Wednesday, January 26, 2011

World of Words Wednesdays - In Retrospect

I was reading an old post my friend had written where he mentioned Misha (a Russian children's magazine) and National Geographic as works of art. The title for my post also derives from that post. Just the name ‘Misha’ evoked many memories for me as well. This wonderful children’s magazine from Russia was available in our school library. When I look back, I am surprised that the school library and the local library in our tiny town (called Harihar in south India) which was miles away from anyplace that could be called a city had such a wonderful diverse collection of books. I read lots of one-book wonders (not sure if that is the term used for where the author wrote only one book which was wonderful at least to me). Misha was like the Reader’s Digest for kids with tales of kids from a land so far away from our little town in the middle of nowhere. It fascinated me that some kid in Russia was reading the same book that I was reading at that very minute. A few years ago, I was telling my colleagues who are from Russia (the world is so much smaller now) about Misha and how much I enjoyed reading it and they expressed similar sentiments.( I thought wow! this colleague of mine must have been reading Misha at the same time that I was reading it when I was a kid. ) 

This also triggered memories of my brother and me visiting the book fair that used to come to our town once a year with Russian books being the main items for sale. This was sponsored by Navakarnataka Publications. I love them for it. I remember reading the “The Three Fat Men” and countless stories of Vasilisa the beautiful being rescued by Ivan (Ivan the Brave, Ivan the Fearless, Ivan the so on…). There were always three witch sisters who would help Vasilisa in her missions in the story. The stories had people with amazing powers (Each with one power) joining to fight evil (one had wonderful vision, another great strength and a third could hear sounds from across a few miles!). These stories were so similar to Indian mythology yet so different and fascinating.

As I grew older, I bought books like Mother, Anna Karenina. I never got around to actually reading Anna Karenina (plan to read for the Classics Challenge now) though I read and cried for the Mother in Mother. The classics were a great source of inspiration for me and I spent hours being lost in them – the Bronte sisters, Thomas Hardy, H.H.Munro (Saki), O’Henry, Oscar Wilde,and more authors than I can list here.
Some short stories that I can never forget – ‘The Open Window’, ‘The Last Leaf’, ‘Pepe’, ‘Kabuliwala’ (Tagore),and many more.

Note: You can read some issues of Misha online. Here is a link to one:

Words of the week:

The following two words caught my eye while reading an article on Amy Chua's controversial book (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) and my read for the South Asian Challenge (Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai):

Definition of OPPROBRIUM
1: something that brings disgrace
2a : public disgrace or ill fame that follows from conduct considered grossly wrong or vicious

ignominy (noun)
Definition of IGNOMINY
1: deep personal humiliation and disgrace
2: disgraceful or dishonorable conduct, quality, or action

It was just a coincidence that both words seemed to have similar meanings.

Serene Grandness

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