Saturday, June 11, 2005

In a new avatar

Breathless stretches of mud and grass raced beneath our nimble feet which barely touched them as we chased one and another, shorts chasing shorts or shorts chasing skirts and frocks. We called it something else but, like true joy, I only remember the experience. It would be fun to corner a little pigtailed girl and she would start screeching as if the commotion had the effect of making her invisible and hence safe. Some of the guys would have mercy and chase another kid. Some prolonged that hunt and moment of accepting the trophy. I would explain that it is a game and then make them "out".
Elsewhere a variation of it is called Tag.
Now we have a similar game being played in our midst, like armchair hunters. I was all tickled
and excited to hear about it. I have been tagged by Meera and Krish. As stupid as I felt when I was hunted down in my days of bruises and scars, I felt elated to be picked in my present days of deadlines and emails! :-)
Without much ado I shall proceed. But (damn it! control yaar, control) I would like to recount a quick incident of this game with a friend of mine. we played this game and what I recount is not about the sweaty twists and dodges of the game with her, but the memory it brings of her. She is a very talented girl but has a great problem with apologising. She would try to make up in many ways, but would find it difficult to pick up the phone and call or send an email. Many a time I let her out of her predicament of not being able to break the ice. Once I decided not to so that she get a chance to learn how to do so. She hasn't yet made contact with me. She stills talks to others about me and, in indirect ways, maintains communication with me, but is still finding it difficult to break out and say "Hi Eroteme! Long time...." :-) This post is to that little brat with whom I have had a wonderful time. What do you say I do with her? :-)

So here goes:

Total books I own:
I stopped counting a few years back. The very act of poking the spine of each book and call out a monotonically increasing sequence of numbers with each jab has stopped holding my fancy. If one were to include the books that I have printed out (and bound in maroon rexine... hmmm smells wonderful) I would easily count about 200+ books. I do not seggregate between technical and non-technical books (Have you read Peter Van derLinden's Expert C Programming: Deep C secrets? You wouldn't call it a technical book. It is the finest example of a focussed book on a particular topic (aka technical book) which can make you laugh and read it like a novel. Brilliant book. Most of my technical books are interesting reads as well (even the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary 1975).

Last book I bought:
Not 1 but 3:
Mistress of Spices: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Corrections: Jonathan Franzen
Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci: A.E. Popham (A rare book which I got at a good discounted price)

Last book I read:
Mistress of Spices

Currently reading:
Can Humanity change? Jiddu Krishnamurthy in dialogue with Buddhists
John Updike: Early Stories 1953-1972
Poems by Wordsworth, Longfellow and Basho
Immediate Fiction: Jerry Cleaver
Short stories from various journals

Books that have had an impact on me:
Honestly, every one of them (which I completed) has had an impact on me, so let me paint a scene in a bookstore where you ask me "E, I have less than Rs. 1000 with me. Give me 3 books which will make me sit up and read them and would be worth the moeny spent on them". Hmmm...

1. The Tao Te Ching: This is a compilation of 81 verses. It is not a new religion nor is it something that converts you from Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism or whatever you have trained yourself to follow. Its impact on your religious beliefs is the same as that of the South Beach Diet. In 81 verses, Laozi (or someone) has extracted the finest essence of philosophy and wisdom. I like this text because I was drawn into it, nay, I beat to the same rhythm as it thumps. Not one part came to me as new nor was it ever so clear before. In not knowing and knowing I relished this compilation.

2. Stories by Saki: I have read (as others have) this author since my schooldays and loved the way he played with words. He would make you read and re-read the sentence ensuring that your smile grew wider with every fresh perusal. Saki had the ability to be verbose without tiring you down. I hear many people say that he indeed was tiresome, but I never found him that way. His sentences were all read in one breath and when I ran out of it, in the inhalation came fresh air, purport, beauty, a tinkle of bells and ecstacy. I would play with words in my head ever since I read and relished his works.

3. Truth is a pathless land: This is the first public speech given by JK. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was truly shaken up by this (I read it when I was 18). His other works didn't have much of an impact (which is different from being impressed) on me as this single piece had laid me bare and I revelled in the nudity it brough forth. Try as much, I couldn't be clothed thereafter.

4. Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs): I grew up wanting to ride Jadbalja (if I remember right) the
golden maned lion. I would practice jumping from branches onto the nape of a predator and press its head to the mud and bite into the jugular vien. The predators, rest assured, were imaginary, but the branches and the twists in my ankle weren't. I use to run around the house dressed (rather, undressed) like Tarzan (hold your wild horses! I stopped doing that when I was about 10). The impact this book series had on me was the power of imagination it opened up to me. I created sequels to the books and enacted the scenes.

5. Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha: Every Indian child who enjoyed reading has been ensnared by these little thin books. Dasavathara, Tantri the Mantri, Mahabharata and others. They were the first I read and loved them. And the impact of the first love is not spelt out in words!

6. DC War comics: I was crazy about them and gobbled them in matter of minutes. I loved the scenes of war and the rat-a-tats of Uzi submachine guns and subs and... In loving these books I learnt to despise war. That was their impact.

"Damn it, E. I said 3 books. Now, do I have to buy all of them?"

Now whom do I tag?
I would love to hear the choices of Atanu, Uma, Toeragz, Ammani and SensiblyStoned (I was told to stop with 5 :-( ).

And a few more books:
I was asked recently by a few people to recommend/suggest/discuss good books. What follows is a quick list of my likes. I would like to break that list into 3 parts, viz., pure joy of reading, thought provoking and great amount of information. Some books would cross borders and cannot be contained in any compartment created with such wide sieves.
I would point to many books on this page. You could search for these on your favourite online bookstore (was planning to link them all, but decided against it).

Joy of Reading:
1. John Updike: Early Stories 1953-1975
2. Mistress of Spices
3. The Lady and the monk
4. Collected Stories by Nabokov
5. Lolita
6. Any story by Saki
7. Mrs. Dalloway
8. 21 stories: Graham Greene
9. On Writing (Stephen King)
10. Don Quixote (pronounced as Don K(w)ee-o-they)

Thought Provoking:
1. Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
2. Siddartha
3. Narcissus and Goldmund
4. Truth is a pathless land (JK)
5. Peopleware
6. Catcher in the Rye
7. This matter of Culture (JK)
8. Art of Innovation (IDEO)
9. Razor's Edge
10. 1984

Wonderful source of information
1. Serious Creativity
2. How would you move Mount Fuji?
3. Expert C Programming (this book is a joy to read as well)
4. Lateral Thinking
5. Nature of Order (all 4 volumes, Christopher Alexander)
6. Organisational Behaviour (Robbins)
7. Programming Pearls (Bentley)
8. Pragmatic Programmer: From journeyman to master
9. Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci
10. Design of the UNIX operating system (Bach. Brilliant)

I have an idea for another tag series. Will be putting up the details soon... :-)


  1. Good list. I also remember one of your earlier posts about clearing out your room.
    Couldn't help notice this one - Don Quixote (pronounced as Don K(w)ee-o-they) - does it matter? :-)

  2. Yes, that post scared me! Honestly.
    Well it does matter to me to find the right swaras introduced in a song, the right amount of tamarind in saramudhu/rasam and the right inflections while speaking out a word. Let us consider a name, no lets consider 3:
    Krishna: pronounced: Kreeeshna, Kr(i)shn(uh), Kr(i)shnaa, Cry-shn(uh)
    Anand: pronounced: Uh-naand, Aa-nun-dh, Uh-nun-d
    Abhirami: pronounced: Aye-bhi-raamee, Eh-bhi-raa-my, Uh-bhi-raa-me
    Malini: pronounced: Muh-lee-nee, Maa-li-nee, Muh-lie-nee
    Jonathan: pronounced: Jaw-nuh-thun, Joe-naa-than

    I suppose I would cringe at the aberrant ones. :-) I have heard people pronounce Cervantes' tour de force as Quick-soat!!! Nothing quick about it other than the message. It is K(w)ee-o-they! :-)

  3. Dawn Key-ho-tay.

    Inspired by Eroteme, I will post my own list -- soon :)


  4. Good list. I will try to read those which I have not already read.

  5. Dear Atanu,
    Looking forward to it...

    Dear GI,
    Thank you. And there are very many to be read... :-)

  6. Thanx Eroteme for taking up the Tag!!..BTW, I hadnt read even a single book in your series...So, I think I had got a handful to read for the next year or so...thanx for the additional info on the books to read..

  7. Hey Krish,
    I am learning a few names myself from another blog where the meme is on!! :-)

  8. Very interesting list of books. Thank you once again (I have thanked you once already in my blog...)

    And oh btw,
    Hi Eroteme! Long time... :-)


    ++This post is to that little brat with whom I have had a wonderful time. What do you say I do with her? :-)++

    Being a brat myself, I can only say that brats tend to be confused and misinterpretations abound their thoughts. (You know, as well as I do, that they think a lot and that too along unwanted lines.) They tend to get impatient with themselves and others... :-)

    But jokes apart, I hope you resolve your differences with your friend.

  9. Dear Meera,
    Glad you find the list to your taste... Yeah Meera, been long time since I received long comments from you! :-)
    You always take the other person's side, always. Well, I shall consider your views...
    There aren't differences with her, just a gap! :-)
    Been a long time indeed...

  10. Dear Eroteme,

    Just noticed this line!

    "What do you say I do with her? :-)"

    Since I always offer solicited advice, (and mind you only when it is solicited) why don't you just call her? How does it matter who breaks the ice as long as the ice is broken?

    I suppose I am missing the point of the post and making this an offtopic discussion, which I really should not, so I better leave, before I start telling you how to live your life :-)

  11. Eroteme,

    "on me as this single piece had laid me bare and I revelled in the nudity it brough forth. Try as much, I couldn't be clothed thereafter"

    I really loved this.. Yes, some books do have that effect.

    A real interesting list. Looks like I have a lot to read... The list of books only piling up with every passing day.. all waiting to be read, embraced and assimilated..

    - Ranga

  12. Anonymous8:35 AM

    nice list, Eroteme - i was already tagged, by yazad and samit - posted my list some time ago :)

    - Uma