Narendra Bendi's Blog

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Posted in Books by narendrabendi on August 7, 2010

I read this book after hearing so many good things about it from Sunil. It’s a very quick read. This book is an emotional and intellectual ride with Morris Schwartz (late Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University).  A former student, Mitch Albom, who had become a fairly well known sports writer, heard about his teacher from an interview with Ted Koppel on Nightline and decided to pay a visit. This visit soon turned into regular meetings – on Tuesdays – since at the time there was a strike at Albom’s newspaper. Albom plots Morrie’s declining health, which is quite depressing, but at the same time imparts Morrie’s wisdom. This is a record, of sorts, about his last few months of life, his thoughts about life and certain things in life such as marriage, regrets, the perfect day, money, love, forgiveness, etc. Nothing in this book is a great leap in philosophy, it’s merely a reminder of all the things we already know but have either forgotten or have taken for granted. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops – Henry Adams”, wonderfully describes what Morrie has done with his life. This book isn’t going to tell you anything you haven’t heard before, but it may make you listen with a different perspective. Now, I am going to check out the movie based on this novel.

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger

Posted in Books by narendrabendi on January 30, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye is a book that can be loved and understood on many different levels of comprehension and each reader who experiences it will come away with a fresh view of the world in which they live. A key factor that made this book enjoyable was the style in which its monologue was written. Anyone who has reached the age of sixteen will be able to identify with this unique and yet universal character of Holden Caulfield, for he contains bits and pieces of all of us. The book shows that Holden, although a sarcastic, nasty, unlikable guy, is a person inside who is just trying to save the virtue of innocence. The way Caulfield’s mind works is incredibly true to form – the contradictions, the hypocrisy, the confusion, the brief moments of sheer clarity followed by stretches of irrational thought. He thinks he’s better than the world, and he thinks he’s the lousiest person in the world at the same time. He wants everyone to go away and leave him alone, and he can’t bear anyone, not even some schmuck he really dislikes (with good reason), to leave him. He’s nothing but hypocrisy and contradictions and confusion. Salinger captures this in an amazing way. Holden wishes to preserve something of childhood innocence that gets hopelessly lost as we grow into the crazy and phony world of adulthood. Holden sees the world as perverted and narrow, and has a nervous breakdown when he sees innocent children about to fall of the cliff. This cliff is a thought of Holden’s of which he states when asked what he wants to be when he grows up. Holden says that he wants to be a catcher in the rye. He envisions children playing on a field of rye, and next to this field there’s a cliff. Holden would catch the children if they didn’t look where they were going and accidentally ran off the cliff. There is incredible symbolism in this statement. The children represent childhood innocence and purity. The cliff, or what lies below it, represents the tainted, impure “game” of life, in which so many people have fallen. These people, the phonies, are what Holden despises most. Holden demonstrates his desire to save innocence when he finds that someone’s written “Fuck you” on a school wall. “I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them- all cockeyed, naturally- what it meant, and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days.” Holden rubbed the mark off, and felt extreme hatred toward the person who wrote it.
Holden isn’t perfect, isn’t overly likeably but that’s what makes the story so great. It’s a look at one man’s real life, not a happily-ever-after story. A great book for anyone whos secure enough to read to learn, but not for anyone who reads to escape.

Will Smith discussing Catcher in the Rye:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Posted in Books by narendrabendi on January 24, 2010

Animal Farm is, quite simply, one of the best and most powerful books ever written. It is a genuine masterpiece that quickly hooks the reader from the very beginning. It’s an extremely easy read. Orwell displays keen observation on how a corrupt government sucks all the energy and life of a country. The book is greatly inspired by real events that went down during the era of communism in Russia, using animals as the actual people. While it helps to know about that time period, the book is written so well that it is easily understood even if you only know a little about what happened during that time. But for starters this interpretation may be helpful:- Jones:= The Aristocracy; The Old Major:= Lenin; Napoleon:= Stalin; Snowball:= Trotsky; Squealer:= Beria?; Boxer:= The male Peasants; Dolly:= The female Peasants; The Pigs:= The Communist Party; The Dogs:= The NKVD; The Sheep:= The Army; The Raven:= The Clergy; The Donkey:= The Intellectuals; The Windmill:= Stalin’s Five year plans; Frederick`s Farm:= Germany; Pilkington Farm:= The West & The Counterfeit Money:= The Molotov-Rippentrop Pact.
Russia may have been the starting point, but in truth the parable of Animal Farm can be applied to any culture where political leaders manipulate the public through a mixture of unreasonable hope, media “spin,” and irrational fear to remain in power. Animal Farm is a strong and effective warning not just against communism but also against political deception and political power games of an absolute power nature and totalitarianism in general. Definitely a good read, open to interpretation. Read it for the story, the deeper message, the humor, or for whatever reason. Animal Farm will not fail to amuse.This is my favorite allegory and the best political satire I’ve ever read.

2 States by Chetan Bhagat

Posted in Books by narendrabendi on January 11, 2010

2 states is a simple, engaging and witty story of a Punjabi boy and a Tamil Brahmin girl. These two meet in IIM-Ahemdabad and the inevitable happens. Then they have to convince their families on both sides and still be in love to reach their goal(marriage). Marriage of paranthas and dosas, paneer and sambhar. Sounds familiar?? Yes!!!Every Indian who watches movies will know the twists in this story. The author says most of the incidents were inspired from his own marriage, if its true, one rocking marriage it was. The cultural differences of Punjabi and Tamilian families are portrayed very well in a funny way.The story emphasizes on  family bonding, togetherness and yes the never ending love in a relationship. The story also dwells upon the relationship of father-son, son-mother, husband-wife, the in-laws, the typical Punjabis born and brought up in Delhi, the staunch Tamil Brahmins. Between, one even finds the touch of a spirituality in the story and morals on forgiveness which is aptly put in by way of interesting relationship between ex-army father and IIM-A graduated son. Overall this book was entertaining and can be made into a good south-indian pot boiler more than a Bollywood flick. As of me, I still rate ‘Five Point Someone’ better from all his works so far.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Posted in Books by narendrabendi on January 11, 2010

In “Angels & Demons,” a prequel to “DaVinci”, Brown exhibits the same fast-paced writing and the same flair for plot twists – though posed in a less controversial way than in “DaVinci” – that has put him at the top of everyone’s reading list. I read this novel after reading Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code‘ and ‘The Lost Symbol.’ It is not as good or as compelling as other two, but it is a cut above most in this genre. The story takes place over a 24-hour period. A positive thing about this tale is that it is told in a linear fashion with very few flashbacks except when it is necessary for a back-story. Even though it is over 700 pages it was a fast read. Lots of action througout the book.  And I could truly see Brown’s growth as a writer in his later works. This book has a blockbuster ending that includes a miracle or two. It was a little far fetched in spots, but still enjoyable. And I had not a clue who the real villain was until the very end. I have no doubt that a great deal of his success stems from the exhaustive research that he put into the book. He deals with little known information about CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire), anti-matter, the Vatican and the Illuminati without dropping the ball. Aside from actual plot, this novel is a fascinating read because of all the intriguing factual information you are given through the narrative. I was fascinated to learn about the connection between the secret Illuminati brotherhood, the Masons and even the U.S. one-dollar bill. Behind the superb story, there is a rich backdrop balancing the conflict and agreement between science and religion. Also, if you plan to watch the movie, watch the movie before reading the book because otherwise you’ll spend the entire time looking for differences between it and the book instead of enjoying it, which of course was what I did.