Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith – May 1, 2015

The First Edition of 1892 by Arrowsmith Press

Forced to go off-base as a result of uncertainty we availed of Thommo's hospitality at his home where nine of us and a guest fitted snugly. As a bonus KumKum provided the readers with zesty salmon sandwiches; Pamela brought us Carmelo chocolates and Geetha served nimbu pani.

CJ, Gopa, Priya

The refreshments were necessary to accompany the readings which are full of references to Kinahan, port, champagne, and whiskey, moderately consumed throughout the Cummings and Gowings in the brief novel.

KumKum, Preeti, Pamela

Our anticipation of enjoying the humour was well rewarded. We did not merely 'roar' with laughter at the droll narrations in the book, but enhanced the situations by describing some of our own, supplied by Sunil and Priya in response to the episode of the obstreperous spoiled child, Master Percy.

Thommo, Sunil


It is a wonder, as Thommo pointed out, that a century and a quarter after publication the book remains in print, and its humour about late-Victorian middle-class London is still accessible to us in Kochi (barring some topical references). One reason may be that the archetypes in the novel continue to exist in a different form in modern India. 

The group at the end (Preeti had to leave early):

(standing) Thommo, Sunil, Joe, CJ 
(seated) Priya, Pamela, KumKum, Gopa

Monday, April 20, 2015

Poetry Reading – Apr 16, 2015

It was an exceptionally well-attended reading. From Milton to Bukowski is a wide range in poets and the sheer wonder of articulating their words excited the eleven readers present.
Pamela, Talitha, Sunil, KumKum & Priya

We had a new reader, Govind Sethunath, come by to try out our group. He chose safety and read a couple of well-known poems of Shelley which we enjoyed – one was Ozymandias, the first poem ever that Priya read in our group, as she recalled.

Priya, Govind, Zakia, Thommo, CJ, Ankush, & Pamela

CJ's appearance provoked some wide-eyed amazement. So much has he reduced in girth from constant distance running in Hyderabad (his present posting) around Hussain Sagar lake, that he has had to acquire a new wardrobe. But his impish wit continues to surprise us, as it did in the choice of poem and poet – the incorrigible Charles Bukowski.

KumKum & Priya

We are glad to have Ankush back; he docked at Kochi port only an hour before our meeting and raced here on his bicycle from his present posting aboard INS Kesari (pennant L15), a tank and troop landing ship.

INS Kesari, the vessel on board which Ankush resides

Here we are at the end of the reading, wrapped in Wreathèd Smiles


Joe, KumKum, Talitha, Priya, Thommo, Pamela, Zakia, CJ, Govind, Sunil, Ankush

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Light in August by William Faulkner – Mar 27, 2015

First Edition

Faulkner's novel treats many themes of the US South – sex, violence, racism, fanatical religion, and mob-action. Kinder traits are there too, by way of strangers who offer support to a pregnant woman making her way as an outcast in search of the absconding father of her baby.

Zakia, Sunil, Shnaz, Priya, Thommo

One of the less prominent themes is how many of the characters are lonely outsiders, poorly integrated into society, and living out the history of their tortured past.

Shahnaz, Priya, Thommo, KumKum

Faulkner is determined to write about things close to the bone, throwing light (Light in August) on the dark recesses of society in an era when racism was institutionalised, and Emancipation was still a theoretical notion, especially in the states of the Confederacy.

Shahnaz, Priya

Several readers found a resonance between the descriptions of rape in the novel, and the attitudes prevalent in modern India, not just among the lumpen elements (to use a phrase Gopa is fond of). Evil lurks throughout the novel and readers have a sense that nothing good will come of it in the end.

Painting by Willem de Kooning titled 'Light in August'

One of the eloquent statements in the novel stands at the beginning of Chapter 6 when Joe Christmas is a lad of five, yet to undergo his life-changing experiences. Presaging those events the author writes:

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. 

Thommo, Priya, KumKum, Pamela, Gopa, Sunil, Joe (Zakia & Shahnaz left early)