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All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

Shubho Nobo Borsho readers!

Well this is how we say Happy New Year. While for some it is Songkran or Ser Sala We Piroz Be, the Bengalis celebrate Poila Boisakh (1st day of the new year as per the Bengali calendar). A much awaited day for the community when it is not only about the food, clothes and celebration, it is a good break for many office goers!

The beginning to another fiscal year, Bengali businessmen do all sorts of elaborate arrangements to worship the wealth and luck they have earned.

As for me I started the year by finishing a very interesting book by Robert Fulghum.

This book is years old and I had got my hands on it just a couple of weeks back. The writer is funny. Period. I love how he talked about just anything and everything that happens in our adult lives that we tend have no knowledge or answers for. Things that could have been made aware of when we were younger. Like money, tax, relationships, etc. Sadly, our younger selves were too protected and then suddenly one fine day, you are old and you gotta take care of yourself!

The book was first published in 1986. However, the thoughts are universal and they are still fresh and relatable. The chapters are based on his daily life learnings and they reflect some of the major experiences that adults go through. He identifies himself as a lazy person who is not able to join the dots of certain things around him. And with everything we are growing old each day. The language is very easy to read and hilarious. Here, is an excerpt:

Everyone should get a copy!

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No-No items

Hello readers!

There have been lots and lots of developments or rather just say changes in my life. The biggest one- my sister moved to the USA; big move! That has been a little hard for me to accept as it has always been me leaving home for work and travel; but not the one who would be left at home. On the work front, we have finally started with an in-class TEFL training program. How I missed a classroom!

My journey with minimalism has been a really eye opening one till now. With each day I am learning something new about not wanting to want more and owning everything with a purpose. My definition of minimalism is definitely personal.

After a lot of thought, this is the list of my no-buy items that seemed like big sacrifices at first but it has been an awesome step:

Books

I am always running after the crisp smell and tactile feel of flipping through the pages and read. They will always give me that perfect break from the reality; and learn so much to cope with the reality. And by reality I mean “society”.

I was absolutely against the whole idea of e-books and replace my routine with Kindle. The more I researched, now what I understand, living in a shitty world economy, long term investments are always a sensible thing. As per me, of course. The e-book prices are low, at times even free and the options are endless. So with that thought, I have stopped buying books, and saving up for the digital experience.

Subscriptions

DU-DOOP! We are all familiar with the excitement that this sound brings with it. And then there are a bunch of other movie streaming platforms. In the beginning of this year, I had really intended to subscribe to Prime and Voot for their amazing movies that I often borrow and watch (passwords I mean). Well, the more I waited to think over the decision, the more it did not make any financial sense. There will always be something that we would miss and in the long run it will not really matter. So as of now and always, hopefully, NETFLIX!

Cravings

Just look at it! Isn’t it gorgeous? Pepperoni paradise! I mean we all have our favorite midnight cravings, munchies, snacks, etc. Sometimes a large pizza with extra cheese, fried chicken, buffalo wings, dumplings, samosa, momos, ice cream and the list is endless. These are as addictive as “edibles”! The beauty of these food items are the sugar and spice and everything not nice mixed to perfection. The worst part is you forget how to stop these cravings. And it also costs a lot.

It will be a lie if I say that I have not really digged into a bowl of Ramen last week (actually Tuesday but its Sunday night already so technically its last week!). But the month of March has been a revolutionary one where I literally made it a point to get back home right after work and eat dinner instead of listening to my cravings….aaaaahh!

Slow and steady!!

Clothes

This one I have become quite confident about and I have literally surprised myself when I went out to do some last minute shopping for my sister, I did not buy anything for myself! Now that was a real achievement for me!

The closet cleanse blog acted like an affirmation. https://cupcakesandmiracles.com/2021/03/07/closet-cleanse/

So yeah, this is the update on getting on with the minimalist way of life.

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Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

I have been writing reviews of my favorite books and that has really helped me to understand and appreciate not only the craft of writing but also the whole dynamics of press, printing, cover design, fonts, price, publishing, translations and how the entire process is an entire Universe in itself! It was quite overwhelming as and when I got into a deeper perspective of such things.

Moving on, today I have a book appreciation post and this one has been on hold for 2 months straight. This the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.

It dates back to the 4th century BC or even earlier- a portion of its excavations being suggesting that, it has been highly influential in shaping the religious philosophies of Chinese beliefs. As per my understanding, the words and the sayings are extremely useful to develop business, politics and leadership ideologies. These are a total of 81 verses which was written to teach us “the way of integrity.”

The verses simplify the importance of humility, generosity and spontaneity. It is when that these are balanced it brings about a harmonious change in the way we think about ourselves and the world.

Tao Te Ching has been translated majorly in English, French and German and published all around the world. Over 25O translations have been published to spread the words of the Old Master.

The one I have is translated by James Legge and published by Finger Print Publishing in India.

If you are in a phase where your are seeking clarity and purpose, like me, I highly recommend that you give this book a read. I am sure all other translations are equally comprehensible and gives a peep into the wisdom of Lao Tzu.

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Of signs and languages

Languages are amazing. I think languages not only make you know the culture and soul of a community but make you feel you are part of them. Most of us usually give importance or rather run after the illusion of the various points and manners of articulation that produces these strangely attractive sounds in different languages. While trying to juggle and understand the supra-segmental features, another feature that adds to our knowledge is the variety of gestures and body languages that belong to each language, learnt or acquired. Whether written or spoken, grammatical information is another part that is conveyed through the different structures which are used as standards for every language. So when we learn or acquire a language, we have to pay attention to both the aspects. If I now put it into perspective, all these can only be achievable if we are able to speak in the first place!

For every 1000 kids, there is 1 kid who is deaf or cannot speak. Sadly, the government develops curriculum that will teach kids to show only compassion for such conditions but not feel a sense of community along with them. Sign languages have been popular and taught to kids with the condition of mutism for their survival. However, learning sign language for a regular person has a lot of importance as well. Let me break down this news in as many pieces as I know:

  1. When you are trying to communicate through signs, you listen with your eyes and that makes you a better listener. Unlike spoken language, you cannot look away while listening. So in short, making eye contact and communicate would need genuine interest!
  2. Knowing sign language is extremely helpful to deal with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since they do not like to communicate and engage much in social interactions, sign language comfort them. Also, a routine and a set pattern to communicate makes them more social unlike the change of patterns that we unconsciously do while using a spoken language.
  3. 21st century learning design constantly strives for productive collaboration. So for better classroom management and encouraging private conversation while group tasks, it calls for this essential language. Additionally, a conversation becomes more expressive as both emotion and grammatical features can be expressed at the same time.
  4. Kids born with the ability and inability to speak are born with same acquisition competency. Both the kids would start babbling first with their hands, and then their mouth. Early diagnosis of mutism helps in normalizing the same efficiently.
  5. Sign language improves a learner’s peripheral vision and reaction time. As pointed out in 1. how one needs to be very attentive while listening with your eyes, it increases your spatial awareness as you are now focused to make meaning of the conversation and the interaction. Since, everything is linked with signs and gestures, it also promotes better memory rotation.
  6. The signs are converted from the written set of the letters in one language. It is also witnessed that learning sign languages makes a learner better at spellings.
  7. Since it is native for anyone who cannot express in a spoken language, it is even researched to be true that learning a sign language helps you to communicate with animals. It opens you to a different world and its rich history and advancement.

There are over 135 sign languages. Go ahead and sign up for one!

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March 8- a teeny time travel

Enheduana

The name has a rich history from the time any written record of the past was found by archaeologists and historians. Many believe that her poems and hymns are the earliest written records ever found in the history of civilizations. Enheduana was the priestess from Sumer, modern day Baghdad and a stretch over the Persian Gulf. She is the earliest known woman recorded in history who came from the royal family and later after much compromises and diplomacy, she was made the high priestess. She then went on to compose hymns for temples all around the Sumer lands , Akkadian regions and beyond.

Originally 37 tablets were found where a total of 42 hymns and poems were excavated. There were inscriptions and seals made in her honor which were as valued as the biggies of the then rulers and noblemen of the Mesopotamian civilization. Interestingly enough, there were copies found of her compositions much later in other parts of the modern day worlds. It proves the authenticity and popularity of her literary works that they were relevant even generations after her death.

Enheduana is often mentioned along with Inanna, the fertility Goddess. Most of her pre-historical poems which are translated in Sumerian language are all about the Goddess and her greatness. Enheduana also went on to providing a logical and practical hierarchy of Gods and Goddesses which led to transpire into women empowerment and equality in decision making across Akkadian regions and cultures.

Then generations and centuries later……….

When women were stamped as a commodity and conditioned to get married and make babies and follow cultural oppression as a lifestyle, some German women started a movement for voting rights in 1914 which they won precisely 4 years later in 1918. It is also believed that may be the movement started on a Sunday, March 8. That led into a journey of inclusion, equality and empowerment. After much struggle, when it was all worth it and the media publicized the observation, International Women’s Day on March 8 steadily became a thing to commercialize.

Meanwhile,

The Peshmerga guerilla fighters are still protecting and fighting for a peaceful Kurdistan.

It is an amazing world. Happy International Women’s Day!

May we never have to celebrate a day dedicated to women and everyday is ours to own. May the mothers are educated enough to teach their sons the importance of harmonious existence of both the genders while moving ahead with time. I believe that is more essential and a lot of problems would be solved if the parents develop functional integrity. It is all a cycle!

If only Enheduana could know the future world…..Salut!

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Closet cleanse

On Jan 13 I had shared how my family and I have consciously taken the decision of de-cluttering the house. Well, it has been a little far from a 2 months journey and let me tell you all, IT IS HARD! It is so hard to let go of things that do not serve any purpose. It is just like a bad romance!

https://cupcakesandmiracles.com/2021/01/13/a-resolution-for-real-this-time/

My biggest and the most challenging target was to de-clutter my closet. I mean, what can I say; I love to dress up, experiment and create looks. I am not a trendy person but I do shop the latest to create looks with the older items. I thought I will take up the challenge much later and that I would start with smaller goals. Something told me it’s high time already……..

After 2 days and 2 closets full of at least 15 years of shop till you drop irrationality, I came to the conclusion that the clothes were still fine. I mean I have reasons for it. Not that I was not able to let it all go, but I am petite. I can still fit into my high school clothes which are going to be 2 decades old in a year (stop counting my age and keep on reading!) And I literally took care of my closet all these years. So there was not a question that I could simply throw away the clothes. Plus, it was such an embarrassing moment when I found out clothes with price tags on, in mint conditions and I completely forgot about them! Not exaggerating but it was definitely shameful.

So while I have my Rebecca Bloomwood moment (minus the part where she went bankrupt), here I have got a series of lost and found totally new clothes which are at least 6 years old. The one with the round collar is 9 years old.

In India thrifting do not exactly happen how it is done in the Western countries. Rather, the ungrateful fortunate ones like me donate our clothes to the various NGOs or even the Gypsies who trade utensils with such giveaways (I will write about them in a few days; the OG Gypsies). So after a week long donation work after my office, my closet is finally reduced to what you can refer to a closet that will keep me covered for; I’m guessing 5 years from now!

But apart from the cynicism and sarcasm attack on myself, it has been an eye opening 2 months of planning and a consistent push to keep things simple and purposeful. It was a huge step but now when I look back, I feel it is possible to create a better place for yourself to live. It is all in our control.

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Author appreciation post #1

Overtime I have amazed myself with how the book shelves at home filled up with literary works from fantasy, frivolous, super girlie reads to dark, deep thinking ones to biographies, autobiographies to even research works…….a big PHEW!

When I look back at my reading graph, I sort of covered pretty much all the genres. Why am I like this? I mean I always wanted to show off as someone “sucker for romance” or say things like “damn, Darcy!” or get “Sherlocked”. Now that I think about it, I guess I am more thrilled to read in general than getting excited about a type of literary work. Good for me I guess; it has always helped me to mesh well with all kinds of book lovers and discuss and debate. It is always a difficult question to answer as to who is my favorite author. Well of course I do have less favorite books or the ones where I judged the books buy their covers and regretted.

Today my author appreciation post is about Meg Cabot and Haruki Murakami.

Previously I had shared a book review on one of the Murakami books: https://cupcakesandmiracles.com/2020/05/31/after-dark-haruki-murakami/

And, another on a Meg Cabot trilogy:

https://cupcakesandmiracles.com/2020/05/12/airhead/

The authors have completely different ways of story telling and stitching the incidents together. But I think in their own ways they still are similar on the places where they try to build up the tension among the readers. The way the turn of events always leave you intrigued to know the next part is kind of what brings these 2 authors on the same page. Their writing styles are absolutely different from each other. Surprisingly enough, as I grew up and my thought processes kept changing, the transition from Cabot to Murakami kept the essence of my kinda reads on a constant level. The imaginative writings and the vivid details of the characters are tightly based on the respective author’s homelands and that really kept me hooked to their works. Their works are heavily influenced by dramatic, musical yet daily references.

I would come around with another author appreciation post soon!

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Language learning apps- yay or nay

Language learning is no more an expensive hobby or something to really talk about. As natural human urges go, it is proven that each one of us have a likeness towards at least one unknown language that we want to learn. At times people assimilate and immerse into the culture of the language so much that they develop personality and psychological changes! Not saying it is a disorder but a borderline dissociation, may be? Just kidding!

Why do people want to learn language?

It is at times debatable as to why exactly it jumps from a want to a need. If there are external demands in terms of academic, business or emigration; that’s considerable. Most possibly it is the worshiping nature or tendencies of the human mind where they give more importance to fascination than acquired state of existence. Another crucial factor which is ever evolving- domination of the powerful. For example the way British colonial hungover conditioned the entire communication system and the modern day mainstream media, job markets, etc. Apparently, such factors effect us to believe into the whole idea that knowing or learning a language is a brighter decision.

What do the language learners wish to achieve?

“I want to sound like Tom Cruise how he speaks in Jerry McGuire,” said by a 21 year old engineering student who signed up for a 3-months course for the beginners!

“I wanna learn Spanish because I wanna watch Narcos without subtitles and speak English with a Mexican accent. I find it hot!” This is from an undergrad in her late teens.

Now this is not something unusual. Any language learner without a possible intention to use the learned language on a daily basis will have such thoughts. So when they sign up for language classes, very less percentage of learners actually wish to achieve a grammatical and syntactical success. It always has to do with these dreamy motives.

Language learning classes then become a tedious thing where they invest their time and money and in the end they are left bored once the class works shift from pronunciation drills to more profound grammatical activities. Language learning apps, however, provides the same input without the “hard work”.

Let us look at the few advantages of learning language from a mobile app:

Independence, accessible and inexpensive

With full access to the various language learning videos available on these apps, one can choose as per comfort. There are no such timings for the class that one has to follow. A lot of online course service providers like Udemy, Coursera, etc. provides inexpensive courses with pre-assigned tasks and a certificate. One can access the courses through their apps and study at convenient times without anxiety and pressure.

Visualisation

Visual aids and attractive support materials to associate the language with situations give it a more localized and comprehensible feel to the learning process.

Purposeful utility

All these apps come with their individual USP. Duolingo is a faster way to learn where one can learn through their simplified bite-sized lessons. Then we have Babbel, where you get a level-to-level experience and the language learning experience is modeled by linguists and educators. Rosetta Stone is another one where you have less grammar translations and gamified tasks where the process is more accuracy driven.

Alright, now let us look at the not so advantageous points:

No human interaction

Well of course! Signing up for an in-class or the webinar live online sessions allow you to talk and interact with your peers and the expert trainer. With the apps, you are only talking and listening to yourself. So the success rate cannot be determined.

Internet connection

Much that the learning apps are easily accessible but internet connectivity is a must. At times if the WiFi is not supporting or you do not have a good reception on your phone, it is a concern.

Lack of control

Although it is more convenient option to access the apps as per their time, a lack of routine and schedule often times are responsible for learners to become more inefficient.

Acoustics and articulation

This is a deep one but sort of very valid. The entire language course is designed to function on a system run by AI. Now when the target language is “spoken” by the app, the whole acoustics of the language and points and manners of articulation become less practical and far from the language processing dynamics adopted by the learner.

Language learning mobile apps definitely gives you a taste of what it feels like to speak in the target language but if you are a learner with a business or academic motive or you want to learn the language to move abroad, you gotta rethink!

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Preserving indigenous languages and why

Noted author and anthropologist, Wade Davis once said, “Now a language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules, it’s a flash of the human spirit. It’s a vehicle for which the soul of a culture comes through to the material world. Every language in some sense is an ecosystem of ideas, a watershed of thought, an old growth forest of the mind.”

You see languages are not just a list of vocabulary, grammatical concepts and so on. It is the thought process of the people who speak or use that language for communication and transaction. It is the only communicated or documented record of the entire umbrella of the soul and success of it. That includes the geography, demographic movements, cultural evolution, medicine, economy and logic. Of course, the list is bigger but I feel these are the more important ones.

If the indigenous languages are preserved then;

A lot of traditions and rituals in different communities will become more meaningful to the younger generation. The practices would be more heart felt. For example, most of the chants and hymns in Hindu culture are mostly in Sanskrit. Now modern population has got no idea of what all those chants mean and they just go with the flow during the ceremony and rituals. If the popularity of the language was not fading, the religious references would have been more cosmic and less of doctrines. The rest you know how you can make your own judgement without getting played by the power!

A lot of medicinal and ancient mystic secrets which have the solution for our overall well being can be brought back into use for modern issues. Anything that is modern it is for us to believe. During the ancient time as we say, they thought they were more advanced and modern than their ancestors. Things have been pretty much the same through time; only the needs get different faces from time to time!

This one might be harder to quantify but preservation of indigenous languages or rather encouragement to speak indigenous languages enables speakers to use their linguistic cognition better. You see what is “I love you” in English it might be “You I love” in another language. But the whole focus will always be on the fact that its you whom I love. So the organization of information in your head is strikingly similar in any language.

Of course it is comparatively cheaper, socially acceptable and more realistic to accept English for all that esoteric academic standards and purposes. However, preservation of the indigenous language would totally increase the relevance of humanistic knowledge and moderation in the use of artificial intelligence and technological control.

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Polka Dots

Ok well 1st…..I had no clue that this one has a strong history. I mean it is just a print!

Polka dots.

For all I knew that this was a print popularized by Princess Diana around the 1980’s. I have a thing for the print since childhood because of the much loved Minnie Mouse. I still remember as a kid how I used to be in awe of her fashionable appearance; and totally not concerned about the fact that she’s a mouse!

The print originated in the Czechs and the natives usually called a little girl or a young woman as polka. Cute!

Anyway and then it says how the medieval Europe did not look at polka dot as something elegant or wear-able. In some cultures, dots were associated with male virility and magick, especially in the Asian cultures. While that is known, Europeans avoided polka prints to be a part of anything consumer-ish as it reminded of all the list of diseases that struck the European communities pretty hard like leprosy, small pox, bubonic plague, measles, etc. So basically, it was not a cheerful or elegant pattern always.

While its association with diseases made it not unacceptable by the royalties, early 1900s saw a big change. Right around the time when people were financially not able to predict the upcoming Great Depression, in 1926, Miss America winner, Norma Smallwood made news by going against the notions and flaunted a polka dot swimsuit in one of the rounds. It was ground breaking!

To the global surprise, the Royal Family thought “why not we get a little rebellious too?”

And well, started from handkerchief, to table cloths, to upholstery, when finally Princess Diana made it officially enter their Royal Closet. This was not before the 1980s I believe! (I feel like the Royal Family Drama entered like the finale with Diana coming into the scene. Right after that things were pretty much out in the open. Anyway this is just my gossip auntie speaking in my head!)

If you Google now, you would see how the daughters-in-law kinda idolize mama-in-law’s fashion and style. They are frequently seen wearing polka dot.

It has now become a household and quite an acceptable pattern over time and it oozes royalty too as you now know the apparent reason behind our conditioning of the fact that polka is elegant!

So here I am trying to be all fashionable with a naturally blow dried hair on a sunny and breezy morning, wearing a few months old green with white polka dot full sleeve satin top before I left for work; to evaluate assignments! Work wear enough?

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Pop culture and English

Of all my experiences with languages and language learners, a few incidents really got me into thinking about the frenzy that the English language have created over time.

Mr. John Schumann came up with his theory of acculturation in which he talked about how we acquire the language, humor, etc when we are exposed in a different culture over a period of time. Although you acquire the language, you necessarily do not learn it. It is not a disciplined learning atmosphere where their acquisition is given feedback upon review and practice. It is a natural and flexible pace which is adopted and the practice is subjective to the need. At times, theorists and linguists have also related this phenomenon to the fact that a lot of times these speakers are unable to catch the sound system of the other language and try to fall back on the existing sound system of their native language. That may result into the whole idea of having a Mexican accent or an Indian accent, spelling errors, unable to emote in that particular language, etc.

Whereas assimilation is something that language enthusiasts build in their minds where in they try to forget or shut the window of their native language. In that process, they are in a constant conflict in their head to make themselves “sound” like a native speaker of the language that they are trying to acquire or learn. It is a strong effort where they alter their cognitive abilities and think from that language’s cultural point of view. The result; more Hollywood!

The ESL market however keeps on discriminating the highly skilled non-native English speaking teachers because they do not look “English” enough. Assimilated much? That reminds me of this Mean Girls dialogue:

At some point the English medium culture had a lot to do with the whole Asian mindset of achieving the Englishman status. More than receiving education, a major section of the society focused on selecting an English medium school for their kids. Now there are 2 factors- the colonial hangover and in a way, the parents tried to be as futuristic as possible. It is true that English is the major language of communication; it is the global lingua franca. The time between 1960s- 2005, the assimilation process was pretty extrinsic. Post that with technology and neo-industrialization taking over the economy, it brought about a huge change. Education developed a corporate attitude and the kids started getting closer to the mainstream media. Now technology was new and more attractive. It convinced the kids more than the verbose teachers. Robotics was literally threatening the experiences of the qualified teachers. Now that is a different story.

When the assimilation became intrinsic, it was very surprising to see the growth of confidence in these kids. With time, social media apps became popular and the communication in the English language became the mandatory cool thing. Another thing that brought about the big switch into the intrinsic assimilation is the access to the movie streaming platforms, for example, Netflix. Subtitles is a pop culture. Now the viewers who understand English, it is quite apparent that they would not require a subtitle. Here is the psychological trick. With one eye on the movie and one eye on the subtitle (not literally of course!), it helps to catch up on what we call the accent, stress, intonation and all those technical features. With the earphones on, it is even easier!

When this gets added to the new age parents’ constant push to make their kids speak in English, they start assimilation on a clean slate not knowing the differences between the biologically endowed sense to acquire language and embossed ability to develop communication skills.

It is more than just glorifying the language. Isn’t it?

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Memories and Alzheimer

Memories.

Ain’t they precious?

Ain’t they petrifying?

At times we wanna relive them.

At times we wanna remove them.

If only it was not controlled by time and age……..

But what if you were not able to do any of that? What if you remember fragments of your existence? The times when you look at your hands you cannot recall how these hands held that of your lover and spend hours together? How you laughed to the silliest of things?

The feeling of lack of physical control and daily functionality of mind going beyond forgetfulness is a dreadful phase. Majorly the thing that I am talking about here is not really curable but as the symptoms grow the right medication helps to keep it under check.

It was heart breaking to see a close friend’s mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. From what we thought was plain forgetfulness, it grew on to her in forms of time lapse, loss of memory and paranoia. With delusions becoming part of her routine, we had to unlearn and relearn our ways to keep things seem normal around her.

I do not know how many of you would read this, but a few experiences that I would like to share that might help a few of you.

Ask for their opinions on random things around the house. May be let him/her choose your work/school outfit. Make them feel that their opinions are important.

Set a daily routine for them. The rhythm and pattern helps them get a mental timer.

Ask for their help to do simple household activities. For example, ask their help to do the corners while making the bed. Ask if they can fold a few clothes for you.

Play soothing music. You would find that a lot on YouTube. With earthy elements these instrumentals help them feel relaxed and connect to a few fragments from their younger life. Let them be emotional. Let them feel vulnerable around you. That means comfort.

Agree to whatever they say and ensure you are composed enough to not get into a deeper discussion or argument.

Most importantly, remind them that they are safe around you!

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Just Breathe.

If you would only breathe…..a lot of your problems would be solved! The root of all problems are nothing tangible but our thoughts. We are so hard wired to the conditioned reality that we are not obligated but rather automated to excuse ourselves from our well being.

Well let’s just say it is not me but a mentor told me this.

But it hits different when you understand the meaning. It is way too deep to be overlooked.

Off late learning the ways of a healer has been quite an introspective process. Yes, I do that! A lot of people think this path to be something irrational and delusional. The amount of hate that is shown to anything that is considered “witchy” is exactly why people would not bother so much about mental health. It is so shocking at the same time like how do you then adopt a faith that is not visible? It is the faith that is always inside you. It is the dogma that you see around you.

The journey of establishing care for the psyche has been rocky but I am so glad how the younger generation has taken up this movement of giving importance to mental health. You see it is so oddly fantastic how every action of ours are wired with our beliefs; either learnt or acquired. Being able to keep our thoughts in a straight path requires great courage and intention.

It is always the weak soul and the conditioned mind that would change the narrative of showing gratitude to begging for security. It is the same soul and mind that would sort for “black magic” as they say because they feel insecure in their skin, about their credibility and existence. Now it may not be something magical but may be that co worker or the family member who would try to pull you down because he or she is jealous of how you look, your pay package, your happiness. That is enough dark intention to be transpired into black magic. Are you one of them?

WHO defines:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

If I take the mental well-being part; don’t you think having dark intentions for others is a matter of your infirmity?

We fall prey of these chaos in our mind so much that we forget to thank the very necessary support to the shelter of our psyche; the air in our lungs! Lungs in the body! It might come off as something funny and lame to a lot of people. Try it for yourself. Breathe anytime you feel like your lover is driving you crazy. Breathe when you want to disown your family. Breathe when you feel hopeless. Breathe when you want to blow up your money on a gadget that might not serve you a purpose. You have the clear picture for everything in your head. Just Breathe.

Let the thinking juices flow!

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A much needed Slow Sunday

For a past few months it has been crazy busy work front. I don’t remember the last time I had a weekend all to myself. Just did my own things of happiness. Read a book, drank some wine, wrote a few lines of love and life, ate a delicious meal cooked unhurriedly, introspected. But yeah as they say, working hard pays off. It was the annual awards night at Asian College of Teachers where I was awarded the Best Academic Support. It was quite the surprise!

So here I am gleaming with an unexpected happiness that my office showered on me!

The picture however makes me look like a junior high school math prodigy!

Jan 31, 2021

I marked the end of the 1st month of the most anticipated year (for obvious reasons) with a Slow Sunday feel. The award was an appreciation and may be a subtle reminder that I need to be more “supportive”! So it took me a couple of hours to sink into the feeling that I did not have any work today. I owned my Sunday after months. I could not have wasted it on just watching Netflix and sleeping. Although a part of me wanted that!

After the strong Americano and my indispensable millet bowl, I took the day in my hand. I have a roof top garden that has been quite lovingly created (I would write a blog on that soon!). With the Sun being all crisp and warm today, I curled like a croissant in the midst of all the freshly watered and mildly fragrant seasonal blooms. OK that was well exaggerated ha ha ha…..

Once I started to feel a little SULA (sweaty upper lip alert) from sitting under the sun for half an hour, I went down to my library to look for a new book to read. With my crazy schedule all these days, I can hardly finish a book in a week. Usually that is my pace, however thick a book is! After much browsing through the shelves I came across a book that I have been putting off since 2010. God knows why. Fashion Victim by Sam Baker. I remember buying this book. It was during my double major years when life became volumes of dazzled episodes of impulsive decisions and high voltage academic schedules. For some reason, known best by my subconscious mind, I never read the book. So yeah, after a decade later, here I am well reminisced and much realized that I cannot afford to waste my pound money 6.99!

February find (Jan 31, so kinda, yeah!):

Annie, an ex- crime journalist swaps her gory life of gruesome reports with a high-heeled position with the leading fashion magazine, Handbag.

I have read it till Chapter 2 and till now it is very Candice Bushnell-ish.

However, the back of the book does spill a teeny detail on the twist on how the fashionista turns to a investigator alligator. Once again!

A good read comes with a good sip!

Mine came with some cheap wine that had been sitting in my refrigerator for couple of months. I could not waste time to wash a wine glass and pour out the remaining merlot.

I took the closest glass to my vicinity that had fishy scales-like pattern on the surface. What the heck, the wine was more important. Oh boy! was it good? Letting your wine sit in the refrigerator after you have opened the bottle for months is never a good idea. Lesson learned!

I could not afford to waste the afternoon in the growing happiness that was spiraling up. Hot shower, chicken stew for lunch. Yes, made more sense.

The evening threw me in the whole feel of getting ready for yet another week ticking in with assignments, webinars and adulting. While I am on Chapter 4, I took a break and journal-ed one slow Sunday that was much needed.

Sante!

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Daily Planners uughh!

As you can see this is my Instagram profile and my bio reflects my other loves except my family and a few more people. I’m too old to be a wannabe so it is what it is!

I love stationery. It has been years of graduating school, finishing university, but I still need my supplies! Over the years, the mobile planners, event reminders took a major turn and I saw how the younger generation was growing up without journals and highlighters. No “Dear Diary” or glitter pens for greeting cards. It was a hard pill to swallow when I saw my niece/nephew parade had no idea of greeting cards! It was a history that I was a part of; I felt ancient and sad. In the last 2-3 years history however started to repeat itself. And now when you see, each year December would flood your social media handles with sponsored ads of daily planners. This is something that really caught my attention. Not for the good reasons. Let me tell you why.

A planner cannot get so satisfying than this. With the right motivating words, variety of writing styles to indicate headings, sub headings, texts, sub texts, blahbity blahbity blah. And to add on there are little saffron clouds, plants with flowers, among other cute little drawings. Very well planned!

Excuse me, who does that?

Who has got the time? By the time I could plan with such aesthetics, I would actually forget the purpose. Do I write to plan or plan to write?

I might sound like the tia transforming to a Karen but Gen Z gotta use Instagram as an app and not the life-modifier!

The heavy marketing and advertising of these carefully and aesthetically presented daily planners come with hoards of accessories. Pens, stickers, Polaroids of random nature shots, bookmarks, etc. All one needs is a pen and a diary that is non-dated, people!

This is not all, now that they have the excuse of showing that you are getting all the necessities in one package, the price is marked keeping in mind all that love and care designed “specially” for you.

This is definitely a flirt confessing to have feelings to the target #43405285147190!

Not kidding but I almost fell for it and thought of buying one. With the price so high it really intrigued me to know why is that; and there it was- Instagram Life Inspo

I went ahead to ask a few teenager students of mine whether they like planners or not.

“For the sake of Instagram.”

“I barely make it to my zoom classes everyday. I bought the planner because they looked cute on the ads.”

“I love writing but I love typing more; wasted my money that I was saving up for my guitar strings.”

Funny!

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I read 2 books at a time; literally!

Disclaimer: If you are not a fan of the supernatural or you are a lover of theoretical idea of logic, you may wanna take a pass and that is OK.

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti is quite a famous name in the Wicca world and she has done some path breaking revelations and experimentation to prove the existence of the other dimension. Now, I am not saying it is completely believable by everyone but none can deny too! Together with her daughter Deepta Roy Chakraverti she leads a brigade of enthusiasts in the field. While the brigade is a not-so-secret anymore, the practices and the rituals followed are never out and this only keeps the curiosity alive for anyone who gets to know about the “society”.

It was just last year December that I got my hands on their books and I had to read them instantly!

Now the books are collections of stories of their encounters and let me tell you the language is quite convincing and picturesque. The stories are carefully written with conviction and insights that might not be for the conditioned and prejudiced minds. It comes off as very harsh but you gotta read to get the points clear. The stories are also their travel journals. I believe this really amps up the selling point. For every place, their personal experience is beautifully journal-ed and it gives a lot of peeps into special nooks and lore.

Sacred Evil by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti (left) while Bhangarh to Bedlam by Deepta Roy Chakraverti (right)

It takes a lot of courage to believe that you are different. What is even challenging is to work towards using those unique qualities. This mother-daughter duo definitely knows how to do that and use their best of their knowledge to play the perfect mediator between the known and the unknown.

If you are a believer in the possibility of the other world, spirits, crafts that make or break lives or just simply a reader of all of these, you would dig these 2 books. They will definitely consume you!

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Elements pt. 2

Hey hey hey!

It has been a crazy week…..Phew! While the inauguration day gave hopes to raise the world standards from grass root perspectives, I sped up my abilities to update spread sheets and student transcripts. After a long week, finally it is the ideal Saturday night to take up the blog right from where I left. In my previous blog I mentioned how there are few things that we should always be grateful for; apart from the fact that we survived the 2020 dystopia.

Give the blog a quick read here: https://cupcakesandmiracles.com/2021/01/17/elements-pt-1/

Welcome to part 2

Now before I dive into thanking Jupiter and Saturn, a little trivia for my ladies out here. Another reason to worship the moon- it regulates our monthly cycle. Yes, the moon does it! Some say it is a myth, while ancient findings do have evidence of its truth.

The Jupiter

Big, mighty and noisy. The planet has been always associated with good luck and growth. Now not supporting astrology, astronomy, etc. but it does have a big, mighty and noisy influence over our lives. Aligning yourself with that influence is pretty easy. Not. I mean speaking from my personal experience staying focused into thinking positive and constructive is one hella tricky thing.

Jupiter-ish influence over us is the highest during Thursdays. One way to bring about a positive change in oneself is to give a break to our digestive system. In India we also associate good luck and growth with Godddess Laxmi and we worship her with much discipline. Vegetarian or vegan food is a mandate on those days to give a break to the system. Well without going deep into the dogmas, the point is fasting and not breakfast-ing on Thursdays definitely helps you get synced.

The other ways when you can have a bigger influence of Jupiter in your life:

Wear different shades of yellow.

Add care for nature to your to-do list. Start by watering a house plant. It is a great start!

Well, just be a believer of the idea that you would always receive more when you give away.

The Saturn

It is perhaps the only planet with two extreme moods. Saturn is malefic and mellow. Can you believe it? Neither did I, ten years ago. Saturn is an old planet and it has been the part of time more than the time, time was discovered!

Be grateful to Saturn because it influences your long life. It also brings in the right hurdles in your life to either make you stronger or to teach you lesson. At times we keep on trying to excel at something that we really love but the efforts never meet a positive result. Thank Saturn because this babe in the Universe is giving you major signs that it might not be the best decision or may be you are more interested in comparing your miserable state with success stories rather than actually putting the needed effort. Saturn helps us to introspect; an ability very few possess. Talk to yourself, measure your thoughts. That is Saturn for you.

I hope you all find the blog really useful and you make good choices for yourself. There are some things that cannot be proven with abstract and absolute facts but they definitely exist. Just like the power of gratitude.

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Elements pt.1

This one’s a special one. Practicing gratitude is a hard task. Those who do, they know. Once you do, it becomes a part of your life. It is more than just saying “thank you” or “I appreciate it” and so on. It has been 2 years that I have taken up following the rituals that was passed on to me. The previous generations did not have the option of creating digital connections and spreading knowledge. So I look at it as my duty to tell my readers about the profound gift of gratitude that we are endowed with, but, rarely found within ourselves. So we seek for linguistic expressions that sadly become more of a universal norm.

There are 6 things that keep the inertia lock on our lives. Interestingly enough, majority of us do not know the higher order influence that they have on us. They are the Sun, the Moon, Earth’s magnetic field, trees, Jupiter and Saturn!

When you Google the importance of Sun in our lives, it will say something like:

“It radiates light and heat, or solar energy, which makes it possible for life to exist on Earth. Plants need sunlight to grow. Animals, including humans, need plants for food and the oxygen they produce. Without heat from the sun, Earth would freeze.”

Well, for the times you take your impulsive nature to compare your life with others, know that no matter what, you both would need the Sun to even be alive!

Besides the gravitational pull and the rhythmic braking Moon provide us with, thank the rock for letting you have the abilities to be intuitive, feel joy, contentment and love. Thank the Moon, find your key to happiness!

Trees, perhaps the only natural element that we shamelessly exploit, even after knowing the consequences. If only we were grateful for all the amazing things trees do. Every single part of a tree is selfless and is worthy of something. From regulating air for us to bearing cures for life threatening ailments, the list can go on. Now I understand we all agree with Charles Darwin at the same time. But it seems to have been now misinterpreted and instead of survival and existence it is now man vs nature. Sadly, we fail to realize that we are a part of the nature!

I would like to end my blog here and create a part 2 for the rest of the elements.

I hope you find the part 1 useful.

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2021 or 2020-won

Hey readers!

It had been a long and short year, isn’t it? It is already 2021!! Mentally I am still trying to process as to how 2020 flew right after the lock down happened. Started with a World War III rumor, moved on to the virus followed by a pool of thoughts overwhelming us while we were under lock down. Some people took up baking, while some learnt to give time to family. Massive lay offs, a sudden work from home routine for the rest while the stay home population took the test of time dealing with the earners 24×7. People got bored and they gave major sales to the markets while the suicide rates went up along with corona death rates. People lost their jobs in all working sectors while some businessmen made money by selling certificates over zoom calls. Much to the surprise, people kept their spirits high and welcomed the festivities with much enthusiasm. I am talking about the U. S. Presidential Election. That was a major!

Oh well, just when the time arrived for us to make new promises to break, eventually, this year made it quite an unusual happening; more of “what we learnt” and few “this year I would like to.” Looks like 2020-won; or should I say 2021!

Hoping that we heal from the grudges we are holding back, the safe plays that lead us to nowhere, the petty choices that make us toxic lovers/coworkers and hoping that the world has learnt the virtue of gratitude. As I write my first blog of 2021, I also realized a thing: isn’t it the 21st year of the 21st century? A double yet again……fingers crossed with a lot of sinking feeling in my stomach.

But none the less; a very Happy New Year, Earthlings!

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21st century and 2020

Hey community!

I hope we all are keeping super safe and being responsible. September was crazy busy- teacher training is not a cakewalk, y’all! So yeah, when finally I have one evening to myself after so long, I had to share this awesome thought or rather a fresh perspective that I came across a few days ago. You see humans are so exciting to understand. More than that, the human minds. We make logic and beliefs out of our convenience. And we seek validation for that perspective. Once that’s done we literally push people into following rules. What an illusion! Or delusion?

If we all are familiar with the term propaganda we all know how widely its practicality gets miused or misinterpreted. Somewhere it becomes a matter of life and death. Among all the –ists following all sorts of –isms there is always one wise source who knows how to alter education and awareness into dogmas and traditions. Again, this is my perspective!

In one such conversation with my friend, Bindita she gave me an interesting reply to a question that I asked that has strong “developing country” connect!

The question was:

Why do you think women in India still leave or quit their financial independence after marriage…even in this 21st century?

Personally I felt Bindita’s answer was quite an eye opener.

“Well, I think there is not a specific collective reason why women quit their jobs after marriage. Rather, I can say that there are some very common reasons like toxic offices, poor career development, lack of solid leadership, pressures from the families,etc.Nevertheless…I have seen most of the women couldn’t follow their career because of the fragile ego of men. Let me tell you, India has the largest number of single women at present!Ancient social customs as well as a patriarchal society force the maximum number of women to quit their jobs after marriage and motherhood. See the problem is at every stage, even in this 21st century, women are made to consider that certain things are only meant for men, however, today’s urban woman is far more self-confident, ambitious, and positive. I would say that the checklist for women’s responsibilities has only increased with time!

However, there are some unique cases which were quite awful to me, I have seen some women in my life, who were set to quit their jobs after marriage in a happy state of mind, they said they won’t work as their husbands make quite a handsome amount…I am sure you have also come across such females. The catch here is the big delusion – women do jobs for money! Of course, it’s a purpose but it’s not a whole thing you see…we want our individuality, we wish to create our self-dependent mode rather than just depending completely on others, and here the actual empowerment comes. At least I believe in this concept, I don’t know about others though. Also, I believe the public policy in India especially, has nose-dived women as well as young girls in general, who have gone through marital dissolution. You may think how? Well, by not providing them with their simple basic rights and not safeguarding their economic safety. I think economic empowerment is the significantthing to survive for any women.

I think the whole attitude needs to change, starting with the girl child’s upbringing at home. I have seen that even after completing their higher education, women are not precisely encouraged to work outside their houses. Parents (not everyone) feel they have done their liability by educating their daughters and what is left is marrying them off. Even in broad-minded societies, there is very little family support and if a woman becomes a mother, that intrinsic emotional culpability of not being a good enough mother, will certainly make you to give up your career for your child’s nourishment.On the other hand, bigger accountabilities at the workplace come with less time with the family.

So you can see that with the additional burden of being a superwoman, we are still struggling with basic human rights even in this 21st century. The problem here is more deep-rooted than it seems.”

What do you all think?

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It is always on a Sunday

Sundays make me ever curious,

Here is a heartfelt note for you all…

It is always on a Sunday……..

That I come to a realization point as to where do I stand in life right now? I have my necessities and luxuries all covered. I am forever grateful. What’s next? Is there something that I should be doing extra? Is there something that I should avoid? Is this how life is going to be for the rest of my life?

It is always on a Sunday…….

That I realize how much I love my company. I mean I still wonder when did I exactly become so self sufficient. I look back only a couple of years and the scene is absolutely different. I had no time to be lonely. I was never alone. I had so many friends to get loud with. May be it was time for me to wake my senses to understand the reality that few of them would stay though whatever. And it was not a sad feeling at all.

It is always on a Sunday……

My memories take me back to the times I fell in love. I would say they were wrong. Those times I really believed in those words and nights. The passion and fights. It was only when I met the final one. The only one. That made me rethink about the things that lacked in the past. It was not communication. It was comprehension. I sure as hell had transparent communication with all my exes. It only lacked the understanding of the fact that were we on same page on everything or not.

It is always on a Sunday…….

That I feel grateful of my unsettled life. I do have every happiness at hand but it has only made me try out new things in life. Get new perspectives on life out of fear of getting bored. It is always on a Sunday when its meant to rest up. I feel thankful to have a chaotic mind to keep myself fueled with directions to look forward to……

It is always on a Sunday.

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Adulting – an Amazon find

This page looks like a day in any millennial’s life trying to figure out her or his life. Simultaneously trying to get accepted by everyone around while accepting herself or himself. The exact reason why I fell in love with the author’s way of portraying the struggle.

Adulting by Neharika Gupta.

it is safe to say that the book is named quite aptly. Given our parents’ generation they were married and already planning a second child when they were may be, 28?

We are here 30 and still cannot iron our clothes!

Responsibilities and duties seem like irrelevant words thrown at us. We dread them like those imaginary demons under the beds when we were 3. Neharika Gupta introduces her readers to Ruhi, a young editor, Aisha, a social media influencer and manager and Tejas, an author. The author kept it simple with the plot while giving us a very real picture of all the dilemma that one goes through as a millennial. Few thoughts of the characters are worth giving multiple reads to sink into the honesty of the facts. There are no major twists and turns as the author tried to keep the book more driven by the characters and not the plot.

What surprised me is that Ruhi, Aisha and Tejas are definitely one of us. From a female’s perspective, we all have met at least one Tejas in our lives who could never make up his mind. Or rather own up to his thoughts. Similarly, Ruhi and Aisha are struggling to prove their existence and worth by either contradicting in their thoughts and actions or trying to please the world around them. Some might say that the characters were spineless and the author could not set the right goal for the book. Parts of it would make you think like that also because of the high relevance to the reality. So in that way the book is less unpredictable and there is a lack of a surprise element that would awe the readers.

However, with rational use of the social media lingo and LIT lives of these Instagram friendly characters, Neharika Gupta did the good job with the ending. I would say it was pretty much a smart end to the book by bringing the characters together for the last chapter.

It is a good book if you overlook the critical factors and enjoy it as a light read. Few parts are worth to get hooked on to like the chapters where Ruhi, Aisha and Tejas each one of them go through self realizations. Those are definitely my favorites!

Other than that it is a book that can be only enjoyed by the readers of the targeted generation here. Although I would say there’s nothing wrong with it!

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God On God- What on Earth was he thinking?

I have been meaning to write about this book for a long time now.

It was a gift on a flight by a co-passenger!

As you’d know I have always had jobs that made me travel (ever grateful for that), I journal all my flight experiences. However, this one I thought is worth sharing with you all here.

It was a long flight from London to Miami. And this man next to me happened to be a researcher on Indian history and mythology. I wanted to switch my window seat with his aisle one. It came as a surprise to him because people would pay extra for the window. I explained how I wanted to be close to the washroom as I was nauseous from the food that I had ate last. That kinda opened our conversation. Through conversations like mythology, old texts and scriptures, literature and astronomy, we went on to discuss the origin of it all. WOAH!! Heavy, right?

After we landed and we parted he got me this book that he owned. Oh boy I was in for a treat!

It is a book where the author, Scott Macgregor interviews the Almighty. The interview questions range from God’s thought on romance, sex, politics, social issues which are condemning the societies. Macgregor further asks God what’s his take on the current issues that are happening around the world. What was He thinking when he created planets? Why did he create love?

The interview questions take an intriguing yet hilarious turn when God is asked about Heaven and Hell. Is there a Heaven? Is there a Hell? Is the Hell really bad and who ends up there?

The catch is the author framed the answers as direct speeches of God in a very convincing way. What’s more, the answers can be related to the Earth at any given point of recorded time.

The book is one of a kind and it will definitely simplify a lot of complexities that we tend to live with. The author made his best efforts to keep the language relevant to his readers. With a sharp edit, the book will keep you engaged and you would want to read it one go.

I have read it thrice and from that point of view I can say each time the answers would make you think from different directions. Scott Macgregor’s God On God would definitely give a fresh perspective towards life!

Thank you for the book, Saul!

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VOGUE India presents- DRESS

Fashion has always been a fascinating part of my personal interests. I mean obviously for many people it is only about dressing up. I think it is more about how to influence people to dress up in a way that is convincing and creative. Ironically, these 2 factors also bring out the unique sides of a designer’s inspiration or a stylist’s choice of wardrobe that do not look reasonable and rational to the regular eyes. That is when people start mocking designers or make fun of the collections. I think this is where fashion becomes exciting. Somewhere it intimidates people and it gets tagged as the dumb business. Just like logic. People tend to stay away from it!

With that Vogue India presents to you this collection of fashion stories written by the influential voices in the industry from India and elsewhere. It is a collector’s edition where you would find every writer letting us peep into their world of creative thoughts. Every story unfolds itself like a journal from a very important episode of each writers’ lives. There is a touch of nostalgia and aspirations in every page that you turn. You would find illustrations, personal diaries of travel, ancestral wardrobe, tailoring of fabrics, love for dresses. I do not want to use the terms style and fashion here because I want you all to read it like a creativity enthusiast who loves to know about people. There is also a lot of drama (well of course!), economics, sex, passion and a full dose of honesty.

The stories bind together all these factors in quite a fresh language. The look and feel of the book is absolutely celebratory. As Amazon quotes, “From tracing the origins of the humble undershirt, the ‘banyan’, in India to Frida Kahlo claiming agency through the femininity of Tehuana costuming, or the complex politics of the burka alongside the plight of cotton farmers in times of fast fashion – the anthology stitches together a rich fabric to remind us that a dress is more than just a dress.”

And I absolutely agree! It is a handbook for anybody to change their mindset that fashion designing is a rich word. Each one of us with an affinity towards fabric, patterns, stitches, weaves, dressing up, shopping and more would relate to this panoramic concept of dressing and undressing. You would make it a great gift choice for anyone who loves fashion. Gift yourself one too!

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Whispers of the Beloved

“Dear heart, you are so unreasonable! First you fall in love then worry about your life. You rob and steal then worry about the law. You profess to be in love and still worry about what people say.”

I felt this one.

“Are you searching for your soul? Then come out of your prison. Leave the stream and join the river that flows into the ocean. Absorbed in this world you’ve made it your burden. Rise above this world. There is another vision…”

This one hit me hard.

“I said to the night,
“If you are in love with the moon,
it is because you never stay for long.”
The night turned to me and said,
“It is not my fault. I never see the Sun,
how can I know that love is endless?”

I am yet to fathom the depth of this one!

My first exposure to Sufi was when I came across the dance routine that the Dervishes perform. What awed me is that its also considered a way to meditate and search your soul. Next, I was busy exploring and studying Sufism. Maulana Rumi surfaced on and off and that definitely made me get interested to read about his mystic wisdom.

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ALERT!

First time readers need to understand that he is above the general idea of reading a fiction work. So, chances are you need to read each stanza a few times before you could actually taste the sweetness……oh my my what did I just do here huh!

But yes, honestly coming back to the point, Rumi is a mystic from the 12th century whose words would still prove relevant in 2020. It is a book of love where he expresses his love and his idea of love for his Beloved friend. Interestingly, the words can also be looked at an angle where he might be addressing his soul as the Beloved friend. In that way, all the modern-day self care notion that we have, are all altered.

Usually, people would think self care is all about exfoliating and taking time to drink coffee! But it is the internal care that matters the most. That is what might be the other angle is talking about. Read it to find out!

I am looking forward to read more of Rumi’s works.

Feel free to suggest!

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For all the Debanjans

Recently I came across my sister’s friend and his flamboyance and quirk made me literally admire his confidence. At first I was a little hesitant but what the heck!

“Don’t you think the new generation is lucky if we look back to the struggles of the previous generations?” I asked.

The answer was long, honest and made me feel guilty to some extent.

“I don’t think neither the past nor the present generation is lucky enough to be who we are in reality. You can say we live in a make-believe world. Before society if parents start accepting us, that would be the moment where people like me would find the luck. Well, it is not always a mental war zone. Some people do accept us. I have some precious friends who let me be. They act as a shield against the majority of people who still think the we don’t have the right to live!

The movements have definitely made people aware of what LGBTQIA+ means; that’s a very small population around the planet. In that way if I say then may be we are getting luckier than the previous generations. Girls can think of loving girls; boys can think of finding soulmates in other like minded boys. 

The straight society will take more time to accept this fact that we are all humans and that’s when one generation can think that they are luckier than the others.”

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Meet Debanjan Bagchi. A 19- year old hospitality enthusiast who does not want to be closeted. He is a free spirit. Just like all teenagers, he felt a certain infatuation few years ago. His brother wanted to cover-up the direct confession with the illusion of bisexuality. Interestingly enough he accepted it. Over the years he had 3 girlfriends but could not keep himself emotionally available. It was last December when he realized he is gay. Just another choice like being straight. As anticipated, his mother could not approve in the beginning. But then, she’s a mother!

This is for all the Debanjans around, you all inspire me to believe in my gut!

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my GITA

Backstory:

From childhood, I have never felt any connection with the whole religion part of the society. I mean I did not know if I was an atheist, nor that I am now. But during my teenage years my relationship with my parents suffered a rocky patch following their separation. It was the time when I would really question where is God when I actually need Him?

I never hated my Hindu Brahmin status but I did have questions regarding how it all started and how is God related to this. The dial-up connection and the limited results on Google did serve the purpose. As I read more what I understood, it wasn’t just about being Hindu; every person is conditioned to believe into something that if comprehended well, is absolutely logical and relevant to the culture of its origin.

Oh boy did I sound too heavy here?

Ever since then I became a serious sucker for mythology. Later I also started reading about other mythological tales. Gita remained my forever favorite.


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The review:

I bought it from a second hand book store (most of my books are secondhand; I don’t like paying tax for books), at first I was quite apprehensive to the title. It says “my GITA”. So the “my” gives the writer ample scope to dissect and display his thoughts on this mighty book. Devdutt Pattanaik has done just that. And let me tell you it is brilliant!

It is not a complete verse to verse translation but a compilation of the philosophical ideas. Krishna’s discourse to Arjuna within the realm of life and the liberal perspective of Dharma penned by Pattanaik was intriguing. His non judgmental and simplistic style of writing will actually help first time Gita readers to understand the different angles and parallel concepts that goes into making the holy book one of the most read books around the world.

He not only talks about the philosophical but also the historical parts of this book. He also draws relation and contrasts with Buddhism, Jainism and the Abrahamic religions which I would say added more meaning to the understanding of the whole idea of belief.

One thing that bothered me were the frequent sketches. That seemed pretty unnecessary. Also, at times the explanations of the verses seemed metaphorical and it brought down the energy of the book at times.

Overall, it is an inspiring read and it will excite the readers to go and check out the original Bhagvad Gita with confidence.And when I say confidence you know you need that to read the book, isn’t it?

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My Practice

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It has been one and a half weeks of me staying in a hotel, away from home and family. In times like this, I had to step out of my safe space and travel for work. Right now I am in Hyderabad, India. The state has a high rate of corona victims and the death toll is relatively high too.


With the job market shrinking into 1 person hired to work around different profiles has also made it a tad difficult to leave a job with the hope of getting a new one soon. I think most of you who would read my blog are with me on this. And it is not only in India, it is everywhere with a “smart” administration. Examples are plenty!

2020 has been as chaotic as the sounds on the outer space!

altar

To keep myself composed and stay strong, my practice has been a major help. I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism some 2 years ago. It was not until last year that I finally had the calling to put my mind, heart and soul to the practice. The Daimoku chants and the daily reading of Gongyo have proved magical. Often times at the prayer meetings I have seen people discussing victories and I wondered, are these for real?

I got my answer this year. Staying happy has been a major challenge for all of us around the world. The depression cases and suicides this year has been shocking. It made me even more motivated to chant for the global kosen rufu. I could feel the magic of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo when I saw that it was not only me but everyone around me has been healthy; physically, mentally and emotionally.

It is indeed a victory for me!

 

 

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Keeping up with the Corona

Hey Cupcakes!

We are five and a half months away from next year! Mentally I am still processing the month of March when the lock down gave us all a near doomsday experience. I have always wondered why majorly of all the movies would show future as a dystopian land. Who’d have known that the future that we were told in the past would be the only future in the present. Did I just confuse you?

I have always loved a job that made me travel and took me places. With the grace of the whoever’s taking care of my wishes, I have landed with such jobs always. With the lock down, staying at home was the biggest challenge. Do not judge me but much that I love and I am forever grateful to have a home and a strong support system, staying home for four months was not something that I would say I loved. Or I really wanted. Matter of fact, work from home is even worse. So when I was made an offer to travel last week for work, to be honest I was hesitant. I was scared that I had to board an aircraft, check in a hotel, eat from takeaway boxes, rent an Uber, and everything else that is precisely a danger given the situation. Not gonna lie but I was low key pretty excited at the same time!

So yeah, here I am writing to you in a hotel. I have never been so selfish and since past week I have been only praying for my good health.

Lord be sweet!

In the meantime I got my hands on Devdutt Pattanaik’s My Gita.

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I am almost halfway the book and what I understand is that Pattanaik has literally done quite a thorough study and research of the Hindu holy book. The Bhagvad Gita as we call it, is a powerful collection of verses that talks about the mystical ways nature work and how humans are constantly controlled by the cause and effect of their actions.

The Bhagvad Gita in popular culture has been a major backdrop for a lot of movie and novel adaptations, India and internationally.

Pattanaik’s My Gita is his rendition, his idea of how the world works. As far as what I have read, there is not much to compare between the Bhagvad Gita and My Gita. Devdutta Pattanaik has sorta unfolded the rather diplomatic charm of the verses.

Let’s just say it has been a great read and one should totally refer it to his or her life and the different people around them…..it’s majorly addictive!

My review of My Gita would be up soon!

 

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Hell yeah, I’m fat!

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Growing up it was not a norm to feel insecure in your skin like it is, as of now.

Propaganda or not, the current scenario has been tailor made for people to feel unhappy in their skin, plus size or not.

To be honest, I grew up with a skinny and petite sibling who would not go out when strong winds blew; at 28 years now she is still scared that she might get blown away! (For records, she did once- Hurricane Irene, 2011.)

But coming back to the blog notes, we did realize that we were different. Especially growing up in a multi cultural society, differentiation based on external features is a common thing. Taking a dig based on that is the shady part.

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Eternally, FAT  is a sensitive word. It makes people feel like they are the representatives of the unhealthy life. It triggers a feeling of being unaccepted and cornered. As if, fat people are born to get bullied! But coming to think of it, it is just your feature. You are fat. I am fat. What’s wrong with that? It is just another thing that we are born with.
A funny side note, people ask my sister to stop starving while they wonder if I “overeat”. And those are exact same people who prefer to eat out or takeaway unlike us siblings who eat healthy and timely meals!

Some strange world we live in!

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The scale that has been measuring body positivity is not used correctly. While such campaigns and advertisements talk so open and loud about being comfortable in your skin, what I found out that people are insecure than ever. It only highlights a few body ideals. Using models with broad shoulders, big butts and thick thighs, OKAY. At the same time they are made to have firm arms and flat tummies, or made to wear body shapers, tummy tuckers, etc. NOT OKAY. I understand being on camera you have to look attractive and all, but who said saggy ain’t attractive?

The half butt philosophy of body positivity campaigns tire my eyes to see the hypocrisy that undergoes behind it. While some part of the movement makes sense, most of the walks, marathons and campaigns seem like tools to capitalize on this broad cultural issue around the world.

While body positivity becomes another consumer product to manipulate opinions, I guess I would just accept that being beautiful is a concept and you can really be happy if that concept does not shape your perception. You should too.

We do we!

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June 28, 2020

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I’m still in awe that this happened. Last Sunday one of my closest friends’ got married and I’m still processing the event in my mind.

Well as far as Indian weddings, we go all the way making it the most pompous thing we could have ever done in our lives. The invites, the decor, the food, the music, dance, wedding rituals, the main event, all of it takes up a whole week. Sometimes more! Weddings are like vacations for us. To add to that, each state got it’s own type of wedding reflecting the culture!

We are Bengalis and our weddings are generally not that loud. Although in recent times, we have amplified!

With all that said, weddings have become a forced low key affair, thanks to Miss Rona.

Usually our invites go upto 500+. This year we are under strict instructions to make it within 50. I think that is a fabulous idea. With only the well wishers, the wedding will actually be a bliss.

And that is what happened.

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With few of us close friends and family, the wedding was limited to only the ashirbaad and the registry. Keeping the rituals crisp, the beautiful couple actually looked stress free and so in love! We had spent a wonderful time cracking jokes and laughing and reliving the emotions that brought us all under one roof to witness the decision that our friend took.

Priyanka made a beautiful bride. And the couple were glowing!

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We sacrificed a whole big fat wedding, but we could not spare fashion. I mean you only get married once and your friend gets married only once, right?

I pulled out a net-mesh white Saree and I clubbed it with a peachy pink blouse. Both the Saree and the blouse had golden embroidery so they matched perfectly. I tried to img-20200628-wa00306162528520892952039.jpgmaintain a subtle yet a party-ish look as it was a morning wedding.

Priyanka wore a Benarasi Saree (look it up!) that had a turquoise body and a magenta aanchal. She wore a dark green blouse and like mine she too had golden thread works on her ensemble. Our cute groom wore a cream Bandhgala with gold polka and a maroon dhoti.

It was a perfect day!

 

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A millennial’s note to the corona virus

You see we do have a name or two for you- Miss Rona, Boomer Remover blah blah. We believe in emojis more than emoting. We think YOLO is the only mantra that would keep us from FOMO. But deep down in the face of the planet we are scared of you. No cap!

I am one of those millennials who listen to parents and stay home to stay safe. Unlike some spring breakers who took a flight from Texas to Cabo as I read the news, I have not met my friends for months. One semester after another, studies did not stop. Studying online has literally made me lazy to socialize. Much that I miss my friends but this social distancing has got me good and I have been enjoying the cyber closeness with my squad. 

AND THAT IS NOT NORMAL!

I mean don’t take it otherwise but your parents suck! I understand that from my nail file to my phone, everything is produced in your homeland but why can’t you just stick to that good business? This is not something that will really help you in world domination. Learn from the Pussycat Dolls! Sorry you need a spine to get some; you know what I mean!

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I wanna buy a face mask for my beauty routine but all I get are the FACE MASKS as suggestions. If we go on like this, our faces would be known as private parts for the next generation. And that is highly disturbing! We have been trying to divert our frustrations to COVID-19 humor online. But till when?

We have however learnt a few rules about life. In matters of money, we have totes learnt to control our impulse, have understood the importance and the contribution of our parents in our lives. We have bonded with our siblings like never before and managed to love home for that matter! We have survived you and we will survive finally. But just get done with your brutal acts and go back to your home!

STAY HOME AND LET US STAY SAFE!

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Short hair story

I have always been fascinated by short haircuts. Being a girl who always liked to sport a pixie (except during my graduate school when I had a serious romantic curls phase) I have always loved watching my favorite actors sporting short hairstyles onscreen.

I guess all the short haired girls would agree to the fact that it just brings an instant confidence in ourselves……and its super comfy at the same time.

So I thought of sharing my favorite short hair celebs who really broke the stereotypes that girls looks good in long hair.

Let me start with my Bengali beauty, Swastika Mukherjee. A prolific actor with a much illustrious career, she is an idol to many. Her transformation over the years have been phenomenal.

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Next up, is every Indian photographers favorite face for portraits, Mandira Bedi. We did not see her in movies much but her public appearances have always been that of a “you can’t ignore me” presence.

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Moving on, to an actor who is known for being the heroic heroine of Bollywood. A vocal and fierce personality, not a single character she has played that has made her look like a prop of the muscular hero; the way Bollywood usually portrays female leads in a movie. Kangana Ranaut speaks 10/10 substance.

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Hollywood Time!

The iconic Miranda Priestly. Nobody could have done justice to the character with that finesse like Meryl Streep.

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A French beauty, she is the epitome of everything cute. Audrey Tautou has always awed me with her short hairstyles. Her iconic Amelie look is something that I always wanted to try but then my guts……..never mind!

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And to round it off, it is Twiggy whose picture my mother used to carry around as an inspo for my haircut when I was a child. I still remember how the hairdresser would get scared of her when she would stand there with her watchful eye while her daughter was getting the haircut done! So yeah….Twiggy!

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Ciao ciao till the next blog!

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Please answer my questions in the end

2 books in 2 weeks- these books were on  my agenda for a long time. Soon after I finished reading both there were a couple of similarities that I found annoying.

Give it a read and if possible, clarify!

Read on to know my questions………

Keep the change

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So it was a gift and before that, I had never heard of Nirupama Subramaniam.

I recently finished it and let me tell you; it literally took me back to the days of my first full time job as an adult. The life of the protagonist after she moved to a different city, struggles before settling with the new atmosphere, friendships, flings and the great transformation!

The protagonist, B. Damayanthi hated her name just the way she would get nauseous each time her Amma would push her to meet a prospective groom following the arranged marriage Indian tradition. Her bland life in Chennai was made even more boring by her accountant job at a small time enterprise. Her move to Mumbai was a big leap of faith when she landed a job there. The journey from their becomes the soul of the book.

The comic timing of the book is something that will make you fall in love with the story. With every turn of events, Subramaniam have given a funny alternate and a peep into the cinematic imaginations of Damayanthi.

The language is pro millennial and the very realistic. The strong point lies in the edit that has given the book a crisp story line. You can read the book more than once and you will definitely enjoy it the second time.

It was a treat!

Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake

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Yet another book which is a well written piece with a concrete story line. It is about Nisha who gets married to the love of her life only to be left by her husband after few years for a younger woman. She is now a mother of 2 kids and has been living a luxurious life. Hell was on her when she decided to take the tough call of raising the kids by herself. Her friendship with Akash brings the missing twist in her life. Akash, a younger guy full of hope keeps her sailing through all odds and helps her get a fresh perspective on her life.

The story ends quite dramatically with these two finding love and a world in a quaint bungalow where they finally settle down together; with the kids.

The author, Preeti Shenoy did justice and it was a great onetime read. I remember how I kept this book aside only to read on the metro. I used to look forward to the metro ride with excitement for one week because of how immaculate the narratives were placed.

However, few places are absolutely predictable and highly boring. At times it had strong TV series vibes. But all was compensated by how the author made an effort to show the different layers of development of Nisha and Akash’s chemistry.

The book will give you warm thoughts!

Questions

While I wanted to end the blog I couldn’t help but wonder:

  • What is this obsession of authors with girls of average appearance? I mean both the books describe the protagonist as plump with insecurities. The sublime lampoons of the authors as to how such people are always made for bad luck just doesn’t make sense! Why do you want your readers of such stature to think they are imperfect?
  • Now I understand it feels good to read transition of women from the damsel in distress to a boss lady but is it necessary to always involve a guys (good or bad) in the process? May be there are other ways too? 

I need answers!

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Spot Girl

It was yet another day that I was on the verge of missing my flight. I was lucky enough that it rained that day. I was almost at the airport when the airline texted that the flight would be delayed by an hour and a half hours! Good Lord!

I dropped my bag, took my sweet time while finding characters in the ambient chatters and got done with an important rite of passage- frisking before I moved to the security hold. I strolled around the stores when the book cover grabbed my attention at the bookstore W H Smith. Man, was that me? Hell, yes! Minus the reels but am I not overloaded with work essentials that also include balancing a grande while I half ran-half walked in heels? Hell, yes times 2!

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Written by Komal Mehta, the story revolves around Jia and her life as a manager/savior/angel to the Bollywood superstar Shezad Khan. The triumphs and tribulations that the job brought to her was elaborated with absolute realism. What it feels like to be a star? The regal life that comes with a lot of melodrama and impulsive sensibilities, it was well knotted with the plain Jane life of the regular life of Jia. The ambitious nature of Bollywood is well knitted with crisp use of words. The professional tension and the personal angle of Jia and Shezad’s relationship as the employee and the employer also fills up the pages with much anticipated filmy energy.

Now, I do not wanna compare but yes, on the cover as Huma Qureshi is quoted as saying, I would agree to her to an extent that it is a story of being forced to live a life on the edge where the protagonist needs to take a call; live it or leave it.

Now the downer- there was a lack of excitement in the turn of events as you would expect in a cinematic plot. The story towards the end became flat and predictable. There the author lost the chance of giving it the perfect ending that the story deserved. The edit was good but the delivery of the narratives lacked humor at necessary places. The way the description of a Bollywood manager’s life was given would draw the readers into the pages. However, as the story moved towards the climax, the author seemed to be in a hurry to finish the book.

The story was fabulous but it missed the spotlight.

 

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Chick-lit is here to stay

I am an absolute lover of all things extremely chick lit and girl boss-ey at the same time. With that being said, let me take a moment and name a few of the Goddesses here- Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, Janet Evanovich and Lauren Weisberger. Hail Queens! The attitude of the protagonists portrayed by these authors rocked my world like the MJ song while growing up!

Talking about Indian chick-lit authors- they are so many in numbers and equally good. Given the Indian backdrop of tradition and hypocrisy always trying to be the villains, the girls try to find a way to go after what they want; of course around different plots. What I find similar to the American authors are the dramatic narratives that beautifully stitch comedy and realism at the same time. Although leaving a bit of show is comparatively different.

Read the the different authors to find out!

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Here I have 3 books:

  1. Keep the change by Nirupama Subramaniam
  2. Spot Girl by Komal Mehta
  3. Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake by Preeti Shenoy

I read the books back to back right before I had taken the Arundhati Roy diversion to the Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Much that the heavy weighed novels like hers and the likes attract me but these girly ones absolutely sit on almost 3/4th of the book shelves that I own. There is a thing about such stories that keeps you close to the reality with a slice of entertainment.

During the 2-months lock down, I kept re-arranging my book shelves only to find out that I have too many books in this particular genre. I was all smiles when I found out a year-long supply of old books to write the reflections and improve my reviewing skills.

The book reviews/reflections of the above 3 books would be up soon, followed by many more from the chick-lit/romance genres.

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Faithful cheaters

World changed after it left the analog suit for the digital makeover. The air became calculative and heavy with acerbity. We started to think ironically. The sales and discounts made us spend the moolahs but we thought twice to pay for the carry bag. Girls sleeping around for easy success started bad mouthing co-workers to defend their shallow choices. Guys wanted a modern taste in his wife but with an intact hymen. The moon light beckoned the night clubs to give an easy access to each and every youngsters with dad’s economy.

Love became extinct.

Lust was the new definition that mapped the planet.

It started to get applied to every thing including bodily feelings.

I stayed a little away for the state-of-the-art redefined society. Of course, I had to be a part of the potential nincompoop condition. Being a part of the living things with the ability to think is difficult. We all fall for the biggest temptation, money. So much that we have not yet found or rather got comfortable in not finding an alternative to this blissful scam. I lived a twenty minutes Beetle drive away from my workplace. As I drove back each evening from the concrete smog, the banter of the crickets and the breezy silence showed me the way.

USA was almost at the verge of becoming the madhouse that it is now.

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I lived in a studio apartment with my boyfriend, who now wears the husband cap, used to shut himself from the outside world often to communicate to the creativity that he sold to the classy people of the new world. Looking back, I am in awe how the house demarcated the worlds. Both were chaotic- one lacked sanity. Go figure!

Of all these years living with him, has made me realize how easy it is to be surrounded by things we love, if only we looked around harder. I always had the kind of love where we could not have enough of each other. It still feels yesterday that we found out how we had similar satisfaction from popping blackheads and eating cold pizza. We still look at each other the same manner while we had different lovers at the college parties to make out with. If not for that teenage romance, we won’t have cheated on our lovers 12 years ago to find out how we were made to stay faithful to each other. The love was deep. Now it is the only the propaganda I believe.

The cheaters were not guilty.

With him, the coldness received from the mechanical life was well warmed with his genuine fire. Most nights we would reminisce. The times our bodies glided with the mushy roughness that made us responsible for each other’s happiness, are the times that kept us glued to the vows that we made to each other. Somewhere love was still alive. And it sparked rare honesty and unfathomable gentleness. We would make each other lose the ability to think. We would have moments of void- a little flavor of death. It was compelling. It is an orgasm, an analog pleasure.

Such is love, it always keeps aside a slice of chemistry amidst all the digital seduction around!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ministry of Utmost Happiness

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A patchwork of too many narratives carefully put together, Arundhati Roy’s Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a heavy duty paradise for deep thinking readers. An array of characters and how their lives are intertwined in different layers will leave you on the edge of recurring emotions.

The book starts with Anjum growing up to discover her tendencies and behaviors which, in Indian society is associated with a hijra. She lives harmoniously with other eunuchs of Khwabgah in Delhi. One such time, on her return from Gujarat, she gets stuck in a massacre of Hindu pilgrims in the state and the immediate hate of the government towards the Muslim.

From there we travel to Kashmir where the never ending war between Pakistan and India is made a business and the how the army is involved in maintaining the animosity for the same purpose. There we experience on and off flashbacks and present scenes placed immaculately that develops the parallel plots of the book. Here we get to experience the lives lived by friends Musa, Tilo, Naga and Biplab.

Arundhati Roy is very particular in bringing in a sense of magic in core realism. Being an activist herself, the influences are quite relevant. For example, the character of Dr. Azad Bharatiya who was sketched as a protester, he established his nest of revolution in front of the Jantar Mantar. The newsletter “News and Views” that he has been running for 10 years was given as much importance as the personal journey through the politics faced by Major Amrik Singh.

Each character is bound to make a strong mark in the reader’s mind and it will definitely linger for long. The book is a definitive and ambitious work of Arundhati Roy that will picture the political turmoil of India in her well researched use of words.

Some people might find it disappointing and unnecessarily elongated. At times, the transitions make it hard to recall the past events and link them to the present narratives. Almost excessive sub-plots could have been avoided. But with that said, the author still managed to impress her fan-base and gained a new one out here.

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The Hungry Tide

There are writers who tell stories. And then there are writers who transport you into the world that they have created in the pages of the book. A reader like me who explores for the love of reading, it also lets me understand the mindset of the different authors. Few Indian authors like Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, often come up with such unusual imaginations that really give a peek into their eccentric minds. The way they mold all the characters in their books are significantly portrayed through till the end. The sentences make you move. The books will make you walk into their pages.

The same reason why these authors are not everybody’s cup of chai.

And honestly, I’m almost one of them. The books are heavy with worldly meanings about life, nature, emotions, and so much more.

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Today I have The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh to reflect on.

It is a story about Piya Roy and Kanai Dutt who met on a train to the Sunderbans. Piya was on a journey to explore information about the Irrawaddy dolphins and Kanai was there to meet his aunt and to review a manuscript that was left to him by his uncle. Through the series of event, they keep bumping into each other as they get entwined into the past of this mangrove region. By the end they have chalked out a future for both of them that will keep them tied deep to the future of the Sunderbans.

The book will give you all the necessary inputs on class division, trafficking, ecological and economic disparities. There are elements of romanticism that faintly sparked in between the 2 protagonists. The pages will make you smell the soil, scratch the mud with feet while the characters travel through the tides and unravel the history of the place set in with treacherous background of the nature.

What confused me was the authorial sensitivities. Amitav Ghosh is undoubtedly a prolific writer with a wild vocabulary to pen down his stories. Now I am not a cynical reader, especially when it comes to best selling authors (for genuine reasons). As much as the story is gripping yet I found it way too measured. It definitely engrosses you with the description of the beauty of the region, the folklore, the political facade however, it lacks a definite smoothness in the narrative. Too many adjectives for every other thing was not necessary. At times the elongated conversations made the journey go off track. That resulted in an explosion of side stories which could have been avoided. At times, it gave a feeling that he really struggled through book just to make it look fat and important!

Overall, The Hungry Tide was almost phenomenal.

 

 

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I am Malala

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Let me start this one with few quotes from the book to take you closer to to this biography.

“I come from a country which was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”

“Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country – this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world. To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish.”

“Then they told me about the call from home and that they were taking the threats seriously. I don’t know why, but hearing I was being targeted did not worry me. It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. My feeling was nobody can stop death; it doesn’t matter if it comes from a Talib or cancer. So I should do whatever I want to do”

“She explained that the bullet had entered through the side of my left eye where there was a scar, traveled eighteen inches down to my left shoulder and stopped there. It could have taken out my eye or gone into my brain. It was a miracle I was alive.”

Such is Malala Yousafzai, the brave teenager from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She made it a point to raise her voice through whatever. Raised in the peace loving village, it transformed into brutal mound when the Talibans came and took control of their lives. Malala being popular for being vocal about her aspirations to educate and empower girls and women, received threats from the militant group in no time. One such time when she was returning home from school in a van, she was shot on her head by the Talibans. Malala survived. She was taken to England. And that proved to be the turning point of her life when she received the just platform to continue working on her beliefs.

The book is written in a crisp format and the turn of events are intelligently structured to keep the readers glued to the book.

It is an inspirational read and good break from the fiction to the reality.

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After Dark- Haruki Murakami

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This is the first book that introduced me to the works of the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. For starters, After Dark will linger in your memories. In your mind. It has been 4 years that I read the book and the moods that were presented in the different chapters make me wonder about the way Murakami portrayed the night even today.

The book starts right before midnight where we find a young Mari smoking and sipping coffee while reading a book in a 24/7 restaurant. A little before dawn, she meets Takahashi, the trombonist. They exchange a minimal yet interesting conversation. Next, Kaoru, the manager of a “love hotel” where a Chinese prostituted gets mercilessly beaten by a customer. In the parallel time, Mari’s sister who has not woken up for the last two months is seen in her room. She’s sound asleep while the TV gets mysteriously switched on and she gets pulled inside where she is trapped with a masked man.

The few other such encounters along with Mari being the central character breaks into the morning.

“Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of the collective entity … Handling this dualism of theirs skillfully and advantageously, they perform their morning rituals with deftness and precision: brushing teeth, shaving, tying neckties, applying lipstick.”

And this is how the city in the pages wake up to yet another day.

Murakami preserved a constant feel of eeriness and suggestive dualism throughout the entire journey of the book. The 1st person plural narrative was rather new to me. At times the narrator identified as “we” simultaneously giving the reader an idea of the different realms of the dark night.

Further when I looked up more about Murakami, I saw the first book cover and that literally spoke for the hallucinatory theme.

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I do not usually obsess over book covers (do not consider the do not!)

But after reading the book, I was really impressed by this above design. I am sure whoever read the book would agree!

Overall, Murakami found a new fan who bought this book on a train journey and literally kept the journey far away from being a boring one.

 

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Emma by Jane Austen

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Now this book do not really need an introduction, does it? But still, for few who do, this is a revolutionary piece written by Jane Austen. A little backstory here, I was never fond of classics. There was an instant irritation every time somebody told me how fondly he or she read them. This all happened because of Shakespeare. This is not a hate blog for this man, he is a genius, no doubt. But he always made me wonder like why has he made sadness the forte of all his published works. Most importantly, I thought for school kids it was quite a trigger to explore sadness for no reason! You don’t believe me? Do a flashback meditation (not sure if its a thing but I guess you get my point!).

Moving on, it was the time I watched Clueless that I learned it was based on a century old novel. That’s it! So then I got my hands on this book. With less pretzel like complicated English and a fresh look on the then society, this was an eye-opener. Emma really made it clear that beyond all the feminism and equality propaganda that make rounds worldwide, financial independence is something that will surpass every crux of revolutions of the womanhood. And also broke my inhibitions to like classics.

Emma by Jane Austen is surely an experimental and a brave take given the structure and the lifestyle of 1800s. Emma, one of the two daughters of a worrisome father, she finds herself in the middle of a country life that did not count in freedom for women. She is opinionated and considered a life without romantic attachments would be the portal to sanity. Well, that takes a comic turn in a different chapter with the introduction of Mr. John Knightley, her only critic! Her self proclaimed power to match making, she decided to get her former Governess Miss Taylor get married to the widower businessman, Mr. Weston. Even after she became Mrs. Weston, she still remained as her confidante.

However, much of her innocence and arrogance was at times debated to be the result of her personal secured finance and that she did not quite understand the struggles that people in the world faced every day. At times she is full of herself and driven by pride. Mr. Knightley surely knew how to get things going when she gets married to him in the end.

I loved Jane Austen’s dry satire and her strong voice through Emma. She addressed all the aspects of country life from that era with details. Be it masculinity, female empowerment, parenting styles, nature of families and friendships, class; Austen made her powerful thoughts come alive with Emma Woodhouse and other significant characters.

P.S. She talked a lot about food! For foodie reader, its an awesome tea table read (sorry for the poor pun but I just had to finish it like this!)

 

 

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My Elaine

My mom and I have been inseparable since the time we were born. People say my father could hardly hold me in his arms. At times he would even buy my mom her new favorite piece of accessory. In return she would let him hold me and play with me after supper before going to bed!

And I grew up…..

Started going to school, made friends, did home works, enjoyed art and I was always the good student the teachers liked to use as an example.

Now I am a teenager…..

I go out with my friends and yes, I have the school’s cutest guy as my boyfriend. We spend a lot of time together. Amid all this, one thing never changed; my relationship with my mother.

It was my eighteenth birthday and I had to do something special for her. She deserved it. So I got a tattoo. It was perfect!

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Elaine- that’s my name…..my father will tell you the rest of the story.

My Elaine!

I held her blood stained and injured body and wailed like a wolf. All she wanted was to surprise her mother with a tattoo. She was not supposed to leave us on her birthday. The accident was an unfair turn of event in our lives.

Heidi, my wife became paranoid. At the funeral she did not let anyone else stay for her burial but me. Finally she shared my daughter with me. We buried her at the backyard as she wanted Elaine close to her even then. After that day everything changed…….

Very single night she would wait for me to fall asleep, only to go and sleep on our daughter’s bed. By the time the sun would almost rise she used to come and lie down beside me. Like a broken helpless, husband and father, I acted as if I did not know anything about it.

One year passed……it was Elaine’s birthday; the day we lost her.

Heidi did not come back to our bedroom. I walked inside Elaine’s room only to find myself in a juncture of impossibilities.

Elaine in her decomposed body lying beside her mom. She held her tight as Heidi slept on her arm with a faint smile.

It wasn’t a dream.

Soon after I called for an emergency, the para medics arrived only to declare that Heidi was dead. They too witnessed the unanswerable reality.

The house was immediately sealed and I left the town.

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The Palace of Illusions

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I am not really a fan of keeping up with the trend of reading only the famous works. Most of the readers would relate to that. This one when it was released there was a whole new wave of retelling myths through the voices of the unvoiced characters. Well sort of!

A mythology enthusiast, I have been reading about Indian mythology among others for a few years now. This retelling of Mahabharat definitely gave the epic a different angle.

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The amazing heroine, Panchali aka Draupadi, the daughter of King Draupad tells us the story of her legendary life. Born out of fire she was cheated off real young and married to the Pandavas– the five brothers. Soon she becomes an indispensable part of their journey where she accompanies them to the exile and support them through the turmoils to get back what belongs to them. All the while she is seen bending the epic reality by letting the reader re-imagine Mahabharat. Her intelligible ways to interact with her mother-in-law, her secret passionate infatuation towards her husband’s enemy and her special friendship with Krishna- they are all put together into a gripping fiction work by the author.

Now for us Indians, a big portion of our lives are molded by this tale; I swear on Gita! That’s the exact reason why it never gets old.
While reading this book, I also realized how the author has beautifully worked out two things very well. First, of course the re-imagination of the manipulating nature of goodness (what an irony!). Second, one can easily take reference of the different present day situations the humans has to offer to each other.

Divakaruni wrote the book with fantastic use of words that will really keep her readers engaged till the end. It will definitely intrigue a lot of question about the unfair and war torn state of society, then and how you can relate it all to the present. She is an awesome writer and I can’t wait to read more of her works.

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Hi bullies!

So now that the world is under lock down, we are all trapped inside our homes. With no means to maintain the beautification as per the standards of society I guess I have finally come to terms to the one liner marketing scam “be yourself”. It has been hard but not really brutal if I think about it. I wonder how the wannabe mean girls are holding up!

Properly dyed and styled hair,

Chemicals on the face,

Waxed body hair ,

And then comes them gorgeous fake nails.

Bullies are just like these things that we do to get accepted in the society. They look good on the outside to pull you down. Some make it pretty obvious while some like to think they are smart. They are friends with you till they think they want to like you. Next up, when there is an easy opportunity, well they will be the sellouts! It is not hard to recognize such people. Well, it is not a sad blog but coming to think of it, I wonder what would have made these people so insecure that they wanna make fun of others to feel better.

It has been sometime that I have crossed paths with a few of these sorts. Surprisingly, all of them have a common trait- they are all opportunists. Well, of course it is a good thing as long as you do not mentally affect other people’s lives. I mean people, c’mon get a hold on yourself, you do not need to try so hard.

Look at this girl in the picture!

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Perfectly flawed as per the feminine standards of beauty. But she is a definite source of happiness for herself. She is secure enough to click a selfie while the so called imperfections are absolutely visible.

Save yourself that miserable behavior that you have towards a few. You take help of the commercial bullies to look and feel secure. What about that? So just follow your credentials and be a sensible person! Otherwise you are just an abusive one….your actions don’t come on news but you surely get tamed by your silly demon inside!

Wish you all the healing…..

 

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Airhead

I have always been a huge fan of young adult fiction. Growing up as a lover of anything super girly, I admired this one author who has been a real influence in my life. Believe it or not, I literally own all her books (and also J K Rowling’s, of course)! She’s Meg Cabot. She is an American author who is popularly known for her breakthrough work, Princess Diaries Series. It was later greenlit by Disney to make two successful movies back to back based on the series.

Meg Cabot books have been used as a reinforcer by my mom to make me clean up my room while I was in school! Each and every book has a memory of my life to withhold. Today I am going to talk about a very interesting and gripping series, Airhead.

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These books were released within a gap of three to four months in between each. It is about an over achieving high school geeky girl, Em Watts who lived a life inside grades and assignments until fate struck her wild. Now she lives inside the body of a 6 ft tall supermodel, Nikki while she uses her brainiac capabilities to find a way out of the nightmare life. Little did she know that it will be one impossible escape as now her moves are decided by her ambitious PR who goes out of the way to cook scandals and put her face on the pages of all leading tabloids and endorsements.

Now I am not sure why the name is Airhead. I mean Em isn’t a fool nor it is an army story. Nerdy Em has practically three set priorities in her life- straight A’s, chocolate in all forms and her favorite computer game, Journey Quest. The whole twist happens when her world collides with paparazzi’s child and runway hit, Nikki. The part where the brain transplant happens is way too impractical as well as brings out the best event the series has to promise you. It has elements of being funny and thrilling at the same time. The language of the book will drag you till the end of the third installment.

Buying the books is worth the money as Meg Cabot will not fail to entertain your girly tastes. Remember, only girly!

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Corona feat. your ex

Of late, I have learned something fascinating about being in my millennial prime. Coronavirus is much like that toxic relationship we once had. The ones who are living the toxic life, its evaluation time!

  • While in the relationship, that kid will keep you miserable to feel superior. Well the only difference is you are not in a relationship with Corona. But the treatment is at par! At first things are under control, until you realize you got played. Just like the virus!
  • That species of ex oozes charm like a wildfire. Its either in the relationship or soon after it gets the best of your happiness, that you realize its not only you, but an entire village of mortals got played. Just like the virus!
  • That creep will creep into your iMessages, slide into your DM’s, text you on Whatsapp, even email you when you break up. Once you fall for it just out of politeness, you are dead. The only solution- distancing and isolation. Just like the virus!

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  • That ex and corona has another similar attribute- they love to threaten the life outta you. That scum will threaten you to go public with your private pictures that you had shared or your embarrassing secrets that it knows. Corona is life-threatening. Period.

There have been enough posts and news about how people have been reconnecting with their exes during the quarantine. Let me tell you, its just the increasing libido because of boredom. Reconnecting with your ex is like talking to a drug dealer after you get released from the rehab.

Ciao!

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The Prophet

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” – Kahlil Gibran

This is a much relevant line for us today!

Last night after a stack of indecisiveness later, I had finally got my hands on to the book The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

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It is a prose poetry book on 26 different mysteries of the humankind. Usually, I am a reader who likes to visualize every line, every chapter and plot that I read and try to feel how the author might have felt while putting the words together. May be almost, or may be completely in my way. This time it was hella different!

The poet is philosophical but definitely is more than that. He gave a perspective to different aspects of human existence like no other. Sprawling topics like friendship, love, eating and drinking, sorrow, travel, teaching, talking, laws, religion, passion, death among others were unfolded from different corners which a regular mind like you and I cannot think of………the pages turned for itself! The artifices, social conditioning, twisted truths of reality were layered into these beautiful essays.

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.” 

“Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.”

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

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The Prophet is the first book from the series. The other ones are The Garden of the Prophet and The Death of the Prophet. 

It is a rational paradise for people who look at life as more than just a paycheck earning portal!

It is a masterpiece…..

 

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I miss abstract nouns

#StayHome has become the new life. As the saying goes, it takes 21 days to make a habit out of something. Well,that has definitely not gone well with me. Whatever, you say, after all, old habits die hard!

Being an outdoors person (outgoing according to the company!), it has been a hard time for me and of course for the rest of us. I mean there is always a way or two to keep ourselves busy at home. Hobbies have really made a hot market in between our household chores of late. I have been too, utilising this time to be closer to my herbal studies, gardening, reading and, of course blogging.

But to be honest I miss the abstract nouns that keep us going. Positive or negative, whatever it is, I long for things that can only be felt.

The times when I am late and trying to step down fast from that escalator. Right that time, there will be someone bigger to block my petite restlessness. I miss that anger.

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The time when I’d appreciate the restaurant for serving me a plate full of happiness, just the way I like it. I miss the generosity.

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The times when I was able to exchange smiles without the mask. I miss the liberty.

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Black and white looks therapeutic and beautiful only in photographs; definitely not in reality. Much that the pandemic has proved to be a huge paradigm shift world wise, I pray that the forced lifestyle of being locked into uncertainty does not become a part of our survival status. I pray that the world gets back all its abstract nouns that rules the existence of every living magic that breathes on this planet.

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Bedtime tales and more

Living a comfortably privileged life has never been a realization while I was growing up. It felt normal. Being bratty in school and disciplined at home was the only big challenge that kept me on my toes. Thanks to a dysfunctional state of my family, I learnt a thing quite early in my life- filter out the bad parts, life will be bearable and you’d be happy. Miraculously, whenever I am thrust into a professional or personal moment full of facade and fiasco, even today after 5000 years of existence (just kidding; but you never know!), it has helped me look beyond the nonsense, and do what is needful.

Well the only addition is that now I have my judgment window open (just being an adult). So I sometimes laugh at those nonsense parades (mostly other humans) and feel grateful for the fact that I have not yet been influenced to a clown-ish extent by people.

My biggest influence in my life has been books. I have treasured all the books that I have read since I got all my five senses working to link it to my memories. They have kept me strong, made me realize the world in a better way and never failed to leave some magic and imagination in my life every day. Also they kept me busy from getting drowned into the dysfunction! One of the earliest books that made me a reader is a bedtime story book. I hope we all know what I am talking about.

Now this one’s a fat but very light book- designed only for kids so you know!

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I have saved it for years but I forgot all the stories that I had read. It is an Italian book translated in English and it has twenty five stories in total. I was going through it today and I observed a couple of things.

First, a five page story used to feel like reading a novel at that time I got it as a birthday present. I literally finished it in couple of hours now; right before I wrote this blog.

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Second, the more I read it from my present perspective, it was interesting to understand how big pictures of life were portrayed with innocence and imagination. I literally re-read the book by a generation gap and it blew my mind how these stories are just about everyone you see around.

Now it might sound silly to you all that I actually read the book but if you are a reader, you should definitely go back to those old fairy tales you have at home. Read them again. I am sure you will get your brain re-wired and you’d filter out the bad parts, life will be bearable and you’d be happy.