“Practical Magic” to make Practical Life Magical

I love magic. No, stage magic or magic shows dose not interest me. I love real magic, actual miraculous magic. There is always a visual side to magic. One must watch it in front of her happening and only then she could fathom the unreality of magical incident actually happening before her eyes. One can always read about magical happenings, but magic is in actuality goes with the phrase “to see is to believe”. And I believe in magic.
First magic in everyday banal life I saw happening was in “Matilda”. It just fascinated me, that ability to move stuff from a distance.  Here I should mention it beforehand that “Poltergeist” will not make it here today. The magic I am talking about here is in the sense it only brings pure joy, love and hope that anything is possible and the world is a beautiful place and you will be happy. So after “Matilda” and my pre-teen years, I saw “Practical Magic”. I was dumbfounded by hope and happiness. The movie has everything that can go right with a magic movie. It is about a witch family in a small town. Two little girls are raised by their aunts who are all witches. The two sisters are very close. They have magical powers. They will grow up to be Sally played by Sandra Bullock and Gillian played by Nicole Kidman. Gillian was always a bit of a rebel and she would go away but Sally will stay and fall in love with a guy and get married, hence one of my favorite song by Faith Hill, “This kiss, this kiss, this impossible kiss”. But there is a twist; there was a curse on this witch family cast by one of their ancestors. The curse was if a woman from this family ever loves a man, he would die. So after few years of happy marital bliss, Sally’s husband would die, being true to the curse. Here just when her husband was about to die, Sally would hear a deathwatch beetle making an ominous sound suggesting the death approaching. Sally would move back to her aunts with her two daughters. She decides her daughters would never practice magic. What happens then? Will Sally find love again? What will happen to rebel Gillian? Will the curse be broken? One can watch the movie to find these out. But I will watch it for its dreamy soft poetic magic. There are two particulars scenes that I like the most, when those white rose petals will fly into the moon from Sally’s diary, and how Sally’s spoon goes on stirring itself in the cup. I used to spin my spoon in the cup rapidly and suddenly leave it to see it stirring on its own. Oh, how desperately I needed and still need some magical powers. And that is why I like superhero movies, Avengers, Craft (this movie belongs to the same time period, I think. So now when I see Robin Tunny in The Mentalist, I feel nostalgic. It is the same with Aidan Quinn when I see him in Elementary, because I know him from Practical Magic), X-Men, my Wolverine (I love him), Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, seriously I am asking where to find them? Tell me, because if they exist, then magic has to exist, right?


Today something very silly happened. We couldn’t remember the name of the shop Ross and Rachel buying things from for their flats and hiding it from Phoebe. Somehow I was sure it started with a “p”, because few words were coming to my mind, poppadum, potpourri, and pompadour. It was like resting at the tip of your tongue but refusing to walk to your lips. Then with an exasperation I googled it. It was Pottery-Barn, it was Pottery-Barn, it was Pottery-Barn! Ross bought an apothecary table which was meant to be used as a coffee table. Rachel bought the same one while she was living with Phoebe. Now Phoebe was an idealistic, she hated all those chain stores where things were not unique; not one of a kind; everybody could have the same furniture. She liked a story behind a furniture, a history that would make it special. So, when Rachel bought the apothecary table she told Phoebe it is from the “yore”. So for Phoebe the CD drawers became old medicine drawers, and she still could smell the herbs. So yes, I remembered the name. What a relief! People may ask why you were so worked up if you couldn’t remember a name of a shop from some TV show. If seriously you are asking that, then you don’t exist in my world. Once upon a time I lived for f.r.i.e.n.d.s. It shaped me to some extent. I was an 80’s baby, and in my late-teens I watched f.r.i.e.n.d.s. Recently I came to know that if you are a fan of f.r.i.e.n.d.s. then you are supposed to be old. Millennials don’t know about f.r.i.e.n.d.s. it is not totally true. I know a few millennials who watched friends in 2015 for the first time and fell head over heels in love with it. Thank God for those continuous regular re-runs. By the time you reach season 7, you would start to want to watch the early episodes. At least that happens to me. And I am continuing to watch f.r.i.e.n.d.s. for last 15 years. I am in a loop and I don’t find anything sad or bad about it. So by now obviously I know almost all the lines and friends that is why I was all worked up for not being able to remember the shop’s name. The relationship between me and f.r.i.e.n.d.s. is I need to know that once a day in some TV channel or other there is f.r.i.e.n.d.s., if it is not I would lose my balance. When I am sad or restless my friends or family switches on the TV and ask me to watch f.r.i.e.n.d.s. and almost immediately I feel good.

There is a very common question that people ask f.r.i.e.n.d.s. fans and that is which f.r.i.e.n.d.s. character are you? All girls would like to be Rachel. Who doesn’t want that famous Rachel haircut, those cute short skirts, that red & black check PJs, Ross’s crush upon themselves since 9th grade! But even though I am no different, deep down I know I am an out and out Monica. I am caring, responsible, argumentative (a soft synonym for quarrelsome) and loud. So I have my Chandler with me in reality. He also makes all the mistakes Chandler makes, but only I know how many times I have dodged a bullet in our relationship by forgiving him because I know in the same situation Monica would have forgiven Chandler!


Galway – J.M. Synge to Ed Sheeran

With the Shape of You, i have started to listened to Ed Sheeran. It happens to me all the time, I hear there is a singer who is taking the world by storm. I don’t pay any attention and in the mean time that singer gets all the awards and accolades and becomes a household name. And then one day comes Shape of You and I start to listen. I liked the song solely for the purpose of dancing. It will make anybody dance, and the lyrics are cute, “…last night you were in my room, and now my bed sheets smell like you”. There are so many Shape of You dance video on youtube, even Indian classical dances like Odissi and Katthak, it is just unthinkable. Okay I get it, it is called “viral”, right?

So just few days ago when I just finished practising some moves to Shape of You, I came across Galway Girl, ” played the fiddle in an Irish band”, best lyrics so far by Ed Sheeran and the music is that happy melancholic Irish folk tune which takes you long back to some forgotten “mind palace” that you so desperately want to capture, but cannot. It stars Saoirse Ronan. I saw her first in Hanna. Good movie. Different. I have a soft spot for Eric Bana after Hulk and Munich. This Saoirse Ronan is Irish and always annoyed that nobody pronounces her name correctly. She sometime come across as a rude young girl, but I am also very particular about my name, so if I judge her, it will be seer hypocrisy! Didn’t see her Brooklyn, but mean to. So the song Galway Girl, really really loved it. Made me so nostalgic. Riders to the Sea came to my mind right away. Riders to the Sea by J.M. Synge, the Irish playwright. We had it in our graduation syllabus. I believe I was a different person before reading Riders to the Sea. I think everybody changes after reading Riders to the Sea. It had a great impact on me. Maurya and her true premonitions, Nora and Cathleen as the Greek chorus, and how Bartley is going to go to Galway fare to sell horses. The gloom, the doom, the cold, the death, the grey horse, they engulfed me for a considerable time. There was a map of Ireland in the beginning of the book. So yes, I know Galway, I will always remember Galway. But what Ed Sheeran’s song can do is to lighten my thoughts about Galway because to me Galway is a place where people want to go but always die in the process.

A Tribute to OCD and Not 59

Hercule Poirot likes things in a certain way, he prefers square things, even his toasts, I mean each and every piece of bread and also his eggs have to be of same size, eggs!! Can you believe it! He is a firm believer of formal attire, and he sticks to that even when he is going to a rough country walk or to the desert. He even once told Hastings to part his hair in the middle. His love for symmetry is unthinkably praiseworthy; to be precise like that needs real passion for nuances. Now if we start talking about his moustache and its very particular up keeping then may I well need to start an epic. So let’s drop that matter now.

Another detective like Poirot is off course Adrian Monk. He likes thing square, he counts his steps, likes things to be arranged from 1 to 10, not 5 after 8. When there is three flowers in three separate vases, and one of them is shorter than the other two, he cannot decide whether to put the shorter one in the middle or to put it after bigger ones in a descending order. He is a sever germophobe, he puts his used napkins when he has flue in a zip-lock bag, and then put it in another zip-lock bag, and then put all those zip-lock bags in a big zip-lock bag.

Now comes Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets”. Here in this movie his character again counts steps, brings his own forks to his regular restaurant where he likes to be served only by this particular waitress, Helen Hunt. He uses soaps just one time, and then for second wash at that same time uses another new soap and then throw them away.

Monica from f.r.i.e.n.d.s. this maternal friend of Joey, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe is an OCDian on the verge of being irritating but even then you cannot stop loving her. Every furniture in her room has their specific place. The border of the carpet should be aligned with the couch; the phone pen should be in its correct allotted place. Hundreds of freeze magnets are there and if one is moved, she will know, yes, she will know as she herself allotted their places. Today let’s not go into the details of her being a control freak, I am not writing a novel here. Someday, someday!

Everybody has their own set of problems. But the problem is now every problem has a name, not only that, a scientific name. A person likes things in a certain way, if it is not in that particular way, it bothers her. Now this way of a person is called OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in plain colloquial language “creature of habit”, one can also call it loyalty, let’s call it loyalty, who’s stopping me! In this way you will know that if an OCDian commits to something, there is a chance he or she will not waver. Now how much one loses her sanity, temper, and calmness when her habits are disrupted, to what intensity, that is the question. Sometimes they become irritating and sometimes scary. Most of the OCDians are clean freak. I am not so clean freak, but I like things in a certain way (obviously!) that would probably seem very trivial or silly to others. And when they are not in that certain way, irritation, anger and weirdness hit me. Okay, so here it goes, I do not like any number that ends with 9, for example, 19, 29, 39, 49, 59 and so on. I know the reason for this, see, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 give a sense of completeness, there is no undone thing, it so proper, neat. But when I face the number 19, I feel like why not go a little bit more and close with 20! Why leave something on 19, when 20, a good round neat proper number is right there! I specifically have some serious issues with 59. The logic is just few numbers ago I came across 50, so neat, an exact half of 100, everything is so proper, clean, clear-cut. And then we go 9 more and stops at 59! WHY?? Then the whole beautiful journey from 1 to 50 just goes astray. I like the number 69, it has its own symmetry, the yin yang and its fun. I do not have that much problem with 9, I do not know why, maybe because in itself it stands for something, like holy trinity, maybe because it is a set of 3! But if something being counted from 1 and abruptly stops at 9, yeah, then it will bug me.

If somebody is giving me a foot massage, and tugging my toes, I would like my left foot, toes to be tugged in the same order as my right foot toes, preferably starting with the big toe.

So bed sheets, if it has flowers on it, I would like those printed flowers toward the head of the bed, stems or leaves toward the foot. Why are you frowning? It is the only normal thing to do. Oh, you don’t think it’s normal? Okay, but I have Harold Pinter on my side, who asked the most apt question, “Normal? What’s normal?” Now let’s brew a cup of tea and ponder over the absurdity of existence!

Zara or Zara Men’s That Is the Question

We have a shopaholic friend whose sole interest in life are coitus (all hail Dr. Sheldon Cooper), opposite homo erectus, her lingerie omnibus, makeup&brush, being slutty with a correct amount of virgin blush and having her name among the fashionistasYeah she lives and breaths cloths. So few days ago our herd was grazing about in our favourite pastureland, a shopping mall, obviously, and one of us announced to the rest of the fashionistas that that aforementioned friend is pregnant, no she was not there. And look at the fate, that time we were just crossing Zara. I had this brainwave and uttered something the way someone in the Genesis did, “Let there be light” or maybe like a high priestess from the Delphi, “She should name her child ZARA”, everybody nodded, then one asked anxiously, “if its a boy, then?” I said like a calm cool Himalayan saint who was just happened to be in h&m cloths with chocolate sauce of her dunkin donuts dripping from her mouth corner, “Then she should name him ZARA MEN’S”!

Good Movies Happen in South-Korea

Last night I watched The Wailing. It is a South-Korean horror movie. It was scary and good. I never knew so many good movies are made in South-Korea. I am literary in awe with South-Korean horror movies as well as their thrillers. Few days back I saw “I Saw the Devil”, “Tale of Two Sisters”, “Train to Busan”. There was another movie from S. Korea that I liked, “My Little Bride”. It is a romantic comedy and totally true to its type and a terrific tickler for ribs! So, what would be the conclusion? The conclusion is South-Korea is a good movie making country! I gave examples from each genre, horror, thriller and rom-com. But right now it feels right to give the snippets of the most recent watched one just to lure few people in into this gangnam styled country’s movie world.

The Wailing – the story takes place in a village. A cop gets the news of a murder, and a series of bizarre murders bewilderingly follow through. An undiagnosed sickness starts its round around the village. People start to talk about a Japanese stranger in the corner mountain who eats flesh. Now that aforementioned cop’s daughter gets sick. Before that the cop was portrayed as a somewhat stupid person, and not at all a brilliant investigator. But after his daughter’s sickness, he becomes a serious father trying to help his child. In some places the movie seems a bit dragged. But still I liked the movie.  The story has a quality of being a teen’s or children’s ghost story. I remember reading those stories in some of the monthly children’s magazines in my teens. There is a man whose eyes are red, suddenly rain starts to pour, a sudden power cut and a person is seen standing just outside the window, a disembowelled goat at the door, an exorcist. Oh my god, it is like the writer did not leave out any ingredients to cook up a tale of horror. There were certain comic elements in it, but only at the beginning of the movie, like two cops including the main protagonist hiding under the table at the police station during a power cut seeing someone standing outside the window, amorous look the cop’s wife while washing the cloths, the perpetually scared look of the simpleton village cop and so on. But the main reason I liked the movie is that the confusion it created, that whether it is a horror movie or a thriller which has nothing to do with supernatural. These types of works are always my favourite as it baffles your mind. Somewhere I read that this movie showed how unimaginative Hollywood movies are, I halfway agree. Why halfway? Because if I want to refute it by giving some Hollywood movie examples, I don’t know if it would turn out that some of those Hollywood plots are actually exported from South-Korea or Japan. I included Japan because I did not forget about Ringu and Dark Water.

I am done here, now I must leave, because I have an “Appointment with Death” in Petra, there will be Poirot too!

There Are Two Types of Men Regarding PMS

There are two types of men regarding PMS, yes, yes, “men”! There is so much awareness about PMS now. Everybody knows what it is. It is a phase women go through before their menstruation. Hormones go gaga, create havoc in women’s body and mind. Symptoms of PMS are bloating or puffiness, severe mood swings, sudden breakout of acne on a very specific area of one’s face like chin, or forehead. In simple words women feel shit. They become excessively sentimental, teensy weensy things make them cry, they become very sensitive, I mean more than usual. Things that they usually overlook suddenly becomes absolutely unavoidable, mistakes they normally forgive become an offence only to be squared with capital punishment like hanging somebody at town square on the scaffold, and obviously this time a man would be wearing the “scarlet letter”. The anger, the irritability, the wrath, the scorn of a woman during PMS is most of the times aimed at men (not always, please note!), and caused by imbalance of hormones such as Estrogen, Progesterone, FSH (Follicle stimulating Hormone), LH (Luteinizing Hormone) and men. It is not like men become extra insensitive, non-thoughtful, unrefined when women are PMSing, they remain the same, it is just that women become more sensitive, more irritable and less patient than usual.

Now coming to the heading, yes there are two types of men regarding PMS – one, those who acknowledge a woman is PMSing, and that is why she is acting or rather behaving and reacting in a certain way, two, those who thinks the woman is being angry and nasty just for the sake of it and trying to cover up the certain behaviour as PMSing. I have nothing to say to the former ones, they are certainly fine examples of evolved human species (a rare, rare species), they understand science and women and to be more elaborate, women’s body and mind. They have accepted the fact that they make mistakes, and though throughout the month their mistakes are going to be pardoned or overlooked, during PMS, there will be severe reckoning. And they are okay with that, they prepare the hot water bags, microwave bean bags, keep the painkillers, juice, water on her bedside table, keep their hands ready on call for back massages, take her to long drives at 2 a.m. if her majesty whims so! Now the latter ones, I do not want to talk about them. Hey! my ears are hot, my hands and feet are cold and moist, my lower back and legs feel heavy and numb, I feel this blunt pain in my tummy (not heart, at least this time), I can actually feel blood rising to my brain, am I PMSing or just angry?

“The Girl on the Train” and “Gone Girl” (I know a Tom and I know an Amy)

I did not read “Gone Girl”. When it was published and got made into a movie, I wasn’t paying attention to the outside world. Actually during the entire hullabaloo around “Gone Girl”, I was deliberately living in my own bubble. Then people started asking me questions, “Have you read “Gone Girl”, you didn’t! It is awesome”. But I know those people too well to know that they have omitted, “I heard it is awesome”, “I saw and it is awesome”. Yes, they never read. By the way that is one of the reason I am here, because I want to find kindred spirits. So I watched “Gone Girl” and loved it. And then something happened, somebody told me I am like Amy. I was not happy to hear that.  Who would! I am not manipulative like Amy, I do not falsely write on diary and leave it out in the open for others to read, I do not kill people for personal gain, or kill for any other reason! When I don’t get my loved ones’ attention, I don’t hatch elaborate plans; I just shout and scream at them at their face then and there. And then if I feel I am imposing and not loved, I leave. Manipulation, I think eliminates one’s self worth and dignity. I go by the rule; one doesn’t have to ask for things, his or her loved ones should give it without being asked. Only then it will be called love and caring. If I am anything, I am opposite to Amy; my straightforward candour makes people uncomfortable. The person who compared me to Amy, tried to soothe me after my much displayed wrath by saying it was my intelligence that is like Amy’s. It worked, I calmed down. After all somebody admitting you are intelligent no matter in how shitty way is bound to calm you down and make you happy.

I was happy, but I kept a grudge.

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins was published in January, 2015, and since then there was uproar about it, much like the “Gone Girl”.  It was even called “the next Gone Girl”. This time I was on full alert and read the book, and read it in two days. My mother read it in one and half day ( I think I inherited my speed for reading from her and my grandmother, but we will delve into that matter some other day). I seriously liked the book, as well as the movie. I think every girl would like “The Girl on the Train”. It has that quality that will appeal to girls. The thing is even when a girl is nothing like Rachel or like the other girls in the book, even when a girl is very happy in her life with a great job, house, fat salary, a doting boyfriend or husband, even then she would like the journey of Rachel. Everybody loves a good revenge story, a crime being solved, a victory of a world-beaten loser. The entire book was told from the perspectives of three very different girls, Rachel, Megan and Anna, yes they are very different but in a way very similar. Girls come with their own set of sorrows that are unique to their gender. A girl’s sorrow is sometimes so subtle that it is almost invisible like the flutters of a hummingbird’s wings or a burp of a butterfly or the poop of a mosquito (now how anti-climactic is that)! This book is saturated with women and their feelings and disappointments. One thing “The Girl on the Train” taught me is, if you think you felt something, you saw something, you heard something, no matter how vague it is, how uncertain you are about it, stick to your opinion. Remember the old-wives’ tale of women’s intuition? If there is a talk about women’s intuition that is so abstract, then one must not overlook their mere five senses! So, if someone comes to you saying you imagined what you heard that day, you assumed what was not there, you jumped to conclusion about a creepy feeling, DO NOT change your verdict. It is probably exactly what you are thinking. Accept your intelligence, rely on your intuition, trust you guts, that’s what all the great detectives in the world do anyway!

So about my grudge, what did I do? Nothing. I just told him, “You are like Tom from “The Girl on the Train”. I had the last laugh!

Sherlock to Surrealism

Few weeks ago watched Dr. Strange Love. Loved it. After Sherlock, I am an avowed Benedict Cumberbatch  fan. In one of his interview he said his fans are calling themselves cumberbitches. He told them to have respect for themselves and is not feminism back! I can proudly say I am a cumberbitch. What is this with British men! I sometimes ask myself (yes, I have lots time in my hand) why I love Benedict Cumberbatch so much, is it because he plays Sherlock, the ultimate greatest detective in the world and I am a sucker for Sherlock? By the way here I must mention that I was also a little bit of in love with Jeremy Brett. He was the first Sherlock I saw on screen. I was so happy; I could not believe I was seeing something so fascinating. For the first time I watched Sherlock Holmes was at one of my relatives’ house. It was, “The Adventure of Sussex Vampire” from the casebook of Sherlock Holmes. I was speechless, I could not believe such story, and that such show could exist on earth. Now when I look back I think that was a turning point of my life. At home we did not have cable. So next time when I watched Sherlock Holmes by Jeremy Brett was in high school. This time I watched every single episode to my heart’s content. I was in awe for that person, but again I think it was because he played Sherlock. So now I am head over heels in love with Benedict Cumberbatch, I think it is also because he portrays my favorite character on screen. Here I must mention something that may seem a digression. Few days back I was watching “My Fair Lady”. Last time I watched it was many years ago, and totally missed Jeremy Brett who played Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a possible suitor for Eliza Doolittle.

My liking for Sherlock was a bit different than my liking for Poirot or Miss Marple. I want to be Poirot or Ms. Marple, hell, I think I am Poirot or Ms. Marple but Sherlock is someone I want to make fall in love with me. Oh that troubled soul, that coke addiction, that unworldly intelligence, that soulful music of his violin, that superior attitude. But then I realised in some ways I am like him. I sometimes think I am surrounded with people who are not getting something that is absolute obvious or just in front of them. I realised things that others don’t, and that sometimes give me a supercilious attitude. People around me find it irritating, I am not blaming them. I forgive them! But the problem is others have accepted Sherlock’s depth of understanding and perspective but not mine! What can you do! Oh wait so I want be Sherlock’s girlfriend and I myself is (I think!) a bit like Sherlock that means I am in love with me! I am a narcissus! What a surprise (severe eye rolling)!

Now about Doctor Strangelove, I did not start talking about the movie just because of Benedict Cumberbatch, but something else intrigued me, in the movie the characters have this power to fold, unfold matters or things around them. When it was happening I realised it has a strong resemblance to surrealism. In surrealistic paintings one can see a staircase is going nowhere, a man walking on the roof, a building is dividing itself in parts and those parts falling down and then rebuilding another building. So yes, Doctor Strangelove has peculiar similarities with the works of Salvador Dali, M. C Escher, Picasso. My question is was the director did this knowingly or not! Okay, let me ponder over the strangeness of the world a little bit more with a fresh cup of tea.

The Agony of a Sequel Writer – Sophie Hannah, David Lagercrantz, Tilly Bagshawe

How do we feel when we learn that our favourite author is no more? How do we feel when we realised that we are rapidly running out of our favourite author’s books or our favourite series? We feel sad. And then suddenly there is an announcement. A new Poirot mystery is coming. A new Lisbeth Salander book is coming. There is another Sydney Sheldon mystery is there. When I came to know about this, I was happy. But the aftermath of a new Poirot mystery made me believe that, not everybody was happy like me. Sophie Hannah the author to whom the responsibility was given to further the Poirot mysteries was vehemently attacked as was Agatha Christie’s great grandson James Prichard. Okay, so let me go into details. There is an institute that manages Agatha Christie legacy. The head of that management is Agatha Christie’s great grandson. So that trust or management chose Sophie Hannah to write another Poirot mystery. She just did not wake up one morning and published a Poirot. Nobody can do that, there is a thing called “copyright”, remember? People approached her, and she wrote. Now about people criticising James Prichard, Agatha Christie’s great grandson, I do not know whether he did it to make profit. I do not know his ulterior motive, I am not Poirot! What I know is I was happy when I learned that there was a Poirot mystery coming, and I have not read it yet. That was enough for me. I am an insomniac, and at night I read. Just few months before the “Monogram Murders” publication I had finished the entire series of Poirot. So I got hold of “Monogram Murders” as soon as possible. I read it, and I loved it. To be honest it was evident quite blatantly that it was not written by Agatha Christie. But there were few places where Sophie Hannah was almost there. As an avowed Agatha Christie fan, I know that that is a big deal. Both in “Monogram Murders” and “Closed Cascade” Sophie Hannah tried to create the familiar ambience of Agatha Christie. So in “Monogram Murders” there is the description of hotel, London street and in addition to that the walks and the investigation in countryside. In “Closed Cascade” on the other hand there is that all too familiar a grand house, staircases, detailed description of all the guests and the position of their respective rooms. And Sophie Hannah was able to put all the measurements so well. The distance from one place to another, from the upper floor room to the ground floor library always played a vital role in Agatha Christie mystery. In this book Hannah explored a side of human nature that interests and annoys me at the same time. I do not want to give away the ending, but it was the main trait of the murderer. Now I am not going to say more. Just that no one can surpass Agatha Christie. But anything that even resembles Agatha Christie gives me immense happiness. But then anything written after Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple or Poirot is always going to have a resemblance, a shadow of its predecessors.

Something very unusual happened with “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” series. I watched the movies first, the Noomi Rapace Michael Nyqvist ones, the Swedish ones. And then I read the books. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened that I came across the movies first and then found the books. At a stretch read all three and thoroughly enjoyed them. Then I thought it would be great to have a few more of Lisbeth’s ventures. Then discovered the author Steig Larsson has died in 2004. I was disheartened. It was, I thought in every possible way, an untimely death. I dug deeper, as I always do, and came to know about the whole uproar about the Steig Larsson legacy that was garnered after “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” fame and the feud about it between Larsson family and his partner of 30 years Eva Grabrielsson. I think it was unfortunate that such ugly thing had to happen around that great writer. He could not even see his literary and monetary success. And I do not think that he was bothered about money. All he probably wanted to do was to write. Only after the greats leave, the petty commoners fight about his fruits of labour. But let’s not concentrate on this unpleasant issue anymore. Let’s talk about the 4th instalment of the series, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagarcrantz. It was published in 2015. I liked it, because again I was happy to read another Lisbeth thriller. The author kept the essence alive. There is internet, hacking, cyber-crime, dark web, malware, an inter-continental conspiracy, complicated relationships. Lagarcrantz loyally kept situations also the same and why not, if the characters are the same! So in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” also Lisbeth spends time looking at Gamla Stan in the evening, alone. But what is intriguing is that the 4th book ends with Lisbeth at Blomkvist’s door as in the 3rd book ends with Blomkvist at Lisbeth’s door. In spite these similarities, I would say Lagarcrantz was already protected from criticism because the story was so infused with technical details, that it was quite difficult to find loopholes regarding trueness of Steig Larsson.

The first Sidney Sheldon book I read was “If Tomorrow Comes”. I think I was in my early twenties. So for obvious reason I was enthralled. The female protagonist Tracy Whitney was a character who was bound to be appealing to girls. A girl who was initially mild and polite, but after going through an ordeal she emerges as this strong person who avenges all the wrong doings. The hero Jeff Stevens was a perfect foil to her. Sidney Sheldon was often criticised for his graphic sexual description. But I noticed something else, suppose in one page you are reading about a graphic description, but on the next page there will be a twist that can just blow the reader’s mind. I also read his autobiographical memoir “The Other Side of Me”. Only two things I can still remember from that book, firstly how his family used to cut the toothpaste tube so they did not waste anything and secondly he suffered from bi-polar disorder. I do not know why I remember these two things. By the way his most famous novel is “Rage of Angels”; the female protagonist is Jennifer Parker. It is an unusual novel. And the ending is… No, nothing! So the publisher of Sheldon’s books Hachette Book Group wanted more Seldonesque books and they decided that this British author Tilly Bagshawe has a similar writing style, and so came Tracy’s “Chasing Tomorrow”, “Reckless”. There was “Mistress of the Game”, sequel to “Master of the Game” which was my favourite Sidney Sheldon book. I read Tilly Bagshawe’s other books too. What can I say; you should read her books if you do not want to put any strain on your brain. See, it was like you are on a diet, but sometimes you eat few packets of chips and coke. Her books are like that. So my reaction to Tilly’s Sidney Sheldon’s sequels is lukewarm, because those could be Tilly Bagshawe novels without few names that have appeared already in Sidney Sheldon.

So the point i am trying to make through this long article is these sequel writers did not snatch the torch but was given to carry it further.