This compilation of 37 blog posts is eminently readable; the writing style is a candid and forthright mixture of satire, commentary, humour, gossip, experiences, nostalgia and travelogue. Journeys for any person is a mixture of experiences and the author comments that it is the best way to learn the culture and customs of a place and one should adjust to that culture.
His deep understanding of situations and drawing of themes from them is evident in every piece of writing, but then he nostalgically recalls the system or ritual in his native village.
Readers of blogs respond immediately on publication and admittedly one blog provides the continuity to the other. But while compiling and publishing them as a book one needs to apply the blue pencil; it has not happened in several pieces in the otherwise outstanding pieces of writing.
The ability to laugh at oneself, which most of our writers lack, adds to the admirable readability of the blogs. The topics presented are diverse – globalisation, management, liberalisation and competition in the market, linking up of rivers, foreign investment, importance of farming on a commercial scale, college campus experiences, childhood memories, significance of learning a global language and so on.
Veiled advice (without being didactic) to those who care to act, and a plea to do away with unnecessary customs, are laudable. Several unnamed people are subjects of the author’s humorous narrations. Universal themes are drawn from events such as Watergate, Chinese year of the dragon, delivery of a dog, Ramayana sites’ promotion in Sri Lanka and Rinkoji temple, among others.
The author hails from a middle class matriarchal agricultural family, as can be made out from the book. The first two essays, one a childhood experience and the other about an innocent query from his mother to his brother about drinking from a left over champagne bottle, set the tone.
Another experience is about how different persons reacted to the writer’s childhood query about the meaning of the word, ‘abhisarika’ (sex worker). ‘Sukhachikilsa’ is about an experience related to Ayurveda massage, its origin in other countries and about modern Allopathy looking down upon it.
Two of the best essays in the collection are ‘Vengolayile Saypumar’ and ‘Alimappillayude Veedu’. The first one is about the Anglo-Indian families in the author’s village. It is a painful reflection on the standard of education in all our educational, including professional, institutions.
‘Alimappilayude Veedu’ is about indigenous food and how farmers used to plan their crop and cropping practices. It also touches upon the utter ignorance about all that among the new generation. He points out how wheat farming in Saudia Arabia is practised on similar lines.
‘!40 Illattha Delhi’, drawn from a tumultuous experience of a taxi drive in Delhi, is about the need for a perfect system of attending to instantaneous repair of vehicles; in this age of fecundity of motor vehicles on the roads it is absolutely essential to have such a system.
While being astutely nostalgic and fond of his family and the educational institutions and Kerala, the author minces no words about his leanings for globalisation and resultant competition. Sometimes the ideas are contrasting and impractical, but even those ideas are put forth in a convincing style and that is the success of the readability of the collection (despite too many words in English!).
Chila Naattukaryangal, Muralee Thummarukudy, Current Books, Rs. 140