Getting Ready – EARLY!!

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success. – Henry Ford

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. – John F Kennedy

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

…and so on..

Lots of people and it seems , very successful people have given their slant on being prepared.

Well, here is mine:

Being prepared days before an event –  IT FEELS GREAT!!!

I  could add bells and ribbons and balloons. It feels so good.

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The event that found me prepared days before was the Annual Mission Sale at Ooty. A small local event , attended by locals only ..since they don’t advertise. We had a lot of books from our library to sell .

I had sorted out the books over a week, Left to my basic ‘things-will-happen’ instincts, I would have packed them the night before. But, my maid was going on leave. And then, who would lug the boxes up the stairs?

So, I was driven to pack the boxes a week before the date! This for a person who packs the night before travel.

Preparation really feels great. And may the feeling last long enough to to get the worm to turn and turn and keep moving !

P.S: Yes, we sold a lot of books!


Shadow Play

Review of Shadow Play – by Shashi Deshpande , a book I enjoyed very much is  on Women’s web




The liberties of the libraries here  are enchanting. As many  books as one wants. CDs and  DVDs.  Internet.  Every Thursday, we go to the Library for Advaith to be part of the Kids Story time Reading and  Art Activity .


There also seems to be a Writers Group which meets at the same time, reading aloud their stories and poetry to each other  for discussion and  applause.

I was thrilled to find  the wonderful ‘bird by bird, – some instructions on writing and life ‘ by Anne Lamott. A hilarious, readable, very helpful and inspiring book on writing  which I’d just heard about  about in the marvellous news letter  Brain Pickings .

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.


I tell my students that the odds of their getting published and of it bringing them financial security, peace of mind, and even joy are probably not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway.

A new author discovered here was Eloisa James  through her book, Paris in Love, which is actually an account of her sabbatical in Paris for a year with her family.

Here is someone who seems to have it all.  ‘Eloisa James is the pen name of Mary Bly. She is a tenured associate professor of English Literature at Fordham University who also writes best-selling Regency romance novels under her pen name.  She’s   good looking ( ex model),  with an equal looker in her Italian husband, two children, a beautiful house . Even the cancer that struck her disappeared but left behind a hole in her heart which she decided to fill by  selling their houses and cars and moving to Paris for a year!  Her  joyful writing makes one forgive her all this blessedness though.

The third person I enjoyed here is an old favorite, PD. James, Queen of the Murder Novel with a great attention to detail. One enjoys the travel with a very intelligent mind.  Each time I picked up another book of hers, the housework suffered because you just cant stop reading.

The person I spent the last few days with was Anthony Doerr who writes of his year awarded by the American Academy of arts and Sciences in  Four Seasons  in Rome . Deciding that timidity is a waste of  life he moves to Rome with his six month old twins an young wife and embarks on a year of observation, writing, coping with two young babies, in a foreign land where he knows not the language and yet writes a delectable record of his joys and travails.

A good journal entry like a good song, or sketch or photograph ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye the finger, the tongue, the heart.

A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.’


Siragugal spreads its wings

Today is a very special day.

A dream, a vision coming true after a long while.

We found our space for our library, did the puja this morning and shifted all the books we’ve been collecting over 2 years this afternoon. Like a good Mani Ratnam movie, the skies poured in the background but who cared. All the members of our little NGO were elated and we discussed plans long past lunchtime.  Activities, book readings, story telling, contacting the schools, publicity to reach village schools, everyone was bubbling over.

Everything happens at the time it is meant to happen’… Maybe this is true. For the past two years we have been pursuing  Collectors, CEOs, Headmasters,  Councillors in the hope that someone would give us room to open a free children’s library. Commercial space didn’t fit into our small  budget.  We would get promises which would fizzle out.

Finally this space, which does fit into our budget and suits us in so many ways. We saw it last Sat, and less than a week later we are in.

Siragugal is taking off.

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

After watching Social Network, the movie about Facebook I was put off. What am I doing on a site that was meant to pander to the raging hormones of college going American jocks? In the movie, TheFacebook (as it was originally called) was created as a place where you could see who is  linked to who, check out profiles of possible dates  and  a dark side of  Mark Zuckerberg  – nerdy , insulting,  using people, uncommunicative, inward looking , stealing ideas.

The book presents quite a different picture. The growth of Facebook from a college dorm to the world’s fastest growing company is fascinating. Laced with famous names, its jaw dropping.  The personality of Mark, a very young teenage entrepreneur, who remained firmly in control, is much more fascinating.

Facebook started off in a Harvard dorm peopled by idea spouting, nerdy, passionate and exceptional people. It succeeded at first, because Harvard has this very status conscious crowd and people felt happy to associate with anything that came out of Harvard. Colleges stood in queue to be included. By degrees it was opened up, to schools, companies and then to adults anywhere.

The part that stayed with me is an incident during the wooing of Zuckerberg by Wolf, from a venture capital company. They had been talking of a 2 billion $ dollar valuation for Facebook, two years after it got started.

“For some reason they stopped by Zuckerberg’s modest one-roomed apartment. The place was messy though mostly devoid of furnishings. There was a mattress, piles of books, a bamboo mat on the floor and a lamp. They headed for a diner at a nearby restaurant. Wolf popped the question ’why don’t you just sell to us, you’d be very wealthy?”

“You just saw my apartment”, Zuckerberg replied.” I don’t really need any money. And anyway I don’t think I’m ever going to have an idea this good again.”

And I thought, Zing! This is such a wonderful philosophy for life. Live it. Pursue an idea. Don’t let the small stuff – matter so much.

The book is about the growth of the idea and follows all the ups and downs. Maybe in a way that makes it sound very positive and touches on the skeletons lightly. But it makes very good reading.


Anna Centenary Library, Chennai

The new library is really fabulous. There are no two-ways about it. My regrets are all about leaving Chennai when this library is in the neighbourhood, just 10 min walk away. Still, I got to see it before I leave. Only parts of the libraryt since there are only two sections open right now. The periodicals section which stocks all the magazines I’ve heard of and havent’. Comfortable sofas and new tables can keep one rooted one for hours.

And the children’s section which is all one can dream of. Huge, spacious, bright airy, stocked with thousands of books on low shelves, lots of large toys, the climb on and creep around types; computers to play the hundreds of videos… its a dreamland furnished and coloured so attractively.

The library will start functioning fully only in January but till then its well worth a visit just to marvel and stare that we have such a facility in our own State. Asia’s largest library and state of the art. Glass, chrome,conference halls, amphitheater,  its going to have everything including a Braille section.

I can envision coming back here some years later with my grandson/daughter and sitting in the children’s section to read the books while he/she runs around madly. Because that is precisely what is happening there. The kids are just enjoying all the fun of the wonderfully decorated space while parents and grandparents make use of the books they never had 🙂

I did try my hand at one of the computer quizzes for a few minutes before getting firmly booted out by one of the girls in charge.

This government may be bleeding the resources for personal gain. But the library stands out as a lasting legacy. And its good that it got named after Anna who was a voracious reader and writer.

I’ve  had to use such bad photographs because there are none available on the Net strangely ; strange because it has been so publicised.

Lessons in Forgetting

I read this book in three days. It would have taken less except that I was spinning it out as long as I could but yet wanting to read on. Anita Nair has that kind of effect. She is a great story teller. ‘Mistress ‘ held me spell bound. I practically didn’t get up from the sofa one Sunday afternoon till I finished it.

The emotions are so real, understandable, recognizable, that one can see the people for real and want to know more and more about them. The writing is lyrical, fluid, moves easily.

What lies underneath the writing  is sensuousness.  A wealth of description of every nuance. Food lovingly described, colours, people, the curves of a woman’s body but more, the thoughts curving inside on wild paths.

Her protagonist is usually a woman and one you know.  And each one gets into a situation of change and its about how she copes with it; usually in an unconventional way.

In Lessons in Forgetting, there is Meera, a 44 year old home maker and a bit more who is suddenly left in the lurch by her husband.  There is love among older adults, scared after many encounters and among young people  just getting to know what it is. There is the tussle between young girls  and the mothers. The dislike that the young show so easily when they are thwarted. The agony of a NRI father when his daughter is violated. And as background, the story of Hera and Zeus, cyclones, advice to corporate wives .

But the thread that holds all the people together are memories and how we have to get past some of them and forget to go forward.

This book has been recommended for our new book club reading.. I only hope it is not destroyed in all the rehashing.