January Update

It has been a month of too much on my plate. Mainly because there were almost 3 trips that I took, thus, leaving no weekend for just being. I am sure all of you have seen those memes about ‘this is the fastest January ever’ and right now, I am feeling exactly that.

So, where did I travel to?

Before 2022 ended, Rahul and I took a quick trip to Rishikesh with two of our friends. It was quite impromptu as Rishikesh is only 6 hours drive away from where we all live and Rahul & I were anyway visiting my parents, who live even closer to Rishikesh. Our friends decided to pick us up on their way and it was a very smooth and chill trip. I’ll write about it in a blog post and link back here.

After that, my friend and I took a much awaited trip to Banaras, the ancient, holy city in India. I don’t remember properly but I am very likely to believe that she and I have been thinking about making this trip since 2016 and so glad that we finally made it. Again, a post is due.

Then, this weekend that just passed us by, Rahul and I went to Jim Corbett National Park with my parents. I would probably not dedicate an entire post to it as it has very limited things to do, so let me just get to it here. Basically, its a national park where you can be one with the nature – flora and fauna both. The place is famous for tigers and there are regular forest safaris arranged for tiger spotting. I have been here once more before with my engineering friends and there used to be only early morning safaris back then. This time, there were afternoon safaris as well, which is what we opted for to avoid the early morning cold. Literally no one I know has ever spotted a tiger in the Corbett Safaris and so was the case this time for us. πŸ˜€ There are very less tigers in the entire national park region anyway. We did, however, spot tiger paw marks. My trip highlight was the Kosi river that flows from this place. When I had been to Corbett the last time, I didn’t know about the river, neither was my resort situated near it. My husband researched and told me about the river and that there are resorts next to it. Hence, I spent time looking at the river from my room’s balcony and we also went to sit there. It was really peaceful and calming.

I am then taking cue from Lyssy’s post here to take stock of my month, she calls it “What’s Up Posts”, it was started by her blogger friend Shay 8 years ago it seems!! Let’s see if I manage to do it every month.

I am going to answer all the questions in the below card for the post then.

What We’re Eating?

I mentioned here how I am trying to eat healthy in my daily routine. The only thing is that this month didn’t have a lot of routine days, but that also means I loved so many things during my trips. Banaras trip was exceptionally good when it comes to food. I have written all about my Banaras food expeditions on my Instagram here, in case you would like to know.

What I’m Reminiscing about?

I am in general someone who reminisces a lot, so its difficult to keep a track of this. πŸ˜€

What I’m Loving?

Absolutely loving my rhythm and carving a routine for myself in all the chaos. I should also mention here even though I hadn’t considered it while writing out this post that I am thankful for the chaotic but fun travel opportunities.

What we’ve been up to?

Work, travel and finding moments for myself and even for me and my husband.

What I’m dreading?

I am going to meet a lot of a particular side of my extended family in the upcoming days, dreading is too strong a word, but I am cautious of it getting too overwhelming.

What I’m working on?

Snail’s pace but I am trying to work on this. Trying being the keyword, haha!

What I’m Excited about?

Even though I mentioned I am worried about getting overwhelmed about meeting the said side of my extended family, I am looking forward to enjoy in the wedding this is for. I love Indian weddings more than anything!

What I’m Watching/Reading?

I just completed my first read of the year – The Hindu Way by Shashi Tharoor. It was a roll over from 2022, now I am onto my second one – The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjay Baru, I have never read a book on politics and, surprisingly I am quite enjoying it.

I am watching ‘The Crown’ every now and then, mostly with my meals. I am not able to binge watch it because a) I cannot play it as background music while working since it requires attention the first time, b) my husband does not enjoy it, and a couple of hours at night is the only time we have in common apart from breakfast so I don’t want to watch such a long series during that time.

I recently concluded ‘Emily in Paris’ and man do I love it! I never expected to enjoy it so much. I might do a post on it, you know.

I am also watching the Indian version of Shark Tank, not enjoying it as much as the Season 1.

I may have re-watched a lot of stuff, and I am also looking forward to watch SRK’s latest movie Pathaan after 4 years in a movie hall. Although I don’t have a lot of hope from the story, but just for the heck of watching SRK on big screen.

What I’m Listening to?

Oh, this is a good one for me. So, I may have mentioned that I am not into any specific music, mostly anything nostalgic Bollywood or any famous Punjabi songs float my boat. Every now and then I listen to random podcasts but I haven’t found one that I love and its very random and also very infrequent. However, very recently, I have kind of started building my podcast listening habit to avoid looking at my phone in mornings and right before bed. I am liking it not only to avoid screen time but also because I am leaning to informative stuff. I won’t share which ones I am listening to because I don’t have a strong opinion yet on this. πŸ˜€

What I’m Wearing?

I am sad that I didn’t use a lot of my winter stuff on my trips, but kind of repeated the same things. I just wanted to be super comfortable and not try at all. I am also sad that my two boots that I love have started to chip, because I definitely wanted to use them more. I’ll probably check with a shoemaker who sits outside my house if something can be done.

What I’m doing this weekend?

The coming weekend, i.e. Feb first week, would be the weekend I would want to chill completely. Let’s see how that goes, although knowing some upcoming things, I think it would be busy again.

What I’m looking forward to next month?

The said wedding fun.

Planning for more travels, especially a big one, fingers crossed.

Most importantly, improving some things about my work.

What else is new?

I had to think hard for this, so I am just sharing a silly thing that came up in my mind – I am soon going to try a fun takeout and planning to convert it to date night. Let’s see how that goes.

Book 12 of 2022 | Murder Mystery Book Club #1

Right after my 11th book turned out to be such an amazingly fun read, I went into the flow of reading another murder mystery because why not?

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

With that out of the way, let’s get to this book – Murder Mystery Book Club (Florida Keys Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery 1 – which is a first in a series of Florida Keys Bed & Breakfast Cozy Mystery books.

Why I chose this book?

Like I mentioned, I was in the flow of reading mystery books, more specifically murder mysteries.

What I liked:

I very much loved this book, just the cozy, sunny Florida setting got me going. I loved it a little less than the previous book, but fun nonetheless. Also, how fun does the idea of running a bed and breakfast sound?

What I didn’t like:

Overall, I liked this book but still there were some things that could have been better. First one being the OTT side characters. Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love side characters whose personas are well-defined and the ones who stand out. But, here it seemed forced and kind of trying too hard. Secondly, I didn’t like the encounters that led to the romance so much, it again looked a bit forced to me.

I do still recommend reading this one for a light, cozy read. Maybe on a holiday. πŸ™‚

April Favorites

I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting. Hence, I started with this monthly favorites series.

For my previous monthly favorites, go here.

I actually got pretty lazy with keeping a track of my favorites after a couple of months, so I have very few in this post which I managed to draft back in April. :O

Prelude to a Riot: I talk about this book here. Its one of the good books I read this year, albeit too small. Weirdly, not in an I-don’t-want-this-to-end way, but rather that it felt incomplete, I wish there was more to the story. Maybe, there’s one coming soon and the book is strategically named a “Prelude”? (I mean, yes, that name has another meaning in the book but a girl can hope).

Om Sweets Gol Gappe: If you don’t know what are Gol Gappe, what are you doing with your life? Anyhow, specifically Om Sweets Gol Gappe is a pandemic favorite. So, this is an Indian street food and before the pandemic, I used to judge every single person who would even consider making it at home, forget ordering in. However, during the pandemic, a friend ordered it at our place and we made fun of him for the first 5 minutes, but eventually we were hooked. Gol Gappe are just as tasty at home, you guys, and Om Sweets has set the bar high now with convenient packaging and all.

Pencil Case for Kiyan’s Return Gifts: Kiyan is my husband’s nephew and we spent a lot of our pandemic period in Surat at my in-laws place with him. We were there for his 5th birthday which was also a timeline when people were trying to bring back kids birthday parties post the pandemic dry spell. I took the responsibility of being in-charge of return gifts for his birthday party. Since I love kids stationary so much, I ended up loving what I finalized so much that I took one for myself as well. πŸ˜€ Below is a picture. By the way, I had many other cooler ideas in mind for kids birthday party return gifts which didn’t end up working that time, so, if you are looking for any such ideas, do hit me up. πŸ˜€

Book 13 of 2022 | The Girl from Venice

Its now time for a book opinion on my favorite read of this year. This is one book that I randomly picked on NetGalley, mostly because of the name of the book and like I mentioned in my older book posts, I have been reading and loving a lot of war fiction this year.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

Onto my favorite read of the year now:

Why I chose this book?

The first line of this blog post is enough to tell.

What I Liked:

I loved everything about this book, perfection is the word – from characters to the setting to the storyline to the theme of the book, i.e. WWII.

A bit about the book – An Italian Jewish woman from Venice who is a regular medical student like any of us has to flee from Venice when the Nazi regime starts capturing Jews in Venice. I don’t want to give spoilers, even though the book blurb will mention more than what I am mentioning here. Basically, the story is about her granddaughter finding her roots by way of tracing back her grandmother’s (who never brought up her Venetian past).

I have also come to realize that I like books with two parallel perspectives where one of them is a flashback and the two kind of merge together eventually. I wish I could put down my love for this book in words, but I was essentially loved every page of it. I think it was also the right length, because even though I loved reading it, in such books, you come to a point where you want the protagonist to discover what they set out for.

The Venetian setting is a bonus and a girl on solo travel to Venice with a little bit of romance thrown in is just the stuff of dreams! Pretty sure this would make a great motion picture!

What I didn’t Like:

I really do not have anything here. If I had to nit pick, the sex scenes were definitely avoidable and seemed unnecessary.

Here is the link to the book and I highly, highly urge you to give this one a read. I am also thankful that I got the opportunity to read this one purely due to NetGalley.

Book 9 of 2022 | Gunahon ka Devta by Dharamvir Bharati (Hindi Novel) | Diwablog 2

Okay, you may have noticed that I am trying to do a Diwablog series for Diwali, just like loads end up doing Blogmas for Christmas (including me). I thought why not use this opportunity to also work in some long pending book opinions!

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And now, here are my thoughts on Dharamvir Bharati’s famed novel, Gunahon ka Devta, which also recently got its English translation as Chander & Sudha (I’ll link all books at the end).

Why I chose this book?

Dharamvir Bharati had been an extremely revered Hindi novelist of his time, i.e. the 60s and the 70s. His romantic novel – Gunahon ka Devta – turned out to be a cult classic and I have been meaning to read something from him. So, i thought i’ll start with his most famed.

What I liked:

To be honest, I didn’t like most of it. I wanted to like it so badly because most of the Hindi literature that I like is from this period or slightly before. Not really from today. And i wanted to be known as someone who has read his stuff and loves it. Vain, I know. Still, if I had to pick a few things that I liked, they would be:

1. The old world charm of the Hindi hinterland since it’s based in that part of India.

2. I liked how all the women characters in the book had something strong and unique going on for them. I know many people think that the women characters were stereotypical but I don’t agree with this completely. They may be stereotypical but they all had a characteristic that stood out. Be it Binti, the side-kick cousin or her bitter & orthodox mom or even the super stereotypical Pammi, who is shown as the vamp character by showing her Anglo Indian and ‘easy’. Even the protagonist, she was unique in her own ways.

Oh wait, i should have mentioned what the book is about. It’s essentially a friendship turned love story turned sacrificial love between Chander and Sudha. Chander is a student prodigy of Sudha’s father who is a college professor. He trusts Chander blindly with anything in life and family matters (and that’s how Chander and his daughter are ‘allowed to’ be friends) but there’s not even a possibility of considering him as a perspective groom because of caste differences which was a pretty big deal back then and continues to be in many parts still, especially that area where this is based.

What I didn’t like:

A lot. First of all, I am not a big fan of the sacrificial kind of love stories. Most of the ones that I have read never seem to have a good enough reason for it, so I basically find it difficult to relate to protagonists’ problems. To top it off, I felt that both the protagonists, i.e. Chander and Sudha, had very annoying personalities. Chander is kind of self centred and despite being someone older and well-read in the equation, he exhibits really toxic man-child behavior around Sudha and when not ‘catered to’, he exhibits self-harming behavior. It’s really annoying and I could hardly garner any sympathy. If i was supposed to look for a deeper meaning in Chander’s personality, I failed. Sudha, while definitely seemed a better character than Chander, was just not good enough for me. I cannot place a finger on why I found her annoying, since I may have liked her character in another novel setting. I just didn’t like the fact that she caved in too quickly to Chander’s whims.

That’s really it. I actually really wanted to like it but i didn’t . Below are the links even though I haven’t made a good case for it:

Actual Book

English Translation

If you liked this, check out more of my latest posts:

Book 11 of 2022 | The Mountain View Murder: A Wintergreen Mystery by Patrick Kelly

Another day, another book post! Continuing with my streak of posting my views on all the books I read, here’s my 10th 11th one from this year. You can find more of such posts from me here.

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And now, here are my thoughts on The Mountain View Murder:

Why I chose this book?

I was browsing Netgalley for the first time when I came across this book. Yes, it has been more than a year since Netgalley let me take this book. I think its fairly obvious why I chose this book, its name screams cozy, mountain murder mystery. That was it, then. That itself was the reason.

What I liked:

Everything. There, I completed the opinion before even saying anything! This book is about a retired detective Bill O’Shea who moves to Wintergreen, a mountain resort in North Carolina, to spend his life post retirement. The police chief there, Alex, is a temporary chief who doesn’t have a lot of experience with this sort of work when someone dies. So, he ropes in Bill to help him solve the case. Alex, rest of the team and almost everyone in the story believes that its an accident, but Bill wants to track every clue to figure out what it actually is – murder or accident. What then ensues is your typical whodunnit and all the characters are very enjoyable in the story. The suspects, of course, with their motives keep giving the book fun dimensions with every flashback into their lives. However, the main character, i.e., our detective Bill and his supporting characters add a lot to the experience. There’s Bill’s new love interest, Cindy, who approaches Bill right when he moves to his condo, Mitch, the young policeman who works with Bill, Krista, the policewoman who has a very fun, outgoing and charming side to her while being amazing at her job, Kim, the Wintergreen gossip journal who also adds to the whodunnit once giving it a fun twist!

To top it all, the setting of the book, i.e. a mountain resort from where multiple hiking trails pass through, make for a fun ride. I enjoyed reading this so much and after this I downloaded so many mystery books on my Kindle!

What I didn’t like:

I really don’t have anything, except I wish the book went on for longer! πŸ˜€

A huge thanks to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this book!