U=US(South) from Gone With the Wind

U was a difficult letter for me. I almost gave up on writing for U because I couldn’t find a book which described such a place. But then, I realized that USA starts from “U” too, and there definitely is a book which had made me aware about US and the civil war is “Gone With the Wind”. I have talked a lot about this book already in my past posts, so I am not going to explain the virtue of the book in this post. So, with “U”, I am going to talk about US, especially Southern US.

I wasn’t aware about much of the history apart from what is told in history classes. I had known about the civil war that happened in US, but while reading history books, one is not able to imagine the pain of losing so many young men, the hunger that must have been perpetual, the fear of the women etc. These are the factors that you see in the stories only. This story brought US-South of that era alive. I could see the parties, the tiny waists, the corsets, the plantations, and even the wars.  

The South of that time felt overloaded with formalities. There is a quote in which Mammy tells Scarlett to eat before the party because “you can always tell a lady by the way she eats in front of folks like a bird”.

The setting is such an integral part of the story that it is a bit difficult to define it in a post. But it does cover the horrors of the war and one of the quotes I love is:

“All wars are sacred,” he said. “To those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn’t make them sacred, who would be foolish enough to fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles. But so few people ever realize it.”

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T=Tamil Nadu of Poonachi

For T, I want to talk about Tamil Nadu from a book called Poonachi. This is state which I have seen quite closely because of various visits in different parts of the state. Most of these visits were official. Only a few personal visits have been to Tamil Nadu. Poonachi is a book which I read very recently. I got this book as a part of the Prime program and wanted to see what is so special about the book. The book did not disappoint me as it explained the life of female goat from its birth to its death.

The setting in this book is not very strong, but it is inherent in the story itself with some fantastical elements weaved in. The story starts with a pondering of rain, wherein the narrator observes that people crib when it rains too much, and they complain when it doesn’t rain as well. This is a true enough sentence, but with my travels and my friends, I have learned this is quite commonly spoken dialogue in Tamil. The story moves further and explains a sunset that the narrator sees while the goats are moving around and frolicking nearby. Then he is given the gift of a very feeble goat called Poonachi, whose story this is.

The description of setting is mostly limited to parts and pieces afterwards, but still, the story carries in it the aroma of the south India in it. The words like dhooyi, ayah etc. roots the story in southern part of India, while the people’s taunts about dark colour and puny shape are like social commentary.

As I said, the story veers in a bit of political foreplay by showing a regime which likes to number the goats and is made out to be quite oppressive. But despite the non-matching of these political situations, the story does transport you in Tamil Nadu. And for a moment, you wonder whether you want to live as a woman in one of the interior villages of Tamil Nadu or not.  

S=The Romantic Scotland

This post is the proof that I am not ready to give up. I might not be consistent, but I am determined. And I am going to finish all the alphabets

I am writing about today’s alphabets, and rest of the alphabets I will catch up slowly and steadily. Please cheer for me as I fight for my time to write.

“S” is such a common letter that it can represent millions of things. When I started thinking about the places, I thought of writing about Shire from “Lord of the Rings”. I dreamed about it, you know—peaceful expanse of land, greenery, flowing rivers, and hobbit-holes. It is like one of the dream places. But there is something else from “S” which is special for me—Scotland.

This also comes from reading a lot of romance novels. Like Ireland, I know every inch of Scotland. I know there are glens, mountains, standing stones, and their English is a bit different from ours. What else I know about Scotland? That there are times when the ground is covered with purple flowers of heather and that there are castles. I know more about the war between England and Scotland from these romance novels than from my history books. I also know that there is a falconry somewhere in Scotland.

Like Ireland, this is my dream place. Someday, I will visit the Scotland. I don’t know whether I will find the Scotland I read of or not, but I am sure it will be magical still. And, now I realize I did not mention any author here. There are many, actually. But the very first author who introduced me with Scotland is Julie Garwood. She taught me a lot of things about Scotland. Then came Diana Gabaldon with her Outlander series. There have been many more books and authors in between, but these two are the most influential authors for me.

Update and a small Hold

I haven’t forgotten that I am supposed to be posting for A to Z. This is a one week’s break. My brother is getting married tomorrow, and I am a bit busy. I know I should have scheduled the posts and all, but life has its own plans.

Please bear with me for a week and then I would have caught up the past and the present.

J= J&K from Ministry of Utmost Happiness

J was a conflicting choice for me. Let me tell you first that I am going to talk about Jammu & Kashmir from Ministry of Utmost Happiness today. I have a friend who dislikes the author Arundhati Roy so much that he is not ready to give any of her books a chance. We had had a dirty shouting match about the left-right political ideologies, and since then, I have been very afraid of talking about this book. I tried to change my choice to Japan, but that didn’t feel right. I thought shifting the book to Delhi because the book covers almost all of the country, but that also didn’t feel right. So, here I am, writing about Jammu & Kashmir of the book that I know somebody hates.

What do you think of when Jammu and Kashmir comes to your mind? A paradise? Or as the book starts with the description of Kashmir—“snowy landscape and happy people in warm clothing sitting in snow sledges?” But this book shows the murkier water of Kashmir.

Next time the Jammu and Kashmir she talks of is in Delhi—sitting near Jantar Mantar, protesting. She wraps this J&K in “Association of Mothers of the Disappeared, whose suns had gone missing, in the war for freedom in Kashmir”. She explains their banner as

The Story of Kashmir

Dead= 68000

Disappeared=10000

Is it Democracy or Demon Crazy?

I ask again the question I kept on asking myself as I read the book. What do I think of when I think of J&K? The answers I had were “Pakistan”, “India”, “Wars”. But the book hinted on the mass exodus of Hindu Pandits from their houses. And I could not stop thinking of how many partitions we are going to go through?

The book further explores the concept of “freedom of Kashmir” and how absurd it is to the people from outside Kashmir. She goes deeper explaining the Kashmir from dissociative POVs—there is J&K which calls for our sympathy, where people are killed and imprisoned without any reasons, where terrorists are borne out of nowhere, where they are fighting to survive. There is J&K which is stupid in being swept away in the wind of “Jihad”, which does not understand what is good/right, which is an enemy of humanity.

I will deny the fact that the book is a chaos. There are threads crawling in the book from so many places. It is like you untangle one tragedy, there will be a next one waiting for you in the next lines. Despite that, the book made me think and wonder and worry. It made me rethink the meaning of humanity for me. There is a chapter in the book called “The Death of Miss Jebeen” which describes how a three-year-old girl ended up becoming a martyr along with her mother. Even the thought about this gives me Goosebumps.

There are many villains in the story. In fact, every character is a villain of some or the other kind. What J&K was left in my mind after reading the book? The J&K which is explained in this passage:

“In every part of the legendary Valley of Kashmir, whatever people might be doing—walking, praying, bathing, cracking jokes, shelling walnuts, making love or taking a bus-ride home—they were in the rifle-sights of a soldier. And because they were in the rifle-sights of a soldier, whatever they might be doing—walking, praying, bathing, cracking jokes, shelling walnuts, making love or taking a bus-ride home—they were a legitimate target.” 

Please understand this is one of the most political books I have read, and it happened to have quite a lot of vitriol in it. But then when I read, I dissociate and see from different perspectives. If your are in any way bothered by such thoughts, don’t read it.

I= Ireland of Nora Roberts

Have you ever visited the place in your dreams and imagination so much so that you feel that you will recognize it just on sight? Ireland is that place for me. I know I am running late, and “I” was supposed to cover “I” yesterday, but better late than never, right? (And I’m truly sorry, but I was healing.)

I equals Ireland, the Ireland I saw while reading Nora Roberts. I know people think of romance as fluff writing and a thing of teenage fantasy or frustrated women. But I am not ashamed to say that I love good romance. If it would not have been for romance books, I would never have seen so many things and places (And no, I am neither a teenager, nor frustrated).

Nora Roberts has a trilogy which is called as Concannon Sister Trilogy/ Born In Trilogy. I have to Google it to find the name of the series, but these books cover Ireland so beautifully. The first book of the series, Born in Fire, is a book which has a female character who is a glassmaker. After reading the book, Ireland became my dream destination and being a glassmaker my dream profession. Sadly, I don’t have the book with me to quote from it directly, but I still have the lines from Nora Roberts Ireland from other book of hers.

“Ireland is a land of poets and legends, of dreamers and rebels. All of these have music woven through and around them. Tunes for dancing or for weeping, for battle or for love.”

I remember the beach and the way the waves crashed over the cliffs in Nora Robert’s Ireland. I can see the color of the sky if close my eyes and think about the story. I can even feel the spray of the water on me. I know there will be a pub where all the locals will sit and share their stories. And when I will travel to Ireland, I will live in a Bed and Breakfast Inn.

I am actually afraid of finding the books and quotes for this place, lest my dream be shattered. What if I have made the place larger than life based on the memory of the book? What if it was just a bad day when the book consoled me and Ireland presented an escape from the reality? The thought terrifies me– that the Ireland which I read in book might turn out to be just an illusion of my mind.

So, dear readers, go and read Nora Roberts “Born In” trilogy. And if by chance, you find it not as beautiful as my dream, please don’t let me know. I want to keep that dream safe. But if you find it as breathtaking as the book describes it, grab a cuppa, drop me a line, and we will journey through that sky, sea and roads together.

H=Hogwarts from Harry Potter Series

Hogwarts does not need any introduction. If you have ever read Harry Potter or maybe even watched any of the movie, you would remember Hogwarts. So, this is going to be a short post.

When I first read about Hogwarts, the best thing for me about the school was the sense of discovery. There are so many rooms, so much of magic in those halls that even teachers and guardians did not know what could be uncovered. The Great Hall, the different houses and their common rooms, the moving staircases, the flying ghosts, the paintings which could talk– I could go on and on and on.

Hogwarts is a school, but not in the traditional sense. It allows you to learn and grow and most importantly, explore. There are places like Chamber of Secrets which were untouched. The exploration was so much the part of the school that there was a whole Marauder Map which could track people.

Lastly, I would like to mention Hogwarts library where so many books were available. Every time, I read about Hogwarts, I wondered if there is a letter which is going to come for me too, even during this late age.

Hogwarts is a dream-school, despite being dangerous, it is a place which I would love to explore if given a chance.

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