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  • The Girl Who left town

    Have you ever lived out like away from your parents, your town, your city, your country away from everything familiar.. Have you felt that sense of new beginnings the feeling of setting up a new room, a new apartment, a new house, a new home.. Making new acquaintances, the middle aged grocery man downstairs, the food delivery guy from the cafeteria down the street, the guy who brings drinking water in gallons every Monday, the mothers who wait for the school buses every morning with their seven eight years olds, the security guys at the entrance who spend uncountable hours keeping their eyes open to keep the neighbourhood safe, All these people that I see, they also left their piece of familiarity, far away, somewhere in their beautiful forgotten countries. And together we carry this new, unfamiliar sense of identity, that we are a no-one here, which is comforting, strangely enough. No need to show the neighbors who got a more expensive Television set, or who upgraded to a more expensive car, or who bought another new flat in a posh locality. No relatives to nose in the daily lives. This sense of being a no one feels safe. No one to judge. The old home, back in town, with all the familiar families doesn’t feel the same anymore. There was that gnawing mess which was toxic then and is toxic now, people having unrealistic expectations, your old self still lingering there with its meaningless insecurities. Do I call that familiarity home even if it’s comfortable, Or do I look ahead into the unknown, the uncomfortable, and build a space for me there, a safe one, and call it my home?

  • The Sanatorium

    Author: Sarah Pearse Pages: 427 Words: 118000 approximately Words can’t describe how bored I felt while trying to finish this book. I assumed it would be a thriller, and perhaps to all those people whose reviews were published it was, however it failed to build any ounce of thrill inside me. I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings and that’s why I would say that she genuinely tried to write a good book. It just came out as bland and flat writing. The story fails to build up which is unexpected of a thriller. The characterisation is hollow. The scene descriptions are not vivid. The writing is amateurish. I don’t know how it was the Sunday time’s ’best seller’. But then If I go down that lane, many indie authors are bound to come up as much or perhaps more flat writers than Pearse. I can’t believe I am saying this but a Bhagat’s book is a better read than this particular piece. Also, an unpopular observation, that best sellers are not always the most enjoyable books. So why did I and most importantly how did I finish a book that I found so boring? Because, I feel as a reader I owe it to the writer. Writing a book and then going through all that trouble to publish it, is by no means an easy feat, and I have great respect for every single author with a published book no matter how mediocre or amateur or incredible the writing is! A printed published book is a hard proof of diligence, hard work and perseverance and by finishing a book that I started is my way of acknowledging all of that. And also I am a bookworm. 4/10 for this storytelling!

  • The unmarriageable man

    Author: Ashok Ferrey The saying that never judge a book by its cover has its own importance. I don’t abide by it always. Every now and then I get disappointed by my lack of abidation. And at the same time I am rewarded by some mundane beautiful underrated stories, just because of the same habit! My last two reads are spot on examples of both sides of this coin. Immigrant Montana gave me less than what I was expecting from it and The Unmarriageable man gave me more than what I expected . A young man from a small town of Srilanka and his story of making it reasonably big in the UK while coping with the death of his ever bullying father in a twisted and wierd way. His first sexual encounter with a much older married woman and getting to know secrets about family members that otherwise he wouldn’t ever know! A simple plot but an effective storytelling. If you are a fast reader like me, this book could be a weekend's quick and easy read! Ashok Ferrey has done an incredible job in creating this story and I would keep an eye out for more of his creations! A 9/10 for this book.

  • Mundane

    I have been binge watching a bit of Hindi cinema lately without an ounce of guilt. The idea to make every spare minute productive is way past me. Some days are meant to be just wasted. And lately my twenty four hours layovers have become those days. I eat, sleep, and binge watch without feeling the need to justify myself to myself. Every country has a different selection of series and movies in Netflix, so I treat myself with a laid back, non glamorous, food for the soul kind of movie. And thus I stumbled upon the Hindi movie ‘The Three of Us’. I am not writing a review of the movie here. This is more about what I felt while I was watching the movie. Mainstream Bollywood stopped appealing after I touched my late twenties. It is flooded overwhelmingly with perfect faces and figures with catchy songs, and lazy writing, directing and at the best, mediocre acting. The lower middle class reader in me makes every effort to stay away from such nonsensical business. But then every once in a while, comes a director who sees stories beyond the glitz and glamour and a writer who makes ordinary characters  look beautiful and together with some underrated talented actors, they make a ‘good for the soul’ kind of movie. ‘Three of Us’ was one of those movies for me. The joy of seeing actors effortlessly giving stellar acting without an iota of glamour in their characters is so refreshing. It is all about the small details. This piece of art took me to my own memory lane of the small town I grew up in. The narrow lanes, the asbestos thatched roofs, the trodden old desks of the school I went to, the few friends who chose to stay back in the slow life of that town while others went towards the fast paced life of the big city. To the innocence of the childhood love and all its naive promises. To playing with my sister and the neighborhood kids, to the weekend art and dance classes. It took me to my own beginning, to where it all started. It reminded me once again that sometimes it is important to stop being the juggler and take a break. Take a breather and visit those memory lanes, and refresh them before they become too hazy, they are left behind too far away. What is love, trust and maturity in a marriage, the feeling of missing something, the need to be away from the organised chaos that most of our lives have become. I hope I gave you enough reasons to watch the movie without giving away any spoilers! Also, if mundane, regular, ordinary things and people and stories doesnt allure you, then neither will this beautiful piece of art. Pic Courtesy Google

  • Comfortable in an Uncomfortable Relationship

    While growing up, I have been closer to my mother, more than I have been to my father. One of the reasons may be because Maa was mostly at home. While staying at home, by no means she allowed herself to stay the conventional housewife who did only cooking, laundry, cleaning and the one hundred miscellaneous household chores. She did more, much, much more. She tutored primary school kids, stitched all our school uniforms, knitted all the woollens that we wore, and for a short period of time even worked in a sauce making factory. Despite my father’s traditional approach to their marriage, my mother always strived to be enterprising. She always chipped in the household expenditures, paid our tuition fees, bought any reference book we needed for school. All that, while trying to please a husband who was far from understanding, or even knowing what it was to be a woman in the that era. I don’t blame my father either. He did what he saw around. They have been married for thirty-one years. While both my parent’s outlook and behaviour have changed for me and my sister over the decades, they still remain in their old, outdated understanding of marriage. Famished with any kind of intimacy, they struggle to communicate even for the smallest things. One generation ago, my grandmother’s time, a similar situation was probably much more incomprehensible, and before that much, much more. As me and my sister got older, my parents felt more comfortable in sharing individually, their dissatisfaction over their relationship with each other. They loathed each other. It pained me to see them going through so much misery. Initially in my mid-twenties I tried my hand in amateur counselling, and suggested them a stack of possible solutions. For example, to forgive each other for past mistakes, to ignore what can be ignored, to appreciate each other more often, to respect and trust each other more, and the most important, to communicate clearly and openly instead of merely assuming. All that counselling was a failure, and I wiped my hands from trying that again. However, from my heart and soul, I did not want to give up on the two most important people of my life. I knew how rewarding the right efforts could be in making a relationship successful and I wanted that for them. To see two extremely good looking and beautiful souls fall apart from each other was heart breaking for me, not only as a daughter but also as an individual who believed that every problem, big or small, was solvable. Except that this was not. They cared too much about the society to actually face their own problems, and so they never divorced each other either. While I still often think about how to make two people fall in love with each other after being married for that long (to each other), they weaved a life around their miseries. Even though living under the same roof, they stopped sharing the same bed for years. They don’t talk to each other anymore. They don’t laugh anymore, together or alone. But they refuse to live in any other way either. Every time I go home on a break, I see how the love of my life, both my parents, have become so comfortable in an uncomfortable relationship.

  • What goes In, will come Out.

    Much like the cliched saying, "what goes around, comes around", the topic for today's (writing+gossip) writssip, holds some truth to our lives, in big and small ways. If you introspect a little, I have no doubt that you will find examples from your day to day lives that would resonate with the heading! While you do that, let me share with you an interesting, and a bit embarrassing evening that I had recently, and which solidified the above saying. I am a people’s person, at least at work, or if a situation needs me to be. On any other occasion I am the happiest if left alone. I have gone for dinners alone, to the movies alone, for shopping alone, let’s just say I am pretty independent not just financially but also pretty much emotionally. I adore my own company. I love talking to myself, and not just in my head. The raised eyebrows don’t bother me anymore. My husband is pretty much used to my sermons to the invisible too, after 9 years of being with me, and doesn’t bother me with his curiosity anymore. May be silently even finds it adorable. After a fourteen hours flight and seventeen hours shift, I checked in at the Pullmans hotel near the infamous Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was early morning, and this beautiful calm city was in its usual chilly self. Now thinking about it, I might have been to Melbourne atleast fifteen times in ten years spread across different seasons. Each visit have been atleast thirty hours stay, and during all these stays I have not once felt the scorching sun on my face! Not to say that Mel is always gloomy like London (don’t even get me started on the soul shattering weather of this city), the sun does show up generously but it glints in a way that makes you feel that life is good, and also carry a light weight jacket everytime you head out. That morning was shyly windy, and I was cursing myself for not wearing the cardigan underneath my uniform blazer. Once inside the reception area, the entire crew of twenty four huddled in and around the couch, the suitcases and the receptionist. I felt warm and cozy. I also had to complete a couple of pending flight reports and I got busy with it, as the rest of the crew started checking in one by one. It took around twelve to fifteen minutes for the crowd to disperse and then I went to the counter. Two other crew from the economy cabin were still at the counter with their phones, scanning a QR code. I could have just avoided a whole new conversation but I was still in uniform and the ‘people’s person’ inside me was still awake, tired though. Apparently, scanning the QR code makes one a member of the hotel with a complimentary bottle of wine. Not much of a wine drinker but who was I to deny a free bottle of wine. The middle class in me approved of the decision to hoard something that I didnt even enjoy. Also, it was too early to drink. However it was also a thirty eight hours layover. I slept till late afternoon. Almost seven hours. Less than my expectation, especially after being awake for almost 20 hours. But I told myself that if I planned the rest of the night well and somehow managed to stay awake till morning, and then sleep, I should be able to get a good ten hours sleep at least, before the wake up call. So I started by freshening up, have a cup of tea, sent a couple of texts to mom and dad, and then browsed through the room service menu. Developed countries have excelled in many things but hospitality is definitely not one of them. A twenty four hours room service menu doesn’t take a lot but apparently with countries that are high up in the development index, it surely is one impossible task. I am guessing that their lack of being subjected to colonialism makes them that way. On the other hand countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, even African countries have excellent levels of hospitality, thanks to their past of bowing down to their colonialists. Anyway, back to my evening. The full range of room service menu was available till 10pm. Afterwards there was only an extremely stringent number of options were available. Now if I was a customer with a normal 9-5 routine, this would have worked perfectly for me, but that wasn’t the case. The night was my day and I needed access to food. It was 9.45pm by the time I finished my reports. Perfect time to open that free bottle of wine. Some fries, a good movie to watch in Netflix, and I will be having the best layover soon. All I had to do was order for the fries and the dinner within the next fifteen minutes. I was used to eating cold food so as long as I had the food of my choice. The bell rang after about 45 mins. I was already down with a few sips of the chilled wine. I opened the door and a younger guy, perhaps in his early 20s was standing outside holding a big tray of food and a bill for me to sign. He asked my permission to keep the tray inside my room while I signed the bill. He left with a polite goodnight, and some whiff of an expensive smelling perfume. White people! I settled down with my glass of wine and opened the covered plate of French fries. Freshly fried, chunky, with dips. For someone who liked MCDs French fries, this felt like an upgrade. I took one, dipped it in the sour cream and took a generous bite. Just perfect. I topped myself up generously with the wine. The bottle was now half empty, and my brain was almost full. Full of dopamine and serotonin. I was happily chatting away with every Neena, Lila, and Sheila on my watsapp list. I never made it to the movie as I was busy sharing my wisdom with everyone. The kind of wisdom that comes after a few drinks. To be fair, they asked for it. Lucky for me, the room had a table clock that was also a radio and a bluetooth speaker. What else could I ask for to make this evening better! I connected it to my phone and played my Spotify list. I recently started listening to Anuv Jain, so I kept playing his song husn in loop for a while, and then moved to Sona Mohapatra, Ben E King, Pink, and Tom Odell. I was having the time of my life. Only that at some point the wine reached till my neck! And this is where things got a little crazy. I started drinking lots of water. The wine was now slowed down. I had to shake off the feeling of getting drunk. I am 33, I can’t be feeling drunk, I told myself. People in their early 20s get drunk, like the room service boy. The last time I got drunk I was about 22 years old, and I have grown up since then, I added to myself. I can’t be throwing up like a teenager or a 22 year old again! All these self talk did not have much impact on my body, for my mouth was salivating and it wasn’t associated with hunger and food. You my reader, if you have ever thrown up after not understanding your body’s limit to process alcohol and kept drinking, then you know my ordeal here. I quietly walked to the washroom, and gargled with water. I splashed some water on face too. I took my time to wipe myself dry and then slowly walked back to my drinking corner. I couldn’t stand the sight of the bottle at this time. I put the half finished glass and the bottle away. Drank a couple more glasses of water. But it only seemed to make things worse inside. I ran back inside the washroom, and left the tap open as my body decided to throw back out every single drop of alcohol and food that I put inside of me for the past hour or so. Ten or may be fifteen minutes later, I finally felt that my stomach was absolutely empty and that there was nothing else that could come out of it. Other than maybe some burps. Empty stinky burps. Needless to say I was embarrassed by my juvenile attempt to finish one whole bottle of wine in one evening all by myself. Anyway, what is done is done. I was gonna own up to it like an adult and get my shit together before calling it a night. A night well spent…would be pushing it. No night spent well ends in the washroom, unless.  I brushed my teeth like there was no tomorrow. I gargled. Took a small wash. Composed myself and looked in the mirror, and until I was convinced that I didn’t look like a drunk anymore I kept splashing water on my face. After ten minutes or so, my eyes were still red. There wasn’t much apetite left but like a responsible adult I had to feed my empty stomach with something substantial other than the fries. I had two slices of my dinner, drank another couple of glasses of water and then called my husband to give him some layover gossip of myself getting drunk alone. So, in conclusion, other than the just the physical realms of our existence and our actions, whatever goes inside of our minds and hearts, eventually finds a way to come out to the world. Not to drink one whole bottle of wine by myself, was the second piece of conclusion that I  slept with that night. If you liked reading my mini stories, please share your email. I solemnly promise you to not spam it with anything other than more mini stories.

  • Immigrant Montana

    Author: Amitava Kumar Words: Approximately 95000 I picked up the book expecting it to be some sort of a memoir. My expectations were not completely shattered as each chapter blended into another, however I never felt the euphoria of relating, which I usually felt while reading memoirs! When I say ‘relating’, I mean the similarities in circumstances, or in relationships, or in dilemmas, or even in struggles that a reader often identifies with the author’s own experiences, and that’s what makes memoirs so personal, and emotional and gritty. But I might add the fact that I have read five memoirs written by three female authors, and two by male authors including this very recent one. I have immensely enjoyed the first six memoirs because it felt like the authors stripped their experiences naked and put it in front of the reader as it is. Kumar might have done the same thing with his writing however it filled my cup of ‘relating’ halfheartedly. I am guessing may be because he is a man, so his experiences, perceptions and reactions to circumstances and story telling would perhaps be different than from a woman, and that could have affected my reading experience as well as expectations. The title was purely the only reason why I picked up the book at a book fair. The word ‘Immigrant’ took my attention! I assumed that a book written by an Indian immigrant would have stories of excitement, disappointments, cultural shocks, struggles, triumph, and all the other nuances of an immigrant life! It had romance though. A reasonable part of it did. And that part was good writing. Not the typical hyped up Indian author’s mediocre writing that makes romance look more vulgur than poetic. Kumar is fluent in expressing romance in a tasteful manner without an ounce of overdone! It was actually enjoyable! The rest of the book was about his life as a Literature Masters student in NYC all the way from Bihar. Just the sound of it might make you want to pick up the book but it has its pitfalls, like the ones I shared above! May be if I was a student like him, I would have enjoyed reading his chronicles more. But working from the age of 17 made me a different person. A person that considered an expat student life to be a luxury that not everyone could afford. So, at your own risk, you may give Kumar’s IMMIGRANT MONTANA a read! A 5/10 for this book from me, atleast for now! May be I might have a broader perspective to appreciate this book more in my forties and fifties! We’ll see.

  • Full Dark No Stars

    Author: Stephen King Total Pages: 453 Total Words: 140000 (approx) This book has 4 different stories, all under the broad genre of ‘horror’. Each story could be a novel in itself, for its sheer length. This is the first time I have laid my hands on the ‘horror’ genre, and I think I couldn’t have picked a better author! King’s imagination is beyond fascinating, and the fact that his writing is so, so well put together from every aspect, that it is nothing but pure joy for a reader to read his creation! 1922: A farmer murders his wife and eventually is consumed by the guilt of the sin, and is killed the spirit of his wife. (Many dark mysteries throughout the plot). Fair Extension:  A cancer patient meets an (evil) entity, in the form of an almost human, and shared his wish to get rid of the disease. His wish is granted for a very sick price. ( Dark twists throughout the story). Big Driver: A fiction writer is raped by a stranger in the middle of nowhere where,  and is almost left to die by the side of the creek. She miraculously lives and takes an equally dirty revenge. (Suspense throughout)! A Good Marriage: A serial killer’s wife finds out that her husband of more than two decades is a molester and a murderer, and decides to take matters into her hands. Under The Weather: the 5th story is too small, so I won’t mention anything about it, other than this that it’s a mix of horror and disgust, but also of love. I don’t need to write about King’s writing, for obvious reasons. I am surprised as to how in the holy hell I didn’t stumble across his books before! From the plot, to the character details, to the scene descriptions, to the character’s physycology, everything is thought of, and then put into words, so very exquisitly. Honestly I have no adjectives to praise this kind of writing! If you like reading books, doesn’t matter any genre, you must get yourself a Stephen King! His books are a must in every book lover’s library! 10/10 for this masterpiece!

  • An above average new Year!

    It has been eleven days into 2024, and I must say, that I am impressed by its generosity! I say it with the risk of ‘saying it too early’, but I have learnt with the years that, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the good things in life, no matter how small or big. Much like manifesting gratitude. And this is what I am doing right now, right here. I have been blessed with spending time with my husband, and got to give myself some physical rest by being away from work. I have made it a point to call my parents more frequently than before (once a day atleast), engage in my hobbies of reading, writing and creating art in my days off, doing household chores as frequently as possible. It feels therapeutic to maintain an organised, clean and cozy home with one’s own hands. As much as I am practising gratitude daily, I would like to practice balance too. Balance between work and family life, challenging and leisure activities, physical, mental, emotional and financial balance. It sounds like a lot, but balance is important. Yin and Yang is imperative for an overall well-being, and for the next 356 odd days, I hope to consciously indulge in this (hopefully life changing) practice.

  • The Moroccan Daughter

    Author: Deborah Rodriguez Pages: 293 Words: 87000 approx The Moroccan Daughter is Rodriguez’s second book that I have had the pleasure to read. I wouldn’t share the synopsis here, because I have come to realise overtime that it spoils the mystery of the plot, and it doesn’t do any justice to the entire story writing. A picture of the book blurb (back cover) is included though, for your reference. Rodriguez's writing style is paced just perfect. She doesn’t rush the reader to the next event of the scene, nor she makes it monotonous by describing every smallest detail of the characters or the scene, which could make a huge difference in the quality of the reading. The plot has reasonable suspense, and leads you rightfully to the ending without taking any shortcuts, which signifies that the author has done justice to the story until the very end (which is a treat for the reader). The story takes the reader to the streets of Casablanca, and Fez, and Marrakech. It indulges the reader in the Moroccan culture which is fascinating, and actually made me want to visit the country (and I did after a month or so). The characters did have a reasonable depth, but not to the likes of Andy Weir, or Dan Brown, or Stephen King for instance. Overall it was a decent read for a couple of lazy afternoons. If you like reading Chetan Bhagat’s books, you might like Rodriguez’s books too! I will give this book a 5/10.

  • Everything is Mucked

    It is all meaningless, isn’t it! Our home has completed yet one more circle around the big ball of fire, and it’s time to celebrate that achievement! Even if it has nothing to do with our own achievement but why not do what everyone does, and live with the fear of missing out. Isn’t that most of the holidays are about anyways…? Bare truth be told, all the holidays are about that. The rush of doing things because, if not now, then when.., after all? The world has become less darker but there are still genocides happening because a bunch of people decided that their god is more powerful than the other’s, and that it is okay to kill children in the name of patriotism, and that nationalism justifies wars! Nothing can ever justify war. Nothing can ever justify killing of innocents, even in the name of collateral damage for a bigger cause. While physical safety is paramount for a human being, mental, emotional and financial safety is equally important. Just because I look okay doesn’t necessarily mean that I am doing okay! Would be good to see a world with less cunning, sly, and dishonest people. On a personal note, I haven’t really had any achievements other than getting my driver’s license this year, especially  living in the Middle East where getting a license to drive is as hard as passing your NEET with your desired grades at the first attempt (I got my license at the 3rd attempt). I also managed to read 9 books, and presently two timing between a fiction and a non fiction, if I can call that as an achievement (not the two timing). I have always kept, supporting my parents, as a top of the list priority, and I was able to get a car for them this year, which made me feel like a good daughter (I have a psychological need to please my loved ones). At the bottom of my list, is my itch to become a pilot. It was at the top of my list in the beginning of the year, but by the end of 2023, my hyper realistic and practical mind kind of succeeded to convince me that it’s a dream too big to handle. That it will consume my entire circumstances. That it’s almost foolish to give up one’s entire life savings (and some more) to chase a dream that might or might not bring the illusion of happiness and a sense of ultimate accomplishment that I have ever wished for. (Being a pilot is one of the most expensive courses in the world, just FYI). My itch has gotten less intense, however it is still there, consuming a small part of my mind, silently making me feel a plethora of mixed emotions every once in a while. Truth be told, I am ending the year with a mixed feeling of ‘settling down’ and ‘being realistic’, and ‘money is not everything’ mind state. But May be that’s what being an adult is all about! So, here’s to another year of being a nobody with unfulfilled dreams! Happy (or not) New Year! Yours truly, The stoic blogger

  • BITTERSWEET

    Human life is meaningless, a bottomless pit of unnecessary chores and things to do till we die… we hurt others, knowingly unknowingly, others wage wars, there is hatred, selfishness in leaps and bounds just about everywhere, and while all this is happening, humans make more humans, by procreating… (Mind you, procreation creates families, and families are synonymous for warmth, love, safety, but then gradually all the toxic air takes over and it slyly replaces all these fuzzy feelings with hard and bitter emotions) and this meaningless rut goes on in the name of democracy, communism, socialism, dictatorship, capitalism and the list goes on and on, and will go on till humanity eventually and hopefully ceases to exist. We are churning into nothingness. In this acutely meaningless world, and meaningless life, I wish to be among the wise, the wise who have chosen to acknowledge this raw truth in its truest, barest, without a pinch of sugar and spice as it is form, and have come to the conclusion that life as it is, is hard, and to make it worse, it is utterly meaningless too; so the most and undoubtedly the only meaningful strand that can be and must be added to it, is this : to make it easier for each other. To make life easier for each other. As much as I am trying to make it easier for me, I will try the same for you, and if it is a competition, I will hail it as unnecessary; if it is game of tug of war, I will know where to draw the line, expecting you to know it too! And if you don’t, then you my fellow earth dweller, is an absolute and total waste of the only fuck that brought you into this world, by the two people who could have done better things in that same time! Like Beauty, Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Our truths might be very different from each other or perhaps not, but this is my truth, this meaningless existence of my life, and of the other eight billion or so. J    S    D

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