A Ghost Story?

It was a chilly February of 2014. I was in college and had participated in a robotics event at the IIT Kharagpur Tech Fest with my team of four- consisting of my then-on-and-off boyfriend and a ‘new couple’. As awkward as it was, we are not going to talk about any cute love stories or get into the inner workings of our earthquake detector bot. This is about a series of strange events that started during our 2-day stay at Kharagpur.

College fests are a foreign concept to many outside India, so I will tell some more about it. Most reputed Indian colleges conduct fests that are 2–7-day events at the home college open to participants from universities across the country. During my time, fests had two major nomination categories – Cultural/ Arts fests and Tech fests. I was a member of the Robotics Society, and our team often participated in competitions during our engineering days. Our finals were on Day 2, and that’s where our story begins.

Continue reading “A Ghost Story?”

Excuses, Giveaways, & Videotape

Excuses, Giveaways, & Videotape

Shoutout to @krenaiwit and her amazing blog- becomingwifeyblog.com! I’m thrilled to win the 250 subscriber giveaway.

Keep shining Mrs. Renai!

Getting Real About Relationships

Wifeys & Gentlemen,

OMG hi! I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve been here and I have really really missed ya’ll.

I promise (as always), I am not going to do the whole “excuses” thing, despite what the title says, and just say that between my last update and today, I have had a lot on my plate. ALOT.

I am learning how to be “okay” with not being ok all the time. I am also learning how to find that sweet balance between parenting/family, job, blog, and just being me.

This blog is such a big part of me, but it is also hard work. Unfortunately, it sometimes has to be pushed back to make more room and time for the business that pays me and the people that mean the world to me.

But enough of that; I know we all know how life works. I’m…

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The human heart could not possibly endure the loss of a child and sometimes, sons end up paying for the sins of their fathers. While funerals may vary between the rich and the poor, the grappling grief remains the same.

“You shall not bow down to (idols) or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

– (Deuteronomy 5:9-10, NIV)

Meet my Grandma

My grandma is older than India’s independence. She’s no taller than 4 feet 9 and I call her ‘Amma’. She was married at 16 to my grandfather, who she says looked like a Bollywood superstar. I have no memory of my grandfather but judging by her pride, I bet he was a catch!

Recently, I got a notification Amma was live on Facebook and I instinctively clicked to see her singing one of her favorite songs too close to the camera. The other day, I got a concerned call from her when someone commented on my display pic, “This is sick!”. She religiously explained to me how to make the perfect herbal tea to feel better. She also insisted I send her pictures of me drinking the tea for the next five days. She is addicted to online games and I often see her posting her results from quizzes like “Which Game of Thrones character are You?” or “How will you die?”. Now she’s on Twitter and her tweets crack me up every time.

Growing up, whenever I would come home after my day’s shopping, try on the clothes once again, and show them to my mom and her, she wouldn’t hold back and tell me the dress looked absolutely awful. Her complete lack of tact in ripping off the bandage amazed me every time and I would look at my mom who would say I looked beautiful anyway. That’s also the reason why I could not trust my mother with things like these!

Although deeply spiritual, Amma was never the religious type and when I would see my dad and mom going these extra miles organizing religious rites and rituals, I would see her sitting nonchalantly in a corner munching peanuts. There was a constant tiff in our house for the TV remote between my dad who wanted to watch news and godmen, and my grandma who wanted her daily dose of Ekta Kapoor soap operas. She told me one day, “Your dad is really superstitious and morbidly boring.” I mean between the two, definitely my grandma knew how to have more fun!

She was my best friend growing up and she still is. As a kid, I would look forward to accompanying her to local markets because I would get my pick at anything I wanted. Everyday before school, she would pack my lunch. She was also my go-to home tutor for Math, English, Hindi and Sanskrit. I remember asking her the same question every other day and her explaining it to me over and over again, with the same enthusiasm as the first time. She has not been cooking for years now as her health deteriorates, and I stopped eating ‘Malpuas’ the day she stepped out of kitchen.

We have our own secret handshake that ends up with me hugging and kissing her cheeks and her pretend annoyance with the whole goddamn thing. Once I was late for my flight and left the house in a hurry just kissing her goodbye only to learn later that she cried I forgot about our secret handshake. So, I made sure I did it right the next time and I saw her getting worked up and annoyed and absolutely thankful at the same time!

I have been seeing her less and less over the years and we’re not even in the same continent anymore. I try keeping up with her, but she can barely hear me over the phone. Whenever I video call her, she tells everyone I came home to visit her and my heart breaks a little. I know she won’t read or understand this anymore, even if I tell her myself, but I really do hope she knows that I carry a bit of her with me every day wherever I go!

Per Mahabharata, the epic Hindu mythology, Savitri was Satyavan’s beautiful, loyal and devoted wife, who was able to revive him after his demise by outwitting Yama (the God of Death). Side note: she was also deemed ‘Sati’, a title conferred to the most chaste of all women. Sati practice (widow burning) on the other hand emerged when the original Sati from another tale sacrificed her life for the love of Shiva, the Hindu God. Sati practice dictates that the widow must immolate herself alive on her husband’s funeral pyre should he die. The husbands do not need to burn themselves if their wives die of course. We abolished that in 1829, so I’m grateful for that! (I’m aware of oversimplifying this- it started as a voluntary tradition for widows, progressing quickly to become a forced practice that did not discount a widow’s wishes, much like every other blast from the past – topic for another day!)

Continue reading “Sati Savitri – Empowered or Enslaved?”

A Harmless Dance

A Harmless Dance

Every morning, after he left, I would rush to the window and watch him close the door behind. With my heart still beating out of my chest, I would recount the night again and see the sky blush until she would melt into a sea of sunlight. She was my friend and my confidante, and I loved mornings!

I would wait eagerly for the first rays of the sun to knock on my window sill, and as it seeped through the glass, I would retract my hand coquettishly. I would place my hand on the nook right next to the sill and look the other way until, like an old habit, I could feel the very first rays gently caressing my fingertips while the warmth slithered up my bare arms. I would pause a bit, and then offer the rest of my hand in submission.

Continue reading “A Harmless Dance”

An Open Letter to my Ex

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Dear Ex boyfriend,

I miss you sometimes. You, or the idea of you, I’m not sure. Never mind. Today is one such day.

Let’s try to catch up. I met a lot of people in the short span of the life after you. You will never know about them. I’m sure you have come a long way too and there’s no turning back.

Apparently, I am an amazing kisser. Apparently, I am not as bloated as you made me believe. Apparently, I am a strong woman and it turns out, I have dreams and aspirations too.

“How could he leave you?”

“How can anyone leave you?”

But, then,

Continue reading “An Open Letter to my Ex”

Moby Dick: or, the White Whale by Herman Melville My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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“Call me Ishmael.” – undoubtedly one of the most powerful opening lines in the history of English Literature.

But, remember that time when you were a toddler and your mom used to flash these otherwise insanely scrumptious candies at you during meals, you pounced at them and somehow they tasted like spinach and broccoli, every time? Well, that is the déjà vu I had throughout the book. I mean, this, to me, is one of the most confusing books ever written- non-fiction concealed inside a very attractive wrapper of fiction. Book? Text book? Dissertation? Thesis?

Continue reading “Moby Dick: or, the White Whale by Herman Melville My rating: 3 of 5 stars”

Blur

That is some hideous wall art. Yellow is probably the worst color in the world, or is it brown? I mean, look at it, or you could, had not the sun been staring blatantly at you the whole time. Damn you Ricky! Why wouldn’t you draw the screens for once? What is more repulsive than the constipated February sun? I want to bark at him, but that would invite a conversation, I don’t want that. Where’s the bloody coffee again?

Oh! The stench of Jasmine. Meera is here. I will just stare at my screen now. I had actually cared about her once. Hah! What a douche! That little wench doesn’t know why she’s here, forget the whats and hows. TL my foot! Continue reading “Blur”

Animal Farm by George Orwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Well, how do you review a book like this? Even before I delve into that, what bowled me over was how short a time it took Orwell to write this book – ‘November 1943 – February 1944’. Sure, it is a short read; a little over a hundred pages. But, what it conveys takes up an entire Constitution or someone’s entire career to convey. This book may be shy in words, but so rich in interpretation, it kind of completes itself in every reader’s mind, at its own pace and morphs into a different dystopia; different, yet same.

It is a brilliant allegory that mocks Stalin in the name of Napoleon. This is a story of Control and power struggle. Every animal mimes a familiar trait –

Continue reading “Animal Farm by George Orwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars”

Teenage Diaries: The Days That Were by Saurabh Sharma My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Teenage Diaries: The Days That Were

It’s rare when a book becomes a person and starts talking to you. It’s even rarer when you start heeding this ‘book-person’ more than you do real people! For most part, it was like a conversation; like GK and I were friends forever and he was telling me one of his crazy stories yet again. I’m glad I came across this book.

For me, being able to say that is really refreshing in a way that it’s not my genre. I generally don’t go for YA. I started reading itself with this in the first place, but was soon perpetuated with the same ideas and notions being hurled in my face in the same predictable fashion. The problem with the contemporary Indian authors of this genre is that they try too hard to impress. As a reader, I feel like calling them out and yell, “Back off! I get it…I get it, damn it!” (I am offending so many people right now!) But hey, that’s just my opinion. Continue reading “Teenage Diaries: The Days That Were by Saurabh Sharma My rating: 4 of 5 stars”

THIS MODERN LOVE: a novel by Ray Hecht My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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This book plays off several shades of the contemporary grunge with a persistent neo-noir gradation. It saturates the cliché and builds it up through every paragraph till it blows into a cumulonimbus of decay. It is a tale of ‘missed connections’ and opportunities. A dystopic dirge keeps throbbing in the background while the four protagonists dance to its tune in perfect psychedelia.

It is hard to go through the book from this frame of reference. We can see ourselves in the pages making love to cellphones and avatars and losing sight of the reality while sinking deep into the mire of a new strain of love, the new romance. No one cares anymore for ‘the real thing’. Is there actually something real? Well, we do not have the time to spare on that kind of discovery. In an age of fast food and digital cash, finding true love seems rather dreary and time-consuming. We have let ourselves be annihilated with lust instead. Modern love is nothing more, but a raunchy escapade. It is more of a habit, a mechanical urge. Continue reading “THIS MODERN LOVE: a novel by Ray Hecht My rating: 4 of 5 stars”

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #2)

“She seemed to walk in an atmosphere of things about to happen.”

I wasn’t even aware that ‘Anne of Green Gables’ had so many sequels. When I did come to know, I decided not to read them, as sequels are never good enough. And, I did not want to spoil the fun I already had.

But, Gilbert Blythe! He made me do it. I had to know what became of them, even though I know it in my heart! I had to know how it plays over. The best part about this series is, it is so effortless. It is like a pampering spree. I cannot compare this series to any other in this regard. It is like a soothing joyride. The freshness is carried over from its prequel. Many new consequential characters were introduced. The story grows on you. It is like I and the whole of Avonlea are buddies already; as if I lived amongst them somewhere on the island.

I do admit though, it is not better than the first part. But, it could not be. Knowing Anne was the best thing ever to happen. Now, it’s like accompanying her on her journey forward. I was adamant not to go any further in the series. But, then, Gilbert Blythe hasn’t proposed yet. Anne has blushed under his gaze for the first time. And then, her ambitions; she is going to college this season. I have no choice at this point. I am going to read the third part!

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Love Beyond Social Confines by Laxman Rao My rating: 3.9 of 5 stars

Love Beyond Social Confines

I have never come across anything like this book. It is a rustic, raw, heartfelt and honest novella. It was an extremely different experience as compared to what I have been having for a long time, reading. Let me break it down to you.

First of all, I finished this book in a single sitting. The entire plot played like a docudrama in front of my eyes. It felt like I had somehow discovered somebody’s old journal and had to devour it at warp speed lest I should be found out sneaking.

It was only after reading this book that I realized how much I had missed the good old Indian writing. I am glad that people like Laxman Rao are still carrying on the legacy and doing it so brilliantly. That brings me to the author himself. I literally had goosebumps reading about his life struggles.(Yes, I like to know my authors.) It also felt like this story was a part of him, and not just something he conjured up in his mind one fine day because he decided to write a book.
Continue reading “Love Beyond Social Confines by Laxman Rao My rating: 3.9 of 5 stars”

Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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“But if you call me Anne, please call me Anne with an ‘e’.”

Oh Anne! What a treat you were. This novella is so refreshing and innocent, it actually takes you back in time, and if it is in anyway possible, makes you ten years younger when you’re done! I was so bewitched by this ‘ravishing’ Anne that I dreaded the idea of finishing the book at all.

I never met such a girl. I could never ‘imagine’ such a girl either. What a torpedo of delights! This is one of the best coming-of-age stories out there. I would admit though, that if such a ‘scrumptious’ tiny girl really existed, she would be more intimidating than sweet, for Anne of Green Gables talked and she talked a lot and the only thing she did more than talking was imagining. Every character in the book is so relatable and unique that I cannot imagine a better way to put this story through. This girl is so prudent, yet laced to the roots in an unbelievably commendable fashion. There are so many strong messages throughout the book, yet you never feel them being rubbed on your face. There is something about this story which is simply pristine in its charm and charisma. Continue reading “Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars”

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

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“Every heart has its own skeletons.”

A scandal never gets old. It’s crazy how the human society works. We are trained consciously and subconsciously right from our birth to put up this facade of righteousness around us, while all we covertly scavenge for and relish is the darkness and the fall of anyone but ourselves.

Anna Karenina is a satire on the society, politics, war and the human character. It is also a love story and a hate story. Anna is not perfect. Anna is not righteous by the book. But, when has perfection attracted us so much as the flaws? Anything or anyone who has that power to lure our inner demons, make us feel vulnerable and in danger of melting down the facade we have been building so ardently since we can remember ourselves, is the thing we try our best not to confront and when we do, more often than not, we surrender. Continue reading “Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy My rating: 5 of 5 stars”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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“Bah,” said Scrooge, “Humbug.”

This is a story that became the seed for so many stories, Carols, adaptations, television series, movies and what not! What Dickens conjured with three ghosts and a stingy inveterate senile miser, was never done before or could be equaled again with all the elves, fairies and Santa to the rescue.

The tale is spun so seamlessly through the shortcomings and sheer disregard of Christian feelings exhibited by the protagonist Scrooge, the hideousness of his actions, the tastelessness of his selfish attitude and his ultimate redemption in the face of death and fear. Continue reading “A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars”

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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#18th longest novel of all time.
# “One of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world”- Upton Sinclair

“Liberation is not deliverance.”

Have you ever experienced the satisfaction that comes from reading or watching something so complete that your own life comes full circle to you thereafter?
If you haven’t, read this book. If you think you have, read this book imperatively. If you have, in fact, read the book, pat yourselves on the back.

Les Miserables is Continue reading “Les Misérables by Victor Hugo My rating: 5 of 5 stars”

Walden by Henry David Thoreau My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”

Walden!

Well, I love it and hate it. But, probably I love it more. The book is so pluralistic, yet singular in the underlying idea. There are tones and undertones and overtones, yet it is the simplest thing I have ever come across.

This is one of those unwonted books that I have struggled to sit through. But, this is also a book that keeps me haunting back and forth days after finishing it. It actually makes me cogitate and think about things I had given up thinking long ago.

This book is not timeless, at least in my opinion, like the other books in this genre are. I remember myself getting so worked up with some of the ideas Thoreau planted in my brain and I could not see it materialize in the present era. May be it is just me, and technically his ideas are not impossible to execute altogether. But, I don’t find it pragmatic or rather beneficial to anybody today. “How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

I will break it down to you.

Continue reading “Walden by Henry David Thoreau My rating: 3 of 5 stars”

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

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This book is unique in a way that two lines in and the book had me completely. That’s new, because I’m a skeptic and I normally take pages or chapters to finally make up my mind about a book. What Mr. Gatsby did to the people he met, probably this book did to me. Pay attention here, I haven’t said that I liked the content yet. I only said the book had me and my undivided attention. I do not imply that I hated the content either. The book, just somehow, managed to draw the kind of attention foreign to its genre. When you delve into a “great book”, a “classic”, you normally go in slow and give it time (at least I do). But, with this book, when I got in, I was devouring everything wolfish-ly, as if I were reading a thriller or solving a mystery.

Continue reading “The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald My rating: 4 of 5 stars”

The Carnival

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“So, did you ask him? What did he say? What..tell me!” chimed Kiara excitedly.

“Umm..yeah.” replied Diya avoiding Kiara’s piercing gaze.

“So?”

“So…umm…he said he likes you…kind of, I mean.”

“Really? He said that! Did he say he likes me?” Kiara could barely suppress her exhilaration at this point. Her heart was racing like a juggernaut.

“Yes. Now, shush and get back to your seat. Matthew is a sneeze away from thrashing us out of the class.”Diya said that mechanically, trying her best to look anywhere else, but at Kiara.

“Oh come on! Don’t be a chicken. Just tell me everything he said and I’ll be gone. Promise!”

“But, there’s nothing more..”

“You know what Diya, look here…You didn’t talk to him, did you?”

“Well, I…” Continue reading “The Carnival”

The Bucket List

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It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.

I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell. Continue reading “The Bucket List”

A Requiem for Transcendence

old-couple-holding-handsI often wondered what love was; it took me a lifetime to discover you were in love, when there’s no going back from loving. That minuscule split of the second when it hits you and you start looking at them differently. You just love them even when they become a different person altogether. You might start disliking them, you might even start hating yourself for loving and disliking them at the same time; but when you take their name, even in your mind, you say it softly and you feel warm. You never fall in love for the sparkle of the eyes or the kick of humour; you fall in love with the chemistry you share. You fall in love with that energy, that aura that wraps you and them. There are no proofs for a few things. All you need to have is a little faith. Continue reading “A Requiem for Transcendence”

My Blatant Plea

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It was a wintry December morning of 2012. I lay snug inside my hillock of blankets. I hated winters. I detested the chills, the piercing stroke of the raw freeze. I would give anything to stay there, inside my cozy hillock for the rest of the day.

Not long ago, there used to be a time when I would sleep like a baby. That day, there was a click and a strangled monotonous beep and I thrust my hillock away sprinting for the fax machine, forgetting my slippers, my sweater and the chills. Desperately, I hit the buttons and finally I had the fax in my hand. I ran with it to the balcony of my dingy one-bedroom apartment and began reading. Continue reading “My Blatant Plea”

Femme fatale

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There were holes in heaven and humongous ice towers swelled earthbound. Chic-clad men, women and children lurched out of tight spaces dug in the tower, belching thick tar and it rained in the realm. There was no land anymore, only bogs of currency soused in oil and blood. The marshes sucked everything in, till the quagmire softened into a decisive reality- a perfect corporate ghetto. The Heaven was hell and the Hell was heaven.

“Silent night, holy night…”, she hummed as she scanned the wall with a scalpel in her left hand. It was almost time, she must hurry. But, the perfectionist that she was, she continued the sgraffito and mellow undertones squinted out. The painting was complete.

“All is calm, all is bright….”

The exhilaration in her sprightly gait reiterated through the quiet mansion. A warm shower later, she donned a blush-coloured gown playing off her skin-tone. There was something very calm about her demeanour. It would not scream glamour directly into your eyes, but kick you in the face in your own sweet time and leave you to gasps. T-strap shoes and a turquoise necklace sealed the deal. That deconstructed extravagance and careful insouciance created a definitive idiosyncrasy, just the drama that makes you want to know the woman more.

Continue reading “Femme fatale”