Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mysteries and Boarding Schools...

She was racist, sexist, caste-ist, elitist, xenophobic and incredibly politically incorrect.
But she did define my childhood reading. Her books were my childhood. 

Secret Seven, The Famous Five, The Five-Findouters, Malory Towers, St. Clares and who could forget the harbinger of all of them - Noddy!

The love for boarding schools began and ended with Malory Towers. Whatever the realities of boarding school life, to me it was a world of midnight feasts, and lacrosse games and the scatterbrain Irene who loved Maths and Music. A boarding school would always have a firm but loving Matron who gave you disgusting syrups when you fell ill. And it would have a pool surrounded by rocks and filled by the waves from the sea water. And it was always have silly girls like Gwendoline Mary. I still have my "First Term at Malory Towers". It was my book to read during breaks from engineering exam studying. And is still my book to read when I go to my folks home to stay.

I don't remember much of St. Clare - but I just checked Wiki and it brought back memories of the O'Sullivan sisters. You had to be a Malory Towers of St. Clare's staunch loyalist. You could not love both. It was like Sherlock Holmes vs. Hercule Poirot. Sooner or later a 12 year old girl's gotta pick sides.

Of the various adventure series, Secret Seven wasn't much of a draw. I guess if forced to choose I'd be torn between The famous five and the five find-outers. I am kinda partial to The Five Find-outers because The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage was my first "big girl" book. With that book I moved from Noddy and Bed-Time stories to books which were paperbacks (not hardcovers), much thicker and the font was much smaller. And more importantly, it didn't have pictures in it.   I still remember how proud I was when I had started reading my first Five Find-outer book. 

My 5 year old niece now reads The Bubbles series and The Peter and Jane series. I recently bought her "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham". But one thing I know. She still reads and loves her Noddy.

I know all the new editions have tried to remove the inappropriate language and contexts. I hope that allows a whole new generation of readers to enjoy the magic of her books without the stereotypes and racist remarks.

She was racist, sexist, caste-ist, elitist, xenophobic and incredibly politically incorrect. 
But she ignited my love for reading. And for that, I will always remain grateful to Enid Blyton.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The non-story about a car

I've been wanting to watch Do Dooni Char for a long time now. It began, because of well, - Nitu Singh & Rishi Kapoor - you'd be crazy not to want to watch them. It seemed like it was going to be one of those sweet movies that warm the cockles of your heart - remember Rishi and Dimple in Pyar Mein Twist. Anyways - that was my initial reaction to how I hoped the movie was going to be. I read some rave reviews - some reviewers who I respect and follow. Then ofcourse it was majorly acclaimed at the various awards shows as the small movie that made a difference.

So all in all I've been wanting to watch it for a while. I finally got the DVD (yes, an original) from a cousin. Unfortunately she gave it a bad review. 
That was it for the hubby anyway. Always wary of my choice in movies (I tend to watch even the dumbest rom-coms) - it was the final nail in the coffin - and his mind was made up that it was going to be a ghastly movie.

So last night, as we sat down for dinner, I forwarded the suggestion that we should watch Do Dooni Char with dinner. Ofcourse all the hubby's defenses were up and blistering. And he reminded me about the one bad review we had heard. But I was not to be dissuaded. 

Besides which I had watched sat through 3 (or was it 4) Rocky Balboa movies last month - I don't remember whether it was 3 or 4 - they do tend to blend into one another. And to top it all I had also sat through a viewing of the crappiest movie ever - The Book of Eli... all for the hubby. ( sigh. Only one TV I say)

Anyways, in view of the supreme sacrifices I had made last month, it was only right that he give in to the demand, nay suggestion of Do Dooni Char. So with much sighing and posturing on hubby's part and excitement on mine, we started watching Do Dooni Char.

By "End of Disc One", he was in tears... that there was a Disc Two that had to be watched. And I had to whimper-ingly admit that it may have been a bit boring. By the end of Disc Two, my heart shattered and hubby's apparent glee at the failure of the movie, I had to admit it that it fell way short of my expectations - and was in one word BORING.

This is going to make it much harder to make him watch the DVD of Dhobi Ghat I've managed to get. With the reviews anyways being less than favorable and Do Dooni Char not living up to my hype - it going to be an uphill climb convincing him of the next movie I choose for us. 

Oh... I almost forgot about the World Cup. Good-bye movie watching....sniff sniff.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Airport Bookshops

Ive been having a run of bad luck with the last few books I've bought. Or actually the last few times I've visited a book store. I hardly ever come across an interesting book and have been sorely disappointed during all my sojourns to  book shops high and low in the last few months. And the one or two times I've grabbed courage with both hands and picked up a book that looked half interesting, let it suffice to say - I never managed to get through even half of it.

But it all changed this week. And how!

Was travelling with the hubby and we were at Mumbai Airport's Terminal C. [As an aside, that terminal deserves a whole separate post dedicated to it - but that's another day's writing]. With hubby also fast becoming quite the book junkie, once we past security, we made a bee line to the book store. 

I was almost expectant of another disappointing hour, but boy was I wrong! In the first 15 mins, I had already short listed  3 books:

  • Stephen Fry in America: I've been hooked on to travelogues since Bill Bryson - and add in Stephen Fry - who really is the wittiest man on British television [Have you seen QI?!] - the British wry humour and I was sold!
  • East of the Sun: Notes from the NorthEast: By Siddhartha Sharma: It was a travelogue. Described as quirky. And I really needed to increase my travelogue reading to India locales. Otherwise I'd feel like such a fake.
  • The Case of the Exploding Mangoes - It was a fictitious account of the story behind the assassination of Pakistan's president Zia-ul-haq. It had South Asian Politics, Mystery and was supposed to be dark and satirical. How could I put it down?!

See, before we go ahead, you, dear readers must understand one thing. The hubby dear is a chief proponent of ecommerce and he believes with fervor that books must be bought online. Something about getting 20-25% off. He may be right, but it just doesn't feel the same. So I try and buy most of my books online. The savings and all. But once in a while I get uncontrollable urges in book shops and then I cannot leave without buying the book.

So after much puppy faces, puffed cheeks, batted eyelids and the works, after which he was ready to buy me all the 3 books himself... I decided to be a nice girl and settle for just one book from the bookshop to tide me over the plane ride back home. And would buy the other 2 online.

Ofcourse then the heart breaking decision of "which book was to be bought" needed to be made - really folks its like choosing between your kids...I finally decided on "The Case of the Exploding Mangoes", paid for it and immediately dove nose first into it.

For the next 3 days, I have barely surfaced to breathe. But with office, food breaks, some sleep and such... I finished it in 3 days. And what a page turner it was. 

Fast paced, funny, satirical portrait of  Pakistan's military leadership and their bloody history. Its a political thriller, a dark comedy and a South Asian story - all rolled into one. Go read it!