Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

29 Jul 2002, 0:38 a.m.

Anirvan stopped by the Cody's information desk today. I…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Anirvan stopped by the Cody's information desk today. I asked him: "Can I help you find a book?" He replied: "I think my bookfinding needs are pretty much taken care of, thanks." Funniest thing I'd heard all day.

Second funniest: I was humming "The Farmer and the Dell" and happened to ask Leonard, "What is a dell, anyway?" He said, "It's what you're getting, dude." Upon his explanation that he was referring to the recent Dell TV ads, I threw something at him, and then laughed.

I've read a few books lately. I like not having homework!

Today I read Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Short and yummy. I blew through it during my lunch hour, and enjoyed it. More stylish but less moving and epic than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which makes sense, since Gaiman writes a hundred pages about one girl's very personal quest, and not hundreds on a save-the-world battle. I haven't read enough children's fantasy to call it "best" or not.

Yesterday I read Johanna Hurwitz's The Rabbi's Girls in even less than 60 minutes, probably. I picked it up whilst shelving in the children's lit room, and it sucked me in. Sometimes the narrator's voice seems a little too careful for an eleven-year-old in explaining Jewish traditions, but the end moved me to tears, even under the fluorescent lights of the Information Desk.

I'm not quite ready yet to write about G.K. Chesterton's The Napoleon of Notting Hill, which I finished yesterday. I found it illuminating and irritating, and I have to figure out why.

A few days ago, I finished Imperial Earth, by Arthur C. Clarke. I've mentioned before how sparse Clarke's books seem to me. I see now that he builds fascinating universes with very few strokes and I resent how little I get to see of them. But I do enjoy the plotting and quite believable characters and neat ideas in Clarke, and Imperial Earth is no exception.

Right now, I'm reading some R.K. Narayan, Swami and Friends. I enjoyed My Dateless Diary, and Swami's schoolboy adventure stuff reads like ethnic Wodehouse. Which is a good thing.

Today I shelved a little bit of everything: some Asian philosophy, some Islam, some computer science, some US and California history, some political science, and a lot of travel guides. Travel books depressed me today, because I had to reorder and shelve and stare at all these colorful guides to places I've never been and probably never will be. The Lonely Planet guide to Russia (and Ukraine and Belarus) struck such a yearning in me that I had to put it down. I hadn't known I wanted to go back so badly!

Nandini's in Europe, Rachel's in Europe, Alexei's in Europe, why aren't I in Europe? Why shouldn't I be?

I do have to admit: I'm the perfect customer for the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook people. I love reading warnings and guides to dangerous places (e.g. the Lonely Planet guide to Iran). (They do still flog women for going about with "indecent" clothes on, although if you're a foreigner it's much more likely that you'll just be deported.)

I've been trading California Central Valley experiences with Joelle, a co-worker. As it turns out, she and I went to rival high schools in Lodi. We also have mutual acquaintances. Today I learned that one of my high school classmates -- who should, by all rights, be starting his last year of college this fall, as he's pretty smart -- is married! With a kid! Aiee! Stop the world, I want to get off.

Dreams lately have been rather vivid and imaginative. In a retread of a similar dream I had a few months ago, I was attacked in Kabul for being dressed immodestly. In another dream, or more properly inside a film within another dream, the national security apparatus was sophisticated enough to arbitrarily explode any given residential house in the US for suspected sedition. I then saw that the house across the way was occupied by Michael Douglas's character and his family, planning what they'd say at the show trial, since they'd never liked their neighbors anyway. The Michael Douglas character went out to retrieve the daily paper, and exclaimed, "This isn't the paper, this is my high school yearbook!" And there was full-motion video, a montage of young Indians, blacks, and whites dancing and melodramatically interacting to a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai soundtrack.

Disregarding the other absurdities for a moment, what character would Michael Douglas best play in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? The headmaster? The protagonist? Miss Briganza?