17 December 2009

To e-read or not to e-read

I've just about heard enough of Kindle. That's just what every other geek is talking about. Kindle .

A quick confession here, I for one, am unable to appreciate the whole concept of e-books. I've tried reading them on my large desktop, on my little laptop, and once, even on a PDA.

And I admit, I hated it. Somehow it simply does not work for me.

Why would I want to read an e-book? What's the fun in that?

Would I have to forgo the pleasure of browsing through a bookstore? What about the pleasure of choosing just one book out of many? How does one pick just one e-book? All things being equal, I sometimes pick the better smelling book.
(Books: 1 | E-books: 0)

On a cool day, I drag my rocker to a sunny patch in my balcony, and cozy up with an old favourite. Half the fun there is to randomly open a page and start reading from there. The older and more dog eared a book gets, the easier it is find a favourite bit and start reading.
(Books: 2 | E-books: 0)

When I'm done reading for a bit, I plonk the book down and take a cat-nap. I don't need to worry about leaving a reader on and think of battery life, charging etc.
(Books: 3 | E-books: 0)

Oh, I could carry just a book everywhere. No need to worry about charger etc.
(Books: 4 | E-books: 0)

But then again, to be fair, an e-book reader would occupy a fraction of the space of a paperback.
(Books: 4 | E-books: 1)

And a reader with a gazillion books stored in it would occupy way less space that one big fat-ish volume of the latest in The Wheel of Time series.
(Books: 4 | E-books: 2)

E-books use up fewer trees and rainforest.
(Books: 4 | E-books: 3)

As I think up fair and equitable arguments I stare at my overflowing bookshelf. It's starting to look a hippo stuffed into a Michael Phelps' speedo. It's double stacked, overflowing and, yes, bursting at the seams. How many gigabytes of Kindle would that work out to, I wonder?
(Books: 4 | E-books: 4)

Now, with a Kindle each, the other half and I wouldn't ever have to fight over the same book. Like we did for the last three Harry Potter releases.
(Books: 4 | E-books: 5)

In which case, it would mean that I could actually see the surface of my bedside table. Which at the moment holds around 20 books.
(Books: 4 | E-books: 6)

But what if one of my brats pulls an e-book reader out of my hands and throws it unceremoniously aside?
(Books: 5 | E-books: 6)

What if the kids want e-books too? Would that mean, I need separate e-book readers for the kids?
(Books: 6 | E-books: 6)

What about all those pleasurable hours spent at book sales, second-hand book stores and library sales?
(Books: 7 | E-books: 6)

What about looking at a friend's bookshelf and going, "hey, I'm helping myself to these.."? I can't imagine browsing through a friend's Kindle to see what she/he has that I don't.. sidey as I made that sound.
(Books: 8 | E-books: 6)

The point tallies aside, how does one 'lend' an e-book? What would an e-book library look or smell like? Goodness, would bookstores just vanish?? Not that I have anything against Amazon, but it just is NOT the same as spending a pleasurable couple of hours at a book store.

As I type, my little one is curled up beside me, and is trying to sleep. It's a fairly cold day too. Just perfect for a cup of hot ginger tea and maybe a PG Wodehouse. Something from the Blandings Castle series, I'd say. Summer Lightning, is just within arm's reach. And the book naturally falls open to my favourite funny bits.

To e-read or not to e-read... that's my question.

Pardon me, while I try not to laugh too loud. This is the bit where Baxter is explaining where the pig is.

30 November 2009

Who's that??

What does one call the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe??

Let me backtrack a bit... It has been one hell of a crazy week.

What are the chances that all of us come down with a very bad attack of the flu at the same time?

What are the chances that you have people staying over when the fever hits three digits on the Farenheit scale?

What are the chances that my gas cylinder is delivered 9 days ahead of schedule? (Last time it took 27 days from booking to delivery) And the gas company manages to choose that one single weekday when I am away from home?

What are the chances that you halt at a railway crossing and the gate remains closed long enough for three different trains to pass? And this being Bangalore, the geniuses who are allowed to drive on these roads form 9 lanes on a two lane road blocking traffic from both ends. And it takes an hour and a half to travel a distance of exactly 13 kms.

What are the chances of catching a really bad cold just after a bad flu attack?

What are the chances that the milkman delivers leaky milk packets three days in a row?

To all of the above, one law fits all. If anything can go wrong it will.

Getting back to my question, What does one call the supernatural creator and overseer of the universe??


15 June 2009

What was that again?

Considering that I feel so sore and cranky, it was rather unsurprising that a random caller felt the brunt of my ire.

Someone has to explain real estate terminology to me someday. This morning, one real estate marketer calls me about some property and tells me that "It suits high class people."

Well, I asked the gentleman to define "high class"... He mumbled for a bit and said, "It is for 'good class' families."

Now was I all that out of line asking him to explain just what made a person qualify as "good class?"

"Madam, those are all decent people."

"Ok, so where do indecent people live?" It was too good to let that one pass...

So somehow I get the feeling that this marketer will never call me again.

Whose loss, I wonder...

I nominate me...

... for this year's Nobel prize in medicine.

I proudly announce that I have discovered new muscles in my body that I solemnly swear never existed before.

I started on a new fitness regime, and did an hour long aerobic workout. I am so sore, it's not funny. It even hurts to bat my eyelids. Or smile. Or sulk. I can't even work up the enthusiasm to take a sip of water. Too much work.

Maybe I should get the kids to get me water in a saucer and then proceed to lap it up.

After that I would lose all rights to tell them to keep their elbows off the table.

Ah well, till someone else does better, I can at least dream of a prize other than fitting into my favourite pair of jeans.

09 June 2009

The complete Kolkata-Experience

AK and I were in Kolkata earlier this month. Rather, we went to Haldia, and got to spend a few hours in Kolkata on our way back.

The other half studied in Haldia for a few years, and when an old classmate suggested a reunion over the long May day weekend, we decided to go. AK was meeting these friends after almost 25 years, and was really looking forward to it.

The first person he introduced me to was Sanjukta, and the very first thing she said to me was, "Hi, nice meeting you! Why have you stopped blogging?"

Now, that's what I call a fan following! There're a few travelogues from our whilrwind tour of the Patel points of Japan that are half written and awaiting completion, but I decided that after a longish break, I'd write a post for a new friend! Here we go, Sanjukta.

This was my first ever trip to this neck of the woods. And I really got to experience Kolkata in the truest sense. Every stereotype and cliche in place!

0900 hrs :
  • We started off from our hotel after a breakfast, with a tightly packed itinerary. On our way, as we stopped at a traffic light, we saw this group of people standing around a bus stand. I mused that it was rather an odd gathering for a Sunday morning. They looked like a typical group of office goers. Before the light could change, at some unperceived signal, the whole group of randomly loitering strangers fell into formation with a military precision, and, as if by magic, whipped out a whole bunch of red flags, and began to march, shouting slogans.
What luck, I got to see one of Kolkata's famous political rallies!

0915 hrs :
  • As we drove towards our destination we were held up by another rally, this one in full swing.
0930 hrs :
  • How could I even say I went to Kolkata without seeing THE landmark: Victoria Memorial.
1100 hrs :
  • Everyone of my acquaintances who had ever been in or lived in Kolkata insisted that I shop for bags and shoes at New market. And the other-half acceded to that request rather half-heartedly. Would you believe that every single shop was closed? There was some commtion nearby. There was that (by now) familiar sight - people with red flags.
New words added to my non-existant Bengali vocabulary: Hobe-na hobe na!

1130 hrs :
  • A few phone calls later, I'm back in action with a plan B for shopping... Ghoriahaat. Wait a minute... aren't we back in New Market again?? No?? But the shops are all closed!! Oh yes, I do see the Bhodrolok with their flags. Yes, I can chant hobe-na with the best of them, now.
1230 hrs :
  • Thank God, my old friend from college, Pinaki, is with us. He helps us find one or two stores that are open for business. And I do some nominal shopping. AK insists that he doesn't want to see a kurta for another decade at least!
1315 hrs :
  • Fifteen years ago, anytime our friends from college went out for pani-puri, Pinaki would go on and on ad nauseum about Puchkas in Kolkata, and how the stuff elsewhere was unacceptable. Ever since we got married, the other half kept insisting that the pani-puri at Kolkata were the best ever. I finally gulped down a few puchkas... and the great debate rests. They are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!! Woohoo....
1340 hrs :
  • Pinaki insisted that I really have to eat some 'real' Mishti-doi. I'm a convert!
1355 hrs :
  • After hunting all around Tokyo to find Netaji's ashes, how could I not take time see the house where was born in Kolkata?
1400 hrs :
  • All this time we were sweating profusely. I swear that the humidity in Kolkata is worse than Chennai. It was totally crazy. Out of the blue the sky suddenly went dark, the clouds totally obscuring the sky and the sun. And the streetlights started coming on in the part of town where we were.
1405 hrs :
  • The next thing I know, high winds are literally sweeping me off my feet (and that takes some sweeping!) There's a spectacular breeze that makes me forget I was sweating like a pig a few minutes ago. And of course dust storms.
1410 hrs :
  • And before I can more than blink at this rapid change in climate, it starts to rain. I 'd like to change that to, it pours. Visibility outside the car is a joke. Kolkata and Kalbaishakhi. I had to see it to believe it.
1530 hrs :
  • As we head towards the airport, we took the scenic route, so I could see Howrah Bridge.
1600 hrs :
  • As we try to get to the airport in good time, we see that roads are flooded.
1615 hrs :
  • And to top it all off, TRAFFIC JAM!!!
I have to admit that I didn't have the time or the appetite for two of Kolkata's famous gastronomic must-dos. Jhal-muri and Rasgolla (yes, I know. It's shocking, isn't it?)

But then I really do need to save something new for next time.