Random Notes on Illness, Books and Love…

I have been so ill…for the last two weeks I have been confined to my bed with multiple disorders including a low blood cell count that has led to such weakness that standing on one’s own two feet for more than a minute is risky (On account my loosing balance and falling) I have not been this ill, ever in my adult life – never been this sick to be unable to stand, write or even read. Anything remotely difficult or challenging makes my head ache and eyes water…I mean Shakespearean Sonnets are not even difficult but there, cannot read it!

It is times like this one really misses one’s true blessings – never a very active child (I mean physically! I hated sports, though I was always active enough to run around the house doing all I want!)I was never weak and this past two weeks I am all namby pamby . Make me lift the serving spoon and my arms ache. Make me walk from my bedroom to the drawing-room and my head spins! I hate not having control over my body which in turn impacts how much I have control over my mind and me losing control over my mind – a very very bad thing! But now as I write this post, I miss the strength and the stamina to go on and on. In a brief spell of time, I seem to have become this wishy-washy person who is no longer in charge of her life and this makes feel worse because I never really appreciate good health and stamina as something that makes life better! Now of course, I know better and once I get back to my old self I am going to make sure I never go back down this road again!

What have I been doing these last two weeks – no prizes for guessing: reading? I read Conn Igulden’s War of Roses, I read Arnold Bennett’s The Grand Babylon Hotel,  I read Claire Benson’s Murder at Sissingham Hall, I re-read all the Harry Potters (Trust me there is no better antidote to bad humor or ill health) as well as all the feel good classics – Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Jane Eyre and Little Women. I also started on New Grub Street by George Gissing and am loving it. Somebody should do a study in sick room and reading patters – me thinks it will show a lot about the psychology of the person and may even give correct prognosis about by when the sick person will be healed (I know the last part is a very 19th century, but one never knows! These days I am trying to live with a mind over matter principle, because I would otherwise be unable to get through simple tasks of the day like taking a bath!)

The only upside of this illness is again to make me aware how blessed I am. As you can figure out, I am pretty ill and incapable of simple acts like cooking cleaning etc. My parents are very old and 2500km away from where I stay so dragging them so far is out of question. My sister is in teacher’s conference and out of the country….so who is taking care of me at home (I refuse to be admitted at the hospital; I am sure I will become more sick!!!) My flatmate/my best friend/my mentor all rolled into one. Very rarely does one come across in life a friend who puts his or her life on hold for your sake – well I am truly blessed to have her. She has taken care of my meals, ensures I eat the right stuff at the right time, cooking, cleaning and managing my ill humors when they raise their head! She has been an angle though she hates the comparison and would rather be called a mysterious la elegante damsel. Well damsel or not she was my knight in shining armour and I am so blessed to have her in my life. The doctor said that my body was reacting to some unpleaseant shock which may have happened months ago but to which I did not react properly then and its coming out now. I can think of what happened and now that I think back, I did bounce on my feet very early, perhaps a bit too early! However if betrayal and dishonesty were the root of my illness, surely the love and care of my flatmate, my friends and all my well-wishers (and trust me I have many for I was besieged during this illness with cards, flowers, calls and a genuine wish on everybody’s part to actually help me!!) should serve as the protective shield against any such damage.  May be it’s my illness that’s making me maudlin or too much of Dumbldore’s advice (When you read 7 Harry Potters in two days, Dumbledore is as real as it gets! Besides wisdom is wherever you want to see it) but love does make a person a whole lot better!!!

P.S. I will for sure go back to review of all the books I have read from next week – big time catch up needs to be done!!

The Vacation Finally Cometh…..

Finally vacations here….I can’t believe it actually here and by the time I can actually believe it, it will be 6th January and back to work! (They should have back to work stationary like they have back to school stuff! I know I get a whole new set of notepads, writing books, pens and sticky before I commence work every New Year…but it would be really awesome to have a back to work stuff! It will be a perk us up for Monday kinda thing!) Anyway, 6th January is mercifully away, and while I acclimatize myself to a very short vacation, it’s time to kick back shoes and let my hair down and have FUN FUN FUN!!!!

Every year during this time of the year, I go back home and to the old rambling house that my parents live in. But this year, due to one reason and another, I ain’t making the homewards journey. While there is no denying I will miss the traditional gaieties of the year, there are consolations to be thought of and plans to execute.

Presenting to you my top 5 holiday activities –

  1. Get the house back in shape – lately I and my roomie have worked so hard that the house is in a mess! It’s a wonderful apartment, nestled among low hills overlooking stretch of green fields and while commuting back and fro remains a challenge besides the godforsaken earth shattering rent, the fact is it’s a great place and recently gone to bits! So doing up the house is on the agenda big time – thanks to Stefanie I have planned a terrace pool as well some lovely wall hangings which have lain around for ages!
  2. Writing – Have not picked up the pen and paper, er…ok! Hit the keypads on the word document in a while and it’s as good as a time to make up!!! I am going to write once again diligently for the next two weeks, even if it’s only for a couple of hours!
  3. Transfer music to IPOD – There are some old classic CDs lying around that I have been planning to convert and transfer to my IPOD FOREVER…simple task but no idea why I never did it!! I will get that completed for sure or blast!
  4. Read – Goes without saying….what else is the point of vacation if one does not read. The List is long and varied. Some of the top to be read for these holidays are – War of Roses by Conn Iggulden, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (yes! I am on LTR re-reading trip!), Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, (part of my December Classic Spin) Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Kashmiri Shawl by Rosie Thomas, and The Murder at Sissingham Hall by Clara Benson. I am also participating the readathon for The Classic’s Club Annual Readathon event on 4th January but have not decided on the book as yet! (Feel free to suggest!)
  5. Party – Loads of parties lined up – kicking off with my birthday eve party tonight (I know I am too old for it, but for some reason I never had a party when I was young, so I guess I am making up for lost years!) an awesome Christmas eve party and a potential getaway for the new year!

The calendar is packed and so are my days and night and though I am doing the traditional going home this year, I think I will have oodles of fun! Will let you know on 5th January, how the time had flowth! Until then, here’s to good cheer…vacation is finally here!!

All About Nothings and Somethings….

As God be my witness, this year has been super crappy; even the bubbly me hangs her head and sighs when I look back on this year and see the misses –

  • Got unceremoniously dumped! (Yay!)
  • Much awaited Promotion did not happen and in fact went to an office slacker
  • More rejections on publishing front
  • More financial strain due to some unforeseen expenditure by parents

So really, on this glorious gratuitous day, I sit back and think, well do I really have anything to be thankful for? I mean my God seems to be on vacations here…..

But then is life really that bad???? Yeah! Pretty Much!!!

However I can still hang on and that in itself is a cause for celebration! Besides, it is absolutely ungrateful as my flatmate tells me to forget all the brilliant things in my life just because some setbacks.

Therefore, here’s to being grateful –

My people – family, friends and more who stood by me and held me through some fun adventurous nights (irony intended)

My books – Oh! Such joy to just read through the night; to escape to a world where life is so much better and see things in a different light!

My blog and followers – The joy of coming home and seeing a like/comment or a follower – only a blogger would know the high of that comes of it! Besides, so many people whom I call friends, I have met thanks to blogging – could there be a better incentive than that?

My Job – I cannot believe I wrote that! But let’s face facts – there are plenty of people out there in the world who would kill for a job like mine! Comfortable, secure with a lot of job satisfactions – I mean the Project Manager me quite likes doing Projects!

My Hope – I know this is intangential, but I cannot imagine living through my life without any sense of hope! I felt like that for a couple of days and they were not good – felt like I had lost all sense of joy! As long as I have the sense of hope I know I will survive, no matter how low life gets!

On that brilliant philosophical note, I end this blog!

A very happy Thanksgiving to all of You, regardless of whether you celebrate this day or not! You have no idea how much you’re reading through this or stopping by my blog means to me. Thank You for being a part of this adventure with me!

Ladies Choice…

I just finished reading a New Yorker article by Laura Hemphill, Why Women Should Skip Business School.  On my very first reading of the article, it left me bristling and the feminist inside me, that rarely comes out, (Feminism and Post Feminism is all very passé! ) kind of exploded.  Ms. Hemphill, herself a survivor of mad-bad world of Wall Street and now an author (She has written a book on a young woman’s survival in the financial world called Buying In – “In” seems to be in; remember Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg!) makes some sweeping assumptions. Though she backs it up with enough data sources, one cannot help but get irritated with the constant chorus of the article – business school is extremely expensive and women don’t make much of it since they by mid 30s, they have a home life to address. Therefore cost benefit analysis shows that women should in fact use the two years to advance in their career instead of opting for Business School.

My first reaction is that she is being extremely narrow in her views; though Finance is a man’s world and there are enough horror stories of women in struggling to gain a footing in this field (that is a whole new post!) there are plenty of women who make it and stay on the top. ( Irene Dorner of HSBC, Edit Cooper of Goldman Sachs, Lara Warner from Credit Suisse etc). While I agree with her that unlike Law and Medicine, a degree from business school is not a pre-requisite to succeed in finance or related industries, one cannot deny that advance knowledge of matter will only help and not hinder. Finally in the era of communication and social responsibility, there are many women who are going full steam in their careers while successfully managing their home lives.

Now after writing all of this, I have to step back and think – I have been working in the financial industry for over 9 years now and have moved from the entry-level to now mid management and have seen how gender opportunities evolve. Though I work for one of the most gender sensitive and sincere organizations, I have loads of friends who belong from this industry of both genders and I have seen the highs and lows of their careers and I have seen how the gender role not consciously but sub consciously seems to affect career choices. Your employer has to do nothing, you will do it yourself!

I have a friend who works in hard-core retail finance – she is one the smartest women I know and her understanding of Analytics and Six Sigma leaves industry gurus gasping for breath. Yet recently, she gave up on a very lucrative career advancement opportunity and instead settled on a relative low-key role because she had a 1-year-old daughter to bring up. She was candid enough to tell me that for the next 7 odd years, i.e. until her daughter is 8 years old or so and her dependency on her mother reduces, my friend will sit tight on the wilderness of career advancement and bide her time out.  She has a husband who is at a lucrative position but travels constantly and therefore she is completely fine with her low-key role where she get a decent remuneration and but most importantly gives her flexible timings and working hours. Career Advancement will come later, much later.  Yet another friend, again very successful and very driven recently declined moving to a new organization that was offering her a better position, a much better pay and benefits because she discovered that she was pregnant. She told me that while her though her current employer did not value her work as much as others, and she had been time and again ignored for promotions, one cannot deny that after working for so long with them she has built up a comfort level and they will be more accommodating of her leaves and other personal needs during the next 9 months than a new organization where she still has to build up her credibility. True, she has to put her advancement on hold for good two years, but at 31, she said her personal life takes priority. These are all examples of women in the fast paced financial industry – even in the more “softer” industries like Art, such choices are being made daily. My sister, a double MFA from University of Boston in Literature and Fine Arts, worked for 8 years in one of the leading Museums where she used to head the Art Restoration department. After my niece was born, she took a complete hiatus from career for good 9 years – true she made that choice willingly and she wanted my niece to have a good home life and not go through some of the downward effects of having a full-time working mother, which my sister and I had ( I never felt there was any downside of having a working mother, but she contends that some of our life choices would have been more thought through if we had more face time with our very kind but always short on time parents). However today when my niece is 12 and quite capable of managing herself, my sister did not go back to the Art field which she loved but instead settled for a teaching job at a Private School since it gave her more time at home and with her daughter.

All of this makes me think that maybe, just may be Ms. Hemphill has a point. She may be right when she states “isn’t the most important thing for a woman to work as hard as she can and advance as far as possible while she’s still in her twenties and her life is as uncomplicated as it’s going to get? That way, by the time she’s a decade or so along, she’ll have more savings, more job experience, and more bargaining power—all of which translate into more options.”  Again I do not want to make sweeping assumptions and there are different stokes for different folks, but there seems to be a significant population of women who attest to the fact that sooner the women get started in their business careers, the better it is.

Does this mean that this is a reinforcement of traditional gender roles?  The man of the house earns the bread and the lady manages the home and hearth? I do not think so; I think this is an over-simplification of the matter. Today most men are equal partners in household chores and managing home front than ever before – these men cook, clean and babysit without qualms and don’t have any inhibition on how these exercises my dint their machismo.  In a nut shell, they are cool with it! The women on the other hand make conscious choices to put their home life ahead of careers.  At the end of the day, they choose to have a baby and bring him/her up, but it was and is their choice. This in itself shows a lot of empowerment and the self-belief to design their destiny. True, it might entail a career step back for a couple of years, but then these women are happy with their decisions.

Last Word – The woman should make her choice that enables her to lead complete and fulfilling lives instead of going  – Shit! I wish…Business School or no Business School!

Once upon a time and everytime…..

So the Classic Club’s September Meme is contributed by Brona from Brona’s Books –

Rereading a favorite classic at different stages of your life gives you different insights with each reading. Is there one classic you’ve read several times that also tells a story about you?

Please be forewarned, this is going to be a loooooonnnngggg post!

Like a lot of people I began my formative years reading a lot of classics and like many I always thought of myself, especially in my teens as (Yup! You guessed it!) Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by the greatest of all, Jane Austin  – I wanted to believe I was clear-headed, was quick  and witty and above all could give it back with all due decorum and politeness! Of course, there was always the sneaky feeling that if I became a Lizzy Bennett, I will find a Fitzwilliam Darcy – I already had a bit crazy and extremely hyper mother and a very laconic and sarcastic, albeit thoroughly sensible father. But life has different plans in place and as I grew older and read all of Jane Austin’s work more closely, I began to realize that I am actually a Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility, again by Jane Austin – I was an intellectual and cultural snob, who would turn her nose at anything low brow. I was extremely passionate about everything, still am, the only difference is at that point and this is the University years, I was passionate to the point of fanaticism. I also believed that there is only and only one true love and no secondary attachment could be that passionate. I had even found a semi – Willoughby! (Yikes!!! Super Yikes! Let’s not even get into that!) But now in my more respectable and mature 30 years of age, I know despite every plans and intentions, I have settled down to being a Jane Bennett (from Pride and Prejudice, the elder sister to the much aspired, Ms Elizabeth Bennett)  – how colorless can one get????? But facts are facts – though I do not have the legendary beauty of the eldest Ms Bennett, there can be no denying that I am a fool and do not see faults in anyone unless I am run over by avarice and selfishness of the other.  I am so busy, ensuring everybody else is happy, that no matter how unhappy I am, I keep up the demeanor, without realizing that those that are close to me can never be truly happy unless I am happy! The only thing lacking is Mr Bingley ( Mr Soulmate is nothing like Bingley – he is nothing like any of Jane Austin’s heroes!) and a sanguine temper – I am short fused and this is a carry-over from my Marianne Dashwood days!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is another book, whose re-reading has made me identify more and more with her. As a teenager, when I read the book, I was not particularly impressed by the namby pamby Jane Eyre and her stiff upper lip stance. I wanted fire and courage in my heroines and Jane was a calm stream of water. But re-reading the book during an interesting phase of my life (The Willoughby phase!), I realized how much of strength it takes for an ordinary governess to stand up to a Mr Rochester – to demand to be treated as an equal and what’s more to seek respectability and honesty in a relationship, even when your heart is breaking and you are completely in love with the person. Jane Eyre clearly was one of few books to take such a strong equality stance between men and women, with the subtle underlining of a simple message that took me years to learn, vis-à-vis, matters of the heart, that something simply cannot be compromised on – no matter how high the cost!

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was another novel which I read during my teens and could not really relate too. It took me good 9 years in a corporate environment to understand what it is to be not only very good, but absolutely excel at your job and how the larger crowd with mediocre talents will try to pull you down. Though I am blessed to be working for a great company that actually has very limited if any Corporate politics, but there can be no getting away from the truth – the mediocre crowd would always find flaws with you if you are really good. They would rather you confirm to their average standards, that stand up alone and raise the bar! Individuality is good and having a mind of your own is even better – it’s difficult to stand alone holding the reins of success, but I rather hold the reins than become a blind horse treading the known path!

East of Eden by John Steinbeck is yet another book that made me realize a lot of home truths very early. In my Marianne Daswood phase, I could not fathom anyone making big mistakes in life and living on – the concept of forgiving and moving on was alien to me and therefore for a very long time I could not relate to Caleb’s actions in igniting Aron’s mind against their father Adam Trask. It was only much later as I became closer to my sister who was 14 years my senior and always the golden child of the family; therefore for a long time in my eyes taking the place of Aron (though she is undoubtedly more kind to the parents!) that I learnt about making mistakes, accepting them and moving on to make a better life. The day I accepted that I transitioned from a Marianne to a Jane!

Finally and I know I have already written a blog on this but no book at any point of time made me what I am and whose re-reading over the years has just made me appreciate a little more about such non tangential things like courage, honor and integrity – about standing up for one‘s beliefs no matter what and about strength that comes in all forms – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My basic principle of life came from this book and has only become stronger over the years – unless I can look myself in the eye, nothing is worth it!

All those Legacies…..

There are many things that comes to us a legacies – a house, jewelry, money, an old piano…..the list I guess could go on.  At any case, legacies are of great importance, for they bind us to a past that is inherently our own and through which, in many cases, our identity derives from. The legacy might be part of the very answer, if not the answer of who am I?

So what am I trying to say here????

I am talking about legacies (Duh!), but intangible ones.  I know many families have intangible legacies – legacies on which prices cannot be placed because, they are feelings, stories, tales of a house, handed from one generation to other, in forms of memories and wisdom. I too have a similar legacy – not tangible. (My grandparents came over as refugees, leaving all their possessions behind to escape religious tyranny, so really not much in terms of material wealth!) My legacy is therefore of – books! Not books that are handed down from one generation to another; how could my grandparents carry books when they could barely get out with their life and limb intact? It’s rather about tales and authors that have been favorites of the past and have been passed down to posterity.

Let me get to specifics –

the_inheritance_1358395My granddad, i.e. my mum’s dad, was an avid reader. One of his all-time favorite author was A.J.Cronin and his all-time favorite novel was The Citadel by the same author. Many years later, when my mum wrote her graduation paper at the University, she wrote about The Citadel.  Fast forward another twenty years down the line, as I graduated from Nancy Drew and Ann of Green Gables (not that one ever gets over their love of these books) and hesitantly stepped into the adult literature, my mum told me to read The Citadel. Browsing through the school library, finally stumbling into a dusty corner, I found a copy of the book and reading it in the sunlit library, overlooking the lush gardens of my school yard, I knew I was linked to my grandfather, who has died so many years before my birth, in some indelible way. Till date, whenever I read The Citadel or any other works of A J Cronin, I feel that in some way I am reaching out to touch my inheritance – my literary inheritance.

Similarly, in 1930s England, my other grandfather, my dad’s dad was greatly inspired by the Fabian movement. A young impressionable student, he was convinced that Fabianisim was the way for a better future for one and all. He devoured works of Harold Laski and was completely in awe of this academic, from whom he claimed to have understood the very ethos of socialism, in his early years in England. My father however completed his education in Business Administration; however, he was a very active member of university politics and his speech during his University’s student body elections in 1964, is still remembered and borrowed heavily from Harold Laski’s essays from The New Republic. In 2005, I wrote my Master’s thesis critiquing Fabian Society and its politics, arguing against the very theory of Harold Laski. This too was and is part of my inheritance and like all inheritance, which consists of thing both likable and not so likable, my political beliefs and studies were in complete antithesis of my grandpa’s and dad’s political stand. But there is absolutely no way of denying that this too shaped my identity and my belief system and made me what I am – a very political creature. (Yes! I know this may come as a surprise, since in my gift of gabbing all over the blog over all these months, this relative “serious’ side of me never came out….but there is a time and place for everything!)

Not to procrastinate, the point that I was trying to make earlier is that all families have legacies. Some of these are simple and tangible and some much more ingrained and imperceptible. However the latter are very much part of the identity that one derives for oneself – consciously or unconsciously!

One girl, some books and Nazi Germany

New Year, New Books.

I recently read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Though this is not a new book per se, since it was originally published in 2005, but I read it just a couple of days ago and for me therefore it has all the joy of unchartered territory, especially since I had never read any work by Markus Zusak prior to this.

Markus Zusak is an Australian author who has written some great children’s work including The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry. Though he received several awards and recognitions for these works, his breakthrough came with the The Book Thief which was as I mentioned first published in 2005 and since then has been translated in 30 languages and garnered the #1 position in The New York Times Bestsellers.

Now about the book –

the-book-thiefThe Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II and it spans the years from 1939 -1944 in a town called Molching, Germany. The story’s narrator is Death (Yes! As in THE DEATH) and  begins as an eight year old Liesel Meminger is taken by her mother for adoption to a foster family – housepainter and accordion player Hans Hubermann and his wife Rosa Hubermann, whose washing and ironing for the richer households. The story then describes Liesel’s relationship with her foster parents, other residents of the neighborhood including Rudy Steiner, who becomes her best friend and Ilsa Hermann, the mayor’s wife and a Jewish fist fighter, who hides in Hubermann’s basement to escape the Nazis.

While the back cover synopsis may look very To Kill a Mocking Bird meet’s Schindler’s Ark, do not go with that kind of mindset, for this book is completely unexpected.  I do mean unexpected – it does cater to certain cliché’s like the German who does not want to be a Nazi or the German who risks his life to save a Jewish life, but that’s where the cliché’s end. This book is beautifully crafted, written with great depth and while the language is simple, since its attributed to a young girl, there is a lot of sensitivity and originality in the whole work. There are several instances of dry humor as well as some very upsetting moments, including one scene where I cried in buckets. (Yes! I do cry when I read books and no, I am not sentimental, just someone who is extremely sensitive!)  The plot is unusual not so much in the characters as much in the details and events of the tale. Another extremely rare aspect of the book is that at the very onset of each book (The novel is divided into 10 Books), the reader comes to know what will ensure in that book as well as the next, so in a way, the author gives away the ending, right at the beginning. However the power of the tale as well as the brilliant writing will keep the reader going despite knowing the obvious end.

New York Times wrote that “It’s the kind of book that can be LIFE CHANGING.” – I am not sure if it can be life changing, since we are all different people and we all react to things differently, but I can say this, that not to have read this is a loss and a big loss at that. This is a must read for all those who consider themselves books/novels/literature connoisseur, for this novel may be considered a  modern classic one day!!! It’s a poetic, touching and absolutely heartbreaking work that scopes out the immense generosity that humans posses.

The Old and The New…..

I have come to my parents place for the holidays! Now when I say my parents place, that’s a loaded term; cause it’s not only my parent’s home, but in the grand tradition of dynasties, my uncles and aunts and even my cousins all live together in this rambling mansion, that was built more than a 100 years ago. Though time again, the various members of this extended family have flown from this house, including my father who left this house and city more than 40 years ago in search of better prospects, they all come back here! Whether it’s after their retirement, like my father or like my cousin who spent 15 years in Europe, only to come back here, so that he could raise his children in the way he was, in the very heart of the family!

BariI love this old house, its shaded nooks and the sunny parlors and wide staircases which for generations had served as gateway for a child with a secret game or a book to read in peace – something I did as a child and still do as an adult. The pistachio colored outer walls and cool deep green insides and the high pillared ionic columns or the inland courtyard, where I spent my childhood alternately playing with my favorite cousin or being teased by not so favorite ones!!!! I love getting up in the morning to the sound of the main street – this mansion overlooks one of the busiest thoroughfares of the city; my great grandfather who built this house had no conception of far from the madding crowd! Or to traipse down to the local bakery just two blocks down the line to smell of fresh bread and what I consider the world’s best plum cake! I love wafting through the books that were the “in reads” and when Fitzgerald was not a distant figure but a literary l’enfant terrible and a contemporary of the people who had bought these editions, including my grandfather! I love the old spacious kitchen, which is larger than my room in my apartment and the stone stoves, which stand next to the new electronic stove and the traditional food cooked and supervised by my aunts! I love the history and the sense of timelessness that go hand in hand with each other!

Yet despite all my sentimentality, I cannot imagine living here except for a brief spell of time. Unlike my cousin, I feel no compulsion to come back here eventually; nor like my father do I plan my retirement around this house, nor like my uncle claim that the very meaning of life and its travesty is embodied in this house!  I am not sure what I lack or what makes me so different from others? Was it because I was not born here or because I grew up away from large groups of people; I am not sure what keeps me and makes me shrink away from sending a lifetime here? Or is it just a highly developed sense of space that cowers me from large groups of people – but considering I am such a social animal, I somehow cannot seem to believe that theory either. But while l love this house and the identity of belonging this house and family, it’s important that I step away and make a separate identity of my own and create my own space that is not crowded by my past and holds the promise of a future that is not shaped by precedents.  At the same time, I do look forwards to returning to this warm shelter at the end of the exhausting year, to renew the ties that help me forge ahead for the next year. It is the balance between staying here and moving away that keeps me sane and independent and at the same time rooted to all that is beloved and part of my DNA. So here’s wishing a rip roaring success to the this legend of a house, – may it continue to provide nostalgia, safety and history for generations to come!

The Natural and The Practised….

I was at a social gathering last night and I started talking to someone about …you have guessed it – books! Now he began reading at an adult age and spoke about how he struggled initially with reading the simplest volumes and how by disciplining himself into reading a bit every day, he had finally developed an interest and a habit of books, so that it flew much more naturally now. He then made an observation, having heard about my obsessions with books from common friends, that how I must have never struggled with forcing myself to read or even knowing what to read when depending on my moods and preferences, while he himself went through this cathartic process of trying to inculcate this habit at a much older age!

This conversation kind of got me thinking – yes its true, not only for me, but I am sure about a lot of voracious readers, that we never struggled to read; nor did we have to switch our alarms on and force ourselves to read until it rang and more importantly, some authors/books, well we did not really “discover”, they were always in our ambit and unconsciously part of our inheritance!

I had mentioned this earlier, but it’s true that my earliest memories are of my father, reading out to me and somewhere down the line, his fingers stopped moving over the words and instead, I began to read for myself. I do not know when that happened, but I do know it happened at a very early age. When this gentleman last night made a statement that for the likes of me, we must have read our first books when we were 8-9 years old, it made me realize that actually, I must have read my first book, albeit a fairy tale with very simple words, at a much younger age….actually way before being 8!

So, how did all of this begin?

readingI am frankly not sure; the same gentleman said that when he has kids, he will like my father, start reading out to them from the very beginning so that they do not really have to struggle to appreciate such pleasure; he said like my father, he will ease them into books! I think he may have summed it up accurately – my father did ease me into books! I have always been surrounded by books and from an early age was always told that when all else failed, books would be there for my company. As an only child, to parents who worked full time, this was one of life truths.  Despite my adult bearings of gregariousness and being extremely social, as a child, I was quiet and an introvert and forever struggled to make friends – in those very lonely years of childhood and early young adulthood, my comfort, support and friends were the books that my parents stacked the house with. I remember looking forward to Saturdays, not because my parents will be at home, but because, without fail, my father would take me to this one book shop that he and later I had fraternized over the years and allow me to pick two books as a rewards for some task I did in the week.  Those two books would then sustain me through the long hours in a lonely rambling house, through the week, while my parents managed their professions. I am not sure if those books that were bought were bribes or gifts of guilt, but the point to be noted is that I was never given any other gifts like clothes or toys, but books. Was it because my parents, especially my father loved reading or was it because he knew that I loved reading? I am not sure – it could have been an amalgamation of both, but the key factor here is, I always looked upon the process of my becoming a reader as a natural progression; however until last night, I had not really thought about the factors and circumstances that enabled and encouraged this progression.

Does this make me a more dedicated or a more comfortable reader than the gentleman who developed this habit as an adult? I am not sure – his ability to read and appreciate something as a connoisseur is no less; he is quite aware of what constitutes a bad writing versus beauty of words or tenacity of plots. While he may have not read all the classics, which many of us have, but  because he kind of went through the ocean of literature, before settling down to a genre that he considers his own, his range of reading, albeit very modern, is also very vast and extremely interesting. Finally and more importantly, he now has a hunger for the time that he lost as a youth on books, and now reads so voraciously that he might put some of us “natural” readers to shame.

So does it really matter how or at what age you begin reading? Does it really matter if your father bought your first book or you bought one yourself, especially when it comes to appreciating good works? Does it matter if you timed yourself or read through the night? Is there really a something called a good reader like a good writer? And like a good writer, do you have to practice reading to appreciate it or does it always come naturally to you? And really does it matter if one had to practice reading to become a voracious reader, as long as he enjoys the habit and finds solace in it?

The rewards of Sisterhood…..

So here I was about to write a thought-provoking piece on Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Don’t give away a Sigh of relief as yet! I still plan to write about it in my next blog!) and then I open my WordPress account and see that Roshni (an extremely talented young lady who writes some marvelous posts!) has nominated me for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! Yay! And of course I am super touched! Thank you for the nomination Roshni! Coming from someone as talented and gifted as you, it’s truly an honor!

Now comes the rules! Of course you link it back and Thanking the person who originally nominated you, ( easy – it’s a pleasure to direct people at Roshni’s site, cause she does write some amazing stuff!) bringing out to the world in general 7 random facts about yourself, hereto unknown (how I struggle with this part, though I am completely self-obsessed, I mean who isi’nt; only the degree of obsession varies, but I digress, despite my self obsession, it is kinda difficult to come up with these things! )and finally nominating 7 other bloggers! (easy again! There are some incredibly talented bloggers and to follow them is a privilege. )

7 facts about myself –

  1. I am hydrophobic! Water scares me out; not like shower or drinking water, but you know pools, oceans, rivers, bathtub filled to the brim! My nightmare is that I will be travelling in a plane over a vast water body when the craft will have to make a landing on the water (yes! There is a fatalistic streak in me! )
  2. I have a sweeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttt toooooooooooootttttttthhhhhhhhhh! I am not exaggerating! Give me high on sugar content item at any time of the day/month/year! I love chocolates, pies, pastries and dunk about 3 sashes of sugar in my tea!
  3. Like Roshni, I did spend a lot of time thinking about becoming a war correspondent (Yes! Girl! We have a lot in common!) Even managed to complete a Ph.D in International Politics and then threw it all up in the air and joined a financial conglomerate as a Project Manager, while still aspiring to be a writer! (Yes! Even at this age, I have some confusion about what direction my career should take!)
  4. While growing up, I was incorrigibly shy and would shrink like 50 ft underground before talking to a new person. No one, who knew me in my childhood or early adolescence, would believe that I will turn into this outgoing, talkative, absolutely obsessed social creature. It’s like I did a 360 degree turn around!
  5. Despite going on and on about being a social creature, it’s kind of difficult talking about oneself and I really am exhausted by these exercise and at #5 have run out of facts to share with the world!
  6. I love Vivaldi, Beethoven and Bach and I am still in my 20s; so for the older folks, it possible for the younger generation to appreciate good music and for the younger folks, I do not care if this is “uncool”; I think these boys rocked!
  7. I do not like poetry….that is one form of reading I could never develop an affinity too!!!

Phew! Done!

Now to the sound of drum roll and thundering applause, the 7 incredible bloggers that I am nominating for this award are –

Eggton

Lill and Jill

So Many Books

Tamarind and Thyme

12 Novels

Ravingmadscientists

A year of reading the world

Do check out their page….trust me………these women are out of the world! Enjoy!