12 December 2009

"More salt than pepper" by Karan Thapar

I bet every book lover has two traits.

One, she would keep buying new books even though she has not yet read half the books in her possession yet.  She just does not have the time to keep up the reading.  Yet she does not want to miss out on the new arrivals.  (She does not read them on a FIFO basis either.  Her choice often is based on mood; if not random!)

Two, she has to read more than one book at a time.  One book could be heavy (profound ideas that require highlighting and cogitation); another could be quite light and easy on the mind.

I have always had problems locating the second type.  Light. Easy. Yet, engaging.  Preferably light non-fiction (humor, biographies, essays).

Karan Thapar provides a “filler” that is fun to read.

I am not a fan of Karan Thapar.  I find his TV interviews a frustration.  He raises intelligent questions.  He has the ability to “stick to the knitting” and prevent his subject sidestep or obfuscate the issues.  However he hijacks the airtime; talks thirteen to a dozen; prevents even good answers from coming through; and does not know the difference between being firm in extracting an answer and being rude in preventing an answer.

However, I saw the soft and emotional side of Karan when he was interviewed by someone else (on the death of his Oxford classmate, Benazir Bhutto) and was provided decent time to respond!

Karan lets us have a peek at his opinions; his people and his life in this collection of short and light chapters.

One can easily visualize the contemplative Jawaharlal Nehru gazing at the distance and rambling about “stuff” while Karan’s Mamu was more interested in the mundane and immediate matter of securing the elder Nehru’s permission for younger sister Nayantara’s wedding.

One cannot so easily visualize Indira Gandhi chiding the children (including young Karan, his sister and Sanjay) to get ready to go to the President’s home; but ease themselves before going so as to not “spend a penny” in the Presidential palace.  Or replying with a smile how she manages when her schedule involves long lasting events!

One is thankful to Kris Srinivasan for some of his emails to Karan wondering:
1. Why are “wise men” and “wise guys” opposites?
2. Why “overlook” and “oversee” differ so much in their meaning?
3. Why is the guy who handles all your money a “broker”?
4. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
5. If people in Poland are Poles, are people in Holland Holes?
6. If electricity comes from electrons, does morality comes from morons?
7. Why are you ‘in” a movie; but “on” TV.

Karan adds his own gem:  If “I am” is the shortest sentence, is “I do” the longest sentence?

Excellent book.


Karthik Sankaranarayanan said...

Couldn't agree more. In fact nowadays, I'm also finding myself entangled with a third option - my audiobook. On my way to school and back.

T R Santhanakrishnan said...

I should try to cultivate that habit Karthik. Two issues deter me: 1. I often go back and re-read stuff I dont get in the first go. There are many things I dont get in the first go; sometimes in the second go as well. 2. A human invoice (with its own emphasis and de-emphasis) sometimes creates a noise between the author and the reader. Given that any book is half written by the author and half by the reader (and therefore each book may have differing impact on different readers), am unable to enjoy audio books as much as I enjoy the visual ones. However, am probably more change-proof. It has taken a few months to get used to reading books in iPad. - TRS

Paul A. Samuel said...

Stumbled on to your blog searching for reviews on Karan Thapar's book. Found your review very useful. I am now convinced about buying his book. Thank you!