Thursday, 31 December 2015

This has been 2015.

It’s the last day of the year and I am scrambling to get this post finished before it’s too late. When exactly is too late? The answer of course being midnight tonight when 2015 comes to an end and oh what a year it has been! I know that as we approach the year end nostalgia runs through the air like a disease; that to reminisce is clichéd and yet as you must’ve figured out by now, I am going to take a look back on my year. I owe it to 2015.

Imagine that you can swim and have been left out in the sea by yourself. Imagine the kind of struggling that comes when it has been weeks and you are too tired to swim anymore and simply floating or worse, drowning. This year started with a sense of hopelessness interspersed with binge watching bad T.V. shows. If you ask me what I think of Glee, I will tell you objectively speaking that anything after the first 3 seasons is not worth watching but you wouldn’t know (till you read this) that I stayed up watching till 4 a.m. thinking ‘this show is pathetic… this show is pathetic… I am pathetic’. This year started on a low. 2015 began with a feeling that it hadn’t started at all; that it was (not unlike my life) put on hold till May 24, which was the date of my JEE Advance exam. It is another matter altogether that I didn’t clear the first level. 

The first 4 months were a haze, defined only by Avengers: Age of Ultron, which while we are on the topic, was disappointing. The second defining, life changing moment was in April when I decided I didn’t want to continue down my chosen path. Maybe I should’ve been a better swimmer, maybe I had been at the sea for too long. Some people think I drowned but really, when I decided to take up arts, I was saving myself.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The 'Foot in Mouth' Syndrome.

Based on a Reddit prompt: The 'Foot in Mouth' Syndrome. 

Bob leaned back on his chair in despair, his lips pressed tightly. What were the chances of him being put in charge of a foot fashion show when he worked with a company that specialised in foot jewellery! Never mind, don’t answer that. It was a possibility that he wouldn’t mess up; after all it has been a long time since he... oh no, god no, it was starting. He felt the rumbling deep in his belly, vibrations ascending upwards without permission and then before he could stop himself, a loud chuckle escaped his mouth. He could taste the laughter in his mouth as it erupted, his lips stretching into a smile. It tasted like impending doom.

His laughter died as several pairs of eyes bore into him. “Sorry, never mind me.” He waved his hands at his colleagues. Chairs swiveled back into their original positions. 

“Bob!” 

He spotted Samantha walking towards him from the copier. “I’ve got news for you.”

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee | Spoiler Free

*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*

“'The world’s ending’, Atticus! Please do something - !’ I dragged him to the window and pointed. ‘No, it’s not,’ he said. ‘It’s snowing.’” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

There are several lines from this book that I was debating between but in the end I decided to go with the above one because it represents the Jean Louis Finch, better known throughout the book as Scout Finch, with utmost accuracy. Scout Finch is the 9 year old narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith | Spoiler free

*All Book Reveiws on this blog are spoiler free*

“Like most writers, I tend to find out what I feel on a subject by writing about it. It is how we interpret the world, how we make sense of it.” – Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm. 


The Silkworm is the second book by Robert Gallbraith, a pseudonym under which J. K. Rowling writes crime fiction. The silkworm, successor to ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’, follows Cormoran Strike around London as he solves a murder that accidentally came his way. He is hired by Mrs. Quine to look for her missing husband Owen Quine, a writer who disappeared right after finishing his latest book. The book that he was working on flings dirt on several people Quine knew and as his body is later discovered, the number of people with a motive increases. Furthermore, Quine is not a popular person and the murderer could be anyone from his seemingly harmless wife to his frustrated publishing agent. 

The tension running high throughout the book is palpable and the suspense nerve wracking. The police are running their investigation on a different thread altogether providing a wide spectrum of perspectives. But, like in The Cuckoo’s Calling, very piece of information required by the reader to piece together the crime is offered beforehand. To heighten the experience of reading this book (and to give into all of your childhood dreams to be a private detective), I would actually recommend making notes along the way. Hunt through pages of finely concealed dialogues that hide the truth, distinguish between the truth and the falsehoods and you may find yourself solving the mystery along with Cormoran. Despite being in the know of things, the book doesn’t become predictable or lose its grip along the way.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Why Tamasha should have worked...

... but doesn’t. 

Although I feel like this movie is too clichéd to have any spoilers, I will nonetheless hand out a warning: This post contains spoilers. Click away now if you do not wish to come in contact with any.

Tamasha, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, directed by Imtiaz Ali was a film that I was genuinely excited about (and I’ll admit, I don’t easily get excited by Bollywood films) but it turned out to be pretty disappointing. In order to understand why I didn’t like it, you should know the film better. 

The premise of the story is simple – Girl meets Boy in a foreign city, Girl needs the Boy’s help for whatever reason, they fall in love (in a week!) and go on their separate ways till years later they meet again only to discover that the boy isn’t as extraordinary as she used to think. She breaks it off with him, pushing him into an inevitable journey of soul searching post which the Boy turns his life around and cut to the end scene: Cheesy narration + Happily ever after. "Why always the same story?" the poster asks as the movie proceeds to tell you the same old story.

Tamasha is what would have happened if Ranbir Kapoor would have come back in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani only to let his friends know his fancy job didn’t work out and he got sucked into the corporate world. And then Deepika Padukone reminded him of his travel journal and they went on a world tour together. But no matter, we’re here for Tamasha not YJHD.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Far from you - Tess Sharpe | Spoiler Free


*All Book Reviews on this Blog are Spoiler Free*

"I wish this could be like the movies. That I was the type of person who could reach out and trace the letter of her name and feel peaceful. I wish I could speak to this hunk of marble like it was her, feel comforted that her body is six feet below, believe that her spirit is watching from above. But I'm not that girl, I never was." - Tess Sharpe, Far from you. 

When I picked up Far from you by Tess Sharpe I was in the mood for a young adult fiction that is not a dystopian novel or a romance fiction. While the book delivers on the former front, romantic love remains a strong driving force in this novel. ‘Far From you’ is a first person narration of the protagonist Sophie Winters, a recovering addict whose best friend Mina was murdered in front of her. With no one interested in her take of the events, the police determined to file it away as a drug deal gone wrong, Sophie inevitably is determined to bring down the killer on her own. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie | Spoiler Free

*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*

"I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you'll have to swallow a world.” - Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children.

I know it has been nearly a month since I last posted a book review and I have a reason (or an excuse) which goes by the name of Midnight’s Children. Midnight’s Children is one of the more famous books of Salman Rushdie. Every time I review a book I attempt to remain objective, to explain the reasons of my liking (or disliking) the book, accepting that it may appeal differently to a different audience and so on and so forth. The final decision - whether you read the book or not - is entirely up to you. Today, I am admittedly writing with an agenda– to convince you to read this book. 

The book begins with our protagonist Saleem Sinai settled in a pickle factory and trickling towards his 31st birthday when sits down to write his autobiography. Unlike most autobiographies, Saleem’s story doesn’t start at his birth (or at his conception). His story begins when his grandfather kneeled on a frozen patch of ground under the blue Kashmiri sky and hit his nose in the process. Beginning in early 1915, Saleem narrates the story of how his family came to be and how it seems inevitably the history of his country is tightly wound with that of his family.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Cultivating Worldview

Here’s a thought- Why do we listen? I don’t mean listen and obey or listen and respond. Listening, truly listening for the joy of it is an art. And like all art forms, there is one basic reason we respond to it and why some music is just noise, some paintings just squiggly lines and paint strokes. We need art to be able to cultivate a better worldview. 

According to Wikipedia, Worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point of view. To break it down in simpler terms, Worldview is the ability to look at the world with the knowledge and perspective of many different people compiled together. 

Some art moves us because it provides us with perspective. I look at the stars and some nights, I am reminded of the way Van Gogh looked at the stars and I try to find his stars among mine. Listening to Hozier’s Someone New reminds me of something similar I thought nearly a year ago but couldn’t put into words. A quote I found goes some like this- I befriend people who make me look at the world differently. This quote is both a mirror and a window. After reading it I seek out people dramatically different from me and I start creating patterns among the people who are already my friends. This quote makes me look at the world differently.

Friday, 23 October 2015

5. The Scarf Lady

Chapter 4 : Thursday

Chapter 5 : Friday

You must have a lot of questions; I know I did when I woke up this morning. In the heat of things yesterday I didn’t pay much attention but these questions needed answering. The first, most obvious one – How did the scarf lady know to approach me? It was a busy station road and I could be anyone. 

My second question was more of a fear. Should I attempt to close the trapdoor to prevent anyone else from discovering what I did? The butterfly did mention that they had more than one machine and they only used one which means there are more machines lying around. I didn’t, for the record. I didn’t close the trapdoor mostly because I didn’t know how to and I hope no one discovers it. 

I didn’t even want to visit that place but I didn’t know where would I find any information? I felt like I hadn’t seen the place properly yesterday and I should before I forget about all this, for closure whispered the dramatic side of me. Yes, this week is going to be buried deep in my mind, revived only when I need to tell a story. 

So this place, it was less haunting today because I took the hidden staircase (don’t even ask me to explain) instead of the trapdoor. Clean clothes can do wonders for your investigation activities. I went there after my French classes. There was a passage in the room along the side that was hidden behind the machine yesterday. 

It revealed a room containing two more machines and some broken parts. One of them was another sphere requiring a pass code and another one a simple shuttle. I entered the shuttle and of course I didn’t understand any of the gears and levers but I figured out the basics later. I saw the paper lying on the floor when I climbed out; the paper which the scarf lady had given me nearly a week ago. Nothing made sense, not until I saw the edge of the scarf peeking from my bag from the corner of my eye.

It was Gargi’s scarf, the one that was meant for Mahima. She gave it to me in the French class. It is also the same scarf that that lady was wearing. It is likely that she could have the same pattern of scarf but if we put all common sense aside, it is also possible that that lady was me. 

If hitchhiking mummies and zombies and large butterflies can exist then time travel definitely can, right? And yes, the shuttle was a time machine. It helped in operating the machine knowing I had done it before (If that makes any sense). I still don’t know how the paper came in my possession before this circle of passing it to the past me began. But it doesn’t really matter because I went back in the past.Can you believe that? For a mere few seconds but I did it and I gave myself a paper that contains 8 digits that will bring everything together. 

Oh my! It sounds like a lot to take in, I know. But it’s the truth. And if nothing good comes out of this, at least Mahima can stop scolding me for forgetting the scarf.

*** The End ***

Thursday, 22 October 2015

4. The Dead End

Chapter 2 : Tuesday
Chapter 3 : Wednesday

Chapter 4 : Thursday

Today was Dussehra and it is all about the victory of good over evil. I wish I could round up that theme with what happened today but I can’t. Hey! Real life isn’t a neat cut out with motifs and themes. Besides, good and evil are subjective concepts. 

I was busy in the morning with poojas and prayers, as you do on Dussehra. I even helped out in the kitchen a bit. But I had nothing to do in the afternoon, seeing that French classes declared a holiday. So I decided to keep up my promise and utilised this time to visit Neelam Nagar and Kelkar College. I didn’t want to though. It is very hot these days and stake outs are not nearly as much fun as in stories.

But I did it anyway and I’m glad I did. I went to Neelam Nagar first and it looked just like I expected it to look like- empty. I don’t even know what it was I was looking for but this place definitely looked residential and harmless. Kelkar was similar but here is the thing about Kelkar – the reason that street reaches a full stop is because the land beyond that is essentially marshes. 

And if there is anything suspicious about mummies, there is definitely something suspicious about marshy land. So I investigated, by which I mean I hung around that area for a while, looking for a way to walk without dirtying my shoes. And surprise surprise, I took five steps away from concrete and onto grass and dramatically fell through the Earth. I know what you are thinking and yes, it was a lot like doctor who and no, my arrival wasn’t smooth and my clothes were definitely not clean. But the situation I witnessed was far more bizarre than my appearance. 

I saw an angry zombie yelling at a flapping butterfly while a mummy unravelled itself in panic. Now that was a sentence I never thought I’d type. I was in a basement with the walls looking far too fragile for my liking. I had dropped down through a trap door. In the background was a big metallic sphere. Of course the butterfly and the zombie were here – I did see them move in that direction and if unrealistic things are happening all around, they are bound to be connected. It was the giant butterfly who noticed me first and surprisingly enough the only one of the lot who held a conversation. 

Here’s a summary because I don’t really remember the details. The butterfly had accidently brought in the zombie in from another world and so it was in charge of arranging the journey back. The mummy was simply hitching a ride. The butterfly had acquired a whole set of machines via illegal means and required one out of the collection for their journey. 

However, this machine, the fore mentioned metallic sphere required an 8 digit password and butterfly didn’t have it. That is why the state of distress. But given all the weird things that have happened this week, do you remember the first thing; the first unbelievable incident that I encountered? I seem to recall a moving statue of shiva, a crowded station and yes, the paper lady. And the paper contained exactly eight digits. 

I don’t like to call myself the saviour of fictional species, but I think I am. I punched in the numbers; they stared at me making me nervous. I was positive I would type a wrong number and make them angry with me. It was very dramatic, exactly like the movies. 

51029101

Funny how things work out, don’t they? I just wished mum believed me when I told her. She simply fumed about the state of my dress.

***
Chapter 5 : Friday : The Scarf Lady

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

3. Mummies

Chapter 3: Wednesday

I had a lunch planned today with Parth and Vama, two of my favourite people on this planet. I kid you not; hanging out with them is the best. But today was something else entirely, coming a close second only to the time we watched ‘Gunday’. 

You see, keeping in theme of unexpected things, right as I was on my way to meet them, I spotted a mummy near the station. I mean, it could be some idiot preparing for Halloween in advance but it is highly unlikely given that 1) we don’t celebrate Halloween, 2) it is still 10 days away and 3) it was mid afternoon, no one tries out costumes at this hour. Plus the mummy looked like a proper mummy and not someone badly wrapped in toilet paper. He or she (I don’t know how this mummy identifies itself) was moving pretty quickly like it was late for some meeting and in this hurry, I saw drop something behind. 

I decided to investigate, i.e, cross the street to pick it up. Turns out, it was a disgusting looking piece of paper and it definitely stank. I didn’t pick it up but I read what was written on it. 

DEAD END

Two words, 7 letters and it made no sense; Still doesn’t if I am being entirely honest. I told Parth and Vama about it and Vama suggested that it could refer to street dead ends. And there aren’t too many dead ends in Mulund (It’s pretty well planned okay) and so can you guess what we did after lunch? 

That’s right; we went hunting for dead ends; except it turned out to be a visit to MCC College because we didn’t know any other dead ends and then half an hour of reliving our not so good experience at The Laughter Chapter, a restaurant in that area. I think they were simply indulging my fantasies because we met after a pretty long time. Whatever their reason, irrespective of whether they believed in mummies or not, they came along with me, no questions asked. I love these two idiots. We had to go eventually because it’s hot as hell and Vama had to study.

I worked on my writing a bit more today and attended French classes, despite not feeling quite ‘bien’. And the reminder I wrote for myself yesterday didn’t work because I forgot to get Gargi’s scarf from Mahima. I asked Gargi to remind me tomorrow and that is when I hit jackpot on the mummy mystery. 

I told her about how I had spent the afternoon looking for dead ends and she gave me two in Mulund East – Neelam Nagar and Kelkar College. Is anyone else noticing how these colleges are situated in shady dead end streets? I doubt it’s very safe for teenagers, i.e. people who tend to attend colleges. I mean sure, technically speaking, Kelkar curves off into another road but I would count it as a dead end. I think I shall check them out tomorrow. 

P.S: Akhilesh asked me if the mummy dropped that paper, was it a paper it scribbled on or was it its own skin. Internet tells me, contrary to popular belief; mummies are not actually wrapped in toilet paper. In hindsight, it was probably a bad joke on his part.

*** 
Chapter 4 : Thursday : The Dead End

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

2. Zombies and Butterflies

Chapter 1: Monday : The Beginning of the End

Chapter 2: Tuesday

You are going to think I am going mental but I am not. I am aware however of how unbelievable everything I am going to say sounds. I saw a zombie. Well, either it was a zombie or a really drunk man who hasn’t bathed in day coming out of a fight following a large butterfly. I mean the latter is plausible but I sound just as mad. 

Right, context! You’re confused. So I was on my way to my French classes when I spotted a man looking like a zombie or as I believe him to be, a zombie. I have to walk through this shady looking, mostly empty street to get to my classes so I was on alert with regards to my surroundings and he clearly rang all the alarms in my head; except he didn’t seem to notice his surroundings at all. He looked lost and put all of his efforts into following the large butterfly and nothing else.

And oh yes, a super large butterfly was involved. In hindsight, it did look pretty but in that moment, I was a bit concerned with its size and the zombie running behind it. There was a zombie on the streets and no one noticed. 

Is it just me? Have zombies been around since the beginning of time and I just never happened to notice? Because I know it’s possible. I am utterly, desperately unaware of my surroundings. I didn’t know for the longest time there is an ice cream shop right underneath my building. I used to go all way to this other shop 10 minutes away to get ice cream. My brother would inform you that it is him who does all the ‘ice cream getting’ in this household but I digress. 

I told this to Akhilesh and he wanted to know where this lead to (of course he does. Trust him to ask the difficult questions) but I can’t answer that. As that horror street came to end, the weird duo went the other way. He informs me I should’ve followed them. It’s like he doesn’t read the newspapers. There are a million dangerous things that could’ve happened to me and I don’t want to open that door. Besides, I was late for my French classes and I hadn’t finished my homework. 

I think I must be terribly dull as a protagonist in a story but then again, it depends on what story you are telling. 

P.S: I also talked to Mahima today who wanted me to borrow a scarf from Gargi and I am writing this down because if I don’t my terrible memory will betray me. Also, Mahima thinks because I am so idle in these vacations, I have begun hallucinating. I am not mental! But I think I will resume knitting just in case.

*** 
Chapter 3 : Wednesday :  Mummies 

Monday, 19 October 2015

1. Beginning of the End

Chapter 1: Monday

It's Monday or as I prefer to call it, the beginning of the end of the world. Honestly, Garfield has got his mind in the right place when it comes to Mondays. They serve no real purpose except to make me miss weekends even more than usual. Although, I have been informed that people with actual jobs hate Mondays even more than I do. We should just do away with the idea of Mondays. If you agree with me, sign this petition here. 

My Monday (or mundane, if you are into puns) was slow. I worked on a story in the morning, watched some T.V, and cursed at the pigeons. Usually it’s 2 or 3 at the window but today it must’ve been 10 at the very least. And it is difficult to get anything done with the creeps staring at you.

Speaking of weird things, a completely random girl walked up to me today and handed me a torn up piece of paper and asked me to hold on to it for I shall discover its other part soon enough. Is she playing some sort of life size jigsaw with me or what? And before I could ask her anything, she walked away. I don’t even know what she looks like - she was hiding under a scarf. 

The paper she handed me is probably still stuffed in my bag and honestly, I can’t be bothered to get rid of it right now. I am settled in very comfortably in my bed. But, I digress, the paper read – 51029101. So what, Is the next piece of this puzzle going to be 8 more digits? And how does she even know me? Is this really bad publicity for some product? In which case, how can you be bad at handing out pamphlets?  

This happened on the way back from my French classes and I forgot about her momentarily because around the corner of my street, there was way too much commotion. The mannequin of Lord Shiva apparently moved and everyone is convinced it’s a sign from the heavens above. I wish for them it were a sign but it’s probably just faulty machinery. But I did enjoy premier seats to the spectacle from my bedroom so it’s alright. 

I did have a mild headache later in the evening so I went up to the roof because nothing is more relaxing than my roof and barely managed to catch the sunset. I had to leave soon though because mosquitoes started attacking me. I know a comet would not be the scientifically correct term, but there was a spark of red color (from the last of sun rays) that traveled across the sky like a comet. I know it’s not true but it made me feel like our world is one of those snow globes, neatly packaged and the streak was someone taking a knife across it. If were true however, and it would kill this world, well it makes sense that it’s on a Monday right.

***
A/N : I am trying out a new thing here, please stick around for it to make sense. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

***
Chapter 2 : Tuesday : Zombies and Butterflies

Friday, 16 October 2015

Your Body goes to War

In poetry, your body is never your body. It’s the vast skyline across which collisions cause the northern lights; it’s the soft caress that holds everything together. It’s a metaphor, and it is what they need it to be. It is love and pain and above everything else victory. Here’s a metaphor for your body- It’s an army. You are at war and you have given up. 

Did you know that your entire body works together to ensure oxygen reaches you; that carbon dioxide is taken away? You underneath your skin choose to feed you with life than poison.

The white blood cells spread throughout your body burn down themselves to protect you. You are on fire even under attack. Your skin is always on duty, always guarding, always protecting your troops. You body is on alert, one word from you and it is ready to fight. It takes 20 seconds for red blood cells to travel through your entire body, to sound the alarm. Just give the word. 

You have 206 bones, 600 muscles and 22 organs at your service and for you they are more than enough to win a million wars. You are made up of 100 trillion cells, nearly 300 times more than the stars in our galaxy and if this were a metaphor about how your body is a galaxy, every single one of them would be stars. Femur, the bone in your thigh is hollow, all by itself and yet it is the largest, strongest bone in your body. Your eyes may be two in number but sharp and sensitive, on the lookout. And every day, every minute it eradicates your foes in large amounts. With kidneys and lungs, skin, liver and urethra, no ordinary adversary stands a chance.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The F- Word

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows exactly on which side I will be when it comes to the big feminism debate. The idea that there are people who don’t believe in equal rights for men and women, people who claim it isn’t nearly as bad and we feminists should stop making a big deal about everything is so absurd, I find it generally difficult to process. 

However, there is another, relatively more hidden and smaller debate about the feminism like an old dirt road lurking behind the main highway. And today, I want to understand that argument. 

I know people who avoid labelling themselves as feminists because feminism the word is controversial, because ‘we support equality for all genders and not just women’s rights’ , because feminism is an umbrella term for man hating, angry, frigid women who can’t get a man. Ha Ha Ha No.

These are the people who feel more comfortable using terms like Humanists or Egalitarian. I personally know a lot of men and females too who understand that feminism isn’t equivalent to misandry (aka Man hating) but still find feminism controversial because not everyone understands this difference. From what I understand they don’t want to send out a message that they are open to man hating. People who are even scared of identifying as a feminist, even though if you strip away all the negativity and judgement around this word, they are feminists.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Death Cure - James Dashner (The Maze Runner # 3)

"And remember, if any of your body parts become detached due to an unfortunate encounter with a Crank, I highly advice you to leave said body part behind and run like hell. Unless it's a leg, of course." - James Dashner, The Death Cure.

I can rightfully say after reading this series that James Dashner has successfully mastered the art of writing a terrible book that I would however, still recommend to people because as badly written as it is, it remains entertaining.


So let me start right of by saying why The Death Cure is a badly written book. Main character Thomas seems to have become even more of a cliché in this book, taking the responsibility of the world’s fate upon him despite not having enough experience. He is noble, martyr like and hopeless without his friends. His inner monologue is stuck on the same record – flitting between trusting Teresa and not trusting her as and when convenient to the plot. 

This book should have been right up James Dashner’s alley, given that he specialises in creating suspense and anticipation. His books are like long gripping action sequences. And The Death Cure doesn’t require introduction of new characters (with one exception) or any explanation of previously established sub plot. And he does deliver when it comes to the action. But The Death Cure despite its constant action feels disjointed, like a set of escapades encountered by Thomas linked together by fragile connections. It also, by the way of ending, nullifies any purpose that the content leading up to that point had. It feels towards the end like a parody of itself and dystopian Ya novels. Further the lack of female characters remains just as much of a disappointment. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Context

I hope you know that
When I say I will love you forever
What I mean is I know you
And I trust you,
I trust you to keep doing things
That makes me fall in love with you
Forever is not a promise I can keep
It is a choice that I will make
Every single day till I don’t.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Across the Worlds

I imagine a world where fedoras are an acceptable fashion accessory and each feather is a gift from the birds that paint the sky in vicious colours. These colours have names I haven’t heard off, colours like Amethyst and Claret and Cyan. And even when these birds flock in crowds, they never lose their individuality to be a member of a collective. 

The clouds look like cotton candy and tell stories of dragons, ghosts and fairies in the same frame. No one talks about something as mundane as the weather and the weather, oh it is always pleasant. It’s suitable for long sleeves that reach up to half of your palm and hot chocolate. The wind whispers to the trees and they laugh in merry. The cool breeze envelopes you in warm hugs and runs its nails through your scalp like a nostalgic lover, like lullabies. 

It’s a messy world and sometimes people forget to do their dishes for 3 days. But no one forgets to wish their friends on their birthdays. Sometimes they show up at each other’s house at 1 in the morning with flowers and melted butter popcorn. Laughter is the main language and soft sighs on the occasional Tuesday afternoon. 

Questioning: A Short Guide.

There is a very good likelihood that you grew up believing that it is normal to be in love with someone of the opposite sex. It’s not because your friends and family are necessarily homophobic but because our world is still primarily heteronormative. Straight till proven otherwise is usually the norm. Statistically speaking, this isn’t true and there comes a time when you begin to question everything you have assumed to be normal. And I am here to assure that questioning is far more normal than anything else. 

For most people I think questioning is also a part of puberty, when hormones are running all over the place and there is a deep need to question everything, and not just your sexuality, gender or romantic orientation. But there full grown men who have started questioning themselves in their late 40s, people who have lived their life not feeling comfortable with their identity but never knowing better. It’s the worst kind of identity crisis and it definitely can’t be resolved by a new haircut. 

I guess I should start with sexuality. Heterosexuality we know and see everywhere; its media’s favourite child. These days though, child protective services have called up media and asked it to justify its terrible behaviour to homosexuality. Gay folks have better representation in media these days which is why you probably know that homosexuality is when someone is sexually attracted to someone of their own gender. Guess what? It’s not men liking the colour pink and having a great fashion sense. It’s not men who like one direction’s music. It’s not men with feminine tendencies. It’s more like men swooning when a hot guy walks by and crossing their fingers that he is gay. It is not women with short haircuts and baggy clothes. It is not your filthy fetishes played out. It is someone’s life and it is personal. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

So, You didn't know...

...I guess not, I haven’t done a very good job with telling this to people. Truth be told, I didn’t tell anyone but the word just spread a bit. I guess it never came around to you. Sorry about that, but you know it’s not personal right. Hi, so erm… I changed my stream; I am doing B.A in English Literature. 

If you didn’t quite know this – 1) I have been studying at PACE (one of the several institutes guaranteed to get you into IIT) for the past two years.

2) How do you get internet connection under this rock you’ve been living in? 

And 3) Let’s get coffee, we clearly need to catch up. 

So, I’ve made some changes and most people have been positive in their response. They know about my love for stories and creative writing. I have maintained this blog for nearly three years now, and I have been reading a book every week and reviewing them (NO SPOILERS) for the past five months on this blog. So a lot of my friends have accepted it far more easily than I thought they would. But even the best of them have asked this singular most obvious question why. Why did I make such a drastic change?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner (The Maze Runner #2)

*Contains spoilers from 'The Maze Runners' but not from 'The Scorch Trials'.*

"Guess my mom doesn't have much of a chance if she's ever standing between us and a grocery store." - James Dashner, The Scorch Trials.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is the second book in The Maze Runner series and it remains true to everything you would expect from a young adult dystopian novel. A plot so unnecessarily complicated that you give up trying to understand anything and blindly accept whatever the author throws at you – Check. Characters who betray each other for unrealistically convenient reasons –Yep, right here! And the dreaded love triangle – yes, Dashner fell prey to the king of cliche’s, Lord of bad plot devices... I could go on.

The Scorch Trials begins hours within the end of The Maze Runner. It is, in the simplest way I can explain it, to The Maze Runner what Catching Fire is to The Hunger Games. The maze which Thomas and his fellow gladers overcome in the previous book is just the first phase of a sinister series of trials conducted by a scientific group called the WICKED. The Scorch Trials follows the gladers across climatically disrupted vast lands of the Earth as they try to escape their captivity all the while on the hunt for a cure of a virus that may or may not be made up (because their memory is still not restored); Like I mentioned before – Complicated. Now add to this mix the possibility of another group just like the gladers who are on the hunt for their blood.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Maze Runner - James Dashner (The Maze Runner #1)

“If you're going to decipher a hidden code from a complex set of different mazes, I'm pretty sure you need a girl's brain running the show.” – James Dashner, The Maze Runner.

The truth is that the signs were there all along but I was too foolish to notice them. Am I talking about the plot on which this book hinges or my experience with this book? I mean so much of it is a dystopian era cliché.

It is 1)set in a post – apocalypse universe 

with 2) the protagonist having way too much power in their hands to control the fate of the world 

despite 3) being hoodwinked, betrayed and ignorant. 

The Maze Runner starts off with Thomas (last name unknown) entering a place called the Glade from a box shaped hole in the Earth. Turns out for the previous two years, boys of different ages (but still in their teens) have been sent up to the world via the box. No need for the ‘birds and the bees’ talk in this universe fellas. And everyone turns up with amnesia. No memory of anything but their first names. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Spud - Exit, Pursued by a Bear.

"...I'm yet to hear anybody ask about how big Shakespeare's triceps were..." - John van de Ruit, Spud: Exit, Pursued by a Bear.

I started reading Spud somewhere around April or May 2015 and at last; here I am having finished reading this crazy series nearly 5 months later. It hardly ever takes me this long to follow up on a series and perhaps that is (in a tiny manner) a reflection of the kind of books John van de Ruit has written. 

‘Spud: Exit, Pursued by a bear’ is titled after The Guv’s catchphrase which he often uses while saying goodbye to Spud. And you must have already figured out why this title is so apt. So the fourth book in this comedic series weighs heavily on the ending of Spud’s schooling and by extension, our sneak peeks into his life. But don’t be fooled for a second into thinking it to be a sappy or emotional. 

Matric year for Spud means stepping up into prefect duties and more importantly, enjoying the privileges that come with it. Among the new batch of first years, titled the ‘harmless half dozen’, Albert Schweitzer and Near Death stand out. Albert Schweitzer being Spud’s attentive, highly organized slave who is personally speaking, the highlight of the book. John van de Ruit continues the theme of insanity and madness, and introducing wonderfully developed flat characters. Rambo remains just as aloof as before and even more obnoxious while Vern reaches a new level of insanity. Sarah Silver, a new addition to Spud’s messy romantic life has the singular characteristic of having stalker tendencies. Speaking of Spud’s love life- the book ends on a confusing note with regards to the same, coming full circle to the first book.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Mouthful of Forevers - Clementine Von Radics

When will I stop belonging to this hungry thing inside of me? – Clementine Von Radics, That Spring Everything Grew Wild and the Rain Came Down Like Punishment.

I feel a little bit out of my depth for sitting down this week to review a collection of poems. I do enjoy poetry and sincerely believe them to be the most moving form of literature but am I in any position to review them? We shall find out. 

The book I’ve read – Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine Von Radics would fall under modern poetry, with its free verse, imagery and often spoken word adaptation. Clementine Von Radics talks about the fire running through your veins and loneliness in the same poem, understands heartbreak and doesn't dictate how you heal yourself, uses words to create magic and allows us to glimpse instances from her personal life. Mouthful of Forevers is filled with vibrant intensity, painting the world with colours in shades unheard off. It is a delicate patchwork of scenes that only fit together by this poet’s genius. 

In my reviews I usually talk about the plot and the characters but today I will mention my top three favourite poems from this collection.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Sight - Why the only fantasy fiction I will read is the LOTR.

"... before they did any of this they looked out on the universe and they were glad at what they saw...for in the beginning, there was light."- David Clement-Davies, The Sight.

New drinking game: Take a shot every time the word ‘growled’ is mentioned in the book and you may be drunk enough to pass out, which is not a bad way to read this book. But the thing that truly bugs me is that ‘The Sight’ isn’t a bad book, it’s just a badly written book.

In a manner of typical of fantasy fiction, the story speaks a wolf legend. The legend often passed around that a children’s (pups?) fable speaks of the power of sight; a power which allows its bearer to view the world through birds and animals, to gaze in water and see not his reflection but the past, the future and the present, to control the minds of all animals. Once it is established that the protagonist Larka is indeed one to fit the legend and inevitably change the course of fate, she and her family travel across Transylvania in order to survive the coming winter. This story outlines their journey, as individuals and as a pack, both emotionally and physically. As stories go, this one has a villain, a she wolf by the name of Morgra. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Laugh a bit more!

So last week I had the chance to attend East India Comedy’s Backbenchers, a stand up show about college life and it was one of the most amazing times I’ve had in a long time. But as much as I loved that show, it has left me with a nagging thought, ergo this post. You see, a lot of their jokes consisted of that obvious one liner and caricatured mimicry. I would go ahead and say their jokes were offensive. But you won’t believe this, I laughed. I laughed so much my throat was burning and my cheeks were hurting. 

If you don’t know this about me, I am not a big fan of offensive humor. I don’t have a very picky sense of humor but gags at someone else’s expense (mine or otherwise) are not very funny. But this night, I threw caution to the winds and didn’t worry about someone feeling bad. I figured, everyone else around me are laughing aren’t they? So why not me. It was selfish. I ought to have thought and understood the joke for what it was, I shouldn’t have laughed, I should have clenched my jaw and refused. But everyone around me was laughing and it isn’t a justification but a reason for my actions. Self righteousness has no space in the middle of laughter.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Perceptive and Strong.


"But of course it makes sense because we are Third Worlders and Third Worlders are forward looking, we like things to be new, because our best is still ahead, while in the West their best is already past and so they have to make a fetish of that past." - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Americanah at its core is a love story but don’t for a second assume that it gives into the clichés of a love story. It takes away the drama, the fights and the epiphanies that make up a love story and replaces it with race, gender, differences and the finding a sense of equilibrium among it all.

Americanah is set in Nigeria, America and bits of England. Ifemelu, a Nigerian girl and her friends have grown up in awe of America. Unlike her school mates though, she hasn’t dreamed of living in America, playfully mocking those who visit the United States and come back changed. However, when teachers strike across Nigeria and her graduation is on the line, she decides America is going to be her savior. America however has different plans for her. Alone, apart from an aunt- Aunty Uju (worn down, accepting and passive aggressive), her cousin Dike (charming and funny) and an old school friend Ginika, Ifemelu navigates a world of race, identity, judgment and discrimination. It is in America that Ifemelu discovers what it means to be Black, Black American, African American, Non-American Black – terms that never existed in Nigeria.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Man-Eater of Malgudi - R. K. Narayan.

“It was evident that he was not going to wait for others to pay him compliments. He showered handfuls of them on himself.”- R. K. Narayan, The Man-Eater of Malgudi.
Or
“It would be boring to be steadfastly good night and day.” - R. K. Narayan, The Man-Eater of Malgudi.

The Man-Eater of Malgudi by R. K. Narayan is a chaotic book, with a simple but quick paced plot lacing the story with a subtle humor. Not unlike his other fictional works, The Man-Eater of Malgudi is the set in the fictional, south Indian village of ‘Malgudi’, whose residents are dramatic and exaggerated. 

The Man-Eater of Malgudi is the story of Nataraj and Vasu, the protagonist and the antagonist respectively. Nataraj is the owner of and runs a printing press, whose parlour is always open to anyone who desires the company (mostly ‘the poet’ and Sen). Nataraj is passive and scared, with mild symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome. 

When Vasu, a taxidermist by profession and an overbearing, rude bully by nature decides to stay in the small village of Malgudi in order to exploit the forests of neighboring Mempi village, the order and sanctity of Nataraj’s life is disturbed. Vasu’s relations with Nataraj begin with a business order but soon he takes over nearly every aspect of Nataraj’s life. Vasu sneaks underneath Nataraj’s skin like a parasite and refuses to let go. He is the metaphorical man-eater mentioned in the title of the book. We see Nataraj making half hearted efforts to get rid of Vasu but they backfire and leave the pair of them at worse terms. Theirs is an on again, off again relationship that leaves Nataraj with anxiety and internal monologues.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Spud - Learning to Fly

“Rambo led a twenty second silence before breakfast to mark the day of Gecko’s death. It should have been thirty seconds, but halfway through Garlic shouted, ‘How long are we keeping silent for?’” – John van de Ruit, Spud: Learning to Fly

'Spud: Learning to Fly' is the third part in a series of four is the successor to 'Spud: The Madness Continues' and 'Spud'. It remains so far the most unique and mature of the series all the while maintaining its wacky humor. It proves that joke need not always be offensive, an important change from the first book. If you haven't yet read the previous parts, I suggest you first do that for obvious reasons (Spoilers).

Spud 3 begins as usual with Spud's first day back to school. It marks the introduction of the new first years 'The fragile five' and an additional member to ‘The crazy eight - Garlic. For the first time, Spud finds that he isn't caught up in romantic entanglements although Amanda and The Mermaid make an appearance. However another member of the crazy eight has a girlfriend, much to surprise of everyone. Unlike the failure of Spud 2's house play, this book allows much room for Spud to showcase is acting abilities. Spud 3 also witnesses the race to become a school prefect. The crazy eight visit their friend Mad Dog’s house. Spud 3 sees a lack of sports and a school organized camping trip spells disaster. While Wombat doesn’t make enough of an appearance, Spud’s father makes yet another business investment and his mother tries to maintain the sanity of the family.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Paper Towns - Moving, Perceptive and Funny

"I never knew you until I got to know you through your clues," he says. "I like the clues more than I like you."- John Green, Paper Towns.

Paper Towns was written by John Green of the ‘The Fault in our Stars’ fame in 2008 and is by far the most complex and thought provoking of all his works. Set in present day Florida, it follows the story of Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Speigelman over the course of their last month in high school.

Quentin and Margo may have been friends when they were kids but as Q grows into a nerdy, shy and slightly obsessive teenager and in the typical American high school dynamic, Margo becomes the mysterious, popular girl, they find themselves near strangers. Until one night Margo decides to take Quentin along for a series of adventures.

The book is split into three parts, the first one being the most obviously exciting. Part one sees Quentin and Margo staying up all night to partake in the above mentioned adventures. But as they drive around Orlando, they find themselves reconnecting and Q falls even more obsessively in love with Margo. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

American Gods- Gripping, Exciting and Imaginative


"It's a bad day for a cop when he has to commit arson, just to cover up a murder." -Neil Gaiman, American Gods.


'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman is easily one of the best books I have read in a very long time, perhaps even in the all of time. Gaiman has written a brilliant, thought provoking and serious book with ease and hilarity. American Gods captures what I assume is the essence of being American. 

Set in the modern day America, American Gods is the story of Shadow who is a released prisoner and of course, the story of Gods of America. Strange things begin to happen to Shadow (whose character develops wonderfully over the course of the book) when he drinks the mead of Mr. Wednesday (perverse, confident and demands a respect he doesn't deserve) and agrees to work for him. As the pair of them take a trip across America, Shadow gets kidnapped, watches his dead wife come back to life, robs a bank and makes it snow (among many other things). Shadow meets several others on his journey like Sam (smart, quirky and attractive), Anansi who goes by the name of Mr. Nancy (arrogant, wise and helpful to Shadow), Laura (Shadow's dead wife), Hinzelmann (who tells way too many stories), Low-key Lyesmith (subtle) and Inspector Mulligan (friendly and slightly clueless). 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Unraveling Myself

If I were to tell you that you are only allowed to wear one pair of pants every single day for the rest of your life, would you be able to do it? Of course not. Every occasion calls for a different type. Finding your personality I think is a lot like the perfect pair of jeans – practically impossible. 

I have to wake up at 5:45 in the morning and I don’t have any form caffeine in my body, I assure you, you don’t want to push my buttons. My tolerance is directly proportional to the hours passed since sun rise and I can be something that emerged from hell. I am like neon hot pink pants. Yes, those exist. Why? I really don’t know. 

But I’m not always angry or bitter. When I am with my friends, talking over empty dishes with laughter echoing from my belly, I am soft and vibrant. My jeans are not always my jeans, sometimes they are track pants. I feel comfortable, like all my walls are down and the defense squad is taking a tea break. 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Catcher in the Rye - Depressing, Insightful and Brilliant

"If a body catch a body coming through the rye..."- J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye.

There are 3 things I knew about The Catcher in the Rye before I read the book - It is entirely about Holden Caulfield, Holden Caulfield is a prized douche bag and Holden Caulfield is real.

Set in the 1950s, The Catcher in the Rye is about an unstable boy probably 16 or 17 in age who has been unable to last for long in schools. The story begins when Holden Caulfield is expelled from Pencey School and is set to return home for Christmas in 5 days time. However, frustrated by the pretentious people in his school, he leaves in the middle of the night, planning on spending the 5 days in New York. The story follows Holden shuffling between poor motels and bars, visiting museums and the central park and meeting old acquaintances.

When I say Caulfield is real, I mean his cynical, judgmental and distant personality is something you may have seen somewhere, in a friend maybe or worse, yourself. Caulfield is also, as it becomes steadily obvious, depressed and borderline suicidal. You can imagine two sides of Holden, one complaining about anything anyone does and the other doing those exact things he dislikes about others. And as disagreeable as Holden can get, most of the times you simply want to reach out to him.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Animal Farm - Where animals can do so much more than talk.

"...God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies." - Animal Farm, George Orwell.

Imagine this - a farm full of animals and not just talking animals from a child's storybook; no, animals capable of complex actions and thoughts, like a running a farm. That is the story of Animal Farm.

The animals of Manor Farm, fed up with the brutality and insufficient rations provided by Mr. Jones decide to revolt and take charge of the farm. Led by the pigs, the animals learn to read and write (in varying degrees), to look after the fields, the dairy, to construct a windmill and run a farm. 

The brilliance of Animal Farm is that is can be read and enjoyed by readers of all ages, from 10 year old kids to my 75 year old grandfather, and each reader will draw their own meaning. For a child, it will be the story of some animals while an adult will in all likelihood, connect the dots.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

"History is raw onion sandwich, sir" - The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes.

The one thing I severely dislike about 'The Sense of an Ending' is the misleading summary. After convincing you that there is an illegal mystery of some sorts involved (a letter from a lawyer), the book proceeds to follow the self exploration of a man in his sixties. 

Tony Webster (explicitly attracted to Adrian) is friends with Colin (pretentious), Alex (pretentious and philosophical) and Adrian (pretentious, philosophical and serious). The summary makes their clique appear Dead Poet's Society - esque when in reality they are just four friends who consider themselves superior to the rest, like every friend circle does. 

Tony dates Veronica (cold and smug) in college wherein begins the real plot, everything previous to that only serving to build context and draw parallels in the later chapters.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Spud - The madness continues

"Fatty shook Mad Dog’s hand and asked, ‘Why did you come back?’ Mad Dog shrugged and said, ‘For this.' " - Spud, The madness continues, John van de Ruit.

Here's the thing about sequels, no matter how hard you try not to, you will undoubtedly compare it to the original. And by god! If it so happens to not be on par every good memory associted with the original is tarnished. 

Spud: the madness continues is the sequel to Spud, 2nd book in the series of four and if you haven't read Spud, I suggest you finish that first for obvious reasons (and this review may contain spoilers for Spud).

'Spud: The madness continues' on the surface doesn't match up to the first part. The humor element is relatively low and a lot of merciless bullying is presented as comedy (not funny). However Spud 2 has done a brilliant job dealing with bullying, manipulation, the need to fit in, spending time alone and of course, madness.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Spud - Learn to simply laugh.


“I’ve kind of missed the old dog eats dog world of the dorm. And hell, there’s nothing like the Crazy Eight for sheer entertainment value.” – Spud, John van de Ruit.

Set in 1990 South Africa, Spud, the first book in the series of four follows the wild year of an unbelievably normal, borderline nerdy 14 year old who for some reason thinks like a madman. Written in the form a diary entry, Spud covers a vast arena of dramatics that one can expect from the diary entry of a 13/14 year old. Superior in academics, cricket (bowling) and blessed with a musical voice, Spud undertakes the school cricket team, the school play and spends Monday lunches discussing books with his English teacher.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Emma - Why relationships can be tricky.

"I certainly will not persuade myself to feel more than I do. I am quite enough in love, I should be sorry to be more." - Emma, Jane Austen.

For a very long time, I have been under the impression that Jane Austen was an extremely influential author in the romance genre and yes, Emma is a dramatic, romantic novel but it is also incredibly funny (more on that later). Emma is the story of Emma Woodhouse (Intelligent and interfering) who tries to set up her best friend Harriet Smith (soft, impressionable and by all means, naïve) with Mr. Elton (who changes dramatically with time). It doesn’t work out, naturally, but it does lead to a plethora of extremely uncomfortable scenarios. Miss Jane Fairfax (a complete mystery), Augusta Hawkins (overbearing and by god! annoying) and Mr. Frank Churchill (who is all sunshine and rainbows) soon find themselves thrown into the mix, each bringing with them their own share of baggage. Mr. Knightley is the obvious love interest to Emma and perhaps the most refreshing character in the entire book (intentionally too, I am sure).

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Shikhandi: And other tales they don't tell you - Slow and Interesting

How is it that Devdutt Pattanaik has over 25 books to his credit and the first time I ever heard of him was less than a month ago? And mind you, if ‘Shikhandi: And other tales they don’t tell you’ is anything to go by, they are good books. Devdutt Pattanaik is primarily a mythologist and this book is a compilation of the lesser known Indian legends; more specifically, myths that celebrate queerness and includes LGBTQ+ community, so kudos for that. These stories skirt the line between different types of genders and sexualities, inadvertently erasing the same line in my mind.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Life Decoded: Jenga Blocks Version

I like to believe life is little bit like a game of Jenga blocks. Jenga is a classic game of physical and mental ability and what is life if not a giant game with no real victory.

For most people, life begins with a stable foundation. I personally had an extremely uneventful childhood, made exciting only when I lost myself in the world of fiction. 

But as time passes an invisible entity sticks its hand in your perfect stack of Jenga blocks and makes a mess of everything. People you thought would support you for a long time suddenly disappear. I remember six years (maybe 7 years) ago when the very first best friend I recollect having decided that it was time we ended our friendship. They said it was for both of our growth and I still wrinkle my nose in disgust when that memory resurfaces. But in hindsight, I am grateful because I did evolve. And sometimes, even when some blocks chip off, the building doesn’t necessarily shake. 

People came and left as they pleased, as if my life was the children’s park around the corner for them to visit on the occasional weekend. The invisible hand prodded slabs out of my pile and the same hand placed them on the top. Because that is how a Jenga tower grows in size. And perhaps, the invisible hand took me as a slab and placed it on someone else’s pile. And hopefully, I played a role in shaping another human by ceasing to exist in their life.