The Barbet's Lullaby

"My life has recently intersected, in a most personal way, two of Mark Twain's famous quips. One I shall defer to the end of this essay. The other (sometimes attributed to Disraeli), identifies three species of mendacity, each worse than the one before - lies, damned lies, and statistics."

"Just think, I almost got to repeat Mark Twain's most famous line of all: the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

-- Stephen J. Gould, The Median Isn't the Message

It is now five months since I stepped out of Bombay. Almost to the day. I can't remember the last time I was in one place for so long. One can count and recount almost every visit outside of the home that was not to a hospital. If the monotony has been insufferable, the breaks have been more so. I'm not sure which I prefer, to hide in the daily routines or to run from the unforeseen experiences. I have come to trust the stability of things. Like the constant, unchanging view of the rain tree outside my window. And, the unpredictable but daily, metronomic call of the coppersmith barbet, that became my diurnal lullaby.

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Charting the Cranium Underneath the Color

A review of:

RACISTS by Kunal Basu; Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2006; Pages 214, Rs.250

Racists by Kunal Basu, is a poignant tale of the scientific racism that was rampant in nineteenth century Europe. The title, simple and suggestive, reeks of what is to come, but falls short in that it is too direct while one begins to anticipate allegorical nibbles and analogies. Considering that racism is an area that is widely discussed but rarely explored with quality literary works even harder to find, it is considered politically taboo thereby stifling true scientific discourse and hence, literary appreciation is due. But think fiction with a spine of racism, and the incomparable To Kill a Mockingbird will still race all others to the top, although it is a trifle unfair to compare these two with their totally different narratives. The similarities end with the boy-girl duo on which the narratives are built with the sole similarity in style being the bildungsroman approach of both, wherein the protagonists evolve physically and mentally with the flow of the story.

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