These, Our Bodies Possessed by Light by Dharini Bhaskar – Thoughts

Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake

and dress them in warm clothes again

How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running

until they forget that they are horses

It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,

it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio,

how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days

were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple

to slice into pieces.

Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it’s noon, that means

we’re inconsolable.

Tell me how all this, and how love too, will ruin us.

These, our bodies possessed by light.

Tell me, we’ll never get used to it.

Poem ‘Scheherazade’ by Richard Siken (Crush)

Every once in a while, you stumble across a book, that sings to you. You read many books, some take you on an adventure, some make you fall in love, some make you laugh, some make you cry, some shatter your heart and some are just not worth your time. But then, in your journey through many such beautiful books, you come across those few books, that sing to you. That talk to you, whisper into your mind, telling you, “I know you and I know your heart.”

I love reading books without reading about their reviews or the story. I go in, not expecting anything. And I absolutely love it when a book surprises me so much and in such a great way. I’ve been trying to make my way through the JCB shortlist titles this year, and its no wonder that this was one of the books that has been shortlisted for the JCB Prize. It absolutely deserves it and has become one of my favorite books this year.

In this story, narrated by one of the central characters – Deeya, we travel through the lives, loves, desires and heartbreaks of three generations of women – Deeya’s grandmother Ammama, her mother and the story of the three sisters – Tasha, Ranja and Deeya.

If you liked narration and stories like Circe, this is definitely a book I would recommend. It is like a soothing bed time secret story for women, narrated by women. I felt a pull towards the story and Deeya’s thought process especially because I found so many similarities in the way we think. Throughout the story, there is the constant push and pull that each of the protagonists experience between their personal desires, their inner conflicts and what society expects from women in general.

I have highlighted many passages in the entire book and I can’t stop recommending it enough. I’d recommend this book highly if you’re a woman, and even more if you’re an Indian woman, are married or somewhere in between, are lost between what you want and what others want you to want. The book doesn’t give you any answers as such, but it gives you friendship. When you read it, you feel, through these characters, that you’re not alone, in the way you feel 🙂

Have you read this book or any of the other JCB Prize shortlists this year? Which have been your favorite and what were your thoughts regarding this book and especially the ending? 🙂

Stay At Home Series – Episode 8: When the Gods went on a vacation

Photo by Binti Malu on

My daughter finished her online class, which actually means I finished her online class, since four year olds have the attention span of a Dory fish.

Then she looked at me with an exasperated expression and said, “When will this Corona virus end??

I don’t know sweetheart..but I’m sure it will be soon“, I assured her with a placating smile that most parents put up when they’re lying to their children.

Are you praying to your Gods, bache?“, my 65 year old mom asks from across the table. She addresses my daughter as bache most of the time, an endearing way of saying, child.

Yes! I do! Every day! I don’t know why God won’t help me or listen to my prayers?!“, she sounds even more frustrated now. Her eyebrows arched up like that of an actress showing discontent, and her tiny little mouth scrunched up, making the overall effect quite adorably comic.

It’s because the Gods have packed up and gone on a vacation. They decided we were a bunch of naughty children and they were tired of our fake prayers. So they decided to take a break and go on a vacation“, I said, because being the agnostic in the family, I couldn’t blatantly tell my daughter I don’t believe in Gods, the way my extremely pious and religious mom does. Also, children always believe in Gods. They’re magical. I used to believe in them too. Until I grew up.

But mummy!!! There are sooooo many Gods! I prayed to at least 5 Gods in grandma’s puja room! Surely, not all of them have gone on vacation!“, she cant believe they’re not listening to her prayers and making the virus magically disappear.

Yes darling, they’ve all gone on a vacation and are having a big party!

My mom looks cross at me. She’s throwing dagger eyes at me. I ignore her.

Don’t listen to mummy, bache. She doesn’t know better. I’m sure Gods are listening to you and soon the virus is going to go away. And then schools will start and you’ll get to meet your teachers again, and meet your friends and go to school!!“, my mom assures her darling grand daughter about the power of Gods. She sounds really convinced and excited. Maybe my daughter gets her dramatic abilities from my mom, I think.

My daughter is quite for a whole minute, before she speaks and says…

Oh, its OK. I don’t want the Gods to return from their vacation anytime soon. I can go to school later too…no problem. I can be nice to the Gods. I don’t want the virus to go away…

Sigh…Clearly, not having to go to school trumps making the virus go away.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation, which truly took place. I’d love to hear about the funny things your children are talking about during this lockdown, in the comments section 🙂

Five Book recommendations from my nearly five year old

My daughter is four and a half years old and loves being read to. I think I’ve already achieved my parenting goals. Now only if this continues as she grows up 😉

Child experts say that you should communicate with your children like equals. So I took that literally and asked my daughter to choose five of her favorite books and tell me why she loves them. And this is what she picked..

You and Me Always by Caroline Pedler and Stephanie Moss

What my daughter loves about it: Because the dog is so cute mummy!! I really want a dog like him..pleeeeassee??!!

Why I recommend it: Adorably illustrated, the story is a great book to read about the special bond of friendship between dogs and humans

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

What my daughter loves about it: Because now I know Unicorns are real. It says so in the book!

Why I recommend it: As it says on the cover of the book, this is a story about believing in yourself and your dreams. No matter what others tell you, your dreams will lead you somewhere magical one day.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

What my daughter loves about it: Did you see mummy? (between giggles) How did he throw a whale up there?? (More giggles)

Why I recommend it: I just love Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations and story writing style. In this book, he talks about never giving up. You may not get what you set out for, but you’ll definitely get something good.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

What my daughter loves about it: Look at all the silly faces the crayons make mummy!! (lots of giggles)

Why I recommend it: Talk about writing a children’s book about inclusivity! I love the way the crayons have voices in this book and how they want to break out of their stereotypes. I remember writing on a similar prompt, about a purple crayon. It’s a great writing exercise too.

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb

What my daughter loves about it: Paper Dolls!! Can we make some too mummy??

Why I recommend it: Well, Julia Donaldson can’t go wrong. I love her Gruffalo series and what the ladybird heard series. But we found this gem and my daughter loved this story about pretend play and how some things never die, and always live on in our memories 🙂

I hope you enjoyed these recommendations from a four year old. I thought they were great reads for 4-5 year old children. I would love to hear your child’s favorite books in the comments, so I can bring more books for my little girl to read 🙂

Rotis are round and Parathas are triangular

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro on

It all started when my cousin sister and I were making rotis/chapatis/Indian bread in the kitchen, as was the norm these days. No wait, it actually started on the night when my sister was trying her best to turn the round blob of play dough, oh sorry, I meant wheat dough, into triangular shapes, because that’s the shape you’re supposed to cook parathas in.

Luckily I had the easier job of just roasting them over the fire and the pan. Yay..

After the third paratha and spending another ten minutes on trying to shape it like a perfect triangle, but failing and turning it into something that looked like a cross between a turnip and India’s map, she was flustered and remarked, “Why the hell should parathas be triangular in shape??? I mean, isn’t it enough that women are always stuck in the kitchen and that our cooking is complex enough as it is, that they had to go and define shapes for the breads we eat??!! I mean, pray tell me, what is the scientific value of taking small balls of dough – making them round and flat first – and then folding and refolding them like a fucking piece of origami, until it forms the perfect triangle, so that we can eat the bloody parathas??”

She did have a point. So I decided to add fuel to the fire – favourite Hindi serial (TV series) quote, usually said by evil plotting woman in the show, because, only women are evil. Didn’t you know?

Exactly? I mean, isn’t it enough that we have to knead, dough, roll, flatten, roast to optimal capacity to cook our daily rotis, that we had to add shapes for them too? Who the hell decided that rotis should be gol/round and parathas should be triangular??”

My cousin nodded in agreement. It felt like we were going to bring about a revolution in the kitchen.

Yeah! I say we make the rotis irregular in shape. And the parathas will be heart shaped!

Why heart shaped?“, I asked a little concerned.

Because they’re not good for the heart. Too much of it. At least this will act as a reminder to eat fewer parathas and have a scientific justification for its shape!”, my cousin replied, looking very convinced.

Later that night, my mom and daughter and husband were served turnip and heart shaped parathas. They didn’t even notice and ate it all up. 🙂

Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Why is our cooking so complex? Why are there so many processes involved and why is there a need for such precision for presentation? Ok, for a second let me even accept that food is an art and presentation means respecting the food. India is a tropical country, food needs to be prepped and cooked more here. That spending time on your food would mean better health for you.

But then, when we have advanced so much, why not make some processes simpler? Or cut down some processes? Surely, the shape of things shouldn’t matter in the pursuit of good food and good company right? Surely, these steps weren’t just added by men to keep their women restricted to the kitchen, right?

**This post was first published on starryeyedenigma blog**

October 2020 TBR

Why are there soooo many amazing books releasing in the last quarter of the year??!!! I’m stuck in every book lover’s dilemma – the question of how to read all of these books in the limited time that I have. Any great magical solutions guys? I’m all ears 😀

I know we’re already almost halfway through October and to think that I’ve not even tackled half of my TBR this month! Magic! I need some serious magic in my life. So here’s a list of all the books I want to read in October 🙂

  • The Scaredycat readathon selections (also subject to change, based on delivery of actual books)
    • Prompt 1: Books that you’re scared of reading (due to any reason)
      • I chose The Dragon Republic for this one, because it will serve two objectives. One, Ill be able to finish it as part of the October month reading schedule for The Poppy War readathon, and two, the prompt since I’m sure Im going to be in tears by the end of this book
    • Prompt 2: Books that you’re scared into reading, because FOMO:
      • Throne of Glass – I might have to read this on kindle though, but super excited because I’m buddy reading this with a friend. However, I’m not sure if we will actually start it this month!
      • The Graveyard Book – I actually just finished this one and loved it! The only book I’ve managed to finish this month..ahem
    • Prompt 3: Books that you’re scared by (like actual spooky stuff)
      • I picked Mexican Gothic for this one. I really wanted to read the hardcover, but looks like I’ll have to settle for the kindle version of the book
  • Unravel the Dusk – Book 2 of the Spin The Dawn duology and I’m really looking forward to buddy read this with an amazing group of readers! I also have the hardcover of the book, so it couldn’t get better 🙂
  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely – I received the paperback last week and will be reading this as the BooksOnToast book club pick for the month 🙂
  • These, our bodies possessed by Light – Another JCB shortlist title that I own and really need to read
  • Anxious People – This would be my first Frederick Backman and readers have said nothing but super reviews about the book and I can’t wait to dive into this one!
  • The Bone Shard Daughter – Now this is one that I’ll have to take a call on. I ordered the physical copy of the book from a bookstore, but it seems it won’t reach me this month. But the book is also a pick of The Book Clinic’s book club BOTM and I do want to dive into the discussions. Should I also get a kindle copy or listen to it on StoryTel or Audible?
  • Light Fantastic – This is the second book from the discworld series and funnily, the one I skipped because I went straight ahead to read Equal Rites and Mort after I finished The Colour of Magic. Also, this is Sharin’s pick for The Shiny Happy book club this month, so will be double the fun to dive into the crazy world of disc world characters again! And then, when I return back to Pune, I’d have Sourcery waiting for me 😉
  • Hyperbole and a Half – A dear friend introduced this book to me two days back and we decided to buddy read it rightaway! And I’m having such a laugh reading it so far! It’s a total blast!

So, there you go. It’s 12th October today so I technically have 20 days to read 10 books. Which means, two books a day. Magic, I tell you. I need some magic in my life..LOL 😀

What do you guys think? Can I read all the books I’ve set out to read? Do you also have an equally lofty reading goals this month?

Life Diaries and Reading Wrap Up – Sep 2020

Can you believe it, this is my first life diary and reading wrap up post in 2020? Shudder.. Well, because 2020 has been such a shit year in general, it was hard to write a life diary entry without sobbing or whining my heart out. I could have done a reading wrap up though. Reading has been a saviour so far in 2020.

Trips I made in September:

I went to the park to run, I went to the beach in Konark, in Odisha with my family to enjoy the sun and sand and I went on a road trip to Rourkela in Odisha. All the trips were like a balm to the soul 🙂

Books I read:

I read 9 books in September and most of them were part of the Coffee Readathon Challenge prompts. I had such a brilliant month of reading in September though 🙂 You can check out the books I read for The Coffee Readathon here, where I have updated my original post with the books I actually ended up reading for the prompts 🙂

  1. Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman – Such a fun children’s book about imagination!
  2. Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar – Netgalley copy and another super children’s illustrated book promoting LGBTQIA rights
  3. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu. Review here
  4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Review here
  5. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Ju. Review here
  6. Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu. Review here
  7. The Poppy War by R.F Kuang – My favorite read for the month. Review here
  8. Darius the Great is not OK by Adib Khorram – Favorite feel good read. Review here
  9. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. Review here

Other highlights in September:

  1. It was my birthday month and I had such a special birthday! I was completely pampered, got to eat a lot of delicious home cooked food and was loaded with presents and book presents from family and friends! Couldn’t have asked for anything else..except for the corona virus to go away. LOL!
  2. I couldn’t run much though, because it rained on most of the days here. Instead, I replaced running with a lot of dancing, dance workouts and Zumba at home..It has been super fun so far!
  3. I joined in The Poppy War readathon hosted by Nandini (Novels and Nebula) and Krisha (Bookathonblog) and we read The Poppy War in September, and I was absolutely blown over by R F Kuang’s writing and the entire concept of the book!

Considering everything else, I think September was a great month! I did almost everything I love doing 🙂 And made new friends and enjoyed the beach and the sun! 🙂

How was your month of reading in September?

What are the things you are doing to manage your mental health?

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – Thoughts

Bookish Discussion:

What fictional stories have you read and enjoyed, that were inspired by real people or real life events?

My thoughts on The Kingdom of Back:

I know Marie Lu is a much loved author in the bookish community. And I’m happy to say that I finally got a chance to read her work, with this book 🙂

The Kingdom of Back is inspired by real life story and events of musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his lesser known but equally prodigious sister Nannerl Mozart. Apparently, in one of Mozart’s biographies, there were speculations, that Nannerl was equally or maybe even more talented than Wolfgang and wrote some of his compositions. But because women were not allowed popularity in any fields during 18th Century, other than being wives and mothers, Nannerl’s story and even her existence was lost to history!

So Marie Lu took this premise and weaved this beautiful story that felt like diving into a story of Hansel and Gretel, who discover a hidden kingdom like Narnia. Only, this kingdom has its own villain and is dark. I cant say more without divulging the plot of the story, but I really enjoyed the fairy tale fictional account of the Mozart siblings.

Marie Lu’s writing is simple and she doesn’t complicate her world building in this book. There aren’t many important characters and the story keeps its focus on Nannerl, Wolfgang, their father Leopold and the mysterious faery Hyacinth. There are a lot of tasks and twists throughout the story, that keep the pace interesting. I liked the fact that this story focussed completely on sibling relationship and that there was no unnecessary romance added to the plot.

The only thing I felt was that the story was too simplistic and I had guessed where it was going and how it was going to end even before I reached half way. Maybe its because I’ve been reading so many exceptional books with multiple characters and personalities and world building and plot twists, that I might have subconsciously compared this book to the others. Its unfair to do that, but it mattered nevertheless.

That said, I do feel that there were a lot of hidden metaphors in the story, about finding yourself, fighting your demons and standing up for yourself in this feminist fictional account of the Mozart siblings.

And that was my last read for the month of September 🙂 I hope your September reading was super too! I cant wait for the last three months of the year and to read as many wonderful books as I can!

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – Thoughts

Bookish Discussion:

Have you ever felt that writing is therapeutic? That words have the power to change, inspire, break and give strength?

My thoughts on The Poet X:

I picked up this book to fulfil the ‘read a book by a Latinx author’ prompt for the Coffee Readathon. Also, I had been eyeing this book since ages and finally received it as a birthday present this year. I’m so glad I picked it up. However, after finishing the book in a record time of two days, I wanted to re-read it. But this time, I wanted to listen to Xiomara’s voice. I wanted to hear the pain and the angst. So, I’ve decided to listen to the audiobook version for the book as well. I need more goosebumps in my life.

The most surprising part about the book is the narrative style. I guess I can now comfortably throw out all traditional styles of writing a story out of the window. I’m actually really glad that writers are writing out of the box. It just enhances a reader’s experience tenfolds, and also opens up the joy of reading and learning from books to a wider audience. Books needn’t be boring or prose heavy anymore. Books can be written as a series of letters, or in a chronological series of slam poems, and still make a lasting impact on the reader’s mind.

I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark…

Xiomara, from The Poet X

This is Xiomara’s story, but also the story of a lot of teenage girls. Xiomara has a lot of questions – about feminism and her faith. She has a lot of struggles – mostly with her absent father and her very strict mother. She has a best friend who couldn’t be more different than her, but supports her unconditionally. She has a twin brother who has secrets and struggles of his own but loves her. And then she has Aman, her love, who is full of flaws, but knows what Xiomara’s strengths are. But most importantly, she has her words. And through her words, her poems, she finds her place in the world, and fights, like the warrior she is meant to be.

I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to girls trying to find their place and voice in a society full of expectations and obligations.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Ju : Thoughts

Bookish Discussion:

Do you identify yourself as a feminist? If yes, do you think its relevant to read feminist books from across the world? Do you also think that fiction, supported by actual data is the best way to be informed about the challenges faced by minorities, globally?

Thoughts on Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982:

What a coincidence! I was born in 1982 as well. And for a while, when reading this book, I actually wondered if Kim Jiyoung change her name and country? Because this narrative feels too close to my own reality, or the reality of many Indian working mothers that I know as well!

There’s this movie on Netflix, that’s been all the rage recently. The Social Dilemma. It’s categorised as a docu-drama. Which means, the story is taken forward by fictional characters, but its supported by actual facts and data. Which is what made it so impactful to the viewers. Because they could believe this. Because they realised, this movie was about them.

I wonder if books have a similar classification. Because, although this book is classified as fiction, throughout the story the author has supported the narration with actual referenced facts. Forget the referencing also for a second. As a reader, and a working woman, you’ll know, that this book is far from fiction. It’s non-fiction, because I’m 100% sure, all of us have gone through something like this in our lifetime.

The discrimination mentioned in this book isn’t one that’s in your face, where women are not allowed to go to school or marry the one they love. It’s more subtle, but equally crippling. It’s in the fact that even educated parents want a boy, despite having a daughter already. It’s in the fact that girls are are nudged to help with household chores to help mama, along with their studies and that boys are nudged to be the sole financial providers for the family, even if they have no interest in studying or would prefer to help in the kitchen. It’s in the fact that we have to hide the fact that we’re having our periods and that the cramps are real and bloody uncomfortable. It’s in the fact that a boy decided it was perfectly acceptable to stalk you because you ‘smiled’ at him a few times. It’s in the fact that employers subconsciously look over women for higher positions, because one day they’ll get pregnant and go on maternity leave and that’s such a hassle for business. It’s in the fact that women will be judged, for having a coffee at work if they’ve left their babies at daycare, or having a coffee if they’re a stay at home mom. Period. It’s in a lot of these little, persistent facts.

This book has been translated from Korean to English and Im glad it was translated, so I could feel a sense of kinship with the Korean women and know, that the battle for equality and equal rights, the battle against subtle sexism at home, school and workplace, is not restricted to my own country, but is a global issue. I felt a sense of solidarity with Kim Jiyoung, when I finished this book.

A short book just over 150 pages long, I recommend this highly. Thank you Mansi @ I was Thinking.. for recommending this gem of a book to me 🙂

Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu – Thoughts

Bookish Discussion:

Are you reading your way through the JCB Longlist 2020 titles as well? If yes, which book has been your favorite so far?

Chosen Spirits – My Thoughts

I’m slowly making my way through the JCB Longlist 2020 titles, and this will be my third book from the list. Considering that the shortlist will be out just on 25th September, I know I’m woefully behind in trying to finish all the books before the shortlist is out. Some of the books I really want to read, irrespective of whether they make it to the shortlist or not. But some, I probably won’t mind skipping if they don’t make it to the shortlist.

Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu, is a dystopian story, set in New Delhi many years in the future. In the book, events referenced from true events that took place during the NRC/CAB protests in India are talked about as a thing of the past. But other than the fact that technology has advanced, and that people are hooked to social media and documenting their lives via Flows (similar to Vlogs I thought), politically and socially, nothing has improved. In fact, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, with the gap between the privileged rich and the discriminated/minority poor increasing.

I absolutely loved the futuristic world building in Samit Basu’s story. The smarttatts actually gave me a phantom itch on my wrist and Narad (a personal voice mobile assistant like Alexa or Siri) annoyed the hell out of me. People are tracked and monitored constantly. But the environment in Delhi had gone from bad to unliveable. Rich people lived in insulated homes with artificial air purifiers, while the poor were left to the dumps, as always. The politicians still banked on religion to create the divide and rule policy, but now they were tech savvy and used technology to influence and control people and their power. Everything about this futuristic world made me shudder and I pictured a very Ready Player One kind of dusty setting in my mind. I didn’t want to live in a world like this, I thought.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style too. It takes a little bit of time and effort to get accustomed to the sci-fi jargons, but once you’ve got it, its a fast paced narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to end.

My only disappointment with this book was the character arcs which left to a lot of unanswered plot lines. Some characters who had a lot of narrative time in the beginning of the book, were dumped suddenly. Whereas, new characters who would play a pivotal role towards the ending of the story, were introduced too late in the book. The only character I could feel for was Zoey. I wanted to know more about what happened to Indi, or if Chopra got caught. I wanted more scenes with Uma and Zaria. And Rudra was the biggest disappointment for me in terms of the characters in the story.

I think most of the readers have already reached out to the author to release a sequel to the book, narrated by Zaria, tackling all the questions we have. I for one will surely read that 😉 I hope Samit Basu is reading this..heheh 🙂

I would recommend this book, for its entertaining and refreshing style of writing and context, and the fact that its a dystopia without a sad ending. From the longest titles that I’ve read so far, I’m ranking this second to Djinn Patrol, which is first on my ranking list :).