France

Guy De Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant can easily be one of the best short story writers that existed on the face of the earth. But as all talented people aren’t perceived normal in society’s eyes, so was he. Maupassant swayed between happiness and sorrow, Emile Zola used to say that he is happiest of the unhappiest people on earth.

After serving in the Franco-Prussian war he spent most of his free time in writing stories and meeting women from different strata of the societies, many of whom became the subject of his stories later in life. He eventually contracted syphilis which later became the cause of his death but his mood used to alter greatly because of his condition and it had an effect on his writing which would have mood swings of a human if personified. His mother had introduced him to Gustav Flaubert who had great influence on him and he urged him to pursue literature and writing on a serious note.

The admirable subjects of his writing are real as life and are taken from various walks of life and their interaction with the rest of the society. Some people could term it as vulgar but he wrote about what he knew and the audience appreciated it. The characters are not deified in his works, they have the natural tendencies and inherit the human flaws. Short stories are special; the characters, the plot, the emotions, the climax all develop simultaneously and the writer has the responsibility to do justice with each of them without considering one or the other as his/her favorite offspring and he has to execute the task in finite number of words without creating a tome. Maupassant was successful in this and that puts him in the cohort that belongs to Munshi Premchand, Anton Chekhov, Natsume Soseki, Allan Poe. He was audacious like Flaubert to write on controversial subjects that gives makes him stand in a cluster of his own.

It takes a thinking brain and strength to create Boule de Suif, Bel Ami, Une Vie, and likes of The Necklace, and Guy de Maupassant had both.

 

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A Marathon tale

Yesterday, I ran my first marathon despite not being in best of health.  My body is crying for help. Everything is hurting from hips to knees and from back to toes. I quit running on the 19th mile and walked the remaining distance. If I were alone I wouldn’t have gone for even 10 miles but there is something about the New York’s crowd- it cheers you up and makes you push your limits. I got a cheer when I ran past  east 81st street on 1st avenue – Yorkville, the place where I live. At 19th mile I just sat on the road thinking whether to quit. An old couple who was distributing bananas gave me wet kleenex and a pair of socks for my toes were bleeding. I injured my feet and ankle ,pulled hamstrings and have sore toes but I felt ecstatic.

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I came across the small documentary by ESPN about Joy Johnson , the woman who ran 25 New York marathons. She was 86 and passed away hours after finishing her 25th marathon. She never ran before the age of 59. I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and perseverance shown by the great woman.

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An excerpt from the interview of the director of the documentary “I love that she found a passion for running so late in life. At age 59, most people are thinking about retiring and sitting on a beach. She started running and fell in love with something brand new, which is so cool. Most 30-year-olds feel lost if they aren’t on the “right” path. She taught us it’s never too late to try — or fall in love with — a new direction.”

http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/article/14009608/the-story-86-year-old-woman-ran-25-nyc-marathons

Image Source :   http://www.nytimes.com/news/the-lives-they-lived/2013/12/21/joy-johnson/

Je Suis Charlie and hypocrisy of the west

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On 7th January 12 people were killed and  11 were injured by 2 gunmen in the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris,France . The attackers were from Islamic radical groups and while claiming their right to 72 virgins they shouted “Allahu Akbar(God is great in Arabic)”. Any form of terror or violence is not justified for getting any solution to any darn problem in the world.Killing innocent people shows how weak these extremists are from inside and are just acting on the whims of a few fanatics. We have been getting news from many countries that youths are joining ISIS .Leaving the comfort of their homes, they are joining the so called holy war in the name of religion.Let’s not get into the reasons why they are doing so as a sane mind won’t accept such terms at any cost. We are not living in an ancient Roman or Greek civilization that we have to give our lives up for the empire expansion. To me it’s sort of jingoism , jingoistic for a land or a nation which doesn’t even exists. I was deeply saddened by this act of barbarism. Media covered this news extensively and it deserved to be covered. Large rallies were carried out in various countries and the one held in France saw the participation of 2 million people. Most of he world leaders joined that and the slogan ‘Je Suis Charlie(I am Charlie in French)’ got viral. I accept these slogans and movements in the light that we do not fear the attackers and will not be intimidated by them. Right now I am not getting in the debate on how liberal a religion is and how well it’s followers can accept the criticism on their prophet or  What is the tolerance level of the satires it can endure. Is there a limit to freedom of speech ? I don’t know. But nothing justifies the violence. I don’t understand what the ardent followers of Al Qaida , Jaish e Mohammed ,ISIS ,Boko Haram, Haqqani Network want to achieve ? Have you seen the condition these guys live in ? Do you want us to go back to Stone Age? Do you want us to follow the sharia law? Just because we don’t follow your religion doesn’t mean you will kill us. Just because we don’t share common ideas on the concept of a deity/prophet ,it doesn’t mean that we deserve to be at the receiving end of your bullets from Kalashnikov .Does your holy book really advocates violence and brutal murders of non believers (Qafirs) . And most important question “have your ever read your holy books”. This question is for all be it Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or any religion that exists in the world . If you love your so called values so much then why do you have a place called Dubai in your area where everything condemned by your books is sold. Sex,drugs,alcohol ! Every damn thing ! Isn’t it hypocrisy ? What you guys are failing to understand is that this war which has been going on for years is a marketing propaganda. It’s a way to keep the arms and ammunition business intact. One religious fanatic gets some vague ideas and people start following him blindly. This is totally unacceptable.
Anyway, I digressed a lot from my main topic here.So, 12 people got killed that day and the media covered it extensively. And it did deserve to be covered. A lot of friends of mine discussed this event with me and we were bewildered. But one thing was common in those discussions that whenever I brought the topics of terror events in other parts of the world up to my friends, they had not even iota of idea about those events. I was very appalled at this ignorance. The friends of mine come from all walks of life, few are very learned and scholarly and few not so much. The feeding ground is common for all of them : newspapers, print media, digital news, social media etc . The culprit is media’s hypocrisy and highly selective and biased approach There were attacks in a Pakistani school and there was minimal coverage of the event. I see that such news get a tiny column on the front page or the landing pages of the websites. Apart from few activists and other people no one has any idea what Boko haram (The name translates to “Non Islamic education is sin”)is doing in Nigerian and other territories. The social media gets filled with the hashtags ,weblinks and other memes when any such event happens in the western world but we see the usual “cute kitten and puppies” videos when such things happen in some other parts. I am not saying that one event holds more gravity than the other . Loss of even one life in the name of religion is irreplaceable damage to the society. The grief that is experienced by the loved ones is immeasurable. But this hypocrisy needs to be stopped. Every human in the world is made of the blood and flesh, only the outer covering differs. One who died in the attack might not be important to you but he was important to few others.The stance of media , the political leaders needs to be changed and this senseless bloodbath in name of factions, casts, creeds, colors and religions needs to be stopped.

Let there be peace.