Thursday, August 30, 2012

And finally a book review

So I realise that it has been aeons since this blog saw a book post. This belies the fact that I have been voraciously reading in the last few months.
On this very blog I had expressed my disdain for the Kindle and rued the fact that the generation to come might cease to recognise bound books for what they are. Those reservoirs of fact and fiction that have kept me sane through the worst of times, made me laugh till I cried and cry till I laughed. And most of all I questioned whether reading of the Kindle could really give one the satisfaction of reading. Of smelling the scent of a new book, turning the pages, and, once done, hurriedly check the spine for creases (maybe this is just me!) and then lie back and sigh in contentment. Yes, I questioned.
Well as fate would have it we were gifted the Kindle by kind relatives and I ignored it for the first few months, much like one might ignore the vestigial organ. And while I managed to tell myself that I really could wait for the next trip to an English speaking country or for the annual book fair, it seemed to mock me from its corner, dust-ridden, sitting in its grey shell saying -"one click, one click and it can be yours now!".
Then for Valentine's day this year the husband gifted me my annual Amazon gift card.  When we were still Kindle virgins, this gift card was used to buy actual books.
It all began with a harmless 'sample' Kindle book. And before I knew it I had read my way through the entire gift amount. One click. In that very fact lies its appeal and my downfall.
I will still say that it is difficult to hold the Kindle because over years of reading I have worked the art of reading comfortably in bed. And now I need to re-learn the process for the Kindle.
So now that that long, but necessary, digression has been duly brought to your attention I will talk about books.
One book in particular that I finished on the train to work this morning. 'January First'. I guess I was one of the few Oprah watchers that didn't know about Janni. The 5 year old who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, making her one of the youngest persons to be diagnosed with the incurable disorder.
The book is written by her father. And in writing the book, the man has bared his soul in the most matter-of-fact manner that I have ever read.
It has been years since a book disturbed me. When I read, the book plays out like a movie in my head, which I suspect might be the case for many others. For those hours or days I am in the world of the book and what happens, happens around me, sometimes to me. Especially when I read about pain.
With January first, for the first time, I felt uneasy. So much so that I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue reading. After all, it is not everyday that a father can write about his five year old trying to commit suicide.
Yes you read that right.
The book is a harrowing account of the life of the family. And it is cold, hard fact. Which is what makes it chilling. It left me with an inexplicable feeling of distress, sorrow and helplessness.
I cannot pretend to understand the extent of their everyday struggles but I will say this. I have experienced this, albeit on a much lower level. My sister and I were sickly children. Her more than I. And I have seen my parents, in hospital, sitting at her bedside wondering if and when we will go home. Wondering if ever things will be the same. I have seen them become robotic just to get the tasks done and keep their emotions at bay lest they succumb. I have seen them go through the gamut of emotions during and after and it is bloody scary.
I cannot imagine what level of endurance, spirit and mental strength is needed if your child were handed the life sentence. Which is what schizophrenia is.
But the book ends with hope that is always good. The family is still here, still dealing and, like millions of others in this world, taking it one day at a time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

 This blog has much catching up to do. On re-reading the last post I realised that I left off just before the Leuven Food Festival or 'Hapje Tapje' which translates to something very strange when you put it into Google translate (try it!). So much international fare was consumed and ooh'd and aah'd at. A token beer glass purchased and since this is an annual event I will try to make it a collection!
But this was already over two weeks ago. The weekend following saw me on a 16+hour journey to sunny San Diego. Going to the USA has always proved a tad anti climatic. I go with the notions of being able to cart back suitcase full of bargains (which explains the massive, half empty) suitcase that I take along. But shopping in the US has, thus far, been less than exciting. My visits to the 'land of all dreams' as it were, began in 2007 and as Indians will tell you, if you go to the US for work, you've arrived! I've been there pretty much every year since for short stints. This time too I expected to be underwhelmed but suffice to say I was sufficiently whelmed. The conference was great, albeit small (in scientific circles this statement will be understood!) and the food at said conference left much to be desired but all in all - fruitful.
And most importantly, events which shall not be discussed, pulled me out of my rapidly south heading mental state.
For now it is back to Belgium, back home and hopefully back to stay - for a while - before the travel bug starts nagging again!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

What's that you say Mrs. Robinson? Jokin Joe has left and gone away

So current state of mind can be best described as dull. Not dreary, just dull. Going through the motions. Really the title sums it up but it seems to go against the natural order to have bodiless posts. Much like if you bought a book with only the titles of chapters. Even if the book was entitled 'titles' one runs the risk of a disgruntled audience. And I doubt one will get away with playing logic after all one is getting what one was promised.
Anyway so I hope that this bout of the blues can be shooed away with food. Which shall be duly run off at the gym. Wy is it that I chose to move, ok maybe chose is a misrepresentation of facts, why is it that once I moved to the land of sugar in spice and all things nice ( duly washed down by caffeine) that I must be faced with this dilemma day in and day out. To binge or not to binge that is the question. It does not help that the aroma of freshly baked goods covered in chocolate wafts into the nostrils as one walks to work. I guess I could run!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Watched Amadeus again last night. Riveting, moving, sublime it is. Has always been.Watching it as a teenager I could only appreciate the music, if that. A few years later it was the acting, the description of the music. A few years on and the sense of humour made me laugh and last night the I felt the frustration. Salieri's frustration. That line at the end where he pronounces himself patron saint of mediocres rung out loud and clear. Here was a man of unquestionable morals, not lacking in hard work or sincerity but still found lacking. A man who knew that the music he was reading, composed by that "creature" Mozart, was the voice of God. A man who could not comprehend why God would choose to speak through such a fiend and not through him - a man who had dedicated his life and talent to serving God. It is a strange frustration. And has a stranger element to it. You see, in life, Salieri had it all. Naam, izzat, shohrat. Everything that Mozart did not have.
But Salieri was no fool and realised that he did not have the gift. In that one thing and one thing alone Salieri explains the conundrum in its totality - it is a curse to know better and not have the ability to be better.