Readables: Ramayana

**I changed the name of my book reviewing series from the previously titled ‘Good Wee Reads’. It was a half decent idea until I realised that the biggest online review source was infact ‘Good Reads’. Schoolboy error, but at least that’s out the way.**

”The Ramayana is one of the great epics of the ancient world, with versions spanning the cultures, religions and languages of Asia. Its story of Rama’s quest to recover his wife Sita from her abduction by Raavana, the Lord of the Underworld, has enchanted readers and audiences across the Eastern world for thousands of years.”

 

ramayana

 

I took a wander around Waterstones a few weeks ago, only to come across this book while browsing. I seem to enjoy reading stories with a religious or spiritual influence. It’s not that I’m religious. I’m open to all ideas. And the stories which are told throughout different creeds around the world generally (in my humble opinion) make for a good read. Let’s be honest, The Bible is class. There are great discussions regarding who wrote it in the first place. Many say Moses wrote the Old Testament and Paul the Apostle wrote the New Testament. This hasn’t been confirmed. But whoever it was.. I applaud them. For if the Bible was claimed to be another Fiction epic like Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter it would easily become a Cinema Classic. They’d probably make about nine blockbusters out of it then follow it up with spinoffs.

So aye. They do make for good reading, the old religious tales, and Ramayana is no different. It’s one of two old Indian classics (the other being Mahābhārata, cheers copy and paste) and has been passed down through the centuries. Retold and revisited time and time again, the stories have been shared across the Asian continent. The author Daljit Nagra takes inspiration from the Punjabi version he learned from his family and combines it with a wide scope of other versions (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and Laos amongst others) and brings the story to life in a modern, inclusive and far-reaching manner.

It’s a pretty mad book and the storyline is imaginative to say the least. It’s a bit like an Indian Game of Thrones to be honest. Rama is the hero. He’s the typical ‘Prince Charming’ kind of guy, good at everything and gets all the attention. An absolute stallion. The word Rama means peace in Sanskrit, the Indian language. Him and his brother leave home on a journey and face all sorts of trials and tribulations. But they find themselves in trouble when Rama’s missus is taken by the Lord of the Underworld, Ravana. Epic battles and fights to the death are all included in Rama’s quest to get his burd back. And there’s even an army of courageous monkeys to seal the deal.

All in all it’s a pretty fun book even if it isn’t what you would usually read. Nagra’s writing style is also somewhat odd with the use of different fonts and strange layouts but it all contributes to the buzz of the book. So immerse yourself in an old Indian tale and take an insight into the ancient culture and tradition of the world’s seventh largest country. It’s very easy to see how a story like this could become so popular and celebrated among literally billions of people across Asia. And now Mr. Nagra has opened this Homeric adventure tale to wee guys like me, in council estates in the West of Scotland.

Here’s a short video of the author giving an insight into the book…

 

 

RAMAYANA by Daljit Nagra. Published by Faber & Faber. Click Here to Buy Your Copy.

 

‘The Wide-Eyed Scotsman’ is a collection of thoughts, written pieces, opinions and blogs by myself, Aidan Meehan. Unless stated otherwise all of the work on this site is my own. All of the photos, unless credited, are my own. If you have anything to say or if you enjoy my updates please like, share, follow, communicate or criticise. I am not a professional blogger/ writer/ photographer and any interaction which may help to improve my work would be appreciated.

It means the world to me to see people viewing this project. I hope its able to give you something in return.

For all private enquiries get in touch at aidanmeehan94@outlook.com. Thank you.


Good Wee Reads – Chris McQueer.

 

Bringing back the Good Wee Reads series for another spin on the blog I’ll be recommending (highly) finding copies of Hings and HWFG by the newly crowned sheriff in Glasgow town… Chris McQueer. This will probably be a fortnightly feature where I introduce the literary bangers I’ve been reading in my spare time. When it comes to my reading taste there are no holds barred so expect to see a variety of genres. And at the end if you fancy them for yourself you can click on the ‘Buy Here’ tabs available to grab a copy for yourself.

 

ChrisMcQueer-404Ink-SineadGraingerPhotography
Chris McQueer (404 Ink / Sinead Grainger Photography)

I heard good things about the Glasgow-based writer not long before Christmas and enjoyed some of his hilarious daily Tweets. I was filled with high hopes for good native chat and witty, creative stories. I wasn’t disappointed. I first read Hings and it was fucking brilliant. What a laugh I had. I used to read it during my quiet time and commuting while working in France. I’d be sitting on the tram howlin’ at the mad stories developing in the pages and attracting queer looks from the slightly bewildered passengers I shared my journey with.  I almost felt sorry for them. They just wouldn’t appreciate the sheer ridiculousness of the gags being churned out in such a Scottish manner. And for me  that is where it strikes the chord. I love reading and I read many books while being away from home. But none of them brought me back to Scotland quite like this. It felt like I was reading the group chat between my mates or like I was sitting on the bus and pausing music to hear what the dafty sitting behind was shouting down the phone, loud enough for all to hear, squirm and cringe intolerably. Hings brought me home. HWFG followed suit.

 

 

The laughs role out from story to story. Solid, earthy, comedic twists combined with the local charm which allowed me to not only enjoy the books but to also appreciate just how fucking hilarious Scottish patter is. I really hope and wish Chris McQueer has the best of success in the future and goes on to cement his place as a pioneer of said patter. There’s probably a lot of aspiring writers around including myself working hard to find that mark of originality or touch of magic that seems to have been discovered in these two books. He’s been name-dropped with the likes of Irvine Welsh already which is pretty incredible considering the reputation the Trainspotting author holds himself. But it’s all part of the newer generation looking for their own household names and fortunately we have young guys like McQueer who have both the talent and the baws to step up to the plate.

 

 

So Chris, thanks for the laughs so far mate. We’re all looking forward to what the future holds.

 

Chris McQueer – ‘Hings’ (404 Ink). Buy Here. 

Chris McQueer – HWFG (404 Ink). Buy Here.

 

‘The Wide-Eyed Scotsman’ is a collection of thoughts, written pieces, opinions and blogs by myself, Aidan Meehan. Unless stated otherwise all of the work on this site is my own. All of the photos, unless credited, are my own. If you have anything to say or if you enjoy my updates please like, share, follow, communicate or even criticise (be gentle). I am not a professional blogger/ writer/ photographer and any interaction which may help to improve my work would be appreciated.

It means the world to me to see people viewing this project. I hope its able to give you something in return.

For all private enquiries get in touch at aidanmeehan94@outlook.com. Thank you.

 


Good Wee Reads.

I haven’t shared much of my library on here. Which is strange because it’s all I have done for a while. So now I figure is a good time to share my reading fancies with you. And it’s something I will probably be doing a lot more frequently on here.

Here are 5 incredible books that have not only inspired me but also helped to bring around changes in my own life. I highly recommend in plunging heed first into these literary dreams. From adventure stories able to drag you out of the slog of the day to political works filled with powerful logic and humbling passion. I hope that you can find yourself a Good Wee Read tailored to your tastes.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac. Buy Here.

on the road

“..the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse. Buy Here.

siddhartha

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”

Che Guevara Talks To Young People. Buy Here.

che guevara

“The walls of the educational system must come down. Education should not be a privilege, so the children of those who have money can study.”

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson. Buy Here.

treasure island

“Sometimes the isle was thick with savages, with whom we fought, sometimes full of dangerous animals that hunted us, but in all my fancies nothing occurred to me so strange as our actual adventures.”

James Connolly: Collected Works. Buy Here.

james-connolly.jpg

“It would be well to realize that the talk of ‘humane methods of warfare’, of the ‘rules of civilized warfare’, and all such homage to the finer sentiments of the race are hypocritical and unreal, and only intended for the consumption of stay-at-homes. There are no humane methods of warfare, there is no such thing as civilized warfare; all warfare is inhuman, all warfare is barbaric; the first blast of the bugles of war ever sounds for the time being the funeral knell of human progress… What lover of humanity can view with anything but horror the prospect of this ruthless destruction of human life. Yet this is war: war for which all the jingoes are howling, war to which all the hopes of the world are being sacrificed, war to which a mad ruling class would plunge a mad world.”

The Snowfields.

I recently began reading a new book, the Wild Boy. Written by the Italian author Paolo Cognetti the book has been released in several different countries and languages. My copy is in French (Le garçon sauvage) and it’s the first ‘Roman Français‘ (French translation of novel) I have tested myself with. I’m fairly struggling to say the least. My knowledge of French vocabulary is not at an extremely high level. Nevertheless I’m enjoying it, and enjoying learning French in general. It’s opening up my world in very significant ways and has given me a desire to learn a little bit of others too. Whenever I’m using Duolingo (a fantastic language learning website) I find myself having a bash at ‘plusiers langues‘. So far I’ve done French, Spanish, German, Italian, Irish and Russian. But don’t expect me to be publishing multilingual posts anytime soon. I had considered writing more in French as it’s my strongest second language. For now I aim to continue like so and share some international works in the meantime.

 

le garcon sauvage

 

”Une expérience de la solitude en montagne pour retrouver l’écriture.”

See if you can work that one out for yourselves….

My desire to share some work from this novel has been slightly muddled by the fact that I am an English speaker reading an Italian novel translated into French.. My head is fried with the multilingualism at the moment. I don’t think anyone realises how tiring it can be just until they’ve tried it. My cognitive skills have been retrained to think and develop thoughts in an entirely new structure. And with these new structures often comes new attitudes to general life because languages are formed by different human perceptions. All in all it’s fascinating to say the least…

Before Cognetti begins his novel he shares some work by an Italian poet, Antonia Pozzi. Despite committing suicide at a very young age she managed to produce hundreds of poems. I love the French translation and I’m very happy to share that along with my own attempt to translate into English.

”J’ai séjourné dans les hauteurs
au-delà des sapins –
cheminé par monts et vaux
lumineux –
Traversé des lacs morts – et les ondes prisonnières
m’ont chuchoté
un secret –
longé des rives blanches, appelant
par leur nom les gentianes
assoupies –
J’ai rêvé dans la neige d’une immense
ville de fleurs
ensevelie –
J’ai écumé les monts
hérissée comme une fleur –
regardant les rochers,
les hautes parois
dans les mers du vent –
et, chantant à mi-voix, je me souvenais
d’un ancien été
où les rhododendrons amers
prenaient feu dans mon sang.”

La Route du Mourir, Névés. Traduction de Patrick Remaux.

”I stayed in the heights
Beyond the firs –
Surrounded by mountains and valleys
luminous –
Crossing the dead lakes – and the captive waves
they whispered to me
a secret –
Along the white banks, called
by their name the Gentians
drowsy –
I dreamed in the snow of a vast
city of flowers
buried –
I scoured the mountains
Standing tall like a flower –
Watching the rocks,
the high walls
in the seas of wind –
and, singing in a hushed tone, I remembered
a bygone summer
where the bitter rhodonderons
caught fire in my blood”

Road to Death, The Snowfields. Translation, Aidan Meehan.

antonia pozzi  Antonia Pozzi.