Welcome to the myriad of moments that whisper into my Life!
After being a hard-core fan of the physical book for a long time, I recently shifted my loyalty to Kindle. After hearing me crib for the upteenth time about how I don’t get time to read nowadays and seeing me struggle to fit in fat books in my hand luggage during my numerous work tours, MH gifted me a Kindle Paperwhite.
Now my book case is no more overflowing with books, I can buy more for less since kindle versions are a lot cheaper than the physical books and I can carry my reading material anywhere to read – long drives, long queues, long waiting time at the airport, long (or short) flights. I have even started to read a few pages every night before shutting my eyes. Kindle has done wonders to my reading habit.
Emboldened by my performance, I decided to start a “What I read” series where I will occasionally list out my reading list and my two cents about them.
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
The best spy thriller I have read in recent times, I first saw this book in January in the hands of a co-traveller to the Jaipur Literary Festival. I borrowed and could manage to read the first chapter. After a long time, I had found a book whose first chapter had me really hooked. The physical book was too pricey, so I held back my temptation. The moment I got my Kindle, this was my first buy. A murder mystery gets linked to an international thriller of huge magnitude in this extremely fat book. Even though the entire story was from the first person point of view of the protagonist, the author, quite unconventionally, reveals the backstory of the antagonist through the same POV – which I chose not to bother with since the story was so good. If you are a fan of thrillers, read this one for an extremely enjoyable read.
Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan
I needed a feel-good love story and turned to my favourite woman author of the present times. I have read all her previous books and have always enjoyed her style of writing. This one was signature Anuja – a love story set in the 80s and women around a serious issue. I read it in bits and pieces during a particularly busy work-phase and found out that it helped me cope with stress. Getting lost in a make-believe world is always my favourite kind of pastime and if that world has handsome, sexy and romantic men then who cares about piling deadlines?
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
I may be quite late in my reading, but I strongly believe in the adage – better late than never. This book and the movie based on this book have made headlines, so I was quite curious about this love story between terminally ill kids. Emotional, heart-tugging and warm, this story is deftly written for all kinds of audience – young and old alike. I intend to explore more of John Green’s books.
Bankerupt by Ravi Subramanian
Even though he has been around in the Indian writing in English scenario for quite sometime winning awards and fans through his thrillers, If God is a Gamer was his first book that I read and loved. Getting the Kindle meant I could read all my favourite authors to my heart’s content. So I went ahead and bough this book which gave me company in those boring flights. Another cleverly-plotted tale sprinkled with money-laundering, corporate scams and the fiercely competitive world of the American academia, this one is an intelligent thriller which I enjoyed immensely. I am hoping more of his books become available on Kindle soon.
Brutal by Uday Satpathy
Rashmi Bansal, whose blog Youth Curry has me as a regular reader, launched an initiative called Bloody Good Book where readers would vote upon and decide on which book to publish. Brutal was the first one to be published by them along with Westland. Naturally I was intrigued. Uday Satpathy has written a good story with the usual components of a thriller – gruesome murders right at the beginning, two protagonists with demons of their own, a larger-than-life antagonist, a catastrophe waiting to happen, a weapon of mass destruction and a great climax. I noticed a few irregularities e.g. a person wearing sunglasses in the evening, but it was an overall engaging read. I will wait for more from Uday.
Avenger by Frederick Forsyth
I cannot add anything new to what has already been said about this God of thrillers. This was a classic Forsyth, with a haunting story of the Tunnel Rats, horrendous crime and his trademark description of the meticulous planning of the Avenger, chosen and tasked with snatching a warlord from his fortress and bringing him to justice. The ending is another beautiful twist. I plan to finish reading all of Forsyth’s books, now that I have my Kindle.
The Washington Stratagem by Adam LeBor
I picked it up during one of Kindle’s monthly sales after reading only the summary. I found out it is the second in a series, featuring Yael Azoulay, an UN staffer of American-Israel descent and involves mysteries and intrigues from the corridors of the UN. Even though the author goes back and forth in his narration and introduces sudden flashbacks which I do not prefer, I quite enjoyed this political thriller involving UN and its nexus with large corporations, war-torn countries and political intrigue. I already have The Budapest Protocol, the first book by this author in queue.
Yes I have read all of them in my Kindle and in little over a month. And yes, you noticed right – a lot of them are crime thrillers. For a few months, I have been on an obsessive diet of crime stories and thrillers. I will bring short reviews of them soon.
I discovered the #100bookpact on the social media and decided to merge the two. I am going to include only the books I have read this point forward to keep track of my reading habit.
Whenever I go without too many days without writing, God sends me a signal. Last time when I was grappling with too many events in my life and too less words on my computer screen, I won second prize in the Rupa contest and got published in ‘An Atlas of Love‘.
This time, after going for months without writing much, ‘Stree’ happened. Readomania and Incredible Women of India organised a short story contest and invited inspiring stories of women. I immediately knew which story I was going to write. When I shifted to Gurgaon as a newlywed with zero skills in cooking, I had engaged a Bengali woman to cook dinner for us. She once told me the incredible story of her life, which left a lasting imprint on my mind.
As usual, office and work-related travels took up most of my time. Rhiti Bose, a fellow contributor to my earlier book, An Atlas of Love and founder of Incredible Women of India encouraged me to participate. At the end, all it took was one weekend to finally get down to writing it. A few edits later, I sent it off and felt content to have written a short story – my favourite genre, after a long time.
Two days ago, they published the results [link here]. My story was among the top 25 among 90 entries, which will be published in an anthology.
I feel truly blessed and inspired.
Writing makes me happy. But recognition makes me happier. Thank you judges for restoring my faith in my written words.
“My personal favourite of the sixteen short stories is The Unseen Boundaries Of Love by Debosmita Nandy. What began as a story of a person who had tried to immolate self because their love was not being accepted by the society, ends with betrayal of a whole new level. Nandy has written a story, which in my books, is similar to the works of a seasoned author.”
Read the full review at Samarpita’s blog.
“What apparently looks like another chic lit romance turns out to be brutally intense, powerful and shocking towards the end. The final two pages helped this tale bag the 2nd prize in the Rupa Romance Contest.”
Read the full review at Ritesh’s blog.
“Although the bulk of the stories end in the customary lived-happily-ever-after mode, albeit after striking twists in some cases, there is much else going on in the volume. Pitiful stalkers, couples with a taste for kinky sex, psychotic cross-dressers, lonely widowers, inter-generational romance, even a tale of gay love (though with a tragic ending)—you get the whole works.“
Read the full review at Livemint.
“I was floored away by Unseen Boundaries of Love by Debosmita Nandi. It did give me quite a kick and kept me wondering though out the day. The brutalities of unconventional love and the innocence of the same were quite stark.”
Read the full review at Sridatta’s blog.
“The intention of “An Atlas of Love”, a new anthology of romance published by Rupa, is fairly transparent. The key word is ‘atlas’, whose breadth and colour the anthology seeks to convey through its love stories.“
Read the full review at The Hindu.
“An Atlas of Love is a compilation of diverse themes and differing storylines, each with the author’s take on the concept of romance. The themes presented in the book aren’t necessarily exceptional, nor are they all examples of exemplary romance. And yet, most of them have an idea or revelation that sets them apart from each other whilst providing for a quick read.”
Read the full review at Deccan Herald.
I am humbled by each of them and inspired to write more.
If I have come so far as to even think of dieting, you must know something is wrong.
Yes, I have piled on the kilos. Lots of them and in a short span of time.
If you are my friend from school, you might be nodding your head in disbelief while remembering the skinny me! If you are my friend from college, you might be recalling my curves with slight jealousy. If you are my colleague from my first workplace, you might be shaking your head knowingly. And if you are my colleague from my second workplace, you might be wondering what on earth am I talking of, since I look just the same!
My dear friends, you have to get married, shift cities, change workplace, set up house, run a household, stress over absent maid and cook, work late in office, frequently travel for work, eat out once in a while and be on a mission namely I-am-in-Delhi-so-I-will-eat-all-that-I-can-lay-my-hands-on to know how easy it is to pile on kilos the way I have.
No, there is no time for exercise. Yes, I hate going to the gym. No, I cannot control my food urges.
And I have weighing scales in my house. There, I said it loud.
After unsuccessfully trying to fit in a routine of 30-minute exercise in my daily hours, I turned to dieting – the next best way to lose weight. I read up on Atkin’s diet, GM diet, 5:2 diet and knew they were not for me. Any sort of extreme diet which cut out one type of food or asked me starve for 5 days and gorge on 2 days could not be a healthy way to lose weight.
So I made a few small lifestyle changes. I reduced my carb intake by cutting out rice from my diet on weekdays, switching to wheat bread for breakfast and reducing the number of chapattis for dinner. I removed sugar from my tea and switched to green tea/black tea. I stopped having dessert after lunch in office cafetaria and tasted only my most favourite sweets. I stopped eating out every weekend and reserved such outings only for special occasions. I also began to drink lots of water and munch on something every 2 hours to avoid stuffing myself during hunger strikes.
I began with brisk walking and moved onto jogging. I also added some squats, lunges and planks for over all toning of body. And I went back to my childhood love of yoga after a gap of 18 years.
Along with my diet change, going back to yoga worked wonders for my body and soul. One hour of Sivananda routine of yoga left me refreshed and unwilling to eat unhealthy stuff. I also went for a strenuous weekend trek to Nag Tibba and ran for 5 Km in the Gurgaon Half-Marathon, both in the month of May. I still have a long way to go but I am slowly moving towards a healthy, fit me.
This post has been written for Dabur Honey. Check out their Honey Diet for a customised and healthy diet chart.
Conversations with My Husband
Oh I finally have some moments alone with you!
I have been trying to snatch a few minutes with you since morning, but all these visitors kept me busy. Finally, here I am, at your side to share a few unsaid things before it is too late.
Are you wondering what is it that had to wait till today, after spending so many years together?
Don’t be surprised; I just wanted to have conversations with you – the kinds we used to have every evening after you returned from office and we sat down with puffed rice and tea or every Sunday while having a heavy lunch, our fingers dried from the long-eaten curry and rice. I have missed them during the last few years when all we talked about was your dialysis, my arthritis and our sons’ future.
Oh about our sons – they have been planning for some time to sell off this house to a builder for three tiny match-box sized apartments and some seventy lakhs of rupees! This very same house, which we built brick by brick and where they have grown up now has a price tag! I still remember the days when you were putting in extra-time at your office and I was saving every paisa that I could from the household budget. It took five long years to build it and several more to make it our home, and these sons of ours want to bring it down in one single stroke of their signature.
And those wives of theirs – they are one step ahead. They are already dividing up my jewellery between themselves mentally! No no, I don’t need proof of this, I know their attitude; it’s called the instinct of a mother-in-law.
Oh! Don’t laugh at me. I know you will always be the indulgent father figure for them but I cannot but remember how our sons distanced from us within a few years of their marriage.
Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if our daughter was still with us. The cruel Almighty gave us only one year to spend with her. Yes, it has been over 40 years since pneumonia claimed her but I will never forget my first-born beautiful girl.
Yes, yes, I know she got all your genes, including that curly mop of yours. Before you start gloating about it, I will let you in a secret – I hated your curly hair.
Okay, I admit that on the night of our wedding, I told you I loved it. What could I have said when you disclosed that you had poured bottles of oil to make your unruly bob of hair manageable and asked for my opinion? I wanted to escape the strong stench of coconut oil and have you concentrate on other important affairs of the night, so I lied and said that I love them as they were. You took my words to heart and spent your entire life without a second thought on how to tame that lion’s mane! I was trapped in my lies and suffered through nights after nights, tackling a head full of prickly hair close to my face!
Before these few minutes are up, there is one thing I must tell you now.
It is about the time we fell in love, 60 years ago!
Do you remember the first letter that I sent you, asking if you would like to communicate with me? Do you remember what you wrote in reply? That you were shocked to know that a girl from a respected family and still studying in school could write what was clearly a love letter to a boy! Despite your initial scorn, you sent me twelve more letters, in reply to twelve of mine. You were intrigued that a girl was pursuing you, given the societal fabric of our times! You were excited to know that a girl had a crush on you, just by seeing you on her way to school every day. You admired the boldness with which I posted my letters to your address, praying them not to fall into the wrong hands. You wrote even more daring letters in return and kept them at the broken post box as instructed by me.
Then we decided to meet during the Durga Puja on Astami, behind the local pandal.
When you arrived, took my hand in yours and said my name, my heart leapt to my throat! Not with love or excitement, but with shock – because you were not the boy I had seen and fallen in love with. You were not the boy I had thought I was writing to.
I wanted to blurt the truth out; or claim there was a mistake and leave. But something held me in my spot. May be it was the love with which you gazed into my eyes or the tenderness with which you were telling me how happy you were to finally meet the woman of your love.
My mind wanted to scream out the truth, but not my heart. At that moment, I realised that you too had accepted me without knowing who I was! My heart repeated every words that you wrote to me, laced with honest and true affection. I was torn – did I love the boy I thought I loved or had I fallen in love with the boy who wrote those letters?
Days later, I solved the mystery. The boy whom I had seen at the first floor balcony of your house was one of the tenants of your family – the one who later got killed in the Naxal movement.
Ever since then, I have thought many times of sharing this hidden truth of my life – our lives, but each time, I could not find my voice. What was the need for you to know this, I told myself every time. But this had been a very heavy burden for me to carry all these years. Today was my last chance to share it with you.
“Ma, have you finished your last few moments with Baba? It is time we take him.”
I shut my ears as the air filled with rhythmic chants.
Bolo Hari Hari Bol.
Doing the laundry is my least favourite chore.
I can cook a dish or two to save my life (and suppress the hunger pangs), keep the house reasonably clean and organised (as per my definition) but you ask me to do the laundry even in a washing machine, I will start giving excuses.
“The sky is overcast. No point washing today.”
“Hardly six clothes are in the laundry bag, let’s wait for another week.”
“I have office work/blogging/writing to do.”
You get the drift.
Before marriage, I had never lifted a single thing, like all other pampered daughters of the world. So one of the first conversations I had with MH (aka My Husband) after we decided to tie the knot that whether he believed in sharing the load of household chores. In all earnestness, he concurred.
And thankfully, he has kept his side of the bargain since then.
Washing machine was one of the first things that was bought, along with television and refrigerator. Every Sunday (if not, any other day of the week) MH segregates both our clothes, soaks them in detergent powder and washes them in the machine. In the spirit of sharing, I lay them out in the sun and fold the dried clothes at the end of the day.
But I noticed that sometimes the clothes were not sparkingly clean. A speck here and a faded stain there would remain and I would complain to him that he was not doing it right.
Then I heard from more experienced species(namely mother and mother-in-law) that may be the detergent is to be blamed. The right kind of detergent will reduce the efforts put in laundry and clean the clothes effortlessly.
In the midst of trying to figure out which detergent would work best, I got a sample of Ariel Matic to try out. I dutifully passed it on to MH with the added incentive of getting featured in my blog.
One Sunday he decided to put the sample of Ariel Matic to use. After two cycles of wash, the clothes came out cleaner and whiter. I checked the collars and cuffs of shirts and found them to be spotless. I also checked the status of one of my clothes with a food stain and yes, it was gone! With little effort, Ariel Matic has done its job.
Will I continue to use it? Yes.
Will I recommend it to others? Of course, yes.
Will it make it easier for men to share the laundry load of the house? MH says, yes.
So my male readers/friends go ahead and take the #WashBucketChallenge and make the woman in your lives happier.
The world is evolving but the gender gap is still wide.
On one hand women are travelling to outer space, on the other hand they are raped by their male relatives, teachers, boyfriends and husbands. On one hand, women grace the top corporate positions, on the other hand they are married off with a huge dowry. On one hand women balance a demanding career with an equally demanding family, on the other hand they are still not allowed to be born.
Similarly, men are smothered with love while growing up, but they are considered a failure if they opt for a liberal arts/creative career. Men are allowed to marry girls of their choice, but are ridiculed if they come out as gay. Men can express violence in public but not tears.
What must be done to bridge the gender gap?
We have no control over the world around us; however what we can control is the future. We have, in our powers, the ability to shape the minds of the next generation of men and women. Let us begin, one step at a time.
This post is my two-cents on what today’s parents of boys can do to bridge the gender gap.
Start right at the beginning, from the moment your son is born.
Do not distribute laddoos because you have begotten a son, distribute laddoos because you have been blessed with a healthy child.
Do not feed him extra or spend extra money on his education just because he is the future cash cow and your ‘budape ka sahara’ (shelter of old age). Take good care of his meals and education because as a parent, your child is your responsibility till he is an adult.
Do not tell him that he must look after you when you are old. Tell him to always love and respect you till the end of your days.
Do not have a give-and-take relationship with your son. I feed you, give a roof over your head, send you to school and then expensive colleges so that you can earn money, live with us, always do as we tell you is nothing but a selfish give-and-take relationship and not the loving parent-child relationship that you should be nurturing.
Do not tell him the family is his responsibility. Do not impose your dreams of a 3-storied bungalow with a back-garden on your son. Do not imply that you wear old sarees/trousers so that he can wear new clothes during festivals. Give him the freedom to choose his means of income when he becomes an adult and not be pressurized to look after his aging parents. If you have taught him well, he will always be responsible for your well-being without the added pressure.
Do not tell him to be manly. Teach him to be a man. Do not tell him to protect his sister. Teach him to protect any woman he finds in need of his help. Do not advise him to run at the first sign of trouble. Tell him not to be afraid and offer his assistance if the situation so demands.
Do not allow him to be cruel to animals. Do not applaud his violence.
Do not make him dependant on you for every single need. Teach him basic cooking and cleaning. Teach him to fold his clothes and put away his shoes and socks in the right place.
Do not smother him with so much affection that he forgets how to stand on his own legs. Do not give him the impression that you will condone his mistakes. Pull him up when he is wrong.
Do not pander to each and every of his whims. Tell him to earn the money he wants to spend on after-school junk food. Do not hand-hold him. Teach him aspects of personal finance.
Encourage him to appreciate women in all their roles – mother, sister, friend, lover, wife, colleague, boss. Make him aware that women struggle twice as much in their professional career to be successful and yet they are often passed up for a promotion in favour of a man. Tell him that when the time comes, he should not differentiate his subordinates on the basis of gender.
Don’t give him the impression that he will be taken care of throughout his life – first by his mother and then by his wife. Tell him his wife is not a replacement for his mother. Tell him his wife is also not the replacement of a cook or maid.
Don’t sell your son during his wedding. Don’t be under the misconception that accepting furniture, flat, car or cash-in-lieu of car is not dowry. Don’t tell yourself that all these ‘gifts’ will be used by the daughter-in-law only. If your son is old enough to marry, then he is old enough to buy his own house and car and furniture. If it is a custom in your community, be the first to break it.
Don’t take the high ground during the wedding just because you are the ‘ladkewale’. Listen to the wishes of the bride’s family too – they are also marrying off their darling daughter. Do not make them overspend. Do not invite your long-lost childhood friend just to add up the invitee count at the expense of the ‘ladkiwale’.
Don’t allow your son to mistreat your daughter-in-law in any manner – emotionally or physically. Don’t sip your ‘adrak chai’ in front of the television while your son humiliates his wife openly for adding a little extra salt in the daal.
Tell your son to shoulder half the burden of household chores with his working-wife. Tell him it’s okay to rub the aching feet of his stay-at-home wife at the end of the day and lend a helping hand to her on weekends.
Teach him the boundaries that he should not cross with respect to the body of a woman, be it his wife or girlfriend or any other woman. Make sure your son knows that she has the right to say no and he does not have the right to force.
Teach him that rape is a criminal offence. Tell him that he does not have the right to assault, sexually or otherwise any woman.
And lastly, request him to inculcate your teachings into his children.
And what should parents of a daughter do? That’s for another post.
Edited to add: This post was chosen as a Spicy Saturday Pick by Blogadda :)