I’m having difficulties reading the sixth Potter book. The first few chapters were crisp, but once Harry gets into The Burrow things get repetitive: everyone gets together, discuss familiar topics, go to Diagon Alley for another round of purchases, and then get on to Hogwarts Express. Although the setting this time is different – they are “at war”, hence things are much more gloomy – and there is a bit of mystery sprinkled here and there, I suddenly find myself weary of the whole plot. The conversations lack lustre and are long-winded; descriptions of settings lack depth; the magic is somehow missing. So far.
I’m aware that the book I just finished reading may be behind this reaction. Jumping from Pamuk to Rowling is probably not advisable for a reader who spends a few months with each work of fiction. So for the time being I’ve kept Potter aside, and taken up an author I’ve wanted to read for a long time: Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve just begun A pale view of Hills, and I find myself strangely enchanted, sinking into the mind of Etsuko. No, I do not miss the wizards and witches.
* * *
We were at Frankfurt airport last weekend…..
….. to pick up Sister who was coming back from India.
She brought with her loads of sweets (for Colours, who’s losing weight and needs to catch up), books (for me) and Stories-from-India (for all to share).
Back home, I opened the suitcase and took out the books. They were from my collection remaining in Bangalore, and among this set were those I wanted to bring during our last visit (but couldn’t, because books had to make way for masala packets and pickle bottles). I leafed through a few pages as I took out each book, and a few old memories came back.
Sophie’s World (Jostein Gaarder)
“As soon as Sophie had closed the gate behind her she opened the envelope. It contained only a slip of paper no bigger than the envelope. It read: Who are you?
Nothing else, only three words, written by hand, and followed by a large question mark.”
The Penguin Book of Modern Indian Short Stories
“We were not even acquainted. I wrote to you and you responded in the same impulsive manner. How shall I introduce myself to you? I hardly know myself how I grew up – motherless and close to Appa, who was always engrossed in work. The first thing I ever learnt was to forget myself.”
– from “Savitri” (P.S.Rege)
Ancient India (Textbook for class XI; NCERT)
“One of the most interesting aspects of the study of history is knowing the history of history writing itself.”
The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes
“Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case.”
Classics – a very short introduction
“The aim of Classics is not only to discover or uncover the ancient world; its aim is also to define and debate our relationship to that world. ”
The Penguin new writing in India
“Kushi straightens her wet sari, pulling it across her breasts and hunching her shoulders to hide the new, embarrassing curves of her body. Then reluctantly, knowing there’s no way around it, she comes over to her father, who grabs a handful of her hair and booms, “What the hell d’you think you’re doing?”
– from “The most beautiful picture in the world” (Sunil Gangopadhyay)
The writerly life (R.K.Narayan)
“Yesterday, at the self-service cafeteria, I made the mistake of waiting for someone to ask what I wanted. Today I know better. ”
– from “New York Days”
* * *
I’m reminded of a quote I’d read somewhere: “Solitude is a nice place to visit, but a bad place to stay.” Time to come out of my shell, and embrace community.