INFERNO- The Journey Through Hell

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If you are a fan of Classics but not strong enough to ignore the new arrivals altogether, I think it is wise to set some ground rules so that your mind is spared the homicidal battles within. After finishing a new favorite, go back to an old one. Alternate your precious time equally between the two. Life is too short to miss out on all the great works that have been produced. You may thank me later nerds 😉

A week back, with the release of the movie starring Tom Hanks and Irrfan Khan I was taken aback by the fact that I had not read the book Inferno by Dan Brown. Needless to say that in readers community it is considered a deplorable crime to watch the movie first, keeping the book to be attended later. But then mixed feelings of regret and relief donned on me when I found Dante’s Inferno in the book shelf at home. Without any further adieu I hopped on the bed with a mug of hot chocolate and wrapped in my cozy blanket started devouring this epic work by Dante Alighieri written in the 14th Century. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighiery, ‘INFERNO’ – A verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum. If you are a lover of poetry, you can’t ignore a work of such rare perfection. It is a book of modest volume, but I suggest that you read it for as long as you can. Absorb each dialogue with sincere admiration and a hawk’s eye. That is where the fun lies. Devour the fine details with the best of your faculties.

The Divine Comedy is an epic poem that was presumably written in the period 1308-1320. While Dante was in exile he wrote three volumes of it, Inferno, Purgutario and Paradiso. Inferno is the narration of the journey that Dante undertakes down the hell. Guided by the Roman poet Virgil, he fearlessly embarks through numerous circles of hell, 9 to be exact. Each circle represents a sin, and the damned souls are trapped there for eternity. The three beasts he encounters represent three kinds of sinners, the self-indulgent, the malicious and the violent. The circles or sins are of lust, anger, gluttony, avarice, violence, fraud, treachery, those who ignored the existence of Christ and those who confused others about the idea of Christ. As Dante passes each circle he meets people known to him as well as strangers. The dialogues they exchange are insightful I must say.  Each sin that has been described is exceptionally realistic and is explained to Dante either by Virgil or the sinners themselves.

The beauty of this book is that it is a dual language edition and comes with explanatory notes at the back. Don’t go on if you are not getting the plot. Read once, twice, thrice, as many times as you feel like. Take it slow and read with patience. If you feel like you are not just ready, drop it for a while. This is not another easy going novel you can take with you to read by the beach while your friends are howling around. It is the kind that you read in the silent confines of your room. Give it time and exclusive attention. Give it love, and it will reflect the same.

I’m screaming it loud and clear. VISUALIZE everything you read. Every single dialogue. That is one rule you have to strictly stick by.

Come, have a good look at hell.

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And yeah, don’t get all serious while reading it. I personally couldn’t help smirking every now and then. It is a blend of both horror and humor, so of course both are meant to be felt. There are times you will have a sinking feeling for yourself, but then you may have some fun imagining people you don’t like, damned to hell. Dante is brilliantly imaginative in devising ways for torturing his enemies. You may have your own opinions during the journey, which may make you question the perfection of Dante’s work, but it is absolutely fine. The uneasiness and restlessness that comes with it is absolutely worth it. This book is outrageously diplomatic, philosophical and political at the same time. Dante has sent to hell real people. Daring, eh? One thing that took me by surprise is finding his beloved teacher Brunetto Latini in hell, convicted of sodomy( canto XV ). Seems like God( as per Dante’s assumptions) wasn’t that open minded regarding sex during the 14th century. Homosexuality? Nu-uh.

Dante doesn’t cease to amaze the reader, despite the aforementioned scene or a couple others that may make us raise brows. But come on, it was written 7 centuries back. We can be sensible enough to ignore the difference in mindsets and enjoy the book as a literary blessing for once, right?

In case it makes you feel any better, in canto XX the fortune tellers were damned(*chuckles* which serves them so damn right) and were condemned to walk with their heads turned backwards, restricting them from knowing what lies ahead, since this is precisely what they had done all their life, creating fear of the unknown in the minds of people.

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It is the kind of book that gives you a bad hangover. The kind that nerds would kill to experience. Can’t wait to lay my hands on the other two volumes. Take my word for it folks, at one point in life you will be ready for this book. And when you are, it will be one hell of a read.

The Da Vinci Code

Today I’m going to share a secret to attain happiness and a certain sense of satisfaction for the fellow insatiable readers. If you are addicted to books and no matter how many new ones you taste the craving doesn’t go away, try something old. Something that once swept you off your feet. Constantly  torn between whether to watch cartoons or read something substantial, I somehow ended up doing the prior for days on end. I’ve gone through writers block countless times but never knew readers block could happen too. Just like visiting old friends gives you solace, rereading books you once admired brings you unmatchable warmth and comfort.

So, now that I’ve developed a taste for thrillers I decided to revisit my old friend ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown. It’s been years since I read it and watched the movie. It is a good thing that I didn’t have a blog then, for I’ll get to review it now. Most of you must be aware of the controversies that have followed the publication of this work, and since I respect the opinion of other readers, I expect the same in return. Don’t get carried away by your religious beliefs and devotion whatsoever. Remember that it is only a work of fiction and is expected to be read with an open mind.

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picture credits- wikipedia

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picture credits- goodreads.com

While many people have rebuked it saying that it poses a threat to Christianity, I believe that it is nothing but a gripping work of fiction. And the credit goes to the author for artistically blurring the line between fiction and reality. Being in the best sellers list for so long and also having a blockbuster movie made after it, I feel that the open minded people outnumber the conservative mass who are blinded towards anything but religion.

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picture credits- snagfilms.com

If you choose to read it, you’ll probably agree to the fact that it is a compelling page turner. I won’t deny that I found it a bit cheesy at times, but apart from a few turn-offs it is a good read. It is not a complex work that would set your intellectual faculties on test, but a simple enough story of adventure which you can effortlessly breeze past without being disappointed. One can recommend it to any age group, that is perhaps the beauty of it.

I’m glad that I had picked it up when I was a teen and this one being the first I read of its kind I instantly fell in love with it. The story is fast paced and can be summarized as a race between two parties( good and the evil) to reach a secret that has been guarded by a sacred society since ancient times. The protagonists are Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. Robert is a Harvard professor who is on a visit to Paris on business, and is urgently summoned for the investigation of the mysterious murder of an elderly curator of the Louvre at the middle of a night. Sophie Neveu is a cryptologist who comes to the rescue and together they solve bizarre riddles while fleeing from the police as well as the other party. Knowing that all the guardians of a secret society have been mysteriously murdered, will they be able to retrieve the explosive truth generations have protected and passed on? Or will the truth be lost forever?

Go on. Find out.

Digital Fortress

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Looking for an intellectual work of fiction to titillate your brain? Well, here is the answer. Reading this gripping thriller felt so much like watching a blockbuster movie. It is a page turner and will keep you glued to it until you find out what Mr. Brown has decided to be the ultimate fate of the story. Needless to speak of the matchless ability of the author to send your heart racing and quickening your pulses he has lived up to the sky high expectations as of me and millions of other readers. The Da Vinci Code made me fall in love with his work and each of those which follow make me admire him more and more.
I think he deserves the title of Master of intellectual thrillers. If you are bored of reading feel-good fiction (most of whose endings are predictable) I’ll suggest you go get a taste of thrillers. Just like a lioness becomes an unstoppable predator after blood touches her tongue, I bet you can’t stop after getting a taste of The Da Vinci Code or the other intriguing works of the author.
It’s probably going to drive me crazy if I don’t add spoilers and comment on the characters. Still I leave the story for you to uncover. Umm, there is no harm in giving a summary right? No spoilers ahead. Just an outline, I promise.
The book sounds promising for cryptography enthusiasts. Not that it is a manual of tricks for solving crypto problems, it is the story of an undefeatable and matchless code-breaking machine called the TRANSLTR. Resting in the den of National Security Agency, the beast that had the impression of being invincible, is caught dead by a mysterious code.
I love the stories where a woman is the hero. Susan Fletcher is no less than a hero for fighting to save her country, herself and the love of her life all at the same time. Constrained by time, Miss Fletcher and her love David race against the odds, miles apart from each other for serving to the bigger purpose of national security. Will they accomplish the mission? Will they ever get to see each other again? In the chaos of power, lies, intelligence and rivalry, will love survive? Go on. Find out 😉 

And yeah, I’m finally trying my hand at photography. Don’t hesitate to drop feedback and suggestions if any.

And The Mountains Echoed

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If you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ it is probably easy to convince you of the power and wisdom this book beholds by merely saying that Hosseini has maintained his standards. 

I was in high school when I read The Kite Runner for the very first time, and even though it is exceptionally brilliant it somehow tore me from within. Those disturbing scenes used to play in my mind over and over again whether I wanted them to or not. Hosseini has a knack for flawless story-telling and also magically climbing under the skin of the readers, gripping their heart in a tight fist and refusing to let go. A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks volumes about the plight of Afghanistan women. Despite of all those tears I shed leafing through the prior two works of Hosseini, I don’t mind re-reading them for the sake of reliving that pain. It’s that kind of pain which makes you feel human. The later will take you on an equally strong whirlwind of emotions.
And The Mountains Echoed is another heart wrenching tale by the author, which holds in one story the life of many. This book has given voice to a father, mother, stepmother, daughter, son, chauffeur, a war victim, brother, friend and more. Keep your eyes wide open to absorb the details. And the heart open to the emotions it will be flooded with. Countless emotions. Of family and friendship. Love and betrayal. Humanity and power. Vengeance and forgiveness.
SPOILERS AHEAD:
It is a story that spans through generations and underlines the fact that each and every choice we make resonates throughout our lives and those of every other person we become associated with.

Pari and Abdullah are the first two characters that fate plays an ugly game with. I sincerely mouthed a prayer when they were separated. God forbid any such thing happens to so little and naïve a girl, living with the feeling of an uncertain hollowness throughout her life only to find that she is related to a person by blood when the clock of life is ticking away. Time can be a cruel thing, isn’t it? When the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives, it teases you with a glimpse and fades away in no time, intensifying the pain borne through years.
The few yet heartwarming references of their childhood are enough to moisten  the eyes of the reader. Having lost their mother, and father forever busy making ends meet, they had none but each other. However their elders decided to make their life take another course. Two little people made of blood and flesh being treated as puppets. The girl eventually forgetting and moving on. Abdullah preserving all those precious few memories through years on end, waking up each day with the hope to be reunited with his little sister, Pari.

“I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.”



The mentions of the magic that Urdu poetry carries draws me closer to the Afghan culture. I crave to know more of the place to which Rumi belongs. The place that has witnessed millions of survival stories. Of betrayal, death, hatred, violence, loss and with a few drizzles of life, love, beauty and hope. The stories that will make your heart clench and your mind numb.
I’m leaving it for the readers to explore about Mr Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs Nila Wahdati and Nabi. Each of these characters has lived life with their voice stifled and feelings unspoken. Life is nothing but a fair game. Everyone gets their share of rewards and punishments.
Zoom out from Afghanistan and zoom in at Tinos,Greece. Thalia and her mother Madaline come to visit Markos Varvaris and his mother Odelia( Odie) and what follows is a newly defined life for each of them. Each of these characters have their own story to tell. I loved the scene where Thalia teaches Markos how to build a camera and Morkos starts seeing her in another light. Preserving the picture he first clicked from the camera throughout his life clearly reflects his love for Thalia. Their relationship proves that we don’t become brother and sister by birth, but by accepting each others flaws with earnest. And blood does not make you family, your devotion and loyalty does.

This book is a crisscross of stories. Read it with patience and empathy. And yeah, better keep the tissues handy.

Redemption

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picture credits- wallpaperfolder.com

Traveling the world with a frantic zeal,

she was naive of the hoarding smoke and dust

enveloping her innocent skin

with an ugly mask of a vying dark horse.

As the smoke clouded her cognition,

and dust coated her inner voice

she felt like losing the virtues and morals

that had shaped her into a noble human

slowly and quietly fading away.

As the realization kicked in

and she felt like she had lost her real self

somewhere on the way,

a small voice spoke from the back of her head

reminding her that her prized assets

were hidden beneath the layer

of accumulated filthiness.

The filth was anger, jealousy, hatred

and the greed to conquer the world,

which at first seemed requisite fuel

to ignite her passion and resolve.

What she never knew is

she would be sacrificing herself

in the journey of winning

everything else in the world.

Perhaps what she considered fuels

were in fact depleting her of vigor and grandeur.

Been proven by history time and again

empathy, humility, love and elation

are the finest driving forces of success

and embodiment of a life of perfection.

Having learned her mistakes

and earnestly deciding to shed the mask off

as she let the wisdom sink in,

she dived deep into the sea of redemption.

 

 

 

The crippled girl with a racing heart

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picture credits- http://www.pinterest.com

They said she could never create music

for she wasn’t gifted with hands.

But they were deluded

for they only saw that she was physically impaired,

and not the burning passion within that flamed her desires.

‘My body is simply a machine that takes my commands’ she said

pacing frantically through the lush green grass.

‘I give the orders, not take them’

cried her chirpy heart.

And she hopped over the piano,

creating sensational music

and uproar among the men she belied.

Despite the odds she lived her dreams

and left on the pages of history a substantial benchmark

to remind the world not to give up on their dreams even in the darkest hour.

The million dollar question…I am?

 

“I am”. These are undoubtedly the two most powerful words. For what words follow them define you as a person. They become your reality. They become the mirror that reflects up to what depths you have discovered yourself.

I’m glad that all the bloggers out there are answering this million dollar question in their most creative and unique ways. Well I was going to settle with a line( like we’ve been asked), however I don’t think I’ll be doing justice to myself if I keep the poem unheard.

I am the girl next door with that peaceful look

resembling a sea so calm.

Battling countless raging storms within

floating on surface with grace and charm.

 

I am a constantly traveling soul with books worldwide

with a gloriously messed up brain.

Willing to devour every second of this precious life,

my forever wandering heart I can barely contain.

 

I am the moon that shines oh so bright

yet quite lonely in the dark

while the stars tease from miles away

dancing on clouds like upbeat glowworms.

 

I am my favorite architect

for I build myself each day.

Feeding on knowledge and wisdom

keeping my conscience from darkness away.

 

I am my worst enemy. Savage. Poison.

That deliberately ruins some of my days.

Giving in to anger and frustration

taking it out on myself in the worst possible ways.

 

I am that fiercely independent person,

who needs no companion or savior to survive.

Yet who laughs, wails, loves and hates with no regrets

watchfully keeping every emotion alive.

 

In the world where ruthless assassins await

to tame the souls as they please.

I refuse to give up my freedom of choice

and enjoy the adventure called life while mystic moments I seize.

 

While appearing for a job for the very first time, a couple of months back during our pre-placement training and mock interviews we were constantly given certain guidelines so as to frame a perfect answer to the question- “Tell me something about yourself.”

We were asked to start with our academic background and recent achievements, followed by family background, accolades and some other details. Even though I never objected to the format laid by them, I was constantly torn between being my real self( who is more of a dreamer than a realist) and someone who would nail the interview( by hiding all those things about myself which I was actually proud of). It felt gross when the trainers kept repeating the line that in order to bag a job you need to “sell yourself”. But isn’t that what we are used to doing ever since childhood? Trying to please our parents, teachers, friends and even strangers in the society.

During all this time while we are trying to please others by being not ourselves, but someone they would adore, we forget who we really are. We pretend to be someone else for so long that the skin we have climbed into sticks permanently and refuses to be removed. While making sure that others feel comfortable around us, we stray away from our own company.

Am I an introvert? egotist? Nah, I am a person who refuses to be intimidated by the world. I don’t make friends easily because I believe that peer pressure can destroy you as a person. Constantly being surrounded by people who mock your imagination just doesn’t suit me. Even though I am polite to everyone in general, I hardly enjoy the small talk. At times I enjoy loud music and crowds where I can’t hear my raging thoughts. And at times I pine to stay in solitude, where I can have the company of just my thoughts. Yes, I find myself confused and lost at times but I love the chaos that I am.

I am a person who does not take much pleasure in going by the stereotyped rules and beliefs. Despite of being warned during the mock interview to stick to my technical strengths and speak nothing but of academia, I spoke of my love for poetry and shamelessly admitted the fact that I enjoy reading literature more than my core papers. Even though there was a slight fear of being rejected, there was a sense of satisfaction and self-respect. It might have been an incidence of meager importance then, but it ultimately helped me in understanding the purpose of life. It’s all about finding your true self and being that person whether the stereotyped society approves of it or not.

Now, this is how I would describe myself in one line-

“I am a wild and troubled soul with a messed up mind who refuses to be tamed by the world out there.”

 

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Road to Success

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picture credits- http://www.123rf.com

My dad once told me on a fine summer day

that for excellence and prosperity there exists no easy way.

You have to take up the road less trailed

for through the worst of storms have the stupendous ships often sailed.

No doubt it would be quite intimidating at first

but definitely worth an attempt to quench that earnest thirst.

The thirst to attain excellence in your field of work,

removing from your life every minute trace of murk.

It’s time you pick those magic seeds of willpower and sow,

and as you water them each day, watch how into your dreams they grow.

While you are wandering if walking that extra mile counts,

you have no idea what crucial share in your success it amounts.

So tie your shoelaces tight and pull up your socks,

for moving majestic mountains you must start with the rocks.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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picture credits- thewrap.com

Missing those carefree days of childhood? Missing those endless adventures and the inimitable fun? Well, you are just one decision away from reliving those moments. Whether or not you care, that overshadowed kid within you has secretly treasured all those priceless memories, hoping that some day you may want to go through those dusty files. Believe me my friend, there is no better time than NOW. Move out of the confines of those concrete walls of your office, and start walking down that memory lane. Go to a nearby kids park, get rid of your shoes, loosen your tie and just sit somewhere you can hear those innocent giggles and laughter. Hear those happy kids. Watch them run and fall and laugh. Far away from the humdrum of the world of adults, let the peace you feel around the kids seep in.

Well now that you might be wandering  about the title of this post, I better get to  the point about what exactly made me all nostalgic and reminisce my childhood days. I was visiting my sister’s place and she had these 7 books stacked together, resting peacefully on her table. We are often told not to judge a book by it’s cover but I won’t deny that I have a thing for colorful children’s books. When I asked her about them she told me that she bought them to gift to one of our cousins. And hence I was even more inclined to drink in their contents before it was time to part.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney has won millions of young and old hearts worldwide and after just 3 years of its publishing, it was recorded that it had 20 million online readers and had an average of 70,000 readers per day.

Having the similar habit myself, I could well relate to Greg. Unlike the present generation kids whose favorite play things are tablets and play stations, we the kids of 90’s were given drawing kits having crayons, sketch-pens, markers, color pencils, water-color tubes, glitters and so on. To create one’s own cartoon characters and getting them to talk through comic strips was a craze back then. As I leafed through the pages of these amazingly innocent and playful books, all my own childhood memories came flooding back.

Childhood is undoubtedly the best phase of one’s life. There is no such thing as pretending, manipulating, stressing out and faking smiles. Childhood friendships have a complete different meaning. Greg and Rowley fight at times, but patch up in quite funny yet touchy ways. I loved the way Greg has illustrated the life of every kid in general with the help of pictures that will make you laugh until your stomach hurts. It would definitely make you appreciate and applaud not just the creativity of the author but also the creativity that is undoubtedly every child’s forte.

Feel like going back in time and have some real fun? Well here you go:-

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel
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ppicture credits- fbhdcover.com

Remember, you are never too old to pick a children’s book. Go ahead. Happy reading 🙂

 

 

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The Bibliophile

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picture courtesy- favim.com

How could I ever turn disloyal,

when the love we share is meant to be eternal?

I’ve always been yours to elate,

for nothing compares to the way you unashamedly satiate.

Perhaps you are annoyed for I haven’t composed a sonnet for you,

but regardless of that my feelings are nothing but true.

I promise to write endless poesies at your praise,

setting my turmoil and reticence ablaze.

Your first stare pierced right through my heart,

claiming my brain and soul from the very start.

Your sultry touch burning into my skin,

mixing with the blood and rushing through my veins akin.

Fondling my senses with recherche passion,

professing me as yours with mutual discretion.

Humans with their plasticity seem to me like statues of wax

and soulfulness is what the appeal in them lacks.

And hence I’m all yours to devour,

since you have allowed me to feel your soul beyond the contour.

You will remain the only one who will ever have the right

to impart pleasure or pain to me with all your might.

With every passing day I feel our kinship flourishing,

your grip on my soul ever so slightly tightening.

I wish to live a thousand lives with you,

sharing our grief and mirth like we always do.

Waking up each day to your warm embrace

while my fingers travel promptly through every leaf they trace.

You are the drug that keeps me alive,

and despite of ceaseless brutal attempts of humans I strive.

They say I should disentangle myself from your tenacious grasp,

but little do they know that nothing in the world can loosen your clasp.

I want you to be my only worshiped obsession,

traveling the world together with elation.

Nearing the end of my life lying on my deathbed I would bless

and ask you for the promise to comfort another equally needy damsel in distress.

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