Never Let Me Go: A Book Review

December 30, 2005 at 2:53 pm

Book: “Never Let Me Go”
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

Reviewer: Anuradha [My friend]

Set in England, Never Let Me Go is about clones who are raised with the specific objective of becoming organ donors.

The book is in a first person narrative style and starts with a boarding school environment. While right at the beginning you are given to understand that this is no ordinary boarding school for ordinary children, the real `speciality’ of these children unfolds only towards the end. Over the pages the reader is given some glimpses of the underlying theme, but the absolute revelation is reserved for the last few pages of the book.

While dealing with this basic theme of cloning and organ donorship, the author does explore some interesting areas in the lives of the protagonists – are they supposed to feel or not? what is the `limit’ to their feeling, given that they all know they have a limited purpose of life and survival? Are they or aren’t they really human? and so on….

The moral debate related to cloning and organ donation is briefly touched upon in the final pages and provides a lot of room for thought.

I found the concept of the book interesting, thought provoking and extremely disturbing. The universe that Ishiguro paints is quite inhuman, though you don’t really understand the reason till you have finished. Contrary to his earlier books like Remains of the Day, Artist of the Floating World or When We were Orphans, Never Let Me Go lacks pace. It was sometimes quite difficult to keep turning the pages. But once you get to the stage of discovering the real theme of the book, it picks up speed.

Perhaps it is the theme, but Ishiguro’s writing style in Never Let Me Go seems bleakly precise and lacks the humour, anger or cynicism of his earlier books. The style seems almost as inhuman as the theme.

Though I was expecting something more in keeping with his style and hoped for a book more like Remains of the Day, I am unable to say I am disappointed with this book. It is exactly the reverse. Somehow Ishiguro has managed to convey the fragility of what we define as `human’. It is an interesting but disturbing question, especially when you do relate to some of the moral debates raised in the book.

The author has refused to be drawn into any moralising about scientific advancement nor does he resort to theology. This is purely a book which explores what is really human and thereby lies it beauty and ugliness.

This is perhaps not what I can personally define as a favourite or a lovely book, but it is definitely a very interesting book and would be on my list of recommended reading.

Chennai Trip

December 29, 2005 at 3:01 pm

Ravi, Sutti, Shastri and Kp had come down to Chennai on one of the previous weekends. We had great fun! :)

We rented a car [Self-driven Hyundai Santro] and went to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. It was fun unlimited! :) As you can see from the photos given. [See the sidebar flickr badge and click on it]

More on this as I get some time for myself. Till then, you can give me your feedback on the photos! :)

Break away

December 28, 2005 at 5:22 pm

[An email fwd via Naveen]

As I was passing the elephants, I suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

I saw a trainer near by and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

I was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

India is No. 2 in Tests

December 22, 2005 at 12:00 am

Ranking

Team Rating

1

Australia

128

2

India

115

3

England

113

4

Pakistan

103

5

South Africa

100

6

New Zealand

100

7

Sri Lanka

96

8

West Indies

73

9

Zimbabwe

27

10

Bangladesh

5

Another 13 points and we are there! :) Rahul Dravid is the right man to take us there.

You can click here to find out how the ratings are calculated.

And click here to find how future series will have an impact on the ratings.

It’s good going by the Indian team so far. With everybody chipping in with their contributions. The team is all set to conquer Pakistan next! All the best India! :)

Tendulkar’s 35 centuries in pictures

December 20, 2005 at 12:22 pm
[Via Senthil]
An e-mail forward I received. And I love Tendulkar. Thought this was a collector’s item! Amazing one!

Sachin Tendulkar acknowledges the cheers after his maiden Test century, England v India, 2nd Test, Ausgust, 1990

 

At 125 for 5 against England at Old Trafford, India had their backs to the wall, before Sachin Tendulkar saved the day with 119, maiden century.

 

Sachin Tendulkar cuts on his way to 111, South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, November, 1992

 

Tendulkar’s 111 was the only score above 25 as India folded for 227 in reply to South Africa’s 292 in the first innings at Johannesburg in 1992.

Sachin Tendulkar on his way to his ninth century, England v India, 1st Test, Edgbaston, Birmingham, June, 1996

Facing a first-innings deficit of 99, India collapsed spectacularly with only Tendulkar defying England with 122, the only score above 20.

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 16th Test century, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Bangalore, March, 1998

Picking up from his 155 at Chennai, Tendulkar continued to torment Australia by hammering 177 from just 207 balls. However, a second-innings implosion gave Australia victory in the dead rubber at Bangalore.

Tendulkar comes down the track, only to edge to gully off Saqlain Mushtaq's bowling. India v Pakistan, Test 1, Day 1 at Chennai, 29 January 1999

Battling a painful back injury, Tendulkar played an extremely controlled innings. Chasing 271, Tendulkar was dismissed on 136 after which followed a procession of wickets that gave Pakistan victory by a mere 12 runs.

Tendulkar guides the ball past slip during his century - Asian Test Championship, 1998/99, 2nd Match, Sri Lanka v India, Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, 28 February 1999

In a high scoring game with both teams scoring more than 475 in the first innings, Tendulkar got stuck in and made 124 in the second as the Test meandered to a draw.

 

Sachin Tendulkar flays it through cover en route to his 22nd Test century, Australia v India, 2nd Test, Melbourne, December, 1999

After receiving some contentious decisions in the first Test, Tendulkar replied in style with a fighting 116 at Melbourne. He also made 52 in the second innings as India only managed 195 while needing 376 for victory.

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his second double-century, India v Zimbabwe, 2nd Test, Nagpur, November, 2000

Tendulkar’s second double-century (201 not out) helped India amass 609 in the first innings. After asking Zimbabwe to follow on, India was blunted by a defiant Andy Flower who also hit a double century to save the game.

Sachin Tendulkar blasted Australia during his 25th Test century, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Chennai, March, 2001

Tendulkar’s 126 propelled India to a vital first-innings lead against Australia. Chasing 155 to win, India hobbled home with two wickets to spare.

Sachin Tendulkar on the attack during century No. 26, South Africa v India, 1st Test, Bloemfontein, November, 2001

Sachin Tendulkar (155) and Virender Sehwag, with a century on debut, rescued India from dire straits at 68 for 4 to finish on 379. A poor second innings meant that South Africa needed just 54 to win and did so with nine wickets in hand.

Sachin Tendulkar has Mark Butcher jumping on his way to his 27th century, England v India, 2nd Test, Ahmedabad, December, 2001

Tendulkar’s 103 formed the backbone of India’s reply to England’s 407 at Ahmedabad. The match was drawn with India at 198 for 3, needing 374 for victory.

Sachin Tendulkar acknowledges his 30th century, England v India, 2nd Test, Leeds, August, 2002

India posted a mammoth 628 with Tendulkar’s 193 being the highest score. England were Knocked over for 273 and 309 to give India victory by an innings and 46 runs.

 

India v West Indies at Calcutta, 30 Oct - 3 Nov 2002

Faced with a huge first-innings deficit, Tendulkar struck 176 and was involved in a 214-run partnership with VVS Laxman for the fifth wicket that drew the game.

Sachin Tendulkar's animated celebration marks his third double-hundred, Australia v India, 4th Test, Sydney, January, 2004

Tendulkar’s first double-century overseas came at Sydney and took India to a massive 705 in the first innings as India pressed for a series victory against Australia.

Sachin Tendulkar acknowledges the crowd after his third double-hundred, Australia v India, 4th Test, Sydney, January, 2004

Tendulkar acknowledges the cheers after his double at Sydney. He followed it with a quick 60 in the second innings to set Australia a daunting target.

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 33rd hundred, Pakistan v India, 1st Test, Multan, March, 2004

Tendulkar’s 194 not out at Multan was overshadowed by Virender Sehwag who became the first Indian to score a triple century, and also by Dravid’s controversial declaration with Sachin on 194. India defeated Pakistan by an innings and 52 runs.

 

Sachin Tendulkar on his way to equalling Sunil Gavaskar's 34 centuries, Bangladesh v India, 1st Test, Dhaka, December, 2004

Tendulkar notched up his fourth double-century and equalled Sunil Gavaskar on 34 centuries during India’s win by an innings against Bangladesh at Dhaka.

Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar on India's tour of South Africa, November 1992

The original little master and his successor: Gavaskar and Tendulkar during the tour of South Africa in 1992.

 

Tendulkar fought hard to reach his 35th century and break the record against Sri Lanka at Delhi.

Wish you many more happy moments Sachin! :) We Love You! :) 

Hope you take India to more victories than ever before! :)

Laptop That Will Save the World

December 19, 2005 at 12:50 pm

Here is the other view I was talking about. The $100 laptop will save the world! An excerpt from the article: [You need to register to read the full article. Registration is free btw]

So how can any worthwhile computer cost less than a pair of good headphones? Through a series of cost-cutting tricks. The laptops will run on free “open source” software, use cheaper “flash” memory instead of a hard disk and most likely employ new LCD technology to drop the monitor’s cost to just $35. Each laptop will also come with a hand crank, making it usable even in electricity-free rural areas.

The monitor seems to be the crucial link in the whole scheme of things. If they can create a breakthrough on that, then they are almost there. After that, it will be a series of small issues. The critical issue, as far as I know, will be the monitor. They get that down to below $40 in the LCD form, then they are through!

All the best Mr. Negroponte.

The MIT $100 Laptop

December 19, 2005 at 10:17 am

An article on vnunet.com rubbishes the claims of Negroponte’s well publicised venture of the $100 laptop. Wherever I go I am asked, “How will your product stand if that $100 laptop comes into the market?”. Well, the answer is in the article here.

Celebrity inventor Trevor Baylis has said he is “not convinced” that Nicholas Negroponte has got very far with the $100 laptop he is developing for the Third World.

Baylis, who invented the clockwork wireless radio, was recently invited to MIT Media Lab to meet Negroponte and see the prototype, but said that it “could have put together with a Lego kit”.

“Nothing worked. I was expecting him to show me the screen in action or the wind-up feature, but I saw nothing but a basic prototype,” he said.

“If Negroponte has done it, full marks to the guy, but I am not 100 per cent convinced. It was all something of a PR stunt.”

Baylis clearly has a lot to contribute to the project as he invented a wind-up radio that is now used widely in the Third World. He also lays claim to demonstrating the world’s first wind-up computer.

“A few years ago I was in Botswana seeing the radio in use and people from Apple were there,” he explained. “So for fun we hooked up my wind-up system to their eMate. We managed to get the screen to activate for a few seconds which amazed everyone.”

Baylis believes he could develop wind-up technology for the MIT laptop but questioned whether such technology is currently available.

“The hard part is not developing the wind-up technology but finding a low-power screen,” he said. “I would love to be involved in something like this. I have seen what an impact on lives my radio has had. This could be the same.”

But Baylis said he came away from Boston feeling non-plussed. “Negroponte did not ask me to provide the technology,” he complained. “He was more interested in looking at my wind-up torch, which I didn’t develop anyway. I bought it in China for £3.”

Baylis is keen for a UK initiative to make an attempt at a similar device. “HP has told me that the screen can’t be made yet, but you never know,” he explained. “Perhaps we can all get together and make it happen.”

Lee Felsenstein, designer of the Osbourne computer, is working on a similar wind-up computer project. The details are on his blog here.

Meanwhile the US National Science Foundation is funding the Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions project at the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Robertson, chief executive at open source firm Linspire, said that his company has researched the viability of the project and has deemed it inadequate.

The End of Saurav Ganguly

December 15, 2005 at 11:56 am

In a post sometime in September I had written about the end of Saurav’s career. According to The Hindu, it has come with him being dropped for the third test. Sooner or later, it had to come.

Saurav’s exit has been unceremonial. I agree with this article when it says he deserved a standing ovation on his way back to the pavilion after his last innings for India.

Come to think of it, we have rarely treated our cricketers with respect. They are always ridiculed for the advertisers that they sign up for. When a Kumble gets ten wickets in an innings for the 8th time in his illustrious career it is attributed to the spinning track of Kotla. Whereas Kumble is one of the top 3 spinners in the World for the last decade and a half.

People are waiting with ink in their pens to just wait for the opportunity (even if there’s none, they will create one!) to pan our cricketers. Poor chaps! Give them a break guys!

At the end of it all, Dalmiya has made Ganguly his battleground to assert his power on Indian cricket. I remember reading somewhere that the Parliament is going to discuss Ganguly’s case! I hope the BJP doesn’t walk out on this one! ;) Probably, amidst all the bomb scares and etcetra they have nothing better to do! This might loosen them up.

My take on this is simple: Ganguly was not treated properly. For that matter neither was a Sunil Gavaskar or a Kapil Dev. He deserved another chance for the Ahmedabad test, but it was not to be. The selectors decided to suspiciously drop an “all rounder” (that’s why he was called in to the team) and go in for Wasim Jaffer an “opener” (with an eye on the future as Chairman of Selectors, Kiran More, said). I respect Saurav for his contribution to Indian cricket. But for now, its goodbye Saurav! :)

Rajesh Jain’s ecosystem

December 14, 2005 at 11:05 am

Business Today carries an article in the “Trends” section about the ecosystem that Rajesh Jain has created.

The article talks about the various companies that Rajesh has invested in:

Netcore Solutions Open Source software solutions for SMEs and large corporates

Novatium [Check out the new website! I was involved in its creation!]
A $100-computing interface targeted at the bottom-of-the-pyramid computer users in developing countries like Asia and Africa

Seraja Technologies: An events search engine on the worldwide web using experiential tools

Midas Communications Technologies: Wireless broadband solutions company, part of IIT Madras’ TeNeT Group

n-Logue: Part of the TeNeT group; provides internet and voice centres in small towns and villages

Rajshri Media: A broadband and mobile content company

PubSub.com: A matching engine that matches pre-stored query against any new informationo that appears on the web.

“I think about what I am doing as blending entrepreneurship and thesis-based investing. Will it pay off? I hope so,” he writes in his blog. As I like to think, the future is an instantiation of someone’s vision. So, why cannot it be ours?

Thus signs-off the article.

Edition of Business Today dated December 18, 2005.

India and ‘Appropriate’ Technology

December 6, 2005 at 3:16 pm

[Via Anu]

Just read this amazing article written by Peter Drukker in 1979.

The clarity in thought and the ability to drill down from policy to grassroot-level strikes you the most. No wonder he was regarded so highly.

Hats-off to you Mr. Drukker.

You can download and read the article by clicking on “Reference” link below or click here.