Q: Queen #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Queen
Language: Hindi
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon
Director: Vikas Bahl
Year Of Release: 2014

P: The Prestige #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: The Prestige
Language: English
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Christopher Nolan
Year Of Release: 2006

O: Omkara #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Omkara
Language: Hindi
Genre: Crime Drama
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Bipasha Basu, Deepak Dobriyal
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Year Of Release: 2006

N: The Namesake #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: The Namesake
Language: English
Genre: Indian-American Drama
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Kal Penn
Director: Mira Nair
Year Of Release: 2007

M: Mr. and Mrs. Iyer #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Mr. And Mrs. Iyer
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Cast: Rahul Bose, Konkona Sen Sharma
Director: Aparna Sen
Year Of Release: 2002

L: Life Is Beautiful #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Life Is Beautiful
Language: English
Genre: Comedy Drama
Cast: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi
Director: Roberto Benigni
Year Of Release: 1997

K: Kramer vs. Kramer #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Kramer vs. Kramer
Language: English
Genre: Family/Courtroom Drama
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep
Director: Robert Benton
Year Of Release: 1979

J: Jerry Maguire #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Jerry Maguire
Language: English
Genre: Rom-Com/Sports Drama
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Renée Zellweger
Director: Cameron Crowe
Year Of Release: 1996

I: I Am Sam #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: I Am Sam
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Cast: Sean Penn, Dakota Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Jessie Nelson
Year Of Release: 2001

H: The Hannibal Lecter Series #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: The Hannibal Lecter Series (The Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising)
Language: English
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Cast: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Jonathan Demme, Ridley Scott, Brett Ratner, Peter Webber
Year Of Release: 1991, 2001, 2002, 2007

G: The Godfather Series #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: The Godfather (Part 1, 2 and 3)
Language: English
Genre: Crime Drama
Cast: Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Year Of Release: 1972, 1974, 1990

F: Forrest Gump #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Forrest Gump
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Year Of Release: 1994

E: Eight Below #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Eight Below
Language: English
Genre: Survival Drama
Cast: Paul Walker, Jason Biggs
Director: Frank Marshall
Year Of Release: 2006

D: Dead Poets Society #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Dead Poets Society
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Cast: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard
Director: Peter Weir
Year Of Release: 1989

C: Cars #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Cars
Language: English
Genre: Computer-Animated Comedy-Adventure
Cast: Voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman
Director: John Lasseter
Year Of Release: 2006

B: The Blind Side #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: The Blind Side
Language: English
Genre: Biographical Sports Drama
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron
Director: John Lee Hancock
Year Of Release: 2009

A: Amélie #AToZChallenge

Movie Name: Amélie
Language: French
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Year Of Release: 2001

A To Z Challenge 2018: Theme Reveal #AToZChallenge

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I would not be exaggerating if I said that I thought at least a million times if I should take up this year's A to Z or not. While I've had a pleasant year so far, I've been terribly busy. Work, travel, household chores and reading takes up most of my time and I do find time to write 2 or 3 posts a week. But writing everyday for a month is not an easy task, especially while managing a full time job and a home. I am not the one to write on weekends either. I prefer not to touch my laptop during weekends at all. After successfully completing the A to Z challenge for four consecutive years, I initially decided not to take it up this year. Then suddenly five consecutive years sounded much better and here I am, bravely taking it up for another year.

When It Is Important To Switch Off

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A typical day of mine goes this way. I wake up and spend half an hour to forty five minutes reading the newspaper with a cup of hot green tea. Then I work out for a while. Once done, I step into the kitchen and prepare and pack two lunch boxes, one for the husband and the other for me. Next, I prepare breakfast and set it out for us. Once the husband leaves, I wash up the vessels, clean up the kitchen and the house, then get ready for work and leave. Since I stay 2 miles away from my workplace, I do not have to travel much. Eight hours at work and then I'm back home. I freshen-up, check if the laundry needs to be done, set up the washing machine or fold the dried clothes and separate the ones that need to be sent for ironing and then spend an hour reading, if I have that extra time. Then I get set to prepare dinner. Once the husband is back, we eat together and one of us washes up and cleans up the place. Weekends are no less. On weekends, we scrub every corner of the house from floor to ceiling. I also check if the cupboards need to be sorted, prepare a list of groceries to be bought and also prepare the meal plan for the coming week. Needless to say, I'm busy 24X7.

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

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Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Publisher: Little, Brown (14 September 2017)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Family & Relationships
Price: Rs. 559 on Amazon
Pages: 352

I only heard of this book when it won the award for the best fiction of 2017 on Goodreads. I had immediately added it to my TBR back then. After that I read many glowing reviews of this book from bloggers whose recommendations I immensely trust. When the husband got me this book earlier this month, I sat down to read it immediately.

Hear Me Roar #PressForProgress

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It is not about just one day
The battle for me is constantly on
I shall fight with all my might
Until inequality is all gone

I will learn to strengthen myself
First the mind, then the body and soul
I don't want to be the fairer sex
I don't need anyone to make me feel whole

I will fight the meaningless norms
I may bend, but I'll never break
I look for life beyond the kitchen
I'm not born to cook and bake

Action Replay + Gratitude List: February 2018

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The shortest month of the year also turned out to be one of the best months that I've had in a long time. As quickly as it passed, it left me with a lot of smiles and contentment. Professionally, I was very busy with work and for a couple of days I had to stay up at night to continue working. The current project I'm a part of at work, gives me time to pursue my hobbies as well. While the work is good and peaceful, occasionally there is a hitch and I have to stretch and figure things out. This happens very rarely, so I don't mind it at all. I learnt to love my job a few years ago and since then I have never complained about it. I am a workaholic and give more than 100% to my job. But that doesn't mean that I neglect my personal life. I give a 100% to both of it but if a day comes when I have to choose work over something personal, I'll go ahead and do it. My job has given me everything that I have today, I can never forget that.

Health has been good since the time we made a lifestyle change and stuck to it. We've been eating healthy and working out regularly. Ever since I hurt my back five years ago, trying to do a cartwheel, I have stayed away from yoga. Now, slowly, I have been getting back to it. Flexibility has gone for a toss and I'm struggling with balance as well. I've gotten better since the day I started and hopefully, I will soon be back to how I was before. While the intent is also to lose weight, most importantly it is to get my hormones back in control and keep PCOD at bay. I have modified my diet to include more fresh vegetables and protein. I have almost totally given up on rice too and include millets as part of my regular diet now. I still use rice in making idli and dosas though. The South-Indian in me can't do without them.

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

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Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Sceptre (7 May 2015)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon
Pages: 320

Just like 'Wonder', I heard of this book solely on Social Media. Most of my friends were raving about it and I had only read glowing reviews of it. When the husband gave me this book among others as a New year gift, I took my time to start reading it. Normally, I do not like over hyped books. Also, I wasn't too sure if I wanted to read the story of a grumpy old man. I have seen way too many of them in real life and I have no interest in knowing their stories. But Ove was apparently different. Finally, after many many friends pushed me to read this one, I picked it up and did not rest until I finished it. I just finished the book this morning and I had to review it almost immediately.

Love Never Withers

PHOTO PROMPT © Marie Gail Stratford

"Are you sure this is all you want, Sarah?" The lawyer asked again.

"Yes." She said, slowly.

"You can choose whatever you want. Your grandfather left all this to you and your sisters."

Book Review: The Husband's Secret

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Title: The Husband's Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin UK; Latest Edition edition (29 August 2013)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery
Price: Rs. 281 on Amazon
Pages: 432

Liane Moriarty became one of my favorite writers the minute I started reading 'Big Little Lies'. I loved the language used and the pace of the storytelling. Most importantly, I loved the way she deals with the lives of normal women, handling their flaws, their foibles, their jealousies, their insecurities with care and precision. Since the first book I read of hers earned five stars from me, I bought her other two famous books, 'The Husband's Secret' and 'Truly Madly Guilty'. Since 'Big Little Lies' had every emotion that I could ask for in a book and it was one of the top five books that I've read in 2017, I had gargantuan expectations from 'The Husband's Secret', especially when the blurb looked so interesting and had a strong, independent woman as the protagonist.

#FeministMondays | Where Are The Pad Women?

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I watched 'Pad Man' last weekend and I thought that it was a good movie. For me, the movie was all about the love that a man had for his wife and wanting to ensure her well-being. The promotions around the movie was done well too. I know a lot of people came forward and complained that why are they showing the use of sanitary pads when it is not good for the environment and how pads were getting wasted while celebrities were posing with it. The intention of the movie was to get men and women to talk about menstruation and show that it is not something to be ashamed of, and it did it well to a certain extent. At the movie, in the theater, there were an equal number of men and women and I was honestly surprised. I actually thought that men probably would shy away from watching this movie. My husband was keen on watching it as was I and the reaction from the crowd was quite something. Once the movie ended and they showed the real life pad man, there was a standing ovation as well. I was surprised and well, proud.

I got my first period when I was a few months short of thirteen. One morning I woke up and it was there. I told my mother about it and she gave me a pad. She did not have to explain all the details to me as I was aware of what was happening to my body. No, in spite of having two daughters, my mother never felt the need to talk to us about menstruation. Nor did our aunts or elder cousins. I was lucky to have an elder sister whose experience taught me about menstruation. When I got my first period, I was neither shy nor embarrassed. I took a shower, ate breakfast and went out to play on the street. Yeah, that's me. My mother did not stop me and she let me be. I thought that periods were normal and since I did not have any discomfort, I thought periods would be a breeze every month. When my grandmother saw me playing on the street and called me and as I came up close to her and she yelled "No, no, don't touch me", I realized how wrong I was.

Seven Down, Forever To Go

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Year one, fresh in love
Hand in hand we rejoice
Totally lost in the feeling
Yet clear about each other's choice

Year two, we were ready to be married
Fighting against all odds, we went ahead
I just wanted to be with you
I knew it, because that's what my heart said

Year three, as man and wife
We started a new beginning
Nothing changed between us
I was your queen, you my king

When It Is Important To Look Back

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Soon, I complete 10 years of Corporate life. I have loved every bit of it, but it was not my first job. Growing up in a middle class family, I had to give up on a lot of wants and sometimes needs too. Way too early in life, I started doing promotional jobs to make money for myself. I remember the first promotional job that I took up. It was an event for a mall inauguration in the heart of the city and since I was in between semesters, I took it up happily. The event was for 15 days and I got paid 250 bucks for a day. A bunch of us had to wear T-Shirts with the mall's name on it and promote it around the area and share pamphlets. It was a fun job. This was only the beginning of my journey of financial independence. During school, I used to work in mom's boutique and make money on the side. Watching her work and helping her in small ways back then, enables me to create clothes for myself today. I saw a dearth of money while growing up and how my parents were struggling to make ends meet. Once I started my journey of being financially independent, there was no looking back.

Padmaavat & The Missing 'I' #NotAMovieReview

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It has been quite a while since I had a conversation with Sejal and now it was time to meet the cast of another movie. I happened to watch 'Padmaavat' over the weekend and I had way too many questions that I had to ask the cast. Thanks to the controversies and open letters the movie triggered, I was amused by the name change at the last minute. That is when I decided to be the missing 'I' and talk to the team about their experience working in the movie. After making a million calls to Bhansali and his team, they finally allowed me to have a chat with the main protagonists, Padmavati and Khilji. I reached the top secret location much ahead of time and waited for them to arrive. I was thrilled as I love Deepika and Ranveer, separately and together. I couldn't wait to meet them. As I checked my phone and set up my writing pad and pen, I see the door open and someone walks in.

I: Oh Hello! I was actually expecting Deepika and Ranveer.

Breathing 2050

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

"It would have been nice, if we could live without carrying this around, won't it Dad?" Little Sam asked his father.

"I've lived without this for more than half my life, but now this is the only way to live." His father responded sadly.

"What do you mean you lived without this?"

Action Replay + Gratitude List: January 2018

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January passed in the blink of an eye. Please tell me it is not only me who felt this. I still remember cooking the new year's eve dinner and then poof! The month is gone. Since I chose my WOTY to be Survive, everything seemed pretty easy this month. As quickly as it passed, I got a lot of work done. Professionally, it has been a good and busy month. While I got good feedback for my last year's work, I continued to work on multiple projects this month that kept me really busy. When I'm busy with work, I do not think about anything else. No matter what I'm going through in my personal life, it doesn't make it to my professional life. As part of a new year resolution, I have decided to plan my time effectively at work and not stick around for too long once I'm done with my work. Thankfully, my workplace has flexible timings and I rarely have to stay late.

Occasionally, I connect from home if I have work pending but I'm a fairly quick worker and can multitask well. So, the earlier I leave work, the more time I have to read once I get back home. I read for a while and then I enter the kitchen to prepare dinner before the husband comes in. Yeah, I kind of lead a mechanical planned life but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Why I Follow Parenting Blogs

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Parenting is one of the most popular niches in the blogging world today. Even though I am not a parent, I visit parenting blogs. Quite a lot of them to be honest. While most of the parenting bloggers are my friends whom I know personally, I do visit other parenting blogs too. Many people have asked me why do I do that. What is the point in visiting a parenting blog when you are not a parent! Some have even gone ahead and told me that I visit parenting blogs only to look for negative posts so that I feel good about not wanting to have children. Yeah, the human race is wonderfully stupid at times. Before I get into the details of the post, I'd like to say that I have no problems with children. I love children and I'm blessed to be a Godmother to some wonderful kids. I just don't want to have one of my own.

Parenting blogs can be tricky. While some are absolutely brilliant and realistic, others can be way too personal with parents putting up pictures of their baby's first poop and drool. I started visiting parenting blogs mostly because of the blogging communities that I'm a part of. Most of the people there are parents and I initially visited them as a token of support, but when I saw the content there, I kept going back again and again. While most parents talk about the upbringing of their children, some even talk about the issues that can affect them. There is a lesson out there for everyone. Being a parent or not, is not a criteria then.

Earn Your Stripes

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Since ages, you haven't had a voice
It is now time to scream out loud
Dig your own path with those nails
Make your way through this chauvinistic crowd

Walk with your head held high
Wear what you want, let them stare
They aren't used to seeing you this way
Change that, come on, dare

Push yourself, work harder
With no doubts claim that extra penny
No one will praise you for this
To point fingers, there will be many

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.