Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After Dark

A short tight novel that tells you the happenings over one night. The story is written like a script and with such detail that your brain automatically starts playing a video inside your head. The camera moves back and forth in the book and in your head. The story moves in and out of reality and surrealism. In some places I had no idea where the story was going but it is still delightful to read.However, the writing style was struggling in some places and the words come out forced. It could be more to do with the translation though.

Tales from Firozsha Baag

Firozsha Baag is an apartment complex in Mumbai largely occupied by the Parsi community. The stories are about some of the families living in it. Not that they are exceptionally different. They are ordinary and that's what makes it beautiful. Ordinary stories woven into each other that by the end of it, you feel they are your neighbours. I can't pick out one or another because they are all together a single entity.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

An Equal Music

It's an ordinary story of love; a rather sad brooding unsuccessful love story. But there is a beauty in it that cannot be captured here. Yet I try.

It's the story of Michael and his love for Julia. A violinist and his love for a pianist who met as students of music in Vienna. But Michael walks out on his music teacher in Vienna, walking out of Vienna and out on Julia. A decade passes on in his sad brooding way but he has joined a string quartet and he is somewhat on the happy side of life. He has gotten over the happiness in his life with Julia and settled for this lesser happy life. At least he has his music, even though the violin is not his own but borrowed from a family friend. Unusual fate brings him face to face with Julia again, and unlocks the door to that little room in his heart where he had locked up his memories of a higher happiness in Vienna, in music, and in love. And they start their duet yet again. But Julia is married and is a mother of a delightful little boy. And Julia is also in the process of losing one of her most precious gifts of life. And their match is never meant to be. The book ends with his losing Julia and with that losing his will to perform but at least he has his music and his Toroni is his only true companion.

The beauty comes in the form of music that Vikram Seth was able to weave into the poetic verses It makes you feel happy or makes you feel sad with equal music. At times I can hear it in my ears. On the happy days when I close the book, I would have a spring or a step or two in my feet. On the sadder days, I feel like sitting alone and uninterrupted and listen to the imaginary music in my ears to let it soothe me, even though I know it is the slow poison to make me ever sadder.

I had no knowledge of classical music of the west before I read this book. And here I am writing a review on it with the Art of Fugue playing in the background. The Art of Fugue has a special importance in the story of their love. Not just in the story when they play it together or when she performs it, but metaphorically as a great yet incomplete musical composition.

It's a slow book. You will need to read about 30 pages to get into it. And then once you are absorbed into it, you must let yourself go according to the pace of the book and it's music.