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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Book Review : Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

:  250

Read on : Kindle

Review:  All the wonderful things in life are often obscure. We try our best to disintegrate them into little meanings that would or could make sense to our lives not realising that such things are best admired when left as is. 

I compare Murakami's work to this theory. May be it was the timing in my life that made Sputnik Sweetheart hit the soft spot and every page was like lyrics to a background melody of an episode that was detailed but got over way too quickly. 

The whole book is rather small and feels like poetry, with the delicate balance of reality and magic that laces the plot so perfectly. The descriptions of the characters emotions are well reflected by the atmosphere around them, the time of the day and other inanimate objects that are within their parameters. 

We don't always make the smartest choices with the people we hold most dear to us and our actions towards there are clunky even though in essence they were/are good intentions. Sumire is puzzling and nothing short of an interesting study, someone I would observe from a distance with minimal words exchanged. Miu is as charismatic to me as she is to Sumire and I'm sure her grace would intrigue a cat-like interest in me, where I would just move around her feet and gaze at her wide-eyed. K, our narrator is who sets the mood of the whole ordeal. There's a slight wiff of pity for him and the gentle, bruised pain from his unrequited love that he harbours so deep. 

The three of them are bound by baffling circumstances. The three of them love so desperately. And lose so painfully. It feels like waiting at a train station with all the trains whizzing past and K is stagnant.  

By saying goodbye to Mui, K knew that it would mean that everything was lost, over and he had to accept it regardless. Seeing Mui's face for the last time is what hurt most because it reflected everything that was gone. This was most definitely a part of the book I cherish with all the feels. I'm not going to ruin it for you by telling you what happens next but it's exactly what one would do in real life. Being able to capture all those sentiments and actions in such a small book is a feat and Murakami has to be applauded for that. (A Noble prize would be nice).

I hold this book close to my heart and will look forward to revisiting it with the same feeling when I'm old.

Final Rating : 5/5
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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Like Oil and Water

'What is meant for you will reach you even if it's beneath two mountains. What isn't meant for you, won't reach you even if it is between your two lips'

This is the verse I remind myself when I run into bad times. It comforts the anxiety of the pits of my stomach, it makes my heart breathe a little easier.

Trials and tribulations of life will not cease as you get older. At times even experience, the 'big there, done that' jargon fall short to rescue you. It's not the situation but more how you react to it, is what matters. Or so I've been told. And react I did.

A puzzling situation,  unforgivable to most, stood right in front of me and stared at me in the eye. I shrugged my shoulders and tried to do the right despite knowing my inevitable pain. Probably out of defeat or being well aware of the fact that there really was no way around it. Damage it is, I was the one picking up the pieces and getting cut at the same time.

Strange people happen in your 20s. They drag you into stranger situations and before you know it, you're entangled in that web. You question the point and purpose to no end. No answer is an answer by itself.  You know cobwebs. Invisible. You walk through them and it clings to you. No matter how hard you try to pry it off you, you can still feel the remains.

I was in such a web about a month ago. I let go and almost instantly found my sorry self leaning on a shoulder that I didn't notice was there. One that lurked in the shadows. I was grieving and still hadn't noticed. There were black clouds looming over me, my feet dragging that abominable lull like chains. So easy to destroy something so fragile that nursing it back means more aches and pains. You wince at the thought of it. Forgiveness is no longer an option, It's a choice one has to make. Reaching that choice would only further your pain. A little suffering to ease your selfish soul is most likely a sin itself. Again, there was no giving more than I already had. I chose to be greedy for my betterment.

Some one opened a door behind me, grabbed my hand and yanked me through. Funny, the way things work, you miss a chance so closely while only later on you realise what was right in front of you. May be the door behind me was what I was meant to stop and look at. I smile meekly in an attempt to repair myself from the cords that unravelled. But I was already feeling better. Relieved precisely speaking, I could breathe again without being choked up.

I know that I am safe. I know that I will be okay.


To all those who are worried about my well being or were wondering about my absence from the blog, I'm absolutely fine. Took a break to clear my head and heart of some emotional turmoil that took momentum couple of weeks ago but thankfully that has ebbed. I'm recovering fast and well. I'm blessed with well-wishers, friends who are family to me and of course, family itself. Hope this Ramadan is treating you all well. 

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Friday, 29 April 2016

Book Review: Eat The Sky, Drink The Ocean

Pages :  240

Read on : Book

Review:  The first time I ever heard Annie Zaidi speak dates back to my post grad days when she has a special session with us filled with her page-3-kinda-like-ermygod stories. As expected, massive eye rolling happened. Fast forward 3 years later, I see her again, this time with Mandy Ord at JLF 2015. More eye-rolling and subtle scoffing, until she and Mandy spoke about alternate endings to iconic tales in our culture, such as the love saga of Salim and Anarkali. I was like a dog who picked up a new scent. That one story and the epic cliffhanger was sufficient enough to itch my mind and click 'add to cart' on Amazon.

What delightful book. I felt as if I had just won the English Elocution at school and was beaming in pride to take home my 'Enid Blyton' prize. That feeling resonated. The brilliant concept behind  this book is that it re-imagines so many various situations or classic tales that it's can safely be handed to people of all age groups, starting say 12+ and on. The visuals in some of the stories are raw and no nonsense, while some of them are whimsically clever. 

The beauty lies in the little snippets on how the Indian and Australian contributors collaborated. Some of them never even met, but the sense of sisterhood was strong enough to keep them bound to this project. Matters that plague the two entirely different cultures were glued together by this vision for a female-friendly world and I applaud the start. It is not as hard for women to connect as people assume. In most cases, what we have endured, what we see, feel, do and receive remains the same universally and we are ever ready to aid our fellow sisters.

The mix of short stories, classic folk tales, dystopian fantasies, graphic stories make it such a collector's delight. Brag points for the bookshelf. We know 'Zubaan' is the house of feminist themed publishing, nonetheless, the backdrop of feminism was so subtle that it made me want to jump into the book and live in that world. No cliched words are casually thrown around, the concept goes beyond wishful thinking to make it a seeming reality - a very refreshing change. 

One point. And the only point that troubles me is that most of the stories are established centuries after modern times, as though to imply that this idea that they have set up will materialise only after practically everything on earth has stormed revolution after revolution, mass destruction etc. This could be just me but the feeling of a dystopian society was strong and that did make me think.

Regardless, it did leave me happy which my readers would know is quite rare. The attempt is fantastic.

Do pick it up. It may not be the most literary read, but it sure is enjoyable.

Final Rating : 4/5
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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Quicksand Worrier

If my thoughts were constantly displayed on my face, they'd be two kinked lines running across my forehead with a furrowed brow. It's just that the year 2016 has been overwhelmingly different right from new year's eve. I didn't realise that the last week of December and the new year was going to whisk me away so frantically that all constants would change. Evolve. Right in front of my eyes. I'm not complaining. Changes have been kind to me for once or may be I'm 'growing up' to accept them. It feels like the same me though. Same face, same hair, same girl, same exterior, same heart and mind. Yet so so different. Like the axis of my daily life has shifted.

With the onset of new challenges, old worries become new concerns. Yesterday's problems seem so insignificant. Tomorrow is an anxious mix of nervous excitement and I seem to like the taste of it. Overthinking is still a part of me that won't go away so swiftly. Whenever I have to dip my toes into something new, I wince, half expecting icy prickles, only to find warmth and comfort envelope me. It welcomes me like a protective blanket. It fills me joy, with new reassurance.

There are golden beams of the sun, glistening on my face. I close my eyes and take in the glow, most contently. I don't blink, I don't burn, I don't look away.

I smile from within, from my toes, from my gut, from my hair follicles to my face. It feels like for once my worries will melt away soon enough. It feels like may be, just may be, this might be my time.

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Sunday, 28 February 2016

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber, Outlander #2 by Diana Gabaldon

Pages :  369

Read on : Kindle

Review:  I'm weak when it comes to really juicy synopses. Those couple of lines are good enough to get me hooked and before I know it, I have my nose buried deep into a fantasy novel. Seduced by the prospects of a faraway, nonexistent parallel universe that I so desperately desire to seek. After my lukewarm fling with Outlander, much to the shock of a lot of fans, I still remained curios to know how Diana Gabaldon managed to stretch this highland fairytale into 6 backbreaking books.

 Lo and behold, before I know it, I'm devouring the the second book 'Dragonfly in Amber' and I daresay, I quite enjoyed it much much more than Outlander. Of course, Jaime still hold mine ( and everyone else's) heart. That could be the major contributing factor. THE major contributing factor, I'll admit. Aside from this, of course, I will give Gabaldon her due credit for her impeccable research of the era, the politics of the region and cleverly manipulating them to fit the title. The language is brilliant and Claire's wit shines through.

There are more dimensions to otherwise pointless characters or so I had  deemed earlier, All of the surrounding people like Fergus, Murtagh and everyone else seemed to boast more persona that most of the people in Outlander #1. The romance was kept well muted, thankfully. The lack of love in my life is kind of making me scoff at anything remotely romantic I suppose. War, issues at war, injuries, the spirit of belonging to a clan etc were well coloured with just the right amount of emotion and technical detailing to avoid constant yawning. Jamie as sweet natured as he seems, does act daft at times. As expected to be honest.

The 'villain' was way underplayed for the heinous crimes that he had committed in the past. For such a dastardly character, I was surprised the author went soft on him.There were new challenges for Claire and Jaime, if those were topped with a haunt of the past, I think the story would have been able to better trace the state of helplessness. 

Most definitely a progress from Outlander (Review here!) considering how I felt about that.

Final Rating : 3.5/5
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Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Little Detour

When you feel the impulse to do something completely off the chart and the impulse get's so strong that you almost can't think of anything else, then it's best to go forth with it.

Such an impulse struck me all day today when I wasn't in the mood to brew up another review, instead I wanted to share some more randomness. The past few days of this year were spent 9000ft above on the mountains and in the valleys of India. Finding serenity or being brave in the cold- call it what you may. As the year's motto for me is to 'Take it Easy', I'm loosening up from the monotony of literary content to share some things that just might be purely pleasing to look at and nothing more. Without getting too personal and crossing the boundary of oversharing, I hope you are will enjoy glancing through these little tit-bits of India as I rediscover it anew.

Change is always good.

View from a remote point from our drive in and around Shimla

Summer capital of the British

Our little trek to Mall Road was scenic as ever

Breakfast table view 

Turn around to face the stunning topography of Himachal at every corner

School's out - snow day at a local school

Serenity - the trees whisper cold wind in your ears

Hope you enjoyed this little visual treat, even if managed to refresh you for a minute. I'll be back with more reviews soon.

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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year, New Challenges !

I read 51 books in 2015 as per my Goodreads Challenge. That should make me feel accomplished. However on the contrary I didn't feel it's something to be proud of. I can read 50 books is a thing to say that sounds great. Borderline flouting. However, I am never challenging myself to something like that anymore for 2016.

Lots of lumpy books were acquired last year that sat on my bookshelf unloved. Due to the pressure of the challenge, I had to be cautious and try not to pick up anything more than 350 pages. Unnecessary pressure, no fun. Enjoying the stories became difficult as the plot lines got hazy,  I had to speeding past dialogues and characters and which caused my inability to a churn a well opinionated review. This is not how it should be.

Since 'Chill out and let it go' will be my newly adopted mantra for the year, the same will be applied to my reading. Thus I have set a reasonably realistic challenge of 20 books. That's it. Only 20. So I have liberty to read the massive books at my own leisure, take my time and genuinely get to enjoy the writing.  Not slacking but trying to re-instill my love for reading. I will also take this moment to mention that aside form my literary adventures, a few Islamic books too will be part of my reading stack due to obvious reasons.

It's amazing to see that over the two years my preference of reading material and choice of genre has changed so much that I feel proud of myself. From starting off my 'downtime' with Dystopia and Young Adult sci-fi and now going towards classic writers, literary authors and more matured content, I do feel it's become much more than just reading. It's evolving. My eyes crave to glaze through words that will stay with me. My kindle sleeps under my pillow will I cheat on it's ancestor of whispery pages, gorgeous prose and alluring covers.

I realize now the value of reading only 10 beautifully written books than just cramming in 50 or so. So without further adieu, here's to another fabulous year of wonderful books. Happy New Year and Happy Reading !