About Readers' Paradise
I haven’t read much of Indian Fiction. There’s too much chaos; too many conflicting issues; and too many extremes. Like Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory, I like issues resolved. Unfortunately, it is not so. Fiction in India reflects a lot of India. There are people who benefit unrightfully from all this chaos and there are many millions of others who become victims of these people and the system. Here’s a slice of that story.
The Torture of Unintentional Child Shooting
I see a lot of children playing with objects I believe they should not be holding, let alone playing with them. I see small children throwing phones, or damaging computing devices, and I also see parents proudly talking about the number of phones ruined by the child. I guess it must be difficult for parents to stop kids from picking up stuff not meant for them. Imagine a child getting hold of a loaded gun lying in the house and pulling the trigger in moments of curiosity and “fun”. Imagine if another kid is standing at point blank range and the bullet pierces the kid killing him or her. Now imagine the lifelong trauma of the child who accidentally fired and therefore accidentally killed another kid in the process. How does this child cope with the loss, and with the knowledge that he or she killed someone dear? How does the child process all this when the child is still too young to have any such language to process this kind of situation?
Art tells history
Clothes mean a lot to me. They have to be right, and I need to have a variety of them. Fashion, as this interesting write-up will tell you, also means language that is communicated about a particular time and place; wearing a specific kind of clothing is a social act. The article is about how fashion influenced history; and how fashion can narrate stories about a particular age. In the eleventh century, conquerors found more than gold and land – they found medieval world’s codes of appearance. As the trade of clothing set in, European fashion underwent a sea-change.
You are free to be fooled
Noted economist and philosopher Adam Smith had a lot of good things to say about free markets and the benefits they bring. However, in a book on duplicity in free market economy, the economists (Akerlof and Shiller) talk about how free markets encourage deception and manipulation; and how the manipulators or phishermen, as the authors call them, make fools of people to sell products or services. The authors also emphasize that if others (companies and people) do not carry out this manipulation, they would be left behind as the phishermen have a competitive advantage over those who do not do phishing. It all gets interesting (because it would tell you whether you are one of the ‘phools’ or wise people) with examples – investors follow the crowd and make bad decisions about their investments; insurance companies manage to push products which do not truly serve the customers’ interests; credit card payment is encouraged even when credit cards are a major reason for personal bankruptcy; tobacco and alcohol lobbyists ensure that the consumption of these clearly toxic products remains or increases; or people despite knowing what is healthy or unhealthy reach out for coke and chips.
The night I met you
I was in school then. On my way to school, some eve-teasers had crossed my path. That day, in some class, I was teamed up with this classmate I had never spoken to earlier. As I narrated how upset I was with those eve-teasers, he listened patiently. And then, the rest of the day was sunshine. I didn’t know how and why I was happy again after I found a stranger who would listen to me. Something better happened to this person – a bomber during the Vietnam War – who had made up his mind to kill himself. He found someone and that someone ignited his desire to live again.
Readers' Paradise - July 2015
Readers' Paradise - August 2015
Readers' Paradise - September 2015
Home versus freedom for a Slave
Sometimes, we think that our lives are miserable or the times in which we live are difficult. Several of us are better off than our ancestors at least in terms of opportunities and standards of living. A lot of things seem clearer when comparisons are drawn. Here’s about the life of a slave, who in spite of getting freedom in countries like United States longed to be home, to his place in Africa.
“My anxieties have anxieties”
I don’t think I could understand “Peanuts,” the comic strip, as a child. It has appeared in newspapers much before I came into this world. Comic strips for me had to be something one could laugh or smile about and I kept looking for the “funny part” in Peanuts. Peanuts was a dark comic, and it reflected the mood of the times – from 1950s to 2000. It reflected, as the author puts it, some uncomfortable truths about the loneliness of social existence. Perhaps, it is not about just that time.
People could relate to Charlie Brown, the protagonist, a loser, a survivor, and the inspiration behind the name “Charlie Hebdo”; they could relate with his miseries, anxieties, and his plans for comeback. Lucy is a bully in the script and Snoopy, the dog, lives in his own fantasy world. The other characters of the strip have personalities too. I think I at least understood why Linus, a character in the strip, would always carry his blanket for comfort.
A different kind of Rockstar
It is said that ideas are available a dime a dozen. But, not all of those ideas could be great workable business ideas. Here’s something about an idea that began from a sneeze. The idea is of magnetic poetry. A fellow, whose true passion was song-writing, sneezed and sent paper chits of words flying. He stuck them to magnets so that more words could be visible together and the idea of magnetic messaging was born. The song-writer, who never planned to be a businessman, soon was into the business of selling customized magnetic message boxes.
The saga of an adopted child
I was planning to have a super duper analytical piece this time but I gave up that idea (for today) after reading this one. The article is about an adopted Chinese girl talking about both sets of parents of hers – the biological ones and the foster parents. It talks about her (and her parents’ search) for her biological family. Her biological family did not want to give up on her but the way Chinese society (and ours too) depends on (and therefore prefers) a male child to take on family and financial duties once he grows up put pressure on the biological parents to give her up. Well, she got adopted, did well, and best of all, feels thankful for whatever happened.
The Real Value of Real Education
My grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes when she was thirty years old. She was very particular about her medication and skin regime; she would oil her skin daily and take the prescribed medicines regularly. She would have her meals on time. I guess the only thing missing in her carefully planned routine was sufficient exercise; she would get breathless soon if she took to any physical activity. In a couple of years, injection needles couldn’t puncture the skin of her arms as the skin had become too hard. So she had begun to inject herself in the thigh. In some more time, my grandmother had moved to injecting insulin in her stomach. I remember her moving in and out of hospitals in spite of all the care that she took.
I am glad she took care because diabetes is a slow poison – it eats up the inside of your body slowly. In the write-up today, a young girl has neglected her medication despite knowing that she is diabetic. The article is a tale of what she lost and what she gained.