Friday, January 27

The Wednesday Soul - Book Review

Here I am, this is me, and there’s truly nowhere else I’d rather be…

To quote Bryan Adams… (more or less)

(Hats off to the magnificent singers and lyricists who come up with a song that fits every circumstance. Come any incident in life, and I have a pertinent and melodic song on my lips. Glorious and heartening, innit?!!)

But well, that’s not what this post is about – a song for every situation. This writeup comes to tell you about my recent read “The Wednesday Soul” by Sorabh Pant (and how can I forget the very important tagline, an obligation now for every title) – “the afterlife with sunglasses”. Sent to me by Blogadda (3rd book so far), thanks a lot BA team! It sure is a pleasure, this time, every time…

Why The Wednesday Soul (TWS) is named thus, I honestly have no idea.

To spill the already-spilt beans, I can tell you that the book is about afterlife and one of the important characters is a Wednesday Soul (assuming all souls up there are named after days of the week, based on their way of death and varied responsibilities). The sunglasses that command a dominating position in the tagline (a significant place, in my opinion, not bestowed upon other lesser phrases) figure in not more than 2-3 lines somewhere in the book. However, I shall pardon Mr. Pant for that. I completely believe in a free world phenomenon and freedom of thought of choice.

On that note… (Belated) Happy Republic Day!

(Sheesh, how could I forget?!! Blame it on the fortunate fact that I no longer need to wake up at the crack of dawn in the brain-numbing cold to go to school for the flag hoisting. And drag along my poor dad as well to pick and drop me. In the reverse order.)

Back to the review, pardon my nostalgic tirade.
A foreword though, before I proclaim my verdict.

Writing a book (or directing/producing a movie, for that matter) is no piece of cake. Anyone can become a critic, ain’t no big deal to censure what someone else does or says. Actually creating something, now that takes effort and dedication. So, to inventors and designers across the globe, RESPECT… Good job, ladies and gentlemen.

You, too, Sorabh Pant. For coming up with an idea that is rare and innovative. I’m tired of those silly chic-flicks and love stories. Though yours has one as well, it thankfully does not dominate the entire story or become a predictable melodramatic sequence of events, oh so Bollywoodesque.

“Hankypanty” (as a friend informed me) is quite a rage on Twitter.

(No, I am not on Twitter, just in case you were wondering. I have got better things to do than keep updating my status every nanosecond.)

The story (finally coming to it) is about a re-belle who meets an untimely death, and goes up in the sky (amidst extremely complicated procedures and tiresome, technical imagery). Characters from hither-thither make her after-life difficult and easy, and various revelations occur as the pages turn. Drab and stretched at times, absorbing and amusing at other times, this 209 page paperback is good for a quick read as you travel someplace or light, hobby-like reading for folks who are renewing their reading habits. For the more seasoned reader, well, it’s a maybe. It’s got fiction, mythology, general knowledge and science all rolled into one – and it may work for some and fall flat for the rest.

They say “never judge a book by its cover” but the glossy coat does make the book appear very sophisticated. While the summary on the back cover seems intriguing and creative, the recommendations by Mayank Shekhar and Vir Das can be taken with tablespoonfuls of salt. I did not “die laughing” (as you can see, I’m well and alive, a little under the weather if you may, but nothing time cannot cure, thank you for the concern), nor did I “laugh my ass off” (no comments on that one. This is a family blog.)

Purab Kohli, now him I’ll agree with. TWS is interesting, it has loads of imagination and vivid visualization (ekdum Avatar style). Jokes abound in the novel, some that shamed even me (which is saying a lot going by the “PJ Queen” tag that I command at my workplace) and some that bounced right off my pea-size brain.

The suspense could have been better and the war could have been shorter. Monotony takes over as the powerful characters lose their lustre. Better editing to grip the reader’s mind and shocks that actually stun the reader – now those are things I missed. The typos and flawed formatting leave much to desire if you consider at this book as a potential bestseller, but then I’m sure not too many other readers would notice – I tend to be more critical and systematic in my presentation and expectations. Call me superficial, if you wish. I could go back to my free world philosophy and harangue you…

All in all, not a bad read at all. But certainly needs to give way to something better.

Well well, then I gotta get going… Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead is still waiting on my shelf to be read and completed. Though, leme confess, I’m stealing sly glances at the thinner and expectedly more comical “Karl, Aaj aur Kal” by Cyrus Broacha that I bought today on a random visit to Crossword…

Hasta la Vista, mi chicos!! Son las doce y media. Pues, Buenas Noches :-)

Abrazos y Besos,
Princess

This review is a part of the http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank">Book Reviews Program at http://www.blogadda.com">BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, January 19

Saat Phere

Heya!

It's the wedding season... and it's a nice and cold and cozy time to get married :-D
Hence this post... Hope next year I join the happily married crew... but until then, let's just google and share trivia!

By the way, it's my parents' wedding anniversary today... Leme see... 33 years and going strong! Congrats Papa-Mummy... You're both super awesome and I totally love you :-)

Read about funny wedding traditions in my previous post?

This time let’s get a tad serious… After all, an Indian marriage is one of the most serious and sacred affairs in society.

Seen the austerity with which it is performed? A Hindu marriage in particular is all about rituals and customs. A number of them are followed before and after the wedding, making it an elaborate ceremony. Every ritual and rite has its own meaning, and cannot be done away with. However, the most important ones are preformed on the day of the wedding itself. One such custom is solemnizing seven vows or “pheras” (circles around the holy fire).

Most of you married folks must have gone through these rituals without really comprehending their need or essence. I can totally imagine and empathize that you were tired and hungry and stressed, maybe even nervous. And those of you who shall go through the same in the recent or distant future… For that matter, even you’all who plan to never get hitched. This is good to know, so read on…

The seven vows (“Saptadi”) spoken and taken while performing the pheras (“Mangalpheras”) can be said to contain the crux of the practice of marriage. These seven vows are the seven promises which the bride and the groom make to each other for a happy and prosperous life. They are bound together by an unseen bond protected by these promising words. Any marriage is incomplete without these vows and is deemed complete once they are conducted.

On the day of the wedding, the bride and the groom sit under the Mandap (the scared canopy) for this ritual. The bride is seated on the left of the groom before the pheras, and on the right after they are complete. So what are The Seven Vows, let’s check them out…

Vow 1:
Groom: You will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide welfare and happiness for you and our children.
Bride: I am responsible for the home and all household responsibilities.

Vow 2:
Groom: Together we will protect our house and children.
Bride: I will be by your side as your courage and strength. I will rejoice in your happiness. In return, you will love me solely.

Vow 3:
Groom: May we grow wealthy and prosperous and strive for the education of our children. May our children live long.
Bride: I will love you solely for the rest of my life, as you are my husband. Every other man in my life will be secondary. I vow to remain chaste.

Vow 4:
Groom: You have brought sacredness into my life, and have completed me. May we be blessed with noble and obedient children.
Bride: I will shower you with joy, from head to toe. I will strive to please you in every way I can.

Vow 5:
Groom: You are my best friend, and staunchest well-wisher. You have come into my life, enriching it. God bless you.
Bride: I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honour you, and will strive to fulfil all your wishes.

Vow 6:
Groom: May you be filled with joy and peace.
Bride: I will always be by your side.

Vow 7:
Groom: We are now husband and wife, and are one. You are mine and I am yours for eternity.
Bride: As God is witness, I am now your wife. We will love, honour and cherish each other forever.

Seven sentences are pronounced by both:

1. Always remember the divine.
2. Always took upon each other with sympathy, love and compassion.
3. Help in all good deeds of each other.
4. Keep mind pure and virtuous. Be strong and righteous.
5. Show goodwill and affection to parents, brothers, sisters and other family members.
6. Bring up the children in such a manner that they are strong in mind and body.
7. Always welcome and respect guests.

Pls pardon and correct me in case you find any error in the above. As you know, the web’s my knowledge base and I cannot assure you that the above is 100% accurate. However, it is certainly interesting, and pretty sensible as well. Wonder who first thought of this ritual, and the vows, and why only 7.

Maybe another time…!!!

G’day!
Princess

Wednesday, January 11

Plan Away !!

I’ve written a whole lot of stuff in the last couple of months (and years), haven’t I?

About things that I have done, experienced, seen, wanted, hated…

About people and their eccentricities, egos, kindness and impiety…

About life, in general and in particular, about reality and imagination…

Books, travel, trivia and fun, and so much more…

Let me tell you now about my plans this year… the ones confirmed as well as tentative… Which one is which, I still can’t say for sure, but I promise you’ll know as soon as I know :-)

Personally, I wish to be married. This comes on top of my list, as I now approach 28. I’ll complete 27 in July and it’s a very good time to be wedded, I presume. Any delay now would result in me choosing to enjoy my singlehood for life. And wouldn’t that be a curse for all you bachelors out there :-D

Funnily enough, I recall that one of the many pundits that my parents keeps consulting every now and then, stated that I would be married between 2009-2011. We’re well into 2012 now, and I still don’t see a sign of me tying the knot yet. Better late than never, though… I’m 90% sure it will happen this year. My personal tarot reading confirms my gut instinct :-)


Professionally, I want to climb up the ladder to an Assistant Manager level at IBM. Having been a part of the training fraternity for the last 5 odd years, I really want to take it to the next step and handle not only training for accounts, but also a team that I can nurture and promote.


From the perspective of life, frankly speaking, there’s nothing I have missed or given up on. I’ve lived every moment and done what my heart bade me so there are no unfulfilled wishes per se. However, I would certainly like to travel and read more.


Next on my expedition list, is Goa (not for the first time obviously!) This, I’m planning for a week in Feb. Been ages since I went there. And then Coorg (first time) in March. My weekend Spanish classes were what bound me to the city these last 4 months, else after Binsar in April 2011 and Ladakh in Aug 2011, I was eyeing the Andamans as a potential tourist destination. Soon, soon. Also Langkawi, New Zealand, Mauritius and so on…


You know what, I’m not really short of money. I’ve got sufficient moolah to live happily for the next couple of months (or more). I might just decide to take a sabbatical from work, or work part-time. With all the free time that I have on my hands, I will then pursue activities that I’ve compromised upon and forsaken in the last 18 months since I joined IBM. These include swimming, walking, reading and blogging.


If it would pay me, I would certainly write a book and not just a personal blog. True, I do appreciate you’all for visiting my shoddy page filled with cranky anecdotes and writing in ever so often to encourage and please me, but I’d love to have a book published, hard-bound and all. Writing inspires and delights me. I would merrily take it up as a full-time profession if only I could train myself to be more serious about my hobby.


Swimming and walking make me feel more confident and happy. Not to mention, healthy and lively.


Reading transports me to another world, a place where my worries are pulverised and another’s life becomes my own… Horizons expand and limitations ebb. Sentiments become more acute and awareness increases in myriad ways. Indeed, reading is not just a pastime, but a commitment, a passionate duty. One that most of us give up effortlessly without even realising it. And then, to coax and bring it back is an effort that most of us fail to make or fail to internalize.


But am I not getting too self-centred now… I’d also add to that list, the desire to spend time with people that matter. I’ve been working 5 long days a week with not a moment to spare, and that too inhuman (or rather un-Indian) shifts. I’ve missed occasions and moments with friends and family that I would love to make up for. Though not the types that enjoy every second with the family, I surely acknowledge and fully realise the fact that my presence gives them much joy and satisfaction. With “limited weekends that rush past too fast” out of the way, I can not only enjoy recreation in solitude but also spare some time for them without regret or irritation. I’m sure my mum, Mamaji’s and Abba-Ammi would totally agree with me…


But for now, let’s just talk about things that are in my control – namely, a haircut, tattoo and shopping in the multiple sales declared in malls around the city. Got myself a warm, purple sweater at the Pantaloon’s sale a few days ago; their shirt/tshirt collection sucks, but the winter wear section is exciting. Westside, Central, Levi’s are next on my list. Hopefully, my wardrobe should see a makeover soon.


Tattoo? Yeah. Been wanting one for ages, but don’t have the b*lls to bear the pain. Say what you wish, but bearing pain doesn’t come easy to my mind or body. Yet, I absolutely want to get inked, and have been deliberating over an image for sometime now. My favourite symbol is the Shiva trident, but I’m open to getting something more feminine or personal printed on me. It’s a thrilling idea, and I am completely geared up to face this new experience.


And haircut… well, this is a dilemma. I like my long tresses but there’s only so many ways you can style long hair. Having colored it a few times in the past, I would like to do something more revolutionary. But let’s wait and watch for now.


And of course, the legendary eye surgery that will help me see the world eye to eye (literally). After last year's bhasad I'm a little jittery about the entire affair, but probably in March if things go right... After some money showers in Feb and March courtesy IBM - proud to be an IBMer !!!

Will let ya know…!!

Plan away :-)

Cheerio!
Princess

Wednesday, January 4

Hard Knocks ... For an Easier Life

The world is an unfair place. And anyone expecting to be treated in a just manner is bullsh*tting.

Reminds me of two lovely thoughts that perfectly hit home: The situation - "It's unfair to expect the lion to not eat you coz you're vegetarian" and the solution - "You cannot cover the world with a carpet, so it's better to wear shoes."

Saying and knowing these thoughts in no way implies that I follow them. How unfortunate. I guess it's true when a friend told me that I might be intelligent when it comes to grades in school and achievements at work. When it comes to people and situations, I am too innocent to be deemed wise.

I mean, really, one is wont to think that being a good person is easy and others will be good to you coz you're good to them. Isn't that what we learnt in our growing up years? Our parents, teachers and prescribed books all recommended that as a way and truth of life. The smart kids realise this soon, and the stupid ones like me live in a la-la land where they forgive the injustice meted out to them and look forward optimistically to a bright and balanced future.

Why am I feeling so particularly positive today? Well, I've been dealing with severe crises all through school and at the workplace, and I thought someday it would change. All through school, I was used to hearing kids jeer at me and avoid me coz I wasn't as "pretty" as them, nor did I stay in the same locality plus I belonged to a different caste. Glasses made my life worse, and "kaali" and "chashmish" were terms that stuck to me. No wonder then that schooldays, which most grownups yearn for, were merrily bid adieu to, by me.

Find it hard to believe that casteism reveals its hideous fangs at such a tender age, eh? Well, ask those that are at the receiving end. You'd be stunned. Discrimination on the basis of color and language is more common in India itself than abroad. So, while we condemn and criticise foreigners as racist, we Indians are more guilty of this offence. Trust me, whatever crimes people in other countries do, we Indians do worse. We're better at being horrible than any other nationality. Coz we do it against our own community.

But anyway, back to the story. Books I read and people I met told me that you should be good, and it doesn't matter how other people treat you. You're your own judge. I trusted this philosophy. I still continue to. Told you I was stupid...

Day after day, week on week, I go out of my way to be nice to people and make their day despite how they behave with me. I always believed that what goes around comes around. Karma would bring back to me the goodness I infuse in others' lives, I wished. I conveniently forgot that Karma is a b*tch, and human beings are b*stards.

Everyday at work, I meet some extremely obnoxious people with pretty faces and ugly hearts. They hurt me, and they don't care. I would not mind it as much if I deserved to be treated that way. But, I don't. And surprisingly, they know that and yet continue to be as*holes. Surprisingly again, I still get insulted and hurt. Stupid people just don't learn.

We're taught to be winners, and we're told to do the best we can. Does this bring laurels? Maybe, sometimes. But it never misses bringing jealousy and hatred. The irony of life...

I got great marks in school and ended up being disliked for it. My teachers adored me, and I paid the price for it by bearing the brunt of my classmates' envy. Even at work, being praised verbally and appreciated publicly won me more glares than claps. So much so, that the wicked crowd went out of their way to applaud each other for trivial victories and didn't even acknowledge my grand triumphs.

Did it bother me? Of course it did. It still does. And I wish it wouldn't. I try to not be impacted. But that control is beyond me. I fail. Of all the things that I am good at, I suck at this. Every person matters to me. Everybody's opinion affects me. I try to be good to everyone and be there for whoever needs me. Unfortunately, it doesn't end there. I also want the other person to be good to me. Atleast not ignore me.

What do you get out of hurting someone that is forever good to you?

Don't tell me, I shan't understand...

But maybe I shall try to ignore those that wipe the smile from my lips. After all, they did not give it to me in the first place.

The wonderful folks that do, I shall be doing injustice to them if I let the no-gooders succeed in bringing tears to my eyes.

New Year Resolution?

Sounds good to me... Just wish I would achieve it...

You be good. It's easier than being malicious. Also saves someone from unnecessary sorrow.

Whether he deserves it or not, you do not have the authority to decide. And if you can't make someone's life better then don't make it worse.

- Princess