What’s happening with the reading?

Books
It’s been a little over a month since I last updated about my reading status. I started with the Narnia series last month and I’m happy to update that I have finished 5 books of the 7 book series. Though while waiting for the 3rd book to be delivered, I thought I will finish ‘The old man and the sea’. I couldn’t. Even though it’s a small book I just could not punish myself with it. I read two-thirds of the book and did not have the energy to go on. It’s really boring, about an old man going to fish and he gets the fish which takes him (and his boat) for a ride, forever. I believe it’s a joke played by the author, the book is the fish and reader is the old man. You will get it when you read it! But Don’t!

Coming back to the Narnia series – That’s a series I strongly recommend. I don’t think I will be reading the 6th book now, will read that later. I might stick to the original set of books and read ‘The chicken soup…’ one. Also, bought a new book ‘Grit’.

Coming back to the book challenge, I believe I wanted to finish 8 books in 8 months, and I have already finished 8 books. Yay! Hence disproving:

I read somewhere that if you have a goal and you share it with the world, then you won‚Äôt complete it. Let me see if I can prove that wrong. ūüėČ

I’m resetting my goal to 12 books in 8 months (by Dec 2017). Let’s see if I can achieve that.

 

The Magician’s Nephew, The Chronicles of Narnia series

One of the books that I wanted to read this year was Prince Caspian, which is a part of the Narnia series. As per the reading order recommended by the author C S Lewis, Prince Caspian is the 4th book. So, to have a meaningful read, I’m planning to complete the first three books and then read this one.

The good news is that¬†I have already finished the first book of this series, The Magician’s Nephew, last week. The second book will be delivered this week.

The Magician’s Nephew

This is the first C S Lewis book (I didn’t complete Screwtape Letters) that I have completed and I have to say what a writer he is. To make a reader imagine a fantasy world that exists in the author’s head, the author has to be that good. The sign of that is when you have finished the book and it feels like you have actually witnessed the creation of Narnia or visited the Wood between the Worlds. The thing that I liked most about this book is that it is an easy read with a lot of food for thought. The other sign of a good book is when you tell yourself ‘just one more chapter before I sleep’ and then binge read the whole book. That is exactly what happened with this one.

I would strongly recommend this book. The vocabulary is easy and the story really opens up one’s imagination.

Buttertea at sunrise, A year in the Bhutan Himalaya

buttertea at sunrise

This book is a memoir of a year¬†long stay in Bhutan, as a physiotherapist in a village called Mongar, Bhutan. Written by Britta Das, it captures her time and experiences at Mongar during late 90’s. A German-born Canadian, going to a developing country has its own shock elements and this book talks about some of those – the lack of continuous electricity, water supply and lack of hygiene in the hospital and neighbourhood. ¬† But it also talks about the beauty of the place, the hospitality of the people and the fighting spirit of the patients. Britta¬†gives a small glimpse into the life of the monks and about Buddhism. She goes into details about her experience with people, the many small treks, the chortens and the lifestyle of these people. It is well written enough to make a reader want to visit the place.

This 310-page book captures the transition of Britta hating the place at first to ending up falling in love with it. I would categorize the book as a memoir than a travelogue. As opposed to the three-quarters of a footprint, this book does not have any humor and is less about the country and more about her experience in Mongar. This is more of a Mongar Diaries written well by the Britta das.
That‚Äôs three books down from the list of¬†books I plan to read¬†before the end of this year. ūüôā

Where are you going, you monkeys?

This is a collection of Tamil folk tales(close to 100) which have been translated into English. Only some stories are children-friendly. A lot of the stories cannot be narrated to kids as it uses foul language or the morals of the characters in the stories are questionable.

Anyway, that’s two books down in less than a month. I’m pretty sure that I will be able to complete the self-proposed challenge of reading the list of 8 books. I hope to finish it soon. Hope the rest of the books are interesting too.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN.

User Empathy

My dad and I visited the bank today. Hardly anyone visits a bank nowadays but some govt process requires that I get a seal from a bank on some documents. Anyways, so we were there. We were waiting¬†in the visitor’s lounge while the paperwork was being processed.

A big room, with a row of¬†visitor’s chairs with the wall behind, facing a row of cubicles of office employees with their monitors positioned so as to keep it away from the prying eyes of the visitors. On the left was the teller’s counter and on the right was the ‘may I help you’ desk which is usually for the office boys to chat around.

As we sat in our chairs, my dad (ex-banker) looked around and made some very valid observations about where some things should have been placed and that one of the framed posters was hanging in a very precarious manner. He called the security guard and told him that it should be fixed lest some mishap occurs.

I was impressed with his powers of observation and attention to detail. I told him as much. That’s when he told me that in the early days of his career as a bank manager, he had a superior who gave him the following advice:

As per the bank policy the office has to serve the first customer at 10 AM. That means the tellers and clerks have to be in office at 9:45 AM, so that they can ready their place and be ready to attend to customers. But managers should try to come at 9:30 and should sit at the customer’s lounge. Managers need to sit there for 5 minutes, look around, see what the customer sees,¬†feel what the customer feels and make changes so that customer’s waiting experience is also enriched.

This was 30 years ago. Isn’t that the simple, meaningful version of the much glorified, less understood ‘user empathy’!

Three quarters of a footprint

 

Finally, a good book after a long time. The honest perspective, humor and historical background of the places visited by the author keep the reader engrossed. In the beginning, it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone brushed aside the book as a derogatory¬†book about India. But if you go after 10 pages, you realize it is just an honest view of a foreigner. The precise amount of historical background added to the experiences keep the stories interesting and does not read like a history book.

The experiences in the book are from Joe’s travels mostly in south India during early 90’s, which adds a certain sense of charm. Mentions of cassette players, Walkman, having to go to a travel agent to book tickets, asking people for directions brings a touch of antiqueness to the entire book.¬†He journals the journeys, people and not just the destinations. His honest narration of the events and experiences seemed harsh initially, but then he also makes ‘harsh’ observations of other travellers (some from his own country).

Get the book if you like to read about travel and history.

BTW, that’s one book down from the books I plan to read before end of this year.

Daddyisms

My dad is great with words РEnglish and Tamil. It comes naturally to him. He makes up funny one-liners, acronyms, puns Рa true wordsmith. I thought of starting a category in my blog to record those thoughts and words. Here are a couple of examples of daddyisms

When I visit a place (travel, restaurant, friend’s place) with friends or family, and before leaving the place, I usually remind them to make sure they have taken their belongings, which are usually Mobile phone and wallet or handbags.

I did that once to my dad. We were about to leave some place and I asked my dad if he had taken his wallet and phone. He told me that he has a checklist of 3 P’s¬†– Pen, Purse¬†and Phone.¬†Now I just remember 3 P’s.

*******

Recently, when we visited my brother’s home, he saw a decorative candle on the center table. My dad held it in his hand for a while thoughtfully and said “This looks so good, no one will want to light it.”

I just smiled, knowing there was more to come.

“This is how some Christians have become” he continued, “Jesus asked us to be the light of the world, ‘let your light shine before others’ Jesus said, but they are so sophisticated that they have become mere adornment.”

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Books I plan to read this year

I used to read more earlier than now. Same with writing. Also, I feel they are correlated. Don’t know how true that is. To put that to test, I’m planning to read more this year. There are certain books that require a lot of thinking (for eg. Mere Christianity) and there are some that require no thinking (eg. Killing Floor). There is a trade-off, the first kind takes a lot of time to finish and latter takes lesser time but leaves the reader unsatisfied. I’d like books that fall somewhere in the middle.

Luckily for me, someone I know was throwing away a bunch of books and I picked these ones to read this year. 8 months to go, 8 books here. I read somewhere that if you have a goal and you share it with the world, then you won’t complete it. Let me see if¬†I can prove that wrong. ūüėČ

The books are:

  1. Chicken soup for the Unsinkable soul
  2. My utmost for His highest – Oswald Chambers
  3. ¬†—
  4. Where are you going, you monkeys? – ki. Rajanarayanan
  5. Prince Caspian – C S Lewis
  6. My Days – R K Narayan
  7. Buttertea at sunrise – Britta Das
  8. Three-quarters of a footprint  РJoe Roberts

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The Munias are flying

We hosted a Spotted Munia couple a couple of months back. You might have heard the recording of the chirping hatchlings that I posted a week back. The hatchlings have started flying around now. I have spotted two hatchlings now but I think there is more to come.

The parent has brown spots on its underside, whereas the young ones’ underside is plain light brown.

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That’s the whole family of 4.

spotted munia and small ones