Book 7 and 8 of 2022 | Two books I didn’t realise would be so related

Every year, I try to read at least one book from some literary prize shortlists and almost every time, I end up disliking the book. This year I picked the JCB 2021 winner – Delhi: A Soliloquy. I was in for a surprise. Before we get into that, something about my reading habit.

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 it goes:

Book 7 of 2022:

Delhi: A Soliloquy

Why I chose this book? I pretty much mentioned the reason in the first paragraph.

What is it about? This book is a narrative on Delhi through the years from a Malayali person’s standpoint, with the backdrop of various wars that happened in modern day Delhi, starting from the war with China in 1960. Sahadevan, protagonist and also the narrator, is convinced to come for a job to Delhi by his known person from his native – Sreedharanunni, a communist person who loses his life when Delhi is attacked by China (yes, the irony). The book then has multiple characters who grow up and old in Delhi, all from Kerala and everything happens from Sahadevan’s point of view against wars like the 1965 one with Pakistan, 1970 one with Bangladesh and so on. The riots after the murder of Indira Gandhi were hair raising, and to know that this is not just a book, but rather something that actually happened, is something else.

What I liked? The book has so many characters but i found it in me to love most of them, they all held some place in my heart and i don’t even know how. Usually, books with multiple storylines get really annoying for me but, here, i waited for every character’s chapter to come up again. A lot of good work has gone into giving ample character building to each character. i think it also has to do with the fact that the narration is uniform, told from a single point of view. All the events were based on historical events (various wars in modern Delhi) but there were some that stood out for me. For example, reading about emergency riots was like watching a tragedy happening on screen. Very well written. i usually don’t enjoy the introspection kind of parts in any book, but Sahadevan’s monologues with himself were also worth looking forward to. the book is essentially a growing older of Sahadevan as Delhi grew up with him too.

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of anything honestly, because I went in with no expectations. Additionally, I have been reading a lot of war fiction these days, so it was a natural pick at the time.

Book 8 of 2022:

Prelude to a Riot

Why I chose this book? can’t say why i am going from one war book to another but I am and i am just into that right now.

What is it about? Coincidentally, this book was also based in Kerala, so the Malayali community basically. It’s about different perspectives of various characters as the Hindu Muslim divide begins to be “seen” in Kerala. primarily focusing on three friends and their respective perspectives, it also has many characters like the previous book and each one stood out. It’s a great thing that I don’t remember right now how this book ended but I do remember most of the characters. The most endearing part of the book is how the three friends one out of whom is Muslim start falling apart due to their changing perspectives and the ongoing events at that time.

What I liked: Obviously the fact that how relevant it is in current times. Also, how true to its name is the title of the book – it was really a prelude to what was to come, i.e. riots between two communities/religions. it highlighted the kind of differences or stigma that one starts associating with another community because of the propaganda. The book was scary, because it felt close to home.

What I didn’t like: Why was this book so short? I can totally see it to be intentional but can’t figure out why. It could have been so much more detailed and that would have made it all the more lovely. i hope a sequel is planned.

The Most Productive Meal Menu

What is a productive meal menu, you ask? Depends on what you are trying to achieve from your food habits, but I classified this week as productive because I managed to completely clean the fridge before I embark on my trip for two days and also didn’t order in even once! Not that anything is wrong with ordering in, in fact, its one of the things I enjoy, but you know what I mean.

You will notice as you go along in the list of things I ate over the week, that the consumption of protein was not as good as I would have liked, but that’s because I was focussing on using up stuff. In general, I am critical of food wastage and my fridge is usually easier to clean before a trip because its not filled with a lot of store-bought condiments or things like that which you can’t consume in one go.

Have a look at what I ate this Monday to Friday πŸ˜€ and I am thinking of doing this again soon, when I eat more of what I wanted to and didn’t focus on fridge cleanse. This week also had a lot of other things that are not part of my usual routine. For example, it was a chill work week, so I was waking up quite late which meant a heavier breakfast & a snack type lunch. Also, a friend was staying over, so lots of rice type one pot meals instead of roti (Indian flatbread) which require more effort.

Also, I enjoy Youtube content of meal plans and such a lot, do share your food related stories in the comments as I would love those!

Don’t forget to look beyond the picture for some explanation of the meal menu :D:

I created this table in my notebook especially for this post and I am going to give you some more context if you are not an Indian & some of the words don’t make sense. First of all, my husband and I usually can’t do without three proper meals. However, in this meal menu, you would notice two lunches as just chai (Indian milk tea) and something to munch on. As I already mentioned, that’s because I was waking up late and breakfast was heavier than usual. Aside this, I would like to incorporate a lot more protein and actually my other weeks are definitely better than this one in that regard.

Now, a glossary of sorts πŸ˜€ –

Roti is nothing but the staple Indian basic flatbread, I usually use multigrain flour for this, but its traditionally meant to be whole wheat.

Chawal is nothing but plain boiled white rice.

Chai is Indian milky tea, which some people call as masala tea, but just so you know, I hate masalas in Chai. Only ginger and tulsi (holy basil) for me.

Idli is steamed rice cakes, traditionally made in South India.

Sambar is a vegetable stew that goes well with Idlis.

Poha is cooked rice flakes, and I would say its an acquired taste, but its a staple in our home, especially because its filling but not as carbs heavy as bread and also because we make it with matar or green peas always, which are high protein.

Gobhi is cauliflower & paratha is a heavier Indian flatbread. So, Gobhi paratha is an Indian flatbread stuffed with cauliflower and then fried with ghee (clarified butter), again a winter delicacy but this is one of my husband’s favorite treat so its a regular with us.

Methi is fenugreek leaves, which is a gift of winters in India and both of us love it.

The uncomfortable bits | Talking about my Wedding | #3 | Blogmas 12

I have written about my wedding here and here. If you go to these posts, you would realize that I was very keen on logging all details about my wedding on the blog. I’ll also tell you the reason. For the longest time, i have loved reading wedding blogs. I love wedding planning to bits, and I had wanted to cover all details of my own when it happened. However, even when I was typing those above linked posts, I knew that something would stop me from continuing with a well-planned wedding series. I am going to address that something today.

I went through a super tensed time when I was getting married and to think that we were both lucky to have a wedding of our dreams, a sort of unachievable dream, i.e. getting married in the mountains, it’s pathetic that I was so tensed that I find it difficult to recall happy memories from those two days which should have been a happy vacation.

The funniest but also the sad bit? Most of it seems like nothing when I look back. I mean not nothing, nothing but, you know, not worthy enough to be that tensed that you don’t enjoy your own wedding, which, by the way, should be your top most priority if you are getting married. This is also what most people end up not doing.

I’ll give some basic idea on why I was so tensed. Just so it’s recorded here and even the reader is involved. πŸ™‚ The thing is, like I mentioned, I love wedding planning and the stress was nothing to do with any logistics or wedding planning related stuff. In fact, i remember i got my day 1 function’s outfit right before leaving for Mussoorie, the destination for our wedding, and I had picked some random jewellery to go with it, thinking that I’ll take a call after reaching what jewellery to mix and match. You know what i am saying? I was not so worried about these things.

The cause of my worry was an amalgamation of all the various rows and fall outs my extended family kept having. It’s not unheard of in Indian weddings. It’s also pretty common that the bride and groom’s sides will have many disagreements (which also happened but it was not as stressful as the first cause, plus I have to give it to Rahul for how much he went out of his way to take care of this part so that I am least affected). But the first part, which is my extended family’s fall outs, is something that took all my strength to deal with, emotionally. I know now that it’s not that big a deal maybe. Or even if it is, i just need to make peace with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy. In fact, i was so uncomfortable with writing all this that I couldn’t write about my wedding until now, almost 3 years!! And I know I can’t move to the good part until i address this because despite all the good, amazing things, i don’t recall happy memories when I look back. I was tensed.

It started after our parents had met and formally announced things. we call it ‘Roka’. Since it was only our parents who met, some family members got offended that they weren’t made a part of this (my dad had phoned them about the meeting prior). After this, when parents started discussing next steps, Rahul and I were still making up our mind on the feasibility of a destination wedding. Why this thought even came is because we were both clear that we like the idea of a two-day vacation sort of scenario where everyone is staying put at one place and I have always loved the idea of getting married in the hills. But, anyhow, we hadn’t gone that far until this point. We were just thinking about a two-day plan and were adamant on not doing any ceremony right after the announcement. My dad, on the other hand, considered it very important that the extended family members meet. After a lot of to and fro, it was decided to have a small ceremony at Rahul’s parents new place. Since all of my extended family lives in North India, my dad didn’t want to put the pressure on people to travel to Surat for such a small ceremony. He just wanted to formally introduce the family members. So, what he did was book flight tickets for one person from each family entity to travel and attend the ceremony. i am not getting into why is this needed etc, but since he really wanted this, we went along. In hindsight, it would probably have been better to just invite people and leave it upto them as to who wants to travel, but the fact that he took the pain to book tickets for everyone without burdening them for travel was not at all appreciated. Instead of receiving congratulatory messages, I got such angry messages from my cousins about why they weren’t considered important enough to join and so on. I cried throughout my return trip after the ceremony. I don’t know how I would have felt if i was in their shoes but I know one thing for sure, no matter how much I don’t like the way things are done, i am not going to have a fall out on somebody’s important day. Its too toxic, doesn’t matter if it’s out of love.

Things just went downhill from here until the two days of the wedding festivities that happened months later. Yes, even the day right before those two days, people were picking stuff to complain about and I am pretty sure that this would not have been me. I would never complain so much about logistics etc on somebody’s important day, not just wedding. I don’t want to put that much added pressure on someone, and here, people were specifically calling me to crib about things like why is xyz not invited. I mean, if you are an Indian, you know how it is. How everyone has an opinion. My problem is just that you should be more considerate before you decide to bother someone who is in the midst of hosting something. I am just thankful that on the actual two days of the main event, everyone had a lot of fun & no quarrels ensued on those two days.

I am not going to nit-pick this topic further, i just wanted to get it out of my system before I post about fun wedding stuff. Although, (i know i am writing this for the third time in this post), its just sad that looking back I recall all the tension this caused in my head while i should be recalling happy moments. The only time when I was totally in a blissful and happy mental state was during our dance performance on day 1 (which was engagement and sangeet).

I can’t say why but this has taken a lot of guts for me to write down. Do share your thoughts when you get to reading it. πŸ™‚

4 Things I’ll Never Buy | Blogmas 11

Remember this post? I talked about things I love collecting. An antithesis of this post is here now, primarily due to the motivation to consume less and not collect stuff. I don’t know which of the two posts i thought of first but here it is for you to enjoy:

Well, never say never but you get the gist, right? I am vary of buying these things:

1. Vases: i do buy other things that serve as vases. Like ceramic pots that can also serve as water jugs? You know what i mean? However, I desperately steer clear of buying actual vases from a shop. In my head, that’s just too basic a decor item. Why not use unexpected things as vases that set your house part? I love the idea of using alcohol bottles as is for home decor too.

2. Balloons: i have loved balloons for as long as I can remember. My mom tells me I used to be scared of them as a toddler, that’s why I said for as long as I remember. πŸ™‚ But, but, they are non biodegradable and create a lot of unnecessary waste. Just beware if you were to put me in charge of planning a party, i can assure you though that I’ll get a mean party setup without them!

3. Dusting clothes: i dont understand why people feel the need to buy these. Maybe i am missing something here? How come people don’t have clothes that are discarded and can be used as dusting clothes? Or its not good to use them?

4. Storage boxes: unless they are furniture. I don’t like the idea of ‘buying’ boxes that you would use for storage. In all likeliness, I’ll figure something out from existing boxes like delivery packages. But this may lead to piling up a lot of stuff, again something i truly despise. But it’s just lesser of the two evils. I cannot even begin to tell you just how hard I cringe when movers & packers come over and insist on using their own fresh new boxes, instead of the boxes you already have handy.

So I colored my hair blue | Blogmas 6

I have been wanting to do this for a while now. And it had to be blue. I love seeing blue colored hair on people. So much so that I don’t know which color to go for if I do this again. Because I don’t feel that attracted to any color on hair other than blue.

It’s a bit more special to me because I have never colored my hair. I haven’t done many hair treatments either, a keratin once and a couple of hair spas ( does that even count as treatment? I think treatment yes, but definitely not experimental stuff). I have had many hairstyles over the years and I would still say that I have experimented with hairstyles compared to many other people but hair color i haven’t. And I know this color is out of comfort zone for many people. I was clear, though, this is the color I wanted. In fact, the fact that I wanted this color on my hair made me do it.

A little about how I went about it. I had a vague idea that I wanted to color my hair blue. There’s this salon called Neu Salonz in Gurgaon whom I have seen doing beautiful colors on many influencers. I had kind of already thought seeing many pictures that I’ll get my hair done from them. Then, as luck would have it, I also came across this below picture from them.

This was it. This is exactly what I wanted.

One day I finally called up the salon, took an idea of how much time it takes etc. I kind of knew that this salon is overcharging since they spend a lot on marketing etc, something confirmed by a friend who was also getting her hair colored at the same time for way cheaper. I still wanted to get my first time hair color by this salon only, because I was convinced a bit too much seeing the pictures online.

As some of you may know, it’s wedding season in India right now and I decided to go to the salon right before a friend’s wedding. it seemed like a very time taking process at the salon and we were running a bit late so I was in dilemma about whether to come again some day. My husband, who strictly hates any sort of hair colors by the way, convinced me to go for it right away so that at least I have newly styled hair for the wedding. πŸ˜€ Before you all go awww, he was irritated by my to and fro to the core.

I have to say, it is a boring process to sit in a salon while they wash and re-wash your hair and keep putting various stuffs on it. But the end result delighted me. I am so happy that I did this. I am going to share some pictures below and it’s totally okay if you think you don’t like it, do share that feedback too. I, for one, love it. I also in general like the idea of experimenting with hair (even though i dont end up doing it because of laziness). I’ll tell you why i like it though – 1) i am fairly confident in my skin if someone judges my hair experiments, sure it bothers me when people stare but its not that much. i make my peace with it, 2) i have really bad quality hair so i am not scared of what may come πŸ˜€ i think the only badass thing i do in life is be okay with my hair doing whatever the f*ck they want.

My husband, of course, doesn’t like colored hair, so he keeps noticing people around him who are staring at me. Something that happens a lot more in wedding season.

Do share your thoughts as well. πŸ˜€

Posts I worked hard for but didn’t get the love | Blogmas 3

I have been meaning to do this post since a long time because there are some old posts on this blog which have a common theme – they are long and very word heavy, took me a long time to write but they barely got any love. Now I understand that I haven’t been getting any traction since the recent past because I post very inconsistently and, in such scenarios, not getting any traction is sort of anticipated. However, the posts I am mentioning are from the time when I expected traction.

I have decided to link them here today in the hope that you would be considerate enough to read them. πŸ™‚

The Tale of the most ornate blouse: you know what, I would love to write more posts like this as I love restyling clothes. Loved the concept of reuse and reduce before it became cool.

Blogmas Day 5 | My 2020 Favorites! The year that was!: Why did this post not get the love it deserves? Who doesn’t want to know other people’s favorites? πŸ˜€

My 2 year long relationship with Earth Rhythm: A recent post which is detailed on a skin care brand My Hair Story & the entry of a recent miracle

My Hair Story & the entry of a recent miracle: this is a very, very old post and my hair care routine (or the lack of one – it’s just oil and shampoo) has seen many new things since then. Recent addition – a blue hair color. Seems like a good idea to document that. πŸ˜€ That aside though, this post may still be relevant for someone with similar hair, so, go read maybe?