#WhatIRead – The House That BJ Built

Anuja Chauhan’s sequel to ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ reemphasizes the same thing through the entirety of this book:

‘I won’t sell. My jhuti won’t sell. Even my Ghosht won’t sell ‘.

Now you know exactly what the story is about – a love story set in the backdrop of an ancient house that’s got a complicated history. Throw in a handsome hunk with Bollywood connections complete with the hot bod and aqualine nose(My assumption of Chauhan’s nose fetish is confirmed for sure!), a righteous but arrogant voluptuous protagonist who keeps chamchamming her way through the storyline, and 4 annoying af cows, er, I mean aunts.

Bonita Singh ‘s name has many synonyms to upp the entertainment quotient. Bonus.. Bonu..Boner.. You see where it’s going?

It’s a fun read given some trademark Chauhan’s Hinglish, her ability to provide offbeat humour, some incredulous Bollywood-like Tamasha, and well-placed mush. (We’re sucklers for old school romance, aren’t we?)

The ending becomes somewhat of a drag and you can think of so many alternate scenarios that could have finished the plot a few pages early.

Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood for a light and entertaining read, do pick up this one and guffaw your way through it! šŸ˜‚

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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!

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 groundedĀ  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 influencesĀ  – 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!

The Book Nook

Yesterday was a day full of chores. Most of the important people in life were away and I had all the time that I needed to work on some chores of my own.

I went to the saloon for a haircut only to know that the regular professional wasn’t there. Since I didn’t know if I’d be able to get away anytime soon, I went to a different parlour and got fleeced royally. So much for the occasional saloon visit.

On my way home, I decided to casually check if this tiny old book shop was still up and running.

What a delight it was to see that not only was the shop standing the test of time, the owner was pacing about the shop and instantly recognised me. He enquired about my welfare and whether I was back to the Garden City. We spoke about my stay away and the move back. It was nice to know that he remembered my journey.

It’s been about three odd years since the shop began. I enquired about his business ventures and our common interest, the books around. I was saddened to know that the building that he’s currently housed in was going to be demolished soon. Hence he was going to wrap up from here and move the bulk of his business to the online model.

He wistfully added that he’d look into opening out a similar nook at his residence, if he succeeded in getting a house of his own.

During the course of our conversation, we discussed work, life, balance and emotions. We talked about how it’s sometimes difficult to explain your choices to people, especially when they’re not just exactly rational yet you know that it makes you a happy person.

There was not one moment of awkwardness while discussing so much at a personal and professional level. This connect I personally believe is quite hard to establish even among people you know quite well.

The highlight of the conversation actually occurred when he handed over a printed bookmark with a QR code and explained that he had compiled a series of short poems and had been persuaded by his daughter to publish it as an ebook. He remarked that his wife may have been a little skeptical as those poems were on the romantic front, but he was honestly happy to be showcasing his work after so many years of effort.

He handed the bookmark to me and said that this was the first time he’d given it to someone apart from family and that I was welcome to review, purchase, and share feedback if I wanted to.

I could see the sense of achievement shine out of his shy demeanour and I was both touched and inspired by him.

Here’s a man who’s unconventional by the world’s standards. ( He is part-time owner of the bookshop and part time freelancer as a transcriptionist while his wife works a full-time position. He’s got his own struggles and is slowly emerging victorious.)

I just purchased the ebook and I’m enjoying the verses. More than that, I’m just happy that he’s happy.

Art maketh Men, eh?

Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife”.Ā 

The beginning of Jane Austen’s novel could not have been established on a more superior note. It was the succinct combination of the style that would follow in the pages thereafter. With expressions so apt, and emotions so detailed, it’s amazing how Austen portrayed the nuances of the time peppered with mild sarcasm and a general tinge of enjoyment.

After having re-read the book many a times, I resorted to listening to the audio book this time around. On one of those days when I give in to the inner child in me and resort to coloring mandalas to feel soothed and calm, I decided to listen to Karen Savage’s rendition of Pride and Prejudice. Whether it’s Mr Collins’ adulatory voice or Mrs Bennet’s high-pitched, dramatic expressions, Savage has done an admirable job with this one.

Despite knowing the story line and the dialogues in some scenes, I couldn’t help feeling awed at this piece of literary genius. I thought myself to be addicted when I couldn’t help myself to another chapter, even when it would be pretty late and I had to doze.Ā  If you’re a fan of books and are looking to start something new, I would recommend this audio book to you so that you may be as fortunate as myself and sing glorious praise of it thence.

P.S The only cons I can think of after you having listened to the audio book is that you may be tempted, like me, to write in a slightly archaic manner and leave your readers puzzled.

Happy listening, folks!

šŸ™‚

Ten Tantalizing Reads

Hi readers,

I’m departing from the usual rants and observations and copying this from a Facebook Post from a year or two ago. There was a fad going on about ten books that left a lasting impact on you and these are mine. I’ve got to say that it does not follow a serious order and some books are just there because you know, it happened to you at a certain phase and the memories of that phase are stuck with its name, a nostalgia that is not necessarily beautiful, yet a part of you.

1) Harry Potter- J.K. Rowling.
For gifting me three best friends for life, and for making me a part of an alternate reality. And for Sirius. Yes, I believe in Magic.

Backstory: I began the Potter series at a house party when I was in 6th grade. I was a book lover, a nerd and I hated the mention of Potter because a certain friend had painted too vivid a picture. Being cynical since 1992, I was all ‘meh’. Why, I even ended up not understanding bat shit in the movie and returned the Casette (Yep, the VCR was a thing then). But at that bored party, once I read a few pages, there was no going back. #HarryPotterForLife since then and a #SiriusLoyalist too.

2) Inheritance series- Christopher Paolini.
I just loved the world he created. It was beautiful to travel with Saphira and meet Arya and yet remember that Eragon was a mere mortal once.

The Inheritance Cycle has mixed emotions. It started off so well but there was a lull in between. As usual, the movies didn’t do justice. I remember watching it with a group of friends in the theatre and there was absolutely nothing riveting about the adaptation on screen. However, being a part of the fantasy world was amazing.

3) The famous five series- Enid Blyton.
Sincere thanks to this woman. I think I fell in love with reading because of Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timmy and their (mis) adventures. It’s made me an adventure freak!

I just remember sitting immobile for hours together just so I could be done with one book and go back to library for more. My librarian had to literally slow me down and barred me a few times.  I really wished I had such friends and that I could take off on adventures. To think about it, I guess my quest for wanderlust also took off around this time.

4) Thousand splendid suns- Khaled Hosseini.
For being simply splendid. I did a marathon with this book and it ended in late night tears. Mariam inspired me to write poetry.
For mariam and Tareeq. Love does conquer all.

It was in the 11th or 12th. It was horrible. I was a sobbing mess and I kept telling myself that there had to have been a way to save Mariam. I read this book when I was not doing so well in life. There was a lot of bull shit to rote learn, a feeling of hopelessness, not too many friends I could call mine, and well, the book was a beautiful reminder of hope. 

5) Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell.
I read this way back in 9th grade. Not very pleased with the storyline but Scarlet ‘O Hara’s fierce arrogance has made for some interesting thought process.

In hindsight, I should not have started this book so young. It took me a really really long time to finish and it’s been one of the few books that I have cheated on. (Read two books simultaneously I mean).

6) The Shiva Trilogy- Amish Tripathy.
I just loved the way he broke it down to a message- Good deeds can make a Man God. Shiva’s journey from an ‘uncouth barbarian’ to the ‘Neelkanth’ was quite amazing. And the heartbreak at the end, So sad, yet so serene.

I remember reading this and explaining it to my extended family so fiercely that my Uncle actually was super impressed. This is one series I plan to read and re-read every few years just to understand and appreciate the beauty of life truths.

7) The crystal mask- Katherine Roberts.
I think I loved the exotic names that characters had in addition to the unique storyline.

8) Godfather- Mario Puzo.
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Nuff said. The mafia bug bit me quite late and while I’m not an ardent fan of Narcos, I like to think that Godfather is still the ultimate in this category.

9) The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho.
It’s self explanatory…………….. And finally…

I am pretty sure I read it in one sitting because I really wanted to find the treasure. Don’t you all?

10) To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee.
It is meticulous narration from a child’s point pf view but it deals with so many complex problems. Well deserved Pulitzer..

 

Every time people ask me what’s my favorite book, I have a couple on my mind but it’s usually To Kill A Mockingbird that I reply. I read this a few times and I feel like I can relate to Atticus and I’m so proud of him. Not planning to read the sequel, sorry.

 

Do tell me what’s your favorite book of all times? May be I should get my hands on new categories and titles! šŸ˜€

 

The Glass Palace

I’ve been cooped inside my room reading Amitav Ghosh for the first time ever. It is taking me though an intensely riveting journey through the erstwhile little empire of the Burmese to the coastline of Ratnagiri district and then to Malay. Something tells me I need to brush up on my geography to keep pace with all the places. 

I can’t but marvel upon how the events of a person’s life becomes so immaterial in books. Youth, marriage, kids.. All are given but a fleeting mention and suddenly the protagonist is dealing with issues that are rooted deeply in the positions they have scoured themselves. I’m amazed at how this book is written with such a good buildup. I can imagine the greatness of the glass palace and I can almost taste the stench in the air when King Thebaw and his family are forced to endure the commonality of the house at Ratnagiri. Their fortunes as emperors forgotten because of the British ruler’s insecurities. 

There is such a strong element of realism in Ghosh’s work that it’s like interviewing and dissecting the lives of the people at close quarters. With every passing day, my personal opinion on love and familial relationships  are challenged and this work is a manifestation of the many doubts that our minds may possess. We are reduced to the depth or shallowness of our society and our personal inclination. You can always control just how much of yourself are  you willing to invest for the outward world. 

The Glass Palace is perhaps a metaphor of our own warped lives. It’s a boundary or our limitations. 

Plansā‰ Life!

Here’s a trip down memory lane wherein I publish posts that were saved as drafts.

 

April 2015:

 

 

I’ve been working as a content writer at this really fun place for a while now. 7 and a half months to be precise. And it has been such an illuminating experience. A lot of people told me while I was still a struggling student (hey it’s not just models and actors okay, engineers struggle too ) that I just had to find a job after the four years spent between books, friends, and movies. They told me that the dynamics of work life was way more advanced than college life. That’s probably the best advice I heard about careers.
I passed out in the bleak monsoon of 2014. After having refused to sit for IT placements in college, life was pretty directionless. So I graduated as a Chemical Engineer, and I didn’t know what the hell to do in life. My life goes by the mantra, when in doubt, travel!

And that’s what I did. Though I wouldn’t exactly call it travel in its realest sense. I spent close to a month meeting and greeting relatives in the city of dreams. Mumbai enchanted me like never before. It spread its arms wide and embraced me into the fast-paced city life, keeping me awed and amazed, willing me to do more.
I was considering a mastersĀ degree in food technology. Don’t ask why. I just woke up with a dream one morning and felt so positive that I wanted to be a food technologist. How hard could it be? I loved food, didn’t I? And technology? Well I’ve been studying heat exchangers, flash drums, and process control units. Could it get any harder?

In hindsight, I’m really thankful that my epiphany was short lived. Just like the length of a Hollywood movie. Wait, it wasn’t that short. Let’s make it Bolywood, considering that I researched the best universities in the UK, argued with my parents, miserably failed to convince them of my designs, and due to the excitement of my brother’s threading ceremony, missed an important deadline to one of India’s best food tech college. I was so pumped about this exam and so confident of making it, I just kicked myself when I missed the date.

C’est la vie.

I happily accompanied an uncle to Mumbai, conveniently avoided meeting him again. (He spent two months at home and repeatedly narrated so many stories, that I debated lip syncing to those stories as a career option.)

Sad to leave Mumbai, I hauled my sorry behind back to Bangalore and delved into creating a ‘good resume’. I updated online job portals and declared myself an excellent chemical engineer and began the wait. That wait, was horrendous.

Just to satiate my alter ego, I created a second profile. That, which indicated my interest in content writing. This was one of the better ideas thatI had had in life. I finally began to be noticed by the portal! Guess that’s how aspiring actors feel when they get ‘noticed’.
After about 3 months of chilling, cribbing, procrastinating, watching endless movies, my stars aligned on a weird Wednesday and got me two interviews on the same day.

The immature side of me wanted to attend the interview of this company that was really far from home. I don’t know what I was thinking. After I spent forty-five min at the bus stop miserably awaiting my turn for the mighty transport that never showed up, I let it go.
That was a sign. A very blatant one. Drum told me to STFU and go attend the second interview. Most chilled out interview ever. Got the job and made some amazing friends.

 

 

February 2016:

 

I’m in the midst of another happening phase – college! The real deal, really! Just the way you pictured it thanks to the movies, except there’s plenty of work to be done and assignments to be submitted. The going has been great and here’s to a lot more planned decisions that get shelved and turn out to be haphazard, yet chaotically great!

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