A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Who won?

It has beenThw winner stands alone strange to read such a cynical story by Paulo Coelho, whose books seemed to me the anti thesis of cynicism. I had loved “The Alchemist”, and I had liked “Veronica Decides to Die” as well, very much. Somewhere along the line Coelho may have decided that he was no longer going to be the Mr. Nice Guy. He may have felt that he needed to write a story about the superficiality of the very rich, very famous in show business. He may have been disillusioned. So he wrote a cynical novel.

The problem does not lie in its cynicism, or depiction of the dark underbelly of the “superclass”, which, apparently, is a real term. The problem lies in the fact that Coelho does not show. He tells. Page after page after repeated page. He tells us that the super class is superficial. They lead tired empty meaningless lives. They manipulate. They form cartels. They have surgery to enhance their looks. They are afraid of growing old. How do we know? Coelho tells us.

This information has no relevance to the story of murder and mayhem that is “The Winner Stands Alone”. No matter. It is revealed again and again, woven into a story that has potential.

I cannot believe what I just wrote. Paulo Coelho’s story has potential! Ouch!

The question now remains, did the story get lost in translation? Or did Coelho just want to write something different, and make a hash of it?

I also failed to discern the relationship the name of the novel has to the story between the covers.

All in all, a sad disappointment.

Perhaps there are two Paulo Coelho’s? One who wrote “The Alchemist” and one who tried to write a book called “The Winner Stands Alone”.


Feeling like home

It is beginning to feel a lot like home. Coming back from a day of work, and swerving into the narrow garage with the bumpy road just outside that had brought forth so many frustrated tears during those first few days after moving. The pest control guy has worked his magic and the electrician, handy man and telecommunications guy have all done their bit. It is easy to step into the place with the confidence of long standing residence.

It seems no longer to matter that it is getting dark by the time tired feet clamber up the side entrance. The security key finds its way into its lock and, click, the door opens. The friends have turned up by turn and helped fix little teething problems. The black and blue toe hurts no more, though colleagues gleefully predict that the nail will fall off soon.

The strange hot water system, which needs a little rest between showers, or washing dishes or such like no longer irks. It is just something to which the rhythvan goh bedroom in Arles sepiam of the rest of the day needs to fit in.

The old furniture has mostly been taken away and the new furniture is not here yet. Each earmarked spot seems to be quietly anticipating the advent of the bed, the dining table, the sofa. The things that are around, have settled into their new home. Everything seems to just “go there”.

The plant whose name is a mystery, which rewarded careful attention to it with half a dozen flowers only at the height of summer, has suddenly thrown out half a dozen juicy buds, even though there is a distinct chill in the air. The new geranium has taken three days to bud and flower from its baby stalks. Only the lemon tree seems to miss the hot balcony of yesteryear, and has come crashing down with every bug that can hit a citrus plant. Somehow, even though life is just as busy, there still has been time to nip up to the nursery and bring back an eco friendly pest oil to treat the plant.

The mornings are being greeted with eager anticipation as the sun shines through the camellias, lazy and satisfying, even on a work day. The evenings are relaxed and somehow seem to provide time to watch the cork float even after attending to the chores.

The quiet rustling of the trees and the trilling soft cheep of birds accompanies the drying laundry. The family of bush turkeys who come around every dusk make coming home sweet.

It is peaceful, beautiful, and welcoming. It is home. Home, it seems is not a place, but a feeling.

~Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.~

The Purer Motive

Ruthless kingmaker who united a war torn land under one wise and brave ruler. The chosen one, having shown great promise as a child and a student, goes on to rule, with wisdom, the land he has fought alongside his teacher to win. A king who is remembered with reverence in his own right. His mentor – learned, wise, cynical, quick to spot strengths and weaknesses- in people, in logic, in philosophy. Author of a book whose wisdom has transcended more than 2000 years. History knows him as Chanakya.

Soulless powerbroker who seems to mirror the deeds of the widely respected sage, and creates a king, wilfully escalating the mayhem across the land in the process. Other than a few smart questions, the king ( of the female gender) shows no wisdom, courage, or discretion. Having being handed platform after platform through deceit and thuggery, of which she is a willing participant, she gains her throne through years of political manipulation. She then  apparently rules India wisely through three terms. One is left wondering where such acumen has sprung from, since all she learnt from her teacher and life, was how to win position and power by  deceit, murder, mayhem and manipulation. Her mentor – now… what is his name?… umm.. oh yeah. Pandit Gangaprasad Mishra.

“Chanakya’s” chant? I think not. Ruthless and soulless are not synonyms, neither are kingmaker and powerbroker.

Chankaya's Chant

Samuel Barclay Beckett, avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, and wrote in both English and French. Formidable reputation. He is famous “for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.” Ironic, then, that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969, a pointless gesture, surely if ever ther was one.

I was, uncharacteristically, quite excited when the young adorablescent brought “Waiting For Godot” home from school as a text. Uncharacteristically, because I have a phobia for books which are so deep and meaningful, that you have to be amongst the world’s top ten intellectuals to even get a grip on the topic. This seems to imply that all the regular people I come into contact with are lying when they say they understand it. I don’t think they are lying. I think they believe they understand it. I think that, it is so unacceptable to say that Samuel Beckett made no sense to you, that people are subconsciously afraid to say it.

It is hard to align yourself on the side of the “superficial”. I know how much it hurts to be called superficial, because I have been called it. I have watched people look at the hundreds of books lining my shelves, and assume, that someone else in the family has read those books, and not me. When I have said that most of those books are mine, and many of them have been read by only me, I have had people look at me in wonder, trying to understand how such a superficial person as me could actually have read so much, and some of those books are, by commonly agreed upon standards, not kindergarten reads. (I have not read too much, but a wall full of shelves overflowing with books can dominate a room). So I have always taken with a pinch of salt when someone regular like me, waxes all lyrical over an obscure book by an obscure author. (Using obscure as: not clearly expressed or easily understood, Beckett is not unknown, and his play “Waiting for Godot” even less so).

I was excited because, I thought that, here was a short book, that I would be able to quickly read and not get bogged down in existentialistic nightmares for months. Pick up. Read. Put Down. Tick off to-read list.

I will just assume everyone reading this has read the play. A play about nothing, in which nothing happens, and ends before any point has truly been made. I get it. That is the point of the play. That there is no point. Nothing happens in our lives. We do nothing, remember nothing, have no significance or maybe we even don’t exist.

It just makes me wonder. Why would I read/watch this play? The conversation goes nowhere, so paying attention is not necessary. Nothing happens, so ditto. There is only the point of futile existence, so why bother?

Can anyone tell me whether I should read the second Act of Mr Beckett’s play? Have I missed something? I think it will be a rehash of the first Act, just driving home the point. I already get it.


Bare tree sunrise sunset.jpg

Photo credit: Hartwig HKD


lisa-eldridge-facepaint-photoSome books can be downloaded onto an electronic device. Some books cannot. The idea of reading an electronic version of this book scares me. I have never read an ebook. Yet, I am sure this book would lose half its magic if you could not hold it in your hand, move it around in your hand, watching the light catch the shifting mood of the pictures, running your fingers over the textured cover. This book is a visual feast. First and foremost.

Written for makeup lovers, it is a book with so much make up story crammed into its pages, it is sure to delight those who want to learn a little bit more about this fascinating art and industry.

It is pleasing that the focus remained on story telling, independent of any kind of brand focus, or subtle advertising. Lisa Eldridge has enough clout in the the makeup world that if she recommends one product, it will fly off the shelves. She has made no such recommendations, she has not stated a preference for one style of makeup over another. She has also not made any kind of reference to any kind of body image issues except as a historical commentary. No judgement. Whatsoever.

Instead we see a charming discussion of colour utilisation through the ages, the trends, the socio-political ramifications, the anecdotes. Who would have thought that the use of makeup through ages seemed to coincide with women’s rights, and freedom, even if only certain tiers in certain ages? Apparently courtesans and prostitutes not only wore obvious makeup through the ages, but also got accorded more rights than the genteel women. Mo’ makeup, did equate to mo’ fun!


The Eldridge Technique is widely known to be Lisa’s distinctive technique of making complexion appear flawless through makeup, while allowing the inner glow to shine through. I have just discovered another inimitable Eldridge Technique. The book is written in the same soft, often amused, always kind, voice that Lisa uses in her youtube instructional videos. A classic book from a classy lady.

Since this is such a vast subject, and this book had to be sketchy by necessity, I look forward to more books from Lisa.


This is one of the best gifts I have given myself on my birthday. My first book of 2016


The path to keeping the earth fresh, green and having it not implode into a gooey mass of plastic suffocating wildlife is littered with pitfalls. I arm myself with cleaning vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, lemons, jute scrubs. Okay, not jute scrubs. But I totally would, if they were easily available. I clean my floors cupboard, vanities, shower walls and door knobs. I repeat.

As I put my cleaning vinegar away, I notice that it is in a plastic bottle. I am not entirely sure where the recycled bins get taken to in Sydney, and worry that it may be just dumped somewhere and end up leaching into the ground, mix into the earth, create new hitherto unknown compounds and kill the millions (trillions ?) of very small creatures that live there, change the balance of the soil …….

If it gets taken to a recycling plant and gets re-energised into another lease of life, I worry about the form of energy used, the strong bleaches, cleaners and other ingredients used. I worry that putting all the plastic containers on a ship to a distant land where labour is cheaper defeats the purpose, with the ship guzzling fossil fuels and possibly allowing some (a lot?) to flow into the ocean.

My Sodium bi carbonate is in a paper carton. I worry that it killed trees being made. I worry that even if it is recycled, it will still need to be mixed with new paper. I worry that reducing the cutting down of trees by … now … how much does the poster claim on the wall at work …. 73% (?) is not enough.

I worry that if every one starts using lemons to clean their door knobs and interiors of fridges, we would have to start cutting down virgin forests in order to grow enough lemons.

Such considerations would keep me awake at night if I allowed them to.

I visit the houses of friends and marvel at the sparkling walls, cupboards, bathroom vanities. I come home and realise that in my possibly futile efforts to not step on my Earth or Sky, I have allowed my home to grow shabby. The environmentally friendly cleaners just do not achieve the same sparkle. I rush out to the shops and buy the strongest household bleaches and cleaners I get. I get the home looking cleaner, and then sit back worrying about how much larger I just made the hole in the ozone layer.

Perhaps Abraham (Link to some Abraham videos for those interested in woo-woo) are right, and Nature will always come aright. Does that necessarily mean that we are allowed to cease to care? Am I not a part of Nature, as well?

PS: I reckon Van Gogh’s paintings, reproduced, are copyright free. If not please advise, and I will change the lead picture

It is the First of January, 2016, and I just stumbled upon the “First Book of the Year” community.


I have never made the first book of a year into any kind of priority. Usually, I would not think it to be such a special thought in as much as it should not really matter to someone who reads all the time as to what time of the year it is. To me the year is a man made concept, for humanity’s own need to compartmentalise Time (with a capital T).

But, having just written in my list for 2016, “I have read and reviewed 30 books in 2016” I feel it may be necessary to undergo this ritual. Read the first book, review it. A journey of reading and reviewing 30 books starts by picking up the first book, after all.

To those who are planning to read 100+ books during the year, I commend you. There was a time when I did read a book or two in a week. Now is not that time. My very modest goal of 30 books this year is doubling what I managed to read in 2015. I am content to take my humble back seat in the community.

So my first book is one that I have just started to read over the last couple of days: “Facepaint: The Story of Makeup” by Lisa Eldridge. I am also reading: “The Modern Art Cookbook” by Mary Ann Caws, “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, and “Light on Yoga Sutras” by BKS Iyengar. This last book may also be finished as the last book of this year, depending on how many pages I read at a time.

First book of the year

Out of these I think it is easiest for me to finish Eldridge’s book, so I have chosen it to be my first book. It is filled with the most beautiful pictures. Her writing style flows like a conversation, and, as an avid follower of her YouTube channel, it feels like she is reading the book to me.

Thank you Sheila of bookjourney.net for the idea, and Ti of bookchatter.net for pointing me to the community. Happy reading adventures, fellow bookworms…..

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