Saturday, September 23, 2017

Blogathon : Day 03 of 9 Days of Womanhood

It brings me immense pleasure to share that I, along with 24 other bloggers are celebrating #9daysofwomanhood throughout Navratri. I thank Jinal Gada for introducing me. I loved her blog on the prompt for today - check it out on www.foreversassymommy.com


Prompt for the Day : My Pregnancy



It's been a few months over two years since I had my son, and almost three years since I discovered that I was pregnant. It was a bittersweet journey.

Almost three years into our marriage, we started thinking about starting a family, I had my health issues to take care of, my college was about to end, I was running around for placements, clearing all levels before the HR round, facing rejection because I was a married woman.

Amidst all this, I had started my treatment for Thyroid and PCOD. And because of these issues, I knew conceiving might not be easy for me and some medical intervention might be required. My gynaec wanted to run some tests but they had to be done on certain days of my menstrual cycle.

It was a chaotic situation. And then we were told that my husband's maternal grandfather wasn't doing too well. So we decided to visit him in Kanpur. My husband went ahead while I took a detour via Mumbai for another interview and another rejection.

My periods were due too. And so I had to carry my file to run the tests that the gynaec wanted. Rushing to Kanpur, from there, meeting everyone, seeing nanaji in such a bad condition - the atmosphere was always tense around the house. And a constant thought kept nagging at me that I was delayed.

We were supposed to go back on 9th December in 2014. But our heart wasn't in it. Late at night, the night before 9th, we decided to stay back a few more days - I guess it was our intuitions working, because nanaji left us that day.

And meanwhile I was already ten days behind. When I mentioned this to Tanmaya and even though he said we will do the needful when we are back, we ended up buying a home kit for pregnancy test the next day.

I sneaked into the bathroom early next morning, before the husband woke up. Throughout I kept mumbling - please be positive, even though I still had my dissertation to complete, even though I hadn't started earning, even though there was still so much to do, I was willing it to be positive.

TWO PINK LINE - THE RESULT WAS POSITIVE!

A smile on my face and tears welling in my eyes, I slid back in the bed with the husband, he mumbled something and cuddled me in. But I couldn't go off to sleep, because I wanted to share this moment with him. Apparently my restlessness was enough to take him out of his slumber.

It was a happy news for both of us, but the husband couldn't believe it. Given the circumstances, we decided it was best not to break the news at home just yet. But throughout I kept thinking, nanaji wanted to see a great-grand child, if only... that thought still lingers in my head.

We came back. I broke the news at my home. Went to the gynaec and for the first time, heard the baby's heart, beating strong and I had lost my voice for a few seconds - that was the moment I knew, it was all going to be alright, that we will make it through.

My nine months of pregnancy are a story for another time, or if you are curious, you could head over to the blog post I wrote on my son's three month birthday here. But there was a time, when under the influence of alcohol, the husband broke down - worried, crying, scared - not for something untoward to happen to me or the baby, but because he thought he won't be able to provide for us, because he felt he had a long way to go in his career. He felt he wasn't ready. But I had faith in him - and he didn't prove me wrong.



Today, my son's is growing up to be a happy and loving child, albeit a spoilt one - because the husband spoils the mommy and the son. Shlok has changed our lives for the better - he is my miracle baby. Today I know, it was the most perfect time to have him, and no other time would have been better.

I am thankful to matarani for blessing me with the ability to birth him without any medical intervention as we had feared... for blessing us with this beautiful child... and for little pleasures in our life...




May I also take this opportunity to introduce you to Penelope Braganza who blogs at www.pennyponders.com do check out her blog for today's prompt.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Blogathon : Day 01 of 9 Days of Womanhood

It brings me immense pleasure to share that I, along with 24 other bloggers are celebrating #9daysofwomanhood throughout Navratri. I thank Jinal Gada for introducing me. I loved her blog on the prompt for today - check it out on www.foreversassymommy.com


Prompt for the Day : Being A Woman in India in 2017 (a positive approach)


India has always had two kinds of people - Kahin Lakshmi ka Swaroop to Kahin ma-baap ka bojh (one are those who consider a girl child to be an avatar of Godess Lakshmi and other are those who consider a girl child to be a burden on the parents). India saw sati pratha and it sees female infanticide and but it has also given birth to women like Rani Lakshmibai, Kiran Bedi and Chanda Kochar.
We have often heard the saying that behind every successful man is a woman who supports him. But today the dimensions are changing and in 2017, successful is a word that is associated not only with men, but women too - because today women are not content with just being in the supportive role, today they prefer being out in the front and taking the world by a storm. And this is my journey of trying to make a place for myself in this country which is majorly made up of a patriarchal society.
Born to a father who had no sisters in the family and a mother who was an only sister to three brothers - I have seen both sides. My paternal grandmother cried at my birth saying that I am the third girl in the family and at the same time, my mom and dad have never been partial with me being a girl child. When my paternal grandparents were busy cribbing about there being so many girls in the family, my parents were busy taking care of my studies and my overall development. My mom insisted that I learn and grow up to be an independent person.
Later on, as I got married, my husband insisted that I continue working - not to contribute to the family income but for my own self and my own growth. When I decided to study, my in laws and my husband supported my decision, when I got pregnant and decided not to work, they respected my choice, when I was wasting my time sitting at home after my son was born, the husband suggested I do another masters which meant both of us will have to live apart, but he nudged me forward. And today when I am juggling between being a student, a Mom, a daughter-in-law and a daughter, I am able to do so successfully (to a great extent) - it's not only because of my strong determination but also because of their love for me and their belief in my dreams.
On that note, women in India today even though still are victims of gender discrimination and not all are as fortunate as I was, but things are slowly and gradually changing, the picture is changing and all for the good. Today women are doing great things, they are reaching greater heights, they are setting newer standards. Today a women can stand shoulder to shoulder with a man at work and yet take up the role of a wife, a daughter-in-law / daughter, a sister and a mother as soon as she is back home. She has learned to juggle between many things and has mastered the art of multi-tasking. Today, a woman only has to want to do something... and then sky is the limit for her.
Today, I can proudly say, that my country allows me to be whatever I want if I have decided to do it. Today my country is making every effort to bring women to the fore. Today my country has made it easier for women to excel. Today my country is moving forward - the attitudes are changing, the mindsets are changing, the outlook is changing. And today my Bharat is growing.


In the end, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Penelope Braganza who blogs at www.pennyponders.com do check out her post on the prompt for today.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review : We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Book Title : We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Author : Shirley Jackson
Genre : Mystery, Thriller
ISBN : 9780141927558
Publisher : Penguin Modern Classics
Publication : October 2009
Pages : 160
Binding : Kindle Edition


Plot :
Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.


My Rating : 2.5 ☆'s


Review :
If you had been following my instagram
account, you would know that this book was part of our first read along in the "Booktroverts Girl Gang". We picked up the book, for our general appreciation towards the genre.

Coming to the book itself, the book started real slow - so slow that it took an effort to keep going. I found it repetitive and thus slow. It truly was difficult to latch on to this one.

But once the book manages to have a grip on you, it becomes quiet a page turner and you realise that, that repetitiveness was for a reason - that it was needed to move the story forward and to move something inside the reader - and when that happens you know, you are in the hot bed of the things.

The plot thickens, the suspense grows and then the events sadden you, they leave you broken. The secrets are revealed, the suspense dies down and then only a sizzle remains. The end was kind of disappointing - because with how dark the story was, you did expect some action, but then there is none. It's the best thing for the sisters, it's their happy ending - but that wasn't what I was expecting.

Also it wasn't a scary or a horror story as we had anticipated but a murder mystery suspense thriller through and through.

If I try to put my reading experience into words, it was hot stifling kind of day that suddenly saw a thunderstorm but then it ended in the dull peter-pan of a soft drizzle.



Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Book Review : Dragon Teeth

Book Title : Dragon Teeth
Author : Michael Crichton
Genre : Historical Fiction
ISBN : 9780008173067
Publisher : Harper Collins
Publication : June 2017
Pages : 295
Binding : Paperback


Plot :
The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.
Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition.  But when the paranoid and secretive Marsh becomes convinced that William is spying for his nemesis, Edwin Drinker Cope, he abandons him in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a locus of crime and vice. William is forced to join forces with Cope and soon stumbles upon a discovery of historic proportions.  With this extraordinary treasure, however, comes exceptional danger, and William’s newfound resilience will be tested in his struggle to protect his cache, which pits him against some of the West’s most notorious characters.


My Rating : 4 ☆'s


Review :
Before I tell you about the book,  let me tell you about the author - Michael Crichton. He knows what he is writing... if he has picked up a subject, he will study the subject to such an extent that he can weave the whole plot of the story around the nitty-gritties and workings of a particular phenomenon or a particular act - and that is what sets him apart. Although this book is a book which is ghost written for the author died an untimely death at the age of 66 in 2008 - the essence of Crichton's writing is still there.
Coming to the book, my first impressions were that it was a biographical fiction, but it wasn't exactly so. Many of the characters in the book had found their way into the story from an era gone by. The story is as much about two famous paleontologists as it is about their rivalry... the story is about stunning discoveries as it is about what came to be known as the bone wars. But the protagonist is a fictional character and it is his journey that is captured in that fateful summer of the year 1876.
The plot is quiet interesting - what with wild west and indians... the rivalries between the Indian tribes and the professors... the streets were full of thugs and gunmen who would kill at the drop of a hat - a nail-biting thriller, the book surely keeps you on the edge and turning pages very quickly indeed.
Written from the purview of William Johnson, the protagonist, the book covers his journey not only into the wild west but from an 18 year old Yale student, son of rich parents, careless and selfish to a mature, grounded 18 year old man. The book follows his growth into a mature and responsible human being.
In his author's note, Crichton states that the rivalry between the two paleontologists has been toned down - to make the story more acceptable to the reader but for me, it left me wanting more. And in that want, I hope that it ain't the last finished manuscript by the author...

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

PERSONAL MUSINGS : FROM MY BEDROOM TO THE KITCHEN

No, no, no… I am no chef, just an ordinary girl who likes experimenting in the kitchen. But before I started experimenting, I had my experiences in the kitchen – seeing mom make the cake or the naankhatais in the oven, helping her with the preparation of the batter or how I would stand awed as my daadi made rotis in the tandoor… but I never tried making anything in the kitchen for a very long time.
In fact, my first experiments in the kitchen started much later and my first experiments were a thanks to school assignment in 8th standard – we had to write about two things we tried during the summer break, one where we succeeded and one where we failed. My mom asked me to write about making tea as my success story and kneading dough as my failure story – of course, before writing I had to actually try doing those things too.
Interestingly, kneading dough, which is actually a difficult task was my successful task as for making tea, well mom took a cup, pointed to the two-third line and said – this much water and then pointed one third line (at the top of the cup) and said, this much milk – no prizes for guessing how much water and how much milk I had put in that cup of tea.
But then, after that, I never went into the kitchen again till I got married and moved to Pune with my husband. Initially it was all about basic cooking, which I was, surprisingly good at. But then, as a photography enthusiast I stumbled upon the niche of food photography. Now that was something fun and interesting and thus began my experiments with cooking.
Because of the busy lives and long working hours, we couldn’t go out to dine very often – which meant I had to cook and present food beautifully and then click it. And thus, began my experiments – I would learn new dishes from mom and mom-in-law, scour net for recipes and then sometimes add my special touch to the recipes. Even the basic daal-sabzi would be well presented just so I could click a picture of the dish.
Another contributor were the parties we had at our place – at the end of each semester, my classmates would turn up at my place for a semester end party, which meant cooking for 10 people and then some hostel-ites would just drop by for some ghar ka khana.
Slowly but steadily, the cooking improved and so did the photography – and had it not been for the photography, maybe I would never have started experimenting with newer dishes and ventured into unknown avenues. But then again, it was probably inherent too – for even though my mom also cooked only what she knew and hardly experimented, the food has always been delish.
And that is how my experiments in the kitchen and this journey with food began because after all, good food feeds the soul.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Review : Release

Book Title : Release
Author : Patrick Ness
Genre : Young Adult, General Fiction
ISBN : 9781406377279
Publisher : Walker Books
Publication : May 2017
Pages : 287
Binding : Paperback


Plot :
Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.


My Rating : 3 ☆'s


Review :
Release was my first ever from the author and having heard such great things about Patrick Ness, I was excited to read the book - but I was careful enough to not have much expectations.

I won't go to the length of saying that the book disappointed me, but for me, it did lack the punch. The book started off well and had me in its grip. I especially looked forward to the parts where the spirit's journey was described. But then it felt as if suddenly the story had stopped moving forward or that the author was just trying to drag the story on so that it becomes a novel instead of a short story. Until it is moving again and then it had me in its grip again till the very end. But the end lacked the true definition of "release" for me.
All of this is what I thought about the book till I read *Malvika's Review*. Her review made me see the book in a different light and helped me appreciate the finer things that the author was trying to point our attention to in a subtle manner.
Malvika's review reminded me that the book spans a day in the life of our protagonist Adam Thorn. But it also spans the day in the life of the dead girl in form of her rebirth through queen spirit. They both awaken each other and help the other achieve release. But what needs appreciating is the fact that all the characters in the book found their release throughout the course of the book.
Release is...
For a brother to accept his brother as he is and realise his love for him
For a father to come to terms with the fact that he can't turn a blind eye to what his children truly are
For Adam to realise what love really is and who truly loves him
For the spirit to realise vengeance has only trapped it further and only kindness can release her

But more than anything, the book makes you realise, very subtly indeed, that it's okay to hope and that it's okay to dream.

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review : Charlotte

Book Title : Charlotte
Author : David Foenkinos
Genre : Biography (Retelling)
ISBN : 9781782117940
Publisher : Canongate
Publication : 2017
Pages : 224
Binding : Hardback


Plot :
Charlotte Salomon is born into a family stricken by suicide and a country at war - but there is something exceptional about her. She has a gift, a talent for painting. And she has a great love, for a brilliant, eccentric musician.

But just as she is coming in to her own as an artist, death is coming to control her country. The Nazis have come to power and, a Jew in Berlin, her life is narrowing - she is kept from her art, torn from her love and her family, chased from her country. And still she is not safe, not from the madness that has hunted her family, or the one gripping Europe . . .

My Rating : 5 ☆'s


Review :
Charlotte is not just a Jewish girl, she is not just an artist either - Charlotte is an obsession! Her story is laced with melancholy but that depression is addictive - its gripping. This depression becomes your obsession.
It is not a fiction but a reconstructed retelling of a biography. The original work itself was written and depicted in a unique style - through texts, sketches and music. The author here had adopted the prose format - and there is everything in that format, from his wanderings to conversations between characters to scene descriptions to internal conversations.
Biographies, normally written like an essay seem repetitive and difficult to read, but this style of writing has actually made the book an easy and fast read. There is no rhyme or rythm but the writing is powerful and the writing style is impact-full.
Set amidst the German Nazi war, touching upon the horrors that were let loose on the Jews as well as the curse that the Salomon family had looming over their heads - each one of them killing themself and that too in a similar fashion... the story just grips you, it is addictive and it engulfs you.
At the end, you are left to wonder, how can tragedy strike a person in such a brutal manner and so many times - normally at such instances, I'm left with tears in my eyes. But this book left me shaking and shivering to the core. And the obsession had hit me too.
It was a classic read and a complete page turner that got better page after page.



Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Written Affair : Her Beautiful Eyes

Her Beautiful Eyes is a poem about a blind girl... usually when we see a physically or mentally challenged person, we tend to be biased towards them. We think that those people are incapable of thinking, behaving or doing things the normal way... But God when takes away something from someone, he makes it a point to bless that person with other strengths. In this poem, I've tried to bring out the fact that even a physically challenged person is as much capable of doing normal things as we are... here the blind girl has same mysteries, same questions, similar dreams in her eyes... but we cease to notice them coz we are so full of our preconceived ideas...


No one saw her beautiful eyes...
No one saw
The depth in her eyes,
No one saw
Her curious eyes,
No one saw
The secrets hidden in her eyes,
No one saw
The questions rising in her eyes!


No one saw her beautiful eyes...
No one understood
The mysteries of the depth,
No one understood
Her curiosity towards life,
No one understood
How she hid her secrets,
No one understood
The questions in her eyes!


No one saw her beautiful eyes...
No one seemed to notice
The loneliness in her eyes,
No one seemed to notice
The pain in her eyes,
No one seemed to notice
The sad expression in her eyes,
No one seemed to notice
Her craving for the truth!


No one saw her beautiful eyes...
There was so much to be seen
In her beautiful eyes,
But those eyes could not see...
For she was blind!

No one ever noticed
Her beautiful eyes!

Book Review : Jaya

Book Title : Jaya - An Illustrated Retelling Of The Mahabharata

Author : Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik
Genre : Mythology
ISBN : 9780143104254
Publisher : Penguin Books India
Publication : 2010
Pages : 372
Binding : Paperback


Plot :
High above the sky stands Swarga, paradise, abode of the gods. Still above is Vaikuntha, heaven, abode of God.
The doorkeepers of Vaikuntha are the twins, Jaya and Vijaya, both whose names mean 'victory'. One keeps you in Swarga; the other raises you into Vaikuntha.
In Vaikuntha there is bliss forever, in Swarga there is pleasure for only as long as you deserve. What is the difference between Jaya and Vijaya? Solve this puzzle and you will solve the mystery of the Mahabharata.
In this enthralling retelling of India's greatest epic, the Mahabharata, originally known as Jaya, Devdutt Pattanaik seamlessly weaves into a single narrative plots from the Sanskrit classic as well as its many folk and regional variants, including the Pandavani of Chattisgarh, Gondhal of Maharashtra, Terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu, and Yakshagana of Kamataka.
Richly illustrated with over 250 line drawings by the author, the 108 chapters abound with little-known details such as the names of the hundred Kauravas, the worship of Draupadi as a goddess in Tamil Nadu, the stories of Astika, Madhavi, Jamini, Aravan and Barnareek, the Mahabharata version of the Shakuntaiam and the Ramayana, and the dating of the war based on astronomical data.
With clarity and simplicity, the tales in the elegant volume reveal the eternal relevance of the Mahabharata, the complex and disturbing meditation on the human condition that has shaped Indian thought for over 3000 years.

My Rating : 5 ☆'s

Review :
How many of us have read Mahabharata (excuse me elders, the question was intended for the teenagers and people in twenties) - guess, not many of us. No shame in that - I tried reading bible, trust me I couldn't read it. Truthfully, its not even our age to bury ourselves in religious scriptures - well that was what I thought, till I came across this author and his beautifully written books.
This wasn't my first book and it wasn't the last either. This book was recommended to me by my sister-in-law, who by the way, is 5 years younger to me about an year ago(the reason I mentioned the age difference was to point out how teenagers are finding the book interesting too).

Well, Dr. Devdutt's writing style is so different, that you will get hooked to the book. He doesn't narrate it like a religious scripture, but breaks down the story into smaller anecdotes and passages. What's even more interesting is, he adds his own perceptions and his own ideas at the end of each chapter that makes it an ever more interesting read. 

People who have read Mahabharata, the original religious scripture i.e., even they will find some new and interesting bits in this retelling. I read the book and then I asked my mom to read it and trust me, she found it interesting too - and she found something new in there too.
As if, this wasn't an inspiration enough to pick up a copy - reading these books and later discussing them leads to some real awesome discussions and chats.

And to add to the fun, pick up Ajaya (by Anand Neelakantan) before or after reading this one and you would really have some food for thought.
So, here's to hoping, these books would get a chance...

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Personal Musings : Materialism

Most of us, whether we accept it or not are materialistic, true the degrees vary - but how many of us can really accept our materialistic natures? Live with this fact? Or maybe try to keep it under check, curb it?
I am one hell of a materialistic person, and though it's not something to be proud of, I'm happy that I can at least accept it unlike most of the people. But is accepting enough? Shouldn't I be doing something about it? Can I even do something about it when it is a part of my nature, a part of who I'm?
But then again, what I'm most materialistic about is books - yes I'm a book hoarder. So how bad can materialism in my case be, if it's about books? How can surrounding oneself with books be a bad thing? 
I collect books - collector's editions, box sets, hardbound illustrated editions etc. etc... but I also read them - I have at least one suggestion for almost all the genres though I definitely haven't read all the authors - so there is scope for me to still be materialistic and hoard more books. So how bad is my materialism?
But then I also like to own latest gadgets (not that I always do our have everything - a laptop, a mobile, a decent pair of earphones - that's where my gadget list ends), have a cupboard full of clothes and 6 to 7 good pairs of shoes - but aren't those like basic necessities. Will owning these things make me materialistic?
True I may desire a lot more, my amazon wish lists would be a living proof of that - but I also know the difference between 'want' and 'need' and I have the strength to walk out of a store empty handed. I would call that an achievement - to have that much self-control when I'm materialistic.
Having said that, I also know that I'm neither reasonable nor that strong when it comes to books. Walking out empty handed from a bookstore is near impossible for me or spending humongous amounts on buying books is not beyond me... it won't be wrong to say, I'm obsessed when it comes to books.
And this eventually leads me to the internal debate with myself, how is being materialistic about books bad, for isn't it good to surround oneself with books? A debate, neither side of me will ever win - and thus I tuck it away in one corner of my big head and go on giving in to my temptations and buying books. And when I have the time to rattle my brain, in moments like these, these thoughts come rushing back to me where I once again never reach a conclusion - and this becomes an ongoing vicious cycle...