Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Conversations: the very essence of Human Relationships

He wakes up from a splitting headache. The bedside clock shows 3am. The night is as still as the sea. It’s as if one would wake up a sleeping baby if you breathe a little louder.
The headache is from the cheap red wine he had with her last night. 

"We are cheap drunks," she says as she pours the wine like a craftsman at work. "But I prefer drinking straight from the bottle," he thinks as he watch her take a sip of it. They had gone out for a couple of drinks after work. 

Their conversation on society, culture, politics, religion, humanity, arts, ideas, beliefs and literature always excites him way too much. 

He has seen her for the last two decades yet it makes him anxious to see her again. Beads of sweat appears on his forehead at the thought of seeing her again. Being with her is talking excitedly about his passion. She challenges his thoughts, dreams and excites his soul.  

He still cannot fathom what it is with her. Is it the way she perceives the world? The way she tries to express about a thing? The way she puts it, ever so articulately? Those dreamy eyes and her porcelain skin. He can never get over it, he thinks as he listen to her describe the outline of the book she’s planning on writing. 

At times he thinks she is the strongest woman he has ever known. Invincible! No force on earth can subdue her. Yet when he look deep into her eyes, he’s convinced that there’s a fragile child deep inside whom he wants to protect and seal her forever in the tablet of his heart.

Conversations with her always surrounds on books, writings and philosophy. 
The mundanes of life ; growing up, going to college, getting married by 25, making babies, saving for the old age and finally leaving this planet seems things of another life. There’s stillness of time when with her. 

Adele’s ‘Hello from the other side...’ is heard softly in the car’s stereo.  
How can one be so satisfied this one moment? He often thinks. Yet when he is with her on that spot overlooking the valley in the distant city lights, away from the humdrum existence of life, this is what it should feel like, when I breathe my last, he thinks as he stare at her lips and hands talking about the surrealism of life.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What it means not to be on Facebook in the age of digital media

On a whim one lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to deactivate my facebook account and deleted the application from my phone altogether. Before I ditched the social media, I was asked a couple of questions as to why and for how long I’m deactivating the account (Facebook doesn’t let you go off easily).

A few hours later, I started to feel the void. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out Syndrome started to creep in me. 

In this digital age, our phones have become extension of ourselves, an extra limb. They remind us about everything in life ; when to wake up, how many steps you took, your do-to list, all information at the tap of the phone screen. If we leave the house without a phone, we feel disconnected. It’s even worse when the phone’s battery is about to be drained off. I feel like my life is at risk.Why? Because it's the ultimate chord to all the lives out there!

Facebook has been that awkward family dinner table where you’re compelled to be and remain there awkwardly against all your wishes. It has become ‘abnormal’ not to be on facebook now. A week later, friends called me sensing my disappearance from facebook. They rolled their eyes at me when I said I was unplugging from the internet. They were a little worried, you see. 

Studies show that not being on facebook is a sign that you’re abnormal and dysfunctional, or even dangerous. Psychologists say that staying away from social media is ‘suspicious.’ 
In all the recent crimes, criminals showed one common ground; not having a facebook profile. Baffling, isn’t it? 

But hey, I ain’t anyone of them. Neither do I have some malicious attempt at anything nor a wish to be seen as a misfit.

I was just trying to absorb myself in my thoughts without the distraction of social media. I have been meaning to unplug from the social media for some time now. To experience what it means to be disconnected.

Our current obsession with social media scares me. There’s this constant tug to check updates, emails, tweets, status updates. Or to obsess about how many likes a post garnered. We never sit and enjoy the sunset without taking a picture. Never sit at a coffee shop and simply watch the world go by without having to post about it. Never value time alone with someone we love without fiddling the phone.   

My disconnection from social media allowed me a great reflection time. It allowed me to be present in my thoughts, be mindful about it and let me appreciate the present. Without the distraction, I had great deal of time to do things I love; focus on my reading, writing, meeting friends without having to update about it, go out for walks and be productive at my work. At the end, I met a better version of myself.

I also learned that sometimes it’s very crucial for the soul to unplug from everything, like unplugging from the social media for me. It helps you to reflect, rejuvenate and become a better version of the self. Try doing that, I dare you and experience the difference in your soul.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Let’s talk about books

Hello there! It’s been long.

I haven’t been around here much, that’s because I was unplugging from the internet. It occurred to me that I was spending way too much time on the internet than required. Instead I wanted to invest that time productively; reading, exercising, spend time with family, with the dog. And I’m glad to report that it’s a successful work in progress.

Now, why am I here? To talk about books, of course. If I don’t do that, I think my head will burst since there’s too much of a thing running in my little brain. Let’s talk about books, shall we?  

Never Let Me Go
Rating: 4/5

The first book of the year and it was borrowed from a friend.

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. 

Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special-and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Though it was very slow at first but once I got the hang of it I loved it. I loved the writing style, in fact that’s the greatest strength of the book, I reckon. Kathy, the narrator is intensely thoughtful and analytical. It’s like she is talking to her confidante, and that confidante is YOU. I loved this book for its gothic darkness.

Rating: 4/5

These first major works of fiction by Haruki Murakami center on two young men--an unnamed narrator and his friend and former roommate, the Rat. 

Powerful, at times surreal, stories of loneliness, obsession, and eroticism, these novellas bear all the hallmarks of Murakami's later books, giving us a fascinating insight into a great writer's beginnings, and are remarkable works of fiction in their own right.

These are the kitchen table novellas of Murakami. For a beginner, I would not recommend these two works of Murakami.

It has become a ritual for me to include one or two of Murakami’s work in my reading list once in a while. It’s amazing that the most ordinary of things seems magical in his books. Like the nameless character, talking cats (which are mandatory), weird humans. Everything seems so weird yet you love it. Magic surrealism. 

It’s no secret that I love Murakami. If you see him, say that I said hello. 

The Saint, the surfer, and the CEO: A Remarkable story about living your heart’s desire
Rating 4/ 5

Once in a while, a book comes along that has the power and the wisdom to speak to the best part of us and awaken our highest selves to the miracle our lives were meant to be.  
It was with much reluctance that I picked up this book though it was lying on my desk for more than a year. Because I disliked The Monk who sold his Ferrari.

After seeing a blog post on such wonderful quotes from the book by Rima, I thought I should give it a try. I did not regret.  

I really enjoyed reading this book so much that I gave it to a friend after finishing it. I highly recommend this book to everyone. This is the only self-help book I liked.

Love and Misadventure
Rating 1/5

Love and Misadventure will take you on a rollercoaster ride through an ill-fated love affair- from the initial butterflies to the soaring heights - through to the devastating plunge.

But my rating. 1? Ha ha. Okay, I love poetry but not of these kind. It’s one of the worst poetry I have ever read. Awful! Let the poem speak for themselves.

Mornings With You

I slowly wake
as day is dawning,
to fingertips
and lips imploring.

The sheets against my skin,
he says,
like wrapping paper 
on Christmas morning.

If you call this poetry then I don’t know what poetry is. It’s like some scribble you do in high school when you’re bored in your Chemistry class.  I couldn’t understand the hype of Leav’s works and the cult following. I searched her a little more and found that her art works are quite popular on tumblr.

Wild swans
Rating  4/5

The story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history.

An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. 

Another read borrowed from a dear friend. It was a thrilling read! There’s so much you get to learn from this book that appalls you; honest history on Communist China and its people and culture and how the author survived to tell us a story. A review will not do justice to this book. You have to read it yourself.

Rating 4/5

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

This is a thoroughly entertaining read. I enjoyed every bit of it.

All the light we cannot see
Rating 4/5

Winner of the Pulitzer price and New York Times bestseller, All the light we cannot see is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

This book was getting all the well-deserved attention for its unique story and lyrical prose. It takes time for one to really get into the book. Meaning one needs a lot of patience. The impatient I’m, I had to wait arduously for something important to happen until the stories collided - but only briefly and unsatisfactorily, leaving me totally disappointed. But it’s worth the read. Tread with patience and you will enjoy it. I will have to pick this book up in the future again.

My Mother in-law’s son
Rating 3/5

Narrated from the perspectives of different characters, My Mother-In-Law’s Son is a revealing story of a Singapore and her people struggling to find their feet in the aftermath of a war. It also shows how people going through difficult circumstances can be susceptible to revolutionary ideas. Through Swee Gek’s personal fight against her oppressors, this novel also explores the meaning of love: of whether love can be unconditional or that it is always accompanied by possessiveness.

Heard so much on Singapore but this is the first book on Singapore that I read. It's a bold book and takes one on an emotional roller coaster. I would have rated the book 4 stars had it not been the vague ending.

The Secret History
Rating 4/5

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last - inexorably - into evil.

I finished reading the book last night. Let me tell you this. It’s a long book, over 20,000 words and 629 pages in my edition. It’s not just too long, it’s dense. It takes its time developing atmosphere and character quirks and some of the days in the book take dozens of pages to unfold. It is not a book to speed through. It’s a book to get stuck in and enjoy its warmth and the density. I had to keep track of my patience here again.

The characters are adorable, the hint, the breath of the supernatural, the slow building tension and the sense that I, as a reader was skillfully manipulated was electrifying. I loved it terribly! Tartt has a way with words. I’m sure a Literature student would be able to resonate a lot since Greek literature is the central theme in the book.

So that’s a wrap for the two months. Most of the reviews are taken from goodreads.  I’m currently reading Lady Susan for my book club which is happening in little less than two weeks’ time. What are you currently reading?


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