Action Replay + Gratitude List: July 2020

Image Source

Back in March, when this whole self-isolation charade started, I never thought we'd still be here in August. It was pretty obvious, but the mind refused to believe. August is my birthday month and it is usually a month that keeps me happy and exuberant. July has been comforting too and it helped me strike a balance between the old and the new normal. July has been a highly productive month and it kept me busy, just the way I like it. I have crazy deadlines at work and it kept me busy for most of the day. Thanks to a planned routine I was able to manage my time quite effectively and this helped me have a clear and calm mind.

Book Review: The Far Field - Madhuri Vijay

Title: The Far Field
Author: Madhuri Vijay
Publisher: Fourth Estate India (12 July 2019)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 472 on Amazon
Pages: 440

Award winning books are a tricky read, you either love them or hate them. After abandoning 'The White Tiger' and 'The God of Small Things' after a chapter or two, I never thought I'll go back to reading award winning books. This year, since I wanted to read diverse books, I've been open to reading them. The Booker Prize winning 'Girl, Woman, Other' was a splendid read and it gave me the boost to go ahead and read more of them. This book won the JCB Award in 2019 and I had bought the book back in November, but never got to reading it. Although, the reason I bought the book was its gorgeous cover! The reviews I read of this was mixed and hence this book remained on my shelf for a while. This month, I picked it up with zero expectations.

Umrao | #ThursdayTreeLove - 20

Big Banyan Tree, Bangalore - July 2020

Last weekend, we decided to take a break from monotony and went out for a long drive. We enjoy such drives now as this is the closest it comes to traveling during these times. We usually drive up to some place in the outskirts of the city, get out of the car only when there are no or very few people around and get some takeaway pizza or cheesecake on our way back. Tiny moments of bliss, I tell you.

Coping With Change

Image Source

Sorted. That is a word people often use to describe me. I'm someone who is very planned, has a set routine and like to have things under my control. This is how it works the best for me and keeps my life going smooth. This helps me have a good work-life balance and gives me time to pursue my interests and passions. When COVID happened, life turned upside down for all of us. The situation forced us to change in our own way. But, how easy is it to change? More often than not when people realize that something is wrong with them or something is wrong with their life, only then they analyze the situation and decide to make a change. It comes from within and it is considerably easy to make that change. When unforeseen circumstances tend to bring a change to our daily life, it is not easy to be okay with it. It wasn't easy for me either.

Light & Love | #WordlessWednesday - 23

Burger Factory, Anjuna - Goa 2019

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~ Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

Title: All The Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Publisher: Fourth Estate (10 December 2015)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: Rs. 467 on Amazon
Pages: 544

This book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2015. I bought the book almost immediately, but only got to reading it last month. I only started reading historical fiction a few years ago and today it is one of my most favorite genres. I have read so many books on WWII and it definitely is a period that has some heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories. All The Light We Cannot See is no less.

Action Replay + Gratitude List: June 2020

Image Source

So, we're officially in the second half of the year? At this point, I just want 2020 to run with the speed of Usain Bolt and hopefully 2021 will be kinder to us. June has been a month of lows and highs. The first few days of the month was disastrous, but it seemed to pick itself up after a few days. The situation outside is not looking any better, but I guess we have no choice but to stay safe, sit back and watch. I do have my bouts of paranoia and anxiety but they are a lot within check. See, it is hard to not let yourself be affected by what is happening outside. The uncertainty and the prolonged duration of the mess only makes it worse. I just hope that things get better soon for all of us.

Tahira | #ThursdayTreeLove - 19

Somewhere between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka - August 2019

While on a disastrous road-trip last year with the worst ever crowd, my husband and I were agitated and irritated. On our way back home, we stopped to take a break and we walked around this marsh land. Just the both of us. For a while, we forgot the group waiting in the car for us, the annoyance in the air and everything else. It was just us, hand in hand, comforting each other amidst nature. There was something so pure about this moment. I randomly captured this scene as a memory and it still invokes a smile in me today.

Book Review: Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Cornerstone Digital; 01 edition (5 March 2019)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: Rs. 268 for the Kindle Edition
Pages: 335

This book created quite a stir last year and when Naba included it in her 15 best reads of 2019, I knew I had to read it too. I picked it up sometime back then but only got to reading it this month. This book was showcased on every social media platform for months and everything about this book felt so good. Sex, drugs, rock n roll! What can go wrong, right?

Three Down... More To Go

Image Source

It has been a little over three months since we've been in a lock down. On March 16th 2020, the day we were supposed to take off on our anniversary vacation to Spain and Portugal, we started the self-isolation process and have stayed put at home since then. We have been working from home and step out occasionally only to buy some vitals or meet our parents. It took us a while to get used to this "new normal". My husband and I are both people who hate staying at home or working from home. We like to be around people, have conversations, laugh and have a good time even at work. Even with both our companies allowing work from home since forever, we never liked doing it unless it was absolutely necessary. Since now it is the need of the hour, it took us a while to get used to it and we are okay with it now. But yeah, we cannot wait to get back to office.

Sayesha | #ThursdayTreeLove - 18

Bangalore - January 2020

My husband and I are foodies and we don't mind going the extra mile for it. There is a breakfast place in South Bangalore that we visit often. We stay in the East so it is quite a drive, but we thoroughly enjoy it. Thanks to the lockdown restrictions, it has been a while since we visited this place. This tree is a sweet memory that reminds us of easier times. We park our car on this street and this tree provides ample shade in the blazing heat.

Live & Let Live | #WordlessWednesday - 22

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka - March 2016
If Animals Spoke, Humanity would Cry.

~ Manuj Rajput

Book Review: Normal People - Sally Rooney

Title: Normal People
Author: Sally Rooney
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 451.50 on Audible
Listening Length: 7 hours and 36 minutes
Narrator: Aoife McMahon

This year I've read different genres of books and books that I would normally not pick up. It was about widening my horizons with respect to reading and once I tried out books by different authors, I knew I had made the right choice. Normal People by Sally Rooney was one of the books on the list of Barack Obama's best books for 2019. I have read 'Girl, Woman, Other' which was also on the list and loved it. What intrigued me the most about this one was the title. I read about the book and the story seemed very YA like and I wasn't too keen.

Action Replay + Gratitude List: May 2020

Image Source

Another month ends and the situation doesn't seem to be in any control. Waking up to alarming numbers day after day is becoming the norm and all one can do is hope that the next day would be better. I never thought that our generation would have to see a pandemic like this. New found respect for people who have survived pandemics and epidemics earlier. I guess every bad situation does come with its share of lessons in one way or another. Apart from the virus updates, the news coming in from other countries or even within our own country isn't great. Racism, animals being mercilessly killed, the callous attitude of political leaders, cyclones and what not. Was all this always around and 2020 is bringing it to the foreground? One can never say. All we can do now is hope that the situation gets better and we find the strength in us to survive and come out of all this as slightly better people.

May was a dull month. Looks like the monsoons have hit Bangalore early this year and the weather is gloomy. As much as I love watching the rain and the slight nip in the air, it kinda makes one feel dull. Life is going on as usual. Work kept me busy providing me with the much needed distraction from the situation around. Lethargy is back, but I'm trying to keep it in check. Everything took a step back in May and I'm glad. I did not want to force myself to read, write or workout. These things come naturally to me and I did not want to forcefully try to strike a balance between all of them.

Rhea | #ThursdayTreeLove - 17

Bangalore - September 2019

Remember those days when we could just plan something random and step out to do it? I took this picture when I went to attend a bread baking class with a friend. It was an impromptu decision and one of the best ones we've made as we learnt the art of baking bread with ease. We waited outside the venue for a while as we reached early. I spotted this tree then and snapped it. There is nothing special about this tree. It just comes with a happy memory and reminds me of the simpler times.

Window | #WordlessWednesday - 21

Pondicherry - August 2019

When one door closes, another window opens.

~ Julie Andrews

Humor | #WordlessWednesday - 20

Mario Miranda Gallery, Goa - October 2019

Humor can make a serious difference. In the workplace, at home, in all areas of life - looking for a reason to laugh is necessary. A sense of humor helps us to get through the dull times, cope with the difficult times, enjoy the good times and manage the scary times.

~ Steve Goodier

Action Replay + Gratitude List: April 2020

Image Source

Are we all used to the new normal yet? I'm slowly getting there and have made my peace with it now. There are some things that you cannot control in life. You just need to let it take its course and pass. Sub-consciously we carry a mask everywhere we go now. We sanitize frequently when we're out of home and wash up thoroughly when we get back. We hardly go out though. We only leave the house to buy essentials and meet my in-laws who live close by. Apart from that, we stay put. Both of us are now used to being at home while we were never homebodies earlier. But, it is important to understand the situation, accept it and adhere to it. Even after being together for close to a decade now, we have a lot to talk! These conversations keep us going, lock down or not.

Optimism | #WordlessWednesday - 19

My Work Place, Sometime in 2019

Seeing the mud around a lotus is pessimism, seeing a lotus in the mud is optimism.

~ Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

Queenie | #ThursdayTreeLove - 16

Outskirts of Bangalore, October 2019

Last year, while on a road-trip with my husband, we stopped by a place for breakfast. As we parked the car and walked out, I spotted this tree. I has just started being a part of #ThursdayTreeLove back then and was fascinated when I found this one. I also took a lot of pictures of trees throughout the journey. Unfortunately I had to change my phone once I came back and the pictures were left in the old phone. I recently shifted back to the old phone and found these pictures. I have quite some material now!

The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this tree was a diamond, since its top is shaped like one. So I decided to call her the queen of diamonds.

**Queenie: Queen

My Experience With Audible

Image Source

Being an avid reader since childhood, I have always been in the company of books. A large part of the successful woman that I am today is because of my habit of reading. Reading has always been an integral part of my life and that would never change. However, the way that I read has gone through a few changes over the years. From buying books off the street with the limited money given to me to walking out of bookstores with books worth thousands, I sure have come a long way. I don't buy pirated books anymore. My bookshelf was overflowing with books and I did not mind it a least bit. When Amazon's Kindle made an appearance, I dismissed it immediately. As someone who finds it really difficult to read stories in the PDF format and on a screen, I thought Kindle would give me the same feel. Plus, what was reading without the smell of the pages, the feel of turning a page or finding a bookmark to use. I did not want to give up on either of it and I was pretty sure that a Kindle would never be a part of my reading journey.

Book Review: Pride, Prejudice, And Other Flavors - Sonali Dev

Image Source

Title: Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors
Author: Sonali Dev
Publisher: HarperCollins (31 May 2019)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 499 on Amazon
Pages: 496

A year ago I saw this book doing the rounds on social media and while I normally do not pick up books by Indian authors just based on recommendation, I decided to give this a try as I planned on reading more Indian authors in 2020. This book has a bright, vibrant cover and the story kind of intrigued me. I'll tell you why. It claimed to be a gender swapped, modern day retelling of the classic, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. This put me in a tight spot because of a catch. Two actually. One, I hate retelling of stories. They take away the essence of the original and leave behind a lukewarm diluted tale. Second, I hate Jane Austen stories. I've read almost all her books with the hope of liking at least one. The closest I've come to liking one was 'Sense And Sensibility'. I find her stories to be long, desperate and misogynistic. Her stories also have the most annoying of female characters.

Man Vs Nature | #WordlessWednesday - 18

Bangalore - February 2020

Man masters nature not by force, but by understanding.

~ Jacob Bronowski

Book Review: The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah

Image Source

Title: The Great Alone
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: Rs. 227 on Audible
Listening Length: 15 hours and 2 minutes.
Narrator: Julia Whelan

Kristin Hannah is an author whose work I would trust blindly. She has written about some of the most strongest female protagonists and her stories tend to touch the heart and soul. Her stories have a human connect like no other. They celebrate the human spirit and talk about the depth of the human emotions, with all its faults and foibles. When I read 'Where The Crawdads Sing' and loved it, most of its reviews said that for those who loved 'The Great Alone', this book is a must read. I had put it on my TBR back then and I picked it up on Audible this month. I must say that I am loving the Audible experience and it has definitely improved my concentration and focus. I'll write a detailed post about my Audible experience soon.

Phoebe | #ThursdayTreeLove - 15

Home, Bangalore - April 2020

This is my daily view as I work from home. As I type this, I see this tree to my left, from my 4th floor window. We never know how long we would be locked up at home, but the fact that this tree is blooming with its lush green by being rooted at a spot for years shows that we can too. Maybe this is the slow down that we all needed. Maybe this is the reboot we all needed. Maybe this would show us the true meaning of life.

Mental Health Matters | #WordlessWednesday - 17

Kashi Cafe, Kochi - December 2018
Mental health and mental balance is critical to leading a healthy life.

~ Mariel Hemingway

Action Replay + Gratitude List: March 2020

Image Source

For the past two months I've been talking about time passing by really quickly and I now apologize for that. March hit me like a solid slap and it felt longer than three years. The current situation in the world is scary and the worst thing about it is the uncertainty. As someone who lives a planned, systematic life, this troubles me to no end. At times, I just want it to end. Be it in a good way or a bad way. But end, it must. My anxiety has been at its peak as you can deduce from my words I'm sure. I've been working from home from 13th March and by now I have somehow made my peace with it. The eight hours that I focus on office work keeps me sane and sorted. The rest of the day however goes in a blur. I've been maintaining a home without a maid for years now with help from my partner. It is not new to me.

Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World - Elif Shafak

Image Source

Title: 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds In This Strange World
Author: Elif Shafak
Publisher: Penguin UK (10 July 2019)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 699 on Amazon
Pages: 320

There are some authors you can trust blindly. More than their stories, you like them for the way they write. For the way it touches your soul. For the poetic beauty it possesses. For the picture it paints in your mind. For the spark it leaves behind. For the relatability. For the much needed human touch. Elif Shafak is one such writer. After 'The Forty Rules Of Love', this is her second book that I read. I still have to catch up on all her other books and I soon will.

Olga | ThursdayTreeLove - 14

Home, Bangalore - March 2020

Times aren't good now, but you know what, this too shall pass. Stay safe, stay in, stay positive.

This is a tree I used to see everyday. She stands tall at the entrance of my apartment complex. I hadn't seen her in many many days thanks to working from home and not stepping out. Yesterday, when we went out for a walk (within the apartment walkway), I saw her again. She looked hale and healthy, reaching for the sky, and that made me smile. We'll all survive this together, won't we?

Hard times may have held you down, but they will not last forever. When all is said and done, you will be increased.     

~ Joel Osteen

Good Vibes Only | #WordlessWednesday - 16

Madurai, Tamil Nadu - November 2019

I say looking on the bright side of life never killed anybody.

~ Jenny Han, To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Life In The Time Of Corona

Image Source

Had there been nothing called the Corona Virus or the COVID-19, my husband and I would be in Barcelona today. We would be hiking up Mount Tibidabo, enjoying the beauty of Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia. Then we would be enjoying the views of Costa Brava and basking in the spookiness of the Gothic Quarter. Next we would head to Seville for a couple of days, and then to Madrid for the anniversary. We would watch a flamenco show, eat some delicious food, try the local beer and have endless conversations to mark seven years of being married! Then we'd head to Porto for an entire day of wine tasting and a vineyard tour followed by a few days of sightseeing in gorgeous Lisbon. We would spend two glorious weeks touring Spain and Portugal. We had meticulously researched, planned and set everything ready for our holiday. Then, life happened.

Noor | #ThursdayTreeLove - 13

Bangalore - February 2020
Thanks to this blog-hop, I look out for trees everywhere. This must be the most gorgeous, most mighty tree I have seen in a while. Nestled among high-rise buildings, she spread out her wings to let the light seep through her. 

Blur | #WordlessWednesday - 15

Murphy's, Bangalore - November 2019

When life gets blurry, adjust your focus.

~ Unknown

Action Replay + Gratitude List: February 2020

Image Source

The shortest month did live up to its name, in-spite of it being a leap year. Seriously, how fast is time going? February was a pretty relaxed month and it was uneventful for me. Things just went on as usual. Work was lean and it game me quite some time for myself. Also, I'm not someone who does not like to be busy. Not having much to do at the workplace added to my lethargy and it was not going down well on me. I have really good friends at the workplace and they keep me going, but not being that productive takes a toll on me. I've come to realize that it is a double edged sword for me. To keep myself engaged at the workplace, I decided to give Audible a shot. It worked like a charm. I was never the one who would go for an audio book. It took me quite some time to get used to a Kindle in the first place, so audio books were too far-fetched. But when I gave it a shot, I was hooked.

Laila & Manju #ThursdayTreeLove - 12

Home, Bangalore - February 2020

This is not a single tree. If you look closely you will see two bamboo stumps and their branches leaning forward to embrace each other. The first thing I saw here was love. Since I name my trees after women, I did not want to change it this time too. Love is love, after all.

Book Review: Tin Man - Sarah Winman

Title: Tin Man
Author: Sarah Winman
Publisher: Tinder Press (9 August 2017)
Genre: Classic Fiction
Price: Rs. 267 on Amazon
Pages: 208

You know those books that you solely buy for their covers, well, this was one of them. The book had a gorgeous yellow cover and came highly recommended from my friends. I sat down to read it one fine day and finished it in a couple of sessions.

How To Recognize & Deal With Toxic People

Image Source

Over the years, I have constantly worked on being a calmer and better person by improving my mental state of mind. One of the first things that I had to do in order to achieve this was to take a closer look at the people I surround myself with. As someone who immensely believes in the vibes that people give out, this was more than necessary. We might not realize this often, but the kind of people we become is usually influenced by the people around us. Habits, frame of mind, reactions and thoughts usually get rubbed off people. This is a dangerous predicament, but not something that one can't handle. Once you put yourself first, you will start seeing the true colors of people and my oh my, what a color palette that is! I'm no expert on the human mind or even people for that matter, but, with time I have come to recognize the ones who are good for me and the ones who are toxic and need to be cut off at the earliest.

Music | #WordlessWednesday - 14

Rajan's Cafe, Bangalore - January 2020

Where words leave off, music begins.

~ Heinrich Heine

Caught In A Mad Romance

Image Source

You are the drama to my queen
Life is never dull with you around
You are one of my greatest treasures
In you, everything I found

You add the music to my lyrics
Every note different and yet so same
When I hear the word love
I replace it with your name

Khloe | #ThursdayTreeLove - 11

Bangalore - February 2020
Nothing like being stuck in traffic to make you notice things that you otherwise wouldn't. This tree stood on a busy road that was chock-a-block with traffic, but she didn't seem to mind. Her branches were gorgeous and her leaves were a ripe shade of green. Oblivious to her surroundings, she just did what she had to do. Bloom.

**Khloe: Blooming.

Book Review: The Catcher In The Rye - J. D. Salinger

Image Source

Title: The Catcher In The Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
Publisher: Penguin (1 November 2018)
Genre: Classic Fiction
Price: Rs. 539 on Amazon
Pages: 240

I had heard about this book since decades, but somehow never got to reading it. I knew it was controversial and even banned in many states of the US. When it was allowed in high schools, it was the most censored book. The novel was included on Time Magazine's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. When my husband brought home a hard-cover copy of this book, I decided that it was finally time to read it. With less than 300 pages, I finished this one in a single session.

Darkness & Light | #WordlessWednesday - 13

Chungs Pavilion, Bangalore - January 2020

Life isn't just about darkness or light, rather it's about finding light within the darkness.

~ Landon Parham

Action Replay + Gratitude List: January 2020

Image Source

I thought 2019 would be the fastest year of my life but now that we are already into February, I know that 2020 will be giving 2019 a serious run for its money. January was a mixed month with its share of highs and lows. I continued to be busy with work till the 3rd week of the month and it kept me on my toes, the deadline that came with it, that is. I completed the work a week ahead and it did give me a nice boost to my confidence. The next set of work started soon enough and it was business as usual. Apart from the actual new year, that is January 1st, it did not feel like a new year at all. Everything seemed to go on as usual almost sneering at the saying 'time and tide waits for none'. It was an interesting month for sure and by the end of it, I'm feeling content and that is all that matters.

Time | #WordlessWednesday - 12

Home, Bangalore - January 2020

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Sixty Thoughts That Crossed My Mind While Watching The Zoya Factor #NotAMovieReview

Image Source

I am a huge fan of Dulquer Salmaan (DQ) and I genuinely feel that he's not choosing the right movies in Bollywood. While, 'Karwaan' was still good and he was splendid in his understated role, I was heart broken when they announced him as the male lead for 'The Zoya Factor'. These are not the kind of movies he should be doing and definitely not one opposite Sonam Kapoor. Watch him in the Malayalam movie 'Ustad Hotel' or 'Charlie' and in the Tamil movie 'O.K. Kanmani' to understand what I'm saying. He's looks like a dream and is a brilliant actor and can make waves in Bollywood if he chooses the right scripts. Stuff that Vicky Kaushal does comes to mind.

Jenna | #ThursdayTreeLove - 10

Bangalore - January 2020

Every year in January, just before my father-in-law leaves to Sabarimala, our family organizes a puja and donates lunch for the underprivileged. This year it was at an orphanage for the deaf and dumb. I don't want to get into the specifics of it, because this is something very personal to us.

Book Review: The Dutch House - Ann Patchett

Image Source

Title: The Dutch House
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (24 September 2019)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Price: Rs. 385 on Amazon
Pages: 352

For a brief while on Social Media, this is the only book I saw and heard about. Everyone was praising this book and it even made to the shortlist of the best books of 2019 on Goodreads under the Historical Fiction genre. I was obviously intrigued, but wary too. I usually don't like over-hyped books and I prefer to make my own decision about it. Then, Nabanita included this book in her top 15 reads of the year and I was sold. Along with Shalini, she is another blogger whose reviews I would trust blindly. I have a penchant for historical fiction and I just had to cave in. I bought this book in November last year, but did not read it immediately. This was the first book that I read in 2020.

Color | #WordlessWednesday - 11

Home, Bangalore - January 2020

The whole point is to live life and be - to use all the colors in the crayon box.

~ RuPaul

Balance #WOTY2020

Image Source

We're almost a fortnight into 2020 and life is total chaos for me. Work has been squeezing every ounce of energy out of me and my sleep cycle is all over the place. Due to this, my cooking and working out plans are all tossed out of the window. If you know me, you'd know how much this would be bothering me and how much self-doubt I'll be dwelling in. Not a good feeling at all. When I look closely, I see that some of the most important stuff is getting left out. Stuff that you cannot ignore. This only added on to the guilt I was already feeling. I've finally got a grip on my anxiety over the last year, but I could see it returning thanks to all this current chaos.

Action Replay + Gratitude List: 2019

Image Source

2019 has been the fastest year of my life, so far. It hasn't been a easy year, but it has been a good one for sure. 2019 was clearly split into two for me. Till June, my life was consumed with work. Day and night, it was work all the way. I was working on a complex project that needed all my time and effort since June 2018. Yes, it took me a year but I was finally done with it and I couldn't be more happier. It was successful and I received more than enough appreciations for it. In May, we moved into a place of our own. Once I was done with the critical project, I turned my attention towards our home. We did not want to rush into setting everything up at the same time, so we took our time we it. Every piece of furniture, every decor item, every tiny thing that was added to the house was chosen carefully and for a reason and purpose. It still is an on-going process, but, today we have a place that is a reflection of us in true sense.