Book Lovers meetup and Review of the Hollywood Station (Novel)


I went to a booklover’s meetup almost after a year the last time yesterday. I went as the last time I had gone it was just 5-7 people and in small intimate groups you can talk about books or stories you like in depth rather than just share a glimpse of the books that turn you on. Although it was a bit crowdy it was fun. The only downer is that I wasn’t able to get a list of all the books people were reading or/and recommending and the group is on whatsapp 😦

Anyways, few years ago, I had chanced upon a book called ‘The New Centurions’ by Joseph Wambaugh. It was a very different kind of writing as it was written from a Police Officer’s POV while mostly we see crime and investigation of the crime from a third-person perspective. More than that, it sort of shares the emotional turmoil that a Police Officer goes through. It also shed light on how truth is also greyer to him rather than black and white as it seems to us. While I had read that book few years ago, during a book sale some months ago, unnoticed went in The Hollywood Station . While this book is also a classic in itself I was surprised to read that the New York Police Department was operating under a consent decree for a period of five years which was later made 7 years.

There were 2-3 incidents in the book though, which shook me quite a lot. While there aren’t any overtly sexual stuff in the book, there are quite a few suicide cases which the Police Officers experience. After reading any one of the experiences, I had to stay away for almost 2 weeks or a bit more just to get the images out of my head. The scenes or situations described are not detailed or graphic in nature, it’s just the way they happen that leads you to emphatic and wonder what you would have done in that situation.

I would share one of the less scarier ones. Once while on patrol, they get a message about an elderly Causcasian gentleman who apparently lives by himself on the outskirts and with his loaded gun has been firing in the air and harassing neighbors. A whole bevy of officers come in case it becomes a shoot-out. They find an old gentleman whom they are not sure of whether he is on drugs or whatever (the officers are not sure). They ask him to surrender and he seems to comply. The place is semi-dark . While surrending, one of the cops sees what seems to be a gun and calls it out. He is riddled with holes When one of the officers turns over the palm of the dead person’s hand, he finds it had a water gun which even didn’t even have water. While searching, they later find a sort of suicide note in which he laments about his life, thanks and absolves the officers of the law and asks his ashes to be spread over the bay. One of the young officers remarks that he didn’t wear the badge to be an executioner but to protect and serve.

While reading the book and even afters, I am and was pretty sure if I were to be party to any such events, it would absolutely gaurantee me becoming an inmate in a mental asylum. The only resemblances in character formation at least in mainstream Bollywood cinema would be Paresh Rawal’s breakthrough performance as the cop on his last day when Mumbai bombings happened in Mumbai Meri Jaan and more recently Jitendra Joshi’s act as Constable Katekar in Sacred Games Season 1.

I found both the books to be pretty rich in both police trainings, philosophy, limitations which a Police Department has. I am sure there is a bit of bias as Joseph Wambaugh himself was a Police Officer and served the Police Force for a period of 14 years. He also shares some case-laws which would have made for some very dry-reading if read only in context of just a case-law but becomes more important as certain context is given to you.

One of the positives of reading these books were I actively searched about consent decree, its usage being seen through various eyes, from an eye of civil-right activist, from the political establishment and of course its application in the Indian judicial system, if any in reforming the police force. As shared in a blog post last month on the surveillance order it tells of the many steps the Indian judicial still needs to take to raise awareness on such a topic.


Sex Education and the Indian Education System

Dear all,

Today had gone for a book launch which was authored by my friend Dr. Swati Shome called ‘Let’s talk about guys, girls and sex’ .

Cover of Let's Talk about girls, guys and sex

I would be eternally grateful for allowing me to be a part of the process. I had helped her in proof-reading and asking questions where there didn’t seem to have enough info. –

Author's signature :)

While it probably will take me time to go through the book again, few thoughts came to me –

a. This needs to be shared between teachers, parents and children all.

b. The age of kids is crucial. I remember a conversation I had with a kid few years ago where he talked about sex in great detail, anatomically without any prompting and he was just 6-7 years of age. I remember being shocked because of the knowledge he had at that age which I didn’t even in my graduation year.

One thing though which seems to be lacking in the book (inferring from the index alone atm) is there seems to be nothing about the law at all. After the fallout from the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case there has been a significant change in the law where juveniles i.e. teenagers would be tried as adults for major crimes such as rape or even molestation AFAIK and the sentences are harsher.

I may be wrong but my belief is that the law is wrong here. The law hasn’t taken into account that children, teenagers can often be impression-ed, blackmailed or/and bullied into doing acts which they don’t want to do.

Having a chapter or two on law would perhaps have made it more of a rounded book.

This is by no way a review of the book at all but just initial impressions.

Edit: Some people have asked me for the ISBN No. so here it is –

ISBN 978 – 93 – 8667 – 68 -1

Paperback edition – INR 300/- Pages 200

Publisher – Jaico Books http://www.jaicobooks.com

fonty python

Hi all,

I don’t know how many people have seen books which are over 200 years old, I haven’t . The only ones I have seen are the virtual ones which are at archive.org . Apart from many of the books being interesting, what I also enjoyed looking at is the usage of the fonts therein. One comes to know that the writers and the public were equally rich in not just the graphic illustrations but also fonts, sizes and shapes.

One of my greatest treasures are two books, both hard-bound, one a reader-digest compilation done in 1970’s and the other a Sherlock-Holmes having most of the cases including the famous “Hound of Baskervilles” . You look at the texture of the hard-bounds and the aroma of the paper and you are in another world altogether.

Sad to say, this is missing in most of today’s books. 😦 Just no imagination. Wouldn’t it be great if we could re-print those books again and as well as use the fonts in our day-to-day affairs as well. There is lot of good in there. They don’t have to be hard-bound, paper-backs will do, just have to let people enjoy the whole affair all over again 😉

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