How I met my books

The Little Clay Cart

Some of the interesting books I have read are associated with their own interesting stories about how I came across the books or, in what circumstances I read the books.

While helping my father-in-law arranging his home library a couple of years back I came across an Odia version of the Mritchhakatika – a sanskrit drama written by Shudraka. Does the word sound a little complicated? This is a Sanskrit compound word which is a combination (sandhi) of two words –  mrit (soil/mud) and sakatika (cart).

Do you remember the movie Utsav starring Sekhar Suman and Rekha? The movie was based on this ancient Sanskrit drama. – The Cart of Clay. Some English translator use the title  – The Cart of Clay and some others use –  The Little Clay Cart.

 Sri Surendra Das- used to teach us both Odiya and Sanskrit in our High School. He was very much popular for his style of making classes interesting through story telling. We used to wait eagerly for his classes. Spread over a month he told us the entire story of Mritchchakatika in episodic manner during his classes. Those were the days when TV soap opera had not colonialised our country.

During college days I got a chance to read the book and utlised it without delay. Subsequently I watched the movie Utsav during the year of its release in 1984. But reading it again a couple of years back was like relieving those moments of my school days in the 1980s.

Even if you have not seen the movie Utsav, hope you have heard this beautiful song from the movie. If not listen again :

Reading bullshit stuff knowing it to be so

I go into periodic lunacy of binge reading. Those are also the periods when I end up reading a lot of bullshit stuff. During such a period of lunacy this year I read Paulo Coelho and Eckhart Tolle. I came across Coelho for the first time from a newspaper column and was under the impression that he was a self-help Guru of some sort. But he and his bio in a number of internet sites claim he is a novelist!

I was also amazed at the way these two guys (worldwide acclaimed bestselling authors ) clothe ancient wisdom  in new words and metaphors and never give any credit to their source, thus giving the impression that they are the inventors of such life changing wisdom. I think they owe their popularity to the fact that generations have grown up all over the world without bothering to study the classics or the spiritual literature or the mythologies of their own country. If they had done, they would have found out how common place are the wisdom peddled by the ilks of Paulo Coelho or Eckhart Tolle.

Reading an all-time great.

Another book worth mentioning is Ulysses by James Joyce. It took me three months of frequently interrupted reading to finish it. In between I had to read a lot of reviews and notes about the book to understand all the layers of the theme. But it was worth it.

Ulysses is one of the all-time great novels in the history of fiction, consistently being voted as one of the top ten novels in polls after polls. However, our dear bestselling novelist Paulo Coehlo could hardly find anything remarkable in this masterpiece. Coelho faced a lot of flak for his criticism of Ulysses. Of course, we can hardly blame Paulo for all this. Loved by the masses from Iran to India, after all his novels sell like hot cakes in December.

Of traffic jam, rain, and Rumi

cloud of gentle rain, pour down
come, let us friends get truly drunk
and you, the king of tricksters
befuddled with drink we all greet you (Rumi)

Now I remember of the time when I was rescued by Rumi when I was on my way to the airport and was stuck in a traffic jam. Thankfully, I was not going to catch a flight but to receive someone. Thankfully again, I had borrowed a book of Rumi’s poetry from a library in the morning and it was with me. As it rained outside, sitting in the car backseat, perhaps at that time I was one of those few commuters who did not curse the rain or the traffic Jam. Of course, by the time I finished the book, I was yet to reach the airport. Thankfully yet again, I was able to compose a poem — of traffic jam, rain and Rumi, which has been included in my anthology of poems: teach me to dream. There are a couple of poems — one dedicated to rain and another to typical everyday traffic jam of a city like Bengaluru— that find place in the anthology.

The maverick of those orthodox days

This month sometime falls the birthday of Mirza Ghalib. From his popular couplets I imagine him to be the old mischievous gentleman of the next street who you bump into every now and then during your random walks. During one of such random browsings through Kindle store I read a book that outlined his life and wisdom. He was not a religious zealot and fully knew the fictions created in the name of religion. Many of his couplets have stuck to the mind and refuse to go out of memory.

Haathon ki lakeeron pay mat ja ae ghalib,
Naseeb unke bhi hote hain jinkey haath nahi hote

Hum ko mallum hai jannat ki haqiqat lekin
Dil khush rakhne ko ghalib ye khayal achha hai

11 thoughts on “How I met my books

  1. Curious about what happened to the traveller you were going to pick? Since, you did not reach airport by the time your book was finished. I have not read Mrichhakatika. But I have seen UTSAV. The story line was good, movie was poorly made (my opinion).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was able to reach the airport on time to receive my guest because he too got caught up in luggage clearance and was delayed. I agree that Utasav movie was not well-made. The only saving grace were the songs.


  3. I remember being so disappointed when I realised that The Alchemist was pretty much taken from Arabian Nights. And I can’t believe Manuscript in Accra wasn’t classed as plagiarism of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. He even did Eleven Minutes based heavily on the life of a Brazilian prostitute in Switzerland who was trying to write her own memoirs at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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