Hyperbole and a Half

18 09 2014


This very unconventional memoir with crudely drawn comics is a treat for everyone.  The book is essentially taken out of her blog of the same name. Check it out here.

As claimed by the author, the book contains :

  • Pictures (lots of them)
  • Words
  • Stories about things that happened to me
  • Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
  • Stories about dogs

The narration is absolutely witty, honest, sarcastic, and insightful. Sure it takes one back to one’s childhood. Never before encountered such a simple, realistic, and quirky account of little things that concern kids.

The 10-year old writes a letter to her future self and buries it her backyard. The only problem is that she is mostly concerned about her future tastes and temperament with dogs and above all she expects a reply from her future self.

Well, that’s something. 🙄

The episode of cake is hilarious. Her obsession with eating the cake is inspiration for every kid. 😛 I liked the story about her depression, the best. How people try to cheer you up in futile ways, when you are spiraling down into deep abyss is sarcastically depicted.

There are a number of other anecdotes too,  each one of them a jumble of humor, crudeness, shrewdness, and imagination.

It’s tough to describe in words what this book is like, and what it does to you. Feel free to get a copy or at least visit her blog to enjoy the unique experience.

Lost along the way

2 04 2012

I presume we all come across plenty of instances in the course of our life, which provide opportunities for us to learn from little kids around us. Things like compassion and candidness. Not that we don’t know any of it. Having kids around help us to stop and think, they do remind us of many values and virtues, which we learnt and practiced during our own childhood and even try to inculcate them in the next generation but sadly we (there are always exceptions) now see ourselves either beyond those traits or just  consider them too impractical to warrant much attention and time in our busy lives.

Just the other day my son and I were browsing through the newspaper, when he spotted a picture of a bird perched on top of a water tap trying to get to the water droplets oozing out. He was curious about it and I explained that the summer heat is making the bird very thirsty and that the picture depicts the bird’s desperate need for water. He nodded in understanding and immediately put this proposition before me:

“Let’s put bowls of water for the pigeons who visit our balcony daily. Also, we’ll offer something for them to eat.”

More than a few pigeons have been visiting us for quite some time. They even built a permanent kind of nest in our balcony. I always viewed them as nuisance for the ruckus they cause and the resultant cleaning I have to do. Not once did it occur to me that I should offer something for them. My son’s words were like a rude jolt to me. They painfully reminded me of the long journey I made since my innocent childhood. Something has really lost along the way. Time to stop, think, assess, change, and act.

My favorite childhood reads

7 05 2010

I came across the blogpost called “Top 10 Books of My Childhood” a few days ago and got inspired to write a similar post for my blog too.

I was not always an avid reader and I had very limited exposure to books and reading in my schooldays. Nevertheless, I strived to quench my thirst for non-academic reading as much as possible by soliciting popular children’s magazines like Chandamama, Balamitra, Wisdom, Champak etc. I can’t really list my Top 10, obviously because I haven’t read much back then. But I’ll try to present a few of my memorable reads here:

Ukrainian Folk Tales: Read this while I was 10 or 11. Just fell in love with the stories. All those treasures and riches coupled with magic and animals extremely fascinated me. Alas, I don’t remember much of those stories now. I just ordered a copy from Amazon (I never owned a copy of it) and am very much looking forward to re-read them (and hopefully read them to my son too).

The Secret of Killimooin: Believe it or not, this is the only Enid Blyton’s book I’ve ever read. Found this in my grandfather’s bookshelf. It was a novel experience for me. I’ve never heard of the author or her books before at that time. I found it very enthralling and absorbing. I still remember some snippets of the adventure story and marvel at them. 

Moby Dick: I read an abridged version of this classic (not an illustrated children’s version though) and loved it. Sadly, I lost the copy and have been trying to procure a new one ever since. The unfortunate thing is that I don’t remember any details about the book that would help me identify it like publisher, author, ISBN etc. What’s more, I don’t even remember the book cover simply because I never saw it 🙂 (The book cover was wrapped in a brown paper). All I can recollect is that it had an elaborate introduction on Whale hunting. Can anyone out there help me find it? Please…!! I know I can find the original unabridged version anywhere and everywhere but I am kind of attached to that little book I read so many years ago and am very resolute to add it to my bookshelf (not virtual). And this time, I’ll not lose it. Other little things I do remember are a) it has a few illustrated pictures in balck and white b) it is around 200 pages.

Children’s Knowledge Bank (Set of 6 books): Though this is not my favorite, I spent a lot of time on these books and even actually enjoyed them. I guess this is one category of books my parents had no problem with me pouring over. These books tell you the why, how, what, where, who etc of things. Ex: What causes bald head? 🙂 Strangely, that’s the only topic I remember after all these years. Lol!

The remaining books are of my mother tongue, Telugu.
– Balala Ramayanam (Childrens’ Ramayana): This is perhaps the book, which I read the maximum number of times. Over the years I read it atleast a hundred times (literally!). I guess, I still have the copy, though the first 20 and the last 30 pages are missing. 🙂 The book has some pictures in it, which greatly enhance the narration. Of the Seven Kandas, I like the first one – BalaKandam – the most. To let a little secret out, Lord Rama was my childhood hero. 😛 Ramayana is one book which is closest to my heart (always!).

 – Panchatantra: (Visalandhra Publications – Comes in a set of 3 or 4 books.) I absolutely love them. I mostly read only Mitralabha and Mitrabedha parts. The others were read less often. I’ve always been captivated by fairy tales and tales of animals and I still carry that feeling even in my late twenties. Panchatantra stories are classic and I guess every kid in India grows up hearing at least some of them.

Baarister Paarvateesam: This is a classic literary humorous piece from Mokkapaati Narasimha Sastry, which describes the adventures of an Indian village guy as he emabarks on a journey to London, where he wishes to study law. The novel is divided into three parts of which only part 1 is hilarious. In the latter two parts, the guy – Parvateesam – having gained more experience and become more mature, tends to be less funny. It is only the most interesting Part 1 I read in my childhood (I read the other two only recently). It is something which I can read again and again and enjoy it with the same intensity every time.

I also read lots of other stories like Tenali Ramakrishna, Akbar-Birbal, Mulla Nasruddin etc. I cherished all of them.

Well, these are all I could remember now.

PS: I mentioned a magazine called – “Wisdom” in the beginning of this entry. I would like to say a few words about it here:
As the name implies, it had many pieces of wisdom about various things – happenings, animals, nature, science etc. It comes in both Telugu and English. I couldn’t find a reliable link to the magazine online but it still seems to be in publication. It has been a really long time since I’ve last seen it, let alone read it. I’ll make it a point to get one when I next visit India. I’m curious to see how the magazine might have transformed after all these years.

Sweet stories

16 04 2010

This week I had the pleasure of reading my first Telugu book of this year  – Poleramma Banda Kathalu by Mohammad Khadeer Babu. And God, what a book it is! It is a collection of 25 stories about 4 friends(boys) in their high school. The stories certainly make one nostalgic about one’s childhood and school days. And they are so hilarious. I usually read most of my books straight-faced, but I couldn’t stop chuckling to myself and often times laughed aloud while reading these awesome sweet stories.

These stories are in fact taken from the author’s life and can be considered as autobiographical.  All the stories take place in Kavali town of Nellore District and the title of the collection alludes to a landmark in the town.

The author has written the book in his native slang of Telugu (Nellore slang) and that makes the stories and also the characters all the more real (of course they are real, but what I meant to say is that the writing makes you connect to them more). Reading the book made me feel like I was watching the scenes from my window. My association with Nellore might also have helped. (Nellore has been my home town since I was in 9th grade.) 😛

It was very aptly compared to the modern Indian classic Swami and Friends by R K Narayan by one lady in the preface of the book.

I recommend this book to all Telugu readers. This one is not to be missed! And kudos to the author. He used to work for Andhra Jyothi (Newspaper & Weekly Magazine) at the time of writing these stories. I think he has also written another series of stories for the magazine, called Dargamitta Kathalu. I vaguely remember reading one of them long time back. Even though I don’t remember anything about it, I’m sure that series rocks too.

My Happy Birthday!

7 10 2009

Today’s is my happy birthday 🙂

I felt a mixture of childish glee and also a grown-up’s absurdity, even as I was typing it. 😛

Kids seem very cute when they say it.  Of course, I have no intentions to get cute with anyone now. May be I just wanted to experience a momentary association with the innocent childhood.

Birthdays for me have always meant to be celebrated, feel special and have fun. But these days I get a feeling that I might be little too old to indulge in all that stuff. I suspect it’s a cultural thing – I hardly ever came across any older people who celebrate their birthdays. Somehow the notion that celebrations are for only the children/young seemed to have stuck with us. Perhaps a part of me has believed that one should treat one’s birthday like any other day and not try to disturb the daily routine and any attempts to do otherwise is only seen as a sign of immaturity.

But I want to get out of that stereotype and wish to make (and feel) my birthdays special, if not for anyone else,  just for myself. And I’ll do it today!