Posted in Book review, Opinion, Reviews

Book Review: The Anatomy Of Choice

Inconnu, Deracinate, Seelenverwandte, Werifesteria … Beautiful, unusual words – isn’t it? In Harshali Singh’s The Anatomy of Choice was the first time I encountered these words. And no, they are not passively referenced in paragraphs to amp-up the writing. Rather, they are used to summarize each chapter concisely in one word – a subtle prelude to the reader of what is going to happen in the next few pages.

The second book of the Haveli Series is a beautiful, feel-good story of Bhavya and her quirky family bound by unconditional love.  Have you ever heard yourself saying “Even the walls talk to me!” in the place that you have grown up? The ancient haveli that Bhavya’s family lives in, is a lot like a guardian to its inhabitants, carefully protecting and nurturing them with its aged, experienced walls that have stood the test of time.

Bhavya, a city-dweller and her partner exhibit varying shades of grey when and after they make a last ditch effort to recreate the spark in their relationship. Is Tenzin forcing his choices on Bhavya, holding her love to ransom in a not-so-obvious fashion… or is Bhavya being commitment-phobic? Who holds the reins of this relationship? Is Kabir a better choice for Bhavya, after all? Her beloved Haveli guides Bhavya through Noor and her journal, as she navigates the troubled waters of her life.

If you really enjoy historical romance of the Georgette Heyer variety, don’t hesitate to pick up this beautifully written book by Harshali Singh. Bhavya, and her modern family will leave you feeling wonderful with their quirkiness, love and acceptance of each other.

 

Posted in Book review, Opinion

About my bookshelf ’18

Summing up my favorite reads looked like a good way to end the year. So here are ten books which I enjoyed reading in 2018. Do let me know if any of them feature in your list too?!

Indian Authors

Elixir  Sinjini Sengupta 

Definitely one of the best books I have read this year. If not for Elixir, I do not think I would have been able to comprehend the seriousness and dark alleys that depression can take someone through. And just to think, that a coworker or a friend could actually be undergoing something like this, has permanently changed the way I look at people around me.

Dera Sacha Saudha  Anurag Tripathi

If you saw ‘Wild Wild Country’ on #Netflix with your jaw dropped open, then this book is for you. A great piece of journalistic writing that answered questions like ‘Who is Gurmeet Ram Rahim?’ and ‘What did he do?’. After reading this book, I can’t fathom how and why people got into large-scale vandalism when the godman courted arrest.

The Taliban Cricket Club  Timeri Murari

This one started really slow but ended up being a thrilling and entertaining journey, a lot like a Bollywood entertainer. A full 100 on the feel-good scale!

Poonachi  Perumal Murugan

A dark and honest perspective on how society looks at the female species, as depicted by the life of Poonachi, the goat. Heartbreaking and brilliant.

To hell and back  Anurag Anand

An urban thriller with very realistic characters, tapping on social issues, this one kept me hooked till the very end.

International Authors

Totto Chan : The girl by the window  Tetsuko Kuroyonagi

A true story – this one is a sweet and charming classic that offers a radically different perspective on education. They say a book finds its way to the reader, and I am glad this one did.

Erotic stories for Punjabi Widows  Balli Kaur Jaswal

A very hilarious, absolutely feminist, thought-provoking piece of literature that I enjoyed reading every page of.

All the light we cannot see  Anthony Deorr

I do not remember the last time I read a book and felt heavy with sorrow for weeks. A very poignant, beautifully written story about a blind French girl and a German soldier, set in WW2. There is a stillness around the prose that you get engulfed in. I am floored by the depth of this writing.

Bad blood  John Carreyrou

Another piece of investigative journalism that shook my belief on the sanctity of the start up environment in America. One question though: While Elizabeth Holmes has been taken to task, aren’t Zuckerberg and Elon Musk having a free hand?

Last Girl  Nadia Murad

An unbelievable account of life under the ISIS and a young girl’s persistence and perseverance to escape. It is unimaginable that something like this is actually happening in some part of the world right now. Nadia Murad is a superhero.

 

Posted in Opinion

Scathing reviews, lost charm and magic

Are we being responsible in our quest to review the work of somebody on social media?

Have you noticed how common this behaviour has become – Categorically declaring that a composer’s music is no longer as charming as it used to be ? How often do we catch ourselves saying a movie lacks the magic that is so becoming of a director?

Unfortunately, it is such bad news that spreads like wildfire. This mostly ill-informed opinion gets cheered on social media. It has nothing to do with the artist at all, but the friends of the person writing the post. You like a post because your friend has written it, but someone else sees it as an endorsement.

Is ‘writing a bad review’ a fashion statement ? ” Hey, my taste is exclusive and this is below my standards!”  Or is it an attention seeking move ?  “The more I rip apart somebody’s work, the more intellectual I will sound”

So what do you do when you find a sub par review ?

  • Agree with the opinion because the writer is your friend?
  • Feign indifference?
  • Do our own analysis ? And post it? Counter your friend?
  • Analyse the analysis and waste double the time?

I wonder if the person writing the review ever thinks he or she could be the problem.

Maybe you are taking something apart in a quest to analyse it and then describe it in complicated sentences that are framed to appeal to your inflated ego and make up for all the marks you lost in English tests at school? (Phew! That was long!).

Maybe the review you are writing is not a review at all, but an opportunity to smack the crap out of your coworker who landed you in a bad situation at work that day.

Maybe you are writing something about a topic you are not familiar with.

May be we should stop analyzing and criticizing things for the sake of doing so. What is art, if not appreciated for in its entirety?

I suppose the data-driven world is creating analysis paralysis everywhere and it is quite depressing to read these epitomes of over analysis with free access to the internet.

I wish we stop hairsplitting and instead admire the beauty of someone’s creation. Of course, an occasional, hilarious review on a bad piece of work is definitely necessary – but are we being fair in our approach and choices?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Opinion, Reviews

An ode to the sparrow

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
And it took another poet to make me realize what John Keats actually meant.

Of everything I have thought about writing, I never thought I would make an entire post about a single song. And yet, here I am, dumbstruck and dazed by the beauty of #MazhaiKuruvi.

Like all of ARR’s compositions, I found little to admire or enjoy when it hit the ears the first time, but after that, every repeat mode has been a joy ride of discovery.

Should I say ARR has reserved his most romantic numbers for Simbu? Or is it the magical combination of ARR and Vairamuthu?

The poet’s words just flow effortlessly, never losing themselves in meaningless banter, never spilling out egregiously from the path paved by the Mozart’s tunes. And you end up dreamily smiling at the adorable yearning that they describe of the hero, as he pours his heart out. I can’t imagine anyone else in Simbu’s place, looking absolutely stunning in every frame, as he plays the loverboy affectionately addressing  ‘Chittu kuruvi’.

And in the middle of it all, you realize this is what being Mani Ratnam is all about. For when the veteran chef dons his hat, he goes all out to stir your soul and give a treat to the senses. This cute mazhai kuruvi from the bright red sky has delivered an ambrosia of words, music, and happiness, and is guaranteed to send the spirit soaring with its romantic sweetness.

Did I tell you how I involuntarily joined ARR as the notes slowly hit a crescendo at “Oru naal kanavo, Idhu peratra peruravo, Yaar varavo” ? I am going back to doing just that.

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Opinion

Vicious circle of mansplaining Part 2

Capture

 

Continuing from where I left yesterday, maybe I should just start explaining what it is before …oh no, here they are with

Chapter 2 Exercises in sentence completion

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But there are more pressing issues that need to be fixed. Like my bindi. We are now at

Chapter 3 or It does not matter if we met just two days ago 
The boundaries of privilege and entitlement stretch themselves and reach a female coworker’s forehead, you decide what is supposed to be there.
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Hang in there, people. I am now confused. I can either be a feminist or a whore. If ‘character’ is key, I got to be a feminist. In which case, I am supposed to hate men. But then, I am not supposed to hate men. Am I speaking like Radhika Apte?

Maybe we are at

Chapter 4 or When you have to decide between feminism and whorism 
Because, hey! we believe in no middle ground for the girls and 50 shades of grey for the boys

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By the way, one simply does not directly answer questions put by females, therefore a simple solution is available in

 Chapter 5 or Wifesplaining , where all female queries will be answered in the voice of the wife. 

No automatic alt text available.

 

All illustrations made on Stripgenerator.com

Posted in Humor, Opinion

The vicious circle of mansplaining 1

When I first heard about Female Suffrage, I thought it meant suffering of a woman. I then learnt that female Suffrage was a successful movement that resulted in women having a right to vote. This means, a woman has a right to an opinion on how the nation is being governed and power to steer political discourse.

Why am I ranting about suffrage now? Because, while we have earned the right to vote,  people still assume we are incapable of forming opinions or rather, we should not be having an opinion at all.

I do not know about you, but I have witnessed so many jaw-dropping moments of being ‘told’ and ‘explained to’ by members of the opposite sex. Apparently, there is a name to this phenomenon – Mansplaining. I didn’t know I will find myself writing borderline psychotic stuff on this topic.

So here I am, trying to define this term …

First, somebody is nice enough to offer you an opportunity to speak. Then they take the liberty to interrupt you mid-sentence. You are then told what opinion you should be having, by interpreting what you are trying to say in a way that is convenient to them. They are also chivalrous enough to communicate it to others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Opinion

The Cup Of Life

To sum it up, the weekend of 15 July  and the run up to it was one of the most exhausting and exhilarating stretches in recent times. While I felt spent out by the time France lifted the World Cup, my initial feeling of all the matches ending in a damp squib were replaced by a wonderful realisation.

These five days had rewritten ABBA’s immortal lines, forever :

 The winner takes it all
The loser standing small

Because all at once, nobody looked like a winner and everybody looked like a winner!

In a world constantly reminding a woman about her age, Serena Williams coming back right upto the finals in her first post-motherhood grand slam … her own victory. Angelique Kerber taking the trophy against Serena, something to cherish for a lifetime. Kevin Anderson had his own victory in driving Federer up the wall , with fifth set battles in double digit numbers we have never heard of. And Novak Djokovic won against a never-give-up Anderson.

And it wasn’t just Wimbledon doling out life lessons. It was football that sang The Cup of Life at its loudest and clearest.

To me, the most defining moment was Luka Modric stealing the great Ballon D’Or from the Messi-s and Ronaldo-s of the world. In doing so, he had risen above the misery and turmoils of his past , taking Croatia along, and showing us how a small team can punch so much above its weight. Hell, they even gave two goals to France! Belgium, an unlikely hero, a dark horse, racing ahead to number 3 through sheer grit, awarded with a Golden Glove for persistence. No other country celebrated together like England, during a time of turmoil and uncertainty that its people are going through … and a Golden Foot for the path that lies ahead.

And above all, the victory of France, a victory of love and diversity over hatred and discrimination. They truly owned that ‘World Cup’ for what they have stood for and what it means! ❤

The most amusing of it all, people in India glued to two sports, none of which was cricket!  🙂

Just the realisation that everyone is winning is a happy way to start the week 🙂

Posted in Book review, Opinion

An elixir for all of us

A review of Elixir – A novel by Sinjini Sengupta

Have you also wondered like me what drives someone to suicide? Why is depression spreading at epidemic proportions in the recent times? Why, despite having everything the society sees as success, do people slip into this abysmal pit?

The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain got me thinking a lot about mental health.   Most books dealing with mental illness that I have read so far, had made depression and anxiety a part of a dark, twisted plot and evolve into a crime thriller of sorts. What does depression look like, in reality?

Elixir happens to be my 40th book for this year and I think this is one book that should be read by all of us. It has been on my TBR for quite some time and I happened to pick it up, just at the right moment. Elixir deals with a lot of issues that have become an integral part of urban living, and the writing echoes the sense of hollowness that the protagonist faces, as a result. How does she cope with her situation? Is her family able to see through her condition?  Does someone come to help her? Are her dreams trying to convey something?  

This book by Sinjini Sengupta is a much-needed work for our times. It is rich, not only in terms of the message it is trying to convey but also for the beautiful language used. Read it. Maybe someone around you needs help too?

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Opinion

When I tried DIY Soap making

With immense pleasure, I announce that I have ventured into soap making.

This inspirational journey began after watching a few minutes of many soaps and wondering if I can pull off this feat.

How to make a soap, sitting in the comfort of your home

Write each of the below lines on different pieces of paper

Gently fold them (in slo-mo) and put them in a jar

Draw lots and form a sequence. 

Here you go :

Girl be the saree wearing office-goer (with a bad boss and a good friend)

Family full of problems (dowry , drinking, debt, all misery)

Well dressed Honda city lady impressed by saree girl (temple bells ringing type)

Rich Amerika return dude with happening girlfriend (smoking and all)

Saree girl married to Amerika dude (full accident)

Saree girl early morning, tulsi round putting with nightie

ABCD no like saree girl

Random guy under banyan tree astrology

Saree girl magically pregnant

So many women at home (audition based on knowledge of witchcraft, medicine, make up)

Saree girl gets to know of a smoking girl (when the lamp blows off or something. Conjuring level – Infinity)

Saree girl kicked out of the house (strong, independent lass who need no man is victim of sorcery)

Saree girl making and selling the papad and buying the Benz car (Fun fact: If we put together, all the masala and papad sold by daily soap ladies, we can solve the world’s hunger problem)

Rich dude becomes broke dude (and joins papad company)

New rich dude all lovey dovey for saree girl

Loads of self pity

Lots of betrayal (with background music)

Random kidnapping in ambassador car

Some reincarnation here and there

Marriage @ Elizabeth Taylor and Gemini Ganesan

Court room drama (fastest court in the country)

Bizarre revenge

Unbelievable transformation

 

On a serious note : Scores of women are fed with this kind of content , every single day, in the name of entertainment. So much for empowerment , creativity and education

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Movie review, Opinion

Vivegam Mayhem

I love illogical movies. This exquisite taste of mine gives me an opportunity to choose from a plethora of special movies tailor made for me. And trust me, being made with the noblest of intentions, they never disappoint.

Just so you know, this is one of the most difficult genres to make. It represents the absolute pinnacle of sales and marketing excellence. You have convinced somebody to pay you heaps of money and you con your way into making the artists say it is an opportunity of a lifetime . And you hold on steadily to your loose logic for an entire period of film-making because if you can’t believe you are doing this, then who else will?

A trailer with Ajith can be quite alluring for the gullible audience -which is what led me to tune into Vivegam on that fine May Day morning. And after an entire week, I am still struggling to come to terms with what I have been put through. Three hours, three hundred paradoxes.

First of all, it took a few minutes for my eyes to settle down. The camera had no vivegam whatsoever.  I convinced myself that the whole thing was shot like a Tehelka sting operation. And in the middle of it all, a pepper-haired guy was walking about doing nothing – Like ‘ Enakum idhukum no sambandham’.  When it dawned on me that this guy is Ajith in his most stylish form, Vivek Oberoi came trotting along. Why was the movie named after him? Anyway, he is the first person I have come across all my life who constantly addresses his friend as Nanba. Good morning, Nanba. Very good, Nanba. Congratulations, Nanba. May be the string was appended to every sentence, while programming him. Something like, Artificial intelligence without the intelligence.

When I was still reeling under the Nanbaning. AK’s wife, KA, made an appearance. If not for a missing orange robe, she could have easily passed off as a disciple of a self styled Godman. AK’s wife be so sanskari, she wearing full sleeved blouse and cotton saree in Serbia. And poor Serbian children learning to Sa Pa Sa from her.

Now I heard Akshara Haasan was thoroughly impressed with the script when she signed up for it. Apparently the character had so many layers. Yenna layer? Illa, yenna layer-nu kekarein? Naturals layer-a? Green trends layer-a?  Bike ride with Ajith, Car ride with Ajith, date with hologram and still, layer didn’t understand when someone asked her to sit inside the car. Pottu-nu adi vaangi gone. Also, I want that phone with such a powerful speaker, you can hear baby’s heartbeat from inside mummy’s tummy via ultrasound machine in the midst of a bike chase. iPhone to Iiophone.

Now AK’s resurrection is a thing of legends. He falls from a tree, and is presumed dead. And then he is doing crunches against a tree, and then he is deadlifting with a tree log , and then sumo-squatting with the log and then battle-roping with branches and all of a sudden sitting on a railroad track, ready for war. Mara-ka mudiyaadha performance.

Unable to bear the atrocities of her music class, when KA is finally tied to a chair and contained in a cave,  she forgets her own name. She even goes to the extent of asking Nanba robot for her full name. And when AK comes to meet the nanba guy, KA starts to sing. At this point, every soul in the audience sheds a drop of tear for the Serbian kids who have been subjected to her shruti potti.

But the most pertinent question of it all is the existence of an all Indian anti-terrorist squad in Serbia. And Vivek Oberoi having more security than Kim Jong Un.

But I guess, that is the thing with such movies. I was still reeling under the effect of this masterpiece and then Vishal came along. In no time, he just tied up his future mother-in-law and two of her sisters in gunny bags and effortlessly flung them from ground to first floor to kick off the next riot.