9/19/2016

Movie Review: PINK

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Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Piyush Mishra, Angad Bedi.
Direction: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Genre: Drama
Duration: 2 hours 16 minutes

After 'Vicky Donor', I've been a fan of anything that is creatively touched by Shoojit Sircar. When I saw the first promo of this movie, the fact that it had Amitabh Bachchan in a female oriented movie made me want to watch it. When I learnt that it was being produced by Shoojit Sircar, I had mentally booked the tickets already. My husband and I watched this movie yesterday and it still continues to play in my mind.

To be very honest, very few bollywood movies have stayed with me long after I've finished watching them. 'Taare Zameen Par', 'Ek Hasina Thi', 'Kahaani', 'PK', happen to be some of the few. While each of these movies have a own set of audience for themselves, PINK is something that everyone should watch. At least once in their life time. And probably once every week to be reminded of the message it unapologetically conveys. This movie is not about women empowerment. It is not a feminist take on something. It is about character assassination that is a reserved topic for women alone. Have you ever heard if a man's character being questioned? This movie talks only about this in a realistic and non preachy way.

The story is fairly simple. Three women (Tapasee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang) meet four men at a rock concert and go out for dinner with them at a resort. One man tries to molest one girl and she hits him on the forehead with a bottle as self defense. The man (Angad Bedi) being very well politically connected seeks revenge and files a case against these three women accusing them of prostitution. Our country and its people as wonderful as they are, are quick to point fingers at the women and start talking about their character. "Ladkiyan akeli rahengi toh aisa hi hoga" (when girls stay alone, this is bound to happen), their neighbor openly says. Their other neighbor (Amitabh Bachchan, baritone and all), an old retired lawyer who witnesses the kidnap of one of the women decides to fight their case for them. But it is anything but an easy journey.

The opposition lawyer (a brilliant Piyush Mehra) sticks on to just one point. These women are prostitutes and accompanied the boys to the resort just to extort money from them in exchange of sexual favors. Why else would women accompany men they barely know to a resort and then drink together? This seemed to be the question on every body's mind in the courtroom. How does Amitabh deal with such accusations of his client? How do the women answer uncomfortable questions thrown at them? How does the case end? The film is tied together beautifully conveying a very relevant message.

There is a scene in the movie where the man who is being accused of molestation and dressed in his finest tells the defense lawyer that "Achche ghar ki ladkiyan drink nahi karte!" (girls from good families don't drink). This man is supposed to be educated from London. When the defense shows him a picture of his sister drinking, he loses it and goes on to talk about the power he has up his sleeve. Amitabh Bachchan then introduces the concept he calls the safety rule book for women. Rule number one is that when a woman talks freely to a guy and laughs, that means that she is giving a hint to the guy saying that she's available for sex. She should not do that. During the course of the courtroom drama, he comes up with many such rules but sticks to two main points. Consent and safety. Consent - No matter who the woman is, if she says "No", it means no. She can be a sex worker or a wife. Safety - If women are being accused of temping men to molest them, then it is the men who are not safe. We need to keep our men safe, safety of women would automatically follow then. The ending although predictable is applause worthy due to the sheer brilliance in the writing, dialogues and the well placed punch lines.

Every woman plays her part with gusto and stands out on her own. Special mention to Falak played by Kirti Kulhari who emotes beautifully with her eyes. Tapasee and Andrea perform very well too but the movie clearly belongs to Amitabh Bachchan and the questions he raises without flinching. Asking a woman about her virginity and to whom she lost it at what age is not easy, but the way he makes the woman's answers relevant to the case in hand is outstanding. He emotes with his eyes, his hands and with his silence when he is not talking. He raises a lot of questions, not only to the courtroom but to the audience in general and proceeds to answer them himself. The actual truth of what happened between the men and the women is shown in the end credits in stop motion, that will tug your heart even if you are made of stone.

Such movies need to be made. Such movies need to be watched by people of all ages. Such movies need to be watched again and again as a example and as a learning. This movie is not about women fighting for equal rights. This movie is not about putting men down. This movie is about accepting the fact that a woman is also human and her habits, actions and lifestyle should not decide her character. And yes, about consent. I know I'm saying this for the second time in this post, but yes, when a woman says "No", it means no. This should be the loud and clear takeaway from the movie.


Verdict: Take as many people as you can with you and watch this movie. Young, old and gender alike. It needs to be seen by every individual on the planet.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

9/16/2016

Escape Route

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

John asked for the kitchen duty again. This time, they agreed.

Earlier, he was assigned to cleaning the prison toilets. After months of requesting, the jailer finally let him do the kitchen duty. He assumed that John was really interested in cooking. John was expected to start with grinding tonnes of flour and then work his way up to cooking. He started early everyday in a dusty room and finished his work on time. The prison authorities were impressed.

Little did they know that he also was sharpening a piece of wood to attack the prison guard and escape soon.

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 16th September 2016.

9/14/2016

Smothered

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I saw this image online today and found it really interesting. I wanted to write my own interpretation of it. So here it is:

His strong fingers that I once loved
Now slowly find my delicate neck
Everything about him now hurts
From a simple touch to a light peck

His hold gets deep and tight
I cannot explain this pain
His eyes follow everything I do
As I try to escape in vain

His hands are almost clenched now
As I walk around helplessly
Why does he ask so many questions
Why can't he just let me be

Love him, I did, yes
I do see love in his eyes
When he goes on a nagging spree
I see them turn to ice

Everything seems to bother him
My silence gets misinterpreted
I crave for sometime alone
But I get his constant presence instead

His fingers caress a silent nerve
I feel the pause in my blood flow
My eyes have turned to dust
Which once in love did glow

I feel so empty from within
A moment's silence is all I need
To figure out my thoughts that scream
Tearing me inside as I bleed

This is not how love is supposed to be
This is not what I signed up for
I was brimming with happiness back then
Now I'm fighting a losing war

His hands form the perfect shackle
Smothering me whole and soul
Where once stood the heart that beat for him
Is now reduced to a sooty hole

Empty, yes, that's how I feel
Tired of justifying every move of mine
Every action causes raised eyebrows
Misread, every written line

I choke as his hands hold me down
Nothing is left within me to say
I am no longer afraid of dying
That's something I do everyday

9/08/2016

Scented

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Although many things are left unsaid
I see all the answers in your eyes
Our relationship doesn't have a name
Knowing you and me it's not a surprise

No string holds us together
Strangers during day, lovers at night
Just the fact that you exist is enough for me
Brightening me up with your light

Friends we were, once upon a time
Oh how things have changed since then
It all happened in an instant
Today I don't recall how or when

As we entwine around each other
Our heartbeats together create a tune
My skin tingles with every breath
To others touch I am now immune

Is this love I don't want to know
I would call what we share as fire
Yes it does come with its share of emotions
Enveloped in the cloak of desire

I now look forward to every night
As we paint abstract in every shade
As the morning sun slowly rises
I sense your presence begin to fade

Let us keep it the way it is
Life is more perfect this way
You are a recurring episode
Which I look forward to everyday

As you hold me tight in your arms
At this instant, I don't want to let go
I see your eyes stating the same
And yet wanting me not to know

How beautiful you look sprawled across
On each other as we lie spent
When day breaks and you leave
I'll bathe myself in your scent

9/06/2016

Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium Trilogy #2)

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Title: The Girl Who Played With Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Quercus; Film Tie-in edition (29 July 2010)
Genre: Thriller
Price: Rs. 149 on Amazon.
Pages: 576

After reading 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' there is no way you can not read the other two books in the series. The first one was disturbing no doubt, but highly intriguing as well. Lisbeth Salander was an enigma to me when I read the first one. I wanted to know more about her. For the first time ever, I couldn't identify myself with the protagonist of a book. I picked up the second book hoping to find out more about her and also expecting a thrilling story line.

This book too is divided in to fours parts, each of which starts off with Lisbeth's newly found love for mathematics. The prologue opens with the past where Lisbeth is being captured and restrained inside a dark room by an unidentified male. To cope with being captured, she mentally replays a past episode when she threw a milk carton filled with gasoline onto another man inside a car and tossed an ignited match onto him.

She turns thirteen in captivity.

The story begins on the shores of the Caribbean where Lisbeth is seen spending her millions and enjoying her free time with a lot of books on mathematics and occasionally along with Bland, a sixteen year old with whom she develops a sexual relationship. When a storm hits the island, Salander ends up saving Bland and also a certain Mrs Forbes from her abusive husband. This part deals with the care free Lisbeth away from home and free to do anything she wants. With billions (the money she laundered from Wennerstrom) stashed away in her secret account, she is free to do all that she wants.

When she returns to Stockholm after more than a year, not wanting to move back into her old apartment, she allows her friend and occasional sex partner Miriam Wu to stay in her apartment and collect her mails. Lisbeth buys a huge apartment for herself and gets only a few rooms furnished in the classiest way possible. All this while, Nils Bjurman, her current guardian is plotting against her. He wants to get his hands on the video which shows him raping her mercilessly. He spends his time looking through her records and finds a common enemy. Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist and Millenium is sitting on a very well researched report all about sex trafficking in Sweden and the abuse of under aged girls by high-ranking political and official figures. The kingpin of this entire racket is someone called Zala. The report also names a few officials being involved in the crime and one in particular, Gunnar Bjorck. This report is written by Dag Svensson and his pregnant girlfriend Mia Johansson who wants Millenium to publish this as a book. Meanwhile, Blomkvist has been trying to get in touch with Lisbeth and is surprised to see her getting attacked by two men one day. He tries to help her and she escapes.

When Lisbeth learns of this report and sees the name Zala, she is shocked. She goes on to meet Dag and Mia and a few minutes later they are both shot dead. Blomkvist happens to be the one who finds their bodies and notifies the cops. Soon, Bjurman is found shot dead at his apartment and the murder weapons is the same revolver that killed both Dag and Mia, which now has Lisbeth's finger prints on it. She is labelled the prime suspect and is put on the most wanted list. As time goes by and Lisbeth remains hidden safe in her new apartment, all old records of her past is published by the media. The media labels her as a 'lesbian satanist' and Miriam Wu is attacked by two guys who wants information about Lisbeth's whereabouts. She is saved in the nick of time by a good samaritan who also happens to be someone who wants to help Lisbeth and clear her name.

Blomkvist is convinced that Lisbeth is not the killer and sets up an investigation of his own to help her. Knowing that she would hack his computer, he leaves out files for her to read and respond. She does respond to him and they begin to discuss the case. Blomkvist realizes that Lisbeth knows Zala although he is unable to come up with the connection. Lisbeth realizes that a particular record of hers which she calls "All that evil" is being withheld and not being published.

When Blomkvist saved her from her attackers, he is left with her bag that contains her keys. Once he finds her apartment, he finds the DVD of the rape and keeps it to himself without letting the police know about it. After confronting Bjork and getting some information from Lisbeth's former guardian Palmgren, Blomkvist pieces together the story. Meanwhile Salander decides to confront Zala herself and goes in search of him. She finds the farmhouse where he is hiding and comes face to face with another giant like man called Neidermann who tends to feel no pain. When she tries to escape, she is shot in the shoulder, hip and head but she still holds on to life. Neidermann buries her alive. Blomkvist makes out her moves and is on the way to the farmhouse.

Will she survive? How is Lisbeth related to Zala? Who killed Dag and Mia? Why is everyone hell bent upon framing Lisbeth? These are a few questions the book answers.

While the first book could be clearly termed as disturbing, this one is thrilling to say the least. The story line is shocking when you think that the people who are expected to protect us are the ones indulging in crime themselves. The story is fast paced and surpasses a lot of characters seamlessly. Lisbeth's picturesque sojourns are described brilliantly still keeping in mind how troubled and eccentric she is. Blomkvist wins as the hero here. He is smart and picks up clues as and when he senses something. His faith in Lisbeth and his quest for finding justice for Dag and Mia keeps the story tight and bound. His relationship with the married Erika Berger is explained better here, but is still something that I did not understand at all. Maybe I'm not the one for such relationships. You cannot help but feel sad for Lisbeth here. Did I feel a connection with her? Well, wanting to lead a normal life and wanting to be left alone is the only connection that I could make with her. Plus, how ruined relationships can make or break a person is something that I shared in common with her.

Though translated from Swedish, the writing is simply brilliant. You do not lose that finesse. Every character is etched well and the protagonists shine through. Multiple investigations on the same case from various sources can confuse the reader, but the difference in the angle of investigation makes it easy. The unsaid relationship between Lisbeth and Blomkvist is interesting and I want to know more about it. It somewhat is described better in the third book, that I will be reviewing soon. The second and the third books are connected. The first book too is loosely connected to the second book thanks to the spill over of a few characters. The story line however is different.

It is a long read but doesn't get tough. Since the mystery begins right at the start, it keeps you glued to every page. Read it and then read the third book. They are absolutely fantastic!


Verdict: Read it now!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

8/31/2016

Action Replay: August 2016

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You know I started writing a combined post for the action replay of July and August. Half way through, I just happened to scroll down my blog and realized that I have already written the monthly post for July. Seriously, how could I not remember that? Have I been that busy? August just breezed through but not without leaving a bad taste in the mouth. For the first time ever, my birthday month disappointed me. Apart from the birthday and the gifts that came with it, there is nothing that I would want to remember about August. To start off with, I was really busy with work that left me with minimal time for everything else. Work is work, so I do not want to complain much. Apart from work, nothing else seemed to go right too. It was not only me, Cal had the same problems too. Just heavy headed with no peace of mind. And for no particular reason. Horrible, isn't it?

I have always lived a pretty open life without hiding anything from anyone. I do what I want to and talk/write about it. But now I think it is time I led a secluded life. Too many people knowing about what I did, what I bought, where I went, feels like the factor that is troubling me. No, I'm not one the one to believe in "buri nazar" and other things that come with it, but I've been burned way too many times by now. All I want is some peace and if lying low is gonna give me some of it, then so be it. This month has been really frustrating as everything I touched seemed to break apart. Fitness went for a toss as I working late nights and couldn't wake up early to hit the gym. Waking up late meant not taking lunch to work and that mean eating the cafeteria food that is hardly edible. Bad food ruins my mood even more.

Thanks to all this, reading and writing took a back step. I visited my parents last month and brought home some of my old books that I've wanted to read since like forever. My bookshelf is overflowing and I have bare minimum time to read. I've been reading 'The girl who kicked the Hornet's nest' since like forever now. I'm looking to start the Harry Potter series as soon as I'm done with this one. Writing came to a major halt too this month. Apart from the first seven posts that I wrote as part of the Bar-A-Thon on BAR, which my team won by the way, I couldn't write anything else. I remember taking a thirty minute break from work in order to write a poem about how busy I was and I came up with nothing. I had titled the poem "Try Me" and after two lines I couldn't come up with any words. Suddenly no words seemed to rhyme and the flow of words had come to a standstill. I abandoned the poem and my break and got back to work instead. I'm setting a goal of at least two books to read and twelve posts to write this September.

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There was something that was not at all right about this month. Maybe it is the gloomy weather in Bangalore or just a bad phase. Either way I'm not the one to give up. I woke up early today and was determined to stay happy no matter what. September is Cal's birthday month and I'm going to make sure it makes up for the past month too. I'll be leaving for a vacation in a fortnight and I cannot wait for it. The last vacation we took was to Sri Lanka in March and since then life has only been busy. You know, at times it is important to lead a slow life. Cal and I have been running around trying out a lot of new things. But I think it is time for us to slow down and relax now. And nothing like a beach vacation to do that. Looking forward to the mid of September.

Although I did not have time to get on social media and post stuff, I remained a mute spectator there. I was active on Instagram of course with the photoaday challenge. I've been doing it continuously for eight months now and have been enjoying every day and every prompt. I'm going to get the record to a year now. On Facebook and Twitter, I remained a silent watcher. From the Rio tweets and trolls to the teaser of Karan Johar's latest movie, I've seen it all. But the best part remained Krishna Janmashtami where every one were dressing up their kids like Krishna/Radha and posting pictures all over social media. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen at least 724789022 pictures of kids dressed gaudily last week. Is this what being a parent does to you? Well, more reasons to not be one then.

August put me down, stomped all over me, unloaded tonnes of crap, squeezed every ounce of patience out of my body and yet here I am. I survived it! I've been a survivor since I can remember and I have got past horrible things and terrible situations many times before. I will continue to fight anything and anyone that comes in the way of my happiness or that of my loved ones. People can poke their voodoo dolls as much as they want, the spirit in me refuses to give up. Haters gonna hate, I'm gonna love, live and celebrate.

My poem might not have found words, but yeah, try me.

8/26/2016

Turning Thirty

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You know how well my creative juices have been flowing thanks to the cliched title of this post. So yeah, I turned thirty this month. Also, on a scale of one to ten, ten being the busiest one can get, I turned thirty on that one too. I've been wanting to write this post since my birthday on the 8th, but with 12 hours of work a day and working on weekends, it was almost impossible. Not that it is all done now, but things are definitely better and stable now. So now let's come to my birthday. While I did have a Joey's moment as I cut the cake at midnight, I did not wake up with any blues in the morning. It was a Monday and both Cal and I had taken a leave to celebrate the day. Not having to go to office on a Monday was a gift in itself. For the first time ever, growing old did not bother me. I'm not the one to think much about age and try to act young. For me, when life is going on smooth, I have nothing to complain about. Not even about growing old.

Cal and I spent the whole day together and went to fabulous places for lunch and dinner. Good food always sets the mood right and soon we were lost in conversation. I got some really wonderful gifts that included the entire collection of ''Harry Potter", along with the eighth book. I think it is about time I give this a go. I know it was written roughly around twenty years ago and I'm reading fantasy fiction at the age of thirty. But hey, what's to lose? Once I'm done with the current book I'm reading (at snail's pace, thanks to all the work bestowed on me), I shall pick this up. Rest of the birthday was super fun as Cal and I reminisced about all our birthdays together. It was my fifth birthday that we were celebrating together and we opened the box of memories and fell in love all over again. Turning thirty couldn't have been better.

Growing old obviously leaves you with a few lessons. If there is one thing that the past few months have taught me is to let go and sit back. At least once in a while. I'm that sort of person who cannot sit idle even for a second. I need to be on top of everything and make sure everything gets done the way I want it to be. Life is not that simple too, right? When I had my eye surgery last month and was stuck with clear boredom, I wanted to break open my invisible shackles and try to conquer the world. But the doctor had advised me rest. Cal was working from home for a week to take care of me and he did take care of me like a baby. And I was one cranky baby to say the least. He cooked all our meals and cleaned up after that. He sat and listened to my tantrums and held my hand through it. I wanted to help him out in the kitchen, but he didn't let me. He told me that when I'm getting the chance to rest I should and that at times it is okay to let others do things for you. Well, valuable lesson learnt.

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When I was considerably younger, thirty was the age I had in mind to get married. I don't know why, but I felt that was the suitable age for me to get married. I got married at twenty six instead. Earlier it was about the right time, but at twenty six I realized that it was about the right person. When you have found the right person to spend your life with, why wait? Today I'm in the fourth year of marriage and I couldn't be happier. I love the man I'm married to, but I'm not too big a fan of marriage as an institution. I don't like the added responsibilities and forced relationships that comes with it.

I'm not a person who likes to adjust and Cal was very clear that I should never have to adjust. He did not want me to change even one bit. He fell in love with the person I was and he wanted nothing of it to change. So did I. The first two years of marriage was hell for me, but I could get past it only because of the person who was standing strong next to me. He's been my rock. He's been supportive of everything I love. When I was working non stop over the past few weeks and on the weekends even, he just let me do it without complaining one bit. Of course he wasn't happy with the fact that I was over working but he knew that it had to be done. Like I said before, it is all about the right person. And I couldn't be more happier about being married today.

Life obviously is different when compared to a few years ago. I've let go of a lot of so called friends and am very happy with the tight bunch that I have now. I have also become more aware of people and their antics. I don't let anyone take me for granted anymore. I respect people based on their deeds and don't bother to interact with the people I have no respect for. It's my choice after all, isn't it? I have also let go of a lot of old grudges that I had held within me. It doesn't affect me anymore. I continue to believe in karma and act accordingly. I lead a peaceful and content life today and I couldn't be more happier. I have also turned wise over the past few years. Naah, not that age does that to you but I have begun to understand life better. I know what suits me the best and what kind of people I need to stay away from. But I cannot deny one thing. People will always continue to be my nemesis.

I just stepped into a new decade of life a few weeks ago. For now, I'm thirty and I'm loving it.

8/07/2016

Sealed Promise

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"Promise?", little Joel asked his father who was leaving him for the second time this year.

"I promise, my son. I'll be back in two months just in time for your birthday. I'll run through the door and come in with your birthday gift."

"Double promise?" A tear escaped Joel's eye.

"Triple promise!" His father picked him up and gave him a long hug.

The promise was definitely fulfilled. His father was back on his birthday along with his birthday gift, a bicycle. He did not come running through the door though. He came in a sealed box, having lost his life in the war.

This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 7. Prompt: Promise.

8/06/2016

Workoutaholic

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It definitely was not easy
But I knew I had to do it
In spite of the chaotic pain
Burning me bit by it

I had signed up for this
I want to get till the end
I want my body to behave
To extremes I want it to bend

I stretched more than I ever had
Slowly I was able to move an extra inch
I hadn't taken care of my body well
Now's when I began to feel the pinch

Soon, the dumbell and I were one
I was able to smoothly glide up and down
There was a rising spirit in me
Even though my sores were black and brown

The toughest hour of my life
All about weights and me alone
I know this was the price I had to pay
To see my body shapely tone

I had to be strong in my mind
Wishful thinking sure did help
Even though at times I gave in
Let out a few tears and a yelp

Fitness is a top priority now
Enough of the ice creams I did lick
Sweets and fatty foods have bid goodbye
Now I'm happy being a workoutaholic

This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 6. Prompt: Wishful Thinking.

8/05/2016

Ray Of Sunshine

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They had tried for five years now and yet Sneha could not conceive. They had visited the best of hospitals but there was no good news in store for them. Raman's parents were unhappy. They blamed Sneha for being barren. Raman knew that the fault was within him, but his parents were not the one to listen. When they had decided to adopt a child two years ago, his parents had threatened to kill themselves. "We will not accept somebody else's blood", they had said. They had even suggested for him to go in for another wife who would bear them their grandson.

Now as Sneha walked into the house with their grandson, they were ecstatic. All they cared was the fact that Sneha had got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby. Their son's child and the heir to their family. They did not know about the sperm donor whose identity was safe with the hospital. Raman and Sneha had sworn to take that secret to the grave.

All that mattered to them was that now there was a ray of sunshine to fill in the tiny shoes they had purchased on an impulse years ago.

This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 5. Prompt: Tiny Shoes.

8/04/2016

Code Red

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The bathroom. The only place I don't feel his prying eyes on me. Whenever I feel I've had enough, I make an excuse of having to use the washroom and give myself the two minutes to be alone. I don't know what happened. I married the man I love, and now two years later I just don't recognize him anymore. He doubts my every move and wants to know what I'm thinking every second. If I'm quiet for a few seconds he questions me as to what I'm thinking. I go out to meet my friends and he calls me a hundred times. He doesn't abuse me, but I feel mentally tortured in every possible way. He's loving, caring and a very kind human being. But his love is now smothering me.

Today. I opened the laptop we share at home to give the finishing touches to my article. I saw a document pop open. I looked closer at it only to check if it is a part of my folder. It did not take me long to realize that it was my husband's note. He had been making points and notes to himself. The last paragraph read "I know it's a lie. She says she has a call at 7 and will answer my calls only after 8. That's the time I leave work. What does she intend to do in that hour when I'm not allowed to contact her? I know some one's been coming over when I'm away. She's been exercising to lose weight these days. Maybe he likes her slim. I'm not going to let them get away with this. I'll come home early to catch them red handed and then....."

The note was unfinished. I realized that the battery had died out and the system had shut down. When I rebooted it and wanted to open my document, this document had opened asking me if I wanted to save the changes. If not for this, I'd have never known what was going on in his mind all this time.

Red. I wore red after my evening shower. I said my prayers and dropped a mail to my agent saying that I'll not be able to take the call at 7. I looked at the mirror and saw my eyes let go of the tears they were holding. I ignored them and smeared a line of vermilion in the middle partition of my hair. I wore the red bangles that I had last worn at our wedding. Oh! What a happy day that was! Probably the best day of my life. No, maybe not. Today has to be the best day of my life. I day I find freedom from him. The day I am at peace. At last.

He walked in by 7.20 pm slowly inserting the key into the lock. He looked into the study and saw the laptop lying untouched and the phone was still in its place. That bitch was lying, he knew. Time to get it done with. He slowly opened the door, it was dark. He could make out an image on the bed and yet nothing was clear. He switched on the light while still looking at the bed. She sat there motionless, dressed in red. She looked frozen. Without a word he walked in to the bathroom to check if anyone is hiding in there. Next, he searches the balcony. Not finding anyone, he begins to breathe easily. He looks towards her and notices that she's not alone after all. She had two packed bags with her and a hand bag next to her. She pulls out a file from it, flings it at him, and walks away.

It was he who was caught red-handed. With his insecurities. 

This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 4. Prompt: Caught red-handed.

8/03/2016

Fragile Lives

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Blood relatives
Comparison high
Emotions buried
Ruled by a lie

Envy survives
Love remains lost
Blood turns thin
At every cost

Walls built
Relationships die
No share in joy
No shoulder to cry

One life
Each wants best
Nothing is left
For the rest

The delicate thread
Breaks apart
Intricate links
No longer in the heart

Contempt triumphs
Soul doesn't know
Fragile lives
More fragile ego


This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 3. Prompt: Fragile Lives.

8/02/2016

What You Don't Know

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Earlier, the blogging space was very sacred with genuine writers wanting to share their work. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry has a blog of their own. Most of them create blogs to get free samples of products or free vouchers or anything else that comes for free. Honestly, it hurts to see a scared place like this get tainted. But then again, maybe this place was not so scared after all. Most of us write for passion, some of us write to share something with the world while some of us make a living by writing alone. However, there are a bunch of pseudo bloggers who don't know the head or tail of blogging but make their presence felt in the loudest way possible. Like my friend says, "Everyone can write, but everyone shouldn't". Couldn't be more true.

This post of mine is dedicated to a set of bloggers who think that they are the crème de la crème of the blogging world. Trust me, they are. But not for the reasons they think.

~ Dear pseudo fashion blogger: You think fashion was made for you and that your future lies in it. What you don't know is that even that little finger of yours is not aware of what fashion is. Wearing everything you get for free (no way anyone would pay money for them) and clicking poor quality pictures (where one can see the shadow of the photographer) is not fashion blogging. Reviewing each and every product on your makeup stand in a separate post just goes on to show how jobless you are and doesn't connect to fashion in anyway. While we are on it, what you also don't know is that your breasts point west and south and looks like a defunct compass in your photographs. Fashion is not your calling, my dear. The only thing calling you is a good lingerie store. Or are you expecting that for free too?

~ Dear pseudo food blogger: You visit every place in the city and rate every place a 4 or a 4.5 or a 5 out of 5. You are either really kind or really unaware of what a food blogger is expected to do. What you don't know is that people only call you to visit their restaurants because they know you would give them a good rating in exchange for a free meal. Not because you are famous or know your food really well. Also, if you claim to be a fan of Masterchef Australia the least you could know would be who is Gary and who is George. And no, Matt Preston is not their father.

~ Dear pseudo creative blogger: What you don't know is that, when your blog is filled with book and product reviews, it is not called a creative writing blog. No matter how creatively you write (in the future, I mean), it still would be a review blog.

~ Dear pseudo poetry blogger: Congrats on your nth poetry book release. What you don't know is that I know the blogs you have stolen your poems from. Including two of mine.

~ Dear pseudo beauty blogger: Where do you store all the free samples of makeup products you receive? Put on all the foundation and concealer you want. What you don't know is that the foundation and powder needs to be extended to the neck area too. Else you end up looking like a floating head in a dark room. Also, there is no need for you to review every shade of a particular nailpolish brand. What you might also not know is that the base remains the same, just the shade differs. If that is what your are reviewing, then great job!

~ Dear pseudo travel blogger: It is nice to see you cover a lot of places and have more than a 1000 posts on your blog. What you don't know is that a visit to your neighborhood park is not necessarily called "travel". Do correct me if I'm wrong.

~ Dear master of all trades blogger: Have you heard of the word "niche"? What you don't know is that there is a wonderful creation called Google where you can look up this word and try to find yours.

~ Dear blogger turned author: I heard your debut book is doing really well. Good for you. What you don't know is that I know the set of people you forced, to give your book a five star rating. *Slow salute*

~ Dear blogger turned best selling author: Congrats on being one of the best selling authors of the country. I have read one of your books and found it to be pretty decent. While you do know a thing or two about writing, what you don't know is modesty. Or smart marketing for that matter. Backlinking almost every word in your blog post to the buying page of your book is so not cool. Yeah, you might be a best selling author. But do you have to sign every blog post of yours saying that?

~ Dear ass kisser blogger: Why do you so desperately try to be in the good books of all the bloggers around? Leaving a comment with a million hearts will not take you anywhere. I know you think that this would make them come back to your blog and leave comments. What you don't know is that is not how the blogging world works. There are quite a few sensible bloggers out there who know a good blog from a make-believe one.

~ Dear genuine bloggers: Please continue writing for your passion. What you don't know is that I have immense respect for you and I will always hold you in high regard. Or maybe you do.

Okay, I'm done.

This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 2. Prompt: What you don't know.

8/01/2016

Stranger Than Fiction

Love they say is like a breeze
You cannot see it but only feel
It has the power to break you apart
It also has the capacity to make you heal

Love stories are in every corner
You see them all around
You'll hear it in some one's heart beat
Else in an other's eyes it will be found

Is it always as rosy as it looks?
Is love the happiest thing ever?
Will it stay by your side always?
Will it hurt you never?

You've read about Romeo and Juliet
Lived the life of Jack and Rose
Love stories have a tune to them
You sense it in poetry or prose

Will it always have a happy ending?
In love will things never go wrong?
What happens when you're left alone?
Will you scatter or emerge more strong?

What we see and what we read
Are brief examples at its best
You'll only know when it happens to you
You'll feel it in your gut or your chest

It is not always easy
You need to live it to experience it
Love comes with many other emotions
Slowly at first then it will strongly hit

Read about love and then fall in it
Don't make "happily forever" an addiction
When you look at the truth deeply
You'll see that it's stranger than fiction


This post is written for the #BarAThon Day 1. Prompt: Stranger Than Fiction.

7/29/2016

Action Replay: July 2016

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Well, the seventh month is soon bidding goodbye and paving way for my birthday month. Yay! July was a very good month for me. In terms of professional and personal life, and everything else in between. Lessons were learnt too and realizations dawned upon. You know, I really like it when I have a take away from life. I'm not complaining that it is happening every month. I'm not changing as a person, but I'm becoming well learnt. I'm more aware of people and the situations around me. I've also become more wary of people. Or the human race in general. The day I wrote 'Misanthrope', I'd seen a car run over an innocent dog and a cab driving abusing a woman with golden words. No sir, the dog was not in the middle of the road. The car driver had to move a little left to let the dog sleep peacefully, but he decided against it and ran over the dog's hind legs. The poor thing yelped and yelped and it just broke my heart. The cab driver who was abusing the lady on the bike was no less. She didn't understand the local language, but I did. He called her a whore for blocking the jam with her bike and not allow him to move 0.5 inches ahead. This is called being human, you guys. Yes, all this buck buck.

The highlight of this month though is the fact that I got freedom from glasses and contact lenses. I cannot thanks the doctors and team of Prabha Eye Clinic enough, who helped me get my clear vision back. For all those who are still struggling with glasses or lenses, trust me LASIK is a boon! The procedure was done in under 30 minutes and I was back at home in a couple of hours. Some sleep later, I was all up and fine. My vision got clear the very day and touch wood I had no pain or any other issues. A couple of routine follow ups and I was seeing life all clear. I was asked to allow my eyes to rest and stay away from dust, sunlight and anything that could hurt my eyes. So basically I was on house arrest for a week and it was so painful. The surgery wasn't, but the taking rest part was. I was consumed by 'Clear Boredom' and I couldn't wait to get back and do my regular stuff.

The next day after my surgery I decided to read to pass time. Much against the angst of my husband I picked up a book. Although it was clear, after a few minutes I felt the stress on the eye. Not wanting to give up, I picked up my kindle and increased the font so that I could read it more easily. It could have been read from the other room too, that's a whole other story. So yes, I began reading 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' albeit not at my usual pace. I took my time with it and finished it a couple of days back. Absolutely loved it! Detailed review coming up soon. Prior to the surgery I had read three books. I was blown over by 'Lolita' and finally found time to indulge my inner child and read Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl. I cannot believe I hadn't read Roald Dahl until now. I will be picking up more of his books now. I'll save them all for my Godchildren. Or my own, if I decide to have any later.

People who visit my blog always see the honesty in it. But most of them don't get the underlying meaning of it. I'm not a preacher and definitely not a spawn of Satyaharishchandra, the guy who only spoke the truth. While I'm not a staunch believer of religion or spirituality, I do believe in Karma. I do not want to do something that would come back to bite me in the ass later. These days when something bad happens to someone, instead of sympathizing with the person, people say that he or she or the family deserved it. It is a sad state no doubt, but it is karma alright. 'As you sow, so shall you reap', they say. This is what I believe in. My desperate need for being honest and doing right comes from this. And yes also because I'm a nice person. Not like those human beings mentioned above.

In the list of the priorities of my life, two things feature pretty high. Good friends and good food. A few days back I had the chance of indulging in some delicious continental fare and some great conversation with my bestie/BIG little brother Sid. As we spoke non-stop in between chewing non-stop, we realized that a year ago we hardly knew each other. Of course that didn't stop me from making fun of him. I guess that's another thing that brought us closer. We're as different as chalk and cheese, but with our heart in the right place. I'm loud, dominant, brash and diplomacy doesn't exist for me. He's the exact opposite. The yin to my yang and the sweet vanilla to my bitter-sweet chocolate. A great person to explore food with too. Cal, him and I had a wonderful time at a recently held food fest. We make fun of each other's "first world problems", but stand by each other all the time. Friends like these make you much less of a misanthrope. You know you have the right best friend when he matches your "ooohs" with "aaahs" while devouring a plate of absolutely delicious tenderloin strips! And a creme brulee. And some mash. And some cheesecake. Okay, you get the drift.

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I've had a really exciting July and I know that August will only be better. I turn 30 in ten days and I could not be more excited. Am I worried about growing old? I'd be lying if I said no. But when you can't avoid something, it is the best to accept it and move on. I was mostly sick last birthday, so I have two birthdays to make up for this time. I can already feel the celebration and happiness in the air! Do come back to wish me.

Okay that's enough about me. How was your July?

7/27/2016

Book Review: Lolita

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Title: Lolita
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Publisher: Penguin UK (25 August 2011)
Genre: Literature/Fiction
Price: Rs. 319 on Amazon.
Pages: 368

**Might contain spoilers**

My eyes always widen when I hear the word "controversial". This book was supposed to be one of the most controversial books that is still banned in many countries. This was enough for me to buy it immediately. I knew the blurb really well, as well as the forbidden subject it speaks of, and yet I wanted to read it. One fine day I started and within two pages I was getting nowhere. I found the writing too tedious and chunky. I was bored and dropped the book. But it continued to haunt me. I picked and dropped it thrice, over a period of a year before finally making my way through it. It definitely is not an easy read or a conventional love story. Lolita is included on TIME magazine's list of the 100 best English language novels to have been published from 1923 to 2005. Well, it sure is.

The protagonist is a middle aged literature professor, who goes by the name Humbert Humbert (HH). He has a sexual fascination for girls aged from 9 to 14 whom he calls nymphets. After the death of his childhood sweetheart Annabel, he goes on looking for her in every nymphet. He is aroused by nymphets and spends most of his time pretending to read in a park while being surrounded by them. He then meets Valeria, an adult who behaves like a nymphet and marries her. But when she runs away with a taxi driver, HH moves to the the small New England town of Ramsdale. It is said that he is here to write but his main agenda is to find another nymphet whom he can seduce. He finds this nymphet in the 12 year old daughter of the family from whom he is to rent an apartment. When he gets to Ramsdale, he discovers that this family house has been burned down and he has no place to go. A lady called Charlotte Haze offers him a place to stay. He goes to check out the place with every intention of refusing the offer. Then, he meets Dolores Haze. The landlady's 12 year old daughter and he immediately sees Annabel in her. He's deeply infatuated and secretly calls her 'Lolita'.

Then begins his quest for Lolita and how he can have her. Turns out Dolores has a crush on a playwright, Clare Quilty whom HH instantly dislikes. As days pass and when Dolores is away, Charlotte Haze writes a letter to HH declaring her love for him and asking him to stay if he loves her too. Else, he's asked to leave immediately. Consumed with the fear of never being able to see Lolita again, HH ends up marrying Charlotte and becoming step father to Dolores, while still nursing feelings for her. When Charlotte finds HH's diary and learns of his true feelings she is disgusted and runs out of the house. She is killed by a passing car and HH drives to Lolita's camp to pick her up and tells her that her mother is ill. He takes her to hotel and sedates her hoping to rape her. But he is in for a surprise.

When HH tells Dolores that her mother is actually dead, they decide not to go back and drive around the country instead. They move from state to state and motel to motel indulging in their individual fantasies. After a year of touring they settle down and Dolores is sent to a new school. She ends up having an argument with HH and decides that she wants to go on another road trip and this time she gets to choose the place. While on the road again, Dolores suddenly disappears. And then begins HH's search for his Lolita. Who abducted her and why? Will he ever see her again?

There is no way you can get past the first few chapters without cringing. There are no breaks in a page and at times paragraphs go on for pages altogether. This is what makes the reading process so difficult. My eyes were exhausted every time I read this. The language used is far from simple and has ample French in it. The story is clearly taboo, but the execution of it is nothing short of brilliant. While it may seem that the book is all about carnal pleasures, it is not explicitly mentioned anywhere. This is a love story at the end of the day. The love that HH had for his Lolita. While you hate HH from the start for being a pervert, towards the mid of the book you realize that he's not the offender here. And towards the end of the book, you clearly end up feeling bad for him. Dolores on the other hand is like most young girl children. Rebellious, stubborn and girly. HH presumes her to be innocent, but she is anything but that. She has her own secrets and achievements.

While the story mainly revolves around HH and his Lolita, it flows really well. Right from his obsession that turns to love and then loss and betrayal. Their travels are described really well and takes you along the journey. Something that I least expected with this book. The prose, though complex is magnificent. The book might have her name, but the real hero is Humbert Humbert. His dangerous passion for Lolita leaps off every page and makes the romantic in him a murderer. He's creepy at times and so innocently love lorn at other times. His patience with his nymphet is quite astonishing considering what a tyrant she is. I actually thought that this book is about a sex maniac who sleeps with a young girl and discards her when she grows up. I couldn't have been more wrong.


Verdict: This probably is the my longest book review, but I had to set the tone right about the story and then talk about it. Verdict? Read it. Just for the sheer brilliance of the story and the writing.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

P.S: The minus 0.5 is for the difficulty in reading. I would not flaw this book otherwise.

7/25/2016

Black Magic

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You and I have been together for years
And now we're expected to stay apart
How do I make myself do this
When you hold a piece of my heart

You've stood by me through thick and thin
As I played with you the way I want
You made me an artist in a way
Without you, those memories now haunt

I know the separation is temporary
Yet I find it hard to step out
I feel a part of me missing
Somewhere within me I nurse a doubt

I still am confident and strong
I feel really happy and good
But I cannot forget all those times
When you and I together stood

You were such a close part of me
I hope these few months pass by soon
We'll make up for all the time we lost
Drawn across me, I'll make you swoon

This time apart is important they say
It is for my own good, that I know
But once you have an addiction
In front of it, you have to bow

For now, let my eyes just heal
Then I'll paint you in different hues
I'm sure you'll make me see and feel better
Oh black magic, my dear muse

7/21/2016

Clear Boredom

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This is the fifth consecutive day that I've stayed at home without stepping out much. Yeah, no office or anything. No, I haven't gone crazy but I soon will if I don't do something productive. So, here I am. What happened you ask? Okay let me start from the beginning. It was the year 2000 and I was in the 8th standard. I was the class topper and once I was asked to read out something from the blackboard. I stood up in pride and then realized that there was nothing written on the board. I squinted my eyes as the teacher looked at me with a puzzled look. She asked me to step forward and come right in front of the class and read. As I walked ahead, I could see the poem 'Silver' written on the board in faint handwriting. I loved that poem, but that was when it struck me that something was wrong with my eye sight. I read the poem and walked away really sadly.

When you study in a convent, you have a lot of privileges. We had regular health camps that spoke about puberty, acne and other "growing up" stuff. One such health camp was a sight awareness camp where all of us from the school had to get our eye tested. First embarrassing moment of my life, my dear friends. I couldn't read anything on the board apart from the first line. Of course that was only because that line was written in such big letters that it could have been read from Jupiter. Within the next five minutes, the doctor there gave me a note that I was supposed to give my parents. It read "Vision problem, please consult a doctor". It also had some random numbers written on it. For me it just meant one thing. If I gave this note to my parents, I'd have to wear glasses. When you are a rebellious teen, you know how insulting that could be. So I hid the note. If I squinted my eyes at a particular angle I could see the black board albeit not very clearly. But still, something was better than nothing.

I passed 8th standard as the topper and was awarded the 'Excellence In Studies' award. I walked up the stage to collect it and could only see a few hazy bubbles in the audience. I couldn't come back to find my mother in the audience as I couldn't make out faces properly. That was when I realized that I had a serious problem. My mom managed to find me and when we got home, I gave my parents the note from the doctor. They were sad at first that their youngest child had eye problems, but I was taken to an eye doctor immediately. Now comes the second embarrassing moment of my life. Sitting on the stool, wearing glasses that could easily be used to sight UFOs and reading out letters and numbers in front of me. Finally it was established that I have myopia in both eyes and I was asked to select a frame and collect my glasses the next day.

Fast forward to 2004 when I had to join my engineering. That was the major growing up phase and it was also the time to have crushes and boyfriends. I decided that it was also the time I switched to contact lenses and ditch my glasses. My parents obliged and soon I was glass free and loving it. The first day I wore contact lenses to college I felt like the world was my oyster and I could breathe rainbows. Years passed and I was happy with the fake eyes I was using. But while travelling it did become a pain. Wearing them and taking care of them now and again, replacing them every month was becoming a tedious affair. Just before I got married I wanted to correct my vision surgically, but my then boyfriend and soon to be husband was not very happy with the idea. He was scared for me and I continued to wear lenses. Last month when I getting ready for work and wore my lenses, my eyes started burning terribly and I had to sit down for twenty minutes to let it cool. He couldn't see the pain I was going through and decided that it was time for me to get rid of this for ever.

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So last weekend, I got a LASIK operation done and my vision is now clear and sorted. The procedure was not painful but scary as hell. I held my cool and it was over in 15 minutes. They asked me not to see light or use the phone/laptop/read and stay away from dust/water for 8-10 days. Then began the real ordeal. Everyone knows that I suck at taking breaks. But this time I had to be on a break and NOT do anything! I couldn't cook, watch TV, read or use the phone. I would have loved to be dead instead. Cal is working from home this week to take care of me and administer the eye drops timely and my agitation is not making it any easy for him. My vision was sorted and I could see everything clearly a couple of hours after the operation itself. I wanted to keep myself busy and I found myself in a helpless situation. Not going to work was enough to make me feel worthless, but not being able to do anything at home was driving me crazy.

But I'm not the one to take things lying down. I picked up my kindle and set it to a larger font and started reading 'The Girl Who Played With Fire'. I was reading a book prior to my surgery but the font posed an issue. I could read it but I was not supposed to stress my eyes, so the better option was the kindle. I was wearing the safety black glasses while reading though. It made me look a lot like Karunanidhi's kin, but it was either that or not doing anything. Gosh, I seriously am horrible at resting or doing nothing. I visited my doctor yesterday for a followup and he told me that I could do anything I wanted to as long as I don't stress my eyes much or not let water or anything else touch them. But I still am not fit enough to stare at the laptop for a whole day. That would take another week or so he told me, but I'm going to start work from next week. Else I'd definitely go insane.

I'm happy I got the surgery done and it will definitely take me sometime to get used to the fact that I can see things clearly without lenses or glasses. I still try to adjust the glasses on my nose or rush to remove my lenses before a shower. But there is nothing there. I couldn't be more relieved. But I will probably be more happier once I start going to work and doing my regular chores. Seriously, a time out is definitely not for me.

I want to feel normal again and this post is the perfect start.

7/14/2016

Book Review: The Devotion Of Suspect X

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Title: The Devotion Of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (2 February 2012)
Genre: Crime/Thriller/Mystery
Price: Rs. 264 on Amazon.
Pages: 488

Like most of us, I heard about this book after news spread that the movie 'Drishyam' was loosely based on this book. I absolutely loved the movie and the screenplay blew me over. I'm the one who always prefers books over movies, so I had to buy this one. After years, I walked into a book store and picked a book. Thanks to online shopping I had forgotten the thrill and satisfaction I get when I walk into a book store. Okay now about the book.

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced single mother who stays with her daughter Misato and works in a restaurant to make a living. Her neighbor is Tetsuya Ishigami, a maths teacher who harbors feelings for her but doesn't tell her a word about it. He visits her restaurant everyday to buy a lunch box though. And by everyday, I mean days that she works there only. They live mundane lives and go about everyday with their routines. One day Yasuko is visited by her ex-husband Togashi who threatens to kill her if she doesn't give him money. A bitter fight takes place and Yasuko and Misato end up killing Togashi. Hearing the commotion Ishigami comes in to inquire and makes sense of the entire situation and offers help to Yasuko. He disposes the body and trains mother and daughter for the police interrogation that would soon come.

When the body turns up and is identified as Togashi, the primary suspect is the ex-wife Yasuko. Detective Kusanagi is investigating this case and is convinced that all of Yasuko's alibis, even though sound, are manufactured. Yasuko seems to have the movie tickets that she went to the day Togashi was killed. She also has an alibi in the karaoke place she visited with Misato later that night. Kusanagi still smells a rat and confides in Detective Galileo aka Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and his college friend who frequently consults with the police. When Ishigami's name is revealed as the neighbor of the prime suspect, Yukawa recognizes him as his college mate who has exceptional skills in problem solving. He visits Ishigami and after a brief talk is convinced that he has something to do with the murder.

A cat and mouse chase begins and Yukawa goes out of his way to prove that Ishigami is involved in the murder too. Will Ishigami break? Or will Yasuko? How long will Ishigami hold on to the love and devotion he has for Yasuko? Especially when Yasuko gets close to a male friend of hers. Will jealousy make Ishigami give her up to the cops? The ending will leave you spell bound.

The writing is fairly simple with minimal characters. I like books that move fast and in this one the murder and the murderer is revealed within the first three chapters. What follows next is the cover up. The story is absolutely brilliant and the pace is just right. The silent love and devotion Ishigami has for Yasuko couldn't be shown much better. Yasuko does come across as a strong woman even though she piggy banks on Ishigami for almost everything related to the case. Kusanagi is annoying but when Yukawa comes into picture, this becomes as thrilling as it can get. Yukawa's analysis of Ishigami's plan comes in as a surprise as does the twist in the end. The writing is brilliant and there is now way you can predict anything in this story.

Drishyam was a fantastic movie, but apart from the fact that this movie and the book involves a murder cover up, nothing else is similar. This book has been made into a movie too. I would be watching that really soon.


Verdict: Absolutely brilliant writing and hands down the best mystery I've ever read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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