Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tagore + Think Like Chinese (reading challenge #8)

Tagore: Fruit Gathering
"One of India's most cherished renaissance figures, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) put India on the literary map of the world when his Gitanjali was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Myriad-minded, he was a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, essayist, painter and composer of songs..."

My book journey now continues from "Zarzura", the diary of the explorers of the Egyptian desert to "Fruit Gathering" - a collection of poems from Tagore, the first Nobel laueate from India. Fruit Gathering contains 86 poems, many of them are of spiritual temper.
Here's one i marked to return to, especially the first line:

I will meet one day the Life within me, the joy that hides in my life,
though the days perplex my path with their idle dust.
I have known it in glimpses, and its fitful breath has come upon me, making
my thoughts fragrant for a while.
I will meet one day the Joy without me that dwells behind the screen of
light--and will stand in the overflowing solitude where all things are seen as by their creator.

...and looking for it online, i came across this Google Books link that seems to includes not only the whole Fruit-Gathering, but also other works of Tagore, starting wtih Gitanjali: I will meet one day Life within me and here's the wiki page with Tagore's biography, which reads like a novel in itself: wiki/Tagore

Think Like Chinese
"Fruit Gathering" was given to me as a gift in India. underneath the ISBN-mark on the back, the price is listed in Rs: Indian Rupees. The ohter book, about China - that's a second hand book i picked out of sheer curiousity: how does it feel to "Think Like Chinese?"
the book is a business non-fiction book that explains Chinese thought and business culture from the Chinese perspective. it starts with a quick guide to Chinese history and philosophy, and includes a lot of short episodes that illustrate both specifics and larger contexts.. i don't think i will read it all, but it's a book that is fascinating, like a window to another world.

also, it belongs to the "Asia" region of the global reading challenge, and also includes a line that refers to the whole theme of geographical grouping and categorization. for the challenge by continents, obviously India and China belong to the same group, even though from culture and philosophy, they are very different - and as single country, both have more inhabitants than other continents as a whole (*i think)

but then, all is a question of perspective, as this line in chapter 3 of the China book reminded me. the chapter is titled: "Contemporary China" - and sums up the most important facts in the end, in three points to remember. this is the third:

China is like Europe - understanding the common traits of Chinese thinking does not necessarily guarantee business success. One needs to pay great attention to regional detail without losing the "bird's eye" view.
(more here: "China is like Europe...)

i probably will go on a little world number detour next, to look at world population from a continental point of view. the one number i already checked: Europe has a population of 738 millions. so i got this relation right: both India and China as single country have more citizens than all of Europe together.
Global + European Reading Challenge
this year, i am taking part in a global and in an european reading challenge. the idea: to read books from each continent of the world / several countries of europe. so far i've been to:
- book 7: Zarzura (Egypt/Africa)
- book 6: Jericho (Israel/Middle East)
- book 5: Ledra Street (Cyprus/Europe)
- book 4: Disappearance. A Map (Alaska/America)
- book 3: Paris was Ours (Europe/France)
- book 2: Anar (Middle East)
- book 1: The Tigers's Wife (Europe/former Yugoslavia)
- more books: virtual bookshelf
- about: the Global Reading Challenge

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