Saturday, 24 June 2017

Rebel to Revel

Being in love with someone who is vastly different from yourself is difficult. add to it the trouble of long distance and you have possibilities of dealing with boredom and way more distance than you can over.

So on a grand Monday ze boyfriend and me decided to start our very own Book Club to keep this flame of far away love alive. We have set a rather ambitious target to read one book every week, and like all good book clubs, discuss it on Sunday over a cup of virtual coffee. Each of us gets to pick a book alternatively and this we hope to continue forever for a reasonably long time. There are other rules too, like it has to be a book that is new to both us and if the length is more than 500 pages, it can be spread over 2 weeks. I have been super dedicated to this all week and have actually completed the book a day earlier than required. And to be able to kill two birds with one stone, I have decided to write about this weekly rendezvous to get back to writing. The first book (picked by him) was Rebecca by Dapne du Maurier.

To be honest I approach classics very cautiously. I do not enjoy how women behave in these books, so unreal and away from our realities, it exhausts me. But Dapne du Maurier is a cunning and rebellious writer. In a time of maidenly modesty and spotless honour, she wrote a riveting tale of Rebecca. The book has four main charectars, Mr De Winter, the rich and affluent widower left behind after the death of Rebecca, his first wife. He soon falls in love with the protagonist and narrator of the story and makes her the new Mrs De Winter, whose name we don't know throughout the whole book. Her identity is attached only to him. And Manderley the magnificent and mysterious estate where Mr and Mrs De Winter live.
I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.
The narrations in this book are like poetry, beautiful in all it's glory. Dapne makes interlinked connections that are easy to miss throughout the book, like red is the colour of Rebecca and it comes out in a full circle in the climax of the book. Mr De Winter's two wives are like mirror images of each other but mirror images are the same person, and that contrast is beautifully depicted in wonderfully woven prose.

While I despised him for picking a gothic classic as the first book, the hesitance and effort of it slowly drifted away. Beginning with a slow pace the book reaches its end in a rather poetic fashion, revealing the reason behind the beginning of the book, the end of Manderley. Mr De Winter, is a hate-able character but his profession of love in the stoic fashion will soften you towards the end making it difficult to hate him, to a point where you start defending his actions just like the naivete and blind love of his young wife. Some things are hard to digest but considering the time when this book was written, Rebecca remains relevant even today.

So far so good, ze boyfriend is way behind this week and I'm waiting to know what he thought of the book tomorrow.

If you have any suggestions for books we can include in this self inflicted challenge, do let us know!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Garden of Change

Hello to my non-existent reader base. No, I haven't written anything new. Pfft, you think you can break me. But here is a blast from the past, from the beloved Drafts folder. 
 - - -

"She's a Gujarati!!?"
The world had just come crashing down on my Chellama. Ravi could feel her imagination go wild even through the phone. She was picturing 'undhiya',  'dhokla' and 'patra' being stuffed into her son and her concern was evident in her stern silence.

"Atleast meet her maa. You know she is even trying to learn malyalam?" , Ravi decided to end the silence.

"I will do nothing of that sort. You should stop seeing her. "

"But Maa.."

"Don't argue with me. Is this how we have raised you. We are not such people."

"You mean people who marry Gujaratis?"

"Stop it. We are not discussing this anymore."

"Well I've invited her home this weekend. Be nice. I've got to go Maa. See you Saturday. "

Chellama put the phone down with a dejected smile. She shouldn't have sent him away to a hostel in the first place. This is what happens when you leave children to their own doing. What if she is anything like the TV shows, the likes of Tulsi and Parvati, worse Komolika, the vamp. She shuddered at her own imagination and decided to call Ravi the very next day and tell him this could not happen and she was not going to meet that girl of his.


Chellama had picked her most expensive Kanjiwaram sari, she hadn't worn it since Ravi's sister's wedding. She was worried and decided to question her husband of things that he knew as little as her about.

"You think she is nice, will she eat meat with us?", she had asked this question three times already. 

This time, Raghunathan chose to ignore it and continued reading his newspaper. Before she could ask a few more questions, the silence was pierced by the shrill doorbell. 

"I've told Ravi so many times to fix that bell when he comes." Chellama cursed before turning her angry frown into an angelic smile and opening the door.

Shruti had touched Chellama and Raghunathan's feet even before she could respond to their Hello. Ravi had insisted she pretend to he be as close to Gopi Bahu, his mother's favourite TV soap protagonist to win her approval. And Shruti was going to play it to the smallest detail. She had even picked a salwar kameez that matched exactly with what Gopi Bahu wore on last Thursday's episode.

A few moments of awkward silence later Chellama was offering Shruti every item on Shiv Sagar's south indian menu which all she politely refused, although her stomach had grumbled a little at the mention of Masala Dosa. Ravi gave her quick glare to let her know that she should say yes to something. Shruti obediently said 'Yes' at Chellama's next item. Idli it was. 

They ate in silence while Chellama was observing Shruti's dress, her long earrings and the way she ate her idli. It can tell you a lot about someone, she thought wisely to herself. Raghunathan decided to break the ice, he asked about Shruti's family and her work. About her little brother and what her father does. Ravi was glad everything was going smoothly.

Just when the shrill doorbell rang again, it was odd as they never had guests. Chellama opened the door to find Mr. Iyer, their doctor and very old family friend, smiling a toothy grin at her. Chellama felt panic in her throat. She couldn't possibly let him in. If word spread about a Gujarati girl being considered for Ravi's marriage, she would never hear the end of it. All the ladies would go on and on about the benefits of having  a Mallu daughter in law.

Chellama was so lost in thought that she didn't see Mr Iyer and his wife brush past her into the house. Many greetings later, they were all seated on the red and gold dewan set that Chellama had brought with her at the time as per part of wedding gifts from her innumerable relatives.

She decided to explain the situation before any speculations could ensue.  
"Mr Iyer, this is Shruti, Ravi's classmate from college. She wanted to see my garden so Ravi invited her home. She is his rakhi sister." She added to clear all doubt.

Mr Iyer and his wife nodded like it was completely normal for someone to travel 200 miles to see a kitchen garden and continued to ignore Shruti like they had been all along.

"I have a proposal for you Raghu. My brother's daughter is of marriageable age now, you know her Sreepriya kutti, she's a MA Literature would be perfect for Ravi." Mr Iyer, said with the confidence of someone who had seen engineers marrying MA literatures for generations. 

This was turning out to be the most embarrassing day of Ravi's life, he thought before he remembered his first day in college and decided to take control of the situation.

"I'm not looking to get married anytime soon, I am yet to complete engineering and get a job. I'm barely ready." he said in a calm voice.
"Who is asking to get married immediately, but its better to fix and keep, no?" Mr Iyer was now grinning and nudging Ravi.
"He is too young for marriage with any girl, however nice she may be." Raghunathan said in a conclusive tone.

Chellama who had not reacted at all now was consoling Mr Iyer with Idlis and saying it was just not the right time. Sreepriya would have proved to be a lovely daughter in law she added with a sad smile.
Ravi was really angry at his mother for saying that in front of Shruti who was now feeling immensely out of place. 

"Come I'll show you the garden." Ravi said to take her out of the room.
"No, I'd like aunty to show me."
Chellama was surprised but didn't show it and the Iyers took this as their cue to leave with dejected faces.

Shruti was now following Chellama through a long corridor in the backyard. "You know this not possible right. I want you to understand the kind of people we live around." Chellama said a little guiltily.

"Does it really matter what people say? You have raised Ravi and made him the man I love. All I need is your approval" Shruti said placing her hand gently on Chellama's arm.  Chellama was beginning to soften but refused to show any weakness. 

"All that is fine kutti, but people talk. We have worked really hard to build this reputation."
"Well I just came to see the garden anyway. These chikoos look delicious" Chellama went on to explain how she planted the first tree in her garden and how it has grown now. She took great pride in telling everyone how she grew all her fruits and vegetables in the backyard.

One hour later, Chellama and Shruti had walked back into the living room with a smile on their face. Ravi waited anxiously for someone to speak while Raghunathan, continued to read the newspaper unperturbed. 

"Go kanna, drop Shruti home, it's getting late.", she scolded Ravi.
Ravi followed the instructions silently, wondering how the two women were already keeping secrets from him.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

2016 Reading Challenge

After the disastrous attempt at the 2015 Reading Challenge, I am trying again this year because I am brave.

I also have an evolving Reading List of books everyone must read, do have a look. If you are joining this challenge with me, do leave a comment so that I can keep up and feel motivated along the way and also get a few recommendations!

PS: List will be updated with the name of the book, stay tuned!
  1. A book based on a fairytale
  2. A National Book award winner
  3. A YA bestseller
  4. A book you haven't read since high school
  5. A Book set in your home state
  6. A book translated to English
  7. A romance set in the future
  8. A book set in Europe
  9. A Book that's under 150 pages
  10. A New York Times bestseller
  11. A book that's becoming a movie this year
  12. A book recommended by someone you just met - Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
  13. A self improvement book - Happiness Project by Grechen Rubin
  14. A book you can finish in a day
  15. A book written by a celebrity - Mrs Funny Bones by Twinkle Khanna
  16. A political memoir - Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
  17. A book atleast 100 years older than you
  18. A book that is more than 600 pages
  19. A book from Oprah's book club
  20. A science fiction novel
  21. A book recommended by a friend - Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  22. A graphic novel
  23. A book that is published in 2016
  24. A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
  25. A book that takes place during Summer
  26. A book and it's prequel
  27. A murder mystery
  28. A book written by a comedian
  29. A dystopian novel
  30. A book with a blue cover
  31. A book of poetry - Space Gulliver by Sampurna Chattarji
  32. The first book you see in a bookstore
  33. A classic from the 20th century
  34. A book from the library
  35. An autobiography - Pandeymonium by Piyush Pandey
  36. A book about a road trip
  37. A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with - And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  38. A satirical book
  39. A book that takes place on an island
  40. A book that's guaranteed to bring you joy