After a long time…

…I’m on this page, writing a new post! I don’t even want to look at the date on my last post here… well, I’ve been busy can be a ready excuse! There’ve been so many things I’ve wanted to write about but never got around to doing it…

Our sonny boy is a 19 month old toddler now! Can you believe that? I can’t!! He has bounded past so many milestones that they seem like a blur in my mind! That’s why one has gotta be regular on the blog, you’ll say; I know!
He now tells his name correctly albeit by adding a paapa suffix to it – infact he takes several names now – mine since a long time, it being the simplest with 2 letters, the maids’ names (she is delighted to have him call out her name and he does it atleast a dozen times while she’s around!), his cousins’ names – many such, except his appa’s – ha ha! *evil laughter*

He loves his books – yes he’s got quite a few already (courtesy his amma, who crazily had picked up the first bunch when he wasn’t even born) and he loves it when we read it out to him loud and that is the first thing he wants to do in the morning after he wakes up! He learns quickly and knows most of the pictures/ objects already and tells them out loud when we point to it in the book. He loves his rhymes and recites several in Kannada (nayi mari, nayi mari…, male bantu male, aane bantondaane…) and English (chubby cheeks, twinkle twinkle, johnny johnny, happy birthday…) – even if it is in parts, in his cute baby tongue, as and when it pleases his fancy. He also knows to count from 1 to 10 in both Kannada and English (he swallows ‘entu‘ in Kannada and ‘five’, ‘nine’ in English). He recites “A for apple, B for ball… right upto Z for Zebra”, with only a few misses in between. He understands every single thing that we tell him; but whether he chooses to do what we say or not is totally decided by his majesty! I don’t know if he’s doing stuff ahead of his age or not, as I’ve mentioned once before, I’ve never looked at any charts to keep track of his milestones. We enjoy them as and when he learns new stuff and surprises us with his antics. All I can say is – there is never a dull moment and it is a joy to watch him grow!

This spring of joy is much needed in our lives which is getting more hectic by the day. If the distance we were traveling to work was not already long enough, both mine and the hubby’s offices shifted to a location, another 10 km further away – now most of our waking hours are spent in locations on the far East of Bangalore, which if you ask me I can never consider to be a part of the city! Of course, people’s opinions differ and they have offered us various suggestions – the most common one being, why don’t you move to a place closer to work? We don’t want to move for several reasons – the most important being the kiddo, we don’t want to disrupt his routine, most definitely don’t want to put him in a creche/ playschool now and we want him to grow up in environs which atleast in parts remind us of the Bangalore of yore. We want him to be familiar with the bylanes of Basavangudi and Gandhibazar and Jayanagar and Malleshwaram – enjoy and drink in the cool air provided by the green lung spaces which still dot some parts of these areas. We don’t envisage ourselves as people who would enjoy the pleasures offered by the glitzy malls and amusements of a glamorous cosmopolitan Bangalore. If for this we gotta bear some hardships, then so be it; I am sure we will work out a mid-way solution somewhere down the line.
Phew! that’s quite a rant, isn’t it? But I’ve really had enough of people offering me the seemingly simple solution to our hardships – ‘move house’!

Amongst other news, on one of our recent ventures to this famous lung-space of Basavangudi, we came across this Kannada library called “Munnudi” and I thought I must spread word about it on my blog. It is a modern library catering exclusively to Kannada readers with a wide variety of books – old and new in the various genres of Kannada literature. The registration fee is a nominal Rs.100 and they have different membership schemes – starting with the silver membership plan for Rs.50 a month with the facility to borrow 1 book at a time, right upto the diamond membership for Rs.150 and 3 books combo. Additionally with each scheme you have the choice to pay the fee upfront for the year where you also get cool discounts and what’s more in such a case, they do a home delivery of the books too! There is also a platinum plan for Rs.2000 yearly payment only with 4 books combo. They have a in-house kiosk with the RF-ID reader using which you can track the books and maintain your membership. Isn’t the whole idea so  awesome?!

I was really impressed with the initiative and thought I should share it with my readers (however few they might be! :D) And today while I was looking to check if they have a website, what do I find? – apparently it’s a venture of Just Books clc, as you can read it here and they also have a Facebook page – check this out. Guess they’re not exactly in need of publicity, but it nevers harms to spread the word, don’t you agree?! 🙂 Do drop in if you’re in the vicinity of KrishnaRao Park in Basavangudi – it is located on the road leading to ‘South Thindies’, they’re open from 8.30 AM to 9 PM on all days except Mondays which is their off-day.

Well, that’s it for now and I will try to be more regular with my posts, going forward…

 

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ONE

Here I am – as shame-faced as I can be – with absolutely no excuses for my absence and that too at a time when my precious little completed a year of being little. I’ve missed many milestones – the baby book I bought with so much excitement lies only half-filled, but this was different. I did not want to miss writing on the occasion of his first birthday – about the year that he came into our lives and completely enveloped it in his fold. But now it’s come and gone and there’s nothing much that I can do about it, except post my thoughts now, before they’re lost in the ocean of other thoughts (mostly work related – at office and home, all that I can think of these days is work and how to go about completing it – but the fact of the matter is, it will never get completed! There’ll only be more work!).

Rants aside, it would be an understatement to say that this has been the most exciting and life- & lifestyle-changing year of my life! Firstly it really is unbelievable that a year has passed by –  a year? 365 days? since he was born? I feel like saying – gosh, you must be kidding! Wasn’t it recently that I was waiting impatiently for my due date? The day when I had those incredible pains that went on and on for hours – all to culminate at the surgery table 10 hours later and voila! there he was – wailing his lungs out in the next 10 mins. It was surreal in my then groggy state of anasthesia, to be looking at that baby being held out – it was mine! It was what we’d all been waiting for, those 9 months! He was my flesh and blood. He was my b-a-b-y!!And those following weeks/ months of emotional upheavals – of pain, pleasure, angst, confusion, joy, tears, helplessness, ecstasy… Now you say, it’s all in the past?? A year ago?

But it’s true. Incredible, but true. He has turned a year old, already. He is no longer a helpless infant, he’s a baby with thoughts, actions and a personality of his own. There are so many developments that I don’t know where to begin… he understands most of what we tell him and reacts in his own sweet way. He knows all his dolls by names and looks for them when asked, and brings them to us. He talks so many words in his baby-tongue and makes gestures to match. He points out to his head, nose and tummy – though he seems to be a little confused as to where exactly his tummy is! 😀 All other babies, not necessarily younger to him as paapa/ paapachi for him and he loves interacting with them. In fact any photo/ face on any magazine, paper, poster etc is paapa – including the doggy on his favourite poster at home! 😀 He holds his hand out for a sweet handshake and tries to touch and make friends with other babies. Anybody who greets him is responded to with a ready smile and a wave of hands – including random strangers at traffic signals. He does a dutiful namaste when asked to and devoutly listens as his appa helps him with his prayers after his daily bath.

He listens and points to a doggy bark and tries to imitate it with his bow-bow. He loves looking at the touch-n-feel Fluffy bunnies book that he got as a birthday present and grins as his mother reads it out, in her typical sing-song fashion. The kitchen utensils are still his favourite playthings and he rushes to grab them – especially the spoons, which he knows he has to dig out from the bottom of the tub which holds all the washed vessels. He waits for amma to come home from work and rushes to her the minute he sees her and isn’t satisfied till she lifts him into her arms. The contented smile and the way he touches and feels me all over my face and hands then, is something that wrenches my gut every single day! He loves his appa no less and actually cries while bidding him bye to work, even though he is perched on (an indignant)amma’s waist and she is cooing sweet nothings into his ears. Did I say that he loves trying out new types of food – considering that his appa-amma have deprived him of all tasty and adult food for so long, given a chance, he doesn’t lose a moment to grab at any eatable within his reach and pop it into his mouth. And if likes the taste of it, he gives a grin and does a little jig to express his joy! I could just go on and on… but it really is difficult to capture his every action in words.

On the actual birthday we took him on his first visit to offer prayers to the home-deity and the celebration with homas/ pooja and cake-cutting was planned for a later date. The celebration occasion brought us all much joy. Albeit being a little unwell, he behaved irreproachably and was a darling through-out – even in the stuffy atmosphere, with the homas/ pooja going on. He went to everyone with a ready smile and was generally a happy child, enjoying all the attention being bestowed upon him. We were happy too with the way things turned out. Initially we weren’t quite planning to have a celebration by inviting relatives and friends – thought we’d done enough of that. We felt it would be more satisfying and meaningful to celebrate by being part of a social cause. But then decided to also have a small-scale function, mainly for the kiddo’s sake – I don’t want him to come back to me later with regret that he never got to celebrate his first year birthday. Though it might not mean much to him now, it will rankle in later years.

I handpicked and packed the gifts for all his little friends with a thank-you note; age-appropriate books ordered from Pratham with some accompanying dolls/ sweets. We also didn’t want to give regular plastic/ metal gifts with the taamboola – and decided to give potted plants which would be low maintenance and used indoors/ outdoors as desired. People found it surprising/ offending(?) or laughable, but I’m happy that we stuck with our choice – it brought us immense happiness to contribute to the green cause on this special occasion, albeit in a small way.

All in all, it has been a eventful year and we can’t thank the lord enough for bringing this joy into our lives. I pray for his long life, health and happiness always and look forward eagerly to every moment of his growing-up years. A very very very happy first year birthday to you my puttu-kanda! You bring a purpose to our existence. You take us back to our child-like ways and help us feel the purity of unadulterated innocence and joy that one can enjoy only as a child. You are a tiny being as yet, but you fill what would otherwise have been a mammoth void at the centre-point of our universe. You complete us. Thank you for being you – may you continue to be as naughty, playful, joyous and smiling as you are now, always! 🙂

Only me-time!

Things have been quiet around here isn’t it? Not so in life. Shifting to the new place has brought in changes in its wake – my routine is turning out to be quite different. Am back to taking the cab to work and as a result the mornings are as rushed as they can be and the evenings are spent planning and preparing for the morrow. Luckily work-wise  I can breathe a little easy now, but dunno for how long! We’re settling down and slowly forming a new routine – it’s fascinating to think how each home results in a unique routine – it’s like, it dons a character of its own. Even though the people essentially remain the same, the house and place of stay matter so much and end up affecting even the smallest details of our everyday activities.

Just as we were settling down to a new way of life, dividing duties and sharing responsibilities and nestling into the home, the hubby has had to travel on work. It is no less than two weeks, which essentially means it is only me and my tanhaai in the coming fortnight 😦 While I’m trying to think of and enthuse myself with all the exciting stuff that I can do in this me-time, I know I will end up not doing anything much and much of the time will be spent moping around and getting through the basic essentials. Though I must say, I have gotten back to my reading habit a bit and am able to catch up on at least a few pages each day, which is a cause for much joy. I’m racing through the final few pages of The Kite Runner and the next slot is already booked for a Kannada book.  

Apart from the reading I plan to finish up with some more cleaning and sorting work at home and also catch up with some long-lost friends in the next weekend. One of them has had a baby recently and this will be a good occasion to meet-up for some pure unadulterated girly gossip and fun! 😀 With the looks of things getting back on track on the work-front and a new project about to start rolling, I’m hoping it will keep me busy enough to plod through the two whole weeks, at the end of which I join the hubby and we chug into the mountains for a brief holiday 🙂

Well, looking back at this post, may be it won’t be so bad after all – I do have a whole lot of cheer-me-up stuff to look forward to. That coupled with the daily dose of hubby-tele-talk should help keep my spirits on a high!

Of books and babies…

November was supposed to bring some pleasant changes in its wake to the family, but it only kept us waiting on tenterhooks. The days slipped by and it was finally December when the little one chose to come into our lives! The s-i-l was blessed with a baby boy and the bonny beady-eyed fellow has been the cynosure of all eyes ever since. The joy was manifold since it had been many years that the hubby’s household had been witness to the antics of a baby. For me, of course, it was a joy re-visited and am thoroughly enjoying my role as the atte to the lovely little bundle of joy!

Now that the exams are over and done away with, I have taken to books with a vengeance. The one thing that I had missed the most during the course of my study was the luxury to plunge myself into a book without a care of the world and the weight of the impending exams/ studies on my mind. Now, I can break free from shackles and soak myself up in all the delights that a book proffers. I waited for the first opportunity (read – the annual book fair) to get myself a load of books and have been devouring them since. Added to this were some books I had already borrowed from friends.

A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini was what I started with. It is a hard-hitting book with a powerful storyline that evokes tumultuous emotions, the impact of which stays with you for long. Though eighty percent of the book was gripping and fast paced, I had a feeling that there was a sharp fall in pace in the last few pages and I had difficulty in keeping myself focused to complete it. I felt, the author could’ve ended it long before he actually did – it was probably to bring the story to a logical conclusion and leave no ends untied, which in my opinion, was avoidable.
Have been enjoying some vintage Christie stuff now before having a go at the biggie – the complete LOTR collection 😀

Half of December has whizzed by just like the year 2008 has – am really looking forward to the long Christmas weekend break and also toying with the idea of doing a year-long round-up post – something I haven’t done in the past. With increased work-load at home and at office, my non-blogger-mind looks at me askance, but the blogger in me is sending SOS signals that I gotta do something if I have to salvage this space!

Favourite fictional characters

There’s this tag that’s been doing the rounds on the blogosphere. Since none of these bloggers read my blog to tag me and none of my bloggie-pals seem to be inclined to post (forget tagging!), I simply decided to flick this tag for myself ‘coz I found it interesting.

Well, the tag, after multiple modifications and adaptations, now goes like this – “List your ten favourite characters from literature”.
I’ll go a step forward and change it some more – I shall bunch my favourite characters from the same book / author, because more than once I see that I cannot confine my likings to a single character from the book / the author’s stable.

So, here goes – in no particular order –

1. Elizabeth Bennet/ Mr. Darcy – The strong-willed and sensible Lizzy who has the right balance of everything – charming and quick-witted, with a mind of her own but not head-strong, she values her family and friends more than any fortune – is a loving daughter and a devoted sister. Darcy – the handsome enigmatic hero whose generous, upright nature is shrouded in a cloak of pride and arrogance – a perfect foil for Elizabeth. Their chemistry is crackling! 😀

2. Calvin and Hobbes – the quintessential favourites. How can I even think of one without the other? This is the perfect recipe to have a great beginning to the day. While Calvin and Hobbes are simply adorable being themselves, what I like the most is the varied humor brought to the fore through their childish philosophical views about the most fundamental issues.

3. Anne Shirley – the bright and quick child of imagination from the Avolea series. I enjoyed reading these books with their simple plots – that took us through the life of Anne in picturesque countryside settings of Prince Edward Island, Canada – describing her various adventures, scrapes and enjoyments.

4. Jo March – the tomboyish second daughter of the March family from Little Women. The journey that traces the transformation of a bold and brazen Jo into a gentler, sensible woman is simply fascinating.

5. Atticus Finch – an upright lawyer, a wonderful father and a perfect gentleman. Harper Lee brings alive this character so well that you can’t help but respect and love him.

6. Scarlett O’ Hara/ Rhett Butler – the main protagonists of GWTW – two such strong characters that their encounters are electric. There are instances where you just love to hate them, but do what may, you simply cannot ignore them!

7. Bertie Wooster/ Jeeves/ Uncle Galahad/ Lord Emsworth – every character in a PGW book is a delight but these four are absolute riots! I love the unusual but perfect combo of the bungling Bertie and his ever resourceful personal gentleman, Jeeves. Another favourite combo from PGW is the energetic and always young at heart Gally – the champion of youth and romance and his harried elder brother – the benevolent but absent minded Lord Emsworth who has a penchant for pigs and absolutely dotes on his Empress of Blandings. Their histrionics had me laughing with stitches in my sides.

8. Miss Marple/ Hercule Poirot – the two most famous detectives from the world of fiction, surely. The two of them and their methods as different as chalk and cheese, but riveting nevertheless. The frail old spinster Miss Marple, who is often dismissed as confused and fluffy, is remarkably sharp when it comes to solving mysteries – she solves passionate crimes sitting in her old rocking chair in her English village, as she draws parallels and believes that no matter where people live, the human nature – especially the negative side, doesn’t change much. Hercule Poirot – the most famous of Christie’s creations is the eccentric small Belgian detective with a characteristically funny egg-shaped head and stiff military moustache with upturned tips. Though Christie creates the image of a funny little man, when it comes to solving crimes, Poirot’s acumen and brilliance is seldom matched.

9. Sherlock Holmes/ Dr. Watson – another world famous fictional detective-duo. The Bohemian disorganized ways of the brilliant detective Holmes, are well complimented by his practical, meticulous and soft-hearted doctor friend Watson. I loved the narrative style with Watson as the chronicler and the humor brought out when Watson fancied himself to do a bit of the detecting 🙂

10. Harry Potter/ Hermione Granger/ Ron Weasley – the awesome threesome from the most celebrated and famous fantasy series in recent history – JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I love the way Rowling has etched these two supporting characters of Hermoine and Ron – without them Harry would be crippled. It’s a truly uncharacteristic premise on which their friendship weathers all storms to bring an end to the evils of Lord Voldemort.

Well, that was my list and I enjoyed making it. I wouldn’t tag anyone, but I will surely be interested in knowing who are – Anamika, Shreyas, Smitha and Raghu’s favourite fictional characters. So guys, pick up this tag if you have the time and are interested in doing it!

Gone With the Wind

I just finished reading this Margaret Mitchell classic. Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1937, it was made into a highly acclaimed and hugely popular, Academy award winning movie in 1939. Interestingly, it was the only novel published by Mitchell during her lifetime.

Wikipedia describes the plot summary as – “ GWTW relates the story of a rebellious Georgia Southern belle named Scarlett O’Hara and her experiences with friends, family, lovers, and enemies before, during, and after the Civil War. Using Scarlett’s life, Mitchell examined the effect of the War on the old order of the South, and the aftermath of the war on what was left of the southern planter class

I bought this book at the book fair, a second hand hard bound copy and had started reading it sometime back. I’d heard from many people that it is one of the greatest classics of all times, a must-read for anyone who loves classic literature and so on…the movie too has been hailed as one of the best war time romatic movies ever made. I’d not seen the movie. As I said, I’d started reading the book and then as suddenly, stopped; I picked it up from my mom’s place the last time I was there, determined to read it completely this time.

And I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. I rarely am with most classics, always find something in them that fascinates me, no matter how many pages and chapters the descriptions of the triflest of things drag on; I plod on relentlessly. But GWTW is different, it held me spell-bound, turning pages one after another and racing through the chapters, it was almost un-put-down-able I can say.

The author seems to have you like a twine wound around her finger, having you absolutely involved in the happenings and thinking about them like it were happening to you. She takes you through a roller-coaster of emotions – now you hate and despise Scarlett when she does the most despicable of acts and then you sympathize and pity her state in spite of yourself. You feel the triumph in your heart when she pulls through the most tumultous of times and then you writhe in exasperation as she puts everyone else’s emotions and lives at stake to suit her whims. Whether it is the dogged way in which she pursues her futile love or the way she always puts off the most pressing of her problems to the morrow, saying “Tomorrow is another day”, you just wanna shout at her and say – “You fool, what do you think you are doing?!!” 🙂
She is one protagonist you love to hate. And yet, the author gets you to love the book!

Also to be noted are the vivid descriptions of the American civil war times and the Reconstruction thereafter and the effect it had on the civilization. One wonders – how fascinating and dreadful history can be at the same time. The ruthless aftermath of the war, the absurd hopelessness which drives people to do acts that wipe out nations and jeopardise lives of thousands of fellow-men is something that man fails to recognize even now as he repeats his old, hapless mistakes time and again. The way in which the author paints the war pictures in the faces and lives and the destinies of her book’s characters has you hooked onto the book till the last page is turned.

All in all, I think, given a chance, GWTW is one book you shouldn’t miss reading. It is one of the most vivid and thought provoking paintings of the human life – its tumultous emotions and relations, the destruction wrought by wars not just on cities and civilizations but on humans – their hearts and souls and generations of them; and how man has time and again risen from them, bolder, stronger and more tenacious then ever before – it is a tribute to the indomitable human spirit .
It definitely has a little something, that all of us can take away with us.

Potty about Potter

Done! Finished! Through!
After one day, two nights and three sittings, I finally finished reading ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows‘. Thanks to a friend, who mailed the soft copy, I got to read it soon after it released, without sweat, except having to grit my teeth and bear with a couple of spelling and grammar errors. Yes, I know, a friend shouted at me, calling me names for not buying the original book and instead reading a pirated copy; it was probably not the right thing to do. But I also know that I didn’t want to buy it here knowing I couldn’t carry it back home. And there was no question of leaving it behind, I do not like and never do donate my books, no matter how inexpensive or small they are, ‘coz the memories tied to them are immeasurably large. There, I’m done with my take on why I read it, the way I did.

And now for the book itself, I wouldn’t want to comment since anything I say might give away what it has in store for those who haven’t read it yet. But I guess JK Rowling has got it right after all, the ending to the saga couldn’t have been more ‘politically correct’. I’ll reserve my other comments for later.

The reason for this post is to answer the question some morons tend to ask– ‘Why do grown-ups read Harry Potter?’ There are several counter-questions that come to mind when I encounter such people…

1. First and foremost, have you ever even tried reading a book? If not, then I guess you can be forgiven ‘coz ‘son, thou know not what thou art talking’!

2. Ok, assuming you read books, have you ever tried reading Harry Potter? If not, then how can you be a judge of how good/ bad it is and for whom it is?

3. Where in God’s name, is the classification that lists the books children should read and those which are for grown-ups? Who gave you the right to categorize books this way? Don’t you love revisiting childhood when you read fairy tales and reciting moral fables to your kids? Isn’t there supposed to be a child hidden in each one of us, no matter how old we grow?

4. What prompted you to single out the Potter series as children’s books? Is it because there is so much imagination and creativity involved in it? In that case, are adults meant to read only stuff which is sans-imagination and does(n’t) require too much activity for the gray cells?

5. Finally, have you ever tried penning down a few lines born out of your own imagination? Forget weaving stories, will you be able to create one fictional character that seems true to life and believable enough to be able to write a couple of incidents revolving around him/ her, which is not ‘inspired’ by any living person’s life? If not, whatever gave you the idea that it is child’s play to create so many fascinating characters and weave a seven book series involving them?

Ok, I agree some of the above lines might sound impassioned. But when people question the need to read a book like Harry Potter, it irritates me no end. Given some thought, as anyone would understand, writing a series like Harry Potter, involving not two, not three but seven books in seven years and continuing to capture the imagination of billions in the world, is no mean task. It just goes to show how novel, intriguing and interesting the plot and characters need to be to get the people coming back for more every time. I can’t think of any other series which has been so popular, in the past decade at least. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that there isn’t any target audience for it; there is no particular section of the populace belonging to a certain age group who need to be catered to. It is and can be read by anyone who enjoys and appreciates the power of imagination, loves creativity at its best.

So people out there, complaining about the ‘Potter-mania’, take a chill pill and go get yourself a copy; may be you might get just as enthused and enthralled about Harry and his antics, like the rest of the world currently is! 🙂