Thursday, January 29, 2009

Crime and Punishment - Review

We all believe that we are not ordinary. We’re unique. We’ve something special in us.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a story about a guy who thinks that he is extraordinary…

This is a Russian Novel published on 1866 and recommended by one of my reader.

This novel was not a easy read b’coz it was more than a century old and it was a translated one. When you read a Novel, it should be impossible for you to keep it down. You usually read many many chunks of pages at a stretch and you just cannot keep the book down. But I dint face that issue at all!! In fact many a times I thought of just stop reading the book! May be I am not tuned to reading Novel.

Crime and Punishment is about Raskolnikoff, a college drop out who saw an old money lender lady as a weed in the society. He thought, “What would Napolean do if he was in my shoes… He would’ve killed her”. He believed that the world consists of a large chunk of ordinary men and a few extraordinary men. These extraordinary men can change the face of the world. These extraordinary men are here to break laws if it is good for the community. Remember Nayagan dialogue, “Naalu Beruku Nallathu Senja Ethuvum Thappila”. So Raskolnikoff thought why can’t I kill this money lender and take her money and change the world for good! He kills her but as they say crime is followed by guilt and he cannot live peacefully. There is always a suspicion that police may capture him and he behaves crazily. I initially thought that I was missing something.. I thought why should this guy behave so foolishly may be its some Russian culture which I dint understand.. but later I realize that when you are overcome by guilt you mess up things. Also is it guilt or is it revelation to Raskolnikoff that he is just an ordinary guy?

Anyway the book actually turns very interesting in the last chapters with many nail biting events.

Some of the scenes in the Novel which are worth mentioning

Pulcheria's(Raskolnikoff ‘smother) mail to Raskolnikoff and then his own interpretation of the mail.
Marneladoff's narration of his life in the bar
Razumikhin.. Raskolnikoff’s friend who has a very sharp intellect
Svidrigailoff's talking about apparition and also his character, especially his interview with Donia.
Conversation between Loushin and Lebeziatnikoff followed by the drama that unfolded in Catherine Ivano's house.
Also the climax was very crisp.
Not to forget the murder of the money lender and the incidents immediately afterwards.
Also the intelligent detective Porfiry Petrovich’s character, especially his meetings with Roskolnikoff.
But what is unique is the narration in various parts where the author talks in past tense and then looks a little forward and narrates that as well.


"He was in full possession of his intellect; he felt neither giddy nor dazed, but his hands continued to shake. Later on, he recollected that he had been very prudent, very attentive, that he had taken every care not to soil himself"

It was like showing an incident and zooming out and saying that this was what this guy felt about this incident after x days.

We read classic novels from other countries to know their culture rite?

So after reading this novel my observations are

Russian culture is so very similar to our culture at least during the 19th century (I felt the same after seeing The Kite Runner. I was like, “ Afghan culture is so similar to our culture”)
They drink Tea
The Family bonding is very strong
A 50 year old guy can marry a 16 year girl that too immediately after his wife’s death (used to be the case in India in 19th Century as well!)
The Epilogue makes you breathe easy it shows how ppls life pans out but it was a let down. The pace of the epilogue was very ordinary and the theme very different that it seemed totally disconnected from the rest of the novel.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Allahabad - Travelogue

I got down at Allahabad from the Ganga – Cauvery Express @ 4:20 A.M. My Brother and I were accompanying my parents on a pilgrimage. We were taken to ‘Siva Madam’, a Madam constructed by Singeri ppl. Madam’s have common Rest rooms and bathroom and the Siva Madam looked very unclean. When you are in Allahabad you have a feeling that the city is 20-30 years behind times.. With monkeys roaming everywhere and narrow and unhygienic roads. The tea stall opens only @ 6:30. The place near Siva Madam looked like a village …… it’s indeed village.

There was this small shop a kind of canteen. My Brother and I went to this shop initially for tea. Tea was just 3 Rs!!! Later we went there for having our breakfast. We asked for Poori. There was this old lady, who wears a spectacle and her hairs were still black in color. When we asked for Poori, she gave us this, ‘varum ana varathu’ look. She slowly mixed some powders and made a dough. She was taking her own time. There seems to be no sense of urgency in this village. It took some 20 minutes to make the Poori. We ordered for 2 plates of Poori. We soon realized that a plate of Poori here means 10 Pooris. We asked her to stop Poori making when she was making Poori number 17. She asked with a puzzled look, “Kya yeh kafi hai?”, We said , “Yes”. But she insisted to have one more Poori. The Poori costed 18 Rs. 18 Rs for 18 Pooris!!

When we were taking some pictures around the Siva Madam, there were few children playing near by. They ran to us and said, “Photo Kicho”, and we did. They struck very stylish poses and after each photo they would come near and see our camera and break into a dance. Such an innocence ..such a bubbling of energy .. I’ve never seen in my life.

Triveni Sangam.. What a sight to watch Ganga coming and embracing Yamuna (these ppl call Jamuna). This boatman knows that we dono Hindi but still talks to us non-stop in Hindi. He is trying to be a guide and was telling us how privileged we were to come to Triveni Sangam. He says that all the boatmen don’t talk about the significance of this place but he had taken upon himself the duty to speak about it.

In all Share Autos you see advt of IIT JEE Coaching. This place looked so backward and not many Engg Colleges but is still bustling with IIT Coaching classes. No wonder North Indians always have upper hand in securing into IIT.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Bag

Raghu was sight seeing Toronto with his colleagues on a Sunday. They were walking in a park in the evening when one of Raghu’s colleagues, Sekar started to move his hands animatedly. They all stopped and looked at Sekar. Sekar’s eyes became wide open and he murmured something.

Raghu asked, “What’s the problem?”

Sekar exclaimed as he placed his hands over his head, “Gone!! All gone. I lost my bag. It had everything in it.. my camera.. my passport. We’ve been roaming Toronto all day.. I don’t know where I lost.. How am I to find it.”

All colleagues laughed at Sekar. Sekar shouted, “You ppl making fun of me!! You never know what I’m undergoing now!!”

Raghu smiled and said, “What is it… in your back?”

Sekar placed his hand over his back and felt his bag!! He was actually carrying his bag all day long but he forgot about it. Now Sekar was feeling very relieved and he quickly opened his bag and checked his passport and camera. He then sat in a chair in the park and smiled and said, “Now I’m happy!!”

Raghu came near Sekar and said, “You were carrying this bag all along. You cried b’coz you lost and now you are happy since you got it back. But it was always with you.”

Sekar took a couple of deep breathes and stood up and the group started walking to their hotels.

After thinking for sometime Sekar said, “Isn’t it very easy to make a person happy. .. You rob him of an object and he grieves and you give it back to him and he will be very happy. He would not have been happy if that object was with his always, but a delta.. just a change… a moment of loss followed by a moment of finding makes him happy.”

Raghu quipped, “So you are saying that in order to make a man happy, you’ve to make him sad first.”

“Exactly!”, exclaimed Sekar, “This Sad and happiness is kind of a sine wave. You need the dip of sadness and the altitude between the sadness and happiness to get the euphoria.”