Weather and more…

Sometimes I have nothing to say or maybe too much to say but everything is so scattered so incoherent that nothing comes out on the paper. Yet I have promised myself that I will write every single day canceling the cacophony of the world around me. I try to dig within to find something to say here. In my country, the most common phrase after how are you is, How’s the weather? And then people do talk about the weather at a stretch, sharing trivial to the most recent upheavals. The most common being rains in the scorching heat of Indian summer. The arid desert winds getting calmly caressed by the tiny tip-tap of the raindrops. The petrichor brings people out of their air-conditioned rooms, forcing them to feel the gentle breeze. The thunder and lightning exciting young kids, who run out of their homes to enjoy the showers. You look around and everyone is standing or sitting in their balconies enjoying this beautiful change. There was a time in my life I used to feel very melancholic during the rain. I think the company has a huge impact on how you perceive things. Here at my home, I embrace the rains as they embrace me. I no longer indulge in nostalgia instead I enjoy the gentle breeze and let it sway me with the molecules of happiness. I look at the birds who are searching for hiding places. Then a pigeon dives and settles himself on my balcony’s sunshade. He then flutters his wings in an attempt to dry himself. And I wonder what an amazing technique, how much cloth we would save if we too like them, could flutter and dry ourselves. No need for fancy towels or changing apparel, just flutter and you are ready for the day or night. I wonder what led us all towards these inventions which have turned our life so complicated. Fashion in itself is an industry of trillion and from making it to selling to wearing it, you name it and you will find people indulged in the business of it. 

And then voila, after all this jibber-jabber of nothing but weather, I finally feel I have something interesting to share with you.

A few months ago I read a French book called Ladies Paradise by famous French author Emile Zola. The book takes you back into the lanes of Paris of the mid 19th century and to the time where departmental stores begin their journey. In today’s world, it is hard to think of a market without giant Malls but there was a time when the world ran with small stores, it still does in developing nations but there too slowly the rampant development is paving way for the malls. So this novel comes alive where a man opens a store but his desire to be the richest and the most powerful giant in the world of fashion leads him to open the first department store. The protagonist Octave Mouret comes up with brilliant ideas of giant advertisement hoardings to no return policy to home deliveries and the world of fashion rapidly changes, leading to shutting down of smaller shops, eventually turning them bankrupt. 

The story showcases how Paris, the capital of Fashion led us all to the present-day Fashion culture. Why was the department store created? Mouret taps on women’s desire to have more, so he places sections in a particular order. So that if a woman enters his store, she leaves without a penny in her purse. His giant appetite to eat up other men’s money through the females of their family makes men vary off him. And amongst this giant world of Fashion unfolds an unusual love story. Mouret who constantly talks about women as commodities and his desire to make them all his slaves is warned by other men that there will be one who will take the revenge of all. And then enters Denise Badu, an orphaned girl of nineteen from a provincial place with her two younger brothers. And things start shifting in Mouret’s world slowly. 

Denise’s character is my absolute favorite, how she is first scorned in the department store for her background and her looks and how slowly with her sheer hard work and her ideas to run the business she turns into a department head. How unlike other girls she never let herself waver and how she kept supporting her younger brothers like a mother. How she is noticed by Mouret and how she resists his advances, refusing to become another notch on his belt; refusing, in essence, to be commodified.

The high points of the book are brilliant comparisons between the new Department store and the traditional ones. The showcasing of the demise of the independent trader by rampant consumerism. The mechanisms of seduction Mouret uses to transform everything for sale into an object of desire. The store leads women, driven by the euphoria of the sheer range of delights on offers and the bargains, into buying what they don’t need, spending far beyond their reach, and in the end resort to shoplifting. They lose their heads, even when they know they are out of control, they cannot stop. 

But the weakest part of the book is its love story, where you will continually question the attraction between Mourat and Denise. Especially Denise’s feelings for Mouret. If like me you want to pick it up for the sheer adventure of discovering the footing of a department store and to see the Paris of mid-nineties, I would surely say go ahead. 

Just a bit of warning, it’s a slow read but an interesting one. 

On this note, I will end my chitter-chatter here. Rendez-vous demain, until then Au revoir.

Merak

Have you ever felt empty, like you have nothing inside you to share with others? As if all the feelings have left you, and now your heart is a barren land. Today after I had rendezvous with this feeling after a long time. Lately, I have been reading “A Woman Is No Man” by Etaf Rum.

The book is very intense; it invokes so many emotions simultaneously, you feel every emotion of your character; you understand their helplessness, their anger, their pain, and, most importantly, their choices. I have always felt that women writers are more empathetic towards their characters, their understanding, and their capacity to involve the readers in their character’s emotions are far better. Of course, there always exceptions everywhere.

Even though I was around people, when I was finishing the last few pages of the book, today, I felt isolated. I realised my feelings and emotions were very different from the people around me. It somehow filled me with a sense of discomfort and helplessness, making everything much harder. So, I left the cafe with the thought of watching a light movie.

I finally settled on “The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants,” a 2005 movie, about four friends sharing a pair of pants over summer vacation. A fun film to watch with your girlfriends or alone. But something different happened after I finished watching the movie. A mixed emotion wrapped me in its blanket. I felt blank from within like someone has painted my colourful inner canvas with white colour. My insides felt erased, and my heart an empty board.

So I decided not to ditch my night stroll and went out for a quick fifteen-minute walk. For the first five minutes, I didn’t have a sense of real me. But the silence of the night, the coldness of breeze, the swaying of the trees, and the greenness of the grass; started filling me with its drops of abundance.

It felt as if nature understood me more than I know myself. It brought my body in sync with the outer world. Nature, with its kindness, filled my heart with empathy. And suddenly, I realised the rhythm of my breath. The breath is the symbol of our aliveness. It makes us comprehend that we exist, we matter, even though we might get disassociated with ourselves from time to time. It reminds us that with little effort, we can always come back to our centre. With little love, we can always find our Merak.

Note : The Serbian word Merak is a wonderful little word that refers to a feeling of bliss and the sense of oneness with the universe that comes from the simplest of pleasures. It is the pursuit of small, daily pleasures that all add up to a great sense of happiness and fulfilment.

The Room

Darkness loomed in the room, no lights, no candles, only the voice of swaying cypress trees from outside. Clanging windows, fluttering pages of an open book and an upturned basket full of fruits lying on the floor. The storm came, taking away the calmness of the place, and leaving behind the chaos that needed settlement.

She walked cautiously, calculating every move, touching and feeling objects to mark her way in the room. The lamp still stood intact in the leftmost corner, reminding her of the time when she read her last book under its luminous light. The dusty rug showcased the distance between the room and the human touch. The stack of diaries with blurred designs, the pen stand filled with colored pens but dried inks, talked about the years passed by in both their lives.

It was autumn when she went to bed, yesterday and when she woke up the season suddenly turned into summer. Somehow she has missed the winters altogether or maybe passed them in her dreams. How would you feel if you were snuggling in a small corner with hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, reading a spooky book one evening and somehow you dozed off, and when you woke up it was sunny and too warm to sit beside the fireplace? You were dreaming of entering into Narnia from the cupboard because that’s what the story told you all along, but you never get the chance to witness the war, you only see the green pastures and the lion standing up the hill.

Even though you witness the bright side at the end, but what about the journey? Isn’t the fun always lies in the journey, and not in the destination. And what about the learnings and the wild whirlwinds that would have made you much stronger as a person. You stand on another side of the storm unprepared for the stark new reality of your life.

Yet, this was her reality now. In the blink of an eye, the library has been invaded by nature, in her sleep. Now she had to make darkness her ally. Figure out the path and set the things back in order before the arrival of the next pumpkin-picking season.

As George Elliot said :

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns.”

Experiences of Lifetime

The gifts people bestow on you by introducing you to new experiences are the best gifts. Sometimes even they are unaware that they have given a gift of a lifetime to someone. Now that I think of about my choices or my favorite things in retrospect, I feel that not all items are mine, somehow they were given or lent to me to be experienced by others.

I became curious about Harry Potter when I saw my crush in school reading it, I was fascinated by the cover, but more so I was curious what exactly was he reading and when my brother’s friend lent me the series, I was blown over. I moved on from that crush long ago but never from that book.

Then in college, I met H, who is a very close friend of mine, who introduced me to music. Music didn’t mean much to me until he gifted me a CD with a vast collection of great music. Those songs are still my go-to songs.

My best friend M introduced me to great food, and she is that one person with whom I have so many firsts when it comes to food. We have explored so much from high-end restaurants in Canaught Place to the narrow lanes of Old Delhi, which smells like a heaven of food.

Another guy whom I met in a college club while doing my masters introduced me to my favorite author, Orhan Pamuk. Reading Pamuk opened a whole different world for me. Reading became more than just a hobby from then on. I can never thank him enough for this gesture.

And then I met someone who gave me, my favorite movie — the Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind. I have professed my love for this movie so many times, but this is one movie that introduced me to the depth of my emotions. I persuaded my brother to watch it, and then we ended up discussing it for hours. I think that is the most extended discussion we ever had about art. Yes, I am in depth of this person for all the experiences.

I have come to realize that people move in and out of your life, and you get used to their presence and absence. And somehow, life goes on. But it’s the experiences they give you that become part of your soul. The soul that’s eternal even if you leave this body of yours. So thank you, everyone, for marking my soul with a great experience.

On last note sharing my favorite quote from the movie, which is taken from the beautiful poem Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope.

“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world, forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned.”

PS: I haven’t included everything here. Today it was just about the small things.

Best Reads of 2018

Hola People 🙂 Wishing you all A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 🙂 🙂 . I hope that you all had a great vacation and enjoyed your time off with family and friends. I am considering that 2019 is being good to you, till now.

As you all know I read a great deal in 2018. Yes I finished 60 books in a year 😉 I am quite proud of myself for doing it. Like every year I wanted to share by Best Reads List. Check it out 🙂

  • A man called Ove
  • Born to Run
  • Hangwoman
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of HumanKind
  • Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life. The full review is here.
  • A Little Life
  • The Essential Rumi
  • What I talk about when I talk about running
  • A Subtle Art of Not Giving Fuck
  • Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine
  • The Guide
  • Naked Voices
  • News of Kidnapping
  • Little Men
  • Less
  • Everything I never told you
  • Tuesday’ s with Morrie
  • In Custody
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Northern Abby
  • Dead Souls
  • Girl In Snow
  • The Favoured Daughter
  • The Village By The Sea
  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Debutant Indian Author:

    • A Flight of Broken Wings
    • Inkredia: Luwan of Brida
    • Somewhere in the song: Short Story by another blogger friend Kavya Janani
    • Rhythms in Solitude : Poetry Collection

    PS: Let me know which one of these have you read. If yes did you liked it as much as I did? Or if you plan to read any of these in future 🙂 If yes, then which one would you do. Lets talk about books 😀

    Books and Memories:Day 2 of A-Z Challenge

    You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.”― Susan Wiggs

    How perfect 🙂 A reader always have a company either of people or of pages 🙂 The latter is understood but the former would be brow  raising query.

    Today to elaborate the former I will unleash a memory of book reading journey 🙂

    ****************
    On a foggy freezing Delhi winter, I was standing near the metro door holding “The Oath of Vayputras”.

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    A lot of people are capable, Neelkanth. What makes a capable person truly dangerous is his conviction. I smiled wickedly as if a hidden sutra was unfolded to me.

    I looked up, glancing sidewards at the moving Yamuna. I heaved and let out a sigh.
    Excuse me! I turned to look, there was a beautiful round smiling face of a girl. I smiled back.

    She(pointing towards the book ): Is this the latest one from AMISH TRIPATHI?

    I(smiling) : Yap ! Have you read this already?

    She(laughing): I think it’s out of stock right now 😛

    I(laughing back): Yeah, I pre-booked this one before launch 😉

    She(inquisitively): So how is it turning out?

    I(smirking): Good so far.

    She(tilting her head): So do you read often.

    I(grinning): Yeah, can’t live without them.

    She(ha ha) : Me too.

    So our conversation took off with books discussing the upcoming Indian authors to established ones. From the romantic genre to biographies. Discussing fiction to philosophy.Our two hours vanished in blink of an eye. We parted with huge smiles on our faces.

    It was one of my most remarkable metro journey. And I call it friendship over books.

    So friends share your friendship over books story.

    This my attempt for the Second day of the A-Z Challenge.

    Day 2: B(alphabet)

    alphabet-b