Books

WWW – Wednesdays 20th August 2014

WWW Wednesday is a reading game started by MizB at Should Be Reading. A simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I recently finished…

A mighty heart, www wednesdayA Mighty Heart by Mariane Pearl. I picked up, read a little and put down this book twice. Both the times because I was just getting sadder and sadder with each page. Knowing that the ending of the book is sad every effort made by Marianne and people trying to find Danny seemed to be in vain to me right from the beginning and thinking about how heart breaking it would be in the end, I could not continue with it. So many time I had goosebumps while reading it. But this time (don’t they say the third time is a charm!) I could not keep it down. I don’t know what was different. And I am glad I did because now I can say the book does not have a sad ending. Yes Danny Pearl is killed but that is not the ending of the book, the ending of the book is the triumph of humanity in the face of terrorism. The ending of the book is the strength that talks to you from the pages. I loved the ending of the book:

“I swear I will not dishonor

my soul with hatred,

but offer myself humbly

as a guardian of nature,

as a healer of misery,

as a messenger of wander

as an architect of peace”

I am currently reading…

Boskys Panchatantra, www wednesdayBosky’s Panchatantra by Gulzar. Continuing with my love for fairly tales and folk tales, this is the one I picked up after I finished my Classic Fairy Tales book to read right before sleeping. It’s a collection of Panchatantra tales (Indian folk tales) written as a song. What makes it special is that these are the songs that Gulzar sang to his daughter Bosky (Meghna Gulzar) when she was little and so the name. By offering them in a book, Gulzar, gves us the gift of reciting/ singing panchatantra to all kids!

Next I will be reading..

Jinnah by Jaswant Singh, www wednesdayJinnah by Jaswant Singh. This is an ambitious book for me. For long I have been wanting to read more and more on India’s partition and about Jinnah. Jinnah was once called an ambassador of Hindu- Muslim unity. What drove him to demand a separate state for muslims? I have read/ seen on tv/ heard gory stories of partition. I have wondered at why did the partition happen? Was it necessary? This book is an attempt to add to the understanding of what the political scenario was during that time.

So what’s your WWW?

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WWW – Wednesdays – 16th July

It’s been more than a year since I last played along WWW Wednesdays. Of course there can be plenty of excuses given like all the traveling in India before packing up Baroda; volunteering in Uttarakhand after the floods and then the whole move to Africa and settling in. (See I just gave so many! 😛 )

WWW Wednesday is a reading game started by MizB at Should Be Reading. A simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What am I currently reading?

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” – C.S. Lewis

www wednesday, classic fairy talesFor me that time is now and every night before going to bed I have started reading one fairy tale. Currently I’m reading from Berlie Doherty’s Classic Fairy Tales.  I love the illustrations by Jane Ray and also the way Berlie has narrated the stories. Just yesterday I read the Beauty and the Beast. And I remembered the quote that “a thing must be loved before it is lovable!” I love fairy tales and how does it matter if I’m grown up… It’s still fun to go to sleep with some magic 🙂

www wednesday, a Christmas carolAlong with that I’m also reading a classic – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickines. Enjoying the visits with the Spirits and Scrooge but also enjoying the words and the archaic English!

“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

What did I recently finish

I recently finished I am Malala. I had picked it up at Delhi airport this time. Not that it was in my list of books to read but as I was browsing through the books, the photograph of Malala Yousafzai was almost staring from the cover and I couldn’t stop myself from picking it. Continue reading

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WWW Wednesday – 26 June 2013

WWW Wednesday is a reading game started by MizB at Should Be Reading. A simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

While avid readers play it every week, I’m a bit slow and I usually stick to one a month. My answers for this month are:

What are you currently reading?

You can heal your life, Louise Hay, WWW Wednesday, Lime n LemonyI’m currently reading You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay. It was gifted to me by a friend during one of our awakin sessions. Like with every self-help book, I was, at first quite hesitant to start the book. I took it be another of the kinds where the author preaches and the reader is supposed to understand and incorporate the teachings. Since it came from a dear friend with lots of recommendation, I started on the book and slowly realised something in me identifying with what she says. Feeling the burden of past, resisting change, getting aware of our past etc…The book is meant to be read slow, taking time with each chapter. Each chapter is with affirmations and exercises to look within. So far as much as I have read I like it and I feel this one is for going back to again and again.

What did you recently finish?

www wednesday, blogging reading games, the art of travelI recently finished The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton. Beautiful essay on how we travel and how we should travel. I should actually write a book experience of my reading the book. But a couple of points that really ran home with me were:

Whenever we travel, we are busy clicking pictures or buying souvenirs. De Botton says that’s a way we try to possess the beauty of the place – by taking pictures, buying souvenirs or carving ones name on a monument.

But the most effective way is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.

We come back with 1000s of pictures in our digital camera and not one image so sharp in our minds that we could almost paint it from memory, because we see the place and not notice it!

Another point that De Botton makes is that the pleasure we derive from a journey is perhaps dependent more on the mind-set with which we travel than the destination that we travel to. But he urges: Notice the place you have already seenOn a Paris street, we find the road side crepe maker interesting and we click pictures of him; while back at home, we fail to notice the road side eatery. Can you recall what is the color of the first shop in the market closest to your home?

I also finished reading The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi. Didn’t find it as exciting as it has been portrayed. It’s a regular fiction novel involving a more human form to the Hindu God Shiva. It’s interesting but I haven’t been able to pick the second one in the series yet.

What do you think you will read next?

Next I would most probably read The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma. Found it tucked deep inside while cleaning the book case and it kind of found its way on my bed side table immediately. I didn’t even know we had the book!

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WWW Wednesday – 22 May 2013

Here goes my 2nd WWW Wednesday post! I think it’s doing the trick. I’m actually more regular in my reading because I want to post about it! :).

WWW Wednesday is a reading game started by MizB at Should Be Reading. A simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. To play along, you just have to answer the following three (3) questions…

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Many play it every week! But since I’m a fairly slow at reading, I’m more of a monthly player. My answers are:

Continue reading

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WWW Wednesdays – May 8

When I first saw this post for WWW Wednesdays on Dreamz and Clouds blog, my first response was what is this ‘world wide web’ Wednesday about. But only after a few lines I realized it was more of What, What and What Wednesday :).

Started by Should Be Reading, WWW Wednesday is a simple game of telling (every week) about the books you have read, are reading and wish to read. I found it a great way of discovering new books, so I decided to play along. Now I love reading and I would love to write about the books I have read, which I why some time back I started writing about my book experiences but then it slowly came to an end. Not that I had not read books, but I didn’t get time to write about the book immediately after finishing it and later the experience was lost. So this game is perfect for me! At least I would write a few lines if not a whole post about the books! 🙂 But I am a particularly slow reader, so my list won’t change on a weekly basis, hence I have decided to play it every month. Here’s how it goes:
Continue reading

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I dream of a library…

Growing up, my first library was the local kirana(grocery) store that used to keep a big stack of Hindi comics like billu, pinky, chacha chowdhary, phantom, commando Dhruv etc.

Characters of Diamond Comics Indian Comics Magazine

Characters from my first ‘library’ books!

Then from 2nd grade onward it was school library, where I got introduced to Noddy, Ruskin Bond, Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Heidi, black beauty, little women and many more. That was also when the nearby book club had Tinkle, Champak and Chandamama. In junior classes we had to sit on the ground around a low table and in senior classes there were proper table and chairs… I so looked forward to library period, half an hour of stories! 🙂 Continue reading

Categories: Books, digital living, Old times | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

We read in a F or an E?

Reading pattern: F? E? C?

Reading pattern: F? E? C?

I’m sure content managers must be aware of this fact, but for me it was an interesting find! I have recently started working on a blog on volunteering and I was reading a few articles on what and how do people consume content online. I didn’t quite care about SEO for Lime ‘n’ Lemony or even Weekend Kitchen but for Volunteer Weekly I wanted to know at least some basics. Keywords, meta-description, analytics, web master tools etc were all bizarre buzzwords until now! Anyway one of the studies that fascinated me was that we read a website in a F!
It comes from Neilsen Jakob’s eye-tracking study. What it means?F shaped reading pattern
  1. We first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area – forming the letter F’s top bar
  2. We then move down a bit and read across in a second horizontal movement which is typically shorter than the first one – forming the lower bar of the letter F.
  3. Finally we scan the left side of the content vertically, thus forming F’s stem.

I was relating it to the way I read all the academic papers also. Most often we used to read the introduction and conclusion and would scan through the rest of the article, reading the heading and sub-headings and would read another one or two sections that would have the analysis. I guess that would make it like an E! and if time was really short we would entirely skip the middle.. making it a C pattern! 😀

Anyway however we read, I guess the point is to put important things right in the beginning! 🙂

Another interesting thing which a web-designer friend of mine told me was on the width of a website – he told me that 980px (or 960px) is the ideal width for a webpages, because that is the width the eye can read without moving from left to right. Any bigger than that and you can’t read it in one go.
Isn’t it interesting how different fields bring out human behavior! Do you know of any other such study? would love to read about them 🙂
Categories: Books, digital living, education | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Endless stories on Indian Railways

I love traveling by train and particularly Indian Railways. Love meeting strangers; sharing a few hours of my life with them, knowing well that I won’t meet them again. Whenever I travel alone, I always look forward to see whom will I be sitting next to.  I think everyone has at least one unforgettable memory of the Indian Railways. Mine being the fairly recent interaction with a number of people, things, platforms etc that make up the institution called Indian Railways.

During a trip to Bombay, I narrated my whole story of how it took me 11 hours to cover 60 kms by train and all the adventures in between; to Anu and Rane. One story led to another and we realised that just between the 3 of us we had some 10 incidents related to rail journeys to tell. Apart from my Chalo Dilli experience; there was the 1st when I travelled 1st class from Delhi to Kolkata in Duronto and how both me and Sikander were truly impressed by the hospitality and class of the staff on board. No air travel can come close to the luxuries of railway 1st class!

Then there was this story that my dad used to tell so often –

“When I was a MR, I had to change trains at Bandikui station late at night and once I had a strange encounter, which I still sometime question if it really happened or was my imagination. It was very late at night; in fact it would be more correct to call it was very early in the morning. I was sitting on a bench, smoking my Wills and waiting for my train; when I saw this old man with a stick and blanket on his head come hobbling towards my way. He stopped in front of him and said if I have a light. And the moment I lit the matchstick and took it towards his face to light his cigarette all I saw was blankness”

For a long long time I thought this story to be true until I read Ruskin Bond’s horror stories! 😮

Rane told about an incident where the up and down Geetanjali express used to meet at an intermediate station and that too on opposite platforms. One can imagine the confusion that would create. Passengers boarding from that station were always double checking if they boarded the right train!

Anu was telling about an incident when she and her mother had to board a train with departure time 12:05am. When they boarded the realised the seat was already taken. Now it’s not very uncommon that 2 passengers have been given the same berth so they went to check with the TT where they discovered that they were a day late for the train!

We both laughed at recounting our 1st experience with Mumbai local trains. We were a group of 10 freshers going from IIT to Bandra which meant changing train at Dadar. The local train stops for exactly 2 seconds on each stop and we realised Richa alone couldn’t board the train! It was the time when cell phones were still a luxury and definitely not something that college students would posses. The rest of us in the train just kept wondering – should we get down at the next station and go back to kanjurmarg; what if she left by the time we got back? should we go to Dadar and wait for her there?

One of my friend met his wife on a train journey! Isn’t that romantic? But I don’t think I should tell their story here.. but I was very enchanted when I heard it 🙂

The stories kept on going for the rest of the day…

So when I came across this book – “The Penguin book of Indian Railway stories” edited by Ruskin Bond, I couldn’t help but buy it! It meant more railway stories! And some from the bygone era –the era of the steam engines; the era of the Raj. I’ve just embarked on this train of memories and I don’t want the journey to end soon.

 

These were some of my stories while traveling on trains.. do you have one to share?

Categories: Books, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Letters from a Father to His Daughter – Jawarhar Lal Nehru

And finally it’s vacation time. We’ve been waiting for this vacation since so long… I can almost sing “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go” :).

I was quite easy with buying gifts for all the younger kids – toys, story books, clothes. But a gift for Faaiz was not easy. He is growing up…. He is 10! And I didn’t want to buy any Noddy or panchtantra for him…. I didn’t want to buy him hungry hippos or similar toys… And he already has most of the games on ‘his iPad’. So what could I gift him?

I was browsing through books in children’s section at Landmark when I saw this one. Maybe it was the cover that made me pick it up but as soon as I read the synopsis I knew I’ve found my gift. It was about the Universe, the Earth, plants, animals, human beings, money, languages and about so many things of the world that we live in. What I liked best in the short 10 minutes reading that I gave to the book before buying were the illustrations; they help you visualize as you read…

I think Faaiz is of the age when he will have questions of how was world formed? Where did we come from? Why do different people speak different languages etc etc… Being a smart kid and living in a digital age; I won’t be surprised if he has already found a website that answers all these questions for kids :). But I still wanted to give this book… This book is a series of letters written by Jawaharlal Nehru to his 10 year old daughter Indira. Apart from fuelling a lot of inquiry, this book presents the lovely notion of letters! An art that has been completely forgotten in the age of emails. It also presents a more personal side of Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s upbringing. I’m not sure whether Faaiz knows who Jawarhal Nehru or Indira Gandhi are; living in the US, I’m not even sure if he will ever read about them in school; but I’m sure, being an Indian, one day he will know who they are or after this book he will want to know who they are.

I read the book before gifting it because I wanted to make sure he will enjoy it. The letters travel from the big bang – the beginning of solar system, to how life slowly developed over millions of years; how man from being the weakest animal became the master of all; the beginning of civilizations, trade, language, currency and politics. To me this book was a refresher of what I’ve studied long ago in history classes and also a revisit to a lot of museums I’ve been to. I could picture the ancient coins I’ve seen in museums, the tools early man used, the Egyptian tombs and mummies… The illustrations will definitely add to a child’s enjoyment of the book. For a 10 year old, this book will open new doors of knowledge. I hope it will lead to questions, inquiry and wonder.

Towards the end the letters might confuse the young mind as things move very quickly. There is suddenly too much information; too quickly, which is bound to happen… as Nehru himself says “when you cover millions of years in a few letters”. The letters should be read as they were originally meant to be read –one at a time.

Categories: Books, digital living, education, Family | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Book Experience – The Lost Story

I’ve been thinking of writing about the book since long… It’s been ages since I read it and I wonder if I will be able to do justice to it now. I can’t call this a book review; well for one I don’t think I’m qualified to do that, and two, I don’t think I want to review the book. I just want to share my experience of reading the book – Book Experience – is what this post is.

The Lost Story is the only fiction book that I possess where I personally know the author and that was the foremost reason of why I picked it up.  But even if I didn’t know the author, I think I would have bought the book; if I had chanced upon it. The synopsis does create a lot of curiosity. While I’ve read about such writing attempts before, this was the first time I could get my hands on a collection of stories that were written by two authors in this fashion (one part by one author, second by the other; without the two talking about it).

My first question to Amit when he told me about his book was “Is it another one of those IIT/IIM graduates’ love story?” :). I’m glad I was completely wrong.

The beginning of the book is very strong…After the prologue (I don’t know if that’s the right word), it was no longer stories by Amit and Sudhanshu; but for me they were stories by Saleem and Sandy. I think that should be a compliment to the authors J.  The stories are crisp and move quickly. Having lived in the hills, I could actually picture Bhimtal and I was glad they chose that little town. It’s been long since I was there last. The story of Rahu and Ketu sent a shiver down my spine. I remember saying it out loud after the story “Why did he do this?” meaning why did Amit write it this way.. some stories are open-ended, leaving the reader wanting to know ‘what happened next?’. Are they teasing the readers :)?

Even after so many months of completing the book I remember Sujit sitting near the lake fearing monsters; the recon drone; Abhay who faked bravery; the homosexual Morgan; the haunted house with the Pink Floyd T-shirt, Shruti, Gopal and so many others.

They have aptly said “Reality is overrated. It leaves so much to the imagination anyway”. Within the novel, reality and fiction are interwoven, which might confuse you or grip you completely. To me, it did both. There were times when I just didn’t understand – one moment we are in a story and next we are in present. Snap. I just had to read on…

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