Saturday, March 15, 2014


Mock Turtle Soup, The Fat Duck

Mad Hatter's Tea Party, The Fat Duck Tasting Menu

Thoughts flow in and out of our minds. Apart from improving one’s command of the language one is reading in, reading helps one to string together one’s thoughts and  discover things about oneself . For me reading definitely helps me to identify and formulate  my thoughts about things in general.

If you are bothered or distressed about something, you may find it difficult to switch off your mind and focus on what you read. When reading is a hobby, it is a pleasure. If you are too busy, you have no time to read a book from back to back, perhaps you can try to read something short or just a paragraph or two whenever you can. That is if you want to. I used to welcome the time when I had been kept waiting for my girls when they were held back in their respective classes. I even looked forward to the time when I had a  dental appointment or some routine medical check up as that was the time I get to read what I wanted to read. That was when I managed to get a moment to read a page or two of some good writings. It was not the best way to read a book but if I had not done that I would never get around to reading any books for more than a dozen years. Whenever I had to do the supermarket run in my suburb, I used to grab a coffee at the Starbucks outlet where the supermarket was located so I could sit in one of their sofa chair for twenty minutes or more to read some pages of whatever book I was reading then before I sped through the grocery shopping which was the purpose of my trip. I was dividing my time into different segments so I could get mini breaks to read. 

I  have the habit of reading two or three books contemporaneously. A decade ago, there was this one time when I had to do some laundry, a task I found terribly uninspiring.  I reluctantly picked up the dirty clothes around the house and decided to do a quick wash of the clothes before going to work. While the clothes were being washed in the machine, I had a quick shower and got myself ready for work. Then while waiting for the clothes to spin dry, I wanted to catch up with one of  the novels  that I was reading then. While I distinctively remembered that I had  the book with me when I gathered the clothes, I could not locate the book. When the washing machine stopped spinning, I found bits of paper stuck to all the clothes. I had thrown the book into the machine as I loaded the clothes. Incidentally, the book that I had thrown into the wash  was The Dirty Girls’ Social Club. It is a novel written by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez about six Latina women friends who regularly meet after they have left Boston University and they nickname themselves ‘Sucias’ . Twice a year, every year, the sucias show up for their meetings  of the Buena Sucia Social Club.  The women’s stories are told by Lauren, Elizabeth, Sara, Rebecca, Usnavys and Amber in first person narration that I had found interesting. It is sassy and fun like Sex and the City but the characters are more credible as they have added sorrow.

Nowadays I have more time to read the books I want to read but  I still cannot get  enough time to read as much as I would like to. Also these days it can be a little inconvenient when I happen to step out for lunch armed with a novel and forgetting my reading glasses. I now realize why some people do not read as much when they get older due to poor eyesight. But seriously, what is a slight inconvenience when I can rectify it by wearing reading glasses. It is time to embrace growing old with grace.

It has been more than a week since the plane MH 370 went missing and the incident has sent and continues to send tremors throughout the whole world. While it is heart warming to see how countries amidst their differences have stood together to search for the missing plane and how people from different faiths and ethnic groups  pray for the safe return of  its crew and the passengers on board, it is definitely a harrowing experience for people around the world.

The unresolved tragedy reminds me of the passages from the novel “ Saturday” written by Ian McEwan. Saturday, February 15, 2003, Henry Perowne,  a successful neurosurgeon unusually wakes before dawn, drawn to the window and filled with a growing unease. As he looks out at the night sky, he is troubled by the state of the world and he witnesses a burning plane from his bedroom window .

The plane emerges from the trees, crosses a gap and disappears behind the Post Office Tower. If Perowne were inclined to religious feeling, to supernatural explanations, he could play with the idea that he’s been summoned; that having woken in an unusual state of mind, and gone to the window for no reason, he should acknowledge a hidden order, an external intelligence which wants to show or tell him something of significance. But a city of its nature cultivates insomniacs ;it is itself a sleepless entity whose wires never stop singing; among so many millions there are bound to be people staring out of windows when normally they would be asleep. And not the same people every night. That it should be him and not someone else is an arbitrary matter. A simple antropic principle is involved. The primitive thinking of the supernaturally inclined amounts to what his psychiatirric colleagues call a problem , or an idea, of reference………’

“ …..Among the terrified passengers many might be praying – another problem of reference – to their own god for intersession. And if there are to be deaths, the very god who ordained them will soon be funereally petitioned for comfort. Perowne regards this as a matter for wonder, a human complication beyond the reach of morals. From it there spring, alongside the unreason and slaughter, decent people and good deeds, beautiful cathedrals, mosques, cantatas, poetry. Even the denial of God, he was once amazed and indignant to hear a priest argue, is a spiritual exercise, a form of prayer; it’s not easy to escape from the clutches of the believers. The best hope for the plane is that it’s suffered simple, secular mechanical failure.”

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