Thursday, March 7, 2019

THE WORK-AT-HOME MILITARY WIFE by Chandana Banerjee





The blurb prepares you for what lies within – “A quickstart guide to creating a pack-and-carry career and work-from-home lifestyle on the move”

Chandana Banerjee is an Air Force wife who took the road not taken by creating an identity of her own, not enmeshed with that of her husband’s. She added new skills, took short breaks and worked from home, proud to be her own boss. In this enlightening book, she shares her journey with her readers, describing how every military wife could crack the work-from-home life and create her own professional identity.

Every chapter has been divided into bite-sized nuggets of wisdom that are practical and doable. Ms. Banerjee begins with the advantages of working from home, and she eschews the common excuses that prevent military wives, or milpreneurs, as she terms them, from stepping out of their comfort zones.

Every person has a passion or a skill that can be turned into a work-from-home career. The book offers interesting work-from-home ideas like creating a blog, freelance journalism, photography, providing specific services and the like. The author offers a free e-book that can be downloaded, titled ’25 Portable Work-From-Home Ideas for Military Wives’.

Learning online is another feasible option as Ms. Banerjee lists out common hubs that interested military wives could dig into, which provide both free learning or, in certain cases, affordable monthly subscriptions.

Once the learning begins, it is time to set up a home office, an area dedicated to your work, furnished with the basics to get you started. This helps one to draw a line between home life and professional life. Time management is of vital importance, as it is not possible to avoid distractions when working from home.

This book is a ready-reckoner for those who want to launch their careers from home as it sets out a number of baby steps to do so, right from assigning a time frame, creating a portfolio of work and connecting with the world through a web presence. It also lists out some ways to balance work with military commitments, along with valuable tips to keep healthy while doing so. Working from home as a mom with small kids can be challenging, but finding fringe hours or stray minutes could help in finishing work commitments.

Ms. Banerjee ends her book on a significant note as she talks about the right attitude that a milpreneur needs to cultivate to bash on regardless of the roadblocks ahead. Out-of-the box thinking, a can-do attitude, optimism and the ability to adjust are a few positive suggestions and these would strike a chord in the readers’ minds. After all, aren’t these qualities required in other spheres of life as well?

Verdict: A book that offers practical advice to milpreneurs who want to work from home and carve out their careers!


                      



Saturday, February 23, 2019

THE HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS by Archana Sarat




Mathematics has been a subject of immense speculation over the centuries. One either loves it or is petrified of it. Curious is the fact that those who are worried about numbers hardly ever get over their fear of them. It is for this reason that Archana Sarat, a CA by profession and a math and science buff, as she refers to herself, went back into the hoary past and dredged out ancient stories, only to find that this subject not only extends over centuries of time, but traverses across geographical borders as well. This might be a book written for children, but it does hold the interest of adults as well.

The book begins with the story of Ipiko who lived 40,000 years ago, and saved his tribe from being decimated by mammoths by using drawings and scratches which would later be seen as the first writing of mathematics. A subsequent chapter deals with Ipiko’s descendant, Neeraza, who hit upon the idea of tally marks for the very first time, a concept used liberally in today’s world.

Whether it is delving into the Indus Valley Civilization where scales and mathematical instruments were found, or recreating the use of clay envelopes and tokens in Mesopotamia, Archana Sarat keeps the interest alive with a harmonious blend of history and mathematics. Her forte as a story teller comes across as she employs simple language to put her ideas across.

In a country like India, where ‘yagnas’ were plentiful in the days of yore, rules were laid down about the construction of sacrificial altars, and even a small error could nullify the purpose of the sacrifice. This proved that mathematics played a significant role even back then.

The Diary Entries of Pythagoras tell us much about this personage who was not only the first known pure mathematician, but also a musician who played the lyre, a bit of an astronomer and even a litterateur. He explained the Pythagoras Theorem in an easy manner, and it is still being taught to modern day students. However, it is believed that he and the Pythagoreans refused to accept any belief that went against their own. Archana Sarat has an intriguing anecdote to illustrate this facet as well.

The names of Archimedes, Euclid, Hypatia, the first woman mathematician in the recorded history of the world, Fibonacci, Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara I and II have all been brought in, each of their stories embellished and presented with élan. The difference between classic physics and quantum physics has also been broken down into simple terms.

In short, this is a book that has been crafted to banish the fear of the bogey – Mathematics. The author links the Babylonian Clay Tablet in a way that a modern school girl can use it to do her calculations, and points out that the origins of the decimal numeral system and the discovery of zero were in India. By the end of the book, the reader feels a sense of pride and achievement, a feeling that should be engendered in the young readers of today.




Thursday, February 14, 2019

IN DEEPEST SORROW





How does one react?        
  
 When a dastardly act ends in the murder of a whole vehicle of CRPF personnel at Pulwama, dedicated young men who play on their lives every day to protect the Kashmir Valley?

When, while the whole nation is mourning for the grievous loss, some petty souls resort to nit-picking, pointing fingers at the bereaved organization, wondering aloud about whether there was a lapse in their training or security?

When those same petty souls have never thought about joining the Armed Forces, the CRPF or the ITBP, where, day in and day out, these young people are trained to defend their country in times of war and peace?

When even the politicos come together to bemoan a colossal tragedy, but one spokesman points fingers at the leaders of the political parties in J&K?

When all that the country needs is a time and a space to close its eyes and spend a moment in silence, condoling the passing of precious lives?

When voices need to be lowered and prayers be said for the shattered families of the young men who are no more?

When social media messages need to assuage, comfort and console, not rant, criticise and rave?

When rage needs to be controlled, so that the right action is taken at the right moment?

When a whole country needs to work as one, leaving differences aside, standing side by side?

Into that hallowed space, may my country awake!
                     
Deepti Menon     


                   

THE ANATOMY OF CHOICE – HARSHALI SINGH



‘The Anatomy of Choice’ is the second book in the Haveli series, narrating the tale of two women, Bhavya, the second daughter of the Sharma family, and Noorie, a courtesan who lived in the days of yore, and who now “rests close by, celebrated in death as she never was in life” singing “hauntingly sad ghazals.”

The ivory-hued Haveli with the hundred doors and the black domed mausoleum by its side are now known as Chaand and Chaand Raat, as the love story of Noorie and Hamad Bahadur are played out by a modern pair of lovers. There is a hint of romance that plays its way like a will-o-the wisp, intriguing the reader, tantalizing and mysterious, as Noorie endeavours to “remind him of our love through the music he loved so much”.

Transgressions are rarely forgiven, and Bhavya and Tenzin realize how far they have drifted as a consequence of their choices. Bhavya comes home to the Haveli, where she is welcomed back by her family. However, there is a feeling of disquiet, as they wait for her to make up her mind and get her life back on an even keel. Bhavya, on her part, values her independence too much to allow anyone to hurry her into making her choices.

Harshali Singh weaves magic with her words, as she tells a story that meshes together a family of characters, all of whom have secrets deep within their hearts, be it Arun, the taciturn head, Uma, the gentle matriarch with a spine of steel, Suresh, the faithful friend or the tempestuous Bhavya. These secrets waft about as the reader senses their presence throughout the book.

Uma comes across as the voice of reason, like when she tells her headstrong daughter, “Decisions are the hardest to make, Bee, especially when you have to choose between where you should be and where you want to be.” This is the dilemma that Bhavya finds herself in as she flounders between the hard decisions that she knows she needs to make, about staying in the past or leaving it behind.

Bhavya’s whimsicality keeps her unpredictable. The relationship between Bhavya and her siblings is often turbulent at many levels. While Aruna and she glide over memories that are hurtful, her brother, Dheeraj and she exchange angry words on many occasions. Etti, her younger sister is “a minefield of hints and expectations, soundless”, waiting for Bhavya to own up to her life choices.

The discovery of Noorie’s diary, “beaten leather-covered ivory sheets of heavy handmade pages filled with... Devanagari alphabets” imbues Bhavya with a curiosity about the erstwhile courtesan. She “finds solace within the fragile pages of the journal written with henna-dyed hands, centuries before her” as she spends time at the mausoleum, where she senses that both Noorie and she are prisoners of their own circumstances.

Apart from the cover that symbolizes the choices of the past and the present, Harshali Singh makes use of an unusual device to name her chapters, using words from different languages along with their orgins, which give the reader a hint of what nestles within the chapter. The language used throughout the book is rich and filled with imagery, especially when the tale harks back to the courtesan’s life.

A book that needs to be preserved as carefully as Noorie’s diary!                                  
  

  
                                  



 

          

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Victims for Sale by Nish Amarnath




Sandy Raman is a nineteen-year-old journalist from Mumbai who does not hesitate to go where angels fear to tread. She lives as a paying guest with the Sawants, an Indian family after the death of her boyfriend, Saahil, in the Mumbai blasts. The appearance of Nirmal aka Nimmy, the son of the house, makes her feel she has an ally, even though she is a trifle startled by Nimmy’s sister, Asha, who first accosts her with a knife. Nimmy and Sandy grow closer, much to the disapproval of his family, but a few instances of his behaviour make her wonder, especially his reactions to her references to the mentally challenged Asha.

As Sandy begins her Masters at the London School of Economics, she comes across the flamboyant Ritchie Johri, a film maker from Los Angeles. She is soon elected as the LSE television network executive head, and hopes to bag a grants programme run by a multinational conglomerate, EGG. Many influential people cross her path, and things seem almost too easy for her, especially when she gets a chance to be a BBC TV series producer in a campaign that teaches disabled children and teens better life skills to help them in public. 

Till she gets involved in a series of murky murders, as people close to her start getting killed.

So, where do things start going wrong? What is the connection between violet teddies and the chaos that Sandy finds herself embroiled in? Why does Nimmy react violently every time she mentions her desire to help Asha through her TV show? As Sandy investigates into the activities of the Bread Breakers, a home for the differently-abled, she realises that she is embroiled in “a cold-blooded tale of sexual abuse and exploitation”. As she continues her investigation, many threads start to unravel, until the final stunning denouement hits her in the face.

Nish Amarnath is a young writer who obviously believes in doing her research, be it in the gamut of health care homes, the BBC’s White City complex or the British police system. Her style is crisp and terse, as she outlines a plot that is filled with twists and turns that keep the reader gasping. Her eye for detail reveals that she has lived in and explored the city of London. ‘Victims for Sale’ lifts the curtain on the poignant truths that disabled girls often go through, maybe due to disinformation or more sinister causes. As Sandy finally puts it, “The betrayed one pays the ultimate price of the betrayer.”

A fast-paced tale of intrigue and suspense!              






Sunday, January 27, 2019

See You Later, Alligator!



Spotless floors, pristine rooms, sheets drawn perfectly, cushions placed in their proper nooks... what is it that’s missing, I muse to myself? I do not even need to pause to think of the answer. It is our little Miss Sunshine who is missing, our Sparkle, who came home for two months and turned our lives upside down with her irrepressible presence. Right from the moment she bounced in to the moment she bade us goodbye at the airport, we spent almost every waking hour together.

Every night, I would walk gingerly, picking up toys of all shapes and sizes from the floor, each with a personality of its own. There were twin lion cubs, an African doll with the prettiest face, a couple of seals, five bedraggled dolls that came from her great grandmother’s Nursery school and a whole lot of kitchen utensils that were clogged with play dough after the little one’s culinary experiments. Little drawings would be strewn around in all their glory as well. 


Little puzzle pieces lay like leaves on an unswept avenue, along with tiny shoes that left a Hansel and Gretel trail, and Kinder Joy halves that still held chocolate within their bodies. Our little Sparkle was more interested in the tiny toise within (read ’toys’) that needed her Mom’s expertise to be put together.

She loved reading the story of Gajapati Kulapati, the elephant with a tummy ache, the Bamboo Story, and a cute little tale about Baby’s Belly Button. What kept us all in splits was the way she made up instant songs on anything and everything, including her Mom’s ‘bum bum’. This little two and a half year old could throw tantrums one moment and flying kisses the next, but whatever she did, we, her Nana and Mooma, enjoyed to the hilt. Especially when she opened Santa's presents in the presence of her Christmas tree! :)




So, there I would be, creating gastronomic ‘miracles’ in the form of dosas especially for her. One morning, it would be a triangle, the next a flower, the third a cat. Dosas doused with ghee and love! She loved French fries, veggies (all except peas), chicken, sausages and crackers. After dinner, she would quickly pop in a forbidden chocolate into her mouth and then wag a finger at us, saying, “No eating chockies! They make cavities!” Ice cream would be greeted with a, “It’s sooo cold!” even as she licked the spoon clean.



Meal times would find her absolutely quiet as she would be allowed to watch DD (cartoons) on her mom’s mobile. By the end of the meal, one only had to take a look at the phone to see what the little one had had for dinner, starting off with buttery fingerprints and blobs of ketchup.


Of course, her Mama often took her for Summit Talks every time she got a trifle too high spirited, or sent her to the naughty corner, from where she would look at us, trying to melt our hearts with her woe-begone glances.




Going out was always a lark, even if it was only to the grocery stores (Bismi and C Mart), the toy shop, or the Sobha City Mall which probably reminded her of malls back home.  However, the two places she loved visiting were where her two great-grandmothers, Mushi and Mimi, waited for her with bated breath.



Mushi’s house had the added attractions of two little pugs that came tearing out at the click of the gate, Bhanu Mooma (a grand aunt) who grabbed her the moment she entered and Mushi herself, who sat on her high chair and enjoyed her antics. No visit was complete without a huge bowl of potato chips and cashew nuts that she valiantly munched through.

She would let her hair down at Mimi’s house, and regale Mumu and Mushan, (her grandaunt and uncle) with her quaint comments. The next moment she would grab Mumu’s hand and propel her towards the kitchen saying, “I want something!” Something would mostly consist of chigda (round little savoury snacks) or baby idlis. Once in a while, a chocolate would make its appearance as well.




Ironically, India for her meant our home. So, every time she left a place, she would say, “I am going to India. See you later, alligator!”

It was a delight to see her go wild at the Cherai Beach where she and Nana jumped along with the waves, chortling in glee. Mealtimes saw her picking at her veggies and chicken with gusto, with a helping of pasta or noonus (noodles) thrown in. When the manager gave her a chocolate as a special New Year’s treat, she thanked him prettily, the way she did whenever she was given a gift.




It was a wrench to see her leave along with her Mama. Of course, she was all excited to see her Dada. After an enlightening conversation in the car about the sun having gone home to his mama, and having risen just to say Goodbye to her, and a number of hugs and cuddles, we stood and waved at her. She kept turning around to see if we were following, till she finally went inside, a forlorn little figure holding her favourite doll.



Of course, we knew that we would follow them in about four months, when our second grandchild would come into the world, a fact that our little Sparkle never failed to mention to whoever came before her. “Mama has a baby in her tummy!” And until then, we would have a collection of precious moments spent with her to laugh and cry over till we got to see her again.

“Being a mother is the most important job in the world. Being a grandmother is the most fun.” Truer words were never spoken!     








Friday, November 16, 2018

The Value of a Moment: Guest Post by Shilpa Suraj, author of 'Driven By Desire'


Shilpa Suraj, the winsome author of the delightful romance 'Driven By Desire', shares her thoughts in a guest post on my blog 'Deep Ties'.


The Value of a Moment

“Could you give me a moment?”
I say those words close to fifty times a day. Sometimes I do get that moment of breathing space. Most times I don’t. My life is a constant juggling act and I often fear that if I slip up, I’ll get buried under all the balls that will come crashing down on my head. So, how do I deal? By stealing those moments.
A moment to watch my daughter dance to Skidamarink for the 100th time.
A moment to hug my dog as he nuzzles my neck.
A moment to watch a butterfly land on my rose bush.
A moment to watch the birds splash around in the birdbath.
A moment to read a line from a favourite book.
A moment to listen to a song on the radio.
A moment to watch my daughter sleep.
A moment to breathe.
A moment to be.
Without the magic of those moments and so many more, I would probably drown under the balls I constantly have up in the air. So, I find them, take them, enjoy them and savour them. For without them, what would life be but an endless trudge from one task to another. To everyone who is rolling their eyes and asking, ‘Where’s the time?’ I have only one answer. “Find it.” Don’t exist. Live. And keep those balls up in the air, people!


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About the Author:
Shilpa was a year and a half when she was first introduced to the world of books. Her mother would park her with a picture book on the floor of the kitchen while she finished her cooking for the day. While it's no longer the kitchen floor, you can still find her tucked away in a cosy nook somewhere with her nose buried in a book. Whiles books in all genres interest her, it was romance that captured her heart. While racing through every romantic fiction book she could beg, borrow or buy, her over-active imagination started to work overtime and weave its own stories. Years in the corporate world followed by a stint of entrepreneurship crystallised her belief that all she wanted was give life to the stories bubbling inside of her. She briefly managed to tear herself away from the world of fiction to find her own personal happily ever after and now spends her time happily focusing on the two loves of her life - family and writing romances.

About the Book:


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An ace vintage car restorer and a pharmaceutical tycoon, Maxine and Krish have dramatically different lives and nothing in common. A chance encounter puts their lives on a collision course and a stubborn and steady attraction begins to bloom. Wanting each other is easy, it's happy ever after that's the problem...




Monday, November 12, 2018

Bahir by Monisha K Gumber




‘Bahir’ by Monisha K Gumber is the tale of the stunning Sawera, a young girl who is born in Pakistan and adopted by her mother's sister, and the travails she goes through as she grows from “a petite girl with lots of facial hair” into a beautiful young girl with “the knack of attracting trouble”.  She moves along with her Ammi and Abba to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Once her brothers, Omar and Rashid, are born, she senses a change in the attitude of her Ammi towards her.

Sawera turns into a rebel, craving love from others, as she looks for some excitement in her monotonous life. When she is caught with a boy, her parents take her back to Karachi to attend a wedding – her own. In her hurry to get married, she chooses Wasim, “nearly thirty and after a broken engagement and a broken heart, fell in love with my picture.” 

However, she is soon disillusioned with her husband, and after delivering three children, she decides to leave him and go to Saudi, back to her parents, the excuse being that her ailing mother needs her. It is then she finds herself pregnant again and dreams of going back to Pakistan again. Fate decides otherwise, and after the birth of her son, Aftab, she finds a job at a beauty parlour as a cleaner.

It is now that Hamid comes into her life and soon they are married. The next time she goes to Pakistan, she leaves her children there with her sister, the avaricious Fatima, promising to pay her lavishly for their upkeep. 

Back in Saudi, it is a rollercoaster ride for Sawera. Hamid disappears from her life and she is forced to go back to the beauty salon where she picks up the nuances of the trade that will help her in the future. It is here that the title of the book comes into play ‘bahir’, a metaphor for ‘abroad’, a place where she can make enough money to make sure that her four children are well tended.

When Sawera meets Adnan Saab in Bahrain, she realises that life has changed irrevocably for her. However, the older gentleman is a ‘farishta’ an angel in her life, as he pulls wires in a manner that finally unites Sawera with her children and family in Pakistan.

This is a gritty and moving tale of a woman who, despite finding herself in deep trouble, rallies around to take a grip of her life without losing heart. Sawera is a metaphor for the strong woman of today who refuses to be pulled down, a feisty heroine who has many qualities to be admired. What makes her character relatable is the fact that she has faults that make her intensely human.

A racy read that keeps the reader engrossed till the very end!
               


Monday, October 29, 2018

HOW DO I DO? When Marriages are not Made in Heaven - Asha Iyer Kumar




How does the memory of a ‘reverie that had once set his youth on fire?’ come back to an old man? ‘Why did the dream materialise again after years in hibernation?’

When Madhavan Nair’s obsession goes beyond limits, his parents get him married to Rajam, the daughter of a relative. How does he reconcile between the woman of his dreams and the woman in his home in the story titled ‘Calendar Girl’?
‘Chandrika soon became an obsession swathed in mystery.’

Madhavan Nair reminisces over his mundane life with his inelegant wife, Rajam, a woman he has never been in love with. He has learnt to live with his wife and children, but with the recurrence of the dream, he is forced to linger on the thoughts of the woman of his dreams, and the ‘vestiges of an old, gnawing sense of deprivation’ begin to pierce his heart all over again.

Do separation and unfamiliarity lead to apprehension in a marriage? How do long-distance marriages survive? After three years of being apart, does a marriage turn incompatible? Or does the fire get rekindled? These are the questions that worry Nirmal, the protagonist of the second story titled ‘Something In Between’. His wife, Veena and he are a pair of perfect parallel lines, each veering off in a different direction. He is shocked when she throws the following sentence at him with utter casualness.
‘Okay, in that case I guess we will have to live with our differences, though that leaves our living together open to questions.

 Nirmal experiences a sense of serenity away from his wife. His mother is his confidant, the one who gives him marital advice and strives to rekindle his relationship with his wife in various ways, a wise lady with immense capacity ‘to adopt everyone despite their flaws.’
In ‘Let Things Be’, a son watches his father go to prison, a disgraced man, and wonders how his mother could continue to care for him. His grandparents disown their son-in-law, branding him a man who has given them much sadness. The son lives out his entire life wondering whether his Appa would ever come back to him. His mother, however, has this ‘unique sea-like quality’ and carries ‘a facade that weathered all her internal storms.’ She cares for him deeply, and encourages him to be strong, saying, “Sometimes you have to be brave enough to do what your heart says.”

As an adult, he ponders over various questions. Had his mother ever fallen out of love with his father? Why did she take the decisions she did in life? What were his feelings towards his father?

The three stories in this novella are bound together as they examine the complexities of marital ties. No marriage is ever the same, and no two people react in the same manner in the face of adversity. The adage of marriages being made in heaven seems a mere misnomer as it is on the face of the earth that problems are thrashed out and often, couples strive to get along, even if they are incompatible.

Asha Iyer Kumar examines three different cases, and convinces the reader that marriages have to be worked on with diligence and patience. She has an easy style that hooks the reader, as her stories deal with the resolution of conflict, followed by acceptance. What makes these stories believable is the fact that these dilemmas could appear in any marriage in a world where the institution of marriage is also taking a beating. The author shows no inclination to soften the blow.

As the saying goes,
“A relationship is like a house. When a light bulb burns out you do not go and buy a new house, you fix the light bulb.”







Thursday, October 18, 2018

Love.Exe by Manju Nambiar

A Sweet Romantic Comedy Making You Fall in Love



Love.Exe opens with the protagonist, Nitya Balakrishnan, being accepted into the prestigious Stanford University for a fully funded graduate programme. She is elated, and all set to live her dreams in the USA. However, her mother, who is a soap drama addict, offers the most ludicrous reasons to dissuade her from going so far away from home.
“She was a drama queen at home. She cried at the drop of a hat, whimpered, sobbed and used strong theatrical words to express herself.”

There is an undercurrent of good humour that runs through the book, whether it deals with references to Nitya’s older cousin sisters, who had taken “literature and commerce respectively,” “had got married at the age of twenty-one,” and “which to my mother was the shortcut to a blissful life.”

The chapter names read like a synopsis of the book, peppered with interesting details that allow the reader a glimpse into what lies ahead.

Just as Nitya is getting set for her US movie, a tsunami of sorts visits their home in the form of Janaki Aunty who has come to “see” her for her son, Ganapaty. After an interesting meeting where the visitor polishes off all the snacks provided for her, Nitya is determined not to say “Yes” to marriage. However, her first meeting with the aforesaid Ganapaty makes her change her mind, and within a week they get engaged.

A gaggle of well-meaning aunts lands up to give Nitya amusing dollops of advice on marriage and how to manage her in-laws, advice that she ignores with a smile, determined to live her own life the way she thinks fit.

Suddenly, Nitya’s life takes an unexpected turn and she has to make a choice between marriage and Stanford. Luckily for her, her parents support her dreams and she makes her way to San Francisco. Stanford welcomes her in as she slowly gets used to the American way of doing things. She does get a jolt when she realises that her roommate is male, and even more so when he gets himself a beau. As the assignments get tougher, she tried to keep afloat, and on Valentine’s Day, she finds herself stuck with no date, a fraudulent project mate, a stern professor and a touch of flu.

However, soon after, even before she graduated, Nitya soon lands a dream job with Yahoo. She also clears her driving test after six arduous attempts under Andy’s patient tutelage. After a four-week holiday in Kerala, she gets back to the US to take up her new job.
Is it fate that makes Ganapaty come back into her life? When he takes care of her when she is under the weather, she begins looking at him in a different manner. “Was I beginning to accept him into my life or was I just relieved to know that he was doing okay and was back in office?”

However, what was the alluring Cici doing in Ganapaty’s life? What are Nitya’s feelings about their friendship? Has she successfully managed to install the programme of falling in love, truly, madly and deeply? Would she be able to forget how Ganapaty had jilted her years ago? These questions and many other get resolved by the end of this enjoyable romance.

Manju Nambiar has an easy conversational style that makes the reader smile. Nowhere does a feeling of strain come in as her writing flows on, with little hints of suspense and a wonderful comic timing that act as the perfect foil to the sweet little romance that meanders through the narrative.

This is an ideal book for one who wants a light, engaging read.




Sunday, October 14, 2018

Loudmouths in Public Spaces



                                                                        Deviant Art

Noise pollution is a word much bandied about in a world that is being suffocated by all kinds of pollution. Our roads are clogged with traffic, where drivers relentlessly blow horns, even as helpless pedestrians look around for an inch of space to walk on. Brakes squeal, auto drivers skid all over the place and irate commuters give in to temper tantrums in the middle of the road, giving rise to more mayhem than ever.

Imagine a scenario when you are travelling along, listening to FM Radio, where a well-modulated voice tells you to sit back and enjoy your drive. “Take deep breaths, and keep your eyes on the road...!” Just as you are being lulled to a drowsy feeling of wellness, a bike swerves right in front, causing you to slam on your brakes with a jerk. “What a jerk!” is the thought that shoots through your shaken brain, pun definitely intended.

The unkindest cut comes when the said bike driver shakes a clenched fist at you, and screams, “Crazy, are you? Can’t you see where you’re going?” It is time to get out of the car, point an accusing finger and scream back in a louder and more impressive tone. “Who are you calling crazy? Weren’t you the idiot who jumped in front of my car?” Noise pollution, indeed! By then, an interested crowd would have formed, eyes alive with curiosity, and heads that swerve from side to side almost akin to watching a tennis match.


                     
                                                                  Mitchell Hadley

Perhaps, we are a loud nation in our own right. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones, it is said. However, people who live in apartments should not throw their voices around either. I had gone to a friend’s house on the third floor and in the midst of an entertaining conversation, I suddenly heard loud chanting from the distance. At my look of askance, my friend grinned, saying, “Oh, that gentleman lives on the ground floor and he and his wife have regular arguments, which are audible to the entire lot of people living here.” 

“Doesn’t it bother you?” I couldn’t help asking.

“Well, it did at the beginning. Now, we have got used to it. When you can’t avoid it, enjoy it!” Her breezy answer made me smile.

Just last week, my husband and I went to a restaurant for lunch. Since we were a trifle early, the place was empty. As I sipped my lime-mint cooler, glancing at the menu, I suddenly heard a loud voice barking orders. When we looked around, a man was striding in, talking in hands-free mode, giving instructions to some unfortunate soul who had awoken his ire, or so it seemed. The voice reverberated through the silent interior, broke into our eardrums and shattered the peace that we had been enjoying. I could hardly hear myself speak, and my husband looked pointedly at the man who had by now sat down. There were two chartered accountants whom he was interviewing for a job in Mumbai and by the end of the conversation, I could myself have applied for the job, so ear-piercing were his questions.
The two applicants were obviously softer, and answered to the point, even as the foghorn kept talking to them, and into his phone. 

There was a pause as they began to eat, and then the voice said, cutting through the silence once again, “You have seen how I address you, right?” I don’t know what came over me, for right in the split silence that followed, I replied, “Very loudly!” Though I was not loud, the retort came out clearer than I had expected it to, and I could imagine shock-waves going through the minds of three men.

The silence that followed was such a relief. Obviously, the man was too shell-shocked to react, and the silence continued till the end of his meal, and ours.


                                                                         Pinterest

What is the psyche behind using public spaces as one’s personal space? Why do people behave as though they have never used mobile phones in their lives, as they shout into them, almost causing ear drums around to crack in protest? I can only imagine the effect they have on the hapless souls listening to them at the other end. These foghorns barge into spaces, their voices entering the room before them, and the whole world is forced to eavesdrop unwillingly as they wax eloquent about their personal lives, their myriad achievements, the assets they own (apart from a particularly invasive voice) and salacious gossip.


                                                                        saryan.info

The other irritant is when a rooster crows, loud and clear, in a cinema theatre or a hall where an event is taking place. Despite every MC worth his salt reminding folks to turn off their mobiles well before the start, there will be one or two uncaring souls who do not do so. In the midst of an interesting discussion on stage or a lively scene being enacted, the rooster will keep crowing at intervals, and the owners will have the cheek to pick up their calls and shout, drowning the voices on stage. Talk about having the hide of a rhinoceros!  Hisses and boos follow, as heads swerve and gimlet-stares do little to allay the situation. The rhinoceros continues, little realising that if looks could kill, he would be a heap of cinders on the floor at that moment.


                                                                           Bluesauvage.com

                                                        Life's Journey to Perfection

A few commandments to be followed:

1.      Do not assume that you are the only person in the world.
2.      Do not assume that the whole world is interested in you.
3.      The mobile phone does not keep you alive; your breaths do.
4.      Keep your phones on silent mode in public spaces that demand silence.
5.      Only stage actors need to throw their voices across the room.
6.      Do not behave like a star player, even if Shakespeare did say that all men and women are merely players. He did not mean it in the way it is being taken today.
7.      Respect every person’s personal space. Trespassers will be prosecuted.
8.      Finally, keep your decibel levels under control, whatever the provocation. You may love your voice; others might not.

After all, who was it who said, “There are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict? Walk away; the battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it is with themselves.”  


 

                                                                  Delightful quotes

THE WORK-AT-HOME MILITARY WIFE by Chandana Banerjee

The blurb prepares you for what lies within – “A quickstart guide to creating a pack-and-carry career and work-from-home lifestyle ...