Book Review – Pulinaga Kondrai

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Book Reviews
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I just finished Pulinaga Kondrai. I wonder how when reading a story about your own place about your own language makes much more sense than reading Open Veins of America in an Alien language, English. May be my wish to know about politics of various places isn’t really my interest. May be I don’t really sympathize Latin American’s who were originally Americans. May be there is no pressure to improve my language skills when it comes to Tamil because that’s one thing I know I can never master, with English there is a constant need to outdo myself. But this book when talking about Brahmins, Iyengars to be precise, Vadakalai and Thenkalai Iyengar to be more precise created a curiosity to read, more than anything else.


Like P. A Krishnan has mentioned in the introduction, translating Kamban and Nammalavar in English is as tough as translating Shakespeare and Nashe in Tamil. May be that’s the best thing about the book. To have left certain English verse as such. The pride of reading books in two languages either individually or together knew no bounds.

I liked the language in the book for its Point Blankness, more than anything else, exactly what my mom hated the most. When a rod with chilli powder gets inserted in Nambi’s rectum or when Ponna after an arduous days work, loosens her blouse, even before entering her husband’s room, to speed up the process of having sex does what exactly words had to do. Words are a medium of emoting, we sugar coat it most of the time and it loses it flavor. When even words aren’t hundred percent of the emotion that we wish to convey, why do we have to sugarcoat it to lessen its essence even more. The point blankness in both the sentence does the trick here, to make us restless with the thought of pain and turn on with the thought of sex respectively.

In Brothers Karamzov or Crime and Punishment, I’m not sure, there is a lengthy lecture at the end of the book, which made me completely change my opinion about the book, from being a mediocre stuff to an epic one. Here it played vice versa. From being an epic one, the last chapter about who is right and who is wrong, got me confused with its ideology. I’m not expecting a proper conclusion out of the book but the way the mood was set from the first was abruptly subjected to a conclusion which didn’t fit in.

There were lot of things I liked about the book, how people behaved across generations, how their opinions changed, and the books structure of front and back without any reason and how they all merge were brilliant. Above all I liked how well read the people were back then. It was a pride to read back then. I always say, when you don’t have an answer for ‘what you are currently reading’ you are not fit to live. That’s how people were back then. At least the characters in the book. In some way or the other, they had some motive which they held strong.

Schooling taught them day to day activities, everyone were worried about politics, they taught they belonged to the community, rather than now where we think that politicians are from different planet and we don’t worry what’s happening where. I wonder how the morale, the respect for human being, the art of listening to opposite views deteriorated so drastically.

This book made me feel the clichéd feeling which every pre independent movie’s old person says, ‘things were lot better during British period’. I too felt the same way that things were a lot better. We got freedom but we lost value. I don’t think it’s that easy to put that thought in someone’s mind. If this is not success of the book then I don’t know what is.

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