Saturday, February 26, 2005

Tamas - Bhisham Sahni

The reason i wanted to read this book , was because the TV series by Govind Nihalani was as far as i can remember gripping and shocking. Though i now remember none of it,except that Om Puri acted well. And you could say that of most of Om Puris movies be it Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro , Ardh Satya or Bollywood Calling. But this isn't about Om Puri.
Tamas is set in the riots of 1947 and are based on true accounts that the author has witnessed in Rawalpindi. It has a multitude of characters all of whom are equally important to the story and perhaps equally insignificant because the topic the author tackles is no easy one.
It begins with a sweeper Nathu being fooled into killing a pig which is subsequently dumped onto the steps of a mosque. This leads to a rapid polarisation within the communities and the 'I want to live in peace but if they do anything then i will retaliate in kind' attitude. The situation worsens by wild rumors , some killings,looting and everything else that we can see repeated these days.
The book shows the inability of even the well meaning politicians to come to an understanding. The apathy of the people in power (then the British but which applies for the riots today as well).
There are no politicians , criminals or British that you could blame these riots on though these characters are of course present. The villains(if you could call them that) are the common people.
The striking feature is that the story is authentic. Loose ends are left untied and you do not know how the lives of the people continued. There are no moral judgments to be found here.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Bible Code -2 Michael Drosnin

Perhaps the problem I had when I read this book is that I expected a Da Vinci Code.
The Bible Code describes a code that is supposedly hidden in the Hebrew text of the old testament which contains predictions of events occurring after the book was written.
The Bible Code 2 is the sequel and contains some more predictions and includes the authors search for an Obelisk that he believes could crack the code.
I have read the book and I can say I am not convinced.
There are many reasons for it some of it illogical like the author always mentions that the bible is 3000 years old and therefore its prediction of events occurring now is nothing short of miraculous - yes I got it it the first time. The author keeps repeating that he is an objective reporter and does not believe in religion time and again , so many times that you begin doubting his words!
The main problem is that there are no maths to back up his claims. I have to believe the word of an Israeli mathematician. There are other who have pointed out that Moby Dick, War and Peace even the Bible Code itself contain predictions by pure chance of course
The other striking feature is all the predictions deal with Israel , Palestine and in some cases America. Its as if there is no world outside of these communities and that the world revolves round them.
The author of course hedges his bets saying the bible only has predictions and these are meant to be warnings which means we can change the course of events. It of course follows that everything that comes true is because the code told you so and everything that doesn't is because we did something that changed the future.
The book is also poorly structured as most of the pages are taken up by Hebrew text screens that I do not understand. It wastes a lot of real estate without much gain to the normal reader.
The only redeeming feature is that the author claims he tried to bring peace between Arafat and the various Israeli leaders. Even if the code is false, but peace could be bought by it then it is indeed a worthwhile endeavor

In any case the code predicts a great disaster in the year 2006 so we shall see whether the author is right