Archive for the ‘Log’ Category

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony – Eoin Colfer

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

I read another Artemis Fowl book. Now no teenager is gonna be able to talk me down on world literature I guess. This is the book where Artemis first meets No 1, the warlock.

Artemis and Butler are looking for ‘appearances’, apparently of a fairy group called demons. They were lifted in limbo, after the fairy-human war, but every now and then, someone comes calling. Only, this time another juvenile genius has captured the new demon before Artemis. It’s Minerva Paradizo, the young scientist vying for a Nobel. No 1 is not a fullfledged demon though. He is an imp, and imps have to go through a process called ‘warping’ to be a demon. Which No1 won’t because he happens to be a demon warlock! It’s all quite interesting really. There is Holly and Mulch Diggums, who are now partners, because Holly is now a bounty hunter instead of Captain Short. Even though she gets her rank back after the first few pages. Artemis is finding girls attractive as well, and he travels half the world to rescue Minerva when she ends up a damsel in distress.

As usual, Artemis saves the People and steals a little bit of magic in the process, and stays 14 when the world around him has aged 3 more years. Also, this is were his twins are first mentioned.

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Rest In Peace

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

The girl is dead. I hoped maybe she would pull through. That she will get to a place where this was one terrible thing that happened to her once long ago. But now she is dead.

I wasn’t reading too many articles because it was too traumatic to think what she would have gone through. Frustrated and sad and angry. More than I could handle in words and thoughts. So generally shutting out the thoughts unless I could help it. Yet she is dead. Dead.

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The Magnetic Girl : Richard Marsh

Monday, November 26th, 2012

So I read ‘The Magnetic Girl’ by Richard Marsh. It is part of ‘The Collected Supernatural & Weird Fiction of Richard Marsh’ from the publishers Leonaur. It is a nice little comdey. There is a supernatural element, but only slightly so. The only issue I have with this book is the punctuations. They forgot most of the periods in it.

Richard Marsh was kind of a feminist I guess. The heroine of our tale is the tomboyish and plain Norah O’Brady. She is the ugly duckling with four pretty sisters and a mother who berates her ‘vulgarity and ugliness’. Men who flock to the house to meet her sisters generally ignore her, except the kind hearted Ben Morgan, whom the sisters call Crooked Ben. After cruelly refusing his marriage proposal and then treated rudely by her family, Norah in heat of pasision wishes she could show others how it feels to be her. She wishes that every man fall in love with her on sight. And as luck would have it, every man begins to fall in love with her from then onwards. She assembles a varied set, from the bread delivery boy, to a waiter to all her sister’s and mother’s suitors to a real live Duke. Her sister Audrey seems to understand she is a ‘witch’ for the day and tells her to go ahead and enjoy her power. And to trample on them for all they are worth. That’s what she sets out to do, even though things do tend to get out of hand now and then. It is a slapstick comedy of all the men crawling after the girl they didn’t notice till then.

In the end there is the loyal friend and a happy ending. The grenadier finds her straight man.

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Curios – Richard Marsh

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

After searching the Judith Lee story The Man Who Cut Off My Hair for a decade, I am kinda into Richard Marsh now. I read the Beetle and some other stories from Project Gutenberg and enjoyed them. There are titles available from Flipkart and I went ahead and ordered a couple for that paper experience. They are mighty expensive when you pay in rupees though. Still worth it.

I read this collection of short stories “Curios” subtitled `Some Strange Adventures of Two Bachelors’.The stories itself have various chapters, but they are too small to be novellas. The stories are about two collectors of curios, Mr. Tress and Mr.Pugh. They are friends, rivals and sometimes downright enemies. As is the norm with Marsh, people are not really the goody goody ones. These gentlemen kinda reminds you of PG Wodehouse gang though. A bit.

There are seven stories in all.
1. The Adventure of the Pipe : A pipe comes into life when smoked. Here you get a glimpse of the characters of your leading men. Though they were much too hostile in this and kept becoming friendlier as the stories moved on. To me.
2. The Adventure of the Phonograph : Someone is murdered, or so Pugh believes. All he has is a woman’s last words on a phonograph he picked. Who is it?
3. The Adventure of the Cabinet : Pugh and Tress are at loggerheads about the ownership of a valuable cabinet.
4. The Adventure of the Ikon : Mr Tress buys a holy ikon from a Jew. A beautiful woman and a dwarf is set to rob him off it. This of course has all the Victorian stereotypes you expect from British novels, but is still a good drama.
5. The Adventure of the Puzzle : Mr Pugh acquires a puzzle and asks Tress’s help in solving it. This story again tells you how so not heroic or heroes are.
6. The Adventure of Lady Wishaw’s Hand : Pugh gets a 13th century hand in mail. Except it still looks alive and is murderous.
7. The Adventure of the Great Auk’s Egg : This is hilariously insulting of every collector and their loose morals when it comes to adding to their collections.

Pugh and Tress tells the stories alternately. They are all rather different. And there is suspense. And intrigue. A rather fine collection of stories.

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The Chase of the Ruby – Richard Marsh

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Read this little novel “The Chase of the Ruby” by Richard Marsh. A nice little feel good story. There’s something impishly unvictorian about Richard Marsh. The novel starts with a little ghost story, or a vision as Guy Holland says. An eccentric uncle sets a weird condition in his will, and there are two nephews vying for inheritance. A good one,(well, with slight gray edges) and a thoroughly bad lot. The rest of the story is how they both are in pursuit of a ruby signet ring. And they needn’t even have tried! There is of course the fiesty little girlfriend and the actress you aren’t quite sure of and the exotic foreigner with a temper. Yes, very Victorian and British, but quite entertaining in its way.

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Michael Chrichton – Micro

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

This is the first Michael Crichton book I read. Somehow I never got around to buying one of his books. I am of a world where Lost World mean more Professor Challenger than Speilberg. Anyway, at last I got around to Chrichton and it so happens that I picked his last ever book to begin with. Around a third of it was written by Chrichton and then completed by Richard Preston.

The story starts with three people dead with no clues and murder weapons. Then there are seven doctoral students visiting a promising laboratory in Hawaii owned by a company Nanigen. Then there are machines and weapons and survival in a rain forest. Too many people die though. While reading, I pictured the fights in the forest in animated form, cause it does remind you of so many movies you have seen. Like ant bully. Of course there you have the story. Then there is the question of evil and whether anyone is responsible when it comes to weapons.

It was interesting. I will pick up another I guess.

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Oscar Wilde : A woman of No Importance

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

There is a new library thingy at office, and this is the first book I ordered. I ordered it more for the “& other stories”, but turned out there there none. I do like Oscar Wilde and this though not one of the favourites is still a good read. And you read Oscar Wilde for the witty one-liners more than anything!

The tale is very much a Victorian plot; The woman with a past and her seducer coming face-to-face in a social setting. Come to think of it, Indian society still thinks like the son, and they are not even ready to come their senses as he did.

It does have a hell of an ending line, though.. ;)

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Thailand – Animal Cruelty

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Thais are cruel people. They condone animal abuse as a society and exploit them in the grossest possible ways for money. That is the most striking memory I took away from my (not so) recent trip to Thailand. You can see cruelty to animals wherever you go, and the worst thing is, they don’t even consider it cruelty. I am no vegetarian, but I will never ever treat anything living the way they are being treated in the zoos and temples of Thailand.

1. Nong Nooch Garden, Pattaya – This was a good day. There were signs of things to come, but it was interesting to be able to feed the animals and walk around them, which I had never done in any other zoo. But there was a baboon on tree chained by the hip to a rope. He can travel along the rope. That was it. Yet, it was a momentary dampener on otherwise an interesting day. Till we saw the dancing elephants. They have the fork like things we call “thoti” in Malayalam, and the mahouts had no qualms using them. I love elephants, and I believe they belong in the wild. I dislike the fact that there are domesticated elephants in my homeland. But none prepared me for the circus elephants of my childhood in modern day Thailand. You cry.
2. Kanchanaburi – The worst place to be in Thailand is the tiger temple. Buddhism as a religion is interesting to me, even though I know that the Buddhist monasteries have their share of controversies like molesting of young monks etc. That is the fate of every organized religion and church worldwide. I never disliked monks so much as when I saw those people around the tigers. How can anyone turn these majestic beasts into drug addled kittens and sell their helplessness to tourists, us included. We never should have gone there. It was haunting. Money. God! I have never ever seen greed in those proportions. They drug them, take your money, and then they throw them in water to wake them and show it off as tigers playing and bathing in the water.
3. Safari World, Bangkok – The zoo was good. It was spacious and tropical and there were a lot of animals I had not seen before. I had never seen so many giraffes before much less fed them. Didn’t like the seal show though. The nagging doubt that I am somehow mistreating the animals remained and you can never enjoy the zoo in Thailand once you have seen how they train and mistreat and generally have a lax attitude towards anything other than themselves.

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Pune

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Went to Pune on Independance day weekend. A twelve hour drive from Bangalore, including breakfast, lunch and all nature-room breaks. A very beautiful drive indeed. Must be the weather in August. The places were all green and dark green, like some meadows. Had to pay a helluva lot of money in toll though.

Drive aside, like Pune too. After the chaos of Bangalore, Pune looked spacious and green and under-populated.. ;) It helped that right next to where we stayed, there was a river and a park. There was also time for some relaxed sightseeing and shopping.

Pune City Trip

The first day went in touring around the city. First stop was Shaniwar Wada. It is the ruins of an 18th century palace/fort. The foundation’s still there, and you can kind of picturise the walls and the princesses. It has some cool fountains too, considering how old it is. The only bad thing about it was the municipality people manning it, as they asked for money to park in the free parking outside. We didn’t pay on principle, cause it was so disheartening to see the greed. Went to a paid parking and then to the Ganapathi temple in the city. Didn’t go in as there was a big queue of devotees waiting to get in. There was a tiny Shiva temple outside though, with a Nandi. Next stop was Aga Khan Palace. However, on the way two very suspicious guys in a bike came and told our driver we had to pay 150 rupees because it is army road. They had no uniforms and looked nothing like the army. And the driver said it was not cantonment road either. We said we will first talk to a policeman. Then they told us the police chowki was in some road, and they were gonna lead us to the actual cantonment roads! We ditched them and went on to our tour after telling the simpleton of a driver not to follow them. Aga Khan palace is a pretty house, and this is where Kasturba Gandhi died in 1944. It is currently a museum honouring Gandhi’s life. There are some items used by them and Samadhi of Kasturba and Mahadev Desai, Gandhi’s secretary.

The last stop of the day was Katraj zoo, which the driver called as the snake park. There was a reptile section as well, with some snakes and crocodiles and turtles, even though olive ridley was missing in its enclosure. The zoo was spacious and had a good walk. There are tiny buses and bus stops where you can board them, but the buses weren’t yet operating when we went it. There aren’t as many animals as in other zoos, but it was quite nice anyway. With that we called it a day and went home and watched a movie.

Lavasa & Sinhgad

Lavasa is a planned city near Pune, quite controversial already. It is in a valley surrounded by hills and bordered by a lake. The idea appealed to me, a retirement place nestled in the mountains and stuff. Self-sufficient and serene and what not. However, not a great fan of it now. The buildings are ghastly. They do impact the environment in quite an ugly way. Guess the builders got greedy in between and messed up the chance of creating something exclusive and private and sought after. The drive was breathtaking though, and they have made beautiful roads for us to enjoy the valley, but the buildings! yuck. Had a picnic lunch not far from the valley, near a tiny natural stream. Was perfect. Then we went to Sinhgad, a hill station nearby with a fort on top. We went mainly for the Kanda bhaji(onion pakoda) though and totally missed the fort. August is the best time for the drive, and the places were beautiful and very Westernghat-ish.

Alandi

Next day we went to Alandi, the place associated with Jnaneshwar, the Gita translator and poet. I did not like the temple. I find that temples are not really very clean outside Kerala (Though I did like the Mathura Meenakshi temple), and the river was very dirty too. Still, Jnaneshwar is new to me, and looked him up and impressed. In the evening went to the riverside park. It is also a bird sanctuary, at least in name.

Laxmi Road & Tulsi Baug

Sunday was earmarked for shopping and spent way too much money than I should have. Bought a bunch of cloths as gifts and even some clay flower vases. Then it was time to leave and started around 5 the next morning and reached at 5 in the evening. That is with a long lunch break. A pretty relaxed trip.

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Sparkling Cyanide – Agatha Christie

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Back to the Queen of crime. This one is an expansion of a short story called yellow irises, where Poiort gets a call from a woman about a table with Irises. This is not a Poirot story though. I think Colonel Race is the detective, even though the mystery is solved by the young beau. This was interesting beacuse I expected the ending to be same as the short story.

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