Archive for ‘eldritch horror’

November 4, 2009



No, I have no comment to make on these products. Except that they appear not to be for sale at the moment, which almost makes me think there might be a god.

(Via Bookshelves of Doom)

November 3, 2009

Books what I

I’ve been reading stuff. Here’s some of what I have been reading.

Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld

Official review will be out in the New Indian Express at some point in the near future, but I loved this. I’m rather wishing I’d managed to get the edition with all the gears and suchlike on the cover, but the artwork really is phenomenally good, and Westerfeld is an amazing writer. I like his main characters (even more so on a reread) and from the hints given about the second book in this series, Behemoth, I suspect that it has been written entirely for my delectation. I cannot wait. Here’s the trailer, anyway. It’s rather amazing.

Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett

In recent years there has always been a new Terry Pratchett book on my birthday. This year’s seemed like it would be a good one: a return to the Discworld (after the rather awesome detour into Nation, his alternate history Victorian YA that came out last year), a return to the Wizards, who haven’t been heard of in a while, and some football. The Wizards are required for reasons of economy to field a football team – a task for which they are spectacularly unsuited, though the Librarian is an excellent goalkeeper. Luckily, Trevor Likely, son of legendary Dimwell captain Dave Likely, works at the University and is able to initiate them into the world of the Shove, where who you support (and how you show it) matters far more than the game itself, which most of them have never seen. Meanwhile, Trevor must also look after his friend Mr. Nutt who says he’s a goblin but is possibly Something Else altogether and looks suspiciously like Wayne Rooney on the cover. The Nutt plot is something of a return to the earlier Discworld books; Pratchett uses the character to take on an element of a classic work of fantasy (I’m trying very hard not to give the plot away). Unfortunately, while I agree entirely with the conclusions he seems to come to, it comes across as rather too earnest. Then there’s Glenda, who I ought to have all sorts of problems with – she’s fat and competent and has a secret weakness for romance novels, and when she gets her romance it’s with a character who no one else particularly wants. I love her anyway.

The Reef – Mark Charan Newton.

I’d been wanting to read this for a while, particularly since reading Newton‘s second book, Nights of Villjamur (which I really liked) this summer. I finally found it a couple of weeks ago in the secondhand section of Chapters and was unreasonably excited. The Reef is a coral reef that becomes the focus of a number of interconnecting plots involving scientists, terrorists and various forms of aquatic life including sirens, ichthyocentaurs, and (it’s not a spoiler if the cover illustration gives it away, is it?) a giant squid/kraken-monster. It’s obvious that Newton’s writing (and, I think, his gender politics but that’s another matter entirely) have matured considerably since he wrote this, the prose occasionally shifts from brilliant (luckily there’s plenty of that) to a bit awkward and it could have used more editing. However, in terms of ideas I found it richer and more ambitious than NOV. I’m not sure how far it’s supposed to be set in the same universe as his Legends of the Red Sun; elements (the Rumel, the random bits of old machinery lying around) from one seem to have made their way into the other. I’m hoping he returns to this setting at some point in the future (after the current series is finished with) – there’s a lot in it that is fascinating and that I’d love to see developed. In any case, I feel that the Legends of the Red Sun books would be vastly improved by the addition of a Squidbeast.

I am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas – Adam Roberts

Like most people, I’m a bit sick of zombies at this point. Adam Roberts’ Zombie infested version of Dickens’ Christmas Carol sounded like a good idea had I not been suffering from zombie overkill. But the preface (in which Roberts hopes that the idea behind the book will “thump upon the boarded-up windows of [the readers'] houses pleasantly, and no one wish to remake it as a major motion picture starring Will Smith”) sold me, and with such gems as “the churchman’s nose was bulbous and red, a fleshy appendage, but Marley bit into it as eagerly as if it had been a ripe strawberry” on the first page, I assumed this would be entertaining. And it really is, but I don’t think you could read it all at once. In small doses, well spaced out, the zombie jokes are funny and the illustrations (credited to one Zom Leech) are hilarious. Read at a stretch, though, Queen Victoria saying “we are not Zom-used” might drive anyone to commit violence.

Things We Are Not – (ed) Christopher Fletcher

I’m no good at reviewing anthologies of short stories by different authors. But this is a really good collection of queer short fiction. The title story, by Brandon Bell, is probably the best thing about the collection; working within a whole set of popcultural references that delighted me, Bell still manages a story that is not about these references. Eden Robins’ “Switch” was another story that stood out for me, with the sort of nonchalant weirdness that I actually associate more with the beginnings of speculative fiction novels. Perhaps this is why I was so annoyed when it ended. Then there’s “Reila’s Machine” by Therese Arkenberg and “The World in His Throat” by Lisa Shapter; good, classic science fiction – and “Pos-psi-bilities” by Jay Kozzi that is a sort of coming-of-age story with a comparatively slight Sfnal element. It’s a fantastic collection, it’s available here or on Amazon, and I think you ought to read it.

The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness

When I read Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go in January I was rushing between continents (it was something I bought in an airport and read on a plane) and as a result I don’t think I ever officially gushed about it here. But I did thrust it at a lot of people I met – as dystopian, science fictional, gender-aware (it won a Tiptree award earlier this year) YA literature it was exactly the sort of thing I was likely to love. The Ask and the Answer takes off from the rather cliffhanger-ish moment that ended the previous book. Todd and Viola, Ness’ protagonists, are separated, and set to work in different parts of the town. While Todd’s work lies among the Spackle, the original inhabitants of the planet, Viola becomes entangled with a terrorist group of sorts, that wishes to remove the truly sinister Mayor Prentiss from power. As Martin Lewis says in this review, this is not an adventure story, but a war novel. I’d forgotten just how relentless Ness is sometimes; I don’t know when I’m going to read this again because it is emotionally so exhausting. I don’t know where the third book (which I expect will be every bit as brilliant as the first two) will take the story, but I can’t imagine it’ll be anywhere pleasant.

What have you been reading?

June 29, 2009

Nothing but praise for you, my dear

Shristi publishers continue to bring out cutting edge works by young Indian writers. Other books from them that I’ve read include Tuhin Sinha’s That Thing Called LOVE, and Novoneel Chakraborty’s A Thing Beyond Forever (which I saw in a bookshop yesterday in a new edition and with a new cover. This proves that I was wrong in saying that the language of the book might be too dense for the average reader. My faith in readers is thus re-established). Yesterday I found myself buying four new books that have come out since I left the country, and last night I read Arpit Dugar’s Nothing For You My Dear: Still I Love You….!
Arpit Dugar is a very young writer indeed – he’s 22. Impressively, he chooses to write from the point of view of a character older than himself, 26 year old Avinash Jain. The parallels between Dugar and Avinash are obvious – they both (from the information about the author given on the book’s inner front cover) have attended the same educational institutions, and are both from Jain families. At one point, due to a minor blip in editing, perhaps, a character even addresses Avinash as “Arpit”. With so strong an identification, it is impressive that Dugar manages to view his protagonist in a detached and critical way. Here he is describing Avinash on the first page of the book, where he admits straight off that his character isn’t perfect:

Avinash was the kind of guy who actually got on your nerves in the very first meeting. His physical appearance was no less than that of a super-model, his way of dressing, his smartness and of course his intelligence attracted everyone around him.

The book is structurally complex, with its story within a story. Avinash Jain’s parents are forcing him to marry Neha Bhandari, and as a dutiful son he cannot deny them their wish. He therefore begs Neha to reject him instead, and when Neha (who has fallen in love with him through the photos she’s seen) demurs, tells her the story of his relationship with Lisha, the girl he hoped to marry. The bulk of the book consists of Avinash’s narration of the story of his life and love.

You or I might tell such a story in a couple of lines. But Dugar’s narrator has clearly been bottling things up and needs to talk about it. As a result we are presented with a number of tiny details that make the whole thing real and add poignance to our understanding of the tale. Details such as this, when Avinash describes his hostel bedroom:

Then there were my gadgets, a personal desktop computer with almost all the gadgets loaded. There were two keyboards, I remember, one was of the normal style and the other was the folding one. There were two mouses even, one was Microsoft’s wireless optical mouse and the other one was the touch pad one. All the eight USB ports of my board remain occupied. Two of them were used by the wireless mouse connector and the folding keyboard. The third was used by the TATA Indicom internet card. The fourth was for the web camera. The fifth port was for the printer, which most of the time remained out of cartridge. The sixth port was an external hard drive, 500 gigabytes. And the seventh and eighth were left open for any extra peripherals to be used. Generally pen drives took hold on them.

A number of people have commented on the “student” flavour of recent novels, many of which seem to be set at least partly in an educational institution, possibly because the bulk of the readership are students or people who were very recently students. So you have Chetan Bhagat and Tushar Raheja writing about IIT life, Ravi Subramanian and Harshdeep Jolly tackling the IIMs, and Soma Das doing her bit for JNU. But the above is about as authentic a picture of student life as I have ever seen. While the references to Tata and Microsoft may seem like product placement, they actually function as a commentary on the importance of brands in daily life, as well as giving the reader a strong sense of context. Dugar is clearly aware of this, as he begins the book with a list of brands, so that we know all about Avinash almost before we know who he is. It’s a satirical take on consumer culture that is done in a startlingly subtle way for a young author and a first novel. In fact, the care with which this book has been written and edited gives the lie to Avinash’s claim that he’s not good with grammar and vocabulary, “I find grammar is some bullshit for crammers”. He has, among other gifts, a positive genius for metaphor.

I felt excitement spreading in my chest like a pleasant cactus.

One of the things that fascinated me about the book is how Dugar negotiates the gender issue. Many of Avinash’s close friends (Lenika, Akanksha, Ria, Tia) are female, for example, so he clearly values what the women around him bring to his life. He is also aware that men and women are fundamentally different, something that feminists have tried to make us forget. Thus his pronouncements on women are hesitant, as if he knows he may be giving offense and is afraid to claim authority. And yet he clearly speaks from experience Some examples:

I don’t know why girls only tell half the story. Don’t mind Neha but most of them love playing mind games and it is truly said that even the one who made them cannot judge what’s going on in their minds. And I believe that is the thing which we guys are so crazy about. Girls are so innocent and beautiful in their own ways.

I had heard from my friends that girls call boys sweetie, honey, cheeku-pie, hubby-dubby when they are in love with them.

The girls are in true sense the gamblers. They actually know the techniques to control us.

When you see a beautiful girl you actually fprget everything. Even Einstein in his theory of relativity mentioned that “Time is relative. When you are with a beautiful girl, the whole day will pass like a few seconds. On the other hand, when you are with a fat ugly lady, you will find a few seconds like years passing out”.

She came late to the college on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Maybe because we are allowed to wear casuals on those days and don’t mind but girls take hell lot of time in getting ready, choosing the best outfits and wearing the make-up.

Some of my friend once told me that staring is half the victory in love.

Understanding that women are fundamentally purer and more innocent than men, Avinash shows a wonderfully tender protective streak. He takes chivalry seriously.

I knew it had created a bad impression of my attitude but I never like attending booze sessions. It depresses me, so I avoid it. I am not against it, but I don’t support it in presence of girls and women even. It is something against my ethics.

And after all, what girl can resist being cared for?

The book is not without its flaws, however, and both of the things which spoilt it for me were factual errors. The first was a mere question of haircare. Lisha, at the point when Avinash meets her, has hair that is “cut in steps”, something that Avinash could probably not have recognised were it not straight. Additionally, he later describes her hair as straight. Yet at that first meeting, she also has “a curl carelessly on her forehead”. It seems extremely unlikely, though with curlers and straighteners freely available on the market anything is possible. And anyway, as has been discussed before on this blog, authors are frequently ignorant of the differences between straight and curly hair.

The second problem is one of timing. Towards the end of the book, Avinash waits for Lisha at the Ansal Plaza. Lisha telephones (half an hour late) from Sarojini Nagar, to say she’ll be fifteen minutes. Now, we’re told that Lisha is always late, but no reader could seriously believe that either of them think the journey even possible in fifteen minutes. What about the South Extension bottleneck? Unless we assume that Lisha also has no sense of direction as well as no sense of time, it is hardly feasible.

But it is possible that these minor criticisms arise out of bitterness and jealously from a critic who has never had a book published, yet is almost 24. All in all, a fine effort.

May 21, 2009

And the fifth sign shall be sweetened popcorn

People tend not to give me religious tracts. I’m not entirely sure why – perhaps they don’t like what they hear of my conversation as I walk down a street; perhaps I don’t look like the sort of person they want in their religion; perhaps I am actually invisible. But on tuesday as I walked to college a man at a street corner handed me this, and I took it.

Unlike many other religious tracts, this one merely lays out the totally scientific evidence for you, the reader, to put together.

The first page tells the story of a reckless driver who refuses to listen to warnings on the car radio about a collapsed bridge because he is too busy listening to the sports news. His car plunges into the water and he dies. (This is a metaphor).

A long list of signs and warnings that are being ignored follows. This includes violence, rape, terrorism, AIDS, and the like. However, the really convincing argument for the coming apocalypse?

By the way, this mad rush was foretold by Daniel 2,500 years ago, as evidence of “THE TIME OF THE END” (Dan 12:4); “Many shall run (rush) to and fro”.
“The travel industry is now the biggest industry in the world.

Other problems

Sex Manipulation: “For this and some sort of sex manipulation taking place between fallen angels and women in Noah’s day, God’s judgement was to wipe them all off with a flood, except Noah and his family who trusted in Him. Weird experiments that are taking place today.

Mice: (As a part of the Animal-Human Hybrid section) “Inside their brains are living human neurons that help them to see, hear and think”.

Gay people: (This is a long section, encompassing most of the booklet)

New York got a powerful warning in the destruction of the Twin Towers, but this was wirth the hands of evil men, but I think a judgement on the extremely perverting influence flowing out of Hollywood and San Francisco could be a mighty earthquake and tsunami to hit the West coast of the USA. but not at all limited to that area.

Sex teaching in schools is fanning the fires of passion in young people. A report in Newsweek says “They have gay assemblies, with speakers extolling the virtues of gayhood”, and go on to say how gay pop idols “Help promote experimentation among teenagers. Kids today are willing to try just about anything”.

…talented and professional people are often involved. Playing a leading part in this is the increasing Occult and Satanic activity, promoted and fanned on by the Internet and similar electronic devices.

There is no account of Homosexual or Lesbian marriage in Sodom, yet suddenly now hundreds of thousands of couples are lining up to take vows and go through a ceremony which, until how, has been the right of a man and woman only.

AIDS + tourism: “It began with the Homosexuals and by illicit sex spread to the Heterosexuals too, so that the increasingly rapid world travel adds to the increasingly rapid spread of AIDS.

The Church, now the laughing stock of demons: “Instead of boldly proclaiming what God says about this, they are ordaining practising homosexual men and women to the highest offices in the churches and helping promote the cause of the Antichrist religions which are aggressively aiming to take over these Christianized lands.
An apologetic, compromising Church must be the laughing stock of demons and scornful men, and to the Lord Himself it must be as he said of the Church in Laodicea, “Because you are lukewarm, I will spue you out of my mouth“.

The Mark: “The long talked-of MARK has been developing in unexpected ways and could soon become universal REALITY. Don’t be fearful, but be careful what you sign.

Global Warming: I wasn’t aware that this was still an issue, what with the sudden rise in piracy. It is clear that pastafarianism is an Antichrist Religion.

Yet with all this, there is hope. The writer (a representative of End Time Ministries, located in Kilkenny) wants to be saved, and he hopes you will be too.

January 19, 2009

Copasetic results of internet searches

I learnt a new word today.

I have returned to the motherland for a few days and have spent today meeting people and looking at books. Since I was last here, a number of things that might interest me have been published – I was glad to finally pick up Vandana Singh’s The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet. However, one book whose existence had completely escaped my notice (and the notice of Jai and Aadisht, who were present when it was discovered) was Novoneel Chakraborty’s A Thing Beyond Forever.

The question of why we hadn’t noticed the book before is a difficult one to answer. I suspect it has something to do with the title. I’ve said before that gratuitous ellipses and the word “love” in capitals are important for popularity, and ATBF has neither. It tries to make up for this in its subtitle (of sorts, I wouldn’t think it was a subtitle were it not on the cover and spine), “The reward for every true love is not love…” The reader will immediately perceive that while “love” is written in lower case, it is mentioned twice to make up for it. Still, I don’t think this will prove adequate, even though the ellipses are all one could wish. And my reason for saying so is this – ATBF is simply too difficult a read.

This is not to suggest for a moment that ATBF is a bad book. On the contrary, the dense, lush prose at the beginning of the book reminds one of the opening pages of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast or some of Joseph Conrad’s more evocative passages. Consider:

The girl had never witnessed anything like this before. The place, like future, was an arcanum but, unlike it, there was an air of democracy all over. The view resembled the surreal painting of utopia which the brush of her rapturous wishes had made on the canvass of her heart, since childhood. It wasn’t exactly heaven but something more beatific and specific. It was a dream. And the ambience sprayed a déjà senti feeling on her.

Srishti Publishers’ earlier publication, Tuhin Sinha’s That Thing Called LOVE: An Unusual Romance… and the Mumbai Rain was praised because “no other book will give you as many big words for only a hundred rupees“. That was then. For the same price, ATBF outclasses it utterly. This is clear even on the back covers of the two books. TTCL’s protagonist merely had to “strike a balance between chimera and actuality”; ATBF’s protagonist, Radhika, is not only taken through “a cavalcade of exclusive events”, but even after she receives “the copasetic answers” (this is my new word; after much headscratching over whether it existed the internet informed me that it really does) the book is not over.

According to the back cover, ATBF is about Dr. Radhika Sharma, “an aberrant and arrogant feminist” on the outside. The book offers a frank and unembarrassed look at gender relations. Even the cover has the silhouette of a woman in pink gesturing after the silhouette of a man in a blue tie. Cutting straight to the heart of it, the book tells us that despite her feminism, Radhika attracts men so that “they felt the torch of civililization revolt between their legs” (not my emphasis). During the book’s magnificently written sex scene, Chakraborty explains the difference between men and women, showing a definite familiarity with Freud when he describes “the gap within her – the gap which epitomizes womanhood”. Women do not have torches.

The sex scene itself deserves to be quoted in its entirety (because it is so difficult to find well-written sex) but a few lines will have to suffice.

He put the tip of his thirsty tongue on her back and slithered up like a sexy snake… He descended and touching her breasts with his face reached the belly. He, with the ferocity of a caged carnivore, rubbed his cheeks on it and encircled her belly button with the tip of his tongue that was, she knew, poisoned with indomitable* passion… Next, the figure took her inside the adjacent room which, like the end of the corridor, was brightly lit but with the white luminous bulbs of true love.

*Like the Gauls.

August 31, 2008

Spreading my tentacles…in LOVE

The first time I met Aadisht he gave me a copy of Ravi Subramanian’s* execrable If God Was a Banker. Some months later on a lovely November afternoon we sat in a cafe and roared over Tuhin Sinha’s That Thing Called LOVE: An Unusual Romance…and the Mumbai Rain. We haven’t read the new Chetan Bhagat book yet, but a certain pattern seems to be developing.

So in July I thought it fitting to gift him a copy of The Saga of LOVE Via Telephone…Tring Tring by one Pankaj Pandey. But he went back to Bombay the next day and I hadn’t had a chance to read it until I came across a copy this afternoon.

It seems that capitalising LOVE and putting in some ellipses is fashionable among young writers at the moment. Hopefully this post will find takers, therefore.

Anyway. The Saga of LOVE Via Telephone…Tring Tring (referred to as LVT for the rest of this post) tells the story of an engineering student named Pankaj and his girlfriend Shikha. Pankaj’s first encounter with Shikha is described in the first paragraph of the book:

She emerged through the lane from her classroom with open hair, a tinge of lip-liner, walking next to hundreds of students, some standing right in her path. Without getting perturbed, she walked across the lawn, went to the library, returned her books, and walked back on the same path before disappearing out of sight.
It was amazing…
I have never seen a girl behave in such a different manner.

Stunned by Shikha’s (apparently unique) method of returning her library books, Pankaj feels that he has to get to know her. So he approaches her on Orkut with a friendship request.

Within ten days of my love at first sight, I had started mailing her on Orkut. For the first six days I did not receive any reply. But I was not the one to be easily disheartened. I continued to mail her at regular intervals till she was forced to enquire about me. I just wanted to be noticed by her.

Pankaj’s methods of meeting girls are brought into some sort of perspective when we learn this about his roommate Anurag:

He possessed the knack for flirting, making friends and waiting for girls outside their houses, just in front of their windows so that he could catch a glimpse of them.

Anyway, Pankaj and Shikha begin to talk on the phone and fall for each other. As Pankaj himself puts it,

I would rather say that I gradually started spreading my tentacles in love.

Yep, we have hit upon what is possibly the only book published in India in 2008 to deal with tentacle porn.

Like That Thing Called Love, every page of LVT yields new treasures that I’d love to share. But here are a few favourites:

I was in search of a book which would help me in understanding girls – their worries, anxiety, what they liked and what they hated most in boys. I went to “Crossword” where such books are easily available.

She was an obdurate sort of girl, with a quiet nature. She always seemed lost in her world. She was blunt to the core. In real sense she was a ‘scrounge’.

“was she in nemesis?” I thought several times.

Then, started my saturnine days.

Every single moment two things were uppermost in my mind – Shikha and Shri Krishna.

“Trauma has restricted the movement of life force from one to the other centre and caused the energy system to go haywire. He needs serious attention. He has become dormant,” was the doctor’s advice.

I love her unconditionally. If the situation warrants, I’ll be manqué.

What will Pankaj do in this perplexed and imbroglio situation?

There are also some amazing clothing related sections:

“Why don’t you try that parrot coloured shirt and chocolate coloured trousers? You dazzle in that combination.”

Each one of us decked ourselves to the best in swanky clothes, cool hair-style and funky looks.

I simply say “grey” because I lack the vocabulary to describe the colour of her trousers.

And then there’s Pandey’s fondness for literary quotations – one at the beginning of each chapter and a few scattered instances in the text. Included are Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Austen, Marcel Proust and P.B. Shelley, among others. There’s a sublime moment where he quotes Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner at a time when Pankaj is especially depressed and earnestly explains that “The ice of Samuel Taylor had become my tears”.

LVT ends rather tragically, with Pankaj and Shikha parted due to circumstances. But the hundred odd pages that make up the book are only a part of the Saga of LVT. As we are informed on the last page,

This story cannot end here…
Saga of love is indicating evocative scenes of hubbub and excitement…
Wait for the next part…

I shall.

*Who I’m not related to, as far as I know.

June 27, 2008

Important lessons

June 4, 2008

Improving Literature for Women

Like every nice girl, I am constantly seeking to improve myself through edifying literature. My first real exposure to the genre (tragically “moral science” was not a part of my school curriculum) after the Ideal Boy/Girl posters was this set of scans from Dr. Harold Shryock’s classic On Becoming a Woman, from which I learnt of the dangers of fiction reading, the horror of masturbation, and the wholesomeness of female genital mutilation. This was followed by a present from Alie titled What Every Married Woman Should Know* a couple of years ago.
A recent trip to Daryaganj yielded, among other things, two books that looked most educational. Both were aimed at the young-ish female reader.

The first of these is titled Girls, You’re Important: Instructions for Catholic Girls. It is by the Reverend T.C Siekmann, and was published in the 1950s. The internet denies its existence. It’s divided into short chapters, and I will quote briefly from some of these:

Liberty and License
The thoughtful girl will not resent regulations meant to save her. She will accept them in the spirit of genuine kindness in which they are given. She will appreciate liberty by avoiding license.

Glamour and Modesty
There is one kind of character that the good girls should never imitate. That is the attractive girl who does not hesitate to be suggestive. She makes herself appealing in an enticing way that is nothing short of temptation. Much of her appeal comes not so much from her good looks as from her deliberate efforts to entice. She may be very winning and very coy, but her motive is bad. How unfortunate that she should, of direct purpose, set out to undermine the virtue of the weak.

Engaged persons, near to marriage, are permitted to kiss each other chastely out of true love, but even for them prolonged and passionate kissing is wrong. For the ordinary run of teenagers, not close to marriage, kissing between boy and girl is dangerous. If it does not amount to sin for the girl it may do so for the boy, and she would then be an occasion for his sin.

A good, clear-thinking girl will ever be respected by a boy. He will later on appreciate the reserve and good sense with which she guided him. Men are remarkably alike in this one thing and very young men are no exception: They need the help of women to keep them on the right track.

Cooking for Fun
The girl who is rapidly approaching womanhood should have a natural yearning to express herself in preparing food.

Other Hobbies
There are, of course, many hobbies for girls besides cooking and sewing.

Boy or Girl?
Although some activities of men and women or of boys and girls overlap, certain types of work or sport are out of place for one group or the other. The reason is simply that a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl and each is by nature and interest particularly devoted to certain fields. No amount of wishful thinking can make a real girl a boy or a real boy a girl.

A girl ought to be beautiful. She should use her beauty to make herself the most nearly perfect girl possible.

[Its] good effects are easy to see. We learn better English. We copy gracious mannerisms.

Keep Informed
Communism is the enemy behind which the enemy of Christ’s Church lurks today. It is a godless movement, a materialistic way of life that cannot stand the doctrines and practices of religion. Already seething in revolt for many years, this dangerous enemy is ready to strike whenever the opportunity seems ripe.

The Reading Habit
She will want to know the latest kinds of furniture and home decorations; she will find delight in discovering new recipes for exciting meals and snacks.

Other Vocations
The girl who trained for a career will often find her knowledge and skill highly useful later on in the home.

The Chance of a Lifetime
Many a non-Catholic girl is practically waiting for someone to introduce her to the Catholic Church. You can do her this favour.

The other book is by one R.Bajaj, and does not appear to have been edited at all. It is titled How to Impress Man. It is so execrable in its grammar that it ceases to be funny after the first couple of pages and I have thus been unable to read it. So I’ll just give you what it says on the back cover (unedited, of course) and hope someone volunteers to read it for me instead.

Woman has tender and emotional attributes. Education and cultural development lend grace and glamour to a woman. Physical beauty is skin-deep, mental, enrichment is everlasting. Artificiality is the bane of womanly acquirements. Simplicity, virtue and understanding, with make a woman universally valuable and respectable.
The book deals with woman’s inherent qualities which when properly tended and nurtured, will have soothing effects of humanity. A woman wins all by love and sympathy, and not by made-up behaviour. With enough of practical suggestions, guidance and episode the book is unique in its field.

*It deserves some extensive quoting, but my bookshelves are in chaos and I can’t find it. I am suitably ashamed.

March 25, 2008


I’m a lovely person, but I do think some occasional shaming of baboons is right and necessary

I was just trawling the internet for interesting posts by Indian bloggers in order to do my duty by Blogbharti. I’ve often discovered interesting blogs this way, and it can be a lot of fun. Today, though, I discovered someone named Visithra.

This is Visithra on March 7:

So you tell me doesn’t this blatantly scream RACIAL PROFILING????????Private companies practice RACIAL DISCRIMINATION on a daily basis and what are these so called avengelers doing about it? NOTHING! Reality is INDIANS ARE A MINORITY – no matter who is in power, you will feel the pinch, you will be discriminated. The key is to excel in your own fields, work had and smart.

This is Visithra two weeks later on March 21:

And why are black/ africans so up front and persistent. Don’t they understand the word NO? These aren’t the first time I’ve had problems with them.

Sigh. Internet, you never fail to throw up winners, do you?

July 31, 2007

Of college students, evangelism, and Being Eaten First.

The necessity of propogating the poetry of William McGonagall has been explained here by Eldritch McGonagall Evangelist Aadisht Khanna.

McGonagall not only completely escapes the narrow, limiting rules of scansion (and, possibly, physics), but also manages to inspire. His poems often have a Message. Take, for example, his The Sprig of Moss, in which he comforts his readers with an inspiring example of life well lived.

And when life’s prospects may at times appear dreary to ye,
Remember Alois Senefelder, the discoverer of Lithography

Or, an even better example, The Demon Drink, which warns the reader to stay away from alcohol, that “curse of society, and its greatest annoyer”.

But McGonagall’s moral worth is secondary to his true purpose (explained so clearly by Aadisht), that of rousing the Dread One . So keen was McGonagall to make himself heard for this purpose that he even walked across Scotland (refer to the Wikipedia article) to Balmoral to ask the queen if he might become Poet Laureate after the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. One can only imagine the results, had the Queen in fact been in residence at the time. She was not, and it was left to one Spike Milligan, proto Eldritch McGonagall Evangelist, to spread the word many years later.

When I first read the writings of McGonagall, I knew it was my duty to spread the word. Yet, like a fool(and not being a Bombay quizzer), I thought this was all I could do, ignoring all the other ways I could bring about the world he envisioned. Until a friend opened my eyes.

Leafing through a selection of McGonagall’s poetry, she asked “What is so special about this man? In college, there are any number of ‘poets’ who write exactly like this”. Blasphemous, I thought at first, but then I remembered the times I had seen poetry by college students in magazines and yearbooks, on their blogs, on the boards along the main corridor in college. And I laughed (yes, laughed!) at them then – I said cutting things about people who wrote poetry and obviously read very little of it. I mocked what I saw as their inability to scan and their complete lack of rhythm.

Now I know better. McGonagall may be dead and almost forgotten, but a huge number of people-who-write-poetry-in-college have been keeping his legacy alive for years. And what I find the most awe inspiring, what has really made me a believer, is that most of these young writers have never even heard of McGonagall. they are not merely imitating a great writer, it is an irresistable, instinctive force that makes them do so. Clearly, there is a religious truth behind all this somewhere.

And so, I have found my calling. I cannot write like Them, clearly I am not truly inspired. But I can draw attention to their greatness, I can defend their work from mockery, and I can do my duties as an EMcG Evangelist as faithfully as possible. And wait.

Edit: Billy Connolly reads The Bridge of Tay with Heartfelt Passion. (Thanks, Alie)