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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Undone - An LBC Post

Hey, Will Knott, thanks a bunch for leaving a cryptic topic for the LBC to write on and then disappearing into the wild blue yonder.  As a harassed wife and mother and four with the spouse and offspring forever clamouring for my time and attention, this wasn't a 'post 'n go' topic' for which I could stick up a photo, leave a Tweet-sized statement and run off to comment on other LBC blogs.  I tried to conjure up a picture using the word 'undone', but the photo that came up, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.  Just let's say if I used it, you'd think this was a post about male strippers before you'd even started to read. Strewth! (I'm probably reading too many historical novels lately - 'Strewth' is a corrupt version of an old-fashioned English exclamation 'God's truth!').

Speaking of historical fiction, as a book reviewer, it's my favourite genre.  It wafts you back into another time and place when life was simple.  There was no pressure to go on the net and check Facebook or one's blog. No. Life was at a slower, easier pace.  Well, apart from the fact that you had to do all your housework by hand. Wash the clothes, grind the spices, scrub the floor on your knees.   Yes.  And the possibility of dying in childbirth if you were a woman was practically a given. Okay, I love historical stuff provided it's nicely researched and reasonably well written, but apart from reading about it, I've no desire to return to the past.  Hills being greener far away and all that.


'Undone' seems to be an old-fashioned expression which means that one is ruined, facing disaster. As in 'alas, my dearest friend has betrayed me!  I am undone....'  


A publishing company whose books I review rather frequently has a line called 'Undone'.  Yes, it is a historical line of books (yay) and features short reads with damsels in distress being ravished by macho rakes, pirates and the like (Yay? Not yay!).  Well, for the record, I never review those.  Firstly, I'm never asked to do so.  Secondly, they are boring.  I mean who needs to read about Lady Helena Whomsoever having her wicked way in any number of positions and situations?  Or someone else having their wicked way with her? These matters are totally private in my opinion and I have absolutely no interest in vicariously experiencing someone else's shenanigans. Moreover, why is it that when people get it together in fiction, they always have the most amazing sessions with earth moving sensations and the like?  It's stretches one's credibililty rather too much.  Indeed, it's enough to make ordinary mortals madly jealous.  As one  author said in a group discussion on Facebook, these scenes are often lousy excuses for having no real story to tell.  At the back of every good book, be it hot or sweet,  there has to be a story worth reading.  Otherwise, what is the point?.


Then supposing one of those stories (I mean, one of those scenes in one of those stories) strikes a nerve somewhere and gets you all hot and bothered?  For a housewife, this is the ultimate nightmare, not to mention inconvenience.  I mean, there you  are, all primed and ready for action and you have to go and like, do the laundry?  Or peel the potatoes? Or (in certain situations) unblock a drain?  Now, there's a let down if I ever I experienced one.  So I tend to keep the bodice ripper books at arms length.  No wonder they're called 'hysterical historicals'.


That's a situation which in which  I would consider myself  to be 'undone'.  In the sense of 'alas', I mean.  If you know what I mean.



My thanks are due to freedigitalphotos.net for the image (courtesy of Stuart Miles).  And to my LBC blogger friends (links in sidebar) for the inspiration to keep on writing and blogging week after week.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Hysteria - LBC Post

I can't believe that another Friday has come around.  Time for another blogging group post.  And this week's topic, Hysteria, was, in fact, suggested by me.  I'd quite forgotten.

Hysteria - that sense of losing one's head, going crazy, hysterical in fact, seems to be a particularly female trait.  It shouldn't be, of course.  But the world 'hyster' means uterus.  Apparently, years ago, centuries in fact, it was considered that the uterus was the place where irrational feelings started.  What a mad idea.  No doubt, particular hormonal activity happens at certain times of the month and all of that, in fact, in traditional cultures, women are supposed to get days off housework and get pampered by all the people in the house during 'those days'. Well, I live in India, which is a very traditional culture and all I can say is 'I wish'.   

I remember a very smart writer, Cynthia Heimel, wrote in an article in Cosmopolitan years ago that she made horrible clothes choices on 'those days'.  She once turned up at a job interview in New York dressed in a stunning combination of magenta, scarlet, crimson and russet.  However, before she could enter the skyskraper building where the interview was to be held, the security man stopped her.  Realizing that she'd come for an interview, he advised her to go home and put on a navy suit.  Reason?  She dressed exactly like his wife did when she had her period.  Cynthia thought she was a symphony of reds.  That man thought she looked like a walking disaster area.  A grateful Cynthia praised the security man, years later.  He was a smart guy, no doubt.

But I still maintain that men are as likely as women to get hysterical.  Having a uterus does not make one prone to madness, however logical that might seem.  Hormonal activity notwithstanding.

My Loose Blogging Consortium friends (links in sidebar) are to be praised for their continual inspiration to blog when it is difficult to do so.  I love them all for that.

Friday, April 4, 2014

LBC Friday Post - Pen Pals

So it's Friday again, and time for a bit of joint blogging with the members of the LBC blogging group.  At the height of our glory, we had a dozen or so members contributing.  Nowadays, our membership has rather diminished as our paths have evolved, diversified and changed.  I'm very reluctant to let things go, though and tend to hang on to the bitter end.  So here's my post for this week, PEN PALS, the topic suggested by my extremely handsome and erudite rakhi brother from Pune in western India,  Ramana aka Rummuser.

When I was very young, perhaps seven years old, I started up a correspondence with my cousin Veronica who lived in Scotland. Well, the starting up was mutual.  We exchanged letters throughout our childhood and teens and discussed all the sort of things that young girls would discuss, i.e. studies, friends, etc.  Well, now, as to boyfriends, I didn't have much to contribute there.  I had no breathless teenage romances to discuss.  Oh, I had an odd crush here and there, but nothing you could put a name on.  Veronica, being an auburn haired Scots Irish beauty, probably had many more admirers than I had.  But we were good Catholic girls so anyone coming here looking for juicy details will get short shrift.  Veronica and I knew the rules all right.  Mass every Sunday. Confession every weekend (Veronica was better at that than I was) and absolutely no 'getting up to anything' until one was pretty much married.  So no spicy details via letter hurtled back and forth between Strathclyde and Dublin.

Through letter writing, I learnt that I loved writing.  I used to spend hours writing about different things that had happened to me.  While Veronica was terrific at keeping up her end of the correspondence, I often found myself hungry for more details.  Eventually, I realized that I actually loved writing. I could go on and on doing it for hours on end.  That doesn't mean, of course, that the writing was any good.  But I enjoyed myself all the same.  I've had a few short stories published, written a few novels and hope to have a book out sometime.  Not that that's likely to happen anytime soon.  But I digress.....

One of the girls in my class had a Swedish penfriend.  The Swede had a typically Swedish name, like Bjorn Johanssen or something like that.  She met him when she was in Sweden with her Irish dancing group.  Now that was impressive.  I longed to have correspondence with people all over the world, who knew a variety of languages and belonged to a myriad of cultures.

Strangely enough, thanks to the internet, my dream has come true.  I have lots of international friends now, many of whom I've never met face to face.  There's no limit to the amount of correspondents I can have. Amazing, isn't it?  And I never use as much as a stamp.  The internet has truly brought about a revolution in people's lives.

Some people wouldn't be surprised when I tell them that Yash and I sustained our relationship for seven years prior to our marriage mostly by correspondence.  After all, isn't there email, Skype and Google?  You can speak face to face with someone no matter where they are.  They find it rather difficult to believe, however,  when I tell them that we used snail mail and that Yash was a terrible correspondent.   His letters were certainly few and far between, although, as far as I was concerned, they were worth their weight in gold.

My thanks of course, to Rummuser for the topic.  And to freedigitalphotos.net for the images.  And to my LBC group (links in sidebar) for continued inspiration to write posts.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fate and My Favourite Poem - Two LBC Posts


Life has been getting in the way lately - hence the very late two-posts-in-one LBC post.  The way I look at it, it's better than nothing.

Now, about FATE, last week's LBC topic.  I live in India where people have a lot of belief in luck and fate.  If you commiserate with someone on a misfortune, they often dismiss it by saying "ah, it is my luck."  Something like people in Ireland saying "it's just my luck".  We're all victims of fate, goes the thinking.  The dice rolls and we have to be happy with whatever we get.


Not.


I disagree.  Totally.  

Our thinking influences our fate.  Our words influence it.  It's all down to attitude.  As for me, I plan to enjoy tremendous success during the next few years.  I'm making every thought captive and I'm going to be positive and get ready to enjoy God's blessings.  I will only use positive words.

Now see what happens.


This week's topic is MY FAVOURITE POEM.  Well, I have a few of them.  Lately, I've been reading school poems with my kids, who have been doing school examinations.  

One poem which has impressed me a lot is IF by Rudyard Kipling, an Indian writer of British origin.  It has some great thoughts in it. Here it is.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 






Friday, March 14, 2014

Are We Too Busy For What Really Matters? An LBC Post

Many times, we complain that we are too busy to do man of the things we want to do. I've done it often enough myself.  Yet, when I've made the effort to make time, I've done pretty well.  The truth is, the phrase 'too busy' is probably the greatest excuse in the world for putting things we could or should be doing.

Now the trouble with me is, I always take on far too many projects. My waiting to be read pile of books is like a mountain.  There are friends  I have to contact and phone calls I have to make. Writing and editing projects to finish.   I don't know where to begin once I get a free hour here and there.  So I suppose my main task at the minute is to prioritize everything.  Then I'd be fine.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, there's a degree I have to finish. It shall be done.  (Yes, Ramana, I really mean that.)

This is a post for the Loose Bloggers' Consortium, the group with whom I blog along on Fridays.  My fellow LBC members are listed in the sidebar.  Thanks to Shackman for the topic and to All-Free Download for the photo of busy worker ants.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Indian Fiction - THE HUNT FOR KOHINOOR by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

I enjoyed this Indian spy thriller by Manreet Singh Someshwar.  Anyone who understands the political situation in south Asia would enjoy this.  The Indian Premier and the Pakistani leader  are about to meet at a secret location when the Pak leader is blown to smithereens.  As his briefcase, containing top secret documents, is incinerated along with him, it becomes imperative to find copies of those documents.  Enter Raghav and Mehrunisa, two capable intelligence gatherers.  He’s a member of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Indian Foreign Ministry and she’s an art historian of mixed Iranian and Indian parentage, the daughter of an old RAW hand.  She wants to spend time with her long lost father (did I mention he’s been missing for years? No?) but before she can, she must do RAW’s bidding and find those documents, preferably yesterday.  As she negotiates Pakistani terrain with Taliban terror yapping at her heels, you heart will be in your mouth.  She’s quite the princess, our Mehrun.  No furtive lovemaking holds up the action, no time wasting sentimental balderdash.  Not that there’s no love interest.  There is, to be honest, but it comes a distant second to finding those freaking documents.  Which is perfectly as it should be.   That’s reason enough to give this capable author the full five stars.  This story follows a tight timeline.  The action never flags, nor sags.  There’s even a hint of humour here and there, although the story is pretty damn serious.

The conclusion will give the reader satisfaction, although you’ll have to work for it.  If I had just one nitpick, it’s the fact that while I know nothing of the way RAW works, I simply can’t see them  ordering one of their operative’s children to go on an assignment.  I would presume, as I’m sure many others would,  that RAW would be a bit more professional in recruitment  of its agents.  Okay so Mehrunisa is a history boffin, but like, so what?  She was a civilian, never  mind the fact that her father was the Indian James Bond.  So, in a way, it was a little hard for me to suspend my disbelief and just let go with the story.  But eventually I did, because the story was absolutely compulsive.

There’s room for a sequel here.  These characters, Mehrunisa, her father and R.P. Singh, the love interest of Mehrunisa, will stay with me for  a long time and the vision of Mehrun’s turquoise pashmina shawl will be anchored in my memory. 

A great read.  Definitely paisa vasool, as we say in India.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Separation

Separation is the state of being apart from someone or something particularly indispensable and necessary to one's very existence.

The very word 'separation' has such negative connotations.  It has come to mean that stage before divorce, where a couple splits and both parties move out of each other's lives. 

I don't see it quite that way.  My husband and I were 'separated' by a distance of about ten thousand kilometres for several years before we made our relationship legal and permanent.  The long separation made for a very passionate and thrilling courtship period.  I can't even think about it now without getting goosebumps.  

I wouldn't say that being together is boring but......it's different. Very different.  Being able to take each other for granted can do untold damage to a relationship.  But of course there are worse things for a relationship than separation(s).  There's breakdown of communication and loss of respect.  It's very hard to get a relationship back on track when these things have occurred.

But I do believe in miracles.  Sometimes they happen.  I've seen my own marriage go from dead-as-a-doornail-hopelessness back to passionate again.  So there is such a thing as hope.  

For that you need faith.  Preferably several tons of it.

For my part, I think separation is necessary in every relationship at some stage.  When my babies were new, I lived with them 24/7. I slept with them, I fed them myself (breastfed for years, I did) and never let them out of my sight.  It wasn't easy charging around after the lively, mobile toddlers that they became.  I gave birth to Manan at forty so at an age when girls I went to school with were becoming grandmothers, I was in the throes of new motherhood. But as they've grown older, they've grown away from me and developed their own unique personalities.  They are no longer an extension of me.  And I love them all the more for that.

I always find I love my spouse more when we've spent a few days apart.  I need time to myself, reading my books, writing, blogging. And cleaning my house, of course.  We can sit together and be completely immersed in our own interests.  I don't get restless when he's not around.  He always comes back, you see.

Maybe it sounds odd and strange.  But that's just me....

This is an LBC post.  Links to LBC members in the sidebar. Thanks to All Free Download for the photo.  And lettercount.com for the character count facility.