Somerset Maugham’s Rain

Rain is probably the best short story written by Somerset Maugham – in its length and characterization it is more like a novella but of course it conforms to Maugham’s formula for a story – it has a beginning, a middle and an end.

The story’s popularity has sustained over the years as it has been made into movies and plays. It is often selected for anthologies and prescribed reading material for students attempting to master modern English literature.

The adventure begins off on simple terms. A ship headed to Apia is stranded near Pago Pago as a Cholera epidemic is suspected and a quarantine enforced to prevent an outbreak. The travellers are ordinary folks headed on business and personal trips.

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Brick Lane – a layered masonry!

Brick Lane is about a middle-class Bangladeshi immigrant family in East End of London (staying in the Brick Lane area) and yet it is as relatable as an Indian tale like Mira Nair’s ‘Namesake’. Indeed the principal cast is Indian – Tannishtha Mukherjee and Sathish Kaushik. It follows the story of a 17-year old Nazneen who had an ‘arranged marriage’ to Chanu and moved to London.

The book translates Monica Ali’s world view well and we get a nice capsule loaded with the immigrant experience, patriarchy, feminism, teenage rebellion of the second generation assimilating better to their new society, the post 9/11 world, the discrimination felt by a middle-aged Bangladeshi anglophile who decides it time to go back home. 

Sathish Kaushik (Chanu) and Tannishtha Mukherjee (Nazneen) make an odd pair – well that is true to their positions in the novel as well. Sathish is possibly 20 years older, a balding and paunchy man who is bitterly embittered about not ‘fitting in’ the British world he loved so much in his youth. Tannishtha is the typical shy village belle who is now in her mid 30s discovering her sexuality and finding her voice to make her ‘own’ choices about her life and future.

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Complicated relationships – does time cure or curse it further?


A colleague of mine shared something rather personal recently and today’s prompt just reminded me about that. My colleague’s college reunion just went by last month and after agonizing awhile he decided not to attend it. He confessed that the thought of meeting some of his old friends and a friend in particular was too much to handle. The relationship was warped so much that ‘complicated’ is just about the word to describe it.

I was not much sympathetic with his cause – for me running away from the situation is not a solution to anything. Well I have been known to be short on tact – perhaps discretion is the better part of valour at times.

Human relationships become interesting when one considers the tightrope we walk at times to express ourselves while taking care of the other person’s feelings. Some people have a better knack of doing it – though nothing can improve the effort of a person who is patient and persevering. Tall words in today’s rushed times I guess wherein our attention spans are dwindling and time is too scarce for all that we need to do.

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David Cameron’s tryst with ‘Brexit’

John Kerry remarked on Theresa May becoming the British Prime Minister on 13 July, “It happened rather quickly … It’s such a different transition arrangement than in the United States.I am amazed it happens so fast – how do you have time to pack everything?”

Cameron quit after Britons voted narrowly in a June 23 referendum to leave the European Union, having failed in his bid to persuade them to back remaining in a bloc the United Kingdom joined in 1973.

A smooth transition of power within 3 weeks; packing would possibly be the last worry burdening the minds of the ‘powers-that-be’. It is nonetheless a remarkable testament of the power of democratic processes in the land.

‘Nothing ventured,nothing gained ..’ but the Brexit referendum went all awry for Cameron who is known to have told Tony Blair, ‘ I was the future once’. Words that echo and possibly best represent his lasting legacy after serving as the PM for six years spanning over two terms.

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The world of online job portals!

The IT revolution has changed our world and looking for the right career opportunity has never been easier. In a jiffy you can register yourself on the many job search portals and be bombarded with information and offers.

In the ideal world you hope that this deluge will make it easier for you to find your dream job. Sadly life is never quite so simple – the process is a grind in its own way and you need to take the rough with the easy as you wade through a maze of needless distractions that range from being mildly annoying to being perfectly obnoxious.

So you update your profile and provide your contact information to await a call / e-mail from your dream company. What you would promptly get is the following –

Burnish your resume for a Fee offer – The pitch is quite convincing. You are a great profile but that is not enough. You need to communicate the same to the world that has converted the  CV into a slick presentation of Key Words and optimized verbiage. The ‘special pass key’ to crack the code is with the professional CV makers who can give you a makeover. Well at least it is a legitimate offer and discretion is advised to be exercised.

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Maugham the masterly story teller …

‘The Outstation’ and ‘Mackintosh’ : These are two stories on similar theme but are a great example of Maugham’s power of characterization and story telling. You put two men of contrasting natures and incompatible temperament together in a situation of conflict from which there is no escape and the only outcome possible is one of them emerging victorious by the conquest of the other.

And within each story you narrate episodes that force the reader to waver his sympathy from one character to the other. The plot is incidental and the closure of the story inconsequential. And Maugham makes the two stories end in utterly contrasting ways. It is amazing that I felt that both the ends are plausible and not contrived. I do not know of any other writer who could have done this with such skill in the short story format.

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It is the traditional Maugham scene set up between the World Wars in the scenic Malaya peninsula. Imperialism is at its peak and the white man managing the natives and promoting the British interest is the nub of the game.

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Ted Danson’s Cheers!

Cheers was the precursor for the more popular show Frasier and ran through for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993.

The production values were far simpler and the key cast initially focussed only on 4 central characters in a Boston-based bar. Its success and popularity spawned incremental characters and story arcs developed that spanned across seasons.

Ted Danson was a huge star during Cheers and Frasier was a fringe character, he first appeared only in the 3rd season and became a main character 5th season onwards.

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The Mortgage Redemption!

A Home loan still has a special relevance in an average Indian’s life – it is possibly the most significant asset created for the family and a home is indeed treasured as a precious heirloom that needs to be passed on to the next generation.

We haven’t yet reached the Western standards on home loans – often refinanced, converted into bonds and passed on to retail customers, and often the home is even traded even before the Mortgage draws to its natural end.

It was late 2004 when I finally was able to buy my dream home financed by a friendly mortgage scheme. I was still to be 30 and it was a significant dream that bore fruition. I was a typical Tam-Brahm in my approach, cautious and conservative. Not interested in a car (I never considered it to be an asset) or in that exotic vacation in Bali (I find it tough to ‘sell’ experiences to myself), I was keen on having a ‘own roof’ over my head.

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