Friday, 31 October 2014

Book Excerpts: Round and About by Busybee

Few know him as Behram Contractor (1930 - 2001). For the reading world, he was and always will be - Busybee. A casual observer of public life and its spontaneous commentator, Busybee wrote for the Bombay editions of The Times of India, The Free Press Journal and finally The Afternoon, his own newspaper.

Round and about was the famous column series that Busybee wrote. Many call it a newspaper editorial; Busybee did express his opinion in the column, but always for the laughs. There was a simplicity in the humour and a motley group of additional characters (dog, children, wife) added to the appeal. As adorable were the accompanying sketches by cartoonist Mario Miranda (1926 - 2011).

You may read more about Busybee in this striking obituary (click link & scroll down to read) by the mercurial Khushwant Singh (1915 - 2014).

The following extract is from a 1972 edition of Round and about (a collection of previously published articles). The Indian cricket team had recently registered historic test series wins in England and West Indies. Here is Busybee on the cricketers:

One of the problems that the big employers of our Test cricketers are facing is what to do with them when they are not playing cricket.
And it is not the fault of the cricketers. They have been playing so long and so well that they have forgotten how to work. Some of them have even forgotten who they are working for. 
For instance, I am told that the day after the team arrived, Wadekar went to the Bank of India instead of the State Bank. Asked what he was doing there, he said,"I know I am employed by a bank, but I have forgotten which bank."
Solkar's case is even more to the point. It seems that all last week he has been either standing like a rock or falling all over the Mafatlal offices, depending on whether he is under the impression that he is giving stand to Bedi at Lords or fielding at the Kennington Oval. 
And a director of the ACC was telling me: "You may be surprised to hear this, but Sardesai has forgotten how to make cement."            
I am getting similar reports from all over the country. Some of the cricketers are still walking on red carpets, others opening gifts that have received from all sorts of manufacturers. And it seems most of them stay away from work every time it rains.       

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Book Excerpts: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway's foray into adventure began even before he was twenty. Post a cub reporter stint at the Kansas City Star, Hemingway volunteered for a ambulance driver job at the Italian front during World War I. A Farewell to Arms (1929) is based on these early intense experiences with violence and death. The book established his reputation as a writer of captivating fiction in the public eye, adding on to the praise that Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (1926) got him. Hemingway remained obsessed with various forms of violence until his death, from boxing, bullfighting, war, deep sea fishing to big game hunting. 

Many writers have imitated the matter-of-fact detailed style of writing, but they all lack the first-hand flame of experience that Hemingway conveyed. Here are the first lines from the novel that still hits you with its straight forward description of war and human nature: 

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)