Book Review- Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

Yesterday, I finished reading Last night in Twisted River. The foodie that I am, what I remember most about the book were the descriptions of food!

“Today the cook was working on a red wine reduction for the braised beef short ribs, and he had both a light and a dark chicken stock on the steam table. In the ‘Something from Asia’ category, he was serving Ah Gou’s beef satay with peanut sauce and assorted tempura-just some shrimp, haricots verts, and asparagus. There were the usual pasta dishes-the calamari with black olives and pine nuts, over penne, among them-and two popular pizzas, the pepperoni with marinara sauce and a wild-mushroom pizza with four cheeses. He had a roast chicken with rosemary, which was served on a bed of arugula and grilled fennel, and a grilled leg of spring lamb with garlic, and a wild-mushroom risotto, too.”

Pg 275, Last night in Twisted River (John Irving)

That just sounds yummy, no?

Book Cover
Book Cover

The book revolves around two persons- Dominic Baciagalupo and his son, Daniel and the two most important things in their lives- cooking and storytelling. Mainly, this is a story of Daniel Baciagalupo and how his life changes when he accidentally kills Injun Jane, his dad’s lover cum local constable’s girl friend at the age of twelve. What follows is their flight from Coos County which ultimately ends in Canada. The book spans across four decades, finally ending with the constable catching up to them.

From the description on the back page, you’d think it’s a speedy thriller with a pace like a sinusoidal wave, and we’d have a story of how they run from the constable at every point in their lives. But no, it’s not a very fast book. It’s more of a story of the two fellows and how they set up their life at each new location. They spend at least a decade at Boston, Vermont and Toronto, to forge new friendships and cultivate new experiences much of which influences Daniel and his writing. The book chronicles their joy and the sadness they face in their lives. The fear of the cop catching them is almost invisible through the entire book although it is predictable that he will, in the end.

What I did not like was the pace at which the book moves. I started reading this when I went to Goa, and it took me some while to finish it although some major events like the convocation and the moving out took much of my time. However, I liked some things about the story that are the lessons in cooking and writing that the author provides by way of telling the story and memorable characters like Ketchum, Lady Sky and little Joe. At the same time, the author critiques world events which form the backdrop of the story like the Vietnam War, and 9/11 terrorist strikes. I like an author with an opinion and John Irving clearly takes a stand through his characters like Ketchum. Sometimes, the story almost seems autobiographical.

On the whole, it’s a good read, even though it’s slow. It becomes interesting though if you have a passion for food and writing. The description of the food that Cookie (Dominic) makes is enjoyable and encourages the taste buds in your mouth to churn up huge amounts of saliva. At the same time, the book aptly records the growth of a writer and gives some food for thought to the reader.

If you read the book, I would like to know what you think! I love discussing books and would be glad to know of your opinion. 🙂

Note: This book was provided by Random House for review.

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Did I tell you about my Goa Trip?

In the middle of farewell parties, convocation, packing bags and shifting from my room (sniff, sniff), I almost forgot my Goa trip! Well, it was quite an eventful trip, especially the circumstances in which I went. I do not know how I could have forgotten about it but I guess I was still suffering from MICA withdrawal symptoms. 😛

It started with friends cancelling on me due to their health problems and me with a second class train ticket from Ahmedabad to Goa. There were other friends who planned their trip to Goa at the same time coincidentally but I still faced a certain amount of hesitation in going alone from Ahmedabad to Goa (yes, that was stupid!). I tossed a coin in the morning, wanting the Gods to tell me what to do. And the coin ordered me not to go. I guess I was a little disappointed because, in some teeny weeny corner of my heart, I did want to go. I got ready for class and stood outside my door, imagining the clear blue skies and the waves splashing on to the shore and I decided. Heck, I was going!

The journey from Ahmedabad to Goa was fairly uneventful and I am glad for that. What was a first for me, was travelling in the local transport buses!

When I reached Madgaon railway station in the morning, I realized I would have to pay Rs. 1200 to get to Candolim (where I was supposed to meet my friends who were coming in some time later in the day) through the Pre-paid taxi. Even my train ticket from Ahmedabad to Goa wasn’t worth that and so I decided, I had to find another way. After much asking around at the station, somebody told me how to reach Candolim Beach by bus. I took a bus from the stop outside the station(which was full of people like me :-D) to Margao Bus Station from where another over crowded bus took me to Panjim Bus station. That led me to the bus which would finally take me to Candolim! And all that accomplished in Rs. 45. The Amdavadi in me never felt happier! 😛

"The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat" -Jacques Yves Cousteau

 Candolim Beach, Goa

Dog on Candolim Beach, Goa
A different kind of tourist at Candolim Beach, Goa

 Little Vagator Beach, Goa

Little Vagator Beach, Goa

Little Vagator

One of the best places to go to at night is Cavala. I had a great time there! There was a band playing and you could just feel the energy in the place. Mostly, they played some rock and roll. People randomly start dancing and it’s such a refreshing break from the typical Club music that most people nowadays play. I couldn’t stop myself when the song “That thing you do” by The Wonders started being played.
Cavala, with live music and people just randomly start dancing!
Cavalla Restro bar
Cavala, Baga, Goa
Candolim Beach, Goa
Candolim Beach,Goa
Candolim Beach, Goa
Ashwem Beach, Goa
Arambol Beach, Goa

Arambol has a salt water lake which is quite a hike from the main beach and something that you can miss. On the whole Arambol seemed to be of full of stoned hippies and dirty looking people. Candolim, on the other hand, is this peaceful beach where you only see white senior citizens (so, you can give it a miss too if you want to, ahem, sight see) although it’s very clean. Even the toilets in the shacks are very clean! However, Ashwem is another beautiful and nice beach where people of all ages come, if you get what I mean. 😉

Some Places that you absolutely have to eat at:

1. La Plage, Ashwem

2. Thallasa, Vagator

3. Souza Lobo, Calangute

Things that I missed out on:

1. Club Cabana

2. Saturday Night Market

3. Anjuna Market (On Wednesdays only)

4. South Goa

Goa is one place you never get bored with. I can probably lay on the beach everyday, doing absolutely nothing except probably read a book (started reading ‘Last night in Twisted River‘ by John Irving in Goa, which I still haven’t quite finished yet :-/).

However, next time I go to Goa, I think I shall concentrate more on South Goa, spend two days just visiting churches and look at old Goan buildings. There’s so much still left to see!

Jugni- A Poem for NaPoWriMo 2013 !

I have never really fancied myself as a poet (okay, little bit, I have 😀 ) but since it’s National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo 2013) , I’ve decided to write a poem each day of April (I can try, at least!). I am no Maya Angelou or Sylvia Plath, but I guess it’s better to write than do nothing at all.

It kinda fits to start my poem writing efforts with one called ‘Jugni’. Here’s my poem but before it starts, I guess a little background information is important. According to Wikipedia

Jugni is an age-old narrative device used in Punjabi folk music and sung at Punjabi weddings in India, Pakistan, US, Canada, Australia and UK. The word literally means ‘Female Firefly’, in folk music it stands in for the poet-writer who uses Jugni as an innocent observer to make incisive, often humorous, sometimes sad but always touching observations. In spiritual poetry Jugni means the spirit of life, or essence of life.

However, I have not followed that narrative device as this poem was written by me after reading this article. Reading this would also help.


She wrote of Jugni

Staring at the

Waves splashing onto

The rocks at Marine Drive

While the clock struck midnight

She wrote of Jugni

Dancing on the floor

With Afrojack and Tiesto

While the men looked on

Some with interest

Some with disinterest

She wrote of Jugni

In her school uniform

And her socks folded

Down to her ankles

Her hair flying

As she rides a Bullet

She wrote of Jugni

Sun bathing at Kovalam

Shooting Pictures at Pushkar

Sitting quietly on Dal Lake

Singing in the streets of Shillong

So rich was her life-box

She wrote of Jugni

Dressed in black

Mourning and marching

With a candle in her hands,

A pain in her chest

And anger in her soul

She wrote of Jugni, yes,

But all she wrote were obituaries.


Hopefully, I will come up with more this month for NaPoWriMo. Would love to know how you interpret this poem! Please do leave a comment. 😀

A diploma, a farewell and some tears

So, this March, I finally left Ahmedabad (although not for good, I hope) because my education is over. I got my post-graduate diploma in Management!

Officially, I know everything now! 😛

Diplomas, all worth something in Crores.
Photo Credits: Hirak Kapasi

I stayed back for some days after the Convocation, hoping to spend some days in solitary confinement, enjoying my own company in my own room, one last time before I bid farewell. Not.

The trouble started when one by one, others started to leave. It hadn’t really sunk in that the two best (till now, that is) years of my Life were over. I guess I had taken it for granted that I would keep coming back to the place which seemed more like Home, the place which has taught me so much, both in and out of the classroom. And then I realized. Even if I kept visiting time and again, the probability of all the people with whom I spent the last two years being at the same place at the same time was almost nil. And we would never meet like this again. That’s when the tears started. *sniff*

It has been a helluva time. I don’t think there is anything that I would not miss (except some people, yes 😛 ) but then, I ought to be thankful to them because they taught me important lessons too (See, how nice I am!).

But most of all, I will miss my room. It was my own space and I did not share it with anybody so no fussy room-mate telling you to clean up (That does NOT mean that I keep a dirty room, of course, I swear! 😛 ) or telling you to keep the volume down (although that also means that there’s nobody to wake you up and you miss classes or important interviews, for which I have been eternally grateful to all my room mates in the past).

My room has heard Elvis crooning ‘Are you lonesome tonight’ softly (I like other music too but Elvis is KING, please do not even try to argue with me), spontaneous parties, assignment discussions, debates on Mathew Sir’s classes and his teachings, discussions about books and movies and music and sometimes marketing, visits by dogs, cats and pigeons, frantic cries of help (when the matching accessory could not be found), shouts from downstairs to turn up the volume (of the music), song requests, minor acts of rebellion and what not.  It also has been privy to the latest gossip, the latest ‘scandal’ to set afoot on the campus and bears the burden of knowing secrets that no or few people know about. But more importantly, it has heard joyous bouts of laughter, felt the pain of people in their weakest moments, and has heard that invisible noise that strengthening of bonds make. How do you say bid farewell to all of that?

Truly, my own.

Like I told someone before, I think I’ve left a small part of my heart there. The next inhabitant may better take care of that precious space!

As I left the campus in Babubhai’s auto rickshaw, I remembered the time when I first came with all my bags to start my first year here. I felt like laughing and said that over used, clichéd line in my heart, “Time and tide wait for none”! In my heart, there was some trepidation because after all, the future was so uncertain. The feeling of having finally grown up seemed to wash over me. At the same time, there was gratitude, to the place for giving me so many memories. For shaping me in a lot of ways and changing my thought processes.

The next time, some ignorant busybody in a train asks me whether I graduated from the Indian Institute of Management when I tell them I was in Ahmedabad, I shall proudly tell them, ‘No, Uncle, I graduated from Mudra Institute of Communications and I am damn glad I did!’