Book Talk on Aleph

Where: Café Page 102

What we ate: Smoked chicken pizza, fresh lime 7up, Grilled chicken with Jalapeno sauce, Pina Colada and Death by Chocolate (we didn’t die, didn’t even pass out)

Ambience: I take photographs to the point of suffocating others around me or so I feel. So I took a number of photographs of the restaurant’s décor, the book themed décor for which it has gained instant fame. Being bookworms, this place called out to us, and to our surprise the food turned out decent enough as well. It was also wise of us to pick this place on Valentine’s Day for what we saw, not many couples ventured into a place supporting books. M.

M. hadn’t read all of Aleph (as I expected but didn’t care). There were some deep parts that I felt elated to read….I always feel elated when I have to really work my brain to understand (like A Confession by Leo Tolstoy), or when I learn about something new. But then there were some deeply traumatizing parts and parts where things were done which I felt were completely unnecessary.

Traumatizing—the witch trial and punishment scene, definitely. What did I gain from reading that? Probably just a lot of negative emotions and negative energy. I suppose he included all the details (including mention of barbaric weapons that I didn’t need to know about) to make it compelling, to justify his own guilt, to make the world condemn such horrific crimes. But me being me, I don’t need to know the gory details to feel empathy.

Unnecessary— the part where Paulo learns how to atone for his guilt (the Islamic way, through his Muslim guide in Tunis). Couldn’t he have reached this on his own? Perhaps I’m being judgmental because we Muslims already have it ingrained in us. And there were some other events too—which I’ve already forgotten 😛

But really, I found the forgiveness scene a bit silly—how can you forgive someone when you don’t even know what crime they have committed against you? And then the Hilal-Paulo ‘kind-of’ relationship grew boring for me… To be honest, I found Paulo rather disgusting and an annoying know-it-all….I mean sure, he couldn’t really have a romantic relationship with Hilal…but couldn’t he even be at least nice to her—when he wasn’t fantasizing about her (or living through them) he was just downright rude and impatient with her—insufferably superior…to be fair, Hilal signed up for this herself, but she was simply a means to an end…That’s my take, anyhow.

But the character I LOVED absolutely—Yao. To me, he was the real hero of the story, the strange, omniscient guy who knew just what to say or do…Infact, the nasty me thinks Paulo should have abandoned his own story and written about Yao:D

Now you guys say some.

Hello from M. What a great way to start our unconventional first book review of sorts for our very new book club. Thank you for making me the bad guy. Yes I couldn’t get through the entire book in the deadline set by you know who *glares*.  For most part, however, I would downright blame Paulo Coelho.  I have been unable to relate myself to Aleph on so many levels. In fact I need to go back to The Alchemist one more time to reconnect with the amazing writer he is for the world. Aleph did not work for me. I realize that, for this first review, we both are being quite blunt. But it could not be said in any other way. I will finish that book, and perhaps add my final verdict. For now, my take is, more or less like F.

In a few words, the story is about Paulo and the journey he makes to renew his spirituality, find true happiness in his present life that has been overshadowed by something wrong done by him in his previous life. Following his mentor’s advice, Paulo decides to travel, connect with people, challenge himself and grow more like the Chinese bamboo that spends 5 years as a little shoot. It is time for Paulo to grow and he takes us along.

There are some philosophical thoughts here and there that work for me; one of the reasons I have always found myself reading something or the other by Coelho. However, the concept of reincarnation, and astral travel could not gel in with my school of thought. I found myself lost when Paulo began talking about rectifying the wrong he did in his past life. It was rather amusing for me to see him doing the same thing in the present by being rude towards Hilal (a young girl he accidently meets). I can imagine being uncomfortable with someone as persistent as Hilal but when you are on a journey to set things right, perhaps being nice consciously would work.

From another perspective, Paulo is brave to have shown his not to polished side. We all are a little raw and rude to others around us and hardly realize it.

Another thing that really excited me about the novel was the train journey he takes on the Trans Siberian Railway. Lastly, at this point, as an unfinished book, I m taking away the Chinese bamboo story the writer tells in the first few chapters. It will stay with me. 

Until the next book and food review. 


Busy bees’ book bash starts here

Hello dear readers,

Along with my friend we are starting a small book club named SoulFoodwhere we plan to read a lot of books and exchange our ideas and thoughts on them. In order to document it, we are further planning to write small reviews and blog about them, ideally every two months. There is a tasty twist to our book club, a theme that would run in the backdrop of some good book discussion; good food to tie everything in. We experience a new restaurant every time there’s a book to be talked about or philosophical concepts to ponder on. So far we have done it twice and hope to continue it.

Post script: I failed to add the ‘about us’ to the page and hence decided to write a small intro as a normal post. If anyone knows how to get a ‘about us’ tab kindly let us know.