Sunday, March 06, 2011

Right to Disobey

Some things just inspire you and spook you at the same time. It all started with me, a non-reader, watching a program called Great Books on the channel I love, Discovery Channel. The topic of discussion was the book Walden by H.D. Thoreau. The discussion was enchanting and I was captivated by Thoreau’s idea of living all alone next to a pond/lake, in a self-built house and eating self-cultivated food. My tryst with the book ended as soon as it began when I downloaded the e-version of the book and began reading it. Back in 2002, my grossly limited vocabulary impeded the progress of reading that book to an extent that I gave up in frustration after perusing a dozen odd pages but the wish to read the book still lingered in my head. Then last year, when I went to meet my prospective bride in Bangalore, who happened to be a voracious reader, I was shown around the city and soon landed up at one of her favourite haunts, the book store. There, as I walked around hypnotized at the sight of so many books, reading as many title names as I could, I found Walden sitting pretty. Without a second thought, I purchased it, despite the reconciliation with the fact that I would take eons to finish reading it even if I started right away. Methinks that the reading part of my brain is either underdeveloped or skewed.

Anyway it’s been a couple of months since I bought the book and after finishing the other book that I bought along with Walden, The Wind in The Willows, which I totally adore, I picked up Walden. Thoreau’s writing left me awed. I was reading about things that I personally pondered upon so many times since the time I was very young and of course, much more than that. For as much of a thinker I thought I was, Walden made me think even more than I ever thought I could think. I was delighted to find that one of my favorite quotes, “men have become the tools of their tools” is actually an excerpt from Walden. More awed I was when I read the preface that threw light on the fact that the idea of Civil Disobedience was Thoreau’s and that the people who drew inspiration from it were none other than Martin Luther Kings Jr. and our very own Mahatma Gandhi. Here I would like to mention that Walden is a very old book and was written in the 1800s.

Anyway a few hours ago I was scanning through the sea of movies that my buddy Rick had loaded on my computer more than a year ago. I am not one who’s interested in movies and therefore they’ve been just vegetating on my computer. I’ve watched one or two in this span and liked Training Day. A few hours ago, I reckoned that tomorrow being a Sunday, I could take the liberty of watching movie and since I was feeling very lonely and morose anyway, I thought that a movie couldn’t worsen it any more. So I got down to deciding which movie to watch and after much deliberation I clicked on The Great Debaters. It turned out to be an amazing movie, just like Rick had told me. It is a true story from the 1930s in which a group of black students from a non-descript Wiley College went on to win a debate at the Harvard University; a truly captivating and an inspiring story. I’m still reading Walden these days and owing to my poor attention-span with books, am just on the second chapter despite loving what I’m reading. Why I’m mentioning Walden here is because a strange chill ran down my spine by the end of the movie as the last debate is on Civil Disobedience and guess which book these have in their hands in the movie, you’re right, Walden; a great debate, a great movie and truly a great book. It felt nice to know that I’m trying to neuro-wrestle with the pages that have truly inspired and spawned greatness in history. I hope a bit of it rubs off on me as well. I couldn’t help but write about it at this hour, right after the movie concluded.

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