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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!

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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.

 

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Judged the books by their covers….bleh!

You know the times when you get influenced by certain things in life only to regret later?

Of late, I realized how I have got influenced by books and then regretted buying them. They just sit on the shelves and does nothing but make me realize how I really judged books by their covers!

Here are eww few of them who served me with boredom and guilt:

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  1. Heartsong by Leigh Riker: Much that the back of the book gave me an instant fondness towards the story, as I went on reading, I left it halfway. First, there is way too much distress in the damsel’s life and second, the print is so microscopic that even virus would feel bigger around it!
  2. The Past by Tessa Hadley: Well, the snail will be faster than the plot!
  3. Best Man’s Duties by Vernon Heafon: Ok, this one I didn’t buy. That even makes me more mad- why would anyone gift me this? And it was a brand new book from the look of it (judged by the cover and the crispness of the pages)!
  4. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger: Lauren, I worship you, but like Leigh from Heartsong, you made it too dramatic with microscopic prints as well. I had really high hopes!
  5. High School Musical 1 and 2: This is a disaster. I mean I always have a habit to compare the books to the movies. I always preferred the books. Obviously! I was so in love with Troy and Gabriella (Sharpay and I share soul) that the bibliophile in me thought to compare the books based on the movie. I literally embarrassed myself in front of my book club members.
  6. Fifty Shades by El James: I bought the entire series, enjoyed reading the first book till the time the guy bought an expensive car only to press himself against the girl on its bonnet. And the girl is actually excited by the idea! There was no turning pages for me after that. The series sits in one of the corners of the library like a group of dunce.
  7. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: DO NOT BUY IT. I REPEAT. DO. NOT. BUY. IT.

 

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Education and Jazz….thanks UNESCO!

So I just learnt that UNESCO (if you don’t know what’s that, please Google it ASAP) declared April 30 as the International Jazz Day.

Jazz has been a part of my constant music preference from childhood. Growing up around archaic and vintage things around the house, my inclination into the the Jazz Age has been eternal. One of my very precious family heirloom includes a Josephine Baker vinyl record. I don’t know if that still works but once upon a time, yeah, it used to be the Thursday anthem (Thursday used to be the family day when we would play music, arrange picnics and all that fancy schmancy thing in the long length backyard of our old house…..this is another story in itself!)

My love for jazz is as deep as Davy Jones’ chest…..no, not that deep!

Yeah, may be deeper.

The UNESCO declaration made me feel happy enough to survive yet another day of world domination by the virus. Also, as I read further about it, I realized, it is actually an important decision.

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water color jazz art

My fellow teachers and aspirants, read on what UNESCO has to say:

This Day is intended to raise awareness of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for empathy, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. Many governments, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private citizens currently engaged in the promotion of jazz music will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution it can make to building more inclusive societies.

  • Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance;
  • Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression;
  • Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones;
  • Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies.

Well, not for the advanced, brainy I-know-it-all teachers; but for others, it is a path breaking information, isn’t it?

But in general if you are still yet to explore this wonderful genre, go ahead tune into some beautiful  pieces by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone for starters. Well, for modern days, Norah Jones has my heart!

Happy International Jazz Day (better late than never)!

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The Declaration

“Surplus meant unnecessary. Not required.
You couldn’t be a Surplus if you were needed by someone else. You couldn’t be a Surplus if you were loved.”

And that is what happened to the central character Anna Covey. The series of events in the book starts in the year 2140! The planet seems worse than what we are facing right now. Yes, there is no humanity left on Earth and the newborns were treated as unwanted on this planet. It is a beautifully written dark story that revolves around this theory. Gemma Malley is the author of this terrific work.

Anna is caged in the Grange Hall where all the kids are kept to die and get sucked into cruelty. They are made to believe that they are sins of their parents who chose to bring them into this world. It shows a world where only old people ruled and survived. There is a concept of Longevity drug which will stop aging so that they can live forever. These were the people who would agree to not have kids. Otherwise, they could always Opt Out, can bear a child but they had to give them away to the Authorities who would then decide the kid’s future. This was done to restore power and discourage new ideologies in the society. That was the Declaration.

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Well, that just surpassed every infamous ideology that we had known of till date!

But as the book unfolds, it is seen that Anna unlike other Surpluses, she was wanted and loved. The journey, thereafter, is one exhilarating read!

Gemma Malley made sure that there is a happy ending no matter what. The gloomy picturesque writing made me feel Anna’s emotions throughout. Her escape story from Grange Hall to London is a mission as hell. 2140 Earth where there’s lack of food, natural resource, energy, air, fundamental rights, to list a few; Anna does not give up on herself. The end of the story is surprisingly unpredictable. It just brings in a lot of emotions altogether.

Not an exaggeration, but I do hope a film maker picks up the book soon and plans on a movie. The book has some serious motion to it!

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Flight mode

I remember in my fifth grade we used to get writing assignments every Monday on any random topic that our teacher chose for us. The instructions: It should be at least two pages long. No big sentences. No repeating the same words more than three times. For an imaginative child like me and few of my friends, it was no big deal. Usually that used to be a homework that should be submitted by Friday.

My friends and I used to meet at my place every Monday evening to discuss the stories. We were three of us who used to literally come up with three times the stories. We could actually write for the entire class. So we made a pact. We bought a diary for each one of us where we used to write all the stories that would come to our minds throughout the week. The one we liked the best, would go for the assignment. Later after a month or two,  we realized that we have actually become authors to our own collection of short stories.

This remained a forgotten secret until one day we graduated high school and went our separate ways. Of course, we made promises to stay connected and we are still in touch (its been many summers).

I have always had jobs that made me travel so airports and airplanes are quite vital in my memory lanes. One such flight, reminded me of the diary. I had once written a story about clouds and to my surprise, the clouds outside exactly looked like the one I described in the opening line.

The dream whisperer, outshone by the Sun

I am a free spirit in the sky.

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This was 3 years ago. Since that flight, I made it a point to carry that diary and flip through the pages of this time capsule every time I travel.

I enjoyed the perks of travelling since the time I can go back to my memories, thanks to my parents who chose vacations as a mandatory lifestyle preference. Flights somewhere never bothered me. Sure I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach once it takes off, but after that, its an escape to the fairyland that never exists.

 

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My plants, my plans

Being a pagan part of the Mother Earth, it is very necessary for each one of us to stay close to nature. If not close, at least spend a little time everyday. Being an instructor where part of my job includes knowing more and more about the multiple intelligence of humans, what I understand that a lot of us give extreme existential crisis to our naturalist

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intelligence. Thanks to our digital temptations, we stay in our plastic bubble that makes us believe that we are urban and advanced.

Are we?

I guess being raised by a mother who chose the herbal-ism way of life has its own perks. I grew up watching her coming up with alternative solutions for everyday health care to serious ailments. Sure you need hospitals and technical medicine to cure critical conditions. But love for nature and its gifts will not let you to even reach that sudden life-death situations. Given the global situation right now, I might sound archaic, but hey, it is tried and tested. If you stay clean and safe, drink lemon and honey stews (free recipe!), drink warm water with ginger (kindly refrain from “but it’s lemonade with ice season” attitude) and do it everyday, that will work wonders!

Coming back to nature,

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of late I took up this habit of appreciating the plants around my house more than ever. I guess the signs of age and genes finally showing up! This quarantine has been an eye-opener for me about so many things, plants and flowers are capable of doing!

Now, I usually keep all my plants on pots. I take them out to the roof in the morning so that they can soak up some sun. Later by sunset I put them back in their places around the house. Just this particular thing that I do everyday has unknowingly, made me so much aware about the mysteries around us.

Looking at those greens for a while is some serious stress buster. Be it any plant, look at them and breathe. It will definitely make you happier and reduce your stress than some not-so-useful Tik Tok video of some girl switching clothes with her boyfriend!

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One of my balconies have literally become an aloe vera farm and it just feels so satisfying to be around this glorious succulents. Literally helps with every personal care solutions! Buy plants- they help you to stay grounded and positive against the negative ions of Laptop, phone, microwave and TV and just basic bullshit of people! Also it helps you to control your impulses as you will have no option to sleep late in the morning. You have to feed them with sunshine and water. That my friend, is the gateway to good life.

I believe this is my first step to Herbalism and follow my mother’s relationship with the nature.

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She was all alone

It was the first time ever that Riya was home alone. Even being a University student, she has always been under the supervision of her parents. Her grandfather fell critically ill and her parents had to rush to another city where he resides. They went off for few days. However, it was just a matter of one night that she had to spend alone. Her aunt was supposed to be there the next day and stay with her till they came back.

Riya studied, Facetimed her friends and parents on and off, watched some Netflix, ate her meals and did her assignments all on time. She spent her day with quite ease and excitement as she had the big house all to herself. But as the night fell, her happiness seemed to disappear. At night she thought of keeping the lights on and sleep but that didn’t help. Clearly, she had to console herself on and off whenever the rustling leaves tapped from the outside on the windows of her bedroom. “It’s just the breeze, summer breeze,” she would say to herself.

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“Great, now I forgot to keep the bottle of water in the room!”

She mustered up enough courage to go to the kitchen and get herself a glass of water.

BANG!!

There was a loud noise behind her. She saw a man all masked!

To her disbelief, she did not pay any attention to her and went straight to her parents’ room and locked the door. She screamed and kicked and punched the door but to no avail.

She woke up in the morning to find herself in the hallway. The parent’s room was unlocked. It was just like how her parents had left it. She got back to her complete sense when she realized that someone broke into the house. The police and the neighbors had arrived.

And there she lied, still in a pool of blood.

It was the intruder who shot her and dragged her into the room. He stole a few things but most of all;

She was not one of us anymore…..

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Anne Frank, the shining star!

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On the occasion of #WorldBookDay, I would like to share my thoughts on a very special book that has been a vital part of my growing up years. If there is any book which leaves you depressed and full of life at the same time, it has to be The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It was her personal diary where she wrote everyday details of her two years in hiding from the Nazis. She started writing with a beautiful note. The diary literally became her confidante whom she would call Kitty in future.

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When I first read the book I was in high school. It was during one of my history assignments on the Holocaust and the World War II that I came across her name. When I bought the book and started reading it, I realized it was not just a typical teen girl’s diary. The reason why her journals became world famous, was the exact reason why I felt a connection with her right then. Surprisingly, I’m not over it! She wrote about how she lived with another family and a bachelor as old as his father. The hideout was given the name Secret Annexe. The details are so personal yet profound that it will really baffle the reader and wonder how she could be so innocent and mature at the same time. She talked about her daily observations about the other members, her love for languages, Greek mythology and history. Her take on politics was not a positive one as she was not particularly a fan of it given their then current situation. Her entries were very particular with the exact date.

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Besides the everyday struggles, Anne also talks about herself in major amounts. In an entry dated January 6, 1944, she confesses about her changing body, her sexuality and about her mother. She says,

“I imagine a mother as a woman who, first and foremost, possesses a great deal of tact, especially toward her adolescent children, and not one who, like Momsy (her nickname for her mom), pokes fun at me when I cry. Not because I’m in pain, but because of other things.” – Anne Frank

Upon reading this, I feel the same way. Mother-daughter relationships are complicated, and it’s never easy when one party expects certain things of another. I’m sure that Anne’s mother had expectations of her as well, ones that were not met. Because of their different personalities, they clashed, much in the same way that I do with mine. On the contrary she adored her father and they shared a precious bond where she received all the attention she thought she deserved.

Her last entry breaks my heart.

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Anne Frank was a gem who lived an unfortunate short life of 15 years. But her diary is now a pivotal source of information about the Holocaust and how the ostracized group of people survived during the War.

Anne, keep shining!

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Butterfly through Moni Mohsin

“Between you, me and the four walls.”

And that’s exactly how our Butterfly spilled all the tea! Butterfly is Pakistan’s pompous image of the posh and bougie party lover who kept a track on the political affairs of her country at the same time. Juggling her fabulous life between Pakistan and London (and sometimes landing on Dubai), she writes monthly journals of how the world works around her. Janoo and Kulchoo, her husband and son respectively forms a big part of that world. An avid traveler and a connoisseur of everything fine, she gives a detailed account of the who’s who of her family and (important/VIP) friends.

The first installment starts from January 2001 and ends with a small note on a major twist in the world politics on January 2008 (the assassination of Benazir Bhutto). Her second journal starts from right where she left till she wished her friends “Marry Christmas” on December 2013. Moni Mohsin portrayed our Butterfly as glamorous and hilarious at the same time. The books really kept me hooked. The frequent mix of Hindi and English, thanks to my bilingual desi state of mind made me literally enjoy it more than a chick flick of a similar kind.IMG-20200413-WA0017

Sharp satires and crisp comedy brought Butterfly to life. However, there is some serious misuse of the English language. You need to know the nuances of Hinglish like a pro! Also at times, Butterfly is seen really ignorant and baffled her so-called educated class of rich friends with her petty and lame remarks. Her world revolves around the virtue of extravagance and superficial elegance. But if the sentiments are kept aside, her dimwit personality will not seem that malicious.

I guess through Butterfly, Moni Mohsin took digs at the hypocrisy of Pakistani politics to her heart’s content. Not only that through Butterfly’s eyes a very different world can be seen- that of a rich Pakistani woman for whom  everything should be aristocratic and good looking.

I tau loved reading the books sach batau toh!

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Well, well…..humans!

In the splendor of the different tones and shades of the Earth we became a little ist– racist, sexist, ageist yada yada yada.

It was never God’s plan. Amidst all the chaos that we are experiencing right now, Earth has not been in her usual persona. The dirty and jaded planet (thanks to us!) seems to vibrate less with political energy. With the pollution not doing its daily rounds of atmospheric punctures, it seems like the sky is shining with surprise. There has not been a single day when animals left their captive state of natural habitat to wander down the streets to find humans!

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My part of the world has been experiencing different color palettes of sunset every day. The rains now flow barefoot while surveying the cleanliness around…….

The truth has been spoken. We wrote the fate for us. Nature will regenerate. It has fed and finished its creatures even before time was known to us.

Howard Gardner once said:

“I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place”

Oh well, much that I literally worship his ideas, but just humanly curious, who is in a better place now?

All I can wish that once this is all over, we return to the fundamentals and endorse marginal pursuit of power. We are definitely amateurs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m just a dog!

I’m just a dog…..

I don’t understand what’s day or what’s night. I don’t understand darkness and light. I see humans racing against something they call time. I wonder why? We were all the same, I thought. We both can walk and eat, we breathe and sleep. Oh well, perhaps we are different.

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I’m just a dog…..

Of late, the humans have not been hustling outdoors. I hear there’s a scary thing haunting them, Karma I believe. I miss the good ones who will hangout with me, feed me and play with me. My wags and hops matter to them. I know their voices. I could smell them as they got closer to me. I miss their touch! But I feel relieved, especially one of my enthusiastic friends, that the bad guys are not to be seen anywhere. You know the ones who will beat us up and kill my friends! I heard there is a place where they eat my friends too- I don’t wanna be rude but I guess the Karma that I talked about, finally got them! After all who am I to judge the human world?

I’m just a dog!

 

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I heart Paris

You know how there is a little part in every girl who screams “let me just be dramatic first”?

If that little part was the only part that mattered, then this book is just the ideal read for you. I heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk. It is the 2nd part of the I heart series. The grounded yet ambitious Angela Clark took the protagonist role yet again, this time strolling around the City Of Love.

Aah….it was a joy ride reading the book. It is about Angela, the writer who gets a fantastic offer to go to Paris and write an article for a leading magazine. She accompanies her boyfriend who has to be there at the same time to perform for a music festival. Life seems perfect until Cici, the publisher’s jealous nephew makes her trip to Paris a week to remember. Definitely not in a way one would like to cherish! Angela was assisted by Virginie who was under the spell of Cici. And that’s not all, she spots Alex with his ex, a French singer, doing “professional meeting” at a cafe. Well, that’s a handful…..PHEW!

Now you might think that it is just another damsel-in-distress-finally-gets-her-shit-together kinda stuff. Absolutely not! What I loved about it is how the author has beautifully arranged the plain plot with unpredictable twists.

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It shows a sharp picture of NYC lifestyle, the joie de vivre of Paris and the propah prudent mindset of London. The frequent use of words from the world of fashion and everything fashionable holds the essence of the setting. Kelk was successful in transporting her readers to Paris through her honest and relatable words. The book is of twenty-two chapters. The plot is interestingly divided in those chapters where it keeps the reader hooked to know what comes next.

There were less moments of bore, times when I would actually skip a couple of pages to go to the next chapter. Angela is subtle in establishing British and American English are two different types. Often she shows off how she is a bilingual in English! There is a conversation between Angela and her best friend where she said couch instead of settee or a sofa.

I believe the success of the authors lie in the fact where they can make the readers feel that they are one of the characters. Kelk could do exactly that and I definitely believe I could relate to Angela and her thoughts in a titanic-huge way!

I found the book at a sale and I thought “oh well what the heck it’s for just a pound, let me buy it”. It turned out to be one of my precious reads.

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Of Ruskin and the bonds!

This lock down has been and still a tough one for majority of us. With no option to spend our money on our impulses, no pointless “teas” to share about the favorite co-worker that we hate for no harmful reason at all or may be just the idea of getting bored in a million years from scrolling the phone; it is a task to survive. Good news is we are too lazy to even find stuffs to do around our homes to keep ourselves busy. But we don’t leave a moment to appreciate how our favorite celebs are pro-ing at household chores. Incredible!

Needless, to say I walked the lane too!

On the 3rd day of my work from home episode, my mom gave me a temptation. Weird for a lot of you. She said, “Clean up the library, I will let you switch on the AC after you shower tomorrow”.

Seriously, Mom! I AM NOT A BABY!

So I cleaned the library. Of curse!

Yeah, and I enjoyed the perk and all that silly jazz. But also, I found out a lethal alibi to not get bored. The library is massive! With way too old prints from the time of my ancestors to my section of utter girly and sometimes eccentric collections.

Man, did I just buy too many books to read and shelved them because I have a job, then a boyfriend and a few occasionally frequent unhealthy choices that kept me way too pretentious to be actually busy?

Hell yes!

Well I challenged myself to read two books each week and there I was: me, my challenge against quarantine.

But seriously fellas, it has been refreshing. I started the challenge with 2 beautiful books written by Ruskin Bond.

  1. Falling in love again
  2. Lone fox dancing

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Bond is a beautiful writer. Now I am not here writing a review. But his works are simply amazing that I couldn’t help but blog about it.

The first one, if you are a Ruskin Bond fan, you cannot miss this amalgamation of his vivid works. The excerpts added in the book completely resonates with the look of the book cover too.

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It is a timeless piece and it will take you away from the paranoia around for sure. The down memory lane will be walked and you will float back with a calm smile in your head.

P.S.: Not at all an exaggeration.

The second one is his autobiography, where he has just penned down every minute details of his life. At times you would really wonder if you are reading a book or you are literally having a conversation with him. The words are beautifully placed and there is a weird innocence that holds the chapters together.

A special mention for a friend who got these books autographed by the author. Thank you so much, Nitasha!

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The invisible tourist

There she was…..

With her contagious smile, one that can light up a thousand hearts…..

There she was…..with her long silky locks resting on her shoulders, as if they are ready to drown me in that ephemeral darkness…..

There she was….Chatting indistinctly on the phone, with remnants of her sweet voice bringing a melancholy tune to my ears, which was unheard of till that very moment…..

There she was…..walking down the aisle…..and the next moment, she was right here…… in my heart!

Modern Kolkata is a lot like this girl. Atleast that’s how I see it.

Being an outsider Bengali and equally curious to stay rooted to my culture, I keep dropping to this city quite often. IMG-20200226-WA0019It was not long before that I realized that this city is more than just the way it is stereotyped. Of course, I feel immense pride to be part of the community where we rolled out the maximum Nobel prizes. Growing up whenever I visited the city I was left curious about the amount of cha-er dokaan (tea shops) around or for that matter the adda of a mixed group of men near those shops. I called my aunties “cheek pullers”for the obvious reasons. It might have hurt as hell, but it still felt home.

The yellow taxi has a special place in my heart. It does not have an Uber cool air conditioning or app-solute convenience, but it will still take you places! It definitely has bigger seats and the drivers use their experience to navigate. So cool!

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The endearing thing about walking around the streets like a tourist; the frequent tiny temples under the trees or near a water-tap (time kol as we would like to call it). Also sometimes, near a dumpster. So that people do not over fill the dumpsters and start trashing the streets! That’s some machher jhol intelligence I adore!

It might be just 2 stones and somebody will plant it with some red mark on them to look Godly. People know the truth and they will still join their hands or do the shortcut way (touch your forehead and down to the chest while you randomly murmur!) to show their gratitude. IMG-20200226-WA0016

Kolkata unfolds herself to me everyday. Sometimes unsettled, unstable. Sometimes, invincible.

 

 

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Kah-Rah-Nah-Vaa-Rus

Somebody ate a bat and now the whole world is batshit doomed!

Well, at least that’s how the theory goes!

2020 from the very beginning has been an emotional free fall for all of us and it has just been 3 months. With the lock down in India, March has been the longest month in the history of calendars.

My thoughts are absolutely random here. I could not bring this blog into a structure. Thoughts have gushing in and out of my mind since the outbreak got serious. With so many deaths and sufferings, it made a thing or two clear.

Partition and power have always been two favorite practices of the world politics. But the pandemic, just took over everything all at once. Now that the entire world (may be almost) is under quarantine, it is interesting to see how it has brought the world closer than ever. I guess power is after all, not invincible!

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As the civilizations are on the sleep mode waiting for a reboot, it is worthwhile to notice how we are forced to control our impulses to go out and graze the environment more than necessary. Videos and pictures have been doing the rounds of how the animals and trees have been coming out of their so called habitat where we had pushed them with all the might and intelligence.

It is also notable to see how much of a joke we have become. We literally do not have any hobby except scrolling our phones!

Well, looks like we do not need an April Fools Day this year.

But on a serious note, I think this is our absolute opportunity to let our hobbies make a re-entry into our lives.

  • Read that book that you bought 6 years ago before you got a job to blame on it.
  • You always wanted to learn a language. You will never get another long break like this.
  • There is an artist in everyone of us. Its time you summon it!
  • Cook for your family? For yourself? You’d finally learn to save some money and pack your lunch for work when its all over.
  • Workout, dance, do whatever stirs up the energy inside you. It is hiding behind those unhealthy spring rolls that you regret but never move an inch to get rid of it. Now is the time.

Calm your “I am bored” persona. You are not bored!

 

 

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H for Harappa

Ruins are the sign of advancement. And it was best explained by my trip to the extended remnants of Harappa- the port city.

You know that feeling when your wish comes true? A childhood wish, in particular? It was surreal! After a whole lot of indecisive decisions, the journey was made a worthy one to always remember.

It was a forever thing on my wishlist to visit the place. On my previous blog I had shared the few places that I have visited on my trip to Ahmedabad, First Saturday

Well, this one is special.

After a lot of info collection about how to go there, I had resort to booking a cab. Luckily, I found a company, another history buff to share the experience with…..

Harappa is located on the outskirts of the city in Lothal. A roughly 80 kilometers drive, you can also avail public transport (a bus, then a tuk-tuk and voila!) But that takes up to 3-4 hours to reach. Based on the reviews, it would take me roughly 2 hours to explore the entire site (and the reviews were super correct). Much that my wish was about to get fulfilled, I couldn’t really afford a 8- hours travel back and forth in total. However, it is cheaper, if that’s what you’re looking for.

After a long drive, and a lot of catching up with my girl, while occasionally getting stunned by the rural greenery, we reached Lothal. Okay, reminder: Carry bottles of water and snacks along with you. The road will literally dry up and starve you till your last cell. There are no “dhaba” once you take the exit after the toll. It is almost an hour and a half journey after that.

Snap!

We are here. I am here!

It was surreal to even step out of the car. I guess you get the feel of what i am trying to express here……

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There are parking facilities right around the site. After we bought the tickets (20 rupees each) , we were led to the museum. It had all the artifacts, potteries, utensils, toys, jewelries, etc. as part of the collection. It also displayed a mock up of the entire civilization which sadly became the mounds of the dead. If you love going through all the deets of the collection, it will take you a little less than an hour. It is an U-shaped space and right in the middle there is a theater with a mini-projector setting for the kids to enjoy the history, virtually.

After the museum, we went straight towards the excavated site. Well, let’s just say, it was like walking into the pages of the history book!

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After a lot of dust consumption and passionate admiration of the dead civilization, we bid goodbye. The journey while returning back to the city was a quite one. We kept thinking about the possibilities of what would have happened. It made us curious in our heads and heavy in our hearts.

The reality of extinction kicked us hard. Not to be dramatic but it was an eye-opener and a signal to stay humble.

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First Saturday

Work trips are usually all about how well you document the minutes and make most of the “work” from the “trip”. Well, thanks to mine, that part is not a dreadful one. On my first visit to Ahmadabad, I had multiple thoughts. After a long time I had a trainee strength of just three (originally four)! My training delivery had to be more like a coach. Thanks to my 5-star anti-procrastinated self, that was well sorted. Well in advance. The weekdays were dedicated to my trainer version. Weekends brought out my TLC side.

Perhaps, the small group made the training sessions quite personal and made me like the city too. The traveler in me had already made a list of places to visit. Out of all the places that I explored, the worthwhile ones were Jhulta Minara, Sabarmati Ashram and Law Garden. Dada Harir Vav was disappointing due to lack of maintenance. It is sad how such a huge piece of fantastic architecture is nothing but a playhouse for dust and dirt. Surprisingly, the mosque on its backyard was a beaut!

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By the Sabarmati river, is the Ashram. With carefully restored household and personal items of Mahatma Gandhi and his family, it is a real quaint treat for the tourists. Part of the structure is utilized as a gallery and a museum. The famous Charkha, the spinning wheel and Gandhi’s round glasses are in display which really etched a depth in my mind. It takes you through his contributions, doctrines, lifestyle, movements all in one place. You can finish off your tour around the place by resting on one of the benches by the river. A little heads up to love; there are chipmunks everywhere!

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Sidi Bashir Mosque or Jhulta Minara. It is said that the architecture is such that during times when one minaret vibrates, it travels to the other! Bizarre info, right? Well, when I went the Earth didn’t quake! The thing that bothered me: there is a slum that borders the local area. So, for solo female tourists or girls in general, just be a bit careful! Overall, the stone architecture was all about Islamic scriptures and importance which were intricately made in motif patterns. The prayer hall is accessible to all. Minus, the safety part, the experience was breathtaking!

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The mosque behind Dada Harir Vav. Vav is the old Gujarati word for step well. The step wells were beautiful architectural forms typical of this particular geographical area. I read so much about this specific one that I had to visit it. It was on my way back from the Jhulta Minara. What came to me as a shocker was the way it was not maintained at all. It was dark, dusty, damp and dingy! That’s a lot but so true that I had to mention all at once. As I went to its backyard, there stood this beautiful mosque. The keeper was rather sweet to show me around. The two figures stood right there on the same ground with strikingly opposite maintenance level.

Ahmadabad is quite a big city and to travel from on point to another takes a metropolitan time. On the way back from the Sabarmati Ashram, I missed a visit to the Calico Museum of Textiles. If you put it on your list, make sure to call the museum to book a slot for yourself, at least a week in advance. Yes, it works like that. In between these two points, there’s the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Museum. It felt too tourist-ey for a traveler like me. So I skipped it. Besides these, the other stops that I mentioned earlier fall on the same route. After you are done exploring, you can take a final stop around the Law Garden area to do some street shopping. If you are rational in your head, let me tell you they have everything cute but costly stuffs. Good news: the sellers are up for bargain!

I had hired a local autorickshaw that took me all the places. Google Maps helped along the process. Given the vehicle and the traffic, if you are that kind of a person who has got to tick off everything on the list in a short time, this entire sightseeing will take not more than 2 and a half hours. There are Government tour buses available too. You have to book may be a couple of days in advance. However, they take you around all the places to visit. I didn’t wanna explore a few points so I opted out. But its worth the money. You can book it online.

Overall, my first Saturday on my 3 weeks work trip went quite amazing. The Sunday however, reminded me of Monday and I planned to stay tucked in the hotel room with Netflix and Masala Khichdi.

The next Saturday was a day that I would cherish forever. Write soon!

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The demon

It happened on one of my travels.

I was exploring around the suburbs of the city. I went there to witness a historic phenomenon, a pond that made unusual patterns with its frequent ripples. Naive locals described it as the demon that is sleeping under the water and the ripples are results of him snoring under water. Well, it sounded captivating so I did not mind believing it. A little bubble won’t harm!

As I walked towards the pond I came across a typical suburban house with a huge courtyard and stacks of hay that marked its territory. A faint wave of giggles caught my attention. As I got closer, I saw there were four women, laughing like time was nearing its end. What I understood from their gestures and the frequent belly scratches, they were mimicking their husbands. They spoke a different language. As I stood there, impolitely interrupting their privacy, one of them saw me and asked the rest to hold up. She smiled. It was welcoming yet restricted.IMG-20190505-WA0021

It was not even a long moment that I became part of the entourage and exchanged comfortable interactions. Further replying to their inquisitive spirits about my lifestyle, the type of work that I do and most importantly, I am 32 and single, what I understood was they were not from my part of the Universe. They were shocked and oddly satisfied at how my work involved, educating the men too!

“Do you get to raise your voice at them, like a teacher? It must be fun to do so”, the youngest of the middle aged women asked. She further added how she envied my life and that I am blessed. Meanwhile, I noticed that this idea of power was something that was not appreciated by the slightly older one. While I was still talking, she interrupted in between:

“Women. We are women. You see, we should not laugh loudly, we should not raise our voices, we are not men.”

Another lady saw the hesitation on my face, to which she said:

“It is better to understand the borderlines. It helps you to get what you want by making the other gender feel like winner. That is the art of being a woman. And not travel and work and educate them.”

More than feeling offended, it hit me deep. Women against women. There. I witnessed it.

I left from there without creating another fuss. I couldn’t help but wondered about the twisted perspective that I just learned. Thousands of deafening thoughts crossed my mind.

As I arrived at the pond, I saw few girls and a boy playing on its bank and laughing together. No inhibitions. No art. It seemed like I traveled through two different Universe to reach to the pond. It was a regular pond. The demon was elsewhere.

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In search of the noise

When I reflect on my earlier days, solitude had a different meaning. Asian parenting ideologies did not see it as a healthy sign of civilization. My immigrant parents in the 1st world country feared that I won’t be socially acceptable. Or rather, I showed signs of being anti-social.

What I understood was their insecurities were at their prime and I gave in……I became what I would call, an extrovert with manners.

I grew up……

Friday nights were nothing without my glow and show among my friends,

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A leader in my field,

A confidante to both the best friends, who were dating each other,

I would bake for family reunions and would be the secret keeper of my cousins’ fickle, impulsive life choices.

I was at the top of my game.

It was not long ago I realized that my parents have suddenly become quite liberal and I was allowed to have choices. After a conversation what I understood that they wanted to pass the control onto somebody who reflected similar family values and was eligible to keep me satisfied. In every way.

As this much honored custom goes, I did not quite understand the involvement of marriage as an important rite of passage. Looking at my parents I nauseated. If this is how two people unite to control the life of their next generation, I would rather never settle for this.

So, I ran away………..

Well not technically!

With an eloquent disapproval and turning down their offer, I left my home.

Now, don’t get too cinematic here, reader!

What I mean is that I worked my ass off to get a job on a different time zone. Not a 1st world scene of course, but it meant freedom to me. A step towards my long lost solitude. I was definitely not prepared to move away from the Sun that showed me the days; or the Moon that taught me time in different ways.

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I moved away from everything that I was all these years.

Now, as I still wonder, it is still the same time, the same days. The same Sundays.

The noise differs. Solitude gave me the calmest noise of silence.

And indeed, the peace of being myself. To myself. We don’t do that a lot. Think!

Images courtesy

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Year of The Beatles

 

The moment you read this, it has already been etched as an Earthly memory. What you are reading in the present has been existing from the past. Confusing yet, true!

 

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At the first look, its The Beatles. Now look even carefully.

Check today’s date. Check the date on the calendar here.

It has been 56 years…….of  The Beatles calendar. 56 years down, we are nowhere man! We made a full circle.  We are right here where we had started.

The time traveled across the Universe.

I have so much to share but I have been in total awe since the time a friend of mine shared this picture with me. May be I am overreacting, but hey, this year deserves it!

While growing up I came across the saying that goes like “history repeats itself”. This just brings an explosion in my mind…..

Are we moving towards the past? Are we finally going to become better humans? Will there be less depression? May be we are moving towards counterculture which is still better than xenophobia……may be the victims won’t be victimized and the criminals would be penalized.

May be happiness will not be secondary in the modern competition and may be, love will earn back its reputation.

I know I am being cheesy but coming to think of it, we all love a piece of that!

With this may be people might start loving less touch and tap and more real chat.

Stay amazed!