Anywhere, Anyhow

“Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.”

― Albert Einstein

 

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Lolita

Lolita

I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.

– Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

About

Perhaps in a strange, fateful way, Humbert’s inherent singularity and diabolical obsession with Lolita began with his child-love Annabel.

Humbert Humbert, a European scholar and college professor in America, is haunted by the memory of a lost adolescent love. A surprising turn of events upsets and ultimately wrecks his life when he disgracefully falls in love with Dolores Haze (nicknamed Lolita), the twelve year old daughter of his landlady. Obsessed and totally consumed by her thoughts, he’s ready to employ any grotesque scheme to posses his Lolita forever.

 Upside

Nabokov weaves a delicate net of lyrical prose to enthral his readers; Lolita is deeply expressive and intensely poetic. The story is told in first person, by Humbert himself, when he was held captive in jail. Such is the power of Humbert’s soulful utterances, that more than once the reader will nod in a scandalised affirmation of  Humbert’s vile desires.

It is disturbing to note that Nabokov’s obsessed pedophile isn’t entirely revolting or disgusting, but is someone you want understand. Humbert cleverly fools himself and the reader into believing that he is a caring, passionate lover who wants to protect his Lolita.

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His justifications, his reasons and his outrageous declaration that it was Lolita who seduced him are nauseating to the reader’s human mind. Humbert is a sinful planner. He systematically secludes his prey and fills her with self-doubt and fear and robs her of a normal childhood. Inspite of this, the reader is unable to truly hate the pedophile.

While the reader is tempted to sympathise with Humbert’s sad past, Lolita almost always comes across as crass, and unworthy of much compassion. As distasteful it seems, at one point I was almost tempted to believe that Humbert and Dolores were part of a tragic love affair that just couldn’t happen for a million reasons.

Clearly, Nabokov is a master of deception. He has the reader hooked, confused, shocked- gasping for more. Lolita is a brilliant, brilliant character study.

Downside

Nabokov’s Lolita asks disagreeable questions.

To justify his conduct, Humbert directs the reader’s attention to the fact that in many tribal cultures, it is acceptable for a grown man to marry a 12 year old girl. He pleads that before he ever laid his dirty man-hands on Dolores, the precocious nymphet had already had sex with another boy. He desperately wants the reader to believe that 12 year old girls are ready to mate and cites numerous examples where young girls are sold by families in exchange of land, cattle, gold and whatnot.

While this may make the reader uncomfortable, I wouldn’t go so far as to classify this as a drawback of reading Lolita. Being compelled to tackle these questions of morality in today’s modern society is a part of what makes this book a great read.

I would say…

Pick this one up! I’ll give Lolita a full five stars for its creative world play. I cannot recall any other book that simultaneously evoked such conflicting feelings of disgust and charm in me. I will gladly recommend Lolita to anybody who’s willing to challenge his or her sanity.


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Life Lesson II

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Hey, 2016. You’ve been ridiculously tumultuous. From rejections to triumphant happiness, you threw everything at me. You tested my patience and made me even more resilient. You awed and shocked me. 2016, you were a beautiful mess, a complete riot. Yes, you were very difficult, but like all others, you flew by. In retrospect, I’m glad that you were so tough with me. Because of you, I’m a better person today.

Throughout the year I’ve been writing about the lessons I’ve learned, about the things that life so far has taught me. I’ve been cataloging my experiences and desires for all to see (I’m so glad to have found a new hobby in blogging, it’s one of the highlights of 2016). In the same spirit, I’d like to share with you all the last set of learnings for the year.


Prepare to Achieve

You shouldn’t hope to achieve magnificent results if you’re not ready to put in an astonishingly huge amount of hard work into whatever it is that you want to achieve. Do not expect to ace that interview if you haven’t prepared your pitch. Do not complain when you get a lower grade if you’re not even sure what your presentation is about.

Do not say, “Oh, she got the job? Maybe it was her lucky day.” No, her day was as blessed and lucky as yours. She made it serendipitous because she prepared well.

Think about it: if you can’t do yourself a favour and prepare well, why should the universe and the world love you enough to reward you? Don’t be intimidated by hard work. Reflect on rejections. Cease complaining. Work on yourself. Try again.

You Can’t Change Anyone But You

What if a friend says unkind words to you? What if your boyfriend cheats on you? What if the errant driver curses you? What if the saleswoman looks down upon you? What if


It’s annoying and frustrating, but you can’t change people. You’re only allowed to hack and chisel at your own raw form to sculpt the best version of yourself. Period. Yes, negative people have the tendency to upset your harmony and well being; and you may be tempted to ‘fix’ such people. But you can’t. You can only fix yourself to see the situation in a different light so that it doesn’t affect you negatively.

We Are All Good at Different Things

I’m good at math and you’re good at public speaking. Interviews make me nervous while they’re a cakewalk for you. I paint, you sing. If I you paint you’ll do no better than a toddler, and if I sing I’ll make people want to tear their eardrums off. This doesn’t make one of us better than the other; it makes our little world more diverse and beautiful.

Please don’t pitch your talent against mine (it’s like comparing apples with oranges), enjoy the variability. This world needs painters as much as it needs singers, and it values them equally.

Let Go of the Escapist Attitude

If you’re constantly blaming others for your failures and shortcomings, you’ll never manage to reach the stars. Successful people take charge of their lives, they control the entire theatre that their life is. You’ll never see them blaming others for their problems. You will, however, see them triumph despite all odds. People who say, “I couldn’t do well because of XYZ or ABC” are doing themselves a disservice and they don’t even know it.

Conclusion: Abandon escapism if you want to win at life.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Come out of your shell and talk to people because that’s the surest way to learn. In today’s tech savvy world, you may read everything there is to read and you may see everything there is to see; but if you don’t actively speak with other people, you shall forever remain deprived of real life learnings and another human’s perspective.

So talk. Talk to as many people as you can and try to find out what amuses them, what drives them, what they like to do and why they like to do what they do. Most answers will surprise you and open your own mind to interpretations and impressions you yourself couldn’t have imagined.

Society’s Standards are Ridiculous

The Society’s a funny thing. It judges if you wear skirts and it judges if you wear kurtis. It frowns and smirks if you’re 35 and unmarried and it ridicules if you’re 20 and married. It condemns rape and blames the victim. It talks behind your back if you make a lot of money. It also talks behind your back if you’re unemployed.

Oh Society, you’re a crazy breed.

Why must you bother about the insane society? You can’t match Society’s lofty standards anyway. Might as well do your thing (and be ridiculed) rather than hold yourself (and be ridiculed).

When All Else Fails, There’s family

Friends may come and friends may go but family is forever. Your family will stick with you through thick and thin. Mommy and daddy always, always have your best interests at heart. They’ll catch you when you falter and fall. They’ll swell with pride and shower you with kisses when you win. Sure, sometimes they make mistakes: they’re only human! But they’ll never abandon you. They’ll always help you figure out the puzzle that life is.

I’ll be moving to Paris for my Masters next year and I have no idea how I’ll survive alone. My family has spoilt me, and the damage is irreversible. Sigh.


To this year, and to the years to come.

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Another Eventful Year

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Image Source: timeanddate.com

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

― Neil Gaiman

…January 1, 2017 is the first blank page of a new 365 page book. Make sure you write that story that you’ve always wanted to tell. Fill it with bright colours and squeeze into it as many happy smiles as you can.

Reflect. Understand. Overcome.

Buoyant & Assured

Sometimes, just one quote says it all and offers encouragement to the soul.

And No Country for Old Men is loaded with such words of wisdom. If I manage to soak in and remember even half of the aphorisms that the story contains, I’ll be able to turn my life around for the better.

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”

“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothing else.”

“It’s a life’s work to see yourself for what you really are and even then you might be wrong. And that is something I don’t want to be wrong about.”

― Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men


 

One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mother gives birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

-One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel GarcĂŹa MĂĄrquez


About

The Buendía family is condemned to a hundred years of solitude.

The story takes the reader through the lives of the seven generations of the Buendía family as it explores incestuous relationships and sufferings. Through the dramatic rise and fall of the fictitious town of Macondo, the story recounts coming of the European ideals of development capitalism to Latin America and the effect it has on native ties and people.

Macondo is a town far removed from science and technology. So much so that to the naive inhabitants, things as dull as ice and magnets seem miraculous, and they believe wandering gypsies to be harbingers of progress. It’s only when ‘outsiders’ begin settling in the town that the native populace is exposed to development. The proliferation of science is like magic to this simple town. By the end of the story, Macondo has seen everything: from war and anarchy to dilapidation and emptiness.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is as much about politics and government apathy as it is about human relationships and magic. And in the end, all is revealed in the old, unintelligible manuscript that JosĂ© Arcadio MĂĄrquez’s friend MelquĂ­ades the gypsy wrote a hundred years ago…


Upside

In a word, it’s magnetic. One Hundred Years of Solitude whisks you away to a far off fantasy land where extraordinary is ordinary. The reality that this book attempts to create is anything but real, and that makes it all the more enchanting.

In the veiled land of Macondo, it isn’t unusual to see one’s dead ancestors lurking around.  It isn’t odd for a man to give his 17 sons from 17 different women the same name. Macondo is where it’s unsurprising to be alive for a century and a half. And it is where priests levitate to prove the existence of god. The simplicity of the story is so unreal that it leaves the reader gasping for more.

The realism that MĂĄrquez weaves into his fiction is hard to resist: One Hundred Years of Solitude is poetic. If you read closely, it will sing to you.

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Perhaps this is what Macondo looks like

Downside

There’s very little dialogue; the characters hardly speak with each other. The story doesn’t stay with any one character long enough for the reader to be fully acquainted with it. Lack of conversation among characters makes it tough for the reader to get into the characters’ heads and decipher their psychology. That makes the reader feel like an outlander, not an integral fragment of the story.

This isn’t much of a downside, but the long and twisted sentences make it a demanding read. It is by no means an easy book, and requires great attention.


I’d say…

Despite its limitations, One Hundred Years of Solitude is charming. For me, it was challenging and very different from anything that I’ve read so far. Magic-realism may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was definitely worth my effort and time. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s willing to go beyond convention.


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(Image taken from Google)