Kshetrajna

An attempt to know, understand (and ultimately, transform) that which occurs on the fields of play - India (her politics, media, music) and beyond ...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reading "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

Over the past few weeks I have been reading (in fits and starts) the book "Life of Pi". The plot is pretty interesting, indeed quite unlike any other that I have come across: "Pi Patel" is on his way to Canada (from Pondicherry) by ship along with his family. The ship sinks in a storm, leaving behind Pi and four other survivors in a lifeboat "bobbing on the wild blue Pacific". The four other survivors are a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger. Intrigued? Go read it!

I didn't much appreciate the rather artificial writing describing how Pi, born a Hindu, also becomes a Christian and a Muslim. I wonder why Pi stopped at that and didn't become a Buddhist, Sikh, Jew, Parsi etc. Indeed, in the few hundred pages that I have read till now, I haven't seen much of a need for this forced amalgamation (you know, like the "Ishwara Allah Tere Nam" line grafted on to the "Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram bhajan"). Perhaps the plot requires it later on. Let's see.

However, there are a few lines in the author's preface that really resonate with me.

I would settle in a hill station and write my novel. I had visions of myself sitting at a table on a large veranda, my notes spread out in front of me next to a steaming cup of tea. Green hills heavy with mists would lie at my feet and the shrill cries of monkeys would fill my ears. The weather would be just right, requiring a light sweater mornings and evenings, and something short-sleeved midday. Thus, set up, pen in hand, for the sake of greater truth, I would [write].

What a compelling vision!

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