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The Double – José Saramago

November 6, 2009 1 comment

the double

Just finished reading The Double by José Saramago. It was my introduction to this Nobel Prize winning author.

The story revolves around Tertuliano Maximo Afonso, a reclusive history teacher suddenly confronted by his double. Afonso encounters his duplicate in a video recommended by his colleague. He chases him down despite a sinister foreboding about the consequences. Tragic events unfold, impelled by fate, once they meet.

It is said that every person has a double somewhere in the world. But we rarely ever come face to face with them in real life. In the story, destiny has located Afonso’s doppelgänger in the very same city. Saramago asserts the we can never tolerate the existence of a double once we realize their existence.

The narrative style is smooth although a single line can run into a whole paragraph punctuated by commas. Conversations frequently go back and forth spanning pages, the characters and speech discernible only by the uppercase and context. Occasionally the author appears in the guise of a narrator and inserts curious expositive passages bordering on the frivolous.

Saramago managed to capture my imagination. His facility for storytelling is remarkable. To me the plot is only marginally interesting. The anecdotes, the perspicacious insights, the style of narrative, the subtle humour and the almost poetic usage of words are what really endeared me to José Saramago. I do not have most of his works. I’m itching to lay my hands on “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” next.

Click here for an interesting review of the book.

Categories: Bibliophilia

Bang for your buck

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment
Hi all, I am back again. Have been busy with work for some time. I really admire those who can balance their jobs, home and still find time to blog.
 
 So much have happened in the meantime. Diwali has come and gone. We too hung neon lights and lighted diyas. There were fireworks, crackers and rockets. Surprisingly, this year Delhi recorded lesser atmospheric pollution but greater noise pollution. Crackers have become costly. Probably to compensate for it sound effects have been vastly enhanced. Sort of more “bang” for your buck, literally.
 
 Obama received the controversial Nobel Prize. Did he deserve it? Obama himself expressed reservations, but decided to keep the prize, all the same. How modest. Well, he’s carrying a huge burden of expectations on his shoulders. And he has promised more bang for the buck. Bang, bang, bang, bang… And the buck, ask the prize committee which sold out to the bang.
 
 Then there were the usual slew of disasters. Flooding in Andhra, Karnataka and Orissa, Philippines, Polynesia. Yesterday there was a train mishap at Mathura. People died. I sometimes wonder how I can be so indifferent to such disturbing news. Somehow I seem to think that such things cannot happen to me. As if I have been granted divine immunity. And I desperately want to believe it. Anyways, I banged my head against the staircase yesterday evening. I was engrossed in my supermarket bill. The staircase must have noticed it. Before I had a chance to say, Hello, move over a bit, there it was, bang, and gifted me a gooseberry on the forehead. That shook me out of the philosophical reverie and reinforced the principle that  life comes with no guarantees. No replacement and at best only marginal repair. Better increase the insurance cover. One never know when a real bang  will come and get all your bucks.
 
What else? I have also started believing in chance encounters. One tiny, inconsequential act, one chance question and a whole series of events were set in motion which eventually helped me to get in touch with my college friends and former colleagues. A cosmic, magnetic alignment of iron filings. A mysterious falling into place which I could not logically retrace to the epicenter. There was one obvious, omnipresent catalyst to the process. Internet and social networking sites. Now, that is definitely more bang for no bucks.
 
Well, I have been banging around a lot now.  There will be more of it in the days to come. After all, we have an eternity to lay waste…
Categories: Musings