Saturday 21 November 2009

The Gospel of Dan Brown

What else can I say about a novel/priestly guide. I mean to say, The Lost Symbol is more of a caticism class and a novel to the least measure.
Dan Brown, while starting this novel, had a likely goal of having a fast moving storyline and had managed it well till halfway when the story telling morphed into preaching. I do not deny any points that Dan Brown has to say on Bible. As it happens to all great teachings, time and canonisation have eaten away the spirit, and the body case is being showcased, dressed in the attire of the day. But........ Mr Brown, dont you think that it would be wise on my part to buy a book on theology rather than your novel had I ever had any intention of going deep into the religion? A bad choice on my part I would say
I 've read Da Vinci Code. Missed Digital Fortress ( Dont regret ,says a friend). Watched Angels and Demons and now The Lost Symbol. As the last two happened in quick succession, I've only one concern. If this story is ever made into a film, the screenplay would require a genius and editing would require twice the same intelligence or the producers had to advice the filmgoers, first to read and then to watch.
One last doubt. This is literally the last of the so many doubts I had while reading the novel. Why is Peter Solomon packing up the day/night of hyperactivity of Tom Hanks errrr.... Professor Robert Langdon with one more adventure which can obviously wait. Was he going to have a cardiac arrest the next day or your publisher asked to CUT SHORT?
A mess up all and fix up all. Good Luck guys who plan to read.

MS: A Life in Music. T J S George

If your initial attraction towards MS was more to do with her lovely charm than with her music, you are in the same league as I am.
Surrounded by old music lovers, who were die-hard old timers, MS's name always used to pop up in my household. As I grew up, I started picking up the gossip threads attached with that Tamil newspaper "Dinamani", which was steadfastly holding on to its old time turf,and which was one of my childhood penchants. It was through Dinamani Kathir, the sunday supplement of Dinamani, that I gained some knowledge about the stalwarts of musical era. During the historic occasion of the 50th anniversary of India's Independence(1997), there were articles on many eminent personalities and Sadasivam was one among them. Incidently he passed away that very same year and incidently there were more stories about him.
The book MS A Life In Music is also about Sadasivam, as much it is about MS. Changing the title as MS A Life in Sadasivam would certainly not be misleading. Fun apart the book is a good effort, probably the best, in encapturing the life of the legend called MS. I would like to share some of my ponderings on MS which had come through this book. Who was MS? A Musician? Probably that is the most known side of MS. But this book gives a picture of a woman who had no more aim in life than getting married and having children.
The ingenious mind that started off from Madurai in search of protection turned out to be one of the best voices of the century and that's history. But while narrating this journey the author takes us to 'Devadasi' Shanmuga vadivu's household in Madurai. The children of the household only had mother to identify and fathers were just approximations.Probably, this could be the reason behind MS's desire to 'settledown' The frailty of the position of Devadasis in a well paved social structure must have been a haunting reality for MS till the time she stayed with her mother. One can understand MS when she decides to leave to Madras against her mother's will, leaving behind her mother and the plump proposal of marrying a big shot.
How would it to feel to leave home and to become homeless , parentless and patronless, all of a sudden? As a woman in her early twenties and living in early twentieth century, the situation was by no means an ordinary one. Her decision to stay with Sadasivam,who was already married and was a father of two, should be viewed in this background. MS at this point is a woman at her best. The feminine psyche that has been longing for security during these millions of years of evolution was at work. It was not an impulsive decision but a decision driven by instinct. We can attach no other tags and the author sees this well. This was the only juncture on her life when MS acted on her own.How ever this development became subject matter of the gossip mill of the times.
In Madras with Sadasivam ,MS ,by then a knownsinger, starts off her career in cinema. After four cinemas of mediocre acting and good singing, Sadasivam puts an end to her acting. With that started a phenomenal career in music, meticulously planned and orchestrated by Sadasivam. Here one thing needs to be mentioned. The author's portrayal of Sadasivam is slightly tilted and he has less kind words for Sadasivam. Albeit he has every reason to give such portrayal.
The book stands out in many aspects. Firstly the lack of record base has every possibility to ruin the continuity and genuineness of the narration. The author has managed this reasonably well with available sources. The book views Carnatic Music becoming a popular culture from sociological point of view and the perspective is precise and crisp. Details on other women from Devadasis tradition like Balasaraswathi is very limited. More detail on these artists would have done well to the sociological angle of the history of classical art that is interwoven all along the book. Sadasivam was a dominating mentor, teacher, organiser, strategist etc. and MS was willingly his submissive counterpart. Repetition of details on Sadasivam's personal traits drags back the smooth flow of narration. The author has chosen to end the book with an appendix, titled, 'from MS with love' . MS is not available for comments on her love letters to GNB which, probably she wrote believing that it would remain confidential for ever.How she would have reacted to the author's choice of publishing it, is a difficult question. However, by choosing to include this, the author has tried only to be truthful to the subject and questioning his intention would be improper.
A good book . MUST READ for MS fans.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Victorian Age on paper

This is HISTORY. Beware:)))
I went to my husband's office the other day just to see some interiors he's doing. To my surprise he showed a door which looked like a jail and told that he had come to know about it's existence very recently. The age old building is a testimony to British acumen. Hey , this is not worshipping the west. It's just giving the devil it's own share. They deserve it. The record room here has no electricity. Now, think of the fire accidents that start from record rooms due to electrical short circuit. However, referring files during day time wouldn't be a problem as there are wall length windows which allow sufficient light.
Now, let me come to the interesting part of my visit to this record room. As we were passing rack after rack my husband told that there were files which are more than a hundred years old and showed a rack which was marked, '1898'. I pulled a bundle which roughly resembles a A4 size paper folded lengthwise. With an assurance that it will be returned as such , I brought home the bundle and here are some of my curious findings.
1.Revenue stamp paper-obverse
2.Revenue stam paper-reverse
3. Court fee stamp
Sl. no 1 is the revenue stamp paper bearing the profile of Queen Victoria. Compare this with the image of Qn Victoria in Penny Black. The image in the stamp paper is that of a older Queen. As this stamp paper was used towards the end of the Victorian age, the image used is that of a older Queen, I guess. Not visible in this image is the elaborate water mark with a marking 'ONE RUPEE UNDER TEN". The value of one rupee is divided as eight annas each to both the images of the Queen. Only Queen bears the value??!
Sl.no 2: The reverse side bears the stamp of the stamp department , Godavari(District) dated 01 Nov 1898. The entire text is in Telugu. So...any one who knows Telugu can help me out.
Sl no.3 has the image of a 1/2 Re (eight annas )court fee stamp affixed probably on 31.1.1898 and cancelled on 14.2.1898.During my childhood I was always amused by a double shaded colour pencil which my maternal uncle used for his office work that he carried home on week ends. This pencil had blue shade in one half and red on the other. That faded childhood memory struck me again when I saw this cancelled court fee stamp.From small to big, Indian administration less the British contribution , there will be a huge vacuum.
As I keep exploring these files will get back with more interesting findings.