The Chennai Rains – A Positive Note

100 Happy Days – Day 65

Happy to Be a Part of a Dynamic Youth

There has been immense loss of lives and property due to the floods in Chennai. We, being in the neighboring state, could actually understand the gravity of the situation. You begin to understand a situation only when you or someone close to you are affected by it.

The Hands and the Hearts of Youth

While the situation in Chennai worsened, people from different parts of the country came forward to extend their support. All of a sudden, my facebook feeds were flooding with call for help and support. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, in my hometown, Ernakulam, teams such as #anbodukochi and #CochiHelpsChennai had collection locations at different points. People could contribute supplies or cash. These supplies were brought to a single location from where, they were sorted into kits, packed and sent to Chennai. Similarly, many other districts in Kerala and also other states in the country did their best to extend their help.

The Fictional Heroes Became Real Heroes

I came across news where celebrities were contributing fund for the cause. A number of celebrities including AR Rahman, Shah Rukh Khan & Rajnikanth contributed huge amounts. Actor Sidharth kept providing transport services, responded to help requests and was in action throughout. Here are some of his tweets that earned a lot of respect:

He arranged vehicles for delivering food packets.

And water.

He gave them strength and hope.

He encouraged the volunteers, he also inspired the rest to come forward.

He assured them that he will be there and all they had to do was to call him.

I had to pick a few from hundreds of tweets he had shared. You can head over to his twitter account and see for yourselves. The efforts he took.

Our Saviors & Protectors at their Best

The Indian Army was there as always to rescue thousands of people.

Indian Army rescue and relief operations during Chennai floods

Image courtesy: dnaindia.com

While, the Indian Air Force did their fair share too. Here is a footage of the IAF rescuing a pregnant woman.

Courtesy: http://www.hindustantimes.com

When Everyone Became a Hero

The unity of the residents of Chennai, to a large extent, helped each other. I was listening to the radio today and one of the victims said that until the floods hit, he did not know any of the neighbors. But, when the need arose, the entire neighborhood helped each other whether it was for rescue operations, providing food and supplies or for support. Images of muslims helping in temples, other religions taking refuge in mosques, opening up of halls and houses for people who lost their homes became a common sight.

The Game of Self Promotion

While the entire city, state and even the country was in action, the rulers played their part in providing relief and rescue operations. I read many comments slamming them entirely, which I think is sort of prejudiced. It isn’t right to turn a blind eye to the good deeds.

But, I have to mention that using this disaster to promote a certain group symbolizes that humanity is hitting a new low. There was a lot of anger over the fact that goons were forcibly pasting stickers on the relief material supplied and carried by trucks. This was followed by the release of some hilarious sticker memes by the angry crowd. My favorite being this one:

amul-hits-2153
Enter a caption

Image courtesy – Amul.com

 

The Only Flaw in Us

Amidst all this, one thing that caught my eye was that, #Intolerance was still trending during the Chennai rains. The topic had begun days ago and there had been a lot of fuss over it. But this is where we have to prioritize things. Is someone’s opinion more important than dying lives?

You might ask me, how will the change in trend help Chennai. I know it won’t. But when intolerance is trending, it shows that there is a large population either ignorant about the Chennai rains or insensitive about it. And the best way to avoid such situations is not to gobble up whatever the media throws at us. Freedom of expression is given to everyone. It is one thing to express our opinions. But it is an entirely different thing to sleep over and cling to our opinion and forget all else.

The Ray of Hope

At the end of the day, we realized that there is no enmity between the people of different states. When a part of the population was in trouble, the rest dived to their rescue. Many came forward to take this up and they all did a wonderful job. I feel very very proud to have been born in this era and to have been a part of this youth and this is what makes me immensely happy.

Here, in Kochi, in three days’ time a lot of materials were collected and sent to Chennai. The group which included the celebrities worked hand in hand for this endeavor. Every time I went to buy supplies, I noticed someone else buying them too. Thousands of unknown people were working for the same cause. I am sure it must have been the same in other places too. If in such a short span, the youth could do so much, with time and planning, we could run the country.

In short, this meme created by a great anonymous soul, sums it up:

Source – Facebook (I wish I knew the creator, who deserves an applause.)

I end this post with a prayer for those in Chennai. I pray that the clouds do not return, that the water dry up soon, the houses and vehicles get restored, that the people who are ill get well soon, that no infections or diseases spread post-flood and that this fate does not arise elsewhere.

||Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu||

Day 30 – Many Questions, One Answer

30 Days’ Book Challenge – Day 30 – Many Questions, One Answer

I had saved the last post for a reason. I prepared this list of 30 Days’ Challenge from various prompts. Since you all know that I am a crazy Potterhead, it would be only obvious that for most of the prompts I came across, the only answer I had was Harry Potter.

So I had a tough time finding prompts that wouldn’t just give the same answer and kept this post for the last. In this, I will do the opposite of what I did all these days. I normally listed the books that I thought suited well for a prompt. But here, I will list all the prompts for which I believe Harry Potter Series is the answer.

Courtesy: harrypotter.wikia.com

And so, the 30th Day of the Challenge is in the name of Harry Potter. Here goes the list:

  1. A Book that I have read more than 3 times – Probably this is why I haven’t read many books. Every time I get a chance I read Harry Potter books. They are so loaded with twists and interconnections that I find new things every time I read them.
  2. My Favorite Series –  Harry Potter
  3. Favorite book turned into a movie – But the movies have only 20% of what is in the books. They don’t talk about the characters in depth. You can never understand Lupin, James, Lily, Ron, Luna, Hermione, Snape, McGonagall, Dumbledore, Malfoy, Hagrid… what am I doing? I can’t list them all. You don’t know any of the characters in detail unless you’ve read the book.
  4. A book that you wish more people would have read – All the seven books. There is a lot you’re missing if you haven’t read them.
  5. Favorite book universe – Hogwarts
  6. Your Hogwarts house – Hufflepuff.
  7. Favorite platonic friendship – Harry and Hermoine
  8. Favorite fantasy book – No guesses!
  9. My comfort books – I am not sure what this means. But yeah I am more than comfortable reading Harry potter. 😀

If any of you are planning to read the series for the first time, a word of caution. The first book is a bit dragging because it takes time for the setting to sink in. Do not stop reading until Harry reaches Hogwarts. You won’t stop after that.

It is amazing, how a little baby with a scar became such an important part of my life.

courtesy: moviepilot.com

However, the other day, a friend told me that he thought that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was overrated. I believe many people think so. Here is what I feel. The Harry Potter series is loved by all and the rating goes to the entire series. Almost all the HP fans have agreed that this book was a bit boring (including me). So, it truly cannot be called overrated. 🙂

Finally, the 30 Days’ book challenge ends. I can’t say I completed the challenge in 30 days. But I did post everyday. 😉 I was unwell for a couple of weeks and yet I managed to post. 😛 Many of you don’t know that I started this blog in 2010 when I used to have only about 12 posts a year. Last year on wards I picked up pace and here I have 30 posts a month! I’m impressed!

I got many blogging friends through this challenge. I came across many book lovers, I learnt more about the books I should read (And I shouldn’t). Many thanks to all of you who encouraged me to complete this.

Lots of Love

Rangelz 😉

Day 29 – The Most Surprising Plot Twist

30 Days Book Challenge -Day 29 – The Most Surprising Plot Twist

There are many books with multiple plot twists. We could name authors who constantly surprise us with their twists – JK Rowling (Obvio!), Sydney Sheldon, Dan Brown etc are but a few among the ocean of authors. Somehow, this time it is an Indian author who has made to the list.

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi

It needs lots of guts to take up a well known epic and build a story without tampering with the facts. It needs lots of planning to bring in an element of surprise and suspense since the story, its characters and the ending is all known to the readers.

Image courtesy – wikipedia.org

In this particular book, the introduction of certain characters were done very carefully. The characters were introduced in the first book, played very prominent roles without giving us even a hint of doubt as to who they actually were. It was later. Much later, with shock that I realised them for who they really were. Some people might have spotted the missing pieces and fit them in already. But I got the connection just before he revealed it and that made it all the more thrilling for me.

Like a snugly fit puzzle, he managed to take away certain characters, again without any hint as to what he intended to do next. It takes a long while for the readers to realize that things are not what we thought them to be.

The best plot twist happened at the end of this book. For those who have read it, you know what it is. 😉 And for those who haven’t, see for yourselves. 🙂 You may have better plot twists that top your list. But I go with this one because, as I mentioned, creating twists in an epic is a difficult task. Being a lover of epics, it gave me so much pleasure reading the story in a different light, without changes in the essence of each character. Since I was unsuspecting, twists were out of the blue.

 

Day 28 – A Book That Disappointed Me

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 28 – A Book That Disappointed Me

Asura, Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakanthan

Ramayana has eluded me from many angles. I never agreed with many of the practices of Lord Rama, the most important being, distrusting Sita and asking her to go through the Agni-pareeksha. Stories, having been told and retold, definitely change with time. As years pass by, things are added, omitted or forgotten and the real story gets twisted, badly!

Hence, I wondered what Ravana’s side of the story would have been. I have heard that Ravana was a good person, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and a wonderful musician. His only folly was that he kidnapped Sita. There are many variations of the story. Some say that Sita was Ravana’s long lost daughter. Some say that he was attracted to her. Others say that Sita was so beautiful that he wanted her as an adornment for the Golden city, Lanka. There is a version that suspects Sita did actually like Mr. Badass Ravana. 😉 (And I like that :P)

One fine day, I heard of the book, Asura. The author narrates the story of  Ravana from the viewpoint of an Asura named Bhadra. Of course! It is fictional. Yet, he had piqued my interest and I finally grabbed the book.

Image courtesy – amazon.co.in

The glitch in my reading system began with the incessant spelling errors and grammatical flaws in the book. Yet, for the sake of the story, I continued reading. I don’t remember the exact point when things began to turn ugly. Because, I did not like how Ravana and his family were depicted right from the beginning – Ill-treated and ignored by his Brahmin father.

The involvement of King Mahabali who understands Ravana’s potential and decides to endow him with knowledge threw me off the story for a while. I have never heard of any relationship between Ravana & Mahabali. I mean, Vamana (Mahavishnu’s 5th Avtar) sent him to Pathal lok (Underground) long before Rama Avtar, or so I believe!

In the later stages of the book, the author does not even get the story in line with the famous Ramayana. Well, he tries. The result is;

  • A mess of twisted facts, lust and rapes playing important roles and degrading of Brahmanism.
  • He has tried to set the story in line with the caste system and the concept of rich getting richer and poor becoming poor. But really? Did he have to twist Ramayana that badly?

To make this easier, let me compare this book to that of Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy. There were neither many unwanted characters, nor many unwanted incidents. The only addition he made was the concept of Somras and he ensured that he did not put in too many details. Amish wrapped it up very neatly, without disturbing the contents of the original story of Lord Shiva. He tied a ribbon around the wrapped up story and had me weeping for two days. Trust me! I knew that Sati would die. Yet, I cried. 🙂

I read The Shiva Trilogy long before Asura. Yet, I remember the details of all the 3 books, while 75% of Asura remains forgotten. I would prefer to forget it completely.

Anand Neelakanthan attempts to question why Ravana and his clan are considered demonic in spite of having many good qualities, while Rama had flaws and was considered a God. I do appreciate the efforts put in by the author to explore Ravana’s side. My appreciation ends right there!

PS – I did some research and found an equal number of negative and positive reviews about the book. For another point of view, read the comments below. It might help if you’re wondering whether or not to read it. 🙂

Day 27 – Favorite OTPs

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 27 – Favorite One True Pairings

This might be a repetition of characters and books. But I can’t help it. They deserve the best. By the way, I just can’t stop with one OTP. 🙂

1. Holly and Gerry from P.S I Love you

Image courtesy: http://www.fanpop.com

 

2. Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter

Image courtesy: pixgood.com

I am not going to offer any explanation here. All I say is that, the movies never brought out the struggles of their relationship well. Those who have watched only the Harry Potter movies, there is a lot that you have missed. To know why half the world read it, why half of them keep writing fanfics and why I love it so so so much, do read the book. Read it until the very end. I promise you won’t regret it.

PS – Yesterday, my sister and I talked until 2 am about Lupin and Tonks, about their love, their death and their child. The talks never end. We can write books about each Harry Potter character. It is that deep.

 

3. Noah and Allie from The Notebook

Courtesy: rebloggy.com

 

Hi all! I’m held up due to work and so haven’t been able to visit your blogs or reply for the comments. Will get back to it asap. Lots of Love! 🙂

Day 25 – Favorite Female Characters

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 25 – Favorite Female Character

Molly Weasley from Harry Potter  

Oh that Woman is tough! She is everything. She loves her family and would do about anything for her loved ones. Anything includes cooking, cleaning, all the chores, fight, fight real bad. If she has an opinion about you, you would hear it loud and clear. Dare touch any of her family, and you would be subjected to her wrath!

You might enjoy these 😉

Yes! She is 😀

Image courtesy: www.firstcovers.com

When Bellatrix aimed a spell at her daughter. 😉

Image courtesy: favim.com

Hee hee

Image courtesy: www.punditry.ca

Also, Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. I am not writing about her again since I have said more than enough in THIS post. 🙂

Day 24 – Favorite Quotes

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 24 – Favorite Quotes

From -Brida by Paulo Coelho

download

 

This was a beautiful book I read. Many may not concur with me. But this was a subtle soup consisting of witchcraft, search for the inner self, magic, spirituality, soulmate etc. There are some pretty points about finding  a soulmate. There is no dearth for quotes as usual. Enjoy a few. 🙂

“Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”
Paulo Coelho, Brida

It is not just about the ‘completely wrong’ things. It is also about perspectives. From your perspective, it might not make any sense. But for someone else, things might. Most often we don’t think from others’ shoes. Same goes here. Nothing is completely wrong. At some point, in some angle, it all makes some sense. 🙂 But we (including me) forget this.

“Don’t bother trying to explain your emotions. Live everything as intensely as you can and keep whatever you felt as a gift from God. The best way to destroy the bridge between the visible and invisible is by trying to explain your emotions.”
Paulo Coelho, Brida

I have felt this many, many times. I have tried to express the most intense emotions of mine in words. And failed. Every single time! One day, it dawned on me. That was the beauty of those emotions. The fact that they couldn’t be expressed, explained or shared. They could only be experienced by me. With all the intensity, those emotions were born within me, stayed for a brief time and died within me.

“But how will I know who my Soulmate is?” Brida felt that this was one of the most important questions she had ever asked in her life.
By taking risks’ she said to Brida. ‘ By risking failure, disappointment, disillusion, but never ceasing in you search for Love. As long as you keep looking, you will triumph in the end.”
Paulo Coelho, Brida

If only knowing the soulmate was the answer to everything, the world would definitely be a better place. For I know plenty who have known their soulmates and lost them. What can I say? World’s weird ways!

Day 23 – Most Overrated Book

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 23- Most Overrated Book

Fifty Shades of Grey

 

I knew what I was laying my hands on when I picked up the book. But I really wasn’t expecting this:

  • A story about a girl (Ana) who couldn’t hold herself together after setting her eyes on a hot guy (Grey). I mean, she either tripped or went all gaga wanting to kiss him.
  • And should I say about Grey, I would just give him one name, A Demigod. I mean he was pictured to be perfect. Frankly, I loved the description about him. But what I couldn’t digest was, he could do just about anything. Bug the girl’s phone even without touching it (Really!?), be at the right place to rescue her when she was all drunk, and why not!? He had lots of money and a driver/security who just about did anything for him (Which includes buying lingerie for his newly met girlfriend).
  • The weirdest part, he could chain her, spank her and do all the supposedly ‘normal’ things but he couldn’t handle a cuddle. *Kill me already*
  • Oh! How do I forget? Nor should she bite her lips. What I never understood was, Ana was never hungry. But she chewed her lips all the time. Specially when he asked her not to.
    Throughout I imagined a girl who kept gnawing at her own lips. eew!

I just read the 1st book and that was it. I struggled to even write this much about the book. Because, everything about the book sucked!

Day 22 – The Best Book I Read This Year

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 22 – The Best Book I Read This Year

It has been only 1.5 months since this year began. So, my pick for the year would be from among 3 books.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

It is a dystopian novel that I doubt everyone would like. In the beginning, I had a tough time understanding what was happening, but soon I realised that the doubts were cleared in the latter parts of the book.

 

Courtesy – http://www.wikipedia.org

Overall, a smooth reading and I am desperate to lay my hands on the sequels. 🙂

Courtesy: divergentofficial.tumblr.com

Day 21 – My Favorite Author(s)

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 21  – My Favorite Author(s)

Enid Blyton

Because she made my childhood beautiful. I could go on and on about the books I read. But sadly, I don’t remember half of them.

Courtesy: wikipedia

I enjoyed. Yes, a lot.

A LOT.

So much that, I had begun to write a book about 5 Brownies named Hy, My, By, Fy, Dy.
Um… dont know what happened to them 😛

J. K. Rowling

How can ‘My favorite author’ not comprise her. It is as though, Enid Blyton realized that I was too grown up for her books and handed me over to JKR. That must be it. Though, I don’t believe that anyone would be too old for books. I still read teenage books. 🙂

courtesy: wikipedia

I heard about Harry Potter when the 1st movie was released. My dad asked me,
“Do you want to watch Harry Potter?”

“No.”, I never watched English movies then. They never interested me.

“It is good I hear.”

“It’s alright. I really don’t want to.”

Kids my age, many of them had watched it. I thought it must be a story about a Pot maker wala Potter. Why would I want to watch stories about pot making!?

Later, I saw my classmates reading the book. They were discussing animatedly about it. I observed them for a couple of days and the words ‘Magic’, ‘School’, ‘Witch’, ‘Wizard’ etc kept popping up. Finally, I picked up the book from the library, to never stop. 😀

It has been 12 years since I got the letter to Hogwarts. I remain loyal. 😀

Day 20 – 5 Books From My To Read List


30 Days Book Challenge – Day 20 – 5 Books From My To Read List

Phew! Can’t believe that I just completed 20 days of this challenge. Which means I just posted for 20 days at a stretch! This calls for a self pat. Well done Ranju! I lou you. ❤

So here I am giving the list of 5 books from my To Read list.

  1.  The Book Thief

  2. Insurgent (The Sequel to Divergent)

  3. A Song of Ice and Fire – That is right. The series of which Game of Thrones is a part. I am desperate to read them.

  4. The Hunger Games – Heard a lot about the series

    1

  5. To Kill A Mockingbird

    2

Have I made any wrong choices? If you have read these, do let me know. Psstt! No spoils okay? 😛

 

Day 18 – WTF Just Happened Book Ending

Spoiler alert!!! It is a book by Chetan Bhagat. If you’re planning to read any, avoid this post.

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 18 – WTF Just Happened Book Ending

Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat

I am not a Chetan Bhagat fan. I read 5 point someone, One night at the call center & 3 mistakes of my life. I decided that those were the 3 mistakes of my life and that I’d never read his books again. That was when many of my friends recommended 2 states and I read it. I was impressed. I heard R2020 would release soon and I was a bit hopeful now.

Final verdict: I loved the book.

f53d5c3f9ea4b1a59adecc3d07d1857a_L

 

My cousin bought this book. She said I could read it after she was done with it. She read it within two days and then she looked lost. She kept saying, “Why did that happen?” or “Why did he have to do that?”

I soon read it and then I understood what she meant. She said, “If that is a real story, imagine what would happen if the girl reads this book. She will get to know some painful truth.”

And we looked lost for another couple of days. For the first time, I felt Chetan Bhagat’s story stayed with me for a long while.

PS – No! I don’t want to try Half-girlfriend. Sounds eww! :/

 

Day 17 – Worst Reading Experience

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 17 – Worst Reading experience

Life is What You Make it by Preeti Shenoy.

I’m really sorry about this dear Preeti Shenoy fans. It was quite alright until halfway. But by then my patience was wearing off. It was one hell of a depressing ride that I was desperate to finish it.
image

The curiosity to know what happens to the protagonist at the end was the only reason why I continued. It is very difficult for me to stop a book halfway.

Honestly, I did skip more than half a dozen pages.
I don’t remember feeling this desperate to stop reading before.

Day 16 – Favorite Title of a Book

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 16 – Favorite Title of a Book

Most of Sidney Sheldon Books Granted! He is famous for his awesome twisty plots. But I must say, the names just lure us into reading them. 

The Rage of Angels
The Other side of Midnight
Morning Noon Night
Doomsday Conspiracy
Sands of Time. Just name the books and you will see how magnificent these names are. Below are my favorites.

 

Image courtesy: goodreads.com
Image courtesy: goodreads.com

 

Image courtesy: goodreads.com

What are your favorite titles of books? 😀

Day 15 -Book That I Read For School

30 Days Book Challenge – Day 15 –Book Story That I Read For School

We had various books like Tom Sawyer, The Invisible Man, Malgudi Days etc. But No! I am not talking about a ‘book’ here. It is a short story that we had in our English, CBSE Main Course Book. It was a set of 9 letters to be precise.

Dear Pen Pal by A. E. Van Vogt

There are a very few stories from school books in my mind. And this one is the most intriguing. Let me repeat. This one IS the most intriguing.

When I say short story, do not expect descriptions, narrations or conversations. This one is more of a monologue. It is a series of letters addressed ‘Dear Pen Pal’ and signed ‘Skander’. The Pen Pal being a human child and Skander being an alien from the planet Aurigae II.

Image courtesy: http://www.wikipedia.com

We learn the contents of the child’s letter from the reply that Skander gives in his letters.

Why do I remember this? Trust me! You don’t want me to tell you why. You can unveil it for yourself and if you like it as much as I do, you’ll never forget it. If this post has piqued your interest, and you want to read the story, you just got lucky.

DEAR Pen Pal: When I first received your letter from the interstellar correspondence club, my impulse was to ignore it. The mood of one who has spent the last seventy planetary periods–years I suppose you would call them–in an Aurigaen prison, does not make for a pleasant exchange of letters. However, life is very boring, and so I finally settled myself to the task of writing you. Your description of Earth sounds exciting. I would like to live there for a while, and I have a suggestion in this connection, but I won’t mention it till I have developed it further. You will have noticed the material on which this letter is written. It is a highly sensitive metal, very thin, very flexible, and I have enclosed several sheets of it for your use. Tungsten dipped in any strong acid makes an excellent mark on it. It is important to me that you do write on it, as my fingers are too hot–literally–to hold your paper without damaging it. I’ll say no more just now. It is possible you will not care to correspond with a convicted criminal, and therefore I shall leave the next move up to you. Thank you for your letter. Though you did not know its destination, it brought a moment of cheer into my drab life.
Skander
Dear Pen Pal: Your prompt reply to my letter made me happy. I am sorry your doctor thought it excited you too much, and sorry, also, if I have described my predicament in such a way as to make you feel badly. I welcome your many questions, and I shall try to answer them all. You say the international correspondence club has no record of having sent any letters to Aurigae. That, according to them, the temperature on the second planet of the Aurigae sun is more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit. And that life is not known to exist there. Your club is right about the temperature and the letters. We have what your people would call a hot climate, but then we are not a hydrocarbon form of life, and find 500 degrees very pleasant. I must apologize for deceiving you about the way your first letter was sent to me. I didn’t want to frighten you away by telling you too much at once. After all, I could not be expected to know that you would be enthusiastic to hear from me. The truth is that I am a scientist, and, along with the other members of my race, I have known for some centuries that there were other inhabited systems in the galaxy. Since I am allowed to experiment in my spare hours, I amused myself in attempts at communication. I developed several simple systems for breaking in on galactic communication operations, but it was not until I developed a subspacewave control that I was able to draw your letter (along with several others, which I did not answer) into a cold chamber. I use the cold chamber as both sending and receiving center, and since you were kind enough to use the material which I sent you, it was easy for me to locate your second letter among the mass of mail that accumulated at the nearest headquarters of the interstellar correspondence club. How did I learn your language? After all, it is a simple one, particularly the written language seems easy. I had no difficulty with it. If you are still interested in writing me, I shall be happy to continue the correspondence.
Skander
Dear Pen Pal: Your enthusiasm is refreshing. You say that I failed to answer your question about how I expected to visit Earth. I confess I deliberately ignored the question, as my experi-ment had not yet proceeded far enough. I want you to bear with me a short time longer, and then I will be able to give you the details. You are right in saying that it would be difficult for a being who lives at a temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit to mingle freely with the people of Earth. This was never my intention, so please relieve your mind. How-ever, let us drop that subject for the time being. I appreciate the delicate way in which you approach the subject of my imprisonment. But it is quite unnecessary. I performed forbidden experiments upon my body in a way that was deemed to be dangerous to the public welfare. For instance, among other things, I once lowered my surface temperature to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and so shortened the radioactive cycle-time of my surroundings. This caused an unexpected break in the normal person to person energy flow in the city where I lived, and so charges were laid against me. I have thirty more years to serve. It would be pleasant to leave my body behind and tour the universe–but as I said I’ll discuss that later. I wouldn’t say that we’re a superior race. We have certain qualities which apparently “your people do not have. We live longer, not because of any discoveries we’ve made about ourselves, but because our bodies are built of a more enduring element–I don’t know your name for it, but the atomic weight is 52.9 #. Our scientific discoveries are of the kind that would normally be made by a race with our kind of physical structure. The fact that we can work with temperatures of as high as–I don’t know just how to put that–has been very helpful in the development of the sub-space energies which are extremely hot, and require delicate adjustments. In the later stages these adjustments can be made by machinery, but in the development the work must be done by “hand”–I put that word in quotes, because we have no hands in the same way that you have. I am enclosing a photographic plate, properly cooled and chemicalized for your climate. I wonder if you would set it up and take a picture of yourself. All you have to do is arrange it properly on the basis of the laws of light–that is, light travels in straight lines, so stand in front of it–and when you are ready think “Ready!” The picture will be automatically taken. Would you do this for me? If you are interested, I will also send you a picture of myself, though I must warn you. My appearance will probably shock you.
Sincerely, Skander
Dear Pen Pal: Just a brief note in answer to your question. It is not necessary to put the plate into a camera. You describe this as a dark box. The plate will take the picture when you think, “Ready!” I assure you it will be flooded with light.
Skander
Dear Pen Pal: You say that while you were waiting for the answer to my last letter you showed the photographic plate to one of the doctors at the hospital–I cannot picture what you mean by doctor or hospital, but let that pass–and he took the problem up with government authorities. Problem? I don’t understand. I thought we were having a pleasant corres-pondence, private and personal. I shall certainly appreciate your sending that picture of yourself.
Skander
Dear Pen Pal: I assure you I am not annoyed at your action. It merely puzzled me, and I am sorry the plate has not been returned to you. Knowing what governments are, I can imagine that it will not be returned to you for some time, so I am taking the liberty of inclosing another plate. I cannot imagine why you should have been warned against continuing this correspondence. What do they expect me to do?–eat you up at long distance? I’m sorry but I don’t like hydrogen in my diet. In any event, I would like your picture as a memento of our friendship, and I will send mine as soon as I have re-ceived yours. You may keep it or throw it away, or give it to your governmental authorities–but at least I will have the knowledge that I’ve given a fair exchange. With all best wishes
Skander
Dear Pen Pal: Your last letter was so slow in coming that I thought you had decided to break off the correspondence. I was sorry to notice that you failed to enclose the photograph, puzzled by your reference to having a relapse, and cheered by your statement that you would send it along as soon as you felt better–whatever that means. However, the important thing is that you did write, and I respect the philosophy of your club which asks its members not to write of pessimistic matters. We all have our own problems which we regard as overshadowing the problems of others. Here I am in prison, doomed to spend the next 30 years tucked away from the main stream of life. Even the thought is hard on my restless spirit, though I know I have a long life ahead of me after my release. In spite of your friendly letter, I won’t feel that you have completely re-established contact with me until you send the photograph. Yours in expectation Skander
Dear Pen Pal: The photograph arrived. As you suggest, your appearance startled me. From your description I thought I had mentally reconstructed your body. It just goes to show that words cannot really describe an object which has never been seen. You’ll notice that I’ve enclosed a photograph of myself, as I promised I would. Chunky, metallic looking chap, am I not, very different, I’ll wager, than you expected? The various races with whom we have communicated become wary of us when they discover we are highly radioactive, and that literally we are a radioactive form of life, the only such (that we know of) in the universe. It’s been very trying to be so isolated and, as you know, I have occasionally mentioned that I had hopes of escaping not only the deadly imprison-ment to which I am being subjected but also the body which cannot escape. Perhaps you’ll be interested in hearing how far this idea has developed. The problem involved is one of exchange of personalities with someone else. Actually, it is not really an exchange in the accepted meaning of the word. It is necessary to get an impress of both individuals, of their mind and of their thoughts as well as their bodies. Since this phase is purely mechanical, it is simply a matter of taking complete photographs and of exchanging them. By complete I mean of course every vibration must be registered. The next step is to make sure the two photographs are exchanged, that is, that each party has somewhere near him a complete photograph of the other. (It is already too late, Pen Pal. I have set in motion the sub-space energy interflow between the two plates, so you might as well read on.) As I have said it is not exactly an exchange of personalities. The original personality in each individual is suppressed, literally pushed back out of the consciousness, and the image personality from the “photographic” plate replaces it. You will take with you a complete memory of your life on Earth, and I will take along memory of my life on Aurigae. Simultaneously, the memory of the receiving body will be blurrily at our disposal. A part of us will always be pushing up, striving to regain consciousness, but always lacking the strength to succeed. As soon as I grow tired of Earth, I will exchange bodies in the same way with a member of some other race. Thirty years hence, I will be happy to reclaim my body, and you can then have whatever body I last happened to occupy. This should be a very happy arrangement for us both. You, with your short life expectancy, will have out-lived all your contemporaries and will have had an interesting experience. I admit I expect to have the better of the ex-change–but now, enough of explanation. By the time you reach this part of the letter it will be me reading it, not you. But if any part of you is still aware, so long for now, Pen Pal. It’s been nice having all those letters from you. I shall write you from time to time to let you know how things are going with my tour.
Skander
Dear Pen Pal: Thanks a lot for forcing the issue. For a long time I hesitated about letting you play such a trick on yourself. You see, the government scientists analyzed the nature of that first photographic plate you sent me, and so the final decision was really up to me. I decided that anyone as eager as you were to put one over should be allowed to succeed. Now I know I didn’t have to feel sorry for you. Your plan to conquer Earth wouldn’t have gotten anywhere, but the fact that you had the idea ends the need for sympathy. By this time you will have realized for yourself that a man who has been paralyzed since birth, and is subject to heart attacks, cannot expect a long life span. I am happy to tell you that your once lonely pen pal is enjoying himself, and I am happy to sign myself with a name to which I expect to become accustomed. With best wishes Skander

It is from a compilation of Van Vogt’s stories. Do let me know your feedback on my recommendation. 😀 😀