Monday, November 21, 2011

Metamorphosis... Changes of life...

We humans are definitely a strange lot. Right from the time we are toddlers, we are encouraged to grow and learn new things. Once you learn to crawl, walking becomes the next step. From then, you learn to run around creating havoc all around. Soon, it is time for your first day of school. Before you know it, you are a part of a group. You make friends, you learn to laugh and cry. Soon it is time to move on to the higher grades where you get tougher competition.

You have hit your teens. You hav been waiting to get here!!! Something in you urges you to be a part of the so called 'cool gang'. Somehow or the other you feel like you are where you finally belong. Then the time comes for you to say bye bye to school life. Its College time!!! The day you get to shed your school uniforms and go to college. Which was what you wanted way back in school. Now that you are in college, you find out that bunking classes and hanging out with friends is so much more fun !!! You may fall in love, have your heart broken (though not necessarily in that order!!). Some of us may even find our soulmates by that time.

The day has come to leave college and enter into a corporate world. Where you have to survive a cut throat competition in order to survive. Soon you are running a rat race. In the meanwhile, you get married, have kids. By the time you are comfortably settled, you would be well past your middle age!!! Soon the day which you have been waiting for finally arrives - "Retirement".

Its time to get your children settled, marry them off. You are now in what is known as old age. Yeah, you are a grandparent now with nothing much to do. You could be victim of some or many old age problems and diseases. Ur passion for life slowly dies.

In the end, we find ourselves wistfully thinking if only we could turn back the hands of time. If only we were back in our childhoods, where the biggest worry we probably  had was the next day's homework!!!

Taking a BREAK- A luxury or a necessity?

The luxury of having nothing to do but read and write all day long. Throw in a couple of chocolate bars, a tub of rich chocolate flavoured ice cream, I think I would call it my personal heaven. It is a luxury. The luxury of doing what you want in your own time.

Scurrying around to the calls of the world, not to mention your job, it is a luxury that most of us would die for. Well, your idea of luxury may not be the same. It may be going shopping, watching a little TV or watching that favourite movie you have already seen, like a thousand times. Or it may be taking your dog out for a walk in the park, simply sitting on the beach watching the sunset.

We often forget to grab even a tiny piece of luxury, or a step outside of our routine lives. Everything goes as planned, from the time we wake up at the sound of our mobile phone alarm ringtone to the time we spend talkin to our loved ones.

The stress sometimes gets too much to bear that it might result in some of us having a nervous breakdown or feeling disappointed with ourselves. Couldn't that be avoided? It may seem like a luxury, having a little time to do what we enjoy doing the most, but in fact, could be an actual necessity, when it comes down to it.

From time to time, we feel the urge to wind down, slow things down a bit. Mostly and most of us, ignore that urge and tend to carry on like nothing is wrong. What we don't know is the damage that we are doing to ourselves and our dear ones in the long run. So, take a little time off right now and enjoy the things that's happening around you. You may be very surprised with the results!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review - Ancient Promises by Jaishree Misra

My marriage ended today. Without the lighting of oil lamps and beating of temple drums, but in a cramped divorce court, in the manner of these things. So begins Jaishree Misra's debut novel Ancient Promises. A book that kept me thoroughly engaged from the beginning to the end, deeply engrossing and moving at times. It is the story of a woman's painful journey of self-discovery, marriage, divorce and motherhood. It talks about the pain that one has to face while losing one's true love.

Janaki or Janu, is like any other typical teenager, whose native is Kerala, but is brought up in Delhi. She falls in love with Arjun, a Delhi boy from the Boys' school. But their love is short lived as Arjun travels to England to be with his mother and continue his education there. Meanwhile, Janu is married off at an early age to the 'Maarars', a highly respected family in Kerala. The book reveals Janu's sufferings in a loveless arranged marriage and the misery she has to endure by her husband's family. The birth of her daughter, Riya, does little to end the loneliness as she had hoped. And when she meets Arjun expectedly after all these years, can she find the true love that she had thought lost?

Eventually, she flees to England to escape the loveless union. But does happiness really come when you go searching for it? Or is it something that we have to search within ourselves? Janu's journey, brings the answers to all these questions.  Above all, we see the various forms of love in a woman - the school crush that soon blossoms into love, the love that she hopes would be reciprocated by her husband and his family, the love of a mother to her daughter, which the author believes is by a stroke of fate or Karma or Ancient Promises, as the novel is aptly titled.

Go for this one if you are looking for a meaningful journey through a woman's life and the feelings she associates with each stage. It also beautifully portraits the mother daughter relationship and the vulnerability of a mother towards her daughter. It is a well written book and I found it deeply moving. The inclusion of some Malayalam words may render it a bit difficult to follow for the Non-Malayalam speakers though. But the inclusion of these words will be much appreciated by those speaking the language as it enhances the reading appeal.

The work is semi-autobiographical and this would increase the curiosity of the readers as to distinguish which is fact and which is fiction. Definitely a must read as it is sure to bring about a nostalgic feeling in all our hearts.

Book Review- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The lead character as the title indicates, is a woman of strong character - Lisabeth Salander. She is a security analyst by profession who is given the assignment of assisting Mikael Blomkvist. Mikael Blomkvist is the co-publisher of the magazine Millennium. He is accused of committing libel, though innocent. He decides to take time out of his postion from the magazine, during which he is contacted by Henrik Vanger, the industrialist and power magnet behind the Vanger Corporation. Henrik Vanger, now 83, is mystified by the disappearence of a girl in his family 40 years back. He believes that she was murdered by one of his own family members. Blomkvist is appointed to solve the mystery behind her disappearence. Though not a professional investigator, he accepts the assignment with great skepticism. A journalist by profession, Blomkvist investigates into the case along wid Salander and makes shocking revelations about the day Harrriet Vanger went missing. Lisabeth Salander is appointed to assist Blomkvist further along the investigation.

As the book progresses, we are pulled deeper and deeper into a dark secret that threatens the very existence of the Vanger Corporation itself. The hacking of Lisabeth Salander into the most complicated of computer networks would be admired by the readers. The entire plot can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle with pieces scattered here and there that falls together to form the bigger picture. The climax would leave the readers guessing and astounded when the truth is finally revealed. Lisabeth Salander comes across as one of the strongest female characters that we may have across in fictional history. Though portayed as a hostile character in the beginning, she quickly earns a warm place in the hearts of readers.

One of the only drawbacks I felt while reading this book was keeping up with the members of the vast Vanger family. A large family with a lot of Vangers dead or living across the country is a bit difficult to keep track of, but even that is simplified through graphic representations of a family tree.

A definite must read if you are one who loves suspense and crime thrillers. It would keep you engrossed right from the beginning to the very end. The fact that the author, Stieg Larsson, did not live upto see the success that his work had become strikes a chord throughout our minds.
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