Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Vague Woman’s Handbook, by Devapriya Roy

I’m just going to get this out of the way — I LOVED this book.

Really. I did.

Ok, why am I so surprised, considering that my love for chick-lit and chick-flicks are no state secret? Well, I guess I wasn’t expecting to love it so much. It isn’t a literary masterpiece; the language doesn’t reduce me to a pulp of awe and wonder; the story-lines were also simple — so what? The characters just spoke to me. Their lives, struggles and triumphs resonated with me.

Mil and Abhi are a young, a very young, very much in love, newly married couple trying to make it work. Mil, has taken a zero semester in her final year MA, to work at the Indian Academy of Literatures while Abhi continues at University to finish his PhD in conflict studies. Trying to come to terms with cheques that don’t come on time and the fact that neither set of parents have given the union their blessings, the in-their-very-early-twenties couple do the best that they possibly can to build a life together, firmly believing in the cheesy-but-oh-so-beautiful line from an Eagles song, “When we’re hungry, love will keep us alive.” Then of course there’s Mil’s boss, Indira Sen, a widow in her fifties who’s trying to keep her head above water while drowning in a pool of credit card debts and it certainly doesn’t help matters much that she lives with her shrew of a mother, along with a motley crew of others, namely her soft-spoken mother-in-law, an uncle who’s retired from the army and a daughter who’s studying fashion designing and getting sparkly stuff all over her crisp, white bed-sheets.

The story, set in Delhi, took me back to my days (or rather, half-decade) in JNU. The wonderful, tree-lined familiar roads of what I fondly called the cultural quarter of the capital; Connaught Place and Dilli Haat; the warmth of hostel friends and yes, the supremely naive yet extremely zealous, bordering on rabid, belief that love would truly conquer all. Fortunately, in this book, it actually does. As for my real life experiences…well, this post isn’t about that.

And in the now grown-up version of me, I also understood Indira’s trails and tribulations, and even empathised with them. It was like looking at the life of a favourite aunt and wanting everything to sort itself out so that happiness could wrap itself around her like a lovely, handloom sari. Once again…everything does sort itself out –erm, too neatly, if you ask me.

Yes, it’s a book about happy endings, way too simplistically achieved, but we need stories with happy endings, don’t you think? And not just the ones where princesses can fit their dainty feet into incredibly sturdy glass slippers.

One huge, BIG grouse though…the title. Why ‘handbook’? And ‘vague’? No, neither Mil nor Indira could be called vague. They are strugglers trying to sort out their messes, but they’re neither ditzy nor vague.

Like I said before, this isn’t a remarkable work of literature. It’s a lovely piece of chick-lit. And I guess it was something I needed to read.

Those warm fuzzy feelings I felt…sigh…this book was like drinking a warm serving of nostalgia from a favourite coffee cup. A wonderful instance of right book at the right time …

Thank you Devapriya, you made me remember the good things about Delhi and my life there…memories that I’d almost forgotten.

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Dear Sugar…

I did promise to share with you online articles and posts which I find particularly brilliant, right. That’s what this post is about. It’s from an online e-zine called The Rumpus. You can find it here…http://therumpus.net/

There is a fortnightly column there called “Dear Sugar” and I am sharing Column #64, from last year February. It starts off…

“Dear Sugar,

I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40’s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your twenty-something self if you could talk to her now?

Love,

Seeking Wisdom”

What does Sugar say to Seeking Wisdom? Read: http://therumpus.net/2011/02/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-64/

Some of the things might not resonate if we put it in an Indian context, but the wisdom, the emotions, the heartache, pain and beauty are all very universally. Read it and weep.

What are some of the things you would say to your twenty-year-old self?

 

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New from Katha

Katha has come out with it’s glorious-looking catalogue of their spring-summer collection! I’m already itching to get my hands on some! Check it out 🙂

http://www.katha.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/katha-spring-summer-catalogue-2011_updated.pdf

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ok. So I thought I would post something original here…a poem I’d written or a few thoughts on love I’d scribbled. But then, going through my work, I realised my poetry/lines/thought/bits-n-pieces-of-me were too personal, too intense and even too err…passionate, let’s say.

So here I am borrowing from one of my favourite poets of all time and seasons…Pablo Neruda. Man, could the man write! His love poems are like satin sliding smoothly off your skin. There’s a sensuousness in every thought, every word.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! Whether you believe in this holiday/festival/commercial-circus or not, I do sincerely hope that you all believe in love. I hope you enjoy the poem I’ve chosen and I also hope you’ll share your favourite love poetry with me.

SONNET XVII ~Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

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“If I fail, if I succeed…”

On a day like today, the only words that kept running through my mind at dizzying speeds, criss-crossing each other in a crazy directionless manner, often banging and colliding to make noise and kill the music, were the lyrics of certain songs that defined my growing-up years. Songs that switched on the hormones as we turned from tweenager to teenager; songs that the girls from my entire generation and from all over the country, would sing at inter-school competitions; songs that we dedicated to our secret crushes as we lip-synched soulfully to them, holding a comb in front of the mirror, her divine voice blaring from the cassette player.

On a day like today, when I woke up to the news that the world had lost one of the most phenomenal voices ever, my youth shed a tear. Her songs were pure emotion and absolute inspiration. Some of them became personal anthems for many of us.

I belong to the Madonna, Micheal Jackson, Whitney Houston and WHAM generation. I am still a willing captive to their voices and words. They each own my youth. I reveled in their triumphs; I refused to believe in the scandals and I would secretly weep while reading about their fall.

And that’s why, on a day like today, I wept again.

Goodbye Whitney Houston. You leave behind an entire generation of fans who will always love you.

In your honour, I am putting up the lyrics of a song I used to sing quite frequently once upon a time (to myself mainly), but I had forgotten along the way. This was even my anthem for a while. I absolutely must sing it to my boys one day and hope that they adopt the message in it…a message that I myself have not honoured for a while now:

The Greatest Love of All

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

[Chorus:]
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows;
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe.
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me —
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me.
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

[Chorus]

And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

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Book Give-away: Kiran Manral’s ‘The Reluctant Detective’

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Okay word lovers, back today as promised!

Unless you’ve been holidaying on a romantic, remote island with zero Internet facilities (in which case I envy you!), I’m sure you’ve all heard that our very own, our wildly wonderful, witty and popular blogger Lady Kay – or Kiran Manral, as she is also known :–p – has finally written a book! Yaaayyy! This has been a long time coming, but “The Reluctant Detective” has been worth the wait. A quick, easy, breezy read, is replete with Kiran’s trademark sardonic humour and wacky but oh-oh-true observations on the people who inhabit our world.

The story revolves around 30-something Kanan Mehta, Kay to her friends, a mommy of-one, tackling issues that I and countless women the world over, are only too familiar with – grumpy spouse; tantrum-throwing, junk-food loving child(ren); the battle of the bulge and of course, the most difficult one of them all – what do I wear today? When Kay stumbles upon two corpses in her neighbourhood, one after the other, she gets pulled into detective work, albeit reluctantly, to douse the fires of her curiosity – and of course to make sure the guilty are punished. As the blurb says, this book is a ‘hilarious account of how not to get involved in other people’s murder’ and you need to pick it up now.

If you haven’t read it yet, then I am going to make it fun for you to get one absolutely free – and signed by the author herself! All you have to do is answer the following questions:

1)      Where did I finish reading more than half the book at one go? (Hint: the protagonist would be very proud indeed!)

2)      What kind of an adventure would you like to see Kanan Mehta embark upon next?

3)      And finally, what profession would you be absolutely reluctant to pursue and why?

To make this even more fun, the winner will not only get a signed copy of ‘The Reluctant Detective’ but another surprise as well!

So, spread the word and let’s have some wacky answers here!

Winners will be announced on February 15th 🙂

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Here I Am!

Happy Anniversary to me!!!! This new blog is my anniversary gift to myself. I’ve been thinking and thinking and hemming and hawing over whether or not to start a new one considering how rarely I update the other two, but then I thought why not? And so, throwing caution to the winds — much like I did eleven years ago today, when I wed The Spouse — I decided to start THIS, my new blog!!

My other two blogs (www.mammamiameamamma.blogspot.com and odissinartakitobe.wordpress.com) are very personal and they will stay that way. This blog is about WORDS — words written, words sung, words painted, cooked and typed. I plan on writing book and movie reviews here, sharing articles and poems that I have enjoyed or have touched my heart, recipes that must be tried out and songs that have moved my soul.

So in the spirit of newness and this being my first post and because this blog is primarily about books, etc. and it being my anniversary and all that jazz ;-p I have a surprise planned for tomorrow — a book give-away.

So come back again tomorrow to see what I have in store!

Have a great day, y’all!

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