Monday, June 30, 2008

With your head in the clouds

My eyes wanted to pop, and my sinus was overwhelmingly excited. I couldn't see 10 feet away. The rain, whipping in from all sides, drenched me; my umbrella useless. From 4,000 ft above sea level, it was nearest to feeling like I was in heaven.

Talacauvery is the sedentary man's nightmare. Roads wind on and on for two hours, the monotony of the bus engine and the giddy curves make your stomach squeamish. The unfortunate who do not grab a seat when they get the first chance have to hang on to whatever they can find, and hurry to a window as soon as their stomach speaks.

The temple architecture at Talacauvery is simple, full of planes, made of a stone that felt like rough granite. Ganapati, an avatar of Shiva and Cauvery - the resident deities - watch as devotee upon devotee brave the weather to pay them homage. Remembering the auto driver's words about the wildlife, stealing a quick glance every few minutes to check for tigers is not uncommon. It's useless. The fog is too thick and the rain too heavy.

Do we leave, or do we stay? It is freezing cold and we are wet from the rain.

The place is serene.

There are the 400-odd steps to climb to the top for a breathtaking view.

We have a bus to catch.

298. 299. 300. It's time to go. Turn back and keep the job. Carry on and miss the bus.

Turn back it is!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The 3 mistakes of my life

It was a flash back to 'Five Point Someone' - the little known young man, two inseperable friends, and the ever-present unattainable woman.

The situation, this time more serious, paved the way to a look other than those we saw in the magazines. The earthquake in Godhra, and the riots in Ahmedabad feature here, but Chetan Bhagat brings the small-town businessman with a big-town dream to the front. It sounds cliched; perhaps it is. As for the allusions to 'Five Point Someone', well, Govind is Hari, Omi resembles Alok (albeit in a small way) and Ishaan is Ryan.

The magnitude of the problems here is greater than in Five Point: no stuck-up prof to deal with, wailing mother to support, or hurt ego to soothe. Communal clashes and the cricket frenzy make big points. As with his previous book, there are lessons to learn. Friends seem to be a big deal to Bhagat. There's a black spot on the best of friends, and you tend to miss his lesson to overlook the flaws and live with them since it's been done before. You hear the nagging voice of an old lady and read the book for the story.

Despite a few tugs at your heart strings during the riots, there isn't an overdose of sentiment. Bells ring when there's a mention of booking tickets on the S6 bogie of the Sabarmati Express or when Govind wakes to the shaking of the earth and runs to find his new store razed to the ground. You sympathise for a while and then carry on. After all, life has carried on, and with it the scars remain. Deaths will be remembered, friendships lost and hopefully won.

Like Five Point, it's a quick read. You sometimes know what to expect, at other times you don't. Chetan Bhagat doesn't want to be the world's most admired author (as he says in the preface), but the most loved. We'll have to wait and see, won't we?