Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Sally Rooney’s Conversations with friends

May 5, 2019

Enjoyed this novel too a lot! Strongly recommended. Here is  a review from The New Yorker.


Big Bhishma in Madras: In search of the Mahabharata with Peter Brook

April 9, 2019

A light and at times uneven read. Enjoyed reading it nonetheless!

A few recent reads

February 13, 2019

The order of time by Carlos Rovelli is a must-read. I bought it since it made to the top 10 of the Physics World book list. I am glad I did. Thoroughly enjoyed — it is technical (physics), poetic and philosophical at the same time. Strongly recommended.

Achuvai Perinum by Arunn Narasimhan; this is the first fiction of his I read; enjoyed it.

An Ordinary Man’s Guide to Radicalism: Growing Up Muslim in India by Neyaz Farooquee is a good read too!

Origin of Idli

December 2, 2018

Here is Vir Sanghvi:

This led KT Achaya, the eminent food historian, to suggest that the idli may have had a foreign origin. Achaya normally managed to suggest that almost all modern Indian food had its roots in South Indian dishes, references to which could be found in ancient Tamil literature. So, when he abandoned South India’s claims to having invented the idli, the world of food was a little taken aback.

When I told this Achaya theory to one of my friends from “deep” south, he advised me not to go around telling all the nonsensical things that I read in books to others!

T M Krishna’s Reshaping Art

June 6, 2018

A very good read. It evokes strong responses and at times does make you uncomfortable. Whether you agree with Krishna or disagree, it is thought provoking throughout. The book is also a call for reforms — and, like all reforms, it both starts with the individual and pans out and starts with the society and reaches the “self”: Krishna has some interesting examples of the second kind based on the responses of participants and volunteers of the Urur Alcott Kuppam Vizha. Strongly recommended.

Vikram Sarabhai by Amrita Shah

April 29, 2018

A very inspiring life indeed! The book is a good read; here is a review (with lots of spoliers).

How successful academic write

March 25, 2018

Successful academics write; academic success is measured in terms of the writing that is produced. Helen Sword’s book Air & Light & Time & Space: How successful academics write is a very good read – for all the academics and those who have academic ambitions!

The Sringeri-Kanchi holy wars

March 2, 2018

The passing away of Jayendra Saraswathi sets Sriram thinking about (the hilarious, in retrospect) holy wars!!


Random thoughts — based on some newspaper reading!

March 1, 2018

Jacob Koshy in The Hindu  — today:

The common thread in these palliatives is that an enormous work load is the cause of stress among schoolchildren and halving the syllabus would translate into fewer hours of course work and cramming. This fails to acknowledge that the culprit is a system that encourages mindless cramming as the dominant indicator of ‘learning’.

Thus, Mr. Javadekar only seems to be the latest in the line of establishment figures signalling that the government will not work towards fixing the blood-sport that examinations are, where the loss or gain of a mark can mean children are forced into careers they have no inclination or aptitude for, and at its worst drive young people to suicide.

I do agree that mindless cramming is a problem and that our examination system does indeed need fixing. However, the criticism about the syllabus is equally valid. Some time back, when I happened to go through the +2 chemistry textbook, it looked more like an undergraduate textbook. In addition, if the portions are less, there is less to cram.

Shiv Vishvanathan writes an ode to dying languages — in The Hindu — today:

Development and the institutions of development like school mutually guarantee the disappearance of minority languages and dialects. A school generally teaches in a majority language. The pithiest critique of such schools was made by the Kannada writer U.R. Ananthamurthy, who said India is a country where the illiterate worker speaks five-seven languages and the convent schoolchild speaks one.

I think in India we can do so much more for maintaining lingusitic diversity. My favourite idea is the one about starting Indian Institutes of Languages — may be in one in every state / union territory, to begin with — and populate them with faculty members drawn from all over the country. The model of building one country based on one language is a western notion. We should strive for building one nation tied together by multiple languages!

Twitter and Facebook!

January 16, 2018

A thoughtful post by Joel!