Book Review: Big Little Lies

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Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin (7 May 2015)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery
Price: Rs. 357 on Amazon
Pages: 496

Just like 'The Handmaid's Tale', I heard of this book too when its show won big at the Emmys. A show headlined by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon would be quite something. I decided that I'd read the book before watching its adaptation. Also, this was the first time that I was reading Liane Moriarty and I was a bit worried about the writing style. The writing style of Margaret Atwood was very difficult for me to read, so I was a bit wary of trying new authors. Still, I went ahead and ordered the book.

Big Little Lies revolves around the lives of three women and their children who all go to the same school, Pirriwee Public School. Jane is a young, single mother to her son Ziggy. Madeline has a daughter, Abigail from her previous marriage to Nathan and a son, Fred and a daughter, Chloe from her current marriage to Ed. Celeste is a mother to twin boys, Max and Josh and is the beautiful wife of a successful rich banker, Perry White. On the first day of school, Ziggy is accused of bullying Amabelle, another child at the school and soon the all the parents within the school are split into pro-Ziggy and anti-Ziggy. Madeline takes Jane under her wing and along with Celeste, the three women become really close. As close as they are, each woman is hiding something from the other.

Dance With Me

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Just hold me tight, follow my lead
On the right foot, I'll help you start
Together, holding each other
Lets dance to the rhythm of my heart

Let our eyes do the talking
Together as our fingers entwine 
Intoxicated, let's lose ourselves
Like drowning in a pool of wine

Hungry and thirsty, let's explore one another
Slowly at first, and then once and for all
The passion we feel will keep us going
Step after step, without a fall

Of Heartbreaks & Digital Footprints

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Recently, one of the badges that I pin to my bag bag broke off and I googled "How to mend a broken badge" I could have just gone ahead and bought another badge worth 50 bucks, but the Monica in me wouldn't let that happen. From "How to get ball pen ink marks off leather" to "How to get peanut butter off hair", I have googled it all. Anyway, I digress. As I was typed "How to mend a broken...", the first option that google suggested was "broken heart" followed by "broken soul". It is almost amusing to think that people turn to google for mending a broken heart. Having been through a couple of heartbreaks myself, I know how hard it is to get over a broken relationship. But never did I ever resort to google to help me get over the pain. In today's social media age, it is very difficult to get over a heartbreak. More so because every social media platform has remnants of the relationship. Plus, it is very easy to keep track of someone, also known as stalking.

It took me years to get over my first heartbreak, and to be honest the pain I went through was self inflicted. I was more in love with the concept of love than the person. Insecurity and love can never exist on the same page, anyway. I started my blog during this heartbroken phase. Back then, I used this blog as an open diary and used to vent as and when I wanted. Plus, it brought out the poet in me and I wrote some really good poems that were totally seeped in melancholy. As and when I found and lost love, I've penned poems or stories around it. All those posts are still very present on my blog. For those who have known me from the start in the blogging world, they've seen my journey from heartbreak to happiness and back and forth.

#Feminist Mondays | I Do And The Aftermath

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In my previous post, I spoke about how women who drink are judged and scrutinized by the society. Today, I want to raise another important question and attempt to answer it in my own way. As of today, in India, there are 945 females to every 1000 males. And trust me, this is a better statistic when compared to what it was earlier. We all know the answer to this imbalance, don't we? Female foeticide. Years ago, I wrote a post about this very topic and it hurt me so much to write that. A few days ago, I happened to chance upon that post again and I thought what could be the primary reason for people, men and women alike not wanting to give birth to the girl child. As a new month began and a certain loan amount was cut from my bank account, I got my answer.

It has been close to five years since I got married, but the loan that I took for my wedding is still on. My parents are still paying off debts that they had incurred at the time of my wedding. Yes, five years ago. Weddings in India are a pretty huge and extravagant affair and the expectation is that the expense should be borne by the girl's side only. Maybe, that's why parents don't think twice before going ahead and aborting a girl child. Why should one take care of a child, pay for her education and other expenses and then spend all their life's earnings on her wedding, just to send her off to another house.

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale

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Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Vintage (19 September 1996)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 259 on Amazon
Pages: 320

I only heard of this book when its series won big at the Emmys. When many people praised this book on social media and since the book was written as a response to second wave feminism, I was intrigued and placed an order for it. It is a fairly short book and I read it in three sittings.

The Handmaid’s Tale's setup is in Gilead, formed between the borders of what was formerly the United States Of America. In Gilead, only the men hold power. Be it political, economical or social. The women are only seen as objects of procreation and that is pushed on them as the only expectation from them. They are unable to do anything else, be it have jobs or have a bank account or even read. Since the government has been overthrown, a military dictatorship is formed in order to protect the people from Islamic terrorism.

Action Replay: October 2017

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It was only when Goodreads sent me a mail asking me to vote for my favorite books of 2017, that I realized that we're towards the end of the year. I still remember new year's eve and the terrible hangover that followed and now I have to plan another new year's party? Where are the days going? I have not even completed 20% of the things that I had planned for the year and now a new year beckons? Maybe, I can just push off my resolutions to the new year instead. Now that I am done with the initial drama, let's get to the post. It's November already and to be honest I'm glad this year is moving quickly. It has not been a very good year for me and I can't wait to start a fresh year again. However, the last few months have been pretty good and it helped me immensely to grow as a person. October was no less.

I've been so terribly overworked that one fine day I just decided not to do a few things. No, not like forever, but just for a few days. I needed a break from everything around. Since I can't not do things at office, work remained the same. It is my bread and butter after all. With all the other things around, I took a backseat consciously. In May I had an emotional burnout and in October I had it again along with a physical one. I was way too tired of everything around me and I just wanted to stay away from everything for a while. Even the things that I loved. Initially, I thought I was being stupid. But then it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Since I have a supporting partner, I stepped away from household chores too. Not completely, but I definitely slowed down. Instead of three meals, I cooked one a day. Instead of scrubbing the kitchen clean every day, I let him do it or I did it every other day. Normally, this would bother me, but this time it didn't. I really wanted to slow everything down.

Watch Your Back

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These days friendships are really tricky
Every face now wears a facade
While it looks like we're all together
Each one is playing a different card

They bewitch you with their sweet smiles
Get their work done through you
With hugs and selfies on social media
This can almost pass off as true

They stick really close to you
Watching your every move
While their tune is completely different
They'll pretend to dance to your groove

Too Good For You

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I think of you every time I look into the mirror. With every new break out, every new scar your memories come rushing. You said it was love at first sight for you and I never believed it. I do not, till date. You were the charmer, the one girls wanted to know. Let me correct myself, the other girls. I on the other hand found you to be full of yourself. A narcissist. There was a certain air around you that I wanted to stay away from. It felt fake, more like a make believe aura. I found you loud and obnoxious too.

Yet, you persisted. I'm prettier than everyone else, you said. I laughed it away as one of your lines. You didn't give up. You didn't give the other flawless girls a second look. You stayed by my side. It was difficult for me to even be friends with you. We had nothing in common, remember? I was well read with many hobbies and interests, and you, well, you were just you. Every time we spoke, you could only praise me or ask me out. Every single time. I was too secure in the way I looked and the kind of person I was - I Am. Somehow, your words helped me strengthen that. Maybe I was foolish to think so, but yes. A year passed, other men did ask me out too, but I wasn't interested in anyone. I was just happy being me and being by myself.

Book Review: Purple Hibiscus

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Title: Purple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Fourth Estate (1 October 2007)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 216 on Amazon
Pages: 336

The rave reviews of 'We Should All Be Feminists' is what introduced me to Adichie, the young Nigerian author. Turns out 'Purple Hibiscus' is her debut novel and is considered one of the most strongest debuts after Arundhati Roy’s 'The God of Small Things'. While I have tried and failed reading the latter, 'Purple Hibiscus' made it to my TBR list some time ago. Once I received this book as a birthday gift, it went on to my large pile of unread books. When a lot of people pushed me to read this, I decided to give it a try. I had heard a lot of good reviews about it, but I was not too sure how much I would enjoy an African setting amidst political instability. With zero expectations and ready to abandon if needed, I started reading this book.

#FeministMondays | No Cheers For Good Women

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"Acche ghar ki ladkiyan alcohol drink nahi karti". This translates to "Girls from good homes don't drink alcohol" and this was a line made wrongly famous by the movie PINK.

Have you ever noticed that when you are out for a meal and how the waiter gives the woman the food menu and the man the drinks menu? In India, drinking is somehow considered a man thing. I'm sick and tired of being judged for enjoying a drink every now and then. If the whole point is about alcohol being bad for health, when did the importance of good health become gender specific? Men can drink, but women can't? Our society needs to grow up way too much.

Girls who drink are considered characterless, sluts, immoral and what not. But somehow a man drinking is directly proportional to his virility. To be a man, he must drink. To be a woman, she must not drink. Or rather to be a good woman she must not drink. If this isn't prejudice then I don't know what is. As long as a woman is not pregnant or planning to get pregnant, I don't see why she should not enjoy a drink. While drinking is not good for health, it can be fun when done in moderation. I love having long conversations over a drink with my husband or a night out with my friends where we talk about everything under the sun and say Cheers for the wonderful time we have. While it is something very normal for me, many people just frown upon it.

Seasick

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

"Look out, darling. The moon looks so beautiful." Anya tells Jay.

"No. I'm not moving from here." Jay responds, holding on to his head tightly.

"It's okay, honey. Just try coming out to the deck. You'll not be sick, I'm sure."

"What if I do? Everyone will laugh at me."

"Come on, we are in the middle of the ocean. Many people get seasick, you know that, Jay."

Action Replay: September 2017

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While August was all about being in control, September was about acceptance and letting go. Even though it passed in a blink, September was a very good month in terms of both professional and personal life. Work kept me busy and I was able to sail through without much stress. August helped me plan my time better and I found a lot of peaceful me time this month. I've come to realize one thing. Without having some time for myself every single day, I get really cranky, angry and moody. I love my husband and my friends, but I need at least an hour to myself every single day without talking to anyone. I get this time once I'm back home from work and just before the husband returns. During this time, I usually read. Reading with a cup of tea in my hand relaxes me and sets my mind free. It gives me so much peace that I cannot put it into words.

If I'm not reading, I'd do something creative. I either draw/sketch something, or design/stitch something. Depending on the time I have, I plan my activities. But I just cannot sit idle. I've seen my neighbor who is a housewife sit and stare into oblivion in the balcony. I cannot do that. Don't get me wrong, I do love to look at the stars and the skies and all the beauty around that mother nature has to offer. But I cannot do it endlessly. I need to be occupied, my mind needs to be occupied. Thankfully, I have quite a lot of interests that keep me busy. When the husband calls me to say that he's leaving work, I step into the kitchen to make dinner. Since I love cooking, this doesn't seem like a chore to me. But yes, at days when the monotony strikes, I despise looking at the kitchen. Earlier, I used to ignore it and just do what has to be done. These days, I've learn to let go and just order in or go out instead. I don't force myself to be the perfect wife or feel the need to do everything around the house anymore.

Book Review: Winter Garden

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Title: Winter Garden
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India; First edition (30 November 2014)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 259 on Amazon
Pages: 394

I discovered Kristin Hannah by chance on Goodreads after someone once mentioned randomly that she writes like Danielle Steel. A few days later, on a book tag on Facebook ,I saw a couple of friends mention that 'Winter Garden' was one of the finest books that they have ever read. I was intrigued and since I was on a book buying spree, I bought this one. The book has a dreamy wintry cover with apple trees and snow in white and blue. You can also notice the almost blurry silhouette of three women in the background. The book doesn't promise much, it only asks a simple question. Can a woman know herself if she doesn't know her mother?

Footprints Of Time

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

"You have around hundred pairs of shoes. You still want to keep this?" She asked.

"You know the answer to that, Neha." Suhail replied.

"I know it holds a lot of importance to you. But you are the country's biggest superstar. You should not own rubbish like this."

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

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Life has never been easy for me
I have struggled to get past each day
When I saw darkness all around
I lit myself to find the way

Burdens I have carried one too many
That pushed my shoulders down
Of people, emotion and expectation
In uncertainty I was pushed to drown

I had to crawl my way back up
No one came to help me out
When I decided to live life my way
Their disapproval they did shout

Book Review: The Book Thief

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Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: RHUK; Latest Edition edition (3 January 2008)
Genre: Historical/War Fiction
Price: Rs. 320 on Amazon
Pages: 592

I had only read good reviews of this book and I want to read it too. But honestly, I'm not a big fan of novels that have war as a backdrop. The only time I have explored this genre was with 'Gone With The Wind', the first ever book that I left unfinished. Since then, it has been a no-no for a war zone book. Then again, the reviews were too hard to ignore and I found myself placing an order for the book. The idea was to give it a shot and abandon the book if the genre doesn't still appeal to me. Boy! Was I in for a surprise.

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When death tells you a story, you need to listen. The narrator of this book is Death and this is the best beginning one could ask for. I was hooked on from the first word and this book broke me a million times before putting me back together again.

#FeministMondays | The Other Side

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In my last post, I spoke about how feminism did not exist as a concept for me while growing up. Thanks to my chauvinistic father and uncles, I thought that the women are expected to worship their husbands and do all the chores at home while the men lazed in front of the TV and expected their wives to answer to the snap of their fingers. Being the man of the house meant too much to them that they were expected to be put on a pedestal and looked up to. Many women had the same thoughts too and this became a norm without anyone making a big deal out of it. While feminism as a concept is making waves now, some women who claim to be feminists themselves are getting it all wrong. Today we'll look at the other side, where women expect men to treat them like equals in all the wrong ways possible.

It is no hidden fact that I have a certain amount of hatred for housewives. I have been very vocal about it and have received my share of flak for it too. But, I stand by my thoughts. Before you start to revolt, let me make myself clear. I do not hate all housewives. There are wives who stay at home and maintain a very good environment at home. They cook piping hot food for every meal, keep their house spick and span, manage the bills, keep the family together and are on top of everything when it comes to the house. Such women, I call genius home makers. I bow down to such women and think that they need to be given equal rights as that of the men who are the bread winners here. Such women have a full time job at home and they do an excellent job. They do not while away their time watching TV or on the phone. They are proud of their home making skills and deserve to be so. This is what a housewife or a homemaker should be like. They respect the men for the work they do and they demand respect for the work they do at home too. Such women are true feminists.

The Hills Are Calling

PHOTO PROMPT © Danny Bowman

You cannot manage it alone.” He said again.

I can and I will. This is important to me.” Anya replied.

I don’t understand why you need to do this. Stay safe here.

I don’t want safe, Sameer. I’m tired of being safe. I need to find myself again and I want to start by going away somewhere. I need this break away from you and the children.”

Why It Is Not Easy To Be A Straightforward Person

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If there is one thing that I am as a person, it is straightforward. I'm not the one to beat around the bush or try to beautify things. It's not that I don't know how to sugar coat words, I just don't want to do it. I'm a realist and I call a spade a spade. Being this way has given me many names, but the most popular one seems to be 'Bold'. I hate that word! It makes me sound like I do crazy, x-rated things. I'm just someone who is known to speak her mind. I don't hesitate to stand up for what I believe is right and I lead my life the way I want to. I have made a lot of unconventional choices in my life and I stand by them with my head held high. Just because I'm different doesn't mean that something is wrong with me. Yes, I'm blunt and say it as it is. But no, I'm not mean. I'm not condescending, rude or brutal. I'm just saying what it is.

Being a straightforward person is not easy. More so, if you are a woman. I don't hesitate to say what's on my mind and yes, I do admit, I end up swearing often. But, I know my audience. I won't swear at work. At work, I remain straightforward and speak my mind, but I'm also careful as to what slips from my mouth. I'm sensible enough to put my words the right way and am known as one of the most diplomatic people at work. I don't intend to be diplomatic, but it comes out that way in my professional work. I interact with clients on a day to day basis and till date I have never felt the need to wear a facade or glossify situations. I am the same person in my professional and personal life. Only that, I'm on my guard when it comes to the former. I'm extremely proud of the work I do and what I have achieved by being myself in almost a decade of corporate life. I've never had to embrace sycophancy or kiss ass to climb up the ladder. I've worked hard and have set up realistic expectations and deadlines for myself. This helps me achieve more than what I expect.

Action Replay: August 2017

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I'm just going to say it, August was AWESOME! This probably was one of the best months of the year for me. Not only because it was my birthday month, but, because this felt like an actual month. It was rightly paced and didn't go too fast or slow. Of-course it came with its share of lessons and while I'm definitely a year older today, I feel many, many years wiser. I don't know if some super power intents to do this or not, but my birthday months always teaches me a lot. 2017 hasn't been much of a good year until now, but August seems to be the silver lining in an otherwise clouded year.

This time, like always, I has a fabulous birthday. When you are married to your best friend, everything falls in place and is near perfect. I do not like extravagant celebrations that are way too loud or all over social media. Yes, I'm a closet drama queen but I like my occasions to be simple and with limited people. When it comes to birthdays, I like to celebrate it with my special one. Parties are something that I cannot stand and I like to have long conversations over some good food. And gifts. Of-course gifts! When you are a bibliophile, you pretty much know what gifts to expect from people. I received quite a lot of books this birthday and I'm not complaining. Hopefully, next birthday, I'll get a bookshelf too. My day was splendid and it revolved around conversations, food and love. Do I need to ask for more?

Book Review: Into The Water

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Title: Into The Water
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Random House (2 May 2017)
Genre: Crime/Thriller/Mystery
Price: Rs. 299 on Amazon
Pages: 480

After 'The Girl On The Train', like many, I also was waiting for the release of the next Paula Hawkins' book. While her debut novel had a brilliant mystery and ending, the novel in itself was hard to read. Boring narration, multiple point of views and a slow paced track, nothing was working for it. But towards the second half, when the book picked up, it went on in full steam. What a story it turned out to be in the end! When 'Into The Water' came out, I heard a lot of negative reviews about the book. Most called it even more boring than the first one. Still, not the one to fall for the opinions of others, I went ahead and bought this book. This was an easy book to read and I finished it in just about two days.

Jab I Met Sejal #NotAMovieReview

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I watched 'Jab Harry Met Sejal' a fortnight ago and I wanted to know why any woman with a sane mind would agree to do the role of Sejal. The character of Sejal was flawed on so many levels, not that Harry was the best ever character written, it is just that Sejal was more annoying of the two. The movie stayed with me even after I had seen it and I gave myself all the excuses possible to figure out why Sejal was the way she was. I know we are in the era of feminism and it is "my choice" and all that, but still there were a million questions unanswered in my head. To give myself some sanity and to get this juvenile bullshit of a movie out of my system (No, Old Monk didn't help), I decided to sit down and have a chat with the one and only (thankfully!) Sejal.

A brief introduction before I start. Note: This is not a movie review. I didn't want to put in so much effort on something so minuscule.

A Non-Parenting Post

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Two weeks ago, I turned 31 and had one of the best birthdays of my life. My priorities for the next year of my life is simple - To focus on my physical and mental health, to spend a lot of time with my husband and friends, to travel as much as I can and to read as many books as I can. Apart from this, I want to excel at work and climb one more step in the professional ladder. Yeah, that's about it. Having a child has never featured in my list of priorities and I doubt if it ever will. Before people start assuming that I'm a child hating witch, let me tell you that I actually do like children. I like watching them and playing with them, but in small doses. Children are beautiful creatures and I think that it is amazing to watch them grow. But do I want to do that? No. Not as of now at-least.

The problem with a woman my age being a non-mom, is that, most of my friends are now parents to one or two and in some cases three children. Good for them. I'm sure parenthood is a wonderful place to be in but some parents seriously need to know the difference between parents and non-parents. When some women have children, their conversations only revolve around them. As a non-mom on the other end, I'm more than bored. I'm also terribly uncomfortable but the mom on the other end doesn't see that. She just expects me to understand the Hebrew that she's talking and expects me to react with pride. Sorry, that's not going to happen.

My Late Journey With Harry Potter: Part 3

Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

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The Book: The sixth book paved the way perfectly for this one. Every loose end was tied brilliantly and everything came together in such a beautiful way. I loved the search for the Horcruxes and some scenes were truly goosebump inducing. I loved the angle about the inheritance that Dumbledore left for the main three and their significance. But I loved the tale of 'The Three Brothers' more. The discovery of the deathly hallows and the quest for them was quite something. Finally, Hermione and Ron's love story got the necessary importance. When every thing was so good, what could be the best part of the book? Snape, of course. I knew he was a nice man right from day one. Some thing inside told me that he is really important to the story. I knew that he was holding the final thread of the tale. Oh, and how happy I was! I've loved Snape since day one and he remains the epitome of love for me. It is not easy to love and not expect anything in return. Especially when you have a constant reminder of your lost love in front of you. Snape does it beautifully and if you ask me after years if I still like him, I'd reply "Always".

My Late Journey With Harry Potter: Part 2

Read part 1 here.

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

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The Book:
While I finished the first three books within a week and eagerly looked forward to this one, this book turned out to be really tedious. While the concept of the Tri-Wizard competition was really good, the book just staggered on and on At 800 odd pages, I struggled to get past this one. While the tasks of the competition and the introduction of two other wizarding schools was brilliant, something about this story did not hold my attention throughout. Mad-Eye Moody was an interesting character and the return of the dark Lord was shown really well, but the book needed some serious editing. The length and pace of the story troubled me a lot. I thought of abandoning this book many times and moving on to some other books, but I just pushed myself and held on to this tale. I also wasn't very happy about the fact that Cedric Diggory was present only for some brief moments. If he was such a star of the Hufflepuff house, why wasn't he spoken about much in the first three books? Since he was the chosen champion from Hogwarts, shouldn't his presence have been felt earlier? This for me was a major flaw in the book. What also angered me was that Harry couldn't get past any task all by himself. He needed help at every step. Come on, wasn't he the chosen one?

My Late Journey With Harry Potter: Part 1

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Last year, roughly around this time, I received the Harry Potter book set as my birthday gift. I then made a promise to myself that I'll finish reading the series by my next birthday. As I turn a year older tomorrow, I can proudly say that I have finished reading all the books from the set as well as I have watched all the movies in the series. I know that for most of you, Harry Potter is a done and dusted topic, but for me it is something that I only discovered recently and then I fell head over heels in love with it. I want to talk about the books and the movies in detail, but I do not want to do reviews. I just want to talk about them like in a conversation. Considering that there were seven books and eight movies, there is no way that I could finish that in a single post. So, I'm attempting to put in all my thoughts and opinions about this series in three posts.

Here is the part one of the post from the girl who discovered.

Employee Of The Year

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

She led me to a small room, that had a table and chair on one side. Boxes were stacked all around, clearly indicating that she had spent quite some time and effort doing this. Fresh flowers were placed on the table and it was a pleasant sight. Bright sunlight came in through the window and it did look like a cozy nook.

"You sure deserve it", she said.

Action Replay: July 2017

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July probably was the quickest month of this year for me. Also, probably the best one so far. July was a very good month in terms of personal projects. I worked a lot on myself and changed a lot of my habits and routines. I worked on time management too and this resulted in effective planning of hobbies, work and other household chores. Professionally, it was a pretty good month. We had a successful release and work is not as hectic as it was before. What I mean to say is that I have time to breathe now. Work is a very important part of my life and I need to make sure that I'm giving all that I have to it. At the same time, I do not want to compromise on my personal life. July taught me how to bridge the gap between the two.

Personally, I have been the happiest this month. Nothing great happened, but somehow maybe I have found inner peace. I'm at ease and do not stress over petty things anymore. I spend a lot of time with myself and have been clear in the head so far. No negative thoughts, no hard feelings. I've finally learnt to heal myself and I cannot be more pleased. I'm much calmer and handle things better now. So yeah, that's a personal victory.

Clean Water Initiative

Those who are familiar with the popular Netflix show 'House Of Cards' will understand the title of this post in one take. For the others, clean water initiative is a group of people coming together to provide clean water to children and families around the world, where clean drinking water is a scarcity. While in the show, it is a non-profit organisation, we here can make it a way of life.

Water is a must for our survival. Now just imagine that you wake up and see no drinking water around. You are parched and there is nothing you can do about it. They say that a human can survive 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water. Drinking clean water is something that will keep you hydrated, make you look good and feel healthy. The dearth of clean water leads, directly and indirectly, to the outbreak of several diseases and water-related ailments. According to WHO, over 3.4 million people die annually from water-borne diseases and most of them are children. This makes water-borne diseases one of the leading causes of death in the world. This is exactly why we need the Clean Water Initiative. It must come from one and all.

Orange Is The New Black

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The clear blue skies, the slight chill in the breeze, the chirping of the birds, the happy atmosphere - I was not the one to appreciate all this. I buried myself in the virtual world.

You see, I was famous online.

I was an fashion star with many followers. I kept myself busy by posting my pictures on all the social media platforms. I was addicted to selfies and my phone. One day, while driving, I took a selfie and ended up killing a pedestrian out for a walk.

Corporate Circus #4: Loyalty Points

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On the 27th of June, 2017, I completed 9 years in the corporate industry. Also, 9 years in the same company. Roughly around ten years ago, I was placed in one of the biggest companies of the world as part of the campus recruitment. A day after the last exam of my Engineering ended, I joined the company. Looking back, I feel so nostalgic about the whole journey. My joining location was in Chennai and I spent the first four months of my corporate life there and hated every part of it. While most of my problems were with the city I was staying in rather than my job, I still did not get to enjoy the start of my corporate life. My peers were very different from the way I was. I was the odd woman out among a batch of local produce. There were a few others from different locations as well, but our frequencies were not even remotely close.

During the first four months of my corporate life, I hated everything around. I was one of the lucky few to have been placed in a project in the exact domain that I had studied, so technically I was hanging in there. While I cursed the city and the people around, I was still in love with my company and the work that I was doing. The first chance that I got to come back to Bangalore did not materialize and that took me down pretty badly. Thanks to the long distance, my first ever relationship came crumbing down and I was hampered emotionally. I had a few friends around me but none could understand what exactly I was going through. I was away from home for the first time, in a city that I couldn't relate and had people around who looked at me like I was an alien. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong but I still had my work with me to keep me going. Then one day, I got the news that my project was shutting down.

The Rich Puppet Master

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There once lived a puppet master
This story dates back to the days of yore
This woman piled on her vices
For her greed, there was no cure

She cast her charm while she was young
Through her fingers she captured a man
He surrendered to her from day one
Inflicting melancholy on his own clan

Together they cheated and stole
From everyone and everything that came their way
Turning into misers of the highest order
They piled on their riches day after day

Book Review: Like Water For Chocolate

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Title: Like Water For Chocolate
Author: Laura Esquivel
Publisher: RHUK (16 September 1993)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 360 on Amazon
Pages: 224

This book was touted to be a magical realism one and I was fresh from the brilliant hangover of 'The Night Circus', so I picked this up gleefully. For a food lover like me, any book that revolves around food is a bonus hit. I had read and loved 'Chocolat' and this one seemed to be on similar lines. It is a love story like none other and every chapter begins with a delicious recipe. I devoured the story, page after page.

Tita de la Garza, 15 years old, lives on a ranch near the Mexico-US border with her mother, Mamá Elena, and her older sisters Gertrudis and Rosaura. It is the de la Garza family tradition that the youngest daughter must remain unmarried and take care of her mother until her mother's death. Tita was born in the kitchen and has a deep connection with food and a love for cooking. This is also due to the fact that Tita's primary caretaker as a child was Nacha, the family cook. Tita falls in love with her neighbor Pedro, who feels the same towards her. When they ask for Mamá Elena's permission for marriage, they are reminded of the tradition and Mamá Elena suggests that Pedro marry Rosaura instead.

Long May She Reign

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Tall and proud she stood strong
Stripped off her every face
Power still lingers in her eyes
As she prepares for the race

An unloved wife but a loving mother
Deaths of her children she couldn't foresee
She'll fight with all that she has
Giving up is not a part of Cersei

Married twice but no man by her side
Dangerously ripped off her innocence
Lost, unaware but finding her way
Slowly, of the war she's making sense

All About The Bling

PHOTO PROMPT © Janet Webb

My uncle Bob was one of a kind. He was different in his own way, just like me. Probably that’s why we got along so well.

We have just one life, darling. We might as well as sparkle”, he used to say.

He liked shiny things. He used to dress in bright colors and wore matching earrings. He was a happy person, positive and always smiling. But, the family hated him. Maybe they were not used to seeing so much happiness on one person.

The Early Bird Saves More

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What is the best part of a holiday? The destination and that awesome feeling. And the worst part? The planning, of course. Honestly, I am an avid planner and when it comes to travel I leave no stone unturned. My husband and I try to take a vacation every quarter and we plan our year around this. Traveling on a fixed budget is never easy, but if the planning is right, you may even get to save some money from the budget. What the first step in planning a vacation? Yes, choosing the destination. The next step is to decide how you would get there. Air transport has become so convenient these days that you can fly to any destination from any city.

The one thing that troubles me as a traveler is the fluctuating prices of the flights. One day it is low, a few days later it is high and a few days later it is back to being low again. This sinusoidal wave of high and low always puts me in a pickle when I sit down to book my flight tickets. A few years ago, when we booked our tickets from Bangalore to Delhi we paid close to 30,000 for two return tickets. This was because we booked the ticket one week in advance. Next, when we had to travel to Sri Lanka, we decided to book our tickets a month in advance and we ending up saving quite some money. Not much, but something at least. That is when we realized that when it comes to travel, the earlier you book your flight tickets, the better.

But how early is too early?

#FeministMondays | Let's Start At The Very Beginning

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Feminism is a word that came into existence very recently. Better late than never, one would say. But has one thought how it would have been had feminism existed right from day one? If men and women enjoyed equal rights right from the evolution of time, would there ever be a need for the very word? Today, feminism is considered a bad word. Most people don't know what it is and a lot of wrong and unnecessary things are also being done in the name of feminism. There is no denying that. Feminism is about having equal rights for men and women. It is not male bashing. It is not the elevation of the female on a pedestal. It is not about celebrating women's day. Feminism is not about all the million things that it is deemed about. It is only about one thing. Gender Equality.

Still, most of us do not get this. There are quite a lot of women who call themselves "feminists" just to appear cool. These are the same women who succumb to husbands at home and think that as women they should not be expected to be a part of decision making as that's a man's job. Hypocrisy, anyone? Even after so many marches, so many articles, so many speeches, so many Facebook updates why don't we still get the underlying meaning of feminism? We need to start at the very beginning for that.

Why I Love Ranveer Singh

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Ranveer Singh is someone who can never blend with the background. He was born to stand out and he did so right from his first movie! I did not find any of the current crop of new comers interesting, until Bittoo Sharma reached our screen. I loved him right from the word go. No, he's not that good looking. Nor does he have that sophistication. But one thing he has and that is charisma. He's like that roadside Romeo (in a good way) that you cannot ignore. He's enthusiastic and so full of energy. His antics are so adorable and you cannot not love him. But then again, people like him are not everyone's cup of tea. For me, he's the perfect and delicious blend.

He turns 32 today and I'm here to wish him a very very happy birthday! Thank you Ranveer, for all that sparkle.

Action Replay: June 2017

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June was a very weird month for me. As much as I felt that it passed by way too quick, I also feel that it dragged in parts. Half the year is gone and here I am sitting and wondering what the hell have I done in the past six months. Am I the only one who feels that 2017 is not going really good? For some reason on which I cannot lay a finger, something doesn't seem to be right with this year. Based on the FB statuses I have been seeing over the past few months, there are many others who feel the same too.Well, let's just hope that the second half of the year gets better.

June was a pretty relaxed month in terms of work. I had completed most of my projects and only the final finishing activities were pending. This meant that I had some extra time on my hands everyday. The extra me time that I got helped me relax to a large extent. I realized that I am a person who needs some time alone everyday. Else, I just lose my mind and get cranky. I need some time just with myself. I'll either read, watch TV, cook or just sit. But I need that time alone at any cost. It has become vital for my sanity now and I plan my day in such a way that I get this time no matter what.

Why Every Creative Woman Needs A Journal


Let's face it, a woman's life is never easy. We always have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves to others. Being a career woman myself, I make sure I give equal importance to my house and to my interests as well. Sometimes, I feel that the twenty odd hours in the day are really scanty. I need at least forty five hours a day to be able to do the things that I want to. I recently read about a concept called 'mental load'. This is the load we women carry with us throughout the day. The thought of what to cook for dinner, while attending a meeting at work. The random business idea that pops up in the mind while cooking dinner. The silent reminder to pick up the dry cleaning. The omnipresent grocery list. The urgency to reach the market before the fresh vegetable stock depletes. This list can go on and on. Although we do not talk much about it, the mental load remains firmly rooted. No amount of planning eases it. No matter how much you try, something or the other gets left out.

The 'Anything But Books' Tag

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I was tagged by Shantala to take up the 'Anything But Books' tag. The tag is to answer the below questions and none of the answers have to involve books. Initially, I thought this would be impossible for me, since I have become a voracious reader these days (mostly in a desperate attempt to finish the fifth Harry Potter book and move on to other books, I'm done with 600 pages: 200 more to go), but I do enjoy a challenge no matter how hard it is. Also, it has been a long time since I did a personal post on the blog so maybe this can double up as that too.

So, if you didn't know me already, get ready to learn some of my quirks.

Here we go!

Smoke

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I'm not trying to be a tease
Maybe I'm a reminder in some way
I'm something you can never have
Even though you dream of me night and day

I'll intoxicate you every second
In your hands, I slowly burn
I'll toss and lie by your side
But I'll be gone when you turn

Seduction is an art they say
I'll tempt you into temptation
We'll ride the passion wagon together
I'll disappear when we get to the station

Silver Moon

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

"What do you say?" Rohan asks again, kneeling down.

"I'm not sure. Maybe it is too soon."

"Come on, Tia. We are perfect for each other."

"We are so different from each other! It's like the sun and the moon."

"Yes, I am the sun who blazes bright. I can get harsh and hurt sometimes. But you are my silver moon. As bright as me, but your light never hurts. I need you to complete me."

Of Love & Togetherness

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Love is a wonderful feeling, isn't it? That rush of emotions, those fluttering butterflies and the sprinkle of pixie dust, it is miraculous indeed. Love makes you crazy and it makes you do crazy things. Like sit up all night and chat with your lover, or pick up new habits that your lover likes and so on. I do believe that love happens more than once, but when the right person comes along that kinda love stays. Forever. It is not easy to remain in love forever. When the rush of feelings subside and the butterflies decide to rest for a while, reality strikes and you realize that holding on to a relationship is much more than fluff. It takes a lot of hard work, patience, mutual respect and trust to keep a relationship going. And time. It is very important to focus on spending a lot of time together. A lot, but not all the time.

One of the most common misconceptions in a relationship is that everything needs to be done together. That is not called togetherness, it is called smothering. While it is lovely when couples spend a lot of time together, but if they are together all the time it can be frustrating. Couples should also spend time away from each other and do things that they love doing. While it is important to take an interest in your partners hobbies and hang around them, you need not do this all the time. While spending time together is important, spending time away is also equally important. Most couples have similar interests and a common group of friends. But it is also important to pursue individual interests and spend some time with your own friends.

Back To You

image by Sarolta Ban

I still remember that phone call
The day when my life stood still
Since the day you turned your back
The void in my heart no one could fill

The pain pierced through me every second
I let it kill me day after day
I was soon losing my senses
For the heart, the mind did pay

Year after year, I shed a tear
I tried hard but couldn't let go
The more I tried to lock you out
The memories only continued to grow

Book Review: Paths Of Glory

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Title: Paths Of Glory
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan; Reprints edition (18 September 2009)
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
Price: Rs. 307 on Amazon
Pages: 416

I'd read anything by Archer without thinking twice. This book was something that I picked up years ago and forgot about. Last month, I sat down to read it. At 416 pages, this is quite a long book. Even the font was quite small and I thought that it would take me at least a month to finish this book. Surprisingly, I finished it in less than five days. This story is supposedly based on true events and the events that sum up the entire novel is quite something altogether.

Action Replay: May 2017

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We are almost half done with 2017, eh? Wow! 2017 did not start really well for me, but May 2017 more than made up for it. May 2017 has been one of the best months of my life and I am not even exaggerating. This is the first month in my life when I focused solely on one thing. Me. I wasn't in the best of space mentally over the past few months. I've been dealing with demons and various other emotions in my head. This took such a toll on me that I decided that I cannot take this anymore. It was affecting every area of my life and I was losing grip over everything around. One of the most toughest phases of my life. Early May, I decided that I need to make peace with the demons in my head and try to get better. I am feeling totally fine now, but the journey wasn't easy. It happened in steps and I took a conscious decision to give it all I have.

The first step was acceptance. I accepted that I was going through something and I needed to get out of it. Initially, I kept lying to myself that I was fine and all this was just a phase. But this time, I put my foot down and accepted that all was not fine after all. Work was keeping me really busy and I barely had time for myself or anything else. I was suffering from insomnia and this affected day to day activities of my life. When I finally accepted the problem, I sat down to figure it out. I prioritized things, activities and chores. Sleep was still an issue, but when I was awake I did all that I could. It was not easy. That is what took me to the next step.

Three, Two, One

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Three, the minutes left before you leave
Another year of missing your touch
As I count the passing minutes and seconds
Everyday I love you twice as much

Two, our bodies entwined in a dance
Without any music, we glide along
Our eyes form a symphonic melody
As out heartbeats make the perfect song

It's All In The Mind

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

"Stop making up things, nothing is wrong with you."

"Do not over analyse small things. Why over think so much?"

"Why are you so quiet, why can't you just be your usual self?"

"Pray, it will help you feel better."

"Stop this attention seeking."

"There is nothing, it is all in your head. It is a psychological problem."