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Showing posts from 2020

Ruminating on dreams and the purpose of life

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  I first read about Aanchal Malhotra in the newspaper or in an online magazine, on how she had dedicated half of her twenties to her project of documenting oral histories from the partition. Now it is almost a decade, she is still deeply absorbed and as dedicated to this project of collecting individual accounts and stories. She deals with the memories of the surviving few from the times of the partition of the subcontinent, in her book Remnants of a Separation. Her next book is already announced for 2021, Reading her is a joy. She is collecting next generation accounts of the times of partition, the ones that have been passed down orally to the sons and daughters of the migrants, the inherited memories and experiences. Partition has been experienced over the generations, through all these years, and still it is in our living memory – alive, not just a thing of the past. I wonder, how does one dedicate a decade of one’s life and still continue doing so, for a cause the importance of

On Reading Newsletters, The Queen's Gambit, Blog Analytics and StoryGraph

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The StoryGraph I am floored by the analytics and insights they have worked to provide. It is clear they have used AI and ML techniques for annotating the various moods associated with the books, from audiences around the world – like a manual crowd annotation of sorts. This is great since it is manual effort yet, labelling of the dataset, but the people on the platform are many, and I can only see the platform grow. Goodreads is really old, 2000s. In 2020s we need StoryGraph . I want to do certain recommendation system, like this website does with respect to emotional moods, but a bit different. Catering to Reading Challenges prompts. Like, you get book suggestions for prompts like ‘a lady of the cover’, ‘deals with Jewish traditions’ or ‘won JCB Price in last 10 years’. So, that is the idea. May be I’ll make it, hopefully I can, and leave a website for you to try. The Enneagram Type The Enneagram Personality Type – this is the recently trending personality system, a pointer o

October Wrap Up - Audio and Watch Lists

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Now that October has ended, I'm satisfied with the regular writing habit I have created through #MyFriendAlexa 1. And Then There Were None Agatha Christie's novels are a treat. Sometimes I feel the urge to consume a suspense packed thriller but do not have the patience to read an entire book on it. I am a rather slow reader. So a mini-series suffices. And oh the thrill, the bated breaths, racing hearts and jumpy me. As I await the movie on 'Death in the Nile' (I have already read the book years ago, but you forget the mystery somewhat), I indulged in the BBC 2015 mini-series based on the novel of the same name 'And Then There Were None'.  It has a rather strange premise. An ensemble of characters meet in a secluded island, on receiving a letter from a certain Mr. and Mrs. Owen. Some are recruited, some invited for a party. But the sinister announcement after the first days' dinner reveals that they all are guilty of murder. Some justify the deaths, some conf

IGNITE - An Online Exhibition of Art and Poetry

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Thanks to technology, the world is prepared to have its employees work from the confines of their homes. Theatrical experience is brought to home through several OTT platforms, that stream top-notch content from several countries to the world-wide audience. This time even the Jaipur Literature Festival was held online, covering so many author interviews, bookish discussions, and everything under the hood of humanity. With multiple workshops, campaigns, orientations, seminars, book club meets, and even dinner dates being held online, artists around the world are not far behind. Coping with the pandemic, and churning their creative juices, 8 artists and 8 poets have geared up for an Online Art and Poetry Exhibition, IGNITE. In total they present 40 artworks and 40 poems. Such a treat! It includes lockdown Diaries, a community to help writers through Writers' Block, to infuse inspiration through art and poetry, dialogues to inspire, to connect with the world at large through creativit

The Family Upstairs By Lisa Jewell

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Firstly, great book cover. Almost alluring. I just had to read this book. After reading Then She Was Gone , I was enamored by her narrative style. It is very fast paced, doesn't give you time to breathe before throwing one after another surprise. And before long you realize your eyes are bulging out, you have goosebumps and your heart is racing. Yes, it's that gooood! Believe me when I say this, because I am a rather slow reader, yet I managed to finish this one in 2 days. The fastest read by far in months. But I would say that the explanations for a few characters' story towards the end was a bit unreasonable and a tad boring for me. But that can be excused, of course. It is difficult to come across thrillers these days that actually do thrill. Being able to predict and just waiting for the story to go in that direction isn't thrilling. This book, we wait with bated breathes so as to know what happens next. The family, the people that come into their lives, the power s

A Suitable Boy - The Miniseries

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  Vikram Seth’s  1993 mega novel has finally been adapted on screen. Mira Nair has created a post partition India, that’s believable but also is right from the dreams. The background is 1950’s India, in the cities of Banares, Brahmpur and Calcutta. We see the political parties fight to abolish the zamindari law, and give the lands back to the poor farmers, as the opposition fights against it. We see India gearing up for its first public election, for people to exercise their right to vote. We come across characters who aim high for the society at large, and contribute their own part to the making of progressive India. And we see women going to the university, aiming high and wishing to marry a man of their choice. The setting draws the audience in, completely into the story. The first episode starts with the marriage of Lata’s elder sister and her realizing that she is the next in line. Her mother wouldn’t give up until she finds a suitable boy for Lata. She meets prospective grooms

This is Now Your Company- By Mike Rognlien

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  Mike Rognlien has derived from his 15 years of experience of working with people at Facebook and other companies in the Silicon Valley and has shared practical knowledge on developing a better employee-employer relationship that results in the coveted growth trajectory of the individual career as well as the organisation as a whole. He shares information on what all constitutes a company's culture. It is indeed the sum total of each of its employees behaviour. For example, Facebook as a company leverages the individual uniqueness of each of its employees. The radical thought of being the owner of your company, as the title of the book suggests, implies owning complete responsibility of the impact of one's behavior on the organisation's culture and overall growth. Some of the radical yet useful ideas presented in the book are as follows. Neutrality or just living under the radar, without raising your voice for or against a certain practice that needs attention in the com

Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

The Baztan Trilogy

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The first movie 'The Invisible Guardian' begins with the killings of several teenage girls and elaborate staging of their bodies by the river in the damp valley of Elizondo. Amaia Salazar, our protagonist, returns there, her hometown, as the Chief Investigator for the case. She heads the homicide department. The serial killings seem aimed at young girls who don't uphold the traditional norms and have begun exploring their sexuality. Through the case, Amaia grapples with her own demons, her relationship issues and traumatic memories of abuse from her past. We get to know that her mother had abused her, being seemingly senile herself, and was then admitted to a facility. The setting of the damp valley where it rains all hours of the day, the cloudy scenery, the fog covered thick forest maintain a sinister vibe throughout the movie. It is an apt backdrop for a crime thriller, with supernatural undertones. The mythical beast  basajaun , the big hairy beast of the forest, seems

When Breathe Becomes Air

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It was towards the end of the book that I realized that this is almost an unfinished manuscript. But still it feels complete in itself. I was constantly wondering throughout why this book is so short. He is an amazing writer and you know that when you hear his thoughts while reading the book - his narrative - his writing style just reveal his love for poetry, literature, philosophy and spirituality. It was striking that he had persistently wondered about death- the meaning of life- its purpose throughout his growing up years, even while choosing a career. And even after he was first diagnosed with lung cancer, he did the same.   "Literature not only illuminated another's experience, it provided, I believed, the richest material for moral reflection." - on the love for literature.   Paul draws the difference between a job and a calling, something you are meant to do for the world in the limited span of your mortal life, in the first few chapters as a Doctor, before h

Latest Binge - Emily in Paris

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  There is a certain allure to a foreign land, a foreign culture, a different language, unchartered territories and a promise of romantic adventure. The latest offering from Netflix ‘Emily in Paris’ gives us all of these and more. It is all of 10 episodes of 25 or so minutes each, and is worth a binge-watch. It’s about a social media content strategist, Emily Cooper, played by Lily Collins, who moves to Paris from Chicago to work for a marketing firm, a big career opportunity, dreaming of a wonderful life. It’s about her adventures both in career and romantic front, as she learns French, making hilarious mistakes and feeding her Instagram with all-things-Paris. We watch the beauty of Paris in its culture of life-first-work-second, all things luxurious- from fashion to perfume to wine, the spiraling staircase of a hundred-year old building where Emily stays, the ornate architecture, the old-world charm mingling effortlessly with the new, the elaborate office dinners, the picturesque w

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

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I had expected to be bored thinking it to be some over-the-top comedy and quit watching this midway. I had not expected to be sucked into their lives, in upstate Manhattan, and feel their life change over the ten seasons so personally. Ten years in the lives of these characters. And this attachment to that apartment. I had not expected that this sitcom that had been airing globally for ten long years, to not at all be ‘over-hyped’. I wish I had set aside my judgement and for once watched this during my college days. It would have been such a cherished experience. It would have validated all the emotions of those days. Watching the six friends’ personal trajectory from Season 1 to 10, over the ten years, through ten Thanksgivings and Christmases and Hanukah, was such a pleasure. I never knew I could enjoy comedy, and in comes Chandler. I remember how in the first few episodes, I couldn’t even remember their names, and now they feel as real and relatable as any other person. We all h

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewel - On a Book Discussion

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This book was voted by the book club members to be read and discussed, for the month of September. And the one and half hour-long session was yesterday, on 20 th September. We based our discussions on the questions already provided at the end of the book by the publisher as cues for facilitating such conversations around the book. It was the first of its kind that I attended. I had always wanted to take part in such a discussion- a dedicated book club activity- where book lovers sat around, sipped coffee at a café, and analyzed the length and breadth of the subjects and themes in it, providing their unique perspectives to it- a wholesome experience to any reader. Aniesha Brahma, a blogger and an author, had organized such events with Bee books, and scrolling through their photos in social media I had always wanted to be a part of it. Sadly, it was organized in Kolkata, in a Café and I was in Bhubaneswar or Hyderabad or Dehradun. Yesterday I got the chance, as this one was being cond

Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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