Sunday, 16 August 2015

Laugh a bit more!

So last week I had the chance to attend East India Comedy’s Backbenchers, a stand up show about college life and it was one of the most amazing times I’ve had in a long time. But as much as I loved that show, it has left me with a nagging thought, ergo this post. You see, a lot of their jokes consisted of that obvious one liner and caricatured mimicry. I would go ahead and say their jokes were offensive. But you won’t believe this, I laughed. I laughed so much my throat was burning and my cheeks were hurting. 

If you don’t know this about me, I am not a big fan of offensive humor. I don’t have a very picky sense of humor but gags at someone else’s expense (mine or otherwise) are not very funny. But this night, I threw caution to the winds and didn’t worry about someone feeling bad. I figured, everyone else around me are laughing aren’t they? So why not me. It was selfish. I ought to have thought and understood the joke for what it was, I shouldn’t have laughed, I should have clenched my jaw and refused. But everyone around me was laughing and it isn’t a justification but a reason for my actions. Self righteousness has no space in the middle of laughter.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Perceptive and Strong.

"But of course it makes sense because we are Third Worlders and Third Worlders are forward looking, we like things to be new, because our best is still ahead, while in the West their best is already past and so they have to make a fetish of that past." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Americanah at its core is a love story but don’t for a second assume that it gives into the clich├ęs of a love story. It takes away the drama, the fights and the epiphanies that make up a love story and replaces it with race, gender, differences and the finding a sense of equilibrium among it all.

Americanah is set in Nigeria, America and bits of England. Ifemelu, a Nigerian girl and her friends have grown up in awe of America. Unlike her school mates though, she hasn’t dreamed of living in America, playfully mocking those who visit the United States and come back changed. However, when teachers strike across Nigeria and her graduation is on the line, she decides America is going to be her savior. America however has different plans for her. Alone, apart from an aunt- Aunty Uju (worn down, accepting and passive aggressive), her cousin Dike (charming and funny) and an old school friend Ginika, Ifemelu navigates a world of race, identity, judgment and discrimination. It is in America that Ifemelu discovers what it means to be Black, Black American, African American, Non-American Black – terms that never existed in Nigeria.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Man-Eater of Malgudi - R. K. Narayan.

“It was evident that he was not going to wait for others to pay him compliments. He showered handfuls of them on himself.”- R. K. Narayan, The Man-Eater of Malgudi.
“It would be boring to be steadfastly good night and day.” - R. K. Narayan, The Man-Eater of Malgudi.

The Man-Eater of Malgudi by R. K. Narayan is a chaotic book, with a simple but quick paced plot lacing the story with a subtle humor. Not unlike his other fictional works, The Man-Eater of Malgudi is the set in the fictional, south Indian village of ‘Malgudi’, whose residents are dramatic and exaggerated. 

The Man-Eater of Malgudi is the story of Nataraj and Vasu, the protagonist and the antagonist respectively. Nataraj is the owner of and runs a printing press, whose parlour is always open to anyone who desires the company (mostly ‘the poet’ and Sen). Nataraj is passive and scared, with mild symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome. 

When Vasu, a taxidermist by profession and an overbearing, rude bully by nature decides to stay in the small village of Malgudi in order to exploit the forests of neighboring Mempi village, the order and sanctity of Nataraj’s life is disturbed. Vasu’s relations with Nataraj begin with a business order but soon he takes over nearly every aspect of Nataraj’s life. Vasu sneaks underneath Nataraj’s skin like a parasite and refuses to let go. He is the metaphorical man-eater mentioned in the title of the book. We see Nataraj making half hearted efforts to get rid of Vasu but they backfire and leave the pair of them at worse terms. Theirs is an on again, off again relationship that leaves Nataraj with anxiety and internal monologues.