Monday, October 27, 2008


I went to a bookstore yesterday with the intention of buying Ian McEwan's Atonement, having watched the movie the night before. It was a nice movie. James McAvoy as the wrongly accused young man was simply delicious. And the story was, what’s the word I want, tragically endearing. Very Shakespeare. I haven’t read much Shakespeare but didn’t he write all those tragic, lovers dying in the end kind of stories? Or was it only Romeo and Juliet? Whatever it is, Atonement was very touching, leaving you all sad and moody and asking why did they have to die, why is it so unfair? Well, the bottom line is, it was kind of haunting in a pleasant emotionally distressing way.

So I went to the store and located the book. I sat there for about half an hour reading it, it was good. Well written. But I didn’t like the cover (too filmy although I wouldn’t mind having a picture of James McAvoy anywhere) and so I didn’t buy the book. There were a thousand other books that screamed from the shelves “Read me, buy me, take me home!!” so I ended up buying The Kite Runner.

I went home, opened The Kite Runner, it looked good. But I didn’t read it because I am currently reading Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones-The Edge of Reason, and I need to finish this book soon because I was in the middle of Jane Smiley’s Moo which I abandoned halfway to read PG Wodehouse’s Something Fresh.

But Atonement still haunted me. I regretted not buying it. So what if the cover is filmy? I told myself, the contents of the book still remain the same, the story unchanged. I will go back next week and buy it, I concluded.

The point I am trying to make here is, am I the only one, or do you also have this habit of reading many books at one time? My bookshelf is full of books which I haven’t finished, books I haven’t even started reading and some which I have given up reading. Take for example Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. I bought this book on 28th July 2007 and I am stuck somewhere in the middle. Well, that’s more than a year ago and if I didn’t finish reading something within a month of its purchase it usually means (a) I was too busy to read (b) I had some other books to finish first, or (c) It simply wasn’t interesting enough for me. Most of the time it’s almost always (c). I bought this particular book only because it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and I am gullible enough to believe that anything shortlisted for an award this huge must be good so I should read it. But I didn’t like it at all. Maybe it was way beyond my grasp and I just wasn’t smart enough to figure it out. Or maybe it was too literary.

Another regular Booker customer I couldn’t figure out at all is Salman Rushdie. I borrowed The Satanic Verses from a friend and when she took it back a year later I had only read a couple of chapters. Another friend gave me Shalimar the Clown and after two years I still haven’t gone beyond a few pages. Midnight’s Children I haven’t read though (or attempted), but I hoped it would be good; after all didn’t it win the “Booker of Bookers” prize? (There I go again).

Love in the time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez. Date of purchase: 16th November 2004. Pages read-maybe 50. Dust collected on cover-a couple of inches.

Do you also buy books you never read? I am quite impressionable when it comes to books. Big names and famous authors always attract my eye in bookshops. If it’s something that everyone is reading it immediately gets added to my list of books to read. I also tend to judge books by their covers (a huge mistake) and by their titles. Cutesy names and funny sounding titles catch my attention more easily and I’ve ended up buying some books with the best of titles but with the worst content.

But the bright side of this multiple reading? One can never get bored.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

American Sweet Corn

I don't know how to make lots of money
I got debts that I'm trying to pay
I can't buy you nice things, like big diamond rings
But that don't mean much anyway
I can't give you the house you've been dreaming
If I could I would build it alone
I'd be out there all day, just hammering away
Make us a place of our own

I will write you a song
That's how you'll know that my love is still strong
I will write you a song
And you'll know from this song that I just can't go on without you

I don't know that I'd make a good soldier
I don't believe in being violent and cruel
I don't know how to fight, but I'll draw blood tonight
If somebody tries hurting you

Now that it's out on the table (it's out on the table)
Both of us knew all along (knew all along)
I've got your loving and you've got my song

I don't know how to make lots of money
I don't know all the right things to do
I can't say where we'll go, but the one thing I know
Is how to be a good man to you
Until I die that's what I'll do

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A few good lines

To all the people who had ever applied eyeliner I dedicate this post.

Congratulations to all those who are professionals of this beautification technique. I salute you masters who in a matter of seconds could dip that small brush in that small pot/tube and on taking it out apply a perfect thin line on the edges of your eyes. I admire you experts who with the flick of a wrist could go from plain-eyed-Janes to smouldering-eyed-Carmens. I envy you champions who could at the last minute whip out that little tube and be instantly made-up. I honour you heroes for whom this little kit do not pose potential threat and possible humiliation. May your names be etched in stone all those who excel in this deceptively simple mission.

I was a young girl when I first got acquainted with this little make-up tool. “It’s quite simple,” said my sister, “Stand near the mirror, tilt your face upwards, look down but don’t close your eyes, then draw a line outwards as close to the eyelashes as possible, don’t blink, let it dry, and there you’ll be, beautifully made-up.” How hard can it be? Everybody’s doing it so it must be quite easy, I naively thought, and proceeded to beautify myself.

I positioned myself near the mirror, did a reverse Princess Diana, and drew my first line. I was pretty nervous; my hands shook badly, and I ended up with eyeliner all over the eyelids. Washed it off, and got ready for a second round. It went as badly as the first time. More than a decade and third, fourth, fifth…..nth rounds later, I still cannot draw a perfect line. When I’m lucky I do manage to come out with a fairly good line but it usually takes lots of hard work and lots of removing and re-drawing.

A typical eyelining session of mine goes like this. Arrange the face close to the mirror, check for shaky hands and ceiling fans and stray hair, and after making sure everything is ready dip the brush into the pot/tube. Start from the inner corner of the right eye (the right eye always come first for some reason) and go outwards with one stroke. The line is almost always perfect. Wait for a few seconds, and then work with the left eye. This is when the trouble always begins. Since I’m right-handed and I always start from the inner corners, I find moving from right to left a bit difficult (if I was a Greek or an Arab I may not face this problem). And my eyelashes, short as they are, keep on obstructing the path. So I developed a solution: I’d put my hand perpendicular to my eyelids, hold the brush horizontally and draw. It is a terrible solution; I would say it’s not a solution at all, because when I do this my hands get shaky and my eyelashes usually end up getting all the eyeliner. Back to the same old m.o., and somehow I would manage a line. The line would be very crooked, and I would have to make a few corrections here and there. When I’m satisfied with its appearance I would then look at both eyes and invariably would discover the left line is thicker than the right line. So back to the right eye, to add a little thickness to the line. Sometimes I would succeed in making both the lines equal, sometimes I would not and have to keep on adding a few lines here and there until I came out looking like a surprised raccoon with a thick black spot over its eyes.

So if you’re one of those talented individuals who could effortlessly draw that simple black/blue/grey/whichever colour line without batting an eye, please remember it’s no mean feat. As long as there are people like me who sometimes have to resort to covering up the botched line with eyeshadow and for whom the eye pencil (especially the sketch one) remains the greatest invention since sliced bread you can always keep that head held high, with that perfectly lined eye visible for the whole world to see.