Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trust: Pandora's Box (Trust Trilogy, #3) (Book Review)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.'

This line refuses to leave my mind. the last page has been turned and the tear drops have been shed. I sit thinking about the joy and sorrow of the very lives led by the characters of the book. Suddenly there was a void. Sophia, Alistair, Gabriela, Nathalie, Ethan... it felt as if I was going to leave them all in the confines of the book. That's when I remembered Cristiane Serruya's words-"It was as if when I finished their stories I had set them free. They are not mine anymore, they belong to the world and I can still be with them whenever I want." Read more about the interview here

The demons from within each one of them were finally released, but at what cost? Love, as they say it, is all-sacrificing and all-consuming. Or is it? Love can be an obsession that can endanger one's life.

Heat, passion and a million other expressions and feelings are no doubt described to the finest detail in this final installation of the Trust Trilogy but what I urge you reader, is to reach to the deeper layer of it. The best part about this series is the in-depth exploration of the human psyche by the author. She has played with the thought processes of the characters very intelligently and each character is a winner here- in one or the other way.

I would always remain indebted to this author for bringing to the notice of the reader, the widely debated but little answered problem of women empowerment - be it at home or at the workplace.

What I found amazing is the fact that she gives startling details and shocks the reader by pinpointing issues that grapple to be heard all across the world but are silently throttled in ways we might never even notice.

This is more than a tale of love, sacrifices and devils of the mind. It's a rediscovery of one's own self in ways we would never know that our minds functioned in!

P.S. For a new reader of Erotica, this would be a high dose. But be bold enough to venture deeper rather than passing scornful and shocked expressions. Few descriptions make one think about the ultimate and 'does-it-really-happen-?' craziness of the human species!

Other books by the author Cristiane Serruya -

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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Book Review)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pictures are all that we have of fleeting seconds that are captured for a long, long time yet a photograph is not enough... It is life that is even more beautiful- life in motion !

An amazingly written story with precisely clear detailing, the author stunned me with her deftness with the use of words.
The 'Memory Keeper's' Daughter is but an apt title because the entire story revels in the beauty of photographs- painstakingly captured and then developed in a dark room by a man who found peace in that very room alone. Or was it that in that room alone did he find the remnants of a moment that occurred in the past? He so wanted to capture a bigger moment, perhaps to make amends or maybe just to overwrite the tale his destiny seemed to have had written. The 'Memory Keeper' could unfortunately not click pictures of the most priced possession.

The melancholy that refuses to leave the reader is both endearing as well as disheartening at the same time.

The pages when turned, show glimpses of a lifetime of a life-saver and a life-taker. Are they both same?

Read this one to embark upon a journey to a world that seems to be marred by Down's Syndrome but is somehow so much more beautiful because of that very fact.

Sometimes, it is in the imperfections that we seem to finally notice the beauty of the otherwise unnoticeable goodness! :)

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All Hail Chennai

Wow! The tickets were finally booked and this time it was not to Kerala (my native-place) first. Phew! This would be an adventure of sorts. So my blackmailing had worked. Or so I can say. Did you ask me the trick? Well, I just told that if we were going to board the same train to see the same coconut trees then I would rather bear the Mumbai heat (it's another story that I love to enjoy the sight of the coconut trees and the gold mannequins- the latter was a bit over-the-top but nevertheless almost true!).Take a look at the 'mangalsutras' of Keralite women and you would know what I mean when I say GOLD. So I was busy asking anyone and everyone who had been to Chennai about the weather, places to visit, specialties and the like. The one common thing that I got to hear was - "Are you crazy? Why would any sane person go to Chennai in May, out of all months?"

I said, "The tickets have already been booked and we have no intention of cancelling it. Moreover I am going to see the place for the first time."

In my heart I winced a little more. Would it really be so bad? I better be prepared. 
Sunglasses- checked. 
Cotton,comfortable clothes- checked. 

Did I forget something? I counted and recounted and then gave up. I am ready to face you dear heat-blasting Chennai and then tada!!! The moment I alighted from the train, I couldn't stop myself from comparing it to Howrah Junction (Kolkata). Chennai Central- the next thing I remember was the feeling of watching some movie. In front of me were people- so many of them. It was all in sepia mode or was I over-exaggerating? The memory of it bears a pale yellow tinge.Was it because of the excessive use of turmeric?It truly lends an old-world charm to the native ladies- their faces with a golden glow and their silver anklets glittering against the pale yellow ankles, jingling as they walked towards their different destinations.

Only then did the climate strike me.I thought it was temporary. Little did I know that it was bound to last till I left this place.The love and laughter of my relatives, the little banters of being with cousins after ages- it warmed me up just like the weather. So many people in a single house today is like a flashback into the joint families that our ancestors had, once upon a time. Truth be told, it's so much of fun, at least temporarily. The battles that are said to follow- well let's keep it for some other day !

Museums, beaches, old buildings, streets, the Saravana Bhavans charmed me. It had the charms of Mumbai- the traffic on roads, under-construction Metro, local trains, the malls (albeit lesser than in Mumbai), the beaches. But then it wasn't Mumbai. Don't ask a Mumbaikar the exact reason for that ! ;)

Marina 'Blue' Beach

In one of the bylanes of T.Nagar ( a la-Crawford market of Mumbai), I happened to fulfil one of my dreams- to meet an author. Bhargavi Balachandran, Author of The Crossover Year and Seven Across , a woman of grace and subtlety. I walked as if in a daze, absorbing the sounds, textures, lights, colours and the very life of those narrow streets. In those few hours I learned that humans are more or less alike. They may seem to be different by way of their dressing styles, their lifestyles- the very way they look at life, but then it all boils down to just one thing- 'delectable beings'. 

A trip to Kancheepuram followed soon after. Call it the drastic changes in weather or a tough woman's coat being removed for sometime, sickness followed. What was planned as a temple tour and scouting for those colourful Kancheepuram Sarees felt like a tour of Thar desert en route to our destination and ended up like a drive through the roads of Cherapunjee on our way back. I couldn't believe my eyes when vendors' items just flew away with the wind and rains that lashed down like powerful piercing sheets all of a sudden. The picture of children playing in that rain would truly be memorable ( infact that was the last picture I dared to capture at Kancheepuram because I feared that my camera too would just fly away with the wind!).

Many people have told me many a times that it is a bad place to stay. Maybe if I would have stayed there for a longer time I would have reconsidered as well but then the city welcomed us with open arms ( perspiring badly they were, but still!). It brought me closer to a part of India that I had only heard about. Some of the good points you get to enjoy when in Chennai, according to me, are as follows- 

    Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperumbudur
  • This place is known as the "Detroit of India" for its automobile industry ( reminds me of Tata Magic, *sigh* the good times!) 
  • You get to see the site where the seventh Prime Minister of India, Shri. Rajiv Gandhi breathed his last en-route Kancheepuram at Sriperumbudur.
  • The idli-vada-sambhar is accompanied by three different kinds of chutney! That's reason enough to lick fingers ( a la Boman Irani style like in the Kurkure ad! - *Gross* yes but you get the point. It's *finger licking good* - Thanks KFC for the tagline!)
  • For lovers of jewellery, be ready to be spoilt for choice in the narrow lanes of T.Nagar that open up to amazing designs which are nothing less than a feast for the eyes. 
  • The share-rickshaws or Magic vans as they are popularly called, are easy on the pocket as well as a breeding ground for the latest gossip at times or simply places from where one can enjoy the peace of a long journey through the lanes of Chennai.
  • I couldn't stop my relatives from praising the VGP Golden Beach which I couldn't visit due to time constraints. Considering their choice, I would surely suggest that place as worth stopping by!
  • Utensils - never before in my life have I seen myself getting attracted to stainless steel vessels and artifacts. The variety was mind-blowing. I stood transfixed, the shiny surface filling me with a sense of joy ( you should be there to know what I mean).
  • Oh yes, the huge lifelike dinosaur at Egmore Museum is not just a model. Enter the room and for a moment you get to experience the terror they would have been, once upon a time.
  • When in Rome be a Roman oops when in Chennai be a Chennaikar! Dress up and walk without a care in the world. Adorn gajras (flowers tied together by a thin string) and no one would give you a second look like in other metropolitan cities nowadays. If you are bold enough then nobody can stop you from flaunting a golden glow without any facials (turmeric to the rescue!).
  • You will be able to identify Jayalalitha and her party's symbol even with poor eyesight. 
  • Packaged drinking water at ten rupees, idli at one rupee are just few of the products that sell under the Amma brand.
  • The city stands testimony to a great love story that might have been blown away by the winds of time but it still beats in the hearts of some die-hard fans of stories that refuse to tarnish with time in-spite of the circumstances.  
The city that embraced us with open arms bid us a teary farewell in the form of a heavy downpour.

Nestled within a corner of the heart
Cherished will these moments remain, 
never shall they depart...

- Divya Nambiar

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let ME be

He did engineering but is working in an MNC doing Management.
She studied Physics and now she is earning through her artworks.
He was supposed to be this generation's Einstein, wonder what he is doing there drawing graffiti!

Sounds too familiar, isn't it? 
Switching careers seem to be on the rise now. Or was it like that always? I think about it and I realize that maybe I was too young to understand why an uncle who had specialized in dissecting cadavers had started a Motor Driving School ( is dissecting cadavers and the machine equivalent? ) - question from a long while ago that stayed with me. The reasons unfurled bit by bit for me. An experience it was- for sure! 

All I wish for is freedom for every individual to choose what he/she wants to do in life and what to make of it. To make or break it should entirely be the individual's choice. Trust me, it isn't so easy, especially in a country like India, where the sons and daughters never really grow up to take decisions independently. Family... the big F, is always a factor to be kept in mind. Call it my lack of research or plain craziness to vent out about one's career choice, all I have to say is this- I have seen too many people who are in the wrong places at the right time. No, neither their horoscope nor their time is to be blamed. 

This is for all those parents who often end up thinking more about what 'others' would say rather than what their kids want to say. This is also for those of you who think you are living somebody's life and not your own- it's time to take that much awaited and much needed step. It's only the first step that seems tough. Once that is done the road ahead wouldn't be that scary. Of-course, nothing is a cakewalk but then imagine the happiness it would give you to make a career out of what you like to do best, to breathe in an atmosphere where you would love to be, no matter what the weather is! Adrenaline rush already, eh?

Just the other day, I read a confession by an engineer by profession but a social enthusiast by heart. We have been friends from the longest time. I had also read his blog. I had instantly asked him whether he ever wanted to pursue engineering. Pat came the reply- No. Then what led you to this, I had asked. There was never really an answer for that. This was a year ago. Today he has left the job that gave him fat paychecks and the perks of working in those sophisticated looking offices, often with polished glass doors.Is he crazy, one would ask. But honestly, I had seen it coming long back. In-fact, I would probably have been the happiest to hear it. No, I wasn't happy that he had jeopardized his career at a point when he should be competing with his batch-mates neither was I worried because of his decision. 

Why? Because I knew that now is the time when he would make one real decision- his heart's decision. I am not the one to abhor decisions made with the help of the brain but then I believe in the principle of going with my heart when life-changing decisions are to be made. I am sure that there would always be people to criticize this but this has helped me to live the life of my dreams till now. 

Often, in a constant tug of war between one's heart and brain, many a lives are threatened by the shadow of what is for what could have been. Agreed that your neighbours would call your son or daughter a black sheep for not following the society's norms of living or rather existing but then isn't it a thing to be proud of, that your kid is ready to step out and make some norms of his own? To follow them or to scrape them to make new ones is entirely a decision to be made by the one who makes those norms or maybe it's just that your kid wants to walk a path that doesn't give directions, just to see where it leads. If it leads somewhere then it's awesome, if not then it isn't the end! It is just the beginning of a new road. 

Some may say that it is easier said than done. Well, dear reader, the author of this piece you are reading right now is a live example of what is and what could have been! As a science student, with red lines under my marks, it has taught me that marks are just statistics and nothing more. If I would have been sitting in one of those classes where the formation of chemical bonds would try and hit the last threads of my active brain, then probably I would have had to compromise the life I truly love now! 

Progress Cards are apparently made to track 'Progress'

It isn't easy to step ahead when you think there is a steep pit waiting but then it takes a few steps to see the beauty of the valley and to enjoy the feeling of a free-fall (of-course I wouldn't have known about it if it weren't for Physics! Ah wait.. Was it Physics? Well, let's move ahead for now).

It's good to dream but not at the cost of another's.Give wings to your dreams but make sure that they are not blinding anybody else's view of life. 

Fly, because that's the only way to reach the stars. :)

- Divya Nambiar