27 April 2011

A literary irony

One of life’s little ironies. My life’s little ironies.
I was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, in a Tamil speaking family. But strangely, possibly due to a combination of circumstances, while growing up I had minimal exposure to Tamil history, classics etc.
While my family did their bit to fill their gaps, I grew up to be a very slow reader and writer of the language, as I did hardly 5 years of study in it. What I missed almost completely was Tamil Literature.
While cousins who were into it tried often to tempt me into reading some novel that had impressed them, I baulked, mostly because the speed at which I read Tamil would have meant that it would take me AGES (and that’s no exaggeration – I used to take about 15 minutes to read one page of printed Tamil) to finish any of those bulky tomes that they favoured.
I remember making only one exception: it was a book called Nainda Ullam by Anuthama. Although completing it was a laborious process, I did it for two reasons: it was recommended by a favourite sister and once I started reading it, I liked it, so wanted to read more.
Either way, after that (sometime when I was in school), I read hardly anything in Tamil apart from the barest minimum.
After my graduation and journalism course, work in an English newspaper surprisingly, brought Tamil back into my life. Translating press releases from the state government (ie, crap) into English had one benefit. It re-familiarised me with reading Tamil again. And since then, I’ve somehow or the other managed to keep myself fairly upto speed with Tamil. After moving to NZ, I’ve made a conscious effort to do this.
Now, getting to the purpose of this whole rambling post: one of the novels which I kept hearing people talking about but had never read was a novel of epic proportions, called ‘Ponniyin Selvan’. I don’t know why, but the name has always fascinated me. When I was younger, I didn’t know that Ponni was another name for the Kaveri or that Ponniyin Selvan was how people referred to Raja Raja Cholan (shocking I know, but I am telling it like it is). But there was something almost mystical about the title of the book.
To cut a long ramble short, I seldom had the opportunity to read this epic and on the rare occasions that I did, the sheer size put me off (2400 pages, divvied up into 5 volumes). Up until now.
But after all that, I am finally reading this novel now. In NZ (oh, another irony for sure). I’ve finished four chapters. The wealth of history in the novel is staggering. The characters it describes are inspiring.
And while I am sure I don’t know how long it will take me to finish all five volumes, I know that this time, I will. All good things take time.

13 April 2011

Aaaargh, I may as well be dead for all the writing I've been doing lately on my blog. Fb is one culprit, but not the only one...