June 30, 2010

1984 - George Orwell

After a long lull, finished reading three very different (from each other !) books. Guess the long gap was due to a) not able to decide what to read b) I like to read only when on the move and my travel time in the crowded metro was only 20 minutes. But then I began feeling very fidgety and depressed at not having read anything for a long time ....so I just started off and in the process experienced what 20 + 20 minutes each day could mean !

Someone has rightly said - Don't do nothing because you can do only little !


What luck ! Under that am-depressed-as-have-not-read-anything mode, I picked up 1984 by George Orwell.

It's a scary book if you imagine yourself in the world of 1984. A world where there can be no friends, where you cannot trust even your children, where you are being watched 24*7 by Big Brother and his men, where even 'thought crimes' are tracked and can leave you begging for mercy if you commit one.

There are no memories as the past is being constantly changed according to the present !! The dictionary being constantly modified to reduce the words so that people have lesser vocabulary to think and express themselves.

Then there is Room 101 where your worst fears come true ! ..on reading that part, my first thought was that Thank God my house number is 102 and not 101...else I would have had nightmares for a few days !

The book is basically a satire on a totalitarian society..where a group tries to tightly control everything for the society. And if you come to think of it, it is not entirely impossible. In fact ! it does exist in certain parts of the world in some form.

I can already experience in Singapore, how things are controlled...the gov.  controls the number of cars by auctioning a quota for it. There is a well defined fine/punishment for almost everything - from not using flush in public toilet to drugs ! To get over the difficulty of removing littered chewing gums,  a total ban on it's consumption was imposed...If you are found littering you will be subjected to public shame by having to wear a bright jacket of corrective action and cleaning a public place while local media will be invited to cover the event and you will not be spared on account of being a foreigner :-)

Well..all is OK till you are on the right side of the law....and I am not complaining here at all, as all this has made Singapore one of the cleanest and safest place in the world. But probably if I were a citizen here, I might have felt a little stifled sometimes at so many dos and donts!

Not to forget the Taliban, the secrective N Korea and what is happening to Google in China !

The book is still relevant even after six decades, though it goes on the extreme. It gives you food for thought and though the book was depressing (but very very interseting), it did make me stop cribbing (for a while ;-) and feel lucky and thankful to be where I am !

The famous Big Brother show (which Shilpa Shetty won and on which our desi Big Boss is based !) takes it's name and concept from this book.


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