Friday, July 24, 2015

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – July 22, 2015

First Edition, 1989

This reading had two occasions to celebrate, Eid al-Fitr, and Thommo's impending departure to Istanbul to begin a 40-country drive around the world in his Hyundai i20. We celebrated the breaking of the fast with semia payasam and shammi kabab brought by Zakia. And ordered up namkeen, tea and coffee from the CYC kitchen for Thommo's journey – he'll be leaving on Aug 2.

Zakia, Priya, Thommo

 The novel was all about buttling, and we were regaled with tales of butlers who had survived the most extreme of circumstances without losing their aplomb. Stevens in the present novel is a particularly anal variety of the tribe. When Joe used that word Thommo remarked there was a Bengali babu in his office in Calcutta named অনল, pronounced 'onol', who unfortunately spelled his name in English, Anal.

Preeti & Pamela

Philosophically this novel propounds the tale of one who habitually subordinates his life's ambitions and goals to those of his master. Call it servility in one sense, but it is the kind of supreme sacrifice of the ego through which saints reach their goal by denying the self on the altar of a higher good. The tragedy of Stevens the butler is that his master ultimately fails, but not on account of any lack of effort on Stevens' part.

Thommo, Preeti, Pamela, Joe

There's also an abortive romance that denies Stevens the one chance he had of rounding out the evening of his life, when nothing remains of the day. In the film version it is with Mrs Benn (Emma Thompson) that Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) silently sheds a tear in parting.

Panoramic view of the readers

Here we are enjoying our double feast:

Thommo is Rs 5L short of the Rs 15L funding & Hyundai hasn't chipped in yet ...

Celebrating Eid Al-Fitr with Zakia's Semia Payasam & Shammi Kabab

And here's the group photograph at the end of the reading:

Joe, Zakia, Priya, Thommo, KumKum, Talitha, Shoba, Pamela, Preeti

Monday, June 29, 2015

Poetry Reading – Jun 26, 2015

We had ten readers, including a new reader Shoba Cherian, for this monsoon session of poetry. Appropriately two readers chose to celebrate with rain poems.

Pamela, Kavita, Shoba, Talitha

We noted some landmarks. June was the 750th birth anniversary of Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy and other works. Vikram Seth has come out with a collection, Summer Requiem, of poems he has been writing over the past couple of decades.
Joe, KumKum, Gopa, Ankush, Priya

We are now dues paying members at KRG (annual subscription of Rs 300) since the Cochin Yacht Club has decided to charge us for holding meetings in their Library.

Kavita, Shoba, Talitha

Thommo, our ever-adventurous evergreen member will be setting out in July for a six-month drive across 40 countries. Final arrangements with sponsors and obtaining customs documents (Carnet de Passages en Douane) are afoot.

Thommo, Pamela

Pamela brought a cake to celebrate her birthday on June 27. Along with birthday wishes sung for her, KumKum distributed chocolates as a token of her joyous visit to her children and grandchildren in USA.

KumKum, Gopa, Ankush, Priya

Here are we all at the end of the session:

Joe, Shoba, Kavita, Talitha, KumKum, Thommo, Priya, Gopa, Ankush, Pamela

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