Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wish Lists

The year 2009 is drawing to a close. It is time to draw up lists. Here is my wish list for English books I would love to read in 2010.

1. Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer. I have read so many reviews praising this book that I am itching to get my hands on it.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. This first book in his Millenium trilogy has been lavished encomiums and I hope I would get to read this Swedish crime thriller.

3. In other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Review in New York Times: "Reading Daniyal Mueenuddin’s mesmerizing first collection, “In Other Rooms, Other Wonders,” is like watching a game of blackjack, the shrewd players calculating their way beyond their dealt cards in an attempt to beat the dealer. Some bust, others surrender. But in Mueenuddin’s world, no one wins." Hoping to savor this book.

4. Jejuri by Arun Kolatkar.
Pankaj Mishra : "Arun Kolatkar was the greatest Indian poet of his generation, and Jejuri, with its linguistic inventiveness and intellectual daring, was his masterwork." Need I say more ?

5. Collapse by Jared Diamond. I am fascinated by Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel and The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal.

The wonder that is Rajarajesvaram

Read this in The Hindu editorial two days back:

Only a few monuments of global importance have received the kind of attention the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur has from historians, archaeologists, artists, dancers, and epigraphists alike. The grandest of South Indian temples, an architectural masterpiece, enters its millennium year in 2010 — an occasion to celebrate its importance and contribution to world heritage. The monumental scale, clarity in design, and structural innovations set it apart from all other temples. When Rajaraja I, the illustrious Chola emperor (985-1014 CE), completed the building of the temple in 1010, it far exceeded anything that was built before. The high point of design is the vimana (tower over sanctum). This unusually tall vimana was a structural innovation of the first rank. Designing a 60-metre-tall tower was a great challenge that was ingeniously resolved. For the first time in temple history, a double-walled sanctum that coalesces at the third tier to support the tower was built. On top of good design, the choice of granite contributed to its endurance. About 50,000 cubic metres of granite were utilised to build this complex. This was a stupendous effort considering that there was no granite quarry in the surrounding region.

For full article, go to

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nuggets 2

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones"
- Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and writer (121-180)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nuggets 1

Introduction to Poetry
Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996

More on Krishnadeva Raya

From the article in The Hindu:

With the interest in the reign of Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadeva Raya reviving in the context of 2009 being the 500th year of his coronation, a small, beautiful portrait sculpture of Krishnadeva Raya (1509-1529) has come to light in the Varadaraja Swamy temple at Kancheepuram.

Read on at

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rhopalic Verses

This is from wonderful blog of Anu Garg

A rhopalic verse or sentence is one that balloons -- where each word is a letter or a syllable longer. The word is also used as a noun. Here's a terrific example of a rhopalic by Dmitri Borgmann:
"I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalises intercommunications' incomprehensibleness."

Here is another example:
'I am the only dummy player, perhaps, planning maneuvers calculated brilliantly, nevertheless outstandingly pachydermatous, notwithstanding unconstitutional unprofessionalism.'"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Don’t Surrender Your Loneliness…

I love this poem.

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
absolutely clear.

Krishnadeva Raya

“A perfect king...a great ruler and a man of much justice,” recorded Domingos Paes, a Portuguese traveller of the 16th century. The king was Krishnadeva Raya, who ascended the Vijayanagara throne in 1509 and died, of unknown natural causes, in his forties. But it is for very good reason that these encomiums were showered on him, and his coronation is being celebrated half a millennium after the event. He was a great warrior but also an able administrator, a tolerant statesman, and a learned patron of the arts. In a relatively short reign of 20 years, Krishnadeva Raya expanded the Vijayanagara kingdom into a vast empire.

Read on at