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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review : 'The Sins of the Father', by Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer’s second instalment of The Clifton Chronicles is a rarity. A rarity, not because of Archer’s usual literary talents, whether in jail or without. What he managed to build carefully, composedly, and methodically in his earlier book, ‘Only Time Will Tell’, all comes apart carefully, composedly with the same method, in this one. 

What made it so brilliant was the end of the book. I personally felt there could not have been a better finish. Though sad, it managed to touch you. You could not imagine it better, even though you would have liked a different but happy ending, you wanted Harry to marry Emma, yet you could not wrap your head around it. Sadly, neither could Archer.

He wrote, ‘The Sins of the Father’ and used the same care to ruin the effect of the first book. In the first book, he wrote about Harry Clifton, a truly nice guy (there are no better words to describe him, I could say a lot, but it would not take away, that much), who unfortunately is the victim of circumstances, leading him away from his almost wife and into jail. Again, I was saddened a little more because of the fact that he landed up in jail, when he could have met his maker. 

But unfortunately, this maker laid his hands on him first, Archer i.e.

And led him away from death into another series. Which, fortunately had quite a bit of Archer’s notes from jail, the only saving grace of this part of the series. It is with remarkable understanding, and empathy does he write the notes, which only he could have, thanks to his stint in jail (Remember his Prison Diaries).

It was a truly a tragedy, that which described Clifton and Emma Barrington’s lives. Clifton in jail and then released thanks to Emma’s efforts and his newly found talent (that of a writer). Now, we will have to wait to see what Archer does to his protagonists. I thought that life in jail had made him more sensitive, which I found in the first part, as well as his earlier book, ‘Paths of Glory’. They had a certain empathy to the nature of his characters. 

Here’s hoping for the best, in the sequel, hopefully his last bid at saving Clifton’s life and the book!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Never give up: Fairness Creams in India??

Earlier, there was a time when I'd watch a fairness cream ad and roll my eyes, and change the channel. Sigh and give up. Now, I am just mad. 

Yesterday I was at a lunch, where a lady was describing her perfect daughter-in-law. She should be fair, she said. While her dark husband was nodding, beside her.

Now, I know, that's an age old line and we must be tired of it. But what I fail to understand is why? Why would you want your daughter in law, or your daughter, or niece, or friend's kid to be fair?? 
Why the hell is it your business? Or even the business of television?

Every day, I am put through a series of ads, Vaseline, Fair and Lovely, Garnier, etc. I guess the best you can say is that, in these ads, they are not trying to discriminate. Men and women are treated equally alike. They are all supposedly looked down upon because they are all dark! So, SRK 's Fair and Handsome or Priyanka's Garnier are pretty much the same piece of crap!! Or perhaps, a better job, or success at different events! All because of your daily fairness cream.

And then they are our only chance at love too! Because, from what I see, that is the only chance we have. Be fair and lovely and automatically, you can miraculously find your fair and handsome man! Or else... 
Or you could make coffee best, if you are white enough! As the wife does for her husband in some silly powder ads, for a whiter tone!!! Drinking Coffee can cause darkness too, I think, so why not come with a white coffee?

White, fair! I think it is high time we realised that Indians could only be wheatish at best, or even better, dark or the colour of chocolate! (Or maybe white chocolate, perhaps at the rate at which the ads are going.  As if we have no dearth of photoshops to make us all look fair.)

The problem with these ads is that they are failing to serve their purpose! That is to show that darkness caused by tanning can be lost by using these products, temporarily! It is a different issue, if you are fair, naturally! What are these ads trying to tell us? Kajol, who is of dark skin, and who once proudly wore it, is now a victim of a product, which automatically makes her fairer! Seriously, if one saw the ad, one can easily tell! The use of a graphic editing program, is eye boggling! The product does offer much more, but the entire purpose is lost considering her 'fair' skin. You are left wondering what is what!

Otherwise, we can all just sit at home and give up our taste of  Vitamin D. The sun rays strike the skin and stimulate the forming of cholecalciferol. This can be imporatant, and is best in the early mornings or late afternoons. Not in the afternoon's blazing sun, mind you!

Cholecalciferol is a vitamin D3. Vitamin D can help absorb calcium from the stomach and for the  calcium functioning in us. It can be used in treating or preventing conditions of the skin or bones. This is only an example, but my point remains.

A quantity of the compound, Melanin, which is present in our skin determines our skin colour. Melanin is up in areas, where people live close to the equator or where the climate is hot, receive a lot of sunlight, and with sunlight also come the UV rays. Due to this exposure to sun, the skin protects itself, through the process of melanin production. This gives the skin, a colour. In fact, the blacker your skin is, the less the chance is, of you getting skin cancer!

A chemical compound called  hydroquinone, which is found in most of the lightening creams and acts as an inhibitor. So, basically, melanin does not appear as fast if you use this. But the use could cause skin diseases, which is why it has been prevented in European countries.
Alternatives to it could be mulberry, white mulberry, paper mulberry, fruits, kojic acid, vitamin C etc. They inhibit the melanin production or take out a layer of the skin and in turn exposing new skin. You could try reading this up on http://www.thegeminigeek.com/do-fairness-creams-really-work/ for more.

Reasons such as wounds or genetic problems could also be the cause of us being dark. We can stop blaming the dark parent!
Why should we be fair? If we can find a superb way to still be ANY colour or if we can find ways to show that such products are superficial, and colour would show up, when you stop using them, that would be a brilliant ad. And I look forward to them. Kudos to Aish Rai who refused to so such ads!

Apparently, there are ads for skin whitening to the private parts as well! Just when you think you have said enough! Really? You want this too?? Next, we should be bleaching them too...

When I was in school, I remember reading that we would not be discirmainted based on colour. Then why this? Rascism at its best! It is not funny anymore, though I was put through a lot of hilarious ads, websites, and writings on the topic, from which I have liberally taken to make my point. But, I trust and I hope that people do see my point and if you do, see the anger behind all this.

You must realise that people look good, whatever colour your skin or private part takes! So, screw the fairness creams and the bleaches... coz at the end of the day, we all do look good! And we will not be discriminated based on the c word! Colour!