Monday, December 06, 2010

Reading Time Again!

Why do I love travelling by train? That is when I read books these days. It takes fourteen hours to travel from where I am working to my home town and invariably I spend at least eight hours in reading. I have traveled over sixteen hours in a stretch in flights few times but never was able to read anything like what I do while travelling in a train. 
Last two trips to Trivandrum and back I read four books – all Malayalam and all autobiography of four politicians of Kerala belonging to different political parties. “Oru  Janmam” by CMP state secretary M.V Raghavan, “Patharathe Munottu” by former Chief Minister of Kerala K Karunakaran, “Jeevithamrutham” by former Central Minister and BJP stalwart O Rajagopal and “Ningal Enne Congress Akki” by new entrant to the Congress party A.P Abdullakutty. 
All these books especially the first three was like reading the political history of Kerala from mid 20th century. The most interest aspect of reading all these books one after the other was the opportunity to read the same incidents in the history of Kerala through the eyes of three politician who believed in three different political ideologies. For example for imposing emergency and the events in the next two years are described so differently in all three books and it is for the readers to make their own judgment. 
What I liked in M.V Raghavan’s book is that he never tried to criticize anyone to gain political mileage anywhere in the book. Even though he mentions at couple of places that former chef minister E.K Nayanar stabbed him from behind, he do not make any personal attack against Nayanar. The book let us know struggles he has to undergo in building the communist party in Kannur. The politics behind his expulsion from CPI(M) and his subsequent joining Congress led front are narrated in detail. A good read for anyone keen on understanding the life of a communist leader. 
K Karunakaran’s book “Patharathe Munnottu’ takes you thorough the ups and downs of leader Karunakaran’s political career. He talks about his initial days in politics, how he become the “leader”, the happenings during emergency, his loyalty to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, how the former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao ditched him and his later actions while A.K. Antony and Omman Chandy were Chief Ministers. Forget all the politics in that book – one thing I will always remember from this book – advice he gives regarding how to lead a systematic life. He shares his secret of maintaining a great health even after crossing 90– never eat till your stomach is full; always keep some space empty in your stomach; never use alcohol or smoke cigarette (he confesses that he use to be a chain smoker till later twenties after which he never smoked a cigarette). This is a good advice that this generation has to put into practice.
If you want to know the history of Jan Sangh and BJP in Kerala and how O Rajagopal rose through the rank of this party to become a Central Minister read his autobiography. He has recounted all his experiences in his journey as a politician. 
Reading the book “Ningal Enne Congress Akki” by A.P Abdullakutty makes me feel that if he has not become a politician he could have easily become a good writer. This book was so interesting that I finished it in one stretch. The way he started the book – his running from pillar to post to know his date of birth itself shows how good a writer he is. Abdullakutty’s rise in CPI(M), the humiliations he has to face in that party, his reasoning to resign from the party are all well explained in this book. I am sure this won’t be his last book and hoping to see more books from him.  
Now reading – The Elephant the Tiger and Cellphone by Dr Shashi Tharoor
Books I like to read if I can get hold of a copy
Standing My Ground by Mathew Hayden
Keeping the Faith – Memories of a Parliamentarian by Somnath Chatterjee
Obama’s War by Bob Woodward
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