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The Cosmic Bridge

I promised you in the last post that I would be back to talk about the The Bridge of San Louis Rey and guess what???!!!! Surprise!!! Surprise!! I am going to talk about The Bridge of San Louis Rey.

Now I know this book is one of the modern classics (I am still to completely understand that term!) and it won Thornton Wilder his first of the three Pulitzers and Yada yada yada!!  I am not a person who goes with Pulitzer and Nobel. I mean I fell in love with Orhan Pamuk, way back in my sophomore year when no one or at least a very limited population knew him outside Turkey! On the other hand, there is J.M. Coetzee and I know a lot of you out there swear by him, but I do not understand him at all and gave up on him after Disgrace! (I could not understand Lucy marrying her rapist!) Give me a good yarn with some creative language and I am a sucker for that work, though the world in general may have never heard of it! So, though this book was on my list, it was never a top priority, nor did I go out of my way to find and read it. Until, one fine morning while doing some online shopping for some exotic books (will tell you about them later!) I came across a discounted copy of the book and decided on whim to buy it! It was bought more like a task… a necessary chore that needed to be completed in the journey of reading through every type of fiction in print!

Then the inevitable happened….like all love stories, the thing that one ignores the most, one ends up falling in love (trust me! I speak from experience!), I fell in love with The Bridge of San Louis Rey.

Thorton Wilder was born to an US diplomat in 1897 and spent his early childhood in China. All his siblings were accomplished scholars and writers; in fact his elder brother was the Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. He began his career as a writer with the publication of The Cabala in 1927 and spent the next 40 years writing – his last work to be published was Theophilus North in 1973. Through his life he won three Pulitzer Prizes, the first one as mentioned in 1928 for The Bridge of San Louis Rey and two more for his plays – Our Town in 1938 and The Skin of Your Teeth in 1942.

The Bridge of San Louis Rey is set in 18th century Peru, where on a fateful day of July 20th 1714, the bridge spanning the San Luis Rey, built by Incas a century earlier, snaps and plunges to death 5 people. This tragedy is witnessed by Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, who then sets out to find more details about the lives of the 5 people and understand why things happen? Are some actions fated or does being good or innocent help in bringing on a definite life and its end? Or does the universe work according to a random cosmic plan? The book then explores the lives of the 5 characters –

  • Doña María, the Marquesa de Montemayor : The lonely Marquesa who spends all her efforts in trying to get closer to her daughter who had married an aristocrat across the oceans in Spain, to get away from her mother.
  • Pepita: An orphan girl raised at the Convent of Santa María Rosa de la Rosas and sent by the Abbess of the convent to act as a companion to the Marquesa as part of her training, albeit unknown to her as the heir to the Abbess in the management of the Convent.
  • Esteban: Another orphan raised again at Convent of Santa María Rosa de la Rosas, and who begins to work as a scribe in the theater along with his twin brother Manuel
  • Uncle Pio; The mentor, guide and protector of the actress Camila Perichole, who transforms a 12-year-old mimic called Micaela Villegas into the renowned Camila Perichole and remains faithful to her even when she becomes the mistress of the Viceroy.
  • Don Jaime: Camila Perichole’s son whom Uncle Pio takes with him to train the boy like he had once trained the mother.

The book ends with Dona Clara, daughter of Marquesa de Montemayor coming back to Lima and meeting the Abbess who takes her around the convent. Dona Clara is moved by the sights and sounds of the hospital and the sick and poor being cared for at the Convent. The novel ends with one of the most critical observations on mankind – There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

Written a simple style with some wonderful play of words, this book’s is an easy read in terms of a tale. It covers less than 120 pages. However vis-à-vis a parable or rather a philosophy, the book is unique in the sense, Wilder manages to convey a lot of moral and insightful ideas, without seeming didactic or pedagogic.

This is a must read, but do not read it in a rush, but absorb the language and the ideas as nuggets over a slow afternoon, where you have the night to think them through!

The rewards of Sisterhood…..

So here I was about to write a thought-provoking piece on Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Don’t give away a Sigh of relief as yet! I still plan to write about it in my next blog!) and then I open my WordPress account and see that Roshni (an extremely talented young lady who writes some marvelous posts!) has nominated me for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! Yay! And of course I am super touched! Thank you for the nomination Roshni! Coming from someone as talented and gifted as you, it’s truly an honor!

Now comes the rules! Of course you link it back and Thanking the person who originally nominated you, ( easy – it’s a pleasure to direct people at Roshni’s site, cause she does write some amazing stuff!) bringing out to the world in general 7 random facts about yourself, hereto unknown (how I struggle with this part, though I am completely self-obsessed, I mean who isi’nt; only the degree of obsession varies, but I digress, despite my self obsession, it is kinda difficult to come up with these things! )and finally nominating 7 other bloggers! (easy again! There are some incredibly talented bloggers and to follow them is a privilege. )

7 facts about myself –

  1. I am hydrophobic! Water scares me out; not like shower or drinking water, but you know pools, oceans, rivers, bathtub filled to the brim! My nightmare is that I will be travelling in a plane over a vast water body when the craft will have to make a landing on the water (yes! There is a fatalistic streak in me! )
  2. I have a sweeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttt toooooooooooootttttttthhhhhhhhhh! I am not exaggerating! Give me high on sugar content item at any time of the day/month/year! I love chocolates, pies, pastries and dunk about 3 sashes of sugar in my tea!
  3. Like Roshni, I did spend a lot of time thinking about becoming a war correspondent (Yes! Girl! We have a lot in common!) Even managed to complete a Ph.D in International Politics and then threw it all up in the air and joined a financial conglomerate as a Project Manager, while still aspiring to be a writer! (Yes! Even at this age, I have some confusion about what direction my career should take!)
  4. While growing up, I was incorrigibly shy and would shrink like 50 ft underground before talking to a new person. No one, who knew me in my childhood or early adolescence, would believe that I will turn into this outgoing, talkative, absolutely obsessed social creature. It’s like I did a 360 degree turn around!
  5. Despite going on and on about being a social creature, it’s kind of difficult talking about oneself and I really am exhausted by these exercise and at #5 have run out of facts to share with the world!
  6. I love Vivaldi, Beethoven and Bach and I am still in my 20s; so for the older folks, it possible for the younger generation to appreciate good music and for the younger folks, I do not care if this is “uncool”; I think these boys rocked!
  7. I do not like poetry….that is one form of reading I could never develop an affinity too!!!

Phew! Done!

Now to the sound of drum roll and thundering applause, the 7 incredible bloggers that I am nominating for this award are –

Eggton

Lill and Jill

So Many Books

Tamarind and Thyme

12 Novels

Ravingmadscientists

A year of reading the world

Do check out their page….trust me………these women are out of the world! Enjoy!

A philosphical debate on man’s fate & the diadatics on action leading to equal and opposite reaction…aka Phew….saved by the bell!

There are some things that are simply fortuitous and in the very hackneyed way, one can say that whatever happens happens for the best. (Hang on! I will get to the particulars after I spend some time on general rhetoric’s) I am strong adherent of this school of thought, though as God be my witness, I am sorely tempted in abandoning this principle of goodwill and sanguine hope many a times. In fact, there are a couple of incidents in my life about which, I am still waiting to find out what this best is/was???? But then, such things do happen that kind of restore your faith and make you realize (albeit kicking and screaming) that there are greater forces at work between heaven and earth and there is a reason behind almost every action.

Now for the particulars –

I realize that I have been off the blog for some time and it is kind of hilarious, when on my Aug 1 post, I claimed that I was writing more this year. However, irony aside, I do believe now that there are some matters that one should never talk about because that invariably leads to tempting the faith! For instance, last year, my mother was getting her house renovated and while clearing the house for the carpenters and decorators to work on, she came to realize that she had over the years collected a huge amount of crockery and cutlery. I do mean huge and not just you more than general, but something to the effect of 77 serving trays!!!! She called me and said that she had no idea when or how she bought so much of stuff and there was a sneaking pride in her voice, when she said that my aunt (a very weird woman who is actually obsessed with material gains) also could not rival her sets. I know I am resorting to clichés, but sometimes they do have a lot of truth in them – in my mother’s case pride did come before a fall!! After the renovation was done, she went for a small vacation with her sisters and yes….the inevitable did happen! Her house was broken into and among the various items that were stolen were her prized crockeries including 52 of her 77 serving trays! My mother is now adjusting to the life of simple living and high thinking while spending hours practicing how to keep her mouth shut!

You know how they say, that as time passes by, daughter’s become more like their mothers! Well there is a lot of truth in that as well! Having philosophized and lectured my mother about her lack of circumspect  and failure at being humble, I declare to the world, that yes…I am indeed writing more! So the fates decide, that this mother daughter pair are really thick-headed and they SO NEED A LESSON! Therefore one fine evening, I come back from work, make myself a cup of coffee and sit down to write. My guilt conscience was at its paroxysm, because, I had not touched my novel in more than 2 months and I was determined to make up for my slackness. I switched on the laptop and then DISASTER stuck!

My system had crashed. I do not know when and I do not know how, but it had crashed. All my files, notes, music…everything was wiped off from the damm system. After getting hysterical and hyperventilating for nearly 3 hours, during which my flat mate tried all recovery recipes from smelling salts to chocolate ice cream, I called the system repair guy. He gave the laptop back to me last night with a I-have-no-idea-what-you-did-but-there-is-nothing-I-can-do look. Oh! Wail! Oh! Horror! Why has the Lord forsaken me???

So what’s bright side, you ask??? Well, music and photographs I can recover…..thanks to iPods and Picassa. But more importantly the writing….well remember, how I said that I had not written in well over two months, well …..the last cut that I wrote, I had mailed it to a perspective publisher….so ITS ALL SAFE….in my Gmail. All my short stories are uploaded on Goodreads and thank the blog…well you know is a web-based portal……so really….no loss!!!! While I was bemoaning the fact that for 8 weeks, I was neglecting my craft, there seems to be a greater plan at work. Had I written in those weeks, after sending the work so far to the publisher, all would have been lost! For whatever reasons, not writing during that time was definitely fortunate incident!

Hence, enlightenment came to me and I decide –

  1. Keep my trap shut…especially if I am doing good stuff.
  2.  Hang in there…there is a reason behind all that happens, even if it’s not apparent immediately.
  3. Get a backup for your system….do not save everything on your desktop!
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