Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A READER'S CRITIQUE OF ALL MY BOOKS




A READER'S CRITIQUE OF ALL MY BOOKS

I am posting this review of my books by a person 15 years elder and whom I have never met before. This was forwarded to me by a cousin who had lent all my three books to him since he is an avid reader. I am posting this in my blog since it cannot be posted on any other site and this a feedback on these four years I had spent in writing and completing the three books. I am immensely grateful to him for having made time for writing this review I thought I should share it with all the readers of my blog. This has given me the impetus to go ahead and start my next book.


From: Rajan Narasimhan <nsrajan7935@gmail.com>
Sent: Tue, 04 Dec 2018 13:31:35
To: 
hemakb@rediffmail.com

Subject: Mr Subbu & his Books.

 
Hello. 

I am sending herewith my impressions of Mr. Subbu's books.  If you are sending feedback on the books to Amazon, you are at complete liberty to Add, Alter, Amend and Edit this as you deem fit.   It may be too long for a review on Amazon. You can yourself be the best judge. of that.  I enjoyed reading the books and shall return them soon.  Thanks for considering me worthy of reviewing them. 
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" When you settle down to read an autobiographical 'first' book by someone who had passed out from IIT Kharagpur, and then gone on to turn a Banker by profession, the very last thing you would expect is to be reading an account of his search for 'truth' within and, a conversation with himself, while deeply and critically examining his feelings, his thoughts, and his relationships with all those he came into contact with in his 'personal'  life, particularly with the closest members of his own family. 

As someone 15 years older to him, I am struck by the remarkable depth of his insight into himself and the inferences, the feelings and interpretations that he gives to the way he sees others around him and his interactions with them. I find a striking similarity that surprises me, with my own experiences in his narration. Lucidity is the hallmark of his writing on an abstruse subject into which he has ventured, and he does very well to keep the reader engaged and involved, despite the book being a somewhat dry account of his own life and times, peppered with interesting anecdotes.  I recollect reading a long time ago that, “When one approaches old age 'dotage' converts itself into 'anecdotage'."  (Perhaps this is the reason why youngsters these days take to their heels at the very sight of an imminent and verbose grandparent). The difference Mr. Subbu makes in his narration is by embarking on a storytelling manner interspersed with incidents, small and significant, trite and pertinent, pleasant and morbid, which is what makes one read on and get on the same 'page' with him. (no pun intended).

The human mind is similar to a churning sea, with myriad thoughts whirling around in it all the time, like the unceasing, inexorable waves and surf beating against the seashore, or the violent swirls in a whirlpool.  Most of us are incapable of remembering, sorting and analyzing them, as we merely experience them and, fortuitously for us, forget most of them (Inability to forget can become a perpetual, haunting nightmare. Thank God for our forgetfulness). 

Mr Subbu has displayed a rare ability to recall even the smallest and relatively insignificant incidents, conversation, feelings and his own thoughts from a very long time ago in his life to be sufficiently inspired to compile them in the form of a long narrative.  However, it is one thing to have a good memory of things that happened in the long past. Most of us have such memory. But to accurately recollect the contemporaneous thoughts, feelings and the ethos of particular situations and the milieu in which one existed, and to proceed to make a credible and interesting narrative out of it is a commendable exercise that Mr Subbu has succeeded in performing.  It is said that the highest compliment that one can pay a writer on reading his work is to exclaim, " I wish I had said that". Mr Subbu has achieved that in his books, and more significantly so, as the subject of his books is hardly one that will have readers avidly rushing out to place preprint orders for their copies. This is all the more to be appreciated when one considers that Mr Subbu began with a solid foundation in the study of Technology and Engineering, and then veered off to the diametrically opposite field of Banking, spending all his working life in Banks with figures and Balance Sheets. One can easily perceive from his books that the dull daily humdrum of a Banking career did not deprive him of his sense of humor, as witnessed by occasional sparks of facetiousness and gaiety in his otherwise serious narratives. 

Most writers, even eminent ones, have confessed that writing does not come naturally to them and they have to concentrate, work and sweat to produce their offerings. Thus, to embark upon the writing of a book that could run into over 200 pages is in itself no mean task, especially for someone who was not into writing until after his retirement from active life. (A Diary can hardly be the same as a 'Book').  But, to find matter to write upon at length and, to hold the reader's attention all the way, needs strong confidence in one's own ability to write, besides possessing the talent to do so. That he has already written three books in quick succession is proof enough that he has both traits.

My impressions on his books (and about Subbu himself) rely more on his first attempt, ' I am just an ordinary man' (Can't help recalling Rex Harrison singing exactly that as Prof. Henry Higgins in 'My Fair Lady') than on the next two renderings. I am sure he would have been inspired by the old saying, "Nothing succeeds like success", having found that it was after all so easy to write a 'Book', beginning only from randomly jotted down recollections of his experiences and feelings from a distant past.in a Diary,  only to be taken out after his retirement and now converted into his three "Books". Perhaps, there is a lesson in it somewhere for budding writers. 

He is obviously very well read, as is evident from his narrations interspersed with quotations and references. I see that he has taken great care to keep his own writing style simple and readable.  Fortunately for him, his long years in the dull occupation of Banking have not blunted his talent as a raconteur. I wish he had injected more of his sense of humor into his books, particularly the second and third books, though admittedly, the subject of his third book is perhaps too morbid for humor. I do hope he picks a ‘livelier’ subject for his fourth, which I am sure is already on the anvil. I am 83 plus, and I do not WANT to think of the inevitable 'Autumn', despite being so much closer to it.  All the same, the subject of a book need not necessarily be a perfect reflection of the writer's mind, and the writer can be quite detached from the kernel of his book. So far, so good. 

I shall end with complimenting Mr. Subbu, not only for the sheer effort and labor of writing three books in just four years, which is itself a highly commendable achievement but also for his style and narration of writing on subjects that are not designed to be popular with all readers. 



Saturday, December 15, 2018

AUTUMN LEAVES - IMAGES OF THE FALL AND WINTER 2018


AUTUMN LEAVES - IMAGES OF THE FALL AND WINTER 2018
In 2014 I had written in my book ‘I am just an Ordinary Man’ what at that time seemed prophetic for it was a projection into an imaginary future. Four years later as I sit here writing I can’t help but wonder that it has come to pass. Though the timeline is stretched beyond the two years that I had indicated, the images are now very much real. I am reproducing the relevant portion of the chapter here.
My wife and I just returned after a six-month stay with our elder daughter. This time we came back with the onset of winter, having spent the entire autumn there. I watched the brilliant colors slowly fade away and the leaves fall to the ground and before I left, I experienced the first snow of winter; a sheet of white shroud covering the ground and what lay underneath. It was once again a reminder of what lay in store; the end of a cycle. During my stay at my daughter’s place, I was soaked initially in the surrounding colors and above all in the company of my grandson. I was seeing him after three years. As I watched the leaves slowly turn brown and wither away, the rumblings started once again. My writings had been sporadic and as I read what I had written over the last one year, I sensed a lack of conviction in what I was trying to say. It was as if I had already exhausted myself and there was nothing more.
The year that has passed by has been satisfying with the publishing of my book ‘Autumn Leaves’ and subsequently the trip to the US to spend time with my grandson and daughter and revisiting the locations where I have based my books especially the last one and find that I have not erred much in my descriptions.
The colors and grandeur of the Fall and the looming grey despondency of winter are images that I carried back with me this time in the form of photographs which I took in abundance not wanting to miss the moments of transition indicative of the turbulence in our mind.
Excerpts from my book ‘Autumn Leaves’. The accompanying images tell it all


The winter chill had set in and with it, the last leaves of the sugar maple tree in the backyard floated, slowly drifted and fell to the ground. Soon the first flakes of snow would come and cover them with a white shroud. Vishwam loved the fall and the changing colors that seemed to envelop him all around. And as the leaves of the trees went through their complete cycle from several shades of green, then from yellow to orange, and finally to red in autumn, he would start feeling restless for he never wanted to see them turn brown and fall to the ground. He hated winter.
Winter had come and gone and so had spring and summer. It was Autumn once again, Kavita and he sat in the backyard of their home letting the colors of the fall sink into their consciousness. And when the leaves turned brown and fell on the ground, they were busy clearing their garden and preparing for the coming winter. Krishnan no longer felt sad as the first snow-flakes arrived, for he knew – ‘there would always be the spring, and the river would flow again after it was frozen.’



However, I did not hate the winter. Just like I had drenched myself in the colors of Autumn, I watched the blizzard blow from the confines of the house and marveled at the changing landscape outside. The cold only made me feel more alive and resilient.




“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger—something better, pushing right back.”
– Albert Camus
We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.
– Gary Zukav