My First Book on Kindle Paper White | The Experience

Book Title: Half-Girlfriend

Author: Chetan Bhagat

Translator:  N/A

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Chetan Bhagat is a writer of Indian origin and widely recognized as popular stream writer. The New York Times calls him “the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history”. Of course, you can check the Wikipedia for more info. But I found his official website more informative. I found the Q & A very interesting.

Chetan’s style of writing at least for this novel was very down-to-earth and simple. If I read another story of his, then I can make out if his natural style is to be simple and to the point. But in this novel the storyteller’s voice is very distinctive which I liked.

Chetan as a storyteller gets to my sensitive emotional points, I am invested in the story that he draws out of those bear necessity words. I am someone who reads Virginia Woolf for light reading. I love complex sentences and I am a long sentence writer myself. If sentences get complex and beat around the bush, then one is studiously serious to offer something important to the world. All hail my misconceptions!

But then, if you the above kind of reader, then you are in for a shock, because the main characters one from Bihar and another from Delhi don’t do language. For the most parts, the story moves like an art movie giving an immense sense of reading between the lines. Storyteller was such a pleasure to listen to.

Story in a Nutshell:

A typical college love story and the fate of the lovers in the face of varied life challenges. Relationship definitions under Indian setting and how much goes into maintaining one. The story has been set in contemporary timeline and space-out for a few years. Will the lovers and their love succeed? Well, that is something you might want to read the book and get to know.

The leads Madhav Jha and Riya Somani are in a not-yet-there relationship. A tug of war of emotions that creep in slow process which indicate where the relationship is headed. Simple thing is that the story is about a boy who loves a girl. That girl feels she not yet ready for him and rest of the story is all about why she isn’t and if she would ever be ready to accept his love!

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

There were places in this novel, that I felt Chetan just chickened out. But one thing was very strong for him and that is his English is superlative in its simplicity. He never strayed away from simple and compound sentences and used complex sentences only if he was pushed by the narrative. This makes the story so smooth flowing in the head and reads well.

Books take the head space and I think of it as a tête-à- tête session between the storyteller and the reader. Unlike watching a movie, it is not a communal activity, though the discussion of the books among friends could be a group activity of like or different minded people. So, when I read the book, there were moments when I was rushing to put things together. But Riya’s reasons for her silence was such a shock for me. Do this say that woman are vulnerable all their life on earth.

But I felt Chetan didn’t do a psychological twist on it and couch crashed Riya. I liked that a lot. Sometimes, somethings need to be just not explicit but suggestive. The book is an excellent light read and a travel companion during transit.

This book was a little unusual for me, because I was in the mind of a male and with the view of woman’s thought process from male perspective. Though it was very interesting space to be in, I did feel that emotional complexity and frustration were beautifully administered.

My Opinion

Chetan Bhagat right after Shashi Tharoor was an extreme relief. Shashi’s book cooked my brain while Chetan’s book was a fluffy omelet. IMHO, I believe that this book is wonderfully light reading and of course, the movie version of this book has some beautiful songs.

Image Source:   Amazon

Feeding the Child Right

I feel truly inspired after my solids feeding session with my youngest niece D2 and the idea was to write a fairy tale; but then here I’m writing a CNF. Life is truly a wonderful gift and if one could spend time seeing it with the right attitude.

My nieces and nephews have always been my inspiration. I still remember that I wrote my first short story for my brother’s first daughter N. Then, I wrote a poem for A and for K my brother’s youngest daughter, I wrote a ballad. Then both A and K together created a partially done story-line which was converted into visual medium, my little Minions!

Whereas, in my sister’s children case, I wrote a story for my nephew D and for Niece D2, I was inspired to write a fairy tale. There was such great fun with children. Actually, D2 is watching me write lying on my lap. She wants to type too, but then I have to tell her, that “Dearest, I will give you a chance like your brother.”

Life is all about learning new things and with children you learn a lot more. My first experience with feeding my nieces and nephews began with N when she was returning to her home. We had camped in our eldest uncle’s flat in Mumbai and that is when I had the pleasure to hold N on my lap as she was fed by my SIL.

I watched her eat her solids and something in my heart moved and the story found its nebulous start to form in my mind. It took me more than three months to write that story. I even sent it to my brother to read out to the baby N who will not understand a word of it.

N was the first for so many of first time things story-wise. When we paired up to create imaginary things it used to be complete March Madness and peerless Spring Equinox. I feel that it is easier to write if I used my little family members as audience for my stories. I found stories that used them were more interesting and compelling.

My sister’s son D was so interested in Russian folk tales. I, somehow am attracted to folk tales and fairy tales, which gives me great inner pleasures to explore in great depth. I have a latest collection of folk tales by Nelson Mandela presented by SIL after her Africa vacation.

Even today, I can still feel the magic of watching Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre production of fairy tales. There is much that can be learned and unlearned with children. When we become adults our sense of finding right and wrong becomes too strong. See life with a child’s mind everything will be funny and absolutely comical.

But for the first time D2 inspired me to write a magical realism story. Why not a fairy tale that has a single heroine! It should be her adventure and doesn’t end with her married and living happily ever after in a castle in the far away rich kingdom.

Long time ago in the land far known to all the little people, there was a little baby Rose. Her father was an adventurer who was lost in the search of a unique star outside the rims of the Universe. Rose wanted to find her father, so leaves her mother’s gentle care, and goes in search of her father. With this base, any level of expansion can be done.

But then, where is the magical realism in this?! But then, it is a nebulous and much is unsaid. D2 is interested in the story since she is eager to type. Okay short break. While D2 is happily playing in her Gimboree figuring textures, I get to write.

Both my brother’s and sister’s children are keen readers and their sense of humor is so typical of fun loving children which is part of our family DNA. I enjoy reading magical realism so much, that I feel, the stories with magic in them makes them truly wonderful.

Annotated with my niece’s musical rendition of happiness that can be found in her singing voice, I find that books of fairy tales and folk tales could provide children with innumerable new understanding. Nebulous is expanding and finding it own creative energy which means it is time to write that story.

Image Source: Pexels.com

Touched and Stirred by Magical Realism

Book Title: A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Translator:  Spanish to English

Rating:  4. 5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

My mentor recommended reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez to get an understanding of magical realism genre. This was the first story in this genre which unconsciously reflected in the works that I submitted to mentor for one-on-one mentorship. The storyteller was so fabulous with his words and his storytelling methods were so clear, that it was such an easy story to read. Within the space of the format short story the writer created a world which passed through months while creating lovable illusion of the old man.

Story in a Nutshell:

The story revolves around the strange looking old man with huge wings landing at Pelayo and Elisenda’s doorstep. The stranger arrives unexpectedly and leaves as unexpectedly from their house. The whole mystery behind the stranger visit is fresh and full of intrigue for just a short duration. Strange man is popular figure to be looked at and provoked. Pelayo and Elisenda make the most of the situation and make a small fortune from charging for seeing the strange man. The stranger’s uniqueness is overshadowed by another unusual person and people flock up to see that, instead of the strange man, who was getting to be boring to watch. The author played around the stranger walking into the house and how he leaves eventually without making any recognizable difference.

 

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

This story was my first exposure to magical realism and it felt really different from all the other stories. I liked the idea of getting a really supernatural element into the ordinary existence, and then, let it play out its course. This technique was done with great efficiency by the writer. I liked the way the story goes and there was much to explore within that space and the author made full use of that unique space.

There was nothing to dislike about this story and I felt a little disappointed that the people though they declared the stranger to an angel and lost interest on him after a duration. But then, I believe it is exactly the way human being react. Something remains novel and interesting until it satisfies the unique curiosity. The minute the novelty of newness had replaced with over familiarity, it then takes away the novelty. But this is also a fact of life and the author played with it gracefully.

My Opinion

I would recommend reading this short story because it didn’t have a moment when the mind was not turned inside-out in self-questioning. There were such great passages to read in a sitting, that it creates great joy to the reader. People who are looking for complex plots with fine-tuned sensitivity would enjoy Marquez’s stories.

 

Image Source:  http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?507702

 

 

Snapshot of a Reporter’s Life in Karachi

Book Title:  Karachi, You’re Killing Me!

Author: Saba Imtiaz

Translator:  N/A

Rating:  3 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

 

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Saba Imtiaz as a storyteller is very refreshing and new. I enjoyed working my way through her novel. Her fiction has been done with a frisky style on really serious issues, while maintaining a balance; if one could have a balance in the very many chaotic conditions. I liked the way her narration flowed like a stream of consciousness and Karachi from the protagonist’s point of view.

Story in a Nutshell:

A 20-years-old Beat Reporter’s life is captured with vivid description and casual carelessness to stark realities of life in Karachi. Ayesha Khan finds her partner after all her internal confusion and self-analysis. Meanwhile, the backdrop of Karachi becomes a character by itself and acts as a catalyst to bring the two main characters together. As usual, it is “they lived happily ever after story” with, maybe, Ayesha getting more footage in the story.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the conversational tone of the novel and the way you get to spend time in the mental space of Ayesha. The main character has been beautifully done and the facts of Reporter’s life have been stated without making them glorious or gory. It was a fine balance that Saba Imtiaz has achieved.

I disliked takeaway images of Karachi which were filled with dark sides and the lighter side was somehow buried down. But the storyline was aiming for a more positive look even in a very downhill political situation.

My Opinion

I really liked reading this book for its more insightful social life after sun down. Life in Karachi had unique look and feel to it. The fact is that I had no other comparisons to make with any pre-existing images of Karachi. So the city was fascinating to read and to see in my mind’s eye.

 

Image Source: https://books.google.co.in/books/about/Karachi_You_re_Killing_Me.html?id=os_JAgAAQBAJ&source=kp_cover&redir_esc=y

Prequel to Jane Eyre | A Compelling Read

Book Title:  Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys

Translator:  N/A

Rating:  3.5 of 5 Stars

Get Your Copy:  Amazon | Flipkart | SnapDeal

A Bird’s Eye View

About the Storyteller:

Jean Rhys as a storyteller was rather complicated for me. But the scenes that she created in the story were really compelling to read for me. Her writing style kind of awakened in a sense of despair that comes from the fact that darker side of life has prominent place.

The narration took on a self-obsessed shade of dark things which appealed to my sensitivity. But then the energy expands to the spaces given importance. I felt even her happy moments in the story were colored by deep-rooted sadness. There was no hope anywhere in the narration and that felt a little sad.

Story in a Nutshell:

The story is a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Story is about the mysterious character in the novel Jane Eyre. The imprisoned person kept in hiding mentally unstable and Wide Sargasso Sea explores her journey to that state. The journey of the character from her life as a child to her marriage gets explored in this novel.

The fact that the novel is beautifully dark and intense, I was able to finish the book in two sittings in the cold of Fall. I have never felt so connected with the story as I did with this novel.

Review

My Likes and Dislikes

I liked the pace of the story very much. The point is some writers’ narrative is easy to capture than a few others. With this particular novel I had no trouble with the style and narration. The fact that it explored the dark side of human life and disappointments of many forms, it felt like spinning in a vortex of confusion. The viewpoint of the narrative took turns with different characters gave it an unique quality of storyline that I liked a lot.

One thing that I disliked was the fact that Rhys should have kept to a singular narrator which would have given it the power. But then, that could be my quirk for specific preferences in books that I read with care.

My Opinion

I would recommend this book for serious reading with open-mindedness towards the starkness that you will find the story. This book opened up my understanding so many dark sides of my character too. Great read for once.

Image Source: https://thebookexperience.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/mad-women-wide-sargasso-sea-by-jean-rhys/

Magical World in Opium Induced State | Kubla Khan

The background loop song for this piece is Aayat song from Bajirao Mastani movie by Sanjay Leela Bansali. I am trying to explore the world of Kubla Khan of Sameul Taylor Coleridge within the space of this musical piece.

In a way, I have memorized Kubla Khan much like a prayer and the magic of having first encountered this particular poetry remains with me to this day. I was in my 9th grade when I read this poem. At that age, I had just begun to write my own couplets and I was fascinated by the wildness of the poem.

My personal experience with the poem “Kubla Khan” is unique for the fact that my over imaginative mind was captured and encouraged to dream on. Much after the poem finished my mind would reel out images of on-going verses that Coleridge has missed out.

Alph river from its origin to its meandering down to the sea is such an exclusive experience for a dreamer like me. I usually see poems as visual effects. Even now when I think of my project for the Animation course, which was Kubla Khan poem’s visual representation; but sadly it didn’t come anywhere near what I was seeing in my mind.

That way I must say that nature part of the poem was extremely mesmerizing for my mind. I would be lost in the rhythm of the river in its course and the vibrancy of the river is such a wonderful moment to capture within my mind. The flash of images have been played into each counter points giving it the special touch.

I did try to intoxicate myself to write a poem so ethereal but failed miserably. My intoxication was a leftover wine bottle just put me to sleep and I failed capture any ethereal verses in the process. I am pretty clean person and don’t do substance abuse and I gave up after that total failure of intoxicating myself to write a poem.

But I am quite aware of the semi-aware state of consciousness. Given there is much past medicinal dose which had left me sleepy and half-aware, I was no stranger to being drugged.

Yet, when I learned that Coleridge got himself opium sedated for writing this poem, I was surprised that one needed to do drugs to be able to explore poetry. This poem in many ways explored my understanding at various levels.

I enjoyed the mystic nature playing subtle influences in the interpretation of the poem. The woman who is in love with a demon lover becomes an attraction factor which clearly defined the pitched mood for the poem.

The Woman with the Dulcimer is a magical touch that it mingles with the loop song that I am listening to in the present. The poem is combination of past memories and impressions.

Each time, I read this poem there is magic happening within me. I am looking at the cruel ruler who also has a woman who longs for him. The eeriness of the situation seems to give the poem an added flavor of uniqueness that beyond marvelous.

There was much in the poem that seems to have not been disclosed. I still think of the animation flick that I create was half-baked attempt to capture a poem which is completely a visual magic.

My Numero Uno Pratham’s Champions Programme of 2015

I have been linked with Pratham Books from my Creative Remixes days. I had used their ‘Creative Common’ images to create an original story. So I was not unfamiliar with the organization but Champions Programme was new for me. Pratham has been creating awareness and exposure to this programme through their twitter and facebook social media spaces.

The organization aims to increase readership among children for the International Literacy day falling on the 8th of September 2015. This year’s programme was flagged off on Teacher’s Day 5th September to bring more children towards reading books. It had special connotation because the teachers bring the world of books and knowledge to a child in their unique ways.

I got to know about the Champions Programme from my co-worker Anitha Selvanathan. This year’s featured book was “The Boy and the Drum” by Umesh P N and Illustrated by Rajiv Eipe.

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The Boy and the Drum

Even though I registered for the drive of getting books to children to inculcate reading habits, I was rather excited and felt a little challenged. I am crazy about books and if I can generate interest among children for reading then the very sharing is a reward by itself.

I had planned on having a Reading session in my house for my home tuition students. But something kept egging me to seek out a bigger challenge. I wanted to share it among a larger audience since I was equally passionate about sharing a story.

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Home Tuition Students

Quite by accident, actually, I came across the Government Girls Higher Secondary School (GGHSS), Ashok Nagar, Chennai. I approached the Headmistress Mrs. R. C. Saraswathi who felt strongly about encouraging reading habits in Children.

She immediately linked me up with the Drama teacher K. S. Latha who had been a great source of help for smoothing my way for the reading drive. The school was closed for the Teacher’s Day and so we scheduled to have the reading session a day earlier on 4th September at the school.

On the D-Day, I was conscious of the enormity of my challenge but I was also happy to bring them a story to enjoy reading. The Drama teacher offered to set aside two periods for the reading and enacting session.

I was able to prep-talk the children on how to read the text without the stage instruction. The Drama teacher added in her spicy instruction to make the play alive. The selected 10 Children read the story first as a practice and then as a finale.

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10 Lively Characters of the play

(Photo Courtesy: K S Latha)

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Play in Progress

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

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The children were spirited about the reading session each trying to out-do the other in making the play come alive and giving it their touch of unique interpretation. We had a discussion session after the reading to further understand and gain insights into the story.

The Children showed such enthusiasm towards being exposed to reading that they felt an annual event would be a long wait for them. They gave me the inspiration to take these sessions to more children and give them the gift of reading and to explore stories with their imagination.

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Champions Programme 2015 Participants

(Photo Courtesy: G Keshav Raj)

I enjoy making the children desire befriending a book, because one gains a friend who would remain an inspiration through all seasons of life. The One Day One Story drive was the first step towards a long journey ahead. For there is nothing as rewarding as watching those sparkle in the eyes of the children who have just finished reading a story and have found enjoyment in it.

 

Insightful Bliss Seeker’s and Their Zen of Achievements

I usually write my blogs with some music on. I am listening to Gulzar in Conversation with Tagore album. I am fascinated with the opening piece

Gulzar in Conversation with Tagore

A refugee salesman carrying a bundle of jaggery on his head was passing by a long and broad path. A buzzing umbrella of bees was hovering over his head on top of his bundle. When the sun rose, the heat from the burning fire ball started to melt the bundle of jaggery.

The innocent refugee was not aware of this fact. His thirst builds up that he begins to lick the sweat flowing down his face. He was quite surprised to taste sweetness in his sweat, as he is walking on the deserted open space all alone.

I am such an innocent refugee who is wondering at the trickling sweetness from the bundle of Tagore’s poetry placed on my head, I lick the sweetness in trickles of joy.

– Gulzar

I believe this introduction aptly links up my experience of The Bliss Catchers series which was 30th Session as per Avis Viswanathan. I accidentally came to know of this event in the facebook space. Then, I spent some time trying to find out about this talk show and saw some of Avis videos. I was curious and I love bookstores but the timing is seriously offensive for me.

Since my self-imposed curfew is 6 pm kind of a hindrance by itself; but I needed this experience so curfew got sidetracked for once. That never stopped me from worrying my brains about the ticking clock. But, despite that fact, the ladies got my entire attention.

I decided to go only at 6 pm after much debate. A lightening decision to visit the store to attend this event resulted in two important things; I got an Anchor Quick Stitch Kit and attended an exceptional event with interesting controversial insights.

AVIS Viswanathan of Avis Initiative wears multiple caps of professional ventures. He curates a talk show titled “The Bliss Catchers” to present prominent celebrity to understand their processes and their game plans to handle situations of opportunities and hurdles in their pursuit of happiness.

Today Avis was in conversation with two modern day women achievers | Ms. Janaki Sabesh and Ms. Akhila Krishnamurthy. Both these exceptional ladies were proofs to the fact that when beauty and intelligence are available in the right mix, nothing can be unachievable for the bliss seeker. Both of them come from a Tam-Braham community which supported their pursuit to intrinsic happiness in fields of Media.

I was fascinated to listen to both the ladies. Janaki and Akhila talked about their career from the subjective perspective. At times, I wanted to hear them talk about the choices that they had to make between personal commitments and professional commitments. Both of them spoke about their family backing them in their route to pursuit of happiness.

Both talked about handling different profession based requirements and how the journey started and how it moved forward. How the life process brought to their forefront those events that led to their various projects in their respective careers.

Janaki broke into a storytelling session with the group and I was totally fascinated though a little reluctant to repeat her cues for the story that she performed. Singeri Rangarajan’s Haircut Day. I would have played around the initial part of the story with putting in right date for cutting his hair and various finer points of haircuts and his superstitions that he had about haircut. But then, that’s the storyteller in me.

Those 90 minutes of conversation with them showed their various aspect of their life and choices, which resulted in their flow of lives’ achievement in their timeline. I was nervously eyeing my mobile for the ticking time. Akhila sang a song for the audience on viewer’s request during the Q&A session. But there was one question in my mind and that I wanted to ask them if they ever experienced the “state of flow” in their work. But eventually in my nervousness I asked a question about, if happy ending was really necessary for stories? Is less than happy ending acceptable? Both in stories and in concepts charted out for cultural events?

Janaki played it safe and kept to the beaten track, said she preferred to work with happy endings stories more than sad ones given the existence of sadness all around. But she did incorporate stories which is much more complex emotional materials. She believed in striking a balance. But felt happiness was more important than sadness. I slightly disagree with her; but then, that is me.

Akhila had space to work around the question and spoke of the existence of all forms of expression of human experiences pitched in the various events organized in the Arts Event Management. I was partially processing their response while waiting for Avis to windup, so I could leave ASAP but not without buying that cross stitch kit. Gulzar’s album brings me back to the present.

Gulzar voice concludes saying that the saint seeking alms is the same, so is the spiritually lost Jogi is the same, and so is that girl waiting eternally is the same ~ by Tagore.

Somehow, I don’t know how long the album has been playing for now; but within my space of writing these thoughts of my experience, I have found my positive flow and desire to have a process based conversation with both the ladies, if possible.

Thank you Avis, Janaki and Akhila! I had a wonderful time.

Pictures from the Event

 

[Photo Courtesy: Self | Need to work on my photo taking skills! :-P)]