Friday, 21 December 2012

Manequin

Bald, Blank, Placid, I glance
Outside my glass-panelled window frame.
The glares of the external world
Scrutinize me for the clothes I wear.
I pose, weight balanced on one foot,
Left knee crooked, right hand on my hip,
And you 'that-side-of-the-window' people
Judge me for the clothes I wear,
And the 'this-side-of-the-window' people
Touch the expensive fibres I don,
Move my arms about, close in on me
Like a sole stage-light
Pinning an actor to an 'X' on the stage,
And at night, when people finally stop staring,
The keepers of shop
Wrap their uncaring hands about my waist
As though I am only my costume, my mask,
And I am shoved into a closet
And Locked.

Monday, 3 December 2012


There is the cloud and there is the rain.
There is the wind and there is the cold.
There is the music and there is the dance.
The feeling of elation when there is a melody in life!!!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Chequered Building


The chequered match-box like building
With ladders like a chess-board-
Black windows and concrete bricks,
Climbing up… up…
Framed by sturdy metal rods
Made to climb, to build, to construct
a temporary home!
The chequered building shimmers with
Shades of orange light and black darkness
Playing on its corporeal frame.

Does not our chequered building
With shades of black windows and concrete thoughts
Also shimmer in the shades of orange and black,
Framed by ladders made to climb?
Does it not also construct a temporary home
Of mortal thoughts, loves and feelings?

And one day, the buildings will crumble
Like a lego-set smashed by naughty children
And the oranges and blacks will entwine
A new frame constructed by the very same children!

The Life of Pi- a Narrative Delight


Life of Pi (the Book)

Yann Martel weaves an enthralling story in his narration of Pi’s life. I shall admit- I have not yet watched the movie, but hope to do so soon. And however the movie, the book is all about the narration, the visuals that the words evoke and the plot- definitely the plot! That Martel says Life of Pi is “A Novel” and yet, creates an author’s note for the characters in his story is a move that represents the divide between the author (real) and the author (fictitious). The author’s note is written just as the author writes himself into the rest of the story- becoming vital to the identity of Pi.
The second fascinating point in the narrative was the latter version of Pi’s survival at sea. There was the unbelievable story of the Bengal tiger, but also the story of four people on a boat that parallels the former. Both these stories are narrated to officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport. This story, while only reinforced by the former story, gives another version. So, what can be considered a story and what cannot? The Japanese men initially state that with animals involved, Pi’s narration becomes a story, while the description of only people becomes an explanation of the events after the sinking of the Tsimtsum (the boat on which Pi travels). Pi then asks, when something has to be told to somebody, doesn’t it immediately become a story? Everything that anybody describes is only their story. Of course, Pi is considered to be slightly loose in the head at that point, and the officials do not take him seriously. It’s that mild mannered question (where Pi asks, since neither story could be proved, which one of the two stories the officials wanted to believe) that does the trick. The officials eventually record Pi’s story of the Bengal tiger, thus making it an ‘official’ record. Yet, the record is based on a tale narrated by a man where no proof is given to it. This questions the validity of fact and fiction and the interchangeability of both.
I loved Martel’s characterisation of everybody, of how he fused a multitude of gods into one identity while Pi was at sea, and the humanness of animals. The names, too, were brilliantly manipulated. Piscine- like piscean; like water; like swimming pools versus salty oceans; like a fish in its element. Piscine who becomes ‘pissing’ for a very short period of time- leads to a life where everything is about marking one’s territory with one’s own piss and vomit. And then Pi. Pi which goes on to infinity, without end- like the endless expanses of water, like the unending resolution that the sixteen year old maintains, like the variety of sea-life, like the magnitude of life and living at the face of death. ‘Piscine’ is also a nomenclatural term- just as the character who goes on to study biology, who analyses the creatures he had lived with and had seen on his sojourn at sea.
Then there was Richard Parker and Thirsty None Given, whose names got interchanged. The hunter became the tiger and the tiger became a hunter, and that hunter-tiger was also a circus animal that jumped hoops. And Thirsty None Given became a hunter’s name! The movement of Richard Parker, from the small, thirsty tiger cub to the caged animal that roars with hunger at Pi and voraciously gobbles a goat, to the animal on a boat which devours all the other animals on the boat to the wild cat that shows ‘Prusten’ or an act of friendliness ending with the tiger in the wild.
Finally, the blindness and partial insanity: because of the food that Richard Parker and Pi consume, they both turn temporarily blind. At this point, Pi hears a French accented character who is purely non-vegetarian. I.e. he does not understand Pi’s description of kootu and idli and other vegetarian delights from back home that he sorely missed; instead the French accented voice only understands flesh and blood. Pi thinks it is his delusion. Then he thinks Richard Parker could talk and then he cries. The salt water bringing back his vision, he realises that the French man was indeed a French man, currently butchered by Richard Parker. When Pi reaches land, he is presented as partially insane by the author (fictitious). Yet, he later seems to mellow down, even as he keeps his family a secret from the author (fictitious). Pi, then, becomes a box, closing himself and his current life within, opening out to only what is necessary. This is to some extent akin to Coleridge’s ancient mariner who boxes in his own life, only living the story of the killing of the albatross. Though Colridge’s protagonist does not settle down to get a family (for his deeds are reaped of his act of killing), Pi seems to lead a sombre, normal life haunted by the ghost of a past which becomes his only narrative. He almost becomes caged by his sea-story (in the repetition to the officials, the author (fictitious) and the story which goes back to Mr. Adirubaswamy, a friend of his father’s).
The Life of Pi attains its element of high beauty only because of it narrative style. The plot is captivating and makes the reading a fast-paced and exciting one, but it is the manner in which the author (fictitious) and the grown-up Pi tell their stories- in the language, the small surprises that are sprung on their reader, and the back and forth movement of the story(ies)- that hold the reader transfixed to the words on the page. It is a lovely read and maybe, just maybe, the movie would do it justice!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Diwali 2012

In a moment
to ignite a flame...

The smell of freshness,
and the crisp new dress
that comfortably envelopes your body.
As the soft dawn creeps upon the night,
The glimmer of the lamp reflects in its own oil-
Facing the sun, flame welcomes flame.
The diyas whisper a flickering ovation
to the lord of light.
But as the sun climbs upward into the sky,
The wick grows shorter and shorter,
devours the oil,
Feeds the lamp-light,
And dies slowly into the morning.
Even the festival of light
ends in the soft darkness of night.

And yet, in a moment,
It ignites a flame!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

To Neverwhere and back!


To Neverwhere and back!
Why do we not slip through the cracks-
Find the Under-world;
With all sanity in a whirl?
Why do we always re-turn,
And not live in a constant Neverwhere?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Man With the Violet Shoes


The man with the violet shoes
Strums a violet tune,
And walks a purple walk.
The man with the violet shoes
Laughs a violet laugh
And whispers dreams of indigo.

On long-night-talks
Of drop-dead-gorgeous buffaloes
And serpentine snakes…
On the meandering path
Of a flickering flame,
And the engulfing dark
Those violet shoes embark.

The man with those violet shoes
Sculpts a stream of blues
And in that scarlet hue,
Sight and sound and touch imbue
The harmony of a violet tune.
And the man with the violet shoes
Puts down his guitar,
And the world, once more, is silent and dark.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Mind-wander


Silence… whispers-white flutter in the night.
Shadows of hopes and loves like a wisp of air.
The moss, harsh green, grumbles at the rocks that hold it,
The force of the waves her only rescuer.

As the sun strokes the melting blues of the water,
A whole set of life living unseen,
from human eyes, human touch, human smell
Vanishes with the murk of the night.

Silence… like a mellowed prayer
Sits upon the windowsill of thought,
And reminds of the need for joy and happiness, and peace
And all that the softness of the dark instigates.

Listening to nothing, looking at nothing,
The ears and eyes fall dead to one world,
And opens onto vistas bold and grand-
Worlds yet unexplored, waiting to be inspired!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Enclosed

Brown walls- squares
Enfold, encircle, envelope.
Ceiling comes down,
down
d
  o
    w
      n
Air circles and re-circles
and swirls round and
               r
         d        o
            n    u

Not a single opening into
the world outside.
No greenery, no sounds, no distractions.

Pupil turns left and right.
Right    and      left.
Up. Down.
Down. Up.

And everything
Shudders into silence.

Curtain Fall


So much joy and so much pain
Can we see the tears in the rain?
With a kiss of sunshine, the world turns gold
But in the summer heat, is a deadly cold.

Winds howling through the night air
Roaming faeries of here, there and everywhere.
Fires burn a ghastly song
Fires burn good and bad, right and wrong.

In the midst of a world of woe,
People wander clutching to hope.
But amidst the black, white and grey,
There is the absolute truth of ephemerality.

Wisps of me and wisps of you,
Will flit about the world in different hues.
What mind? What matter?
Is the soul in the hereafter?

As we pace steadily along,
Our waltz becomes a swan song,
And suddenly,
Abruptly, the curtains fall.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Handicapped!


On 9/7/2012 I came across an incident in the bus from Secunderabad to Lingampalli in Hyderabad. In the Hyderabad public transport buses, the ladies sit in front with two seats reserved for the physically handicapped and challenged (PHC), while the gents sit at the back of the vehicle. On most days, these buses are overflowing with people, and while the bus was rather empty when I got in, it soon filled up. Many women were standing, with the PHC seats occupied.
There was one man standing behind me, and I could feel his stare upon my back, though I was turned away from him. It made me slightly apprehensive and so, I moved a little behind, putting a bit of distance between the two of us. However, he soon moved towards the right side where I was standing and stood in front of me, brushing against me in the process. It was just once, and I scoffed it off with a mere general curse.
There was a lady beside me who had spotted this and she looked at me and shook her head vehemently (as though saying ‘no’ to me). I did not understand what she meant. Slowly the bus filled up and more women clambered into the front portion of the vehicle. There was a lady who ended up standing right in front of that man. She seemed to look uncomfortable, but did not say anything. From the glances that we were giving the man it was evident that none of us wanted him there. Soon, he held up his left hand with the help of his right, in the process brushing against the woman in front of him. It was only then that we realised that he was physically challenged, with one hand paralysed. It was this that the other lady was signalling, saying that we ought not to speak against him, since he was challenged!
Yet, with his hand as an excuse, he would constantly push against the woman in front of him. We asked if he wanted to sit down. He refused. He was beginning to irk everyone. Soon, that woman got down, and another lady replaced her, ending up in front of this guy. Almost immediately, she started yelling at the man. By this time, we were all telling him to go back, get down or get a seat in the PHC area. He adamantly refused. Initially I’d assumed that he was going to get down, but this was not the case. Even after all of us yelling at him, he chose to act like his pride was wounded, and that a physically challenged man could never brush against women. What is worse, that woman who had been beside me and had shaken her head in a ‘no’ when I yelled at this man supported him, bringing upon herself the severe wrath of the women around her. The conductor chose not to listen to any of this commotion (probably because he too brushed against women, as he passed to and fro collecting tickets).
A bus full of women and none of us could evoke a change in those stupid men over there. I felt helpless; I didn’t know what to do. Though I was not directly involved, I felt angry and useless. Worse still, that man who caused so much problem for all the women around him was getting support from other women just because of his disability, using it to evoke pity. That infuriated me even more. And yet, there was nothing ANY of us could do! We were, so to speak, handicapped.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Strawberries on a windy day


Strawberries on a windy day,
A warm, cosy book, that takes you far away,
Jumping on slushy puddles in the rain,
With the water down your cheeks… on your skin,
Grey-blue skies amidst the green,
The ocean’s dull, silvery sheen,
Clouds that sprout magic on a whim
Tinged with a solemn, golden rim,
Strawberries on a windy day…

Chocolate fudge instead of rice,
Wine under glimmering lights,
Hooded by the stars in the darkness of night,
A smile that plays when your ‘someone’s’ in sight,
Cell-phone trills in the silence of doubt
And your heart skips and leaps about,
An unknown song that changed your mood,
Somebody cooking you delicious food,
Strawberries on a windy day…

A day off without rhyme or reason,
Ice-cream in the winter season,
Waterfalls about your feet
Dancing to a fast-paced beat,
Pillion-riding on an Enfield,
Sprawling on a yellow-green field,
A gift when you least expect it
A smile that changes your whole perspective
Strawberries on a windy day!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

River song

Treading meandering paths,
Feet wander through the misty clouds
And the cold engulfs.
Gusts of frosty wind
Blow against puffed-up cheeks
That blush in the warmth of exercise.

Slowly, coyly, the translucent curtains of white
Part
And we are at the water front.
'Rangit' curls, twists and embraces
the rocky ground
And I am left to ponder-
Are not earth and water one entity,
As you and I;
As air and fire?


The icy water only kindles the sturdy land.
Feet hesitantly stumble upon
the steel-grey, chilliness of rock-splattered waters.

Sitting upon a rock,
I am the sky,
I am the clouds,
I am the water,
I am the rocks
And inside me
Is the surety
of the river's path
And I fall silent.


Note: This poem is based on that lovely experience of sitting with my feet in the river, Rangit, in Baiguney.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Blank Pages


It was a new day. A new page. A blank page. It was exciting- the prospect of writing a new story, forming new narratives of thought and seeing the emptiness of a new existence getting filled in, slowly. The first few months there was the adventure: the trekking and the walking and the cycling. There was a team of close friends, and there were parties in the wilderness, and poetry reading sessions. The pages grew colourful- they were vivid green, and black and yellow and even the greys of rain; they were red for passion, and blue for calmness and violent orange for enthusiasm. We were story-tellers all. There were midnight fires in cold, blistering nights, and dragons would wake and ghosts would prowl the night skies. Our pages were imaginative to say the least. (It was no longer my page. It was ours- we were a team; we got each others’ backs).
But the page has to turn, and the colours aren’t always bright, are they? Once there was only a dull red. There was… not love, but something that stood in its place. The pages glowed with a longing for something that was not to be mine. There was respect. It had to be a ‘he’; and yes, there was a ‘he’. ‘He’ was dedicated, kind, down-to-earth and highly intimidating. He was the first of his kind and there was a distance. ‘He’ was not a close friend, and yet that dull red… oh, at times it hurt to feel the colours. I wished that I could rip the pages apart and re-write those days. But that dull red… it taunted and it played and it churned the shards of my red fist of a heart, confusing the grey senses of the mind.
And it was always the greyness of the mind versus the redness of the heart. Those stupid pages always chose to burn red, to write red and to etch it in the greyness of my mind. And then there was a dialogue. Dialogues are the toughest. When the red tries to explain to the grey, and the pure, cold, calculating, reasoning mind can shut up the former. And suddenly, there was a blank page all over again.
It was the toughest to see the mocking, silence of white when all there had been was red. There was still respect, and there was still adoration and there was still intimidation. But worse still, there was silence. And that redness hung mutely in the blank pages of a new life.






Note: This was meant for a Blog-a-ton post, but I missed the deadline! The topic given was "Blank Pages"

Monday, 4 June 2012

A song in praise of Aavakkai

I know the title bears the impression that this would be a song. Unfortunately I do not sing, and will have to do with a meagre explanation. Aavakka-urga is a pickle! It is insanely tempting, and I hope that at some point in time you get to try it. So, a new load of this amazing pickle landed up in my house a couple of days ago- received from a friend of ours. It is basically spiced and salted and pickled raw mango that can leave your tongue burning. For those of you who do know the awesomeness of aavakkai I do not even have to tell you what bliss I'm going through. Ok, that was my rather limited song on the subject! More posts later, I guess.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Where do I stay?

In an article published in the Times of India, based on the Bombay court's decision on adults requiring their parents' consent to stay with them, it has been stated that:


The court observed that in the case of daughters, when they get married they become part of the husband's family. "When a daughter gets married and leaves the house of the father to reside with her husband, she ceases to be a member of the father's family and becomes a member of the family of the husband where she has got certain rights under the law. After marriage when she goes to the house of the parents, legally she is only a guest in the house and does not have legal rights to continue there. She can stay there as long as her parents permit her but she cannot force herself on her parents in the house."- "Adult children need parents’ approval to stay with them"


This states that it is only the woman who has to leave the parents' house while the son has complete legal permission to stay with his parents. This brooks the question, why is it only the daughter? Should this not be applicable to children of both sexes? If a daughter, after a certain age, is considered only a guest, should not the case be the same for the son? In an article in Tehelka, called Why Indian Men Are Still Boys, Nisha Susan states, "Unlike Indian women who are trained emotionally and socially by parents and society to gear up for a time when they must leave their parental home and occupy their space in the adult world, and unlike their self-sufficient counterparts in western countries, there are no major markers to end childhood for Indian men." That adult daughters have to go to the "family of the husband" seems only to augment this idea, while the adult son can stay with his "family".


Nisha Susan believes that the son, is always that- a son. He does not have any prior experience (except the very few who do choose to go away from home) of taking care of his own self. She says, "Even marriage does not mark adulthood for Indian men in the same way as it does for Indian women." While she says that this is a stereotype that is generally promoted by parents, it seems that even our legal system endorses this discourse- where the son is allowed to be just that: the son.

I do not want to leave this article with a conclusion. This was just a thought that occurred to me, and I wanted to pen it down. I shall leave it with the thought that, maybe, what is applicable to the man should be applicable to the woman- either both ought to be considered guests, or both children...

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

UGC NET December 2009

To get the questions for this paper, click the following link:December 2009 English (paper II)
  1. B- The classical writer who influenced Ben Jonson’s Volpone is Aristophanes
  2. A- Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” was addressed to the American imperial mission in the Philippines
  3. D- Poetry: A magazine of Verse was founded by Harriet Munroe in 1912
  4. B- John Gower was a contemporary of Chaucer
  5. D- The English Mail coach is NOT a work of Sir Walter Scott. It was an essay written by Thomas de Quincey
  6. D- “Provincialising Europe” is a concept propounded by Dipesh Chakravarty
  7. D- Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies was the earliest tract on feminism (1694)
  8. B- (??)
  9. C- Chaucer’s The House of Fame was intended as a parody of Dante’s Divine Comedy
  10. B- Essays of Elia was first published in 1823
  11. B- Orlando is a biographical work by Woolf; The Well of Loneliness is a lesbian story by Radclyffe Hall; The Ballad of the Reading Gaol is a homosexual poem by Wilde and Maurice is a homosexual work by Forester
  12. A- Easter 1916 was based on a major political uprising
  13. D- The Seven Types of Ambiguity by Empson is about an analysis of poetic ambivalence
  14. C- J S Mill is associated with Utilitarianism
  15. C- The Condition of England was the litt of England depicting the vulnerability of the labour classes
  16. C- An Apology for Poetry was written in response to Stephen Gosson’s The School of Abuse
  17. C- Silence! The Court is in Session is a play by Vijay Tendulkar, originally written in Marathi
  18. C- Ascending order in terms of size: Epigram, stanza, sonnet, epic
  19. D- “Fail I alone in words and deeds” is a quote from Robert Browning’s The Last Ride Together
  20. A- (??)
  21. D- Importance of Being Ernest had the subtitle “a trivial comedy for serious people”
  22. C- “In the deserts of the heart/ Let the healing fountain start” was the ending lines for “In Memory of W B Yeats” by W H Auden
  23. C- George Herbert composed “The Temple” (a collection of poems)
  24. B- Ben Jonson wrote Volpone, Epicoene and The Alchemist
  25. C- L’ Allegro’s companion piece is Il Penseroso
  26. A- Jake Barnes The Sun Also Rises; Caddy The Sound and The Fury; Lennie  Of Mice and Men; Tommy Wilhelm Sieze the Day
  27. A- Allen Ginsberg was involved with the American Beat Movement (1950s)
  28. D- Gertrude Stein called the disillusioned intellectuals of the post WWI the Lost Generation (others included Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, T S Eliot, Waldo Pierce…)
  29. B- Hyperbole is a figure of speech that means an extravagant exaggeration
  30. A- “Imagined communities” was coined by Benedict Anderson
  31. C- Greenbladt, Goldberg and Montrose were new historicists
  32. C- The Man With the Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens was based on The Old Guitarist by Picasso
  33. D- Judith Butler is the author of Gender Trouble
  34. D- Barthes practised the structural analysis of signs
  35. B- Northanger Abbey is a spoof of the gothic novel genre
  36. D- Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre is the madwoman in the attic
  37. D- (??)
  38. A- Moll Flanders (1721); Pamela (1740); Joseph Andrews (1742); Tristam Shandy (1759)
  39. C- (??)
  40. A- Archetype was essentially a Freudian concept
  41. B- Naipaul wrote “Conrad’s Darkness”
  42. B- Magic realism is associated with Marquez
  43. D- (??)
  44. D- (??)
  45. A- Transcendentalism was a philosophical and literary movement during the 19th century involving writers like Emerson, Thoreau and Margaret Fuller
  46. C (??)
  47. A (??)
  48. D (??)
  49. A (??)
  50. C (??)
NOTE: These were answers that I found, and therefore I could not complete all the questions. If you have the answers to questions that have not been solved here, do post them in the comments box.

UGC NET June 2009

To get the questions for this paper, click the following link: June 2009 English (paper II)
  1. 1.     D-  Lake School of Poets included Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey
  2. D- “I am the enemy you killed my friend” are lines from Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen
  3. D– Lord of the Flies by Coral Island; Omeros (Derek Walcott) by Odessey; The Great Indian Novel (Shashi Tharoor) by Mahabharat; Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys) by Jane Eyre
  4. D- “This was a man”- Marc Antony to Ceasar
  5. D- Shakespeare sonnet 138- “When my love swears that she is made of truth/ I do believe her, though I know she lies”
  6. C – (??)
  7. B- “Great wits are sure to maddness near allied/ And thin partitions do their bounds divide”- Absalom and Achitophel by John Dryden
  8. B- strategic essentialism is a term coined by Spivak
  9. C- Malouf’s An Imaginary Life is the story of Ovid
  10. C- Jabberwoky is a character in Through the Looking Glass  
  11. C  (??)
  12. C (??)
  13.  B- Everyman is a medieval morality play
  14. A- The poets of the Movement are Elizabeth Jennings, John Wain and Philip Larkin
  15. B- Doris Lessing is interested in Sufism
  16. A (??)
  17. A– Norman conquest (1066); Caxton’s printing press (1476); James I ascends throne (1603); Shakespeare’s death (1616)
  18. D- The Muse of History is by Derek Walcott
  19. A– “Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then, I contradict myself” is from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself
  20. A- Verses on the Death of Jonathan Swift was written by Jonathan Swift (1731)
  21. C– Lycidas- Edward King; Adonais- John Keats; In Memoriam- Arthur Hallam; Thyrsis- Arthur Hugh Clough: These are elegies written for the respective people
  22. C- Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrisson is about Whitemess and the Literary imagination
  23. C- “He’s not the brightest man in the world” is an example of litotes (asserting an affirmative by negating the contrary)
  24. D- The term “horizon of expectations” was coined by HR Jauss
  25. D- Mary Seacole, Mary Kingsley, Anthony Trollope and J A  Froude are Victorian Travel writers
  26. C- Marlowe’s Faustus is based on a german narrative
  27. A- W B Yeats, J M Synge and Lady Gregory were part of the Irish Dramatic Movement
  28. A- diaspora first refered to the expulsion of Jews
  29. D- Ben Jonson was not a University Wit (Marlow, Peele and Greene were)
  30. B (??)
  31. D- Prosody is about metrics (rhythm patterns of verse)
  32. D- The Duchess of Malfi (John Webster) was written during the Jacobean Age
  33. C- Understanding poetry (Cleanth Brooks; Robert Warren Penn) was a text referring to New Criticism
  34. C- The Age of Reason/ Augustan Age was during the 18th century
  35. B- Hyperion (Keats), Don Juan (Byron), The Recluse (Wordsworth) and The triumph of life (Shelley) are all incomplete works
  36. A- D H Lawrence calls the novel “the bright book of life”
  37. B– “Ripeness is all” is a quote from King Lear (Edgar tells Gloucester)
  38. D- A K Ramanujan translated Anantamurthy’s Samskara
  39. B- Abel Whittle is a character in The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy)
  40. B- Edmund Spenser’s The Shepherdes Calender praises queen Elizabeth in ‘April’
  41. C- “Margaret are you grieving” is the beginning of a poem by a Victorian poet (G M Hopkins) and does NOT begin a Romantic poem
  42. C- Politics and the English language is an essay written by George Orwell
  43. A- “mind forged manacles” was written by Blake in his poem “London”
  44. C- Mathew Arnold says, “He is not fully recognised at home; he is not recognised at all abroad…” about Wordsworth
  45. C- The Globe theatre was completed in 1599
  46. D (??)
  47. D (??)
  48. D (??)
  49. A (??)
  50. B (??)
NOTE: These were answers that I found, and therefore I could not complete all the questions. If you have the answers to questions that have not been solved here, do post them in the comments box.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Once Again

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 27; the 27th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'Once Again'.
The scorching sun swelters
Once again.
The shadows consume
Once again.
The crowd engulfs
Once again.
The world devours
Once again.

Born of high breed
Once.
Howling for a dead mother
Once.
Confused and pathless
Once.
Yet, there was a dawn
Once again.

Taken into home and hearth
Once.
Tender human hands caressed
Once.
Allowed to run and play and bark
Once.
Petted and fattened and loved
Once.

In the streets
Once again.
Lost and lonely
Once again.
Blind with helplessness
Once again.
Without family or friend
Once again.
Confused and betrayed
Once again.
Pining and whining
Once again.
Tired of wandering
Once again.
Silent and still
Forever more.
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The Hunger Games: A Gladiatorial conquest?


NOTE: I wanted to share something about a book I had read of late, and compare it to a movie that I have always loved. I shall also say that there is a spoiler alert, since I do mention events in The Hunger Games that might ruin your read if you haven’t yet managed to lay your hands on it! So, if you have read the book, or if you don’t mind the spoilers read on…
For a short preview, you might want to watch The Hunger Games Trailer and the Gladiator- the trailer.

The Hunger Games, a book by Suzzane Collins, tells the story of a seventeen year old girl named Katniss Everdeen. Katniss lives in a world where there is an anarchic rule by the Capitol over twelve districts. The districts had originally rebelled and this led to the Capitol reinforcing their rigid authority by introducing something called the hunger games. Here, two children from each district between the age of 12 and 18 (one boy and one girl) are chosen to compete each other in an arena until only one survives while the rest of the country watches the televised version. Katniss, a girl from District 12, which supplies coal to the Capitol, offers to participate in the hunger games in her sister, Primrose Everdeen’s, stead.
Through the three novels that Suzzane Collins spins, we see an act of rebellion against the reign of President Snow and the Capitol. What is interesting about this novel is the comparison between a future that Collins creates and a Roman past. After reading the books, I happened to watch the movie Gladiator (2000) by Ridley Scott and I was struck by the similarities. It is true that Collins herself has acknowledged the influence of Roman history in writing her book- Roman senators, the idea of the arena and the weak pitched against each other or other natural forces (in the gladiatorial games it would be other animals, while in the hunger games it was also weather and other natural phenomena), and the people watching the entertainment.
The gladiatorial games were for the entertainment of the masses. However, in the movie, Maximus (a Roman general who becomes a slave and is compelled to enter the arena) proves that he will not obey the command of his emperor. He, at every possible chance, throws dirt at the face of Commodus’ reign. Maximus, through three vivid instances (his three games in the Colloseum), defies the crown causing Commodus to retch with anxiety and eventually leads to his death in the extraordinary finale between him and the erstwhile general. Similarly, Katniss, through three different instances (the three novels), defies President Snow leading to his overthrow in the end.
It is fascinating to see the similarities between the appearances of the commentator and the senators in the film and the gamemakers in the novel. The clothes are similar: the gamemakers wear purple robes, while the senators don white. The people of the Capitol are said to dress ‘differently’- with plastic surgery and plenty of makeup.  This is akin to commentator Cassius in Gladiator. - Cassius - Ceasar Flickerman
  
It was really curious to see that only the people from the Capitol were named after Romans: Cinna, Portia, Caesar, Cato, Octavia, Flavia, Plutarch, Seneca etc. While Katniss, Prim and Gale and elements of nature in them. Even Rue (meaning compassion) and Thresh (related to the agricultural ‘threshing of the corn’) have more ‘humane’ names. This could be percieved as a nature-culture shift.
Finally, there is an amazing similarity between Haymitch Abernathy who trains Katniss and Antonious Proximo, a gladiator trainer who buys Maximus. Both men primarily look out for themselves, and yet they accomplish so much more for their chosen candidate. Both of them have a rather antagonistic and yet protective approach to the people who go into the arena.
I found a lot of similarities between the story and the movie. And for those who love the arena, both the book as well as the movie are a must read/see.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Inheritance- a review

   After finally completing the Inheritance series, I would like to post something on it's spectacular developments. Paolini definitely has a way with words. His descriptions are simple yet captivating. His plot has improved both in style and quality over the series of four books that he has come up with. Of the lot, Inheritance is definitely his best work. Just as Eragon has grown from his small village-bound life of Palancar Valley to the Rider that he became, the books too have grown from a simplistic tale of a quest to one filled with  Paolini's values of both good and evil.
    It was good to note that Paolini did not intend to make Galbatorix 'evil' per se. His way of thinking was different. It was a different take on governance. And it was visible that both Eragon and Nasuada, too, differed in their views of ruling a country. It is probably this, that mellows down Galbatorix's deviousness. The part when he points out to Nasuada that she was the one who had sought to destroy him, and not the other way round and that therefore she was responsible for the deaths of millions shows that nobody is absolutely 'good'. Galbatorix himself had quite a few followers, as was apparent with the uprisings that Eragon had to subdue once he had killed the king. This vaguely reminds me of Samit Basu's point of view in The Game World Trilogy. While Basu has no clear notions of good and evil, Paolini definitely believes that certain actions that Galbatorix took were incorrect, while the ones that Eragon and Nasuada took were better (thereby creating an hierarchy that was missing in Basu).
   This brings us to the notion of power. Paolini obviously focuses on power in the hands of a few. He also represents the rare poor-man (Roran and Eragon, to be precise) becoming more powerful. Use and abuse of power is a very apparent theme. And mingled with power is the sense of duty to the country that guides this power. Nasuada believes that she is a dutiful leader, and that she will take into the consideration the necessities of each and every race. This is her strong point over Orrin, the king who fights along with the Varden. Eragon, as a Rider, also attempts to be impartial. This impartiality is embedded in the requirements of a dutiful leader. And yet, it is apparent that the elves and the humans are the emergent leaders, not to forget the Riders. In each and every decision that Eragon makes after the final battle shows that he chooses not to be a part of the world of humans, elves, dwarves and Urgals. So also Murtagh.
   Romance within this novel is also quite fascinating. First is Katrina and Roran. These two are an amazing couple, who represent a stereotype of the families of yore, where the woman and the man are considered to have set roles within their society. They come from the village, which is probably why Katrina remains at home while her husband goes on to fight battles. And yet Katrina's undying faith in her husband's prowess and success is laudable. On the other hand, there is Nasuada and Murtagh as well as Eragon and Arya, none of whom remain together at the end of the novel. While the reasons each person gives is different, one has to question why it is only the poor family from Palancar Valley that survived the battle, while leaders, rulers of nations, did not. Why is it that, excluding Murtagh, every one of these four had to take care of their duty alone? Even Islanzadi was a lone ruler. So was Ajihad, Orrin and even Glabatorix. Yet, on the other hand, had Eragon and Arya gotten together in the end, or had Nasuada and Murtagh ended up together, the rosy ending to a battle-ridden story might have been conspicuous. As a story, it reads well. It isn't the normal romance. Especially since Paolini had built up the emotions that Eragon had for Arya right from the first book, it led to a different ending altogether. This gives a realistic representation of unlikely romances.
  Women in the novel are different and vibrantly characterised. Nasuada, though a leader and proud of her scars acquired from the battle of the long knives, also seems to be quite conscious of her appearances. As does Saphira. Arya, Katrina, Brigit and Angela are not the same. They do not particularly care about the way they look or the way others percieve them. Yet, the voice of the novel is predominantly male. We hear Eragon and we hear Roran. We rarely hear the women's point of view- not even Saphira's (except when she voices concern for Eragon).
   Finally, I revert back to language in the novel. Words like Albitr and Faelnerv quietly take from English itself (All-biter and Fail-nerve). The ancient language, which is the language the elves use, definitely has power over all other languages. This reminds me of something a professor of mine would say- languages have all the attributes of humans. And indeed, the ancient language had managed to control every other creature in the region. This is, in fact, a major theme in the novel and is discussed widely in relation to power itself. The control that the ancient language has over everything else proves that the elves (as is mentioned quite a few times) were the most powerful. It is only because Galbatorix had known the true name of the ancient language could he overthrow the elves when they went to battle. Similarly, it is only with the ancient language that Eragon completes a lot of his tasks. At points, his magic is medlesome, even when he intends good, again showing the power that he has over all others. The language then, trivialises the importance of the dwarves' language. The dwarf lord is not at all consequential when it comes to the power that the ancient language has. This hierarchy only goes to show the human hierarchy that exists within the novel: elves, Riders, humans, dwarves and Urgals. Though Paolini attempts to look at Urgals in a better light, they are still attributed the more animalistic tendencies of killing without priorities, with a coarser language and stronger meads. Language, then, is intricately woven with the ways of the talking creatures (elves, dragons, humans, riders, dwarves and urgals).
   While language is one thing, the lack of language and the usage of just emotions is another aspect that the author has covered. There are those creatures in the depths of the sea that cannot express in a language. Neither can some of the ancient dragons (preserved in the Eldunari). This is amazing. It leads to the question as to whether emotions themselves are a language on their own, or whether they express themselves through a certain language. Obviously, Paolini feels that they have a language of their own. It is this that every single creature can understand, even if the usage of the ancient language has a certain effect on every creature. Maybe we can relate this to the usage of English today. Eragon says that the way the Eldunari of the dragons of yore used the ancient language was completely different from the way Eragon had used it (just as we see the changes in the English language from Old English till date). Similarly, the ancient language was used to control quite a few different races, as did English.
   I shall conclude by saying that Paolini has definitely improved his style and skill over the years. He had a definite plan for his story, not abruptly cutting off certain characters (as happened in the Harry Potter series). Everything falls into place when the story ends. This itself is a requisite for any successful novel, and Paolini manages to do this with a flair that is exquisite. He does, indeed, have a way with words.