Helluo librorum

I’m officially out of space in my little bookshelf. I don’t find place for my precious Calvin and Hobbes’ books (their size is not quite the standard size) and I don’t like keeping books the way it’s kept above. I like them all neatly arranged, indexed and then ordered by what I read often (read multiple times that is) and what I would like to read later. But no. No space! And I’m still in two minds whether I’ve to invest in a huge book shelf like the ones we see in the studies of famous writers and artists. I’m not sure my family can take that shock. It’s just too early!

So till then, I’ll just have to do with my little bookshelf. The new books will now start invading the space in the showcase. And when that’s full, there’s always the coffee table in the living room. God willing, if that’s also full, I’m thinking about the dining table. C’mon, one needs place for books in one’s house, right? We’ll just have to be happy that I don’t intend to move my masala dabbas out of the kitchen cabinets and use that for books. Now that would be a truly shocking shock for the family. Tell you a secret? I actually would love to see the look on my Mom’s face if that happens! Evil me.

And the book currently out of the shelf and in my hand –

P.S: Yes, you guessed it right. I finally learnt how to download photos from the camera into my laptop. Talk about slow learners, eh? Better late than never, you see.

We the living

” Kira Arguonova entered Petrograd on the threshold of a box car. She stood straight, motionless, with the graceful indifference of a traveler on a luxurious ocean liner, with an old blue suit of faded cloth, with slender sunburned legs and no stockings. She had an old piece of plaid silk around her neck and short tousled hair, and a stockingcap with a bright yellow tassel. She had a calm mouth and slightly widened eyes witha defiant, enraptured, solemnly and fearfully expectant look of a warrior who is entering a strange city and is not quite sure whether he is entering it as a conqueror or a captive.” — Ayn Rand, ‘We the living’.

So starts the introduction of Ayn Rand’s first hero, Kira Alexandrovna Arguonova. All of 16 years old when she enters her city, to the ruins of her bourgeois life. The State has nationalized her father’s business and their property. The city that she knew has changed, but she is the only one in her family who sees the hope and possibilities that lie amid the ruins and the Red posters proclaiming ‘Proletarians of the world, unite!’. She is also the only one who’s dream is to become an engineer and build bridges of aluminium.

‘We the living’, Rand’s first novel, talks about the struggle of Man against the State (to quote the book). The State here represents any authoritarian rule, any dictatorship in any country. Like all her later books, ‘We the living’ talks about life and the essence of being alive. This novel can be seen as a precursor to ‘Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’, her theory that man must live for himself alone. Kira, who strongly believes in it, finds it difficult to live life by the terms dictated by the Communist State which demanded, not independence, but self sacrifice. The other characters in the book, each convey a tenet towards this theory and it finally comes together during the climax when the two most important men in Kira’s life, Leo and Andrei, stand a face-off (or face a stand-off?) – where both the men are wrong, and both are right.

The beauty of Rand’s novels is the image of the hero. Be it Kira or Howard Roark or John Galt. The character is just so awe-inspiring, that it continues to haunt you even days after you’ve read the book. ‘We the living’ is the first and only book I’ve ever read in my life so far that made me cry. The pain, the emotions and the conflicts in Kira’s life are conveyed so beautifully, in a typical Rand-ian way that one completely identifies with it. It is like watching a movie or even as if it is happening in front of you to see. The words hit you that hard, and leaves an imprint for a long time to come.

‘We the living’ is different from Atlas and Fountainhead in the way that this is not a happy novel. All the trademarks of Rand are there, yet the human element is more pronounced in ‘We the living’. The heroes in this novel are more human than her later heroes. As Peikoff says in his foreword to the centennial edition of the book, ‘Kira, though not intended as a self-portrait, is Ayn Rand intellectually and morally; she has all of Ayn Rand’s ideas and values.’ This is probably as close as we can get to the person behind the genius of Ayn Rand.

One would have read a lot of books on life in Soviet Russia during the times of the Revolution, but this book is a true showcase to the bitter and painful reality of life, especially for people like Kira and Leo who believe in living life on their own terms, for themselves. The poverty, the hunger, the rations and the Communist propaganda – the ugly truth about the Utopian dream that the Marxist leaders promised to the masses. Misplaced ideals and a directionless move towards what they think is a fair and just society, combined with this heady feeling one gets with brute power in their hands brings Russia (or USSR to be more precise) to its knees, or rather the people are brought down to their knees. The long lines in front of cooperative stores to get their daily rations of bread, oil and sugar, the stringent rules for non-proletarians or the erstwhile bourgeois and the all pervading Reds paint a grim picture of how rotten life was for everyone under the hammer and the sickle. And the only reason it is so vivid is because the author wrote it from her own life, the life that she lived and breathed when she was a citizen of Russia.

Every book of Ayn Rand that I have read has touched me, my life in ways even I cannot fathom. It brings this feeling of incompleteness that I may have lived this many years without a purpose, without an ideal that could be life-changing if only one had the will to stick to it in the face of adversity. It takes a lot to follow your mind and your heart, and be willing to die standing up for your values and beliefs. On second thoughts, living by one’s convictions is far more difficult that having to die for it. It takes a hero to do that. Not just any hero, an Ayn Rand hero.

Like Howard Roark. Like Francisco D’Anconia, Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart. Like John Galt. Like Kira Arguonova.

Photo: Taken by me, a day before I finished the book.

Soggy delights

All my creativity leaked out of my ears last night and now I have none left. Ergo, I will be putting you both (yes, I still firmly believe there are never more than 2 people who read this blog) through the following painful ordeal. Resistance is futile. Resign to your fate and read on please.

One of the most entertaining part of my work-day is the coffee routine in the evening. Not because the coffee is good (it never is, FYI), just because 1) I need something hot to drink at that time and 2) believe it or not, I badly need that eensy weensy bit of exercise (approximately 25 steps from my desk to the pantry, go figure.). Now, one cannot drink a coffee/tea without something to munch. The thoughtful people that they are, the office guys keep a whole variety of biscuits next to the abomination of a dispenser. (Some day I’ll blog about how much I ‘adore’ that dispenser.)

Right, so about the biscuits. When I say wide variety, I mean really wide variety. We have the usual Marie, Krackjack, Goodday and cream biscuits (orange, milk aka yuck, etc) but then we also have *start drumbeats* Britannia Milk Bikkis *end drumbeats* Remember those biscuits? The first ones we probably had (if you’re as old as me, chances are this was the first biscuit you had with your two tiny milk teeth) and maybe the only ones in the grocery store of yore! Like I was telling my colleague, these Bikkis always remind me of little babies leaving half eaten, soggy biscuits on the floor. Don’t ask me why.

But the point of this post is not Britannia Milk Bikkis. It’s about which biscuits are best soggy. Yep, yours truly will now reveal the findings of this top secret project to determine which biscuits..er..soggy biscuits go well with coffee/tea. All my opinions, which I will definitely try to impose on you. Escape it if you can.

1. Britannia Marie – Typical chai biscuit, isn’t it? A full 95 marks on 100.
2. Britannia Milk Bikkis – They’re ok. Just that they taste a wee bit too sweet when soggy with coffee/tea. If your coffee or tea doesn’t have sugar, you might enjoy this. But if your coffee/tea does not have sugar, you probably shouldn’t be having biscuits, no? 75 on 100.
3. Britannia Chocolate chip biscuits – I used to like them at one time. But then I had it so often that now I can’t stand them. The chocolate chips kinda melt when they’re soggy. But it’s ok if you want a change in your usual soggy biscuit routine. 70 on 100.
4. Britannia Goodday – Ditto above. Like some Spice Girl said, too much of something is bad enough. I wouldn’t suggest a soggy Goodday. It soaks up the liquid too soon and more often than not, breaks in the cup. And then you have fish around in the cup to take it out or even worse, leave it in till the beverage is over. Messy matter. 20 on 100.
5. Cream biscuits – Wrong choice again. The cream makes it too sweet. They have a new flavor called Milk cream (which if Im not mistaken is also used in soaps!! enough said.) – ‘yuck’ is an understatement. 20 on 100.
6. Krackjack/Salt biscuits – Not exactly good when soggy, mainly ‘coz it’s a bit salty. Salty biscuit dipped in sweet coffee tastes like salty biscuit dipped in…coffee! I lost what I wanted to write, so excuse please! Also, it takes longer to soak up the coffee. 30 on 100.
7. Britannia Bourbon – Woe to ye if you dip this in coffee or tea. Thou shalt never insult chocolate by mixing it with other things. Putting chocolate between two biscuits is bad enough. 0 on 100, because this is not acceptable behavior for a normal person. I mean a normal chocolate loving person.
8. Britannia True Coconut biscuits – Surprisingly good when soggy with coffee! Try it to know it. 85 on 100.

Note: I’m not paid by Britannia to do this research (although I wish they would!). It’s just out of goodwill towards the general public that I indulge in such activities.

Bored? I understand. I’m bored too. Time for coffee! And…a soggy biscuit!

BTW, picture above has nothing much to do with the post. It just looked so yummy that I had to put it up and drool a bit.

P.S: I write too much in brackets, don’t I? Shows what sort of a chatterbox I am, no? 🙂 Too late, you already know me/my blog.

Image Source

Ind vs SL, Live!

Guess who’s at Visakhapatnam watching the 4th ODI between India and Sri Lanka, live and in person?

If you said me, you couldn’t be more wrong. Mainly because I’m here blogging.

But if you said my husband, WOOHOO! Bingo! Be jealous, all you cricket fans who couldn’t make it. Be really really jealous.

And I know now what can make me watch a full cricket match – the fact that I can see my better half on screen!

Also, for once, I wait for the bowler to stop bowling or take longer gaps between each ball so the camera can roam around the stands and focus on my hubbie.

Well folks, I better get goin’! Got a cricket match and a husband to watch. Woohoo again!

Boxes

Stumbled upon this song on esnips when I was searching for Peter Seeger’s Little Boxes.

I found it so soulful and calming, that I had to put this up on a post, instead of just leaving it around on my sidebar.

Click below –

02 The People Of The Boxes - Dawud Wharnsby-Ali
The People Of the Boxes, by Dawud Wharnsby-Ali
Hosted by eSnips

Or check the ‘Listening’ section to the left.

And since I’m anyway on the subject of boxes, remember the cute song that plays for the Zen Estilo advt? Well, that’s the one I was searching for on esnips. Found it on Youtube, afterall!

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes Little boxes
Little boxes all the same
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all go to the university
And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same
And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
And business executives
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martini dry
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
And they all get put in boxes, and they all come out the same

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same

There’s a green one, and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Isn’t it one cute song? 🙂

The Noodle Revolution, 1980s-2007

Maggi Noodles. Synonymous with a lot of memories, mostly from times when one was too lazy to cook but too hungry not to eat? Those childhood times when Maggi was the THE snack of all times? How your mother scolds you that you serve Maggi for breakfast? Umm, no? Ok, maybe the last one is just me. Nevertheless, would be hard to find an Indian (or as Wiki tells me, a Singaporean, Malayasian, New Zealander or Aussie) who hasn’t had Maggi in their lives. If you’re below 60 years of age, that is. Somehow, old people and noodles just don’t get along. And that’s a brilliant idea for a next blog post. Oh, did I just say that aloud?
Why talk about Maggi now? Because I’m hugely hugely impressed by how innovative the blokes at Nestle are! They’ve just introduced Maggi Rice noodles!! After the regular noodles, the wheat flour (atta) noodles, now rice! Natural progression, one could say. And something that makes a lot of sense.

I’m a big fan of Maggi noodles. I still remember fighting for one extra strand of noodles with my brother (who, after punching me, would graciously offer me two, thereby making me look like the bad person in front of my mother, not to mention a complete glutton for noodles). How I used to cycle the 400m to the nearby shop to buy noodles and pester mom to make it for me before my brother comes. Ok, my brother is always a part of the noodle story ‘coz, seriously, I HAVE fought that many times. Yes, I make a lousy sister. And no, I’m not so now. Happy? Those were times when I had just learnt cycling, so no matter what the distance, it was always my trusted BSA SLR. Even if it was to my friend’s who lived, hold your breath, two doors away! I mean, two whole doors! Can you believe that?

Ok, umm, back to noodles. Back then, there was just veggie, chicken and tomato flavors, and we used to be such devoted fans of the veggie flavor. If my mother had the patience and the time, she would make it extra special by adding real veggies and it would look like the picture on top of the cover! Ah, those were good times. Then came a lot of flavors that didnt quite click (Chatpata, if I remember correctly), and I think there was one which was supposed to be like noodles in soup.

The marketing for Maggi has always been very sensible. Their ‘2 minute’ tag line was very appealing for mothers and kids alike – mothers needn’t spend precious time in the kitchen again and kids can make an entire project out of it! Let’s face it, for a lot of us, the first dish we ever made in the kitchen (and for some, the only dish we can make in the kitchen even now) is Maggi noodles. If you were exceptionally talented, you would’ve made an omlette already, but hey, for regular people like me, it was noodles. Ok, I’m sorry my mind is so tangential, this post is still about noodles, noodles and just noodles.

The popularity of Maggi stems from the fact that it made noodles easy and non-messy. Though it neither tastes nor looks like the authentic chinese noodles, it is very much an accepted type of ‘noodles’. So much so, I’ve seen restaurants serve ‘Maggi noodles’ next to the other regular Chinese/Conti dishes.

As to the catalyst of this post, Maggi Rice Noodles – available in 3 flavors: Shahi Pulao, Chilly Chow and Lemon. Take my advice, the last two suck big time – even more than Maggi Dal Atta noodles (which was banned from my kitchen after I couldn’t finish even half a plate of it, even when I hadn’t eaten all day). Shahi Pulao is just about palatable. Which made me realize that nothing compares to the original no-nonsense, no frills, regular good ol’ Maggi Vegetable Noodles.

On tridandams and kirpans

In today’s newspaper –

Indian ‘grounds’ Chinna Jeeyar Swami

Interesting, given that kirpans (upto 6 inch blade, with 3 inch handle, according to BCAS) are allowed aboard. And, correct me if I’m wrong, the tridandam is made of wood!

I understand it’s hazardous to carry any sharp objects or objects that could be mis-used on an aircraft, but why, pray, is there a different rule for different objects?

Very interesting, indeed.