Friday, August 17, 2012

Book: Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

“We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life. Like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way. But once that flame goes out, it’s gone forever.” ― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

A few months back I read my first Murakami novel What I Talk About When I Talk About Running ( It was a thoroughy enjoyable read. When I came across this other work Sputnik Sweetheart recently I had no hesitation in giving it a try.

Murakami did not disappoint. There is a certain charm that is unique to his style. The books read like a long monologue at once simple and profound. He is a master in the use of everyday metaphors to elucidate his points of view. The language is so clear and unpretentious that one easily falls in step with the pace of this writer who incidentally is a serious long-distance runner.

Sputnik Sweetheart is the poignant story of a woman in her twenties, Sumire, who falls in love with another woman seventeen years her senior. There is also K, the narrator, who is Sumire's best friend and he is a primary school teacher. In the hands of an accomplished writer the story becomes a mere vehicle to explore the human psyche. Murakami has a deft touch and succeeds in creating a mood that is sad and touching.

There are several interesting quotes from the novel that have been compiled at the following location-

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chariots of Desire!

Last weekend I parted with Sail, my car of nine-years and brought home Duster, my
next ride. There is excitement of the brand new car certainly, but also a sense of
loss and parting from the companion that carried me for so many kilometers ( one
hundred thousand, to be exact!).

"Achtung Baby!" was the catch phrase that GM employed to draw attention (achtung in
German means "attention") when they launched Opel Corsa model in India. Well, I dont
think it drew much achtung, going by the number of the models that were sold.
Nevertheless, my Opel Corsa Sail served me just great and my respect for German
engineering has grown with every passing year. The solidity, the fit and finish, the
finesse, the power under the hood on call, I can go on and on. The only obvious
negative in my Sail was the lack of adequate ground clearance that resulted in
unpleasant scrapes and thuds at the innumberable potholes and road humps that dot our
roads. I could live with that as the overall ride quality sufficiently compensated me
for that one drawback.

Some of the best moments in my journey on the Sail have been on the highway (from
Bangalore to Hassan) and the road beyond to Chickamagalur where it was literally a
happy happy sail each and every time. It was always a struggle to resist rather than
gain the acceleration that would border on the risky on our roads. What a car! The
"strong and the silent" type! You would hardly hear a purr but it would hog the road
like a hungry lion.

The other quality I recall with fondness, was the rock solid body frame. In the nine
years, at least on three occassions I was in situations where I expected the impacts
on the Sail body to cost me dear in terms of repair. Once a school bus rammed
the Sail on the right fender, the second time a bike guy hit the rare right door and
the thid time an Innova stopped abruptly resulting in my Sail backending him. In all
three instances it was nothing more than very minor dents on the Sail. The car must
have come with heavy-guage steel for body frame.

I was very happy with the quality of service that I got from the GM dealers too.It
was a car I could trust to carry me for long distances without landing me in trouble.
On one occassion I drove about 800 kms on a single day as I had to attend a cousin's
wedding back home in Chickamagalur district and be back in Bangalore to attend office
the next day. It was a breeze. Driving my Sail never tired me.

Well, absence does make the heart grow fonder, but... I always did celebrate the
"presence" of my Sail too. Sadly, partings are inevitabe in life. The departure of my
beloved Sail has taken some wind out of my sails but I guess it is time to dust
myself off and reclaim the road with the Duster!