Teen Troubles

D turns thirteen soon. Yes, the dreaded teens are already here! Everywhere you look, you’re being advised to roll up your sleeves and brace for the storm. It’s going to be a rough ride, a long battle, and an absolutely terrible time. This letter I just read doesn’t make things any better!

However, the experience I’ve had so far makes me take all this with a huge pinch of salt. D has been a pleasure, a joy, and a delight in our lives. She has always been mature for her age, and I have always been able to talk her through things. I’ve been both parent and friend to her, making it clear when I am in what role. She’s comfortable and open with me, sharing almost everything. I say almost, because everyone has secrets, and I am OK with that. What’s important is that she’s comfortable opening up to me and sharing with me the major things happening in her life.

We’ve always tried to bring her up with certain basics, emphasizing the need to prioritize, to manage time, to put in a sincere effort, to celebrate the small things in life. We’ve also tried to stress that with freedom comes responsibility. And I’m glad to say that she’s pretty responsible. I can count on her to call me and let me know where she is, or come back home at the agreed time, or prioritize and complete all her tasks. Banning, forbidding, or taking away privileges has rarely worked; instead, a heart-to-heart talk, explaining with kindness the whys and wherefores and consequences has always worked.

I honestly don’t know whether hitting the technical age for becoming a teenager per se will change anything. I am hoping it doesn’t. I’m hoping we will continue to have the beautiful relationship we have right now. And I’m hoping the foundation we’ve laid is solid enough to maintain this.

Four More

Here are four more books I completed:

5. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa – what an absolutely brilliant and splendid book this was! Very different from the usual, and what writing, so dense with imagery, so packed with detail, yet so very neat! I fell in love with it.

6. Not Just an Accountant by Vinod Rai – I normally don’t tend to read these sort of books, but both this book and Aunt Julia were presented in our local book club, and I thought it would be worth a read. It was really interesting to get a ringside view of some of the events, about which we’ve just read/heard news reports. Rai’s anguish comes across loud and clear, and it really leaves you wondering how crooked we Indians can be that we so methodically go about circumventing every safety measure ever invented! Left me feeling kind of sad, but also full of admiration for this upright, honest man, who just did his job the way it was supposed to be done. Honestly, is that too much to ask of everyone?

7. The Greatest Short Stories of Leo Tolstoy – Thought it might be a good idea to read this. His writing is still brilliant. The stories of course, are loaded with morals, but sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of the basics which hold true irrespective of era.

8. The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan – This was a quick and easy read, lots of things to laugh about and nod your head at. I haven’t read Those Pricey Thakur Girls yet. I’ve read her Zoya Factor earlier, which was OK. This book was a fun read though, and I enjoyed it enough to sit up a whole night reading it! ;)

2016 Reading Challenge

I’ve decided to join the GoodReads 2016 reading challenge this year. I’ve setup a target of 100 books. About 2 books a week is easy, no?

I’ve decided that if I really, really enjoy the book, I’ll blog a separate post about it, else, will just mention it in my periodic updates.

So, the first four books I’ve read in 2016 are:

  1. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Book #3) by Lemony Snicket
  2. Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood
  3. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  4. The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov

The choice of the very first book for the year is pretty ominous, right? :) However, I absolutely enjoyed it (talk about schadenfreude!) and the last one too a great deal.

So what do you plan to read this year?

 

Here We Go Again

I honestly don’t know what sort of year 2015 has been. I don’t remember most of it. That’s what time is like for me now – just a blur. Things happen and keep happening, and I feel like a dry leaf swirling around and swept onward by the current of life.

There were plenty of friends around, mostly old, some new. Plenty of laughs and good cheer. World grew more strident around. D turned all grown up almost overnight. Grew a little wiser and honed my homegrown gems of wisdom. Read a lot. Wrote more than expected.Work was more or less steady. No major hiccups health-wise.

What more can one ask for in life? Sometimes I am seized by a peculiar desire – I want to go away somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere difficult  – I want to miss my current life. I already know just how valuable it is, and yet I want to miss it so much that I really know its value. That is a very strange thing to desire. Yes, I confuse myself sometimes.

A New Year holds little glamour. In a funny way, as you grow older, every day is precious, and so special days aren’t so special any more. Still, there’s no reason not to celebrate, not to feel hope and promise of a better, newer tomorrow.

So Happy New Year, folks! May the new year bring you everything you dreamed of, everything you wanted, and everything you really need.

Wah-ji Rau!

Perhaps I was in a real sappy, soppy mood. Perhaps I was in a forgiving mood. Whatever the reason, I loved Bajirao Mastani the movie.

This is what we go to movies for – to have our breath taken away. SLB sure does that. The sheer opulence, the grandeur, the glimmer and shimmer and shine – what a feast for the eyes. The lovely deep and rich colours, the silks and velvets, the rolling landscapes and the symmetrical forts. Every shot is lovingly taken, that eye for detail and perfection never faltering. Be it a simple shot of the fort, or a messenger riding urgently with a message, the camera embraces the scene with adoration.  The colours are used so intelligently to convey different moods, different shades of emotions. How wonderful to witness such exquisite extravagance! (That messenger riding scene is imbued with forbidding greys, a sign of what’s to come. I loved the sensitivity).

The lovely classical music was the perfect foil, crystal-clear voices rising and falling in operatic harmony. The actors and acting were, if I need to be honest, were adequate, satisfactory, fulfilling the roles with what they were supposed to do, no more, no less. And that in itself was something to rejoice about. Poor acting would have pulled the heaviness down on itself. But here, it ably supported the movie as one of the pillars.

The creative licenses taken can be argued about till the cows come home. However, as a pure cinematic exercise, Bajirao Mastani fulfilled its purpose of telling an engaging tale most gorgeously. Full marks for that.

 

Re-Kindled

More than a few years ago, when it was the latest new thing, my niece sent me a Kindle from the States as a gift. Some registration issues and complications ensued, and the little device was relegated to a forgotten corner shelf, never to be used. Not sure why we didn’t pursue it to ensure that I used it, but at the end of the day, it was an unfortunate  stillbirth.

This Diwali I bought a Kindle Paperwhite after much hesitation. I wasn’t really sure if I would take to the device. At the same time, I had practically stopped buying books for both want of space and environmental concerns. The local library was not enough. The Kindle seemed the most appropriate way to go.

Well, the upshot is that I love my Kindle. I love the ease with which I can buy books that catch my fancy at any time, and read them without moving from my seat. The reading is not difficult – I’ve set the font to larger than normal, so it doesn’t strain my eyes. The device is so light and easy to handle, unlike physical books that can sometimes get quite uncomfortable, especially if you like reading in bed. I love the way I can get back to the page I was reading without having to mark the page somehow (the bookmark’s never around when you need it, right?)

The lower price of Kindle books is something that makes me feel better, not to mention the promos and bargains from Amazon. The fact that I’m not scrambling for storage space is also great.

I guess the toughest part is not to go overboard and buy books by the dozen. I’ve been careful and have been restraining myself. But it’s such a delight to have a new book in my hand at the end of a few clicks and spend the whole day (and night) slurping it all up!

What more could I ask for? :)

Mad-ia

Just saw this tweet by Rajdeep Sardesai:

Guess Guardian and BBC are also ‘paid’, bikau, news traders and presstitutes!

I think Rajdeep needs to read Frederick Forsyth’s autobiography – The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.

In it, Forsyth eviscerates the BBC completely. Its “Africa policy” was so despicable that I have lost respect for BBC. I had such respect for this agency. I remember how we used to see BBC first to get the “right” news, rather than watch Doordarshan with its biased coverage. But gradually, the bias in BBC too was becoming quite visible. Reading the book was a revelation. It makes you lose all trust in the media, which is a real pity. Why has the media become so untrustworthy?

Forsyth says:

The calling of a true news and current affairs organization is to hold the Establishment of any country to account but never to join it.

I guess this is what we expect from the media, but there are not many takers for this definition unfortunately, are there? :(