Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Review: Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra is funny, warm and endearing. Misha is a make up artist (whattay refreshing choice of a career for our heroine!)who is witty, hard-working and suffers (literally and figuratively both) from a huge mothering instinct.

This very instinct is the cause that she ends up falling for Akshay Aggarwal a dishy, heir of a Marwari business family. Now please focus on the word Marwari. These families are largely rich, make that stinking rich- he sends her a Cavalli gown when she complains she has nothing to wear for an after work party- annnnd more importantly if you want to be expected into the fold then you need you to impress the entire community. Here we have Akshay's overprotective didi who parades Misha to ensure that she gets approved by all the aunties of the Marwari smaraajya in Mumbai.

Misha's story is heartwarming because of the life that the author has managed to breathe into the character with her words. She is flawed yet endearing. Misha is extremely critical of herself and is carrying some extra  baggage from her childhood. These two facts are enough to make Misha relatable to any girl anywhere but Batra takes it a notch higher by giving us a heroine who really wants to do everything to make her relationship with the guy's family work. Don't we want to be accepted everywhere or haven't we all done something for others just for the sake of a certain relationship?

Unfortunately this also becomes her undoing. Misha and Akshay go their seperate way. To know why that happens and what thereafter, I suggest you pick up Glitter and Gloss. The book will keep you either laughing out loud or smiling gently as you take a peek into the life of this make up artist.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Sorry no Sari

If you have grown up in a typical north Indian household like me then you would have seen women around you wearing suits. Not just the business kinds but the three piece garment consisting of a kameez/ kurta, a dupatta and a churidar/a salwar.

Getting the cloth, going to a tailor ( over and over again) and getting the material designed and stitched has always occupied a major position there because those are, like I said, the everyday clothes worn by women all around, from my mother to the house help. They are worn to the functions- birthday parties, kitties and kirtans. Bollywood even sang a song to the suit wearing girl. But there is this one occasion where there isn't a chance for the suits or for any other garment to make an appearance.

These are the shaadis, the weddings, the marriages where the silks, the pochampallys, the kanjivarams, the banarsis- read the heavy guns- put in an appearance like a chief guest at some sarkari function who soon after the initial formalities leaves the podium and the hall and the function.

It is not very difficult to imagine who, or rather what, rules the roost here- tadaaa- the SARI. The season of marriages is like the wake up call for getting all the sarees that have been lying ignored until then sunned and dry-cleaned, blouses redesigned and jewellry matched et al

This six yards [or is it the 9 yards!] has a reputation that it can turn a goof like me into looking like a charming, graceful lady. This should ideally be a good thing had I liked the idea of wrapping so much cloth around my girth. Or maybe if I could do so with elan. (The last time I decided to wear a sari for my friend's kid's birthday party, people mistook it for an evening gown.) Or better still, if I had any interest in getting draped in it because it made me look good.

Somehow in the recent past the internet has almost burst with sari love. My friend Shagufta added me to a group of sari lovers on Facebook and I have no qualms in admitting that I spent hours ogling at the beautiful prints, weaves, embroideries and drapes. I oohed and aahed at women who wrote stories, posts and articles about how their love for the Indian heritage via the sari had been reignited and how now they were wearing it through the day- at hectic jobs, PTMs, shopping sprees and board meetings- while facebooking their cupboards, blouses and sari of the day. Saris had suddenly come out of the closet, you would think.

I was moved by this whole love for saree but not to the extent of bringing the ones that had come as part of my trousseau some 13 years ago and wear them and click pictures with a caption saying "In a cool cotton that drapes like a dream on my way to the school to fetch my kids".

At one time I began to doubt myself about the nature of my affection towards the sari. Though I loved seeing the women on internet wear them yet I had no urge to give up on my everyday clothes and embrace the sari.

Gradually I realised that the women whose pictures I was gushing over were largely those who had seen their mothers and grandmothers in saris all through their lives. They had taken to suits (of both varieties), jeans, tops, kurtas, kurtis, pajamas, trousers, shirts, skirts, maxis, midis and minis but were now returning back to the proverbial roots. The sari formed an important part of their narrative and I didn't probably form a loving bond with the sari because I had never ever seen my grandmother wearing one or seen my own mother wear it occasionally.

I never lusted after a sari or saw one that I wanted to call mine immediately as much as I oohed and aahed over pictures on the net.

I don't know if there are other women, girls like me who do not want to wear a saree everywhere they go or better still even occasionally whatever our reasons be. There might be some who could be feeling pressured, seeing sari love blazing all around them, for keeping up with the Joneses at college parties or social gatherings. To them I would only say, please go ahead and wear a saree if you so much as feel like doing it but please don't do it just because everyone else is doing it. Do it so that it makes you feel happy and comfortable because that is the purpose of donning clothing beyond the obvious ones, right?

What matters.

The world that we live in today has become even more dynamic than it was till only a few years ago. There is an uncertainty in almost everything. But then us, human beings, have always come out as winners and on top of the chain by the sheer will power to sustain and by our ongoing efforts. This is what is of great importance to me- the effort. I firmly believe that those who start will finish. 

It might take time and it might tax one’s faculties, but this constant pursuit, this effort making, to me is the essence of human evolution. This is the only way that we learn and carry forward. This is the only way we improve and this is the only way we excel. Not making an effort is certain death- death of dreams, ambitions and that very basic human urge to survive.

There are times when I find writings like this one in a nook or a cranny of my overstuffed, aged and blinking laptop. I am impressed at first with the force of the ideas like this one here- Not making an effort is certain death- death of dreams, ambitions and that very basic human urge to survive. In another moment I begin to doubt if I have written it (am I so good?! though no one has told me that I am good after reading this particular piece) or is it a work that had left an impression on me and I have simply copy pasted it to be read at another time.

Would you call me fickle minded or doubting Thomas?

Thursday, April 05, 2018

My elixir- A haircut

Do you believe in supreme powers? Powers that govern us and all that happens around us? Do you believe that there is something that has the power to lift your spirits, make your hear soar and colour your day bright?

If you do then we are on the same page. Let me tell you about something that makes me feel like a wonder woman, something that uplifts my mood as much grouchy as I might be feeling before that,  colours my day bright, makes my heart soar. You get the drift? Oh, chop chop then. Remember to be patient with me.

Just yesterday my friend Ankita came over to borrow Netra's books for her son who is a year younger than Netra. Unfortunately for Ankita, she birthed another son a year and half ago. (Why unfortunate, you ask? Try staying in a room alone with one male toddler for more than 20 minutes and you will get your answer. She has two in her kitty.)

So Ankita, the mother of two young boys, came and sat down. Then she heaved a sigh. This was a huge, big, I-am-soooo-relieved wala sigh. A big deep breath. She had stepped out of her house in decent clothes, a bit of lipstick and combed hair after about a few months she told me. As she did this, she let her hair loose and that was when I noticed a red bunch falling down like a waterfall right from the centre of scalp. I thought to myself, "Ankita has gone rogue". After the compliments were out of the way she told me more about the red streak.

It was the same story as of any other young mother with a school going child and another toddler in her arms. Ankita was frustrated with getting no time for herself and being surrounded in poop, khichdi, dalia and baby-everything that she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So one fine evening handing the bubs to the MIL, she stepped out to buy some groceries, saw a parlour, went in for the basic threading and ended up with chopping and colouring her hair. "I felt so good soon after the first few locks fell off," she said smiling at me. Ankita has long tresses. HAD. Long tresses. Now she wears her hair in a bob. With a wide streak of red. How proud am I of my friend!

Yesterday we found another great connector that took our friendship a notch higher and firmer.


They are just great for your over all wellness.

I was introduced to the benefits of a good haircut by my colleague Tracy Shilshi, at ANI where we used to work for DD making programs based on Northeastern states. Tracy was presenter, so she had to be smarter and presentable but the good thing was she enjoyed being that and a good haircut every few months, she once confided in me, was her secret weapon.Not just to look great, she would say, but to feel better about almost everything in your life. Once she caught me in a foul mood. I had been bickering with a video editor at office. "Go get a haircut", she said to me.I did and was a convert.  (There was a saloon called Strawberry right next to the office at Golpark.)

As soon as the scissors got to their job I felt my worries melt. All the tensions, heartaches that I carried within me seemed to leave my body. When her job was done and the lady with that magical pair of scissors showed me a mirror, I was taken aback at the confident and younger looking girl that looked back at me.

A good hair cut has since then been my elixir. My power potion. It still helps me deal with pressures, tensions and heartaches. I come out of a salon feeling at the top of the world. Why, you ask. Because a haircut helps bring in a change in perception. It helps you to see yourself differently (Go beyond the obvious!). It helps you live those precious few minutes that life's other pressures might be keeping you from. You somehow regain your magical abilities to make thing better, After being touched by the magic of a haircut You are able to lend that touch of magic to everything and everyone around you.

And hence my friends Haircuts deserve a salute!

I leave you with a quote which does not say anything about the topic we are on, but does say better than me, something about the result of the haircut.

I've come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. "

Book Review: Goodbye, Perfct by Sara Barnard

Have you come across a book that made you think that you resemble a certain character in a book to a great extent? Or in parts the story reads like something familiar? Something you have lived through. Goodbye, Perfect could be that one book for us all.

Sara Barnard's book *Goodbye, Perfect* is a contemporary Young Adult novel set in a small town in England . The story is framed around an incident that takes place on a Saturday morning when it is discovered that a high achieving 15 year old school girl Bonnie has run away with her music teacher. Her best friend Eden knows nothing about it but no one believes her (after all she is THE BEST FRIEND) and she is left dealing with its repercussions and questioning her friendship and judgement about how she sees things, people and relationships.

The characters here are complex like all of us. There are layers and nuances uncovering the people who exist under the cover of  these two ordinary schoolgirls. The book deals with their friendship and its various shades- feelings of loyalty, betrayal, affection and sincerity- in the light of this episode.

Barnard has managed to bring to fore quite a complex character via Eden. She and her sister Daisy were adopted by the McKinley family. Eden thinks that their biological daughter Valerie probably did not get any say in bringing the other two girls home and so maintains a cold distance from her elder sister. Through the book Eden learns to see things in different light and comes to realise that there is always more to people than she thought she knew it to be. I personally felt a gamut of emotions for this girl, ranging from tenderness to frustration.

Just like Eden, the others in the book- from Bonnie to Eden's boyfriend Connor- all characters are etched out very well. We witness Eden's equation with all of them and how it evolves makes the crux of the story. Yes, it is yet another coming of age story but of a girl who thought that she was a bad egg, a rebel. this is also an important story that brings to the discussion table the pressure of studies, of bringing home good grades and its affect on our kids.

This is one of the very rare books which I think would make for a fantastic read for teenagers anywhere in the world.This is a book with very important lessons/ messages woven into it that I wanted to highlight them in my copy with a pen (which I otherwise think is a cardinal sin).

The story flows smoothly as the writing is simple and easy to read. 

Have you ever committed a blunder and left your friend to deal with the aftermath?
Title: Goodbye, Perfect
Author: Sara Barnard
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Paperback: 320 pages 
Price: 399
Publisher: Macmillan
Language: English

Rating: 5/5