Friday, January 26, 2018

January Book list

This year with its new resolutions seems pretty interesting. One of those is the #BrunchBookChallenge . This year it is actually challenging with the aim of reading of 50 books in this year. 10 are required to be by Indian authors or based on India in some way. Well, I go a step further. I mean to also add a short review for each case. So here's the January list. So far so good!

Book 1
Best of Friends by Cathy Kelly
4 stars.
Like any other Cathy Kelly book, this one is perfect for comfort during winters and offers a slight sweetness to all situations and emotions.  A nice, feel-good kind of book about four middle aged women who are friends and their coping mechanisms for life's surprises.

Book 2
The Wish List by Jane Costello
Rating : 4 stars
As the protagonist inches towards the age of 30, she comes across an old wishlist. It surprises her to see how little of it she has achieved. She thus sets about achieving all goals by the time she turns 30...in the next 6 months and this book takes us along her in her adventures. Through light comedy this book peeks into the reality vs wishes state in all of us. The  wishes are a mix: some common, some exciting that any of us could have. It subtly explores the concept of stability vs novelty. It intrigues but still manages to  leave the readers satisfied.

Book 3
The Scandal (Theodore Boone ) by John Grisham
Rating: 3 stars
It was the first Theodore Boone I read and although I have loved reading John Grisham, this book didn't do justice to his consistency. It was a fast flowing, good to read book but it was so fast that it just halted to a stop in the end. When it ended suddenly, it was clear that though it was a  good read, it missed the solid plot and sound storyline that John Grisham is famous for.  One reason could be that the protagonist, a 13 year old lawyer in case, had no real role. He wasn't victim. He didn't solve the case. He was more of an obsevant. For stories to touch the readers, one would want the protagonist to have a bigger chunk. But it was still enough for me to try another Theodore Boone just to see how the series is.

Book 4
High School Musical: Poetry in motion by Alice Alfonsi
Rating: 3
Brief Review: The first in HSM series that I read. I may not be the right judge for this book by the title. However, there are books that surpass ages and infact take you back to diffferent stages of your life as you experience the life of a protagonist. This was a bit too mild for that but fun, lighthearted otherwise.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Normalcy is underrated

Well the New Year resolutions are made. 29 of them in totality.  The phase to follow them has started. Before making them, I came across many articles focussing on "reinventing your life" or just "breaking the routine", not falling into a rut etc. But I beg to differ. This may be good for someone who has been "settled" into the same routine for say the last 5 or 10 years. For the people in their 30s, that itself is something most would not have experienced. Family, career, friends, settlement, stability...they all take time.  And when we get it, we deserve some time to savour it. Life itself brings so many changes that no two months, let alone two years are alike. Yes, days can be similar! So why not cherish the stability when you get it.  Yes, it's still good to try new stuff but every year need not be the year when you choose to change your entire life! Instead, sometimes it's just enough to have just a couple of challenging unique goals and a few more that just make you feel good.  It's another day of normalcy that people long for when they run out of time. Don't take normalcy for granted. Here's how:

*Go to work, come home, have a cuppa with your family and watch that favourite TV show...without guilt.

*Spend some weekends just lazing about.

*Savour that familiarity of environment both when you go to work and when come back.

*Value meeting the same set of people everyday. They are all currently a part of your life to some extend.

*Value your family and their familiar habits.

*Cherish good health.

*Cherish your children....they will never remain the same.

*Cherish the friends you make in all phases of life.

* Cherish all impactful conversations and discussions.

*Cherish your normal moments because one never knows when they give way to trying times. What man proposes, God disposes.

Here's to a year of stability!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Tragically tiny tales: Life's hits and misses

#ttt 1: The smoker took a break every two hours for a smoke and the breather for a breath of fresh air. Thanks to the city, both came back with equally smoke choked lungs.

#ttt 2: They all struggled and competed to avoid ageing. Cancer aided some in succeeding.

#ttt 3: She cursed her luck for missing the flight, while far off the passengers gave thanks for surviving the burning flight. All but one safety jacket had worked.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

New Year resolutions

As the New Year begins and previous ends, it gives us an opportunity to analyze the year gone by. What we planned, what worked, what didn't and whys. What we still want to try. And the new stuff. I am a firm believer of new year resolutions and take it as a roadmap for the year ahead. There have been many yeats when I fulfill my entire list. The previous year, however, I followed a little more than 50% of them.  The discrete todos happened  but the personal improvement suffered. For example,  I could have been more patient. Or maybe it was the best I could do with all the changes.

Here's how I create goals. We all have different aspects of lives and ideally need goals for each of them: health, family, professional growth,  personal nature, child specfic goals ( the relation of a parent and child is very unique and requires its own list), some extra curricular goals, some general todos and some "just fun" ones. They are generally a set of 20-30 resolutions for me. Not all such goals are equally shareable but just to be kept and worked upon. This kind of list doesn't get formed in a day. It requires around a week's reflection, at least for me. And I start that around now. I complete my goals list formation around the first or second week of Jan and then strive towards following them. Those initial 10-15 days, when many resolutions falter, are my buffer days.

Today I created the sharable list amongst some of the possible goals. Here they are:

1. Go up on a hot air balloon
2. Play more with my child
3. Visit a new place.
4. Be more aware of news
5. Make healthier choices...would be further segmented.
6. More tea and long talks with all close ones. Well, this is a new addition and is optional because it won't be completely dependent on me.

As the new lists are created, lets see where the new journey takes us!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Mandi trip: reflections (Part 3)

Well there is a whole lot that can be captured about Mandi trip and maybe I will continue but here I pause and add some reflections before the new year steals attention. Just some random thoughts that pop in mind when you live alone, even for 4 days.

People/things you miss...
When you are away, you tend miss certain parts of daily life more than others. When you are alone, you tend to miss certain people more than others. It depicts the important parts of your daily life. Sometimes those can be surprises also. For example, during IIT days, in each conference I used to miss IIT's nescafe tea and the talks I shared with people during those times. This time, I had moved on. I longed my kid as any parent would. But there were surprises. For example, I missed not the extra funtimes but taking care of him. Bathing him, wiping his nose...simple activities...
Being alone I read and wrote a lot but I also longed to talk to people and reach out. One also wonders more about what is happening in that daily life. Technology certainly helps. Phone calls and photos play a big role.

When scenic beauty is enough
The view of the mountains. The stillness of the river, it gave great bliss to the heart. It quietened all frenzy and there were moments when there was a stillness in the air and I felt at one with nature again.  To have a great view on waking up, great lunchtimes views and some half hour slots otherwise was enough. People planned trips for sightseeing but for me, just this quietness was enough.

Tea and long talks
The best part of every day would definitely be coming to be the room, switching on the heater and making a cup of tea with a novel, diary or phone call. Of course chocolates also helped! Oh, what peace it was. Sometimes it was early enough to see daylight, mostly it was night. But what bliss it was to end the day with a cup of tea. Well tea has played an important role in so many aspects. Be it the pampered lazy luxurious cup of tea as a child, the tea and long talks with friends discussing every aspect of life, the multiple cups of tea during PhD and its struggles, the romantic cup of tea  or just the daily cups of tea coming home or even "teddy tea parties" with child. Teas are made special by the company.  Be it new friendships or old, light hearted discussions or discussions on the intricacies of life, nothing beats tea and long talks. Tea is the best beverage for a conversation. The varieties are numerous: sweet/ creamy/green/black/flavored, enough to cater to moods, health and types of people. They are hot enough for us to start a conversation and take it to some kind of conclusion where the cold beverages would fail. They soothe us unlike coffee which instills greater excitability. They soothe us and make us more lucid  and in a greater position to understand unlike any alcoholic beverage.  So next time, there's a conversation pending, start it with a cuppa. Tea and long talks can make a great New Year resolution ....to have tea and long talks regularly with all people who are important parts of your life or were or may become important or even those who seem to require it or  sometimes just when you require a conversation.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mandi Trip: the journey and thereafter (Part 2)

The journey and thereafter

Then there it was. The much dreaded journey. Well the journey was made much easier by company...which was also a last minute decision and coincidence. But how it helped. There are few people with whom you speak as comfortably as you can be quite. Or even fall asleep, reassured.  The journey went smoothly. More smoothly than expected. When best friends meet, they always have enough to catch up on. The time goes faster and troubles become shorter.  We had a stopover at one place and went out just for the sake of it. It was freezing and we shiveringly ordered what turned out to be the worlds worst tea! There was still something to say about sitting there in Ambala, nursing that cup of tea as it warmed our hands.

When the journey started again, a group of college kids started playing Antakshri and music. Oh, were they a young lot! I felt suddenly that there was a huge difference between 20s and 30s. And then I saw a white haired old couple right ahead me. Well life is a full circle. As the songs soothed me and lulled me towards sleep, I realised I missed doing that. Going out on a trip like this with a big group of friends and just being carefree. But as my friend stated, "that won't have been us". Or more importantly, this now was enough for present. I was exploring boundaries, in good company,  in my own little way.

The much dreaded journey slipped away as we entered the unforgiving winters of Mandi at its peak early in the morning when even the Sun felt lazy coming out. Somehow we reached our exact destination...college guest house. It was ....literally in the middle of nowhere! There seemed noone about for a while and we had a new set of misgivings but then we entered our rooms and life was good again. Ahh, what a welcome site it was to find that huge heater. For the next half hour I did nothing but freeze in front of it until the body felt as if there was life in it yet. Slowly my eyes went to the desk in the room....how appropriate! Thrn the kettle. Ohh to have tea with the heater in the backdrop of that cold. Surely nothing could beat that! Well, that was until I saw the view. Majestic! Full window view of the hills and I knew I had made no mistake in arriving. Just this sight for four days would be worth the ride.

All this gave me the much needed respite for two hours by which time we were welcomed by enough to be secure that there was humanity even in the middle of nowhere. This idea would only be re-enforced further in the next few days. Well, the two hours passed by quickly and it was time for a full day ahead. Who would have thought I would be ready to work after a 12 hour journey! Well, welcome to the grown up world!

More to come in blogs ahead....the first day fall, research, reflections and much more....

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mandi Trip: A trip that almost wasn't to be (Part 1)

This trip almost didn't happen. Well there's a lot in it to tell so I will divide it into parts....

The decision

I had planned it long ago for research purpose. But then that time it didn't strike me how difficult it would be to reach to such a place or how the situation might vary with time. So my health fell, again and again and with it fell my confidence. I couldn't do a 12 hour bus trip. Heck, I even hated train journeys and would take flight whereever possible. I didn't do long journeys. Never had. Flights were different. And now with bad health...a weak stomach, recovering from a bad case of viral, well it seemed impossible. And there was the extreme cold which seemed equally terrifying right then. I even feared going alone. What if one of the terrible stories of incidents with girls came true? What if the bus fell due to bad weather. Fears engulfed  where there had been none. And I couldn't cancel. I had asked for this. I felt trapped and terrified.  Terrified to refuse. Trapped into going.

Then it changed. I remembered how we should always do one thing that terrifies us. So this would be it for the year.  And then I realised I didn't have to go.  Nobody would kill me if I didn't. I was even given the choice not to go. I could easily settle back into routine and have a relaxing weekend additionally. But I would always feel I wimped out. Of course there was still the need to go not just to overcome fears but also to learn and to keep my word. To do what I took as mine to be done. But it certainly helped to have it as a choice till the very end. Now I wasn't trapped into going, now it was an internal choice.

And I was off. Off to a new journey. The thought in mind ...there's a difference between foolhardiness and courage. Often we don't which we are doing this much later. I wondered which this was. Of course for many, it would be trivial but that varies from person to person and also in different situations.

More to follow....the journey....the trip, the reflections it brought and a lot more...