Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer: Impressions

Dear Lord Archer,

Sorry, but you're not quite making the mark anymore. Perhaps inspirations are drying up but because your fan following isn't, you are being held a prisoner to publisher demands. You seem to be losing your charisma from your Not a Penny More...days. That chart buster was as riveting as it was real; its plot - gripping; its characters unforgettable. But you may have milked the revenge-plan-that-works a little too much. And what a reader is left with is a been there-done that, mish-mash of a repackaged story in the form of A Prisoner of Birth.

Sure A Prisoner of Birth is a page turner although there are no prizes for guessing what happens in the end. Sure there are some brilliant microplots in the story, but it doesn't make up for the same old poor defeat rich saga and it's unforgivably Hindi cinema like in its courtroom masala. Even the characterisations seem so forced at times, one almost feels sad about the lack of imagination thereof. Which modern author, in his right mind writes, 'Think like Danny, act like Nick' over and over to remind readers with supposed intelligence of what is going through the protagonist's head? And for the formidable bulk of the book, not one character comes out strongly and threatens to stay with you for at least some time. 

And what about the title dear Lord? Sorry, but it's as pointless as the rest of these pages that you call a novel.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another day, another grey

"Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Please tell me there's no grey at all..."


I remember my mom telling me to get regular facials done after 25. I was maybe 16 then. Twenty-five seemed centuries away and blessed with good skin as I am, facials seemed like the thing for 'aunties scared of growing old. as if...'.

Cut to a decade after. Today. That’s me at 26, tagged as an 'auntie' by colony ka bachchas who see me with a bachcha, scared of growing old. Suddenly mom’s advice rings scarily true.

Well, the good news is that the good skin is still holding up and I may have another couple of years before I start making a beeline for the beauty parlour asking for a Shahnaz Hussain ka Herbal facial (yes, salons are still an unjustified luxury as a result of my dad’s commie influences).  

But there’s bad news too. Actually it’s more sad than bad. Every morning as I stand close to the mirror brushing my hair, another strand of grey peeks out, mocking me in all its silver glory. I heave a big sigh, pick up a scissor or if I’m too pissed with it, a pair of tweezers to put in as great a distance between ‘it’ and me as I can. But before I can get happy about having gotten rid of one does another spring right up. "Na, na, na, na, na" says and I pick up the scissor again. I'm clearly losing this battle. What chances do I really have? Nature vs. Tweezers.

It wasn't so long ago when I'd noticed the first grey hair on my mother's youthful head and was very upset about it. "How can MY mommy have grey hair? How can SHE grow old?" I remember thinking. All of 8, the universal reality of decay hit me. It made me uncomfortable, but I was cushioned in the comfort of time - time that seemed would never end, would never come.

But time did come. Cut to age 16. A time when I began to think grey was sexy. You know them - that tall, grey and handsome kind - those with slight grey at the temples or a full head of grey and a s**tload of confidence. Sexy, yes, but still meant for the others.

And time did come again. A little too early for me I guess. Damn those genes. But before I let myself wallow in some premature middle age crisis-induced depression, I'll squeeze into some tight tees, some short shorts and dye another day.

Monday, May 03, 2010

End of Project J

I think it’s over at last – my Project Jishnu. But before detractors start crying foul, no, I’ve not disowned my son. What has happened is that I’ve finally owned him. Blame it on post-natal depression or a plainer, ruder habit of ego-centric living, Jishnu felt like an interruption in my scheme of things. He was always my Project J – something that had been thrust upon me, and that I had to grudgingly do. He wasn’t part of my life. All he seemed like was an irritating little distraction that needed to be fed, changed, bathed and occasionally loved. It bothered me to no end when; say a potty call would interfere with my Google chat or Facebook session. Having to get up from my beloved eight hour sleeps for night feeds really overwhelmed me; not so much with fatigue as with anger.

I counted days and then months hoping my suffering would disappear one day out of some divine benevolence, but much to my dismay, Project J just got bigger and noisier. I just wanted him to sleep and savour every second of peace and the much missed ‘me time. I gushed about it and gave vent to my feelings on this blog hoping some kindred spirits would empathise (sympathise really) with my pitiable state.

Then suddenly one day I found myself blogging about books, taps and hands and going about my life as if nothing had happened. Jishnu had ceased to ‘happen’. He had, in his characteristic calm, blended into my life without my knowing it. It is said of habits that an act repeated 21 times forms one. I may have taken some 201, but Jishnu’s presence became a habit after all. Feeding him, cleaning him, playing with him, and loving him didn’t seem Herculean any more. Living my life with him rather than around him has become a practiced art form.  In fact, today I can even claim to be able to walk a tightrope carrying him if I have to.

So, it really is the end of Project J. I know because I sometimes actually wait for him to wake up.