The Class

I just finished with Erich Segal’s award winnings and popular book – The Class. As with any of Segal’s works, I expected there to be situational conflicts with the protagonist and yet a whole lot of TLC. I wasn’t disappointed but I must say, I expected more.

After having read only 2 other books by Segal, I must admit that what he does is rather smart. There’s not 1 but 5 whole protagonists who share page space in this novel, and once you wait for your readers to be invested in each one’s story, that’s a brilliant way to keep the pages turning!

However, Segal’s characters fail to connect with you emotionally unlike in Doctors. Here, you just passively read the exploits of the different (un) heroes and exalt at their victories or admonish them for infidelities.

Read ‘The Class’ if you want to know more about life behind the wrought iron gates of Harvard.

One of the best lines came about during the end when Segal talks about how all the boys of batch 1954 entered Harvard as rivals and now, for their 25th class reunion, there’s a solidarity that transcends trivial emotions like enmity – Indeed life doesn’t spare even the supposedly most successful ones from its throes.

So long, Happy Reading!

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Of Pop Culture Books & Series

Has it ever happened to you that at some phase of life, you felt that your thoughts and actions were mirrored by the universe, manifested outwardly as a book or a TV Show, a song that takes on a real-deep meaning for you, or even a commercial blockbuster movie that strangely resonates so much with you!?

I found this happening to me often with the books that I read while growing up. I am a firm believer that you are what you read. If that is truly the case – I’m one part fantasy, one part crime, a little bit of romance, and some amount of adventure. I am however only fiction, thank you, but definitely have the ability to create non fiction.

Looking back to the correlation between life and books, on the days that I craved some adventure and friendship, there were Enid Blyton’s various books to turn to – whether it was The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, Famous Five, or Five Find-Outers, she really helped widen our imagination as kids and made us crave for the joyous freedom that her characters experienced.

It’s no surprise that JK Rowling’s Potter Saga appeals so much to the pre-teens – it’s got everything that a teen can relate to. Whether it’s about fitting in with the world, criticized for being different, finding and holding on to best friends at school or developing crushes, feeling rebellious, name the emotion and she had it all. I know some of us wished for a bit more romance to add to the sparks but our author knew just how much was too much. Is it weird that I’m counting days for more Potter Mania to resurface thanks to the Fantastic Beasts 2!?

For those of us who were lured by the mysterious and weird stuff, the Twilight Series was a Godsend. I now agree that reading it was utter Trash, but it set our hearts racing alright! I was always Team Edward but for some incidents that made me really sad for Team Jacob and I never looked at Twilight the same way again. Despite all those internal conflicts, I finished the series, even read the leaked chapters of Midnight Sun and I wanted more. That was the age for Drama.

After a while, I caught on to Grey’s Anatomy. My normal Engineering Life was so boring and yet at the same time so much happened that I often kept comparing life’s crappy quotient to the doctors’ drama unfolding on the TV. First, they killed George, then Danny, then Mc Steamy, the cute sister, and Arizona’s legs were chopped off. I still continued hoping that somewhere things would be alright. I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy after Christina Yang left and Mc Dreamy was killed and oh so brutally! Goddamit! Thinking about it still makes my blood boil.

I discovered a lot of Indian author books around this time – Preeti Shenoy, Durjoy Datta, Ravinder Singh, etc. While the quality of language didn’t impress me much, the stories were poignant, slice-of-life stuff that could happen to anyone. Perhaps that’s what made it endearing and abominable at the same time.

A chance reading of Ladies Coupe made me so sad for womanhood in India that I instantly started respecting women around me at least a little better.

There is one dog-eared copy of Mills & Boons that belonged to my Aunt, that I have preserved safely for it became the benchmark of love and respect for me. A story set on a cruise ship between a 22-year old smart and grounded  girl, who takes her first trip abroad and the stern yet reliable captain of 35 years taught me that it wasn’t about money, age, or physique, although those things definitely spice it up. Events in life have also taught me discreetly that a lot of what you think love is, is really nothing but the admiration and respect you feel for people. Sure, your potential friends could still be waltzing in and out of your life, confusing you and enticing you while you look for your Ms/Mr Right on matrimonial sites but I understand now how companionship can work – it’s about whether upon meeting, you both match the same intellectual frequency and have similar emotional needs or are you vying for bigger egos and has/has-nots!?

Coming back to pop culture influences  – it was only after I started my post graduation that I could, in the confines of my room, and with my first-ever laptop really watch FRIENDS and understand the emotions behind the characters and dialogues. You see, it was only there that I understood and appreciated the friends that I’d had and made for life.

There was also a phase where Sex And The City made the biggest impact on me. I just loved how much liberty these women enjoyed and what they really thought of relationships because you have got to admit it, things on the Indian dating scene are not as they were in our parents generation. Watching Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte make crappy decisions, break up with the baddies, and continue to wait for Mr Right, while all the time working on themselves and waltzing through professional life – that heady rush and motivation is just what you need sometimes!

Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Middle, SATC, The Mindy Project are just a few series that I can recall currently that made it a relatable treat to watch. For now, I’m taking a break from the popular stuff and bingeing on Sharp Objects / Strike / How To Get Away With Murder. I’m not planning a homicide, don’t get me wrong, I’m just waiting for a good breeze to blow my way, as it often does before I can pick up on something as good and understand the message behind. Until then, so long!

Patiala Date

There I was, seated outside the mall, with my voluminous bag and helmet, waiting for my friend to show up when I saw her.

She was dressed in a pair of violet patialas, her long hair tied back and she’d worn dangling silver earrings that complimented the attire. Every bit the quintessential Punjabi kudi right out of Bollywood – and I’m not kidding, this was actually my first reaction!

In between looking for my friend in the sparsely populated road, I kept an eye on this girl. I saw her in the midst of a face palm – she hit her forehead and probably berated herself for something. Eventually, this girl came very close to where I was seated and asked the person sitting next to me if she could use her phone for a moment. The person refused and I could see disappointment etched on the pretty girl’s face and she made to move away.

The face-palm gesture explained itself and I quickly called out to her, took my phone out and asked her to go ahead and use it! She looked relieved, thanked me and spoke over the phone.

(The fact that I was in a similar situation barely half an hour before meeting her only added to the urgency with which I lent her my phone. Yeah I basically used a stranger’s phone to reach out to Boo with whom I’d accidentally left my phone. I knew exactly how weird she was feeling about her stupidity )

After the call she thanked me and sat waiting next to me. Having nothing better to do and being thoroughly fascinated, I struck up a conversation. In the course of our discussion, she admitted that she was here for a first date and told me about the year-long secret glances and unspoken conversations that she’d shared with Mr Potential who in fact ticked all her boxes. (Woh checklist jo hata hai humara!?)

She confessed to being super nervous and a tad bit annoyed that her exams were around the corner and she never wanted to commit to these things.. I tried to assure her that things would be good, give cupid a chance… My pretty in pink friend made two more calls of which I overheard the sweetest and most respectful – Tussi Kaha hai?

She’d dressed up traditional cause she really liked him and that he loved this attire… She spoke of how his hands were shivering when he made the first move to talk to her and hang out and laughed glibly. It melted my heart and made me feel so happy for her! Small joys in a big bad world, ain’t it!?

I caught her credentials just in time before I parted with a wink and wished her luck.

Just caught up with her on social media and got to know that despite Mr Potential’s Late Lateef act, for which she wanted to slap him, She said Yes!

Sharp Objects – A review and some pangs

I set outside my home much like Camille Preaker dressed in jeans, tee, a windcheater despite it being a hot evening and my sling bag for company.

My hair is free flowing and loose like hers, it moves lazily with every small burst of wind that encounters me. I feel this immense energy in me to write and I head to the closest park that affords some privacy because of its size.

I reach the nearest bench and I collapse with my phone.. Trying to bring my head together over what I just watched and discussed.

Sharp Objects isn’t like any other TV show. It was short, sweet and dizzying. Where shows like ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ can’t get into intricacies of characters, this show had an alarmingly real protagonist and very real characters essayed so beautifully that you’re convinced that you were just in the living room of this pretty mansion, in countryside America. Except, you suddenly wake up when your dog licks you and you’re home, your perceived comfort zone, far away from baby killers.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this show is the use of flashbacks at just the right scenarios. You’re confused about the time line, you take a moment to register what’s being shown and suddenly your hair’s standing on ends compelling you to realign your position with the screen.

I thought Amy Adams was a fantastic actor after American Hustle, which isn’t saying much but after Sharp Objects, I can’t stop raving about her.

Also, Gilian Flynn you’ve done it again. After Gone Girl, just when you thought shit couldn’t get creepier, lo and behold. This woman is the mistress of psycho thrillers and there’s no two ways about it!

While I’m still reeling under the trauma of the thriller, I’m eager to get my hands on the book for my friend just told me some of those subtle nuances that the show didn’t do justice to and I want more closure.

So if you find yourself craving a thriller, albeit slow paced and all of 8 episodes, I’d recommend Sharp Objects.

Give it a watch and let me know your reviews in a comment below!

Adios!

P. S. Bless your heart.

Lonely Tunes

My bestie recently asked me what was the one thing that I absolutely hated about my life in Riyadh, for I lived there while growing up for ten odd years. For a while, this question took me by surprise…people always assumed that I loved it out there and ended up asking me what I missed about that desert city.

I took a moment to think while fleeting images went past me – a sea of people in black and white (literally, for Saudi men wear a white, free flowing white gown-like attire and women wear Abhayas – the black cloth that bundles them up, covering them completely.

I thought about being away from my grandparents and missing them.

I thought about Riyadh’s oppressive heat, and the boring school life I was subject to… And then it hit me hard.

‘Loneliness’, I replied.

Not having friends of my age in the society I lived in, being at a mentally stimulating age and not having someone to share conversations or games with, not being very rich so as to afford novels and books often, it tore me apart, little by little.

It’s not like I didn’t have friends – school was great when we had lunch hour or free period. But once the clock struck 1.30, that was goodbye to your friends, unless you wanted to chit chat over long calls (which again wasn’t very welcomed by the folks).

I had a few Kannadiga friends that I looked forward to meeting, but that was usually once or twice a month and fun while it lasted.

On a daily basis, I whiled away time with imaginary characters, played stupid and cute games with my baby brother, and kept wishing for some adventure. I was introduced to comics a little late, for I consider 3rd grade pretty late. I took to reading Tinkle comics, Champak I used to loathe, but reading anything felt like a good time pass.. I graduated to Archies, and thanks to my then best friend’s mother, who worked in our school, we got permission to borrow some books on a weekly basis. And then we ended up taking Noddy. What can I say, I missed the whole concept of libraries like hell.

Then I graduated to reading Women’s Era magazines because they would inevitably be at home and I just needed to read something, anything! To be honest, I read quite a few controversial things that made for a good laugh but loneliness – you can’t put a name or describe the feeling… these things persist.

I thought things would be great upon leaving Saudi, and returning to India… That I’d be able to meet and host friends who are quite like me and whose ideas would entice and encourage us to be great. Unfortunately for me, no such thing happened. Reality was that, I was seen as more of an outcast because of my earlier background and I didn’t belong to their groups…

It’s hard being lonely and it’s enough to push you into depression. I know that now but then, I tried to desperately fit in, dumb down, act bitchy and mean to be accepted, found one friend, who happened to be a guy, and you can imagine how that would turn out for a teen?

Ugh. Life sucked. In the end, I cared a damn and gave up on everyone that I was trying to befriend. I cut them out of my life the moment school ended and haven’t regretted my decision since.

I grew friends after that.. When I stopped trying, and I just was. I’m an introvert, so I still have a small circle but that’s completely fine with me. I do wish sometime that I’d be more outgoing and befriend more people.. I talk and meet people, but I think genuine connection is so rare.

But I cannot be more grateful to the people who are in my life.. I’m really happy to have friends who are smart, motivated, dedicated and wholly good people with a good heart. We question our friendship sometimes and then I realise, despite everything that that are, they’re mine.

That’s really all you sometimes need.

Cheers!

Of Slam books and Slammed People

You know when you’re cleaning old closets and drawers and you chance upon some treasures that you want to bury yourself in but can’t, cause life?

Well, today is that day for me.

A day to reminisce and contemplate – read out entries of fascinating glories and conquests that I recorded in my journals long ago, to take a moment to laugh about the hysterics I attempted, or wallow in the dejections I faced. Choices are aplenty.

I discovered my Slam Book from 12th standard; it’s almost 8 years ago. (No, thank you for asking, but I do not feel old yet!)

What’s interesting is that all the people who took time out to write me a few words of affection are just the guys who are pretty much out of my life, at this stage. Except for one exception, who’s always been and will always be a dear friend.

I see entries such as these:

It saddens me that we’re continents apart and rarely ever talk. So much has happened… We’re different people now than we used to be and we let differences creep in when they shouldn’t have.

Here’s another entry:

This cutie is a Mommy now, and she’s going to be starting post grad studies soon. She’s come a long way and I’m happy for where she’s headed.

This is one from an acquaintance:

I’m glad to have been that person who’s always smiling and I will continue to be that. It’s just the easiest thing to do and makes everyone around feel better about their day, doesn’t it?

This one is from a dear friend, who’s pretty much a cheerful ghost to me now. I like to think that somewhere along the way, between teaching some kids and doing the strangest comedy in life, he may just be look at this blog post and go- Aww, Thunk! (You see, that was my nickname back in the days!)

Udox, my homie, if you’re reading this, I still think you’re a pain in the ass, but a good one at that. Keep rocking and drop a text when you’re in town? I’d like to chill and grab a cuppa with you!

Here’s for the last entry, the one I consider best, simply for the effort that was taken in filling it with random crap!

I’ve got to admit, it takes talent to write 7 pages of bullshit. So this guy actually befriended me because mister had a Huuuuggeeeeeeee crush on my bestie. What can I say, I guess being a wingman is one of my weaknesses! 😉

Floodgates

A floodgate opens by, of memories rushing hither

Within that diary, my emotions nearing wither.

‘Twas us against the world, a battle was fought.

Left you strong, but I was broken and distraught.

What do I do with these papers and this ink?

The dusty fabric has secrets aplenty, you ‘d blink.

There was love there, and tenderness and care.

But then, you made clear, those feelings you did not share.

It took me time, a great deal of distance.

And here I am, relishing my sustenance.

Yellowed pages, dogeared ends..

They call out to me, and show me the bends.

Of lies, betrayal, heartache, and all the evil rest.

Move on, Life did, for it always knows what’s best.

Just another rant.

It’s a Friday afternoon and the weather is sultry. Not as hot as the desert heat, and it isn’t pleasant in its usual Bangalore fashion either. It’s mostly, step out of your home and you’ll regret leaving the place, kinda warm.

How does that matter to me? I’m sitting inside, cool as a cucumber and contemplating on life while watching the first few episodes of ‘How to get away with Murder’.

It isn’t easy, I figure… And it was never meant to be easy. It’s a day of realizations…

Of late I have been meeting a few people, trying to understand where they come from, and what’s life for them… I see everyone going through life in a similar manner – there’s work, you work to make money, you keep your friends close, pretend that you care about them when you can no longer avoid meeting them, gain more family on the way, juggle, prioritize, call it what you want… There will be days when you want to just quit everything and be still. What then? Do you find yourself at inner peace then? Or do you freak out because for once, there are no rules to tell you what time to wake up or when to show up.

Why is the idea of a start up so alluring even if a lot of people out there don’t have great business plans? It’s the fact that you are not answerable to anyone. Can there be a bigger ego rush than that?

What’s it with workplaces and people, how is it that we can let small incidents, small acts have such a huge impact on entire perceptions of organisations. How is it that motivation is so few and lacking to those of us who actually see the underbelly of businesses and cannot be trusted to carry on with the nonchalant ease of the corporate slave.

Neither can we make peace with inaction. Where is the middle ground for us? Where do we go from here?

 

 

The Perfect Pair

While stepping out of a large restaurant, Boo who was inches ahead of me, navigated through a seemingly closed exit and looked back at me for I hadn’t moved. On being accosted with a questioning glance, I replied that I was evaluating whether there really was an exit out there.

‘So you won’t follow me blindly?’, he asked.

‘Of course not,’ I answered. ‘I’d have to be smart enough to pull us both out of trouble, right. That won’t happen if I follow you without any questions asked.’

‘Good come back, but basically you won’t follow me!’ comes the retort.

‘Well, I wouldn’t ideally to be the Gaandhari to your Dhritarashtra do I?’, I quipped.

That was applaud worthy but mister wasn’t so pleased at not having the upper hand.

A momentary pause later I wanted to add that I’d rather be more like – -Wait! I couldn’t Say Draupadi, I’d then have to find four other equally enticing men.

Could I say Kunti? Having an untouchable better half who’s only rise to fame is because of his sons!? No way.

Radha? What!? No, they never unite except for in famed temples that become huge branded kiosks selling religion!

Well, I gave up looking for inspiration in Indian mythology. Clearly, my search for the perfect couple can’t be found in Mahabharata.

I just strung my arm around Boo with a cheesy smile that said, ‘You know I’ll always be right here!’ and that was that.

What is It?

It isn’t about the fancy decor,

Or the cracked, dirty floor.

It isn’t about the dozens of slides, the excels, or words,

Or the many faces, that smile yet judge your worth.

It isn’t about the moolah you accumulate, the monies in your wallet,

Or the feeling of exhaustion, the shackle of an amulet.

It’s about a feeling that’s certain, one that keeps you warm.

Of days and nights that convince you, life isn’t a harm.

It’s about knowing, instinctively, your sense of right and wrong.

Of wanting to stay, to fight without a frown.

To do all that you intend to, without letting it pull you down.

To be who you are, right down to your messed up, nomadic soul.