Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happiness...just a state of mind

It's difficult to define happiness. However, if I try, I'd say, "It's just a state of mind". A reflection of your fulfilled wishes and desires. A dash of rekindled hope. It's about your perspective and approach. You don't need a reason to be happy. Disappointments may cloud your chances to be happy but you'll be happy eventually if you actually want to be happy. Chase them if you think they are running away! You will beat them. Trust me.

There are many tiny, large, sweet reasons for happiness floating around you. An optimist catches them, while a negative hopeless person tends to search a reason to whimper. 

Children get happy easily. A slightest of positivity makes them uber-excited. For a child, getting new books is happiness. Sitting in a new class is happiness. Getting a chance to sit beside their best-friends can be a reason to be happy.

Just like children, old-age people get happy on simple things. Maybe, their expectations become low. In many homes, they can be found sitting alone, reading or watching television or missing their partners covering the final steps of their lives. They may find happiness in talking to someone. Anyone!

An elderly woman in my neighbourhood starts talking endlessly whenever she finds someone to talk.

They want to be valued. Just talk to them. It can be a great reason to be happy for them when you make them feel valued by listening (And follow if possible) to them intently.

For new lovers don’t need any reason to be happy. They are naturally happy, sometimes unnecessarily. Having someone special in their life is happiness. Thinking about that someone special is happiness. Even stealing a glance can earn happiness for them.

Life has become hectic. I know a couple who seldom gets time for each other. Both work in a call centre. Husband works in the night shift and when he returns, the wife leaves for her work. It must be a ‘hi’ ‘okay bye’ type of life. For such busy couple, getting an uninterrupted chance to have a cup of coffee together is happiness.

For someone who is trying, a simple phrase "Good job!" is happiness.

If you hopeful, a positive response can make you happy.

A sudden good news when you are least expecting it is happiness.

Learning something new is happiness!

A surprise visit from your best friend is happiness. Especially when you are feeling a little low, it perks you up instantly. You'll feel your tension melting.

Getting a reward for your efforts and hard work is happiness!

Freedom, independence is happiness!

A productive earns happiness!

For a needy person, a forgotten old five-hundred rupees note, safely tucked in an old diary can be a great reason to be happy.

When in great pain, a slightest of relief is happiness. If you are feeling low, even an uplifting quotation makes you feel better.

And, above all, making someone happy is more than happiness because it’s contentment. Give someone a reason to smile; it’s better than being happy for yourself.

What's your idea of happiness? What makes you happy? Do share.

I love advertisements by Coca-Cola. Be it Ummeedon Waali Dhoop, (Written a post on it) or Haan Haan Main Crazy Hoon. They are uplifting, enjoyable and reflect happiness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Seahorse by Janice Pariat

Seahorse by Janice Pariat is a book that I added in my current reading list without any doubt.

Reason? Beautiful writing style of the author. Her first book, a collection of short stories, Boats on Land won the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award.

Seahorse is about Nem, a student of English Literature at Delhi University. Nem, already struggling with the ghost of his past, is inexplicably, deeply attracted towards an art historian Prof. Nicholas. Nem's life transforms completely as with his mentor he discovers the inner pleasure and his interest in art. Then, one day, without any warning, any note, any signs, Nem's mentor, Nicholas, disappears.

The blurb of the book says, "Retelling the myth of Poseidon and his youthful male devotee Pelops, Seahorse transforms a simple coming-of-age story into an epic drama of loss, love and healing.

Well, I think the book lacks the most important factor - Emotions of Loss!

Nem's thoughts hover around Nicholas and Lenny (a deeply bonded ghost from the past). But, the book tells very little about Nicholas, though he is a very important part of the story.

I am blown away, as expected, by Janice Pariat's beautiful writing. It's poetic that flows like a stream, gurgling sometimes, leaving vividly beautiful impressions. Her words weave a tapestry of imageries. She keeps her distinctive writing style that we have seen in her first book. Crisp like wintry mornings.

But, story wise, I am sorry, I am confused, and a little disappointed. I didn't get the clear voice of the story, its actual direction. At some points, ever after reading number of pages, the story stands still. There are some insignificant incidents, deeply described. The narration is very detailed and descriptive, frequently flashing between present and past. It somehow disrupts the flow and grip of the story.

Basically, this book, having a intriguing book cover, is not a typical entertaining book, it's a literary voyage, I'd say.

If you like reading intense literary book, it's highly recommended, but if you like reading light fiction, this book is not for you.

Overall, for me it was an unconventional (You don't find many such books), intense and complex read. But, I am glad I read this book. Ms. Janice Pariat remains my favourite and I look forward to her next book.

I received this book from Random House India for an honest review.

Monday, March 16, 2015

You can't leave me. Really?


“What would you do if I get into a steaming extra-marital affair?” A husband asks, casually.

The wife shrugs, unable to understand what to say. How to react.

“Why? Won’t you feel bad?”

“Of course, I would feel bad. I’d think what went wrong, but I won’t be able to live with you then.” The wife says.

“Can you live without me?” The husband asks.

The wife ponders. No. It’d be very difficult.

“You would leave me? How could you? You love me so much!” The husband says.

“Don’t you love me?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Then why are you asking such questions?” The wife says.

“Just asking.”

It may be a casual, frank conversation between a couple, but don’t you think there’s an indirect message hidden in ‘his’ thoughts. Maybe unintentional, but it reflects something. Don’t you think?

Sometimes, this thought can be the root of cheating or any other unfairness inflicted upon an average Indian woman. A thought “Where would she go?” “She won’t leave me in any circumstances.”

Why some men think their female partners won’t leave them even if they do something unjustified?

Because she loves his partner so much that she can’t live without him.

You love him and need/demand same level of love in return. You won’t accept betrayal and violence. Will you?

Because she is not financially independent and earning money is not that easy.

It’s not easy but you will educate yourself enough to be financially independent if circumstances demand. Won’t you?

Because she can’t raise the children alone.

Oh, really? You mean a mother can’t raise her children properly? What a joke! In India, men are so engrossed in their work that women usually do it alone. What do you say?

What people will say? In India everyone asks about the father.

It’s true. But you will make yourself confident and strong enough to challenge the society. Won’t you? They will understand eventually.

Because she would not want to hurt her parents.

Parents would get hurt for sure, but they would and they should support you in any circumstances. Marrying off a daughter doesn't mean she is no more. Don’t you think so?

She can’t live alone because people in the society tend to raise eyebrows at single/divorced women.

It’s unfortunately true. Especially in the middle class society. Maybe things are changing slowly but when will it change completely?

She will put her ultimate effort to save the marriage.

Yes, you will, but you will seek and expect the same effort from him. Won’t you?

Moving on to take a new start sounds inspiring but perhaps it’s not that easy. It takes a lot of courage. Remember, there’s always a new morning beaming with possibilities. Geared up with new start. A woman is very strong. Stronger than she thinks. A woman just needs to raise her spirit and a concrete step against unfairness. She can bring change.

Written for:   

It's good to be stubborn

I got up urgently. It was dark, and the room was breathing relaxed silence, unlike my whirling mind. I fervently groped for my notebook that I used to keep on my side table or sometimes even under my pillow.

I don’t understand why interesting ideas flash at weird hours! I didn’t want to disturb anyone, so I silently grabbed my mobile phone and switch on the backlight, and started scribbling on my notebook. Trying to catch everything that was running in my mind. Satisfied, I was about to switch off my mobile when I heard a sharp voice.

“What are you doing?  Are you planning to ruin your eyes?”  

Mayank! I had been caught, red-handed, romancing with words. I didn’t want to get into an argument. And, what was I going to say? I quietly switched off the backlight allowing the room to slip into the comfortable darkness.

My mind was not done yet. Again, that flash moment. Once again I reached for my notebook without a stir. I decided against touching my phone. I slowly opened the notebook, and started writing without knowing the direction of the flowing words.

“You are so stubborn, rather crazy.” Mayank murmured.  Damn! That rustling sound of paper. They just can’t keep quiet. “You do it all the time. Still awake at three. I don’t understand this. You’ll make yourself sick, Sumi.”

I didn’t reply. Yes, I did that almost every day. Mostly at this absurd hour. But, I did it because ideas are ephemeral. If I leave it in my mind, they tend to vanish by morning. I wish our brains had a save button. Sigh.

I had just started writing. Few published poems in local magazines, and I had started nurturing the dream of being a writer. I didn’t know if it was foolish. I was generally self-engrossed, thinking about something, not listening, sometimes, what people were saying.

I wrote few pieces (I tried short stories after poems) in my free time (if I didn’t get, I extracted). Mayank had no option but to bring fresh, crisp brilliant white papers, stamps and envelops. I sent my stories to the different magazines, brimming with relentless enthusiasm. I waited patiently, already dreaming about my flourishing writing career.

After a few days, a crisp envelope had arrived, addressing Sumita Sahay. My heart was fluttering, with hope and happiness. I opened it, read it, and then closed it, hung-faced. It was a letter of rejection. I didn’t know that just like my ideas, my dream was fleeting.  Foolishly premature.

Then, again a letter. Letter after letter. Rejections after rejections. Disappointment after disappointment.

“Don’t be like this. It’s okay.” Mayank said one day, finding me sad. There were no more scribbling. No more back lights.

It was not okay. I thought, but preferred to stay mum.

“Say something.”  He reiterated.

“I was foolish to think that I could be a writer.”

“No, you are not foolish. You are stubborn.” Mayank said, smiling.

It irked me. I knew he was not a bit interested in my writing efforts. “This is not funny, for me.”

“No, I am serious. So what if some of your pieces have got rejected? Don’t let rejection affect your efforts. I think, in some way rejection is good for your growth as a writer.” He was saying, and I was startled. The term writer, for me, seemed alien from his mouth.

“See,” He continued. “Getting rejected doesn’t mean you are bad. Maybe, your writing needs more polishing to make it shine in front of the editors. Keep trying. You know, it’s good to be stubborn when it comes to your passion. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to discourage you. Don’t even listen to me if I ever try to do so.”

You? You would never do that! Now, I am sure about it. And, if you ever do that, I have your own words that I have saved in my mind permanently. I thought.

Those words, those precious words, coming from a person I had least expected from, brightened something inside me. Bolstered my optimism.  Rejuvenated me with refreshed enthusiasm. 

Really! I am too stubborn to give up. I won't. I decided.

"Are you going to scribble again, tonight?” Mayank asked interrupting my conversation with my rekindled hope. I looked at him blankly. “Please switch on the light. Have you seen your handwriting when and god knows what you’ve written in the darkness?” 

“You saw my notebook?” He shrugged.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

From 'We' Time To 'Me' Time

Togetherness is a blessing and solitude is a friend, and silence is bliss! Yes, it may sound odd, but sometimes women need this 'Me' time.

We love spending time with our families, listening to them. Sharing their woes and joys. Fixing their problems. We cherish those moments. Loving, caring and being loved and cared!

In the hustle-bustle of life, we do make time for our dear ones, but we generally don't get that special time that should be exclusively for us. When I say this, it doesn't mean that our love for our families has diminished. Not a bit! It gets refreshed after that drizzle of small "Me' time. Promise!

Allow yourself to have an exclusive time, just for you. You need that, to spend the heartfelt 'We' time. Trust me.

How can we steal or maybe earn that little satisfying 'Me' time from that bountiful and beautiful 'We' time?

Go for a walk: It's the best way to get some time exclusively for you. It gives you some time to think clearly. To plan. To generate ideas. To enjoy nature. And, most importantly it burns calories. Brisk walk is the best and easiest exercise to lose some extra kilos.

Yoga: Yoga is serene and satisfying, and needs uninterrupted time and silence. Just for you!

Read: Ah, the bliss. Choose your comfort area and way to read. Good stories makes you forget everything for sometime.

Go shopping, alone: Do window shopping or buy things of your choice. For you. For your dear ones.

Play your favourite music: And dance! Alone. You don't have to be a good dancer. Just choreograph your own moves and enjoy! Or just lie down, feigning sleep, listening to your favorite son. Music heals.

Dare to dream!: Yes, dream. Dream about things you want in life, and how to fulfil them. Dream any time. While taking a walk. While practising yoga. While feigning sleep. While cooking (It can make that time interesting for those who are not fond of cooking, like me :))

I remember, a few days back, Janaki Nagaraj shared her idea of 'ME' time on her blog. Inhaling the fragrance of early morning with a steaming cup of tea! It creates refreshing imagery.

What's your idea of your "Me' time? How do you like to spend that? Do share.

Happy Women's Day! :)

Sharing with Write Tribe

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review: Soulmates by Vinit K Bansal

Finished reading "Soulmates: Love Without Ownership" by Vinit K Bansal  (RedInk Publishers). Vinit Bansal is the best-selling author of I am Heartless and editor of Uff Ye Emotions & Uff Ye Emotions 2.

As the title suggests, it's about love, and friendship. This book tells the story of four different people Neel, Aditi, Ranadeep and Ria, connected by a common string.

The book starts well when a young and bright journalist Rajeev meets Neel, accused of murder, in a jail. How can a simple, small town guy like Neel get into such horrific situation? He narrates his story to Rajeev and the story of Soulmates starts it's intricate journey.

The storyline is interesting, characters are well sketched. I really liked the way the author has introduced Aditi in the book. Cute! The setting is nicely described.

There are of course some interesting twists and turns, but they appear delayed, maybe because of (Lots of) dialogues.  Every single thing that could have been described in a narrative form, making the story crisp, is defined through dialogues. It somehow inhibits the pace and intensity, and eventually delays the "What comes next" factor. There are few editing glitches, which is a tad disappointing.

The book is full of emotions, a bit filmy. A complete package, I'd say. Romance, drama, action, murder. It's a nice take on relationship. How easy, yet complicated it can be.

The book-cover is nice, and the title is apt.

Overall, it was a nice story. If you like to read love stories, this book is for you. If you like masala read, this book is for you as I said it is packed with many emotional highs and lows. You may like those lovey-dovey moments between Neel and Aditi.

I truly thank Mr. Vinit Bansal for sending me the review copy!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gearing Up For Reading!

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Reading is sheer bliss! It's not just a hobby; for me, it's a habit. I find it strange when someone says "I can't read novels" I mean how can you say that?!

I think reading is the only thing you can do every day, or for the longest period without getting bored of.

If you like to read, and have a desire to read somewhere in your mind, but don't know where to start and how to make time for it, here are some tips.

Be genre specific: There are some bookworms who can just eat up everything they can get their hands on. I am not that of a kind. I am very genre-specific, and I think it's absolutely alright. Find your genre and start reading. One of my family friends (A teenager) borrowed a fantasy book from me and I was pleasantly surprised when she finished it in a go. Even she didn't know she liked reading so much.

Pick a light read. Deep, intense literary fiction is not for you if you are just starting out. I don't think you would like classic reads either. Well, it's up to you but choose something light like chick-Lit or fantasy or maybe short story collections.

Talk about books with your friends. Friends who like reading, otherwise they won't listen to you. trust me!

Keep tracks of new arrivals. Read online excerpts and reviews.

Express and share your views after reading a book. You can write a review on your blog or Facebook. Join Goodreads. It may stir your interest.

Read in bits: Close the book, bookmarked, when you think the story is about to take an interesting twist, just like television serials. The book will call you soon.

Read, before going to bed: "I don't have time to read." is the lamest excuse for not reading. If you really like reading, you will extract some time to read. Reading before going to bed is the best time. Read for five or ten minutes (Mind it, there are some books that may keep you awake until wee hours :))

Few book suggestions, if your are gearing up for being a reader:

Read 2 States by Chetan Bhagat.  It's light and humourous!

Tea For Two and a Piece of Cake by Preeti Shenoy  Smooth and easy read. Identifiable situations and characters.

Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra. It funny and modern.

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. Funny and witty with many laugh out loud moments.

If you like Ghost sstories read "Frankly Spooking" by Sri. It's a collection of Short, spooky, unpredictable stories.

If you like delightful, mild love stories, read Debbie Macomber. And if you read Hindi novels, read Sharatchandra! Anyday!

So, start reading and enjoy the world of books, and share your reads with me. Happy Reading!