Riding and Reading; The Safe Way to Commute

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Five days a week I, like most other people, go to work. There are potentially dozens of ways for me to get to work: car, bike, segway, helicopter, skate board, or hitch hiking; the options are potentially endless. I have chosen to go the traditional route and commute via the bus. On my way to work I take a TriMet bus (#44, #54, or #56) from stop #925 to stop #7803; on my way home I take a bus from stop #7586 to stop #955. The ride to work takes 13.5 minutes. The ride home takes either 15 or 21 minutes depending on which bus I catch. During this time I read. During most other times I like to babble. This blog combines all three: books, buses and babble.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Book: The White Tiger
Bus # 44; 4:10 p.m. (ride home 9/23)
Pages: 33-41

The bus has been pretty uneventful lately. Thank God.

I am beginning to wonder if Balram is crazy. Not "isn't that person's logic fucked up because he grew up in a place where sewage and water buffaloes played a major role in village life and parents weren't charged with neglect for not naming their children and a school's walls are wallpapered with red paan spit" crazy. No, I mean crazy like, "I have no grasp on reality and I kill people" crazy. Why do I think this? Let's see:

What does my laughter sound like?
What do my armpits smell like?
And when I grin, it is true – as you no doubt imagine now – that my lips widen into a devil’s rictus?
Oh, I could go on and on about myself, sir. I could gloat that I am not just any murderer, but one who killed his own employer (who is a kind of second father), and also contributed to the probable death of all his family members. A virtual mass murderer.
But I don’t want to go on and on about myself.” Pg. 37

I don't know about you, but this makes me think Balram might be a tiny bit psychotic.

After getting your attention with that little deranged rant, Adiga does an about face and we return to the Balram we have come to love and sympathize with. Adiga hints at what Balram, the entrepreneur, does for work. He starts work at 3 a.m. and people in crisis call him after all the American call-center girls and boys leave work. Is Balram one of those foreign voices that gives you unintelligible advice on how to defrag your computer? we'll see.

Adiga again scores "how did he come up with that" points with me when Balram explains that he does not use a cell phone, b/c "they corrode a man's brains, shrink his balls, and dry up his semen." Pg 33. Ah, this would explain the high rate of shrunken ball syndrome in the U.S..

Adiga employs some symbolism involving an abandoned black fort on a mountain in Balram's village. Balram spends his childhood looking up at the fort too scared to climb up to it (this fear intentionally made greater by his loving grandmother telling him that there is giant lizard living in the fort). As Balram readies to leave the village he makes the triumphant climb, realizes there is no lizard and disdainfully spits down from the fort onto his village. I take this to represent Balram's resolution to escape the shackles of his caste and his refusal to complacently accept the mores that pervade India. Maybe not. Maybe it is just a fort, a hill and a fear of lizards. After all the fish was just a fish.

Quotable: "They remain slaves because they can't see what is beautiful in this world." pg 34

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