Wednesday, October 24, 2012
In Orhan Pamuk’s acclaimed novel Snow,a middle aged writer on political exile returns to his home country only to find that everything that was once familiar to him is changed. The novel set in Kars, a border town in Turkey, is a multilayered story dealing with subjects as varied as the conflict between East and West, religion, belief, God, secularism,love, art and power. The book has a snail-like pace, but rewards the patient reader with several profoundinsights about the topics it deal with. It makes us think about real people living and dealing with issues in a world where the gap between politics and religion is getting narrow by the day. Ka reaches the border city of Kars (Snow) as a journalist to investigate the suicideof several young girls and also to report on the mayoral elections. The previous mayor was killed and this time Muhtar Bey, of anIslamic party is the popular candidate expected to win the election. Radical Islam is slowly getting popular in a nation governed by seculars. The secular government has banned girls coming to educational institutes wearing head scarves. Political Islamists claim this as the reason for suicides. Ka has one more personal agendato fulfill- returning to Germany with his old lover Ipek, ex-wife of Muhtar. Heavy snowfall blocks the road for three days and there occurs a chain of events that change the life of everyone in Kars. Ka witness the death of an official and a drama troupe with the help of secret police and ex-military personnel conducts a coup. These events makes everyone involved introspect and find what is really important to them in life. More than the plot, it is the characterizationthat makes this novel interesting. Each person in the story is integral to the plot. Every one of the characters is strong willed and has their own value system according to which they act. Some of themlike Blue, the enigmatic terrorist and Sunoy, the actor who leads the coup, pronounce their beliefoutright. But some of them like Ipek or Kadife, her sister reveals it through their actions. Snow that falls incessantly and blocks all the exitsto Kars is also an integral character in the drama. Sometimessnowfall is contributesto solitude, sometimesto happiness and many other emotions according to the occasions. Ka gets back his ability to write poems in Kars and later he organizeshis poems that ‘come to him’ in Kars in the shape of a snow flake.Orhan Pamuk’s Snow is a profound novel that can be tiring but also insightful to readers who are ready to invest their time and effort.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I have had my share of weird dreams. Flying snakes, war scenarios, cob webs, oceans, guns, dragons, whales, pirate ships, mountains, ghosts… you name it, I’ve seen it. I’ve even dreamed waking up, doing my regular chores and going to office, only to wake up and find that I’ve to do it all over again. But these days I’ve acquired a knack of forgetting my dreams just moments after waking up. So there are mornings when I ponder hard about that great dream that I had moments before, but all that draws in my mind is a blank wall. Last week one early morning I saw this dream that lingered a little while in my mind even after waking up. I don’t remember the whole episode but just some highlights and the ending, as it caught me totally off guard. I am not a person who believes that dreams point to one’s future or analyzing the images and the symbols in dreams can give insights to one’s psychology. But if any of you can make any deduction with this one, I don’t mind you sharing it with me. I saw myself at a relatives’ place. They are very close relatives of mine, or so I should assume by the manner I behaved with them. (Now don’t ask me how I am related to them. I don’t have any idea, nor am I remembering any of their faces.) Time is late evening and I have to return from there to Bangalore. Bus starts at 10 pm, but before that I have to pick the rest of my family from a nearby place. Many people are entering the household, greeting me and chatting with me. I am looking at my watch and noting that it is time to go. Then I noticed that these guys have a dog at their home. And what a dog it was! I should call it a hound... such a ferocious and mean looking dog. I saw it standing on its hind legs and effortlessly placing its forelegs on the shoulder of a man. And then it was time for me to move from there. I collected my luggage, bid farewell to the people there and walked towards the place my family was. I walked some distance and looked back to see the hound and another dog following me. The other dog was a dwarf compared with the hound. Its barking was more of yelping and was irritating. It tried to run behind me and when I threw an imaginary stone at it, ran back and hid behind a tree. All this time the hound was peacefully strolling behind me with an indifferent look on its face. I was about to reach my destination, just few more meters will take me there. The hound increased its pace. It was just behind me within seconds. I turned back to face it with a slight tension in my mind. The hound stood on its hind legs, placed its forelegs on my shoulders, looked on my face with a friendly expression and enquired: “What time is your bus?” “Ten O clock” I replied calmly.
Monday, October 8, 2012
A couple of years back, I had met this guy from North India who was on a short term assignment to Bangalore. He was a pale, lean and tall person, so naive that I crossed a busy Bangalore road and had to wait for ten minutes for him to cross. I had spent a couple of days with him and had took him around our locality to show the place. Everything in Bangalore- food, transport, culture, language, people- was all very new to him. If you are from Bangalore, you probably will be familiar with the sight of men fallen on ground in deep drunken stupor- in a real SPIRITual bliss. That day when I took him to a crowded market there were three of them lying just some ten meters apart. When my friend saw this sight that was alien to him, he stared for some moments, then looked at me and whispered nervously: "They are not dead. Are they?" "No, they aren't... I hope they aren't", was my reply. ...who knows?