A wishlist I earnestly think about

Like the immortal Prof Henry Higgins (whom I quite idolise) I’m an Ordinary Man…..

Or to quote a relevant line or two…

I’m a quiet living man,
Who prefers to spend the evening in the silence of his room,
Who likes an atmosphere as restful as an undiscovered tomb,
A pensive man am I, of philosophical joys,
Who likes to meditate, contemplate,
Far from humanities’ mad inhuman noise,
A quiet living man….

In consonance, I was thinking on the long ride home last evening that all I need was about a dozen odd books (lets say 13 – my favourite number) I have been searching for long and I would have no more desires for a long, long time (actually this thought came up and was expressed in a talk with someone late at night one fine day but it was only yesterday – Wednesday, the 3rd of February, 2010 – when it fructified and I thought about some of the books that could figure on such a list). Books are the ultimate refuge and I fondly remember the pleasurable moments I have spent ensconced with them, not to mention those times of tension and bother when reading books – or for that matter the thought of reading them – has helped me to calm down and forget the trouble at hand. Who could ever want something else since I have – by bitter experience realised what everything else is worth and some things’ possibility seems so remote that thay have, for the moment, lost all its allure….. Anyway, here is the list I drew up and earnestly look to that time when I get anyone of them…. Having all of them could be a signal that there remain no more things to be done…..

The first would be something I have sought for ages (and I will cheat and include its sequel with it, hoping they come together). This is Joseph Roth’s Radetzky March & The Emperor’s Tomb – which chronicle the decline and fall of the Austro–Hungarian Empire via the story of the Trotta family’s elevation to the nobility and being one of the first novels to feature the recurring fictional narrative participation of an historical figure, the Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria – who is one of my heroes as the personification of a golden era where I would have been at place.

The second will be a non-fictional work to complement this. I think Emperor Francis Joseph: Life, Death and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire by John Van der Kiste will do.

The third… mmmm… lets keep to the same generic area. I think the influential Czech writer Karel Čapek’s Apocryphal Tales – an inspired collection of short stories about literary and historical characters including Hamlet, Aristotle and his pupil Alexander and even the patriarch Abraham -equally venerated in all the three Semitic religions.

The next three books are by/about three of the most influential figures in the recent history of the Middle East. Though from the either expanse of the region, they came from countries which were the fulcrum of political and cultural traditions – in both case spanning many centuries and variant cultures. However, the story of all three is tragic – one died embittered after a spate of betrayals by friend of foe alike (as I have earlier recounted) and two had to flee their homelands to exile and as one discovered, distance was not safe enough and his enemies tracked him and silenced him even after a decade. The second lives under heavy security to forestall a similar fate. That is enough background…. the books I refer to are:

Well I would settle for either Anne Alexander’s Nasser: Life & Times or Said K. Aburish’s Nasser, the Last Arab to read about Brother Gamal. The next is Memoirs of Shapour Bakhtiar by Habib Lajevardi (editor). Bakhtiar happend to be the last Prime Minister of Iran under the unfortunate Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

And the third in the series is Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr’s  (with Jean-Charles Deniau) My Turn to Speak: Iran, the Revolution and Secret Deals With the US. Bani-Sadr was the first President of Iran, following the 1979 Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy, till he fell out with Imam Khoimeni.

All the three should be interesting ….. And I realise I have come to the halfway mark or quite nearabouts the goal already.

To Be Continued….

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