Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Fine Balance- a review of the novel by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine BalanceA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is sometimes a bit daunting to become involved in such a fat book with such small print when it describes a culture with which you are relatively unfamiliar. I'm so glad I did, despite a slow engagement.
Histories are often written from the point of view of the broom while literature often gives insights from the dust being swept aside. Most of us are as dust, but there can be dignity and life in that, and this is a story of dignity in simplicity and of the possible joy in a moment when even the most ordinary securities of society are being swept from beneath your feet.
Mistry has crafted a huge tale from meagre lives without being overly romantic or sentimental, indeed he is sometimes grim and brutal, tearing at the minor triumphs of the individuals we are reading about, and leaving us feeling bereft.
The book demonstrates how it can be that resilience is not dependent upon privilege, and that acceptance can out-manouver expectation as a tool for survival.

View all my reviews

A Fine Balance on Goodreads

 4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  103,463 Ratings  ·  7,142 Reviews
With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.

The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Welsford navigator 'Annie' build slideshow

To celebrate more than 1.5 million views of my boat building pics on Flickr- half of which are of the building of the Welsford Navigator 'Annie', I have put together a five minute slide show of the build process as it happened for me. 

In writing, emailing and talking to dozens of Navigator builders since posting these some years ago, I know that having pictures and resources available is a big factor in motivation for some who are facing these challenges for the first time, often with little experience in the shed, or 'on the tools' (as Australian tradesmen express it).

I hope this is of some use to builders- particularly of Welsford designed boats which all share some common build and design features. The Flickr pics are somewhat annotated and are more useful for careful dreaming, but maybe a slideshow might be of use in big picture dreaming when you should be doing something normal, but need a boat building fix.

Mine isn't the prettiest of Navigators, nor is it the best build. I'm certainly not the best sailor or the best film maker or the most adventurous owner. To be honest I love timber and lines and building challenges most of all and sailing is something I came to very late in life. The workshop in which most of the build happened is crude and agricultural (although some bits are nice when I took it to my place of work) but the boat functions well and the pics have been feasted upon because they are there to be seen.
There is also the book 'Something About Navigator' (available on Amazon) which people tell me has been useful. I think I earn about $3 per copy when one sells, so please don't think this is a commercial plug- I wouldn't have bothered for the money! The black and white edition has pretty ordinary illustration quality, but I had strong advice at the time that I needed to keep the cost of the book down to $20. The colour edition is better, but twice the price.

Navigator 'Annie' build slideshow from Robert Ditterich on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

escaping the noise

Below, a noiseless piece of winter sun on water to calm our nerves in an angry, tense world. Play on full screen and dismiss all worldly affairs from your mind, have two full minutes of almost empty landscape.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

OM steel string guitar build slideshow

My OM steel string guitar is having it's truss rod adjusted for the first time since I finished the instrument in 2011. I was finding the strings a bit high, and on applying the straight-edge test I found that since moving here the neck had crept a little towards a bow. This is a normal periodic adaption by the wood to changes in humidity. Adjustment done I re-tensioned the G and D strings and promptly broke the G- and of course in the pile of strings under the bench, the only steel string I don't have is a G. Never mind, the action is much better, and I'm just surprised that I let the neck get away with this, unnoticed.

There are some violins and a viola on the bench too. First time in a couple of years. A very persistent friend of a friend (over a period of a year) wore me down to an undertaking to restore three or four instruments for her. Weird feeling, because I do miss the contemplative work, but not the tasks of running a business. 
But the point of this post is to include a small slideshow of the build of this instrument. Of all the dozens of instruments that I made over twenty five years, this is the only one that I made for me.