“Picture the most romantic Bollywood song you can think of, and play that in the back of your mind, while reading this review and also while reading this book for the most impact 😉 :D”
So, now that we have the background music set, lets start at the beginning. How I decided to read this book. That one is simple actually – this book was one of the January BOTM selections of the South Asian Reading challenge hosted by Fanna and Nandini. So thanks guys for letting me go back in time again!
Now, to my thoughts about the book, this one is going to be a short review though 🙂 The last few books I read this month seem to be following a certain trend I guess. Similar to The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, I found this book entertaining, but in a fluffy sort of way. Not one that will stay with me for a long time, but an entertaining read, nevertheless.
The plot is simple, with young teenage protagonists and our usual coming of age story – think of all the High School romantic stories with a feisty leading lady that you can think of 🙂 It has romance, great friendships, a proper evil villain, some ups and downs, lots of drama, supportive parents and a very predictable ending.
I’m not a major Bollywood fan right now, nor a fan of concepts like destiny, or all the astrology stuff mentioned in this book, so I was a little underwhelmed by those bits in the story. However, all the information that the author puts in about film festivals, film appreciation, splicing a film, hosting flash film screenings, were simply amazing. I had not know about these things so that was clearly the winning part of the book for me.
I also enjoyed all the characters in the book. The scenes between our heroine, Winnie and Deb, Winnie and Bridget, Winnie and her dad, Winnie and her grandmother – were my favourite parts of the book.
What this book also did was make me nostalgic and take me back in time to when I had been a major Shah Rukh Khan fan. I still am his fan, but I don’t like his movies anymore. I like him outside his movies better..lol 😀
So, keeping in with the theme of this book, here are a few Bollywood mentions that I thought of (there will be many overlaps with the book), and my tongue in cheek comments on them (with a few exceptions) 😀
Kuck Kuch Hota Hai – Friendship goals
Hum Apke Hain Koun – Wedding party goals
Dil to Pagal Hai – Dancing goals
Maine Pyar Kiya – “Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi bann sakte”/ “A boy and a girl can never be friends” (the movie and the dialogue that deprived Indians of potentially amazing friendships with the opposite gender..arghhh)
Pink – Girl power!! – I actually like this one
Mardaani – Girl, lets go kick some ass!! – Liked this one too
Dhoom – WTF movies. Bollywood’s take on the WTF fast and furious franchise. Leave logic and gravity behind
Kahaani – What an ending!! Did not see that coming! A must watch for all murder mystery fans! – I liked this one too 🙂
Jaane bhi do yaaron – A very old movie, but another epic one, if you want to watch a hilarious movie on social satire
Sholay – #Respect. No words necessary
Questions to you guys:
There are many other movies that I could list, but I want to hear your movie lists now – no matter what kind of movies you love to watch – Hollywood, Bollywood, any other language, I want to know a movie that you found ridiculous and a movie that might be your forever favorite, in the comments!!
She had never been much of a talker. But she couldn’t be a social recluse either, especially if she wanted that guy to acknowledge her presence. After being ignored a couple of times by the guy of her dreams, rather painfully, she realised, that wallflowers get noticed only in books and movies. Not in real life. She had to change. Not have a makeover, but she had to stop hiding. But how?
That had been in high school. Fast forward to her twenties, and she was the centre of attention of all parties. She won the class awards, and was so popular that there were guys clamouring for her attention and wanting to date her. She could literally take her pick. No, she hadn’t metamorphosed into a beautiful Butterly overnight, but she had figured out the art of making small talk. And looking interested. And listening. And touching. And laughing at the right places. And always being there, being present. It was hard work, but she made it look like it was second nature to her. She was a fake extrovert now. The social interactions tired her, but she loved the attention she got, and so she kept being fake and pretending to be everyone’e best friend, and the coolest girl to date.
But today, sitting with some of her husband’s friends, who had sort of become her friends too, watching the children trouble everyone else in the restaurant, she suddenly realised, she had forgotten how to talk! The realisation hit her hard. But the change hadn’t been as sudden as the realisation. She knew she was changing, and going back to being the social recluse that she was. She knew she could still be the social butterfly using her skills that she had painfully cultivated in her younger years, but now, she was truly exhausted. She had known since her daughter had been born, that she needed to stop channeling her finite energy in pleasing people and being fake, and try and focus on herself instead. She had forgotten how to please the one person who was important to her. In learning how to please others and learning how to talk, in all of those years, she had forgotten how to talk to herself, her soul.
Her husband had been the first one to notice. Their marriage had lost its spark, but they were together because of many other reasons. It was due to no fault of his, she had realised one day. He had married the popular, cheerful, talkative, life of the party. But since the last three years, she had become quieter, buried in her own world, in her books, in her writing. They would still have a few good conversations, but she had no interest in socialising anymore. She had a handful of friends now, and most people avoided talking to her in parties. She was happy to forget how to talk to others. It was such a peaceful thing, not having to talk just for the sake of talking.
She smiled, as she heard all the noise, all the chattering around her in that crowded restaurant on that sunny, winter, Sunday afternoon. She zoned out, making the sounds turn into a sort of white noise. She had a sip of her drink, and hummed along to the song, Wonderwall, that no one else had heard. She loved that she had forgotten to talk now.
Book two in the Orisha trilogy and the sequel for ‘Children of Blood and Bone’. I was expecting a lot from the second book since the first one had been a smashing debut that I had been completely pulled into. And like all things that I have great expectations with, this one left me disappointed. If you are new to this series then you can also check out my review for the first book, Children of Blood and Bone here.
Now I have to warn readers that it’s nearly impossible to talk about this book without giving away any spoilers and I do need to talk about my feelings for the second book. So if you haven’t read the book yet, please don’t read any further. My spoiler-free two pence thought on this is, that it didn’t match my expectations and there were a lot of frustrating moments and things happening with the characters in the book, many questions unanswered and new things added in. The pacing was super fast and the action scenes were brilliant. But those were the two things I liked. So come back to thus post once you’ve read the book, so we can discuss more 😊
Things I liked about book 2 of the Odisha trilogy:
Just look at that cover!! Zelie looks absolutely smashing!! She reminds me of the younger Rihanna in that picture 😉🥰
The pacing of the story.. my gosh there were so many twists and turns that you will not have a single second to be bored
The world building and the action scenes – I could literally picture all the war scenes that are in this book. I think there were some talks about adapting this trilogy onto screen, so I can totally see the appeal. Quite similar to The Hunger Games Book 2 and Book 3, I’d say
The fact that Inan is alive and we get mama Agba back!! Woo hoo!
I was still in awe of the political aspects and perspectives in this book and series overall. We can draw so many parallels to ruling and war or peace from this book to o ur own world where each kind of ruler has his or her own conviction about how to rule and being peace in a realm/country. It’s a really hard job I must say..
Now, for the part I want to write about and vent- the things that left me frustrated and angry:
The one thing I really wanted to cry about was what the author makes Amari do. I was team Amari in book 1. I absolutely loved her arc in the first book – the one person who doesn’t have magic, is not popular but still fights her way and knows what is right and, is kind. In this book, the author literally broke my heart in the end with what she makes Amari do. There is no coming back from that. There is no justifying genocide, ever. Even if you miraculously revive everyone, genocide is absolutely unforgivable in my world. People can’t just get away with , “I had no choice”, or “That was a mistake and I’ll sacrifice my life for that”, and be forgiven after mass genocide, especially one that you’ve done willingly and knowingly. There is always a choice. We don’t forgive the Queen Nehanda for doing the same, then how can we forgive Amari? I was completely shattered for her after that scene. I wanted her to be greater than Danearys from the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones, but I don’t know what the author has in mind for her. I just can’t see myself going back to team Amari after this and will have to wait till the last book to see how the author salvages Amari
Inan- my man, how long will it take for you to get your shit together? Wasn’t the whole of the first book and being responsible for the death of your girlfriend’s father enough to make you see sense? Either hate the majis and be a strong king or fight for them and be a strong king. All the chapters with Inan were so frustrating and boring! I had hoped a better redemption arc for Inan in the second book, where he would have better conviction in his thoughts and decisions, but what comes, comes in too late.
What the hell is that romance angle for Zelie and Roen??? I do not ship that pair. I mean I get that Roen has all the bad guy with a good heart characteristic that makes for a typical romantic pairing but Zelie still clearly is conflicted about her feelings for Inan and I couldn’t buy into Roen’s feelings for Zelie at all. There was a subtle hint that Roen was involved in some kind of double cross but had a last minute change of heart, so maybe they won’t end up together after all? We’ll see in the finale I guess
Why is Tzain in this book at all? Just to be Amari’s love interest? He had such a great role in the first book. I would’ve preferred if he had disappeared completely and gone on a separate quest than be present uselessly in this book
I was heartbroken to see Zelie and Amari’s friendship break so easily in this book. After all that they went through together, I was expecting to see a stronger bond between the two girls and was very upset to see them fight and say such hurtful things to each other. There can be kindness in grief and loss too and I refuse to accept that their trials took them apart. Trials are a test of a strong friendship. Yes, they don’t kill each other but they still have the thought and are willing to sacrifice each other for ‘the greater good’. I didn’t get that either.
There were too many unanswered questions for me regarding the powers of the centres in this book. Maybe the final book will have some answers
Why the abrupt cliffhanger?!!! Argghhh! I’m reading another trilogy by VE Scwab in parallel, and Id say authors could follow her lead when it comes to the ending of a book with sequels intended. Or even the way Leigh Bardugo ends her books, which are parts of series. You can always finish one story and have an opening to the next one, without a crazy cliffhanger.
Whew, feels good to write that all down. I just needed to get my thoughts out and I completely understand if you don’t agree with my thoughts or have different opinions😊 In fact, I’d love to discuss more and broaden my perspective😊 I will be reading the final book anyway, and what I really want is Inan to grow up, Inan and Zelie being together, Amari finding another love interest who is more worthy for her, a democracy with chosen leaders- maybe Tzain could be the democratic prime minister since he has no interest to rule, and some way to control magic. Nice clean happy ending lol..
Last working day of the week today, here in India!! I hope you all are excited about Friday too 🙂
I was tagged for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Nikita at Prose & Pancakes. Thank you Nikita for nominating me for this award! Do check out her blogs where she talks about books, screen adaptations and many more interesting tags 🙂
What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?
The sunshine blogger award is given to bloggers who are creative, positive and inspiring. Once nominated, the blogger is required to write a post in which they:
Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog
Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them
Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 other questions to answer
Notify your nominees and display the sunshine blogger award in your post
So, here are Nikita’s questions for me, and my answers 🙂
Do you watch books-to-movie adaptations? Which ones are your favorite?Yes, absolutely!! In fact, I try to follow the rule of reading the book before watching the movie, but there have been many times where I’ve not been able to catch up my reading before watching. Some of my favorite adaptations are: Harry Potter movies, Lord of the Rings series, Narnia movies, Ready Player One, Pride and Prejudice (the one with Kiera Knightley), to name a few 🙂
Can you name an underrated book you read and loved?Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (not sure if that was under rated many years back but I haven’t heard a lot of people read it or talk about it lately) 🤷♀️😊
Do you read or write fan-fiction?Guilty of not reading or writing any fan fiction
How did you fall in love with reading? When did it happen?Well, I’m not sure I can pin point to the exact age when I fell in love with reading, since I can remember loving to read from my earliest childhood memories. My father encouraged me to read since he was an avid reader himself, and he would get me books from the meagre library, or I would always buy a book from those stalls-on-wheels on the train station before every vacation – comics like Tinkle, Archies and children’s versions of classics like Heidi, Jungle book, 20,00 leagues under the ocean, David Copperfield were the first books that I remember reading and loving. I then graduated to the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Famous Five, Mallory Towers, Secret Seven series, since these were the books available in our local library..aah, such fond memories of day dreaming 😀
Do you have hobbies other than reading books and blogging about them? If yes, what are they?Ok, I’m not sure if any of these can be called hobbies, but I do have other interests that I am deeply invested in, such as – Running, Traveling, Writing (about other things, other than books), writing letters to pen friends, and dancing 🙂 I’ve started trekking last year so lets see if I’m able to continue with that as well..
Which book is closest to your heart?Hahahaha, trick question? I cant answer that one, since there are just too many. There has been a book that has talked to my heart literally through every year, age and phase of my life I think 🙂
What would be the title of the book based on your life?Hmm, I haven’t given this a thought but it might be something along the name of my blog – ‘The secret life of Starry Eyed’ or ‘Dream On’ maybe? LOL 😀
What’s one movie you want to be novelized?Oh, good question! I don’t think anyone would have ever considered the opposite! All the great movies are based on books or comics, for me. But I would love to read more about dream stealing based on Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ – that movie was just epic and had blown my mind away!
You can only read graphic novels or fan-fiction. Which one would you choose?Graphic novels. Although I don’t read a lot of graphic novels even now, I haven’t read ANY fan-fiction. And the one graphic novel I read (two books from the series that is)- DeathNote, I quite loved. So, graphic novels 🙂
Book blogging or book tube – which one do you like more?Book blogging at present 🙂
What’s one thing book blogging has taught you?Read and write for yourself. Else you’ll lose the joy of reading and writing, and get caught up in the ratings game. You will find friends eventually, so don’t stress over it 🙂
She thought of books as medication and sanctuary and the source of all good things.
I think if I had a fantasy alternate life, I’d be living Nina Hill’s life. I literally felt like I was reading about a version of me living in a parallel universe! I think every reader who loves books to the point of obsession will be able to relate to Nina Hill in the same way 🙂
This book was my Goodreads book club Book of the Month selection for January, and although I won’t rate it highly, it is definitely one of those feel good books that you’ll be glad you read. Reading this book was like going on a coffee date with your best friend. You can spend hours, laughing, nodding in harmony and not do anything worthwhile or learn anything new, other than feel great afterwards. That’s a good thing for readers like us. Sometimes we’re off to fight wars in fantasy worlds, sometimes we’re cunning thieves, sometimes we’re learning about the struggles of racism or casteism or classism, sometimes we’re dreading that dystopian world, sometimes we’re a superhero or a superhero detective, but sometimes, we’re just us. And this book is that – it’s just about us readers 🙂
There isn’t much of a plot, but there are real characters that you want to be friends with, there’s a guy who you secretly wish was your boyfriend or partner 😀 and then there’s Nina’s job and her home. I want all of that to be honest. I want to work in a bookstore. I want to be a regular at a coffee shop. I want friends who get me and are witty and sarcastic and quote from books and are always recommending books or shows based on books – in the physical life, people I can have a book club with and face to face discussions with and go to the pub with. I want a home or a reading room with walls stacked with books and that reading chair, overlooking a beautiful garden or the ocean. I want coffee and hot chocolate and alcohol (replace wine with whiskey/gin maybe). I want a dog, because I’m not a cat person, but then I’d have to be careful of my books or train my dog so that he doesn’t chew off my books..ahem. I want a lot of quite and solitude. I want Thursdays marked as ‘nothing’ so that I can read all evening and go to bed. Sigghhhhh!!! I’m literally day dreaming right now, thinking about Nina Hill’s life. I want my partner to say stuff like 😀 😉
Let’s go home and be alone together.
Nina acquires a couple of things in the story and her life changes quite a bit, but its still similar in lots of ways. I deal with a lot of anxiety and stress too and I could totally relate to the way Nina dealt with her anxieties – by avoiding people/situations that would make her anxious. I do that a lot too. But sometimes you just have to do certain things and get anxious. Those times, I just breathe, try to talk to myself, or listen to music or the best option – read. Sometimes I drink to avoid feeling anxious and be socially awkward. In that way, I could relate to what her dad was like. I loved her nanny Lou’s advice:
The first thing you should always do is nothing..
All the supporting characters are so amazing too. I just adored Nina’s boss- Liz, another book nerd/book lover. I wish I had a boss like her 🙂
All in all, its a Bridget Jones kind of book – great friends, lots of humor, easy writing, easy reading. A perfect book for a date with a book kind of day, or for reading on a beach. I didn’t rate it high, but I enjoyed it nevertheless and would recommend it to all book lovers out there 🙂
I had this book on my TBR shelf since a year, and thanks to the Unread Shelf Project 2020 challenge, I finally read this, and now I’m wondering, what took me so long? It’s a John Boyne book after all..I should have known he couldn’t go wrong, especially after A Heart’s Invisible Furies 🙂
How far would you go to achieve success? That’s the question I thought this book asks of its readers, from the book description. But when I finished the last sentence of the book, I closed it, exhaled, and was left feeling very confused. Because clearly, my moral compass’s answer to that question was very different from our main protagonist – Maurice Swift’s moral compass answer.
This is Maurice Swift’s story – a writer with little talent in the writing department but a lot of talent in the stealing department. Don’t worry, those are not spoilers, since they’re pretty much mentioned in the book description. I haven’t read about a more hateful character since Miss Umbridge in the Harry Potter series. But Miss Umbridge knew she was evil, and took pleasure in being evil. Here, Maurice Swift actually doesn’t think he is evil at all, and that’s where the conundrum starts.
***Potential Spoilers Ahead!!***
Maurice’s story is narrated over a span of years from his 20s to his 50s and is narrated from three major perspectives – Erich Ackerman, his wife Edith and finally by himself. There is a chapter in between narrated by Gore Vidal (unfortunately I hadn’t heard of him before this book or read his works, but from other reviews, I think he was a very popular author) and others. I had almost reached 70% of the book and just wanted some sort of retribution for all the awful acts that Maurice commits. I kept thinking to myself, don’t tell me he gets away with all of this! This can’t be the way the book ends! And finally, I got what I wanted for Maurice in the last 25% of the book. But by then, I felt awful for him. I didn’t know why I was feeling so bad for him. I didn’t know why I didn’t want him to get hurt and why I wanted him to come out of this too. We do see certain moments of empathy from Maurice, when he talks to his son, but, I was utterly confused during the last part of the book, regarding my feelings for him.
This book was great, not because it has a brilliant plot. For most parts, you can almost guess the plot. But for the creation of a character like Maurice’s. A psychopath, a narcissist and a sociopath with a single minded obsession. Someone who doesn’t have a moral compass when it comes to his obsession. Someone who is absolutely sure that he has done no wrong and what he did was in fact absolutely normal. How do you judge a person like that?
I also drew some interesting parallels in John’s writing style with Heart’s Invisible Furies – How he subtly adds in the title of the books towards the ends of each book (do look out for when a ladder to the sky comes up), like an easter egg, how he likes to use the name Arjan (wink), how there are always plot lines featuring gay men and their struggles during WW2 era, how he has to add in Hitler’s time period and its impact on their characters. I love everything about the way he writes, simple and with heart 🙂
For me, personally, I liked A Heart’s Invisible Furies more than A Ladder to the Sky, but I would still recommend this book highly, just to see your reactions to Maurice Swift! What a splendid character! 🙂
Now to the fun part! I have an additional unread and brand new hardcover of the same book in the below edition. The story goes like this. I had asked a friend to get me this book when she was traveling from UK to India last year and she lied to me saying she couldn’t find the book but had actually bought it as a surprise. In the meanwhile, I thought she was telling me the truth and went ahead and ordered a copy from Amazon for myself. Lol.. so now I have two copies of the same book.
So the one I want to give away or maybe exchange is the one below. I have owned it for a year but it has never been opened and to me it looks as good as a brand new book. But since I’ve got two copies of the book and I really enjoyed reading it, I would love to give it away to any reader who is interested in reading it or exchange for another book that you might want to give away😊
The only requirement is that you let me know if you’re interested and you have to be in India since shipping charges abroad will cost me more than the book cost! Lol!
Hello my witty, intelligent and kind friends from the reading community! I hope like me, you guys have already dived right into your reading goals for this year.
I’ve signed up for a couple of Reading Challenges this year and wanted to write a separate post to list them down so I can come back next year and update how my reading went with respect to these challenges. If any of these interest you, do feel free to join in or check in the blogs or goodreads club 😊📚
So here are the challenges I’ll be doing this year. You can see which books I’ve read under each challenge on my page on ‘Reading Challenge – 2020‘.
Goodreads Reading Challenge 2020 – I have targeted to read 72 books this year. Let’s see how that goes 🙂
Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2020 – 12 books under each of the categories below. You can check out her blog and the reading challenge here
My Goodreads Book Club – Kick Up Your Heels’ Book of the Month selections – 12 books. Here’s a sneak peak of the books selected for the first three months 🙂
South Asian Reading Challenge 2020, that is being hosted by Fanna @ Fannatality and Nandini @ Novels and Nebulas. You can check out the details of this challenge on Fanna’s blog link that I’ve mentioned above, if you are interested in joining in 🙂 I am going to try and read the two books per month option, which includes reading one backlist and one new release by a south Asian writer. Here are the books chosen for the month of January by the hosts 🙂
The Unread Shelf Project 2020 – I will be reading 12 books from my owned books unread shelf this year, using the prompt from Whitney’s blog and reading challenge and try to feel less guilty about the growing number of unread books I own. You can check out her challenge on her blog here, if you’re interested. I have already finished reading my first book under this challenge – A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne and a review will be up soon!
Other than these, I want to catch up on series that I had planned on reading this year and read a few more new releases and sequels that have been released by authors I had enjoyed in the past. Some books in this category are mentioned below:
Children of Virtue & Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi
The Grishaverse Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (before the Netflix series airs, hopefully)
A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab to complete the Shades of Magic series
Finish re-reading the last two books of the Harry Potter series that I had started last year
The Night Country by Melissa Albert – the second book to Hazel Wood, which I had loved
And maybe some more..we’ll see
Those are my reading challenges for the year. If you’re interested in any of the challenges or buddy reading with me, I would be forever grateful to you, for giving me company reading! 🙂 Now, let me get back to reading 😉
I am trying to raise my inner Hermione and figure out a way to get one of those time turning clocks so that I can achieve all of these things – some new and some carried forward from last year, in the year 2020! We will see what went down 365 days later 😉 (I know this is a leap year but I’m not counting today ok?! Don’t get smart with me now lol)
So, here are my lofty goals for this year:
Buy that darned automatic car and learn to drive already! Learning to drive and driving my own car is soon turning out to be on of those death bed/bucket list wishes from the way this task keeps getting spilled onto every new year 🙄
Try and publish at least 2 posts per week.
Host a few book giveaways
Visit more blogs and comment more on other friend’s blogs.
And jazz up my own blog. At least create a separate page to track all those reading challenges!!
Practice writing daily
Get fitter and more active by continuing to run more, swim more, dance more, exercise more and play more basketball (I’m kidding, I don’t play basketball, but had signed up for the classes last month which might continue in this year) – All this so I can eat and drink like I want to.. ahem
Read 6 books per month! I couldn’t believe when I saw that I had managed to read 5 books a month last year! So will I be able to up my reading game and read more?!
Join a few reading challenges. I’ve already thought I’ll continue my personal Goodreads challenge and the Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenges. In addition to these, I want to read all the BOTM from my goodreads book club – Kick Up Your Heels and I have signed up for Project 2020, which is a new challenge hosted by Whitney (you can access the blog here) but one that I desperately needed. This challenge gets you to read some of the unread books from your shelves or donate them away if you’re not able to finish them in that month. I want to read more new releases but I’m also looking out for more interesting challenges or read-alongs hosted by fellow book bloggers that I can join in. So guys, send me links or tag me please in your challenges if you’re hosting any! Pretty pleeease!! 🥰🙏
Run a half marathon
Visit mom more and my sister in US
Go for another weekend trek
Participate in the office charity organisation for kids as a volunteer
Try and figure out smarter ways to finish office work so I can spend time on other activities , be more assertive and try not let some assholes stress me out or ruin my day with their dictatorship or stupidity (this will be a hard one for a people pleaser like me.. gah)
So, those are my goals/plans for 2020!! Let’s get started!!
I started this blog post last year, when I wanted to take time to reflect on the year that was, what went well, what didn’t, tragedies and surprises, happiness and sorrows, lessons learned or not learned, all that jazz. I read last year’s post and decided that I wanted to keep writing these posts at the end of each year. This is one of those posts that I write to myself and for myself. But since I’m also posting it on my blogging site, this is something I also want to share with my somewhat anonymous friends from the blogging community 🙂
Last year, I started my post with a quote about change being the only constant in life. This year, my thought predominantly has been this one, sorry if it’s a little sad 🙂
Here’s to the ones that we got
Cheers to the wish you were here, but you’re not
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
Of everything we’ve been through
Toast to the ones here today
Toast to the ones that we lost on the way
‘Cause the drinks bring back all the memories
And the memories bring back, memories bring back you
(Lyrics from Maroon 5’s song – Memories, one of my favorite songs this year)
Me and work have reached a sort of passe, just like I had mentioned about the passe that I had reached with regards to my married life. Last year, I had a much better work environment and team in UK but this year, back in India, it has been terrible. I left my previous organization and joined a new one, but it still remains bad. I know I don’t love my job, hell, I don’t even like it. But lets face it, that’s the only thing I know to do, that pays the rent and all of the other things that I love to do. So, until they fire me, or until I can force myself out of my comfort zone, I’m going to probably continue working without ambition on my current job. My ideal job would be one, that would let me read, write, blog, travel, spend time with my family and friends and get paid for all of that. Now, let me go find that magic lamp to make this impossible wish come true.. lol 😀
I wish I could skip this part this time. It just hurts too much that my forever family has one piece of the puzzle missing forever now. I don’t know why we feel like the people we love will be around us forever. It is again, wishing for the impossible. Especially in cases of old age or diseases followed by death. My heart aches daily and even though I’m doing a million things, every night, I think of papa, and miss him. Every night, I want to find out some way of reaching out to him and asking him, if he was happy? If he had a good life, even though it was riddled with pain towards the end. I wanted to ask him, why did he drink so much? What wasn’t enough?
I did spend a lot of time with my in laws and my own extended family this year, and some unusual people gave me strength and made me laugh and get through my low phases, because they had already gone through a similar experience in the past and knew exactly what to say or not to say. Special shout out to my cousins – Vivek (Vicky) and JC.
But above all, I have been saved this year by the two R’s in my life – my sister Richi and my daughter Roshni. I wish them both all the happiness and a really long and healthy life, so that I have them around forever (I know, selfish me, but I don’t know what I will do without them). Roshni turned 3 this year, and has been such a delight and pain in the ass at the same time! lol 😀
I have continued to try and make my overall growth a priority this year as well. Being busy doing the things you love and things that help you physically or mentally, is a great way to deal with all the shit that is going on in the world or in your own personal life. I have updated this based on the personal goals or plans I had set up for myself on this post, at the beginning of the year. So, here’s a snapshot of how my personal year was and let’s see how many of the goals I achieved, how many I didn’t, and what new things I added in 🙂
Reading goals and challenges update:
I had signed up for a couple of reading challenges and my own reading goal on Goodreads, so here is a snapshot:)
The 2019 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge – I completed all the 12 checkboxes for this challenge! Yay!
I was going to join Paige’s reading challenge for the few of the months – Jan, Apr, May and Dec, but I think I read only two books from the challenge. You can see her reading challenge post here
I had signed up to read 50 books this year on Goodreads challenge, and I over-achieved that goal! I read a total of 62 books this year and really proud of myself..hehe 😀
The Goodreads book club – Kick Up Your Heels destination challenge : I didn’t fare very well in this challenge. I visited just 4 destinations out of 12. Here are the places I travelled to with the books I read 🙂
Cuba – Next Year in Havanna
India – Magical Women by Sukanya Venkatraghavan
South America – Hippie by Paulo Coello
USA Southern States – Looking for Alaska by John Green
Epic Fail. Yet another year passes by, and I still don’t own a car, and I still don’t know how to drive. Argh!
I did write a lot more than last year and I’m happy with my slow yet steady progress. I wrote more short stories this year, and I also braved my inhibitions and sent my first short story to a few sites to be published. It got rejected, but that’s OK 🙂 I participated for the third consecutive year in NaNoWriMo this year and wrote way more words than the first two years, even though I didn’t write all the 50K. But the best part of the writing was, the therapy it gave me and the avenues it opened up to meet and make friends with other writers. I hope to keep building on this next year as well 🙂
Well, I didn’t run daily, but I ran a lot this year. And I ran my first few 10Ks as well!! Woo Hoo!
I traveled a lot as well this year. At least as much as my job and family situation would allow me to, in a year. It’s not ideal, but I try to make do with what I have and what I can 🙂
Odisha – Puri, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar
Maharashtra – Forts, Weekend retreats with friends, Bhandardara falls in monsoons
Kudremukh Peak in Karnataka
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
I had goals of socialising more, which I think I did this year. I met up with a lot of cousins and family. Hung out with a lot of my girl friends. Wrote more letters to my pen pals and made new friends via blogs and writing groups. I plan on nurturing all of these old and new relationships in the coming year as well.
I also have to jazz up my blog, but like driving, no idea when I’ll get down to doing it. I just like writing and chatting with my fellow bloggers, but when it comes to marketing my blog, I am quite lame. That needs to change soon though, because blogging has become something I really love and I need to nurture this too 🙂
Finally, a few other highlights from this year:
I got my third tattoo in papa’s memory
I went for my first long trek of 22Kms and loved the experience
I went for U2’s concert in Mumbai, alone! And it was absolutely worth it!
My husband and I celebrated 10 years of married life this year..gosh! Can’t believe it! lol 😀
So, in Looney Toon’s words, That’s it Folks!! Today is the last day of the decade, and I wish for all my friends and family to bring in the next year with a bang or a soft whoosh, whatever rocks your boat 🙂 I hope all of us manage to find some peace and happiness amidst all the shit that is going on globally, and personally. I hope we find strength in our friendships and relationships, and are there for each other, even if we don’t talk daily. I hope there are more books, more travels and more time with the people we love. I wish for delicious food, yummy drinks and glorious sunrises or sunsets for all of us. I wish papa has found a place where he can be King forever. I wish I never forget papa 🙂
By the end of the trip yesterday, I felt like a bag of mixed feelings. Part of me wanted to quit everything and stay in those beautiful Andaman islands, and wake up to that sea green and ocean blue water and watch the sunset every day. Part of me was glad to have 4G and network connectivity on my phone so I could talk to my friends and family and realize how addicted I am to my phone and the internet!
I had been to Andamans before, in 1996 I think, with my dad, mom and sister for one of our winter vacations. Dad was in the Indian Navy, so it was an easy decision for him to decide that we go see the islands. However, we hadn’t gone to any other islands like Havelock and Neill on that trip. So even though I was revisiting the Andamans, it felt like a whole new experience after so many years.
Usually, I write down a pretty detailed story about my travel experience, but since it was a 7 day 6 night trip, I thought I’d note down the highlights, the frustrating parts, advice/tips/lessons learnt for the next beach travel and a bundle of pictures to remember this trip by. I hope other traveling parents find this post helpful or that other travelers decide to give beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands a chance, if these pictures have managed to entice you 🙂
Do leave a link to your own beach or Andaman experience blogs or vlogs in the comments section. I would love to read your experiences too! 🙂
Places we visited on this trip: So Andaman and Nicobar Islands may look tiny in comparison to other States, but it is really difficult to cover all the Islands either due to lack of reachability, shortage of time or simply because some of these islands have not been opened to tourist access to save the traditional Aadivasi population from over tourism. So, in our little time, we were only able to cover two islands near Port Blair and two other islands – Havelock and Neill, which are just the tip of South Andaman. I’ve decided that I would like to see North Andaman a few years later, since the locals said great things about the untouched northern islands and their beaches. There is a roadwork going on, which should be operational in the next two years, so maybe a revisit will be needed, in 2024? 🙂
Port Blair: Cellular Jail and Carbyn Cove Beach
Havelock Island: Radhanagar beach and Kalapathhar beach
Neill Island: Natural Bridge, Lakshmanpur beach and Bharatpur beach
Ross Island (Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island) and North Bay Island
All the delicious food that I hogged on this trip!!
So, now that all the fun stuff and the pictures are done with, here are my favorite things about Andamans and the frustrating bits 🙂
Why you should travel to Andamans – with or without family/kids 🙂
You can save all the Visa hassles and international travel cost if you are an Indian and love beaches and water sports by actually visiting these Islands that are part of your own country! We didn’t do any of the water sports, but I can guarantee that there wasn’t one tourist we didn’t overhear raving about the beautiful underwater life and the crystal clear, turquoise blue waters
Your DSLRs and phone will fill up with pictures, and you still won’t be able to do justice to the beauty of the beaches, the sunsets and the colors of the ocean water. I couldn’t decide if the water was sea green, turquoise blue, ocean blue, dark blue, or transparent! 🙂
The seafood is to die for. But even better was all the fruit salad we ate which were being sold by vendors at each beach. I have not eaten such delicious fruits in the longest time! And those coconut water..oh my goodness, I didn’t know coconut water could taste this sweet!
I loved our resort at Neil Island. It was a quaint little place, and the restaurant was run by two Bengali men, but they were absolutely delightful. Always smiling, always ready to help and cater to the toddler’s and the adult’s demands of food and drinks as well. I loved Neill Island the most because of the service I received at this resort
You get a sense of our history and the variety of flora and fauna that our country has when you visit each of these beaches or islands. It fills your with pride and love for India 🙂
We didn’t have time to visit the Aadivasi island – Baratang, but maybe next time..
Havelock is the closest you’ll feel to Goa, if you think Goa is your best beach in the whole world. Also, do try out this beach shack called ‘Something Different’ on Beach No. 2, for a Goa-like shack experience:)
The locals are a mix of Bengalis or Tamilians mostly, we found. But theyre all so kind and sweet and shy. I loved their attitude to life, their contentment in being where they were and their love for the islands. They reminded me of the shy Ladakhis sometimes 🙂 Also, did you know, there is zero crime rate in these islands?! How cool is that?! 🙂
And now, the frustrating parts of our travel, with some advice or tips to other travelers based on my own experience 🙂 :
The most frustrating part was the lack of decent wifi or data network anywhere on any island. On some of the islands, only BSNL and Airtel voice network works, but with very choppy quality and hardly any of the hotels or resorts had wifi. It was a strange feeling when you are forced into an unplanned digital detox. But I think theyre going to fix this with Jio rolling out its data network within the next 2 years, so maybe it will get better 🙂
We went during peak tourist season, and the crowd was infuriating at times. There were just too many huge families, noisy people and just people in general, that kind of marred my experience a little. So try and plan away from the Christmas and New Year vacations. But don’t travel during off season, unless you have weeks in hand, since we were told that if it rains, all waterways are closed down and there’s literally nothing you can do about it
If you are traveling from Pune, then get ready for the longest and most excruciating flight journey to Port Blair. We had an overnight haul at Bangalore airport and it sucked
Carry lots of sun screen. It doesn’t matter that you’re going in winters. I am thick skinned and I still got sunburned
Carry lots of light clothes and swimwear, that dry easily, since you just cant resist going into the water 🙂
You don’t get a lot of things to eat for kids here – our kid survived on French fries, hakka noodles and rice and daal. Thank goodness she eats at least all that..lol For the adults, there are a lot of options of course, but you may not find fancy restaurants everywhere 🙂
Be prepared to be cheated, we are Indians and yet we got duped into paying for this really lame semi-submarine boat ride on North Bay island. It’s really lame – don’t go for it 🙂
I think I’ve exhausted all the wisdom I had to impart to my readers and also exhausted all my marketing skills in selling Andamans to travelers 🙂 On that note, I absolutely loved my 2019 winter vacation to Andaman Islands. And, I was constantly thinking of papa and my trip with my own parents, to these islands, when there were far less people, all those years back 🙂
So, you guys, tell me:
What is your favorite beach destination internationally, in your home country, or in India?
What is your pet peeve when you go on a beach destination vacation during peak tourist season? 🙂