#WhatIRead – The Sialkot Saga

Hi Folks,

Wish you all a happy Wednesday morning. Isn’t it sublime to know that you’re in the mid of another week and you can almost sniff the excitement of the weekend? Well, I’ve reached my workspace pretty early today thanks to the opposition’s call for a nation-wide Bandh. Man, I used to love being in school for all these unpredictable holidays… Anyway, it’s not too bad being grown up, you can get used to getting your salary. The trouble only strikes when you start evaluating your goals vs your money, and then shit gets real! 

I digress.

Here’s what you came for! 

So I recently finished Ashwin Sanghi’s ‘The Sialkot Saga’, and I couldn’t quite make up my mind over it. I definitely liked the read but there were plenty of loopholes so I’ll just treat it like a dose of Bollywood entertainment. 

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a. The name has barely anything to do with what transpires in the book… And the cover is definitely a giveaway of sorts if you know what I mean! (wink wink)

b. I have always looked at Ashwin Sanghi as The Indian Dan Brown but after reading this particular novel, I’m inclined to also refer to him as The Indian Jeffrey Archer. Need I say more? I bet you’ve already guessed the plotline!

c. I quite liked how he’s tried to sketch over the characters of the protagonist. It was a real page-turner, I won’t deny that but there was something missing – like a good soul. 

d. I absolutely loved how the author integrated almost ALL important events that occurred in Indian History post Independence. You’ll read about the political scenario of India right from Nehru’s times to the chaos of the Gandhi era, to Vajpayee’s unsuccessful stints. It’s not just politics, owing to the economic interests of a certain protagonist, there’s a whole lot of connection to India’s foreign policies, trade unions, et al.

e. It’s also interesting to note that the major terrorist attacks that happened have found mention in the book in one way or another. You’ve got to give the credits to the author, in between weaving from the past and the present, he’s certainly tried his best to keep the plot as real as possible. 

Final Verdict?

To be honest, you aren’t missing out much if you give this a skip but if you’re remotely interested in Indian history and politics, then it’s a good refresher and you may even spot out some erroneous gaps in the timeline! That said, every book deserves its due. So, pick up this, or pick up that, and stick to it! You’ll always be better off after reading! 

So long, then!

Adios, and Happy Reading! 🙂

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Click It To Collect It!

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Growing up, I never had a camera at home. My Dad would borrow his friend’s camera for special occasions like my birthday party or family get-togethers, we’d then get the negatives printed and store all the photos in those fancy albums. It was only when my brother was born in 1999, that we bought a camera after much deliberation. It was a no-frills, Olympus camera. I had a ball just clicking the plush button and seeing the flash arrest the images for posterity. When my Dad bought an Activa some twelve years ago, I excitedly got the camera out and captured my baby brother and Dad on the bike. Without even knowing my frame, Dad chided me for being in a hurry. He explained how symmetry is a very important component of any image and how I had cut off half the Activa and had more of the plain sky foreground. I remember feeling very stupid and have since followed his advice when it comes to selecting my frames and subject placement.

We then graduated to a Panasonic Lumix – to stay abreast of the digital trend. It’s been a few years now since we stopped using the Lumix – we had to replace the battery. Just like a million other chores on the To-Do-List that never actually get done, the camera awaits its resurrection to life.

 

Then came the millennia of smartphones and with it, a progressive upgrade of cameras. My first phone was a Nokia Express Music, gifted to me by my Grand-Dad. It had a great sound system and a fairly decent camera. I then went on to use a Samsung Chat (The least useful phone I’ve had). I graduated to a Lenovo – which despite being a smartphone had the most grainy captures ever. When I bought a Moto E2 with my earnings, I was most impressed with the camera – especially in natural light. I’m currently using a Redmi Note 5 but there are moments when I miss my tiny Moto E2 for its scenic captures.

I have a passion for the ancient – take me to a heritage structure and I’m going to be the happiest – noting, clicking and trying to create the perfect story in my head. Having said that, I’m also awed by nature and have a beautiful collection of nature at its best – trees / leaves/ flowers / clouds/ name it, and I mostly have these clicks. It was while I was en route Ajanta Caves that I decided to start an Instagram Page dedicated to the photo gallery that I have curated over the years.

InstaGrid
Just an assortment of images from my Insta Page.

Despite the magic of photography, there are moments when I’ve resisted the urge to get out my device, because the lingering beauty is so transient, you’d rather live it out and experience it than attempt to capture it and spoil the experience. It’s a call that every one needs to take on an individual level.

More on the link to the page in the next blog.

Adios!

🙂

Maasoom – Of Emotions Warm and Milky

You know that there is a blog post coming up soon when you’re swamped with words and are at a loss to record them. The past week has been one of tumultuous emotions for me – two months ago, I took a decision which brought me to a new stage in life – that of acceptance and of facing reality. Now I don’t know how successful I will be in NOT running from problems (Yes, I know. Escapism seems to run strong in my generation these days!) but I know that I must face the consequences and I know I will.

I was lounging about the hall when a vaguely familiar tune caught my attention – My /mum had just switched on Doordarshan (Did you know DD still has some viewers left?!) and I was intrigued by the film. I spent my evening watching Maasoom.

Now this movie brings up a lot of anecdotes in my head – Let’s go chronologically. I remember my parents watching this movie when I was a kid and I remember thinking – Why would someone watch something so boring that despite featuring 3 kids did not make it entertaining for me.

Much later in high school, I had the good fortune to meet a Social Science teacher – Ms Rachna Ma’am, who reinforced my belief in general knowledge and discipline. I will always remember her chiding me for not knowing the capital of Chattisgarh, for not knowing where which state was positioned and for being a slouch in general. Her arrival into the classroom caused a dissension among most – she actually meant business when she assigned tasks to us and it was different from the norm that we were used to. Rachna ma’am soon became a favorite – not the direct and favorite one, I didn’t want the others to think I loved her. But I did approach her for some issues – read teenage drama. In hindsight – what really stands out was that – my love for knowing and acquiring general knowledge took off from there. She always told us that an Atlas had more knowledge about the world, while costing so less, and all we had to do was absorb and be willing to learn.

Also, Rachna ma’am’s first lesson was to stop calling the subject Social Studies an instead of referring to it as Social Sciences.

Rachna ma’am had to leave our school due to some personal reasons and it was her farewell time. We asked her to sing and she sang – ‘Tujse Naraaz Nahi Zindagi, Hairaan Hoon’. I didn’t understand the depth and complexity of the emotions described in this song until today. Partly because I need to really dissect the lyrics of songs to get their hidden meaning and also because to be frank, I had never thought about it.

Watching Maasoom – the movie, the emotions, the teacher, everything brought up the intensity of the lyrics.

Watching Maasoom also reminded me of a tête-à-tête with my aunt. She constantly emphasizes that it is ALWAYS the woman who can make or break a family. It is always the woman who has to make scarifices – and she must understand this, accept it,and take it upon herself without feeling remorse – it’s the only way that life will be easier for all. I have been contemplating long and hard about this and I feel like she’s onto something.

And here’s the link to the movie if you’re up for some mellow, thoughtful piece of art! Did I mention the brilliant acting?

If you just want the song, here it is:

If you watch Maasoom and are faced with a dilemma that the protagonist in the movie faces – how would you react and what would you feel like?

I would be very keen to know your views. Do write, comment and leave your thoughts while I go get some rest.

Adios amigos.

Stay stong! ❤

Dig Through The Data For Insightful Thoughts

I think this is the dream.
Sitting in an airport café – the window overlooks the runaway and you see these beautiful non-natural birds gliding and taking off right next to you, and you’re sipping on a mocha-café and aren’t worried that it has cost you a bomb. This phase – the pre-travel anticipation for a much-needed holiday, it’s a blissful feeling. It’s like you’ve worked your ass off, or maybe not so much, but just a little bit, for these moments.

Sitting opposite a stranger, exchange polite hellos, and before it becomes imperative to exchange more words, you take out your laptop and start putting into words the emotions you feel. Writing is a boon, to those few who have discovered the perils of doing so. I call it peril because when you write, you leave a lasting impression of yourself, on record to the world. You may move on, move worlds and pass into nothingness, but your words, those creatures of your mind, they will survive the test of time. They’re potent, yet latent, The dangers will be unleashed only if discovered by people.
For a private journal writer, I am amazed at how curious I am about other people’s work. It’s beautiful seeing people open up to inanimate paper because you don’t hold back at all, then. I recently discovered a colleague’s office notebook – I read some of her words – a letter to her friend, some words to take off the heaviness in her mind, and some random scribbles. It gives you an altogether different insight into the person. She will never know I did that. For she will never want her pages back. And that, only adds to the appeal of the words.
It’s so beautiful – the gift of gab, albeit in the written format.
I was often asked why I wasn’t into journalism – I could have been one but I didn’t fight hard for it cause I didn’t believe in my abilities. I didn’t believe I, a meek and introverted person could be bold enough to follow up with people, to dig deep into minds and I didn’t think I ‘d be resourceful enough.

I still don’t think I’d make a good journalist. For writing, is only a small part of the qualities that you’d need to have. I hate pressurising people to open up. But if you do want to open up, I will listen to you with my heart and soul and try to respect your thoughts, words, and opinions, more that I would believe in. For faith is another beautiful thing.
While I was on the drive, en route to the airport, I couldn’t help but think about the people in my life, who I love.
I came to a few realisations, that are not altogether selfless. I do not see myself as a person who can be loved. When people accept me for my flaws and idiosyncracies that is when I begin to like them. I feel amazed – like how can you even like someone like me? If you are brave enough to take that step and are not turned off my the results, who am I to not respect the beautiful piece of art that you are? That is how my emotions grow.
They say that love is not selfish. I disagree. The intent to love can only begin if there are certain emotions that are brought to the fore. And for that to happen, you would need to be aware of certain attributes, that may not al be rosy.
When my desk at the office was changed after 3 months of joining the new corporate place, I was aghast. I didn’t like that I was seated in between two people who had the unfriendliest of faces. One was super polite, one was super quiet. Every time one went for a smoke, I could feel the reek and stench of the tobacco for minutes altogether and I hated it.
It took me about three months more to actually interact with the smoker. I realise that time is the biggest catalyst in your relationships with people. Take your own family members for instance. There are different phases and emotions that you can trace from your childhood. The overwhelming emotion is of love.. but if you separate them, you can see how it stems in.. When you’re in kindergarten, you are just awed by your parents. They are your biggest heroes – the know-it-alls, the solution to your everyday problems, your biggest support.
Move on to your teens, and you begin to see your parents as your enemies. You don’t get them, their logic or lack of it seems lame to you, you want to distance yourself away and you even manage to do it quite ruefully. It’s a hard phase for them to be in. And your dramatics do not improve the situation but hey, you are the Rockstar of your life and you think that you have every right to be that annoying ass that you are.
After a slow and painful teenage and a rather rough start to your twenties when your career decisions may be impacted by your folks, you are just beginning to accept things, and you are neutral to your folks. Then comes that long-distance phase with your parents. You may move to a new city in pursuit of new ambitions and goals and suddenly you realise the importance of your family,, Things may not get back to the idolising that happened to you as a kid, but you’re at somewhat a balanced phase now.
Now is the time you begin to value the sacrifices they’ve gone through. The early mornings, late nights, mundane job responsibilities and the likes. It’s a little too difficultfor you – because you don’t even know if you could ever do the same for somebody. Not until you’re in that situation, maybe not even then. You respect and love your folks more now, maybe see them as lovable frail hearts, that are slipping by you with time.
I don’t know the purpose of this post/rant, but the homecoming and the homegoing, both are always slightly emotional. For all the perks that living away offers, home Is always love, and always will be.
Perhaps that is why whenever you go back home, no matter how long ago it’s been, it always feels like you never left.

 

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! 😀

 

Transitions

Bidding adieu sucks but you’ve got to do it because transitions make you grow…

Hi readers,

I must admit that what I actually set out to do while writing the previous post was not to write it. Nah-uh, I actually wanted something to surpass the older posts and instead of coming up with something new, something non poetic, I ended up publishing a half-written draft in my sleep. 

Now that my royally loyal reader HashBrownie has asked me what I’m made of, I think it’s time to take a break from that bubble of procrastination and step out into the sunshine!

Here’s what’s been going on.

Two years of college are coming to an end. That’s bidding adieu to two of the best years of life.

I know it’s not easy to measure yardsticks when you talk of ‘best days’.

Think about having beautiful sunsets as the backdrop of your home, evenings that start off as hot and sultry but if you’re not careful, end up feeling frost bitingly cold.

Think about living in spacious rooms, (with balconies to sip tea in, mind you) with pleasant roomies who just let you be. (Warts, farts, darts et al).

Think about the cold coffee, hot coffee, ice cream sandwich, and the gulab jamuns at the mess.

Think of the people who you surround yourself with. Those who make you smile and laugh and cry at the same time.

Friends who instil a dependency on you that makes you realise you are important. Friends who you thought were loud and bossy but actually ended up loving and living with. Friends who you fell in love with, despite their stupidest idiosyncracies.

Yes. The hills were alive to all these sounds and intuitions. They’ve seen my sweat, my tears, and my joys. It’s honestly satisfying to see that you make a difference.

The belief that Sometimes, actually, most times, your integrity and work will suffice.

Anyway. As I step out of this beautiful place I called home for two years, I know I will always call it home. The home that grew on me and steadied me to a future I didn’t think I could have, I’ve only got the deepest sense of gratitude for this experience. To all the forces of the universe, who made it happen.

My peers are off on a spree of rants about how much they’ll miss this place. Interestingly, I finished this nostalgia in the third semester, with my besties around me. Everyday I’d look out and go ‘Daaamn, I’ve got to move on from this. How does one do that?’

I think I’ve found my answer. You get to transition from your phases in life when you have the hope to find better.

Every time you are down, remember, there’s something that’s been eluding you but it can be yours, with some dedication, effort and time.

Find your homes, not in the four walls of a building but find your homes in people. It’s people that make you want to believe in the best of you. It’s people, who will be there for you. and then you’ll know, goodbyes won’t be hard. They’ll just be something that you have got to do.

Find you home and then you’ll know. Goodbyes won’t be hard. They’ll just be something that you have got to do.

This is me bidding adieu to college life as I had known and loved. 

Here’s to newer and more enriching things in life to all of us.

Life Is Beautiful. Believe It. And You’ll Feel It.

It’s truly been the end of an era.

Adios, SIMC.

Musafir Hoon Yaaron!

I have a new, old-favorite song and it’s been buzzing in my head all day. I guess I’m indulging in a lot of retro. Here are the lyrics of the new love:

Musafir Hoon Yaaron

Na Ghar Hai, Na Tikhana

Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai

Bas… Chalte Jaana Hai!

 

I love the melody and how peaceful it is. I do have a home and I do have shelter but I find it a solace to just keep moving on, traveling and experiencing the simplest pleasures of life.

Here’s the video if you want to revel in the beauty of this timeless music by R.D Burman in the soulful voice of Kishore Kumar.

 

What’s Your Medley of melodies? 

Can the same song play in your head at all times of the day? A constant lullaby that soothes you and encourages you to stay happy? 

I’ve been writing exams, trying to study, walking, coloring and going about life with this melody in my head. For all change, it doesn’t disappoint. It isn’t among the things that annoys, it instead brings a smile and makes me want to write this post. 

Do you have a song that’s constantly by your side, motivating you and staying a witness to your fantasies of life? 

How does it make you feel? Tell me more! 

I. Me. Myself.

I was just watching Vidya Balan on her chat show with Anupam Kher. And she said, don’t keep your heart’s desire closest to you. Make a wish, mean it and let it be out there. Let the Universe get the feel of your desire and then make it happen for you.
And she made this gesture.. of leaving a ballon or glow lantern up into the air, it just sounded and felt so right.
You know one other thing she said struck me, ‘You dictate how others treat you’.
You don’t want to be pushed about and stamped upon? Stop being a doormat.
You have a life. You see people come and make a difference in yours, they could give their views, they could tell you what or how to decide things of significance, they could be your life.
But, and it’s a big But.
It’s your life. It might take a week, some months, many years.. But they will leave. And the spotlight will be on you alone. Because your life, is yours alone to walk in.
Sometimes you might feel things aren’t going the way you want them to in your life, your dreams aren’t working out and it’s not entirely because of you? Find that source and change it. Mould yourself into who you want to be. And then, just go get them.
Go and be who you were born to be,
Live.