to catch another. The other bus, which was less crowded, took off now. I chose to remain loyal to my first selection and did not make a slightest effort to shunt. Had I chosen to go by that other bus and took my toes, the success rate would have been 50%, and that another 50% possibility of failure forced me to remain loyal. A fierceful run from our current state to catch a moving bus definitely demands 100% success, as I did not want to cut a sorry face and enter to my same old position.

Soon after, conductor entered the bus and I was happy that my loyalty was rewarded. But I was wrong again. As conductor entered our bus, the third bus, which was even less crowded, took off now, leaving this bus to be a late starter. I cursed myself for not making use of enquiry counter to know in advance the departure timings.

Thus, in the very morning, our state transport buses threw a great challenge before me, in which I miserably failed. That did not put my mood off although.

The challenges in evening hours are bit different. You could label yourself, son of lady luck, if u happen to locate a vacant seat. At times if one is lucky enough to catch a less crowded bus, we always find that sex ratio is highly imbalanced, with higher male population. That gives them a liberty to occupy ladies seat. A courteous female passenger would find it difficult to be harsh with her co traveler. If the other party smells that the female passenger is courteous, he would utilize that fully, least bothering about his unauthorized occupancy.

One could not offer to miss a bus just because it is crowded unless he or she has the patience to wait endlessly. Chosen to travel in a bus, which is populous, one is supposed to help the conductor in his duty of distributing tickets. Having shared their work, I am just planning to sue these guys for depriving me of my commission.

Imagine a badly smelling lady, with least courtesy and decency, shares the space with you in a crowded bus. That could be your most ill fated day. A slight murmur would be taken too offensive and would end up in a fierce fight in which we are sure to lose. The very moment one chooses to travel in a crowded bus, would make him, long for the moment at which he could set his foot on the land, liberating himself from the stingy atmosphere, unique to the bus.

Having tolerated this ordeal for more than one and half years by now, I am now planning for a great project to untie myself from this. And the name of the project is, Project Honda Activa. This is so unique and liberating that one could transport him so easily, without bothering to locate the bus which would start early, without the need to rush so as to sit comfortably and without sharing the work of someone. I know u could not stop wondering about this great project and could hardly resist from donating liberally towards it. Any such intention of yours is highly appreciated, and would be rewarded with a Thank You note, upon realization of the cheque given. I am afraid that none of your donations are eligible for deduction u/s 80G, though I am confident of convincing our finance minister about this, in my scheduled meeting tomorrow.