Category: Literature

I don’t need your civil war

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been afraid of war. I know that sounds like the kind of statement that would come from a war-experienced person. But no, my life has always been pink and happy. The idea of a war, however, has always scared me.

I remember, back in sixth grade, in 2001, when the World Trade Centre was struck, there was speculation of a Third World War. I didn’t know much about war, but I was scared. The next day, when I went to school, the topic of the WTC came up in the first period. Miss Juliet was our class teacher and she was generally talking to everyone about it. No one seemed perturbed except for one girl, who began to sniff and cry. Yeah, it was me.

I don’t know why I was upset. For the rest of the week, I had nightmares of everyone I know being dead. My house was a rubble of cement and bricks. I woke up one night and threw up because my dream was that bad. I don’t know if it was the same fear of war or if it was something else. This hazy memory brings to my mind a quote I read in The Sense of An Ending, “History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.

Anyway, I prayed that no one would start a Third World War. I had no sense of international relationships back then. I didn’t know who was pissed off with whom. I didn’t know which country was deemed bad and which one, good. I knew Osama Bin Laden was a bad guy. And I was scared of him. I once dreamt that he was in my balcony.

A Star of David bookmark for Exodus. Most of you may know it as the branding that was stitched onto Jews’ clothes during WWII

But that’s history. Fast forward err… 14 years (Ok I’m getting OLD). Yesterday, I finished reading this book, Exodus, by Leon Uris. The book had sat in my cupboard in the Will-never-read-these, don’t-know-where-they-came-from section forever. Just out of curiosity, I opened the book, read a few lines and I was hooked. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a classic novel that documents the history of Zionism (influx of Jews into Israel from all over the world) and the creation of Israel. It’s part fiction and part truth. It’s a powerful book with deep characters. While reading it, I felt like I was part of everything. I felt like I took part in the creation of Israel, a region that is portrayed as overwhelmingly powerful.

The book documents the numerous wars that happened between Arabs and Jews over Israel (especially the Civil War), about the British pretending to help the Jews, but never really helping, about WWII concentration camps, about unrest, about terror, massacres, air raids, genocides, murders and destruction of any means of livelihood. And yet, it’s a story of victory, faith and courage.

Through out the book, I kept thinking, “Oh this was all so long ago. These people are such barbarians. Nobody hates the Jews any more. Thank God it’s all over.” The book was published in 1958 and it documents history right from the 1800’s until 1949 I think. I don’t know why I thought that was long ago. It was some 60+ years ago and the world hasn’t changed much since then. I was but a fool to think it’s all over.

I feel so naive to have convinced myself that during those wars, people were uneducated and they just wanted to be dumb and fight for land. I look around me now and I see mindless violence everywhere. It’s so frustrating! One day, I see that 147 students have been massacred in Garissa University, Kenya, and the next day, I read that India is evacuating people from Yemen, because some two sects of the same religion are fighting each other for power. Actually, the intensity of the situation hit me only today when I read this personal account of what it’s like to be in Yemen right now. It sounded strikingly like a girl in Exodus narrating a war scene. Added to that, today, I saw my own country, amidst all the heroic evacuations, has turned into the first country to use weaponised drones for crowd control.

I just don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will. I wrote this post to simply rant about how ridiculous everything is. I recently saw a picture of a bunch of men standing over a writhing cow, whose throat was slit off. Why? Beef ban. Because the cow signed some papers and made the ban? Why are people so bloody irrational all the time? Why do they let their minds be directed by anger and violence? Why can’t they pause, think and talk it out? What ever happened to the idea of a compromise? Or forgiveness?

Where is the love?Transparent box


Don’t waste time. Make bookmarks instead!

Hi you,

Hope this blog post finds you well bored.
My intention is for post to inspire you, to create something extraordinary sufficiently imaginative.

Usually when I’m bored, or on my day off from work, I like to read. One day, I decided to make a bookmark for the book I was reading. And then it turned into a wonderful habit! So now, I make bookmarks for every book I read, corresponding to the content of the book. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

A crown for Game of Thrones: It all started off with this book. I already knew what would happen in the book because I’d seen the TV show, so I had to do something interesting to motivate myself to pick up the book and read it. So I made this bookmark. It’s a bit childish and too colourful, but it worked and I finished the book.



A lipstick for The Bell Jar: This idea seemed so ironic that it made me extra excited to make it. I love how it’s so glossy, in contrast to the content of the book. But then again, Esther Greenwood, the protagonist, is working as an intern at a fashion magazine. So this one kind of made sense. (PS: I didn’t find this book as depressing as people made it to be. It’s an interesting read.)



A football field for sports books: I made this one while reading My Story, by Gazza (Paul Gascoigne). By this time, it had already become a habit – a sort of gift to honour the book. I quite like this one and it suits all my sports books, and football is the only sport I really read about. I read It’s Not About The Bike by Lance Armstrong, and then felt horribly let down after the drug scandal. I don’t trust any other sport other than football, although Arsenal have so far only let me down. Let’s not get there.




Do not read the text in the book.

A shirt with a tie for Trainspotting: I don’t remember why I chose to make a formal clothing bookmark for Trainspotting of all books. I must have probably drawn a syringe or something. But again, I think I fancied the irony of it. Besides, the book probably starts off with an interview that Spud goes to.




Hearts for romantic books (Like du’uh): I usually don’t like hearts but I LOVE these. They’re so easy to make and look really pretty! I tried making these as a gift for Nuvena’s birthday. I made a few for myself. It’s just origami and doesn’t even require glue. It takes two minutes to make it. It’s a pity that I can never get myself to start romance novels.





This one is for fun fantasy fiction books, like 13 and a Half Lives of Captain Blue BearThis book by Walter Moers is one of my favourites because it’s just so ludicrous! I can’t get enough of the book. This bookmark seemed fitting, because it’s equally absurd and the book has so many funny monster-ish characters. I felt it perfect.




Vegeta’s space pod for Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: I think this one is my favourite one so far, maybe simply for the last picture. I’m currently reading this book and also currently obsessed with Dragon Ball Z. And the two of them seem to have so many similarities. In both the series, people are set out to destroy the Earth and have extra terrestrial creatures, from Magrathea, Namek, Planet Vegeta, Earth, etc. It is a fairly simple bookmark, but I loved editing it on Pixlr Express.




This flip bookmark for Memoirs of a Geisha. It looks like a geisha on the surface. When flipped opened, she’s a normal girl, with the exact same eyes.





A kite for Kite Runner: What a book! I just couldn’t put it down. I read it even as a PDF during work hours. Sshhh… Obviously, it’s a kite, with a little thread (not made of powdered glass) hanging from it. :)




Let’s PAWS here

My puppy’s paw for animal books: The next one I made required some thought. It was a book about animals. All kinds of animals. It was Beasts in my Belfry by Gerald Durrell. Before this, I even read The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot. I couldn’t figure out what kind of an epic bookmark will do justice to animals. So, after a lot of thought, I went to my doggie, painted her feet read, and got her pug-mark for my bookmark. I asked my friend, Aditya, to come up with a cool line to put on the bookmark. So this is what came out of it.



The Star of David, sacred to Jews

The Star of David for Exodus: The next bookmark I made was for Exodus. I’ve written my thoughts about the book here.




A mountain for Into Thin Air: I borrowed Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer from Justbooks (with my brand new membership card)! It’s a very interesting book and has a lot to do with the work I do – about trekking. So I decided to draw a mountain. I almost made it very childish, by throwing some glitter into the picture.





A bookmark as a gift for a friend. I really loved making this bookmark because I’m a tea-lover myself. And thanks to this, I got another idea for another friend.





This was a coffee bookmark that smelled like coffee. Well, at least for a week. I painted it with coffee decoction and let it dry and then wrote on it. It was a big hit at office. I had to make one for everyone.





A cartoon-ish rocket for Surely You’re Joking, Mr.Feynman. This was such a pleasurable read! It was funny and sciency at the same time. So I felt this bookmark with formulae I don’t understand scribbled on it apt. That little blue arrow-like thing acts as a clip on. Cool no?





A dagger for Aarushi. This might seem quite morally inappropriate, but I couldn’t think of anything else. It seemed apt for that “khukuri” that kept popping up in the book.





A quick sketch of River Siene in Paris for All The Light You Cannot See. This might be one of my favourite bookmarks. I loved the book, it had a lot of little life lessons. I can still hear snails sighing and crabs scuttling about when I think of this book. And this pretty bookmark did justice to the book.





A sketch of Mars for The Martian. Well, du’uh. And that’s mitochondria or anything of that sort. It’s how Mars looks, ok?





Annoying Orange for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. This bookmark is no not the book, but having “orange” in the title was the perfect excuse to make an Annoying Orange bookmark.





A leaf from Dehradun for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra. When I went on a trek to Kedarkantha, I picked up a leaf and brought it back home. I made a bookmark with it. It says “Protect the forests just as they protect you.”





A playing card for I Am The MessengerFor a guy who finds messages hidden in playing cards, this one couldn’t have been easier.





This pathetic philosopher’s stone for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a re-read of one of the most epic series. And I thought I’ll make a grand bookmark with a 3D effect. Finally the bookmark sucked.





A Swastika for Alone in Berlin. I hope my blog doesn’t get reported for this bookmark.





A pretty cool flag of China for Wild Swans. This book by Jung Chang is one epic read! This bookmark was also pretty nice because I made it with cloth. If you look closely, the stick has Cantonese inscription on it.





A seahorse for Love in the Time of Cholera. Well, this book has nothing to do with sea horses, but my colleague Seersha drew this beautiful seahorse and I had to make a bookmark out of it! Also, I tried to draw a relationship with how sea horses are asexual animals and how Florentina Ariza has to go on living like an asexual creature for 51 years despite his mad love for Fermina Daza. His love remains unrequited, so I guess a sea horse is a good bookmark. :P




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Towards the end of 2015, I made around 40-50 bookmarks for charity. They were sold at a corporate company for some small amount and the amount was given for charity. I drew warli art on all these bookmarks. Soon, I began improvising and drew footballing warli people. It was so much fun and also fulfilling!



That’s all I’ve made so far. The best part is, I’ve recycled random cardboards for all the bookmarks. See? They’re random boxes in which I get clothes, chocolates, etc. I save them for future use. Try not to buy new materials for these purposes. : )

Also, my friend had once done something very brainy. To invite us to a dance, Supriya had made invites, except they could be used as bookmarks. It’s a very thoughtful thing to do if you don’t want to waste paper.

It makes for a lovely bookmark for an Indian novel

Also, I’ve been gifted these bookmarks by Supriya and Anand, and I think they’re the cutest ever!

So I hope I’ve inspired you to do something creative in your free time.

Because every good book deserves a good book mark. : )

If you’re all fascinated by my creativity and want to see some more, check this out.

My thoughts on pulping Doniger’s book. Your “liberal” mind won’t like it.

Ok I’ve been reading a lot about this Wendy Doniger and her book The Hindus – An Alternative History.  

When I got to know of the book and how Penguin was going to destroy all the copies of the book in India (I use the word destroy, because the word pulp only paints a picture of tomato juice in my head), I wanted to know why. My sister logged onto Twitter, read a few lines about how the cover picture is of Krishna sitting atop a group of naked women (on one of their backsides, mind you), and how Shiva chopped handsome, young Ganesha’s head off because he suspected an oedipal relationship.

I know all of you are ranting on about lack of freedom of speech, and Siddharth Varadarajan has cancelled his contract with Penguin and Arundhati Roy wrote a sarcastic open letter to Penguin. But somehow, I find it hard to swim along the tide this time.

Judging the book by its cover?

When I read parts of the book, I was outraged. I’m really not a Hindu nationalist or as some angry ‘pseudo secular’ people term them, “Hindu fascists.” I’m just a normal girl, who says a couple of shlokas if she gets scared at night while sleeping alone, simply because her grandma taught her those lines, which of course don’t make sense to her. They simply comfort me. Yes, I am a Hindu. But I’m not religious. In fact, I believe some of the customs are ridiculous. (I’ve written about those before.) And if this writing could anger me, how do you think it’ll impact religious people?

I understand that Wendy has researched on Hinduism for the better part of her life and she is entitled to her opinion and she has every qualification and right to write a book about it. But publishing such a book in India can only cause outrage. It’s like publishing a soft-porn ish book on Islam in Afghanistan or a sexual account of Jesus’s life in the heartland of America. Would anyone be cool with that? In fact, no one would be cool with that even in India. One must understand that India is not ready for such books. I could probably digest all those sexual connotations in the book and carry on with my life, but would a 23-year-old like me pick up a book on religion and read it? I doubt it. Unless they’re into literature studies or something, the chance of liberal-minded youngsters reading the book is slim. So who would read such books? The middle-aged – my parents, your parents, grandmothers, whoever. And people like Siddharth Varadarajan and Arundhati Roy might be open-minded to such “blasphemous” writing, but the average reader will not.

When just about 74% of India is literate, i.e., they know A B C, you think they’ll understand the complications of modern religiosity? Heck I needed to go to ACJ to learn about all that and the leftist college made me a little liberal in my thoughts, which I suppose is a good thing. But it’s really not alright to hurt the religious sentiments of others.

My sister says India has double standards. If the same thing was published about Islam, wouldn’t publishers succumb to intolerant people and pulp that as well? If you so desperately want to read the book (because that’s what the ultimate agenda is when you publish a book), go find the pdf online instead of ranting about it all day. I have it open on another tab right now. It’s not that hard. If you want to pay for it, then buy an e-book. No one is stopping you from reading it.

In a country like India, religion is something dear to everyone. It’s something they rely upon. And I’m not saying this only with respect to Hindus. Faith is what keeps Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and people of all other religions strong. There is no place where religious people can achieve community and solidarity like at a temple or a church. So you can’t go about hurting religious faith.

So what can come out of such a book? Nothing but anger, incite and negativity. Even in the West, it’ll make people believe that India is an extremist patriarchal nation. Because that’s what the book represents. India is patriarchal, I agree, but not as exaggerated as it is in Doniger’s book. The thing is, if you go through her book, it’s really interesting. She has written about the possible origin of the vedas, of how humans came to be, how people began to worship cows, vegetarianism, about suras and asuras, it’s pure research. Maybe what Penguin could have done is edit the “blasphemous” parts of the book and publish it. 

At this point, it’s not even about freedom of speech. It’s about maintaining peace and happiness. Ok I sound like a hippy, but isn’t that the ultimate pursuit? Happiness? I read Meena Kandasamy’s poem the other day, here it is. It’s just so full of anger. She is always so full of anger and sarcasm. I want to shake her and say “Be Happy For GOD’S Sake!” Oh wait…

A small comparison: In the case of rape issues in India, women can’t be rebellious and say, “I’ll wear less clothes and step out. Because they can’t tell me what to do. Blah blah blah.”

It’s not about being rebellious. It’s about being patient. It’s about waiting for the society to be ready for such things. It’s about co-operation. We’re in the process of getting the country ready for such things. That’s why we’re still a developing nation. So for God’s sake, just wait for when the time is right and then publish any book you want and people will either accept it or do away with it. They won’t make you pulp it.

Now is not the time. Not yet.

My precious!

A month ago, I went fishing with my friend. Close to where Isildur died. As we swam in the river, looking for lunch, a rough torrent came along and took my friend with it. I panicked. I swam after him but in vain. He was gone forever.

While swimming back to the bank, I saw something at the bed of the river glint in the sun light.

One ring to rule them all

Absentmindedly, I picked it up. It was a beautiful gold ring. I was mesmerised by it. Alas! If only my friend were here to share this joyous moment with me, because I swear that is how he died. *Evil grin*

Ignore the rough, hobbit hands

Ever since, I have worn the ring on a chain around my neck, never taking it off. I think it has some sort of effect on me. Every time I’m about to take it off, I feel sick, I get a head ache and get dizzy. It belongs with me now. And it can never be taken away from me.


Interesting thing is, I dropped it in the fire place the other day.

And voila!

Nothing happened to the ring at all!

For some reason, I’d never thought to wear the ring. Something in my mind told me to never wear it. But it always called out to me. When it lay on my heaving chest, when I was asleep, while I ate, and especially when in danger. Soon enough, I understood what it did to me.

It made me disappear!


I wore it often, but even wearing it around my neck made me feel tired and stretched.

When I once met this hobbitses called Bilbo – Ok enough fiction.
Wait, really? Can we ever get enough of fiction?
Anyway, I did find this ring. In the Misty Mountains. Ok fine. I’ll tell you for real. I found it in Mordo- OK! I found it at The Entertainment Store, Church Street! Hmpf.
It does, however, have the same effects as those on Gollum.
I even began speaking like him!

Ok don’t freak out. I still sound normal, although my throat feels weird after doing that impression. My colleagues are fed up of the ring. Not of it’s existence, but of my banter about it. They think it’s mindless. Little do they know how many people want to get their hands on it.

Oh you beauty!

Of course, it made a great prop for pictures. It looks so effortlessly beautiful.
If you’re wondering what the inscription is, it says,

One Ring to rule them all,
One ring to find them;
One ring to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them.

It’s written in the Black Speech of Mordor, since Sauron forged it himself.


Ok if you’re not a Lord of the Rings fan, it’s going to sound like geek talk to you. So never mind. Just look at the ring and feast your eyes.

Favourite picture

Also, if you don’t know Lord of the Rings, get to know it. Don’t waste your life without reading it.

Thank you Mr. Tolkien!

A tea-break read. My favourite chapter from The Book Thief

Let me give you a heads up here. This book, The Book Thief,  is about this little girl in Munich. It’s set against the backdrop of the Second World War. It’s the best book I have ever read so far. I have put down my favourite chapter from the book. It’s a tiny excerpt, one of the best bits nevertheless. Markus Zusak turned into my favourite author after this book, for his simplicity, and hard-hitting manner of writing.

So here’s what happened before this chapter. Liesel (the main character, the little girl) has stolen a book. She thinks she was seen by the Mayor’s wife (whom she has never spoken to before). But after she meets the mayor’s wife, when the mayor’s wife says nothing to Liesel’s mother,  she is almost convinced that she wasn’t seen after all, and that she has gotten away with the theft. Here’s how it continues. 

She had gotten away with nothing.
The mayor’s wife had seen her, all right.
She was just waiting for the right moment.

A few weeks passed.

Soccer on Himmel Street.

Reading The Shoulder Shrug between two and three o’clock each morning, post-nightmare, or during the
afternoon, in the basement.

Another benign visit to the mayor’s house.

All was lovely.


When Liesel next visited, minus Rudy, the opportunity presented itself. It was a pickup day.

The mayor’s wife opened the door and she was not holding the bag, like she normally would. Instead, she stepped aside and motioned with her chalky hand and wrist for the girl to enter.

“I’m just here for the washing.” Liesel’s blood had dried inside of her. It crumbled. She almost broke into pieces on the steps.

The woman said her first word to her then. She reached out, cold-fingered, and said, “Warte—wait.” When she was sure the girl had steadied, she turned and walked hastily back inside.

“Thank God,” Liesel exhaled. “She’s getting it.” It being the washing.

What the woman returned with, however, was nothing of the sort.

When she came and stood with an impossibly frail steadfastness, she was holding a tower of books against her stomach, from her navel to the beginnings of her breasts. She looked so vulnerable in the monstrous doorway. Long, light eyelashes and just the slightest twinge of expression. A suggestion.

Come and see, it said.

Book thief
Buy the book by clicking on the picture. It’s worth it.

She’s going to torture me, Liesel decided. She’s going to take me inside, light the fireplace, and throw me in, books and all. Or she’ll lock me in the basement without any food.

For some reason, though—most likely the lure of the books—she found herself walking in. The squeaking of her shoes on the wooden floorboards made her cringe, and when she hit a sore spot, inducing the wood to groan, she almost stopped. The mayor’s wife was not deterred. She only looked briefly behind and continued on, to a chestnut-colored door. Now her face asked a question.

Are you ready?

Liesel craned her neck a little, as if she might see over the door that stood in her way. Clearly, that was the cue to open it.

“Jesus, Mary . . .”

She said it out loud, the words distributed into a room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paintwork. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-coloured books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.

With wonder, she smiled.

That such a room existed!

Even when she tried to wipe the smile away with her forearm, she realized instantly that it was a pointless exercise. She could feel the eyes of the woman traveling her body, and when she looked at her, they had rested on her face.

There was more silence than she ever thought possible. It extended like an elastic, dying to break. The girl broke it.

“Can I?”

The two words stood among acres and acres of vacant, wooden-floored land. The books were miles away.

The woman nodded.

Yes, you can.

Steadily, the room shrank, till the book thief could touch the shelves within a few small steps. She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like an instrument, or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them. One shelf against the other. And she laughed. Her voice was sprawled out, high in her throat, and when she eventually stopped and stood in the middle of the room, she spent many minutes looking from the shelves to her fingers and back again.

How many books had she touched?

How many had she felt?

She walked over and did it again, this time much slower, with her hand facing forward, allowing the dough of her palm to feel the small hurdle of each book. It felt like magic, like beauty, as bright lines of light shone down from a chandelier. Several times, she almost pulled a title from its place but didn’t dare disturb them. They were too perfect.

To her left, she saw the woman again, standing by a large desk, still holding the small tower against her torso. She stood with a delighted crookedness. A smile appeared to have paralyzed her lips.

“Do you want me to—?”

Liesel didn’t finish the question but actually performed what she was going to ask, walking over and taking the books gently from the woman’s arms. She then placed them into the missing piece in the shelf, by the slightly open window. The outside cold was streaming in.

For a moment, she considered closing it, but thought better of it. This was not her house, and the situation was not to be tampered with. Instead, she returned to the lady behind her, whose smile gave the appearance now of a bruise and whose arms were hanging slenderly at each side. Like girls’ arms.

What now?

An awkwardness treated itself to the room, and Liesel took a final, fleeting glance at the walls of books. In her mouth, the words fidgeted, but they came out in a rush. “I should go.”

It took three attempts to leave.

She waited in the hallway for a few minutes, but the woman didn’t come, and when Liesel returned to the entrance of the room, she saw her sitting at the desk, staring blankly at one of the books. She chose not to disturb her. In the hallway, she picked up the washing.

This time, she avoided the sore spot in the floorboards, walking the long length of the corridor, favoring the left-hand wall. When she closed the door behind her, a brass clank sounded in her ear, and with the washing next to her, she stroked the flesh of the wood. “Get going,” she said.

At first, she walked home dazed.

The surreal experience with the roomful of books and the stunned, broken woman walked alongside her. She could see it on the buildings, like a play. Perhaps it was similar to the way Papa had his Mein Kampf revelation. Wherever she looked, Liesel saw the mayor’s wife with the books piled up in her arms. Around corners, she could hear the shuffle of her own hands, disturbing the shelves. She saw the open window, the chandelier of lovely light, and she saw herself leaving, without so much as a word of thanks.

Soon, her sedated condition transformed to harassment and self-loathing. She began to rebuke herself.

“You said nothing.” Her head shook vigorously, among the hurried footsteps. “Not a ‘goodbye.’ Not a ‘thank you.’ Not a ‘that’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.’ Nothing!” Certainly, she was a book thief, but that didn’t mean she should have no manners at all. It didn’t mean she couldn’t be polite.

She walked a good few minutes, struggling with indecision.

On Munich Street, it came to an end.

Just as she could make out the sign that said STEINER— SCHNEIDERMEISTER, she turned and ran back.

This time, there was no hesitation.

She thumped the door, sending an echo of brass through the wood.


It was not the mayor’s wife, but the mayor himself who stood before her. In her hurry, Liesel had neglected to notice the car that sat out front, on the street.

Mustached and black-suited, the man spoke. “Can I help you?”

Liesel could say nothing. Not yet. She was bent over, short of air, and fortunately, the woman arrived when she’d at least partially recovered. Ilsa Hermann stood behind her husband, to the side.

“I forgot,” Liesel said. She lifted the bag and addressed the mayor’s wife. Despite the forced labor of breath, she fed the words through the gap in the doorway—between the mayor and the frame— to the woman. Such was her effort to breathe that the words escaped only a few at a time. “I forgot . . . I mean, I just . . . wanted,” she said, “to . . . thank you.”

The mayor’s wife bruised herself again. Coming forward to stand beside her husband, she nodded very faintly, waited, and closed the door.

It took Liesel a minute or so to leave.

She smiled at the steps.

A tea-break read. I wish I could write like this

I’ve decided to put down a few paragraphs from every book I read. Just to give you the best of a particular book. If not the best, I’d like to put it down simply because I think it’s noteworthy. Here goes.

An excerpt from Three Men in a Boat, (To say nothing of the dog) by Jerome K. Jerome. Just to give you a gist of the scene, they have just put up a tent, to camp for the night and are settling for supper. 

It took us half an hours hard labour, after that, before it was properly up, and then we cleared the decks, and got out supper. We put the kettle on to boil, up in the nose of the boat, and went down to the stern and pretended to take no notice of it, but set to work to get the other things out.

That is the only way to get a kettle to boil up the river. If it sees that you are waiting for it and are anxious, it will never even sing. You have to go away and begin your meal, as if you were not going to have any tea at all. You must not even look round at it. Then you will soon hear it sputtering away, mad to be made into tea.

It is a good plan, too, if you are in a great hurry, to talk very loudly to each other about how you don ’t need any tea, and are not going to have any. You get near the kettle, so that it can overhear you, and then you shout out, I don ’t want any tea; do you, George? to which George shouts back, Oh, no, I don ’t like tea; well have lemonade instead teas so indigestible. Uponwhich the kettle boils over, and puts the stove out. We adopted this harmless bit of trickery, and the result was that, by the time everything else was ready, the tea was waiting. Then we lit the lantern, and squatted down to supper. We wanted that supper.

three men in a boat
Look at Montmorency, their brutish fox terrier

For five-and-thirty minutes not a sound was heard throughout the length and breadth of that boat, save the clank of cutlery and crockery, and the steady grinding of four sets of molars. At the end of five-and-thirty minutes, Harris said, Ah! and took his left leg out from under him and put his right one there instead.

Five minutes afterwards, George said, Ah! too, and threw his plate out on the bank; and, three minutes later than that, Montmorency gave the first sign of contentment he had exhibited since we had started, and rolled over on his side, and spread his legs out; and then I said, Ah! and bent my head back, and bumped it against one of the hoops, but I did not mind it. I did not even swear.

How good one feels when one is full how satisfied with ourselves and with the world! People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained. One feels so forgiving and generous after a substantial and well-digested meal so noble-minded, so kindly-hearted.

It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs, it says, Work! After thick slice of meat, it says, Sleep!

After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don ’t let it stand more than three minutes), it says to the brain, Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature and into life; spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!

After hot muffins, it says, Be dull and soulless, like a beast of the field a brainless animal, with listless eye, unlit by any ray of fancy, or of hope, or fear, or love, or life.

And after tonic, taken in sufficient quantity, it says, Now, come, fool, grin and tumble, that your fellow-men may laugh drivel in folly, and splutter in senseless sounds, and show what a helpless ninny is poor man whose wit and will are drowned, like kittens, side by side, in half an inch of tonic.

We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach. Reach not after morality and righteousness, my friends; watch vigilantly your stomach, and diet it with care and judgment. Then virtue and contentment will come and reign within your heart, unsought by any effort of your own; and you will be a good citizen, a loving husband, and a tender father a noble, pious man.

Before our supper, Harris and George and I were quarrelsome and snappy and ill-tempered; after our supper, we sat and beamed on one another, and we beamed upon the dog, too. We loved each other, we loved everybody. Harris, in moving about, trod on Georges corn. Had this happened before supper, George would have expressed wishes and desires concerning Harriss fate in this world and the next that would have made a thoughtful man shudder.

As it was, he said: Steady, old man; ware wheat.

And Harris, instead of merely observing, in his most unpleasant tones, that a fellow could hardly help treading on some bit of Georges foot, if he had to move about at all within ten yards of where George was sitting, suggesting that George never ought to come into an ordinary sized boat with feet that length, and advising him to hang them over the side, as he would have done before supper, now said: Oh, I ’m so sorry, old chap; I hope I haven’t hurt you.

And George said: Not at all; that it was his fault; and Harris said no, it was his.

It was quite pretty to hear them. We sat, looking out on the quiet night, and talked.

George said why could not we be always like this away from the world, with its sin and temptation, leading sober, peaceful lives, and doing good. I said it was the sort of thing I had often longed for myself; and we discussed the possibility of our going away, we four, to some handy, well-fitted desert island, and living there in the woods.


Rage, Rebel and Revolt

‘Free speech is like money. Some people just have a lot more of it than the others.’

This thought resonated across thousands of minds around the globe when the vocalist of Rage Against the Machine, Zack De La Rocha, belted out ‘Bulls On Parade’ with guitarist Tom Morello sending a 13,000 strong crowd into a frenzy.

Rock music and activism have always gone hand in hand. Since the origin of rock in the 1950s, through the Golden Age and the Progressive until the current Punk and Alternative age, there have been bands that have voiced out their political opinions in cheeky ways.

Rage Against the Machine, an American metal band, popular for its leftist political views have been active since 1991. The rap metal band is best known for its songs Killing in the Name of, Testify, Bulls on Parade, Fist Full of Steel and Wake Up, all of which brew leftist rants against corporate America.

The controversial band has rubbed the American government the wrong way on several occasions. At Saturday Night Live in 1996, they almost went on-air with inverted American flags on their amplifiers and drum kits. This sort of rebellion seemed to be a precipitate of the 70’s Classic Rock era that saw bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

The advent of these rebellious bands took place more than a decade ago. Now, in 2012, we still have bands that are in the spot light for all the wrong reasons. Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk rock band was arrested in August for staging anti-Vladimir Putin protests in public places in Russia. They pulled the last nerve when they rallied at Moscow’s main cathedral, against the Russian Orthodox Church for supporting the president. Three of the band members were sentenced to two years in prison.


Within hours, worldwide protests to set the band free broke out among punk-rock fans. Twitter handles appeared hoping to give the band moral support.

FREE PUSSY RIOT ! ‏@2FreePussyRiot

PussyRiotQuotes It (govt) is so clearly invested in serving only narrow corporate interests it makes us sick just to breathe the Russian air

PussyRiotQuotes “Pussy Riot are not the ones on trial here. This is a trial of the entire political system”

Al Jazeera Activate @AJActivate

What happens if you stand up to Putin? Remember #PussyRiot? Watch our last #AJActivate film in the series.

Markku R. Peltonen ‏@markpelton

Rally to support Pussy Riot in Berlin …#pussyriot #putin #russia #london #occupyputin #occupy #kreml#ussr #gulag #tula

Despite these protests, two of the band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, have been sentenced to two years imprisonment and are serving time in prisons in remote parts of Russia. A third member got away thanks to the international outcry.

This injustice brings to mind the lyrics of RATM’s Township Rebellion:

“Rebel, rebel and yell
‘Cause our people still dwell in hell
Locked in a cell

Yes, the structure’s a cell”

This injustice is also unfair because there have been a plethora of bands/band members that have gotten away in spite of atrocious behaviour in public; although not necessarily politically offensive, just outright assaults on human sensibility.

For instance, Jim Morrison, vocalist of The Doors, was charged for ‘lewd and lascivious behavior in public by exposing his private parts and by simulating masturbation and oral copulation.’ He was sentenced to three years and 150 days of imprisonment but his death turned out to be his saviour. Jim Morrison died in Paris before he could serve the sentence and was even offered a posthumous pardon by the state of Florida for his lewd behaviour. In 1998, band members of German metal band Rammstein, of the Du Hast fame, were charged for continuous acts of (brace yourself) Sodomy on stage. They were arrested for just one night and slapped a fine of (believe-it-or-not) $25.

The list of such downright despicable bands is endless and will mentally scar you. I’ll spare you the shudder. Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson and Cannibal Corpse are just few of the others who contribute to such appalling acts.

Pussy Riot seem rather subtle and innocuous in comparison to the bands from the 70’s-90’s. Their voice is the voice of liberty and dissent. They are the voice of several Russians who do not want to be jailed for thinking that there should be a separation between the church and the state. Pussy Riot were jailed for what Russia ludicrously called “blasphemy.”

But in a world where blasphemy as a crime is indeed a historic thought, Pussy Riot are considered heroic. They have been deservedly nominated for TIME’s Person of the Year 2012. They are considered inspirational and courageous for standing up for themselves and against the country.

Roger Waters, vocalist and guitarist of progressive rock band Pink Floyd, shared a message of solidarity with Pussy Riot saying, “We greatly respect your bravery and resolve. I was much encouraged by the anti-Putin, pro Pussy riot and Freedom demonstrations in Moscow, we are with you. There are more of us willing to stand up to errant authority, in the fight to create free societies with just laws, than there were yesterday, and there will be more tomorrow. Our numbers are growing.”

On December 10,, 2012, a Russian priest, (mind you, a priest) Sergei Baranov, who made statements supporting the band and said what Pussy Riot did was “necessary protest,” reported to Czech Radio that he’s been receiving threats and intimidation from the church and the state. “The band is only expressing their opinion. Coalescence of the state power with the church is one of the biggest problems plaguing the country,” he said.

On asking Darya Golovko, one of the members running the solidarity campaigns for Pussy Riot in Russia, whether Nadezhda and Maria might be released soon as a result of the campaigns, she said “I do not want to guess on chances of their early release. It is not law and logic that has guided the Pussy Riot case so far. We keep our fingers crossed though.”

With respect to support from India, “I personally have not encountered information about solidarity activities in India. There are some Indian nationals living in other countries and possibly participating in solidarity actions there,” she said. Golovko also added that international support gives power to the imprisoned.

India today has many such rebellious bands, one of which is, Imphal Talkies –a band from Manipur as is evident from the name. They are based in Delhi and compose songs about problems plaguing the North East. They have been featured in The Dewarists and Tehelka’s The Music Project.

Most of their songs are in protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Their song Qutub Minar talks about a man taking the Qutub Minar away from Delhi to Manipur until Manmohan Singh repeals AFSPA. Although composed in a folk genre, the song has a haunting tone to it. Their song India, I see blood in your hands sings about the activist Irom Sharmila, Kashmir, Gujarat, suicidal farmers and everything from East to West and North to South. Their music very subtly brings to the fore year-long built up frustrations and inner hate.

Be it RATM, Pussy Riot or Imphal Talkies, the rage doesn’t end with their music. All of them have inculcated activism into their lives and believe they are here to fight for justice and freedom of speech.

Pussy Riot’s release

Maria and Nadia reunited after nearly two years in prison

 Of course the Pussy Riot story has a happy ending! After nearly two years of being arrested (eight months after I wrote most of this article), Nadia and Maria were released on December 23, 2013, despite them not having completed the two-year sentence. Both band members believed it was not an amnesty but just a PR stunt by Putin, ahead of the Winter Olympics that Russia is hosting in 2014, and that their attitude towards him hasn’t changed. But the fact remains that they are out of prison and the band can reunite and continue making music, hopefully in a safer way, without being imprisoned, without having to live away from kith and kin.

See what the world thought of them being imprisoned here.

To support Pussy Riot and stay updated about them, follow them on Twitter here.

To read about Pussy Riot’s trial, click here.

To know more about Rage against the machine, click here.

To listen to Imphal Talkies, click here.