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

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The first part of Orisha trilogy, Children of Blood and Bone by debutant author, 24 year old Tomi Adeyemi, who  has studied West African Culture and Mythology, is worthy of our time and effort that it takes to read through the 600 pages of this adventure.

This is one of the very few books that I have read from the #YA category so I did not have much of an idea as to what to expect and so I dived right in soon after getting the book. The fact that I have always wanted to read African literature and never got much around to it, also prompted me to pick this book before a few others. Add to this, my interest in mythology and can imagine me rubbing my hands in glee as I started Children of Blood and Bone.

First in the Orisha trilogy by debutant author Tomi Adeyemi (@tadeyemibooks ) the book starts off with a young girl looking forward to her graduation ceremony from a training school where an old seer teaches young girls to use a staff. But this is no ordinary girl we learn soon enough. She is Zelie and she is the one chosen by the Gods to bring back magic to her people and land.

Children of Blood and Bone is the story of a maji (magician) Zelie, who inherited magic from her mother. A spirited girl who seethes at the wrongdoings of the King's soldiers and who finds it difficult to keep her voice down, Zelie hates the King of Orisha with every fibre of her being because her mother (and other majis like her) was murdered on his orders so that the magic was wiped out of Orisha.

The story is told from different perspectives of the three characters - Zelie, Amari and Inan. Though the book's mainstay is magic but I could perceive the author's underlying thoughts on highlighting discrimination via her story. The author has done a commendable job of bringing to life the girl's pain at losing her mother and my heart ached for her everytime I read a passage about her mother's murder or her associations. Poignant, probably is the right word here. 

Sample these, the very opening lines of the novel, 

I try not to think of her.
But when I do, I think of rice.
When Mama was around, the hut always smelled of jollof rice. 

You, me and almost everyone else can find a resonance with this in parts. Won't we?

The story does flow well but somewhere in the middle it starts to get weighed down by Zelie's dashed hopes, every now and then, as she faces hurdle after another in reaching her final destination, the place where she is to perform the final ritual to bring back magic. 
There is a lot of violence in the book which I would not comment on for the time being as I think the plot warranted it to an extent but considering the fact that it is aimed at young audiences is it appropriate, remains to be seen. Tomi in an interview with The Guardian says that every moment of violence in the book is based on real footage.

Coming to the writing I am a big fan of the use of simple language and short sentences which should work wonderfully for the young audiences this book is aimed at. The magic whenever it comes into play- in creating the images of Burners wrecking havoc on King's army or Healers and Connectors lending their touch to Zelie and her team- is very detailed and a joy to read.
The book leaves you asking for more at a very crucial stage and I can't wait for the other two books to come out. 

Personally I prefer to read a series when all the books are available. Do you too?

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Fantasy, Mythology
Paperback: 600 pages 
Publisher: Macmillan
Language: English
Rating: 4/5

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Of new resolutions and newer authors

The year has started on the right note. I have already read two authors whom I had not read before falling hard for the one being hailed as Japanese Steig Larrson- Keigo Hagashino.

That is what got me thinking about new year resolutions  (I know we are done with the first quarter) which I haven't made in years. So here is a list of authors that I would like to sample this year.
1. Manu Joseph
2. Pico Iyer
3. Anthony Horowitz
4. Margret Atwood
5. Toni Morrison
6. Chimamanda Adichie
7. Jo Nesbo
8. Neil Gaiman
9. Terry Pratchett
10. Alice Munro

But I also realise the futility of making a list like this as there are just so many authors, poets, writers and just so many works coming to fore everyday. A book group might help, you would think but let me tell you that it complicates things further. New recommendations, fantastic and not so fantastic reviews, pictures, blog posts and what not really makes matter well,complicated.

All said and done, it is but human to try and so I shall aim at reading as many new authors as possible and maybe keep adding them here just for fun.

Edited to add;

Here is a list of new authors I have read in 2018

1. Keigo Higashino
2. Anthony Horowitz
3. Tomi Adeyemi
4. Sara Barnard

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Kiego Higashino

The title of the book is enough to let you know that this is not a book belonging to the romantic genre. 

It is not even a murder mystery per se because by the end of Chapter 1 the stage is set for murder and in the very beginning of Chapter 2 the deed is done right infront of your eyes and you, the reader, for sure knows who did it. But then I don't think it is right to not label The Devotion of Suspect X as "not" a thriller or a mystery. So where do we put this part suspense and part philosophy novel by the Japanese writer Keigo Higashino?

The story revolves around a single mother,  Yasuko Hanaoka, an ex-night hostess now working in a  shop selling boxed lunches,  and her next door neighbour Ishigami, a high school maths teacher.

The book begins with him leaving house to go to the shop to buy lunch. Here we are introduced to the city they live in and quietly to an other important character in the book- the surroundings. This is also where the author's immense talent lies but of which you remain oblivious till the very end of the book.

Anyhow, Yasuko is one night visited by her ex husband Togashi who is a loathful creature and is bent on extracting money from his ex-wife. Her daughter Misato hits him with a vase when he is putting on his shoes after taking the money and making offensive comments about Misato and he goes charging at her. In an attempt to save her child, Yasuko looks for a weapon and reaches for an electrical wire and ends up strangulating Togashi.

Ishigami steps into the picture just a while later, having heard commotion from his neighbour's apartment and he takes on himself to save the women. He plans everything and gives them detailed instructions on their alibi and what to do going forward.

We are gradually introduced to the genius of Ishigami through an ex classmate and Physicist Yukawa, who also likes sleuthing and has also previously helped Kusanagi, the detective on this case, crack other cases. In fact, the whole truth comes out via Yukawa and when it does, it will take your breath away as you realise the extent of the devotion of suspect X, as Ishigami is referred to as, maybe once or twice, in the whole book.

I can't say I was very happy with way the book ended but after mulling it over in my head I think that that was the most logical conclusion like in our hindi films where no wrong goes unpunished.

I liked this book for its subtelty though I can imagine it  getting a bit slow as far as action is concerned. It is a peek into the everyday lives and activities of these characters and their surroundings, and it is very easy to loose interest in ongoing description of road, stations, river, shanties and homeless people living there.