Independent Bookstore Feature – Pagdandi (Pune, India)

As readers, I’ve seen many of us stand by Independent Bookstores and Libraries, over certain online behemoths. One of the major reasons we do so, is to support smaller businesses who work so hard to curate their book collection and keep their customers happy by offering customised and personal service and we love them for it. But I recently found another reason to support independent booksellers even more – and that’s because a lot of them help promote literacy, inclusivity and diversity among their customers!

In this post, I would like to share the responses from Pagdandi and talk a bit about the bookstore as well πŸ™‚

Nishita (our Interviewer): How do you handpick your collection of books?

Pagdandi: Both Neha and Vishal have different interests and likings in genres. Between them they are able to cover the gamut of classics, contemporary fiction, speculative fiction and non fiction books. Both spend hours going through the front, mid and backlists, ordering books as per their philosophy.

Nishita (our Interviewer): When and how did you decide to become a Chapter representative for Belongg Library Initiative?

Pagdandi: Neha came across a tweet by Belongg Library Initiative and expressed interest in collaborating with them to help promote inclusivity and diversity. The Belongg team was supportive and explained to them the whole process. Neha and Vishal liked that the books Belongg had represented diversity and that’s how it all started.

Nishita (our Interviewer): How can readers become members and make use of the Belongg Library collection of books from your bookstore?

Pagdandi: Currently the books are available only for reading on the premises as lending library is closed due to Covid restrictions. Hopefully the lending library will open up soon. The store otherwise is open from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. Readers can walk in and pick up any book from the Belongg Library collection in the store, to read.

(Note: This interview was taken three months back, so will need to check with them regarding any updates with the lending library)

Reasons why I like to buy or visit Pagdandi πŸ™‚

  • They have the best Vietnamese Iced Coffee!! (Oh did I forget to mention, they are a bookstore and a cafe ;))
  • You can order from them via Instagram! I follow their Instagram handle and if I can’t visit the store, I just send them a message on Instagram or Watsapp, pay online and that’s it! The books are delivered at my doorstep within the day!
  • They use eco friendly packaging to package and parcel their books – used newspapers, or recycled boxes, and bookmarks
  • They are my go to for books by Indian authors or historic fiction πŸ™‚
  • Most of the times you will bump into Neha or Vishal and they are such amazing souls, its a delight having a conversation with them. I always go with the plan of just having a coffee or buying that one book, and end up returning with definitely more than one book, with no buyer’s remorse!! Now that’s called special customer service πŸ™‚
  • Its so close to my place, I can literally cycle down there πŸ˜‰ Workout + book shopping! Yay!

So, have you been to Pagdandi in Pune? If yes, tell me what you love the most about this bookstore? If not, what is your favorite local independent bookstore that you like frequenting and why? πŸ™‚

Golden Apple, Green Pear

Once upon a time, there was a Kingdom, somewhere, I’m not very clear about the specifics of the location, but then that wasn’t the important bit anyway.

Let’s call this Kingdom, the Kingdom of good fortune and fruits. All kinds of beings lived happily here, if social media was anything to go by. But when you have everything, you end up getting bored. And that’s what started happening in this Kingdom too. People were bored and all the good fortune started dwindling because no one wanted to work, or play. The boredom started turning into hatred which started to lead to violence. And this is how we found our King, in his current predicament.

The King, like all leaders, didn’t have much to say for himself except for the fact that he had a very supportive family and an extremely wise cabinet of advisors, who basically ran the Kingdom for him.

“What do we do?”, asked the King wearily. He himself was bored and now worried. It was a deadly combination that usually led to self doom.

One of the ministers spoke up, “I think we need something to engage the Kingdom in. Some kind of a challenge with a reward at the end of it.”

The King’s eyes shone with admiration and he clapped his hands in delight and said, “Yes!! We shall have a challenge then!!”

The next day, the King made an appearance in his Castle’s balcony and addressed a live audience. But before that the audience who had paid handsomely to attend the King’s Concert were also entertained by some of their famous artists. All of this was also being streamed Live on all social media platforms.

The King announced, with all the swag he could muster, “My dear bored fellows! The time for boredom has ended! I announce that whoever from you can bring me the elusive Golden Apple, will be blessed with eternal happiness and will never be cursed with boredom again!!”

The crowd went mad and immediately, the hunt for the Golden Apple began. Never had the Kingdom been so busy! People were traveling far and beyond. Some were digging into the soil looking for this treasure. Some scaled mountains. Some tried to use magic, while some resorted to scientific experiments. Many leaders sprung with false promises of leading people to the Golden Apple. Many businesses sprung up to help the seekers find the Golden Apple. An entire industry featuring the winner of the Golden Apple merchandise originated and thrived. Years passed but without any luck.

One day, many years later, a little girl was walking alone the forest, which was less of a real forest and more of an artificial forest. But nevertheless, one of the few special places this little girl enjoyed since her parents were extremely busy looking for the Golden Apple. Her favorite spot in this forest was that of the Pear Tree.

Someone had planted a bunch of Pear Trees sometime ago. No one knew who had planted them and for what purpose. And no one touched any of the low hanging green pears from these trees. Most of the time they ripened, fell to the ground and were eaten by birds and bugs. The Kingdom folks didn’t have time to stop and try out a green pear, for goodness’s sake! Everyone wanted only one thing – The Golden Apple.

So, this little girl, walked up to the Pear tree. She plucked one of the low hanging fruits. A light green one. Lightly spotted with brown dots. They always made her smile, those brown dots. Because this little girl had similar brown dots on her nose and cheeks. She took a bite of the fruit and revelled in the juicy, sweetness of that bite. She savoured the bite and then took another, followed by another, until the fruit was gone.

Once when she had brought her parents to the Pear tree, to share with them the same joy and delight she would feel while eating the fruit, her mom had remarked, “oh honey, you’re adorable. Why don’t you go ahead and enjoy the pears. Mummy and Daddy can’t stop their quest for the Golden Apple. Can you even imagine how lucky we will be if we find the Golden Apple? A lifetime of happiness! A lifetime without boredom!!”

The little girl had thought her mom looked tired and her dad looked angry. She really wanted them to find the Golden Apple. Maybe that would make them happy. Because she couldn’t make them happy. She didn’t understand what boredom was. She had so much to explore and enjoy that it had never occurred to her that people could have been bored once.

And so the Kingdom went on. Most of the inhabitants looking and searching for the elusive Golden Apple. And a few sitting beneath the Pear Tree, munching on the sweet, juicy fruits, watching the world go by, and smiling.

Did you enjoy my story? I would be grateful if you would share or reblog this story, if you enjoyed it or liked it πŸ™‚ Any other writing feedback would be welcome in the comments too.

Copyright: This story was first published on 18th Nov 2021, on Starryeyedenigma’s blog.

Gratitude Journal #3 – Books

I mean, this was expected, wasn’t it? A huge thank you to stories. All the stories I’ve grown up reading. All the stories that saved me. All the stories that are still saving me. And where do these stories live? You got it – books!

Before I get down to thanking Books, I have to thank my dad. For introducing me to the wonderful world of books in the first place. He bought me my first book and got me my first Library card and always encouraged me to buy books, when we went on trips. It was because he was an avid reader himself, that he probably enjoyed seeing me read too. Whatever be his reasons, I am grateful to him for giving me one of my best friends for life πŸ™‚

When I was a child, we moved around a lot. I was a Naval officer’s kid and we had these tiny Libraries with worn out books and comics in the Club. We used to go to the Club every weekend, and sometimes on Wednesdays too. Every time we would move to a new place, I’d have to go out with my parents to the Club where we would mingle with new people (well, new to me, but known to my dad). I found it really hard to gel with the other kids, I still kind of do. So I would venture into the tiny Libraries in the Clubhouse. It would be the quietest room in the entire area. There would mostly be comics, torn and worn out – Archies, Tinkle. Or the usual Enid Blytons or maybe some abridged children’s classics. And a lot of Mills and Boons, which mom had sternly advised me against reading then. Lol..

Eventually I grew up and there was a time in my life when I didn’t read a single book. Later, when I started my new job, there was a phase when I read only Mills and Boons. I now feel sad at those lost years of not reading or not reading diversely.

But all that is remedied now. And I have to thank my daughter for the second awakening in my reading life and for bringing books back to my life. As a new mother, I realised, I couldn’t step our and party like I used to earlier. I was rocking my baby or feeding her or just being around her, which meant a lot of sitting or indoor hours or walking the baby in the pram or in the baby bag. That’s when I rediscovered books on kindle and my favourite, audiobooks. As my daughter started growing up, I was already hooked and could move on to physical books again πŸ™‚

In the last five years since books returned to my life, I have found that they have made me laugh when I was feeling sad, given me more empathy when I was being biased, made me aware of things that we don’t think about, such as a child’s thought or a grandparent’s loneliness or the struggle to get rich in a capitalistic world, or the fact that I was not alone in being a victim of molestation. Books let me travel to places from my own home and helped me battle depression and anxiety.

Books told me that I was good enough and that I didn’t need external validation. Books made me realise that I need to tell the people I care about – I love you, or you mean a lot to me, or just thanks for being in my life a lot more.

Books told me that money is important and there is no limit to money, but time is not limitless and its up to us what we do with the finite time we have on this planet.

Books have continued to save me in these last years and especially during the last two years of the Pandemic.

So, thank you books, for being a part of my life and for helping navigate life and hopefully become a better and happier person in the process πŸ™‚

Are you a reader? If yes, what have books taught you? Or how have books saved you? I’ll love to read your experiences in the comments as well. If you’re not a reader, that’s fine too. Maybe what saved you was something else? – Gardening, Exercising, Music, Dancing, Cooking? Tell me about that too then πŸ™‚

Five Types of Reader Biases

We know the world is full of different beings, including us humans and we also know how humans are adept at creating biases based on things they like or don’t like in others. I’ve been reading about biases and prejudices that we have in almost every aspect of our existence. Even I have my biases, which I’m slowly trying to overcome thanks to the voices of others from books.

But us readers aren’t any better than the rest either. We learn a lot from our books, but somehow, we end up creating biases even within the reading community.

Here are five times I have come across or personally faced a bias or prejudice with respect to my reading, from other readers:

Romances Are Unrealistic and Not Considered Worthwhile Reads

Mostly, you’ll hear this coming from men, and especially men who read only non fiction. I’ve been a recipient to this remark for long myself. Yes, I admit, there was a time when Mills and Boons were selling sexism and probably unrealistic expectations of what it means to be in love or fall in love that I had grown up reading.

But just look at some of the romance novels that writers are writing these days – The Brown Sisters Trilogy, The Bromance Club, Today Tonight Tomorrow, Call Me By Your Name, Aristotle and Dante, just to name a few…books that talk about realistic relationships and love. These stories have diverse representation and also deal with issues like ableism and how that impacts relationships and daily lives for some of us. I mean these books are brilliant (I have to confess that I haven’t read the Bromance series, but I’ve heard rave reviews about them from others). So no, romances are not for brainless women. I think all of us should read at least one romance a year. Just to laugh, to feel empathy and to learn about realistic relationships on the side as well πŸ™‚

SFF Readers are Escapists or Live in Their Heads

I can’t tell you how many times I feel hurt by this comment my partner throws in, in every conversation we have with reader or non reader friends. Our conversations go like,

Friend: “Wow, you read so much! I wish I could read even half of what you read!”

Me: “Thank you, I can recommend some starter reads for you if you’d like…”

My Partner: “Oh well, only if you like Fantasy stuff..she reads only Fantasy” (That is always said with a bit of disdain and also a comment which is untrue, because I read a variety of Literature including non fiction. Only the count of SFF reads are higher)

First of all, people who read Fantasy or Science Fiction are not escapists or day dreamers. If others would read these SFF novels, they will realise that 90% of these books are based on actual history, or the political climate we are in. They just provide more hope, more information and more entertainment than real life. I learnt all about China’s history from WW1 to the beginning of the rise of their Communist era from The Poppy War trilogy. I learnt about the racism and Mafia rule and drug abuse brought about by the hands of Colonists in 1920 Shanghai from These Violent Delights. I learned about finding humour in life and the futility of our quest to find the meaning of life from the Discworld novels and Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy series. I learned about daily racism and prejudice through the Grishaworld books – books that are more feminist than some mainstream books that I’ve read. The list is never-ending! πŸ™‚

Illustrated Books/Manga are for Children

To this, I have only one thing to say – come back to me once you are able to illustrate a complete book and add story and dialogue and then we can discuss this again. LOL..

Anything Written by an Author of Color Never Quite Compares To A Book Written by a White Author

I’ve been seeing this a lot in the reading community lately. If an AoC writes a Fantasy that starts gaining popularity, other readers are quick to slam is down, calling it a copy of some other existing work (which most of the times is incorrect information), or saying that the AoC has written scenes just for the sake of attention or popularity and that some of these authors revel in violence by depicting what their characters go through. But the truth is, that all fiction is based on fact at the end of the day. The story might be fictional, but what our characters go through, did happen in one way or the other in their history and that is what these authors are bringing to light with their books.

I think before we slam authors, give a read to their books first. Make an informed decision. Check your facts and check where the Author is coming from, their background, their history, their suffering. Encourage them, because we need diverse voices in our Literature if we want to bridge the gap created by differentiation.

I grew up on reading fiction written by White Authors and some of them have been my favourites and will always be. But I’ve also discovered some exceptional work written by AoC over the last few years that have become a favorites as well and have changed me in various ways. So I’d say, lets read everything good and not miss out eh? πŸ˜‰

Non Fiction is Boring/People Who Read Non Fiction Are Boring

I won’t lie, I used to think that until three years back. I would literally skip the entire non fiction section in a book store and go straight to the fiction section. I had read or tried to read some autobiographies during my early reading years and the text had made me fall asleep.

But that’s not the case anymore. I think the trick with Non Fiction is that you have to find something you care about. A topic you care about – and really, it doesnt need to be a social cause. It could be a Cookbook, or a Self Help book even! I found my non fiction love in feminist books and I’ve been hooked since then. Now slowly, I’m starting to read some really interesting non fiction on Casteism and Queer subjects and I realise that mixing one Non Fiction with a few other Fictional titles makes my reading life so much better! I can also tell you, I don’t think I’ve become any less or more boring than I already was, since I started reading non fiction πŸ˜€

To conclude this bit of a rant-like post, I think the best reader is a reader who just reads. Mix up your reading life a bit and see how amazing your life becomes! Let’s just be a supportive tribe where we encourage each other no matter what our reading preferences πŸ™‚

Have you faced or come across similar biases from your reader/non reader friends? Or any other that you’d like to talk about? Hit me up in the comments section and I’d love to have a chat πŸ™‚

A Lifetime In The Kitchen

What is it with Indian cuisine? Why have we made our lives so difficult having such elaborate meals and cuisines which have recipes that lead to our cooks spending hours and probably their entire lives in the kitchen, for a fully balanced, well cooked meal?

Photo by Chan Walrus on Pexels.com

My Grandmother’s Time

Girls married as young as 13 years, would spend the rest of their lives in the kitchen cooking elaborate dishes for the family and eating leftovers themselves. Most effort, least return for the women tasked with cooking. All the spices would be ground by hand using a mortar and pestle. Fresh grains had to be de-husked by hand, then grounded, then knead daily into large amounts sufficient to make rotis/chapatis/Indian flatbreads. The rotis had to be rolled and roasted one by one, fresh and had to be served piping hot to the men and the children, especially the male child. Meat had to be cleaned by hand, spiced up and cooked on a small gas stove for hours. Fruits cut, and cleaned, and hundreds of pots of milk tea boiled and consumed daily. And this isn’t even half of the things I know they cooked, or the way they cooked.

My Mom’s Time

Women were allowed to marry a little later and have an education. Many even were able to get a part time job. Married women and mothers would usually become a teacher or an admin somewhere. The rebellious ones got to be models and Air Hostesses maybe or some went on to do their PHDs. My mom tried working and being a home maker. It was tough. She is one of the best cooks I know till date. But oh gosh, the amount of time she spends in the kitchen and the number of items she cooks daily, makes my head reel. A simple breakfast would take an 30-45 minutes to cook. Chop onions, chillies, vegetables. Add oil to a kadhai, add some dry spices, then the onions, then some salt, some turmeric. Let is saute. Then add the vegetables. Add salt. Let is saute. Once its cooked, which takes around 15 minutes I’d say, add the carbs – vermicelli, rawa or poha. Add water. Then also make milk tea. Cut fruits. Then it would be time to make lunch. Rice, daal, sabzi, salad. Another hour and half gone. Then snacks – something fried, or boiled, and milk tea. Another half hour. Universe forbid if you have guests. Then dinner – roti, sabzi, daal. Another hour. Nearly 4 hours of your day in the kitchen – dicing, cleaning, chopping, sautΓ©ing, roasting, cooking, boiling!!

My Time

I wasn’t raised to spend time in the kitchen. My mom wanted me to study and make something of myself. She spent the time cooking and feeding us a well balanced well cooked meal. So when I moved out of home, the only thing I knew how to cook was an omelette and instant noodles – Maggi. I survived on restaurant food. Then I got a job in IT. Always demanding mentally. Which meant my interest to cook was even less than before. I’m still in the same boat. I got to travel a bit and saw how some of the other cultures ate. It seemed so wholesome and yet simple to me. Put veggies and meat together – and let them bake in an oven. Or roast it in an oven. Or make a single pot dish – a hot pot or a ramen. Tea or coffee that doesn’t need to be boiled for ages. Just add hot water. Have a multi grain bread or a whole fruit. No cutting and serving business. So I wondered, back home, why is my cuisine so time consuming?

I read some articles that said that places with hotter/tropical climates had cuisines with more spices which needed to be cooked longer because the climate could spoil food faster and it was a way to safeguard against bacteria of all sorts. Made sense. But now we’ve got refrigerators! And a lot of frozen food. I could still add the same spices and make a single soup dish and let it all cook in a pot. I could eat that, but no one else would eat it. We’ve all grown up with our rotis and rice and vegetables and daals and curries. But usually, its the moms who are in the kitchen. And I know, we have gadgets now to make life simpler, but even then it takes around 4 hours daily in the kitchen to cook a delicious and well balanced meal.

At first I used to think that all this cooking was a waste of time. But as I grow older, I see the joy in spending time in the kitchen. Every weekend, even if I spend an hour making just one curry, I feel sort of satisfaction by the end of it. I enjoy what I cooked and surprisingly, even my family does. I don’t know if I will appreciate cooking if I had to do this ritual for four hours daily, but for now, that one hour a week feels therapeutic. I sometimes wonder, will I eventually go back to my roots of cooking daily meals for myself and spend four hours in the kitchen when I am old, retired from my day job and don’t have my daughter living with me? Maybe..

So what about you or your culture? How much time do men or women spend cooking in your homes? Do you think all that time spent in the kitchen is justified, or do we need to re-invent our cooking as well to keep up with the demands of the time? πŸ™‚

Life Diaries and Reading Wrap Up – Sep 2021

To start with, I’d like to take a moment to to note that its nearly half of October already and for some reason I decided to write my September wrap up now. Better late than never, they say, right? I was going through my notes for September and I realised I did a lot of one thing in September – celebrate my birthday and do nothing else! LOL..A woman has to enjoy too I guess.

Oh how little I wrote though 😦

Reading

My reading didnt really improve in September in term of the quantity of books I read. But I did read two really amazing books.

  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (⭐️⭐️⭐️) – I had really high expectations from this particular book in the series especially because one of my really close reader friends had spoken highly of it, and I guess that’s where I went wrong. I was annoyed by Chaol and Aelin’s characters for some reason and I couldnt get the chemistry between Aelin and Rowan either. The saving grace however in this book were Manon, Abraxos, Lysandra, Elide, Dorian and even Kaltain! I’ll be reading the next book for these characters for sure πŸ™‚
  • Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) – Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021, this book was a gem. This was my second read by Kazuo Ishiguro and I’ve noticed that it takes time and patience to get into his books, because the writing is slow paced. But the content and concept of his stories and his clever allegories are simply brilliant!
  • Death Black Edition Vol 5 by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba (⭐️⭐️⭐️) – Well, I’m a fan of the illustrations in the book and the overall concept. But I am still annoyed by the outright sexism that continues in the books. I wonder if Light is going to become a villain by the end of the series though..hmm
  • Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) – The master of satire has done it again with this book. I decided to read all of Vonnegut’s backlists since I loved Slaughterhouse Five so much. This is my third book by him and his writing is still hilarious and dark and disturbing. The theme in this book is, that the biggest nemesis human beings have, is our own big brains. So what if evolution reversed and we became water creatures with flippers instead and just lived in the moment?

Writing

My writing has been suffering a lot since I’ve joined this new project at work – which means it has been almost two months and I’ve still not been able to figure out a sustainable writing schedule to go along with this project. There is the issue of time and then there is the issue of my aching fingers and wrists, from all that typing at work. It’s mid October and I still haven’t been able to figure out my writing. Maybe I could buy a notebook and do some plotting instead and call that writing and write on weekends when I actually have some time? Hmm, food for thought..

Socials, Life, Travel and Other Updates

  • Well, as you already know, September was my birthday month, so there was a lot of birthday celebration throughout the month πŸ™‚ I’m so grateful for all my family and friends for making me feel so loved and special throughout the month! I received so many books and presents, cut multiple cakes, went on two weekend gateways with my friends – it was simply a superb birthday month! I couldn’t have asked for anything more πŸ™‚
  • I got a new bookish tattoo and I love it!!!!
  • I planned my first used book sale on Instagram to try and make space for more books on my bookshelf πŸ˜€ At first I wasn’t sure if there would be any takers at all, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many new homes for my books. It was a very interesting learning experience and although I had to take out extra time in my days to plan the packaging and shipping for the books, I thought it was an effort well spent πŸ™‚
  • For the Belongg event of the month, my friend and I decided to host a discussion on ‘The Importance of Independent Bookstores on Promoting Literacy and Diversity’, on Clubhouse. Although the subject was a really interesting one, we didn’t have any audience sadly. Its just how any marketing or social media platforms work I guess. You need to be using the platforms and have some followers before you get any audience for a discussion. So we might end up repeating the same event for October as well πŸ™‚
  • My exercise suffered in September – but I attribute that to a mix of spending time outside celebrating my birthday and socialising mostly..heheh. I walked more than I did last month but my overall Km count reduced. I did cycle a few extra days too πŸ™‚

Shows/Movies and Music Review for September

I didnt watch a lot of shows since I was so busy traveling and working and trying to keep up with the exercising. I did start watching ‘Use for my Talent’. Its another Chinese contemporary romance that features a character with strong OCD and the different kinds of love between couples. I liked it and would recommend it if you want to watch something funny and cute. But I couldnt finish it, since after about halfway through the show, the content didnt hold my interest as much.

I also watched two Disney movies with my daughter – Raya and the last Dragon and Luca. While both movies were great, my favorite was Luca. It was funny and heartwarming and is a movie that teaches children to embrace your otherness and the value of friendship. I recommend this one πŸ™‚

On the music front, I re-discovered some old favorites and discovered a few new one hit wonder kind of international artists whose songs I found really funny or songs that had amazing beats you could dance to. Looking at my updated ‘Liked Songs’ playlist, I realized, music can transcend communities and languages. You just have to feel the beat. Any song can become a favorite song, if its music somehow manages to touch your heart and makes you smile or dance πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ Also, it doesn’t show in this picture, but I am absolutely in love with the latest BTS-Coldplay collab – My Universe. Gives me goosebumps and makes my toes bop every time I listen to that song πŸ™‚

And that’s a wrap for September πŸ™‚ How was your September? What did you read, or watch or listen to? Do drop in your recommendations in the comments section πŸ™‚

Five Ways to Recycle Your Books

I have two passions when it comes to Books – 1) Reading books and 2) Collecting Books.

I also prefer reading physical copies of books and so you can imagine, there will always come a day when you realise you’ve filled up your bookshelf to the brim and are in danger of having to sit on your books or sleep on your books.

So, us readers and collectors come up with ways to recycle the love of our lives – our books, and here are some of the ways I recycle my books πŸ™‚

  1. Book exchanges – Well, this one doesnt actually solve the problem of space utilisation, because you get a book in return, but isn’t it a great way to save money and read physical copies of the books you’ve wanted to read??
  2. Sell them at discounted rates – I tried my hand at this recently and was amazed at how many takers there were for my used books! It makes me really happy to know that I’ll be able to send some of my beloved books to homes where they will be cherished and read. And making some money on the side so you can buy more books? Win-Win! I still have to figure out the logistics of shipping and packaging, but I think it will be worth the effort πŸ™‚
  3. Donate your books at your local Library – I used to do this before I had the idea of trying to sell my books. I donated a lot of my books to the local library when we moved from UK to India. And last year I had donated almost ten books to the local Library here in Pune as well. The best part about donating books to a Library is that you know they will be read by someone one day and you get a sense of having done some charity in whatever small way possible. Also, Libraries are not picky about what books you decide to donate, as long as they’re in a decent condition πŸ™‚
  4. Give them to friends to promote reading or lend them to budding readers – I usually do this with the more common or more commercial books that I own and not my cherished ones. Its because most of the times I’ve noticed, a book lent is a book gone. At least I’ve never got my books back, when I lend it to people. So now, I just give them away to my friends or budding readers who want to try out reading but are not ready for the heavy stuff πŸ™‚
  5. Become a Book Fairy!! – I am a proud Book Fairy (which is a global initiative), and we have many similar initiatives in India as well such as BooksOnMetro in Delhi, and BooksOnTheMove (in multiple cities). So you basically sign up as a volunteer or a book fairy and you get your starter kit – which can be stickers or bookmarks or ribbons or notes or wrapping paper to add on the books. Then you go to any Public space and leave the book behind at a place of your choosing with a note, to forward the love of reading to whoever picks it up. You can tag yourself on social media while leaving the books behind as well. I love this concept and have left a few books around in UK and India with a note. I did go back to check if the book was still around, and the book was gone!! I just hope it found a happy home πŸ™‚

So, those are some of the ways I recycle my books πŸ™‚ I’m still looking for more options to recycle books so that other readers can read them too – any ideas or suggestions? What do you do to recycle your books? πŸ™‚

Gratitude Journal #2 – Superheroes

Have you ever wondered about the Superheroes you read about or watch? I mean, yeah they have a tough backstory and stuff, but most of the time when their story begins, it always ends with so much grandeur. Like, everything somehow works out for them and then they get superpowers and a team of amazing supporting characters and they save the day or save the world and achieve some goal and then ride off to the sunset in a jet or train or whatever.

But these are fictional Superheroes. I’m not talking about them here. I’m talking about some real Superheroes who I’ve had the privilege to meet and know. Who have saved me and continue saving me and helping me and many others like me day in and day out. They too have a difficult backstory. But they don’t have just one mission. And they don’t get to stop. And they don’t complain either. They’re just around, making the world a better place for me to live in. Here is my gratitude for some of these Superheroes, without whom, I wouldn’t have been able to survive.

  • Parents – Mom, Dad, thank you for everything you have done for me. Papa, you’re not around anymore but I think of you and all the good things you taught me every time the going gets tough. Mummy, I can never imagine being as great a person as you are. Your kindness, your immense love, your constant care not just for me but for everyone in the family and everyone you know, is something that I aspire to each day of my life πŸ’–
    • Superpower : Wisdom, Kindness and Never Ending Love
  • Family – Well, parents are family, but I’m talking about the extended family too. My sister, my husband and my little daughter. Gosh, I am so thankful for each of you in my life. My sister, who is younger than me but wiser and more accomplished than me in so many ways. Who makes time for me and somehow knows how to make my day special or cheer me up even being continents away. I love you so much! Grateful for my husband, who does annoy me many times, but who has been there for me through many difficult parts of life. He isn’t a brooding, romantic partner, but he is someone I rely on as a friend. He won’t bring me flowers or cake or whisper sweet nothings into my ear, but he has accepted me as I am, even with the fact that I am questioning my sexuality and respects my space and privacy and will instead buy me a coffee machine, because he knows how much I love my coffee πŸ˜€ I’m grateful for my little daughter, who is kind, and fierce and sensitive and whose hugs can turn my day around πŸ™‚
    • Superpower: Love, Telepathy, Hugs that Heal
  • Best Friend – I have many friends who I know, like me as a friend, but there is just one best friend who I really think of as my other soul sister. She is one of the funniest, warmest, toughest and most kickass woman I’ve known in my life. She has endured so much and continues to endure the unfairness that life throws at good people, and yet she makes time to talk to me, to listen to me, to make me laugh. She has taught me how to love and protect the ones you love with a fierceness akin to only a warrior. Thank you for being my bestie πŸ™‚ πŸ€—
    • Superpower: Love, the best partner to go into a battle with, Wit, Courage
  • Home Helpers – This is for the amazing women who come to cook and clean at my home. Always smiling, always cooking up the best meals, keeping our home clean and looking out for us and my daughter. I can trust them blindly and only hope that I can support them as much as they support me and my family with the hard work and daily effort they put in πŸ™πŸ½
    • Superpower: Ever Smiling, Honesty, Diligence
  • Independent Booksellers – Two years back I would have just mentioned my local independent bookshop. But now with the pandemic and online ordering and country wide shipping, I have to include all the independent booksellers in my gratitude list. I don’t know how, but they somehow always seem to have the book that I’ve been looking for or the book that I need. I’m so grateful that there are booksellers who actually understand the kind of reader you are, and who make sure that the books reach you in pristine condition and sometimes who even brighten up your day with an extra hand written note packed in, with the books!!!
    • Superpower: Amazing work ethics, own and sell books! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

So, those were some of the Superheroes who I am really thankful for in my life. Who are your real life Superheroes and what are their superpowers? I’d love to hear about them in the comments, if you’d like to share πŸ™‚

Life Diaries and Reading Wrap Up – August 2021

While I read so many books in July, I was surprised when I saw that I’d read only three books in August!!! That’s so unlike me! I wondered where did I spend all my time? And I realised, oh well, for a change, I was actually having to work for my salary..heheh..

August Planner Update πŸ˜€

Reading

You already know how my reading went in August, so no surprises when it comes to the number of books I read – yep, I read three books. But they were all sooooooo good!!!! Here is a short wrap up of the books I read and loved in August:

  1. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) – Book 1 from the King of Scars duology and probably also the last of the books featured in the Grishaworld series. Fantasy fiction starring a super fun character – Nikolai. But the real surprise in the book was Zoya. I loved every bit of the story!
  2. Rule of Wolves by Leight Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) – The finale!!! and Oh my gosh, what a finale to the series and and the Grishaworld books! I felt like the author had written this book just for her fans! If you want to read a feminist fiction, this is definitely the book to pick. It breaks so many stereotypes about fictional female characters that I was literally in love with all the women in the book. I cant gush enough about this book! If you’re new to the Grishaworld, keep this doulogy for the end for maximum benefit πŸ˜‰
  3. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) – This satirical literary fiction on racism that Asians have to face in America was such a gem of a book! One I’d highly recommend. This book was recommended to me by my Indie bookseller and I fell in love with the story, the dialogues and the avant grade way of telling this story about the ‘Generic Kung Fu guy’. Let me know if you’ve read this book and what were your thoughts on it πŸ™‚

Writing

As with my reading, my writing took a major setback in August. I felt like I didn’t have the energy to write, even though I had the motivation many times. In July I had been able to write for 16 days, but in August I just wrote for 8 days, which is kind of lousy. All my drafts are still just 30% done and I fear that Ill be too late in turning out drafts at this rate – especially when one of the short story collections I’m working on is Pandemic based. I don’t have a lot of confidence that September will be any better, even with Story A Day challenge, but let’s see πŸ™‚

Socials, Life, Travel and Other Updates:

  • We didn’t go for any more weekend getaways in August, but I did meet a very dear friend after ages over a weekend and we took my daughter and her friends and their parents for a lunch outing on a Sunday, which was quite fun πŸ™‚
  • We celebrated an Indian festival called Rakhi. I’m not much into the details of the festival, but since my husband had received the Rakhis from his sisters, we made an event out of it. We tied the Rakhis to each other and ate lots of yummy food. We will protect each other, we said πŸ˜‰
  • With my workouts, I started with a bang, but fizzled out towards the second half of the month due to weekend activities and the side effects from the second dose of the vaccine and then sheer laziness I think..LOL..Between cycling and running, I did clock more kms than July, in August – 100K, which was an achievement for me nevertheless. I also did some Yoga and did a lot of walking. I couldn’t finish my target of doing a 15K bike ride and a 10K run in August. Maybe I can do that in September?
  • I bought a gorgeous smelling candle from an account called Whispering Flames on Instagram and I light it every day for my dad..I love it πŸ’–
  • For our Belongg Library Network event of the month, we had a location wise Chapter wise collaboration on Clubhouse. The topic of discussion was : A Room of One’s Own: Books on Feminism and Intersectionality. It was fun, interesting and very informative. I will write a separate post about the Belongg Library initiative in India, their recent app – UnOther and some of the books that were recommended as part of our discussion πŸ™‚
  • I discovered a Boba Tea shop!!!! And wrote about it on my gratitude post last month…just look at my happy face! LOL πŸ˜€

Shows And Music Reviews for August:

I was looking for a good fantasy show to watch and a Bookstagrammer suggested this one. While I enjoyed the overall plot of the story, I thought the lead actress was terrible for the role of Nimue. There were so many times I almost laughed out loud at the scenes where she has to wield her sword or fight or even plot or command – it was a disaster. I thought some of the supporting cast were great though – like Pym, Sister Iris, The Weeping Monk (who has a major reveal in the end). So yeah, I won’t recommend the show for the leading lady, but the story was interesting.

My music band recommendation for August is this amazing Indian Indie band – The Yellow Diary. I am absolutely in love with their songs. I think their music would fall under the Alternative or Progressive Rock category and they sing in Hindi predominantly. A lot of their songs are on love and loss I think but there are some like Kashmir which is on a social issue as well. I love their sounds and lyrics and would recommend them, especially if you understand Hindi πŸ™‚

And that’s it, that was my wrap up post for August! I hope you enjoyed some of my recommendations. Tell me how your month went in the comments. Or let me know if you’ve read any of the books mentioned, or have any books, music, show recommendations for me πŸ˜€

Any writing, lifestyle and workout tips are welcome in the comments too :)πŸ€“

Gratitude Journal #1 – Boba Teas

I decided to start publishing my gratitude journals online now, so I could share some of my joys with all of you and hear about your joys and things you’ve been grateful for as well πŸ™‚ The world really needs some joy and things to be thankful for lately, doesnt it? πŸ™‚

This week, on Wednesday, I had an absolutely horrendous day at work. I’ve been assigned to a new project at work and it has been really tiring and stressful for me since I started two weeks back. Think 10-hour daily work days, back to back meetings, staring at the screen, listening to people on headphones, sitting on the chair, trying hard to keep up with the timelines and expectations, and trying hard to learn the new tools and processes and jargons.

I haven’t had sufficient time to do any of the things I need to do to keep my physical and mental health sane – running, cycling, dancing, reading, catching up with friends, writing. And now the frequency of my anxiety and panic attacks have increased at an alarming rate. Every morning I wake up anxious and bleary eyed. Every evening, I log off from my machine feeling spent, zombie like, and heavy headed. The only respite I get is a gadget less walk for 30-40 minutes in the night once I log off.

So, coming back to Wednesday, I felt like I had had enough of work. My head was reeling. I was upset because I had not been able to perform well. My stomach was upset because of odd hours of eating. I hadn’t been able to work out. But at 8 pm, when I was finally able to log off from work, I decided to go for a walk outside the society. Without my headphones. Just step out and see what people are up to.

It felt great as I started walking. I live close to where the night life gets going, so a lot of pubs and restaurants. Despite the fact that we’re still grappling with the Covid waves and variants, I saw people – young and old, out and about. Kids were playing, teenagers and twenty year olds were filling up the pubs and eateries, oldies were sitting on benches by the road or walking, cars and motorbikes were honking along and trying to overtake each other in a race to reach somewhere faster. All of it all made me smile. All the noise and the chaos was somehow more calming than the quiet conversations I had to listen to all day at my desk.

On my way back though, I stumbled upon a tiny little shop with a sign that said, ‘Butterflies and Boba: Boba Tea’! So guys, since the day I drank my first Boba Tea, probably fifteen years back in Sydney, I have been in love with this drink. Over the years abroad, in Singapore, UK and Australia, this tea had become a cure for hangovers, a meal in itself at times and post run energy drink. I have so many fond memories of feeling refreshed and recharged after having a Boba Tea!! But in Pune, I hadn’t been able to find a Boba tea outlet in years. I missed it a lot. So you can only imagine my excitement when I saw the shop!!!

It was 8:30 pm by then and the two ladies managing the shop were almost ready to close down. But they had no idea they’d have to endure a giggling, overexcited middle aged woman ordering Bobas and talking about her undying love for the drink and how coming across this shop had turned her day around!

After twenty minutes, I was back home. Loaded with two Boba teas – a classic milk Boba for me and a watermelon flavoured green tea Boba for my husband. And yes, I drank my Boba for dinner and I felt so grateful for that shop and this drink that Wednesday night. It made me forget all about my work day and all I thought of was how awesome it was that this shop had opened!! πŸ˜€

Has there been something you came across this week, yesterday or today that was completely unexpected but brought you joy? That you were grateful for? Do drop in your stories in the comments or send me a link if you decide to write your gratitude journal too πŸ™‚ Lots of love, people and the Universe!!