Ramayana – The Game of life, Shattered Dreams – Book Review

After a long hiatus, I decided to pick up a book to review out here, and when I checked Blogadda, turned out they had Book 2 of yet another Ramayana series (Ramayana – The Game of Life, by Shubha Vilas) up for the grabs. I never read a sequel without having read the first part but I made an exception in this case, because 1. Ramayana, I mean if you were brought up in India, there’s no way you are not already well versed with this story 2. I did think I would read Book 1 but time and health did not allow me to. So I went ahead with this anyway.

Now, I have read Book 1 of Ashok Banker’s Ramayana series a long time ago, but it was so detailed, so long, that I did not dare to pick up book 2. I had the same worry with this one, especially when you know this is also going to be a 6 book series. But fortunately, it took me a day and a half to glide through this story telling. Never wavering from the plot you might have heard umpteen times in your childhood, the book retells the tale of truth, of honesty, of jealousy, of commitments, of respect. It starts with Dasaratha’s decision of Rama’s coronation as the king of Ayodhya, and ends with the beginning of Rama’s 14 year long exile.

So what is new in this version? Whenever a well known tale from the past is retold, I look forward to those little extra bits of information that surprise you, or the author’s own deductions of what would have actually happened (like Jaya, definitely my favorite rendition of Mahabharata). What was different in this case, were the foot notes, the little lessons one takes away from the epic, some insight into the actions each of the character takes in the story. What is good is these don’t form part of the narrative, ensuring that there is no break in the flow. Instead, they are mentioned as footnotes for reference, which the reader might choose to go through at his own convenience.

On the downside, some of these insights were way too philosophical, reminding me of self help books, something I am not personally very fond of. But that is a personal opinion. I chose to read this as mere information and insight into the characters in Ramayana, which was something I was looking forward to anyway. And in parts where I thought there was just too much gyan, I chose to skip it and move on with the story.

Overall, I think it is a very comfortable read, especially is someone were to ask for a Ramayana version recommendation, I would suggest this, based on this one part I read. Mainly because it sticks to the story we all know, and also because it is told so simply that you don’t have to go back to understand what it is trying to say. And also because it has just the right amount of detail one needs while reading an epic such as this.

So yes, do pick it up (start with the first though!) if you want to read Ramayana. And yes, I think I will be picking up the next part for myself.

 
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

One day at a time

Monday usually starts with a bitter taste in the mouth, but not today. One, because today, in a bright, strategic coincidence of sorts, all the biggies decided to utilize the business travel budget, and took off for the week. Two, for the first half of the day I assumed that our buddies in the opposite time zone had a day off, their version of Gandhi Jayanti. And three, because I have a terrible cold that has killed my damn taste buds, making it impossible to have any sort of taste in the mouth at all.

But owing to the bright, positive, optimistic note that I started my day on, I glided through the day, in a state of virtual bliss, albeit with a blocked nose and a sinus-y headache. Unfortunately, as the day passed, the blissful state started toning down because I realized not all companies celebrate the said by taking the day off so there was this slight danger of a last moment call being scheduled. Additionally, the situation of my nose decided to never get better and left me sort of breathless, in the not-nice way. But I determinedly continue on the path of never-ending optimism, mostly because the lady at the reception gave me a Citrizen and a Sinarest and asked me to take both which I think has left me a bit groggy.

Colds suck, especially when your condition oscillates between possessing a runny nose that will not give up, or one so dry that every breath hurts. I mean, dude, make up your mind!  Last night was such. I woke up atleast 2 times, dreaming of drowning in the sea (or a swimming pool), gasping for breath, flailing my limbs, only to realise that my nose was blocked. And another two times, with a nose so runny, I don’t want to provide an analogy that will be too much information for my remaining readers to bear.

A blocked nose also means you breathe through your mouth, which basically leads to add-on benefits of a sore throat, chapped lips, and general extra-sucky feeling because all the other pains were not enough. Add to this, every time I would sit up to sniff, hoping for some relief, I’d quickly realise that my bed is currently shared by the one who doesn’t believe in sleeping and any out of the way sound might wake her up for good. So I would go back to lying with my mouth wide open, looking forward to enjoying my nightmares of the Arabian Sea.

But I did get back to sleep, and I did wake up, exhausted, but atleast I woke up. Plus this whole flu drama has caught up with the entire household, which meant some additional prep-work, some extra attention to Zo, including hanging around till Zo had her breakfast, got ready, and got into her school van. But then I did make it to work.

And survived the day. Not in the most comfortable of states, but not the worst either because as I mentioned, optimistic start (and an overdose of cold meds). Also, somewhere along all the sniffling and whining, one of my friends mentioned that I had now transitioned from being ‘slim’ to being ‘thin’ I’m sure not as a compliment, but it made me want to hug her and thank her for making my day. And then there were very tasty grapes that I had packed for snacks, which have Vitamin C in abundance, just the thing you need to counter a cold as annoying as this. All of this made for an overall awesome Monday I think.

Awesome Monday. I don’t think there is a bigger oxymoron than that. Or a more welcome one. Next stop – Tuesday.

Beep beep boop

I apologize for the title. But if you’re on WordPress you’ll know what I mean. Everyday, when I click on the add post button, late in the night, after having exhausted my brain cells on numbers and power point presentations and mails, this little beep beep boop tries to wake me up to the fact the next 15 minutes need to be a tad more than a zoned out walk through the whole day usually is.

It tries, but doesn’t always succeed. Like today, I had made up my mind that this post has to be more than an update, atleast definitely not an update. But it is not working. And here I am, sitting at my laptop, typing out the first thing that comes to my mind, much like everything else. They say spontaneity is good, but I am sure they didn’t mean in writing. Because writing has to have some thought, some substance, some tone, something more than just words.

This whole write everyday thing is turning out to be tougher than I anticipated, and definitely tougher than it seemed last time I did it. I am not sure what it was, because I was newer at the job, spent a lot more time travelling in the first 10 days, and Zo was younger, which should technically make it tougher to take time out and write, but it happened. This time, I can see the content taking a turn for the worse already, and it the darned 6th day  of this whole thing.

But I am not going to force myself into it. Actually, I am too tired, or you can say lazy, to even give it a shot. I am just going to let it be, and let things happen as they do. Good if there is a blog post, fine if there isn’t. Great if the content is fun, fine if it isn’t. Awesome if I can actually manage writing for 31 days at a stretch, fine if I don’t. Ensuring that I don’t stress or think too much about how I lack discipline, or have wrong priorities, or feel guilty about not doing better. At this, and at everything else.

Letting things be. Perhaps that’s what my motto for 2015 should be.

Monday-ed – Day 5

Monday was supremely tiring, and all that extra power with which I had decided to start the day was exhausted in the first hour at work, as I sifted through the mails in double digits. Which is why, I have decided to make this a simple, bulleted, list post.

Five things I am thankful for at the moment –

– The absolutely tasty fish I had for dinner. For someone who was brought up a vegetarian, seafood’s the only thing that is keeping me from reverting to the old state, because Oh My God, just how lovely is fish, and prawns, and calamari, and all things from the sea? And I happened to have  some lovely home fried fish, the taste of which still lingers.

– Little Zo, sitting next to me, with her head on my arm, watching Peppa pig on the iPad (this is her iPad time, no judging), while I type out this post. Somehow, the situation in itself seems laid back, relaxed, and absolutely lovely.

– The weather, the lovely Pune weather. This is the winter I like, the winter I need. The days are pleasant, with the warm sun cutting through the chill in the breeze. And the nights are slightly cold, enough to not need the fan, perfect to snuggle into a light blanket, and never come out.

– The abundance of chocolate in the house. I am actually in two minds about it, you know, if there is chocolate, I have to eat it. If there isn’t, I crave it. Doesn’t take a genius to decide which situation is preferable. I am just glad, the latter situation prevails.

– Monday is over, and that means things can only get better from here.

Now to gear up and live through the rest of the week.

End of the weekend – Day 4

Sunday evenings are synonymous with depression for me. The impending monday always feels so much more ominous than the actual monday when you are living through it. It also doesn’t help that The Dude starts roaming around with a sullen face, like all is gone, since his monday starts much earlier than mine. And he does this pretty early on, like around 4 PM while I am still reveling in the fact that atleast there’s time for a siesta. All in all, this sort of a gloomy atmosphere is not one I feel at any other time in a regular week.

But we cannot change the days of the week can we? As I have said before, the pain of living through the week is what makes the weekends so awesome. Otherwise Saturday would just be yet another day and that doesn’t sound right at all. Anyway, back to the Sunday evening, I usually do nothing after our weekly round of grocery shopping which I try and finish pre-lunch, which is followed by a nap, and then a lot of lazing around waiting for doom, or in other words, monday to strike.

Today was no different. I had followed my schedule to a T, adding a wee bit of shopping at the sales, after the groceries were set. When I woke up in the evening, however, I realised that I needed to go pick up my trousers, that I had given for an alteration. I tried to convince the Dude to go pick them up for me. ‘Go for a run. You need to step out to feel better. Then pick up my trousers.’ But he caught on to my ulterior motives and chose to get back to the PS3 and play street cricket, face just as sullen as before.

So I decided to step out, when Zo asked me where I was off to. And at the spur of the moment, it made sense to tag her along as well. So we went, mom and daughter, to pick the altered pair of pants from the nearby mall. The whole activity took 20 mins. We were about to leave when she spotted some guy in a Doraemon costume in the mall’s central area, one floor below. A pretty regular thing, they have some event or the other here, including Bollywood celebs visiting when their movies are about to release. By the time we reached the area, Doraemon had disappeared. Zo’s face fell, but in a moment they announced a magic show for kids.

We settled down. The guy on the stage did the regular tricks, making a ball disappear, making it appear out of nowhere; tying up a pair of scarves, and then dissolving the knots magically. It was fun to watch. But what was amazing was how much Zo enjoyed the whole set up. When the guy said the ball had disappeared in the sky, she stared at the ceiling, and looked at me with wonderment, going “The ball is gone in the clouds! How will he get it back!” The worry, the amazement, was so real, so genuine, something you can only see in the eyes of a 3 year old I guess.

Anyway, the show got over, and we were walking back, and she was happy except that we missed Doraemon, when he appeared, out of no where, as if by magic. She was overjoyed, shook hands, got a picture clicked and walked back home with me. Once she reached home, she couldn’t stop talking of the show, or how she met Doraemon. And just like that, my Sunday evening depression got reduced to less than half of what it was a few hours ago.

And suddenly, I feel more than recharged to face the demon that’s monday.

Confessions of a Shopaholic, kinda

This time of the year is my favorite, for reasons including, but not limited to the holiday feeling, the beautiful nip in the air and the sun that is welcome for once. The other big reason I love this time, is for it’s “End of Season Sales“, which might have the most inappropriate nomenclature (I mean, what end of what season on this country are we talking of?), but more than makes up for that petty little fact by it’s mere existence.

I love shopping. Again, who doesn’t, you might ask. Especially if you are a woman, the more sexist of you might add. True. Of the women I have known and met and spoken to at length, I can count on my fingers the ones who ‘dislike’ shopping. In fact, a slightly cynical part of me might assume and conclude that they say so just to sound different. You know like the ones who would deem PK as a boring movie, because everyone else either found it awesome or offensive or entertaining? But again, I have hardly come across too many of the kind.

Because how in the world can you not want to look a, try, and own those beautiful shirts, kurtis, and shoes, displayed enticingly in the shop windows. How can you not wonder how much slimmer that pair of black jeans on that model in poster would make you look. Or how that big red Tote would go with everything you own. It is just a  natural reaction. Which has apparently been understood so well by the merchandisers over the years, that they play on it, and we play along happily. And when you see that red tag saying ‘up to 50% off’, you are better off just giving in.

And with the advent of online shopping, things have actually gone a tad overboard, with ‘window’ shopping getting a while new meaning. Also, with something being perennially on discount on these sites, the allure is unavoidable. The sales persons are replaced by the more accurate counterparts, that little tick you place when you say you ‘Accept’ all terms and conditions, and these little buggers get into every detail of what size of what item in what color on what site did you ‘view’, and then bombard you with ‘suggestions’. On the sides of every website you visit, and now even on your mail. My favorite being this one site where I placed this pair of shoes in the cart to check the discount out, and it has been sending mails to my account, every singe day reminding me of it. Till, I went and removed it from there.

Yes, it can get annoying, and yes it is freakishly addictive, but in the end, when you do buy something, the thrill of coming home with the lovely packets containing your day’s finds, or opening the door to your parcel, is unbelievable. Kinda makes all the spam mail, messages, and of course the hole in your pocket worth it. If not on that day itself, definitely, when you sashay to work the next day in the new outfit.

And just for the sake of that feeling, I spent the whole day today, morning until late afternoon, hopping from shop to shop, trial room to trial room, picking out pretty stuff. And I was so exhausted by the end of it all, that i slept 2 hours straight (which I would have done even if I had spent the whole day sprawled on the bean bag watching Z Cinema, but still). But at the end of it, I have my spoils of the day, 6 brand new shirts and a pair of jeans, at prices I believe are a bargain. And ofcourse, how I look in them when I get to wearing them will just make it all absolutely worth it.

Hopefully. But then a little assumption didn’t hurt anybody, did it?

Ringing in 2015 – Day 2

2015 started on a sober note. Sober, not somber, because we all know new beginnings cannot be somber, because new is nice. Unless ofcourse someone comes up with a master plan to screw up my mood when it is about to strike 12, in which case, it might get a little somber, but knowing me I would quickly turn somber into angry and whack said person really really hard.

Ok, back to the sobriety, I believe two glasses of wine in general means sober, we all know in some countries it even means daily dinner accompaniment. And on New Year’s eve, it is like anti-drunk, which is what I was on the 31st, when it struck 12. We had finished watching Sherlock S03E01, devoured a bucket of KFC chicken, downed the said two glasses of wine, and were all set to sleep so that we wouldn’t be all groggy and annoyed when Zo decides enough is enough it’s time to play. Which is usually around 6 AM, when the rest of the country is safely tucked into their cosy blankets, including the sun, refusing to come out.

The reason I am stressing so much on this sober state is that this is a first. No, not in forever. I belong to a typical conservative Tam-Brahm family in the 80s-90s which believed in bringing in the New Year, watching the New Year’s special on Doordarshan, after the year end special round up episode of the World this week by Prannoy Roy. The whole family would be tucked in warm razais, and there would be some sweet prepared and stored for eating when the clock struck 12. A memory I look back upon with a nostalgic fondness.

So like I said, not in forever. This sober state was a first in 9 years. By which I mean, I was last un-drunk and not-partying on New Year’s Eve, back when we were bringing in 2006, which also might win the suckiest NYE award for various reasons, except that it brought about 2006, and with it, The Dude, who kind of converted my life into a full-on party for good. So every year, when the clock struck 12, the Dude and I would either be out enjoying the unlimited drinks, or setting up a party at home. (Except in 2010, the one NYE midnight I have no memory of *Shhh*)

But this year, considering we had just returned from a mad trip to Goa (which I’ll not tell more about because, hello, 29 days after this!), I decided we needed to calm down a bit – in terms of the alcohol intake, and also in terms of the need to step out to have a good time. And we did, with our KFC bucket, buy 4 get 4 free wine, and Sherlock.

And it was good, useful even. Like at 12, we were in our bed, so we did a “group huggie” as Zo calls it, only she was asleep and annoyed, wished parents, siblings, and were sleeping by 12:10. Like sensible people. Heh, who am I kidding, like old people. And wake up on time; we did, without a hangover, fresh and bright, something I don’t think any 1st of Jan has been for almost a decade now. The Dude spent a lot of time on the PS3, while I did some spring cleaning, and followed it up with a lot of reading – a whole book in the one day. And then stepped out for some “window” shopping in the evening, which in my case refers to “taking notes of what is available where so I can try and buy when the trial room queues are shorter”. Overall – super accomplished 1st day of the New Year.

Will we continue with the same sort of toned down celebration next year? Don’t know. Will we treat this as an aberration and get back to lots of drinking and dancing next year? Don’t know. Do I care to think about next year when this one has just begun? No way. Because who wouldn’t look forward to a year, where the first working day is a Friday?

And honestly, if that isn’t a sign of the awesomeness that is to follow, I don’t know what is.

P.S. The book I read was Sputnik Sweetheart by Murakami and I am still trying to conclude what I think of it.

P.P.S. I know you didn’t ask me, but I wanted to keep a note to help me with topics in days to come.

P.P.P.S. You know what, nothing. I am just fooling around. Don’t go away. Please.