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Archive for July, 2012

It is seldom that one comes across a book that is thought provoking and thrilling in equal measure. Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James is one such book. James is widely considered to be the greatest living mystery writer and in this book, she lives up to that honor and more. She has told an intricate story in the most lucid yet compelling manner. Her characters are vividly etched and appear as genuine as actual people. And, there is something for both a serious booklover and a suspense aficionado in this novel.

The story is absorbing in its own right. The isolated and rugged shoreline of East Anglia and St. Anselm’s, the theological college located there, far from the mundane world, provide an evocative backdrop for the murder mystery. The characters such as the priests, the ordinands, and the employees are all multidimensional and therefore, not easily fathomable. Each one is capable of suggesting innocence or candor and yet they all become suspects in a brutal case of murder.

The detection crew is headed by the poet detective, Commander Adam Dagliesh. He is experienced, intelligent, authoritative, and self- possessed. He is also, deeply thoughtful and poetically imaginative. His character is not that of a cut and dried detective but of a hero, in the truest sense of the word. Hence, the hint of romance surrounding him in the novel is convincing, even pleasing.

The leisurely, deliberate pace and extended descriptions and meanderings could have been tedious but they give layers of significance to the narrative. James gets the readers involved in this sensational story about ambition, revenge, love, incest, failure, and murder. She makes them uncomfortable by posing questions about belief, sin, and the consequences of action.

The ending might seem somewhat anticlimactic but Death in Holy Orders closes on a balanced and almost hushed note that is satisfying. Justice prevails, the old and rigid ways are set aside, innocence is salvaged, and love is promised.

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Recently, I had the opportunity of visiting Alaska. The breathtaking beauty of the place served as another poignant reminder of the sheer magnificence of our planet and also, its sad vulnerability. It was impossible to regard the stunning vistas of glaciers and snow-covered mountains without fearing for their capacity to prevail over human interference and indifference. I could not look upon such splendor with unconcern because the evidence of receding glaciers and dwindling icebergs was overwhelmingly visible.

Nature, even at its humblest moment, has the power of imparting pleasure. It is pure joy to sit by a window and watch the rain and inhale the smell of wet earth. But is it possible to exist in a simple moment like that, nowadays, without thinking of the dangers of acid rain or erosion?

I wish I could feel the caress of cool breeze without thinking of pollution. I wish I could look at a beautiful tree, with spreading branches and colorful blooms, and not fear that the tree might be chopped off by an unthinking hand, at any moment. I feel trepidation because I can not bear to imagine a future that is devoid of such artifacts of natural beauty.

To justify the rampant destruction of nature by stating that human need should gain ascendancy over everything is wrong, at so many levels. How is human need served by destroying that which keeps us alive? How can we survive without trees and mountains and clean air or uncontaminated oceans? What is life worth without health and beauty?

It is easier to proclaim false arguments and live in a state of denial than to face hard truths. But, for how long should we prevaricate and reject the dictates of our own conscience? It is imperative that all of us take responsibility for our Earth, right now. It is my hope that together we strive to overcome the forces of negativism and greed and make it our mission to rescue and save our beautiful planet.

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Beauty can often be equated with happiness and a sense of well being. We are beautiful when we feel confidence in ourselves and know in our hearts that we are lovely. We are also beautiful when we feel loved and cherished. True beauty is a state of mind.

It is important therefore not just to pamper our skin or hair but also to cultivate our sense of self worth. That can be done by reading a good book, going for a leisurely walk perhaps, enjoying a slow bath, or by going for a little shopping expedition. We can get an interesting haircut or take off to a mountain resort. Anything that makes us feel good serves to enhance our beauty.

Apart from doing little things for ourselves we need to also think long term. We need to take good care of our bodies, get good sleep, eat healthy food, and try to create a natural and wholesome environment around us. We cannot help but notice that our faces appear more luminous and unlined when we have had a good rest and are not bogged down by stress.

We must avoid using harmful makeup, even harsh chemicals at our homes. Developing a healthy self-image is essential. It means not obsessing about our weight and going for crash diets etc. Such rash decisions ruin our health and charm.

Beauty lies in the eyes of our friends and loved ones. They love not just our unwrinkled visages or shiny hair but also our inner qualities and convince us that we are attractive. Surrounding ourselves with people who appreciate us and suffuse us with positive energy is vital for it helps us to realize our own value.

Lastly, we should also listen to our own voices. Our hearts will tell us precisely why we are feeling down and neglecting ourselves and how we can alter such situations. Nothing can undermine our beauty if we are conscious of our desires and needs and take the time to take care of ourselves.

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Generally, I am concerned about conservation. I want to plant trees and resurrect forests. I want to protect and preserve nature. I want to stop wastage and pollution. I try my best to limit the usage of water, electricity, plastic in my household.

But to what avail?

An accident can dump thousands of tons of oil into the sea. And destroy the efforts of several lifetimes with one single blow. Countries dump radioactive water into oceans. And they keep building more and more nuclear reactors, everywhere.

We have so much clean energy around us….. the sun, the wind. And yet, for some obscure reason we are willing to spend unthinkable amounts of money on fuels that make our planet more and more unlivable everyday. How can we allow that?

Coal and Petroleum and other such industries make sure that we remain dependent on them. All for the sake of money. Money. More money.

I wonder about the people at the helm of affairs… people who have the power to make a significant difference and yet they do nothing. Don’t they have children? Don’t they have any regard for their future? Or, do they assume that their great financial  status alone will ensure perennial safety and invulnerability for their offsprings? Do they plan to carry money on their corpses when they die?

When does greed end?`

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Solitude

 

winslow-homer-solitude

 

Solitude by Winslow Homer

 

Just as the river rushes toward the sea, I move forward to commune with the surge of humanity. I hear the call of the collective voice, the united sentiment. I feel the need to be liked by my fellow travelers in life. Living as an island is not really an option for me.

But more than anything, I wish to be understood. Not just by friendly faces. But by those who are very close to me. I feel the essential need to cleave to another being, to that one soul. Why is it so important? This need for understanding?

At times, a terrible loneliness comes over me.  I feel then that no matter how much I try, I shall never be able to truly share my thoughts or express my feelings. I will never find the words to adequately translate my emotions and yearnings into something that another person will grasp. This inability to impart understanding might be due to a flaw in my nature. Or, it might be due to the great divide that keeps us all apart.

When my heartfelt words fall on ears that are obsessed with rectitude and common principles rather than truth or sweetness, I feel let down. When I seek a glance of secret understanding and all I find is a hooded stare, I feel let down. When I want to share laughter and intimacy and I discover a heart wrapped up in itself, I experience the pang of bitter loneliness.

And yet……… yet, there are times when I am caught almost unawares in a pocket of isolation…. when I look around and do not see the countless restless faces or even a beloved one… when my only companion is a thought or a song… and then I discover that I am at peace.

There is peace and a quiet sort of happiness in solitude. There is no one to disabuse me of my pet illusions. No one to interrupt my flights of fantasy.  No one to opine or judge. Just me alone with my innermost thoughts and memories and hopes. I can liberate my imagination and give it wings. I can spurn the familiar terrain and look for adventure. I can dream and romanticize endlessly…

An absence, a deprivation can transform itself into the finest gift. I thought I could not do without a barrage of words and comments. But silence suits me quite well, I see. I thought I needed appreciation and camaraderie. But I realize that when I am alone, I can turn to myself for company. Solitude is indeed a boon in disguise.

I like friendly smiles. I need affection and fellowship and amiable arms around me. I also hope that I know how to truly welcome those moments when I have only myself to support me… elevate me.

Copyright © 2012 [Violet Dolui]. All Rights Reserved.

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