Book Review: Wonder

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Title: Wonder
Author: R. J. Palacio
Publisher: RHUK; Latest edition (3 January 2013)
Genre: Fiction/Children & Young Adult
Price: Rs. 360 on Amazon
Pages: 320

When people all over my Facebook and Goodreads timeline were going ga-ga over this book, I read the blurb of it. It seemed a way too emotional and poignant read. I decided to stay away from it for a while as I was not in a very good headspace myself. But once I saw the trailer of the movie, I knew that I must read it. When the husband gifted me this book among others for new years, I knew this had to be the first book that I read in 2018. This book needs no introduction or a review to sell, but I must talk about it as this book may have changed my life in a way that I never thought it could.

International Blog Delurking Week: 2018

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I've been blogging for almost 9 years now and this is the first time I've ever heard of the tradition of ‘International Blog Delurking Week’. Parul's post tells me that it has been around for 11 years at-least. So, for the first time ever, I'm going to be a part of it. When I read about this last week, I was wondering if I should do it or not. I'm not the one to follow the stats of my blog closely or even check the traffic on it. While I do have a decent bunch of consistent readers, I do get some occasional ones too. Earlier, when I had just started blogging I used to bother a lot about the followers and the number of comments on my posts. As time passed, they did not matter much as I was just writing for the love of it. Now that I'm a sort of veteran in this blogging world, maybe I should stop and try to know my readers.

I'm a very honest and a blunt writer, but if you have read my last post you would know that I'm trying to be honest in a nicer way now. I have pissed-off quite some people with my writing, I know that too. Well, I must have been really hurt while I did that. Else, there is no way that would have made it to my blog. Am I sorry about it? Well, no. For those who I have unintentionally hurt, I apologize if my words have hurt you. But, you need to understand that every one of us have an opinion and our own beliefs. Just because mine doesn't match yours, doesn't make it wrong. Still, if you are looking for an apology and since I'm trying to understand kindness better, I'm sorry. I hope you would still come back to my blog to read my posts and hopefully one or two of them would resonate with you.

Always, Choose Kind

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"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind" - I read this in R.J Palacio's brilliant book, 'Wonder'. While I'll review the book later, today I want to talk about kindness. When I read this quote, I thought how can one be right or kind? Why can't it be right and kind? Then I realized that only in some cases the 'and' can be applied. What exactly is kindness? How does one apply it? Is being nice the same as being kind? Is it something that requires a forced effort? Is it something that is expected to make you feel good? Does it come out of pity or genuineness?

All these questions plagued my mind. But soon I had the answer to it too. Being kind is a simple act of doing something good for someone else. What the recipient or the crowd feels, is secondary. Kindness should be like an inbuilt reflex in us humans, sadly it is not. Honestly, I wouldn't say that I am the kindest person on the planet. I'm very very far away from that. Being blunt and being kind somehow don't go well together. But you know what? Slowly, I'm learning how to be more kind. To others and to myself. I grew up in a not so good environment, where I was mocked for being poor, for my skin color and almost everything that one can think of. The almost immediate reflex that I always have is that of defense. Every thing else came second. But now, I'm understanding kindness and how easy it is to be kind.

#FeministMondays | On Looking Married

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During early 2012, I developed a hormone problem and started putting on weight. I then got married in March 2013. I was at my heaviest while I got married, but every person who met me after I'd got married attributed my weight gain to marriage. I even got sly remarks like "Oh, now you look married" to "Looks like your husband is keeping you very happy". While I just replied with an eye roll, I wanted to respond saying that my then boyfriend was keeping me very happy back then too, but since it is a statement that could be easily misconstrued I let it be. Of late when people find out that I'm married, they look shocked. Not that I look like a young, flawless, unwrinkled diva, but because I show no signs of being married.

While most women these days seem to change their surnames on Facebook right from their wedding venue, I am someone who has never given this a thought. The thought of taking my husband's name did not occur to me at all. When it did, it did not seem like a big deal, so I let it be. It is my name. I've had this name for 26 years, why would I change it? This doesn't make me love my husband any less. And he doesn't give two hoots about what my surname is. When people address me as Mrs. Prasad, I point out saying that Mrs. Prasad is actually my mother and not me. That is more often than not followed by a billion questions and I choose to walk away instead.

Survive #WOTY2018

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Last year came with many lessons
What's important is I came out alive
This year I will follow the same path
With hope, I choose to survive

I know it is not going to be easy
Into battles, head first I'll dive
I'll learn new things on the way
Finding strength, I choose to survive

If I gave it one try earlier
This time I shall make it five
Step by step, I'll build on myself
With persistence, I choose to survive

Action Replay: 2017

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2017 is finally done and I couldn't be happier. I know that I have complaining a lot about the year gone by, but as I sit down to write about it, I realize that it was not all that bad. It taught me a lot of lessons, helped me let go of many things and made me a better person. When I look at it this way, 2017 has been a very important year for me. Before we roundup the year, let's see how December fared.

December was a peaceful and happy month for me. Since I had taken a break from reading after having completed my reading challenge for the year, I had a lot of free time on my hands once I was done with work. I was able to prioritize work better and use the time I had way more effectively. As I was not reading, I devoted my time to baking, designing or watching Netflix. I loved the book 'Big Little Lies' so I caught up on the series and loved it as well. The ending in the series could have been better, but it was good nonetheless. December taught me the importance of love, once again. Thanks to Virat and Anushka's dream wedding. I know it may sound silly, but they somehow reaffirmed my faith in love. This made me feel so lucky and blessed to be married to the love of my life and getting to spend my life with him. I am a feminist yes, so I would not say that every woman needs a man. But I'll say this, every woman needs someone by her side who makes her feel strong, beautiful and cherished. This can be the partner, a friend or just the mirror. Or all three.

Reading Recap: 2017

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2017 hasn't been a very kind year. While it has been a year of emotional upheaval, three things did not suffer at all, thankfully. Professional success, travel and reading. At the beginning of the year when I set a reading challenge of 50 books on Goodreads, I thought I was being preposterous. I thought that it would be way too far fetched and that I might not even make it halfway. But once the year started, the challenge turned out to be such a motivation for me. Although I wasn't too keen on following up with the challenge closely, by the second month of the year, I was 3 books ahead in the challenge. This turned out to be track record that I maintained throughout the year. As of today, I stand at 53 books that was read in 2017.

When you are emotionally taxed, reading somehow helps. It temporarily takes you away from the harsh reality of life and throws you into the world of words, twisted plots and interesting characters. Reading kept me sane throughout the year. Although, it is not as easy as it sounds. When you are going through something inside, it is really hard to focus. Reading is a hobby that needs 100% focus. Initially it was tough to invest so much time, energy and thought into it. But later, when I realized that it was helping me get better I was determined to try my best. I'm not the one to read for a living or someone who reads with the sole purpose of reviewing them. I enjoy reading and this time I looked at it as an escape. From the many things that I was going through. I usually am not an escapist. But at times, even the strongest fall. I bounced back quickly, I survived. And that's how I like to tell this story.