Mundane musings, Parenting

Stop Telling Your Daughter She’s Pretty

Ever since Darling Daughter’s birth, I am witness to people constantly telling her how cute she is. Everyone who met her commented on her appearance, her dress, shoes, hair style. Initially I thought maybe because she’s a baby people didn’t have much to comment on. Soon she was a smart and active toddler. She was a good talker and before long you could have a meaningful conversation with her. Still people continued to compliment on how pretty she looks. It sort of bothered me but I never took it too seriously until Darling Daughter started giving a lot of importance to how she’s looking. She was old enough to understand and smart enough to process that she received more compliments when she looked more girly. As a result there came a time when she refused to wear anything but dresses. She still refuses to tie her hair up because she feels she doesn’t look very nice that way.

I have been guilty of giving such compliments myself. I understand its a habit we get into because our culture expects women to look beautiful before they can be termed smart or intelligent or creative. Media also reinforces these stereotypes. Around an year ago Darling Daughter was watching a cartoon about a dinosaur family she had not watched before. She told me something the Mumma dinosaur said or did and I asked her how she knows it’s the Mumma and not the Daddy dinosaur and my daughter who was all of 3 years that time told me because she has longer eye lashes and pink cheeks!! 

We may think they are too small but they notice the tiniest things. I was so unhappy with the animators. Why did they have to beautify female animals for a show meant for kids? The books of opposites often have picture of a boy with shabby clothes under ‘Dirty’ and a dolled up girl under ‘Clean’. I am yet to see a book that has the reverse pictures.


This is what we are feeding into our children’s minds unconsciously and it’s extremely unhealthy. During my short stint as a Pre-school teacher I first hand saw many little girls’ aversion to paint, sand, mud… Anything that would make their hands dirty. Hardly any boy was concerned about dirt and appearance. It can’t be all genetic, somewhere we are responsible for it.

Seeing how Darling Daughter is affected by so much importance to vanity has made me change the way I talk to little girls now. I have also started requesting family and close friends to tone down their appearance-centric compliments and focus on her other qualities. Whenever she says something about looking pretty or beautiful I tell her that being kind and smart is more important than being pretty. On every possible occasion I drill into her mind that people who are kind and polite always look good no matter what they wear, but people who are not very kind don’t always look nice despite wearing lovely clothes. 

Thankfully Darling Daughter has started to respond, and is getting more open about wearing clothes other than dresses and occasionally tying her hair differently. I’m not against her wearing clips or frocks, but the reason why she makes these choices bothers me. I know how our society expects too much from a woman and I want my daughter to overcome those expectations. I want her to feel comfortable in her skin and not be vain. 

I want her to love her body the way she is and not let anyone define the benchmarks of beauty for her. I don’t want her to look at others for approval where her appearance is concerned. The earlier generations have suffered enough, this generation needs to have healthy self-esteem and body image.

There is nothing wrong in making an effort to look beautiful and to dress well but there is a right time for that. This is her time to run wild, jump in muddy puddles, get her hands and clothes messy doing things she enjoys – not playing Miss Prim and Proper.


-A

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Mundane musings

When Your Misery Makes You Happy 


It’s common knowledge that some people derive happiness from others miseries, but do you know that misery can be pleasurable to the one who’s miserable too?

I was introduced to this concept during my graduation. I had a friend who was more like my soul-sister. She was wise beyond her years and knew me better than I did myself. She was also my room mate and we spent lot of time together. There was a time when I used to be very low and sad. She saw me wallow in my insignificant miseries day after day and possibly got annoyed. Having the good judgement that its a sensitive and explosive topic for a discussion, she wrote me a letter telling me how she felt about my situation and the way I was handling it.

In her letter she wrote that misery can also be a source of pleasure and I had become a person who wanted to glorify the tiniest miseries in my own mind so I could feel good and happy. Her words stuck a raw nerve. I read and reread her letter, mulled over her words and concluded that what she said was shockingly true.

Misery is self indulgent. Sometimes people find it hard to let go of things that make them miserable, or make efforts to improve their situation because misery is easy and familiar. Its always the same so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise. Happiness takes effort and can go away as soon as it came. The fall from a peak of happiness can be very painful, misery has no such risk. Happiness is unreliable, misery is more permanent hence comforting. These are few reasons why some people prefer to stay miserable than try to find happiness. 


You may be thinking that I am out of my mind but hey! I did my research. Here are a few snapshots of things people said about their relationship with distress. 

However, I feel there’s more to it than the comfort and security.

  • Sympathy. Even those who vehemently deny needing sympathy fall prey to this pleasure their misery provides. An off-hand remark about how others are better off that you, a perfectly timed sigh or a strong-looking expression goes a long way in making people feel sorry for you which is rewarded by kind attention and acknowledgement of your desolate situation. It indulges your ego in some twisted way. There is a certain addiction in the way people attend to you when they hear about your problems, the way they care for you because they feel bad you had to go through tough times. Most people don’t want to hurt or neglect a person who’s already in pain, while people who have a normal life and are happy are easy to abuse and hurt.
  • Misery makes you feel entitled. You can say that others won’t understand your pain because they haven’t suffered your loss and feel great about bearing it all with a smile. Moreover, there’s nothing special about being happy. It should be the norm, right? But misery, well, now that’s unusual, hence special. Being miserable and having something major to credit it to makes you feel like a martyr, something that separates you from the lesser mortals who are happy or are leading a normal life.
  • Misery is a bailout card. A miserable person can be selfish without feeling guilty. You can get away with hurting others, being rude or jealous because “you are so miserable you can’t think straight”. You can make rude jokes on yourself or compare your situation with another less unfortunate person to highlight your tragedy but no one can dare say anything that remotely reminds you of it, because that would be “rubbing salt on your wounds”. Yea, you are entitled to joke about it because its your tragedy not theirs. 
  • Misery is easy to talk about. Human nature is biased for all things negative. Most people rarely share their joys with others but readily share their sorrows, it is difficult for us to praise someone but easy to criticize, we crib more than we appreciate. I don’t know why that is but sad things are easy to talk about. Don’t believe me? Be conscious of your casual discussions for the next few days (not business talks) and notice that sooner or later the conversations drift to the sad state of society or the poor infrastructure or corruption or another negativity.


P.S. – If you have had a tragedy in your life that you are not able to overcome, my words may seem harsh and I apologize for it. I am not talking about people who are sad , but about those who have started to derive pleasure from it. It is a sensitive topic and has been written only for academic purposes. 

Motherhood, Mundane musings

An Everlasting Bond


The moment a girl is born,

The mother glows in maternal pride-

The pride of creating a new life.

She’s the first teacher who teaches her say ‘Ma’

She shares her first solitary hesitant steps,

And is always there

When her daughter needs love, support, inspiration.

She knows very well all her feelings – 

The occasional blues, the conspiratory giggles….

After all, she was also a girl at a time.

She watches her grow into a gorgeous lass,

Reaching her own shoulders,

Slipping in her own shoes.

She sees in her daughter her own youth.

 There comes a time, when she realizes

Her daughter has grown

To be a promising young lady.

And then, she stands back,

To let her take her own flight into adulthood.

She lets her move away from her shadow and her caring hearth.

Despite the distances,

Her words linger in her child’s life forever,

Scenting it with an aroma of love and goodwill.

At her daughter’s each sensible act

 She sees her grow a little older,

 And herself grow a little younger!

-A

PS: I had written the above piece way back in 1999. Don’t remember now what had inspired me to write something which I knew so little about. This poem is true for a son too but this is the way it was written. No bashing on that please! 

Mundane musings

Why I Support Hema Malini For Not Sympathizing with Pratyusha Banerjee 


Pratyusha Banerjee – young, beautiful, successful, popular Pratyusha Banerjee committed suicide on 1st April. My friend N who’s an avid follower of the show thought it was a distasteful April fool’s joke, and millions of us wish it was.

I hardly follow Hindi TV channels and have never watched the show but knew a lot about Anandi and recognized her too. This speaks volumes about her success, and she was only 24!!

I and N were talking about the suicide and we both agreed that it was a cowardly and selfish act. It’s easy to end your life but the ones who are living are only left behind with questions and what-ifs. Since we both have young kids our conversation soon moved on how to make our children emotionally strong and other parenting challenges.

Couple of days later social media was all over Hema Malini, calling her insensitive and bashing her left, right and center. I wondered why was it so difficult for people, especially mothers to understand where she was coming from. Then couple of days ago a new article from Shobha De claiming that Hema Malini has lost her mind caught my eye and made me lose it.

First of all, Shobha De it’s you who has lost her mind and not Hema Malini. And I’m not saying it because I’m a die hard fan or anything. I support her because I have a daughter myself and the very thought of her contemplating such a step anytime in her life scares the sh*t out of me.

Shobha De has diligently mentioned in her article “Star kids are often the hardest hit. The expectations are pitched sky high. And if they fail to match the stupendous success of their parents, they are called ‘losers’.” Perhaps she forgot that Hema Malini ruled the film industry at a time, and so did her husband. Her step sons and her daughters have been part of the industry too. She is the last person who needs to be told how life is tough for star kids and how audience put them through undue pressure.

I agreed wholeheartedly to the part which said “The stress of surviving in what is aptly called ‘tinsel town’ takes a heavy toll. Pratyusha had tasted success, and failure. Perhaps she couldn’t handle either.” Hema Malini’s own daughter had to handle failure too. And given her family background it wouldn’t have been an easy thing to accept.

The first time I heard the word suicide was when I was very young. We had family friends who’s daughter had recently failed a major test. The mother had confided in my mother that she worried about her daughter. She used to be so depressed all the time that they were scared if she’ll commit suicide to escape the shame of failure. That’s what my mother was sharing with my father when I had overheard their conversation and added a new word in my vocabulary. Thankfully our family friend studied harder and cleared the test next year instead of committing suicide. But in the years that followed I heard and read in newspaper about many children taking this road when they couldn’t cope up with studies or didn’t get through a prestigious enough college.

Now, consider Hema Malini as a mother. Esha Deol had to match up to the extremely high standards set by her parents and elder brother, and she failed miserably over and over again. Who knows if Hema Malini worried senseless like our family friends? Who knows if she tried day and night to keep her daughter’s moral up so she doesn’t succumb to the pressure?

It is fair when Shobha De says “She was just unable to cope with her overburdened life. Like many other persons – young and old.” But what will happen if everyone with an overburdened life starts hanging themselves? Moreover, what about the fan who committed suicide in front of her 2 year old because she couldn’t accept Pratyusha’s death? How can one support that kind of irresponsible action?

I support Hema Malini because I can understand the pain Pratyusha’s mother must be feeling. No body knows what drove her to take such a drastic step, and no one ever will be able to fully comprehend what really went through the fragile mind of Pratyusha during her last days. But I am certain of one thing – nothing could have been bad enough for her to commit suicide. And I can bet you that her mother feels the same. No matter how bad it was, it was not worth her life. I believe this is what Hema Malini felt too when she posted those tweets that irked everyone. She has been there so she knows, better than most of us.

Life is getting so complicated and competitive, I can not even begin to understand how tough it would be for my sweet little daughter when she grows up. My daughter, who’s delicate, shy, pampered and so protected, will one day be facing the harsh world on her own. She won’t confide in me every time something bothers her, she won’t always share how upset a failure made her. She will have to take every downfall in her stride and move on. If today I empathize with Pratyusha’s suicide I am telling her when she feels the going is getting too tough for her its okay to call it quits. And mind you, its very subjective. We don’t know about Pratyusha’s challenges. Some other girl might be able to endure much more than that and some may crumble at the slightest defeat. Where do we draw the line as to what kind of challenge is worthy of a life?

I know for sure, no matter what happens with my baby girl when she grows up, there’s NOTHING she can’t fight, NOTHING that would even come close to the value of her life.

Loser may not be the most correct word for Pratyusha but didn’t she become one when she let her problems win?

Bhawnaon ko samjho yaar…. don’t twist the words to get attention. Don’t digress from the main issue here. Let’s stop glorifying her fight and empathizing with her weakness. It was a cowardly and selfish act and no amount of heart rendering speeches will make it right.

-A

Mundane musings

The Forgotten Art of Letter Writing 

When I was a child not everyone had a phone in their house, mobile phones were only seen in the movies if at all and internet was unheard of. Most inter city communication happened through letters. The postman used to be a busy man and we anticipated his peculiar call of ‘Khanna ji” every afternoon. I grew up seeing my mother exchange letters with her siblings. There were frequent postcards from my Mama (Mom’s brother) in his swift cursive handwriting, and numerous inland letters from my Masi (Mom’s sister). The postcards were open to all and usually contained seasonal greetings and tit bits of news from my Mama’s family. The inland letters were discreet and long. Once they arrived I never saw them again. When I was old enough to write I used to write to my cousins, uncles and aunts, but it wasn’t much fun writing about weather and routine things just for the sake of writing something.

During class 8 one of my friends moved to another city. Interstate calling was expensive so we continued our friendship through letters. Couple of years later she introduced me to one of her friends in the new school and I made my first pen friend. That was the beginning of my letter writing journey. My pen friend ‘SH’ and I used to write really long letters to each other – about what’s  happening at school to our latest crush to what we did during summer vacation to the new clothes that we bought. We continued to write for many years and our letters evolved from being too childish to a bit deeper.

When I moved to a different city for my graduation I got the opportunity to write to all my friends and my parents. I was the crazy girl who kept envelopes, stamps, letter pad, address book and glue stick in my college bag at all times. Whenever we had a free lecture I would sit in a corner and write away. The letters were stamped and sealed and dropped in the letter box on our way back to the hostel.

My friends were kind enough to indulge me and always wrote back. The eager waiting  for the postman continued and on most days after lunch we waited for him to arrive before heading back to our rooms. The University postman even started to recognize me and my friends and would hand us our letters if he saw us anywhere in the campus.

I was fortunate to have my best friend from school Gesu as my roommate during my first hostel experience. I used to consider her my soul sister and it was amazing how we connected at so many levels. We always had so much to talk about and most of it was far from the typical teenage drama. Gesu loved writing letters too and we often wrote to each other despite sharing a hostel room. The main reason we chose to write rather than talk is because she used to say when we talk we often get distracted and the conversation takes a few unexpected turns leading us far from where we wanted to reach. While letter writing is a straight road, no distractions, no wrong turns – just plain simple road to the place we want to go. Also sometimes there are things that are easier to write rather than speak, sometimes it’s more convenient to communicate without looking at each other. Those letters that Gesu and I wrote to each other were profound and I have not written more meaningful letters in my life.

Letters also helped my mom write about things she would never tell me in person. My parents were raised in big families that were not too expressive. They too found it hard to express their love and other feelings in person. Letters gave my mother a way to communicate with me without feeling awkward or self conscious. She didn’t write often but whenever she did I got to know more about her and her feelings than I did when I lived in the same house with her.

 

Around the time I graduated internet took over most communication. Sending letters became a pain and emails seemed like a more convenient option. Very soon that also stopped. Now its been ages since I wrote a proper email to anyone just to say that I was thinking about them. Today I don’t write emails, I just call or we chat on Whatsapp. While nothing beats the instant high of hearing your loved ones voice, it can not compensate for the old world charm of a letter. A chat may be able to help you connect real time with a friend but you can’t save it for future and savor the feelings behind the words.

Electronic media despite its ease of delivery and God speed seems a little impersonal. When I read a letter I saw the handwritten words – how leisurely or swiftly they were penned. The pressure on the paper, the way punctuation marks were made, how the letter was signed – all these things were windows into the mind of the person writing the letter. A letter could be read and re-read and every time it conjured new meanings and emotions. Words typed in an email or a Whatsapp chat don’t convey half the meaning. I may be crying and at the same time making smileys and cracking jokes on a chat, and no one can know.

There was a time I used to recognize each of my friends’ handwriting but I can’t recognize hand writing of anyone I have met after college except for my husband’s. My mom who is not very comfortable with electronic mediums seldom writes to me now. Friends don’t pour out their hearts on paper, they do it on the Whatsapp chat window now but its too difficult to save that particular bit in case I want to re-read.

I understand that traditional letter are too high maintenance. Considering our current lifestyle emails are better than handwritten letters in many ways. The ease of writing and the instant delivery is just a small incentive. I love how all my electronic letters are available at the click of a button and I don’t need to bother storing or carrying them when I move houses or even worry about anyone opening them up.

I am doing my bit to keep the tradition alive by writing notes to VMJ and VSJ. I have created individual email accounts for both my children and send emails whenever they do something sweet or on reaching a milestone or when I am feeling particularly loving ;).  Sometimes I attach a picture or a video for reference and plan to give it to them as a birthday gift on their 10th or 13th birthday. Hope they enjoy reading these letters and are moved to explore letter writing themselves. 

My husband’s cousin sister seems to resonate these feelings and often encourages her toddler daughter to send letters to VMJ . VMJ jumps with joy to see a letter addressed to her in the mail and promptly makes a card/draw a picture and mails back. It’s a fantastic feeling to see the new generation enjoying the pleasures of writing and receiving letters. Wish they continue writing. Fingers crossed!  

 -A

Motherhood, Mundane musings, Parenting

Joys Of Having a Three-nager

Soon after her third birthday I felt my daughter grew up overnight and her ways of talking, reasoning and carrying herself went through a major change. She often surprised me with her understanding of things and her clarity of expression. Sometimes her words were shocking and sometimes hilarious. It was then that I realized after adorable one and terrible two comes the three-nager stage, when they are still young but old enough to exert their personality and explore their individuality.

  

Initially I blamed the change on our international move and arrival of her baby brother but as I spoke more with parents of kids same age I realized it was a common issue everywhere.

As VMJ turns 4 later this week I was reminiscing about all the things she has said during the past year that caught me off guard.

  • “This is pretend”- This was the first time I figured my little girl is not so little anymore. We were in a park and there was a birthday party happening close by. The host had called for a fairy performer to entertain the kids who all seemed to be 3-5 years old. The fairy performer had a nice costume on with glittery wings and a lovely floral tiara. As I saw the fairy in action I immediately called VMJ over to show her the fairy, expecting her to jump with joy and surprise. I was deeply disappointed when she didn’t even blink an eye and gave me a flat “This is pretend mumma”. What on earth happened to sweet innocence of childhood?
  • “Leave me alone” – I knew this would come one day but I wasn’t prepared to hear it so early in my parenting journey.
  • “Could you please not bother me” – Another phrase that came as a shocking surprise.
  • “This is not fair” – Same as above. It took me a while to digest that she can understand and express the feeling behind this phrase.
  • “Because I need to” – Her reasons for doing things have become very grown -up like. She’s started telling me she “needs” to read a book or go out or watch a cartoon. Yes, I agree that kids imitate adults but this one knows exactly when to say “want to” and when to say “need to”.
  • “I heard that mumma” – I used to feel she was still a baby and needed to be explained complex parts while reading a storybook. One day I was reading her a story and feeling it might be too complicated for her to understand I repeated the text in simpler language. “I heard that mumma” came her prompt response.
  • “I know what I’m doing” – I can’t tell her anymore how to wear her shoes or put a clip on her hair. Apparently she always knows what she’s doing. Like my friend says the typical girly ‘Know-it-all” attitude has kicked in big time!
  • “Because I was lonely” – VMJ has started understanding the concept of being lonely and refuses to stay alone coloring or reading while I put her baby brother down for a nap in the other room.
  • “It’s so boring sitting at the table without family” – First feeling lonely and then bored, this generation surely is learning fast.
  • “Papa you look cool” – Her compliments are more grown -up like too. Earlier it used to be only ” Papa you look nice” or “I like your shirt”. Now they range from cool to smart and handsome.
  • “I know that… You don’t tell me” – If I try to repeat a relatively complex concept or name I have told her before I am immediately shushed.
  • “You’re hurting my feelings” – What I took decades to tell my parents, VMJ mastered in 3 years.
  • “You are not making me happy” – This one tugged at my heart for a couple of days until I realized how VMJ was manipulating me with this. 
  • “I’m getting frustrated” – I thought the minimum legal age to feel “frustrated” was at least 10 years!!
  • “Don’t tease me” – VMJ is old enough to understand our silly banter and smart enough to tell me not to tease her. Really? Wasn’t this supposed to come a little later?
  • “Stop kidding me” – I would but darling you are very much a ‘kid’… Hahahaha
  • “Did you change your mind?”: We were playing together and I told VMJ that I was going to make Chai. After I put the pan on gas I started tidying up the kitchen waiting for the water to boil. In the meantime VMJ had got her tea set out and set the table. She asked me again “Mumma, are you making Chai?” and I told her that I’m making green tea. “Did you change your mind Mumma?” asked my darling princess. “Yes, I did.” “OK, I changed my mind too. I’ll also have green tea.” 

As she’s helping me plan her birthday, deciding the guest list, suggesting games that make perfect sense, picking the snacks and return gifts for her friends I am happily surprised at her maturity. At the same time a part of me is getting jittery of what to expect in months to come. I hope I am not writing a post about Frightening-Four the same time next year! 

Would love to read your anecdotes of having a three-nager at home. Moms of younger kids beware… you don’t know what you are in for once your beloved turns 3!

-A

Life, Mundane musings

Dare to Dream! (Part 2)

So Aunty called and he recognized her, and thus began their friendship. They talked often and Aunty tried to attend all his concerts because that’s the only way they could see each other. He used to send VIP passes to her and couple of times they rode to the concert venue together. He also introduced Aunty to his close friends including a famous poet who often accompanied him to the concerts. Since he had separated from his wife and Aunty was in the middle of a divorce herself their meetings continued to fuel the fire in their hearts.

Once Aunty was visiting Mumbai for a family function and hoped to meet the singer. Since he was busy and Aunty had a short trip he invited Aunty to a launch party he had to attend. Aunty excused herself from the family function and went to see him with Tinki in tow in total filmy style. He spent lot of time with Aunty and Tinki despite being chased by a number of people. Even with the infrequent calls and brief rendezvous they had a chemistry that showed, and his attention at the launch party further made his interest in her very obvious to all present.

Unfortunately in 2007 the singer fell sick and had to be hospitalized. His wife came back to take care of him. She must have heard or sensed something as Aunty got to learn by the haughty looks the singer’s wife gave her at concerts thereafter. Once she even spoke rudely to Aunty when she had called for the singer and told her not to call again.

The gentle singer seemingly bowed down under his wife’s wishes and distanced himself from Aunty. He changed his phone number and didn’t meet her eye at concerts. Aunty had to call his poet friend (who remembered her of course, making Aunty believe that she wasn’t imagining things) to get hold of the new mobile number. The wife had tried to close all channels of communication but who can tame another person’s heart! His songs kept telling a different story, which gave Aunty hope and strength even while they were not in touch.

The singer held a concert in Aunty’s city, which is a smallish place and was probably holding his concert for the very first time. They were not talking those days and for some reason Aunty didn’t get to know about the event through other channels and missed it. She regretted it deeply when the singer passed away couple of weeks later, his concert at Aunty’s city being his last ever!

4 years ago when I woke up to the news of his passing I immediately thought about Aunty and had the urge to call and pay my condolences. I didn’t know in what emotional state she’d be. Even though they did not have a formal relationship, he was an integral part of her long before they met. And after her divorce she didn’t even feel guilty about her feelings for him, and encouragement from him only made them deeper and stronger.

Tum Hamare Nahin To Kya Gum Hai
Hum Tumhare To Hain Yeh Kya Kum Hai

Kuch rishton ki paribhasha nahi hoti. As the song goes “Pyar ko pyar hi rehne do koi naam na do…”

-A

Life, Mundane musings

Dare to Dream! (Part 1)

Have you ever had a crush on a celebrity? Like a really huge crush on a big time celebrity? What will you say if you come face to face with them? How will you feel if this happens not once but more than a few times? Have you ever wondered what will happen if the celebrity shows a keen interest in you too, singling you out from millions of fans?

Impossible as this may sound, I have had the opportunity to see one such crazy dream come true almost effortlessly. And this post is about how love finds a way even in most unexpected ways, long after you have given hope of finding it.

I had a great friend at school, let’s call her Tinki. Tinki’s mom was very unconventional – she was fun, friendly, very understanding of our ‘crushes’ and mood swings and frankly talked about a variety of topics that other parents usually avoid. In short she was nothing like the other moms. We girls flocked around at Tinki’s home and loved to chat with aunty who always listened to our heartaches and sometimes offered us advice. 

Aunty was extremely fond of a ghazal singer and would listen to his songs all day every day. Maybe because Aunty was unhappy in her marriage or maybe because she did resonate with the singer’s compositions, she felt a deep connection with him. As we talked about cute guys in  school and our crushes Aunty would hum the songs from her favorite singer and joke about having a crush herself. 

After school Tinki and I went to college in different cities. As luck would have it, during a college function I learned that this particular singer is an alumni from my college itself and sometimes visited a close friend who lived in the university campus. The local photo studios proudly displayed pictures of him at the university concerts that he often participated in. Excitedly I shared this with Aunty when I met her during my next visit home. 

By this time Aunty had already had the opportunity to meet him when she went to attend one of his concerts. Though the event got cancelled because of rain, it proved as a blessing in disguise . Heartbroken at not being able to see him on stage Aunty and a bunch of Tinki’s friends had decided to hang out at the hotel the singer was staying, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. When the event management guys questioned Aunty had lied that she’s a relative and could get ahead of the queue of waiting fans. Desperate to see her long time crush and impatient with the knowledge that he’s just across the door Aunty had barged into the room where he was meeting local artists. She managed to have a brief conversation and was super duper happy. 

With her bold entry and candid conversation Aunty felt she had left an impression on the great ghazal maestro, stating his next music video proof enough. Infact through their decade long ‘friendship’ she saw glimpse of their story in his ghazals. Now who knows what had really inspired that certain music video and those numerous songs, for matters of the heat are often complex and who am I to question love’s mysterious ways!

“Bring me his phone number or address na Aparna. Ask your local friend, she may know where his friend lives. It’s such a small town afterall. Won’t you do this for your aunty.” She urged with good humor, and I complied.

A phone call to my local friend was enough to have her ride her scooty and locate the singer’s friend’s home. It wasn’t tough for he lived in the university campus as did my friend. Even if it was, my sweet friend never mentioned. That tiny paper containing his Mumbai address and his office phone numbers changed the course of her life, or so Aunty says.

Aisi Aankhen Nahin Dekhi

Aisa Kajal Nahin Dekha 

Aisa Chehra Nahin Dekha 

Aisa Dilbar Nahin Dekha 

Uske Kangan Ka Khanakna 

Jaise Bulbul Ka Chehakna 

Uske Pazeb Ki Cham Cham 

Jaise Barsaat Ka Mausam

A

Book Review, Mundane musings

The Disaster in ‘Beautiful Disaster’

  

Picture Source

If you are wondering what the title of this post is all about then I guess you haven’t heard about the book Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, or read it. 

I was recommended this book by my neighbor and it sat on my Kindle for nearly 2 years until I decided to read it. The book captivated me right from the beginning. It starts off as a typical good girl meets the bad boy story until the plots gets just a little denser. The ‘bad boy’ Travis is more gentlemanly than the ‘good boy’ of the story, the restraint and passion he shows is beyond normal…. But then that’s the stuff intense love stories are made of. His love and devotion reminds me of Radhe and Sanjay Singhania of sada apna Bollywood. And thankfully that’s where the similarity ends.

In the earlier chapters I loved the playful chemistry between Travis and Pigeon (or Pidge as he lovingly calls Abby) and ache for them to fall in love. Their misunderstandings, emotional drama and longing for each other is almost palpable and engulfs your heart and soul. 

However the book unnecessarily gets complicated. Event after event is thrust upon the readers making Abby and Travis go back and forth in their relationship. It seems that Jamie didn’t want a straight forward book and added the twists and turns just to make it more intricate. But instead of giving depth the complexities are unable to hold the momentum and kill the beautiful place the earlier chapters have created.

Half way through the book I was sure that this book will stay with me for a long long time, that I would not be able to look at a Pigeon without thinking about Travis and his undying love for Abby. There were moments when I was so engrossed in the book that I forgot everything and everyone around me. But in the later half I got bored with the ping pong game of Abby breaking up and getting back together with Travis. The first couple of times were cute and realistic but after that Abby started to feel selfish and self obsessed and Travis gets too good to be true. But even with these shortcomings the book was beautiful…. Until the disaster happened!! 

The real disaster in Beautiful Disaster is not Travis or Abby or Abby’s past. The real disaster is the way it ends. The climax should have made me giddy but it made me feel so disappointed that I regretted reading the book through the end. Had Jamie managed to keep the enchanting bubble from bursting it would have been in the league of The Bridges of Madison County for me. But the end seems rushed, immature and completely devoid of the initial magic. I feel that he got Abby’s character into too much of an emotional mess, so much so that he needed to make her do something big and silly in order to make up for her being so uptight. What she does at the end may not be that big a deal but to me it seemed preposterous and very unlike Abby. It seemed forced, as if Jamie lost the patience of thinking  through or had a deadline to meet. 

All said and done it is a fantastic love story, don’t let my bitterness about the end stop you from picking it up. It still deserves to be read and remembered. 

Looking forward to reading Walking Disaster, the story through Travis’s point of view… Not ready to let go of him just yet 😉

If you have read Beautiful Disaster I would love to read your comments on the book!

– A

PS. Ok, so I seem to have spoken too soon!! I read Beautiful Wedding and that gave me some answers of why Abby did what she did at the end of BD, and those seem pretty reasonable. It still couldn’t recreate the magic BD had woven but I was happy that the ending was not callous and stupid.
Oh! And I read Walking Disaster too, couldn’t finish because it seemed repetitive and since it’s from Travis’s point of view it lacks the enigmatic appeal which had made BD achingly beautiful. 

Mundane musings

Confessions of a Bibliomaniac

My romance with books dates back to my childhood. Growing up there were few things to keep me entertained. My father was strictly against cable TV, we lived in a nuclear family and there were few activities my elder brother and I enjoyed doing together. One of the few things that came to my rescue were my mother’s collection of Hindi literature, monthly magazines that my family subscribed to and an odd library book from school.  I devoured them all… Even old newspapers that made the covers of my mother’s books were not spared. I used to read while eating, while lying down in my bed before I slept, even on bus and train when we visited our relatives.

The love of reading continued to grow as I moved from Champak to Nancy Drew to Sophie Kinsella to EL James. I dabbled between various genres until I realized that I get too involved in a book, so much so that the characters and their journey in the book have a bearing on my moods. I am joyful and peppy when I’m reading Sophie Kinsella, I  was full of awe and wonder as I read Harry Potter and Unenchanted, and was totally love struck through Notebook and PS I Love You.

Every reader seeks something from a book and I seek positivity – be it in form of love, friendship, kindness or wonder. As long as there is light it works for me. My disposition changes with the way the book is progressing. Hassan’s words “For you, a thousand times over” haunted me for weeks if not months, Atlas Shrugged changed the way I thought and I cried for a long time (at 4 in the morning!) when Dumbledore was killed. I love when a book is able to move me so much, to bring out such strong emotions but honestly its exhausting to feel so overwhelmed very often. I want a book to be my happy place, where all tragedies make sense, where everyone finds love and friends, where all darkness turns to light. I want a book to be my refuge from the stress of daily life. I want a book that makes me smile not make my heart break into a million pieces.

Though I was always crazy for reading, this has magnified in the last few months. Managing my 2 munchkins and the housework without any help made reading next to impossible…. until I started reading a rather interesting novel through the in-flight entertainment service on our way back from a vacation. I couldn’t finish it during the flight and the book had me so captivated that I had to find it and finish it. I can’t explain the joy it gave me, it was as if I got a piece of my earlier life back. The life when I was just me – not a wife, not a mother. The feeling was so exhilarating that I wasn’t willing to give it up once the book ended. I downloaded reading apps on my phone and even though its not the healthiest way to read its the only way for me to keep a part of me alive. From that day onwards I find the term Bibliomaniac very fitting. I read as I brush my teeth, as I am waiting for tea to boil, as I lie in bed at night waiting for sleep to take over, even as I dry my hair post shampoo. I hardly ever get time to sit and read so I have no choice but to steal moments to be able to turn a couple more pages.

I am proud to say that reading has brought me to a very happy place. I may not read very deep or meaningful books but whatever I read makes me happy and a better person – and that’s enough for me.

Give yourself a gift today – a book, any book that you think you will enjoy reading; especially if you, like me, gave up or forgot reading because LIFE happened. Trust me that one book can flicker emotions that you didn’t even realize you missed, because when you read a good book magic happens!! 

  

Happy reading!

-A