Read THIS First ..

Read THIS First..
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Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections and grouchy talk.

No resolutions this time too, only reflections on how I survived the past year and what to do to make 2016 better. It was only yesterday that I realized that it’s the year-end already. Imagine how full your mind has to be for you to not even notice the year ending. 

Present status: I have a job I like, but I hate having working Saturdays and having to travel so much and thus being in constant interaction with uncivil beings. 

Desired status: Be so much in love with work that nothing makes me unhappy. At the present, a lot of things (and people) do. Try to ignore it (and them).

How well did I do in 2015?

1. Work wise: better than before, but need to think of ways to get to goals more ‘easily’. Having to struggle each day sucks.

2. People wise: not very well. I still dislike people who lack ethics, and I am totally vengeful (unfortunately, only feelings-wise) towards those who’ve hurt me. It’s only been aggravated by annoying people I’ve met recently. It’s not a good thing, I know. I’ll see what to do about it when I have the time.

3. Book-reading wise: very well through the year, except towards the year-end. Still, I think I crossed the 50 mark without counting, and read qualitatively, and reread and enjoyed old books (Harry Potter, for instance) too. Unfortunately, did not read all the books I’d planned, mostly because of work requirements.

4. Personality-development wise: not much. There’s just no time to think of presentation and planned speech when you have to run all the time. I’m still the harried-look-just-like-in-college person. Give me a break, and I’ll think of how to make new braids. Maybe.

5. Mental-development wise: apart from irritation and anger issues, I feel like I’ve aged a 100 years. Things I used to like and talk about a year or two earlier, are either too trivial or too boring. (Help me!!!)
While thinking about what I had resolved to do in 2015, I thought of ‘write, write, write’, but then I checked and found that I had written it in 2014!! This is NOT fair. I want a life where I can actually keep track of time. Get a LIFE, life!

What to do in 2016 to get a life

Keep calm: People in the metro and on the roads are only going to get worse. STOP worrying about them. Yes, I’ve faced a setback due to realizations of the truth and how what I thought of the world was so away from reality, but still, I need to GET A GRIP. I’m supposed to rule my life. I am supposed to be happy for the people who’re concerned about me. Either ignore those who act stupidly, or give it back to them (yes, that’s better).

Prioritize work: I must get that heavy project off my head as soon as possible, even if it takes two months of hibernating (as much as can be managed anyway, what with blood-sucking job and all). After that, plan career stuff. All this while, act chill. BE chill. Time is supposed to go slowly (the rocking time, not the sucky time).

Be happy: G is doing so well! YOU are doing well too. The book fair is coming! (“I have no friends to go with this time!” “You have mom!”) You’re gonna go on trips! You might even be on an airplane after all these years’ gap!

Do something: Ghostwriting has made me realize that I can actually write my own book. But it’s also made me realize that to make it happen, I’d need at least two months’ break. All right then, let’s stick to the original plan of writing after 40.

I need to learn to speak up for myself if anyone wrongs me and if it is unfair. Stop ignoring things that must not be ignored. Shut them up once and for all. Do not hesitate to hit an annoying fellow-commuter and pretending that it was a mistake. Hint, hint: It can be done just before getting off the train. (No. I’m not going to be so mean.)

I’ll also try to (no, I WILL) go ahead with a plan I made to get kids to read more (or any) books. Will give details if it’s carried out.

Read and write: Read those books I got two-three years ago! Although since some time at work is spent reading so many excessively cute children’s books, I’m not complaining much.

Lose weight: I’m serious, and this one is not going to go unchecked. Ask a girl the horror of not being able to fit into her clothes, and you’ll know! Although I’m proud to say that I’ve lost some with my ardent will power (of not eating junk food). Yay!

My point!!
Generally, I’ll try being less of a cribber and more of a happy person who loves life. I don’t love it at the moment, and I’ve become so crude that it doesn’t even matter if I’m posting it. It’s the truth after all. I mean, I am grateful for a lot of things, but the general ‘feel’ at the moment is lacking. It’s like I see nothing to complain about when I really think about it, but it only makes me feel more upset because it seems like I’m complaining for no reason. Oh, wait. Perhaps it’s just that I’m in one of my mood swing modes. Don’t let it get you. Have a blast and have a wonderful new year 2016! (TIME FLIES!) Let the new, new year be a year you'll forever remember! (Don't go to jail, though.)

What are you gonna do?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The road to dreams

Taking the road to reach your dreams is not easy. In fact, getting started on that road in itself is an achievement. After all, you must have overcome so many obstacles to have been able to get started at all. You would have had some sort of moral support, to begin with. You would have had to be mentally strong enough to wade through your fears (and those of your loved ones), many expectations, social culture, etc. It is entirely possible that it'd have been easy for you, but because of all kinds of pressure we live under in these times, most of us are faced with difficulties if we want to pursue anything our parents, family or society thinks is not lucrative, ideal, interesting, or whatever else. Many people, especially those who've lived enough to know, think that the best way to live these days is to follow the most practical way. They're not wrong. Practical ways make life so much easier, as anyone who's had to survive a difficult job would understand. Practical ways are liked and preferred by many people, which is both safe and, well, practical. If you're one of those who's tired of being asked to go the "practical" way, and think that these people who so willingly live that way are people without ambition, this post is for you.

The first thing to understand is that perhaps those people are also ambitious, but due to some reason, they're stuck with their "practical" ways. Not everyone can be wildly successful, can they? The world won't work if it's like that. Besides, they might have grown used to it and thought that their dreams were just those, dreams. Do not judge or resent them. Try being more with people whose thinking matches yours. The company you keep will influence your own perspective, so choose where you spend the better part of your time.

If you really, really want to do something but no one else seems to support the idea, do a bit of work yourself. Go out (or online) and find people in the same or related fields who could help you. You cannot act shy if you've to do this. Even if it means going out of your comfort zone, do it. But please do not be too naive or clingy. Read up on the subject/field first, decide what questions you want to ask, and show genuine interest. People, especially those who work genuinely in whatever they do, do not appreciate time-wasters. If you get some advice, it's highly likely that it's going to be useful. 

After you've done that, draw a time centered plan of your career/life, chart in as many details as possible, and then go talk to your elders. More than the unfamiliarity of what you want to do, they are scared of you being as lost as they are. Since they don't know much about, say, being an artist, they wouldn't support you because they can only support you unless they know what to do, or when they're sure that you know what to do, and trust you to do it. If you work hard without wasting your time over the things widely considered 'cool' (but are actually cool only to those who've got it all settled, or those who don't want to have anything settled), you're more likely to gain their support, which will be quite useful. You could obviously go against everyone and do your own thing, but then you will lack mental peace, and stress never makes you happy, even if your job does.

If all goes well and you've begun on the road, you start feeling like a heavy load is off your head and you taste the sweet fruit of freedom. Life is yours to mould. It's yours to enjoy, to do whatever you like.

Beware. It's not going to last. After the initial exhilaration, you might start to think, "I've got enough of working in one place. This is nowhere close to my dreams. Will I really have to slog hours and days and months just to 'gain experience'? What next?" Once you begin to think so, you might look to your close ones for support, just as you've always done before. However, this time, despite wanting to, they might not be able to help you, because they don't know much about it. You're on your own. Being on your own is exciting, but it entails a lot of responsibility. You have to work harder than others, even if it means sacrificing your holidays, some friendships (in the sense that you can't give them time), everyday pleasures in the same quantity as you had before, and many other things and activities you have been used to. I'm not suggesting you have to isolate yourself and forget everything else, but you must be aware of the things (and people) that waste your time, and consciously try to stay away from them, and spend that time in improving yourself as a professional and as a person. 

It's also likely that you might initially have to work in a place where you feel that the majority of people are different from you or your ideas, even if they're all working in the same field. Do not lose hope, because even then you would be learning something valuable. No kind of learning ever goes waste, really. Just be sure of where you want to go and what you want to do, be on good terms with people (ignore those who try to intimidate you), and concentrate on your work. Be on the lookout for opportunities to get better (because you can never learn enough) and keep taking up those, even if it means sacrificing your sleep in winters!!

Keep going. If you look at everything you learn as a reward, you're going to start liking it more and more. :)

I'm not giving gyaan out of generosity but because I need to keep telling these things to myself.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Metro Diaries #7: Sweet Revenge

Remember how I'm spending two hours at least in the metro train every day 'cept Sunday? (No? Why are you even here? Go read my previous posts first.) You thought I was done with metro posts? Have you ever been more wrong in your life or what! When you have to suffer (safar) for so long in the women-only coach, you're bound to have your mental peace shattered to bits. (Oh oh, there just broke out a high-pitched argument, as always, between a middle aged-older woman and a younger one, with the older woman, as always, trying to find 'space' and the younger one finally lashing out at her - "There is just no space! My size is such that I can fit anywhere, right? You're only creating trouble for others." Travels are interspersed with such amusements, sure.) Okay, perhaps not have mental peace shattered to bits, but they do make you clench your teeth so many times that your jaw bone gets weak and starts troubling you (true story. Who's going to compensate me for that? DMRC, or countless parents of these people?)

Anyway, while I had less time to travel or when I had friends to pass the time with, I stood well away from the seats. Who would bother about fighting to get a seat? But when there's nothing but early morning lethargy and a book to read and loads of time to stand, you can't really be so dense as to not look for a seat every day. If you don't, you might as well get your knees checked along with your jaw. So then I started looking for seats. That was when I was really initiated into the world of the seated and the seat grabbers.

Before I begin, let me take my revenge. You, Ms Red Sweater (such a glaring, tacky shade, too), you took the seat I was supposed to get by asking the aunty to shift in front of me where I was going to sit, and parking your bum into the now-empty slot in front of you, all the time acting as if it's nothing. You're one heck of a sinner, madam. And ugh. Your super red lipstick is a really gross shade.

The Seat Grabbers

Apart from the kind mentioned above, seat grabbers do the following:
(What luck. Just got a seat thanks to millions getting off at RC station, and sitting next to Ms Red Sweater. *minimizes brightness*)

1. Grabbers standing so close to the seated that they might as well be sitting on their knees (which could be another possible cause for early arthritis). There was one lucky day when I had a seat and it was the rush hour. I was absorbed in a book when I first felt something brushing my face. It was a lady's handbag, with the lady herself wedged in the space between my feet.

2. Sympathy gainers: (excluding real cases). Some people will try getting a seat by way of sympathy (apparently, it is is not dead). These are the people who make such innocent, tired faces that people feel sorry for them and automatically get up for them. Sometimes they'll look at a seated person with such a pleading look that when the person has to vacate the seat, they'll give it to no one but the sympathy gainer.

3. Aunties: Some of them would say stuff like, 'beta badon ko seat de do' or would just huff and pant so much that someone would give them their seats just so they don't look like sadists.

4. Centre of Attention: They're always at the centre of the doors on the platform. The logic (according to them) is that the lines on both sides are made up with fools who don't know how to grab a seat (or how important it is). They want to be the first to enter the coach to get a seat. They don't really give a fig to others. They'll blatantly flout all rules, and barge in as soon as the doors open even if they can see they're likely to collide with bulging tummys. (Not even belonging to women. Ugh!)

5. Those who let all traces of niceties vanish when they hurry to the seat everyone can see you are about to occupy (which takes you a couple of seconds because you don't want to seem like one of those people who're greedy for a seat). And when someone else grabs it right from under your nose, all you do is to try to maintain a calm face and pledge to take your revenge by writing about it (and them).

Ouch! (Added in haste: There are also those who come running to occupy the seat next to you and end up stamping on your foot.)

The Seated

Only one category comes to mind, thanks to recent interactions with them. There are people who won't budge from their seats until the door to their station opens!! OMG. I really think there's something wrong with these people. Why are they so insecure about seats? The other day, I got about half a bum's space to wedge myself in, and since I had 40 more minutes to go, I thought I might as well just sit on whatever's given. The next station was RC and an unbelievably thin girl went to the doors, leaving her space for me. It was so tight a space (made more difficult by the sad fact that I'm expanding at the rate of the Big Bang) that I was about to slide down. Half a minute passed and the two women on my sides did not even budge. (Fyi, when someone sits like this next to me, I shift as much is possible without getting on to another lap to give the newly seated as much space possible to sit comfortably.) The train stopped at the station, and as I was a centimetre away from sliding down, I thought of getting up, when something really weird happened. The woman on my right and her companion next to her got up to get down at the station where the train had stopped!!! Have people absolutely no sense? If they can SEE (heck, the whole coach could see) someone about to fall down, and you KNOW you're going to get down at just the next station, can't you manage to stay standing for two minutes? Good lord. I'm quite positive I lost any remaining dregs of hope for humanity then.


I've typed this in the metro while going to work. First, I have no time left for writing blog posts while I'm home. Second, I'll be too busy for the next couple of months, so please if you don't get a post, don't leave! (Honestly though, I'm saying it to make you feel important. It's not like you read or comment anymore, do you?)

PS- I do give my seat to people who really need it, but sometimes when you're tired and want to sleep and have been granted a nice seat because you travel so far, you really don't want to sympathise with others. Think about it, does anyone sympathise with you (unless you're fainting)?
(My laptop with a new motherboard and newly formatted still works like a sloth, so I'm not bothering with a picture for this post. Time is a rare commodity, people. You'll realize it one day.)


Thursday, October 29, 2015

These days...

I'm going to write about how I have spent the past month of my life. That's also how the following ones are going to be like, if things go the same way, that is. If they don't, I hope it'll be better.

First, who the heck says that work life is fun? Perhaps they got the word wrong. Work life can be good or comfortable or exciting but 'fun' is just not the word! I like my job, really. Most of it anyway, if you keep aside the travel time and condition. I get to sit among people who are keen about books and dedicated in their jobs, and some of them know their jobs so well that I feel like I know nothing! 

Nevertheless, the new schedule is anything but comfortable. It is horribly, terribly trying and tiring. First off, it's a six-day work week. I had grown so accustomed to five days' work and take-work-from-home-any-day-you-feel-like that travelling just so far for six continuous days reduces my mind to near-zero (unfortunately, it has so far not had any reduction effect on the body) See? I don't even know what I'm writing here. It's only because I didn't think there was anything else (apart from writing a blog post) that would make me feel lighter. 

I mean, have you even paused to consider how arduous a task travelling so much in the metro would be? Sure, I don't have to change the train even once. BUT STILL! It's not even about the lack of rest one gets because one (that is, me) chooses to travel only in the women-only coach (because with so many women packed together, you cannot get a peaceful environment. Besides, I got to observe really exotic varieties too, but that's for another post). It's the horrible fact that I have to get down at a station in another and, pardon the honest expression, extremely-lacking-in-civic-and-feel-good-sense state, out of Delhi. I don't really hate Delhi as much anymore. :/ 

To begin with, I had two options--taking my own auto from one station, and taking a shared auto from another. Honestly, both are terrible in their own ways. How is one supposed to deal with that on an everyday basis, that too in the morning? Wait, I shouldn't be so pessimistic. I've been managing it so far, and I will manage it. Thank goodness for good people at the workplace who help during the afternoons! (God Bless You. May you never have to travel for work more than 15 minutes away)

Then there are the whole work days, which essentially leave me with barely four hours a day for myself, half of which are spent either eating (because I'm starved during evenings) or settling down to rest. For the rest of the two hours, there's the only program on TV I started watching but which has turned horrible so I don't watch it anymore, there's talking to people offline and online, and well, just staring into space and thinking about life and then preparing to sleep. I know, I could use that little time to do something exciting or useful like blogging (finally managed it after a month, eh?) or anything else. But most days are too mentally tiring to do anything except staring into space and thinking randomly. 

This is how I look like these days
Did you wonder why I didn't mention reading so far? Oh no, I'm not going to not mention it, because behold! The upside of travelling so much and among noisy women is that I can immerse myself into a book and ignore it all! Ha! You can't beat that kind of freedom (although it is sometimes beaten by the sheer number of women in the coach. No one cares about population explosion anymore). So I have actually gotten around to reading the books I never picked up in my leisure time, because it is a very clever way of forced reading. It goes like:

"Read this book or deal with the aunty who's been picking her nose. She's standing right beside you, too." 
"Wouldn't you rather use all your focus trying to comprehend this excessively difficult piece of text than looking up and finding this made-up-like-a-toy girl reading 50 Shades of Grey on her phone?" (No offence to reading choices, but still. Seriously, woman?)

So really, there's little choice. In this time of a month, I managed to read:
1. (Wow. I actually had to hop on to Goodreads to see what I read) Roads to Mussoorie by Ruskin Bond (you know why)
2. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (A children's classic; bought months ago from a book-flea market)
3. Moonfleet by J.M. Falkner (A children's classic I had been meaning to read for YEARS! It's wonderful. Find my review here)
4. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka (of which The Metamorphosis was the best, followed by umm... maybe three more stories that I liked. The rest were, for the time being, mildly interesting. No wonder people called his texts 'crazy' and incomprehensible. It still takes a crazy mind to decipher his meaning)
5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Oh boy. Do read this one. Just DO it.)
6. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (Again, a children's classic I'd had for a couple of years. I remember always putting it off, so had I not had this job, this book would have stayed unread for a loooong time)
7. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede (A children's book AGAIN! It's about an unprincessy princess who chooses to be a dragon's princess, enjoys working for her dragon, deals with wizards and gets into fights with them, and finally saves the day.)

My current read is called A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, which would have remained unread for years had I not dedicated this metro time to it. It's anything but short, and anything but a light read. Sure, it's definitely fun in the way it's written--the author's mentioned some of the popular and great contributors to science, and provided details of how someone slouched so much on the sofa that his butt touched the floor or how someone was called a buffoon by another popular guy. Of course I don't remember all those names now. The thing I did learn, however, was that there have been people thoroughly devoted to their work and have discovered such amazing things. What am I even doing in my life? Seriously need to give it a thought. I also learned that if you do find out something amazing, don't be a shy-baby or be secretive, because someone else will either steal your ideas when you are dead (or alive), or will discover it a century later. Then the world (and school textbooks) will remember and credit them for what you did before, only because you thought keeping quiet was decent manners.

Coming back to my month, nothing else that is exciting has happened, except:
1. Looking at three books I had worked on, in print. And what a beautiful print, too! :D
2. A 12-hour trip to Agra, of which 8 were spent sitting in the car. And then realizing that Agra looks good only in history textbooks.
3. Riding a motor-bike just a few hours ago! I didn't get it in the first attempt (in which I ended up riding it as if it were a camel. It just did. not. go. smoothly!), but looking at G getting it right in the first attempt, I made a second, much successful one. 8|
4. That's all. I can't really spend the last half hour before I sleep using my brains even further. They're already exhausted today, thanks. 

I also wanted to mention a couple of things I have not been liking these days. They're more like revelations or things that I have known but those that are annoying me all the more now. One is the obvious dependence on and love for social media, but let's just not get into it right now. The other is the apparent breaking up of some friendships with the concerned people acting like nothing's wrong, while it's quite obvious because we haven't spoken in... months now. It's annoying but it's also sad. What can we do, though? To each his own. If I had the time and mental space I'd have done something about it, but guess what, I can't, and it turns out that I feel like I don't even want to. There's also an age-limit for doing and accepting drama in one's life, I think. 

Anyway, there's a fever and I've been sitting typing this out and I've to get up early for work. Ciao!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The truth about good things

We all want good things to happen to us, whatever those might be -- a job we want, approval for a trip with friends, windfall gains from random lotteries, a great offer to buy a house or a car or anything else. We want all these things despite everything, even despite the fact that we don't want to work hard for them. Giving up is easy, taking alternatives is easy, sitting back and waiting does the job just as well. We wish and wish for good things but we are also always riddled with doubts and what-ifs. If there's something I've learned about good things, it's this:

1. Good things come to those who wait
There's no better way to get and enjoy the good things in life than to wait for it. Patience pays is a popular phrase. (Gee, that rhymes!) I believe there is a time and moment for everything, even when we absolutely hate not getting things just when we want them. There's a whole system of things created by nature (or God) and, perhaps you won't realize it but, what you receive after a long wait is always worth it. It's better for you. Therefore, if you feel restless about not getting the job you want (like I have been feeling since months, hence, lack of posts here), all you have to do is to close your eyes, breathe deeply, feel grateful for what you have, look at its positives, and keep striving to do your best. Never lose hope. Good things come in good time. 

2. Good things are related to 'time'
Carrying on the last point, good things usually come at just the right time. They may take ages or come sooner than expected; whatever is happening right now is the perfect thing for the present time. You are learning to not only control your anger/irritability issues while not getting your dream job, but also realizing the realities of life and how to deal with those. While you are always hopeful that your dream life is possible, you will realize that it takes a great deal of bravery and relentless work to get it. Good things will come in due course, though being optimistic about it will hasten things, so stay positive!

3. Good things cannot be stolen
When they've come to you, nothing in the world can take them away, except time. I know some people who refrain from sharing good news, perhaps imagining that someone will steal it from them! My dears, that is just not possible. Good things can only be shared and multiplied, not divided. If you have a certain advantage, you have it. Period. Don't be scared of having that taken away from you. Unless it is an Apple device you carelessly leave lying around. 

4. Good things might come in disguise...
... so that you don't even realize that what is happening is a good (or great) thing! They're not always obvious, apparent or even feel goody; they sometimes come nicely wrapped in layers of packaging, but you will realize them when they do their work (that is, help you get something great!). Maybe not getting through one of the big companies was actually a good thing and not the end of the world as you saw it (OK, I should stop making indirect references to myself). But really, things, even though they may not seem like good things, sometimes are actually good. 

5. Good things can happen suddenly!
Sometimes you receive a surprise in the form of something amazing that's happened to you when you were least expecting it. These are the ones that make you believe in miracles! :D

Are you wondering why I wrote this post? Did you notice how I haven't posted anything for such a long time? (If not, bleh. If yes, know that it is your love and interest that I really appreciate ^_^ Thank you!)

Anyway, the answer is that I had been facing one of the worst possible times (even though you might think I made it worse by overthinking, but I really couldn't help it). It was just emotionally draining as I was filled with insecurity and uncertainty of the highest order: the kind where nothing anyone says seems to make you feel optimistic unless some 'good thing' happens. Even reading did not appeal to me, so you can guess how weird it made me feel. I am thankful to family and those friends who supported me despite my apparent lack of regard for their words, who believed in me when I didn't. 

Thankfully, patience (even though it was forced and suffocating) finally paid off! The good things began pouring in one by one, and I am grateful to everyone, including God, who made it happen. First, I went on an all-girls' trip with my college friends, a first for all of us! The mere idea of it was exciting, as none of us had travelled without an elder person or a large group. A few days before the scheduled trip, I faced a major setback in the form of a rejection letter, and it left me numb and sad, especially as I was expecting an acceptance (so much so that I'd even given the good news to people!) It's weird, but I was the only one who spent the entire trip without feeling pissed off at anyone or anything! Sure, we enjoyed a lot, but I realized that I had, finally, matured. ^_^ 

There were four of us. We had planned a three-day trip to Mussoorie, the lovely hill station above Dehradun. I had only been there once, many years ago, when I was an awkward teenager and all I remembered about the trip was killing exotic insects in the summer house we were staying in, getting bitten by a Scorpion plant, walking a steep slope to get water, and lots of stomach cramps. This time it was as if I'd never been there before! We checked in a heritage hotel where we got a free upgrade to the deluxe quarter!! We spent our two days exploring the Mall Road right above the hotel, eating from popular eateries, dancing and gossiping and playing cards in the comfortable room, and of course, clicking awesomesauce pictures.

Passing through low clouds :D

Beautiful flowers overlooking the Dehradun valley

Look at the view *_*

The hotel overlooked Dehradun valley and the views were spectacular. The pleasantly cold weather (the November in Delhi kind) was a big plus in keeping us upbeat. Decidedly, the best part of the trip for me was getting a chance to meet the fabled writer of the hills, Mr Ruskin Bond!! Oh God, it was one of the best things I've experienced, even though I totally sucked at interacting with him. I asked no smart questions that I usually do with authors (probably because I was still in that bad phase mode, but still!!), only smiled and spoke a few words in greeting and got my copies signed. Ruskin Bond is precisely how I'd heard he is. 

A jovial-looking man of eighty, he arrived at Cambridge Book Depot a little after 3.30 PM on Saturday, smiling at everyone he passed. There was a long line of people waiting to see him, the best of whom were little children reciting poems to their parents for practice. I got really lucky when he arrived just as I was making payment for a book, and standing right next to his seat. He greeted everyone as he entered the small shop, including me (YAY!), and sat down, commenting on the line of people waiting to see him. I've met some authors at book signings, and found all of them quite humble and sweet. Mr Bond was the best of all! He accepted all forms of gifts (including poems and stories written by kids), and joked and talked with all his fans as they stepped up to meet him one by one. If you've read his books, you'd know the kind of person he would be, and when you see the soft and kind-looking face, all you feel like doing is smiling and making a witty joke (which, most probably, would not occur to you at that moment). One of my great friends, P, took a great picture of me with Mr Ruskin Bond, and I am forever grateful to her for gifting me this proof. I also apologize for not taking as great a picture of her as she did for me. 

The trip was a success. We'll plan another one soon! ;) The next good thing that seems like a disguise was a job offer from a place I wasn't much preferring, but talking to a few people cleared my head and now I feel great about it. I have an opportunity to work for my dreams, and if it seems difficult, that's all the better, as I would be motivated to work even harder. A couple more things on the family front turned awesome, and I am glad about it all. I only hope that the good thing in disguise really becomes good and the positives outweigh the negatives. 

A big YAY to new beginnings, everyday happiness, love in the form of friends and family, and feeling well enough to write a blog post! I've realized that I'm one of those people who write more and better when they're happy rather than when they're sad. Goodness, I just cannot write a word when I'm sad. (So if you see that I haven't posted for a long while, be good and ask me if all's well!)

Until next time! 

Love and best wishes

Monday, July 20, 2015

A funnily exhausting day, and more...

Life is so not straight or simple. It is downright exhausting. I used to think that I will have plenty of time for creative pursuits after college, what with no stress of assignments and tests, but I was so wrong. True, we do have plenty of time when we do not have to burn our brains over homework, but there are just so many other things! Those things existed even before, but somehow, they seem more prominent when you start working. Besides that, most of the times you are so mentally exhausted that you cannot bring yourself to do what you really would have liked. Blogging, for instance. Some days, there is no energy left except to:
- Slump in a comfy chair and have tea and snacks after coming from work.
- Browse Facebook and feel terrible and realize that the world sucks so much.
- WhatsApp message friends before feeling like doing something; ending the conversation and still not doing anything.
- Read a random book, one page at a time, ignoring the ones on the to-be-reviewed pile.
- Sleep

Some days, it is not even about energy. Or maybe it is, in some form anyway. Some days you are too mentally exhausted, while on some, you just cannot bring yourself to think of more than two sentences to write. I often get ideas to write/blog (after all, despite my absence from the blog, happening things have happened in my life) but it is a struggle to want to write. Rather, it's easier for me to do other things like cleaning up some part of the house, making a greeting card, actually cooking a vegetable (yesss! Perhaps the biggest change in my life so far. I know how to cook more than two things!!)

Anyway, why are my blog posts so much about monologue (or, a dialog with the blog, for want of a better phrase)? I do have story ideas, article ideas, fantastically serious topic ideas but I usually end up writing about my day, weeks, months, life. Now that I've written it down, it doesn't seem like a bad thing at all. (See what writing does?) After all, when I'm old and read old posts, I would want to read about something fantastic, or anything that moved me, really. Let's start with yesterday.

The night before, we had special instructions from dad to get ready and leave the house by 9AM sharp, and we know that for him, 9 means 9. We were to spend the morning and afternoon at our relatives' place. They had organized a small something for which we were to reach early to help with arrangements. We slept on time. Well before time, actually. So much so that nobody woke up when a cousin arrived at our house at 12.30AM and he had to go back because... well, nobody picked up their phones, and he hadn't rung the doorbell. Eeps.

Morning was, as usual, a struggle. It wasn't that bad, though. We all got up on time, and engaged ourselves in the various morning routine activities. By 9AM, I and my mom had been entirely ready for the past 15 minutes, complete with bags and everything. Dad and G were still leisurely getting ready. Talk about being on time. :P Then, the impending rain changed everything.

"It is about to rain!" exclaimed mom, rushing inside to relate the horrifying news to dad.

"God, we must hurry!" he replied, somehow, magically, standing entirely ready, complete with a quick smile. "We must reach the metro station before it rains," His tone implied that it was a challenge, and we all have a crazy streak where we actually enjoy such challenges. I do, at least.

"Ashna, you take V on Scoot," he continued. (V is our househelp) "I'll take mom on scooter. G... you finish getting ready, shut all doors properly, bring all the keys, and come in a ricksha. Quick!" (By the way, in case you are wondering, the metro station does not have a proper parking space yet. I mean, they did come up with a ridiculous place as an excuse for parking till the time the new parking is constructed--multi-level, hence, the three year time period, and still going, is apparently justified, but we haven't used it because it is such a time-waster, and there is no space for car-parking. Plus, driving in Delhi is insane, and none of us prefers taking the car out.)

One drop, two drop, three drops!
"Mom! It's about to rain!" I called out while taking Scoot out, and asking V to quickly hop on. It would really be a challenge to reach the station on time. I revved up Scoot twice, feeling quite enthused about it all. Mom and dad took their respective places on dad's scooter, and we all rushed towards the station.

I drove like hell, as was evident from the genuine lack of conversation from my pillion rider, who is regularly chattering at the most inopportune moments. I could not see mom and dad behind me, but that could be because one of the rear-view mirrors is now broken. Soon enough, we reached the station, and effectively beat the rain to it. Woohoo! As I parked Scoot, I saw our scooter carrying my parents, mom laughing hard. (She always laughs hard whenever she feels light. It's almost as if she has a laughter button that goes off at the drop of a pin even. I'm not complaining. It's kinda cute.)

"What happened?"

"It's just so funny, the way we're going," she replied in between giggles. "Us after you, and G after us. Besides, dad forgot his phone at home."


"We asked G to bring it," she replied.

"Oh, oh," said dad, fiddling with the scooter's race-handle (or whatever it is called). "The wire broke. We'll have to get it repaired later. Let's go. It's about to rain."

Rain captured from the metro
As soon as we reached the station, it did rain, and turned into a strong current. Uh, oh. Poor G, I thought.

"Call G and ask where he is," said dad.

*called G*
*picked up phone after ages*
"Are you guys mad or what, man?" he said in a pained voice.
"Um. Where are you?" I asked.
"This is the second time you've called and I've had to rush back home and take the phone out of the polythene! It is raining badly! Let me leave home, at least!"
"Okay. We're going," I replied, "you can take the next train. If we wait for you, we'll all be late, okay?"

I did feel bad for him, but we had to go. We were called early, after all. Now, we had to take a train that normally arrives after at least three trains for another destination have passed. It turned out that the amount of time we spent waiting was equal to the time it took G to reach the platform! We were finally united. :') And then segregated again as the girls went to sit in the women-only coach. :P

We enjoyed just looking out the window and chatting randomly. After a while as the train stopped at a station, V exclaimed, "Oh! B bhua!" (Her name starts with B. She also has a married name that starts with V, and also a 'real', official name that starts with S. Like most Punjabis, we prefer nicknames.)

That was a weird moment. We forgot that there were people on the train (and train-people are incredibly nosy), jumped up from our seats (Mom and I) and went towards the doors. As soon as the doors opened, mom called out to her, while I waved frantically. She looked at us, gave a start, turned around to pick up her bag from the floor to come join us, remembered something crucial, and called back, "No! M is coming! You come out."

"No!" mom called, "R and G are in the train, too!"

"Okay! Here, take this then," said bhua, picking up the big bag she was carrying. It contained stuff needed at the relatives' place. I stretched my arms out of the doors without moving outside, while she stretched hers, and I finally took the bag. The doors closed, and we went back to our seats. The ensuing calmness of the train bogie was eerie.

Anyway, we reached the place, experienced all that there was to experience, remembered God and loved ones who passed away, and had a fantastic lunch. I quite over-ate, in fact, because I had "forgotten" to have my breakfast, which I had first realized when we had reached our metro station. Dad left soon after for work, handing us the scooter's keys and asking us to take the scooter to the mechanic who was nearby.

When we returned to the parking, G took hold of the scooter and dragged it to the place where we've seen a mechanic for years. We all followed, feeling proud that G had become competent enough. Quite alarmingly, we did not find a mechanic over there. That was the first blow, not counting the breaking of the wire in the first place. We walked around for a while, asking random strangers, mistaking cycle repair shops for scooter repair, and the whole process was interspersed with convincing mom to go home, the heat-after-rains, and muck all over the roads. Add to that the extremely unhelpful and over-the-top annoying people on the roads who would just turn around to stare at us as if we were dragging a spaceship and not a scooter. -_- Idiots, seriously.

Finally, mom assented to leave for home with V. G and I decided to first take a round on Scoot to find the nearest mechanic. After all, the scooter is heavy. Nearly halfway home, we did not find anything, so G suggested that we just start dragging the scooter and look around again. We could not leave it at the station unattended. We could, actually, but as G pointed out, dad'll have had to drag it as well, and with lesser energy than us. (I do think he's quite a grown-up now :') )

It was weird being on an incredibly slow Scoot, so slow that I could have competed well in the slowest moving two-wheeler competition! (Do not laugh. It is difficult to balance a slow two-wheeler) After two minutes of riding like a tortoise and watching poor G drag the scooter, I hopped off Scoot and dragged it along as well.

"Are you crazy?" asked G, fighting a snicker. "People will think you're crazy."

"Huh. People don't know that Scoot's all right, do they?" I replied, my arms already tired with the strain of dragging. 

"No, please get on Scoot right now, and do not interrupt me again. I'll get angry," he replied as politely as he could. Some serious self-restraint, I call it. (I can't imagine what a ruckus I'd have made had I been in his situation)

As we reached a T-point, G got a call from dad, who suggested a mechanic exactly half a minute's ride away from where we were. Yay to dad!! We reached the dingy place next to a huge garbage dump (that's India for you). The men at the shop looked positively shady, and when their leader quoted a price quite over and above what dad had told us, G got agitated and suggested we go somewhere else. I did not question it. Apart from the fact that they did not have the required part for replacement and quoting a high price, the place was incredibly off-putting and the men displayed absolutely zero customer-service skills. 

G dragged Scoot to the very mechanic/petrol-pump that's near our place. That's about half an hour of scooter dragging. Talk about resilience. 

"G, would you like to have some cold coffee when we go home?" I asked as we reached "our" mechanic, feeling thirsty and hungry at the same time, nearly drooling at the mere idea of cold coffee. 

"I'd like some mango shake, please," he replied. 

"But there are no mangoes at home that are suitable for shakes."

"Any mango! I want it!" 

I called mom. 

"Hello!" mom greeted, sounding quite happy. "Hello, comedy of errors!" She broke into giggles.

"What? Listen, please make mango shake for G, and cold -"

"Yes, yes, I'll make everything for you two. Except that we aren't able to open the doors!" she replied, still laughing. 

By that time, I seriously did not find anything funny in that situation. Yes, the old door's been giving trouble specially during monsoon, but this level? She explained how they've already tried so many times. 

"But mom, push the door hard!" I cried. "I want cold coffee!"

"You come and make it open. I think we will have to call a lock-guy. There's one who sits at --"

"No, mom. Please let us get the scooter repaired first," I replied, already exhausted. 

"Okay... and do get Limca for us as well. We're exhausted."


Now I am exhausted writing such a detailed post. G managed to get the scooter repaired by that guy. The expenses came out to be the same as quoted by the previous guy, but hey, this one was great with mannerisms and surrounding environment. I went back home while G watched over it. He came after about an hour, actually driving the scooter for the first time. *claps*

The star of the day!
"Oh no," he muttered. "Where's Scoot?"

Scoot wasn't in its usual place. 

"I left it at the mechanic!" he said to me. "You go get it now."

"Me? I'm already in my pyjamas! Oh, all right! I'll go."

"Okay. I'll go with you too," he replied. "Where's my mango shake?"

"There's no mango shake. Take your cold coffee from the fridge," replied mom. (By the way, I was the one who had ultimately made cold coffee. No one bothers about us at all! It's horrific!)

G and I then walked down to the petrol pump to bring back Scoot. "I will drive, please," he said, for Scoot's mine and I always insist on driving it and he feels awkward sitting pillion. "Okay."

Just when I sat on the back seat, G said, "Well, what was the point of you coming anyway? I could have done this just as well."

I really had no remark to make. I was caught in the midst of a rebuke and a laugh.


It was quite a nice day. :)

PS- I really, really need to provide an update. How else will I know the details when I'm old and reading this? I have made a decision that's both easy and incredibly hard. Without much further ado, I've resigned from my job! (Perhaps that's why I finally could write something here) Do not give me the gasp-y look. Almost everyone seems to be either shocked or reproving, but I ask you, doesn't a person have freedom? If I want to take a break, it is my choice. I am happy with it. Take a chill pill!

Along the same lines, I will soon start searching for a new job. Anyone here who could refer me to some place? Or provide any leads at all. I would be highly grateful. I work as a book editor. :)   

Friday, June 12, 2015

On reading and readers...

Reading's been a vital part of my life so far. Sometimes it seems as if I'm overstating the fact, seeing how there are others who read as much, but they don't talk about it all the time. There's something more to it than what I see or what you see or what we know. I know there is something in that activity that is inherently 'me', something that makes me feel complete and at peace with myself and the world. It defines who I am, who I was and who I am going to be. When I close my eyes and try remembering life as a child, I find myself either playing with my kid brother, excited about the games we invented and planning to put them to use, or going about in the narrow park with overgrown grass, wondering how and where to put up our 'playhouse' (which never existed in reality, of course, because in my imagination, it would be made of mud, and no grown-up would help us). Apart from these, the moments of flashback I have of that time nearly always include a book in my hand.

There was that one time a friend had come over to play, and by stroke of luck, I had chanced upon a book by Enid Blyton, a blue hardcover full of stories, a book I'd forgotten I ever had, so much that it was almost new. I remember being completely glued to the book. The grumpy friend had left soon after. Another time, I wasn't as excited initially when I saw a boxed set of Harry Potter books (1-4) instead of the Barbie I'd asked for, but I remember being glued to Philosopher's Stone till 11pm that night when mom had to wrench it away from my grasp because I had school the next day. All in all, I've lived a humble life as a kid, not being interested in anything other than books. It's trickled down as I've grown-up. I still have little patience for movies, TV shows, gadgets, fashion stuff, shopping, etc. Of course, I love certain movies and shows, I'm technologically inclined and have preference for simple and elegant fashion. I'm not 'backward' in most senses, but I've found out a secret.

Now, this secret comes at a price. There was this video/documentary on J.K. Rowling I was watching last night where she said, 'For someone to love a thing, it has to be loathed by someone else.' So my secret here might seem like a load of bull to some, but some would definitely get it and hopefully appreciate it too.

It's this: Reading gives us much more than a good grasp of language. In fact, language is only one of the useful things you might get (because not every reader can write well, either). More than that, it gives you life. Really, if you are a reader who is capable of experiencing happiness, satisfaction or pleasure in a book, you're open to knowledge about life itself. That knowledge helps a reader make better sense of the world, have more feelings of empathy and tolerance, learn to appreciate the beauty of things, be more cool-minded and accepting. Reading also gives a reader answers to questions he might not even know he had, and the irresistible urge to grow as a reader. It increases knowledge about things that would blow your brains if you read about them. Do not trust TV shows and such forms of entertainment for facts, because they're largely based on entertainment, and would most probably be giving a one-sided perspective. 

How do you grow as a reader?
You experiment and read books beyond your comfort level, gradually, slowly. You have to let it happen on its own with just the tiniest bit of prodding, because if you force anything, you're going to hate it and there, that's the end of it. Reading is also sensitive. I have certain genres I cannot even glance at, all because I have deep-rooted biases because of wrong time experiment or maybe a bad book or maybe I really don't have much tolerance for those topics anyway. But really, I've grown as a reader more in the past couple of years than anything else. When you grow, you read and love and appreciate those genres you earlier didn't touch. A growing reader is also a wonderful resource because they insist on sharing their feelings with their friends and making them read too. They crave sharing of books, so much so that they start getting annoyed when others seem indifferent.

How does that help you?
You start looking at life beyond the ordinary, you are more optimistic and calm when it comes to real-life problems, though you might become that kind of person who draws into a shell and comes out only when it seems safe to do so. That's all right. You have the right to feel the way you do.

More than that, you'll realize that your place in the world is minuscule, you'll not be self-obsessed because you will be humble enough to realize you're small, yet powerful enough to influence other lives. Yes, you will not only know that you have that power, you will also believe in it and you will be driven to work for causes beyond those that carry you to materialism and selfish benefit. Tell me, don't you feel a tinge of sadness or pain when you see a poor kid? Don't you feel bad about wasting money when someone living in a construction house cannot even have enough food to survive? Readers tend to feel more strongly simply because they are capable of immediately putting themselves in that position and imagining what it's like. Readers and non-readers might take the same action to help others, but when it comes to feelings, I think readers personally feel more. Non-readers tend to be more practical in their approach. 

Readers will know their life beyond what they see, because they've read so much that they are able to connect more at the level of their feelings, and it is not easy to ignore a life so drastically different from yours. You would want to do something, and you, the reader, will figure something out even if it is a small step. Would you not?

What can you do?
As a reader, the least you could do is to motivate people around you to turn into readers themselves. It might sound obvious, but the fact is that it is very difficult. My brother G, despite living among piles of books, is not an avid reader. Some people just find it difficult, specially because, sad as it may sound, this basic activity is introduced to them as a pleasure activity quite late in life. By that time, most already have a set of hobbies and activities they have found solace in, and reading might not be in that list. Can you force anyone to read? NO! If you constantly pester them, they're going to rebel even more and thus, be as far from the idea of reading than they were before. You need to then do it in a subtle way, so that you're not forcing your opinion on anyone, because let's face it, a lot many wonderful people have survived without reading too, but they seem to have something else, a sense of understanding of the world, which is rare.

So if you need to do the deed and contribute your bit, I'd suggest you do it subtly. If a friend points out how he/she thinks it is boring, politely and excitedly tell them how it isn't boring. Talk about books and reading whenever the opportunity comes up. Show an interest in anyone who says they've read a certain book. Strike up conversations. Ask them what it is about, and if they enjoyed reading it. Tell them about the book you love or the story in an easy language. If you know what interests them, try to recall if you've read any book on that theme, and recommend it to them. 

The best way to get people to read is to make books available to them. I recently came across this article that talks about how soldiers from WWII were given affordable copies of books by publishers, how it affected them, and how drastically it changed the reading and publishing industry in America. That step, the offering of good quality books in affordable formats to soldiers in wars, was a step not only to create sales but to provide the many benefits of books to many, many people. 

Tell me, how many bookshops are there in your locality? I don't mean those that sell school books, nor the stationery shops that keep a handful of kiddie story books. I mean proper book shops. If you live in a modest part of Delhi, I'll bet on one shop within a radius of two kilometres. I do not have any shop near my house. In fact, I do not have anything book related in my neighbourhood. Except schools. Oh yeah, there are loads of schools - I could give you ten names just to serve as landmarks, but no book shop.

As a reader, make it your responsibility to spread this habit. I will not say that the internet is the cause of decline in book readership, because with the internet, people DO get reading material readily, even if I would think that most of it is crap. Still, I do not believe in the 'at least they're reading something' ideology either, so I make small efforts to share articles and reading pieces I feel must be read. You could do that too. Move to books. If you are a reader, completely move to books! Gift books to your friends, ask for books if you're being asked for a gift choice. Be the best friend's children's book resource. Forget being considered a nerd. It's for everyone's benefit. 



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