Song of the Cockoo Bird

 “Song of the Cuckoo Bird” by Amulaya Malladi.

I loved this book! I have read two other books by Amulaya Mulladi and loved them too, but this one was my favorite. Song of the Cuckoo Bird tells the story of a young girl, Kokila, who is an orphan that lives at an ashram called Tella Meda near the Bay of Bengal in India. She has been sent there to wait until she is ready to be with the man she married at the age of 11 after the death of her father. She was taken in by her late father’s friend Ramanandam Sastri who lived at the ashram.

When the time comes for Kokila to leave Tella Meda for her husband’s home she makes a youthful decision to stay at the ashram and her life is changed forever. The book takes you through all the lives that intersect in and around the ashram and what a wonderful journey.

In one branch on the journey Kokila takes a job working at a leprosy clinic run by a young doctor not much older than her:

“……Shankar was doing what he set out to do. No matter how ugly the job, how tainted his reputation, anyhow isolated his life because of his chosen profession, he was still doing it, everyday. 

How do your parents feel about this?” Kokila asked.

“Shankar smiled broadly and a dimple appeared on his left cheek. He was a personable young man, just a few years older than Kokila. She realized that Ramanandam was right in wondering if she was attracted to him because she knew she could be. If she worked with him every day and every day they had lunch like this, wouldn’t she feel something stir in her heart? Wasn’t there already a stirring? His goodness was not a facade, and that to Kokila was his most attractive quality”

“Sometime in the future I would like to get married, but I have no plans right now. ” Shankar said. “So, do you want to see what curds looks like under the microscope?”

It looked like several thousand living worms were wriggling against each other. 

“Oh,” Kokila said weakly. “I’m never going to eat curds again”

Her first day at work had been agonizing, fun, informative, and blissfully tiring. When she came back to Tella Meda, Renuka stood guard outside.

“You will have to stay in your room” Renuka announced as soon as Kokila opened the gate that led into the front garden of Tella Meda. “Subhadra will bring you food but you will have to eat it by yourself and wash your plate separately and keep it in your room. You –“”

 There are so many interesting stories at Tella Meda you are sure to find at least a couple of them to love.

A favorite writer and a book I will read again.




Breakfast with Buddha

  “Breakfast with Buddha” by Roland Merullo was the topic of several conversations with my friend Allen from work and the subject of my 3rd book review.

This is a very funny, but also thought provoking road trip story about a man who’s sister tricks him into transporting a guru friend of hers across the country to their family home in North Dakota after the death of their parents.

The death of Otto’s parents rocks his otherwise “normal”, “successful”, ‘hardworking” and generally happy existence and brings the question of the “meaning of life’ into a more prominent place in his everyday existence. With this state of mind he was more ready for this ride with the stranger Rinpoche that he realized.

During one of their discussions on the road where Otto is getting upset with the guru because he thinks he is preaching to him or being presumptuous, because the guru offers to answer a question for him. Otto pops off with “What is the meaning of life”  The guru laughs and proceeds to put some dirt in his water glass while dining in a restaurant and stirs it up and declares “meaning of life”.

Dirt in Glass?”

“He held up his own water-glass, dirt-free, and peered at me through it, then set it down. ” The mind,” he said, pointing at the clear glass. I was glad, at least that he hadn’t pointed at the glass of what was now becoming mud and said “your mind.” By then the dirt was settling, the top part of the glass was somewhat clear again. “Watch,” he instructed. And as we watched, the dirt in my glass settled slowly to the bottom so that the top two-thirds of the water grew translucent, then transparent. “Your mind,” he said, pointing at the glass in front of me. He picked up his spoon. “When you – when some person – does things he shouldn’t do. “Watch.”He put that spoon in the glass and stirred energetically again, took the spoon, out, sat back with a look of complete satisfaction on his face. “Then you can’t see.”

“When someone does what bad things?”

“Kill person. Kill animal for no reason. Drugs, Anger, Eat too much…. like that.”

“Kill someone and eat too much in the same category?”

“He laughed as if at himself and pointed at me. “Smart.” …… Killing someone means more dirt. Glass filled with dirt for killing someone. Little bit of dirt for eating too much.” 

“I see. That’s today’s lesson.”

“Yes, It is good lesson. If you want to see the life as it is in a true way, then you have to make the water very pure, very clean. This is not easy in this world but it is what you have to. You cannot upset the mind.“”

There are several stories that are funny, self-conscious, true and enlightening. The Chippewa Lanes in South Bend was another favorite.

I am not much for religion and that was much of Allen and my conversations at work and this book several times mirrored our conversations. Allen trying to crack open my door to faith of any kind and me resisting at every turn.

If you are of a faith or an atheist or agnostic resigned to no faith you will still love this book and the different, nonjudgmental ways it looks at life.

I am going to make this book my second BookCrossing release. Wanderlust is out and about in West Olympia, but I’m not sure where this one will be left. Let me know if you find it though.

What are your feelings on faith and religion?


Bookcrossing Booty Has Finally Arrived


Bookcrossing Tools

My book-plates and other BookCrossing tools finally arrived and I am so excited to release my first book. I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long, until the package arrived from BookCrossing Europe in the Netherlands. I thought it was coming from Sandpoint, Idaho where the site was started and runs.

I am now trying to decide which book should get the honor of my first release. I am considering “A Girl Named Zippy” one of my favorite books and the first one I reviewed here at Random & Rhyme but there are so many others that I love too.

Do you have a suggestion for the book that I should release first?

Wanderlust – Book Review #2

   A Love Affair with Five Continents.

Wanderlust was a fun read with lots of exotic locales; including Spain, Pakistan, Papau New Guinea, Australia and more. Romance and sex with what appeared to be a little bit of love sprinkled in for good measure. Stories of the upside and downside of travel, especially in some of the more “male dominated” countries in which she lived.

The giddy feeling of traveling or even more so the anticipation of traveling somewhere anywhere new was palpable and she was more than willing to set aside lovers to pursue her passion for travel.  One of the first lovers she left for travel ended this way;

I was at Whistler with Graham’s roommates when my mother called with the news: The United States had no diplomatic presence in Afghanistan at the time, but the State Department would be pleased to assign me instead to ten weeks at the consulate general in Karachi, in neighboring Pakistan. I jumped up and down on the sofa, yelling “I’m going to Karachi!” Everyone told me this was cool. They had no idea where it was, but they had a world map on their living room wall, courtesy of Graham, and I stood on the sofa and pointed it out. In any case they understood that I would embark on a wished-for adventure, and wished-for adventure was a currency we had in common. 

It was then, in the dead of winter, when I decided I would go away again, that we both began to understand that we would break up. I’d made a choice, and it was not to try for love, with all its rick of pain, but to travel.”

I was impressed by her selfish pursuit of travel and going after her dreams despite any romantic attachments she was currently entertaining, but also a little bit critical of her selfishness too. It spoke to my own inner conflict with staying safe and being responsible or jumping off the cliff to pursue my own dreams.

This was one of those books that made me sad for a few days because the adventure came to an end when I finished the book. This book was also another inspiration for my post “I Am Afflicted With Wanderlust” the travel bug is definitely on my mind.

I give it 4 out of 5 Pi! π π π π  A fun and entertaining read!

Do you have a favorite travel memoir!