Saturday, January 27, 2007

Balloons & Birthdays

The photograph is from a gallery of charming images, all about hats made out of balloons. Here's a descriptive paragraph from the site:

In 1996, Addi Somekh and Charlie Eckert began traveling to different places in the world to make balloon hats for people and take photos of them. The goal was to show people all over the world laughing and having fun, and to emphasize the fact that all human beings are born with the ability to experience joy. In total, they visited 34 countries and have over 10,000 pictures. Inside this web site you will find all sorts of photos and stories, as well as a way to purchase their book, The Inflatable Crown, and see scenes from the feature documentary film, Balloonhat.

The link was sent to me by a world-travelling friend called Maude, currently in Bhopal. I hope it's okay to display pix from that site here on my blog. I keep forgetting what the correct protocol is -- Zig? Any thoughts? -- whether or not it IS okay to display a correctly attributed pic from another site. In case anyone feels it's inappropriate, pls alert me and I'll remove the pic. It's a great site though and well worth the visit.

Speaking of travelling, I'm currently in Madras, spending a week with my mother, sister, brother-in-law, two nieces, nephew, nephew-in-law and niecelet. It is on account of the niecelet's second birthday that we have all gathered -- the day and its celebration took place on the 25th -- and we are all alive to tell the tale! Well, no -- that's not really fair at all, as it was a remarkably stress-free day, mainly due to the excellent pre-planning of both my nieces. The birthday girl held herself together with admirable elan (can't get the accent to show, sorry) and neither freaked out to see the house filling up with many strangers (about 20 people, all told, and only three other children!) nor showed any reluctance to share her toys with the guests.

Otherwise ... the same old, the same old. Hogging chocolates and feeling morose about hogging chocolates, leading to (inevitably) MORE hogging of aforementioned confectionaries. *sigh*

Am currently listening to a collection of short stories by Kurt Vonnegut on CD (published by HarperCollins). Anyone in need of a cerebral massage should consider mainlining WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE. It's the title-story of the collection. It also happens to be a great favourite of mine -- I read it for the first and last time perhaps twenty years ago and I realized, as I listened to it a couple of days ago, that it's remained fresh in my memory ever since. I just love the witty originality of Vonnegut's imagination and the seeming effortlessness of his style. Many authors say that what looks effortless on the page takes about as much doggedness and determination as a Challenger lift-off, but something tells me that in KV's case, it really IS rather less than more. Effort, I mean.

And so it goes ...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Linx


My first link is to a phenom I was introduced to through friends who gave me a book called WHY PAINT CATS by author Burton Silver and photographer Heather Busch. The picture you see is just one of very many astonishing images in the book -- and then, when you read the text, you begin to be astonished at a secondary level: you begin to doubt the book's pix. If you visit the link, you'll see that the visitors there are fairly evenly split between those who love the book and believe the pictures are genuine (i.e., that there really are people who decorate their cats with dyes, sometimes paying huge sums of money for the privilege); those who love the book and believe the decorations have been faked; those who hate the book and cannot bear the thought of decorating felines with paint/dye/whatever, whether faked or real.

I will admit I didn't for a moment doubt that the cats really had been painted, until I showed it to S in Vermont, who took one look and said, "... PhotoShop?" It was only when I read the text that I too began to have doubts. And even before I became suspcious, I was rather surprised to see a picture of an Indian woman holding a "traditionally" painted cat -- the caption would have us believe that it's a common practice in North Indian temples for cats to be thus decorated. Well! Hmmm! So far as I know, many Indians consider cats to be inauspicious and either dislike them or are a little scared of them. Temple rats we've heard of, temple snakes, temple elephants; but CATS?? Uh-uh. Nope.

Uncontrollable immodesty leads me to post this second link -- it's to my review in OUTLOOK magazine of Raj Kamal Jha's recently published novel, FIREPROOF. After I'd read the book, I called the Books Page editor to ask if I could wriggle out of having to write a review but she was TOUGH and said "DO IT, WIMP!" (well, of course, not in those words!) and so -- being a wimp -- I did it. For once, I believe, I got away with quite an amusing result. I even think some people will feel inspired to buy the book just coz of the review ... but that may be self-flattery beyond acceptable limits. What I will say is, I actually enjoyed writing the review and THAT's a rare event!