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Why The Tab?

Let me share with all of you, how I spent my extremely exciting Saturday night! I paid my bills, planned meals for next week (have several leadership visits through the week, so need to plan ahead for easy to cook/good to eat type stuff) grocery shopping and hunting the market for a cover for my Tab. And this brings us to the tale of the Tab – I have a great Tab, it’s a local make, but sturdy and hardy and suffices for my most important need – e-reading! I love this machine and have never ventured out of the house with it, for the fear of wrecking it. The problem you see is of the cover – since it’s a local make, my extremely bourgeois retailers do not cater to a decent cover for its make –size/shape etc! They offer me fancy covers for I-PADs, Kindle Fire, Lenovo, Samsung etc etc. but nod there in resignation with a slight touch of amusement, when I take out my poor non fancy non brand tab! Hence I never took the poor tab out of the house and in a way kind of self-defeated it very purpose of existence! However last night I was determined to find a cover for the tab, come hail or snow! The straw had finally broken the camel’s back and the time had come when I sorely needed a cover, so that I could take the tab out and plonk in to the purse whenever required without adding to too much to its bulk. My poor purse, actually it’s a gargantuan sized office bag, shaped to look like a distant cousin to ladies bag,  carries my laptop., my big fat diary, my daily Knick knacks , a bottle of water and now hopefully the Tab!

But why suddenly the urge to carry the tab you ask? What was the straw that broke my back? (Yes! I am the aforementioned camel!)That you see is the crux of this rambling post – ever since I have been working, I have been in a habit of carrying a book to read in the cab. Now considering my bag is already spilleth over and 9 out of 10 cases, the book I was reading was a tome, I would carry it in my hand and keep it on my workstation, in the plain view of the world. This naturally had many and mostly completely non-original side effects –People would walk over, look at the book, try to understand the story/plot/thesis of the book via the blurb and then bombard me with inane and absolutely mundane questions –

  1. Do you like reading? No, I think the book accentuates my outfit! Duh! I have been carrying a book since you have known me, which is centuries considering I have been working in the same organization for 10 years and now you ask me this!!! Besides in the words of Scout Finch – I don’t know if I like reading; does one like breathing???
  2. How can you read while coming to work? Did I ask you how can you listen to heavy metal when coming to work?
  3. Is this a good book? Really are you interested in a literary discussion; my bet is No and you are just wasting time, waiting for my colleague to return to her desk, so that you can get on with whatever was your purpose in coming over!
  4. How can you read history? Stop being so judgmental! Did I ask you how you can watch Fast& Furious or whatever slapstick you were watching?
  5. Can you give me names for some good book which I could read? Define a “good book”? I mean do you want to read literature e/classics/history/sci-fi/thriller/romance/romcom/spy/sports/biography/leadership/psychology/poetry?   “Oh! I don’t know but something light but good…anything but no too heavy, but good”…argh!!!!!
  6. Reading again? How can you read so much? Do I ask how can you smoke/eat/talk/watch television etc etc so much?
  7. Oh! This book – have you seen the movie? No I have not nor will I, but do I ask you have you read the book?
  8. Have you read Twilight/50 Shades of Grey? I have nothing against these books, except they have made populist reading into a whole new level of insanity! I really want to turn around and ask the next person who asks me this question and ask – Have you read The Rebel or War and Peace!
  9. A new book again? How can you read so fast! I have special superpowers!
  10. Can I borrow a book? Oh! No! No! No! And this was the straw; yesterday afternoon while cleaning the first two shelves of book 5 bookshelves, I discovered 12 titles missing – 6 books per shelves…..oh!! so not good! I then recollected some of them which had been borrowed and called up the borrowers – most were nice and said will get them on Monday/Tuesaday/ next weekend; however there were some “Oh! I know you gave me the book, but I don’t remember where did I leave it!” “Oh! My baby tore it up…so sorry; will buy you a new copy!” “Some tea got spilled over, only the introduction was damaged, but the remaining is all good – you have already read it anyway. Right?!!”

Oh! Dear! The joys of being a Reader! Anyway, therefore I am going to start using my tab and hence the quest for its cover (I did manage to get an ugly brown thing, but it fits!) Going forward my Tab goes with me to work – fortunately since I don’t share a cab, I will not be asked/tormented with any of these questions and it goes right into my bag, at least 5 minutes before I approach work! So there!

Hail To The Great Women…..

The Classic Club is hosting a brilliant event through 2016 called Women’s Classic Literature Event. The idea is to read classic literature by female authors and share your thoughts! The fun part is you do not have to wait for January, for the Club decided that Christmas had come early and opened the event on October 09 2015…so super yay! It goes without saying that I will be participating, the only problem I do face as of now is what all to read…more like there is so much and I don’t want to leave out ANYTHING! Therefore in a rare moment of wisdom, I have decided to take one book at a time and I will kick of the event with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. This book was part of my Reading England project and now it snugly fits into Women’s Classic Literature event as well. I plan to read it through November and I am super excited as I had been waiting to read this FOREVER!

Moving on, as part of the same event, the club has brought out a survey for its members to complete; this survey is naturally based around Women in Classics and I am sorely tempted to attempt it, though I am ridiculously bad at these things! I never seem to remember the pertinent things in a timely manner and later I go through these huge moments of “Oh! Damm! I should have said that!!!”  However, the survey is far too interesting to give up without any struggle and with a quaking heart, I venture forth-

The Survey

Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event.

For those of you who already do not know, (that sounds incredibly pompous!) I am Cirtnecce – part time Project Delivery Leader, full time (constantly hoping and NOT in any order) Writer, Reader, Traveler and Foodie! To say I love reading is a ridiculous understatement – I cannot remember a time I did not read and I hope I never live to see a day when I cannot read! Books are what sustain me and what makes me!  I am really excited about this event and what I looking forward to is reading works of some lesser known female authors, especially outside of the Anglo-American belt.

 

Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?

I have read a significant amount of Classics by women, but I know there are many more brilliant works out there which I have never tried. One of the main reasons is that many of these works are not easily accessible, especially in my part of the world. Even e-books are have limited number of such works available, making it kind of hard to diligently follow up on these readings.

 

Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.

I have been kind of scared of reading Virginia Woolf for sometime; however most of the readers that I respect assure me that I will LOVE To the Lighthouse! So here’s hoping, I get to reading atleast one work (I am guessing Lighthouse) Adeline Virginia Woolf, born 25th January 1882, at Hyde Park Kensington England

 

Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. (Without spoilers, please!)

This is a toss-up between Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn and Esther Summerson from Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I think both the characters embody the complete and true identity of woman – they display courage in the worst circumstance and they refuse to give on life and move on until they have improved not only their own lives, but lives of others, dependent on them by sheer force of will and quiet strength!

 

Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?)’

This has undergone so many changes over the years, so I quote directly from one of my old posts – Like many others, I began by absolutely admiring Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen…I still do; I love her pride, sense of doing the right thing, even accepting her own folly. However over the years, others have joined her company – Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; as a teenager, when I read the book, I was not particularly impressed by the namby pamby Jane Eyre and her stiff upper lip stance. I wanted fire and courage in my heroines and Jane was a calm stream of water. But re-reading the book during an interesting phase of my life (The Willoughby phase!), I realized how much of strength it takes for an ordinary governess to stand up to a Mr Rochester – to demand to be treated as an equal and what’s more to seek respectability and honesty in a relationship, even when your heart is breaking. And finally Mrs. March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and though she may not be the primary heroine, there is a lot to look upto her – here is a gentlewoman who is no longer in the comfortable circumstances she was originally born or married to, yet she tries her best to single handedly bring up four,  albeit difficult daughters, manage a household with diminishing funds, and yet instil joy and faith among all. It requires a lot of courage, what I call quiet courage to face the world everyday alone bravely. She is first single mother of modern literature and by far the most intelligent, kind and strongest of them all.

We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list? (Just skip this question if you don’t have any at this point.)

I love this list by Feminista! 100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women –http://www.thebookescape.com/Feminista.html

I also recommend this list by Buzzfeed :  http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/howmany-of-the-greatest-books-by-women-have-you-read#.mw2bXVXWG

Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. (Again, skip over this if you prefer not to answer.)

Well I am sure most of us have read all of these three authors, but I still believe these writers are a good place to start –

  • Jane Austen
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Willa Cather

Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the New Year starts?

I think I have already answered this question right at the start of this blog…I cannot wait till January and I plunge right in with Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list?

I love lists, and usually try and stick to it, but then something catches my eye and the list goes awry, so this one time, I am not doing any lists. I will completely go with inspirations and whatever catches my fancy at that moment in time!

 

Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?)

In no order of significance, this is what I will most likely end up reading vis-à-vis genre – novels. Essays, short stories and poems; but then I may surprise myself and read a series of journals, but as of now the above looks like a plan!

 

Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women?

Even without trying, I know I will gravitate between the years of 1800-1945, however I would try and spread my readings out, but knowing my previous tendencies, I am not sure this is one commitment I will be able to hold on to.

 

Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? No worries if you don’t have details. We’re just curious!

I have not planned any as of now!

 

Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? Sharing may inspire someone to offer.

I think considering my apprehensions about Woolf, I would love to join a reading group or get a buddy to encourage me to start and then finish To the Lighthouse!

 

Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet.

There are so many, but I decided to go with one of the more understated ones – this was one of the earliest hurrays celebrating the independence of woman, liberating her from the traditional requirements of husband, home and hearth for occupation; and naturally, it was written by the inimitable Jane Austen in Emma – “If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, with a great many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and-twenty. Woman’s usual occupations of eye and hand and mind will be as open to me then as they are now; or with no important variation. If I draw less, I shall read more; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet-work. And as for objects of interest, objects for the affections, which is in truth the great point of inferiority, the want of which is really the great evil to be avoided in not marrying, I shall be very well off, with all the children of a sister I love so much, to care about. There will be enough of them, in all probability, to supply every sort of sensation that declining life can need. There will be enough for every hope and every fear

Finally, ask the question you wish this survey had asked, & then answer it.

No…I think the survey is quite complete! 

The Autumn Winter Joys….

I know I have been away for like a mini-while but work and social commitments and everything else got in the way!  But I am back and I realize so is Autumn –Winter! I have soooooo waited for this season to arrive; I hate and the word is HATE summers and cannot eulogize enough about the Autumn-Winter. Many who have read my blogs in past know that I always celebrate the coming of these seasons and push away the thoughts of summers into far back subconscious of my mind and make believe that they will never come back again – unrealistic I agree but I don’t want to think about unpleasant things, when good times roll! God know there will be time enough for the long, blazing unrelenting heat, where the earth is scorched and fire pours down from the heavens! Therefore on, to the good things and happy times – and in celebration, I began this game last year, where I quote my favorite autumn/winter poem, and list some of my favorite place, books, films and music, that celebrate this season with me –

Film – Fargo directed by Cohen Brother. Francis McDormand made history by playing the character of pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson in trail of kidnappers and murders, set in the white snow bringing home the fact that goodness does triumph!

Music – Can there be anything better than the wonderful, rich and velvety voice of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald immortalizing the autumn, specifically in New York.

Book – I know this is may be a bit clichéd but nothing speaks Winter as brilliantly as War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It a tome of history, philosophy, politics and fiction, but it all set in the backdrop of the crystal white snows of Russia- the picture perfect postcard season that finally stops Napolean’s unstoppable march! One of my most favorite all time reads, a perfect winter book, to be read during the cold long winter nights

Thing – Tea, pots and pots of tea! Especially the “masala chai” that’s made in this part of the world, with dried cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and black peppercorn, all mied with black tea. The most fabulous drink for big books and cold winter nights!

Poem – I love this beautiful and a little melancholic poem by William Butler Yates; it is not the most happiest of the poems, but it is beautiful and absolutely brilliant – published in 1917.

The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

So, here’s to the smell woodfire smoke, hot chocolate/chai and gathering around the fire, here’s to festivals and togetherness and merry making, here’s to holidays and long nights under warm blankets and big books!

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