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The Most Glorious Month

Yay! December is here….the season to rejoice! Off with the old, and on with the new month! The Holiday and Happy Cheer month! The month to read, write, party and rejoice! The Birthday Month! The Month that justifies and makes up for of the other 11 months! Ah! Glorious December, how I miss thee, through the year!

Unfortunately my precious December started off this year on several wrong notes! Stupid partners at work continued to crowd on my time and more importantly on patience! I am striving hard through some personal stuff and i began kick started the month, by spectacularly falling ill! However, this is December so it cannot be all bad, just by virtue of it being December!

So what grand plans, you ask? Well, I know you did not, but I continue to enlighten you anyway – This being the season of joy, I have several house parties planned, namely three, all starting this Friday, the next Friday and the Friday the 23rd. I have friends visiting, so there will exploring Delhi in the lovely winter sun and many grand lunches. I am off the to the mountains again in the last week of December, for a Father Daughter trip. And finally and most naturally, there will READING! Loads and loads of books planned and unplanned which I plan to read, nice and cosy, under a pile of blankets, with tea and snacks! Bliss! The reading plan just got an impetus as I got an advanced birthday present in form of a Paperwhite Kindle (Yes! I hang my head in shame and say that I have gone over to the Dark Side!) which my flatmate cum soul sister cum Santa Claus gifted me, after my tab kind of committed hara-kiri after three years of ruthless use!

Enough excitement to fortify me for the trudge for the next 11 months! For now, I have to rush since I missed on the first few precious days of the month, but I will keep  you all posted; so please do hang around for the party!!

The Cliff and Morality…

I just finished my first of the two Margaret Kennedy for the Margret Kennedy Week that Jane is hosting. I read “The Feast”, published in 1950, has  had been in my TBR for a VERY LONG TIME! And now that I have read it, I cannot help but kick myself and think – why the hell did I wait so long to read this novel????!!!! It has completely blown me away!

The story begins with Father Bott putting off his age-old ritual of playing chess when his dear friend Reverend Seddon visited him. Father Bott explains that he has to prepare for an unexpected Funeral for 7 people, who died when the edge of the cliff collapsed over Pendizack Hotel. The narrative then reverses back to the last 7 days preceding this event. Pendzac kHotel is run by the Siddals – rather Mrs. Siddal who is a lady and forced to convert her husband’s property into a hotel to educate her sons because her husband, though perfectly intelligent, with all functional limbs is incapable of earning or maintaining his family’s livelihood. It becomes clear right at the very start, that Mrs. Siddal though proclaiming that the conversion of the house to the hotel is an effort to improve the lives of all her three sons, it is actually to put her youngest and favorite son Duff through to Oxford that is her primary concern. In fact she is so determined and engrossed in making this happen, that she is ready to sacrifice the lives of her other sons including her eldest son’s marriage to make this happen. Gerry is the eldest of Siddon sons and a doctor by profession – responsible, sincere and self-effacing; he bears his mother’s inattention to him with equanimity. He tries to help out in the running of the hotel as and when possible and accepts that his income is critical to make his mother’s ambition a success, regardless of his own wishes and aspirations. The hotel is run with the help of Nancibel and Ms. Ellis. Nancibel is a lovely, generous local girl who worked in ATS during the war and was on the brink of getting married when her fiancée cried it off. Now she lives with her parents at the cottage and works full time at the hotel. Ms. Ellis is an impoverished gentlewoman who feels the loss of her status bitterly; she believes herself superior to performing such menial tasks as changing beds sheets and often shy’s away from all work and spends her time in malicious gossip. The guests occupying the hotel at the time of this event include Canon Wraxton and his daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Paley, Lord and Lady Gifford and the Cove family. They are soon joined by Anna Lechren and her secretary cum chauffer Bruce. Cannon Wraxton is a loud, unhappy quarrelsome man who argues and contests everything and constantly bullies his daughter. Evangeline Wraxton is his young daughter who abides by her quarrelsome father, because of a deathbed wish made to her mother, that she would always take care of Cannon Wraxton; however this has unexpected results as Evangeline slowly succumbs to neurosis caused by her father’s temperament and bullish behavior! Mr and Mrs Paley, an unhappily married couple who no longer find any joy or companionship in each other’s company especially since the tragic death of their daughter. Sir Henry Giffordis an aristocratic upright kind gentleman, who takes interest in his work and understands his obligation to the country as a statesman, though he is no longer happy in his marriage. Lady Gifford is a lazy hypochondriac woman who lives beyond her means and flouts all laws, believing that nothing can touch her because of her place. They have three children, of whom three have been adopted. The Coves family consists of a mother and three daughters who seem to live on the strictest economy as funds for them seem scarce. Finally this motley crew is joined by Anna Lechene, a famous novelist and her secretary cum driver cum aspiring writer Bruce. Over a period of 7 days, this group interact with each other, through incidents and daily lives routines, that propel the story forward with wonderful re-grouping of old loyalties and changing of dynamics – there are two romances, several friendships, self-realization and freeing oneself form his/her “prison soul”! On the 7th day, the poor Cove children who always dreamt of holding a feast, are finally able to organize one, with help of others. There are invitation cards sent out, fancy dresses selected and a whole range of food and wines! Everybody who attends gets into the swing of this grand party and then…the cliff collapses!

kennedy-badgeThis is a social drama, a morality tale, a romance and so much more! Ms. Kennedy draws complex characters that have their whimsical follies and non-sense as well as a realization of self-worth through daily everyday occurrences and no miraculous fictional turn of events. They are all rich, powerful and intriguing characters that draw you to the tale and keep you glued on. It’s the characters more than the events that actually propel the story forward. More than anything else, Ms. Kennedy understood both the most noble and the very base instinct of the human heart and her characters brought them forth with force and unerring honesty! Simple percepts on human behaviors’, like the less you have the more you give and the more you have the more you covet, is brought out beautifully through the story, without once steering to a high moral tome or sounding even remotely pedagogic. The book was written in the back drop post World War II when England was recovering from the aftermath of the War and the left inclining Labor Party was in power; this change in political – social order is beautifully portrayed through the everyday lives and decisions made by the characters. And then there is the language of the novel, such beautiful metaphors – such lovely phrases, Ms. Kennedy sure knew what would touch the reader’s hearts – “Their shoulders hold the sky suspended. They stand and earth’s foundations stay!” or “We are members of one another. An arm has no integrity if it is amputated. It is nothing unless it is part of a body, with a heart to pump blood through it and a brain to guide it.” And my favorite “Do you pay enough? Does anybody pay enough? Has any man repaid a millionth part all that he has received? Where would you be without us? Did you ever read Helen Keller? Blind, Deaf, Dumb…a soul in a prison, an intellect frozen by solitude….unable to reach us! All alone!

This one of the best books I have ever read and going by this and my previous experience of Ms. Kennedy’s work, she is soon joining my personal high gods of best-loved authors! Viva Ms. Kennedy, you were truly marvelous!!

P.S. I am now about to start The Wild Swan!Yay!

Finally Something Lovely…..

It’s been a tiresome troublesome two weeks – I have besieged with challenges, both tangential and non-tangential – Just after my laptop was fixed and I could resume my normal blogging activities, WordPress for some reason decided to send all comments I made to the SPAM folder!! My phone after being fixed went caput again and just when my phone goes on a blinker the entire world has to call me!!!!But my phone could not go caput before I had a rather “distressing” conversation with one of my lesser liked aunts!!! I listened to a long and extremely offending lecture on my life style including what she deemed as important matters of life to which apparently I had an “immature” approach!!! AGRH!!!!! I am so glad I live 2300 kms from her and more of her kind!! Whoever said family is important never met my extended maternal family!! All of this followed by two instances of working for 24 hrs straight…I had heard of working for 24 hrs, and I have done 18 hrs but working for straight 24 hrs not once but twice in one week was just something else….needless to say, it’s not been very good lately!!

Anyway the only bright spot and this one is a considerably big bright spot, in fact it was so bright that I deem it as a bright sun, was to be nominated for a One Lovely Blog Award/Very Inspiring Blogger. While the honor is great and I am absolutely thrilled about it, what makes it even more special was that this came from Stephanie – a person I admire, whose tastes I have the firmest reliance one, whose opinions are always sensitive, a person who inspires me every day to read more, especially things I would have never explored and whose blogging discipline makes me write a post diligently and keep at it!! An awesome person, a wonderful friend and a great mentor all rolled into one!! What could be more joyous than to be recognized by somebody you look up to – there cannot be a greater accolade than this!!

Per the rules, I have to share with the greater world 7 facts about me and nominate 15 other bloggers –

About the 7 facts –

  1. I am extremely short-tempered and I have a TEMPER!! Over the years I have learnt and tried to control it, but there is no getting away that I have a short fuse and it takes very little to light the mental dynamite.
  2. I am FOODIE!!! I mean it…I love food!! The first thing I think off when I wake up is what will I have for breakfast??? Last thought before my close is where we can have dinner tomorrow. I love cooking and besides reading and writing, that is one activity, I spend a lot of time on!!
  3. I am a perfectionist – ask my team at work!!! Even the smallest mistake are highlighted and sent back with a not so nice email. For all my bouncy, optimistic, cheery personality, I am perfectionist and a hard, very hard task master…I drive myself over the edge and so does my team. I am very blessed to have a team which takes all my “perfection driven” idiosyncrasies with good humor and I am truly truly proud to lead them. But they do have to put up with comments like “the right hand margin of the slide 2 of the PPT is 1/4th inch less than the left hand margin”!!
  4. My first true love was when as 7 year olds, my best friend and I discovered a movie released nearly 5 years earlier, called “Top Gun”…No I did not fall in love with Tom Cruise, though my best friend did…instead I lost my heart and never quite gained it back to Val Kilmer . (I know he looks like a whale these days, but true love is beyond the obvious and such shallow things like good looks – though at the age of 7 I doubt I thought in such depths!! But I still hold a candle for that man!!!)
  5. I love and need my morning tea….nothing and no one comes in-between that…otherwise I am one grumpy creature. My other favorite drink is water and I consumer at least 6 liters a day – it’s never a task as I am always thirsty and I always have a bottle of water around me. I also LOVE white wines!!
  6. I am not particularly a movie person. I do watch an odd film now and then, but for me movie watching has to be an event – I do not go to the theater every week (more like once in 5 months) and I consider it a waste of time. However I do get bitten by a bug now and then and I watch back to backs non-stop for days on end, maybe because I like the time period the film was set in (I saw Band of Brothers 7 times, all 10 episodes) or the actor (like when I do my Val Kilmer fests) or country (recently went through Spanish film thingy!!)
  7. I love dancing – I went to a dancing school for more than 14 years and till date love to dance around my house. For some reason or the other, I have developed a strong disinclination for dancing in parties/clubs etc…cannot seem to quite enjoy that!!

Okay!! Glad that the 7 things are over…now for the 15 nominations –

Fleur in her World : Jane is my biggest bookish/bloggish inspiration along with Stephanie. Her reads are always wide ranged and her reviews succinct. I have never gone wrong with her recommendations and she is one of those very few people who have managed to introduce some great authors in my repertoire. If she has liked the book, rest assured, it will go in my TBD. Briar’s posts are absolutely marvelous and comes as an added plus when visiting her blog!!

Eggton : is another of my favorites. Katherine is not only an ex-New York mover shaker lawyer turned cook, but she is also someone with a wonderful sense of humor and with funniest laugh out loud takes on life. You read her blog, when you are down, and I guarantee 100% upliftment of spirits!! The fact that she always posts some awesome recipes that completely blows away the foodie in me, just adds to the brilliance of her posts!!

Flowers and Breezes – Sheen Mam’s take on life, her simple observations that bring home the truths which we forget in our daily lives and her generous nature makes her writing a refreshing read. If you had a bad day, read her posts, before you call it night, they act as a soothing, peaceful and comforting salve to your cumbersome challenging day.

Women, Words, and Wisdom -Dr. Joan Bouza Koster is a scholar, feminist, humanist, historian, author and a connoisseur par excellence of great literature. Her blog brings together all these items and more. Her posts deal with well researched nuggets from women writers from the past, on subjects as wide-ranging as daily working conditions, to memories of childhood to writing etc.

CogitoFilm – I don’t like films too much, but this blog has awesome reviews on both Hollywood and Bollywood film with some really clever observations and wonderful imagery of descriptions.

jaynesbooks : If you love books, you HAVE to love this blog. Her reviews are clever and absolutely in your face. I love her like it-do not like it approach and I tend to find myself almost always in alignment with her thoughts!! Her Top Tens are a treat!!

Brona’s Books : If anyone, anywhere loved books, then Brona is their ideal. Like me she reads practically everything, like me she has an opinion and unlike me her opinions are always well-informed, judicious and sensitive. If she likes an author, I will like it!! Her readings have opened me up to a whole range of authors and I love the bantering we share on every book we read via the Classics Club

The Odd Pantry – humor and good food and some wonderful insights; what more could one ask. Her recipes are as creative as it can get and her musings on life mostly hilarious, but at times extremely thought-provoking.

A Great Book Study : Ruth is again I met someone via the Classic Club. Though she claims that she is no expert and her posts are really her first cut take on classics, her writings and opinions always brings out nuances of books which I have read and though understood completely and her review is always considered and subtle

Breadcrumb Read – Risa has a post graduate degree in English literature and one quick review of her blog will convince you that her education is well utilized every day and though she does not accept awards for her blog, I am nominating her because I want more people to enjoy what I really really enjoy – her bookish talks, her love for classics and all her bookish adventures!!

Biblioglobal : I have only just started following her blog and I lament that I lost out on so much for so long. Reading one book about one country across our globe, she has in a very short span of time really broadened my understanding of literature. She also does some amazing and quirky research that gives you a lot of insight into reading and books related demographics around the world.

A Striped Armchair – Though she replaced her armchair with a lovely couch, her blogs keep up the standards of great review and a thorough and uniform understanding of the context of the book. She is one of the few fellow readers who reads loads of stuff about international relations, ethnicity, religion and identity that is outside of academic requirements.

12 Novels – 12 novels in 12 months, actually 13 novels in 12 months. What could be more inspirational than a struggling writer than to be motivated by this one diligent, fun and honest writer who takes on a new challenge every month, with no other expectation than becoming better in her craft!

A year of reading the world – Similar to Biblioglobal, Ann, a blogger based in London decided when 2012 Olympics came visiting her city, she would celebrate the occasion by reading literature from the 196 nations participating at the games. While Olympics has come and gone, she is still reading some great stuff and writing about them.

Mister G’s Kids – Hilarious, funny and a great take on teaching today filled with irony and rib-tickling laughter and all the highs and lows of being a teacher!!

It’s up to you if you choose to carry this award further, but thank you all for sharing your lives and interests with me and for picking me (virtually!!) especially when the chips are down!!

The wind and the willows and the chimes…..

Photo Curtsey:mentallynaibiting

Nothing rejuvenates me more than going away from the city to the mountains. The sun shining on me, the gentle cold breeze, and the sound of the wind chimes mixing with the wild songs that the birds sing….heaven can wait, this is paradise.

As planned, my flat mate, her parents and I took off for a mountain trip mid this week. This unexplored…. well relatively unexplored and virgin out of the way cottage in the mountain forests is a bliss for all those who love quiet, dig communing with nature and spend hours on doing things they never get time for in the city – reading, writing, thinking, laughing. It’s a quaint out of the way place that reflects the glory of this mountainous land and provides some vintage glimpses into its 140 year old history. The rooms are clean and spacious with antique albeit simple and basic furnishings, the staff is wonderful and to state that the food is yummlious is an understatement.  (Yes, I invented that word and currently hold its sole copyright!) But best of all is its environs – surrounded by mountains on all sides, this 100,000 acre farm ((Yup! It’s a farm in the mountains)  has some of the most beautiful woods, that have been left to nature for their tending without human intervention (I hate pruned and planned gardens!) and have thus a natural and wild magnificence . We spend the days here watching the sun rise over the mountains, trekking up the hills (my flat mate and not me…me not particularly keen on physical activity and I firmly believe one can bond with the various beauties that the nature has to offer from one spot), writing oodles and oodles, listening to forgotten melodies, photographing (again my industrious flatmate) and laughing! In a nutshell, we are having a brilliant time.

Photo Curtsey:mentallynaibiting

 

Photo Curtsey:mentallynaibiting

Which is why, I do not understand the psyche of some of the people visiting this place. The farm’s website screams out loudly that this is not a regular deluxe a-la grandee establishment with disco and bar etc. It’s a place to come away from civilization but some guests simply did not get the point. They reach this place and demand to know where can go site seeing and why does the farm not offer pasta! They want to know if they can have a bonfire party and a night spent at the farm is enough to make them miss the city. I guess they never heard of Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. These people undertake to travel to further their prejudices, re confirm all their bigotry and impose their narrow minded standards on the rest of the world!!Now don’t get me wrong, I love my city too…I love the home deliveries, the uninterrupted internet services (asking for God is easier than seeking continued internet availability in this place) and my all night parties. But then when I want to get away from all the madness and competition and the hub bub of the city, I come to a place like this – I come here because I don’t want any part of my city life to follow me here as I try and reinvent my thoughts and think about all the bigger and simpler things in life. I want to see the sun rising and hear the sound of the gushing stream water flowing from the mountains. I do not want to watch television or hear Eminem. I want to eat simple, but fresh and absolutely delicious home cooked meals and not Domino’s Pizza. Most importantly, I want to stand and stare and not worry about how I look or who is looking at me (or in some cases, why are they not looking at me!)

Therefore I want to know why people who want their pizzas and discotheques and bungee jumping opt for holidays in these places. I do not understand how one can look at the magnificent mountains (don’t believe me; just look at the pictures below) and say “But there is nothing here to see but hills and trees! Duh! What did you expect a dancing chimpanzee surrounded by 40 belly dancers all moving to Jennifer Lopez’s On the floor??!! Oh! Grow up! If you don’t like it, scoot! But don’t keep loudly complaining all through the dinner! Besides if they ask me, I would suggest that they take a page out my flatmate’s mother’s life – she is a 60 year old homemaker, who loves life and has kind off reinvented herself on this trip. At the age of 60, at this farm, she learnt the joys of a simple swing (yes! She had never boarded a swing before now…don’t judge her; neither did I before coming here!), she wants to try all the various alternative cuisines that this place offers and wants to go for a trek every day though she is not always confident about her walking abilities and her road sense and busts into songs whenever she sees a sight that enthrals her…..she personifies the very  spirit of a true traveller and if at the age of 60 she can still retain her enthusiasm, without the deluxe luxuries of a 7 star property,  the others can shut up and try and listen to the songs of nature!!

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