My new connection has been restored. And this is what greeted me on my blog 🙂
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Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!
My new connection has been restored. And this is what greeted me on my blog 🙂
You registered on WordPress.com 1 years ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!
Since reading Michelle Moran‘s ‘Cleopatra’s Daughter‘ I have been addicted to the book & keep on thinking about it. While I am waiting for the rest of her books to be delivered to me I went to her site which is very informative & full of pictures of her travels across the world. From the ‘book clubs’ tab on her site I got the following questions:
Q: What, if any, elements of the ancient Roman world seem similar to life today?
A: Romans show a great deal of interest in theatre & betting which is quite similar to real life. Also, relationships between two men or two women are common & acceptable in their society, a thing which we have yet to achieve even today.
Q: In the beginning of the novel, Octavian comes across as a ruthless man willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power. Does anything change as the story progresses? How do you feel about him in the end? Did your feelings change at all? Why do you think he treats Selene the way he does as the novel closes?
A: In my opinion Octavian was a shrewd man. He ruled Rome for such a long duration for a reason; he knew exactly what his people wanted. Octavian must have decided Alexander’s faith the day he captured the twins. But like a true king & politician he raised the twins, treated them like royalty initially so that the citizens of Rome would love their King for his kindness even towards the children of his enemy. But no sooner did Alexander turn fifteen, even from a great distance, Octavian had him murdered. Selene was always the prize Octavian wanted Juba to have for his loyalties & hence she was treated like a princess, for she would one day be queen. This is quite apparent from the way Juba treats Selene throughout the book, he always knew she was his. 🙂
Q: Selene has a complex relationship with Julia. Do her feelings about Julia change during the course of the novel? If so, why?
A: Selene might have been initially jealous of Julia as both the girls were interested in Marcellus. Also, Julia was the daughter of Octavian & a princess. Selene was natural to feel antipathy towards the daughter of the man who killed her parents & the daughter who was so beautiful & who still had what Selene once possessed: royalty! Selene’s feelings towards Julia surely change as the novel progresses. This is quite obvious from their many shopping trips together, Selene’s participation in Julia’s marriage, etc. Towards the end I think they might have turned good friends.
Q: Octavian/Augustus governed Rome for decades; sometimes with guile, often with ruthless force. In the novel we see his use of assassinations (of rivals, real and imagined), as well as collective punishment following the attempt on his life. Can this leadership style be justified by his focus on order and stability? In their quest for these, what boundaries should leaders never cross?
A: Octavian was a King & hence as a ruler he would sometimes have had to make decisions which would seem cruel to the common man. The trial in which he allowed the execution of 200 slaves was unfair. There was no way the old & the children could have participated in the murder of their master. If he had to make an example out of the slaves (which was necessary to stop further such revolts), he should have spared the children & elderly & executed the rest of them.
Q: Selene has two romantic interests in the novel. How does her attitude and character change as she matures and passes from one romance to the other?
A: While Selene finds Marcellus attractive physically, she is deeply attracted to Juba’s valour & intelligence even when she is denying it. Her constant fights with him indicate a grudging interest & respect which she feels for him in spite of herself.
Q: Octavia shows tremendous compassion for the adopted children placed in her care. How would you have responded to a betrayal like that of Antony?
A: I do not think I would have a heart as big as Octavia did. While I wouldn’t be cruel or anything to my husband’s children from his other wife neither would I be able to love them as much as Octavia did the twins.
Q: The slave trials described in the novel were real examples of Roman collective punishment. How does the administration of justice in classical times differ from the modern ones we know today?
A: It differs dramatically! Today we have justice other than death. In ancient times death seemed like the only sort of justice available. You either lived or died. 😦
Q: Was the Roman system of law, administration, learning and empire a net gain or net loss for those that it conquered?
A: Losing freedom to no matter how great & progressed an empire is always a net loss. Better systems of law, administration, etc can never compensate for the loss of freedom can never. When a nation is conquered the first thing it loses is its culture which it turns leads to its decay & downfall.
Q: Egypt has always fascinated outsiders, including in this novel, Julia. Why?
A: Today we are fascinated by Egypt because archaelogical excavations have shown that Egypt was a rich, flourishing kingdom. It had its own culture, language, Gods, coins, administrative system. It is a world similar to ours, but very very ancient at the same time. Julia’s fascination may have stemmed from a need to be away from the constant schemings in the palace. It could also be due to the wonderful tales she must have heard from Selene & Alexander.
Q: Omen, superstitions, and protection by family spirits play a significant part in the novel and in Roman life. What is the source of these widespread human traditions, and how do such emotions and habits express themselves today?
A: Omens, superstitions all stem from years of coincidences. They are also ways to ensure that the royalty doesn’t become so powerful that they forget God & some power is maintained by the priests too. A king who has to consult no one, who doesn’t have to bother about anybody’s opinions can turn dangerous & selfish. Such beliefs are as prevalent today as they were then. The forms may have changed but superstitions remain.
Q:How does the Roman attitude to marriage, sex, and promiscuity compare to our own?
A: Although I consider myself fairly liberal I was shocked to see the promiscuity prevalent in the old Roman times. It was shocking to learn that Kings could command men to leave their pregnant wife to marry another woman for the sake of political gain. I was disgusted to know that women were nothing more than things to be enjoyed & discarded at will.
Other than the 11 questions above I have a question of my own.
Juba & Alexander both were children of Kings whose kingdoms Octavian/ Augustus had conquered. He had killed Juba’s father & Alexander’s parents. While Egypt was a more powerful kingdom than Juba’s, Juba was trained in military combat. He was useful to Octavian but didn’t his knowledge make him more dangerous to Octavian & the Roman Empire? Octavian perceived a 15 year old Alexander as a threat to Rome & himself & had him murdered. Then why wasn’t Juba killed for the same reasons? Alexander had never shown any interest in military work, politics or any thing which could make him dangerous in the future. On the other hand Juba was well trained soldier, mapped the world’s lands & seas as a hobby & yet was a close confidante of Octavian. So my question is why did Octavian not kill Juba too?
Nefertiti is the story of a powerful family in ancient Egypt. It is historical fiction that tells the tale of two sisters, one of whom is destined to become one of history’s most intriguing queens.
Every book has its heroes & villains. This is the base of any story, any book. But after reading Nefertiti I must say this book has no heroes. All the possible candidates who could have been heroes turn out to be extremely self centred & selfish & remain so till the end. There is not a single exception to this. Pharaoh Akhenaten reminds me of Joffrey from the Game of Thrones series. He is as shallow, short sighted, cowardly & stupid as Joffrey was in GoT. Nefertiti is claimed to be as beautiful as a Goddess & this is given as the only reason why the people of Egypt are so blinded to her avarice & selfishness. It is hard to believe that an entire nation is fooled by a beautiful girl in her teens. Other than her legendary beauty she is manipulative when it suits her interests. But she fails to use this talent of her in two major instances: once when the Pharaoh poisons her pregnant sister who is carrying his enemy’s child & the second time when her husband, the Pharaoh invites the Hittites to their capital in spite of warnings from the Vizier of the Hittites being possible carriers of Plague. Her sister loses her child in the first instance & she shows neither shame nor remorse. Later on she herself executes the abortion of the first wife (Kiya) of the Pharaoh to ensure that Kiya doesn’t give birth to a second son.
While I had no hopes from Nefertiti & her husband, the Pharaoh I was sadly disappointed in the characters of her sister Mutnodjmet & her husband General Nakhtmin. Mutnodjmet is blind to all her sisters faults. Even when the entire capital is wiped out in plague because of her sister’s stupidity she has the gall to be shocked when Nefertiti is assassinated. While she screamed WHY I was silently wondering WHY SO LATE? Mutnodjmet is a push over who is manipulated time & again by Nefertiti to suit her needs & wants. She is one of those characters who aim to attain the angel status through their benevolence, the sort of characters I dislike the most.
Nakhtmin, Mutnodjmet’s husband is a general in the army. The Pharaoh sends him to fight a losing war when he finds out that Nakhtmin is having an affair with Mutnodjmet. There the general fights with another brave heart Horemheb. The two lead Egypt to victory. However when they return back, for reasons best known to the Pharaoh & his beautiful wife, all the soldiers & their two leaders are imprisoned. However on Nefertiti’s commands Nakhtmin is released. Nakhtmin decides to flee the capital with his beloved Mutnodjmet in spite of knowing that the next morning the Pharaoh intends to execute all the soldiers & Horemheb. An army man decides to run with a woman to escape punishment & be with his lady love. What can be more disappointing?
Another character which reminded me of GoT is Nefertiti’s father. His character is very similar to Tywin Lannister though Vizier Ay has more heart & scruples than Tywin. Unfortunately in this ancient Game of Thrones which took place in Egypt many centuries back there is no Tyrion Lannister! 🙂
Although the book is fiction it is based on facts. Nefertiti wasn’t as engaging as Cleopatra’s Daughter had been. Cleopatra’s Daughter had been a perfect mix of many emotions while Nefertiti sadly is an endless tale of the Pharaoh & his wife’s many stupidities & Mutnodjmet’s continuing loyalty to her family & her utter insistence of being a push over. While the author defends Nefertiti’s actions as those being of a woman far ahead of her times, in my opinion none of Nefertiti’s actions were for Egypt. What she did was for her personal glory & her family’s. And she was training her daughters in her footsteps. Its almost a relief when she is killed by the Aten priests!
The afterword in the book says that Mutnodjmet married Horemheb & became a queen! Given her family’s ambition to always provide wives to the Royal Family & indirectly rule Egypt it comes as no surprise that after the death of the elder daughter, the younger one should replace her. But Horemheb as the Pharaoh was more surprising since in the book after Nefertiti’s death Tutunkhamun is crowned as the next Pharaoh, who is the adopted son of Mutnodjmet & the real son of Akhenaten with his first wife Kiya who dies during child birth.
A quick Google search revealed that there is a lot of confusion about these ancient Egyptian royals. All the things I have mentioned above are based on the book Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.
A 3/5, not for the story but the tiny glimpses of the life of the ancient Egyptians which this book offered. It did not live up to the high expectations I had of it after reading ‘Cleopatra’s Daughters’.
“Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed. You alienate your friends because you can’t comport yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage. You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exacerbates the depression and the isolation.
Depression is humiliating.
If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an averagely turbulent normal life.
It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too.
Depression is humiliating.
No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged.”
– Pearl (via psycho-quotes)
When my mother came home today she was visibly angry. While having our dinner she told us about the six officers in her office who will be going on a long leave during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. All at the same time. All for the same duration. Now Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10 day long festival in which many people travel back home to their villages to celebrate these auspicious days with their families. But when an office is left without any officer it can lead to some major problems which even Ganeshji wont be able to solve. 🙂 And this isn’t a one off thing either. It seems this is the case for every major festival (Diwali, Navratri, Christmas, New Year, etc.) As these people have pending leaves no one can disapprove their leave application. While my mother grumbled about the unfairness of it all I feel this has more to do with mismanagement at the highest levels than mere negligence or carefree attitudes in the employees.
The corporates & PSUs in India follow a strange management pattern. India is divided into regions. A person who stays in region A is never given a posting in the same reason. He will always be posted in some other region. What benefit can one get from this? In my opinion it stresses out the employee mentally (away from family, friends, home) as well as physically (imagine a man cooking for himself, keeping the house clean…unheard off really!). This stress will naturally frustrate him. How can a tired & frustrated person benefit the organization he is working for? And if this person is nearing his 40’s, 50’s does he/ she really have the energy needed to run a house as well as an office? And then is it any surprise that come festivals & weekends these guys run home without bothering about their work, careers & offices?
Every region has its own typical way of behaviour. This is very prominent in India where there are hundreds of languages spoken. Each region has its own way of doing things. Uniformity is a difficult thing to maintain in India owing to its huge area & cultural diversity. Hence when a person from an urban area like Mumbai is transferred to a place in Bihar which is quite under developed as opposed to Mumbai, how is that person supposed to survive there? While he was used to continuous electricity & water supply in Mumbai, in Bihar he will have the added hardships of load shedding & water shortage. On the other hand when the guy from Bihar comes to Mumbai he will be so over whelmed by what he sees that his distractions will be more. Is it so wrong if a guy who is born & brought up in a metro expects to work there too? What sort of equality can you get by bringing down someone? Why not try to improve the villages & small towns rather than do this meaningless circus?
The fault isn’t just with the corporate world & their weird ideas of equality. It lies also in the entrance tests conducted by the esteemed MBA colleges in India. After passing a written test candidates are expected to take part in a group discussion (GD). While the name sounds very classy this is nothing more than 10 people shouting themselves hoarse to be heard over each other. A topic is given which is to be discussed by the group & they are supposed to arrive at a conclusion. The whole exercise turns into a major fish market within a few minutes. From this fish market the learned principals & deans of major colleges choose the ones who shout loudest & lies the best in the name of diplomacy . This is how a future management graduate is short listed to be interviewed. My boss had once told me that only the crying baby gets the milk. 🙂 Though I agree with it, it makes me wonder how long will our selection process be so crass? And then is it any wonder such graduates later on go & head major banks & corporates & come up with strange transfer policies which are nothing more than inconvenient & unnecessarily cruel?
The very world of management in India is mismanaged to a large extent based on bookish ideas which maybe relevant to other countries but are impractical in India.
Below is a link to a letter by Narayan Murthy (supposedly) to Infosys employees.No matter who has written the letter but it pinpoints to the one single problem which affects the working culture in many organizations: ATTITUDE!
OK, I am a big fan of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & love the BBC version of it starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy to bits. And a fan of these two is unlikely to forget the scene where Mr. Darcy emerges from the lake dripping wet & looking gorgeous. 🙂
But isn’t this taking things a bit too far? 😛 And he doesn’t even look like Colin Firth much! 😦
Colin Firth’s lake scene from Pride & Prejudice has been brought to life again – with a giant statue positioned in a well-known lake.
The fibreglass sculpture of the actor’s head and torso stretches 12ft out of the water at The Serpentine in Hyde Park, Central London.
It has been built to mark the launch of Drama, a new British TV channel after the famous Darcy scene topped a recent poll to find the the most memorable moment in British TV drama.
The scene appeared in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, which was published 200 years ago. The image of Firth emerging dripping wet from the lake at Lyme Park in Cheshire caused a stir and turned the actor into a sex symbol.
The model took a team of three sculptors more than two months to design, construct and paint. Toby Crowther, the lead sculptor, said: “The challenge for us was capturing the spirit of Darcy as handsome and noble but also aloof and proud.”
The sculpture will tour a number of locations before being installed in Lyme Park, where it will remain until February. (PA)
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two— the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander— survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.
The book is beautifully written. There is a nice, steady flow to the writing which makes it a page turner. The author manages to weave fiction (minimal) & facts (more) together to make up a beautiful story of love, patriotism, cruelty & betrayal. The best part was getting to know so much about ancient Rome, its tradition, its rulers, its history through the eyes of a foreign princess who is as new to everything as we as readers are. Being far ahead of her times in terms of thinking, her thoughts are often similar to our own thinking & it becomes easy to identify with her. While we are aware of some of the modern amenities like hot water baths, guide books, etc which the Romans had developed in their times, other things like painted marble statues instead of the plain white ones which are popular today come as a surprise. The love story is simple yet appealing. The story of the red eagle could have been better developed. It lacks the political cunning which such stories need. It is very naive & hence it becomes very easy to guess who the red eagle is which takes away some of the fun from the read. The insights into the society & mindset of these ancient people make me glad to be born in this age, in a free country where no one but me can make my decisions. You appreciate the value of freedom when you see the sufferings of slaves & war captives in the book.