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Posts from the ‘Winter’ Category

Tis The Month of Joy!

December, glorious December! How I love thee! You are the only month in the calendar that helps me survive, January to November! Ok, maybe not November, but for sure January to October! And finally this glorious, wondrous, joyous month is upon us, and boy! do I have plans!

Unlike each December month, when I head out to some corner to find rest and recreation, I am staying put at home this year! Too many expenses and some future investment requires me to be sane and sensible about money matters! Oh! How I hate it, but if has to be, it has to be and I plan to make most of the time, while in town!

To start with, I have several social engagements planed through the month; in fact, I cannot help but think, its one too many. After all, all my weekends are BOOKED through January first week! I am either partying at someone’s place or playing the hostess! In addition to that, I am have exploring expeditions planned around the older parts of the city. There are many ruins and monuments to hike about in this town and December is the best month to do it. Since I am staying in town this year, I plan to use my leaves in hiking around the city, re-visiting  some of the old favorites and hopefully finding some new ones! I mean there have been 7 civilizations/settlements of this city and it’s takes a lifetime to cover them all!

In terms, of reading, as has been my tradition, I suspend all challenges and the more ‘virtuous reading’ this month and read everything that I want to or that which grabs my interest and attention! In that spirit of things, I started the month with Christopher Moore’s Lamb : The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal; 100 pages into the book, I realize it attempts to be ‘irreverent’ more than it is, but it is still a good, fun read and I am enjoying it immensely! I will also hopefully get to borrow an edition of Miss Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson, which I have been waiting to read forever and am finally the next person in the Library’s wait-list! There are a couple of historical fiction – thrillers that I would like to lay my hands on this month – A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee, a whodunit based in 1920’s Calcutta, the city of my grandparents; The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, a much talked about post World War II, finding truths, kind of novel and finally, under Penguin’s First-to-Read Program, I have a copy of yet unreleased. Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H Levy, where PI Mary Handley investigates an infidelity case turned murder, in 1894 Brooklyn! I am also planning to start, Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Stern; this has been in my TBR forever and I want to get started on the same. I doubt I will finish it in December, but I do want to get started! I also carry on with my re-reading of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyedor Dostoevsky. Finally, I am also doing a virtual read along, starting in December with a dear friend cum colleague cum keeper of my sanity cum soul sister from work, EngiNerd with Origins by Dan Brown. I am not much of a Dan Brown fan, but EngiNerd loves him and says that I started off on the wrong foot with The Da Vinci Code instead of Angels and Demons and so should not judge harshly! I guess, the very fact that this one is based in Spain has its redemption so how bad can it get? Besides, the joy of reading with dear friend, as many know outweighs all other considerations.

Phew! That is my “simple” reading plan for the remaining year! I do have two weeks planned off from work, which should help me cover a lot of reading ground and the next three weeks are being spent in plans of getting most reading time, in between hectic socialization! So, I say to you all, Happy Reading and Joy to the World!

Reading Non-Stop

Whoever it was coined that “Ask and you shall receive” really knew what they were talking about. (I am really not sure that God made such an injunction, I do not quite think he/she works in pithy saying, but then one never knows!)  Anyhow, my point, there is a lot of truth in that statement, though instances often belie us! But then there are times when you actually get what you wished and then you kick yourself wondering why the hell did you not wish for that million dollars that you need? But still one must be grateful for that one instance being gratified and keep their fingers crossed, in more such events coming true.

Now I am sure what this looooooong prologue  entail? Never fear; enlightenment cometh thy way! (You have to allow me the joy of being a drama queen). Like I had mentioned in my previous posts, the work hours are getting longer and longer with no end in sight, and in fact will not be in sight for next several months to come.Add to that there are domestic complications, including the electric fuse which blew and the wiring of my apartment needed to be re-wired. Top if off, I am in midst of personal quandary, the solution to which is completely unbeknownst to me; let alone unbeknownst, I do not even know where to begin to find the pathway to the answers! Needless, to say, I am not in a happy place; atleast not in a peaceful place and I need a break – the kind of break that i really thrive on – the escape to the bookland variety! Considering there are quite a few things crowding in my mind and diverting me from focusing on the books I want to read, I thought a readathon like event would set the stage and motivate me to get going and gain some momentum on my reading and take my mind of the sundry! So I trawled the internet and after same lame ducks, I hit jackpot.

Season’s Reading is hosting a two week long Readathon, from Jan 16th to Jan 29th called A Winter’s Respite. It starts at 12:00 am Monday the 16th, and ending at 11:59 pm on Sunday the 29th. The great part about this Readathon is you can join up anytime during this period and there are no mandatory reading requirement, as long as you read and have some fun along the way.

winters-respite-2017

This is just what the doctor ordered, some company for focused, albeit relaxed reading! So I sign up with joy and list below some of the books, I am planning to make significant headway with, before Monday takes over –

  1. The Histories by Herodotus – I am reading this with Cleo and Ruth and many others, as part of The Well Educated Reading List for Histories and I am SIGNIFICANTLY behind!
  2. The Hindus by Wendy Doniger – Yet another History and this one controversial at that. Banned in India, I bought the copy well before all the fire and fury was raked up and then because of the uber hype, I gave it up for a later read! (Everybody was pretending to read the book, without actually any idea of what Dr. Doniger was saying and it was “cool” to support or refute on very shallow understanding of the subject!!) Now is a good time to rev-visit the book finally and I look forward to the this pioneering and exploratory work on the Ancient Hindu culture!
  3. The Curse of Mohenjodaro by Maha Khan Philips – Since I am reading ancient Indian History, it made sense to mix it up with a easy historical read and vary the pace a bit. Based off recommendation from a friend, I am going to see what the author makes about a civilization, which remains a mystery!
  4. Politics and The English Language by George Orwell – This is not a book but an essay by George Orwell on the politics of using English as a primary language. I have Cleo to thank for this one!!
  5. Lucky Jim by Kinsley Amis – Just because I need some laughter among all the serious reading!

That’s the plan for now! I bid all of thee adieu with promises of updates every few hours!

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 Return of the Lion

Despite my varied reading adventures, there are some books and authors, I never got around to reading. This is especially true for Children’s Literature because as young child I read whatever my parents introduced me to and they did introduce me to great many, and as an adult, there were so many new books to read, that going back to explore a Children’s Classic took a back seat! But my 12 Months Classic Reading Challenge  gave me a tiny opportunity to correct this, with the September theme being – A Children’s Classic. While there are many many many works to read, there is one which has been on mind forever – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Yes, I hang my head in shame and admit that I have never read the Narnia books ever! This selection also was inspired by the absolute devotion my reading buddy Cleo has for Lewis and thanks to her I have been introduced to some of the most brilliant, thought proving essays that Lewis wrote. Therefore I was even more curious to see how Lewis handled a children’s book. As y reading projects for this year is vast, I selected only one book of the series, the most famous – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

During wartime England, 4 children, 2 brothers and 2 sisters, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy, are evacuated to the countryside and come to live in a large rambling mansion, home of a kindly professor. The children are excited to be in such a wonderful house and plan many adventures for duration of their stay. In one of their explorations, Lucy wanders into a room with nothing but a wardrobe; curious she opens the wardrobe and steps inside it. She finds fur coats after fur coats and as she keeps walking into the deep interior she suddenly realizes that she is outside and in a wooded area with snow all over. More curious than ever, she walks on and soon meets a Faun named Tumnus. Tumnus explains to her that she has reached Narnia, the winter land where Christmas never comes and is ruled by the very wicked White Witch. He then invites Lucy for tea and entertains her wonderfully.However when Lucy indicates that she must go back, the faun is overcome and starts bawling. He reveals that he is in the pay of the white witch and he must turn over to her any daughters of Eve or sons of Adam as he find. If he does not, she will turn him into a statue of stone. Conscience and Lucy’s pleadings however make Tumnus change his plans and he quietly and stealthily escorts Lucy to the border of Narnia from where she can go inside the Wardrobe and back in her old world. Glad to be back, Lucky runs to her sister and brothers and shares her adventure with them. However she is astonished to find out that according to her siblings she had not been gone for long and furthermore they do not believe her story and imply that she is a liar. They continue teasing her often, Edmund who is nastier than the others does so even more. Lucy soon becomes quiet and retreats in a shell, but continues to be physically present with the children, though no longer with joy. In yet another game or hide and seek, Lucy and Edmund both tumble into the wardrobe and end up in Narnia,separately. Edmund meets the White Witch who gives hims bewitched Turkish Delight to eat and tell him she will make him the Prince and then the King of Narnia if he brings his brothers and sisters to her. Lucy and Edmund finally find each other in Narnia and hurry back to the wardrobe and run to tell the other two. However in the presence of Peter and Susan, Edmund pretends that nothing had ever happened and Lucy was fibbing again. Lucy after this incident retreats further and Edmund snubbed by Peter on needlessly teasing her, turns ever more vicious in his attacks on Lucy. In such circumstances, Mrs. Macready, the housekeeper who is not fond of children and has told them never to be around when showing the house to visitors, brings a set of visitors one morning and the children in a rush to avoid the very conflict which Mrs. Macready had warned against, stumble into the Wardrobe and then Narnia, setting the stage for some unforgettable adventures.

Did I love the book? Oh! Yes! I loved the simple, linear and the well knit plot that the author wrote, specifically bearing in mind the age and ability of his young audience. He uses all the delightful techniques that not only bait the young audience but also many older ones like delicious description of food, wonderful animals and of course, nail baiting, near heartbreak endings! The book beautifully covers all the emotions experienced by us, especially as children – excitement, sense of adventure, happiness, betrayal, heartbreak and exultation; all are captured succinctly. The characters are well drawn out – the children setting an example of what good behavior stands for, especially for the readers. Aslan and the Witch are absolutely riveting characters , that draw you in powerfully and involve you in their fates.However, I must admit to drawing parallels between the White Witch and Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. The other minor characters of Fauns, Beavers and Giants provide an entertaining ensemble to already dazzling cast! Narnia comes alive in all its glory through the descriptions and actions of this cast. It is very interesting how C.S.Lewis drew allegories, especially Christianity based allegories into his tale – the voluntary sacrifice of Aslan in lieu of Edmund’s life  as well as his resurrections the most obvious allusion to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. However the novel stands on its own strength, even with the allegories built in and goes to prove, the brilliance of C.S. Lewis.

I now HAVE to get hold of the other books! I simply HAVE to!

 

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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