Aah the art of letters. I always believed that the best part about letters which is lost in all forms of electronic messaging is that tiny colourful piece of paper that’s glued to the envelope in the corner – yep stamps, and why you may ask. Why, simply because it teaches us so much about the origins of the letter. As a child I loved collecting stamps and its a habit that I still try to keep although its getting to be increasingly difficult to find stamps in this electronic age. To discover that some of the countries whose stamps I have, no longer exist, is quite thrilling indeed. Over time though, the stamps gave way to the persons behind the letters. I began developing a passion for the people who wrote heartfelt letters – baring their soul to the reader; their desires, their anger, their faults, their desperation, their joys…
Call me a romantic at heart but how enthralling is the idea of traveling through treacherous regions, navigating through miles and miles of sand in search of elusive lakes? In the modern era of adventure tourism, the word adventure is so loosely used that a bungee jump in a super safe place is categorized as adventure; where could I read of authentic traveler accounts with genuine adventures? My first introduction to such a swashbuckling adventurer was Peter O’Toole riding a camel in the vast expanses of the Arabian deserts with his beautiful agal in the movie Lawrence of Arabia fancied after the great British explorer T.E. Lawrence.
Yayati was a powerful and handsome king of the ancient times. On being cursed with premature old-age by a sage, Yayati loses all that his youth had been giving him – pleasure, fame and riches. He approaches his dutiful son Puru to exchange his youth for his old-age, to which the boy readily agrees. Thus Yayati indulges in excessive passion for over a thousand years. Eventually Yayati realises the fruitlessness of lustful excesses and returns his youth to his son and renounces worldly pleasures and turns into an ascetic. This story from mythology is a beautiful depiction of the futility of youth if not constructively used.
I recently bought myself a copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It is a massive book and I haven’t read it yet (a shame I know!). A colleague across my table quipped to me “There’s only so much description of a tree I can take”. I like big, massive books. I mean books that take time for the reader to settle in. I mean books that don’t allow you to get into the story until you’ve read the first 80 or 100 odd pages. These books aren’t to be read on a Kindle. The hard pages as they brush across your thumb and forefinger as you turn the pages form important tactile memories and these big books also stroke my ‘reader’ ego, I must admit.