Saturday, June 30, 2007

Country poem meme

I had gone to poefrica/rethabile to comment on his works. I landed up on this Country poem meme.

I thought why not give it a try! I did learn something about a country I know nothing! I even plan to find out more about its literature.

Intro for you all:

Take a country whose name begins with the last letter of your surname. (a) Jane Doe would take Ecuador, for example, or Egypt. England (like the USA and Ireland) does not qualify. Wole Soyinka would take Angola, or Afghanistan. If you cannot find a country with that letter (and only then), move back a step. (b) Jane Doe would take Oman, in that case. And as for Wole Soyinka, he would go for Kazakhstan, or Korea. And so on.

Thank you. Please tag two people (leave a message on their blog, too).

Here is my offering:

As my surname is Tripathy, Yemen was the only country that came to my mind.

1. Tell us what the capital city of the country

Yemen is a Middle Eastern country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. Yemen is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the North, the Red Sea to the West, the Arabian Sea. In addition, Gulf of Aden to the South, and Oman to the east. Yemen's territory includes over 200 islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 415 kilometres to the south of Yemen, off the coast of Somalia. The capital of Yemen is Sana’a.

2. How many inhabitants that country has?

It has a population of about 20 million people

3. Find and share with us a poem in English of not more than 20 lines from that country. If it's longer; cut it to twenty lines or less.

Waddah al-Yaman, born Abdul Rahman bin Isma’il al-Khawlani(d. 708), was an Arab poet. He was born in Yemen in the second half of the seventh century. He was famous for his erotic and romantic poems. He was executed by the Ummayad Caliph Al-Walid I, allegedly due to his over familiarity with the former's wife. Waddah is now regarded as the national poet of Yemen.

One of his poems goes like this:

She said, "Don’t come to our home, my father is deadly jealous."
I said, "I’ll pluck you before he knows it, my sword is razor sharp."
She said, "There’s a whole castle between us."
I said, "I’ll fly my flag over the castle."
She said, "There’s a whole sea between us."
I said, "I’m a strong swimmer."
She said, "My seven brothers keep an eye on me."
I said, "I’m a match for them all."
She said, "Allah is watching us."
I said, "My lord is Merciful and Forgiving."
She said, "I have run out of words, so come tonight when everyone’s floating in dreams, and fall on me like dew, undisturbed."

4. Tell us something you particularly like about the poem you have chosen:

There was no other choice. It is the only poem I could find on the net from Yemen.

5. Add a line anywhere in the poem (beginning, middle or end), and clearly show which line is yours to avoid confusion and/or ambiguity.

I said, "Tonight I come to you and merge our souls."
She said, "Don’t come to our home, my father is deadly jealous."
I said, "I’ll pluck you before he knows it, my sword is razor sharp."
She said, "There’s a whole castle between us."
I said, "I’ll fly my flag over the castle."
She said, "There’s a whole sea between us."
I said, "I’m a strong swimmer."
She said, "My seven brothers keep an eye on me."
I said, "I’m a match for them all."
She said: "Allah is watching us."
I said, "My lord is Merciful and Forgiving."
She said, "I have run out of words, so come tonight when everyone’s floating in dreams, and fall on me like dew, undisturbed."

I tag J. Andrew Lochart, Borut and/or anyone else who wants to play.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Deadly Kisses By Brenda Joyce

Deadly Kisses By Brenda Joyce

ISBN: 0778322688

Pages: 464


Publisher: MIRA
Time Period: New York, 1902

I picked this book to read while traveling. I rarely read romances but I wanted something light. This is not a romance in the strict sense. I did enjoy it.

It begins with Francesca being summoned to the home of her fiancé Calder Hart's, ex-mistress. She finds Daisy's best friend, Rose, rocking Daisy's bloody corpse. Francesca is hired by Rose to find out who killed her one time friend and rival. Once she learns that Calder lied to her, Francesca begins to fear that he is involved in the death, at the least, and perhaps something more sordid. Still, she is unable to shake her instinctive sense that Calder is lying about something. The police are far less inclined to believe in his innocence, and yet she believes in Calder and is determined to set him free even after his own brother arrests him for Daisy's murder. As her investigation continues, Francesca learns many ugly things in the victim's life. Everyone tells her, it is better to stop her quest but Francesca needs to know the truth.

Calder attempts to distance himself from her until he realizes that no matter what he has or has not done, and no matter what is said of him, Francesca will loyally stand by even as things deteriorate. Only she can see the goodness and vulnerability in this former rogue.


One down from Summer Reading Challenge..

Friday, June 15, 2007

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The City of Falling Angels
by John Berendt
412 pages
ISBN 9780143036937

The City of Falling Angels opens on the evening of January 29, 1996 with Berendt traversing in a water taxi to his hotel three days after a when a powerful fire destroys the historic Fenice opera house. Berendt chooses to extend his stay to learn more about the fire and the city from the most fascinating source, not necessarily consistent—the Venetians themselves.

It is a great work of journalism, storytelling, and societal insight. It is a spellbinding look at an otherwise unreachable community of people, who inhabit one of the world's most beautiful cities, a city instilled in art, history, tradition, and ritual. It is a portrait of the captivating and colorful Venice—the world that exists in the off-season, when the tourists have departed and Venetians have Venice all to themselves.

Dragging on all his talents as an investigative reporter, Berendt goes behind the pretense of decaying buildings to reveal the city's intricate, hidden private life. Complex by nature, the Venetians reveal themselves in both open and secretive ways—as Count Marcello tells him, "Venetians never tell the truth. We mean precisely the opposite of what we say."

Berendt gets to meet people whose families lived through a thousand years of Venetian history. He speaks with a variety of people who make their homes in grand palaces and in tiny cottages. In the course of his investigations, Berendt introduces us to a rich cast of characters: a prominent Venetian poet whose shocking "suicide" prompts his sceptical friends to pursue a murder suspect on their own; the first family of American emigrant that loses possession of the family palace after four generations of ownership; an organization of high-society, party going Americans who raise money to preserve the art and architecture of Venice, a contemporary Venetian surrealist painter and shocking provocateur; the master glassblower of Venice; and many more, stool pigeons, scapegoats, hustlers, sleepwalkers, the Plant Man, the Rat Man, and Henry James.

Berendt spins a suspenseful tale out of the threads of many stories—some directly connected to the fire, others not. He finds chaos, corruption, and crime are as characteristic of Venice as its winding canals. With a compelling combination of inquisitiveness and composure, Berendt presents an intimate look at a community of natives and expatriates as multifaceted as the colors reflected in the Fenice fire and in the artwork designed to commemorate it.

Berendt tells a tale full of atmosphere and surprise as the stories build, one after the other, ultimately coming together to reveal a world as finely drawn as a still-life painting. The fire and its aftermath serve as a leitmotif that runs throughout, adding the elements of chaos, corruption, and crime and contributing to the ever-mounting suspense of this brilliant book.

I enjoyed Berendt’s deep descriptions and adroit method for telling stories. In particular, he is good at telling both sides of striking events, often shaping his tale to make the reader alternate between one side and another. Berendt is a master of real-life characters and their stories.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré

The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré

Pages: 508
Coronet Books

Tessa is the wife of a minor British diplomat in Nairobi, and is an active crusader for human rights. When she is murdered, her husband Justin awakens himself from his careful apathy and, sorting out the threads that led to her death, sets off in her footsteps. His journey takes him around the world, to a village retreat in Italy, a non-government organisation in Germany, an ostracised scientist in Canada, a food distribution area in southern Sudan, and in the end back to Kenya and the scene of Tessa's death.

In The Constant Gardener, Le Carré offers a compelling account of a man on the run, chased by his "own" side (Intelligence and the Foreign Office) as well as by the bad guys (thugs working for a pharmaceutical company). He presents a characteristically unflattering portrait of the machinations of bureaucracy and bureaucrats. As well as following Justin, we get a glimpse inside the mind of his timeserving and lecherous colleague Sandy. He is an example of not overt evil — the thugs and the corporate executives who send them remain in the background — but of those who allow evil to happen by averting their eyes and by following orders rather than their conscience.

The Constant Gardener revolves around a drug, a diplomat, and a murder. Dypraxa is a new cure for tuberculosis, developed by a Swiss pharmaceutical company that is testing it unscrupulously, and at great human cost, among Kenyan villagers and slum-dwellers in preparation for its debut in the U.S. and other developed nations. Tessa Quayle, a diplomatic wife, attorney and idealist, discovers the corruption and malevolence at the heart of this scheme, only to get her throat cut in the bush north of Nairobi when she threatens to expose the sordid mess. The novel unfolds as Tessa's husband follows her path into the darker recesses of corporate greed, Foreign Office duplicity, and medical science in the service of profit.

''Tuberculosis is megabucks,'' Le Carré writes,” Any day now the richest nations will be facing a tubercular pandemic, and Dypraxa will become the multibillion-dollar earner that all good shareholders dream of.''

Beneath the politics, we find the variance between individuals and their institutional identities that runs through more or less all of Le Carré's novels. Justin Quayle, diplomat and suddenly a widower, is the constant gardener referred to in Le Carré's title: He is complacent in his dedication to the ethos of the British Foreign Office. Justin chucks out his Etonian manners in order to pursue his late wife's cause, joining Le Carré’s renegades in revolt against their circumstances. The Constant Gardener is about the human capacity for transformation. Through Justin, the political themes are elevated to questions of loyalty, integrity, and personal sovereignty in a world that rewards betrayal, venality, and the abdication of moral responsibility.

The Constant Gardener is set in Kenya and traces the extraordinary events within a close-knit British community living in Nairobi, working for Her Majesty's Government and for aid agencies. One gets to see some of the city of Nairobi and its outlying countryside, as well as the machinations of the Kenyan government and media. The politics of the country alone and in relation to the UK, is very much part of the story too. However, the book's focus is its characters. The story unfolds through sharp, clear characterization and strong dialogues.