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Night Train to Lisbon And the Mountains Echoed Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Inferno The Last Lecture Sons of Sita

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BOOK REVIEW - A Clash of Kings - Part 2 - A Song of Fire and Ice

November 25, 2013

Pooooof....Where do I begin!!

Took me forever to finish the book...its a heavy tome..to say the least...900 pages long! Think before you begin on this journey. It will suck you right in. And before you know it, you are down 200-300 pages, with no way to go but forward.

Having said that, the book is BRILLIANT ! It literally is a CLASH OF KINGS, a land with 4 kings, each doing their damndest best to get to the throne. I confess that I have seen the series before starting with the books. So I was fully aware of what happens at the end. However, that does not, in any way, taint the experience of the book.

It is gripping, heart-breaking and jaw-dropping brilliant for the most part. The stories narrated from the purview of the characters is wonderful. As a friend rightly pointed out, there is a lot of attention given to pointless characters (Theon Greyjoy and Ser Davos being some). Although I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be some point to those stories as well. There always is a point.

Personally, I felt the book could easily have been cut short. But I understand GRR's need to state elaborately all that he does. The book has a lot of elements that have been skipped in the series (obviously!). One must note the beauty with which Arya's story is told. It is simply fantastic.

The plot in this book is not as scintillating as the 1st part. Or may be I feel so because I have already seen the series and knew forehand what was to come ahead. There is no "OMG-WHAT-JUST-HAPPENED" kind of moment in this book. But the build up to the end is gripping.

As with every series, you grow with the characters you read about. So here I am, hating Joffrey even more than I thought possible, damning Cersei for being the woman that she is, loving Tyrion more and more with each passing day, cursing Sansa for being so stupid and feeling so sorry for the Starks. I could go on and on.

So, as people who have read the 1st installment would agree with me, WE ARE HOOKED. We are on board this journey. Not knowing how and where it is going to take us. There is a certain magic in these books. Be it the author's writing. Or the beauty in the characters. But there is beauty.

My reasons for reading - 1)TYRION - his quotes, his story, his wit, his humour. I am completely enamored by him.

2) ARYA, BRAN and JON - just to find out where their stories lead. The concept of the "children of the forest" is fascinating.

Hop on people, it sure is an exciting and thrilling road ahead.

 

PS: Part 1 review...coming shortly..

Take a break…seek…discover..

July 24, 2013

A friend recently returned from a trip to Leh, Ladakh and Manali. I meet him in the office canteen for breakfast. I was completely awestruck. The guy sitting in front of me was there, but seemed like his mind was elsewhere. He went on to answer the barrage of questions from all of us about the trip, struggling, to find words or anything else that would do justice to the journey he had just undertaken. He seemed so out of place. I even joked to him saying you looking at chairs, tables and computers, but in your  head they all still look like mountains, snow, lakes, streams and more.

This encounter got me thinking. How does one feel after returning from a journey? How does one grapple with   reality and routine after one experiences so much novelty and adventure? How does one coax our minds to      get on with our seemingly mundane existence? Everything must seem boring. Nothing new. Been there. Done that. I guess for the initial few days, we still live in the lands that we have left behind. Then we slowly start to  assemble them into memories and stash it away in our brains, until eternity. The stash, we conveniently  retrieve, whenever we need a respite from the daily workings of life and the mind. A stash, which instantly  does 2 things – 1) brings a smile upon our faces and 2) takes us back to that place, that time.

Pictures can mean a thousand words. And they do just that. Some choose to capture moments of their journeys in their minds; some choose to do it on film. These are the most wonderful memoirs of a trip and it is no wonder that they are the most common ways to catalog a journey. Each of us have heaps of such stashes. Our perfect medicine for happiness.

The rigors of daily life get to us, sooner or later. Especially in the times that we live in, we all are so bogged down with work, stress, pressure, relationships, that we all nurse the desire in us, to leave it all behind and take off. Take a break. Find some peace and solitude.  No one to bother us. No one to question us. No one seeking a share of our time. What you decide to do with  “your time” is “your choice”. That is the pleasure in travel. And this is all that it takes to make everything  seem beautiful. Suddenly, life doesn’t seem that bad. It uplifts us.

We all leave a part of ourselves behind when we travel. And we can retrieve those parts only when we visit  that place again. These “breaks” do not have to be very long. They can be as short as a long drive. For me, just  thinking about those places suffices to release the onslaught of memories. But taking that break is necessary.  Rejuvenation of the mind has become necessary to function normally.

They say travel inspires one to introspect, delve deeper into the self. Travel inspires revelations. May be travel unravels some hidden facets to our own selves. Or travel just sets oneself free. I am sure at this point; a lot of us are nodding our heads. I have not yet experienced freedom in any better form than when I am in a new place, new surroundings, new people, new food, new everything.

I may or may not have answered the questions that serve as the premise of this article. The answers are still being sought. But in the time it has taken me to write this, my mind has wandered from where I started off to now thinking about all the places I have been to and what they mean to me! And may be it does that to you as well. That’s the beauty of travel.

Let the wanderlust kick in.

Furious Loneliness.. a thought..

July 17, 2013

I am suffering from what some would call a "reader's block". Some of the books I have read recently were so intense that I somehow cannot seem to immerse myself into books now-a-days. So rather than read for the sake of reading, I have decided to take a sabbatical from reading. Let myself soak-in all the thoughts and learning from the previous few books.

I have already put forth my thoughts on this wonderful book I read called "Night Train to Lisbon". Here, I present an extract from the book that I absolutely love. It speaks of something we all experience. Something we all fear; some a little more than other. "The fear of loneliness". This is how it goes -

"Is it so that everything we do is done out of the fear of loneliness? Is that why we renounce all the things that we will regret at the end of our life? Is that why we so seldom speak what we think? Why else do we hold on to all those broken marriages, false friendships, boring birthday parties?

What would happen if we refused all that, put an end to all of that skulking blackmail and stood on our own? If we let our enslaved wishes and the fury at our enslavement rise high as a fountain? For the feared loneliness - what does it really consist of? Of the silence of absent reproaches? Of not needing to creep through the minefield of marital lies and friendly half-truths while holding our breath? Of the freedom to not have anybody across from us at meals? Of the fullness of time that yawns when the barrage of appointments falls silent.

Aren't those wonderful things? A heavenly situation? So why the fear of it? Is it ultimately a fear that exists only because we haven't thought through its object? A fear that we have been talked into by thoughtless parents, teachers or priests? And why are we so sure the others wouldn't envy us if they saw how great our freedom has become? And they didn't seek our company as a result?"

 

That's that. Think.

 

 

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