Thursday, October 02, 2008

Reliving and awaiting...

For the past few days, I tried to read the much recommended book of "Freakonomics", and as I gradually made my way to the middle of the book, I thought it was time to quit what I was reading and venture out to something different. Definitely, it had some funny anecdotes, but I guess, it was not the right time to read the book. It really depends on your frame of mind to enjoy a particular book. So, I called it quits (yes, yes, yet another book) and wanted to read something which reminded me of home. Who else can I turn to, but our very own, RKN. I desperately wanted to read Bachelor of Arts, in spite of the fact that I have read this countless times in the past. If somebody asks me to list out my favorite RKN book, I would list out Swami and Friends, but inherently, I would gloat over Bachelor of Arts and take immense pleasure, as if I was the author of this wonderful literary piece. In spite of having written a review of this book earlier, I just can't control my urge to write more about it.

Anyway, I rummaged through my collection of books; rummaged, not because I have a huge set of books, but because, all of them are lying in a couple of cartons scattered here and there. It really does require some effort to pull out the books from the scattered and hidden mess.  As I found the book, and started to read, it was as though somebody had infused a fresh lease of life in me.  The book starts of with,

Chandran was just climbing the steps of the College Union when Natesan, the secretary, sprang on him and said, "You are just the person I was looking for.  You remember your old promise?'
'No,' said Chandran, promptly, to be on the safer side.

The opening sentence was enough to leave me in splits.  I was wondering how easy it is to encounter such a scenario.  Chandran and his friend Ramu decide to go to a movie, and here you encounter another brilliant subtle humor. 

At the small ticket-window, Chandran inquired, 'Has the show begun?'
'Yes, just,' said the ticket man, giving the stock reply.
You might be three-quarters of an hour late, yet the man at the ticket-window would always say, 'Yes, just.'

The best part about the book is, RKN doesn't enforce the humor, but just creates it emphatically out of the situation.  When Chandran tells his father about the girl he wants to marry, and pushes for an alliance, his father says

Look here, you will never be qualifed to marry unless you cultivate a lot of patience.  It is the only power that you will be allowed to exercise when you are married.  

With such a sense of comic timing, it is just difficult to let go of the book.  RKN, through Chandran, laments about the illusion of love and friendship.  "Friendship was another illusion like love, though it did not reach the same mad heights."

The best part about the book is that, whenever I read it, it takes me home.  It is a very similar family setup comprising of parents and a younger brother.  I could almost visualize the conversation I have with my brother after reading the passages between Chandran and his brother.  The book has got such a middle class setup comprising of a Tamil family, that it is easy to get involved in the book, and draw a lot of parallels with Chandran at different instants of his life. 

Reading the book, I suddenly had the urge to watch one of my all time favorite movies, Swades.  Being away from the country, it is one of the few movies that you can relate to instantly.  As the title of the movie hits you in different Indian languages, you can't help but feel the patriotic fervour gripping you.  I couldn't watch the movie completely, but the combination of Bachelor of Arts and Swades over the last couple of days was enough for me to relive the happenings at home, and look ahead eagerly, in all excitement, my impending trip to India in just a week's time.  With Yadu to give me company, I am sure that Tut-tut-tu-doooon (Yes, I know, I am bad in music; but this is the shehnai of Yeh jo des hai tera) will be ringing in my ears, as I touch base at Namma BengaluruYes, it's all coming back.  Malleswaram, CTR, Benne Masala Dose, Malleswaram Railway station, Anjaneya swamy temple, 8th cross, family, friends, the walk, masala puri,... the list is just endless, and to say that I am looking forward to all these things will be the understatement of the century.


  1. yeah!! i like the book too. you of all people know how much I like simple writing.

    Anyways the try at the shehnai was..well..hehehe....lets just not say anything about that. All I want to say is- God help yadu on the flight!!!

  2. I agree, reading RKN is like reliving a bit of your own life !

  3. this post made my day, praveen. narayan's 102nd b-day on oct.10th.

    every minor and major character of narayan’s stories fascinates, including the only villain to figure in all his writings, vasu, the man-eater of malgudi. narayan is that supreme alchemist who discovered that the ordinary is the most extraordinary aspect of civilized living.

    would be great to chat over a benne masale and coffee at ctr when you are here in malleswaram. what say?

    have a safe journey

  4. Shubhika,
    But, I am still not sure whether you really liked Bachelor of Arts :-) Hahaha :-)

    Yeah, truly self revealing!! :-)

    Glad to see you drop by. I know what a major RKN fan you are :-) I know about RKN's bday, and I rejoice at the fact that he is a fellow Libran :-)

    Very nicely put,

    Narayan is that supreme alchemist who discovered that the ordinary is the most extraordinary aspect of civilized living.

    Cannot agree more!!!

    Definitely, we should meet up at CTR, without doubt, for a breakfast of Benne Masalay :-) and Mangaluru bajji :-) Slurp! slurp!!!

    I will send you the details by mail!!!

  5. oh yeah, bachelor or arts, i've read that too! Simply RKN's style!! Oh, RKN was a libran!! How come i didn't know that! I guessed i missed it somewhere...anywya, have a great time in india! (And ur fav masala dosa!) I'm feelign so jealous...ur goign to bangalore!! :-)

  6. Lakshmi,
    Yup, yup!! He is a Libran :-) Feels good, isn't it :-)

    Off to Blore! Feels so good :-)

  7. happy journey... [:D]

    i am on my way to pick up this Bachelor of arts already.. [:D]

    may not affect me as much.. but BA sure rings a bell in my head..