Tag Archives: Bombay

2015 in Books.

37 books in a year. Probably a personal best. Thanks, Brunch

  1. Elanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
  2. It’s a YA novel about two misfits, who like any YA protagonists, find love. It’s a brilliant book that deals with many issues. I’d rate it 8/10.
    What worked- The plot, the characters, the way conflict has been handled.
    What didn’t work- The narrative (I’m not a fan of changing POVs)
    Crying: 😭

  3. The Psychology of Terrorism, John Horgan
  4. I read it around the time of the attacks in Peshawar and the Je Suis Charlie movement, and the happenings made a lot more sense to me. I’d rate it 8/10.
    What worked- The compelling theories, the scope.
    What didn’t work- The structure of the book
    Crying: 😐

  5. The Long Silence, Shashi Deshpande
  6. It’s a beautiful book about what it means to be a woman in a man’s city- about resilience and humanity. I’d rate it 7/10
    What worked- The raw honesty, and the characters.
    What didn’t work- The negativity.
    Crying: 😐

  7. The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism, Rex Hudson
  8. Again, this was read around the aforementioned attacks. I’d rate it 8.5/10
    What worked- The case studies, the non-discriminantly explained theories.
    What didn’t work- The narrative, the technique.
    Crying: 😐

  9. A Study in Scarlett, Arthur Conan Doyle
  10. The first story introducing Sherlock Holmes. Rating: 9/10
    What worked: The suspense, the mystery, and the unveiling of the crime.
    What didn’t work- The narrative, the fact that I’ve already read it- the original as well as versions of it.
    Crying: 😐

  11. The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo
  12. This book details The Stanford Prison Experiment and uses the findings to explain what was seen at the Abu Gharib Prison, where the author was an expert witness. Rating: 9/10
    What worked: The details, the writing style, the techniques.
    What didn’t work: the negativity.
    Crying: 🙁 (It was awesome and overwhelming)

  13. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
  14. A set of short stories surrounding diasporic themes. Rating: 8/10.
    What worked: The narratives, how I could identify with most of the conflicts, the variety.
    What didn’t work: The pace of some of the stories.
    Crying: 😐

  15. The Parrot who Wouldn’t talk and other stories, Ruskin Bond
  16. Another set of short stories, which I found lying about my store cupboard.
    Rating: 6/10
    What worked: The writing style
    What didn’t work: It was a children’s book, so although I shouldn’t say it, it was too childish.
    Crying: 😐

  17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
  18. Well. 😛
    Crying: 😥

  19. The Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
  20. It’s a retelling of The Mahabharata (an Indian mythological epic ) through the eyes of Panchali. Rating: 9/10
    What worked: The POV, the writing style, the characters.
    What didn’t work- At some parts, it got too preachy.
    Crying: 😟

  21. The Duff, Kody Keplinger
  22. Another YA tale about two seemingly misfit teens. This book is so much better than the movie, though!
    Rating: 7/10
    What worked- I could identify, the plot
    What didn’t work- The conflicts, the characters.
    Crying: 😖

  23. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  24. A 17 year old ‘heroine in training’ who loves Gothic novels and loves the idea of drama.
    Rating: 7/10
    What worked: Typically Austen.
    What didn’t work: Typically Austen.
    Crying: 😐

  25. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  26. Scarlett O’Hara and her struggle to survive and the will to live is what stood out for me.
    Rating: 8/10
    What I loved: The storyline, the way I could feel what the author wanted me to feel
    What I didn’t like: Scarlett is so annoying. Rhett is so frustrating. “I will think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day”
    Crying: 😐

  27. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
  28. So much more than a World War I love story.
    Rating: 7/10
    What worked: It had the effect it was intended to have.
    What didn’t work: I’m not a fan of the cold way Hemingway writes.
    Crying: 😐

  29. All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
  30. It’s a story about a popular girl questioning her life and a not-so-popular boy struggling for it.
    Rating: 9/10
    What worked: I loved the character development, and how the protagonists interacted with each other
    What didn’t work: Sometimes, it felt like the characters were caricatures of themselves/what they’re supposed to represent.
    Crying: 😭

  31. Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh
  32. It’s a brilliant! I read it mainly because it is one of my favourite blogs on the Internet.
    Rating: 10/10
    What worked: Everything!
    What didn’t work: It got over.
    Crying: 😕

  33. Is Everyone Hanging out without me?, Mindy Kaling
  34. It’s a hilarious collection of essays by the amazing Mindy Kaling.
    Rating: 9/10
    What worked: Her sense of humor, the stories she shared
    What didn’t work: Had to follow Hyperbole and a half.
    Crying:😐

  35. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, Bernie Su.
  36. Adapted by the creators of The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, this is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in San Francisco.
    Rating: 8/10
    What worked: The form, the plot, the adaptation, the minor changes new to the book.
    What didn’t work: The chemistry wasn’t as sparkling as the web series.
    Crying:😐

  37. Mr Darcy’s Diary, Amanda Grange.
  38. A fanfiction-esque diary of Darcy.
    Rating: 9/10
    What worked: Enough Darcy to last for a while.
    What didn’t work: It felt like an adaptation- a bit too forced.
    Crying:😐

  39. A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
  40. In my defence, I’m updated on the TV series (because it’s less time consuming, okay?)
    Rating: 7/10
    What worked: The writing style stood out for me
    What didn’t work: Because I already knew what was going to happen, it was frustrating to see the characters make those mistakes that lead up to their death.
    Crying:😐

  41. Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries #11), Meg Cabot
  42. The 11th book in the Princess Diaries series follows Mia aged 28.
    Rating: 8/10
    What worked: Pop culture references, and the usual thing that works for Princess Diaries. “Leia and Luke.”
    What didn’t work: Not enough Michael Moscovitz. It wasn’t as good as the previous books, maybe because Mia has more adult issues
    Crying: 😐

  43. I am Malala, Malala Yousufzai
  44. This book changed my perspective on what’s important in life, and how blinded I was to the world outside.
    Rating: 10/10
    What worked: Everything
    What didn’t work: It was a pretty difficult read, emotionally. But so worth it
    Crying:😟

  45. A Clash of Kings, George R R Martin
  46. Book #2, A Song of Ice and Fire.
    Rating: 7/10
    What worked and didn’t work: The same as that for GoT.
    Crying:😐

  47. Girl Online, Zoe Sugg
  48. An anonymous blogger (goes by the name Girl Online) who meets a mystery boy when her family takes a workation to NYC.
    Rating: 7/10
    What works: Full of Pop Culture references, “Wiki”, Penny’s brother is a cutie, Brooklyn Boy.
    What doesn’t: The plot is kind of predictable.
    Crying:😟

  49. A Night to Remember, Walter Lord (Audio)
  50. I heard this is the audio book format
    Rating: 8/10.
    What worked: The speed, the technique, the picturesque writing
    What didn’t work: I’m not the biggest fan of audio books, as I learnt.
    Crying: 😐

  51. Seriously… I’m Kidding, Ellen Degeneres
  52. It’s by Ellen, okay?
    Rating: 10/10
    What worked: It’s beyond hilarious!
    What didn’t work: My parents woke up because I was laughing too hard.
    Crying: 😂😂😂

  53. Howl and Other Poems, Allen Ginsberg
  54. I’d been wanting to read it for a couple of years now. And I don’t think there was a better time to read it than at night, when everyone around me was asleep
    Rating: 8/10
    What worked: The rawness of Ginsberg’s voice, the hard hitting roughness
    What didn’t work: Didn’t understand some of the references.
    Crying: 😐

  55. Princess in Love, Meg Cabot
  56. The third installment of Princess Diaries, read because I needed more Michael Moscovitz.
    Rating: 8/10
    What worked: What usually works for Princess Diaries. Also, Michael!
    What didn’t work: He loves you, Mia! Good lord, young lady.
    Crying:😐

  57. Bridget Jones’ Diary, Helen Fielding
  58. Another reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice.
    Rating: 6/10
    What worked; The familiarity of the story, the format
    What didn’t work: The style of writing.
    Crying:😐

  59. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  60. Again, well. 😛
    Rating: 9/10
    What worked: The POV, the plotline, the character growth.
    What didn’t work: A little less hedonistic pleasure while reading
    Crying:😕

  61. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K.Rowling
  62. WHY DID RON AND HARRY COMPLAIN ABOUT HOMEWORK???
    Rating: 10/10
    What I liked: The hilarious notes
    What I didn’t: The wait for the movie!
    Crying:😟 (cuz I’m not a witch)

  63. Ravan and Eddie, Kiran Nagarkar
  64. This is about two young boys living in a chawl in Bombay, whose fates are intertwined in ways we cannot even imagine.
    Rating: 7/10
    What I liked: The novelty. The raw truth. The writing style.
    What I didn’t like: The plot kept stretching for a bit.
    Crying: 😐

  65. The Color of Our Sky, Amita Trasi
  66. Two girls who are as different as you can be, are each other’s strength and reason to live years after tragedy hits them.
    Rating: 9/10
    What I like: The narration, the plot line, the character development
    What I didn’t like: Some of the characters annoyed me at some point. But they were supposed to. Like you’re supposed to hate Umbrige.
    Crying: 😢

  67. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
  68. Been meaning to read this for years! It’s about being on the road, d’uh. But it’s SO MUCH MORE.
    Rating: 8/10
    What I liked: Kerouac spoke to my caged bird soul
    What I didn’t like: I want breaks in books, okay? Also, I thought it would be my new favourite book. But it wasn’t.
    Crying:😐

  69. Girl On Tour, Zoe Sugg
  70. It’s a sequel. Had to read, obs.
    Rating: 6/10
    What I liked: YA! *spoiler* Wiki being happy, finally. *end of spoiler*
    What I didn’t like: Less Brooklyn Boy. Too predictable.
    Crying:😐

  71. A Work in Progress, Connor Franta
  72. It’s fantastic, it’s a memoir, and I got all the feels. Connor, I really wish I were a guy, and then Troye, you, and I could be gay together.
    Rating: 10/10
    What I liked: He was so honest, and open, and just awesome! The book was aesthetically pleasing, and looked like his Instagram account. Is there anything this boy can’t do?
    What I didn’t like: It got over. Also, within 2 weeks of me finishing the book, he announced the hardcover version. I’m broke, OK?
    Crying:😢 (Because I’m SO PROUD)

  73. Love and Misadventures, Lang Laev
  74. Lang Laev is BRILLIANT. I have to thank my friends for this one. They gifted this for my birthday!
    Rating: 10/10
    What I liked: Everything. Every poem. Aaaa.
    What I didn’t like: Nothing. Seriously. She deserves much more recognition than she already does.
    Crying:😥 (Because so beautiful)

  75. Oedipus the King, Sophocles.
  76. Oedipus. As a Psych and a Literature student, I HAD to read it.
    Rating: 6/10
    What I liked: Well, the plot was quite nice. And a little creepy, but nice.
    What I didn’t like: Not my cup of tea.
    Crying: 😐

Obviously, my PERSONAL ideas. Nothing more. Not even reviews. Just what I thought about the books.
Crying scale (from least to most): 😐🙁😟😖😢😥😭
I’ve obviously been writing this since end of December.😂
Also, now I have a poetry blog on Tumblr. You may want to check it out? Here. Please do. 🙂

Twitter: @WallflowerBlack

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Dear John

Have you ever made friends over tumblr? Or twitter? Facebook? Fanfiction.net?
If you live on the internet, you definitely have. You may have discussed your life with them, sitting on some other part of the globe. You may have shared inside jokes and laughed at people you mutually hate. You may have discussed boyfriends and crushes and courses, professors, and friends. But did you always know that that was the only dimension you have? The virtual one?

Have you ever been so attached to this one friend that you kind of end up having a crush on them? You imagine yourselves living together years down the line? On a beach house, maybe? Or even a smelly old apartment in the burbs of that big old city? As long as the two of you are together?

Have you? Or am I the only one?

That was the day I went through some old stuff, and driven by the nostalgia of talking to a person halfway across the globe (literally) about Harry Potter for an hour or two, I tried that website again. This time, I was more aware, I think, because I encountered around 10-15 creeps, but I was bored. And that’s when you waltzed in.

We talked about a lot of things, and I discovered you’re not into Television because it sucks you in and never lets go. I agree with you, but that’s the part of the fun for me. I love TV for that. We talk of racism for a minute and then stop, because it’s not worth it. We decide that we like each other to have another conversation soon. We decide on a time, and part ways.

I wait in agony, and excitement- are you going to ditch me? Are we going to find each other again? What if I fall asleep and don’t get up in time for you? What if you get busy? What if you decide I’m not worth the effort?

All questions were answered when you came back for me in that given time and place. And I had never felt so happy in a long time. You were the flickering street light in my dark and rusty rural road. You told me how excited you were to find me again and I couldn’t at that moment tell you how much it meant for me.

We talked of life, love, and philosophy- we both preferred a house with a backyard to settle down in, and an apartment as long as we are free and single; we both want dogs, and love retrievers; both of us would rather marry our best friends, than date a string of people. You loved cars, and I looked bikes. I loved walking, and you preferred cycles. Talking to you- it all made sense- what kind of important things must we have in common.

I had forgotten I could flirt, and open myself up so much- that I could feel so vulnerable and happy at the same time. You called it love, a star crossed something- that we could never have seen each other, or known each other for long, and still feel so strongly. What was it about anonymity that made us behave so recklessly, I’d never know.

Soon, we exchanged emails, and I woke up to your mails- wishing me good morning, or sharing a beautiful quote. I grinned like a fool all day, laughing at the random anecdote you’d shared a day earlier. And soon, I had decided to let you in on secrets I hadn’t told anyone. I told you about my insecurities and you confided in me how you wish your parents just filed for a divorce. I told you about my work, and you about that boring client you tried to get rid of, but couldn’t.

And it grew on and on from there, moving from email to WhatsApp, and Facebook, and Viber, and Skype. It felt a lot like love, but I was still apprehensive. But it felt so right, and so meant to be. Star crossed somethings, indeed.

It was on my birthday, that you gave me the best surprise ever. You called me thrice before I could pick up and asked me for my address. I was expecting a small gift, like the ones you had sent me earlier. I told you, without whims, and three hours later, there you were, standing at my door, in flesh and blood. I couldn’t believe that you’d flown in all the way from LA all the way to Bombay, just to surprise me. But there you were- just standing at the door with my favourite lilies, and a big soppy grin on your face. I let you in, literally and figuratively. And pinch myself to make sure it’s not a crazy dream.

I take you to my favourite places in the city, and you fall in love with it, just as much as I do. I make you eat Indian food and snap pictures of your expressions. And a week later, when you’re about to leave, I just cannot let you go. I know you’re busy and I’m busy, but I wanted us to be busy together- not 11 and a half hours apart. I tell you this and you laugh at me, and I reluctantly tell you goodbye.

Six months later, when I get transferred to New York, you’re there to welcome me at the gate. You have driven all the way here just to make me feel at home. I couldn’t tell you just how hard I was falling in love with you. And when I come visit you on weekends, I am happy to meet your crazy family and crazier friends. And when you visit next weekend, you help me run a really boring R code and wait patiently till it’s done. We talk about life, and love, and everything under the sun, just like we did the very first time.

So when you come back in town the next Wednesday, I’m not surprised. When you go down on one knee, I’m not surprised, and when we both cry, I’m not surprised. I’m not upset when it rains during our ceremony, or when you forget your vows. I’m laughing when you can’t catch the ring your friend throws at you, or when we have to dance our first dance, and I slip and fall, because why do I want one perfect day, when I can have you for the rest of our lives?


Will Sell Religion For Money

Today was a difficult day. I had to get up after a mere 4 hours of sleep-something I haven’t done in the last couple of months. So I was tired, and annoyed, and just not in a sunshine mood.

A friend and I were walking through Colaba Causeway looking at earrings and chains. Neither of us like shopping, and hence it was a task after the stress at work. It was around 1.30 in the afternoon, and the humidity or the ache in our legs did not help at all. We had already walked the entire length of the Causeway arches, annoyed by the exorbitant prices quoted by the shopkeepers there.

It started out with pity. We knew the shopkeepers were already asking white foreigners at least 5 times more the money than they were their Indian counterparts. But we let it go, because that’s what they’ve been doing since time immemorial. And even if we stopped one, there’d be at least a thousand foreign shoppers a day. It was a pity that the lack of MRP could fool innocent people, and those with the power (of pricing) abuse it based on skin color and language and other related aspects completely unrelated to the product itself.

However, what we witnessed today boiled my blood. I wanted to actually start a fight in the middle of a market with two men who were cheating the very people who are the reason their “business” works -clearly victims:
There were two people- a man and a woman, both obviously not Indian, and did not speak Hindi, the conversational language of the country. They were being held by two men- dressed in a shirt and pants, with a red tikka on their foreheads. The couple kept saying they weren’t interested in whatever they had to offer, but these two priests held their hands and tied a thread around their wrists and put some flowers into their shopping bags. Then they asked for money. I’m not sure how much these two handed them, but it was definitely more than ₹500. This thing costs maybe ₹10 in a temple. What’s worse? There were at least 50 people standing around them, witnessing whatever was going on and said not a word! A group did squirm a bit, but like us, couldn’t say anything. After they were done, we went in and told them that they were cheated out of money and they told us they were really not interested in any of it, but the priests were really persuasive and they took a lot of money from them.

Let me tell you- this is a marketplace, not by any means affiliated to any religious institutions! Why were there priests cheating on innocent people forcing them to buy things they weren’t interested in? And why were there so many people just watching?

After we talked to the couple we saw the priests doing the same thing to another couple. A shopkeeper actually had the guts to come tell me if there is anything wrong! As if pointing out blatant cheating by people in the name of God was nothing, but it was my fault for warning them against it!

It was without doubt the most humiliated I’ve ever been- about my country and the people in it. They talk about Bystander Effect and today I saw it happen. And acting against the majority did not make me feel any good, because they were cheated! And those priests got away with it. I’m sure they made more money today than 90% of my city makes in a month!

I have no conclusions to this! I cannot think of whose fault it is. Just the priests? Or us Bystanders? We let it happen, and did not tackle these cheaters! Since when has religion been a product to be sold at a common marketplace? Maybe it’s the atheist in me speaking, but today religion has only served to distress, instead of de-stressing, me and the other parties involved in some or other ways. And, I simply cannot understand it- link it to my sheer fury, or my helplessness, or the hours I’ve spent learning about religion and stereotypes.