In a Blink

2018 has gone by too in the blink of an eye. I barely remember what happened.

What I can recollect is a fun year with great friends, albeit with some rather surprising hiccups. A milestone year for my siblings and a year in which I’ve become a grand-aunt. Health issues have been minor, I think.

I’ve read some lovely books, and am ending the year feeling rather restless and hungry for some really engrossing reading. Writing has become rather incidental to my life now.

I am harboring my usual ambivalence towards the year gone by, and the year that is rising over the horizon. At least that has not changed!

A Very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, in case you are still reading! ☺️

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Back to Books

I was having a conversation with a couple of friends regarding some of the books we had read. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton cropped up, and I remembered I had written a post on that, comparing it with Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pahmuk. I searched for that post, and when I read it, it brought back vivid memories of both the books.

I have read so many books this year, and I guess jotting down my thoughts about them will keep them fresh in my mind in the days to come.

Some of the most lovely books I’ve recently read include

  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson
  • Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
  • Shaya Tales by Bulbul Sharma
  • Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
  • The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
  • Leela: A Patchwork Life by Jerry Pinto
  • The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J Andersson

…I could go on all day! 🙂

The book I just finished reading is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a saga about the lives of Korean-Japanese folks.

It was fascinating, for it provided a glimpse of how universal the issues of migrants to a different country are. In the book, people of Korean origin are treated often with suspicion and disdain by the Japanese in Japan. Nothing they do is ever good enough to make them sufficiently Japanese. Sound familiar?

In many ways, the book reminded me of Jasoda by Kiran Nagarkar.

Both feature a strong matriarchal figure who is the rooted anchor of the entire family tree. Both feature brilliant eldest sons who hunger for more education. Both feature America as aspiration. And both showcase the strong, silent, entrepreneurial women who run families with little or no support, and do the best job they can.

Both novels are also written in solid styles with no gimmicks. They tell a competent story and enclose you in the comfort of traditional story-telling.

In short, I enjoyed reading both books.

And another year goes by

I have not visited or updated this blog for nearly a year now. I’d even forgotten the passwords! But I was determined to put up a new post on this last day. So here I am.

2017 has been a mixed bag. If there’s one lesson I’ve really internalised, it is to live in the moment. Letting go has been the only choice many times. So I’ve let go, without any qualms or regrets. So many things we don’t understand, so many things we cannot control…

Let’s see what 2018 brings. A mixed bag it will be, I think! 🙂

Little Drops – 2

On a whim, I decided to join a writer’s workshop Anita’s Attic, run by author Anita Nair. It was a good experience and I met several absolutely amazing young authors, some of whom were less than half my age!

Late last year, a call came from Anita’s Attic for short stories. I quickly wrote a short story in a burst of inspiration, which I was quite happy with. I sent it off, and yesterday, it came up on Quillr, a new pay-and-read platform.

Here’s the link to the story Running, if you’re interested.

 

Little Drops

A few drops in a drought are always welcome, even if they make you hunger for pounding rain.

So, in the barren wasteland of my writing last year, there were a couple of fat drops that made me happy.

The children’s library we started is such a source of joy, even though I’m unable to do full justice to it in terms of my time, thanks to the various health crises that popped up regularly. It’s an oasis for me, a haven of peace and happiness, to be surrounded by books, fantastic partners, and the sweetest sight of all – kids deeply engrossed in books. It never fails to move me, and I feel so grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity.

Last year, for Karnataka Rajyotsava, we came up with an idea of writing a picture book that introduced some common Kannada words/sentences. I wrote the story itself in a very short time. However, I had the most fun with the illustrations. Not having Photoshop or any other appropriate software, and too lazy to sit and draw out everything, I used PowerPoint. I had such a blast doing the pictures, and it gave me such a high!

We printed one copy of the book, and read it out to the kids. It was a hit, and the best part was kids coming up and telling me – “Tumba chennagide!” (very nice in Kannada, which was one of the phrases introduced in the book). It was really such a wonderful experience!

Here’s the cover of the book Aane Mari’s Feast (Aane Mari meaning Little Elephant, though quite a few call it Anna Marie :D)

aanemari

New Beginnings

So, 2016 has been reviled enough for me not to add to it. However, I must note that it was a spectacularly shitty year health-wise.

I kicked it off with a particularly nasty bout of shingles, the remnants of which still haunt me every now and then with twinges and sporadic itching.My dad’s dementia grew worse, my mom was at the end of her tether, and then the Grim Reaper harvested his soul without so much as a by your leave. My sisters had horrible mysterious afflictions that saw them in and out of hospitals. One of them is still in so much pain that she, the strong one who can bear everything, actually breaks down and cries.

The final straw was my daughter, my darling D, who came down with severe abdominal pain. She is pretty strong, my D, and bore the numerous pricks for IV and blood samples and bodily intrusions and what not, with magnificent equanimity. But then, one terrible evening, she writhed in unbelievable agony, screaming for over an hour, and we stood by helpless even as she begged us to “do something”, while the doctors buzzed around. Those horrible moments are burnt into my memory. It’s most probably abdominal migraine (yeah, everyone reacts with “Never heard of it!”), and she’s back, albeit weakly, on her feet. But the holiday season and all her (and our) plans have been pretty much ruined.

So, if there’s one wish I could make for 2017, which is, as several people have opined, a rather arbitrary division of time, it would be for good health. 2017 has so far not showed any signs of respecting my wishes, but it’s early days. It’s just getting warmed up hopefully, and as the days go by, here’s hoping that good health shines down on us.

And you, of course. Good Health and Happiness to you too!

Century!

Setup a target of 100 books to be read this year on GoodReads. I found it quite fun. Every book had something to offer, so I’m not going to award best or worst.

So. here’s the list of the 100 I completed this year:

1. Not Just An Accountant – Vinod Rai
2. The Robots of Dawn – Isaac Asimov
3. The Wide Window – Lemony Snicket
4. Life Before Man – Margaret Atwood
5. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – Mario Vargas Llosa
6. The Greatest Short Stories of Leo Tolstoy
7. The House that BJ Built – Anuja Chauhan
8. The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
9. Menaka’s Choice – Kavita Kane
10. Personally I blame my Fairy Godmother – Claudia Carroll
11. My days in the underworld: Rise of the Bangalore mafia – Agni Sridhar
12. Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
13. The Liar – Nora Roberts
14. Looking for Alaska – John Green
15. Last Train to Istanbul – Ayse Kulin
16. Gachar Gochar – Vivek Shanbhag
17. Wonder – R J Palacio
18. The Bad Girl – Mario Vargas Llosa
19. All the Light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
20. The Adventures of Stoob: Testing times – Samit Basu
21. The Reluctant Detective – Kiran Manral
22. Ponniyin Selvan: First Floods – Kalki
23. Personal (Jack Reacher) – Lee Child
24. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story – John Berendt
25. Holes – Louis Sachar
26. The One you cannot have – Preeti Shenoy
27. The Guardians of the Halahala – Shatrujeet Nath
28. The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret – Christopher C Doyle
29. Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story – Rebecca Coffey
30. The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert
31. The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
32. An Outrageous Affair – Penny Vincenzi
33. Netherland – Joseph O’Neill
34. Belong to Me – Marisa de los Santos
35. A Pale View of the Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
36. Ithaca – David Davidar
37. The Unfinished Clue – Georgette Heyer
38. Cut Like Wound – Anita Nair
39. Dear Mrs. Naidu – Mathangi Subramaniam
40. Little Bee – Chris Cleave
41. Untold Story – Monica Ali
42. Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window – Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
43. When Breath becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
44. Lajja – Taslima Nasrin
45. Love Virtually – Daniel Glattauer
46. Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
47. The Red Sari – Javier Moro
48. Sicilian Nights – Penny Jordan
49. Yayati: A Classic Tale of Lust – Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar
50. The Karachi Deception – Shatrujeet Nath
51. H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald
52. 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson
53. Keep Quiet – Lisa Scottoline
54. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
55. Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira
56. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
57. Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan
58. The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story – A Revathi
59. A Million Little Pieces – James J Frey
60. The Other End of the Corridor – Sujata Rajpal
61. Alphabet Soup for Lovers – Anita Nair
62. The First Love Cookie Club – Lori Wilde
63. Girl meets boy – Ali Smith
64. Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars – Sonia Faleiro
65. The Bookseller of Kabul – Asne Seierstad
66. RSVP – Helen Warner
67. Ammi: Letters to a Democratic Mother – Saeed Mirza
68. Cry Wolf – Tami Hoag
69. Confessions of a Dememted Housewife: The Celebrity Year
70. Miss. Timmins’ School for Girls – Nayan Currimbhoy
71. An Autobiography – Agatha Christie
72. The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie
73. Tales of Twilight and the Unseen – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
74. The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood
75. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
76. Closed Casket (Agatha Christie) – Sophie Hannah
77. One, Two, Buckly My Shoe – Agatha Christie
78. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie
79. Dreams from my father – Barack Obama
80. Rain: A Survivor’s Tale: Sriram Subramaniam
81. Me Before You: Jojo Moyes
82. Five Little Pigs – Agatha Christie
83. 4:50 from Paddington – Agatha Christie
84. Gender Talk: Big Hero Size Zero – Anusha Hariharan, Sowmya Rajendran
85. A Most Peculiar Malyasian Murder (Inspector Singh Investigates) – Shamini Flint
86. Falling Off the Map – Pico Iyer
87. The 5th Horseman – James Patterson
88. Meridian – Alice Walker
89. A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
90. Britt-Marie was Here – Fredrik Backman
91. One Plus One – Jojo Moyes
92. The Serpent’s Revenge: Unusual Tales from the Mahabharata – Sudha Murty
93. A Strange and Sublime Address: Amit Chaudhuri
94. Dragon Rider – Cornelia Funke
95. Red Leech (Young Sherlock Holmes) – Andrew Lane
96. Black Ice (Young Sherlock Holmes) – Andrew Lane
97. The Brain – David Eagleman
98. Mr. Mercedes – Stephen King
99. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
100. Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein