Perks of Being a Wallflower

I need to talk about how much I love Perks.I either really need to talk about how much I love Perks or I need to a talk a good deal about how much I love Perks. I still can’t figure out which. Well, basically it’s my Catcher in the Rye. I never really met a person other than this ONE guy who adored that book. All other Catcher mania I have come across exists in references in other books made by other fictional and adolescent characters. Which is kind of amusing.

Perks presents a distinct story of its own. When I watched the movie the DVD cover had all the keywords: *teenager* *unpopular* *HIGH SCHOOL* *ARGH* *new cool friends* *WHEW!*(so basically) LEARNING EXPERIENCES. Watching a movie or reading a book about teen experiences may be interesting the first time or every once in while when it’s Mean Girls and other good things. But the drama grows slack and the climaxes dull when the awkward child goes to school for the 100th time.

Anyhow even with all that baggage Perks is kind of good. Every one struggles with stuff in the book but something is holding Charlie back. It finally comes out in a huge plot reveal at the end. Until then he stumbles through stuff. He is supposed to have all these ahem *TEEN LEARNING EXPERIENCES* so he does all that along with a psychological breakthrough of his own. What stands out for me are all the small stories, the incidents that flesh out all the other characters. Like the way Charlie’s dad was good at baseball and never exaggerated a detail in his stories about his glory days. Or his sister bullying her boyfriend and then justifying his violence and ofcourse Brad and Patrick’s story that made a whole well developed story arc by itself. The Rocky Horror Picture stuff. And I can’t figure if I got this from the movie or the book but I love Sam and Patrick’s relationship and the way their characters mesh so well with Charlie’s. It’s all of this that makes the characters engage with each other and creates a small and very distinct world of book’s own for me the reader to consume with a lot of satisfaction.

Also, as an aside I really, really wish Charlie was gay. I mean Sam was played by Emma Watson who was pretty okay but as movie Patrick says he “smoke(es) all you bitches.” And he really does. Ezra Miller really made that role his and even book Patrick is the most fun character. Sigh. That was one movie magic couple that could have happened. And I could’ve loved how cute they were together. Coz they really were.

 

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Around India in 80 Trains

Around India in 80 Trains is an appealing read. I confess that besides a yen for travel I bought it because of its cover- a collage of hand drawn images lifted from photographs taken during Rajesh’s journey through India- the whole thing washed in shades and tones of light water colour blue.

Cover design highs aside, the book is really very interesting. For me it’s interesting since it’s been written by a girl of Indian origin who was brave enough and perhaps crazy enough to travel around India; a country which is perhaps sometimes picturesque and is also a country that is not kind to women. But this book is for everyone blessed with wanderlust and curiosity. It is also pleasantly and easily written and gives you reassuring glimpses of the kindness of strangers in this country.

Rajesh tells you about travel in India’s luxury trains and sleeper class journeys in the regular passenger trains and all the arguments that occur in between among fellow tourists on how to see the “real India”. I would have thought that just being able to travel for leisure in a foreign country and being able to take in the sights (gruesome or beautiful) should have been enough for the truly adventurous but no, apparently they must all take sides and argufy over who saw it better. Ingrates!

However, travelers must take the good with the bad and sometimes endure the ugly. Rajesh describes rewarding vistas, frightening halts at deserted, midnight stations (like the book’s “Arserape Junction”) and fellow travelers of all kinds and blends of humanity. I’ll never forget the guy who cracked the code behind the mysterious numbers up on the sides of trains. Now we’re all in on the secret of how to travel easy, Indian Railway! Dangerous people, knife in hand, question her about her faith and kindly people share their lunch when they see that she is far from home. The book’s charm could be that it presents the perspective of a girl with a strong India connect as she travels- depending on her own resources- through a country that is not kind to women. But it also presents an experience of India in a peppy young voice that will resonate with Millennials curious about travelling through their homeland or wanting to see another country.

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