6/27/2016

The Corporate Homemaker

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Today, I complete eight years of corporate life. Yes, eight long years with the same company. During the third year of my engineering, I was placed in the big blue and a day after my final fourth year exams, I joined the company. My joining location was Chennai and I hated the place from the time I set my foot into it. I was away from my family for the first time ever and for a true blood Bangalorean to survive in a place like Chennai is really difficult. I cribbed and complained and cribbed some more. Plus, since I was away, my long distance relationship went kaput and I was not in the right frame of mind to stay in an alien city. After four grueling months, I got a transfer and I was back in Bangalore. Since that day, there has been no looking back.

People say that work is worship, I don't know that exactly. But work for me is a lifeline that I cannot do without. My job might not be the greatest in the world, but I love it. The feeling of being financially independent is wonderful and I am really glad that I do not have to depend on anyone else for money. It just feels like yesterday that I drew my first salary and here I am having drawn close to a hundred salaries by now. Of course the amount has varied over time, and to be really honest I do not care much about how much I make. I know I give my job a 100% and I get paid in return. That is all that matters to me. I have friends who have jumped a lot of companies and make twice the money that I do today. These are the same people who crib non-stop about how horrible their jobs are how much they hate it. I get paid to do a job I love. So, who's the winner here?

Over eight years I have changed six projects. The first five was in a location close to my mother's place. I worked there until I got married. After marriage I moved to the other side of town and changed my work location with a new project within the same company. It has been three years since I moved here and I couldn't be more happier. Marriage did not change my perspective towards work and my husband knew that my job would always be my top priority. He loves me for being so serious about my job. I am not a procrastinator. I need things to be done when they have to be done. I plan my work first and then everything else around it. Be it vacations or medical follow ups. I would never compromise on my job in any way. It is important that I stay true to my job. Else there is no way that I could stay true to myself.

While I'm so focused on work, I do not compromise on my home either. I am a working lady yes, but I also am a homemaker. And I'm very proud of this fact. Most people I know call me a "working lady" and put a big full stop at the end. It is automatically assumed that she sucks at managing a home. Utter bullshit. I've been managing a home for more than a year now and we couldn't be more happier. I am the homemaker who has a place to go to every morning. I am the homemaker who finishes chores at home and then goes to office to do her job. I am the homemaker who doesn't have to wait for her husband for the basics. I am the homemaker who has contributed to the making of this home financially. I am the homemaker who takes care of the bills on time and can pay it from her own pocket. I am the homemaker who sees to that that her kitchen is full and the home is well maintained all the time. And yes, I also am the homemaker who manages a demanding job along with this.

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Of course you cannot do this without the right support. If there are people around you cribbing about the fact that you can't do a few things because of your job, it will only bog you down. Over the past one year my husband has been a great support to me and together we manage a home beautifully without any help. We even financially support both our set of parents along with taking care of our own expenses. My husband knows the love and respect I have for my job and helps me make it easy. A couple of years ago, this was just not possible due to the burden of expectations. Since the time we moved to a place of our own, we have been able to manage everything effortlessly. I know he's got my back, so that helps me give a 100% to my job and a 100% to my home as well.

I am not trying to blow my own trumpet here. I am tired of listening to the words "working lady" time and again. The societal definition of such a woman is one who is ambitious and is only bothered about her work. In that case let me get the definition of a homemaker right too. A homemaker is someone who takes care of the home and the people in it. She takes care of all the chores and handles the bills and everything else on time. She has a clean house and also keeps the family members close and brings the family together. I know of so many women who have failed as homemakers today. These women have maids to do all the chores for them and yet they miss out on so many things. Let's face it, we're all human. So, let us make it clear that a homemaker is not someone who can take care of a house better than a so called working lady. It all depends on the type of person one is. Being complacent and lazy does not help either kind.

In my opinion, every woman needs to be financially independent. Be it at a steady job or working from home on your own. While a lot of woman are happy staying at home and watch soap operas, there are a lot of woman doing something for themselves in any way that they can. They are earning enough to support their own needs. With the advent of the Internet, so many women have gone online with their home business and many of them are conducting cooking/art classes on you tube. It feels so nice to see something like this. Last week I saw a show on TV that showed a 82 year old woman entrepreneur famously known as the knitting nani. Her daughters have helped her set up a company and she's running it successfully now. A woman is strong. Be it a working woman or a homemaker. But it is important that they realize their strength and do something about it. Pick up a talent or a course to earn some basic amount, that's all they need to do. For themselves, not anyone else. Trust me, the feeling is something else altogether.

I've clocked eight years of being a working lady and more than a year of being a homemaker today.

Forever to go.

6/24/2016

Neverland

copyright-Rich Voza

"Is it that important for you to go and settle in the US?" Ria asks Rohan with tears in her eyes.

"Absolutely. You know how hard I've worked to get here. I'm going and I want you to come with me."

"I can't leave my parents behind, you know that. I'm all they have."

"We'll come visit them every year. Come on Ria, once we're married I think it's better we settle down there."

"But this the place I belong to. I do not want to leave."

"I will have to."

"Do I have a say?"

"No."

"Okay then, goodbye."

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 24th June 2016.

6/23/2016

Treating Food Right

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It is no hidden secret that I'm a food lover. Check my last poem for instance. I think good food is a luxury and it is not something that should be taken for granted. Why do we all work? Why do we all struggle to make some decent money? At the end of the day we all are doing this to have a good meal and fill our stomachs. I am someone who thinks that food should be cooked for the right number of people and nothing should go waste.

At our office cafeteria we have a board that shows the number of kilos of food wasted per day. Today I saw that it said the food wasted yesterday was 70 kilos and that it could have fed 175 people. My heart just broke as I saw this. There are so many people around the world who do not have a basic meal to eat and here we corporate slaves are wasting food everyday. I'm not too sure how this can be controlled in an office environment. Maybe one should be given the chance to taste the food before actually getting it on to the plate. Also, one should just take the quantity of the food that one can possibly eat. We have some counters in our office where the rice and curry is unlimited and I have seen people helping themselves to four to five spoons of them. If you can eat it, then good for you. But more often than not, half the food remains uneaten and ends up in the dustbin.

I come from a house where we have fresh food everyday. My mother is a working lady and in spite of that made sure that we get hot fresh meals three times a day. I am someone who loves fresh food and I also like variety. I am not the one to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In order to be able to have fresh food three times a day, it is important that one cooks only enough for one meal. I hate it when people make a pot full of food and then leave it in the fridge. When cooked food is placed in the fridge it loses its nutritional value, but nobody understands that. It is a matter of convenience and laziness for a few people. I have seen people store food for days together in the fridge and eat it over a period of two-three days. At times without even heating it. I find it utterly disgusting. Some times the food remains forgotten in the fridge and is thrown away after a few days. All this can be avoided if one cooked exactly for the number of people per meal.

I've mastered the art of cooking for two people. Even when I was staying with my in-laws my mother-in-law insisted that I only cook for my husband and myself. So I had the measurements right from a long time. Today I make breakfast and lunch in the morning. Since I cook the right quantities, the breakfast is over at breakfast and the lunch for exactly two people is packed. I am someone who can only eat hot food. So I warm the food in the office oven just before lunch. Breakfast and lunch is done with zero wastage. Once back home in the evening, I cook dinner exactly for two people. All the pots and pans are empty by night. No, I do not skimp on the quantity. I cook food that is more than sufficient for two people. If any food remains extra, I immediately give it away to someone who might need it. Cooked food going into the fridge never happens in my house.

Food is something sacred and it is also a luxury in every form. We should not abuse it. I also hate people who go in for easy food. Like making rice and then mixing it with a powder to have a meal ready. This is the height of laziness for me. Once in a while I would understand, but doing this everyday just for convenience is not something I would ever understand. Make food enjoyable. Try out different cuisines and makes different food for each meal a day. To be honest it doesn't take that much of time. I love food that is fresh and hot and that is something I always follow in my house. I know how much quantity of food is needed for a number of people and go ahead with that. Also if I happen to eat out once in a while, I only order how much I can eat. In case there are some leftovers, I parcel them and give it away to the less fortunate.

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Wastage is not only limited to cooked food. Some of us buy vegetables and fruits and forget it in the fridge at times only to find it gone rotten a few days later. If one understood the time and effort that goes behind growing vegetables or fruits, you would think twice before throwing it away. Thankfully all of us can afford to buy vegetables and fruits, but must we buy them for a month or two? I have seen houses where the fridges stink of rotten food, cooked and raw both. Makes me want to puke as I think of it. Buy vegetables that would last for three days or maximum a week. Wash them, pat them dry and store them well. Use them as often as you can and do not forget about it. Being the OCD freak that I am, I plan a menu as soon as I come home from the vegetable store. I alternate vegetables with spinach and pulses and decide what dish each vegetable would be a part of. It just takes a little while and I feel sorted.

Food is something that keeps us alive, so let us treat it that way. Think twice before cooking or throwing away food. Cook the right quantity and the food will be of excellent quality. As much as possible try to cook and eat within an hour or two. Do not carry over food from one meal to another. Or from one day to another. Only cook how much is needed and only serve yourself how much you can eat. At home or at any restaurant. This would help avoid food wastage to a certain extent.

If you think of any other way we can reduce food wastage, please let me know in the comments below.

6/21/2016

Love At Every Sight

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When I look at you
It is all about love and lust
Your presence in my life
Has now become a must

It was love at first sight
And then the second and the third
My heart then speaks to you
Its beats I'm sure you've heard

Oh dear, how pretty you look
I just cannot take my eyes off you
This is not the first time I've been in love
But this time I know it's true

Holding you makes me feel so nice
When my lips touch you I feel so high
Your fragrance intoxicates me
In happiness I want to fly

People asked me to stay away from you
They say you're not good for me
I don't care what they have to say
You and me together, I can see

I love the way you dress up
I could sit and look at you every day
My eyes then talk to you
When I do not have a word to say

I crave for you every second
Smoking hot, you always look
Round has never been this good before
Be it in any magazine or book

Oh dear, how much I love you
Stay with me morning, noon and night
I'll never ever give up on you
With you, it'll always be love at every sight

6/20/2016

Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy #1)

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Title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Quercus; UK film tie-in ed edition (7 January 2010)
Genre: Thriller
Price: Rs. 198 on Amazon.
Pages: 542

When I looking to read more thrillers, my dearest friend Sreesha suggested this book. Almost instantly I placed an order and within a minute the book was on my kindle. I started it with zero expectations. When a book is translated into English from Swedish, you do expect it to not have much of finesse. And if the original title of the book meant 'Men who hate women', then your interest would automatically tend to pique. This is what happened to me too. But then the story shook me to the core.

The book is divided in to fours parts and each part talks about the atrocities that the women of Sweden have had to face. In fact, actual statistics are mentioned.

There are three parallel tracks in the book. First follows the life of Mikael Blomkvist who is a financial journalist. Second is about Lisbeth Salander, a private investigator. Third is about the Vanger family. Mikael Blomkvist is the co-owner and publicist of the Millennium monthly magazine and is currently on trial for publishing a story defaming billionaire industrialist Hans Erik Wennerstrom. He is convicted and expected to spend some time in prison. Henrik Vanger the head of the Vanger family and ex-CEO of the Vanger corporation gets in touch with Blomkvist and tells him that he can help him get even with Wennerstrom if he does an assignment for the Vanger family. Henrik Vanger receives a pressed flower in a frame on his birthday, every year. This was a ritual set by his grandniece Harriet, who disappeared thirty six years ago during a Vanger family gathering. But the flowers still show up every year, and Henrik is convinced that it's Harriet's murderer who is sending him the flowers year after year. Henrik has been obsessed with the disappearance of Harriet for all these years. Henrik Vanger entrusts the curious case of the missing Harriet to Blomkvist and gives him a years time to find out what happened to her.

In order to do this Blomkvist has to spend a year on Hedeby Island with all the Vangers. With the help of a few photographs he manages to get some clues about what could have happened to Harriet. This involves deep disturbing secrets of the dysfunctional and toxic Vanger family and its members. When Blomkvist asks Frode, the family lawyer of the Vanger family for additional help on the case, Frode directs him to the very person who did a background check on Blomkvist before he was hired by the Vanger family; Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth Salander works as a researcher and computer hacker for Milton Security and is excellent at what she does. She is as disturbed as one can get and battles demons of her own. With piercings and tattoos, it is an easy guess that she's the girl with the dragon tattoo. Due to her troubled past, she is considered legally incompetent and is under the care of a legal guardian. When her guardian Holger Palmgren suffers a stroke, he is replaced by Nils Bjurman who expects sexual favors from Salander in return for money. Her own money.

Blomkvist and Salander come together to investigate Harriet's case. Blomkvist has a good friend and occasional lover in Erika Berger who is the co-owner of Millennium. But Salander develops a liking for Blomkvist and they end up in bed soon. This doesn't stop them from focusing on the task at hand. Thanks to a clue deciphered by Blomkvist's daughter they figure out that Harriet's disappearance might be linked to a series of serial killings all across Sweden over the past forty odd years. When they dig deep into the history of the members of the Vanger family, they bring up buried secrets and not everyone is happy about it.

What exactly happened to Harriet? What happens to the Blomkvist-Wennerstrom issue? What happens to the girl with the dragon tattoo? This is what the book is all about.

When I posted on social media that this is the book I'm reading, I got a lot of comments saying that I'm in for a very good time. A few pages into the book and I actually believed them. The intertwined stories blend together really well keeping the mystery at the core. The writer does a good job in introducing all members of the Vanger family and giving us a rough blue print of Hedeby island. The presence of way too many characters did take a toll on me and I was struggling to catch up. I did predict what would have happened to Harriet much earlier and although the circumstances were different, my prediction was right. The language used is good and reading does seem effortless in spite of the 542 pages this book has.

As characters none of them stay with you and you will thank the author for this. Salander is someone whom nobody can identify with, unless and until you have a dark history of sexual violation. Blomkvist could have been more enigmatic and charming, than what he is shown to be. I did not understand his relationship with Erika at all. She's married to a painter who is okay with the fact that his wife continues to sleep around with Blomkvist. In fact they even plan holidays in a way that they can share her. Every family does come with its share of shitty secrets, but this one was quite something. The violence, the rapes, the sexual assaults, the crimes, the brutality - all on women are described in vivid detail and is disturbing and will leave you shaken. The book troubled me so much that I couldn't sleep for a couple of days. So does that mean that this book is bad? No.

The mystery is brilliant and the characters though eccentric weave a wonderful story among themselves. Although it is a long story, every loose end is tied convincingly. I will be picking up the rest of the Millennium series soon, but after a while. I need some time to get this book out of my system.


Verdict: The most disturbing book that I've ever read. And I've read 'Red Dragon'! If you do not mind some disturbing yet realistic content, do go for this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

6/15/2016

His & His #PrayForOrlando

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In an instant, everything changed
The music soon turned to a scream
It all unfolded like a painful drama
Scarier than any ghastly dream

It happened right in front of me
In a room that was filled with love
One second people were holding hands
Then it all became about push and shove

We all were trying to survive
The world looks down upon us anyway
All we did was fall in love
And yet others had lots to say

The first shot shook me up
From where I was, I saw him fall
The screams of others blinded me 
For help, I couldn't even call

He shot at the crowd randomly
Spitting and hurling abuses all the while
I ran and hid in the bathroom
When I looked back I saw the bodies pile

I managed to call my mother
Told her I loved her for the last time
She couldn't believe what was happening
Loving someone was not a crime

He did come for me soon
I lay down, pretending to be dead
I thought he would walk past me
But I felt a bevy of bullets instead

In those last minutes I looked at him
His face was slathered with hate
He looked like he wanted to do this
Like it was a part of his fate

Fifty of us lost our lives
But humanity died a thousand deaths that day
Those who survived would never live
The price of love, they'll have to pay

Homosexuality is not a sin
Taking a life surely is
Why should a gun be able to decide
The fate of his and his

6/14/2016

Mama's Girl

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I've always been a fiercely independent woman and I hate dependency of any kind. Depending on someone else for anything completely ticks me off. This is the very reason why I don't have a maid or a cook at home. I don't like waiting around for someone to get my own things done. More often than not a man who is dependent on his mother for everything is called a "Mama's Boy". And every woman hates such a man. Because who wants to be stuck around with a man who waits for his mother to do things for him or follows her orders to the tee. The mother clearly holds the leash of the son and guides his every move. Sadly she refuses to let go off the leash even when he has a new woman in his life now. Yes, we have all heard of the quintessential Mama's boy. What about the Mama's girl?

At the risk of feminists boycotting my blog and dissing this post, I'm still going to come out and say this. The concept of Mama's girl does exist and is more prevalent than the Mama's boy syndrome. I love my parents and I care for them, but there is no way I would discuss every aspect of my life with them. Or particularly with my mother. I'm a working lady with a very busy life and I also am the home maker of my home. My mother is a working lady and a home maker too and there is no way I would want to burden her with my stuff. I have seen friends of mine calling up their mothers every second asking for recipes, or to complain about the in-laws or just gossip in general. There also are a lot of mothers I know who take way too much interest in the marital lives of their daughters and want to be involved in every aspect. This is something I completely disagree on.

Mothers need to let go of their children once they are married. Sons and daughters alike. If the children are grown up enough to get married, they are grown up enough to make decisions and take care of themselves. The same way, children should let go of their parents and not depend on them for every small thing. I have seen married woman call up their mothers every morning and give updates on the day and about the other family members. I find it surprising that the person on the other end of the phone has the time and patience to listen to all this. I'm not only talking about newly married women out here. I know that most new brides miss their family and want to be in touch with them as often as they can. But somewhere the line has to be drawn. There are even women who have been married for decades and have married children who still make it a point to call up their old mothers and smother them with unnecessary information. From the smallest thing to the biggest will always be discussed with their mothers.

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I talk to my mom every day for like a minute or two. I ask her how she and dad are doing and that's about it. Till date I haven't felt the need to discuss my marital life with her or to bitch about my in-laws. I'm not that jobless, plus, I know how to handle my problems on my own. I know that it always helps to talk to someone if you are going through something, but one should leave it at that. Discussing minute details of the house to the behavior of the other people is nothing but plain bitching. Such women complain to their mother about how their MIL/DIL is not helping them, or how horrible the food cooked by them is or how they do not understand their feelings or just talk about the family problems in general. This is completely unnecessary.

A woman always leans towards her mother for comfort when she has a child. But depending on her completely to take care of the child is not right. She will help you, no doubt, but having her as a baby sitter 24x7 is definitely not right. Also, every woman likes her mother's cooking the best. Constantly talking about my Mama's this and my Mama's that, is annoying to the core. Every woman needs to take control of her own life and deal with it. Being on the phone with the mother all the time and discussing minute details of ones life is uncalled for.

If you are a woman who complains about her husband being a Mama's boy and if you actually discuss this fact with your own mother, then it is about time you took a closer look at yourself.

6/13/2016

Perhaps

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It's only on rainy days
That I think of you
The memories piercing
Still fresh as dew

It rained that day
When you held my hand
As you held me close
Against the wet land

Those drops of water
Sliding down your lips
Made me go crazy
As your hands felt my hips

Love or lust, hard to say
Meant something, it sure did
You and I, together
Naked emotions, nothing hid

The passion was great
As we created fire
Embedded in one another
We learnt about desire

Year after year
The feeling did last
And then it all went dark
Like a shadow was cast

It was over quick
Just the way it did start
There was not much pain
Just a void in the heart

Love or lust, hard to say
Most days I just don't care
Yet when the rains come down
You still are present somewhere

It's a sign of your presence
In the petrichor I look for you
A part of me does hope that
Perhaps, you're doing that too

6/03/2016

For The Love Of Books

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They take you on an adventerous journey
Even with blind eyes you can take a look
You get to meet so many people
In a magical land called 'The Book'

A plethora of new words you shall learn
Knowledge is hidden in every nook
Get carried away in the flow of the language
Just lay your hands on any book

You'll witness murders and feel the pain
You may even fall in love with the crook
A million lives you shall live through them
All within the confines of a book

You'll get new ideas of romance
Some will keep you at the edge of a hook
It may take a turn any side
To know it, you must finish the book

Some of them take place in a skyscraper
Some classics just stick to the brook
The stories are what remains with you
Long after you're done with the book

A family affair or a court room drama
Murderous tendencies that will leave you shook
You will come to love all of these
When you immerse yourself in a book

You can get lost in them anytime
While you travel or as you cook
For me, there definitely is not a world
Where I am without a book

6/01/2016

Action Replay: May 2016

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Only seven posts last month. Do I need to say how busy I was? Well, it was not only that. After the over hectic blogging that happened during April, I intentionally took it slow last month. I normally am someone who would write five posts a week, but this time I could barely come up with one a week. Work was drowning me with back to back projects. But you know what? I enjoyed it to the core. If there is one thing that I love, it is being busy. Even if it means I do not have a few minutes to spare. This month was completely like that. But I did plan well. And this time blogging was not a priority for me. Twenty six posts in April and that too 'All about me', squeezed every ounce of writing energy from my body. I then focused on something else that I was lagging behind. Reading.

I read three books this month and I'm half way through the fourth one. This is the pace I love in reading. I normally try to finish a book in a day or two, but with work piling on, it was tough. I planned my time well this time. Work was strictly reserved for office alone. Once I got home, it was only reading and then the household chores. I read a bunch of thrillers and a mystery this month. 'Sharp Objects', was a wonderful read while 'Dark Places' was good but not great. I enjoyed it thoroughly though. Sidney Sheldon's 'The Tides Of Memory' by Tilly Bagshawe was a surprisingly good read. I've hated books of Sheldon she's written until now. 'Chasing Tomorrow' was particularly disappointing, but this one was really good. I'll be reviewing this too in a while. After these intense reads, I picked up P.G. Wodehouse's 'Galahad At Blandings' and I always have a smile whenever I read it. I'm halfway through and looking forward to pick up another thriller soon.

Everything else was pretty much "as usual" in May. Cal and I are slowly ticking off things from our resolutions list. Our weekends have been really busy because of this, but then you need to lose something to gain something. I spent some time in the company of great friends too and felt instantly rejuvenated. When you realize that your blogger friends have slowly now become your offline best friends, the happiness that comes with it is quite something. A couple of them have become my go to people for everything I need. Right from listening to my random rants to discussing some juicy gossip, they always leave me with a smile on my face.

Cal and I were following the IPL from day one, the cricket buffs that we are. This time we went and saw a couple of matches live too. It's a pity that RCB couldn't lift the cup this time and I honestly feel that the team, especially the bowlers let Virat Kohli down. What a player he is! But the fact that eight men couldn't come up with eighty odd runs in eight overs is something hard to digest. Sigh. What's over is over, right?

Work is going to be taxing this month as well, but I love the energy that comes with it. But writing will be a priority too. Especially since LOL has made it to the directory of best Indian blogs for the fourth year in a row. I owe it to her (my blog's a female, yeah) that I keep her updated and healthy. I did lose a lot of readers this month and the comments on the few posts that I wrote were minimal. I know that I haven't replied to the comments on my posts from April, but that was such a hectic month that I barely had the time to breathe. I'll get around to it soon. Very soon.

June is going to be a very happy month, I can sense it. Habits and hobbies are taking good shape and this makes me happier than ever. I'm going to try to have atleast three posts a week from now on. 12 posts a month is pretty decent, right? I might also finally finish of that fiction series of mine. Oh damn, I've forgotten the story myself. I shall try and complete it at one shot, if possible.

Okay now enough about me. Tell me how did May treat you?

5/31/2016

Book Review: Dark Places

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Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon.
Pages: 448

When I bought the entire Gillian Flynn collection consisting of 'Gone Girl', 'Sharp Objects' and this one, I saved this story for the last as I had read really wonderful reviews about it. People were raving about the mystery and I couldn't wait to dig into it. I always save the best for the last and I did the same with this one too. So, was it worth it? Read on.

The Day's are as dysfunctional as a family can get. Head by Patty Day, a divorcee who is struggling to make ends meet, this family is anything but happy. Patty's only wealth is her family farm that is not able to give her enough returns and her four children, Benjamin, Michelle, Debbie and Libby. Her ex-husband Runner walks in and out of her life as her likes with the only intention of squeezing as much money as he can from her. And he is willing to go to any lengths for it. Patty's only solace and friend is her sister Diane, who helps her out emotionally and financially time and again. Ben is a troubled kid and hates his sisters, his mother and his poor life. His girlfriend Diondra spends money on him and laughs at him at the same time. Her friend Trey laughs at Ben for this poor lifestyle. There also are rumors spread about Ben that only makes him more infamous. In short, Ben is disturbed by everything around him.

When Patty, Michelle and Debbie are found brutally killed one fine morning, the first suspicion moves towards Ben. Seven year old Libby was the only one who escaped that night and she also happens to be the key witness to this gruesome crime. She testifies against her brother whom she swears she heard talking to their mother before she was shot. Ben is now in prison and Libby is left to the mercy of well wishers and Diane. Twenty five years later, when Libby finds out that her funds are almost extinct, she agrees to help out a club who are obsessed with the case of her family's murder. The Kill Club headed by Lyle Wirth swears that Ben is not the killer and that something else must have happened that day. As time passes and truths are exposed, Libby learns that Ben in fact cannot be the killer. But who else would want to wipe out an entire family for no reason? Can it be her father Runner? Or was it someone else altogether? Or is Ben hiding something?

The main story is told from Libby's point of view and it flows really quick and in a structured manner. The parallel POV's are that of Patty and Ben and the story toggles between past and present every now and then and yet remains easy to read and not confusing. I must say that I love Gillian Flynn's style of writing, but this story in general did not please me. I loved the premise the book sets. The tragedy, the poverty, the survival and the reckoning is brilliantly shown, and yet the story seems to lack a certain level of intrigue in it. I did predict the ending halfway through the book, but it only turned out to be half the ending. The other half seemed very juvenile and did not go with the story. Especially with the character in question. Convinced, I was not.

As characters, your heart does go out to Patty Day and you feel for her. The troubled kid Ben is easy to identify with as most of us have faced battles while growing up, but he is not given enough space in the story. Technically the whole story should revolve around him, but Libby being the eyes of the story was probably not the right choice. Libby is the most lazy character I've ever read. Even if you sympathize with her for her back story, the fact that someone survived only on donated money for twenty five years and did not bother to make a living for herself is something that troubles me a lot. If you have had a hard time growing up, that should make you twice stronger to survive later. Or am I the only one who thinks so?

The book is a good read. The mystery is interlaced with other aspects of human emotions and you want to be a part of it instantly. The narration is fast paced and it makes you want to not put the book down. The story however, needed a bit more something.


Verdict: Dark, yes. Thrilling, yes. Predictable, well almost. But sure worth a read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

5/27/2016

5/25/2016

Decoding Sri Lanka

On Our Flight To Colombo

Sri Lanka was our first choice of destination for our honeymoon three years ago. I had visited the island country earlier on work and had fallen in love with the peace in the country. I was keen to come back on a holiday soon. However, circumstances got difficult back then and we couldn't plan an international travel for our honeymoon. But we were able to fulfill our dream for our third anniversary in March this year. We began the planning from January.

Our first step was to book the tickets so that we can get the main task off the list. No matter at what time we checked, all the International Airlines that flew from Bangalore to Colombo were really expensive. We then decided to change our starting point. The International Flights from Chennai to Colombo were much cheaper than the ones from Bangalore. We saved close to Rs. 15,000 just by booking our flights from Chennai instead of Bangalore. The return journey was directly from Colombo to Bangalore. Chennai is just a six hour journey via train from Bangalore. We booked the Chennai Express and now our travel was sorted.

Next, it was time to plan an itinerary. We sought help from some local agents who put us in touch with a travel company in Colombo. Many plans were drawn up and it took quite a number of revisions before we could settle on an itinerary that suited us very well. It did include a quite a bit of travel within the country, but we didn't mind. With the tickets and itinerary sorted, we relaxed. Soon, it was time to pack and get set to leave. The train from Bangalore to Chennai left at around 8 am and we were in Chennai by 2.30 pm. After exploring the local places and converting some cash into Lankan rupees, we got some good rest before starting our first international trip together.

It took us an hour and ten minutes to get to Colombo from Chennai. Mihin Lanka was the flight we chose for our onward journey and it was a pleasant experience. We were met by our tour guide at the arrival and the first thing we wanted to do was to get a local sim card. I have paid close to half a lakh of phone bill once thanks to an international travel and I didn't want to risk it again. A local sim was bought with enough currency in it to last us for a week. The only calls we would make was to the guide as well as our parents back home. Since we reached Colombo before noon, our vacation started on the same day. This is how we explored Sri Lanka on our third year wedding anniversary.

Day 1: Chennai->Colombo

Independence Square Arcade - The Shopping Mall

After getting a couple of hours of rest, we freshened up and began our holiday. Since we had only half a day in Colombo, we went in for a city tour. The first place we visited was the Independence Square Arcade and the shopping mall. The arcade was so neatly maintained that it surprised us. Not a speck of dust any place. The place was beautiful with strong pillars and neat marble flooring. The shopping mall was so unlike the malls we see in India. This looked like a palace or a beautiful church. There was so much of greenery around it and beautiful flowers and pristine clear fountains. We spent a good amount of time walking around here and basking in the beauty. The next stop was to ODEL, Colombo's number one shopping destination. We did not shop for anything here as everything was ridiculously expensive and most importantly everything was available back in India too! But we did have some ridiculously expensive gelato though. After a light dinner, we were back at the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Day 2: Colombo->Bentota

The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery

Bentota is a three hour drive from Colombo, so we started early after breakfast. The roads are so clean and wide that the journey did not seem tiring at all. We enjoyed the cool breeze and even though the sun shone way too bright at times, it was not troublesome. We stopped by the Kosgoda turtle hatchery where a group of people were working on the conservation of the turtles. These people pay the fishermen to get them turtle eggs from the beach and bury them in sand for sixty to seventy days until they hatch. They are then released to small ponds where they learn to survive initially. After 21 days they are then released into the ocean. Out of a 1000 turtle babies released to the ocean, only one manages to survive, they say. After visiting the turtle hatchery, we had the rest of the day free where we decided to explore the hotel and it's beach. After a great dinner, we dozed off instantly.

Day 3: Bentota->Mirissa->Galle->Bentota

The Gorgeous Mirissa Bay - Look at the color of the sky reflecting on the water!

Anniversary Day! It had to be special. Mirissa Bay in Sri Lanka is famous for it's whales and dolphins. Although this was not included in our itinerary, we decided to explore it as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We paid an exorbitant amount for this, but we knew it would be worth it. We left early at around 4 am to get to Mirissa by 6.30 am where a boat was waiting for us.

The Life Jackets

We were here for the whale watching, where they would take us hundreds of kilometers in to the ocean and we could spot dolphins, whales and other sea creatures. We were given life jackets and after taking medications for sea sickness, the boat of close to 120 people left. Soon we were in the middle of ocean surrounded by nothing else but water. We spotted quite a lot of dolphins but sadly we couldn't spot a whale. We did see wonderfully colored turtles though. We spent seven hours in the sea and it was such a magical experience!

The Colonial Buildings - Pretty As A Picture!

On our way back to Bentota, we visited Galle. Galle is filled with colonial buildings and it is quite a pretty sight to the eye. We visited the clock tower and the stadium after a quick lunch and explored the city a bit. The weather was slightly hot and we saw the most beautiful beach ever. The water was clear blue and the sky reflected so beautifully on it! Tired from waking up in the wee hours of the morning, we drove back to Bentota and hit the bed straight.

Day 4: Bentota->Pinnawala->Kandy

Pinnawala - How Peaceful They Look!

The elephant orphanage of Pinnawala always stood out in every itinerary we received. We left around 9 am and this place was not too far away from Bentota. The elephants are left free here and the young ones are a treat to watch. They play with each other and just enjoy themselves. The violent ones are tied to be tamed. Sadly, the whole thing is now commercialized and the mahouts charge you to touch the elephants, feed them or to just take a picture with them. Although free, the animals were never free. We visited a tea factory on our way to Kandy where we were shown how the tea leaves turn into tea powder. We even received a complimentary cup of hot tea that was surprisingly refreshing in the scorching heat.

The Tooth Relic Temple

We reached Kandy in a couple of hours and after a really good lunch of pure vegetarian South Indian food, we headed towards the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. When Buddha died and his body was being burnt, his tooth fell off the funeral pyre. A devotee picked it up and decided to set up a shrine for it. Over the years it passed many hands and finally ended up here. Once a week the tooth is put out to display for the devotees, but sadly the day we went was not that day. The temple was however really beautiful and very well maintained. The sun soon set and we were then taken to our hotel in Kandy.

Day 5: Kandy->Dambulla->Sigiriya

The Entrance To Dambulla Caves

Buddhism is a religion that has always fascinated me. If I did believe in religion, I would be more than happy to follow this one. Right from the beginning of our vacation, I was excited to visit the Golden Temple at Dambulla. We left from Kandy early and in a few hours were at Dambulla. A tall golden statue of Buddha greeted us and we were told to walk up the caves behind and explore the place. After a certain point you are not allowed to wear footwear and the scorching heat made it impossible for us to walk. With great difficulty we managed to get to the caves and it made me realize that the trouble was so worth it. There were thousands of Buddha statues all over the place. Most of them really alike and yet very different. There was something so peaceful about this place that I never wanted to leave it. The roof of the caves were hand painted in different patterns and the color was still intact from centuries ago. It was such a treat to the eye!

Lion's Rock - Sigiriya. We Had To Trek Up This!
Whatever Is Left Of The Lion

After lunch, we left for Sigiriya. Lion's Rock is the main attraction of Sigiriya. It is a really huge rock/mountain that needs to be climbed up, almost like a trek. On top there is a huge Lion carved out of stone whose face is now destroyed, but you do get to see the majestic arms. The climb was really hard and the heat was not helping either. It took us a couple of hours to get to the top, but the view from there was gorgeous! Green and blue and nothing else in between. It finally felt like the point where the sky and the earth meets. After basking in the view for a while, we headed back down. Coming down was easier and we came down in half and hour. We were drenched in sweat and our clothes and shoes were completely muddy. We got to the hotel and took a nice shower before hitting the bed.

Day 6: Sigiriya->Colombo->Bangalore

The Dambulla International Cricket Stadium

Our vacation had come to an end and it was now time to check out. After a hearty breakfast we left the hotel and were en route Colombo from where our flight was. We stopped by the Dambulla Cricket Stadium on the way and bribed the officials to go take a look inside. There was a local match going on and it was a delight to watch it. We reached Colombo a couple of hours before our flight and checked in. Srilankan Airlines was our choice for the return flight. The journey was pleasant and hassle free. While we were up in the air we thought about the wonderful trip we had had and what a great experience it had been.

We reached Bangalore by late evening. We were exhausted, but we did have a bright smile on our face.

5/18/2016

Corporate Netiquette

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Next month I clock eight years of being in the corporate world. While I do consider myself lucky to be working with one of the biggest IT companies in the world, in a job that I have come to now love; there are quite a few things I'd like to do away with. Corporate is a wonderful space to be in, where you will meet different people from different walks of life. Some stay on your mind for good enough reasons and some well, just remain stuck there for reasons you don't even know. One of the things that I have noticed more often than not is the corporate etiquette, or rather the lack of it. Now if you are looking to understand the title of the post, it stands for corporate non-etiquette. Yeah, I just recreated a word for it and it is not the same as the normal netiquette.

Today as I walked towards the entrance of my office, a man was walking from the opposite side towards the entrance as well. While I was in no hurry to enter first, the man on seeing me started rushing towards the entrance. I was already at the door by then and he just brushed past me hurting my shoulder and walked in almost slamming the heavy entrance door in my face. He did not even turn to offer an apology. I was appalled and angry. It took me a few seconds to come to terms with what had happened. Once I was back in my senses I realized that this is not the first instance of corporate netiquette that I've seen. They are way too many to list down but I'm just going with a few here.

~ Opening doors - I am not talking about bias here as I'm not the sort of woman who would expect a man to open the door for her. Chivalry is definitely appreciated, but is something least expected in a work place. Here more often than not, people brush past you and walk in through the door first and just let the door ram after them. It is only basic decency (men and women alike) that you hold the door when you see someone walking in after you. But how is it your business, right?

~ Entering lifts - The rule is simple. First you give way to the ones exiting the lift and then you enter it. How hard is it to understand this? I work in the first floor and I seldom take the lift, but sometimes when I do, it is a nightmare. Once the first floor is reached and I need to get out, a huge group walks in like I'm almost invisible. I then have to push my way out of the crowd with people looking at me with "What the fuck is wrong with her" on their minds. Then again, rules are meant to be broken. Aren't they?

~ Printer rooms - Our whole floor shares the same printer and xerox machines. But when I go to collect my print outs I have always noticed that the printer room is perpetually crowded with people going through all the print outs before finding theirs. I understand that since a large number of people can give a print at the same time. But what I don't understand is that why do you have to read the entire document before figuring out that it is indeed not yours. I once caught a guy looking through the printout of my flight tickets. Unless he had wanted to print tickets at the same time and for the same airlines, there was something very wrong about it.

~ Lunch queues - I always take lunch from home, but at times when it doesn't happen, I'm in a nightmare. People who stand in queues for lunch always forget to leave space ahead of them for their plates. So when I'm spooning something into my plate, my elbow always touches the other person's plate causing it to go off balance and then I get really horrible looks. I also hate people who take forever to serve themselves an item when the entire line behind is waiting for him/her to finish.

~ Excuse me. Not - This has happened to me at least 8632579865 times in my eight year old career. People walking behind you will say anything but an "excuse me" if they want you to leave way for them. I once had a man push me aside and walk ahead, a lady who grumbled curses in a native language until I heard it and made way, another lady who chose to tap my shoulder and let me know she wanted way, yet another lady who tried to squeeze in to the 0.5 inch gap that was left and ended up hustling me anyway and this is still not the end of it. Seriously, how hard is it to blurt out an "Excuse Me"?

~ Pantry - You know those kind of people who come in for a glass of water and stand right in front of the water filter until they finish drinking the entire glass and sometimes even go in for a refill? Yeah, these are the kind of people who I want to kill. Take a glass of water and move aside and then come back for the second glass, but then again who has the time for all that? Once this guy was standing so close to the filter that when a lady bent to fill in her water bottle she hit him with her butt. I did not know if I had to laugh or cry.

~ Conference calls - "While not talking, please put the phone on mute", this is the first line you see in the mail whenever you get an invite for a conference call. This also happens to be a magical line that is visible only to a few. I have heard coughs, guitar strumming, traffic, cooker whistles, glasses clinking, babies crying, dogs barking, people yelling and sometimes movie dialogues too while being a part of a conference call.

~ Phone calls - There is a special place reserved in hell for people who talk on their phones during a meeting and they will have company from people who talk at their loudest in their cubicles and the ones who leave their phone in ringing mode while in office. I once heard a newly married lady coochie coo with her husband while the speaker was on. One of those times I wished I was deaf. Speaking of being deaf, I do think that people who leave their phones in the ringing mode while at work are deaf if they cannot hear their phone vibrate instead. As much as I like music, listening to "Suraj dooba hai", "Didi tera devar deewana", "Fevicol Se", "Abhi toh party shuru hui hai" and any other song/noise/tone while I'm busy trying to get something done before a deadline makes me want to throw their phone off the window. Again one of those times I wished I worked on a higher floor instead of the first.

These are just a few of the corporate netiquttes I could think of at the moment. I do know there are a lot more out there. If you have one, please do leave a comment.

5/12/2016

Reflections: A To Z 2016 #AtoZChallenge


This was my third consecutive year of signing up for the A to Z challenge. It was really tough the previous two years as well, but somehow I managed to get past it and complete the challenge successfully. I thought it would be the same this year as well. I had my theme planned out by January, but I had no clue what post I would write for each alphabet. Towards the end of March, my work load tripled and I was left with zero time for anything else. By March 31st when others had most of their posts scheduled, I had no idea what I would write the next day for 'A'! I panicked so much that I barely slept that night.

I woke up in the morning with the same thought. While I was doing my daily browsing of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine had checked in to an airport. And that's when the idea came. None of my posts were scheduled. Every topic was thought of at the last minute (No, I'm not very proud of it) and almost every post was posted at the last minute too. The posts for Saturdays always spilt over to Mondays as weekends were the only time I got some rest. I did not want to touch the laptop then. By the end of the month I had some good quality posts that stuck true to the theme. I chose 'All about me' because I thought it would be simple. Turns out it is really difficult to talk much about yourself. Had I been the narcissist I was a few years ago, it would have been a breeze. But now, I struggled to talk so much about myself everyday. Having said that, I enjoyed writing every single post as much I enjoyed reading the posts of others.

Airports was a very personal topic to me. I have been wanting to talk about it for quite sometime but somehow it never materialized. But when it did, I could see so many people relate to it. Blunt had to be written, because that is what I'm known for. Chick Flicks was a light post about a serious topic and I'm still so shocked by the fact that there are a lot of people who think that chick flicks and rom coms are the same thing. Diaper Talks had to be spoken about as this was something I wanted to scream out from the roof tops. I did lose a few friends because of this but I'm not complaining. Engineering is such a waste in my life that it had to be a part of all about me. The only thing good about it was that I got a campus placement and I love my job till date. FRIENDS is a piece of me that will never die. There is no other show that has held this space in my heart till now and I'm sure never will.

Generation Gap was something that I wanted to talk about as I see so many people in my own generation act like they belong to the 14th century. Being Home Alone is very important to me and I wanted to share my feelings about it. Indian Mentality and Indians will always be a never ending topic, but Indian behavior on flights completely pisses me off, hence the post. Justification was a post justifying the fact as to why I hate justifying things. I put an end to it once and for all. Keeping In Touch had to be spoken about. People just come in and out of your life and blame you for not bothering about them. Live And Let Live was written for the same reason as well. Motherhood perhaps is the post most close to me as it was everything I had to say about not wanting to be a mother. No was an important post as I only learnt to say that recently and I knew will help others as well. OCD, I had a crazy OCD to write about it. And yes, in a particular order. Poetry, well, just had to be written.

Quirky had to be there if I was talking about myself. Hello! Relationships too was a post close to my heart as I have lost quite a few of them. Regrets? No. But learnings, yes. Simplicity had to be spoken about in an era where people use fancy words in day to day life just to appear cool. Trebuchet MS was an extension of my OCD, but it sure deserved a post of its own. Also I couldn't think of anything else for T. Unlearn is what kept me going all these years and Vanity helped me stay off a lot of people and trash the memories I had with them. Woman Vs Woman is something I firmly believe in and I just wanted to throw some light on how women are hell bent upon bringing other women down. Xerox Copy was a post that I wrote in ten minutes flat. Well, what else could I write about for X that was about me or what I thought?

You was the most important part of me and also my favorite from the whole A to Z so far. Zero was an advice to people to pick themselves up and do something. At least take one step instead of five. But did it help anyone? I'm not too sure.

So A to Z 2016 was one hell of a ride and I was more than glad when it ended. Having said that, will I sign up for it next year? Hell yeah!

Cheers to all of us who took part and completed this challenge. We are survivors! See you next year.

5/06/2016

Book Review: Sharp Objects

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Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon.
Pages: 254

After 'Gone Girl', I had fallen in love with Gillian Flynn's style of writing and picked up this book which happens to be her first one on an impulse. The gist of the book was about a toxic family and this piqued my interest. So one fine day once I was back from work I sat down with a cup of tea and started reading this. The fast pace of the book was good because no body likes a prolonged mystery where the author takes ample amount of time to build a case and sneak in a clue. That was the only problem I had with 'The Girl On The Train'. This book moves fast with every page and the mystery gets deeper and deeper. So, what is the book all about?

Camille Preaker is a reporter working with a newspaper in Chicago. Her boss, Frank Curry asks her to visit Wind Gap, the place where Camille grew up, to report about a murder that now seems like a serial killing. As much as Camille is trying to be successful as a reporter, she is battling her own demons most of which are rooted in Wind Gap. Coming to Wind Gap to cover the case would mean that Camille now has to face her estranged family that consists of her mother, Adora, a step father, Alan, a dead step sister, Marian and another alive but precocious step sister, Amma. Camille comes face to face with her hostile mother and is uncomfortable in the very house that she grows up. She consoles herself that it is only until she cracks this case open, and after that she would be back in Chicago for good.

The case in question is the the killing of a ten year old girl named Natalie Keene. The MO of the killing is same as the killing of Ann Nash, aged nine, who was killed a year ago. No sexual assault, but all their teeth had been pulled out. Camille tries to visit both the Nashes and the Keenes, but is unable to gather much information. According to the police, Natalie's brother John who is eighteen is the primary suspect in the case. There also is James Capisi, who claimed to have seen the killer while Natalie was taken, but no one wants to believe him.

Camille along with Richard, the detective from Kansas work side by side although not together to solve this mystery. As the mystery unfolds, Camille finds out really disturbing facts about her own family. Her mother doesn't seem to be the perfect woman that she is on the outside. Her thirteen year old sister Amma, is all grown up once and is a kid the next instant who is obsessed with the perfection of her doll house that is the exact replica of the house they are living in. Camille has her own weirdness too, which sums up to the title of the book. But is the title justified? Well, not for me, unless the author is talking about the human brain.

Just like 'Gone Girl', this book too revolves around the intricacies of the human mind and it's obsessions. With a handful of characters, every character has enough importance and is etched out beautifully. The inner turmoil of Camille is shown so well that I could feel my skin burning as she traced her fingers on the words etched on herself. The human mind is a really dangerous thing and when people use it in more dangerous ways by manipulating themselves and others, a relationship and everything involved with it does become toxic. The killing of these little girls is disturbing to say the least and the scenes describing them made me look away once or twice. But the most disturbing fact of the book remains the dangerous levels to which humans can go to get what they think they deserve. Be it attention, love or anything else.

It took me two days to finish this book due to work and other commitments. But throughout the two days, I have been disturbed by the story. There was something constantly nagging me about the scenes that I had read about. I did predict the ending of the book much earlier than half-way through, but the way it unfolded was something else altogether. The descriptions, the dialogues are so believable that it is almost scary.

As characters, it is the three women who stand out and each one is better than the other. Camille, who knows the truth but is finding it hard to come to terms with it. Adora, the perfect and loving mother who is always obsessed with the wellness of her child who is not Camille. Amma, the twisted teen who wants to be a whore to attract boys and yet turns into the baby kitten in the hands of her caring mother. These relationships are nothing like they seem and everyone here is as toxic as they can get. The climax, though predictable, comes together very well and forms a nice closure to the case, the characters and the story.


Verdict: Dark, disturbing and more disturbing. And this is exactly what makes the book worth reading. If you are intrigued by human psychology, then do not give this a miss.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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