Monday, August 8, 2016

Of stories and sleep and really calling it a night.

Last night was terrible, sleep wise. One of those nights where you toss and turn and eventually just give up and start watching random TED videos. Last night, while I was going through one of those videos, I started dozing off and somewhere between TED and another random video, I fell asleep. I reflected back to how I got into the habit of ritualistically watching videos before I slept, to the point where the only way I could fall asleep was while reading or watching something. I can tell you, it doesn't matter what kind of day I've had, I read, I watch. Interestingly, I don't really listen to music. Music tends to wake me up.

Last night, I kept thinking, how did I become a person who depends on 'means' to fall asleep and almost like an instant reply, my brain popped the answer. I've always been that person. This isn't new at all. I was a baby, (my mother spoke to me even in the womb, I think) when I started listening to stories, each night had been about stories, by my entire family, mother then my grandmother; stories about animals, people, birds and God knows what else; I think there was even  a story about a Mango tree who wants to walk. 

I started sleeping away from my parents very quickly, at 4. May be. I loved sleeping with my grandmother, mostly because she used to wake up at 5am and I could too (I know, what a weirdo I was. Adult self, I am sorry). Few more years of cuddling up with Ajji, I moved to my big girl bed. I slept by myself, at about 7, I slept with a small doll by my side, grandma was my roomie at that point, so after one round from my mother's stories she'd take over, making sure I fell asleep and then she'd slide into her bed.

Years passed, I got my *own* room. A board that claimed 'My room, my mess is my  business' proudly hung on the door. I had a massive bookshelf (okay, that was supposed to be my wardrobe, that I turned into a bookshelf), a computer sat by the bed and I was usually perched in front of it. Each night, I watched some or the other show, mostly FRIENDS and after my mum asked me to lower the volume (mom speak for 'shut down the computer'), I would pull out a book and start reading, there have been enough times where my mother has shut down the 'PC' and neatly set the book on the bedside table because I had somewhere between reading and watching, fallen asleep.

I moved cities and the habit of reading into the night continued with a small change, the Tube lights in the room  would disturb my roomies, so I switched to watching shows into the wee hours of the morning, with the assurance that some of my roomies would ensure that I don't strangle myself on the headphone chord (an exaggerated claim, I say).

Marriage and after that, I thought, something would change, but no. I still need a little bit of storytelling to fall asleep. The little girl in me will never be okay going to sleep without a story. Nope. Stories keep me going. They put my imagination in overdrive and me asleep.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

#BookReview You Got Me For Life by Chandni

The book up for review is Chandni's -You got me for life

Firstly, let me start with this, who is a woman? can you name 5 things common things with all women. Exactly, its very difficult. No two women are alike and through 26 stories with a common thread of 'womanhood' Chandni weaves stories that will make you laugh, think, upset you and of course leaving you thoroughly refreshed.

One story that has stayed with me of the girl who is waiting for guy over coffee. This is a love story, but has a twist. Perhaps a signature move by the author. She lets you draw your conclusions and then turns it upside down. Another story I loved is about the career girl who is heartbroken. The corporate types are often painted as shrewed and unfeeling, boy! does the author challenge that.

Over the few months of knowing Chandni, the book makes so much sense. These are not fictional people. These stories are fictional, but these people exist, some within us some we know. A career woman and mommy herself, Chandni knows how to balance her book as well. Clean stories, uncluttered writing and genuine emotions. None of the stories try hard to delivered shock value. They are plainly laid out for your to read and enjoy.  This is a quick read but a thinker.

I did not read the book in one go, i read it through the month of April and then again once in May and let me tell you the element of surprise does not go away. Something about good writing stays in the back of your mind, a couple of stories I'll remember mostly because I could relate to them at a personal level. And if you pick up the book, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Reading Time: An hour may be two
Reading Mood: Leisurely, I'd recommend spreading it out.
What to look for: Look for the quick change in situations. Conveying many emotions in a very short story and may be one or two lessons from each character. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

#BookReview: Human Being by Karan Shah

My next review is for an author I found by accident. A few comments on my blog and I followed up with Karan's writing. I must say, through the AToZ Challenge, he brought in a very simple idea to the table and made it stand out.

I'm not getting into the details of the books, I would encourage you to download atleast a couple of books and spend less than a couple of hours on each book.

Karan's book is dotted with deep insightful poems and short stories. Each dealing with one aspect of human emotions, 26 emotions for 26 days! Honestly, reading through some of these posts helped me reflect upon instance where I have seen or felt these things, starting with something as simple as acceptance to going into complex words and emotions like being Xenial.

There are minimal stories, shorter than short stories and packing a punch at the end. 5 short lines and a little paragraph following the complex thought. It was quite a read, quick and simple. There was a certain universality in how each post was written, there are no characters and yet, you'll find yourself in the story.  This is by no account fiction, this is a solid piece of writing that you can pick up at any point. I did start in the middle and then read forward and backward and each story stands on its own.

Again a book I read a month ago and a book that has stayed somewhere in the back of my mind. Each philosophy and emotion ringing true through the day.

Read Time: An hour
Reading pace: Quick. These are short posts you can just keep reading, like couplets.
Things to look for: Different writing styles. Couplets to full blown poems to short stories and quotes. This is a beautiful mix.

 

Friday, July 8, 2016

BookReview: The Other Side of Love by Richa

This is the first book I'm reviewing as a part of the Ebook carnival. Don't  ask me whats been keeping me away from my blog. Short answer: everything.

I read this book back in May, long before I was considering the book for review and considering this is my first review, I'm going to keep it true Richa style and go with a Free Write. First things first, the book goes into a lot of detail about the personal lives of 2 women and other women who are in their life. I was impressed with how the book lingers in your mind, the theme is complex and deals with issues with a certain delicateness that sets the book up for something other than a romance.

The key theme being confusion that Radha goes through, the reason why she is who she is and if she's ultimately happy. Where she goes, what she does and who she becomes. A bitter- sweet story that one must take the time to read and read carefully. I don't want this blog to have any spoiler. Which is why I will comment purely on the quality of the story and writing as opposed to the actual plot.

A small book, the author packs a little something on each page. The characters move through life quickly, they progress and grow but not without giving you a sneak peak into their fight. You can definitely relate to at least one of the characters in a few aspects. There are soft spoken characters and then their are unabashedly etched out characters, there is a curious character and  a rather dark character that society takes on without being an actual characters.

As I read the book in May I had made up my mind on what I thought of the book. It did require me to keep reading and re-reading in the last few days to somehow understand and rationalize with Radha and Sangeeta and (others) ultimately, this is fiction much like life, you can expect the unexpected.


I cannot talk any further about the book without giving away my take on the plot.

Reading Time: An hour
Reading Mood: Leisurely, I'd recommend an afternoon.
What to look for: Look at how the characters interact. There is something about the way they carry themselves in situations with class and humour.

  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Anger - the new narrative in content creation

As a content writer by day, I get to see a lot of content, read so much and I make it point to read most of it. An increasing trend in content that is shared is melancholic or angry. I wonder why.

Take this blog for instance, it based on the fact that I want to talk about anger. We are an angry people, as a race we've started becoming collectively pissed off about many many things, some of them frivolous, I must say. The question isn't whether you can or can't be angry, just that, that's all we feel. Few moments of relief in between with humour and we resign ourselves to being angry.  I meet people on a daily basis who remain poised and keep telling themselves and everybody around that anger is pointless, but I can see the evolutionary need for anger, how else will you overpower your aggressor?

I am not worried by the anger that we exhibit, but in how we exhibit it. We are not just angry, we are violent, we are abusive, we are threatening everything we live with. Our content is driven by anger, take Tanmay Bhat, a mediocre comic who has become the centre of attention all because we are angry about some misplaced anger. We want to belittle the rich and remotely popular people just so we can feel better. A few tweets here and there and we are sorted. Our ego fix for day has been had. We can live in peace till the next thing to feel angry comes about.

If you see the general trend in writing content or writing shareworthy content is concerned, it is about feeling low, our humour is dictated by anger, our angry open letters are dictated by anger, our music is dictated by anger, our general unhappiness with life is expressed in anger. How did we get from 'a bunch of happy hippies' to 'hate everything' people? Why do our models on the red carpet 'slay' as oppose to sizzle? why do our politicians deliver 'tight slaps' as opposed to 'discuss'? why?

We are an angry people unwilling to confront our own fears. We are scared to be anything but angry. We're worried about getting too attached to anything that'll change us, we want more Tanmay Bhats to be pissed off about than real issues. We don't care to confront, we want to outrage and we want people to join.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

In my own Zone. Time and otherwise.

This is the last post! Has it been 26 days of talking about myself? Oh well. It has. Here's to the last post. I'll miss you guys, but I'll see you on the other side of the blogging challenge.My last post is about something I've developed over the last 20 something years, but one I also owe to my American holiday.

I was by myself for most portion of the day, the husband would be off at work, I made it a practice to spend time doing something, anything that made my day feel productive. I guess, after having been through school, college, jobs, there was never a moment where I was at home. Even on a weekend I would have something planned. The sudden emptiness was a little overwhelming at first, then I got used to it. I started planning my days in a way that I had activities lined up, not very surprisingly, they were never watching TV. Listening to TV, may be.

The day I landed in India was one of the happiest days of my life. No 'work visa' or 'travel docs' no 'we're travelling between two states, do we take our passport' discussion'. I was home. Nobody was ever going to ask me anything (except for my DL and PAN card). Basically, it was very liberating. The confines of home, no matter how stringent still feel relaxed when compared to all the paper work involved with living else where. 

The first few days of moving back, we looked for a home and we moved there in the first week of October. We started from scratch. Our home here unlike Erie didn't even have so much as a mirror, forget furnishing. Day by day we started collecting things, curtains, bookshelves, mirrors and more. Everything our home has is handpicked because we love it. Usually, it was the husbands habit to take me grocery shopping every couple of days. After moving back,  a creature of habit that he is,  he'd say "I'll come back from office and we'll go shopping" and all I did was give him 'the face'. Of course, I was back in my terrain! I could go anywhere I wanted.

An important habit that I have picked up or rather both of us have is the habit of putting distance between us physically or mentally. Almost every day we sit in different rooms for at least 10 minutes,  I am writing or  he is playing the flute. Sometimes we're both in the same space, but I am reading, writing and he is doing his thing, we're both aware yet oblivious to the other person. It is magical how rejuvenating that is, especially after a chaotic day at work.It is refreshing, it charges both of us to take on new conversations and exchange ideas now that we're both at peace.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Yonder; the magic that is perspective.

I've always like the word Yonder. What does that word mean? It refers to a place, distance, quite an archaic word. Hardly anyone ever uses it, but I'm sort of drawn to it. When I had to write about Y, I was thinking about a word and Yonder came to mind.

It's been some time, the rosy hues of travel have faded and yet, they are still fresh in my mind. It's something I can't get over. It's been about 6 months since I came back, I have gained more perspective. You know how they say, when you're too close to something, you can never see the whole picture. That's exactly what has happened with me. Roughly about 6 months on, doing a visit of my life in the US has been refreshing and has given me a big picture view of my life in general. How this trip affected me, my relationship and my interactions.

I've put a lot of distance between me and my experience. I remember a time where almost everyone I met kept saying 'Why aren't you writing about America?' and I kept thinking, why am I not? and now, I am glad. If I had written back then, I would most certainly have missed out on the magic that is perspective. I would have missed out on looking at the big picture. Of taking in the entire experience as opposed to the minuscule details of my days. There is joy in journaling, I am a big fan of writing down specific dates, places and marking my calendar, but I am not a fan of blogging my everyday life. I like a blog to be like a perfect cup of coffee, letting the hot thoughts brew for sometime before the essence of the chaos comes thorough clearly.

I wonder, what would my blog look like if I wrote without perspective, without hindsight. My blog would be empty ramblings of nothing in particular. As a writer, I craved for experiences and not regular ones, I craved for big, bold experiences. Ones that'll change my entire existence; unfortunately these are few but America was one of them. When I reflect back on my time, I think of the various things I did that helped me grow as a person. How I gained view from the outside of my own situation. It helped me set goals for myself. I knew what I wanted. I've never had any time to be aware about who I am and living by myself gave me that.

I think taking this challenge has helped me so many ways, to take the time to consciously think about everything I learned. To make notes of my learnings. This is a mirror to every emotion I went thorough.   Many of the choices have now become habits, stuff that I haven't given much thought, but writing the challenge has helped me dive deep into my own though processes. Understand myself  better than when I began. I thank you for coming on this journey with me.