Revisited: Baker Street

(image credit: google images)

There is something about the musty smell of a book, its dog-eared pages – something about the book being in your hand that suddenly makes everything right in the world again. Problems don’t seem quite so drastic anymore; heartaches can be forgotten, and worries flung aside as one is effectively transported into a whole new world.

For me, I’ve always found pleasure in reading a proper physical book, rather than, say an e-book that you peruse peering into your computer with tiring eyes, scrolling down as you read ahead. I was quite surprised then, when the iBooks application on the iPad bowled me over completely.

It’s as large as a book in your hand, feels right, there is a dictionary at hand when you come across difficult words and most importantly, you can read in pitch darkness even as your significant other snoozes away peacefully. Determined to give the much-hyped software a try, I began searching the free ebooks and stumbled upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on it. The magic is still the same as it was when I was a teenager eagerly devouring each detail of Holmes’ world.

Holmes’ precise art of deduction and Dr Watson’s eternal amazement of it, Sherlock’s wry humour, his remarkable disguises and his indomitable, supremely competitive spirit all combine to create some timeless classics. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s words flow with a beautiful coherence and are not tedious or complicated, and are in fact quite lucid.

The thing I find most enjoyable about the books is the fact that as a person they elevate you, further the frontiers of your thought. What I mean to say is – how many fictional novels will explain to you how the finer details of a person’s hat can point to significant lifestyle habits? How often can you learn so much from a fictional book? To be honest, I find it fascinating, mentally stimulating. Holmes’ mind is like a finely-honed computer with the human capacity to handle danger and risk and pure adventure. And for this insider’s peek into that genius mind, I am ever grateful.

Good writers have their own distinctive style and sometimes, you don’t need to see the byline of the author to know who they are; just reading their work is enough. Holmes’ adventures carry many such characteristic one-liners. You often come across a beginning like, “A narrative which promises to be the most singular which I have listened to for some time,” said by Holmes or Dr Watson on the latest case, immediately sparking reader-interest.

Holmes, although brilliant and gifted, is an eccentric man. He snorts cocaine, has the stiffest upper lip in all of Britain, is proud and arrogant and can wrong-foot anyone with his clever and cutting remarks. And women – he doesn’t care for them either – apparently he is way above them. And yet, readers across generations from each corner of the world have loved Holmes, loved his aura and loved his peculiarities.

Sometimes I wish I had Sherlock Holmes’ great insight into the human mind, and his expert understanding of clues that he so passionately unearthed. For there is a mystery I’m trying to solve – it’s called ‘Life’ and sometimes, I just don’t have a clue! Singular, is it not, Dr Watson?