Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: The Night Watch

The Night WatchThe Night Watch by Sarah Waters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Night Watch is entirely character driven, an intriguing story set in 1947.It begins in the present and unravels as Sarah Water takes you back into time (till 1941) for you to to truly understand the storyline.
There is a certain amount of suspense that drives the story, but it does not grip you enough to make this a page turner.
There is a lot of time spent in detailing the characters out in the first section, making you wonder what entwines them together, by the time you get to know you might have lost some interest in continuing reading. Yes, the book could have been paced a but faster but once you get to the events which tie it all together it does not feel like it was a bad read..
On concluding, you appreciate the Author for the well thought of story line but the journey of reading does not please you as much.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thinking Out Of The Box (Office)

It is a silver lining yet one cannot deny the cloud is grey. Rarely does a Bollywood actor catch the attention of India’s intellectual strata for the brain and not the brawn, even more so a female actor. And when they do, videos go viral on Facebook. 

Kangana Ranaut had her claim to fame with many Bollywood indifferent folks with what they called her rather dignified and sensible interview on Front Row a few weeks ago.  She spoke with good composure and seemed to understand the questions enough to give relevant responses said they, doing their bit in moving the video around social pages. She was applauded beyond measure, having achieved a feat most actors couldn’t. All she did was make sense.

We revel in the glitz that Bollywood showers on us and they, in their ability to do that. When the moon turns blue once in a while, we come across an Actor who has some substance to show beyond his/her scenes and dialogues. It turned a shade of blue the day Kangana was invited onto Front Row.

Evolution is meant to take place everywhere, including the film industry. With every movie, with every role, the acting talent is supposed to mature and amplify; enthralling the audience and making them want more.  With talent, the ability to converse in the reel real world ought to get established as well… esp. with the media being their constant companion. This is where the cloud turns grey.

Most actors today are unable to hold their ground with the media and the common man. Unlike their predecessors the exposure actors have to the paparazzi is tremendous; they can either make or break them. In this struggle for stardom the actors often fall short and the media gets what it wants; juicy dishy news to fill up newsprint and news slots the next day.

It probably infuriates and makes their blood curdle but this love hate relationship is one they cannot do without. Good or bad, it is what gives them the celebrity status, the absence of grey matter notwithstanding
There is a mixed bag of them, some with degrees that would put yours and mine to shame, others belonging to the “elite” group of dropouts while many whose destiny shone the day they were born into a filmi clan - All gyrating to remixed music, overcoming society to win their love and fighting terrorism at the drop of a hat.  And there I suppose lies the problem.

Cinema has hardly evolved over the years; it has been frozen in time. There have been times when the ice might have shown signs of melting only to freeze again. With the genre remaining unchanged and there being a lack in variety, it is but impractical to expect the actors to grow.

In the yesteryears directors were ready to toe the line and explore literature such that it had an impact on Indian society, actors experimented with their roles and open mindedness was commonly accepted. There were your usual run-of-the-mill masala movies but we also had an Ankur and a Saraansh that molded the very definition of cinematic art. Neecha Nagar won the top honours at Cannes, an achievement yet to be repeated. The golden age of Indian cinema was said to last from 1945-1960 with many directors even defining a middle cinema that cut across main stream and art with movies such as Ek ruka hua faisla and Rajnigandha.

Unfortunately for us, realism in Indian cinema and the middle ground that directors arrived at was soon replaced with commercialization. Fast forward a few decades and we had only masala continuing. The only difference being the star crossed lovers, rigid parents, wicked step moms and dads had been joined by across the border terrorists and greedy backstabbing politicians. Hazaaron Khwaaishein aisi, Black Friday, Ship of Thesus and the likes do make an appearance once in a while, usually when the pigs begin to fly.

Pre-Independence movies dealt more openly with sex and kissing, come 1947, the mindset narrowed down and anything that remotely indicated towards these topics were considered a taboo by the censor board. Ironically speaking the negative effect on society was much less then, than it is today.

In recent times, Originality has taken the back seat and remakes have become the order of the day. Movies here cannot do without the song and dance. Whatever the situation maybe, characters break onto the dance floors and swing around trees. Melodrama and music are two wave’s movies ride high on today. Speaking of ironies, they peek in here as well. While Indian directors spend most of their time scouting around for the right movie to remake, western film makers take inspiration from Indian musical movies to make Moulin Rouge, Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia. Tit for tat one would say but inspiration and remakes are hardly synonymies now are they?

In the world of remakes one would still appreciate if movies such as Black Swan or As good as it gets made it to the list, alas we have to make do with Liar Liar more often than we would want. Why don’t they make the cut anyway? The answer lies with the lower middle and reserved classes- a large section of the movie going crowd, the one who bring in the moolah, decide the box office outcome and makes the movies makers and actors very rich and happy.

Masala and Item numbers are what they want to see, it is what they enjoy, and it is what they pay for. Parallel cinema seldom sells and is limited to the smaller theatre halls catering to a much smaller audience. One brings in the money and requires not much talent, the other demands skills but pays you peanuts, isn’t the popular choice made obvious? One shoots you to stardom, the other only wins you the Jury awards, and it isn’t rocket science to guess which path is chosen more often.  
Since talent is not in the reckoning anymore just about anyone who gets a second look makes it to the league. If you acquire some skills along the way, nirvana would be just round the corner.

Our reasoning power has long gone dormant as far as Bollywood is concerned. It pleases the mind when once in a while we see a Lunchbox come along; at other times we just make peace with what is put in front of us, letting common sense take a much needed holiday and allowing our overworks brains to recharge.
And we live, coexisting with a mundane form of cinema, over spilling with glamour and allure, celebrity antics and tantrums and page three’s that never run out of juicy bits of gossip and do not have an ounce of intellect to call their own.
… So when a Kangana Ranaut comes along and speaks a language we all understand, videos go viral. They deserve to. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Filter Kaapi at Indian Coffee House

Bangalore is not what it used to be. This is a common statement you will get to hear from old timers. More often than not you will realize it is true.  The city still holds the title “Garden City” but most of those gardens have steadily disappeared taking along with them the lakes for company. In the name of commercialization it has grown by leaps and bounds but at the cost of the essence that used to once be Bangalore.
With malls, cinemas and shopping complexes now dominating the landscape; the charm of old Bangalore that lay in its tiffin rooms and coffee canteens has begun to fade. Having been in this city for over three years now this is the picture I have carried in my mind, this is how I have described the city to the newcomer who comes to make this his home. However, today changed all of that.

P and I started the weekend with a trip to Church Street, our favourite haunt for books. Reaching there quite early in the morning we were in the mood for coffee before beginning the browsing through years old paper and print. All around us we could see huge boards screaming Costas Coffee, Coffee Day and Matteo, none appealed to our tummies and we wandered on. Hardly 100 meters down a small board caught P’s eye- Indian Coffee House (run by coffee worker cooperative societies), a crowded coffee joint that seemed to have stepped out of the yesteryears onto what is known as the new age food street in the city. Excited we headed over and made ourselves comfortable at the “table and bench” seating. It had been years since we had sat on a bench to sip our coffee, the feeling was so much more surreal than the swanky sofas we find in cafes nowadays.

Our intention was to have just a coffee but the mouthwatering aroma of the classic vadai wafted all around us making us order two plates immediately. Sinking our teeth into the golden fried vadai and sipping the evergreen filter coffee, it was the perfect start to the day. The traditional setting and the grey haired waiter dressed all prim and proper in well ironed white uniforms, white turbans (yes!) and white canvas shoes made the picture complete. The meal cost us just Rs 62 but the experience was no doubt priceless.

To think we could experience the old Bangalore charm out of the blue made us smile ear to ear as we stepped out. We couldn't have asked for a better start to our weekend.

Indian Coffee House also serves continental breakfast/snacks, their Omelet and Cutlets are supposed to be particularly delightful.

19, Ground Floor, Near Ruby Tuessday, Church Street, Off Brigade Road, Bangalore
Tel No: (080) 25587088

Meal for two: Ranges between Rs 50-200

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Pink "Gold"

Source: Arquepoetica/

They stared and then frowned
Wondering what was to be done
To make the dinner gravies white and brown

A lot had gone into planning the menu
With mushrooms, paneer and the humble alu
Of appetizers, soups, entrees and desserts
The flavours would be amiss
 With the core ingredient going berserk

Mouths watered at dinner every night
With thoughts of soups and the salad so light
None of which could be perfected…
Wish as much as you might

Oh! What could be done!
Wondered the team in white hats
Should the menu turn Jain…
Inviting customers with bricks and bats?

There was not much one could do
But cry a tear or two
Helpless they felt sitting up all night
At Rs. 100 a kilo, there was simply no respite

Would things change, they wondered now and then
Would the racy root be part of their pantry again?

Humble as it was, precious it has become
Unfortunately for all of us
The tearful saga had just begun

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Festival of Consumerism

We were tempted. Since months we had been contemplating purchasing a new TV. “Wait for Diwali” said everyone and we readily agreed. Diwali was the time for festive offers, deals to be struck and freebies to be won.  What would we get as a deal we wondered… a noise cancelling headphone or that gorgeous new blue ray player? The mind feasted on the options and plans wheeled into motion.

Yes, that was the first thought of Diwali that came to our mind, of festive offers and television sets. Sheepish however we did feel, even more so when we realized we were not alone. Washing machine purchases had many a housewife take home Revlon kits to add to their vanity case. There were many grabbers for pen drives that were being distributed in abundance with every kitchen appliance sale. Discounts on clothing were making the ladies yearn for a shopping trip to the mall while offers on phones and cameras had many a men swoon.

If the stores were going all out to engage the gullible customer, the virtual world was not one to be left behind. Online retailers announced their sales with discounts that boggled the mind and made their event the talk of the social town. Credit card sales were picking up and ATM withdrawals crossing all limits. In hindsight, if one cared to take notice, the online sales were anything but discounts, the prices at which the durables were sold were higher than what stores had to offer on a normal day. But did anybody bother to check?

Diwali and Dussehra are not the only scapegoats for sellers; Akshaya Thritiya probably takes the cake when it comes to consumerism. An auspicious day among Hindus and Jains, the real value of this festival is supposed to be found in “giving” say the scriptures and spiritual gurus and that is meant to multiple the return one gets. However what has become popular belief is that purchasing gold on Akshaya Thritiya will lead to immense gain and return. (Read here for more on this)

So what drives this fervent urge for premium purchases to be at its peak during these festivals?

Festivals such as these are now increasingly becoming the face of effective marketing gimmicks that sellers are adopting for higher sales. Yes, there was a time when festivals such as Diwali meant giving your (and your family) life a new start with a clean-up/makeover, purchase of new household goods but over a period of time that has diminished to be the primary reason for making buying decisions.The festival has now been reduced to being a mere premise for being cajoled into heavy duty purchases that one might not have made otherwise.

These festivals now seem to be more about the purchases you make and the gifts you give and not the quality time you spend with your family and friends to celebrate their presence in your lives and pray for more such moments. The definition of prosperity and well being has developed a materialistic tone and given rise to a new festival of sorts- consumerism.

Somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten the identity and true meaning of these occasions and allowed consumerism to take over. Over the years regardless of whether we prosper or not we have ensured retailers and wholesalers do.

These thoughts were playing on my mind when I was reading the newspaper the other day hunting for news items that were buried somewhere among all the advertisements and sale campaigns. The broadsheet screamed discounts from all corners cementing the thoughts I was mulling over. In the entire mayhem one tiny cartoon strip caught my eye, adding substance to my rumination. This was one feeling I was hoping I wouldn't be right about… but alas.

Wonder what is molding the way that we have been for generations till now... wonder what is changing the meaning of these festivals in the eyes of the average Indian?... I suspect the answer to these questions likes somewhere deep within you and me.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Confessions of a Workaholic - Part II

Curiosity kills the cat they say and so it does :) Many wanted to know what happened of the workaholic girl (Confessions of a Workaholic). And so, here it is...


The New Girl followed in her footsteps, soon dethroning her and taking over the kingdom. She gladly stepped aside, rolling the red carpet and letting New Girl preen.  Letting go could also be a wonderful feeling, she realized. It was time to focus on more important things.

Exactly a year had passed by since her bestie had spoken to her. Her friend a year older and she surely wiser… the phone remained silent this time. It was the day for the leadership call… yet again. If she had not believed in coincidences before, she did now. Her boss beckoned from a distance; reluctantly she got up only to see New Girl brush past her, sprinting towards the conference room. Watching them get onto the call mirrored past reflections she no longer wanted to see. The feeling of Déjà vu was overwhelming.

She made her resolve then, picking up her bag she turned towards the door- Birthdays come once a year, leadership calls happen all the time, she told herself.  She rushed to her friend’s home only to find her entire group celebrating. A pin could not shatter the silence she encountered. Red faced, she twitched her toes and stared down admiring them more than she ever had her work. Suddenly she felt a hand snake around her shoulder and a peck on the cheek turning them from red to pink. She looked up and saw the tears glisten in her bestie’s eyes. Grab a mop someone, the room has begun to flood! She exclaimed breaking the tension that had surfaced around. Joining in the revelry, she began to loosen up, her old college self showing signs of return. Life had just begun.

She started to like her office as much. It had turned a shade different ever since her collapse. The light banter during meetings that she previously rolled eyes too; the humour and gossip during coffee breaks that she always had considered a waste of time… she saw a different world now, one that she had been completely oblivious to.  After years she took those breaks and made new friends. Her new avatar initially made them hesitate… she was amused by the reactions she got to see… sometimes shock but more often than not open mouthed stares.. All followed by grins that spread a mile. It took some time for them to toe the line and extend the first after office drinks invite; she accepted without batting a lid. There was a lot to make up for she knew. It was taking some time but she was becoming popular again… but for all the right reasons.

She excelled at her work with an efficiency that would put the Mumbai Dabbawalla’s to shame; caliber that made New Girl always carried an insecure look while around her. There were times when a tiny voice inside her would urge her to stay back and do more, tempting it was, after all old habits die hard but she shunned it till it turned into a squeak and disappeared forever. That ship had sailed from that dock with her past safely buried in Davy Jones locker, she told her anxious parents.

Once again she was the life … of parties and vacations. Her weekends were now free for family and friends thanks to New Girl and her rendezvous with the office. With time she rediscovered her passion, not for work but childhood dreams.  She began to sketch; spending her weekends drawing colours into everyone’s lives. 
If life was a movie, she had slept through the first half she realized. There was a lot to catch up on and experience through the rest.

Love had also begun to trickle in the air; she had doodled her way into a drawing class where she met her soul mate. They shared a common passion for the canvas while earning their bread and butter being just another brick in the IT wall. She broke the news to her mother who couldn't believe her ears. Was this the same girl who had laughed at the sheer prospect of settling down? Impossible dreams do come true her mother proudly told her kitty friends, wasting no time in buying the rings and booking the wedding hall. She soon found herself distributing saffron colored envelopes around the work bay. 

She walked up to New Girl, inviting her to witness the bells ring. New Girl looked up, peering at her through glazed eyes and excused herself from the occasion saying “With my position comes immense responsibility, taking time off would mean disaster!” The words sounded vaguely familiar; she gave an understanding smile, scribbling something on the invitation card. “You might find that useful” she told New Girl and walked away with a chuckle.
Confused New Girl turned the card around, scribbled on it was the phone number of the clinic next door.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Twilight Moon Saga

The day eventually dawns, sunny and bright. The women gather in their finery religiously keeping their taste buds at bay. Chit chat and gossip help them while away their time as they await Mr. Moon’s arrival. Little do they know how eagerly he waits for their longing attention.

Mr. Moon was happy. The day he became the center of everyone’s attention has arrived. He saddles around, preening himself, counting every minute for the time to rise. What if it is a cloudy night he wonders… hell will break loose on Earth for sure; creating a pandemonium among the women. Hunger pangs can drive them crazy he had heard. Unsure of Mr. Cloud’s plan but very clear about the fear he felt, he quickly fixes an appointment with Mr. Cloud, flattering him till he promises to keep his herd floating away.

Finally the sun melts down and the tide sets in making the women folk burst into celebration. The puja thalis are brought out and the lamps lit with a keen hungry eye kept on Mr. Moon’s whereabouts.

He dares them as he peeks out from behind the trees inviting the ladies to play hide and seek. Wondering how much he can toe the line he hides behind the branches making them run, jingle their bangles and fill the air with musical laughter as they desperately try to get a glimpse of him. He keeps them waiting, trying their endurance as their husbands impatiently drum around.

At last he takes pity and makes a grand appearance gleaming white and perfectly round. Proudly he enjoys his moment of glory, watching thousands of sieves being flashed around. They take a sip of the water offered and send him a prayer as they always do… Happy and elated he grants them their wish like he always does on this day.

Longingly he watches as they disappear into their homes, the aromas of the food being the next item on the agenda… bringing his day to an end. “Oh! Go by fast” he tells Mr. Time, “I can’t wait for next year’s festival to begin”.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Back to Pavilion


The stork arrived as it always did
Dropping many a plenty
Two precious droppings they would be
Marking the year three and seventy

Years rolled by and soon it was time
The childhood play had given out signs
Of what the future would behold
For the bat and ball and the country as a whole

Shouldering responsibility while very young
From pavilion to field they raced along
Sometimes in white, sometimes in blue
They held the crowds mesmerized and glued

One with his talent broke all records
Swinging his bat and smashing the balls
The other rose up to every occasion
With dignity, grace and strength like a wall

Together they made the spectator’s day
Sometimes alone they made their hay
Regardless of the company they had to spare
Of giving the opponent nightmares… They took utmost care

It was now a merry song to be sung
The golden era of Indian cricket had begun
Years kept rolling and records went cold
As their bats showered runs after runs

The sun kept shining bright and sunny
But it could not stop the grey clouds from acting funny
Bringing with it rough and troubled times
Sometimes lack of form and otherwise match fixes
But nothing could come in the way of their fours and sixes

As their career progressed along
The talent display impressed all but some
Many heaped praises and idolized the duo
While some held back and questioned the halo

Like all good things that come in a small package
With time passing by, they ripened in age
How much ever the fan was to desire
The time had come for them to retire

The day finally dawned dull and grey
The mood justified, it was a sad day
Many showered tributes and shed the occasional tear
Others raised a brow and exclaimed in despair

Whatever the emotion might be
One cannot deny, a piece of childhood
Was taken away from you and me

While we ride high on the emotional wave
Speculating if the golden era would return
We can do what we should do and that is
Giving our heroes…One last standing ovation

Monday, October 14, 2013

Confessions of a Workaholic

She was elated. A pay rise and a promotion, what more could she ask for? Her colleagues congratulated her as she sauntered around her bay. Envy, hero worship, jealousy… she saw it all as she floated a tad bit higher with no urgency to set her feet firmly back on the ground. Oh yes! She was on top of the world. And why shouldn't she be? She was the Go To person for everything in the team – client meetings, strategic presentations, performance reviews, recruitment, team building activities; an eyelid wouldn't bat without her presence.

From the corner of her eye she saw her boss beckon for the leadership call while he left for a family dinner. How could the management strategize without her? She glanced at her phone only to see a dozen missed calls from her best friend, it was her birthday dinner that night.  With growth comes higher responsibility she told herself, friends could wait, after all birthdays came every year.

She got back to work with the empty office desks giving her company. Oh! She loved the solitude; it gave her those eureka moments that stamped each deliverable with success. Late night was definitely the best time to work. Being the last to leave and the first to come in, the office felt like her kingdom, waking up to her presence and calling it a day only after she left. Coffee was her trusted companion, while, sleep, her worst enemy.

Life could wait she said dousing with nonchalance all the disappointed looks and the glares she got from her near and dear ones. But this team needed her and would collapse without her, she was convinced. Heck, she wasn't called Atlas for nothing! There wasn't enough time to finish her work, how could she settle down? She asked her mother. If they hadn't already given up, they did now much to her satisfaction.

The laptop and phone held fort on weekends, but the food at home just did not make the cut. Of course it was her favorite office meal of coffee and noodles that she missed, making the drive back to office well worth her while.

If only her eyes wouldn't hurt so much she thought, or the world look so hazy every time she lost her balance. Come to think of it, it was happening rather often.  She quickly pushed those thoughts out of her mind; ignoring the pain she felt each time she looked at her beloved screen.  Life couldn't get any better than this she convinced herself and wished it would never end.  Little did she know how often her colleagues sent out the same prayer; their personal lives had become heaven with her in the team.

Months went by and their prayers continued to be answered. She was the life of the office like her colleagues were at the weekend parties. The company took pride in its culture of work-life balance; only she seed while the others sawed.

Her workload kept rising, so did the blurriness in her vision and the pain in her temples. Engrossed in her work and busy ignoring the pain she did not notice how time went by and before she knew it, it was recruitment season. Her boss was on a hiring spree that ended with five hires one of who was a girl with mannerisms similar to hers, but she was too dazed to notice. That day she collapsed in her cabin and had to be rushed to the nearest clinic. Her colleagues had anticipated this day would arrive, when was the question they often debated over.

After a thorough examination the doctor looked into her heavily circled pale eyes -“It is an extreme case of burnout” he said, characterized by low blood pressure, severe headaches and visual strain. Most workaholics suffer from one, you just need to stop being one to recover”, the doctor continued. Workaholic… is that what she had become? Is that what everyone had been trying to warn her about? She turned to her colleague who, at that moment, found the doctor’s certificates to be far more interesting than her questioning look. The ‘I-told-you-so’ look stared back at her from all corners as she stumbled back home. She was advised a month’s rest to recover, a month away from the only life she knew.

It was tough during the first week, her withdrawal symptoms being worse than those of a drug addict. She religiously called her boss every day. Her colleagues called in to wish her a speedy recovery but soon the phone went silent. Did they not miss her anymore? Unable to comprehend she decided to take a reluctant vacation, something unheard of; the question however kept coming back as she introspected. More she thought in silence, louder the voices of her family and friends got. Returning refreshed she decided to make up for the lost moments.

Finally the calendar page turned and it was time to report back to work. She was eager to return to her kingdom. She had missed it… but also discovered the value of life outside of it, and would very soon within it. Her kingdom seemed to have changed in the short span of her absence; nothing was the same, all her work was taken over. She no longer seemed to hold the “Go To” title that she was so proud of. Her boss was happy to see her back, but he was busy delegating all work to his latest Go To person, the new girl. Her colleagues welcomed her but were equally happy their weekend parties had continued. No one seemed to have felt her absence. She believed she was always the anchor, but the ship had indeed sailed – business continued as usual.

Being a workaholic does not make anyone indispensable; in fact no one can be indispensable. There is always someone who can do the job. How, is a different question. She wondered how long it would take for the new girl to realize this pearl of wisdom. It had taken her long enough.

It was time for a coffee break. She headed to the pantry with the rest crooning about the new girl and how relieved they were to have her in the team. This used to be about me, she thought, taking a sip of the coffee and making a mental note to speak to the admin team about it; the coffee had never tasted this horrible.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What would you do?

How would you react if you received an email from an author whose book you recently reviewed?- Be curious? Wonder to no end why s/he would be writing to you?

What would you think if the author proclaimed that strangers have taken out a vendetta and given low reviews to the book?

What if s/he went a step further to declare the reviews as malicious and the reviewers (Btw whom s/he doesn't even know) are evil enough to force people to mark their reviews as useful thus bringing down the overall rating?

What would you say if the author now requested you to negate those low reviews (by marking them as unhelpful) so the book would only have raving reviews showing up at the top?

Each reader is entitled to their own opinion or so I thought till this mail came in… The book lover in me is unable to digest and believe that “doctoring” of ratings is possible. Disheartened, I cringe as I write this…as words betray me I choose to ignore the mail…

What would you do?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Book Review: The Color Purple

The Color PurpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book based on the recommendation of a friend who has never gone wrong with his suggestions. This time was no different.

“The Color Purple” is the heart wrenching story of Celie, a black woman and the turmoil she withstands through her life. Set in the early 1900’s in the southern parts of United States, this is a tale of the hardships black women faced in terms of racism, poverty and sexism not only at the hands of the whites but also their own men.

Written predominantly in African American English, the interactions between the characters are subtle; each character being carefully sketched out with the language used lending its touch of authenticity. An epistolary novel, Celie writers letters to God about the people she meets, the conversations they have and the chain of events that shape her life.

Repeatedly raped by her stepfather at the tender age of fourteen, she bears two children who are immediately given away. After her mother’s death other than writing to God, all she cares about is keeping her sister Nettie safe and away from the torture she suffers. Her love for Nettie results in she getting trapped in a failed marriage with Albert, whom she always knows as Mister. Here on begins a phase of mothering Albert’s children from his first marriage and being a convenient “wife” for the occasional sex or a beating whatever his mood maybe.

On one hand Celie gets distanced from her sister who she thinks to be dead while on the other she gets introduced to Shug Avery, her husband’s girlfriend who is an independent blues singer.  Around the same time Albert’s son Harpo marries Sophia, a woman with a strong personality. Both Sophia and Shug play an instrumental role in changing Celie’s life. From being meek and naïve to transforming her into an independent woman capable of taking care of herself.

Through Shug, Celie gets to know that Albert has been hiding letters from her sister Nettie. Knowing that her sister is alive and that Albert kept it away from her becomes the tipping point in her life. Celie leaves him to begin a new life under Shug’s guidance.  From here on the narration switches to letters between Celie and Nettie who is now in Africa working as a missionary in a village called Olinka with another couple who are the step parents of none other than Celie’s children.

Thus follows a narration of the times in Africa and how the natives treat their women and fellow blacks from the world yonder.  Eventually Celie finds happiness with a family reunion and the amicable relationship that develops with both Shug and Albert.

The story moves at a consistent pace keeping you engrossed as you witness the highs and lows of Celie’s life. The plot does lose its way a bit with Nettie’s descriptions of Olinka and the troubles the village faces. However in light of the overall story line, this drawback might appear to be trivial.

All in all “The Color Purple” is a poignant saga of a black woman who despite all odds adds true meaning to her life.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Facebook Show


Some days I am happy and gay,
Some days I am sad and vague,
Whatever the feeling may be…
A common ground they find with me,
What used to be a call to my bestie
Is now a vent out on Facebook…
For the Millenial in me

In today’s world, social media has quickly risen up on most priority lists. If Twitter is the news breaking platform, Facebook has found a permanent residence in most households. Days don’t start without a religious log in to Facebook nor do we sleep a wink without checking our news feed at night. Business travels don’t start without the customary “check in” while vacations are truly not complete if they are not announced on the network. Happiness, Anger, Frustrations, Celebrations, all sorts of achievements...everything finds its way on to this book… hell even a random picture of the neighbour’s dog.

Despite today’s hectic schedules and the busy lives we all crib about, there always seems to be some time left over for this new friend, the one that seems to have taken priority over all others.  Let me correct that; the one that has taken priority but also given us the opportunity to stay connected with friends, family and acquaintances. However there is this nagging feeling I get each time my news feed loads; has that thin line that separates the real from the virtual blurred? Has our dependency on this technology phenomenon reached a point of no return? I oscillate between being irritated and amused each time I come across instances which strengthen this feeling, especially when I see these-

Breakfast Menus: I am really glad you had a healthy breakfast but seriously what am I going to do with knowing whether you had a Parantha or Dosa to start your day with?

The latest weather channel in town: Climate changes. In India it is either hot or cold or raining somewhere or the other. As global warming is setting up home with us, those changes are sudden but definitely not shocking are they? So someone please help me understand why one should go gaga if it suddenly starts raining somewhere? If you are watching the rains from your window go fix yourself some chai and pakoras. Getting soaked in the rains are you? - grab an umbrella or simply enjoy the drench… Oh wait a minute I shouldn’t have said that, that’s another topic to put up isn’t it? Silly me!

Thinking out loud: Yes, Archimedes probably did that when he made his “mass”ive discovery and I am sure it must have been the most exhilarating moment for him; but you know what? He did not go around sending cryptic thoughts out to all, waiting for everyone to inquire what he meant. No one would be happier than me were you truly to have your Archimedean moment, but till then please spare us the rumination… please?

(Dis)respecting privacy: However open one might be on Facebook, there are aspects that everyone prefers keeping private and personal… always; if only that was as easy to understand. Sigh.
Rather than embarrassing them in public, the concerned person willing, do put in all your efforts to get well versed with their personal lives but over private messages, mails or maybe those long forgotten phone calls? “Live and Let live” is too much to ask for these days anyways.

It is that time of the month: No kidding! And pray what honors did we do to be made privy to this information? Should we be cooking you a favorite meal? Take you shopping for those bare essentials or wait a minute are you just warning us about those mood swings? Gawd, the suspense!

Emotional outbursts: Awwwwww…It’s your wedding anniversary! Congratulations! But err… umm… could you keep those lovey-dovey notes/ballads/poetries and re-runs of classic English/Hindi love songs between you two love birds? Let love continue to be in the air and not get poured all over Facebook? Once again congratulations J

The list goes on but you know what is endless? – The “likes” these statuses generate.  People find the time even during a crisis (read illness/surgeries/accidents… even death) to update these on their pages and the likes continue to shower regardless of what the message is.

We have begun to document every single moment of our day to day life, every single thought that crosses our mind, every single activity we do...Have we begun to lead an alternate life? One that is built on impulse most of the time? Is that thin line between reality and the virtual world disappearing? Has Facebook become the new Truman Show?

Too many questions to ponder over but maybe I should do that some other day… it is now time for my customary afternoon log in to Facebook.
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