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Author: Nikolai Gogol

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Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

    Short lifespan 43 years (31 March 1809–4 March 1852) was a Russian dramatist of Ukranian origin.

    The popularity of Nikolai Gogol in India can be judged by the fact that the main character in Jhumpa Lahiri’s 2003 novel The Namesake and its 2006 movie is named after Nikolai Gogol, because his father survives a train crash while clutching onto a copy of one of Gogol’s books in his hand.

    An eponymous poem “Gogol” by poet-diplomat Abhay Kumar refers to some of the great works of Gogol such as “The Nose”, “The Overcoat”, “Nevsky Prospekt”, “Dead Souls” and “The Government Inspector.”

    Gogol’s story “The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich” was adapted into a Marathi movie titled, Katha Don Ganpatravanchi in 1996. The movie was directed by Arun Khopkar and dialogues are written by Satish Alekar. The movie had Dilip Prabhawalkar and Mohan Agashe in lead roles.

    Although, Gogol was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the pre-eminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism. Later his critics have found in his work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strands of surrealism and grotesque in works such as, “The Nose”, “Viy”, (a horror story) “The Overcoat” and “Nevsky  Prospekt”. His early works, such as “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka,” were influenced by his Ukrainian upbringing, Ukranian culture and folklore. His later writing satirised political corruption in the Russian Empire which includes (The Government Inspector and Dead Souls,). His novels “Taras Bulba” (1835) and his play “Marriage” (1842), along with the short stories “Diary of a Madman”, “The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich”, “The Portrait” and “The Carriage”, are all among his best-known works.

    Gogol was born in the Ukrainian Cossack town of Sorochyntsi, in Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire. His mother descended from Leonty Kosyarovsky, an officer of the Lubny Regiment in 1710. His father Vasily Gogol-Yanovsky, was a descendant of Ukrainian Cossacks who died when Gogol was 15 years old. He belonged to the ‘petty gentry’, who wrote poetry in Ukrainian and Russian, and was an amateur Ukranian-language playwright. As was typical of the left-bank Ukrainian gentry of the early nineteenth century. The family spoke Ukrainian as well as Russian. As a child, Gogol helped stage, Ukrainian-language plays, in his uncle’s home theatre.

    In 1820, Gogol went to a school of higher art in Nizhyn (now Nizhyn Gogol State University) and remained there until 1828. It was there that he began writing. He was not popular among his schoolmates, who called him a “mysterious dwarf”, but with two or three of them he formed lasting friendships. Very early he developed a dark and secretive disposition, marked by a painful self-consciousness and boundless ambition. Equally early, he developed a talent for mimicry, which later made him a matchless reader of his own works and induced him to toy with the idea of becoming an actor.

    In 1828, upon leaving school, Gogol came to Saint Petersburg, with vague but ambitious hopes. He wanted literary fame, and brought with him a Romantic poem of German idyllic life – Hans Küchelgarten. He had it published, at his own expense, under the name of “V Alov.” The magazines he sent it to, almost universally, derided it. He bought all the copies and destroyed them, swearing never to write poetry again. Gogol was always in touch with the “literary aristocracy.”

    In 1831 Gogol brought out the first volume of his Ukranian stories—‘Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka’ that met with immediate success. He followed it in 1832 with a second volume and in 1835 by two more volumes and in 1835 by two volumes of stories entitled Mirgorod as well as miscellaneous prose titled Arabesques. With all this Gogol emerged more as an Ukranian writer than a Russian one. The themes and style of Gogol’s prose were similar to the work of Ukranian writers.

    Gogol developed a passion for Ukranian history and tried to obtain an appointment in the history department at Kiev University. Where, despite the support of Pushkin and Sergey Uvarov the Russian Minister for education his appointment was blocked by a Kyivan bureaucrat on the grounds that Gogol was unqualified.

    In 1834 Gogol was made professor of medieval history at the University of St. Petersburg, a job for which he had no qualifications. At the final examination, he sat in utter silence with a black handkerchief wrapped around his head, simulating a toothache, while another professor interrogated the students. This academic venture proved a failure and he resigned his chair in 1835.

    Between 1832 and 1836 Gogol worked with great energy. It was, only after the presentation, at the Saint Petersburg, State Theatre, on 19 April 1836, of his comedy “The Government Inspector” that he finally came to believe in his literary capabilities. The comedy, was a violent satire of Russian provincial bureaucracy. From 1836 to 1848 Gogol lived abroad, travelling through Germany and Switzerland. Gogol spent the winter of 1836–37 in Paris, among Russian expatriates and Polish exiles, He eventually settled in Rome. For much of the twelve years from 1836 Gogol was in Italy developing an admiration for Rome. He studied art, read Italian literature and developed a passion for opera.

    In 1841 the first part of Dead Souls was ready, and Gogol took it to Russia to supervise its printing. The book instantly established his reputation as the greatest prose writer in the language.

   After the triumph of Dead Souls, Gogol’s contemporaries came to regard him as a great satirist who lampooned the unseemly sides of Imperial Russia.  

    In April 1848 Gogol returned to Russia from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and passed his last years in restless movement throughout the country. He fell into a state of deep depression. On the night of 24 February 1852 he burned some of his manuscripts, which contained most of the second part of Dead Souls. He explained this, as a mistake, a practical joke played on him by the Devil. Soon thereafter, he took to bed, refused all food, and died in great pain nine days later.

    Gogol was mourned in the Saint Tatiana church at the Moscow University before his burial and then buried at the Danilov Monastery. His grave was marked by a large stone (Golgotha), topped by a Russian Orthodox cross. In 1931, Moscow authorities decided to demolish the monastery and had Gogol’s remains transferred to a cemetery in Moscow, Russia.

    His body was discovered lying face down, which gave rise to the story that Gogol had been buried alive. The authorities moved the Golgotha stone to the new gravesite, but removed the cross. In 1952 the Soviets replaced the stone with a bust of Gogol.

    Gogol was a great destroyer of prohibitions, and of romantic illusions. He undermined Russian Romanticism by making vulgarity reign where only the sublime and the beautiful had been before.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK REVIEW: FRITZ by Satyajit Ray

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    This short story was published in The Penguin Book of ‘Indian GHOST stories, edited by Ruskin Bond, is about a Swiss doll named Fritz. The price of this book is Rs 250.
We all know Satyajit Ray, an Indian filmmaker, screenwriter, music composer, graphic artist, lyricist and author, widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th Century. Ray was born in Calcutta into a Bengali family which was prominent in the field of arts and literature.
    In this short story there are two main protagonists. One is Jayant, who works in the editorial section of a newspaper and the other is his friend Shankar, the narrator, who is a school teacher. They are great friends and have finally managed sometime to go on a holiday together. They decide to go to Bundi a small town in Rajasthan around two hundred km from Jaipur. Incidentally Jayant had been to this town in his childhood along with his parents. Jayant’s father was in the Archaeological Survey of India and that gave him the opportunity to visit many tourist locations.
    They plan to stay at the Circuit House where Jayant had stayed before, when he had come along with his father many years ago on an official visit. When they reach Bundi, Shankar notices Jayant is not his usual self. He is in a pensive mood and thinking about something. Shankar tries to query Jayant about his mood. Jayant says it’s nothing but old memories inundating his mind. Shankar thinks that Jayant being the over-emotional type. Is now getting nostalgic, so he doesn’t say anything further in the matter.
They go for a stroll in the beautiful compound of the Circuit House when Jayant suddenly remembers that there was a tall Deodar tree there. He searches for it by looking around and finds it at the end of the compound. He looks at the trunk searchingly and says, it was out here he had met a European in the form of a doll, but doesn’t quite remember who it was or how they had met.
    They return to the Circuit House where Jayant remembers Dilawar, the cook, who had prepared their dinner when he had come with his father. His reminiscences don’t stop there. They continue full flow and then he is inundated with the memories of Fritz. He tells Shankar, the tale of Fritz, the European doll, which Shankar hears amusedly. It was a one-foot tall Swiss doll brought from Switzerland by his uncle for him. He says he was very attached to the doll and was devastated when two stray dogs had mutilated it. He had buried the doll’s remnants under the very same deodar tree.
Shankar is quite tired so he goes to bed but wakes up abruptly in the middle of the night and finds Jayant sitting on his bed, looking perplexed. Upon asking the reason, Jayant says that something had walked over his chest when he was asleep. Shankar assures that it could have been a dream but Jayant shows him his pillow. Where, there were faint marks pointing to the fact that an animal had walked over it. Shankar does a thorough search of the place but doesn’t find any small animal like mice or rats. Shankar feels that his friend is just exaggerating his pent up emotions, nevertheless, he offers him some soothing words. After which they both go off to sleep.
    The following day, they visit ‘Bundi Fort.’ About which Shankar is happy, as he remembers the famous poem of Tagore ‘The Fort of Bundi.’ During the visit to the fort on the hills, Jayant remains lost in his thoughts. After returning, Shankar queries about his state of mind persistently. Jayant says, that Fritz, the doll, had come back alive, and it was the doll last night who had walked over his chest leaving his footprints. Shankar, now annoyed with Jayant’s irrational fears, suggests to dig up the doll’s grave and see for himself that the doll isn’t back.
    Jayant agrees. Together, they have the gardener dig the place where Fritz was buried. To their horror, they find a pure white, 12-inch, human skeleton, lying there exactly, of the same size as Fritz. They both are confused and horrified when they see it. Eerie thoughts and weird assumptions come to their mind. The story ends there, on a cliff-hanger, with various connotations to suit the reader.
    The story is narrated in first person from Shankar’s perspective and that provides a realistic depth into Jayant’s emotions, unclouded by Jayant’s irrational fears and beliefs.
The story is built on short conversations between the two protagonists. The author within the limited space has also described the scenic surroundings quite well. Even Jayant’s childhood memories are well captured. The story unwinds on flashbacks. Where, the sequencing of flashbacks is quite perfect.
    The characters are well-portrayed. Where, Jayant is projected as a serious person and even emotional. Whereas, Shankar is a smart, rational man who believes only in what he sees. Hence, he is annoyed at Jayant’s assumption that Fritz is back. And it’ll only be right to say that Shankar is quite a determined person, because even when Jayant was reluctant to dig the grave, he was sure about what he wanted to do and how to get it done.
    The story is set in Bundi, Rajasthan. The author has used plain English, easy to understand. It is a good read. I would give the story seven out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

A MAGGI SALESMAN’S HEART IN CONVERSATION WITH HIS MIND

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

c3 maggi salesman

A MAGGI SALESMAN’S HEART IN CONVERSATION WITH HIS MIND

Heart:  I just don’t feel good these days.

Mind: But why, what happened?

Heart: Arrey yaar for the past five years I’ve been selling ‘Maggi Noodles’ thinking it is perfectly healthy and suddenly the lab tests by FSSAI reveal it has a high lead content which is extremely bad for health.

Mind: But that’s not your fault. As a loyal salesman you did what the company told you to do–sell. Plus, you have your wife and kids to look after. So you if won’t sell who will? And, as a matter of fact there are many salesmen who even sell cigarettes and liquor both being killer products, for the sake of their career, family and themselves; so how should they feel?

Heart: But there is a huge difference between the two situations; for a salesman selling liquor or cigarettes knows he is selling poison to his customer, and the customer too knows he is buying poison and that squares off. But in this case neither I, nor the customer, mostly children, knew they were consuming something poisonous, not good for health. And, considering it safe, I must fed thousands of Maggi packets to my own children, and today my wife and children question my wisdom and integrity when they see the product being banned on TV.

Mind: But you haven’t done it knowingly, so you shouldn’t feel guilty. And for all this while your company kept advertising it’s a quality product and perhaps the safest to consume. Am I right?

Heart: Yes you’re right. But I guess the company forgot the meaning of quality. Where, I always thought quality means, deliver what you promise, but in the case of Maggi it was not so. And the Food Safety and Standards authority of India also kept sleeping all this while, and they should also take the blame.

Mind: What is done is done, and can’t be undone, but what are you planning for your future.

Heart: Well, I haven’t thought about all that. But yes, I guess in the last five years I too could have taken a personal initiative, like that food inspector in Barabanki town, to get Maggi tested, but I didn’t. We often trust big names and brands for the simple reason that we believe they will deliver what they promise. But this was not the case here. And even brand ambassadors ditch the consumers.

Recently Nestle India had to destroy ‘Maggi noodle’ stocks worth three hundred and fifty crores as same was banned by Government of India, because tests revealed it had high lead content.

We have many dutiful salesmen in the food industry, putting their heart and soul together, in bringing about various delicious food products to customers across the world. And in this fraternity we also have Maggi salesmen. And there is no need for them to feel guilty, for, they have only done their duty in providing what the customer wanted and it was for Nestle to have ensured quality—deliver what you promise which they couldn’t. And so, I will not be surprised if this turns out to be one of the biggest cases of brand erosion under a big banner.

MESSY–#MAGGI 2 MINUTE #NOODLE

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

maggi maggi1

MESSY–#MAGGI 2 MINUTE #NOODLE

What MNCs should know #MaggiRecalled

High lead content in Maggi. Has sent Nestle into a tizzy of a lifetime. Vigorous tests are on, in the food labs of India. Soon anyone’s bluff will be caught if not already. And, it is not only for Nestle. But a reminder for all MNCs. That gone are the days. When you could serve a sub-standard and obsolete product in India and get away. But now the equations have altered and tables have turned.

    Today the literacy levels in India are at 74%. Most Indians, when they walk into a store have already made up their minds. About what they are going to buy and why. Consumer laws too have firmed up, even when they may not be as pungent as the US.

    India over the years has become a very attractive and money spinning sub-continent market for any MNC. With its newly rich population and the population explosion. In some ways it fares even better than the markets of the US. In fact serving the Indian market is like clocking a revenue equivalent to serving half of Europe. When we milk the geographical advantages of India’s neighbours.

    The Indian population as per 2011 stands at around 1.21 billion. Out of which around 830 million is rural and 380 million is urban. As compared to the total US population of 319 million. So, even our urban population is higher. Than the total population of the US. Our urban distribution is at 69% and rural 31%. Quite favouring, a smooth flow of goods and services across the sub-continent.

    With a population of 1.25 billion. On an average every seventh person in the world is an Indian. This has extrapolating advantages when you sell in India. In terms of scaling up a brand, brand recall or even name recalls of niche segments in prominent SKUs. And a big chunk of Indian population, are expats and NRIs. To them what is sold at home is acceptable in foreign lands too, from day one. So, a MNC, even gets a ready export market should it want to manufacture in India. Where, labour and cost of infrastructure is way below the western world.

    Although India’s population is three times that of the US. Its land area is only 1/3rd of the US (India 3287590 square km—US 9857306 sq km). That makes India a much more compact market than the US. Where, distribution costs are much lesser. And, an even more gleaming factor would be the population density. That directly triggers footfalls, and consequentially sales. The average population density of India is 364/km as compared to the US which is 90/square miles—again a favourable tilt towards India.

    Summing up. In times to come. Such large markets in confined clusters. That will give high footfalls will be a rarity. Therefore Indian consumers and markets need to be treated with a lot more prestige and seriousness by MNCs. As days are not far, when operating headquarters of many MNCs will move closer to the bulk of their consumers. Where, only China and India will be their likely destinations.

    So, MNCs should move around with bags. That have single pockets, and not bags with too many pockets or hidden pockets for various countries. As transparency is the wholesome virtue in present times. And last but not the least. The golden goose is very much there. But the MNCs shouldn’t try to kill it for short term gains.

    And brand ambassadors of MNC products. Need to verify complete details, before they sign up for any product.

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