Sunday, September 14, 2008

History, Mythology et al

Apart from classics, my other passion are history and mythology. From the time I was a boy of 4, I was fascinated by stories of Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Devas, Asuras etc. I used to listed wide eyed when my grandmother used to narrate stories of celestial intrigue, incarnations of Vishnu, jealousies of goddesses, of brave and strong warriors and powerful sages. Somewhere this laid the foundation for a deep rooted love for understanding different cultures and their evolution. A little older, I started reading up other mythologies- Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Nordic, Celtic, Teutonic, Red Indian, Mexican etc. etc. Most of the reading initially was in translated Malayalam books (I studied in Malayalam medium schools till 15) There was an author called Mali who used to write these stories in Malayalam. Reading these was my obsession. Having read these,the next step was to try and understand from what historical and cultural contexts these stories emerged. So I started reading up history.
My father once quoted to me from the famous speech of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. It was fascinating, how standing alone against an unruly mob, the man used his wits and his smooth tongue and turned the crowd around. I decided to read Skakespeare. Unabridged. I was 12, from a village where no on ever spoke even a word of English, having never conversed even once in English and I was attempting William Shakespeare - unabridged. I loved it - the archaic English - thou, thee, methinks, sirrah- but it took me a whole week to finish Julius Caesar. The next step was obvious- Antony and Cleopatra. Then came all the historical ones- assortment of King Henries and King Richards. A whole new vista was opening up.
English literature and History always fascinated me. Maybe because of the close ties with India.
Today I have a small library at home (Jayu, my wife keep complaining that we are running out of space at home) made up mostly of history, mythology and classics. (and science and science fiction- more about that later)
I work for HP as a director. I come across many people of different nationalities. It is fun to constantly amaze them with just how much more I know about their cultural and historic roots than they themselves do!!

2 comments:

Indu Abraham said...

Well,that was quite a potpourri that u used to read from....;)

Hope u r doing good!

Jethu

Ramgopal Vallath said...

Hey Jetu,
just saw the comment. Yes, i really did some interesting reading.

Hey good to hear from you. Mail me.