Yearly Archives: 2003

The big read

The top 100 from BBC’s search for UK’s best-loved novel. Of course, we Indians will have a totally different list, but since we don’t as of now, here it is:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer | Live chat
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

I’ve read 34 out of the 100. Most of the classics were during school and college days and I find it increasingly taxing to read them now. But, it looks like I have a lot of catching up to do! All the more reason to get myself a library membership quickly. Stop watching movies and read more instead! Hope you’ve scored a little better than I have!

[Link via Aashish]

A tale of two cities

My last day in Bangalore. Tomorrow morning, I leave for Hyderabad to catch up with good friend, Rukshana. I’m hoping to see a few sights around the city.

A few snapshots from my trip to Guwahati and Calcutta.

The Brahmaputra river in the evening. The sun is just setting.

I got my brother-in-law to stop the car and made my way to the water’s edge to take this picture. A boat is getting ready for an evening cruise.

A view of the Victoria Memorial, Calcutta.

More pictures from my trip are here. Two weddings I attended and a few pictures of Calcutta and Guwahati. There’s more, which I hope to upload over the next few days.

Shameless plug

[The Indibloggies 2003]I started it in June 2002, when I couldn’t find too many Indian bloggers online.

It has grown and grown over the space of one and a half years. And led others to create more sophisticated lists and search engines based on it.

I’ve spent countless hours updating, finding new blogs, replying to bloggers, apologising for delays. And though it’s taken quite a lot of time, it’s also been quite a satisfying experience. I’m hoping to do something more (jazzy/flashy/hi-tech?!) with the list once I get back to Mumbai this time (plans, plans!). So look out for the new look ;)

But, meanwhile, the list has been nominated for the Best IndiBlogs directory and if you vote for it, I might just be inspired to work a little harder on it. And give you a small bribe (uh, you didn’t catch that on tape, did you?). So go there, what are you waiting for?!

And the winner is…

Kiruba posted recently (no permalink available) about how the home page has started to look rather shabby. Now, that I’ve quit, I guess I can have a more objective look at it.

The site, and especially the home page, has gone through several design changes, some pretty good. Some, not quite. It seems to be in the latter phase right now. Of course, there are commercial reasons why they have those ugly gray banner ads in the middle of the page.

And floating banner ads that irritatingly appear just when you are about to click on a headline. But despite all this, I am sure there is a more aesthetic solution, considering all news sites feature these kind of ads to varying degrees. Right now, the once familiar and pleasant home page is definitely beginning to look worse for wear. Having worked with the news team, however, I have to say they do an amazing job (given the constraints and resources).

I used to hate the page too because it was so cluttered and unappealing in the aesthetic sense. It looks a little better now. I think they’ve cleaned up the place a little. But it’s still got a way to go. The extremely irritating ‘in-your-face’ photograph, makes me feel I’ve stumbled upon the Mid-Day mate page instead. I hardly visit the site.

The Hindustan Times page looks much better in comparison. The use of blue and grey (bands), red (borders), blue and black (font colours) is restrained and looks quite neat against the white background. The site has a lot of links and sections packing a lot into the home page, but manages to come out better looking than the rest of the pack.

The column-style layout, traditionally used in magazines and newspapers, is not the preferred format online, but the Express India look is quite distinctive. (Another site that uses this column format rather nicely on its home page is The catch is the page weight. It takes extremely long to open the page, especially if you’re surfing from a café or a dial-up at home.

Mid-Day is strictly okay. I rarely go there. But it’s good for city related information that I need once in a while. But then we’re not really talking about content here. That would be an entirely different subject.

Which would you vote as the best looking Indian news site?

If tomorrow never comes…

Since the whole world seemed to have watched the movie, I decided that it was high time that I had a look at what Karan Johar’s latest offering was all about. I never got to see KKKG on screen. I caught it much later when they screened it on television. Walking around MG Road on Tuesday, I wandered into Plaza. They had advance tickets for the next day. I quickly called Pallavi and she readily agreed to accompany me (with her hubby refusing to watch the movie, I guess she didn’t have much of a choice!).

The title track of Kal Ho Na Ho is one of those songs that stays with you long after you’ve walked out of the hall. The other two numbers I really liked are It’s the time to disco and Mahi ve for their verve and energy. Looking at Shahrukh on the floor, showing off his dancing skills, you are but left wondering if it’s the same guy who recently suffered from a back problem.

After a host of dismal, horrific and nightmarish movies I’ve seen this year, I think this one is definitely one of the better offerings so far. The best part is the interactions between the Khans (have they acted together before?). I thought they did a good job with their light hearted camaraderie and the ‘gay’ exchanges they have for the benefit of Kaanta bai.

Saif’s role is like a continuation from Dil Chahta Hai and after a crop of mediocre roles and movies, he seems to have found a niche at last. I’m not a huge fan of Shahrukh’s, but this movie only proves why he’s such a big name.

While the first half deals mainly with the interaction between the three protagonists, the second half is Shahrukh all the way. And with his ‘very flexible’ face and eyes, the senior Khan puts in all he’s got into the performance. You just can’t help but feel for him and what he’s losing out on – the love of his life. The end is stretched quite a bit. And Shahrukh, who seems to be in the pink of health pre-interval, suddenly looks pale, stricken and sick. The change is too sudden.

Preity is great. She tends to take you along wherever she goes – whether it’s to her happy or sad place. And I loved seeing Jaya all casually dressed and quite opposite her role in KKKG. All of the cast – Jaya, Preity, Saif and Shahrukh – share excellent chemistry and it reflects on screen.

But then this is not a review, so I’ll stop right here just say that it was a reasonably good movie. It would have been a great one if they had made it a little shorter. I can only sustain my sympathies for a character for that long, not the whole of post interval.

I guess after watching two hour English flicks, three and half hours does really seem taxing on the nerves, however good the film.

Pallavi and I laughed a lot during the first part though, which is not surprising since it doesn’t take much to get either of us laughing.

So if you haven’t watched it yet, catch someone and go. Be prepared for your hubby/fiance/partner refusing to go with you though. Men find ‘emotional’ flicks quite difficult to digest, poor things.

What I liked most about the movie was its premise. Why go about life you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Did anyone force the burden on you? Why not live every moment? Live life like you’re really alive. Don’t waste too much time regretting, getting upset over silly things, getting angry over things you have no control over (like your partners, for example!). Live today like there’s no tomorrow. For who knows – Kal ho na ho