15 February, 2014

Chillies, courtesy N

Some months ago, I had introduced you to N.

Well... N is someone I run into quite often. Every time, our interaction is restricted to smiles - a benign one from my side, and a shy one from his.

This morning, N's dad dropped in and gave me these chillies - sent by N from the patch that he has been cultivating near his home. I was quite touched, and glad!

There are exactly eight chillies.... enough for more than a week! And, anyone who has used chillies can tell - these are 'export-quality'!

I must confess here.... even though I have been managing a couple of chilli plants in our kitchen garden, I end up harvesting what remains after the crows and the bulbuls have had their party.

I guess, N has whatever it takes to make a good farmer.

Maybe, I should encourage him by giving him some of the vegetable seeds that I have .................... and, then, hope and pray that he gives me some of the results!!

08 February, 2014


This book gave me my first nightmare in recent memory! And, no.... I'm not referring to the 933 pages!!

So much has already been written about Shantaram - 'powerful', 'original', 'vivid', 'compassionate', 'impressive', 'publishing phenomenon', 'extraordinarily vivid', 'gigantic, jaw-dropping, grittily authentic saga', ..... the book is all of these!

Many people out there feel that it is one of the better books written about Bombay - the city. Maybe, it is. In fact, people who are familiar with the Bombay of the '80s will be able to tell the facts from the fiction. They'll, perhaps, recognise some of the people in the book.....

Shantaram was meant to be my 'monsoon-book'. But, I started reading it sometime in December. After the first 200 pages or so, things became a little hectic and I picked up the book again last week....and, read a major portion on a very lonely day.

In the book, the author talks about acting as an extra in a few Hindi movies. He mentions one movie and his two second role in particular - a movie called Paanch Paapi. I took a break from reading and checked out the song sequence on you Tube. There!  Between 1.37 & 1.40.... that's the author.... a real chor, sitting with fake chors & comfortably nodding to the lyrics 'gora chor' !!!

I lost interest in the song after '1.40'. From the list of 'suggested views', I chose the interview with the author uploaded by CNN Asia sometime in 2009!

A well made interview, I watched all the 4 parts at one go - because the author revisits some of the places in the book. You know, throughout the book and in the interview, Gregory David Roberts, the author, talks about a clinic he used to run in the slum where he lived ..... something that is contradicted here.

 I had read most of the book, related articles, and, watched the videos on that single day. At around 3 a.m, I woke up - just as 'gora chor' was gaining on me with a fearsome expression on his face... wielding knives in a fist-like grip, edges pointed towards me (That's the best way to hold a knife if you are fighting someone - Shantaram gyaan).......................................................................... An overdose of the book and the author?? Powerful story-telling?? A bit of both, I guess!!

Apart from this nightmare, the book has given me/ continues to give me some creepy thoughts - mostly about foreigners lingering around in India (No offence meant here... just that all of them in this book are involved in criminal activities of varying degrees), and our own cops (for looking away and allowing so much to happen.... extremely offended here).

Otherwise, Shantaram, for me, is the exceptional story of a survivor, the re-birth of a fallen individual.

P.S : Since Bombay has given so much to the author, he spends a considerable part of his year there - giving back something to the city that gave him everything...... For more on that, you can go to his official website here.


Century on the Bronze Anniversary!

This is my100th post, and today is the eighth birthday of Alter Idem !! That's an average of a post per month......1.04 to be precise!!...