Friday, 13 June 2008

Precious Ramotswe

To cut the blues, we all do different things. We
* watch MTV and admire John Abraham's butt
* paint our nails
* play a video game
* phone-a-friend
* talk to mum
* drink a coffee and flirt with the red-hatted waiter at Cafe Coffee Day
* go to the gym
* run
* read blogs
* read
read read read thats my number one thing to do. Of course, when my responsibilities were fewer and the weather conducive, I would run. But now that has to be scheduled. Typically in the morning. I hate TV. Also John Abraham's smirk gives me the creeps. And there is no promise of continuous amounts of Joey Chandler Cyrus Broacha, which is a problem with TV. Blogs that I read are occasionally funny but many a time a slice of reality things that can make me plunge deeper.

But one has to choose with care and caution the book to read. I have very nearly reached the end of my tether with South Asian Semi-Desi Diaspora Angst authors. Despite Amitav Ghosh, who is consistently good to me. And I do like Rushdie. Initially I was encouraged by the upstarts of recent times. Their names, their backgrounds, their settings, similar to mine. So, hey, what do you know, that thing in the back of my mind about a making a book, might happen some day, I used to think. But now, engrossed in work (so that making a book means one with equations, at best, not an exploration of Indian something or the other), and so on, I have pushed that one further for internal reasons. And external reasons such as published books saying 'Quite' when they mean Quiet and, invariably Loose when they mean Lose. Heck! this is not a blog people, find a good editor, I want to tell them. But then, whats the point, since the story sucks at any rate. They will just think I am covering my own back and finding excuses to be sloppy in my blog-writing. I, who once said soar when I meant sore. And god knows what else.

In any case, the one that always works for me is Wodehouse. I have a decent collection. I have mentioned before that my local library does a decent complementary collection to mine. So, generally, I am in good shape. Except that in the past one year, despite purchasing that entire new boxed set from Crossword and covering all the books from the library in sequence, I sort of know by heart the story, the phrases I like, and sometimes even the page number where the most funny things are said.

So last night, after this thing set in in my mind around 9 pm, this, what I call the blues, for lack of a better term, and the two books I was trying to read (desi authors, won't take names) sucked royally, I was at a loose end (ha ha). I stared at the book shelf. Ruskin Bond. There is a degree of sameness in all the ten books. Mark Tully is nice but I was not in the mood. Mrs. Dalloway, right. The Hours by Michael Cunningham and that one, I had read some three times front to back to back to front to middle to everywhere, so, while it is all very clever and really nice and all, the time was not right.

Finally, overlooking all the umpteen desi & related authors, skipping over all the clever Americans with their theory on the modern world and coffee, the eye fell upon McCall Smith. He is probably not winning a Nobel Prize in a hurry (too prolific?). My frame of reference for his Africa is really, non-existent, though I marginally do better with his Edinburgh, having spent a most enjoyable few days there at a conference. But what the heck! I picked it up. The first one in the series. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. I own, and have read, all of the books in the series, a few years back. Have some fond memories of it. But I cannot quote page numbers, so it seemed a decent choice.

I read the first few pages, and tears welled up. Yeah, I am silly like that. Precious Ramotswe is so damn cute, I could not help it. And the book speaks of such a nice time/place. Everything so simple. Even if Mma (Okay I admit I am unclear on how you pronounce this abbrev.) is fat, and there are snide references to it occasionally (which highlights the fact that a MAN is writing this after all), and she does hit a tree with her little white van once (again, MAN. Let me not get started on men and women drivers today). So, thats it folks. Since I did not get more than twenty pages read last night, today I have something to look forward to after work, or perhaps during my drive to that mucky place I need to go to today. And here is crossing my fingers and hoping that it will simplify my life too, you know, since most of the convolutions are in my mind.

I get by with a little connection to a large lady detective. The pain in my neck (the literal one, the figurative ones are still asleep) seems bearable now.


dipali said...

Yes, Mma Ramotswe'e world is so clean and beautiful, despite all the crooks the no. 1 detective deals with.
I've also enjoyed McCall Smith's other books- the Isabel Dalhousie ones. He is wonderful and prolific. Good for us:)

kbpm said...

yes, dipali, it seems like a dream for me, that simplicity that i strive so very very hard to get in my own life.
The Isabel Dalhousie - I have read one of them the Sunday Philosophers Something. Thats based in Edinburgh I think. It was nice, but I like Ramotswe more. Her husband and assistant are also darling.
Prolific is good. Wodehouse, Bond, Narayan, were all prolific & I like them all the more for it,now that I come to think of it. :-) :-)

choxbox said...

hey how did i miss this post?

yup mccall smith is good. liked the sries big time. saw the movie based on the first book and wished i hadnt.

btw he also does children's books. will show you some of the stuff next time you're in town. think mini-kenny will like them.