Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Season

Warm and fuzzy. Quilt warming toes. Brain buzzed with hot coffee. Eyes dreamy and mind hazy like the cotton candy I had the day before. At New Market. Christmas shopping at New Market...a unique experience. So crowded as to put one off people forever. So alive that anywhere else seems to pale by comparison. Christmas trees, glitter, Santa Claus and stars. The warm aroma of freshly baked cakes everywhere. The ridiculously long queue outside Nahoums Bakery as though drawn by the Pied Piper. People looking ready to lay down their lives for cake. Plum cake, fruit cake, plain cake. Chaos and carnival time.

Lunch at Mocambo on Park Street. Of course we have to wait for our table. It's Christmas eve! Once inside, we are crammed into tables placed so close to each other that eavesdropping is not optional but inevitable. The restaurant is decorated with holly leaves, wrapped around the red lampshades. I look around at all the people wondering what their story is, what their plans are for the day. When the food arrives, it's delicious and the conversation at the neighbouring table is entertaining. Lunch is a success.

South City mall was also lit up like a fairyland. Santas here too. Multiple. And reindeer pulling his sleigh. And snowmen having a snowball fight. And penguins apparently come down from the Arctics. Shine and dazzle everywhere. Who dare feel unhappy in this riotous display? Shopping, that new opium of the masses, brings a new high in these surroundings. One can't get enough of the cakes here too.

Exhausted but still not done for the day, we try our hands at baking. Some experimentation later, more cake! The house smells nice. It looks nice too with the small Christmas tree and Santa Claus standing guard over the ornaments. And the deep red roses everywhere. I love this feeling of festivity. Life should be a celebration. This is the chance to live it the way it is meant to be lived.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

White Noise

A trip to the hospital to get a simple test done. Then again that's an antithesis - can any health related examination ever be simple?
A sense of stupid surprise that there are already so many people thronging the place. It's quite early in the morning but I guess time is not a variable in this equation. Making my way through the masses trying to locate the fastest possible route...with the sour realization that I am actually expediting a process that I dread. I run about and figure a way out of the maze which is hospital administration. It's not too hard though and it gives you something to keep your mind occupied.

Quite soon, too soon, I am sitting outside a white door in a white room amidst a group of motley strangers. I can see them try to guess the nature of my illness, my back-story even as I speculate about theirs. We stare gamely at each other pretending we don't care, as if this is something we do everyday. The hospital staff rush around taking charge. I marvel at the doctors, nurses and assistants as they pass by thinking about the courage it takes to spend all your waking hours here - in the presence of fear and disease and death. I for one cannot wait to run out as soon as possible. I already feel like I have been sitting on this hard plastic chair forever. I look around once more to distract myself. There is a television tuned in to the Cartoon Network. Someone has a sense of humour.

I look around to see if anyone waiting is watching the TV. No one is. There is an elderly woman who looks irritated with all the fuss, a few middle-aged men looking grim, a couple of them chatting away, just passing the time of day, there is a newly married couple sitting very close together on this winter morning. Some people just look resigned - been there, done that. There is an inmate of the hospital who has been brought in a wheelchair. Her face screams fear even as she sits immobile and soundless. Her daughter and husband are with her trying to draw her out of her misery. A boy who cannot be older than 10 is wheeled in. He is scared too. He clutches his grandmother's hand and picks away at the seat of his chair with the other. His voice rises in pitch as his grandmother leaves him alone for a bit. He is too young to be here I think.

I pray that he is alright. I pray that the woman in the wheelchair is fine too. And that the newlyweds have nothing to worry about. And I pray for myself. I know its nothing major (probably) but I realise that at this moment good health is the most important thing on my mind. Later I will worry again about a dozen other real or imagined problems...but right now I just say a short prayer.

I know that in that white room that day, my prayer at least was answered.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BBC's Top 100 books

Have been tagged by Scarlett. Given below is the BBC's list of the top 100 books of all time. According to them an average person has read 6 of these books.
I'm marking the ones that I've read...let's see if I am par with the average or whether I'm an outlier... (Excuse the researcher speak! :P)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Hmm...not bad, if I say so myself...that's 32! :) I'm one of those people who simply can't remember the details so just going through this list has made me feel like I wouldn't mind catching up with some old favourites, thanks Scarlett.

I'm also a bit surprsied that some books didn't make it to the list - 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand for instance...

I tag anyone who wants to take this up.