Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's All In The Planets

Preeti Shenoy has been breaking stereotypes through her writing since long. Her books have stories around tough female leads, unconventional themes and focused on breaking the prejudiced image that the society holds.

There are those characters who believe in breaking off a year old engagement with their fiancés when out of love, rather than carrying on with marriage as their parents or society would want. And there are those who believe that living-in is a multiple time better than marriage. You’ll find proposals where the girl proposes her beloved move in with her and he replies with a yes. There are unconventional characters and their happy lives which are away from the societal norms. ‘It happens for a reason’ had an unmarried single mother raising her son amidst tough circumstances away from family and all natural support systems. ‘The secret wishlist’ – it is bold when it says that housewives can have dreams and wishlists too. Wanting to do Salsa dance isn’t being an infidel.

Preeti Shenoy’s success is justified- she uses simple to understand words, in keeping with the modern times, and her stories are themed around human relationships, emotions and the intricacies involved which go well with the current fast paced generation. It addresses all the societal pressure, prejudice, and talks on the futility of stereotypes.

In ‘It’s all in the Planets’, Shenoy once again does a romantic tale that is mature, aligned to today’s fast-paced world and is built around the intricacies of relationships. The narrative is from two points of views- one is of Aniket and the other is of Nidhi. The perspectives offer a lot of variety even though they are written by the same author.

She has weaved the tale awesomely around hobbies, passions, lifestyles and dreams. A character named Subbu is a coding buff and computer geek. He loves hacking, and almost every other dialogue from him is a computer jargon. Another character Nidhi has a passion for pottery, writing, blogging and fitness. She teaches the basics of clay modeling and pottery in her beautifully done up studio in Bangalore in weekends. She does some freelance writing assignments in the weekdays, plays fitness and relationship coach to a friend. She also maintains a blog called ‘A Pot of Clay That Holds Gold’ in the meantime. She had left her corporate day job for all these passions, and she is very happy pursuing her dreams. Ambition to her is something other than just money and a lucrative career. She also loves decorating her house and making the authentic South Indian aromatic filter coffee. She is a very strong character indeed. She has insecurities about life and marriage. But that doesn’t stop her from pursuing her passions.

The essence of the story is- Everything is predestined. Everything that has to happen will happen in its own accord when the right time arrives. We might be wanting something to happen and trying towards it, but may be that is not meant to happen. Yet.

Friday, November 25, 2016

It’s a Wonderful Life

George’s life is beautiful. We are introduced to a happy family, a loving younger brother, true friends, prospective lovers, friendly townsfolk and an average career in the Building and Loan. 

“I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I’m shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I’m gonna see the world. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields. I’m gonna build sky-scrappers a hundred stories high. I’m gonna build a bridge a mile long.” 

Such are George Bailey’s dreams- but he ends up living in the town Belford Falls running the small Building and Loans, helping the townsfolk have their own homes, giving up his higher study plans for that of his brother’s, living in an old dilapidated abandoned house with his wife, earning a meager income just to survive decently. A greater tragedy hits when he loses a large sum of money owed to the bank. He is devastated by the bankruptcy and probable prison. He contemplates suicide. Then enters the angel.

The angel is just so optimistic, straightforward, and innocent. He is such a dear when he puts his words so simply that it is difficult to comprehend for a human. Such an uncomplicated and childlike approach he has to teach George how valuable his life indeed is. Love this character. Love its portrayal. I wanted to hug this old man who is striving joyfully hard to get his wings and get his task done. Million hugs! Be my guardian angel!

The movie treats such a serious issue of valuing one’s life in such a jolly and humorous manner. One side shows George Bailey- he is contemplating suicide and wishing he was never even born on this earth. He would not have been the cause of sorrow to so many people if that were the case. On the other side, the angel is there with a smile pasted across his face, trying to convince George that life is a wonderful gift. He grants George’s wish and takes him to the world where he was never born so that he can see for himself how different things are around there. No one knows or recognizes George in this world. People he had helped once in childhood or teenage years are in prisons or graves or mental asylums here. His wife Mary is an old unmarried maid here. And his children don’t exist. This world doesn’t have any George to help the people or marry Mary or be a father to four cute children.

While spending our time on earth as mortals each man’s life does touch so many other lives. And when he isn’t around , he leaves an awful gaping hole.

The old world charm of the film drew me in. I have never watched a film from the era before colored cinemas were made. This is perhaps my first ever. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. The parties, the hyper-energetic tap dance, the in-your-face humor, the mannerisms, the Barbie hair-do of the ladies, the poetic renditions in some of the old world dialogues and monologues – I loved it all. I had a favorite scene where George and Mary sing  ‘Buffalo girls can’t you come out tonight, and dance by the light of the moon’ while getting to home after a party.

My take away from this movie is, however, small you may think your life is, the reality is just the opposite. Its reach is far and immense. Your existence here is a phenomenon in itself. You matter more than you think you do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Letter to a Broken Heart

Dear Sugar,

I must urge you to get up now. Right now. Do as I say. Get up, brush your teeth, fill the water jugs up, sweep the floors with the new broom, and make yourself an omelette. I won't give you the vague advice of getting a hold on yourself and your situation. I will walk with you through it all. Trust me. This will soon be over.

Now look at the mirror while you brush. Look at what a mess you have made of yourself. Your eyes look bloated, yes, and ugly. It's ok- you just have to pamper your face now. Common now don't stop to think about last night's cry fest and heart break. You know you deserve better. Rinse that face and that self pity away.

Dear Honey, do you know that cleaning works wonders for the aching heart. Clean the floors thoroughly, every nook and corner. Yes, that's right. Arrange the clothes on the hanger neatly. Ya babe, that's right. You're good at this. Now throw all the garbage away- all the letters, greeting cards and movie tickets that you've ever hoarding in your treasure box. Throw your baggage of expectation with it.

Dear Marmalade, I know you don't know a variety of cooking but you love to experiment. Do that now- you have all the freedom in the world. Mix and match any vegetable, any fruit and any herb you like- the kitchen is yours today. There is no one to judge your bitter cup of coffee, you can have it as bitter as you desire. Make that veggie farm omelette and make yourself the priority.

Dear Tangerine, now that you are full, turn on that music on your laptop and bask in the joy of solitude. You are lovely and you are enough. Paint your nails. Make that bubble bath you had always wanted to have. Light that incense stick. Create that ambience in your home. Decorate. Change the sheets. Make wall hangings. Do the dinning table. Invest your time in home décor and in your own self.

Dear Love, now take time to read the newspaper. Read that book. That novel. That comic. Anything you want to. Write your novel if you feel like it. Leverage the gifts you have and dream once more.

~Your alter-ego :)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Dear Wedding Photographer

My Dear Wedding Photographer,

I wish to acquaint with you before my D-day. I wish to be familiar with you and break that ice as soon as possible so that I am not awkward when you click my pics throughout my wedding week. I want my pictures beautiful and natural, happy and full of glee, not reserved and stoic as they usually are.

I find myself smiling and looking at the camera when asked to pose for any click but I would like you to know that I  am cringing deep inside. I am fidgeting in my mind and wishing to vanish from the spot before the flash can light my face up. I am embarrassed at not knowing how to pose. I am awkward at not knowing how and where to look, how to tilt my head so that I don't look stoic or bored, and how to place my hair strands so my smile doesn't look forced. I don't know a thing about what to do with my hands and legs while posing- they seem to be extras sticking out of my body. I don't know a thing about makeup either. So you can imagine what a disaster I am in photo sessions.

This was a brief heads-up for you, that clicking me is going to be tricky and exhausting for you. And the worst part is, I can't help being so. Still, I do have a lot of hopes from you. I too dream of clicking those beautiful wedding pics to cherish the entire life. I want those once in a lifetime moments captured in frames. Do something pretty please. Use your magic wand and make it happen.

Few pointers now. Do not ask me to pose, and now you know why. Show me your talent by capturing those uninhibited, emotional, carefree, unnoticed moments when I am not even noticing. Do click the scenes as naturally as you can, as if the time stood still in your captures. Try to do so without seeking my attention. Tough feat- but I trust you. My attention will just ruin it all, don't trust me.

Wish you all the best.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Survived the #UBC

I felt satisfied with certain posts this month and didn’t like certain poor ones. The ones that managed to make me happy were those written from the heart, soulfully, without any pretensions. I learned I needed to write intimately and as personally as possible to feel satisfied at the end of the day. I needed to bare my heart out for it to work. To make that vulnerability breathe! I also learned to be more mindful of things around me and write about them. It really made me feel full of life.

 I learned I needed to choose the topics from my own niche while slowing trying to grow that niche. I learned reading blog posts can be an idea gathering process too. I can read as many blogs and comment on most of them while building my own voice. It takes time to have that own genuine opinion, perspective, and feel of things, and it’s perfectly fine.

It’s the first time I took part in such a daily blogging marathon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was my first time in #TheUltimateBloggingChallenge, which I attempted after four years of waiting and watching. I took part in AtoZ challenge once and that was really tough. When I started this on 1st October, I didn’t know whether I could endure it or not. I didn’t know whether I could survive the 31 days of blogging or not. I feared that I would drop out many times this month. Thank goodness I didn’t. It feels great to have achieved this feat in blogging!

I would love to do this again, but not immediately. May be next year I will. For now, I want to concentrate on soulful posts at least once a week. I will relax a bit now and rejuvenate my writing juices as I was multitasking the last 31 days.

Linking the post to #UBC , and #DailyChatter.

Let's Talk About Wish Lists

It is said that if you write it down, you get the motivation to do it. It has always proved to be right in my life. When I read the old journals I find many wishlists jotted down- half of it already fulfilled. The subconscious mind registers the attempts and leads you to find the right opportunities to realize your dreams. So here's my recent wishlist. I do have many:

I want to watch an opera.

Visit the theatre.

Learn a new language perfectly to be able to read books in that language.

I want to travel a lot. I also want to be able to travel alone. Cherry blossoms in Japan- the first thing that comes to my mind right now.

I want to read a lot. Read all the books in my wishlist. Currently, to name a few- Shame by Salman Rushdie, The Ghost Bride, Empress Orchid, Sita's Sister, A thousand splendid suns, Love in the time of Cholera, etc. etc.

I want to take many mini courses. On Art Journaling, clay modeling, pottery, creative writing, novel writing, mindful living, travelling, cooking, baking, stitching, paper quilling, painting on the canvas, on herbs, on gardening. So many things!!!! I wish.

I want to experience ashram life- like the Brahma Kumaris; like Elizabeth Gilbert did in India during her four months visit- waking up at 4 am, practicing sitting in silence for hours, hard work of repetitive work, community service, and long philosophical talks about everything. I want to know if I can endure it, if I can like it.

I want to practice yoga- soulful living, cleansing all toxins from my body and mind every day. Someone should influence me to. I would need a mentor.

I want to experience Vippasana meditation in its center in Igatpuri, Mumbai. The 10 day course of living with self, without talking much, and travelling inwards- I want to experience all of it. Can I endure that inner travel? I wonder.

I want to take part in a pilgrimage yatra. Iskcon yatra to Vrindaban and Govardhan, cook for Krishna in the earthen chullahs like thousands of devotees present there, and feel the vibes of devotion and peace in the air. I want to participate in any one such yatra.

Want to visit all the Buddhist monasteries in India. Be able and fit enough to trek the distance and reach it. (Tiger Monastery in Bhutan)

Want to taste all types of world cuisines.

Linking the post to #UBC , and #DailyChatter.

How about taking a detour?

“Odd, how life makes twists and turns. I never would have guessed that I’d end up where I am now, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wouldn’t trade this path I’m on for the whole solar system, for that matter. If I’ve learned anything these last several months, it’s that sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.” 
― Angela N. BlountOnce Upon an Ever After

Detours are a longer or roundabout way to reach the destination. Taking a detour can be a choice or a compulsion. Road construction or blockage of the paths leading to the place leave no choice but to take a detour. You don’t know what this path would bring. You don’t know if you’ll enjoy it or not. You just know the end point that is fixed. Are you apprehensive of detours? Do you like them?

I have two experiences of beautiful detours. We were traveling to the Rohtang Pass which is about 50 km from Manali, at about 4 am in the morning. The roads were damp but good. We enjoyed the snow. While returning the line of vehicles was long. We too queued up behind one and waited. The roads had got damper and there was a chance of a landslide, as it had started raining. Halfway down to Manali, we were directed to another road by the army personnel standing there. The driver knew the route, but we were apprehensive. It gifted us some of the best views of the mountain. We watched the white sheep flock frolicking in the green climbs, and the shepherds gathering the lost ones together. It was beautiful.

“In the moment, you most likely won't know how valuable such detours will prove to be, but life has a way of revealing the hidden magic in these moments down the road at the appropriate time.” 
― Shannon Ables   

The above trip was about ten years back. Recently we had to take another such detour in Lohagard. We friends were traveling that day from Pune to the nearby hill stations and dams. It was about 5 pm when we were finally returning. The road was blocked for maintenance work near the NH expressway to Pune. There was a deep trench in the ground. We took an hour long detour, and this is the scene that we got to see. We reached home late that evening but got to see the city lights from afar. It was beautiful indeed.

Lohagard to Pune way

In life too I'm learning to take detours whenever the situation demands. Growing and maturing with every season of life.

“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn't mean to take.” 
― Angela N. BlountOnce Upon an Ever After

Linking the post to #UBC , and #DailyChatter.