September 01, 2008

Reading and Misc (This is how I label folders in Windows Explorer.)


Why everyone should read Yes, Prime Minister (or watch the series, really, but the book is wayyy funnier):

I decided it was time to remind Humphrey who was boss.
"Humphrey, who has the last word about the government of Britain? The British Cabinet or the American President?"
He sat back, crossed his legs, and considered the matter for a moment.
"That's a fascinating question, Prime Minister. We often discuss it."
"And what conclusion do you come to?"
"Well, he replied, "I have to admit I'm a bit of a heretic. I think it's the British Cabinet. But I know I'm in a minority."

Why everyone should read Wodehouse:
"What did he say?"
"I cannot recall his exact words, sir, but he drew a comparison between your mentality and that of a cuckoo."
"A cuckoo, eh?"
"Yes, sir. To the bird's advantage."

It was one of the dullest speeches I ever heard. The Agee woman told us for three quarters of an hour how she came to write her beastly book, when a simple apology was all that was required.

Over-generalisation: Is all good humour by British authors? Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Helen Fielding (okay, chick-lit, but pretty damn funny), Sue Townsend (drags sometimes, but still), even Jeffrey Archer (at times), Gerald Durrell? I can't seem to recall any American writer of humour. Then again, it could be the fact that my reading is very limited and very mainstream.

Grouse #1: While we're on books, will someone explain why Agatha Christie novels are being made into those... graphic novels? Is that the term? Or any novel, for that matter. They look like bad comic books. I sincerely want to know what the point is. Help kids read? Make adults read? Replace Betty & Veronica Double Digest?

Grouse #2: Also, I register my hatred for ladies (or men) in bookstores who yell to someone on their cellphone, let their kids run amok, and look at books, not read the title / author / blurb. Sample these (all overheard in Crossword):
"Haan, Jigna, mane book levi chhe... Discount voucher kaale expire thaaye chhe. Aiya bau badhi chhe... kai saari chhe?" (Translation: Yeah, Jigna, I want a book. My discount voucher expires tomorrow. There are lots here... which one's good?)
*volume equal to that at which Raghu Dixit shouts in that song of his* "Hello? Haan, boss, sau rupya bacha hai... Kaun si loo? Kuch khaas nahi dikh raha yahaan pe..."

The last time I encountered a lady whose kid was running amok, I gave her such a dirty look that when I turned and left, I heard her tell her husband in a whisper, "Kaise dekh rahi thi..."

makes me feel good. Though Crossword is kinda losing its charm. Half the store sells shirts now. Major piss-off. Just an armchair or two left. Must switch to Landmark. But I really don't like how Landmark is structured. Hard to explain, but I don't.

Grouse #3: Mothers who ask me what they should make their kids read. How would I know? Just because I sneak a book into every social gathering (I'd die of boredom otherwise) doesn't mean I'm an authority. Let 'em read what they want to. Let 'em not read if they don't want to. We grew up choosing our own books, first Enid Blyton, then Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, then classics, then RK Narayan, then contemporary Indian fiction... some people went crazy over Roald Dahl (I never took to him, somehow), Sweet Valley, some horror series... A lot of the books we read back then seem funny and silly now. I remember picking up a Nancy Drew a few months back, and being shocked that I ever enjoyed it. But the point, the point! Why must parents force books down their kids' throats? Leave them alone. If they want to read, they will.

This is, as you can see, one of the more rambling entries. Sunday effect.


I have this urge to do a tag about my favourite male fictional characters. No one tagged me, (no one ever does), so I should start taking matters in my own hands and doing whatever tags I feel like. But this particular tag will probably turn into a mush-fest, so I'm leaving it for when I have absolutely nothing to write about.


Anyone who expects a Rock On!! review is hereby disappointed. I'm too biased. But just as a note, consider this: Akhtar can write, direct, act, sing, dance and look super-hot. And he has a gaze to die for. (Okay, not literally, but quite an awesome one.) AND he beats Ranbir Kapoor hands down in the towel department. Haha. Go, Farhan! (Unabashed groupie-giri. Can't resist. Peru, join in.)



a traveller... said...

I think British humour in that era was definitely better than American humour. I prefer Wodehouse and Georgette Heyer to almost any other author when I need a light read. But in recent years, the level seems to have deteriorated. I mean, the American The Office is way funnier than the British The Office.

But yes, Rock on was fabulous, and Farhan Akhtar is awesomely talented! :)

NightWatchmen said...

Is all good humour by British authors? I can't seem to recall any American writer of humour. Then again, it could be the fact that my reading is very limited and very mainstream.

May we recommend Dorothy Parker or Stephen Leacock (Canadian but way better than Woodehouse in our opinion which might not amount to much by the way!!).

While at that maybe you should read about them to get an idea of American Humor.

Been reading your blog for quite some time but this is the first post that has made us comment. We were tempted a lot when you wrote about English August though.

ess said...

There are some pretty good American humourists from "that era". James Thurber, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, to name a few. I guess the difference is that American humour is a lot more direct than British.

That Gujarati monologue reminds me of a classmate who'd probably ask the same questions if he had a discount voucher. And I've always liked Landmark better. They always seem to have the book I'm looking for at that moment. Very being-in-the-moment thing. Plus, they always have new compilations of MAD Magazine at Landmark, so I'm happy!

Asterix said...

Have you tried Dave Barry? You can get his articles at the Miami Herald archive. I think barring Douglas Adams, he is the funniest author I have ever read.

Speaking of tags, I hereby tag you to write about your favorite fictional male character, as long as that character is Batman!

About "Rock On"...hmmmm...I thought the movie was so-so. Decent timepass with an over-simplified storyline that is par for Hindi movies. I will stop before I get my head sawed off by some towel-gazing groupie!

Ani said...

graphic novels? Is that the term?

Sure is. Unless you want to please Alan Moore :P

Peru said...

Man, I really don't read all this much. Will hopefully read Yes, PM someday. But yes, this post takes me back to my 'The Naughiest Girl Again' days. Funny how a sequel name was suffixed with 'again', nah?

Landmark has really larger than life bookshelves that get intimidating. That's why CW is better. Just got home from a social gathering. Must carry a book next time. Oh, you must take a low stool & slump in one khopcha at CW. Forget the shirts.

About the Rock On!! review - ditto! :D As for beating Ranbir Kapoor, there never was any competition in the first place. And also, we won't stop going groupie-ga-ga over Farhan *joins in*. However, you can have Farhan; Luke's mine! :D

Cheers. Keedas. Peace.

PS: Installed Mozilla Firefox for posting this comment. And, well, because I wanna blog too :P. So feel the lauu! :D

Over Rated said...

I book shop online these days. Betas the "discount coupon" and the"voh call center wali book" crowd. Plus, the other day I went in bookshop and I had their whole inventory. :( ...

Avantika A. said...

hey Mudra,
I agree with you that Crosswords is fast becoming everything but a book shop. But you should definitely try Landmark - apart from having a much better collection (and categorization), the assisstants actually know their books and dont look at you like you're an alien when you ask them if they have a book that is not written by chetan bhagat or shobha de!

And yes Farhan Akhtar rocks! Ranbir Kapoor does look slightly pichka hua before him doesnt he?!

Nitish said...

Hey Muddu..
I was wondering..When u going to Bhukhu's place for Ganpati ?..Let me know in advance
And yeah..'Rock On' was good fun..
About the bookstores..I love Landmark(Infinity) ka atmosphere and their DVD collection..

Nitish said...

Abrupt end, no?

Anonymous said...

About your "Over-generalisation", I think you'll find on closer inspection that while all the really funny writers from before the 60s are from UK (the ones you mention for example), the more recent examples are all American. Allow me to recommend Bill Bryson or David Sedaris. You should also definitely read the one book Toole managed to write before he decided to kill himself. Then again, Lynne Truss may be the exception that proves the rule.

indiegurl said...

three things:

1. Read James Herriott. Pronto.
2. how.... HOW could you not like Roald Dahl?!
3. avoid large bookshops, try smaller ones or secondhand ones or older ones....crossword, landmark and odyssey are rapidly becoming music/clothes stores which is very very annoying.

Mudra said...

@a traveller, nightwatchmen: Thank you. I've just managed to browse through your blogs - really interesting stuff. :)

@asterix: I know, have read Dave Barry, he's really good. :) Batman, eh? What'd you write about, Frodo? :P

@peru: I feel the lauu, totally. Thanks for dividing the cast of Rock On in such an organised manner between the two of us. ;)

@avantika: Yes! (And Ranbir Kapoor looks pichka hua in front of anyone.)

@nitish: Very.

@anon: Yes, yes and yes. Now if only people who have non-snarky comments (such as you) would not be anonymous, that would be nice.

@divya: Roald Dahl talks down to his readers. No?

@everyone: I really like the comments to this post. :)

Dark Knight said...

Ogden Nash! Seriously.