Friday, December 23, 2016

How to Choose a Job!

Also published on Techstory  and Women's Web
This was one legendary milestone crossed inadvertently, and the episode is, now, graved in my mind forever for having taken the step, despite the circumstances that there were. 2016 has been one hell of a year and as it slowly comes to an end, the adventure seems to be quadrupling. I forgive God for being tipsy while writing these chapters of my life, but he kept me sane all this while, so that’s a reason enough for not going entirely ungrateful.
Irrespective of the reasons, I confess I accepted a work offer, registered my attendance the first day and resigned the next. There’s a reason why they say learn from an experienced and not from an oldie! I am here to share the capsules of my wisdom thus acquired so you don’t repeat what I did wrong. Moreover, there is no feeling of remorse for having taken the step that I did, so yay! It is still a positive sign.

Choose your place of work wisely: You’re going to be giving around 40% of your entire day to this place of work for the coming many years, so you better be sure if you really want to do this.

The atmosphere matters more than the actual work: Work atmosphere is a primary factor that determines your productivity. Therefore, do not compromise on the quality of the atmosphere where you’d obviously try to give the best of your abilities.

The vibes: Trust me, they work wonders if they start working in favor of you. It works quite strongly in my case, so I kind of blindfoldedly give full marks to what vibes tell me about any person, place or circumstance. The first impression, the first notion or that sensation that runs through you when you set your first foot in your workplace should actually determine whether you should continue spending any more time there.

The scope to grow: There’s nothing wrong in thinking more about yourself more than you do about the organization you work for. Any place of work you choose must guarantee a scope of honing your skills, becoming a better professional and leaving your mark in the bigger picture. The organization, too, thinks of you as a propelling tool to become bigger and better and you doing the same is no crime.

3 Ps: Thanks to my husband for giving this piece of valuable information to me, for this solves all the major confusions for me regarding choosing from job offers with just a simple mathematics. Place, Position and Package – if any two of these factors better your stand in the market from where you currently are, you must give that offer a hug. Place means the brand; position, obviously refers to the designation you’re offered and package needs no definition. Therefore, a simple mathematics and voila! You know your next move.

I would say it’s better to wait for the right opportunity than to jump on to anything that comes your way. I agree desperate circumstances call for desperate measures and that’s why it is better to clear your stand while you are still in a job. There are times when we are bereft of any good offers and we seriously start to doubt all our knowledge and expertise, but I would still suggest to take it easy. Things will eventually fall in place and all that you need to do meanwhile is keep preparing for the time whenever ‘that’ opportunity is going to knock at your door. Stay positive and never let your identity bleed away with the challenges you face. Stay strong and keep that trust intact!   

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How Demonetarization Could Save the Indian Publishing Industry

Also published here: Cheena Chopra on LinkedIn 

Almost everyone related to the publishing industry, be it authors, publishers, marketers, distributors, retailers or even book cafes were waiting for a miracle to save the industry from sinking and before they'd given up all the hope, we have the PM who has emerged as a savior.

Before I go ahead elaborating how this move should come across as a welcoming one by the Indian Publishing industry, let us look back on how black money was eating up a major share of the authors’ or the publishers’ income. India has an economy which loves to wheel on discounts and these discounts were getting further greased by black marketing. All over the country, there are plenty of markets which are famed for selling pirated books; for instance, Dariya Ganj (Delhi), Nayi Sarak (Delhi) or Avenue Road (Bangalore). You could get a 1000-rupee bestseller for as low as 200 or even less, all payments in cash, mind you. Not just the markets, you would find a lot of websites, too, which would be giving away the PDFs of popular books for free! This could be a nice method to earn through the ads they would be sporting on their websites, but a very bad move for the author, alas!

A lot of publishers face these problems with their bestsellers; I remember one of the international publishers, who I was working with, wreaked havoc inside the organization when they found out the pirated version of one of their recently launched bestsellers selling for half the price they were offering! Further, there was absolutely no way out stopping the copies from getting distributed amongst the students.

Now, considering the big move the Indian government has made, the publishing industry is finally hoping to regain their lost share of profits and reconsider their thoughts of adding other sources of generating revenue to their existing platter. With less cash in hand and even lesser options of getting it, people are left with no alternative but purchasing books from authentic sources where they could swipe their cards (the places which guarantee a percentage of the selling price to the publishers).

The ecommerce market has developed as a mecca for all the booklovers who are now compelled to use their Credit/Debit cards to make the payments. Popular online booksellers like Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm or Snapdeal are speculated to see their sales figures in the books segment improve. True, even the brick-and-mortar bookstores like Crossword or WH Smith should notice a bullish trend in their sales in Q4, 2016. Not that this was their first choice but readers are left with no option other than saving the new currency they might have obtained standing outside the banks for hours and paying in white.

Furthermore, there has emerged a new medium of book reading, which was previously ignored but now is being rooted for – eBooks. Their easy availability, on-demand service, smooth payment gateways, interactive UIs and paper-like qualities have made them a new hit among the book lovers. The fact that eBooks are, on an average, 30% cheaper than their print counterparts has bagged them cheers from everyone who had never even tried them before.

So, to sum it all, demonetization should make bibliophiles look out for the options where they are not supposed to spend whatever little tenner, fifty or hundred-rupee notes they are left with and, therefore, the dawn of digital reading or online ordering should finally set in! At least, they should now no longer even look at the pirated content which was earlier fueling black marketing in the publishing industry and shrinking the earnings of everyone from the publishing family.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A world above, a world beneath!

Shout out to all those who read this first on Women's Web

We are the smart couples, the ones who inhabit the skyscrapers one’d have been amazed looking at back in 90’s. These imposing edifices reflect not just prosperity on the owner’s part for they are no cheap, but also a sense of equality – living amongst the equals.
NCRs, or national crowded region, would consist of hundreds of ‘mini’ societies, which would boast of giving you a life you would have only dreamt of. True, back in 90’s, society only meant one, huge area, Punjabi Bagh West, for instance, where everyone would know who lives next door and, also, what happens in their lives. For now, several modern ‘mini’ societies have mushroomed around us and have changed the lives we have ever been living.
Coming to this second just passed, and this one I am trying to hold on to, I am looking outside of my balcony on the second floor in one of the poshest societies of Indirapuram. It’s been close to 10 months since we have shifted to this house and made it our own. This house and the society gives you a life which takes time to sink in, to get into your lifestyle and makes you alter your living habits as per its rules.
True, this is a society, which boasted of luxurious living on its marketing paraphernalia, and true that it takes care of all the tags you might want to console yourself with for having spent lakhs buying a small space in it – sprawling gardens, huge community hall, basketball, tennis, badminton courts, swimming pool, gym, kids’ play area, senior citizens’ club and everything else. But in the 10 months passed, I have only seen Mondays turn into Fridays catching up with work and the rest two days catching up with home.
The web we have intertwined ourselves in doesn’t really let anyone to sneak out and seek life. Husbands work, wives work, kids either confine themselves to schools or crèches and the rest, the stay-at-home lot – the retired or the housewives or a few like me working from home stay back and let the ‘society’ life make you solitary despite sensing the worlds living beneath, adjacent and above you.
There’s a home beneath me, a home above me; there’s a young couple living beneath and an elderly couple living above of me. The only connection I have with them is through our balconies – no I don’t see them there, I either drop clothes below or receive some from above. Balconies were only meant to dry out clothes – weren’t they? Soaking in the sun, savoring oranges, guavas or peanuts while basking in the sunlight are all passé, right?
While buying groceries one day, I ended up bumping into the girl who lived on the first floor, right below my house. I was amazed to know how she, too, dreamed of a friend in this vast society. It was impossible to have a life sans one’s work and home in this setup. But, what really stopped us? Well. Nothing.
Why don’t we step out and talk to each other? Why have we stopped passing smiles and exchanging pleasantries? Why do we no longer get together to celebrate mini victories or major losses? Why have we turned into the new-age zombies, who go to work, obey every duty and sleep in their pigeonholes? Why don’t we learn skills from each other or rather just talk and learn? Why don’t we make a first move for a friendship or a relation? Why is this ‘equality’ not helping in breeding friendships? Well, they didn’t guarantee a great social life in their marketing campaigns, they only did a great society. Pretty well, they have delivered. 

This post has been chosen as Spicy Saturday Pick by BlogAdda!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Book Review # 16: Mahashweta

My rating: ●●●●
Sudha Murty
India: Penguin Books India, 2007
154 pp. 250
ISBN: 9780143103295

Summary: Anupama has everything a man would ever yearn to get in a girl - looks, education, morals, conducts and intellect - yet she faces the worst in life due to her malady - vitiligo. Mahashweta is a beautiful portrayal of a woman's faith in herself and her work, her fate and the power she vests in her beliefs and how she uses that faith to get herself free of all the shackles holding her back. 

What really clicked? The author – the lady that she is and the substance that makes her so!

My take: A deep connection between ancient literature, values and a strong story is all that makes Mahashweta. Further, there are so many fine elements, which make you love the book a little more; for instance, the cover and the story behind it revealed in the postscript, the end, which is the least expected one, the title and the portrayal of Anupama, the protagonist and incomparable.

Anupama was the eldest daughter of a poor schoolteacher, Shamanna, and was, in a way, destined to struggle her whole life. When Anand, a rich doctor, and Anupama meet during one of her plays, love infatuates both of them, with Anand taking the first step of sending the proposal to her family. Anand’s mother, though utterly cunning, decides to go along with the flow in order to appease his son.

Shortly after their marriage, Anand flies to England to pursue his studies leaving Anupama behind to join him there after Diwali. Anand, however, reiterates the vow to reassure Anupama of his fidelity – till death do us apart!

Anupama, trying to put up with his mother-in-law, Radhakka, and sister-in-law, Girija, discovers their weird activities. Upon discovering Girija's promiscuous character, she tries to bring her on the right path but without the absence of an evidence, ends up ridiculing herself in the family.

With both the ladies turning hostile to her, Anupama, now, starts waiting for Diwali to be over so that she could join Anand, when a burning coal falls on her foot, giving way to a white patch. She starts consulting a famous dermatologist who confirms this is leukoderma. Anupama, who was always known for her impeccable beauty, was truly turning into a character she loved playing on stage, Mahashweta!

Radhakka, when comes to know about this, calls Shamanna and send her back home. Anupama tries to get in touch with Anand through innumerable letters explaining him the problem and the fact that it wasn’t there before marriage. She thought being a doctor, he would understand it the best.

Sabakka, the second wife of Shamanna, not only gets concerned by a daughter she hates the most coming back home but also about her own daughters who were of marriageable age. Meanwhile, the white patches on Anupama’s body keep spreading.

The increased financial pressure at home, her father’s attitude changing towards her, the hostility from her stepmother, her stepsisters’ marriage breaking because of her, Anand’s no response to her letter all compel Anupama to commit suicide when she makes her mind that she won’t as that would only aggravate her family’s problems.

She decides to join her friend, Sumi, in Mumbai and her life truly takes a U-turn from here, for she starts earning and standing for her own good. Switching jobs, she joins the work which she actually loved doing – dramatics. She not only becomes financially independent but also gains all her lost confidence back. Mumbai was after all a city which overlooked her white patches for her work.

She meets Dr. Vasanth when she gets admitted to hospital one day. Dr. Vasanth starts admiring her and ends up proposing her for marriage. Anand, too, returns to her later in the story, repenting his mistake and wanting to restart their married life but Anupama has her say – she chooses no one but herself! The kind of lady she had become – independent, self-sufficient, confident and far superior in morals, intellects and conduct – she truly believed in herself and the fact that she needs nobody’ support to live a life she ever dreamt of.

The end of the story takes time to sink in and leaves you with an aftertaste of victory. Although I wouldn’t have done the same had I been in Anupama’s shoes, but her move, obviously, seemed more profound and liberating. She had given her soul to the person she got married to, just life Mahashweta, but in real life, she had turned the opposite. 

Final word: Sudha Murty - She must be my foster mom, for she teaches me so much, so easily, that I never want to lose her. The major takeaway from this read was no matter how hard you hit the rock bottom in life, you still can look up and hope for a miracle. Anupama, despite suffering from vitiligo, doesn't let it become the end of her life. She fights all the odds and not only becomes self-sufficient but also determines herself to be on her own. The transformation shown through the emotional roller coaster she goes through is superlatively inspirational. The author fills the reader with so much self-esteem and confidence that no crisis in life seems bigger than a mole. Thank you, Sudha Murty!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review # 15: The Writer's Diet

My rating: ●●●●
Helen Sword
The Writer's Diet: A Guide to Fit Prose
US: University of Chicago Press, 2007
88 pp. 1200
ISBN: 9780226351988

Summary: The Writer’s Diet is going to help everyone who’ll refer to it develop healthy writing habits and see their words with new eyes. It’s going to help prep your prose without losing your sense of style. With the help of plenty of examples, the concepts would get clearer along the way and you’ll able to certify a writing as flabby or fit.

What really clicked? The title and my need to improvise as a writer.

My take: There are certain important takeaways from the book that they rather be noted down here for future, quick reference.
1. Favor robust, specific action verbs over vague, lazy ones.
2. Limit use of be-verbs (is, am are, was, were, be, being, been).
3. Anchor abstract ideas in concrete language and images.
4. Illustrate abstract concepts using real-life examples (Show, don’t tell).
5. Limit use of abstract nouns, especially nominalization.
6. Avoid using three prepositional phrases in a row, unless you do so to achieve a specific rhetorical effect.
7. Vary your prepositions.
8. Do not allow a noun and its accompanying verb to get separated by more than 12 words.
9. Let concrete nouns and active verbs do most of the descriptive work.
10. Employ adjective and adverbs only when they contribute new information to the sentence.
11. Avoid overuse of academic ad-words (with suffixes able, ac, al, ant, ary, ent, ful, ible, ic, ive, less, ous).
12. Use ‘it’ and ‘this’ only when you can state exactly which noun each word refers to.
13. Avoid using ‘that’ more than once in a sentence or three times in a paragraph, except to achieve a specific stylistic effect.
14. Beware of sweeping generalization that begin with ‘there’.

Also, Writer’s Diet helps determine the overall fitness rating of any write up based on the components they are composed of – verbs, nouns, prepositions, ad-words, waste words (it/this/that/there). Four stars because plenty of examples from Shakespeare’s texts sound out of course and, thus, aren’t much useful.

Final word: The book should now be my favorite reference book; I am already so conscious about how I'm writing that I'm compelled to look back on each sentence at least twice. Amazing help book, The Writer's Diet should be a compulsory reference for all the writers and editors, no matter at what level they are.

Book Review # 14: Dollar Bahu

My rating: ●●●
Sudha Murty
Dollar Bahu
India: Penguin, 2007
142 pp. ₹250
ISBN: 9780143103769

Summary: There’s a difference between spoilt and rightly bred, need and want, loved and possessed, enough and excess and, lastly, real and pretender and Sudha Murty has tried to bring this to light through her book, Dollar Bahu. A clear-cut fiction with no real plot twists, predictable story and easy language all make it a rather bland read.  

What really clicked? The title. I was expecting way more than what it has actually offered.

My take: Bheemanna (one name that comes handy to the author) and Gouramma have three kids: comfortable-with-life Girish, overambitious Chandru and greedy-as-wolf Surabhi. Chandru, on one of his business trips to a small village, Dharwad, falls in love with Vinuta, but never gets to express his feelings. Working up his way up the corporate ladder, he gets a lifetime chance of working in the US and puts Vinuta off his priorities.   

Back in India, Bheemanna leads a frugal but content life with his family – a son and a daughter and a wife who always dreams of counting herself in the elite club of the society. In fact, she looks up to her son, Chandru, for fulfilling all her desires, as her other son, Girish, is more like his father, happy-in-little. Bheemanna fixes marriage of Girish with Vinuta, who now works as a teacher in a government school. Chandru, being busy in corrupt ways of getting a green card, sends money as a compensation for his absence.

The story progresses, Chandru comes to know about Vinuta and Girish and finds the reality hard to grasp. He ends up marrying Jamuna, who is a spoilt daughter of a filthy rich businessman. Gouramma, weighed down by money and gifts, can’t stop praising Jamuna and completely ignores all the efforts put in by Vinuta. Jamuna follows Chandru to US and, hence, aptly claims the title of the book, Dollar Bahu.

The author has tried to highlight the contrast in life people face when they go to US from India for the first time and how life becomes bland after some time. She also describes India as “swelling crowds, dustier, dirtier streets, hectic construction activity all round… Pollution in the air, in the water, in the food…” when compared with the US.

The story moves on to making stark revelation in the lives of people living in the US and earning in dollars and their roles in their families living in India. It also hurriedly closes down to talking about random people coming into the picture just to talk about their stories. Gouramma, having spent close to one year in the US and realizing the true colors Chandru and Jamuna misses home, her husband and Vinuta. On her way back home from the airport in India, she comes to know that Bheemanna has sent Girish and Vinuta to live in Vinuta’s hometown so that they be spared by Gouramma’s constant comparisons and harsh taunts. Gouramma is left with a deep remorse for her behavior towards Vinuta all this while and she expresses her desire to meet them at the earliest.

The story is left open-ended for the reader to conclude it in a way they find appropriate. The story not only puts forth the natural behavior Indians have towards dollars, but also towards the people who live in the US and earn them. All the characters, except for Gouramma and Jamuna, do not have a significant role to play in establishing the story. The book, more or less, rests on random accounts of people who live abroad. There isn't a point to prove per se, but Sudha Murty tries to highlight how we shouldn’t blindly look over people’s behavior towards us and eulogize the ones with more money. The cover, too, speaks aloud how the one who has more money gets to hold the ‘golden’ keys of the home.

Final word: This would probably be the first Sudha Murty book which lacked the enthusiasm that holds the content together. In fact, the content gets too cluttered, confusing and hurried up towards the end. True, the book more looked like a fable with only shades of black and white, leading to a conclusion left open-ended for the reader to cook up. The brief read would surely compel you to put it down after initial 50 pages giving in to the predictable end, but love for the author might drag you to the last page.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Review # 13: House of Cards

My rating: ●●●●●
Sudha Murty
House of Cards
India: Penguin, 2013
288 pp. ₹150
ISBN: 9780143420361

Summary: Love isn’t on the face; it is deep in the skin. The protagonists, Mridula and Sanjay are brought together by fate but they decide to call it ‘love’. Sailing through humble beginnings, when Sanjay decides to work in a government hospital, Mridula becomes a solid rock to not only support the house but also Sanjay. What forms the rest of the story is their journey on the road to success, their love in the meanwhile and the lube called trust. Mridula has been portrayed as a very strong character, who knows the good and the bad. A very touching, emotionally liberating read, which leaves you utterly satisfied and happy in the end.

What really clicked? The author! She’s my favorite.

My take: House of Cards by Sudha Murty revolves around two strong characters – Mridula and Sanjay. Spread across 29 chapters, the story, narrated by the author, unfolds step by step, taking you on an emotional journey of love, trust, infidelity and self-respect.

Mridula is a teacher in Aldhahalli, a very small village in Karnataka, while Sanjay is practicing in KEM hospital in Bombay. They are brought together by fate, first during a wedding and, second, in Bombay during one of her school trips. Mridula happily accepts Sanjay in her life despite his deformity by birth. She is touched by his clean feelings and a clear soul.

Mridula gets shocked meeting her mother-in-law, Rantnamma, who is extremely stringent and business-minded. Rantnamma runs her small shop close to a temple and prioritizes it over her recently married daughter-in-law. While being just the way she is, she teaches Mridula an important life lesson, i.e., to save money. Her sister-in-law, Lakshmi is equally cunning and money-minded.

Mridula, being the strong character that she is, not only adjusts to a new town after marriage, but also wins a battle over language and culture differences. She supports Sanjay all through his post-graduation course by becoming the sole breadwinner for the family. Sanjay is badly dejected when he's not able to evade a transfer he’s been given as a result of some office politics. That’s when he decides to open his private nursing home with the help of a friend, Alex. Things change from here and the-once-middle-class family, now, starts pacing towards a much prosperous life. What changes during this journey is the relationship between Mridula and Sanjay and of them with their son, Sishir.

Mridula doesn’t find enough words to console Anita, wife of Alex, who ends up finding condoms in Alex’s drawer. She suspects him of infidelity. Walking on the same lines, Mridula comes across serious revelations of his husband not trusting her with the money decisions and taking severe major decisions in favor of his sister, Lakshmi, without taking her in confidence. Mridula is left dejected and lost in life. She feels her husband had forgotten how they had begun the journey together, leaving her stranded in the middle, claiming it an infidelity of trust.

The rest of the story is about her making her mind again to live to the full, getting her self-confidence back and taking charge of what happens in her life. The ending shows how she defines happiness for herself and learns to enjoy life to the fullest, exactly how it was meant to be. Her getting together herself and her mind also leads to several changes in the attitudes of people around her, especially Sanjay. This also brings us towards a happy ending which leaves us with a very strong message that nothing really matters; you have to live without any bondage and with a free mind. You’ve got to spend every minute of the day fruitfully, because every day is to be lived to the fullest and every beautiful minute to be enjoyed

Final word: There are a certain books which keep bringing you back to basics, putting together the definition of simplicity and clearing up life for you - House of Cards is, indeed, one of them. It is all the knowledge, the wisdom and the experience of the author which talks through her words. The protagonists, Mridula and Dr Sanjay, are reluctant to fall in love but let destiny have her say; together, they witness the ups and downs of their lives, with Mridula being a solid rock of the house. They see it all, the bad's and, lately, the great's but what really changes the contours of the story is their reaction towards it. What an amazing read, with the same guiding principle (also mentioned thrice throughout the book) ruling Mridula's life.
Mridula was not like everybody, she was different. She had enormous enthusiasm for life and unlimited energy. She wanted to spend every minute of the day fruitfully. It seemed the sun rose for her and the rainbow colours were meant only for her. Every day was to be lived to its fullest and every beautiful minute to be enjoyed.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Safe, Says Who?

It was back in time when while strolling down a busy market street, a man half-drunk snatched her gold chain, the one she had bought right after she’d started to earn. While crying far too loud for everyone to notice, she realized how she had contemplated this can ‘never’ happen with her – the news, the incidents friends recalled, the headlines in the newspapers – all of it seemed to be pronouncing another planet’s situation, until that one day.

Precisely this. On one of the evenings while coming back from a party which ended a little late, but not that late to call it ‘really late’, she had to wait tad too long for an Uber. She had friends accompanying her. Yet, a bunch of men stopped their Eeco right in front of the footpath where they were standing, dragged her in, did all the misdeeds and threw her out right around the next turn. This might be another planet’s horror, another girl’s sorry story – hers was a way better luck, she thought. She was wrong, she realized.

And another. There were thousands of companies being set up every day, thousands getting shut. This game of companies was a part of primetime every alternate day – some stepping up their game in hiring fresh employees while other casting off manpower to feed money up the top management’s arse. 10,000 fired by Cisco, 5,000 by Ericsson, 2,500 by Dell – all of this sounded like some shitty melodrama news channels were playing to set the heartbeat of every person employed out there high, but not her. She was doing fine and her boss was too cool to be true. The work life was going strong and there was no effing reason why she should update her resume on the job portals. Only till that day. 

The last feed. She had a feeling she’s carrying money with her. She thought it will be a good idea to take an auto to reach the venue of her interview on time. She gets lucky to have found one just when she thought she should hurry up. She reaches there just five minutes before the time requested when she took her wallet out to pay the driver. To her surprise, she wasn’t carrying any money; how could she forget buying ice creams from Gyaani’s late the yester night and that she had thought she would take out money from the ATM the next day. There was none in sight right now. All the contemplation of the next act had wasted the precious five minutes. Did she have thousands in her account, yes! Did she have any now when she needed it – this cannot be happening with her!

It’s safe to take all the stories of the mishaps with a pinch of salt, just because our arses were saved from the fire – there wasn’t any close in the first place. But, assuming it will never happen with us is what we call a cocksure attitude. We all are living in a world too fragile to be called safe and the fact that we bear the brunt of each of the forces’ wrath, the destiny being our favorite, is a certificate sufficient enough to ring the bells for us. This girl, a lot like her, always thought she deserved better after all, she’d always been a safe player. Safe, says who?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Birthday Dilemma

I safely landed in my late twenties last Wednesday and I must say the wisdom coming with ageing is nowhere close to what I had imagined it would be when I was far too young to look at this age with awe. This moment, this very second while I breathe and type this out, I have realized how time is tricking me into ageing while my brain is not budging from the status quo. It’s all in the mind, as they say, I realize how people take ages to grow up, while their body timeclock happily ticks away their minutes left to live.

I see people getting overtly crazy by the idea of celebrating the weekends, but I am also amazed thinking how living life by the weekends is leaving them with only four chances to ‘actually live’ every month. The rest of the time, they were just striking days off the calendar doing the stuff they call their routine. This was dark!

Never mind, while I'm still trying to fit in to the world of ‘grownups’ now, there are a few shocking acceptances that I have made, that I never thought I would but never did I know that I would be given options to choose from. Growing up is, indeed, funny and it gets sexier with age!

Aunty: You have got to make friends with this salutation, if you’re like me, a still-young girl in her late twenties. Kids do not know what to call you, because their moms, who you hang out with, are already planning their second. You cannot be the kids’ ‘rakhi sister’ because you just don’t fit in; hence, aunty.

Hola books!
: They will be the sanest, safest, most interesting piece of wisdom you will ever come across. Besides, they don’t judge you and, yes, they don’t care.

Learn to earn: For a girl like me who belongs to the digital media space, learning never really stops – the sooner you accept this, the better. You’ll grow stale in the industry if you let your knowledge stay buried in your closet.

Tyaag-balidaan: Sometimes you would stop and wonder if it's really you, but trust me, having reached at this stage and this point in life, I DO think about my parents and spouse before I actively think about myself, be it in any front. I wouldn’t call it tyaag-balidaan per se, but hell yeah, it does feel like it and it silently engulfs your way of thinking in entirety. Now you know why your mom is the way she is.

Kids, yes I want to PLAN: I remember talking with my girlies, while still in my teenage, on how we would be able to put this to our parents that ‘yes we did it, and yay, we have been successful’; it would just get so effing apparent. This concept kind of feels nauseating in early twenties, but I am amazed how things change. While you’re still riding double happily after initial years of marriage, you feel the need of the third. Gradually, you start feeling being a part of this universe, you might just have a darn serious role to play in Darwin’s theory of evolution!

Money is the lube: No love, no trust, no other bullshit can replace the power of this five-letter word. It could actually engulf all merry, madness and magic; yes, money matters.

There’s more to you: Why not keep surprising yourself with things you never knew you could do, talents you never knew you could acquire and skills you never knew you could master – there’s no age barrier to learning, after all.

An open heart: In the era where we live, nobody really cares what others think of his personal life, but trust me, he would silently want to seek support from people around him. Carrying an open heart and increased degree of acceptance would lead to way simpler lives of people around you and, of course, to you commanding great respect for yourself.

Some more ME time: I love the girls who love themselves, who take care of themselves – what they wear, how they look, how they carry themselves, the style, the attitude – the girls who actually give time to themselves. I love this section of the community. They do not know how they become an inspiration for millions, who want to become like them. Some time is all it takes!

Nobody cares: Yes! So, at the end of the day, the only person who needs to be happy, satisfied and content is the person I’m gonna be looking at every day in the mirror! Trust me, rest everyone is totally busy to even think about us. So, I would rather do the things which make me want to embrace myself and love myself a little more.
This concept of birthdays, the time passing and its sudden reminders look all too amusing; you know when the last second passed, but do not know how the last year did. Why not we all might as well be our happiest in these years tiptoeing by us?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book Review # 12: You've Got the Wrong Girl

My rating: ●●● ø
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
You've Got the Wrong Girl
India: Hachette, 2016
376 pp. ₹350
ISBN: 9789350095805

Summary: A girl, put off by the pomp and show of a big-fat wedding, decides to take a stroll in a garden adjoining the venue of a wedding happening somewhere in the vicinity of Taj Mahal and takes notice of a boy who seems like rehearsing a hate speech. Following a long, meaningless yet interesting conversation, they both make out. Revealing nothing about each other, they part, with the girl taking a promise that the boy will never search for her. Letting every detail of that night out to everyone in the form a book, which eventually becomes a bestseller, while still trying to preserve it for himself, he’s, after good three years, now poked for a sequel to the first part. The first part was not a fiction. The second part could also not be a work of fiction. The boy now wants to look for the girl to complete his ‘love’ story. He has an ex-girlfriend who decides to come back. There is a whole lot of intriguing twists and interesting mess. Everyone deserves a love story.   

What really clicked? The title! It really intrigues a casual onlooker to further nosedive deep into the story, the message and the end.

My takeThe book spans in three units – book one, book two and book three – all comprising of the perfect masala brewing in the protagonist, Dushyant’s life. Dushyant is an author by fluke, and ends up getting the plot for his first book following the incidents happening in his life. His girlfriend from school ends up getting hitched with his best friend, and this causes him to gatecrash their wedding. While he rehearses his hate speech in a garden adjacent to the venue, he ends up meeting Diya, a mysterious girl who is bored of the wedding and needed a break. They make out without really letting out much information about each other, including their names and part promising they won’t try to look for each other.

The rest of the first part would seem more of a drag where the author is being convinced by his publishing manager and his close aide, Bhaskar, to come out with a sequel to his first book which entirely talks about this fling with a stranger and the aftereffects it had on his mind.

The second and the third part talk about how he finds the girl, clue by clue, and what goes on when they meet in a super shady, red light area of Kolkata, Sonagachi, how things f*ck up further due to misunderstandings which occur when his ex-girlfriend decides to come back to his life and how every character in the story, be it Bhaskar, Pri (sister), Dad and Mom (of Dushyant), Anjali (the ex), Vicky, (the best friend) and Shonali (assistant of Diya in an NGO where she works), have a definite role to play which contributes to giving a pace to the story.

The story gets terribly lengthy and verbose defining the first night that Dushyant gets to spend with Diya and further references to this sound clichéd all the while. The author has also added a lot of drama to the story using the Vitamin ‘sex’, which has only made the story something to stay glued to.

The story, towards the end, gains momentum and kills the reader with twists and turns which lead to the protagonist finally meeting his lover and coming clean, confessing his love. As they say, ‘everyone deserves a love story’, the protagonist ends up securing his, making the wrong girl, who actually was the right girl for him, his forever!

The author's writing style has improved leaps and bounds from her last release, Sita's curse. The well-researched parts of the story, including description of the places unexplored in Kolkata, narration of the connection of the protagonist with Kalidasa's Abhigyan Shakuntalam and of the hi-fi weddings all seem perfectly fitted together, each having a message to convey in the bigger meaning of the story.  This book by Kundu shall make you stay entertained to the last page, while also giving you occasional spaces to yawn and can-but-won't skip. 

Final word: There are some stories which, despite being predictable towards the end, do not sound clichéd and this book is one from the lot. This, my second read from Kundu, is a great work of fiction which stands on a whole lot of research, sound logic and all sorts of nonsensical feelings one goes through while falling and being in love!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Largely Inquisitive

‘Check your dupatta and don’t let it fall off your shoulder’, Ma reminded Alka as they set out for a blind date, to meet a prospective family they might want to extend relations with. The Khanna’s have been looking for a groom for Alka for quite some time now, seven months to be precise, but have not been able to meet someone who would even closely satisfy the expectations of four members of the immediate family and the rest forty-five of the extended one. This particular prospect looked close enough to the ideal and, thus, everyone was interested to know more about them.

Kudos to the Internet and the startups mushrooming today, for they have not left any possible thing one could think of having done not having a way out online. From finding a groom to getting married to planning a kid to finding a lawyer – Google has an answer to all. Internet had played a role massive enough in the life of Alka that now she was about to meet someone she might just end up sleeping with for the rest of her life. That was only one of the aspects of the married life, she knew, but a grand one she just couldn’t let her thoughts off from.

Alka had always been an average performer throughout her life, according to her parents. She never scored ‘excellent’ to top in the class nor she cleared any of the famous entrance exams post high school. Therefore, her parents never expected big out of her and, surprisingly, so did Alka. She had a different perspective of looking at her life. Though she never topped any exams taken in school or post that, she still held a successful career of a data analyst, thanks to her keenness in mathematics. She was getting decently paid, not even close to what her ‘better performing’ classmates were, but decent enough for her to spend and save. She never attempted at the impossible but always expected great things to happen to her despite that. All her life before this day, she had had a lot of ‘close’ friends she used to hang out with, but none of them was ‘ideal’ enough for her parents to let her settle with. Thus, this day.

A family of four met a clan of three, all trying to fit awkwardly in a table for six in TGIF, Rajouri; thanks to the weekend and discounts up everywhere that successfully pulled out even the non-shoppers to come out and shop and, also, eat. While the families were busy in exchanging pleasantries, the two, Alka and Nakul, were just able to exchange glances. She had studied his profile on, tried to find him on every social media possible – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GooglePlus, LinkedIn and, even, Tinder and she believed he would have done his part of investigations, too.

She was here on a purpose – either to find a better person than all her past beaus or to prove her parents wrong. She had gulped whole bunch of articles learning how to behave on your first date, like how to impress a family on your first meeting with them, how to drop subtle hints to the boy that there’s more to you, how to catch the ideal fish and how do you know he’s the one. Internet, once again, could play a massive role by being a sound informer to her. After having a pizza with a brick-like base, topped with chicken crumbs and a lot of cheese, it occurred to the elders that they should let the two speak to each other in private. Thus, a long walk down the aisle leading to the staircase and back.

This time, these moments, Alka has been waiting for this since the time they met. She finally waited for him to break the ice. With semblance to a corporate interview, Nakul began interrogating Alka about her life, her present and her plans for future. She bounced the same questions back at him and found him to be quite interesting. A few questions, some jokes and the meeting ended there.
The families liked each other as much as they had liked the profiles about each other on merishadi. Time flew and the two asked for more time and space to fill up with them unfurling. Long chats, unending text conversations and frequent phone calls had helped these two strangers know great deal about each other. Internet, once again, was her savior as she could talk as well as see him online for as good as free. She just loved technology and the time she was born in, when it is blooming at an unmatched pace.

There was a road which they were both treading on, the road which at first glance seemed really dark, and the one which was lightening itself up with each step taken forward. However, this road had a drawback; it lost all its sheen for every step taken backward. Nakul was forthcoming in revealing everything about himself, how he was not good with girls, or rather with the girls who did not find him interesting enough unless he had started earning, about how his relationships with these girls could never lead to any fling and how he only dreamt about the ones he could possibly hitch with but couldn’t, thanks to his lack of self-confidence.

In spite of him being extroverted about his life, Alka was smart enough to always weigh everything before she spoke. For her, the fact that their vibes matched was pretty much enough for them to start living together. It didn’t matter to her if he was new or a player, for she was prepared to never be judgmental on any grounds. Nakul, on the other hand, was largely inquisitive about her past, as he didn’t have any ‘darn happening’ thing ever happened to him and he, anyway, held a right to be informed.

On a final meeting before their marriage, Alka had to ventilate her thoughts out on what she feels is right. With tone full of pragmatism, she said, ‘I see this coming life together as a long vacation, the one which will bring us many surprises, happiness, tears and challenges along the way but it will be happy as long as we only tread forward. There’s a clear line of differentiation in time before I met you and the one after it. What really happened back then would always sound like a story to you and I’m no good a storyteller. So, the questions you’ve deep in your mind but never put forth, about my virginity, about how I came to know about sex, about how I ‘felt’ about my body changing and if I ever took any stupid steps to get answers to this inquisitiveness will all be interesting subjects for us to talk long on, but the ‘real’ answers for you to believe in will neither be blown nor they will be shown. You’re welcome if you, too, are willing to look forward on the path, while having interesting tête-à-tête over bottles of beer chilling right now, somewhere in the future.’

Nakul had no reasons why he should still be inquisitive about the ‘stories’ from the past.

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