I have decided to write today

I am writing for myself, because you know that’s how it should be. What also helps is the fact that this time; my sabbatical might have anyway ensured that I have no readers left. And if you are wondering if this is an underhanded way I’m trying to get you to drop a comment or say hi (or present ma’am), you couldn’t be more correct.

My last post, that was not a book-review, was in January. Today is May. Tomorrow and day after is also May, but then Monday isn’t May, it is June. Why this information is absolutely important is that, it makes me sound less pathetic. June is like half the year has passed, no one will care if it’s the 1st of June, and there is still a month for the half year to happen, they will just be like, ‘Oh My God you wrote when we entered 2015, and now you are writing after a whole half year has passed? What’s wrong with you?’ In case you are wondering ‘they’ are those ardent readers of mine, who just cannot wait for me to post, and check their reader every day to see if I have updated. ‘They’ exist. I think. I hope. I wish.

Yeah, so that is the reason why I am writing in May. Otherwise, quite frankly, May sucks big time, it’s like the worst month, and with summer behaving like no one cares for it so might as well ruin everybody’s lives in this slot that is reserved for it. Though if you are anywhere the south of the Vindhyas, summer is like a permanent feature, except when it isn’t raining. With short teasers of the other seasons that could, but do not exist in this part of the world. But the concept of seasons is so exciting for us folks here that every time the temperature is a single digit number, we go – ‘Ooh winter, let’s get the razaisout. Oh so this is what those people in Delhi must be feeling. So much cold, I’m freezing, let me go buy a winter Coat from Zara.’ The last part is a true story by the way.

Back to writing folks, the detours seem to be unavoidable, so many distractions right? And add it to that I have not done this for a while; I seem to want to fit the entire 4 months I was missing in this one post. Yeah. So a lot has happened between then and now. The most important things, in chronological order would be

My 10 year K reunion at the campus – what a wonderful experience to meet folks after a whole decade, feel old, party, dance like no time has passed, party some more, feel older still, and gossip through the night with a voice that was reduced to a croak by the time it all ended. Oh, and also, feel old.

Then we fell ill – all of us in the family, quite severely, so much that I decided atleast one of us had to have swine flu, but fortunately none of us did. For me, the two days at K just before, pretty much ensured that I took a whole week to get back on my feet.

And then, we moved to Hyderabad -So yes, we are back, to the city which I hated, loved, hated, loved,  got bored of, and finally left with a lot of melodrama, only to realise that I missed it after all, so yes, we are back, and despite the inhuman summer we are being subjected to, it’s been nice. And as I always say, it helps to come at a bad time, because it can only get better from here. What has also changed is that I am back to doing something I had promised, sworn, that I would never, ever do. But fate has this way of messing your big resolutions.

Before I create any more hype, we spent a LOT of money to get a place in an area where all, and I mean it, ALL offices in Hyderabad are. And once we were settled, done it up, we decided to move to Pune. And once we were settled in Pune, we decided to move back. And here, I am in the ONE office, literally, the ONE office, that is not where every, other, office is. Moral of the story, I am back to travelling more than I think any human being should every day. Like before. Like when I used to only whine about it all the time. Like this time. And no, I do not like it. It is making me cry.

It also makes me think about how much you want and resist change at the same time. Change sounds exciting, but it is also painful. Old can get monotonous, boring. New is always fun, but it is also tough to accept. There’s this chaotic transition phase where you wonder why you didn’t leave things the way they were, and then you do something so enjoyable that you answer your own question. So that’s where we are; missing the old, enjoying the new, settling down and getting used to the change. Building a fresh routine; a routine that will hopefully have a tiny, little slot for updating this page more than once in 4 months.

Because I know how much ‘they’ like reading me, and this the least I can do for them. And me.

The amazing racist – Book Review

Last week, I received another book for a review, “The amazing racist” by Chimmi Tenduf-La. The cover had a quote that called the book “Outrageously funny and deeply moving”, and this made me pick it up in the first place, because I love my dose of humor; the more outrageous the better.

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The story is about an English school teacher Eddie, who comes down to Srilanka on a teaching assignment, and falls in love with a gorgeous local beauty, Menaka. Menaka herself comes from a powerful, elite family, headed by her very strict, very respected, adamant, and most importantly, white-skin hating father, Thilak Rupasinghe. So when the couple decides to get married within 6 weeks of seeing each other, the father is far from amused, and tries every trick in the book to not let it happen.

This, is what I thought was the whole story. You know how our English boy manages to thwart the heart of his SriLankan prospective father-in-law, and manages to have a happy ending with the woman he loves. And this is where the humor lay too. But strangely, Menaka and Eddie get married before a third of the book is over.

And honestly, this is where the story begins. This book is the story of Eddie and Thilak, not Eddie and Menaka. This book is funny, yes, but this is not a book you will categories in the humor genre. This book is what is mentioned in the latter half of the quote – deeply moving. Very, deeply, moving. The rest of the book deals with Eddie, and his life with Thilak, and a new entrant in their lives, Eddie and Menaka’s daughter, Kiki. Menaka relegates into the background, offering an occasional twist. The evolution of the Eddie’s place as an outsider in Thilak Rupasinghe life, to that of his closest confidante, the only person he trusts, the only person who cares for him, more than his whole family, keeps you glued, wanting to go on, seeing how it all ends.

The Amazing Racist managed to do something not many books have done in the recent past – it made me cry, for quite some time after the book was finished. It deals with the most basic human emotions, prejudices, insecurity, loyalty, love, and beautifully so. For a debut novel, I am extremely impressed with the author’s talent at keeping the reader spellbound.

Some books you like for how well it is written, some books you like for the story. This book, you’ll love for both. Definite thumbs up, definite must read.

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

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.