Discovering New Idols Posthumously

Many of us have grown up reading books by writers who have been long gone – Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen. We have grown up listening to artists born before some of us were born – Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Kobain, Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin..to just name a few. But what happens when you discover an artist’s work as an adult, fall in love with their work and realise that they aren’t around anymore?

This has happened to me in the last two-three years. I have discovered three artists, whose work I fell in love with (Sir Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and only recently Tina Turner) and finding out that I can’t be a virtual fangirl and stalk them on social media. My favourite book is written by Douglas Adams and I discovered him and his books only in my very late thirties! Now I’m loving the hilarious political caricature present in the Discworld novels and so happy that I have more than half the Discworld novels that I haven’t read yet! I revisited all of Tina Turner’s songs on the day of her passing and immediately started idolising her. Now I’m on the hunt for all her books so I can obsess over this strong and talented woman – something I hadn’t done when she was alive.

This makes you wonder about the power of great art, isn’t it? People may come and go, but what they leave behind are their creations. I am reading a book called ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and doing all the weekly exercises as I go along. In this book, the author talks about connecting with our Creator(s) and mentions how the true purpose and joy in life is brought about by creativity. At our core, we are all creators. Sometimes we create other human beings, sometimes we create art, sometimes we assist creations to grow via nurturing them, sometimes we create things of necessity and sometimes we also create things that destroy.

But whatever is created, always manages to leave a footprint on this world. No matter what you create, I have this belief that if it is released into the world, someone will find it, and will admire it or connect with it. Great creations are those which leave a permanent impact on other people’s lives. A positive impact to be exact.

This is what I think about when I feel disheartened with my creations or the lack of them or the speed with which I am supposed to be creating them. I sit back and try to remind myself that there is a magic and mystery to the world and the Universe around us. And every thing in it, every living being existing in this Universe is a creation and has the potential to create something in return. And I dont need to be great, I just need to keep creating and writing and putting it out there.

Who knows, maybe one day when I’m gone, some reader will chance upon my blog and wonder, oh, I would’ve liked to have a cup of coffee with this person 🙂 That is what I truly want. To be able to make someone smile. To be able to make someone feel less lonely. To be able to create and let it run wild in the world and touch as many people as possible 🙂

Let’s Discuss, dear Readers 🙂

Have you had a similar experience recently, where you have discovered and fallen in love with an artist or their work posthumously?

What according to you is the essence of a great creation?

Five Reasons I Journal on Paper

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Anne Frank

I have been journaling since I was in the fifth grade. My first journal was gifted to me by my father. I mostly wrote about my good days and my bad days with the focus being on the good days I wanted to remember. I used to call it writing a ‘Diary’ then. As I grew up, I started writing about my secret crushes, heartbreaks, insecurities in my diary. Until one day my little sister chanced upon it and decided to make it public.

Family was the internet in those days..once your secret was ‘leaked’ to any one member of the family, you could javelin your privacy and reputation out the window. 😀

Subsequently, there was a long spell of time when I didn’t write at all. Internet wasn’t rampant yet and I had too many secrets that I didn’t want the world (I mean my family) to be exposed to. I went to college, got a job, traveled abroad, married and had a kid. Then, I started suffering from anxiety and minor depression – or at least now I had a name for the doomsday feeling that usually arrived with sweaty palms and the frequent need to lock myself in a room alone. This is when I rediscovered journalling. We had computers now and I had my blogging site too where I typed about my travels and thoughts in general. But I found a certain kind of peace and comfort only while journaling on paper with a pen, that no digital gadget has been able to provide so far.

Here are the top five reasons I prefer journaling on paper

1 – The most important one: It is therapeutic. I can’t figure out the science behind it yet, maybe the science is out there somewhere and I just haven’t researched it yet, but writing on paper is slower than typing on a computer and somehow it has the effect of calming my mind once I’ve written a few pages on paper every day. It has become a sacred ritual, similar to praying, for me.

2 – It seems magical to me when I see words forming on the paper as I write them 🙂 The swirls of the letters, the slant of my lines. The different colours and textures of the pens I can use to write. The little silly doodles that I can draw on paper. The quirky stickers I can add to my entries – they all give me a lot of joy 🙂

3 – Paper journaling fires up amazing ideas in my mind. I have noticed that when I write my daily pages on paper, somehow, mind comes up with blog content, story content and life lessons. I would be rambling about my day and suddenly, a thought will come up, saying, “why dont you write about this?”.

4 – It gives me a valid reason to buy all sorts of gorgeous and quirky stationary! I have always loved stationary. And once I was out of college, there seemed to be little use for stationary, spurred by the omnipresence of laptops, tablets and mobile phones. But now, thanks to paper journalling, I can spend money on journals with pretty covers, on quirky stickers, on amazing pens. You get the idea 😉

5 – My past seems easier to read about and more human. I have managed to save most of my journals. Space management is definitely an issue though. There was a time when I thought it might be better if I journalled on my laptop and save the entries on the cloud somewhere. But I realised that I never went back to these entries and even if I did, reading them made my life seem robotic and hurt my eyes. But when I read my hand written journals, I can see my own growth – starting from my hand writing and sentence structure to the content I eventually started writing about. There is a lot of difference between the ten year old me and the forty year old me for sure, but reading from her journals/diaries, makes me smile and be grateful for the life I have been able to live so far on this planet, the experiences I have had and the people I have met.

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I know that space management and environment are two major concerns that I have with paper journaling too. But maybe with time, our digital world will enhance enough to invent devices that can provide us with a similar writing experience as writing on paper provides us with. I mean, already we have Apple devices with those pencils that I see a lot of the youngsters using these days. I wonder if that is something I could use to replace paper? What do you suggest? 🙂

Questions for the Readers and Writers out there:

Do you journal? If yes, what is your preferred media for journaling – paper, computers or something else that I dont know about? 🙂

What do you like about journaling on paper?

How do you tackle the space-issue (and I dont mean outer space), with paper journaling? 🙂

Books to Screen Adaptations – My List #3

Aah, it has been a while that I wrote one of these posts because when I started this series, there weren’t a lot of books that were getting adapted. However, with OTT taking over the screen world, there has been a Big Bang of books being adapted into movies or limited series on different platforms. I haven’t even gotten to half of the books that have been adapted, but here are my thoughts on the recent ones that I have watched and loved or not loved as much.

If you want to check out the previous two posts on this series, head over here 🙂

Book: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman / Movie: A Man Called Otto (Netflix)

This was an interesting one for me, because I watched the movie before I read the book. I am a huge fan of everything Fredrik Backman writes, but I am yet to go through all this backlists. But my husband had read a Man Called Ove, so he kind of insisted that we watch the movie one weekend. And I absolutely loved it. I might have been biased because it has Tom Hanks after all, but the actor who played Marisol was amazing too. Then I read the book and luckily, I didn’t cry as much as my best friend did when she read the book. Probably because the movie had already done the heavylifting for me. I did think that it was a very good adaptation. A few things were changed, and a major one being that the book’s Iranian character Parvaneh was changed to a Spanish character Marisol, in the movie, but the dialogues and the story, remained pretty much the same. I wonder why they made that change though? Are Americans more receptive to Spanish people than Iranians? Whatever be the case, I highly recommend reading both the book and watching the movie afterwards. Keep tissues handy though.

Book: Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid/ TV Series: Daisy Jones & The Six (Amazon Prime)

Another great author and superb screen adaptation. I mean, the screen adaptation came out with an actual album – Aurora that you can listen to on Spotify!! While reading the book as well as while watching the show, I couldn’t reconcile with the fact that this was about a fictitious band. Everything felt so real. Yes, the author does mention that the book is loosely based on Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, but really, what a treat. If you love music, rock and roll and a love story about star crossed people, then highly recommend reading this book and watching the show on Amazon. I was hooked. Added bonus is the soundtrack on Spotify!

Favourite songs from the album: Look at us Now (Honeycomb) and Look me in the Eye 🙂

Book: Dune by Frank Herbert / Movie: Dune

Although the book is a classic, in this case I preferred the movie adaptation to the book. The book’s one major turn off was the stereotypically sexist roles women were portrayed in. But otherwise the vision of the book and the world building was quite impressive, considering when it was written. The movie – at least the first part didnt seem as sexist as the book so far. I have a soft corner for Timothy Chalamet <hehe> and the visual effects in the first movie were quite stunning. Especially when the Sandworm makes its first appearance. Epic! I’d recommend the movie more than the book, unless you’re a classic buff and really want to read the book too 🙂

Book: Sandman Illustrated books (1,2, and 3) by Neil Gaiman/ TV Series: The Sandman (Netflix)

I had never imagined that such an excellent adaptation could be made for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books. A couple of things have been changed, some original characters have been changed to make them more diverse and inclusive but I really loved these creative decisions, the story line was mixed a bit here and there and the content was definitely much less adult and gory as compared to the books, but I simply loved the screen adaptation. Can’t wait for the next seasons to be in. If you like illustrated books and can stomach nudity and horror, go ahead and read the books. Otherwise, simply binge on this fantastic adaptation into Sandman’s world and the epic characters in it.

Book: Shadow and Bone trilogy + Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo / TV Series: Shadow and Bone (Netflix)

Oh man, this one started on a positive note and I was really excited about this adaptation, since I just love the Crows, not so much the Shadow and Bone series though. But the show felt like a bummer. It has excellent actors and the special effects were great too, but my major gripe with the adaptation was the directors mixing the Shadow and Bone characters with the Crows. They should have been separate. Season 2 felt too much and too rushed. I could barely keep track of what was going on and found it hard to form a connection with most of my favourite characters. And that cliffhanger at the end of Season 2, with Alina – not sure how I feel about it. My recommendation is to read the books and watch the show with a pitch of salt.

Book: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman / TV Series: Folk Med Angest (Netflix)

Had to end this post with one of my favorite authors, didn’t I? 😉 Anxious People was my first Fredrik Backman book and I know a lot of readers felt that A Man Called Ove was better. But I loved Anxious People when I read it, so let’s leave it at that, shall we? This Swedish adaptation on Netflix actually turned out to be a hidden gem. I watched it with English subtitles, but the adaptation was superb because they completely stuck to the book and the best part was that the show was filmed in Sweden and had all Swedish actors (or at least that’s what I think), and everyone was just like I had expected them to be. Some of the heaviness of the book is skipped in the screen adaptation, just like Man Called Otto, but I enjoyed it still the same.

Watch it, and read the book if you’re a sucker for Fredrik Backman’s work, like me 🙂

Questions for you now, dear Readers 🙂

  1. Have you read and watched any of these books to screen adaptations? What were your thoughts? Any other books to movies/screen adaptations that you would like to recommend me to try?
  2. I have been following The Witcher and Wheels of Time shows as well, but havent read the books. Have you read the books? What do you think about the screen adaptations then?
  3. With very few exceptions, I feel that contemporary drama books make for better screen adaptations than fantasy, mainly because us fantasy loving readers are very strict critics and its hard for us to see any change to what we had imagined the story and characters to be like in our heads. What is your take on this?

Father, Daughter – Readers

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Today is my dad’s fourth death anniversay. I kept thinking about what I should do to celebrate the person he was and honour his memory. This is easier for people who are religious I guess. Like my mom. Every year, on his death anniversary, we are supposed to have a puja at home, and feed brahmins. But that is not my way of remembering a person I loved.

So I decided to do the one thing that I can do, and that I have been doing since 2019, in his memory. Write about him. I wrote about how I felt without him in my life in the last three year’s posts. About grief and that void that cannot be filled. But from today, I decided that every year on this date, I will write something about him instead. A story from his life.

Because I realised, that memory is a slippery thing. That maybe when people say “we are sorry for your loss”, they probably don’t mean that they’re sorry that we lost a person we loved. Because technically we can’t ‘lose’ a person. They are not a thing we own. And they are not something that can ever be found or replaced, once ‘lost’ to death. Maybe what they mean instead, is that we are sorry you will start losing the memory of the person who had such a big influence on your life. Maybe they meant that we are sorry that you will start to forget one amazing person as the years pass on.

And that is why, I decided to write stories from his life. So I don’t forget. Here is one, that my grandmother used to tell me about his childhood:

My father was the eldest of her four children. She used to tell me that he always loved reading. Whatever he could get his hands on – the local newspaper, or fiction books written in our local language. He studied in the local school initially where English was taught much later as a language. But his father was a lawyer, a well educated one. And the first few books that my grandfather bought for my father was an Oxford dictionary and A Wren and Martin book of Grammar. My father would read and devour books by the lantern light sometimes way into the night. Much like me, he would always have a book with him wherever he went. People used to wonder about this quiet boy, who was steadfast in his principles, a very good student, and very unlike the other boys his age who preferred playing and getting into trouble.

He told me later that he loved reading about Vivekananda when he grew up. And then he read a lot of Western action thrillers. I don’t remember the names of the books though, because we didn’t have them at home. But he was the person who introduced me to books. Every time he would go on his sailing trip overseas, he would bring me back at least one book. A book of folktales usually. I wish I had had the sense of saving all those books for my daughter, because they would’ve been a keepsake, something else to remember him by. But we don’t always have the foresight for these kind of things when we are young, do we?

He got me my first library card and introduced me to the wonders of libraries and free books. He never stopped me from reading. No matter what I would read. They could be comics or romances, he wouldn’t bat an eye, as long as I was reading. My mom couldn’t understand why he was so lenient about my reading habit. She would tell me to focus on my studies. But my dad would tell me to focus on both – the world of fiction as well as the world of reality.

Sometimes I wonder, if I remember all this correctly though. And how much of what I remember is the actual truth and how much is romanticised? I do have a very active imagination after all. No matter what, I think that every story has an element of truth to it. And for this story about my father, the one truth I know and have proof for, is that he loved reading books and he was the one who taught me how to fall in love with books. Thank you for one of the most beautiful gifts you could have given me papa. I miss you, and I love you.

Life Updates – 3 Months Post Surgery, Considering Changing my Name to P – Perseverance

Just a little over two months ago, I had written this post about my 3-week post hysterectomy surgery recovery journey. I completed my three month check up recently and I’m super happy to tell you that the Doctor has given me a go ahead to get back to all normal activities! Hurrah!!

I had a couple of things planned in my mind for the next few months if there were no setbacks in my recovery. And here is my list and how its all going so far:

-> Learn to drive a car. Attempt Number 4. Now this has become a private joke in the family. Me and my multiple efforts at trying to learn how to drive. Well, I told everyone, I’m 40 and I’m still going to try and learn how to drive a bloody car. Its unfortunate that the driving classes here teach you only on stick cars..grr. But, I’m four classes in, have learned a few things, still have zero confidence that I can drive on the Indian roads anytime soon, but I persevere.

-> Get back into running. I started the 0-5K plan for beginners on my Nike Run app last week. Although I had been walking for about 5K daily, running for even 5 minutes had me out of breath! I have a lot of work ahead but I have decided to persevere and see how far I can go. I really wanted to run at least one half marathon in my life. I don’t care about winning or pacing. I just want to know that I can do it. Even if I jog all the way or alternate between running and walking 🙂

-> Get into other forms of exercising like swimming, trekking, walking, cycling or dancing. I have been able to swim a little over the weekends. Still need to get my bicycle repaired. I do walk on the days when I travel to office because I have no energy to do anything else on those days 🙂 I haven’t signed up for dancing classes yet though. I think that’s something I will sign up for next month maybe.

-> Get better at my day job or find an alternate job. I’ve been struggling a lot with my day job and my confidence has been falling because I’m not very good at it, and also because some of my peers aren’t very patient or kind. I have been trying to put my all into learning new skills and learning about the product I work on, but I’ve barely been keeping afloat. I have also been trying to apply for jobs more suited to my skills and experience, but looks like there are a dearth of those in the market too. But, I have decided, like Mr. Super Mario, I won’t give up. I will keep trying my best to hold on to my job because that pays the bills at the end of the day 🙂

-> Get more social and travel a bit more to nearby places with family and friends. Oh boy, have I been busy in this regard. I celebrated Holi with my friends in the society, went for a couple of dinners and drinks with my girlfriends, went for my first live Jazz event with another friend (loved it!!), went for a city sight seeing trip with a local colleague and an Indonesian colleague who was traveling to Pune for the first time, met a friend who loves reading as much as I do over coffee and decided to join a physical book club, celebrated our daughter’s 7th birthday, went for a weekend trip to an adventure park and tried my hand at various adventure sports even though I sucked at them! LOL 😀 I realised that doing new things and socialising is tiring and even anxiety inducing, but when I do turn up, I feel like it was all worth it.

-> Writing more. I have been journalling almost daily since the start of this year. I wanted to either fix a certain time in the day to dedicate to my writing or just add it as a daily routine. So far I have been doing better than expected, but I’m still not where I would like to be with my writing schedule and practise. But I’m not giving up yet..you know my new name by now, don’t you? 😉

-> More outdoor artist dates! I had been stuck to indoor artist dates in the first two months post surgery and then once work started, even those stopped. Sigh. Now that I can travel around more freely, I am planning to get back to visiting cafes, libraries, open mic nights, movies, bookstores, or going for dance classes or long walks again 🙂

-> Diet changes? I have been having some digestion issues, and the Doctor advised me to try and avoid dairy, bread and a type of pulse, but this one is hard, because these are most of what I eat normally. I have been trying to replace dairy with nut milk or tofu, but its hard to make separate food for yourself and your family. I’m hoping that if I just continue to exercise normally and manage my stress, I will be able to eat whatever I want, within moderation 🙂 <Slyly inserts dessert pictures below..hahaha>

Those are all my updates. P- Perseverance shall keep persisting at blogging and posting her life updates and other midlife musings too 🙂

I hope you all are having a great week – full of hard work, me-time and lots of love 🙂

What was a new thing you tried recently? 🙂

What was a hard thing you had to overcome recently? Did you succeed or are you still persevering at it like me? Either ways, I think you’re a rockstar for not giving up 🙂

March and April 2023 – Reading Wrap Up

I have to say, I think I read some really diverse and interesting books in the last two months. I read some romances, books in translation, a satire on capitalism, a non fiction, a book that was adapted into a TV series, a book about a female psychopath. Here are the books I read and my thoughts on them. Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these, what were your thoughts, or if you have any other recommendations for me 🙂

Book/Author: Daisy Jones & The Six/Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 4 Stars

Looks like Taylor Jenkins Reid is all set to become the next inspiration for all blockbuster book to screen adaptations. When I read Carrie Soto is back, all I could imagine were the scenes from The King – the one with the Williams sisters. And I could picture the whole book on a screen. 

When I saw the announcement that Daisy Jones and the Six was adapted into a TV series, I just had to read the book immediately. I have my own love story with music. I love music in all forms, but my first love will always be rock and roll. So I was delighted to dive into the world of Daisy Jones and the Six. It says in the acknowledgments that Daisy Jones was inspired by Stevie Nicks and The Six by Fleetwood Mac. That has led me into another rabbit hole of rediscovering both!

At the heart of it, the book is a love story. But to me, it felt like a story about friendship, trust, having faith in someone or something, desiring someone or something so much that it makes or breaks you, its about standing up for yourself and what you believe in, its about control and letting go, and well about rock and roll and drugs. 

A very entertaining read and now I’m all set to watch the screen adaptation and listen to the Spotify playlist of the album Aurora 🙂

Book/Author: Finding Your Balance/Dr. Nozier Sheriar and Shonali Sabherwal

Rating: 3.7 Stars

I am really happy to see that we have a book on women’s health, especially women in their midlife, catered to Indian women written by a leading Indian Gynecologist himself (Dr. Nozer Sheriar), assisted with lifestyle by another Indian woman (Shonali Sabherwal). 

The instant I saw this book on my Instagram feed, I knew I had to buy a copy for myself and my friends. It is a known fact now that women’s health in general and specifically the problems women face during perimenopause and menopause are grossly neglected and under-researched. Even amongst us women – women who are educated, earning a good income and juggling multiple things, there is hardly any conversation around health and our well being. Only the weight loss industry and the beauty industry seem to be thriving.

But there are a lot of internal factors, especially the play of stress and hormones that drive a woman’s body and well being. Then there are ailments like Fibroids and Endometriosis, for which there is so little study that even Doctors accept that they do not know what causes these and the only way to remove it from the root is to have a hysterectomy. 

This is a great book for women and men to read, because it is full of scientific facts on all that ails a woman in her mid life, medical and lifestyle treatments with pros and cons for each. I probably wasnt a big fan of the lifestlye section tips because I find them hard to follow, but I appreciated all the medical facts mentioned in the book.

Book/Author: The Maid/Nita Prose

Rating: 3 Stars

This is a good book to pick if you’re in a reading slump and want to read something that is fast paced, simply written and with straight forward characters. But if you’re looking for a proper who-dunnit, then this is probably not the book to go to.

In terms of the plot, I didnt find it that interesting. But I quickly warmed up to the central character – Molly and what worked for me was the way the author used the murder mystery to show us how difficult it can be for people on the spectrum to navigate situations that might seem straightforward to others. How they are bullied all through their lives for being different and how people can take advantage of their innocence. But, all is not lost since there is the redeeming power of friendship and kindness. 

An easy and fast read with likeable and straightforward characters.

Book/Author: BlackBuck/ Mateo Askaripour

Rating: 4 Stars

I can’t remember when was the last time I devoured a 350+ page book in two days. Written in a very engaging manner, this book is a satire on capitalism, especially in the sales and marketing area with a poignant commentary on racism. Think ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ meets ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’

Ace student and college drop out poster boy of the community Darren’s life is hijacked when he meets and impresses upcoming startup – Sumwun’s CEO, Rhett. What follows is Darren’s rise and fall through the sales team in Sumwun, being the only person of colour in the entire company and his subsequent redemption.

I loved every part of the book, from the prologue on Dr. Martin Luther King, to the notes on being a great sales person, to the acknowledgements in the end. Highly entertaining and heart stopping.

Book/Author: The Plotters/Kim Un-Su, Translation by Sora Kim-Russell

Rating: 4.5 Stars

A translated book – translated from Korean to English. I thought this is a good book to read as a follow up if you’re still hung over on John Wick 4 🙂

Reseng is an orphan who has been raised as an assassin in a gang run by Old Raccoon. Old Raccoon runs his operations from an old Library, which he calls the Doghouse Library, and there is a whole chapter on why it was named so, which was hilarious.

The assassins are given their assignments and how to kill details by people called ‘The Plotters’, who are these invisible string masters who run the who show/business. There are rules and codes that need to be followed to the letter and any deviation from the instructions can lead to the death of even the assassin. On one kill, Reseng decides to change the rules only slightly, which starts the dominos falling for Reseng and everything/everyone he holds dear.

Some of the characters are exceptional – my favourite being Jeongang and Mito. The writing is great and the philosophy a mix of grim and warm at the same time. I do think that there could have been a sequel to the book to draw out some of my favourite characters and end the story better.

Otherwise a good pick if you like action, are okay with depiction of blood and gore and like morally gray characters.

Book/Author: Boy Parts/Eliza Clark

Rating: 3 Stars

It would be an understatement to say I had difficulty finishing this book. Probably because of the shocking content in the book that was way out of my comfort zone.

Boy parts is the story of our unreliable narrator – Irina, set in modern London with her playing the role of a famous photographer who is famous for her explicit photography featuring young men. Through flashbacks in the story, we are told about her dropping out from the photography institute because of a mental breakdown she had in the final year, and through stories featuring each of her models in the past, we find out what her backstory is. 

The author takes us into the toxic and sexist work culture in the art industry, with this gender reversed protagonist. This psychological horror reminded me of the movie American Psycho. The downward spiral into madness – triggered by an unresolved childhood trauma of sexual abuse aggravated to a breaking point by drug overuse and the desire of being worthy, to be really seen.

The story focuses on the twisted relationships based on power play that people can get into, when they seek validation from someone who seems unhinged – aka ‘falling for the bad boy’, in this case, a girl.

The story picks up at about 65% into the book and that’s where it was redeemed for me. I have to warn you about a million trigger warnings in this book and that this is not for the faint hearted. But if you can overcome all that and reach the end, dont be too sure you will find any validation for reaching here. I was glad it was over. A great path breaking book I think, but probably not for me.

Book/Author: How Do You Live/Genzaburo Yoshino, Translated by Bruno Navasky

Rating: 4.5 Stars

There were a lot of things that were impressive about this book. The fact that it was published first in 1937, then in 1982 in Japanese and finally published with an English translation in 2021. That the edition I have has such a soothing cover. That there is a foreword by Neil Gaiman. The fact that the last chapter has some interesting information about the origins of Buddhism in India and about the history of Gandhara Buddhas. But the best thing about the book are the life lessons that our teenage boy Copper discovers through his own experiences and from the wise advise given to him by his uncle and mother. 

It is interesting how the older generation two generations back had so many life lessons that made sense, but I doubt I will have any of those life lessons to impart to the younger generation when I grow old..hehe.

A lovely, soothing book that can be read by adults and teenagers alike, something that is of value and stood the tides of time as well.

Book/Author: The Cheat Sheet/Sarah Adams

Rating: 3.5 Stars

I had been on the lookout of a feel good closed door romance and I was so glad I came across this one. This is a friends to lovers trope. Other than the friendship that the protagonists have, I really loved the non toxic masculine representation and friendship that the baseball players have in the story. It was so refreshing. A nice feel good closed door romance with a lot of chemistry.

Midlife Musings – The Exhausted Forty Year Old

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A woman in her forty, is being told by her friends that forty is the new twenty. But she is so tired. Tired of trying to look like she is twenty, tired of trying to have the energy of a twenty year old and tired of maintaining the hypocrisy that you might look like a twenty year old, but society will only acknowledge you if you act like a responsible forty year old.

She works harder than her younger peers at work. Technology is changing and she fears she will be obsolete, like the different versions of programs she tries to design. Everyone else is smarter and she has only seven hours before she needs to get home to her family.

She has to work harder at her fitness, because biology says that women lose muscle mass and important hormones, but she still has to look like a twenty year old. So she eats grass or just breathes in air or chugs flavoured water and pumps her way through all the cardio and fancy weight training that is the rage these days.

Her mother tells her she isn’t spending enough time with her daughter. She is constantly ridden with guilt over that. Because when she was a child, her mother was always there for her. Her mother didn’t have to be twenty in her forty.

There is another guilt of not being able to look after her ageing mother, who is now sixty. The woman is a forty who looks like a twenty, but can’t drop everything at the drop of a hat and travel to her remote home town and look after her mother, like she did when she was twenty.

She doesn’t know where her mind is at lately. She forgets things, her hands get sweaty and shaky and she feels her confidence waning. She didn’t know anything about depression or anxiety when she was twenty. There was no social media to remind her that she had a mind to mind. She did whatever she pleased. No one watched every step of hers like they did now. Now she has to work hard to maintain her sanity and peace of mind. She goes on walks, listens to podcasts, journals and tries to meditate. 

But there are only twenty four hours in a day. That is another challenging twenty that doesn’t seem to relent. If she needs to do everything twice as hard in her forties, how does she manage it all within the twenty four hours in a day? She doesn’t remember feeling so busy when she was in her twenties. She didn’t have a checklist or the concept of FOMO or all the pressures of social responsibility then.

Sometimes when she is doing the thing she loves most – just lying down and reading or writing, she wonders, is it really worth it? Why cant she just be forty? Why does she need to be twenty? Why can’t she look like forty and have people love and appreciate her still the same? Why can’t she feel like forty and have people acknowledge the hard work from her past and respect her still the same? Why can’t she live the slow life now when she has already hustled so much in her twenties? Isn’t that supposed to be the best part about growing older, that you can finally breathe?

Midlife Musings : “Put Yourself in the Way of Beauty” – Cheryl Strayed

Since my surgery earlier this year, I have been religiously doing my 30 minutes of morning and evening walks, as the Doctor prescribed. I am still not approved for any other form of exercising. But in the last two and a half months, I have come to love these walks. I look forward to them and they rejuvenate me unlike anything else I have tried before, except for the dancing maybe 🙂

My morning walks are therapeutic because I get my daily dose of sunshine and I get to laugh or smile while listening to some of my favourite podcasts. It feels like the day has started on a perfect note. My evening walks a more of an unwinding of the day for me. It helps me de-stress from my job and take a break from the screen. I like the breeze and watching the children run around in the park. And I usually listen to some music during my evening walks and I feel relaxed once those 30 minutes are over.

I was listening to an episode of ‘We Can Do Hard Things’, during one of my morning walks. This particular episode featured Cheryl Strayed. I love Glennon Doyle and I love Cheryl Strayed. I have read Untamed, Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things – all three being such positive and uplifting books. A must have on every person’s book shelf I would say.

Now during this episode, Cheryl quotes a line from one of her books, something her mother used to tell her.

“There’s always a sunrise and always a sunset and it’s up to you to choose to be there for it,’ said my mother. ‘Put yourself in the way of beauty.”.

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

And this line suddenly made me more aware of my surroundings.

I took extra pleasure in noticing the beautiful things within the concrete of my society. Why did I even need to look for beauty outside, when there was so much beauty right beside me?

The sun trying to peep out from the tall buildings made me laugh, because should the sun want, it could engulf us all in a heartbeat and yet, here it is, playing hide and seek..

Who needs to travel to UK to experience Autumn, where there was a bountiful of crunchy leaves on the pavement on a summer morning right here in India?

I could drown myself in the vibrant colours of these gorgeous flowers blooming within the concrete sidewalks!

Who needs a forest to imagine a mystery when I go take a stroll through my favourite little passage in the society and imagine I am entering Narnia or some other magical kingdom on the other side? 😉

I’m on the lookout of finding more beauty in the hopeless world we live in 🙂 What about you? I would love to see pictures of beauty that you found within hard and concrete circumstances in the comments 🙂

January and February 2023 – Reading Wrap Up

I managed to read a few more books than usual in the last two months since I was at home, off work and recovering from my surgery. Here is a snapshot of the books I read in the last two months. Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on the books below if you’ve read them? 🙂

Where the Crawdads Sing (3/5 Stars): This is going to be one of those unpopular opinion book reviews. I know this book is well loved by many of my reader friends and now there is a book to screen adaptation too – but it wasn’t for me. The writing and the lush description about the marsh land and various mating characteristics of animals, birds and insects were definitely interesting but that’s where my interest stopped. 

Surrounded by this setting of the marsh is the story of Kya – a girl who raises herself alone in the wild from the age of seven. And it is also a love story and also a murder mystery. So the premise sounds promising but I couldn’t find that connect with Kya or the men in her life that maybe other readers would have found and loved. The statements that the men found her intriguing because she was a wild creature but also very beautiful, made me uncomfortable in some ways. I didn’t like either of the male protagonists in the story. So yeah, my second read of Jan was much anticipated but didn’t match up to my liking 🙂 I wonder if the movie will be better than the book for me in this case?

Have you read this book and watched the movie? What were your thoughts?

More than a Woman (5/5 Stars): Caitlin Moran could write a grocery list and i would read it and it would sound witty and feminist at the same time! She has become my go to witty feminist writer and I love her writing! They are so relatable and funny! Her first book was about being a woman – spanning her teenage years to her adult years. This second book is about women and their lives when they are 40 or 50, and I couldn’t have asked for a better timing to read this book! 

She talks about ageing, metabolism, endometriosis and menopause or peri menopause, women being carers and juggling between the prime of our careers and the growing years of our children, raising a feminist daughter and dealing with your child’s eating disorders, reducing alcohol because the enzymes don’t work anymore and taking up yoga because your body feels like heaven after all those stretches.. I mean the list is endless!

Her audiobook is even better to listen to.. maybe one day I will also own all the physical copies of her books😊

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (5/5 Stars): I absolutely loved this book! My first 5 star read of the year! This story is about three friends – Sam, Sadie and Marx. It is about the love that friends have for each other. But it’s mostly about work and how work and passion for work has the power to save us from grief, heartbreak and loneliness. The story is set in the 20th Century and centres around Sam and Sadie’s passion for video games. I loved all the Japanese art references thrown in and kept looking into them. I learnt so much about what goes into creating a good video game and I was fascinated even though I’m not a gamer myself. 

I could really relate to Sam’s character in the book even though he might come across as insensitive and self absorbed, but I could relate to his asexuality and the fact that having constant physical pain plays a major role in turning one into an uncaring social recluse. It’s hard for others with normal life to understand this. Sadie’s struggles with being a woman in the tech world felt very real too and well Marx’s character was so good that I felt he was a mirage🙂 and the grandparents with their nuggets of wisdom were an absolute delight!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (3.5/5 Stars): I listened to a murder mystery on audiobook after a long time and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a clean YA murder mystery with a message in the end and I was surprised that I hadn’t guessed the entire mystery till the end! (Considering I think of myself as a closet detective in the making 😜). The characters were relatable and quite real and the plot clean too. There are some triggering themes in the story such as child abuse, self harm, drug abuse and rape, but they’re all handled very well by the author. 

Babel (5/5 Stars): I am utterly in awe of the genius of R.F. Kuang and her writing! What can I possibly write, that will justify an apt review for this book, because I have never read anything like Babel in my life so far. 

TW: Violence, Racism

The story of Babel is set in fictional Oxford, where young students who have exceptional grasp of languages from across the globe are admitted to study in the prestigious Institute- Babel. Thus starts Robin’s journey, who is ‘rescued’ from China by a white man and raised in London and eventually sent to Oxford as a Babel student due to his proficiency of Cantonese, Mandarin and English. In Oxford, he meets his cohort – Ramy (from India), Victoire (from Haiti) and Letty (from England). Life is great for the four of them who worship Babel, until Robin stumbles across a revelation that brings the shiny world they know, toppling down.

There is so much information regarding languages and translation, that I might have highlighted more than half of my book. I highly recommend buying a physical copy of this book for this very reason, because almost half the book is non-fiction and has very interesting information about the origins of words. There is a discourse on the power of languages, about the possibility of having a universal language and the positives and pitfalls of translations.

But then, the author starts weaving the story about colonialism and slavery and how language played an important part in either enabling it or thwarting it. Again, the second half of the book is filled with nuggets of information about all the tiny uprisings across the globe against slavery, colonialism and exploitation.

And amidst all this, is there hope for a better future? Can a handful of people turn the tide and make Governments and systems more humane? Is revolution really possible and what will it cost?

I highly recommend this book, especially for people who like reading non fiction. It is also a very clean book and there is barely any romance in it. On an ending note, for readers who have loved TPW series by R.F. Kuang, try not to compare both the books, which is what I had started doing in the beginning.

The Gospel of Yudas (3.5/5 Stars): Thank you @readwithzainab for sending me this book as our book exchange idea 🙂 I guess almost two years later, I finally read it. 157 pages of being hit hard. This book is translated from Malayalam to English and is the story of grief, an all consuming guilt and unrequited love. The story is set in Kerala where a young Prema falls in love with an older man who calls himself Yudas and rescues dead bodies from the lake. But Yudas is unable to reciprocate Prema’s love because of the weight of guilt that he carries from his past. In the backdrop there are references of the Naxalite movement and the terrifying torture that the captured naxals underwent in the hands of the police. This is a short yet difficult book to read. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (3/5 Stars): I’ll start with this – the book overall in terms of characters and the lacking plot didn’t work for me, but what really worked is the amount of philosophical discussions that can be had with the subjects the author touches upon- polygamy, infidelity, unrequited love, communism, freedom, the purpose of life and death, love in general, emotional baggage and how our past shapes us, and a lot of other subjects. 

It’s a short book and the writing is simple and easy to follow. The story is not chronological but that doesn’t confuse the reader. This book was translated from Czech to English so there could be a possibility that a lot of the essence of the book was lost in translation. I think this is a book for intellectuals who like to hang out in quiet bars or libraries with a scotch and cigar in hand and discuss the philosophies of life. If you’re looking for plot or character arc, you can skip this one🙂

I read this book as part of the @fictionalbookclub pick for Feb, and we definitely had some very interesting thoughts during the book club discussion😊 

The one takeaway that I did take from the book was , “Ess Muss Sein”! 🙂

Artificial Condition – Book 2 from the Murderbot series (4.5/5 Stars): I just love Murderbot. Its narration on just work and entertainment and being asexual and not wanting to be amongst other humans, no matter how well meaning they are, feels like it is no further to who I am..LOL! In the second book, Murderbot makes a friend it seems, hesitantly. I really enjoyed Art and Murderbot’s interactions and couldn’t stop cracking up every time the two of them interacted. Can’t wait to listen to the next books in the series and Murderbot’s further adventures. I only wish these books were available in India 🙂

That’s a wrap!! Hope you’re having a wonderful month and week so far! 🙂

Life Updates – 3 Weeks post Hysterectomy

Hello Readers! After a hiatus of almost a month, I am back into blogging with this life update post. I usually don’t feel comfortable writing about my illnesses or recovery, but after a lot of internal debating and the fact that I myself was looking for information online about Hysterectomy and other women’s recovery journey, that I decided to write about my experience so far and going forward too, in the hopes of helping someone else looking to connect.

It all started two years back when my periods started to extend from 5 days to 10 days, accompanied with excruciating pain that no pain killer would help with. At first my Ob-Gyn diagnosed that I had multiple large fibroids in my uterus, but a lot of medication didn’t help. So she asked me to get an MRI done. Then we found out that I had stage 4 Endometriosis and four of my organs were already stuck to each other because of the internal bleeding and one of my ovaries had a large cyst and was pretty much useless at this point. We tried more medication, but nothing helped. So in early January this year, my Doctor suggested we go ahead with the Hysterectomy.

I was admitted to the hospital on the 27th of January and my surgery was on the 28th January. The night before the surgery, they gave me only saline and water for meal and some medication to clear out my bowels. I had a laparoscopic full Hysterectomy. The surgery took longer than expected and was a complicated one as per the Doctor. But thankfully, it was a successful surgery.

Day 1-3 Post Surgery – I was in the hospital for three days. The first day I was completely bed-ridden and the pain was immense. I was on antibiotics, saline and painkillers. The second day, they started me on a semi solid diet and asked me to start walking to the toilets and do some feet flapping movement while lying on the bed to avoid clotting. I was also advised to carry on doing some deep breathing exercises. I was discharged from the hospital on the 3rd day post surgery to recover at home.

Week 1 Post Surgery

Diet: I was eating tiny meals 4-5 times a day. A glass of water followed by green tea and a handful of almonds. Home made vegetable oats, or vegetable poha, or a banana with one boiled egg for breakfast. Coconut water for mid morning snack. An extremely small portion of rice, daal, yogurt and a side of vegetables for lunch, two digestive biscuits and green tea for evening snacks, or a handful of peanuts and one chapati, a bowl of moong daal and small portion of vegetable for dinner. I didn’t have an appetite and sometimes my mom would make me chicken soup to get some proteins in for my recovery.

Pain & Recovery: At home, I was in a lot of pain because of the gas and bowel movements and my organs trying to settle down. I didn’t have much of an appetite and was mostly on bed. I was able to slowly turn and sleep on my side and I tried to sleep with a pillow under my legs or between my legs. It was pretty uncomfortable though.

Exercises: I was mostly in bed during my first week back home and only made trips to the bathroom and to shower. Even that much was exhausting and in the first week I showered only every alternate day.

Entertainment: I read one book in the first week back and watched TV or listened to my mom talk. Mostly I was in a state of slumber and sleeping almost through the day because of all the medications.

Week 2 Post Surgery

Diet: During the first half of week 2, I could barely eat anything and had zero appetite. I was mostly on liquids like cold milk, or cold orange juice, or coconut water, or just lentil soup. But once the I started the pain killers and the prebiotics, I was able to slowly resume my diet from Week 1. I wasn’t eating any fried food or food from outside.

Pain & Recovery: Week 2 began horribly because the laxatives and the antibiotics were making bowel movement very painful for me. For some reason, my pain intensified in the second week when I had to pass motions, like these cramps in my stomach that felt like someone was punching my gut constantly. And because of the laxatives, I was constantly going to the toilet and constantly in pain. Like an idiot, I was not taking my pain killers and when I reached out to my Ob-Gyn for the pain, she rightly admonished me for not taking the pain killers. By mid week, once I started the pain killers though, things got much better. She also gave me some prebiotics which helped with my appetite.

Exercises: I had my stitches removed and my Ob-Gyn said I could start walking outdoors and do most of the house chores, except for lifting heavy items and bending too much. I decided to start walking inside the house along with those feet exercises and the breathing exercises and gradually increase my step count each day. By end of week 2, I was able to walk 3500 steps inside the house. My goal is to eventually get to 10,000 steps by the end of Week 4, if my body permits.

Entertainment: I didn’t read at all in Week 2 due to me condition. I watched a little TV with my mom, or Youtube videos of other women’s hysterectomy recovery journey. Unfortunately, my mom had to leave by the end of the second week due to a family emergency, but my sister decided to come and stay with me for two weeks. So just the third week, I would have to stay by myself.

Week 3 Post Surgery:

Diet: The third week saw the beginning of actual recovery for me. I definitely had my appetite back and continued following the home made diet of fibre, liquids and lean protein with smaller portions. I bought flax seeds and chia seeds and started adding them to my meals and snacks. My friends also got me home made laddoos and healthy snacks like granola bites and wheat pancake mix and home made pickles. I felt so blessed 🙂

Exercise: I started increasing my daily step count and went for short walks once in the morning and once in the evening. I’m also doing my breathing exercises and the foot flaps (that’s what I call them :D). By the end of the week, I was able to cover 7000 steps. I was also able to help with house chores and slightly bend, cook my breakfast, help my daughter get ready for school and other small activities.

Entertainment: I finally managed to get back into my reading – you can see my bedside is loaded with books I selected to read. I have no idea if I’ll finish all of these, but a girl can dream 😀 I caught up with a few friends who came to visit me, and watch a few series on TV too. I’m loving Cunk on Earth, but laughing hard is still painful..LOL! I discovered a few new songs and People by Libianca is a current favorite 🙂

My sister arrived last Sunday and I am in Week 4 of post op recovery now. I am supposed to go back to work (I have a desk job in IT) by next week, but we are still discussing if I need to extend my leaves by another week or if I’m okay to start work next week.

I know this post is longer than my usual posts and I’m sure I might have forgotten a lot of things that I wanted to write down. I wrote this post for others who might be planning a hysterectomy or recovering from one and would like to share notes and discuss highs and lows. Just like any other community. I felt that this is a major surgery and many women go through it too, but somehow there seems to be very little information from women about their personal experience and their recovery journey or life after a hysterectomy. I hope I will find a community of women who I can talk to and discuss with them about life and recovery journey after a hysterectomy with via this post. 🙂