It's funny….

…how people see only what they want to see…there may be a thousand places where something is right, and the one place where it isn’t (simply because you copied something from somewhere and so left it as it was) is the only one that everyone notices.

And no, this isn’t a rant about work!

Mad about books

On the last day of April, the month in which I have my birthday, instead of doing some soul searching, I thought it would be more fun to do some “product searching.” Do I hear you ask what that is? It’s just me taking stock of where I spent my hard earned rupees this month! Wanna know what I went crazy buying? Like the title of this post didn’t give it away! BOOKS!!

I bought myself a total of 6 books this month! I’ve never bought more than 2 or 3 from the bookstore, unless I was picking them up on deep discounts, and then I’ve picked up like up to 12 books in one shot! But…we’re not getting into my crazy book-buying habits right now, okay? So, here’s the list of books, and a brief synopis of each!

The first two were thanks to my co-workers, who gifted me a Rs. 1,000 gift voucher to knock myself silly in Landmark! I picked up

The God of Spring by Arabella Edge
god-of-spring

When the French painter Théodore Géricault died in 1824 at the age of thirty-three, he was mourned as one of the most promising artists of his generation. He was also one of the most controversial, endowed with a character marked by Byronic paradoxes. It was the stinging aftermath of an illicit affair with his beautiful young aunt that propelled Géricault into the artistic obsession that would yield his masterwork, The Raft of the Medusa. The God of Spring opens in Paris in 1818, as the upheavals of the French Revolution, the Empire, and the Restoration come to fruition in the aftermath of a naval disaster caused by criminal negligence and tinged with political scandal. Mesmerized by the tales of betrayal, madness, murder, and cannibalism aboard the life raft of the scuttled French frigate Medusa, Géricault takes as his muses two of its survivors. His canvas pits man against nature, its dominant image a doomed sailor futilely raising his hand toward the clouds and salvation.

The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt.

From the moment Louisa first catches sight of the strange man who occupies a forbidden room on the thirty-third floor, she is determined to befriend him.Unbeknownst to Louisa, he is Nikola Tesla—inventor of AC electricity and wireless communication—and he is living out his last days at the Hotel New Yorker.Winning his attention through a shared love of pigeons, she eventually uncovers the story of Tesla’s life as a Serbian immigrant and a visionary genius: as a boy he built engines powered by June bugs, as a man he dreamed of pulling electricity from the sky.The mystery deepens when Louisa reunites with an enigmatic former classmate and faces the loss of her father as he attempts to travel to the past to meet up with his beloved late wife. Before the week is out, Louisa must come to terms with her own understanding of love, death, and the power of invention.

The other four books were picked up last week, when I was depressed and needed some retail therepy!

Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble

How do you cope in a world without your mother? When Barbara realizes time is running out, she writes letters to her four daughters, aware that they’ll be facing the trials and triumphs of life without her at their side. But how can she leave them when they still have so much growing up to do?

Take Lisa, in her midthirties but incapable of making a commitment; or Jennifer, trapped in a stale marriage and buttoned up so tight she could burst. Twentysomething Amanda, the traveler, has always distanced herself from the rest of the family; and then there’s Hannah, a teenage girl on the verge of womanhood about to be parted from the mother she adores. But by drawing on the wisdom in Barbara’s letters, the girls might just find a way to cope with their loss. And in coming to terms with their bereavement, can they also set themselves free to enjoy their lives with all the passion and love each deserves?

The Empire of the Indus From Tibet to Pakistan – The Story of a River by Alice Albinia
empires-of-indus

One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a God; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union. Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its banks. In the ruins of these elaborate metropolises, Sanskrit-speaking nomads explored the river, extolling its virtues in Indias most ancient text, the Rig-Veda. During the past two thousand years a series of invaders Alexander the Great, Afghan Sultans, the British Raj made conquering the Indus valley their quixotic mission. For the people of the river, meanwhile, the Indus valley became a nodal point on the Silk Road, a centre of Sufi pilgrimage and the birthplace of Sikhism. Empires of the Indus follows the river upstream and back in time, taking the reader on a voyage through two thousand miles of geography and more than five millennia of history redolent with contemporary importance.

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

More amazing than any work of fiction, yet true in every word, it swept to the top of the bestseller lists and riveted the consciousness of the world. It’s the story of a survivor of terrifying childhood abuse, victim of sudden and mystifying blackouts, and the first case of multiple personality ever to be psychoanalyzed. You’re about to meet Sybil-and the sixteen selves to whom she played host, both women and men, each with a different personality, speech pattern, and even personal appearance. You’ll experience the strangeness and fascination of one woman’s rare affliction-and travel with her on her long, ultimately triumphant journey back to wholeness.

The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho
winner-stands-alone

A profound meditation on personal power and innocent dreams that are manipulated or undone by success, The Winner Stands Alone is set in the exciting worlds of fashion and cinema. Taking place over the course of twenty-four hours during the Cannes Film Festival, it is the story of Igor, a successful, driven Russian entrepreneur who will go to the darkest lengths to reclaim a lost love—his ex-wife, Ewa. Believing that his life with Ewa was divinely ordained, Igor once told her that he would destroy whole worlds to get her back. The conflict between an individual evil force and society emerges, and as the novel unfolds, morality is derailed.

Apart from books, I got myself a really cool pair of gladiators. I’ve been on the lookout for a decent pair since a while now, and finally found a really neat pair at my favorite shoe shop — D&A! Don’t have a picture to post yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to add it here!

And I almost bought Bulgari’s Jasmine Noire. It’s EXPENSIVE, and I totally love the smell! It lasts really long too, but it wears very close to the skin once the top notes fade. I had to press my nose to my skin until I could smell it! Awesome smell? Yes! Worth the money? Nah!

An era has passed

mrs-elizabeth-matthew1Mom just told me that Mrs. Elizabeth Matthew, the ex-principal and executive director of my school, lost her battle with cancer on Monday. It is the passing of an era.

People who knew her, and all of the students who passed out from school under her care, will never forget this dynamic woman, who was responsible for making St. Mary’s School, Pune, one of the top 10 schools in India.

Mrs. Matthew, you will be deeply missed.

 

 

st-marys

My first love: altered books

I’ve shared some of my photography here, so thought I’d go ahead and share a few pages from one of my altered books called Life 101.

Dawn
dawn
This is the first spread of my Life 101 book, which I used to explore life, its meaning, and its various hues.
A pale pink background, signifying the hope of a new day, a circle punched out of the page with an image peeking out from behind the window, screened with gold thread.

Music is the Language of the Soul
music

This page combines a Planet M postcard insert and a quotation. Background created with sponge and string.

Maya
still-i-rise
This page is a tribute to my favorite poet – Maya Angelou.

Tea stained background with sponged stamping in purple and grey, illustrating one of my favorite poems – Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. The images, which show capured slaves and slaves working in fields, were tea stained and distressed.

Friends forever
friends-forever
Ripped page pockets hold tea bags, postcards, etc.–ephemera that speaks of friendship. Text stamped along pocket reads Memories.

So, what's my personality like?

According to Astrology.com (thanks, Avi, for telling me the site was wrong!), based on my birth date and time:

How You Approach Life and How You Appear To Others

You are very strong-willed and proud, but intensely private and not easy to know well. Behind your quiet exterior lies a great deal of emotional depth, sensitivity, complexity, and also fierce determination. When you want something you go after it rather quietly but insistently and wholeheartedly – and you usually get it.

The Inner You: Your Real Motivation
You are a person who thrives on challenge, and you often feel that you must battle your way through life, depending upon no one and nothing but your own strength, intelligence, and courage. You believe in being totally honest, true to oneself and one’s own vision and convictions, even if that means standing alone.
Honesty, integrity, personal honor, and authenticity are your gods, and you have no sympathy for weakness of character in others.

Interesting! And largely accurate!

Revolutionary road

I watched Revolutionary road recently, and really loved the movie. A didn’t want to watch the movie — thought the story line sounded too morose — but he was around while I was watching it on DVD, and said “Oh my! They’ve been fighting throughout the movie!”

Yes, April and Frank did fight a lot in the movie, and some of the fights were really nasty, but the movie was set in a time when women were supposed to be dutiful housewives and nothing else, and it was about a woman who wanted out of that role.

April:
Just because you’ve got me safely in this little trap, you think you can bully me into feeling whatever you want!

Why is it, I wonder, that I connect so effortlessly with neurotic women onscreen? I’m not suppresed; I have an equal marriage; but I just think that I’m really not what is called “marriage material.” I like my independance and freedom more!Continue reading

Sunday afternoons…

…are made of this…Cleo sleeping in my lap as I read the newspaper. What bliss!

Some more moments from our lazy Sunday afternoon….

For more Cleo madness, check out my Picasa album!

Slumdog millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire has raised the hackles of a vast section of the Indian society, with a large section of population up in arms at the portrayal of Indian slums in the movie, slamming director Danny Boyle’s realistic cinema saying “this isn’t a representation of true India.”

Well then, what is? It certainly is NOT Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss. Nor is it Arvind Adiga’s White Tiger. Both of these writers have written about India for Western audiences. Desai paints first-time Indian visitors to foreign shores as poor desis who cannot wrap their heads around the biting London cold, nor use a western loo, nor adapt to their food. Her portrayal of middle class residents in India isn’t flattering either. In her world, Indians who enjoy English classical music, read English books, and enjoy continental food; whose interaction with the “slumdogs” is limited to their daily chats with their maids and watchman, are mere wannabes, who only want to ape the goras and live in a world totally detached from the realities of their poorer brethren.

Slumdog Millionaire, however, has none of those pretentions. All Indians are not portrayed as mere wannabes or totally devoid of adjustment skills. Instead, Boyle focuses on the journey of two slum children who lose their mother in the Hindu-Muslim riots that gripped Bombay. The movie then follows their trials and triumphs, as they move from one odd job to the next, escape a scheming “orphanage” owner who picks up street kids and forces them to beg, to selling odds and ends on trains, and finally landing up in Agra, where, through their fast-thinking and innocent looks, they manage to make enough money to live a comfortable life. Until, of course, they return to Bombay, where their paths diverge. One brother joins an underworld don; the other becomes an office boy at a BPO company, and through sheer luck, participates in a TV reality show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. His life, which we see in flashback through the movie, helps him answer all the questions on the show, and he walks away with a cool million bucks to his name.

In essence, it is a simple story of grit, determination and sheer luck — inspirational, actually. But the reason for it cooking up a hornet’s nest is because of Boyle’s authentic portrayal of slum life — the underbelly of India. It is this that is making us cringe.

True, there have been other Bollywood movies that have shown protagonists rising from the slum to become famous or notorious, depending on the movie —be it Satya, or Rangeela — but we didn’t protest against these movies because they didn’t become an international phenomenon. Nor did they show slums like Boyle did. Their slums were always glossed over; more fantasy than reality. And reality sure bites!

Yes, there is more to India than the Dharavi slums portrayed in Boyle’s movie. But then, Boyle did not portray Slumdog as the “definitive Indian movie.” He chose to tell an inspiring story, and he chose to make realistic cinema. And since that realistic cinema involved a rather unpleasant look at the slums, we just couldn’t digest it.

We could digest Suketu Mehta’s ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, though. His book was hailed as the best book on Bombay. And what did his book focus on? The Dharavi slums — on Hindus who burnt Muslims during the riots and the tales of both Hindus and Muslims; of how the riot changed the landscape of Dharavi, leading to a palpable divide between Hindus and Muslims; and on the life of Bombay bar girls. His visits to the slums were interspersed with visits to Hindi movie director Vidu Vinod Chopra’s house, during the time he was preparing for the shooting of Mission Kashmir. A slim section at the end was a commentary on the rich and famous giving up their riches to take sanyas. If his novel were a movie, it would be far, far more graphic than Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.

But, there lies the irony. Mehta’s book was hailed as an exceptional piece of writing, maybe because the Pulitzer Prize and Kiriyama Prize are not as hyped, well-known and universally loved as the Oscars and Bafta in India. Boyle’s movie, though, has become a runaway hit, and what’s more, it’s sweeping of all the awards ceremonies. What this section of Indians cannot stand is the fact that the rest of the world is looking at India’s underbelly, and applauding a foreigner — a Britisher no less —- for portraying the abject poverty in which a vast majority of Indians still live, instead of catering to the middle class Indian’s concept of “India shining.”

This & that & Cleo!

It’s been ages since I’ve had any time for myself! Work seems to have taken over my life. I work non-stop while in office; when I’m back home I’m planning the next day and working on providing feedback to my editor colleague; and these days, I’m looking (or trying) to look at a thought leadership report that needs to get converted into a microsite! Fun! I finally had enough, so I’m giving my work laptop a break and goofing off on the internet instead!

Continue reading

The Journey by Mary Oliver

I can’t remember where I read this poem — though it is all over the Internet! — but it really spoke to me in many ways and on many levels.

The last few lines of this poem, especially, are filled with meaning and imagery.

there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

There is so much right now that needs saving in my life, that I cannot even begin to list it all!

I’m still stuck with the many voices pulling me in different directions…many things that are “on fire”…crazy work schedules and deadlines, combined with unreal expectations and unwilling colleagues…and no time to let my voice be heard — by me!

For now, though, I leave you with the poem in its entirety. Read on…

The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.