Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Unbearable lightness of being

Author: Milan Kundera

Before I picked this novel, I was reading its various reviews and one of them said that there's a lot of psychology there. That's the review I would agree with!

It's about four people: Tomas, Tereza, Franz and Sabina primarily. Some of their paths cross the others at various stages of their life. The backdrop if that of russian invasion of Czech. More than the story, the highlight of the novel is the explanation of the actions of the various characters: why they do what they do; and the general psychology of human beings. It's very interesting to read their line of thought. I really liked one statement:

"Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third or fourth life in which to compare various decisions."

What a beautiful saying! There's not much I can say about this book because it is a little beyond me.

Bottomline: A good read.

The Name of the Rose

Author: Umberto Eco

The story started in a very interesting manner. A monk, William and his disciple, Adso, are invited to a monastery to solve the puzzle of the mysterious deaths happening there. William is shown to be a person with great acumen. All the dead bodies are found in bizarre places and in the most gross manner. William wants to look into the library but it is the forbidden ground. Nobody but the librarian is allowed to enter the inner sanctums of library. There are people who are eager to provide him with some information but one by one they seem to be on the hit list of the killer. There are a number of suspicious people but there's no evidence.

The beginning is very impressive but I found it dulled as the story progressed especially places where the author goes into the religious history of Europe. It isn't the kind of murder mystery that I was expecting.

Bottomline: An ok read.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Love in the time of cholera

Author: Gabriel García Márquez

I liked this book a lot probably because I'd been looking for a nice love story for sometime and this fit the bill!

It's about the life of a boy, Florenzo, who falls in love with a girl, Fermina Daza, at a very tender age. He's too shy to admit it to her and hence derives satisfaction by just watching her from different places and different angles. Once his feelings get communicated to the girl she also reciprocates appropriately and soon they get involved in an intense love affair known to all those who matter except her father. When the word gets to him, he reacts just as a father of a girl would in a love story - with vehemence. He wanted his girl to be the star of the society and he'd worked hard for it. So he couldn't let his dreams be shattered by an ordinary post man. To distract Fermina, he takes her on a long journey but where there's a will there's a way and the two find ways to communicate to each other. However, years after when she returns to her town she doesn't even want to see Florenzo and marries a rich doctor Juvenal Urbino. They have kids who grow up, get married and eventually the doctor dies. Florenzo still hasn't forgotten Fermina but he has changed in a lot of other ways.

The story is set in the time when cholera was spreading in the carribean and hence I think the name. I found the novel to be very well written and interesting.

Bottomline: A very good read.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Rantidev was the son of a king named Sankriti. He was very generous and magestic. So much so that he donated and distributed all his wealth among the unfortunates and lived in utter poverty with his family.
Once, he had to go without food and water for a total of 48 days. Due to lack of food his body had started shivering. On the 49th day, he got some food and water from some where. He was about to distribute it among his family members when an ascetic came along and asked for something to eat. It is easy for a millionaire to donate a few hundreds and not even feel a pinch; but the true generosity of a person is manifested when he has to donate that which he dearly wants. True to his nature, Rantidev didn't even flinch before giving some eatables to the ascetic.
After the ascetic left, he again sat down to eat with his family. Just when he'd distributed the food among his family and was about to start his own, a poor man came along. Looking at his pathetic state, Rantidev gave him something to eat. Soon after, another man came along with his dogs saying that he was hungry. So whatever was left from his share of the food, Rantidev gave it to that man and his dogs. Now all he had was some water for one person. That too didn't seem to be destined for him as there came an outcaste. He begged Rantidev for some water. Rantidev felt pity for him and gave him all the water that he had. He proclaimed to God that he wanted to reside in the body of all the people on this earth so that he could absorb the sadness that they experience, leaving them happy; that by offering water to this man all his hunger, thirst and pain had vanished!
This was actually a test by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. they had disguised themselves and appeared as all the hungry guests at the door of Rantidev. They were elated to see the patience and devotion exhibited by him and wanted to grant him a boon. So they appeared before him and told him so. However, Rantidev had done all this without any desire for the fruits of his labor and without any attachment. Hence, he didn't want anything from the Gods. From then on, Rantidev got engrossed in His devotion with all his heart and soul and so did his family.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Shabri was a tribal and belonged to a lower caste. She was a great devotee of God and used to serve the sages with all her love. She used to clean the path on which they travelled, removing stones and pebbles so that their feet wouldn't get hurt. She would cut the wood from the jungle and places it in their huts for cooking food. Pleased with her hardwork and devotion, sage Maatangad gave her a boon that Lord Ram would visit her hut and that she should continue to worship him. Exalted by this boon, she did all the things that she used to do with double the fervor and devotion. She would broom the path on which she expected God to walk till long distances, prepared a place for him in her house, picked the sweetest fruits from the jungle for Him. She tasted each and every fruit that she picked to be sure that it was sweet. As the days progressed she thought that it was getting closer to the visit day and anticipating Him to come any time she would do all these preparations umpteen times in a day. Finally the day come and when she saw God before her, she was in seventh heaven. She welcomed him, washed his feet, worshipped him and offered him the fruits that she'd collected. On tasting those fruits, God had a feeling of bliss.


Gajraaj was an elephant who used to live on the top of a hill. One hot day, he and his friends went downhill to a river to quench their thirst and relax in the water. While Gajraaj was playing in the water with some baby elephants, a giant cobra that used to live in the water, caught his leg and started to pull him inside the water. Seeing this, his friends came to help him and together they started to pull him out but to no avail. When Gajraaj saw that he was losing the battle, he called upon god to help him out. On hearing the troubled voice of his devotee, God appeared before him. Despite the pain, Gajraaj plucked a lotus and offered it to God. He accepted the noble offering from his devotee and beheaded the cobra. Thus saving Gajraaj.


Even after being the cause of Pandavas' exile, Duryodhan couldn't rest in peace. He was always thinking of ways to harm them. This time he pleased sage Duravasa and in return asked him to visit the Pandavas with his army of ten thousand discipiles. He requested that Durvasa should go there just after Pandavas had had their evening meal. The reason being that the Pandavas had been gifted with a magical vessel by god Surya which could provide them with victuals only till before sunset, which was when the Pandavas had their meals. Since the Pandavas wouldn't be able to offer sage Durvasa and his discipiles with any food, it would anger sage Durvasa and he would curse them. Sage Durvasa was oblivious to the scheming mind of Duryodhan and he readily agreed. So one day he along with his discipiles went to visit Pandavas. Pandavas had just had their meals and were taking rest. On seeing sage Durvasa and his discipiles, they welcomed them with respect and honour and invited them to have a meal. Sage Durvasa agreed and he and his discipiles went to the river banks to wash. In the meanwhile, Draupadi was very tense. There was no food left and the magic vessel would also not be able to help as the sun had already set. In despair, she prayed to her beloved god Krishna and implored him to help her in her time of need. Krishna on hearing the pleas of his true devotee immediately left Dwarka and appeared in front of Draupadi. On seeing him, Draupadi began to recite her woes but Krishna stopped her and asked her to first get him some food. Perplexed, Draupadi told him that that was exactly the reason why she was so upset - there was no food in the vessel. Krishna asked her to get the vessel and he found that there was a leaf of spinach left. He told her that it was adequate to fill the stomach of all the people in the world and ate it. Then he asked Sahdev to fetch sage Durvasa and his discipiles. At the same time, on the banks of the river, sage and his discipiles felt as if their stomachs were full and they couldn't eat anything more. Fearing what would happen if they rejected Pandavas' invitation, they decided to simply return back without meeting the Pandavas. So when Sahdev reached the river he couldn't find anyone.
Thus, one who's a true devotee never has to face any difficulties.