Archive for November, 2013

A book rich in details and insight

November 29, 2013

That is what Rudrangshu Mukherjee calls Guha’s Gandhi before India in his Telegraph book review:

This is a book rich in detail and insight. The narrative is deftly crafted and nowhere does the extensive research cast its shadow on the telling of the story. Good history writing invariably braids narrative and analysis. It is to Guha’s credit that he has revived this form of history writing in India.

I have bought myself a copy of the book; however, I am yet to start reading it.

Evaluation: from within and without

November 27, 2013

The task of evaluating one’s worth must not be given to others. … Evaluation must come from within.

That is Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur in his Rasa Yatra. Once Ram Guha mentioned that among Indians, only musicians and sports persons try for perfection and only musicians achieve it. It probably is because these great musicians have this kind of harsh self-evaluation. By the way, as you might have noticed from this and the last couple of posts, this short book (Mansur’s Rasa Yatra) is a must-read. I am looking forward  to reading Pt. Mansur in the original in Kannada.

The musical fireworks

November 27, 2013

Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur’s music reminds me of Diwali sparklers; listen to his renditions of Shivmat Bhairav and Sawani in the Legend lives on CD for example. So, I was quite surprised (and very happy) to see the following description of his guru Manji Khan Saheb’s music:

It was as if a flowerpot sparkler had burst forth colourful sparks of fire into the sky and rained on mother earth with brightness and light.


Bodhi tree for a musician

November 26, 2013

… I believe that a tanpura is like a bodhi tree for a musician. Relentless practice under its shade can accord musical enlightenment. I understood that shadja is the pivot of all ragas. All the swaras and ragas surge forth and manifest from the spring of shadja. I also realized that sadhana can be fruitful only by constant contemplation of the swara sa. “Sa-dhana” is in fact “Sa-dhyana”.

That beautiful passage is from the autobiography of Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur: Rasa Yatra — My journey in music.

B A Shapiro’s The art forger

November 25, 2013

Interesting novel; kept me engaged till the end.

Ramachandra Guha’s How much should a person consume?

November 18, 2013

I love reading Guha; irrespective of whether you agree or disagree with him, he is always thought provoking, and his prose is clear and a pleasure to read. I picked this book for the two chapters in which Guha pays his tributes to Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Madhav Gadgil. Just for those two chapters, this is a book worth owning. Having said that, there are plenty of other interesting material (including a lots about Kumarappa and Patrick Geddess). Guha does not really answer the question as to how much should a person consume. However, he certainly makes sure that any thoughtful reader of the book, after reading it, will be nagged by the question for a long time to come. This book was published about seven years ago; reading through some of his suggestions now, I find that even though on some aspects we have behaved responsibly, in majority of cases, we are still lacking the will and vision to lead an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Bruno, Chief of Police

November 16, 2013

Here is another series that I look forward to reading. I have completed the first book in David Walker‘s Bruno series. The story unfolds at the right pace. For a murder mystery, the number of pages spent on describing the crime or crime scene are too little. There is also no philosophical discussions about the nature of crime or the police procedures either. If anything, the tension in the story comes from our concern for the characters whom Walker makes eminently like-able. The entire read is very, very satisfactory and when you close the book, you look forward to the next one. Strongly recommended.

Simulation methods and their theoretical basis

November 6, 2013

Simulation methods are useful only if there is a solid theoretical basis for whatever work is being done; if there is not, they are just ‘miserable tricks’  …

Pierleoni in his personal tribute to Giovanni here.

The secret history of Donna Tartt

November 5, 2013

Gripping! Strongly recommended.