Sunday, November 22, 2009

And Another ThingEoin Colfer. The book was commissioned by the family of the writer Douglas Adams, on the 25th anniversary of the Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy. Living up to a legend was always going to be difficult, admitted Colfer in an interview with the Guardian, but after pondering over this, he did acquiesce.

Reading And Another Thing, and expecting it to be a sequel is a bit misleading. Nothing can live up to the original, and so Colfer tries a different trick. Using the same cast of characters, he totally reinvents the story. The result is a stunning novel, worthy of standing on its own. In fact, being tagged as a sequel, does diminish its brilliance. Colfer hands in a novel which is uniquely his own, and does not attempt to even mimic the original crazy story. Come to think of it, it is impossible to come close to the original, as even Douglas Adam’s subsequent novels prove. ( I picked up So Long And Thanks for all the Fish, which is sitting on my book shelf, just occupying valuable real estate).

The protagonist of this novel is Zyphod Beebelbrox, the ex-President of the galaxy, while Arthur Dent and Ford play a minor role . Dent’s daughter, a Viking god and a brand new alien occupy much of the story. Colfer’s take on gods is brilliant, and in a way thought provokingly central to the book. The immortal alien’s search for death is amazingly well argued , and his redemption as a mortal is a fitting end to the story. I found some uncomfortable likeness in Colfer’s description of his teenager daughter and my daughter of the same age. Looks like delinquency is not patented to teenagers from the planet Earth. The book retains the crazy storytelling style of the original, but comparison is unfair. In summary, the answer is not 42, but damn close to it.

Delhi Chronicles

Vir Sanghvi’s column on Sunday, 15 November 2009, has a decal stating that the views expressed in the column are those of the author’s and not of the newspaper. All I have to say to that is – chicken.

The winter is now settling in nicely. A few days got really messed up as the smog emitted from the Jaipur conflagration managed to settle over Delhi. It was bad, as the stats for people with breathing problems showed a spike. The temperatures are dropping early this year, but Delhi is at its best during the winters.

I went to Amritsar in the first week of November for a family wedding, which was very nice indeed. Small towns like Amritsar can be a bit of a shock for metro people, but after a while one can be charmed by it. The streets of new Amritsar were unusually wide, and the people unusually warm. I was taken aback when I stopped to ask for an address, and the young people went out of their way to detail the route to me. I doubt in Delhi one can get more than a monosyllable for a similar question asked of a stranger. The food was out of the world. The cocktail party at the wedding had a variety of non-veg guaranteed to make even the staunchest veggie change his mind. The hotel, M.K. International too was “ very decent”, reasonable and I did enjoy my stay there. The high point was a visit to the Golden Temple, and though we were rushed, it was a very humbling experience. I should go again one of the days when we the time to do this lazily. Despite threat of unrest on the 25th anniversary of the Delhi riots, the return journey had a few hiccups, but we made it back home safely.

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