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Monday, January 9, 2017

I Am Rooted, But I Flow

Some weekends are about poetry analysis or paraphrasing with my sister and pondering over philosophical ideas and spiritual discourses. Today was one of such days. Nothing cliché about it, it is just something we sisters thoroughly enjoy and connect deeply with.

I would like to share with you some of the profound thoughts I read in The Speaking Tree someday.

“A dimension beyond physicality has infused itself into this wonderful mechanism that human body is. This dimension is the very source of life. It is this that truly makes us who we are. This is why human beings seem to live in a constant struggle between the physical and the dimension beyond.
Though you have the compulsiveness of the physical, you also have the consciousness of being more than just physical.

There are two basic forces. Most people see them as being in conflict. One is the instinct of self-preservation, which compels you to build walls around yourself. The other is the constant desire to expand, to become boundless. Material versus spiritual. One force helps you root yourself well on this planet; the other takes you beyond.

The article goes on to explain that this desire to transcend physical limitations is very inborn and is the very basis of any spiritual process. And there is a conflict if there is an imbalance; else this paradox is very natural. Now deriving from this thought- I have always wanted to go away from home, travel, explore, away from the roots and places of comfort; but then I have also had an urge to stay back where I am, or to return to my comfortable corner in this world. Such is the contradiction of life, dreams, and desires.

I am experiencing so many seemingly conflicting emotions these days. The need to engage and the yearn to quietly detach. Willing to detach and let go but wanting to possess. The wish to go and that longing to stay back. That overwhelming urge to give in and open up to all those tumultuous emotions, write and bleed on the paper, and that recurrent appearance of the wall that holds me back. Reading this article did answer so many lingering doubts.

Does your mind wander in the similar fashion? Do share your musings.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

All Signs Lead Back To You

I have always had a liking towards tales with themes of partings and meetings. So this story did hit home almost instantly. And when the author is Aniesha Brahma, I don't really have to think twice before picking it up.

Diya is deep, complex, and a complicated mess. She believes everything in her life comes with an expiry date. She builds more walls around her than bridges. She lets no one in on anything that's important to her, or that she holds close to her heart. Yet the one person who has been through that barrier, Nina- Diya's best friend, calls her that once-in-a-lifetime friend - whom you should never let go of however many times she shuts the door on your face to shoo you off. She may seem selfish and careless but beyond that fake calm exterior is a weak vulnerable person. I loved Diya. I could easily connect with her, being the almost philophobic person that I am.

Ashwin is caring and loving. He tries his best to understand Diya, when she cuts off all contact with him on the last day of school, and when their paths cross after three long years. Shaken by the chance encounter he questions himself whether he really knew Diya at all in the high school years. His perspective of who Diya was as a person and Nina's perspective are so much at odds. Ashwin is kind and an unusual guy who loves discussing books and characters and going to the library for a date. How cute is that!

The story follows a beautiful journey of the characters discovering and accepting each other as they really are without any pretension. Love the ending. I won't reveal it here but know that it's not stereotypical.

One day my mailbox had a link to an article called ‘How to Free Ourselves from the Fear of Love’ in I find the articles here very personal, intimate, revealing, and soulful. The writers have their vulnerabilities laid bare and it does reach out to the readers. There is so much honesty in their words, and the writings speak to you and comfort you like a dear friend. I have loved every post I read here. It has become my go-to site these days.

So the mentioned article described my state completely. “I watch the world from behind the glass window. It’s lonely here, but safe; in this place I can be seen but not reached.” It’s a sad realization for me that all that’s written in this piece is true, the ugly vulnerable truth about who I perhaps am. ‘Leave first, before they leave you.’ My thoughts have an uncanny similarity to this statement. Diya’s thoughts are similar too. Is it even possible that someone else feels the same way? Don’t try to mingle, because they would realize you are not worth it in a matter of days. Don’t make too many friends, it will just make you dissipate away from yourself. They will leave you once they realize you are boring.

Now, this is a bit personal and intimate. I think I am Philophobic. I have never fallen in love- rather I have never allowed myself to love anyone beyond a boundary limit. I have consciously or unconsciously checked all those prospective feelings projected from prospective ‘the one’s. I have never even considered feeling it. They have never crossed the walls built around my heart. I don’t know what to do about it- opening up seems impossible, terrifying, and a whole new terrain I have never set foot in. So yes, I could totally connect with Diya and draw solace from her story.

I kind of had that John Green type feeling while reading this, a new world where 'okay' may not mean 'love you' but 'darling' did mean 'stupid'. Awaiting the next book by the author. Sending love and hugs her way for writing this one.

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is a quick read, best suited to the busy lifestyle most of us are having. If nothing else, I assure you this book would give you few hours of serene and calm, and a greater sense of understanding and empathy. I would rate it 4/5 stars.

Aniesha Brahma

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year 2016 In Review and Goals For 2017

Framed Moments


The Year 2016 was awesome. The first half was all struggles, embarrassments, disappointments and trouble for me. But the second half was unexpectedly better- that Pune trip with best buddies, that family trip in October, the Ultimate Blogging Challenge, the immense growth that I saw in my personality and all the life wisdom that I learned!!

I struck off many a wish-list this year. I did convert many a dream into reality this very year. Looking back, connecting the dots, I can see what a phenomenal year it was. I came across so many new people, established new friendships that do mean a lot to me, and I connected with the people who inspire me in one way or the other.

I do have some New Year Resolutions, well, let’s call them New Year Goals. I don’t really connect with the word ‘resolution’.

1. Be more visible- accept vulnerability, accept imperfection. Aim growth not perfection. Be                 more mindful about your emotions- don’t shut them out or hide them. Acknowledge them.
2. Read more non-fiction, especially memoirs, travelogues.
3. Listen to audio-books more often.
4. Resume writing poetry. Resume journaling.
5. Write a review a week, detailed, honestly, soulfully, as truly as you can.
6. Don’t multitask. It takes away the soul from whatever you are doing. Accept that multitasking is         not for you. Single-task. Do things one at a time.
7. Travel more.
8. Let go of the urge to commit to every expectation of your friends and family. Learn to say ‘It’s           not a priority right now’ if you find saying ‘no’ hard.
9. Meet at least one blogger friend who has inspired you immensely.
10. Spread love, happiness, kindness, and joy wherever you go. Reach out more.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Has Changed Its Meaning Over The Years... #UnWrapChristmas

I thank Richa to have passed the wand of festive cheer to me. So I here #UnWrapChristmas with the flavors that this day gave me over the years since childhood.

When in school, Christmas for me was winter vacation, making greeting cards with ‘Merry Christmas’ on the top in red, buying small to tiny cards from the roadside stalls costing something between two to five rupees each, visiting the church in the school, admiring the beautiful decorations and the big red star perched atop the church, and finally, and most importantly having that delicious piece of cake from Sister Margaret before leaving. It was no Christmas if there was no cake.
In that transition between school and college, Christmas became just another holiday to pass my time home. Moving from the familiar surroundings of a small town like Keonjhar to the capital city of Bhubaneswar was nothing short of a tumultuous tectonic shift for me. It was a tough period and I had resisted the change as much as I could. Christmas didn’t seem as I had known it. I accepted that with time and in my 12th grade, Christmas meant the joy of giving, get-togethers, book-fairs and enacting musicals in school.

In college my views and perceptions were again contradicting with that of the crowd. Christmas meant after-semester-exam-fun. My friends mostly slept through the day after toiling hard for nights together for the exam preparations. Again the change was too much for me to bear. No one wanted to go to the Church, click a picture of the Christmas tree with the first Nokia handset and most importantly no one loved cards anymore. No gift exchange. Rarely anyone accompanied me to the book fairs. No card making- it was considered outdated and old fashioned and un-cool.  No musicals. No cake. No school. I missed school. Again I felt like the victim of ‘Change’. And again I tried hard to see the good in it- Christmas meant family get-togethers now, and travelling to the picnic spot in a big bus dancing throughout the journey.

Thank You Secret Santa For Such a Wonderful Gift!!!
After years, now, fast forward, Christmas has brought back all those emotions I used to feel as a child. The joy of giving is back. Secret Santa and gift exchange is cool and happening. Cake and cards are back in scene. Church going and having a good company is back too. Even the book fairs and the Christmas tree decoration in the office cubicles in back with a bang. Get-togethers are always there. ‘Change’ has finally taken a circular path, back to where it had started. And for the first time in years I haven’t resisted it.

I now pass on the wand to Reema D’souza  to continue with the unwrapping of the Christmas spirit.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart

Scarlet Heart has been one of the best romantic tales of the year in Asian Dramas, not just in Korean Drama. With an ensemble cast, it was sure to win hearts from the very beginning.

It was the first series that I didn’t binge watch, rather I chose to wait every week and watched only two episodes that were available the respective Mondays and Tuesdays. I had never ever waited for any episode so impatiently. I watched the episodes again and again during the wait, read forums on it, listened to the songs from the series, watched the cast’s interviews, and still missed it like hell. I missed the characters for the five days that I waited every week for the next episode to be broadcast and be available with subtitles.

The strategy used by the directors and writers of this phenomenal series is one of sheer torture for the fans. They introduce so many characters worth meeting- some so adorable, some hard on the exterior hiding a painful past, some charming and kind and some wicked and plotting. (The cast is more diverse and real than any person I can perhaps ever meet in real life. ) Then they delve a little deeper, showing us the vulnerable core of these characters. You cannot help but fall a bit for each of them- even the villains. Then the story goes through so many twists and turns- you tend to fall deeper and deeper. The helplessness of the characters draws you in, their dreams and wishes tug at your soft corner, and you cannot escape the predestined fate of falling in love with them. Then, you are in for more torture, when happy ending eludes them, and life plays its wretched games. Still, all of these is worth it.

It was really emotionally draining and yet painfully addicting. I knew the fate of the characters and the way the story would go, but I just couldn’t stop watching. I felt the emptiness and the void when one character left the town and another died. I researched about the Chinese version, read three translated chapters of the Chinese novel on which the story is based while waiting.

Best lead actors, best ensemble cast. Unforgettable story. Can be re-watched multiple times!! Heart wrenchingly addictive. Difficult to move on from.

Hae Soo falls into a portal unintentionally during a complete solar eclipse and wakes up in a thousand years in the past Goryeon era.  

It starts with the princes wondering about their 4th brother whom they have never met but heard many a weird tales about. He is rumored to be a very brutal killer who massacred his entire family in his residential place. He is infamously called wolf and is feared by the general public given his instant recognition owing to his half masked face.

Hae Soo is befriended by most of the princes for her cheerful and jolly personality. Some of them adore and pursue her. She grows emotionally attached towards the brothers and falls for the 8th prince. The easy camaraderie amongst the brothers is put to test as time passes, and the race for the throne takes momentum. Some group together, some take sides, loyalty is questioned, betrayal is evident, and the great rift amidst the royals is obvious. Many a person goes missing, dies or escapes. There are conspiracies and coups to dethrone the existing king, to murder the potential threats to the throne, and to save the loved ones from the life threatening political turmoil. It is a place where swords are used without a second thought, and people are sentenced to death for anything under the ruse of an act of treason.

Amidst this tough turn of events, Hae Soo is quietly drawn to the 4th prince who professed to love her beyond himself and stood with her when the one she trusted the most chose otherwise. Her feelings change from sheer dread for the person to being drawn towards him. She knows the future- this person would be the infamous great king whose reign would be soaked in blood, who would kill his own brothers to take the throne for himself. But she is determined to change the history as she has known it. Through love and care, she is determined to bring about the core benevolence of the 4th prince to the fore. Perhaps this is the purpose of her life henceforth. Love blossoms between the two but hurdles are not far behind.  

Read the complete review here: A Potpourri of Vestiges


Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's All In The Planets

Preeti Shenoy has been breaking stereotypes through her writing since long. Her books have stories around tough female leads, unconventional themes and focused on breaking the prejudiced image that the society holds.

There are those characters who believe in breaking off a year old engagement with their fiancés when out of love, rather than carrying on with marriage as their parents or society would want. And there are those who believe that living-in is a multiple time better than marriage. You’ll find proposals where the girl proposes her beloved move in with her and he replies with a yes. There are unconventional characters and their happy lives which are away from the societal norms. ‘It happens for a reason’ had an unmarried single mother raising her son amidst tough circumstances away from family and all natural support systems. ‘The secret wishlist’ – it is bold when it says that housewives can have dreams and wishlists too. Wanting to do Salsa dance isn’t being an infidel.

Preeti Shenoy’s success is justified- she uses simple to understand words, in keeping with the modern times, and her stories are themed around human relationships, emotions and the intricacies involved which go well with the current fast paced generation. It addresses all the societal pressure, prejudice, and talks on the futility of stereotypes.

In ‘It’s all in the Planets’, Shenoy once again does a romantic tale that is mature, aligned to today’s fast-paced world and is built around the intricacies of relationships. The narrative is from two points of views- one is of Aniket and the other is of Nidhi. The perspectives offer a lot of variety even though they are written by the same author.

She has weaved the tale awesomely around hobbies, passions, lifestyles and dreams. A character named Subbu is a coding buff and computer geek. He loves hacking, and almost every other dialogue from him is a computer jargon. Another character Nidhi has a passion for pottery, writing, blogging and fitness. She teaches the basics of clay modeling and pottery in her beautifully done up studio in Bangalore in weekends. She does some freelance writing assignments in the weekdays, plays fitness and relationship coach to a friend. She also maintains a blog called ‘A Pot of Clay That Holds Gold’ in the meantime. She had left her corporate day job for all these passions, and she is very happy pursuing her dreams. Ambition to her is something other than just money and a lucrative career. She also loves decorating her house and making the authentic South Indian aromatic filter coffee. She is a very strong character indeed. She has insecurities about life and marriage. But that doesn’t stop her from pursuing her passions.

The essence of the story is- Everything is predestined. Everything that has to happen will happen in its own accord when the right time arrives. We might be wanting something to happen and trying towards it, but may be that is not meant to happen. Yet.

Friday, November 25, 2016

It’s a Wonderful Life

George’s life is beautiful. We are introduced to a happy family, a loving younger brother, true friends, prospective lovers, friendly townsfolk and an average career in the Building and Loan. 

“I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I’m shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet, and I’m gonna see the world. And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields. I’m gonna build sky-scrappers a hundred stories high. I’m gonna build a bridge a mile long.” 

Such are George Bailey’s dreams- but he ends up living in the town Belford Falls running the small Building and Loans, helping the townsfolk have their own homes, giving up his higher study plans for that of his brother’s, living in an old dilapidated abandoned house with his wife, earning a meager income just to survive decently. A greater tragedy hits when he loses a large sum of money owed to the bank. He is devastated by the bankruptcy and probable prison. He contemplates suicide. Then enters the angel.

The angel is just so optimistic, straightforward, and innocent. He is such a dear when he puts his words so simply that it is difficult to comprehend for a human. Such an uncomplicated and childlike approach he has to teach George how valuable his life indeed is. Love this character. Love its portrayal. I wanted to hug this old man who is striving joyfully hard to get his wings and get his task done. Million hugs! Be my guardian angel!

The movie treats such a serious issue of valuing one’s life in such a jolly and humorous manner. One side shows George Bailey- he is contemplating suicide and wishing he was never even born on this earth. He would not have been the cause of sorrow to so many people if that were the case. On the other side, the angel is there with a smile pasted across his face, trying to convince George that life is a wonderful gift. He grants George’s wish and takes him to the world where he was never born so that he can see for himself how different things are around there. No one knows or recognizes George in this world. People he had helped once in childhood or teenage years are in prisons or graves or mental asylums here. His wife Mary is an old unmarried maid here. And his children don’t exist. This world doesn’t have any George to help the people or marry Mary or be a father to four cute children.

While spending our time on earth as mortals each man’s life does touch so many other lives. And when he isn’t around , he leaves an awful gaping hole.

The old world charm of the film drew me in. I have never watched a film from the era before colored cinemas were made. This is perhaps my first ever. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. The parties, the hyper-energetic tap dance, the in-your-face humor, the mannerisms, the Barbie hair-do of the ladies, the poetic renditions in some of the old world dialogues and monologues – I loved it all. I had a favorite scene where George and Mary sing  ‘Buffalo girls can’t you come out tonight, and dance by the light of the moon’ while getting to home after a party.

My take away from this movie is, however, small you may think your life is, the reality is just the opposite. Its reach is far and immense. Your existence here is a phenomenon in itself. You matter more than you think you do.