Monday, 18 May 2009

Current Reading List

You know sometimes you look around for something to read, and you can't decide...not because there isn't anything but because there are a lot of things. That's usually my problem. And that's without stepping outside my house. I collect books. I spend more money on Amazon than anywhere else. So I have got quite a lot of books that I have not yet managed to read. So here is a current reading list. I am determined to finish these before I go faffing about for more.

Have you read any of these? What do you think?

  1. The World The World - Normal Lewis

  2. Plot & Structure - James Scott Bell

  3. The Complete Chronicles of the Crystal Singers of Ballybran - Anne McCaffrey

  4. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

  5. The Snow Geese - William Fiennes

  6. Riddle Master, Complete Trilogy - Patricia A. McKillip

  7. The Complete Amber Chronicles - Roger Zelazny

  8. The Spy Who Loved Me - Ian Fleming

  9. Octopussy - Ian Fleming

  10. The Women Who Got Away - John Updike

  11. The Eaten Heart: Unlikely Tales of Love - Giovanni Boccaccio

  12. Forbidden Fruit - From the letters of Abelard and Heloise

  13. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Ok, moving on about the show...first, I have to say that sometimes producers are so dunderheaded that they can't see a good thing if bites them in the face. No doubt money was probably the reason why Fox scrapped Firefly, but I bet if they had carried on, it would have stuffed their pockets.

The show is basically about bunch of misfits surviving on a space-ship, doing smuggling and odd jobs to make money, but always getting into trouble. The cast is brilliant and well-suited to their roles. Each episode, contained within itself, nonetheless carries the story forward. With each episode, we can see many more possibilities for the development of each character, their interpersonal relationships, as well as all the things they can do on many worlds.

It was just as well that they made Serenity to tie up the loose knots, otherwise just the season 1 would have left me dissatisfied, because I like to see things come to a good conclusion.

I really loved the show, and Serenity - the ship - is so wonderful, I want to go live on it. The only reason I do not love Firefly as much as I love Stargate is because it didn't last long enough for me to get to know the characters over long period of time (like 10 seasons of S.G.1 and 5 seasons of Atlantis).

But there is no question that I will be revisiting this DVD over and over again.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Coffee and Muffin

Yup...that's what I am brunching on, and kicking off the writing sunday with. A nice cup of coffee (made all the more nicer because it was made by hubby) and yummy chocolate muffin. LUSH!!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Better Blog Challenge

Problogger is launching a month long workshop to assist bloggers in building a better blog.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog is aimed at newcomers to the world of blogging, as well as those already familiar. The guy running it is a professional blogger, so I am pretty certain he has got some useful tips to offer.

Even if you haven’t got lots of time to devote to blogging, it’s worth checking out.

  • Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. – Mark Twain

  • The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine

  • There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign. – Robert Louis Stevenson

  • The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. – Samuel Johnson

  • All the pathos of irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveller learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time. – Paul Fussell

  • He who does not travel does not know the value of men. – Moorish Proverb

  • People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home. – Dagobert D. Runes

  • A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. – John Steinbeck

  • No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. - Lin Yutang

  • Your true traveller finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure. - Aldous Huxley

  • All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it. - Samuel Johnson

  • For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. - Cesare Pavese

  • One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. - Henry Miller

  • A traveller without observation is a bird without wings. - Moslih Eddin Saadi

  • When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in. - D. H. Lawrence

  • To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. - Freya Stark

  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

  • All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. - Martin Buber

  • We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. - Jawaharial Nehru

  • Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. - Paul Theroux

  • To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. - Bill Bryson

  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less travelled by. - Robert Frost

  • A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu

  • There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it. - Charles Dudley Warner

  • A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. - Lao Tzu

  • If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. - James Michener

  • A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. - Tim Cahill

  • Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey. - Pat Conroy

  • Not all those who wander are lost. - J. R. R. Tolkien

  • Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. - Benjamin Disraeli

  • Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. - Maya Angelou

  • Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe - Anatole France

  • Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. - Seneca

  • What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do - especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road. - William Least Heat Moon

  • I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within. - Lillian Smith

  • To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. - Aldous Huxley

  • Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art. - Freya Stark

  • The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it. - Rudyard Kipling

  • Travel is glamorous only in retrospect. - Paul Theroux

  • When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable. - Clifton Fadiman

  • A wise traveller never despises his own country. - Carlo Goldoni

  • Adventure is a path. Real adventure - self-determined, self-motivated, often risky - forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind - and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white. - Mark Jenkins

  • Every perfect traveller always creates the country where he travels. – Nikos Kazantzakis

  • Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death. – Blaise Pascal

  • It is a strange thing to come home. While yet on the journey, you cannot at all realize how strange it will be. – Selma Lagerlöf

  • Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination. - Roy M. Goodman

  • Clay lies still, but blood’s a roverBreath’s aware that will not keep.Up, lad: when the journey’s over there’ll be time enough to sleep. - A. E. Housman

  • As the traveller who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own. – Margaret Mead

  • Too often. . .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen. – Louis L’Amour

  • Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey. – Fitzhugh Mullan

  • One main factor in the upward trend of animal life has been the power of wandering. – Alfred North Whitehead

  • The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself. – William Least Heat Moon

  • Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone. – The Dhammapada

  • Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are. – George Eliot

  • Travelling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station. – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

  • Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to. – Alan Keightley

  • Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God. – Kurt Vonnegut

  • We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. – Hilaire Belloc

  • A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of a faraway place. A traveler on the plane sees the farmhouse… and thinks of home. - Carl Burns.

  • Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you travelled. – Mohammed

  • When one realizes that his life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels. – Edward Dahlberg

  • Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken. – Frank Herbert

  • Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did now know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places. – Italo Calvino

  • Travel at its truest is thus an ironic experience, and the best travellers… seem to be those able to hold two or three inconsistent ideas in their minds at the same time, or able to regard themselves as at once serious persons and clowns. – Paul Fussell

  • I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. – Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey

  • When you’re traveling, ask the traveler for advice / not someone whose lameness keeps him in one place. – Rumi

  • To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions. – Sam Keen
    The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. – G. K. Chesterton

  • When you are everywhere, you are nowhereWhen you are somewhere, you are everywhere. – Rumi

  • The autumn leaves are falling like rainAlthough my neighbours are all barbariansAnd you, you are a thousand miles awayThere are always two cups at my table. – T’ang dynasty poem

  • It is not down in any map; true places never are. – Herman Melville

  • People don’t take trips – trips take people. – John Steinbeck

  • We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend. – Robert Louis Stevenson

  • He who would travel happily must travel light. – Antoine de Saint Exupéry

  • Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey. – Fitzhugh Mullan

  • One main factor in the upward trend of animal life has been the power of wandering. – Alfred North Whitehead

  • The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself. – William Least Heat Moon

  • Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone. – The Dhammapada

  • Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are. – George Eliot

The Upanishads - Songs of Truth

When I bought “The Upanishads” by Eknath Easwaran in one of the newly emerged upmarket bookshops in increasingly posh, urbanite shopping centres of Ahmedabad, I did not know it would be six years before I would actually read that book.

Every time I thought about picking it up, other more “fun” books beckoned me to them. I knew very little about The Upanishads except that they were scriptures of Hinduism and supposedly contained great wisdom. In other words, it sounded like it might be quite a dull reading. It was far more tempting to go for piles of fantasy books waiting for me after a long day at work. For six years, there were always other things to read, other things that got priority.

Then suddenly one day, the time was right. There is an old proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The Upanishads stopped looking intimidating religious volume when I was ready to ready to receive the wisdom they had to offer. Understanding the essence of The Upanishads is easy enough, but to accept them in one’s life is a whole different ball game.

Easwaran’s translation and his introduction and notes accompanying The Upanishads are real gem. Being an English professor, he uses a language that flows like poetry yet is powerful in its simplicity. In other words, it captures the true essence of Upanishads.

Believed to be dating from around 1500 B.C., Upanishads are more spiritual/philosophical in nature than religious. They are part of Vedas and Hinduism, yet I believe a person from any religious or even non-religion background would be able to relate to them as long as they were able to believe that there must exist something more than what we see.

In Easwaran’s words, “They tell us that there is a Reality underlying life which rituals cannot reach, next to which the things we see and touch in everyday life are shadows. They teach that this Reality is the essence of every created thing, and the same Reality is our real Self, so that each of us is one with the power that created and sustains the universe. And, finally, they testify that this oneness can be realised directly, without the meditation of priests or rituals or any of the structures of organised religion, not after death but in this life, and that this is the purpose for which each of us has been born and the goal towards which evolution moves.”

I do not believe that all of us could be capable of or even should devote our lives to follow all the principles of Upanishads. Everyone cannot devote their lives to meditation, to inward contemplation, and renounce the material world. And we do not have to.

The Upanishads are a guide, a philosophy that even accepted partially in our daily life, could bring us little closer to our inner self. Reaching towards inner self, is reaching towards the soul of the universe. I believe they can teach us as much or as little as we are capable of learning.

As Brihadaranyaka says:
You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.

The Alchemist - My Bible

I bought Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist several years ago. I read it as soon as I bought it, even made notes in it of my impressions. I really liked the book and I agreed wholeheartedly with everything Coelho said. But, at the time the book did not really speak to me. It was a great read – but that’s all it was; just another good book. The Alchemist remained out of sight after that first reading until recently.

Couple of months ago this book started cropping up in conversations I was having with different people, so I decided to re-read it and refresh my memory.

I opened the book, began to read the first chapter, and something special happened that happens with very few books. The words made an impression not only on my mind, but on my heart. This time, the book not only spoke to me, it shouted and screamed, and made sure I listened. It was no longer a simple act of reading a book. It was a medium to listen to the voice of my own soul.

When I read The Alchemist for the first time, my view of world was an idealistic view of a teenager. The book could not speak to me, because I thought I had all the answers. I thought unlike all the other millions of people in the world, I knew how to handle my own life. I did not need a book to tell me, thank you very much.

This second reading was through an eyes of an adult who has had a taste of living in a real world where there are far more questions than answers. I no longer believe that I have all the answers, but what I do have is faith. Faith in my own ability to find the answers as I need them, and faith that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

While I was reading this book, I felt a sense of reassurance that I wasn’t the only one with so many questions about life, and that I wasn’t crazy to continue to seek my purpose, my destiny. Even though many of us feel that sense of purpose, most of us give up the search because it does not seem to fit in with the “normal” life the society has created. The Alchemist helped me strengthen my belief in the worthiness of my own quest. As the old King says, “To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.”

Santiago’s quest is not unique. Most of us seek treasure of some kind. Most of us have dreams. The difference is that most of us lack the courage to follow our dreams. We hold on tightly to our safe, normal lives without much risk, but also without adventure. We think of fulfilling our dreams Someday. We forget that there is no Someday in the week. All we have is today. “…Life is the moment we are living right now.”

I keep my copy of The Alchemist – underlined and scribbled into – close at hand, and flip through the pages, finding reassurance from Santiago’s journey, and as I do, I ask God to always give me guidance and courage to follow my own dreams.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”