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A Solemn Moment….

I could have written a fun post, but I thought this was more important. Saturday morning India Time 9:00 AM, a series of earthquake shook our part of the world. The tremors continued for 2 hours sporadically and with yet another set hitting us on Sunday morning. The epicenter of the earthquake was Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, a beautiful little state bordering India and impacting both Nepal and the eastern India, the part of world where my family belongs from. The magnitude of the earthquake was 7.8 on Richter scale and has also triggered of several avalanches across Himalayan range, including Mount Everest.

According to BBC, 3326 people are now reported as dead and more than 6500 people injured, with several thousand still missing. While I am ok and so is my immediate family, I have several friends and acquaintance, who have been impacted by this earthquake.  A couple, newly married friends who were trekking on the Himalayas are missing. Several family members of my friends have been grievously injured and some already dead. The beautiful city of Katmandu, one of my favorite cities in the world has been destroyed – its precious historically rich architecture has been levelled and can never be put back again. 4 UNESCO Heritage sites have been completely destroyed! The country is now running short of food and water and continued heavy rains has led to fears of diarrhea and cholera among those who have lost their homes and are now forced to live in camps.

One of the poorest of the third world nations, with a GDP of $67 billion, (Wikipedia) Nepal has been in continuous political ferment since the death of its King and Queen in 2001, leading to massive political unrest and finally became a republic in 2008. However it continued with problems of poverty, health and other developmental needs. But despite all these trouble, the land and her people have always been warm, accepting, hospitable and joyous. My visits to Nepal have always been such wonderful and heart rending experiences, as the poorest of the poor are happy to share whatever little they have, if it makes your life better. All through college and graduate school days, I had a bunch of friends from Nepal – fun, crazy and generous and through these years of staying apart, they have kept in touch across time and geography and stood by me in most difficult times!

Nepal

This is a time for prayers and help for this lovely country and its wonderful people, who need our assistance badly. If you can, spare a moment for this wonderful land and its amazing people. They need all our help in any way or form.  If you wish to help through any kind of material support, please visit this link published by US Today, which will give you several option to support in cash or kind.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/04/25/nepal-quake-how-to-help/26361193/#

I would end by remembering all those lost their lives in this unmitigated disaster!

On Lack of Reading Time and Thereof….

I know I have been away from blogging for a while, but the fact remains that I have been barely reading stuff lately. For once it is not my work which is to be blamed or health, in fact it is rather a happy occasion, despite the fact that it is keeping me away from my well-loved books! It is a wedding in the family – one of my cousins, someone whom I am very close to is getting married on May 1st; we were born only 20 days apart and have fought, argued and became comrades –in-arms from childhood to adults.  Now this cousin of mine who for 32 years of his life has been confirming and swearing by lifetime of bachelorhood, has suddenly discovered love. In a short span of 6months of meeting, woowing and getting woowed in return, he has finally decided to take the plunge and thus, May1st is the D –DAY! The only thing he forgot, was that this is India, and here it’s not about two people getting married, but two families. Add to that just dash of multicultural-multilingual rituals; stemming from the fact that my aunt, i.e. my cousin’s mom is from Eastern India, like rest of my family, but my uncle, my cousin’s Dad is from South India – the family has been settled in New Delhi (You with me still) and the bride is from North Western Himalayas. This is one melting pot with three different rituals, customs and expectations! Welcome to the big fat wedding of cosmopolitan modern India! For the last couple of weeks, I have been on numerous shopping trips with my aunt (Ugh!!!)have visited and tasted more catering options than I can recall and have sat through long discussions on what is considered most pure and most auspicious per Hindu laws of ceremony rituals. My cousin the poor soul is exhausted and exasperated and thinks he should have eloped (I quite agree with him). My aunt is having hysterical fits, a la Mrs. Bennett style (Yes! My aunt belongs to that crazy branch of the family, whose genes I want to surgically remove, if I could!) My uncle is trying to be stoic and failing miserably and the bride, a lovely girl with wonderful sense of fun, is losing her good humor by the minute and often calls me to ask me if this as in all the madness is normal…I have to be heartless and tell her yes..welcome to the family of loony bins! The boy is still very sane and very good…hope that gives her the much needed silver lining! Hence, my reading has completely come to a halt, I am trying to sneak in and finish The Awakening, but my aunt, at whose place and company I am spending significant weekend time, does not approve of the book. She read the synopsis and thinks it’s a most inauspicious read before a wedding ceremony (I told you that branch of the family is crazy!) She does not even approve of Road to Oxiana because per her only the frivolous ricj have the money to hike all over the world and then write books; while I cannot disagree with her on the frivolously well off piece, I have tried pointing out that they do write amazing stuff, but Robert Byron is beyond redemption as far as my aunt is concerned. That’s a slice of my life for the last 10 odd days. I will try and sneak in a bookish review one of these days soon, but don’t hold your breath. In the meanwhile, I go back to the family meeting of planning the reception menu for the 1846th time!! What Joy!!! I leave you with a Bollywood wedding song and dance – this ACTUALLY HAPPENS!!

Spinning Experiment…

New month, new beginning, new reading and new reading experiments….that seems to be the flavor for the month of April. I know that it’s a bit late to share April reading plans and lately I have not managed to stick to any of my planned readings , due to work pressure; but perseverance is the key to success and I preserver!

To begin with, I am participating in the Classic Club Spin#9 and it has spun #2 which in my list is Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”. I have been dreading reading this book for some time, though many wise people have told me that this is a brilliant piece of work, but my heart quails, but perseverance…I have ordered the book and now await the delivery. (Some books are better read as books and not Kindle, especially the one I consider “challenging”)

I have also heard a lot of great things about Isabel Allende’s “The House of Spirits” – it’s a family saga, set over three generations in some of the most difficult time in Columbian history. I have not read much outside the tradition Anglo- American literature, but this year, I had planned to change that and this seems right up my alley for start into world literature.  I was sooooo hoping that the Spin would have spun me this one, but it did not and woe was me. But then I decided, that I really do not have to wait for the Classic Club spin, it is one of the books that I planned to read anyway and now is a good time as any!

Science and I have never been good friends – Newton was enough for me and I did not want to know more! But recently under the influence of several blogging inspirations, especially one, (Stefanie, I am so looking at you!) I began to wonder how bad it can get.  Therefore another tentative experiment was to get the much acclaimed and but never read by moi Stephan Hawkins “A Brief History of Time” and Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species”. I have already begun reading the first and I must say I am quite enjoying it and if Science and I had not been skeptical of each other’s abilities (especially the part where Science is skeptical of my abilities), I would have been more garrulous in my praise. But it’s early day in our relationship and we will see how things pan out. I had ordered Origin along with Brief, but Amazon delivered Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Humiliated and Insulted”; I am not sure how Origin is related to this or even in alphabetical stack rank Charles Darwin is way ahead of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, but that’s Amazon for you. However they have promised to replace the book and I await the correction.

My final experiment is to read this very obscure historical fiction published in 1842 called “Windsor Castle” by William Harrison Ainsworth. The book apparently has Gothic overtones and traces Henry VII’s wooing of Anne Boleyn in the company of ghosts. It should be interesting at any case!

Naturally with such extensive experimental reading, I needed some comfortable fall back options; therefore I am also doing some re-reads – two well-loved books that I have not revisited for some time – Edward Rutherford’s “Sarum” and Robert Byron’s “The Road to Oxania”. The first is a work of historical fiction, a Michener style telling of the story of Salisbury, through 4000 years of history via the fictitious families that reside on these lands. The latter is considered a classic and one of the foremost travelogue of present day ; Robert Byron travels in the company of now infamous Christopher Sykes and through Iran and Afghanistan and documents some of the most beautiful architectural essay on the monuments of these lands, most of which no longer exist, thanks to hard working efforts of Taliban and other such groups!

That’s what my reading landscape for April looks like….I am really hoping that this would be a better reading month and I persevere again 😉

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