Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eat Pray Love

I browse in airport bookstores. It is much nicer to hang out among books in a cluttered, almost claustrophobic space amidst the noisy announcements and general “busy-ness” that pervades all airports than to stare blankly into space while awaiting the boarding announcement for your flight. Often I buy a book, sometimes two. But I always pick up a few that I put on my mental list of “nice to read” but risky to purchase, considering the price. “Eat pray” love by Elizabeth Gilbert was once such book. I had gazed longingly at it a few times but did not buy it. So it was indeed a treat to find it at Evening Hour, my neighborhood bookstore cum library.

As a voracious book lover, I usually read a book from cover to cover and find it hard to put it down. But this book took me a good ten days to read through the 350 pages. Not because it was boring or too much, as such books tend to be but because it has been presented in a format that makes this possible. The book describes the journey of one American woman, who spends one year in three exotic places – Italy, India and Indonesia in pursuit of pleasure, prayer and perfection (or pasta, penance and partner?). She spends about 4 months in each location, indulging in an overdose of food in Italy, meditation in an ashram in India and trying to find balance in the Indonesian island of Bali. This year of introspection is initiated following the after-effects of a nasty divorce that straddles the public tragedy of September 11 which keenly affects the sensitive New Yorker. Each section of the book is told as 36 tales that add up 108, the auspicious number of beads in the quintessential japa mala familiar to all Indians.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this not-so lighthearted book that is difficult to classify into a genre. It contains primarily the spiritual journey of one person so it sounds like a memoir but also like a travelogue because it describes specific facets all these exotic places. She meets several interesting people in each setting which is described in a personal, unself-conscious way without stereotyping the characters. The humor is subtle in most places and Gilbert is at her best when the jokes are directed towards herself. There is serious stuff too, about meditation and meaning of life. But overall, it is wonderful book for those who are spiritually inclined. You are not merely a reader but a companion to the author on her quest through the world to get to know herself better.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The 24/7 Marriage - Smart Strategies for Good Beginnings - By Vijay Nagaswami

It seems like Indians have suddenly found writing! Though this is a little exaggeration but it is definitely true that there are many and many Indians who have recently turned authors and are actually good at it too! The books are all based and aimed for Indian families and lifestyles. The 24/7 Marriage is one such self-help book that is for the 21st century Indians.

The author, Vijay Nagaswami, is a psychiatrist who has worked closely on relationships and with couples from all parts of the country for 25 years. Even if you just peruse the book, his experience is pretty apparent in the various examples that he quotes while trying to get his point across.

The book starts with defining the New Indian Marriage and the changing nature of both men and women. The book covers the mentalities and thought processes of the husband, wife, parents-in-law from both the sides. For example, the author talked about a current nature of guys and gals that can put as "me and my family" and "you and your family" should be changed to "We and our families" and provided few thought processes changes that can help achieve this.

Overall, a good read and does have few suggestions that can be considered.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Exposure on Indian Natural Wonders and Places!

Ever thought of visiting a place but did not know where to go? Or did you think other countries or continents like US and Europe have amazing places but all we have are only religious places ? If one goes to a place like Kodaikanal or Mahabaleshwar, where one can easily sweep into a different world - there is but one obvious question - Why is it that we talk so much about Hills and Mountains in other locations but not so much about those in our own country. Is it that there is not enough information or is it the attitude ?

For a long time, whenever someone thinks of a holiday, it is a visit to one or the other religious shrines. From the 1980s, a considerable chunk of (upper) middle class families have started going to general sightseeing places like Kanyakumari or Puri mixing religion with pleasure and exploring the world. In the last few years, there is a dramatic change that the younger crowd starting looking around for places and natural wonders.

Now lets cover the status of the second question - information. Even though countable number of websites have come recently to fill the gap, it is still in a budding phase. Few sites like TripNaksha.com have come up that lets users create trails as well. Indian authors have embarked on the journey to write about places and rides. The book, "One Life to Ride" by Ajit Harisinghani describes a motorcycle journey to the High Himalayas. Every one that read the book is very much tempted to start a journey themselves. More needs to be done in this part.

But is there something more to be done to go to the next level ?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

School Field Trip to EveningHour Library

SilverOaks school, a prestigious school in Bachupally, scheduled a field trip to their 2nd graders to the  EveningHour store and library on 5th and  8th of Feb. It was such a fun visit to the students and equally exciting for the EveningHour team.

The 2nd graders came prepared with a bunch of questions that I was totally surprised. I did personally wonder if it was all their brains or if they got some help. Nevertheless, they had questions ranging from basic questions like the number of books in a store to bigger questions to help them understand the life cycle of a book - from the pen of a author to publishers to distributors to retail stores and finally to the customer.

It was indeed an exhilarating experience!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Library - A man-made interaction system ??

Today, about hundred 2nd graders have come to EveningHour.com store n library for a field trip. As part of the introductions, I asked them if they knew what a library is. One gal answered "Library is a Human-made interaction system".

Wow! Now that is some definition of a library! So is a library indeed a interaction system ? If that is not so much done in practice, how can we make it so ?

Please leave your comments.