Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: অর্ধেক আকাশ

অর্ধেক আকাশ অর্ধেক আকাশ by Suchitra Bhattacharya
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A woman, torn between her marriage and her career, is unable to choose one between the two. She strives hard to find her own identity, other than being just wife and mother. Does she succeed? The book tries to find an answer. The topic of the book is very much relevant in the present context. Suchitra Bhattacharya's writing is lucid, easy-flowing. Though it's not clear to me what message she wished to convey to her readers.

Overall, a light read to enjoy. You'll be disappointed if you expect any kind of message out of this novel. Not bad for just time-pass.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's December and Christmas is here. And an Agatha Christie novel, alongwith a steaming cup of coffee can make the chilling holidays worth-remembering. That's precisely what I chose to do in this Christmas.

This is my second novel by Agatha Christie. As usual, her novels never fail to fascinate me. The story-line was gripping, though it somewhat dragged in the middle. The end was unusual, in typical Agatha Christie style. You can never imagine what exactly happened until you have read till the last page.

A page-turner, indeed! I have already bought some more novels by the author and they are waiting to be read in the coming year.

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: হাজার চুরাশির মা

হাজার চুরাশির মা হাজার চুরাশির মা by Mahasweta Devi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the original novel in Bengali: "Hazar Churashir Maa". This is not the kind of book you'll enjoy reading curling in your cozy sofa on a lazy winter afternoon. Rather, this is the kind of book that will shake your conscience, that will make you question your long-standing faith in the system of democracy and justice. This book is a vivid portrayal of the Naxalite movement, that occured in West Bengal in the decade of 1970s. Many youths, bright and intelligent, who could have become the creme de la creme of society, lost their lives fighting for their ideal. Ironically, the living incarnations of the devil, who played a vital role in the heinous crime of murdering the youths, became respected people in society with time. All the atrocities committed on the idealistic young boys are described from the viewpoint of a mother, whose beloved son was killed during the movement. My eyes became moist when reading this novel.

This is my second book by Mahasweta Devi, after I read "Rudali" last year. Looking forward to read some more books by the author in the coming year also.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: One Indian Girl

One Indian Girl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read a Chetan Bhagat book after a long time. I am not a great fan of Bhagat's writing and so I don't usually buy his books. But the reason for picking this book was the feminist tag it carries. But the book is a huge disappointment on that front. I had a pre-conceived notion about the book that it had a strong female protagonist. The main character of the book, Radhika Mehta, is a highly successful woman on professional front, but she is anything but strong. She suffers from such low self-esteem that she constantly needs a man in her life to validate her. She went as far as having affair with a married guy, father of two kids, who is also twenty years older than her. And not just that, her every relationship culminates into physical relationship. This is hardly acceptable given the fact that Radhika hails from a conservative family. I'd have loved to read a story about love. But sadly Radhika equates love with lust. Personally I couldn't relate to the character. At the end of the novel, you'll fail to fall in love with the characters. The male characters, Debu and Neel, are all assholes. The character of Brijesh is "too good to be true". Personally, I feel the character of Radhika's mother and Aditi didi are more believable.

Anyway, the flow of the novel is good. It keeps the readers hooked up till the end. A three-star rating for that. Otherwise, it's not that kind of book which you'll want to re-read.

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Zero- The Ultimate truth of The Universe

"All beings are unmanifest in their beginning, O Bharata, manifest in their middle state, and unmanifest again in their end. Why, then, lament for them?"
-The Bhagavad Gita

Thus we all were nothing but zero in the beginning, before our birth, and there's again zero after death. In between birth and death, there's this beautiful illusion called life.

We have not brought anything with us at the time of our birth, We don't take anything from this world at the time of our death, thus making zero the biggest reality of the universe. Meanwhile, we forget this reality and waste our entire lifetime in the pursuit of wealth, which will never be ours truly. The money accumulated in our bank accounts remain mere numbers- nothing of value to us once we left this world. But the reality transcending birth, death and our entire universe is one and only ZERO.

This post is written in line with the Prompt : Write a post on 0 (Zero). Write anything- humour, short story, haiku, poem, or a memory.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: The Mistress Of Spices

The Mistress Of Spices The Mistress Of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a huge fan of Divakaruni's writing, but frankly speaking, I am a tad disappointed with this book. The quaint title of the book, "The Mistress of Spices" and the unusual subject it deals with, intrigued me to purchase this book. This is like a modern day fairy-tale, a mixture of modernity and mythology. Though unlike the other novels of Divakaruni, the storyline is quite sluggish. When I was midway through this book, I put it aside for sometime, as the story was moving at a rather slow pace. Then after quite a gap, I started to read it again and finished it. That's why I have given it one star less in rating. There are so many stories intertwined: Ahuja's wife, Haroun, Geeta, Jagjit, each of them has a different story. But the main characters of this novel are the spices, each with it's own distinct characteristics. Divakaruni, as always, weaves magic with her words. And that I think is the charm of her books. I'd like to share some quotes from the book worth remembering:

"Child-longing, deepest desire, deeper than for wealth or lover or even death."

"What answer is there for love."

"..... vanity which is the other face of the fear of being unloved."

"Most ordinary..... is the nature of deepest magic. Deepest magic which lies at the heart of our everyday lives, flickering fire, if only we had eyes to see."

"..... mothers bear the pain that starts with the birthing and continues for ever, the pain and joy both, tangled dark and blue as an umbilical cord around an infant's throat."

"..... does one ever really know what one wants?"

"Hope not built on reason brings disappointment only."

"Each desire in the world is different, as is each love."

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Review: The Sialkot Saga

The Sialkot Saga The Sialkot Saga by Ashwin Sanghi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally finished reading "The Sialkot Saga" by Ashwin Sanghi and loved it. As with other books of Sanghi, this too never failed to tickle the grey cells of the brain. It's a real treat to the intelligence. The writing style is lucid, free-flowing, though at times I had to make a little bit extra effort to understand some pages, like the stock-market related events, there were so many of them, or the aircraft deal. Sanghi has quite an expertise in many subjects. This book clearly manifests his mastery over many subjects and the depth of research that he undertook to write this book. I really do wish to go through some of the books mentioned in the Bibliography section of this book.

The book is divided into seven parts, spanning six decades, covering many locations. The entire life of two protagonists are sketched. Though some part of the book, like the TRAC incident, is clearly inspired by some Sidney Sheldon novel.

Overall, an enjoyable read.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Stealing some moments from Life to Love U

"Ring a-ring o' roses,
A packet full of posies.
A-Tishoo! A-Tishoo!
We all fall down"
And giggling, you fell down on the bed. I wondered when have you learnt so much, while you were reciting your nursery rhymes. Bliss leapt in my heart as I watched you. I want to love you, to caress you, to spend my whole life just watching you. But when I hugged you and planted a kiss on your cheek, saying, "My darling, my sona, my baby", you were suddenly flush with anger. "Mom, please don't call me baby now. I am no more a baby." I was surprised to know that my little bundle of joy is not a baby any more, he is a growing school-going boy. Truly, life has been hectic for me. Being a working mother, I missed so much of your precious moments, like the moment when you took your first step, the moment when you first uttered mummum, the moment when you wrote your first alphabet.... I missed all these and many more. I am sure you'll achieve many milestones in your life to come, but these small achievements are no less significant. And see, when you were achieving the first achievements of your life, your mother was not on your side to witness these.

Life is hurtling every day like a merry-go-round. And I often feel dizzy with its marvelous speed. But then, how could I, being a single mother, afford you the necessities of life? I practically have no choice. Meanwhile, life passes by like the grains of sand from the spaces between the fingers.

This post is written in line with the Prompt What is it that we are running after? Isn't it time to step back and enjoy life, nature, family or anything we really love #discoverlife

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Custody

Custody Custody by Manju Kapur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recently, there was a news article in The Times of India regarding fighting of a divorced couple over the custody of their children. Such things have now become commonplace, with increasing number of broken marriages. How the children suffer in broken marriages? How they cope up with the fact of separation of their parents? These questions intrigued me, as I read the newspaper article. It was then that I decided to read this book.

The author, Manju Kapur, has dealt with a very sensitive subject deftly in this book. The emotional trauma of the couples undergoing separation, the tribulations of the children, all are portrayed very convincingly. I particularly loved the end, where a woman, who is not the birth mother of a child, emerges victorious by getting custody of the child. Indeed, parenthood is not just about giving birth to a child, it's about all the love and care that qualify a person to be a parent.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Review: And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first book by Agatha Christie. And I am very happy to start reading Agatha Christie.

The story was amazing. It was so gripping that I finished the entire book in just 3 days. Once you have started reading it, you can't put it off without finishing it. The mystery is not resolvable until you have read till the last page. This is a work of sheer intelligence.

Looking forward to read more books by the author.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Penning the story of my life

If I were the author of my own life, would it have been very different than what it is now? As I am contemplating this idea, the one fact that comes to my mind first is that I was and I am independent, strong-willed, determined to take charge of my own life. I have never let others, not even my parents or my one time partner, determine the course of my life. 

If that is the case, then am I not always the author of my own story?

But then, life has not always turned the way I expected. Whoever be the author, life takes its own course. It is always unpredictable and that's why it is so adventurous. Life is a roller-coaster ride. In one moment, there is so much joy, so much pleasure, the next moment brings excruciating pain. There is peace and calmness in one moment, while the next moment is so much troubing. This, sometimes, makes me so tired that I desparately yearn for some stability in life, whether for good or bad.

If I am the one always, who is the sole author of this story, then why does each twist of the story surprises the author? This is because, I believe, I am not the single author here. Sometimes the flow of events is so beyond my control, that I feel that the god of fate, whom we Hindus call Bidhata-purush, is also writing my story, alongside me. Sometimes the pen is in my hand, but most of the time he snatches it from me and writes as he wants. I feel so powerless, I can't alter his writing.

Take, for instance, the allocation of service after I got selected in West Bengal Civil Service. Just a few more or a few less marks, and I could have easily landed in another person. That means, by now, I would have had a different social circle, met different kind of people, lived in a different place.

Consider the event of my wedding. It could have been with a different person easily. After all, it was an arranged marriage and there were marriage proposals from other guys as well.

But then, destiny takes me where I am today. Where I will be tomorrow will also be determined by the all powerful destiny.

Lastly, I'd like to share a quote from our great epic, the Mahabharata:
"Those who are wise do not feel sorry over fate. Even with the greatest wisdom, that which is ordained will happen. No one can transgress the path that has been laid down."
-The Mahabharata, Anukramanika Parva (Translated by Bibek Debroy)

This post is written in line with the Prompt If you were the writer of your own story - Your Life. How would you have altered it? #choice

Review: Siddhartha

Siddhartha Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heard a lot about this book, saw that the writer Hermann Hesse won Nobel Prize in literature. These motivated me to buy this book and read it with patience. And what a book it is! It's the best book I 've read in 2016 till date and this has the power to inspire you, to transform your life, to make you seek meaning in life! It is all these and more than these.

In very simple, layman's language, this book talks about the deep, spiritual meaning of life, of enlightenment. It's not to finish in a hurry, but to read, to grasp, to contemplate each sentence and the meaning they want to convey.

"Wisdom cannot be passed on. Wishdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness", so says Siddhartha. So read the book to gain some insights into Siddhartha's wisdom.

This is a book which I'd love to read many times over the course of life, just to seek a better understanding of life and it's purpose.

Highly recommended! A must-read for all!

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White: The colour of elegance

What do you associate with the colour white? Do you think it represents simplicity, purity and goodness? Well, it's all that and more than that. To me, white symbolizes elegance. Whenever I wear white, I feel so elegant, with so minimal effort.

I have bought a lot of white dresses of late. See the salwar suits below. The first one is off-white, with beautiful embroidery at the yoke. I bought this one from ajiolife.

The second one is from Trishaa by Pantaloons, off-white in colour, with an embroidered bodice with embellishment. I bought this from amazon.

The third one is from Biba, white and pink in colour. The kurta is asymmetric, with embroidered button and laces.

Whenever I wear any of these white salwar suits, I wear pearl earrings, white stone embedded bangles, white sunflower hair-clip, with my Yo Jelo black flats to complete the look and amplify my graceful look at any social or official ocassion.

How is this look? Which salwar is the most beautiful among the above three?

Leave your feedback.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw that this book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for the year 2007, that it was The New York Times bestseller, some raving reviews of the book, that the book had an intriguing title and precisely those were the reasons why I bought this book. The unique feature of this book is that it is written in the form of a conversation, where we are presented with what only one of the persons engaged in the conversation said. The author's writing style is lucid and free-flowing, as in a conversation. If you judge it from the point of view of literature, it is not a great piece of fiction, but there is an element of intelligence inherent in the narrative.

What I found worth-mentioning about the novel is that it gives a very realistic account of the impact of the 9/11 attacks on the lives of ordinary Muslims. Another thing I must confess here. Being an Indian myself, I always viewed Pakistan as an enemy nation, one constantly in search of one pretext or another to wage a war against India. I think this kind of thinking is ingrained in the collective Indian consciousness. But I was amazed when the protagonist said:
"But I worried, I felt powerless; I was angry at our weakness, at our vulnerability to intimidation of this sort from our- admittedly much larger- neighbor to the east."
And it describes in detail the journey of the protagonist from an intelligent Princeton graduate to being 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'.

This is the first book that I read not just by Mohsin Hamid, but by a Pakistani author also. I loved the fact that at the end of the novel, it gave me a different perspective to look at our western neighbour. I would like to read more books by this author and by Pakistani authors in general.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Review: The Dawn at Dusk

The Dawn at Dusk The Dawn at Dusk by Sandeep Nayyar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Whats more, the courier service delivered the book on 16th May, my birthday, which made me even more delighted to get the book.

Now coming to the review of the book, this is a historical fiction. The time period is post-Vedic era. A rough sketch-map of India is also given at the last page of the book for reference purpose. The story is very engaging right from the beginning. Two parallel stories go on from the beginning and at the end, the author beautifully merges the two. There's the strong female protagonist of the story, Shatvari, who dares to defy the societal norms of her time and go by her own decision. Readers are bound to fall in love with the character of Shatvari. Then there is Mekal king Neel, a brave warrior, who won the hands of the beautiful princess Pallavi, but then refused to marry her. This character, with his bravery, honesty and intelligence, will surely etch a mark in the readers mind. The novel being a historical fiction, clearly shows the meticulous research done by the author on the socio-political conditions, customs, rituals etc. of that time. All the characters are described vividly. Like when the author describes the scene when princess Pallavi emerges from the boat, the description is so vivid that it seems to be happening right in front of my eyes, in a giant movie screen. The description of the scenes of war has also been done with remarkable clarity. The story is fast-paced and captures readers attention from the very beginning. Though it's a novel of 238 pages, the twists and turns of the plot sustain the curiosity of the readers till the last page. It was a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience for me. The story is so engrossing that it drifted me away to an era bygone, an era when kings, princes, princesses, sages and warriors inhabited our country.

Lastly, I would like to share some quotes from the book which I found worth-remembering:

"Even gods can't foretell anybody's future. You yourself write your future by your present karma. Whatever you sow in the wide arable land of events today, you will have to reap their harvest tomorrow."

"The Vedic philosophy... ...believes the universe as a manifestation of Brahma. They are one and the same. Hence, the universe is as joyful and ecstatic as the Brahma. Life is like an eternal festival."

" has to fill his inner void himself. More we try to fill it with the help of someone else the bigger it becomes, because everyone of us is carrying the same void within. We need to fulfil ourselves by finding our purpose in life and accomplishing it by our own deeds."

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

To MAGNUM: With Love

This is saturday afternoon. After the sweltering hot weather of nearly one month, today the weather seems pleasant after last night's shower on the parched earth. I am enjoying every bit of this leisurely Saturday afternoon, after a hectic week at office. What can be a better time to write about ice-creams, that make living in a tropical country a bit less troublesome. And quite contrary to popular perception that falling in love and being with the perfect partner make one feel heaven on earth, I believe in the frivolous joys of life. It is such frivolities like having an ice-cream in a sultry afternoon, that makes life worth living. Unlike love and relationships, there's no pain attached with the delectable pleasure of savouring an ice-cream of your favourite flavour. Last week, I had the much-advertised Magnum ice-cream. I chose the chocolate flavour. And really, it was a treat to my taste-buds. The rich Belgian chocolate covered chocolate flavoured ice-cream was such a pleasure to have! Nothing can beat the euphoria of it! The cost was a bit exorbitant at Rs. 75/-. But then, it was worth the cost. 

Enjoy all the frivolities of life! Live, eat, read and love!

Happy Weekend to all my readers!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Review: Panorama: A Collection of Short Stories

Panorama: A Collection of Short Stories

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

PANORAMA is a collection of short stories. This is the first book by the author. The range of topics of the stories is quite wide, each depicting a different emotion experienced by us in our mundane, day-to-day life. We encounter most of the characters in the course of our lives.

From the daughter of a maid, who gets puzzled when she gets hundred rupees to spend in the fair to the adorable pet of a child, the daughter of a politician, thirsty for her mother's affection for her entire lifetime and how one single instance of expression of love by her mother spells doom, the orthodox grandmother who turned secular by one single incident, fragrance of first love, though not culminated in union, is carried for a lifetime, a professor, unable to find meaning of his life, finds it in one single evening which changes his entire outlook towards life, a troubled mother-daughter relationship suddenly takes a sweet turn with the chance encounter of the daughter with her mother's old diary, how one fortune-teller's predictions come true, how the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi resulted in the untimely death of the sweet relationship between Hindus and Sikhs in a campus, how the stress and pressure of work took the precious moments away from the life of a busy executive, how a single mother, who lost her daughter in a fair, gets to know about her in a twist of fate.... the stories touch almost every emotion life has to offer. They depict the spark of extraordinary moments in an otherwise drab and dreary life, They portray the myriad emotions that life has to offer.

A must-read for the lovers of short stories.

(I got this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Whats more, she also signed the copy sent to me.)
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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sexual Harassment at Workplace: Have legislative measures helped?

So much is being said in the name of 'gender equality' and 'gender justice', but women continue to remain victims of exploitation. Recently, one incident in my own office came to my notice, and that led to this write-up. One subordinate lady staff was being sexually harassed my her male colleague for last six months, before she finally mustered enough courage to approach me to tell her ordeal and file a formal written complaint. She was too frightened to even tell her parents. And the guy, married and father of two children, quite unabashedly, denies everything and questions the moral character of the lady in question. Isn't it the fault of our patriarchal social system that women are always expected to follow the ideals of chaste Sati and Savitri, whereas there is no such obligation on men? Of course, we have Vishaka guidelines of Supreme Court and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Still the sad reality is that women continue to suffer. This one example shows how even well-intentioned legislative measures fail in the absence of awareness and the sick mentality of men.

In this instance, I being a woman myself, realised the pain and trauma that the girl went through and have applied to my higher authority for a transfer of the guy. Lets see how seriously my department takes the complaint of sexual harassment.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Astrospeak: Taurus Weekly Forecast for the third week of February

Every Sunday, I religiously read the 'ASTROSPEAK' section in the Calcutta Times supplement of The Times of India. I am a Taurean and this week's weekly forecast reads, "Events occur as a direct result of your willingness to entertain the unusual and to think out of the box. This aspect favours group activities, financial endeavours associated with groups or organisational efforts, educational pursuits, writing, publishing, speaking and humanitarian efforts." Well, I never quite believed in astro forecasts, but this week, it seems, my astro forecast matches my ongoing activities. After all, I am writing a bit more and a bit more active in my blog. What do you say? But, sadly, there's no financial endeavour associated with my blogging. I am quite unsuccessful at that. Does financial incentives dwindle your passion for something, or enhance it? Share your opinions!

My January In Review

Finally. the first month of the year is over. Though this year we got a mostly warm January, yet it's the best time of the year in a tropical country like ours. I particularly like when people gift me diaries and pens to mark the beginning of a brand new year. And this year, I got quite a few of them.

January is the month when I had a hair-cut and did a new hair style. There was a republic sale on most online shopping sites and I bought quite a few dresses for myself. We had a picnic from office and had a sumptuous menu. On the last day of the first month, I visited zoo after a long time with my son. And yes, I watched 'Baahubali' (Hindi) and loved it. Now I am eagerly waiting for the second part of the film.

But apart from all that, what made this January especially special is the fact that for the first time in life, I tried my hand at short story writing. I wrote for the 'Write India' contest organized by the Times of India. The author of January was Ravinder Singh and I wrote a love story. The process was really painful, for I had to think, to do a bit of research and finally come up with what can be called a story. I submitted it on the last day of the contest and thank god, it was submitted. I don't know how it went, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for this first attempt at writing fiction.

Adieu January! February is really hectic.

LOVE: Is it the elixir of Life?

"We are born of love;
love is our mother.
Through love all that is
bitter will be sweet, through
love all that is copper will be gold,
through love all dregs will
become wine, through love all
pain will turn to medicine."
-Jalaluddin Rumi

What can be a better day for this write-up than today. Today is the eve of Valentines' Day and today , this year, is also the day of Saraswati Puja, the so-called Valentines Day for Bengalis. Of the nine rasa, which are intrinsic to any Indian art form, Love (Sringaram) is predominant, which inits turn, is capable of evoking all the other forms of emotion. Such is the power of love. I recently read an article in Times of India, which I'd like to mention here. There one Lucy Brown, clinical professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who studies the brain activity of people in love, told, "It's a reflexive urge, like hunger and thirst." And I think, that's the reason people fall in love, even when they don't get it in return.


But what happens when that love remains unreciprocated? When the person you love proves to be unworthy of that love? Especially in the Indian context, it often happens that the relationship between two persons doesn't remain a personal and private affair. The family members often interferes too much. And the sweet love turns rancid. Many a times, I have heard about women commiting suicide, unable to cope with the pressure of marital life. But can one love, one relationship define an entire life? Is there any need of such kind of love that takes away lives of so many innocent? What is your opinion? I'd like to hear from you.

Is love confined only to its most popular form? Lastly, I'd love to quote a saying by Ruskin Bond, one of my favourite authors, who is not married, 'My life have been one long love story, and I have loved people, I have loved books, I have loved flowers, the sun, moon and stars, old roads, old trees, children, grannies, butterflies, seashells, fairies... And of course I keep falling in love, for where love begins, there is the border of heaven.'

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My January in Books

Last year, I took the Goodreads challenge to read 12 books and I read slightly more than that. Though some books are half-finished, and some needs a re-read at some places.
This year, though I have raised my target a bit more. This time I want to read 18 books. I want to utilize this platform to keep a track of my readings throughout the year.

Book reading-wise, January was not a very productive time for me, as I had some other commitments which kept me busy. Lets come to books I read during this first month of the year.

1. 'Sister of my Heart' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I started to read this book in last December and finally, this January, I have finished reading this book. Divakaruni is my favourite story-teller and like her other books that I read previously, I loved this book too. It's an intense story of two sisters, remotely connected by blood, but who are very close to each others heart. I loved it so much that I have bought the sequel of this novel, 'The Vine of Desire', though I haven't started to read that yet.

2. 'Bishad Periye" by Suchitra Bhattacharya
(Can be translated roughly as 'Beyond Sorrow')

This is a novel written in Bengali. Last year, I had not read a single Bengali book, except the Pujabarshiki 'Desh'. So this year, I want to read some Bengali books. And this is the first Bengali book that I read this year. This is the story of an elderly couple, both of their sons are settled elsewhere and they live all alone. Then, to fill the void in their lives, they provided Paying Guest accomodation to two girls and that single decision had a profound influence on their lives, as well as the lives of the two girls. Very contemporary description of old-age-years. The language is very simple, typical of Suchitra Bhattacharya's writing. A good read, overall.

3. Chanakya's 7 secrets of Leadership by Radhakrishnan Pillai, D. Sivanandhan

This is a book on leadership and the language is so simple that even someone, who doesn't have a management background can understand this. As I don't have a management background, I decided to read this one to inculcate some leadership virtues in myself. The principles can be applied both in professional life as well as in personal life. I had held the belief for long that the time-tested formulas, that prove to be useful in the field of administration, can be applied in personal life as well. This book confirmed my belief. I am only half-way through this book, though. And it encourages to not only go through the book, but to think as well about what you read. Some quotes are worth mentioning:

"In human beings, nature has placed the head above the heart. A leader should let the head rule the heart, and not the other way around."

"How much time in a day do you spend in thinking? Do you have a dedicated time in your daily routine only to think?
Thinking about thinking makes you a great leader."

Though personally I don't agree with all the opinions expressed in this book. Take, for instance, the viewpoint of the author on intelligence: "Research has proved that every person has equal intelligence at birth." I don't know any such kind of research though. As far as my knowledge is concerned, intelligence has both a genetic and an environmental influence on it and quite obviously, everyone is not blessed with intelligence equally. Intelligence, like most other things, in inherited.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My UPSC Journey: The End of an Era

I started this blog way back in 2008, during my probation period as an officer in State Bank of India, the public sector commercial bank of India. After that, I didn't wrote anything for a long period of time. You can say I almost forgot that I have a blog. Meanwhile, life went through various ups and downs, both professionally and personally. I left my job with SBI and joined Government of West Bengal as Additional District Sub-Registrar. It's a Group-A service. My UPSC journey started in 2010. That year I filled up the form, but couldn't appear for the examination due to lack of preparation. I appeared for the first time in 2011 and in that very first attempt, I qualified in the Preliminary Examination, but could not write the Mains due to physical illness. Next year, I appeared again. That time, I was seven-months pregnant, when I appeared for the Prelims, but missed it by 4 marks. I re-appeared in 2013. This time I qualified in Prelims and wrote the Mains with whatever little I could prepare in my little time. That year, there was a massive change in syllabus and also I had scarcity of time due to my job and 1-year-old baby boy. I could not qualify the Mains. That year some of my articles got published in Mrunal's blog and they were hugely appreciated. Really, I owe Mrunal Sir a lot. In the process, I made some new friends. At this time, I thought of publishing all my already-published articles in my own blog (yes, finally I remembered that I have a long-forgotten blog of my own). Subsequently, I wrote some more articles and some other articles not connected to UPSC at all. I got appreciation for them as well. I last appeared in UPSC in 2015 and failed to qualify in the Prelims. My UPSC journey ended there. Even now I get many requests to write on many topics connected to UPSC. But now I have no reason to write for UPSC. But if you want, I can share here something I wrote previously in my own exercise book, though I am not an expert on the same. Do write me and let me know if you want to read on any topic. I'll write if possible.

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Thanks for reading my blog. It's only because of my writing that I get connected to many people previously unknown to me. That's something I really cherish. Keep reading!!!