Book Reviews


I read a lot of book reviews, sometimes they are short, other times darn long, giving away most of the book. And over a period of last 4-5 months, I have read about ten books and I thought about reviewing a few of them, keeping it short and sweet, I hope.

1.The girl with all the gifts – Mike Carey 

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I would say I have only been reading thrillers and classics for a year until I stumbled upon this gem of a book. So it’s Science fiction and a teensy bit if visualized would fall into horror. I didn’t know the genre of this book before I began reading. I read the title and instantly started reading. The beginning was subtle and totally gripped me after first few chapters. The plot basically revolves around a girl (with gifts, you’ll realize what kind when you read, I am not giving that away) and her favorite teacher whom she is in love with and would go to any bounds to protect her. So science fiction meets action meets love and there you have it – one of the best spontaneous decisions of my life. I would rate it a 3.8/5 and sure is worth a read, especially if you aren’t a SciFi reader.

2. Tess of d’Urbervilles –  Thomas Hardy

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If you know me, you know my list wouldn’t be complete without a classic. Tess is our heroine, whom men love and she is the quintessential good girl whom you cannot pity enough. When you read a classic like this one, you get quite angry. There was a point when I had almost lost faith in Tess, in the story. But she never gave up and neither did I. Yes, the book is heart-breaking but there were some very beautiful moments which only a classic can give you. The characters are fresh, and only rarely you come across a book where you go wrong about the villain. The climax took me by surprise, something unexpected just like a thriller and that was some closure for all the anger caused initially. I would totally rate it a 4, for the story, for Tess and the writing. If you must read, tell me your favorite passage/quote/something about it.

3. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger 

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Holden, unlike “phony” teenagers around him, is essentially a naive teen who can write “swell” essays. Imagine someone pulling out your raw thoughts around all the activities happening in your life and putting it in a book, Salinger did that and how! It was again one of the best reads and also the quickest. I read it in a day’s time and I felt them swell vibes. Out of the 3 books, if you aren’t an ardent reader or prefer quick but fantastic reads, GO FOR THIS GUYS! Definitely a 4.5 for this one.

Fire alarms and chaos


After a few months of hibernation, a fire alarm ignited the fire within me to blog after so long, just saying. So, I was at my aunt’s place over this weekend and everything was pretty chill. You know, the usual eating, lounging around and sleeping. At 9.30 pm yesterday, my aunt was playing some game on her phone, I was watching something on my phone and my cousins were out. We had dinner and everyone was relaxed until we heard a loud thud. I probably ignored it the first time until the lights went off, there was no sound from the TV, no electricity at our place. My cousin came back home and he could smell something burning. That moment itself there was another blasting sound. All I knew, Holi is tomorrow, so no way anyone was out there celebrating Diwali with bombs. We were trying to figure out what went wrong, meanwhile the entire neighborhood was out because of the noise and smell. Something was burning and we went a few stairs down to check and saw smoke building up. Within seconds, the fire alarm went off. I believe it was the first time my aunt’s society had met with such an issue – fire alarm going off. They panicked, everyone was out and running, our neighbors trying to find the keys to lock their house, I was also trying to get my aunt out so that we could move down. It was a total chaos – Run, yell, push – repeat. The meters of the building had some issue and that’s how few of them blasted away. There was fire where the meters were located, somewhere behind the building. It was safe in a way for us. Only yes precaution had to be taken to vacate the building. Within 5 minutes everyone gathered in the basement of the building and the fire brigade arrived so did the electricians. We were safe and the situation was under control. Here’s what happened next –

Men gathered near the meters along with the brigade guys, trying to analyze the situation, maybe become one of the brigade guys and show bravery. They shooed away all the kids and their female counterparts.
Women gathered around the benches, lobby and started talking. Since I did not know any one of them I was loitering around. My aunt’s house lost the electricity first, she started with the story in front of her friends. And then another woman began with her story and then all of them started sharing what happened.Yes, I heard almost all of them.

Kids were scattered everywhere, a group of young girls, young boys and small kids in their natural habitat.I got bored, my phone battery was low and I had so many versions of this fire story by that time, they all ended the same but here’s how it began –

We were cooking and suddenly…I think I forgot to turn the stove off and…we are yet to eat……what a mess……
We already ate and amidst playing level 35 of the game the lights went off…it started smelling of fire and ….I think my house lost electricity first….
I was serving dinner to my kids and husband….in the middle of eating we heard a loud noise …now the food’s all cold and no electricity…..
12 years ago, I was serving tea to my husband and the tea cup started moving, my husband thought I was sick …and then everything started moving…it was an earthquake and today I am yet to cook dinner…our machine to process wheat stopped working….smoke was everywhere and ……
You won’t believe I got so panicky, I couldn’t change my clothes before running down ….my son ran…took me along…
It was half past 11, no electricity, battery dead, sleepy eyes and mosquitoes around, I slept like a baby until someone woke me up to go and sleep somewhere else.

There was no electricity for about 15 hours and more. My laptop had died, managed to charge my phone and took a shower with the phone’s torchlight. Couldn’t have an even more eventful weekend!

 

 

The Librarian


Everybody knows how much of a reader I am. I always have something to read and that has been my hobby for years. Unlike others, I wasn’t introduced to reading by my parents. They put me in a good school with a great librarian. Today I am going to share my reading story with y’all where my library ma’am plays the protagonist. 

Back to 2004, I don’t remember anything beyond 2004 clearly. So, I was this awkward 9 year old kid who had by then learnt about Cinderella and her glass shoes, um Rapunzel, Goldilocks and her porridge? Oh, there were many! Our librarian was a married lady who used to be clad in traditional Indian clothes, long plaited hair and freckles on her face(which is rare for Indians). She was there for a long time in our school and I believe every student loved her. I waited entire week for that one library class with her. She totally rocked my world.

There were a few rules in the library and that’s how you could get the book. Basically, each student was assigned roll numbers and she used to call five students at a time to issue a book. She used to sit on a chair with a large table in front of her and a lot of books placed on it. You go there, see the books, pick up any one you like,show it to her, approve it and get it issued for a week. Simple yet killing. Sometimes the ones you want were already taken and that would totally disappoint me. So this one day, my turn arrived and I saw a book name – The Emperor’s New Clothes

Read this book!
Read it 😛

I couldn’t find any better book and so I picked this one. I was really young back then and innocent too. The book had a naked picture of a man and that wasn’t my concern. I showed that book to our ma’am and she just said, ‘Rushvi, if anyone teases you about the book, you come directly to me. It’s a funny book. Return it next week.’

I blurted out a thank you and directly saw the cover of the book. I don’t think the picture above is the same as the one I saw. But yes a naked man and people could tease me about it crossed her mind. Nothing much happened, there were a few who laughed and I returned the book without any complains. Sometimes, we did not get any books. We did not go to the library, instead she came to our class with a huge book. She would read out important stuff, show us lot of pictures, explain everything in a way that suddenly history, geography and anything you name it would become the most interesting thing. She was a terrific librarian. She did her research, gave us the right book to read and most importantly made me fall in love with them.

That is the best memory I have of my school. I read fairy tales, comics, Tom Sawyer, Alice in the wonderland, Chicken Soup and all kind of books you read when you are a kid. By the time we were in our seventh grade, she left our school, the library shifted on the top floor. It was a small constricted space and many librarians came and went but I am sure they hated their job. None of them would keep Harry Potter for us to read. We had to force them to remove new books and give us. I barely read any books then. It wasn’t a lot of fun then. Everyone would do their homework during the library period. Nobody cared about books. Only some of us would go and request the librarian to give us the books we wanted to read.

Library Ma’am gave me the best part of my life. I would finish off my book in a single day, read my brother’s issue which he definitely didn’t care about and just wait for the next week. When she was there, no one could do anything before they issued a book and library period seemed like it. She left, things changed drastically.

I love my books and I love her for giving me something no one could ever take it from me. I haven’t met her in years now but I haven’t forgotten her. I definitely haven’t forgotten the naked emperor.

 

The time we said goodbye…


Hypothesis: I am a very unhappy person. 

This one day I was wearied of studying all day for an exam. In order to throw away the boredom I started watching all the pictures on my laptop. I watch old pictures often, this time, I was watching the pictures intricately, trying to observe each picture and remember the moment exactly when it happened. Hours passed by and I wasn’t bored or unhappy. I was actually amused.

In all the pictures I noticed, my expressions were-

  • Open mouth
  • Giggling too much
  • Laughing hard

 

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Those days!

 

There were only a few in which I was smiling like one is supposed to for a picture. My mood got better, I had a big grin plastered on my face when I saw the photos. These pictures were in the folder where I saved all my college memories. All the pictures were of epic birthday celebrations, parties, outings, weddings, etc. Every time a teacher took our cases we would laugh our heads off and pull each other’s legs for the next few hours. But if the same thing happened with me and I was all alone, a storm of tears would be out any minute. 

You know people tell you since your childhood the importance of friends, what they forget to tell us is the difference it would create in our lives without their presence. As y’all know I am in the final semester of engineering and a few days back we had our farewell party. Farewell parties are fun, play dress up, eat, dance and take a picture with every possible person from your batch. After all the fun ends, slowly it dawns on everyone that college is done. It’s not that bad, you won’t be spending all the time with your friends now but it won’t be difficult to stay in touch and meet every once in a while. So yes, we did say our goodbyes but that is not an end to my giggles and laughter.

Also, if my boss gets angry on me for some mistake I did in future, I am definitely going to the washroom and

And

Calling one of these idiots and masking a revenge plan because what are friends for?!

Hypothesis rejected. 😀

Quotes from students – On Teaching


Just another day:

Me: So starting from where I last left the chapter, today we will discuss the properties of magnetic lines of force. Firstly, they are not real. Magnetic lines of force are imaginary.

K: Why do we have to study something that doesn’t exist?

Me: They do exist, you just can’t see them.

B to the rest of the class: (proudly) Hah! What a shame! These lines are like ghosts, people say they exist but we don’t see them.

Me: We will discuss ghosts some other day B. Getting back to magnets, Fleming was a great scientist and…..

M: (raising her hand) Why did all the scientists’ in our textbook had long hair?

Me: Err. I think they were too busy to groom themselves.

***

The day I completed my term:

Everyone: We’ll miss having you around!

Me: I will miss y’all back. Your batch definitely had the  most entertaining set of students I ever came across.

B: (giggling)I have a gift for you.

Me: And what would that be?

B: I have a little gift for you. I tried to sketch this when you were sitting across me. I am not sure how it turned out. I forgot to carry an eraser today.

 

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This is me!

 

With the crooked smile and scrunched up nose, he definitely made me look like a 40-year-old uptight teacher. But the kid caught my hidden and visible moles right which made me happy on the inside. I know, I would treasure my mole faced sketch for a long, very long time.

I love the entire process of teaching; meeting new kids, knowing them at a personal level and getting attached to them. When the time comes, they recognize you distinctly, be it your loud voice or the moles on your face. I love this part of my life no less than the part when I am a student.

 

On Estrogen:21 years – Get me an hour glass


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*This is a series in which I will be sharing a few typical challenges I faced as a part of growing up. If you are a girl, I am hoping you can relate to it in some way and have a laugh or two. If you aren’t, I am sure you must have experienced this with your sister/friend/girlfriend/wife. I will be posting the consequent parts every Wednesday. I will try to include all my raw thoughts on them. Stay tuned!

Every day when I wake up and take a look at myself, I can’t help but start thinking about what areas of my body I need to work on – “My arms are way too big for a petite”, “I have heavy thighs”, “Need to tone myself”, “I could look better in this dress if I HAD AN HOURGLASS/VOLOUPTOUS FIGURE!”

I must have told this to myself gazillion times and, after the fruitless attempts, I realized, I have been body shaming myself for all these years. I never appreciated my flat tummy and thin waist that I have been living with for years. I know many who have been trying to get rid of it and I was already there.  The feeling of being comfortable in my own skin was a rare piece of emotion for me.

When we discuss weight and body shapes, don’t we end up asking each other how much weight we gained/lost and what our jeans sizes are?! And then end up feeling less feminine forgetting the delicious body that has always been there, only we never appreciated it enough.

If you are petite, you have a boyish figure. If you are fat, you are plain ugly. If you are tall, you look like a man. What should a girl be? There are always going to be such conclusions drawn about us and by aiming how celebrities look like rather how the media has projected them, will only make us unhappy for the rest of our lives. Instead of spending our energy to be a 36-24-36, we should be worried about how to become fit and healthy. When you have that, you don’t need to get an hourglass.

It took a lot of years to finally come up with Barbie dolls of different sizes, shapes and colors. Isn’t this an open invitation to all the girls feeling insecure about their bodies? An invitation to shed away the inhibitions and negativity of body shaming. An invitation to show our friends/partners/sons to look at the gorgeous women we are. An invitation to embrace being imperfect and beautiful at the same time. To stop discussing sizes and focus on healthy living.
I wish you all a happy imperfect living because we are worth it.
If you haven’t read the previous post, it’s right here.

 

On Estrogen:21 years – Cooking around


Add heading

*This is a series in which I will be sharing a few typical challenges I faced as a part of growing up. If you are a girl, I am hoping you can relate to it in some way and have a laugh or two. If you aren’t, I am sure you must have experienced this with your sister/friend/girlfriend/wife. I will be posting the consequent parts every Wednesday. I will try to include all my raw thoughts on them. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: This might particularly relate to Indian girls.

Recently, a close relative of mine had sent a sweet dish, which has been my all time favorite while growing up. It is available everywhere outside in local shops. My Mom is an expert in cooking it and I have always loved it more than anyone else’s. I tried what my relative sent and I liked it. I had a few but to be honest, it wasn’t the same. So when my Mom asked me to have another one I refused. She asked shockingly, “Don’t you love it?”

“I do, but you know I have always loved yours more. It’s good, but not the same as yours.”, I answered. Her immediate response was, “What will you do after marriage? Better learn the way I cook it soon. You barely know a thing or two.” I said, “Send it to me later.” She laughed away. I don’t enjoy cooking entirely. I learned out of no choice when I was 18 and I am glad I did. I know how to feed myself a good dinner when I am home alone. This part of not being dependent on anyone makes me enjoy it partially, but the idea of trying out every recipe on Pinterest and having a good time is not me. I don’t mean to offend the rest of y’all who do love cooking.

Okay, so here’s the catch – In India, supposedly every girl is expected to learn to cook because that might be a crucial factor for marriage proposals. This might be the situation outside India too, nevertheless, I am not sure about the gravity of this problem in different areas. This might be a very narrow way of thinking, but very logical for most of the parents. A girl needs to know how to cook, it runs in her genes. Break the myth, it doesn’t. Learning to cook only to feed your husband and his family after marriage is definitely not in our genes. People love cooking. It’s a task, not anywhere closer to the gender. My brother does not know a thing about cooking and that’s totally cool. But it’s not the same if it were me. I would never blame my parents for this ideology. It’s a preconceived notion which may or may not have been broken that girls should learn to cook someday.

I have a lot of female friends who enjoy cooking genuinely. I don’t know how they were exposed to it, but they grew up to love it and that’s great. Cooking is an excellent hobby. But I am confident that someday they must have heard the lines, You better learn this, it will help you later (after marriage). Why is a simple task linked to the female gender even today?! There have been days when I was by myself for the night and I cooked a delicious meal to satisfy my taste buds. I was happy after the meal but that in no way imply that I love cooking. It only indicates that I have fancy taste buds and I am independent enough to make them happy and I am not even joking right now. When I mentioned female friends who love cooking, there are many others who don’t. I hear y’all girls. I can cook for special people, fill in for the times when there is no other choice except takeout and cooking. I just don’t want to do the same thing four times a day for the rest of my life. I would like to think that boys would love to oblige for the other days.

I think in future, I am looking to find people who agree that – Everyone should know a bit of cooking to survive, nothing more or less. If I get married someday and have a daughter, this is for you, ‘Learn when it’s the right time for you, if there isn’t one then I am jealous right now.’

I am 99% positive my Mom doesn’t love cooking and I don’t mind. I have her genes 🙂

If you haven’t read the previous post, it’s right here.

On Estrogen:21 years – I need more clothes


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*This is a series in which I will be sharing a few typical challenges I faced as a part of growing up. If you are a girl, I am hoping you can relate to it in some way and have a laugh or two. If you aren’t, I am sure you must have experienced this with your sister/friend/girlfriend/wife. I will be posting the consequent parts every Wednesday. I will try to include all my raw thoughts on them. Stay tuned!

A pile of clothes and another one on it. Worn out pajamas, fresh new shirts with the labels on, monochrome to pastels, sweaters and jackets, phew! I haven’t left a single hanger empty but definitely left a mess of clothes on the rack. Even an empty inch of space is like a glimmer of hope for new clothes to come in.

I might have my set of shopping problems, but I cannot deny that every time I see a new dress on Amazon, it is automatically added to my mental list for the next shopping trip only to realise there isn’t much space in my closet for them. Six months ago, I wanted new colours; three months back, I wanted cool stuff for college and yesterday when my friend turned up in a cute sweater, I admitted openly, “I need more clothes, hell yeah I do!”

Isn’t this a thing for us? Trust me it’s the Estrogen doing the talking and thinking. I am overpowered by the hormones so much that it psychologically creates the want to shop oddly with an inadequate budget. Don’t even get me started on the budget issues! I am not a shopaholic and I barely do two shopping trips a year. However, I don’t mind a pair of new clothes anytime soon. Normally, I always have a good list in my head about what I need to buy. It would be something like:

  • Sweaters
  • Shirt dress
  • Leather jacket
  • Anything black

Reality: I am in the mall, too many stores, so many items around me and I absolutely get lost in them. I pick out a few outfits for myself, totally in awe of them. When I come back home and watch Jennifer Lawrence in a jet black leather jacket, it crashes down to me – I FORGOT THE LIST! I need to go shopping again but I cannot, because I obviously went overboard last time. Okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit. But what’s life without the drama?

Let’s go shopping sometime soon 🙂

P.S. Estrogen

 

 

 

50 happy things: Looking back again


1.Family: Obviously!

2.Friends: You need a break from family and I love them all.

3. My Sister-in-law: I never had one until Santa pre-gifted me her. Did that sound correct? Oh, never mind. I am happy.

4.Laptop: Life in a nutshell

5.Teaching: Yes, I absolutely love kids and teaching too. One way to reach out to them was through guiding them and doing what I love at the same time. Living half day as a student and the other half as a teacher has been quite amazing.

6.Books: First love. Not one sided though. 2015 was generous with the book-love.

7.Library: I study engineering and the college library racks have forever been the shelter for tech-savvy people however one fine day I found out a cute little corner for literary lovers. It has books like Anna Karenina, Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights and many more to complete the list. Books for soul, free books for life.

8.Blogging: Blogging has been a good enough reason to be happy. There is nothing to dislike about it, also when WordPress takes serious efforts to change the writing area. The WordPress Reports have been spectacular! It’s not just writing, blogging on WordPress is a lot of things.

9.Getaways: Getaways are a must. Been to many places this year with the family and I would be lying if I didn’t want another one right now.

10.College

11.Health

12.My HP Flash drive: It’s safe and healthy. It is important, very.

13.Pens: I need more!

14.Bookmark: I need more!

15.Birthday: 21st birthdays are always special.

16.The Keychain with my name threaded: The original one fell somewhere because it was a very crowded place. Got the exact one again.

17.Growth: I have grown – cannot decide which part of the body though. See that’s why I consider physical growth ambiguous. I have grown, yes.

18.Volunteering: I would love to do a lot of it if time permits. Encouraged a few friends to join in last year, had a blast!

19.Shopping: Read my shopping problems. I am proud of myself over that.

20.TV Shows: Suits is coming in a few days. Sherlock, House of Cards and Game of Thrones have been the highlight of the year. Happiness is binge watching! 😀

21.Movies

22.Phone: I got a new phone during Monsoon 2015. Been my baby since then!

23.Followers: See this is what I’m talking about! You make me happy. We are in it together.

24.Placement: A tiny, really tiny part of me is happy. Getting a job ain’t that bad.

25.Gifts: Birthday girl or not, everyone has been showering me with gifts here and there.

26.Cooking: I can cook myself a healthy meal and enjoy it too.

27.Reading: When I talk about reading, it can be anything. From hilarious blogs to LOTR, I have been constantly occupied with some or the other stuff to read. Sounds like myself.

28.Photos

29.Food and the fat: The joy of eating without thinking about the calories is something. Mmmm, the metabolism rate helps.

30.Icecream: Need it.

31.Heels that don’t hurt

32.Youtube

33.Jango

34. Selfies I never knew I could click

I could come up with 34 in 10 minutes. The number doesn’t matter. Be happy, 2016 🙂

Instructions, copied and pasted from Dawn’s blog:

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list (the timer doesn’t matter for filling in the instructions, intro, etc). The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the very bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2015. After that date, no blogs can be added.

 

Pretend this is a blue frog and click here to join the party.

2015 in review/WordPress Report


Like I said earlier in Dear 2015, I am going to share the epic WordPress report with you guys. So here it is! What might interest y’all is not how much I have progressed but how WordPress motivates one to carry on with blogging with their minute details and presents it in an even more amazing way.

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year 🙂 See you in 2016!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.