Monday, February 27, 2006

Ich bin Tagged

Oooooooooo!!! We've been tagged, we've been tagged, we've been tagged!!! [Skips up and down] This is very flattering, we are positively shouting from the rooftops, I say. We have also been accused of making lists, we haven't made lists in ages! Time has lists, but do you see anyone tagging Time? No, sirree.

Be that as it may (and it is), this tag is an 'n' interesting. If you're wondering what 'n' means, we'll have to do '3-dimensional surrender', 'general Olympics' and deesh.

Total number of books owned

We make a distinction between 'owned', and 'bought'. Rough estimates on the latter are 300-350 in Hyderabad, maybe 2 dozen in Vizag, and about a dozen that have been 'borrowed'. If, however, we speak of 'owned', there is a whole wall of crumbly books that is sitting in Vizag that we will inherit. That is, shortly after we have gagged and bound the sibling and dropped her into one of her precious croc pits, and laced amma's tea with some suitably humane toxin.

Last book(s) we bought

This was on Saturday. At Walden, we bought John Keay's When Men and Mountains Meet : The Explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-1875 and Confronting Love, edited by Jerry Pinto and Arundhati Subramaniam. We then proceeded to waddle over to Odyssey (mainly for the cafe), and mysteriously ended up buying India Discovered by a certain John Keay (Yes, we've decided to own all John Keays. Our recommendation to donors is that when that "Got to give Ludwig a book!!!" impulse seizes you, check with us, and give us a Keay we do not own yet. We will grovel at your Lotus feet in abject humility and gratitude.)

Last books(s) we read

The broken record continues. We read Sowing The Wind. We also re-read a bunch of books we'd already read, but what's the fun in that?

Books we are currently reading

Apart from dipping into the ones we bought this weekend, we are engaged in concurrently reading Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux and another book. We really like Theroux because he is observatory (yes, his pet name is Jantar Mantar) and sarcastic, and sympathetic when necessary. If we could, we would make a living out of doing what Theroux did. We also like Theroux because he grew up in Meffid, and he keeps referring to Meffid, and Summahville and Cambridge, and Baws'hn in his writings. We may have done some long runs near his house when we were circumambulating the Mystic Lakes in the summer of '03.

We are also re-dipping into The Riemann Hypothesis. One of these days, we'll understand the whole damn thing, prove (or disprove) it, pocket a cool million, and retire.

Five books that we have really enjoyed or influenced me

Five? Five??? This seems to be the response that all self respecting reader types seem to be giving to this koschan. Nevertheless, we will shamelessly plagiarize an idea floated by the jester and and idea floated by the individual under the influence of infusions made from an Amazonian giant vine, and implement here.


Somerset Maugham - Of Human Bondage
Harper Lee - To Kill A Mockingbird
J.R.R.Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings, Silmarillon (when you're a certain age and are at certain institutes, this can't be helped, sorry)
Lawrence Durrell - The Alexandria Quartet
R.K.Narayan - Swami and Friends

Also Jack Kerouac - On The Road, Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Crime and Punishment, Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient, Kazuo Ishiguro - Remains of the Day, Haruki Murakami - Wild Sheep Chase, Kiran Nagarkar - Seven Sixes are Forty Three and so on. This is really pointless.


John Keay - The Honourable Company (well, this was the first, but needed to be read)
James McPherson - Battle Cry of Freedom
Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs and Steel
V. Narayana Rao, David Shulman, Sanjay Subrahmanyam - Textures of Time: Writing History in South India
Crease & Mann - The Second Creation


Stephen Dobyns - Pallbearers Envy The One Who Rides
Coleman Barks's Rumi book
Various - Making Love To Marilyn Monroe
V. Narayana Rao, David Shulman - A Poem at the Right Moment: Remembered Verses from Pre-modern South India. This is a must have. [Nudges violently :)]
Constantine Cavafy - The Complete Poems of Constantine Cavafy

This is getting tiresome, we stop here. There are several other 'influential' books (Alistair Maclean who set off the whole Navy obsession, Commando comics which set off the whole Rommel obsession, Rani Mukherjee who set off the whole Jibanananda Das obsession, Ruskin Bond who set off the Himalaya obsession, Kenneth Anderson who set off the whole South Indian wildlife obsession and so on).

Books we plan to buy next

Bit of a mystery. Only definite ones in mind are the Keay books, and Kolatkar's Kala Ghoda poems. This one we've been looking for high and low and not been able to find in Hyderabad.

Books that caught our attention but we have never read

Oh God, so many.

James Joyce - Pretty much everything, but Ulysses mostly
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Again, everything
Milan Kundera - Ditto
J.M.Coetzee - Ditto

And so on.

Books we own but have never got around to reading

Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace (Hello, Veena)
Douglas Hofstadter - Godel, Escher, Bach (started, but haven't finished, yet)
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath
Voltaire - Candide
Lawrence Durrell - The Avignon Quintet

People we are passing this on to

The loblolly, who never ceases to remind us how well-read she is; Srin, who with the addition of movie star hair has become a bona fide celebrity (even if she questions the existence of sepia); Deski, who has cooked a number of bun-omlettes and is waiting for public to consume; young Thos., maybe this will get him to post something finally; and Anand, because he will definitely have something interesting to say.


Falstaff said...

Ludwig: Nice. Thanks for the nudge. Have actually read (and own) the book you mention. And agree that some parts of it are truly brilliant. The Dobyns was the one book unfamiliar to me, so shall duly be hunted down. Also, must admit (shamefacedly) that have never read Keay. Sigh *Takes out mile long list of books to read and scribbles at bottom*. Meanwhile, thanks for reminding me that I forgot to mention Kerouac in my list. Or Coetzee. (Aarrghh!) Also, ah, Commando comics - such a wonderful introduction to German Literature. Do you know that for the longest time the only German phrases I knew were: "Ach!" "Dumbkompf!" and "Gott in Himmel"?

Veena said...

Have you heard of a nonsensical German pop song called Ich bin Schnapi? Its about a little krokodil from the Nil. The boy was reading German last year (what else do jobless Phd students do?) and he was into all things German then, so I got to hear this song all the time! Methinks the song is all appropriate for you.

As JAP says, this tag is annoying. It keeps reminding me of books I missed. :( Harper Lee and R K Narayan! And I forgot to mention I ordered a John Keay from Amazon a week ago after reading glowing reviews about it from you.

And Ludwig - when you actually figure out how to make a living out of doing what Theroux did, please please share the secret!

Ludwig said...

[falstaff] Of course you have the VNR and Shulman book! Maybe I should move the violent nudge to the Dobyns line :) "A Poem At The Right Moment" was just stupendous, I thought. The fact that it had transliterations helped hugely, I could at least follow some of the Telugu and Tamizh.

You can read a Dobyns sample at Minstrels. The book is quite delightful? You have heard of Simon Armitage, I am sure. His "Book of Matches" is also quite nice. A bit hard to find in the US, though. I had to get mine from an individual currently known as "That Man Keynes And His Homosexual Intrigues". Sample.

Keay is not to be missed, if you're a history buff. "The Honourable Company" was most brilliant, even if it was read in a fever-stricken delirium between Chennai-Singapore-Boston. I'm definitely going to buy all his books. The Civil War book ("Battle Cry Of Freedom") is also very very good, if you're into that sort of thing.

Oh those Commando comics! My present day German vocabulary is more or less taken entirely from Commando. " 'Achtung herr General, der minen!!', cried Schmidt as he tried to help his superior officer." Ooh la la.

The list just goes on, what to do? We have taken vows not to buy no more books. Honoured in the breach and so on...

Ludwig said...

And thick and fast they came at last! It is delightful to discover that someone has commented on your post, just when you finished replying to someone else.

[veena] The Schnappi song is mucho, extremo, cute. Apparently it was (is?) the rage in German discotheques last year. Have the MP3 somewhere, do lay paws on it. Most cute. Cutissimus Maximus. I am yet to introduce sibling to Schnappi, ich bin eine dumbkopf (ask Falst. for translation, he is very well versed in Commando comics like self)

The tag is extremely annoying. The only way to beat it is to be like the last person to get tagged, and then stop. Be the edge of the internet.

You ordered a John Keay? [shock and awe here!] Wow. We are all muchly flattered here. Which one? Err...I suppose all caveats must go in here, blame me not if you hate it and so on. In one of our more hi-falutin moments, we recommended (on this blog) Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublyov" as a good movie to watch. An Irrawady dolphin was passing by, read the post, and religiously went and watched it. We continue to duck as the odd harpishchord is bunged in our direction.

Fear not, child. When I am rolling in money and the French Riviera, you will be the first to be intimidated.

Ludwig said...

[veena] Forgot about this in the last reply, but since you have taken the train from Aguas Calientes, there are 2-3 books that may perhaps cause extreme enjoyment.

1. The White Rock by Hugh Thomson "...was the result of a twenty-year long quest to explore and understand the Peruvian Andes in the area beyond Machu Picchu." This is quite nice, if you don't have it.

2. Running the Amazon by Joe Kane - A travelogue really, but rollicking.

3. The definitive history of Inca Peru's end is suppose to be John Hemming's The Conquest of the Incas. Have 2(!!) copies lying at home, not touched yet. Ah, me.

Veena said...

Ludwig: Agree. The Schnappi song is damn cute. Don't tell the boy but I have actually seen the video hazaar times.

As for John Keay, I ordered Sowing the Wind. And don't worry, I am really bad at throwing harpishchords.

Thanks much for the Inca suggestions. Will def look 'em up. Quite a coincidence that you should make these suggestions not 12 hours after the girl next door (who in this tiny tiny world happens to be the jester's pal) asked me for reading suggestions for her upcoming trip to Peru!

A JD question: would you happen to have links to any professional renderings of Banalata Sen(Eng or Bangla)? Yeah, I tried my own - not only is it awful but I am pretty sure I am looking at a divorce if I make it public. A divorce is not in my best interests right now as I would end up paying alimony.

And hey, maybe you could send us some recordings yourself for this audiopoetry thing?

Ludwig said...


> Don't tell the boy but I have
> actually seen the video hazaar
> times.

You may not be aware of this,
but I am mum.

> As for John Keay, I ordered
> Sowing the Wind.

Most prudent. You will not be dis.

As far as Peru reading goes, perhaps its better to go first and then read later? I did all my reading on Peru after I got back. Suspect that if you read too much and go, a decent amount of 'fitting' the country to suit the literature might happen.

> A JD question:

Hmm. The only rendering that I know of, indeed the one which made me look up JD, was the one by Rani Mukherjee...umm...err...on, as it were, Kamal Haasan, from "Hey Ram". I've never really come across an audio version. Hell, it was hard enough to get slimy paws on the book(s) themselves, and that too managed one English. The other one is in tantalizing, inscrutable, Bong. Will need the translation services of A Suitable Bong.

Recording for audiopoetry: Hmm. With my tinny voice? To tell you the truth (and this is delta embrassing), the problem is that I am somewhat technologically challenged in this matter. How does one record, digitize, make MP3 and so on? Such things cause bafflement in Scotland Yard.

PS A divorce would be most hasty, as Treebeard would've opined.

Emma said...

Not fair - this post, I mean. Makes one realize one is an ignoramus - totally, completely and absolutely. Worse, Macht Ein fühlt wirklich unzulänglich.

Well, what can one do - just bow one's head humbly before the learned ones!

Veena said...

Ah well, guess I will have to risk the divorce then. Will pass on the Treebeard opinion for sure. That might make a difference.

> How does one record, digitize, make MP3 and so on?

One only records. And then sends it over and the rest is taken care of. One can use the Windows Sound Recorder which should be installed if you have a Windows machine - in Accessories --> Entertainment --> Sound Recorder. If its not installed, check this link:

If one wants to increase the recording time, here:

Of course there are uber cool open source sound recorders in existence, but for a lazy person like moi, this works pretty well.

Falstaff said...

Ludwig: BM sent me a link to the following software that I've been using and that seems to work fairly well. It gets you over the 1 minute limit on the Sound Recorder.

There, now you have no excuse. Suggest you get in a Dobyns poem or too before I get my hands on it.

Ludwig said...

[emma] The trick, really, is to be aware of n books, rather than actually own them or read them. Our reading, for example, frequently involves a finely tuned reverse osmosis process. Read the blurb, read the reviews, fall asleep mit book unter kopf. Dawn breaks, and knowledge will have been subtly imbibed. This works. Until, of course, you actually run into people who've read the damn thing and understood it. At which juncture you point at a passing albatross, and steer the conv. away.

[veena, falstaff] Thanks for the links to the sound recorders. Will see what we can conjure. (Damn! Now I'll have to do something about this? :)

[emma] If you're wondering how I manage to have a passing albatross handy, you're not the only one. There is a quasi-surgical procedure involving:

rubber bands (strong, long), packet of - 1 nos.
manja, coil of - 1 nos.
polythene bag from Big Bazaar - 2 nos.
Mariner, Ancient - 1 nos.

I am writing a monograph on the subject.

Srin said...

I read one book by Paul Theroux in which he travels across Asia by train, I dont remember what it's called but I DO remember that the man griped about everything, it was'nt a very pleasant book.

Loblolly sounds vaguely demeaning and what have I done to remind you of how well read I am? I don't write book posts. Hehe, sullebritty hain hum? Wahh.

Ludwig said...

> I dont remember what it's called

'The Great Railway Bazaar'? It was quit enjoyable, I thought. And he gripes only about annoying people and things :P And I like the way he gripes. His gripes have character.

> remind you of how well read I am

Who ever said you have to be well read? It is all about opening up your mind and letting everyone take a peek.

> Hehe, sullebritty hain hum? Wahh.

Next, Lux waale advertisment ke liye pareshaan karenge. Beauty Bar of Film Star!

Srin said...

Ohh, the 'loblolly' was for molybdenim. I am mortified. Word Verification is punishing me now. The Great Indian Bazaar, yes.

Emma said...

I have been cogitating over your suggestion, realizing now (yeah, finally) why it wouldn't work for me - I am quite thickheaded you see; the reverse osmosis stuff might actually not result in any imbibition. So, the answer would be in your "passing albatross" trick - when I come across someone such as you, adopt this and steer the conversation away. Needless to say, I am looking forward to your monograph.

Ludwig said...

'pon my word! I don't believe I've ever had 16 comments on one post.

[srin] The 'loblolly' is actually for oracella, which is what the molybednum is... [cringes in ant.] Loblolly, funnily enough, is beginning to start sounding like a Bengali name.

[emma] Monograph will save the day, then!

BoFi said...

Jibanananda Das???
I was actually reading the translation in Minstrels, when I noticed the contributor had a familiar feel to his name...
I must most vehemantly protest though...exhibition of Jibananda Das poems must be left to us Ganguly, he is one of the few things we got with us still
Where did you get the bengali book anyways?

Ludwig said...

[bofi] My dear fellow... You tell all! So you Bongs own the J. Das franchise as well? Das Kapital, I say.

The book was obtained by a gullible acquaintance who happened to go to Calcutta. I'm not sure I said, "Get any J. Das book, English or Bong!". Ne'ertheless, she ended up bringing the Bong one.

This is the manner in which the cookie crumbles.