Monday, October 17, 2005

The Quandary of Dimensions



When I first saw his book, 'A Suitable Boy', what struck me was its enormous size. It was a gift to me and instantly I had begun to think of the person who gave it to me to be a quintessential 'sadist'. Was I to read that book? I might as well practice weightlifting with it! The book contained 1600 pages and was around 5 cm in thickness! It had no illustrations but a solitary photograph of the author. He looked like a handsome debonair, but then he bore a diabolical grin that said, "Go ahead, read it”. I wasn't seduced by that smile. The book was just too thick for me! I had almost decided to let the book gather dust on my shelf when I was prodded on to read the book by somebody who had successful journeyed the entire thickness of the book and was so brainwashed by its contents that she couldn't stop praising it.

So I relented and began at the very beginning. I laboured on till I was around a cm into the book beyond which the book grew on me to such an extent that I could no longer live without it. I followed the book around, chased it everywhere like its shadow. The book didn't find a moment of peace. It was under constant surveillance and I had my eyes all over it. Had I spent a few more weeks reading I would have become a fictional character hidden somewhere within the 5 cms of the book. I confess by the time I finished the book, I found it too small.

When I first saw the author I was struck by his lack of height. I thought the possessor of the handsome face would be atleast 6 feet tall. He was hidden behind the furniture somewhere, and we could make out his approximate position by the commotion surrounding the spot and the entourage of press photographers that had encircled him. This is perhaps how physicists locate black holes in the universe - by the flurry of stellar activity around it! The black hole slowly made its way to the stage. He seemed quite uneasy, didn't know what to do with his hands, didn't know whether to sit or stand. So they gave him his book, and asked him to read.

He spoke. Eloquent speech and diction that was so British. He would use words such 'vicissitude' and 'foible' with such ease that it made the rest of us sound like ignoramuses. On stage we saw him grow in size. We saw the depth in what he meant. We saw his clarity of thought. We saw his acute observation of detail, the vast ocean of his knowledge. We saw his simplicity and we saw the complexity. We wondered about his chemical composition and his physical attributes. I couldn't believe my eyes for by the time he finished he was 7 feet tall! I am sure he is a quirk of nature.

What is it about sizes,
The length of shortness,
And the weight of lightness?

What is it about sizes,
The depth of gladness,
And the scale of madness?

14 comments:

Chloe said...

i don't know the answer. i have met tall people who were very short and vice versa. also, sometimes, people who i first thought of as short, grew taller. You tell us, you are the zen master.

Deepa said...

y didnt u write abt how ur granny(who's a big fan of Vikram Seth)reacted... wen u made him speak to her over the phone.....that moment must be too good to handle..lucky u....u made ur granny soooo happy...:-)

Wriju said...

Chloe:
See I feel exactly the same way too. I think the Zen Master needs to meditate deeply about this ;-)
Deepa:
I could write about what I did for her, but then before that I need to write a book about the thousand things that she did for me. I am so lucky to have a granny like her :-)

Loonie said...

Tell me about the pic/photograph(?) in this post. Is a lovely one!

Wriju said...

The painting is by a little known young american painter called Chase Quarterman.

I live the freshness and 'frenchness' of his paintings! Don't you find the colours so vivid and vibrant? It makes the reader look so much more lively than the book he is reading. The book is so plainly red and unamusing. May be that's why the avid reader is actually looking more at us than the book! His choice of blues and yellows reminds me of Van Gogh.

Loonie you certainly know how to get me going! Ok Wriju stop yapping.

duckie said...

Honestly. What did you do in your past life?

Wriju said...

Oh that's an easy one :-)
I was Elvis Presley ofcourse!

Camphor said...

My favourite books include: A journey to the West (800 each, and three books of them), Atlas Shrugged (1700 odd pages) Lord of the Rings (1300 odd pages, not counting appendixes).

So I don't know what is it about sizes.

Oh, and I saw Vikram Sheth - when I was in eight grade, and did not know to appreciate him. Came to our class, our teacher was an old freind of his. Perhaps the ONLY person to address the class that I did not attempt to take apart with questions, nor did I bother to test how much he knew - it was obvious. Yes, I was impressed.

Wriju said...

Wow, I would could count War and Peace and Les Miserables amongst the biggest I have read so far!

Yes he has that effect on you. You can just stand back and admire his greatness. I must say that you were really lucky. Have you met any other greats?

Camphor said...

Count Shankar Mahadevan, and the band of Parikrama among greats? What is the name of that sing who sang "ab ke saavan"? Her. Bombay Jayashree. The advantage of being a compere is that these people will chitchat with comperes before going on stage for school and college fests..
The indian cricket team counts? Have their entire set of autographs - which my brother can keep. Vayjanthimala. Family freind.
AR Rehman. Won something he was a chief guest for.
None of them spoke for very long, of course.

*stops self centred chat*

lol, I doubt you wanted such a detailed reply, but what the hey, I'm sleepy, and that's enough excuse.

War and Peace and Les Miserables I have read, but they aren't among my "favourite" lit. Not books I read for comfort or solace or just when I'm wondering - what's up with the world, man?

Have you seen Chase Quarterman's other paintings? I like them too.

Wriju said...

Camphor:
*Stares mouth agape*
That's a big list of personalities especially counting the entire cricket team! Yes I would certainly count musicians. Also I admire comperes. On such occasions I am usually tongue-tied and barely manage a nervous smile ;-)

Probably War and Peace and Les Miserables are heavy in more ways than one.

Yep I had look at his other paintings. *Tries to sound like a seasoned art critic*
Talented youngster ;-)

Camphor said...

Whatever made you think that comperes don't get tongue tied, forzen faced with their voice sticking in their throats and don't make fools of themselves?

They do.
Many just don't notice, because the task of the compere is ignorable in most cases, unless you count HUGE errors of judgement. (Who'll pay attention to mousy looking woman in a sari - everyone sees that all the time- when Rahman is scheduled on stage next, and you KNOW it? This attitude, btw, is what gets me through those on-stage sessions)

Like this compere I know - my co-compere for the Parikrama show. Apart from the fact that her sari was too high, she ensured that I'd make my entrance blushing scarlet.

The day after the tsunami struck, she went on stage and told people, all of whom were only a hundred miles or so from disaster, and many of whom were worrying about families in the tsunami struck area: "Celebrate, because you will be overwhelmed a tsunami. Of power. Of passion. Yes, of Music".

Ouch. I had to go and pretend I wasn't wincing from those tactless words, and the worst was - SSN played that video over and over. :(

Damn. Talked too much again. REally must cut down on volume of my words.

Wriju said...

That little anecdote is fascinating if nothing else!
Afterall comperes are "only human" :-)

Errors, such as the one you speak of, are what they call occupational hazards. But then the rush of blood that one faces on stage is a thrill like no other and the "occupational hazards" only add to the thrill and make the occasion more memorable.

Mousy or not, I know camphor is very open and extrovertish, and hence quite at ease on stage. May be one day I'll get a chance to see you live or on TV :-)

Camphor said...

Oh my. My turn to be flattered. Thanks. :)

the rush of blood that one faces on stage is a thrill like no other You've got that pegged.

BTW, not that mousy. :D Said that just for the effect.

May be one day I'll get a chance to see you live or on TV lol, only if you watch college fest shows that jobless tv channels broadcast just because my college is rolling in moolah. Sounds nice tho. :)