Saturday, September 26, 2009

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I came across this book a year back at the Delhi Book Fair at a stall that was selling second hand books. It looked interesting; and without knowing quite what it was about, I picked it up.

Recently on my trip to Uttarkashi, we were shown the TV movie of Into Thin Air. I watched a bit of it; but then I went back to my tent to sleep since I was really tired. But I vowed that when I would get back to Delhi, I would sit and read the book.

I finished reading it this morning and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in mountain climbing and sports.

In a nut shell, the book is about a group of ill fated climbers who make a treacherous ascent up Mount Everest but face a terrible storm on the way down. What happens on that 1996 trip is something that shows what will happen if you put a group of not-so-experienced mountain climbers on Mount Everest, a mountain that has claimed many lives of highly skilled climbers. I still cannot believe that some people who went up there didn't even know how to rope up properly.

I feel bad though that people lost their lives. It's unfortunate that the respective governments - i.e. China and Nepal don't issue more stringent passes. Nor are they concerned about the high levels of pollution that exists due to the oxygen gas cylinders that lie up there. Even the condition of the Sherpas who aid the climbers on Mount Everest is quite appaulling. I'm all for free enterprise - but it's not good to play with people's lives; exploit the low pay scales or give people false assurances.

If anyone has the TV movie DVD/VCD - can you please send it to me?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

There are some books that leave you with a bit of a scary feeling inside. Not because there's something particularly horrific. But some of the views expressed leave you feeling very empty. Like the life of the people you're reading about may not be altogether together.

I don't know. It's his surreal style. Whether it be a recently employed guy looking for his lost cat, or a lady discovering herself and divorcing her husband, or an elephant factory that makes real life elephants, or a dancing dwarf that actually reminded me of Rumpelstiltskin.

I've read Kafka on the Shore by Murakami as well. It's also wierd; and the life and the characters he creates are quiet, yet stay in your memory.

I don't know why, but I like reading his stories. I recently got to read a few on a trip I'd taken in Himachal and it was actually lovely, sitting all cosy in a nice room with a beautiful view of the Kandaghat valley, lying and reading the collection of short stories. I would recommend that resort to anyone looking for a bit of peace and quiet from the world.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

It took me a long weekend to finish this novel. Set in the time when Bangladesh was fighting for its independence from Pakistan, the novel is well thought out and planned. Rehana and her two children, Sohail and Maya, get involved in the Resistance Movement. What follows is how they survive the age of war.

Some parts don't make much sense though. The prose is good; but in some cases didn't make much sense when put together. Why the kids had to be separated for a year - is beyond me as well. It holds your interest, but then, it all seems a bit too contrived.

Some passages are weak; I felt like an English teacher when I read them. I guess one has artistic license, so I can't really say much. But I have a feeling that too much was packed into one book. Even Mom didn't think too much of it.