Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Obligatory Buddha and Bodhi tree picture, book has got very little to do with the enlightened one though.

This is like going to theaters for Star Wars, and getting stuck with the origin story of Jar Jar. Or I might have completely missed the point of this widely favoured work.

To me, Siddhartha(highly misleading title) was the embodiment of platitudes I’ve been overexposed to – the occident fixation on nirvana, self discovery, obsession with Om, asceticism and enlightenment.

I found, Siddhartha(not Buddha) as one classic lethargic intelligent, privileged to have born in an upper class rich family. In his selfish narcissistic pursuit for enlightenment, he conveniently chooses to ignore every obligation he has with life and loved ones; from which he eventually graduates to exploiting the extra niceties of hard working folks around, by portraying himself as the wise brahmin whom every one shall respect and care for. Author then calls for sympathy towards protagonist’s so called material sufferings, by products of his own previous negligence or karma if you ask me, on grounds of monistic philosophy of Atman and Brahman, and cycle of Samsara; I simply couldn’t align myself with that. In fact he was the proverbial silver spoon kid all along, self venerated and diplomatically renouncing though.

Imagine picking up a book titled Gandhi, its natural of you to expect his story or philosophy in the book. But instead, the book goes on about the personal quests of another Gandhi, who happens to have shared the exact time period as real Gandhi, living in the same neighborhood, often crossing each other in their lives. And to add to the annoyance, this fictional Gandhi exploits his social status and caste for his own selfish reasons and back it with a twisted philosophy that resembles closely with that of real Gandhi. Siddhartha, to me, felt more or less like this.

Maybe, if I wasn’t raised among these pursuit of happiness, self realization, meaning of life stories or If the newfound wisdom of Sakyamunis and Buddha were exotic to the society I belong to, Hesse’s masterpiece might have managed to evoke amazement or at least amusement for that matter.
Extra star for keeping it short.


Rescue Party by Arthur C Clarke


This is the upside down version of almost all alien exploration stories out there; for one, we are the exotic mysterious civilization, the aliens of this story are interested in.

Wikipedia lists this not-so-short short, as the first published work by Arthur C Clarke, Astounding Science Fiction May 1947, a fitting trailer for the vision and imagination that was to follow. In Rescue Party’s fictional universe, there seems to be a confederation of star civilizations and god like beings who orchestrate and control the happenings of explored universe. On the onset of a Supernova explosion, Sun in this case, these Lantern Guardians like beings, Alverons as they are known, sends a convoy to rescue or preserve newly discovered Earth’s civilization. Anything more than this would be an overshare at this point. Absolutely loved the pace of the story, the universe and races built in the limitation of words, psychology and mystery of exploration, along with the open ending bonus tease. If there was an option to add review title in goodreads, I would definitely have gone with ‘Rendezvous with Earth’ as a homage for Clarke’s (well, mostly Clarke’s) Rama series.

According to internet legends, Clarke abstained himself from re reading his early published works, for the fear of realizing how little he had improved over years. I must say, something near perfect doesn’t leave you much room for improvement.