Sunday, May 30, 2010

So foul and fair a day I have not seen...

Strange weather in Jammu recently.
The day turned dark. Afternoon was night. Had to turn on all the lights to see anything. Plus it was muggy, a bizarre reddish sky was playing to the soundtrack of distant thunder and strong winds.

Very Macbeth, I thought. Relevant excerpts showcasing my C&P skills:

The night has been unruly: where we lay,
Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i' the air; strange screams of death,
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatch'd to the woeful time: the obscure bird
Clamour'd the livelong night: some say, the earth
Was feverous and did shake.

SCENE IV. Outside Macbeth's castle.

Ah, good father,
Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock, 'tis day,
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp:
Is't night's predominance, or the day's shame,
That darkness does the face of earth entomb,
When living light should kiss it?
Yes. Shakespeare was quite nuts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Votes and Books

Allors. There's an ego-balm website called that apparently interviews any ol' blogger. Which explains why I was dropped a line and subsequently got to fill in my first interview.
And so, this gives you, all three of my readers, the chance to vote for me on said site.
Here's a pretty button to help you further. Click on it, it'll take you to the voting site. Blue button there which says 'Vote'.
This is where the link goes, if you're not into buttons. Click tiny blue 'Vote' button, yes? Even if you don't really want to. I mean, it's only a few seconds.

In other news, I have finished reading The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, which was very nice, particularly in that I learnt some useful, daily-use German cuss words. No, no, it was really good. Left me teary-eyed at the end even, and when Death is the narrator, the read can only be interesting. I recommend.
Then my sister had left over her Flights of Love, by Bernhard Schlink (author of The Reader). It's a collection of stories set in Germany around the 'Wall' era. May I just say one thing: YUCK. What a bloody waste of my time. Nothing appealing about either of the stories I have read so far, and this is one of those rare books I will not complete. I'll say it again: YUCK. Stay away.
Finished reading 'Cujo' just a couple of days ago. One of the few Stephen King novels I hadn't yet read. Whatte! Forget your soppy 'Beethoven' movies, this book takes a gigantic Saint Bernard, gives him rabies and then watches the mayhem that follows in a small town in Maine. (Where else?) As always, there's the ever-present psychological horror, a running commentary of the madness that we all have inside our heads. There's also an adorable toddler thrown into the thick of things for gripping the reader like anything. I love Stephen King. I love his writing. I love his weirdness. (Just you see his hair style.) I am terrified of how he takes the everyday and turns it into your worst fear come true. *applause*. Anyway, do read.
Now am on to Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the follow up to 'Three Cups of Tea' by Greg Mortenson. Let's hope this is better than the first. Interesting as they both have to be, a book must be well written, which the first wasn't.

Okay. Got to run now. That's all.

Friday, May 07, 2010

I Need a Bookshelf

Because it has now to come to this.
Stockpiling books on my bedside table is just not cute any more, especially since I knock them down every day.

No place on the table, that's choked up.

The cupboard is pretty packed as well.

Let us now head to the other bedside table. No. No hope there either.

One tiny bookshelf provided in a corner of a corner... How much can this guy do? Moving on.

It is but obvious that this bare wall now deserves rows and rows of dark wood shelves, one below the other etc. to serve as guest rooms for my books. It is the only Hope left....

My Favourite Qur'an Interpretation...

When I left Dubai way back in 1997, my parents gifted me a travel-sized paperback Qur'an Sharif. I loved it,was smitten with it from the beginning, and this has been the book I've read and reread most often in my life. It was Abdullah Yusuf Ali's 'The Meaning of The Holy Qur'an', and it was smart, practical, pretty on the outside and utterly fantastic on the inside. The Meaning Of The Holy QuranUnlike the other bland translations of the Qur'an I'd been reading all my life, this interpretation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali was completely satisfying. A pure translation of Arabic into English is impossible - the attempts are frustrating to say the least (this holds true for Farsi or Urdu to English as well).

So, we're talking:
a. The Arabic language - beautiful, poetic, melodious, complex
b. At its most perfect (since it is the Word of God Himself)
c. In a cover-to-cover text that has remained entirely unchanged since the 6th Century A.D.
d. Which is one of the most integral pillars of the Islamic faith and all Muslims
e. And a guide book for Life, from 6 A.D. on till forever and ever, Amen.

That there is no real translation of the Holy Qur'an, that it cannot be done, is understood. Man can only attempt an interpretation of the God's Own Words, and literally changing Arabic words into English ones just isn't going to cut it.
Which is why Abdullah Yusuf Ali, with his poetry, his grace and his intelligence, has done the impossible and rendered a 'meaning' of the Holy Qur'an which feels right. In reading and understanding this interpretation, Ali's beautiful, lyrical explanation of the verses fits in very nicely with the accompanying Arabic original. The original Qur'anic verses have an incomparable beauty, rhythm and feel which are inbuilt. To translate this into a language like English, and to do it so well, is a piece of mastery that has millions of readers like me thanking God for one Mr A.Yusuf Ali and his hard work and his big scholarly brain.
I love Ali's Introduction in verse, his preface, the conclusion, the fantastic footnotes (with quotes from Shakespeare etc. :). In short, it is a wonderful!
If you want a proper English 'translations' or rather 'interpretation' of the Qur'an, this is the one to have. That's all.