When I first read about it on Sumeet's blog
, I did'nt quite understand what this meme business was all about. Last I heard (from Biman) was that a meme was an intellectual gene - just as the biological genes fight amongst themselves to survive and thrive amongst creatures, memes - ideas of culture, morality etc. - are supposed to joust with each other to see which held sway in human society.
Anyways, I was going to follow the links on Sumeet's blog to find out more but before that Som
honoured Sumeet's 'tag' and his prelude to his reply threw light on what was going on.
As Som puts it, a meme is a chain-mail equivalent in the blog world. You write about a certain topic and then 'tag' your friends in the blogworld. The tagged people are supposed to then write about the same topic(s) and in turn tag more people, thus causing the chain to grow.
----- Number of Books I Own
As a rough estimate, about two hundred. Including scores of Tinkles, Chandamamas (most in English, some in Kannada, a couple in Hindi and I think one in Marathi), Archies, Richie Rich, school textbooks with favourite short stories, second hand books that I keep buying, several pirated copies, a few new books. Most of my books are back at home in Kumta, in cardboard cartons. Books I have in Bangalore are books I haven't yet read or am planning to read again. The novels I have are an arbit collection. No consistent authors except Agatha Christie who I once liked but now can't stand. Not more than four or five thrillers max - can't stand thrillers either. Some poetry. A big book of Van Gough's Paintings. Last Book I read
The last book I read, if you discount The Hitchiker's Guide Omnibus that I am re-reading now and Khushwant Singh's Delhi which I re-read a few chapters of before that, was Shakespeare's Macbeth. It's difficult to fully explain what I liked about it. Phrases like 'struck an inner chord' seem inadequate. After Macbeth, I am ready to get hooked on to Shakespeare and it was with great difficulty that I postponed buying two thug collections Shakespeare's "Three Tragedies" and "Three Comedies" at Gungaram's.
Here's a cut-paste about what I wrote about Shakespeare some posts back. I might sound conceited 'quoting' myself but do try and see it some other way.
"Among other things, read Macbeth at leisure. It gave me a big kick. Though I had read Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar before, neither of them had hit me so hard as did Macbeth. Suddenly the much ado (again a Shakespearean phrase?) there is about Shakespeare seemed to make sense. And then, Shakespeare is drama written as verse and is much lighter, more enjoyable reading (if the book you are reading from comes with annotations) than Novels.
And Shakespeare has written hazaar hazaar plays. I now look forward to reading King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra - all of which I knew existed but only they have all suddenly turned extremely desirable. It's like someone who has a fridge stocked full of chocolates (or candy or ice-cream) and who one fine day suddenly finds out that he likes chocolates (or candy or ice-cream) much more than he thought he did." The last book(s) I bought...
...were the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Omnibus by Douglas Adams and Khushwant Singh's celebrated Train to Pakistan. The latter is a much thinner volume than I had expected it would be and I checked to see several times to see if it was the same book I thought it was. I haven't read it yet though. Before that, on a trip to Mysore I had bought some 15-20 second hand books including Moby Dick, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, The Island of Circe (Mulk Raj Anand I think), Ancient Indian Stories About Women (with a very evocative cover illustration. wink wink) and Fitzgerald's famous translation of Omar Khayyam's Rubbaiyat (with a even more evocative cover illustration. Sly Grin). Books that Mean(t) a lot to Me
(not in any order and not at all exhaustive)
Ayn Rand's Fountainhead - A very heady book. Gives you a high. Propounds hard work, perfection and a passion for one's work which is a good thing. But is mercilessly unkind to people who some how did not manage to work hard, be perfect or have a passion for their work which may not be such a good thing. Written extremely well. Unputdownable.
Hemingway's Old Man And The Sea.
Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy - detailed, funny, non-judgemental, sunny, kind depictions of the lives of some forty-fifty people. The book is so big that at no stage do you really bother about the plot - what's going to happen to whom etc - it is almost like living another life with so many new friends and relatives. Vikram Seth probably wrote the novel like Amit Chatterjee, a writer-poet, one of the characters in the story is descrbed to be writing his
big novel. In Amit's words "Like a Banyan Tree the story keeps dropping fresh branches to the ground. Some of these take root and become trees themselves others just fade away". A Suitable Boy has several firsts which I will not list here for you are going to read it yourself sometime.
A translation of Bilhana's Chaurapanchasika (Fifty Verses from a (love) Thief) - Written by the Kashmiri poet this collection consists of fifty erotic verses each beginning with Yadyapi Taan - Even Now...and describe the love between the poet and the King's daughter.
Translation of Kalidasa's Work - My favourite is a section from Ritusamharam (the coming together of the seasons) where the Summer is described to be having a queer effect on the food chain - the frog is shelters under the cobra's hood but the cobra does nothing, the snake shelters under the peacocks' tail but the peacock does nothing...When I read these translations I know that I have no choice but to learn Sanskrit some day and go exploring into the as yet unaccessible (to me) realms of Sanskrit literature.
The Catcher in the Rye - I used to use it, like Sumeet, as a pick me up of some sort. Don't like it now so much.
Upamanyu Chatterjee's English, August. I found striking, scary, similarities between me and the protagonist, Agastya Sen - not just in thoughts and attitudes but in actions as well. Which is why the book makes me feel reassured and really really good.
The Strange Case of Billy Bisaws by Arun Joshi and Distant Drum by Manohar Malgaonkar - both books bought 'by instinct' at second hand stores. Lesser celebrated of the Indian English Authors but just as good if not better. Books I Wish I had Finished
Joseph Heller's Catch 22 - I found it very funny in the beginning but very boring very soon. People say that the book gets really pacy and drastic and profound towards the end. I will find out some day.
Melville's Moby Dick - Couldn't sustain interest till the I reached the supposedly really good parts. I had a very good copy which I have lent someone (if that someone is reading this please return my book). Now I have a front cover-less second hand copy and next time I start I am going to read till the end.
Three Men In a Boat - Jerome K Jerome. Hilarious Max. But couldn't read through the (semi-serious) descriptions of the history and geography of all those places in England. Maybe some other time... People I Tag Gans
My tag list is small because most people I would want to tag have already been tagged by Som and Sumeet.