Saturday, 5 May 2018

Poetry Reads: Train Journey Bits #1 by Snehith Kumbla

Train journeys have given me many moments of joy, poise, scenery, conversations, and priceless window seat sceneries over three decades of an otherwise mundane existence.

For a long time until my adolescence, I wanted to be a train engine driver. Every time I watch the train robbery scene in Sholay, I want to be in that last good train compartment, quietly taking a view of the disappearing scenery on a twilight evening, and preferably not warding off dacoits.

I have a dislike for closed air-conditioned compartments, even the warmest summer can't deter me from the constant enhancement the second class window seat provides. Every passing second in motion is but a fleeting vision to the eye. This constant feeling keeps me riveted for hours during every train journey I take.

Presently, train journey bits #1 is my most read poem on, garnering 11000+ views till date. The poem is a glue-collage picture book of various scenes I encountered on the return journey from Kerala to Pune in December 2014.

train journey bits #1
by Snehith Kumbla

what forests are those we pass, 
blazing along the railway tracks,
a tree bloom of still cranes, 
stream black of rubbish bane, 

stench of dead city rubble, 
factories of rusted cast metal, 
distant cotton twilight skies, 
sun slide across a bunch of wires,    

passing tunnels echo 
lonely platforms, frantic gecko, 
looming hillside, 
crackle dry wood fire, 

a god barred in lock&key, 
blink glimpse of the sea 
one rush of vision, 
pebble fling at frisson, 

metal-crunch rhythm, 
grind music sublime, 
spark, grunt, grate, 
we arrive, we dissipate...


(article by Snehith Kumbla)

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Short Story Reads: Mrs. Packletide's Tiger by Saki

Saki was the pen name under which British writer Hector Hugh Munro wrote before his life was tragically cut short at 45 in France, along with millions of others during World War I. By then Saki had left behind hundreds of short stories - all noted for their ready wit, black humor and macabre. Especially readable are his stories involving Clovis. Now in these stories, Clovis need not play the central character, many times he would be the one passing a sole comment on having overheard the proceedings. Of a similar template is the satire and irony of Mrs. Packletide's Tiger.

Now, it is a writer's dilemma to decide whether to give you the full synopsis and thus depriving you of the joy of reading the story for yourself. Here's how the solution has been reached, as the story is now out of the clutches of copyright, here is the story link: Mrs. Packletide's Tiger. Happy Reading.

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)   

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Short Story Reads: Salvatore by Somerset Maugham

One of the reasons Somerset Maugham was never considered among the greatest novel writers of his lifetime, much to his disappointment, was his dry, satirical approach to novel writing. Maugham was a keen observer of life but with a distant, aloof, often blunted involvement.

The Novels
Though a very successful writer of his times, Maugham's novels like Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence and Cakes and Ale are not considered among the greatest novels of any time today. His novels seldom make the top 100 list of books ever written. Often, Maugham with his steely, unblinking eye has given us lengthy descriptions of a time and era gone by. These prose sections are not as engaging to read now.

At the time of writing, I have been rereading Cakes and Ale. The descriptive passages now seem dated, though, in parts, the well-sketched characters and story still hold my attention.

The Master 
In contrast, fifty years after his death, Somerset Maugham's reputation as a short story writer remains untarnished. In this writing medium, Maugham finds unparalleled touch, telling all kinds of tales with a fluidity and verve that his novels momentarily radiate. Fortunately, the writer himself compiled The Complete Short Stories in four volumes, arranging them according to the local setting of the stories.

Salvatore by Somerset Maugham 
My faith as a reader was reaffirmed recently in Salvatore, a short story that only Maugham could pull off with such finesse, heart, and flair.

I wonder if I can do it. 

Maugham begins the story with that enigmatic first sentence and goes on tell us the story of Salvatore, first as a carefree boy of 15 effortlessly swimming in the sea.

Salvatore lives on an island around present Malaysia with his fisherman father and two younger brothers. Time flies and soon Salvatore falls for a beautiful girl on the island. The couple is engaged but the boy has to leave the island for the first time in his life to serve the mandatory military service term.

It is hardest of all for Salvatore to part from the girl. Even as he is sent to Venice, Bari, and China, he writes long, ill-spelled letters to her. After falling severally ill with rheumatism, Salvatore is declared unfit for further service, much to his relief and happiness. He can now go home. Little does he know that tragedy, hardship, and heartbreak are to follow.

Among the briefest, most moving and beautiful stories ever written by Maugham, Salvatore is a short story masterpiece from start to finish. What did the writer mean by that first line? Read Salvatore by Somerset Maugham at this link to unveil the secret. 

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)