Why Jack likes listening to the Scorpions…

What does one think of immediately after reading the title?

Two things, I presume – Jack and The Scorpions (at least that’s what an average person would think about, under normal circumstances).

Now, the question arises, who is Jack? Is he some completely wacko guy like Jack Frost or am I referring to one of my acquaintances?

In fact, Jack turns out to be a pseudonym I’ve used for myself (and the precious few like-minded people in the world).

Now, this very amiable fellow – Jack, as I am going to refer to myself in this post, happens to spend a lot of his time online – mostly on social-networking sites and youtube. One fine day, while was doing his usual thing,  when he stumbled upon the song Wind of change. He heard it, he liked it, he heard it again and liked it even better. he found out about the artist and recognized it as the band his father was fond of back when he was about 7.  He had heard it before, about a million times, mostly on road trips with his family when he was young. It was reminiscent of his childhood. It reminded him of all the swiveling turns through the mountains and the rugged terrain he had wearily trudged on.

Where I fell in love with the Scorpions

THIS was something he had utterly and completely forgotten. The song itself was soothing and told about how things were moving on, somehow he felt at peace with the message of the song.

He ran a few searches and came up with a few tracks by the Band, songs he did not know the names of, but were still etched in his memory. He heard ‘Rock you like a hurricane’, ‘Love will keep us alive’, ‘Knockin’ on heaven’s door’ and went like “Oh! I remember this!” after each song. He was fascinated by the way they sang their songs, the way they played their music and the way they had been such an important part of his childhood. He put their songs on his phone, listening to them whenever he got the time to do so, which was quite often. He walked down to places humming the melodies of these good-old songs.

He forced people to listen to them; always thinking that he was, in fact, blessing them with the opportunity to listen to the Band. Most people did not find it as good as Jack did; some disposed of it. But then they hadn’t been to the Himalayas, running around in circles on the winding roads, with nothing to keep track of – except the song that was playing.

The band - Scorpions

And THAT, my friend, is why Jack likes listening to the Scorpions…

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Kindle secrets!

The Kindle, I feel, is a thing worth writing a post about. I happen to own one of these and have read a lot of books on it – never regretting not having the real book in my hands. Here is my opinion of the device…

The kindle is a handy device

The Amazon Kindle is a handy eBook reader owned by book-lovers around the world who are not at peace with the very idea of staying away from their books. This device is a boon to them all.It acts as a friend on all the little journeys you make and keeps you in touch with your books so that you can flick a page any time you want! 

One of the best things about it, I feel, is the absence of back-light and the monochromatic display which greatly enhances the overall feel of the device. It gives the feel of a real book except that its WAY lighter! The device hardly weighs 250 grams. I prefer reading the thicker books on the kindle; it saves me all the energy I would have to use to lift a heavy book. The device also has an extensive dictionary which gives the meanings as footnotes while reading; so you don’t have to look for a dictionary every time you encounter a word you don’t know!

Over and above, it also comes with in-built Wi-fi and free, always-connected 3G. It allows us instant access to the Kindle store (maintained by Amazon)  from where we can purchase books by doing as little as tapping a finger!

The kindle can display eBook s with the following file extensions – .azw, .pdf and .mobi. The kindle cannot read ePUB ebooks; however, there are free programs available to inter-convert these formats. For example, Calibre is an excellent eBook management software. It is almost a necessity if you have a Kindle. Along with maintaining a systematic catalog on your eBook library, it also converts the files to practically any eBook format. Also Amazon offers a conversion method by email in the ‘Experimental’ section. This is charged on the basis of  $0.15 per MB via 3G.

Although the kindle has to its credit –  lots of attributes; the device also has its own share of negatives.

For one, the Amazon bookstore sells the books which are legally available for free on the internet. These books can be downloaded for free  from Project Gutenberg. It also sells documents which are typically not meant to be sold. For example, I once happened to buy a book review mistaking it for the original book!

Also, the device is quite delicate and fragile. You cannot sleep on it the way you can on a book. It might fall down or suffer some sort of internal damage after which the  process to fix it up is long and complicated. It involves opening up the kindle and doing something in there. I could not comprehend the rest of the procedure, it went into the technical complexities. I have myself had problems with my Kindle. It has hung up on me like that THRICE till date. Every time, I have had to ask for a replacement; which arrives in about a week.

I admit the Amazon Kindle has got a million little flaws, but the efficiency of the eBook reader (as an eBook reader and not a convenient way to surf the net) is definitely not one of them.

The Kindle surely is an exceptional device; but somewhere along the way, somehow, you feel that it was taken up by Amazon just as a money-making activity and not as a way to provide better eBook reading experiences to people.. but then – its business.

The device does apt justice to books, by giving you a enjoyable read anywhere in the world and at any time!

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Feluda – Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray is a greatly revered filmmaker and a fiction writer throughout the Indian subcontinent. His books have been translated into various languages including English, French, Spanish, Polish, Italian and some Indian regional languages.

Winner of various prestigious awards, both as  a filmmaker as well as an author, he also has unto himself the credit of creating the fictitious amateur detective – Pradosh C. Mitter, affectionately known as Feluda (pronounced Felu-da. The Bengali character’s true nickname is ‘Felu’, but since the stories are narrated by Tapesh, Feluda‘s younger cousin, the Bengali suffix for elder brother ‘-da‘ is added). Feluda is both a popular Bengali television serial as well as a collection of short stories in Bengali and English both. Since I never knew how to read Bengali, I read the book in English. Although the true essence of the Bengali book, verbatim Satyajit Ray, may have been lost during the translation, it remains a very powerful book. I have a few Bengali acquaintances who watch this show regularly and narrate their tales with wide eyes and exceptional ecstasy for weeks after.

Feluda and Tapesh

The Feluda tales are a  jolly little bunch of good-humoured, simply put, enjoyable detective stories. They are all set up in different locations ranging from Gangtok, Sikkim in Trouble in Gangtok to Mumbai, Maharashtra in The bandits of Bombay. Feluda is an especially bright man who teams up with his younger cousin Tapesh or as he is often called in the book – Topshe ( Topshe is a distortion of his name executed by Feluda) , to fight crime, prevent fraud and spread goodwill in various parts of India. The stories are narrated by Topshe who greatly admires Feluda’s unmatched investigative skills and intuition. The duo meet Feluda’s favorite author Lalmohan Babu who writes under the pseudonym ‘Jatayu‘ early in the series. Lalmohan Babu is extremely clumsy as well as an extremely creative character. In Satyajit Ray’s own words, Lalmohan Babu provides ‘dollops of humour’ to the stories. Although not very well-known, I have never heard a negative comment about the Feluda tales. Enjoyed by us as kids and revered by us as elders, The Feluda tales are the Indian Sherlock Holmes.

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Curtain Raiser!

Its my first post on my first blog, so I thought it should be something big. So here it goes..

The Da Vinci Code

One of my personal favorites, this one book is definitely on the shelf for the ‘must-reads’. With an ingenious plot, gripping story line and interesting characters teemed up with many twists and turns throughout the book makes for a very enjoyable read.

The Da Vinci Code is one of the top-selling books of all time. It sold a breathtaking 18 million copies around the world. It won the Best Book award at the British Book Awards

Although admired by many, this book did not go down well everybody’s throats.

The book was criticized by the church in various countries on the basis of some of Dan Brown’s theses.

According to the book, Mary Magdalene was pregnant with Jesus Christ’s baby and together they started the Merovingian family prevalent at the beginning of the formation of France. Mary Magdalene and her unborn child along with some sacred documents were the ‘Holy Grail’.

The book also lays a claim about the anti-women attitude of the church. It tells us about how the Opus Dei segregate the sexes and women are to perform extra rituals to compensate for the ‘original sin’, i.e. of eating from the apple of knowledge.

The third controversy arose because the book said that the divinity of Jesus was voted on by the Roman elite to expand the powers of the church after Christ had been dead for almost 300 years!

Following the release of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown became a star in the literary world.

The cover for Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code

In the book, Dan Brown successfully spins an inextricably intricate net of history, symbols, treachery and emotion all bundled up together to captivate the reader. His two main characters in this book  – Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu – are both clever people with insights into symbology and cryptography respectively. They unexpectedly meet when Sophie’s grandfather, also a respected member of the Prieuré de Sione, is murdered and places himself in complex symbols to pass on the knowledge of the Grail and to prevent the knowledge from dying with him. The duo take us on a hunt for the long-lost ‘ Holy Grail’  from the Louvre museum in Paris to the Chapels of Scotland, concluding the tale with a startling end.

Some people hold the opinion that the book went on to be a bestseller only because of the mention of the Holy Grail which is one of the most baffling mysteries of history and a subject of major historical research but the people who have read it, like myself, firmly believe that this book is more than a random book about the Grail, it is a book that makes us think about our respective religions and makes us wonder about what they really are under the surface which is indefinitely more important than saying a bunch of prayers everyday without knowing to whom they are said – the divine or the human.

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