Sunday, March 22, 2015

A to Z Theme Reveal

I love stories. I need stories to survive, to be sane. Stories that offer a short vacation from the real world. Stories that help the escapist in me. I always carry my daily dose of fiction and nonfiction with me- movies, novels, ebooks, newspaper, blogs, and magazines. Any one of these would make my day complete. So with the several books that I have read and the hundred or so movies that I have watched, I have come across numerous characters. I have made acquaintances with some, and fallen deeply for a few. Some have enthralled me to no end and some have frustrated and disgusted me in equal measure.

So here’s to those characters I don’t ever want to forget- the protagonists, leads, wallflowers, side-kicks, under dogs and doormats that I have cherished with all my heart. Revealing the theme with the sound of bells, drums and cymbals reverberating in the background. J ‘CHARACTERS’
So throughout the month of April I’m going to blog about the characters that have made an impression on me, their names starting from the alphabet assigned for that day. I would include characters from novels and movies, that is for sure. I may include a few from history, mythology, legends and folktales. I may include a very few real life people whom I know and find very interesting. I may create one or two characters. Hope you’d like it.

Awaiting April. This is my first time taking up an A-to-Z challenge. I hope I don’t skip any letter, even if it becomes hectic.

#Happiness Is


We are the happiness that we seek. Simple things can make us immensely happy. The laugh of a baby, the stupid silly actions of your pet, crazy dialogues of your friend, listening to your favorite music and watching your favorite movie after years can bring so much joy. I don’t think smile and laughter are the only ways to express happiness. I am emotionally overwhelmed when I’m very happy, and so tears are a given. It’s funny but whenever I am happy at the core, I cry. It is perhaps very uncorrupted way of experiencing the peace in happiness.

“It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

Happiness comes when we learn to accept situations and people the way they are, rather than trying our best to change them. It resides in that fine balance between holding on and letting go. It consists in focusing on giving and serving, than getting in return. It comes from within us, and depends on nothing except our very own thoughts. We can always tune in our minds to happiness. And the more we share, the more it grows. It has no terms and conditions attached. It is god’s gift and is free for all.
For me happiness is reading a book that changes your life, including your entire perspective of certain things. Happiness is sharing the kitchen with your mother as a partner in brewing and baking. 

“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.”

Happiness is gossiping for long hours into the night with your best friends. Happiness is sipping coffee, gazing at the far horizon with music in your ears. Happiness is accepting yourself for who you are and enjoying solitude. Happiness is laughing hard and crazy with your family. Happiness is forgiving and being forgiven. Happiness is savoring home-made delicacies and licking your finger tips. Happiness is witnessing that first shower in months, and gathering hail stones from the grass. Happiness is writing this post.

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

And then with Coca-Cola, happy gulps with friends and foes is a given. Be it cold evenings, hot noon times or drowsy mornings, this cold drink saves the mood and the day. It is a good respite between boring lectures, and continuous classes. It is best for every taste. Happiness is bunking class with friends and making a toast with the Cola can. Happiness is savoring it along with chicken ‘kebabs’ or chicken cutlets amidst chit chats, gossips, world shattering laughter, and all the hullabaloo. I still can’t get my fill of this combination. It’s a deliciously happiness boosting combo. I just love it.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why should you re-read your favorite book?

My sister always lectures me why I should invest time in rereading my favorite novels too instead of always focusing on new books by different authors. She herself has read her favorites for about three times, and still can read it again when she has nothing else to read. The Keeper’s Tattoo, Clockwork Angel, and Pride and Prejudice have attained the top re-reads in her book shelf. I always wonder how she does it; how she is able to keep her interest intact and even enjoy the story once again after knowing the entire plot. This is what she told me.

Every time you read introduces a new horizon to your perspective. You focus on different aspects of the story rather than just the plot or the characters. For example, reading Harry Potter as a teen you were mesmerized by the magic, setting, characters and plot. Re-reading after years you would notice how the best thing about this series is that here the lesser known’s, the underdogs, the less confident are the heroes and game changers, in their own right.

‘A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age.’

We are changing every moment. A year later you wouldn’t be the same person you are now. You would have matured; your view points and perspectives would have evolved a lot. Our mind finds new information and emotions every time we go through the same situation. Imagine visiting your favorite world with a renewed perspective.

It gives you a wholesome experience of that virtual world. Revisiting old memories is the best experience.

'But at every rereading I seem to be reading a new book, for the first time. Is it I who keep changing and seeing new things of which I was not previously aware? Every time I seek to relive the emotion of a previous reading, I experience different and unexpected impressions, and do not find again those of before. ' -- Italo CalvinoIf on a Winter's Night a Traveler

“...the reader who plucks a book from her shelf only once is as deprived as the listener who, after attending a single performance of a Beethoven symphony, never hears it again.”― Anne FadimanRereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love

 “We do not enjoy a story fully at first reading. Not till curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savor the real beauties.”  ― C.S. LewisOn Stories: And Other Essays on Literature

 “There's nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you've read only once can't.” ― Gail Carson LevineWriting Magic: Creating Stories that Fly

 “No book is worth reading that isn't worth re-reading.”― Susan Sontag

P.S: I confess I have re-read only 'Who will cry when you die?' by Robin Sharma. I keep going back           to the book whenever I feel down.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Times #together


Life is short and time is fleeting. Moments of today will become memories of tomorrow. So the best thing we can do is to create as many loving moments of togetherness as we can with our loved ones and cherish them forever. Let’s lose no time of companionship in anger or jealousy, as the time lost today can never be recovered. Regret and guilt are the worst feelings that corrupt a happy life. So let’s just reconcile our differences and be together, for one another. Time we spend with the family that god bestowed upon us, and that family which we chose for ourselves gives us the optimism and happiness we seek in life. After all, all we need in life is a sense of belonging.

I love family time. We usually have long talks together, especially on the terrace during power cuts and gossip over hot snacks. We playfully tease father for his alert sitting postures and weird facial expressions while watching a fight scene in a movie. I just love the hearty laughter we share as father does the leg pulling while mother gets ready for the colony ladies’ party. And when we sisters excitedly blabber about an upcoming wedding ceremony of a relative and plan a long shopping list, father jokingly says, ’I’ll go bankrupt.’ It’s hilarious. Otherwise they silently enjoy our tatter-tales.

Vacations and holidays are almost always full of excitement. The mornings start with me searching for a new breakfast recipe on the internet with complete enthusiasm and exhilaration. Then my sister joins in with high spirits. And as you know, enthusiasm is contagious; so by the time their ritualistic morning tea is done, mother and father get excited for it as well. I keep mentioning every now and then if this ingredient is available and if that jar is empty. Father soon gets ready to fetch the much needed items from the nearby shop, and mother plays the instructor while I chop and my sister fetches the things I constantly keep ordering her to. The entire process is so much fun. It feels like play time. But by the end of the cooking session it usually results in many cooks and a spoilt meal, as one of us fidgets with the microwave oven, another adds the salt and spices, another stirs and the last one adds the salt once again. The final episode is complete hullabaloo with either a burnt dish or a ruined taste.

Now-a-days I have handled this situation well. I manage the kitchen solely by myself, with occasional help from mother, whenever I’m preparing the dishes. My sister is happy with her task of clicking pictures of the food. ‘Why is it taking so much time? Is she preparing a banquet?’ father eventually comments unable to keep in his curiosity. And finally when we taste it, it is lip smacking. Anyways it’s time spent well together.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A New Life



The past is deep, as they always say. And life is a bouquet of surprises. It hurts and wounds but time heals it all. My life too has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I was once the most loved and cherished daughter of our village. Though not really pampered by my three brothers, I was considered important and dear. Our mother always trusted me more and let me handle all the responsibilities. I was the one to guide the others to do tasks and I took immense pleasure in ordering them around. And then one day a groom was chosen for me from the many proposals that always kept coming in. The marriage took place after they had my consent, and off I went to my in-laws’ leaving my home behind.

It was a happy start of a new life, far from home, nearby the rocky beaches of Mumbai. A new chapter of my life had begun with someone who respected me, whom I was happy to be with. But one cannot judge a person in a matter of months. Every smiling face is not happy inside. I understood it the hard way through a nasty game that fate played with me. After just a year to our wedding, while we were in a vacation visiting our family and relatives, one day a news suddenly shattered all my dreams of a blessed married life. He was no more. He had poisoned himself in the spur of a moment loaded with stress and issues I had no idea about.

I came back to the same village after a period of shock, grief and mourning. People came one after the other every day to talk to me and cheer me up. They loved me and cared about me, I was sure of that, but they also tactfully avoided my path early morning or before the onset of a journey. I was a widow. I was unlucky. They couldn’t risk encounter me even accidentally lest my luck should transfer to them. Relatives tried to console me when I was down, and whispered new proposals to mother when I was not to be seen.

Then one day something inspired me to stop withering away in self pity and make an attempt to set life on a new track. Motivated by these thoughts, I arranged the required documents, draped a good cotton wear, and went to the village school to inquire about any vacancy in teaching positions. I wanted a job to divert my mind from all things negative, and thankfully got one. My days got better from there. I healed and learned to let go. Pursuing my passion as my profession brought back my lost confidence and restored my faith in God. I also resumed my tuition classes for secondary and high school students. I earned respect and admiration from students, fellow colleges and parents. I saved a lot for months together and finally renovated our old house. It felt so good to see mother and brothers beam with joy and pride.

P.S: Hope this story about starting a new life would be an inspiration to those embarking on a journey of their own.

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Hundred Foot Journey

'No family is an island onto itself. It's always a part of a larger culture: a community.'
This movie is about food. Food, food and more food. It’s like a food carnival. A cross cultural culinary tale directed by Lasse Hallstrom. It is the film adaptation of the best seller novel of the same name by Richard Morais’. French and Indian cuisine shown in all colors and flavors would leave you feeling hungry by the end of the movie.

An Indian family plans and moves to Europe to a French locale to start an Indian restaurant there. They start from scratch to build a legacy just across the road of a already Michelin starred restaurant.

I loved the movie not only for its picturesque locales and beautiful colorful dishes, but also for its story and plot. It’s a story about following your dreams, and finding satisfaction and success in what you love doing the most. Searching for quality mushrooms in wilderness, catching fish together, sniffing the supplies before using them and tasting the wonders created in the kitchen, Hassan and Marguerite enjoyed the fusion of all things good in French and Indian way of cooking. Aiming for Michelin Star, both paved their path with continuous effort but Hassan was the one to get it first. ‘He’s now for the Gods. The world is waiting for him,’ the Madame Mallory said overwhelmed by his achievement. He created art with his signature dishes, mastered the ‘science’ of cooking and soon this Indian boy from nowhere found place in magazine covers and headlines of newspapers. I was left bewildered and happily surprised by the elaborate ‘cooking labs’. It’s a must watch.

Food makes us emotional. Food creates memories. Certain smells reminds us of our loved ones. The taste of ‘jalebis’ reminded Hassan of his late mother, and that of vinegar made Margaret miss her late father. Every bite of Indian food with ‘amchur’, ‘kalajeera’ and ‘garam masala’ takes Hasaan home, down the memory lane to his childhood, to his mother. There’s a scene where Hassan learns to make the five main sauces of French cuisine, reading the cookery books loaned from Marguerite, and achieves perfection in just one day. Marguerite is beyond words as his skill and talents surpass all her expectation. I really, really wanted to taste those sauces- especially the soya-sauce like black one, and the velvety red one.

I do have weakness for tastes and flavors- especially the ingredients and the art of chopping and cooking. This movie was a treat to my aesthetic senses. It was like watching my favorite ‘Masterchef’ episodes for two hours at a stretch. And it had me browsing French recipes in the internet and the menus of nearby restaurants. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Baby Banters


She crawls around on the floor excitedly on seeing a lizard, while we adults try and stop her from grabbing it. Every animate object is interesting to her. I love the way she yells that happy cry with wide eyes on seeing a mouse running towards the dark corner. We laugh as she tries to hold the sun rays coming from the small holes in the window. She’s my cousin’s baby- our small bundle of energy. She’s such a darling; just watching her cute activities makes my day.

Her day starts early morning, before anyone of the entire household wakes up. She just sits there on the bed looking at our sleeping faces, poking and trying hard to wake someone up. She hates it when no one’s paying her attention. She makes curious noises as if to announce, ‘I have woken up, wake up guys. It’s very boring to sit here alone and stare at the sleeping faces.’ And that sweet laughter when the first person in the family wakes up and holds her is music to our ears. Then she points them the stairs, indicating to take her to the terrace to see the morning birds. It’s like a morning ritual she loves the most.

Our days begin with her and end with her. I love the way she moves her hands and body on the beat of the Hindi songs. She has not yet learnt to properly stand with her own feet without support, but she still tries to dance. That scene is so cute and hilarious at the same time. And she loves to play with people’s hair. Whoever tries to hold her, she doesn't resist but her hands go straight to the person’s hair. And she pulls it hard; mind it, laughing all the time.

Laughing, crawling around full of energy, dancing to songs shown in TV, and posing for photographs are the things she loves doing. I love the way she looks at herself in the mirror wondering who the other person actually is. She touches the mirror now and then while passing by with her pink doll and brown soft toy, trying to solve this mystery. She’s so adorable. Nothing can compare her cuteness quotient.

But all her excitement fades once she wets her pants. But the frequency is very less, as Pampers diapers ensure our baby’s always dry and happy. It is leak proof, ensures dryness on the inside and outside. It takes care that her energies don’t diminish and her mood is not spoilt. This new Pampers Baby Dry Pants and its unique Magic Gel promises dryness and happy moments for twelve long hours. So dryness, health and happiness are always secure for complete twelve hours.

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