Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Kid with an Agenda

Bill Bryson’s The Thunderbolt Kid starts off with a hilarious “ I was born in Des Moines. Somebody had to.” It is an account of his journey through childhood, which is why, I suppose, I saw the book in the travelogue section of the British Council Library . Seems stretching it a bit, but I have seen worse cataloging. Plays turn up in the poetry section. British Library (sic) guys – wake up!

A romp through a small town in America in the late 50’s and 60’s is entertaining and educational. The liberties allowed to kids then seem astounding nowadays. Smoking at home, nude shows, and drinking unlimited beer seems to be in easy reach of an twelve year old. Amazing freedom.

Bill describes his early childhood with details of the town and the house he lived in. His exploration of the big bad world begins early, as he stumbles along his way, as most of us did. Surprisingly he was not of scholarly bent of mind, but nevertheless turned out prodigious amount of writing. This gives all of us hope. If this kid could write books, hey, maybe we should give it a shot too.

One also gets to know about Bill’s friends, all of whom seem to be terribly exciting, quite unlike my childhood friends. Steven Katz, the almost alcoholic friend of Bill’s, also turns up as the lead character in Bill’s other other – A Walk in the Mountains. Bryson settles down in England after college, but judging by his writing , he does get around a bit.

The book is an easy, highly entertaining read, with Bill Bryson’s brand of humour making this one of the fastest book I zipped through. Highly recommended.

Odds and Ends

We made a quick trip trip to Glasshouse on the Ganges, a resort 23 kms upstream of Rishikesh. A wonderful quiet resort run by the Nimarana group, turned out to be an idyllic short stay get away. Just what the doctor ordered.

The river runs a short stroll away, and there is an handy cove with a small beach, so one can take a discreet dip to wash away the Delhi’s sins. The river looks quite vicious here, as the silly rafters demonstrated, jetting uncontrollably downstream. Looked like the control freaks from Delhi’s BPOs’ were not too happy at being at the mercy of the river. We watched them, comfortably ensconsced in our verandah, drinking that early morning cuppa, and wondering what makes people punish themselves. The sun was scalding, so only a morning or late evening jaunt to the beach was possible.

The rest of the time was spent on wondering what to eat. The food was – as my daughter would put it neatly – awesome. We suspended our calories consciousness for the chef’s delights. Amongst the good Indian food, he threw a continental dish, which was always irresistible. The breakfast and lunch was invariably followed by a snooze or a comfortable read on the veradah’s sofa. I managed to finish of Michael Fray’s uproarious – Towards the end of the morning in quick time.

We have decided to go back in the Autumn.

Delhi Chronicles

Delhi is unbearably hot nowadays. 44C shows up on the car thermometer dial regularly. ( The thermometer always shows the outside temperature, never the temperature in the cabin- wonder why). I do not remember these many days at 44C. Global warming?

The preparation for commonwealth games seem to be rising to a crescendo. Desperation is showing up on the streets in massively dug up Connaught Place inner circle, metro’s frantic attempt to get the airport line going, and the recklessness of the workers rushing to finish the stadia. The government has sucked up a lot of money to “ beautify” the city- roads are relaid, newly painted signposts tell the directions more clearly, and the new street lamps look snazzy. Which leaves one wondering if this is all worth it. The money could easily be spent on the people living on the street, but I guess that one is for the economists to dissect after the games are over. I have a dirty feeling this splurge is going to give us a lot of pain. On the other hand I see the minimum wages climbing , and more health care for the needy - which is a much needed initiative from the government.

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