Book review : Me before you by Jojo Moyes.

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Me before you. The recommendations to read this book were so promising that I skip a lot of books from my list and jumped to this one. Devanshi, who I like to call my book sister was gushing all about it from the time she has read it and was in for a long impatient wait until I read it and discussed all about it with her. Now that I’m done but not yet dusted with this book here’s what I think of it.
I started off with the book taking in the story of a poverish girl holding up her family financially so that her family can live up their social and educational aspirations. Louisa Clark is somehow succumbed to feel like she’s not the brightest one of the lot. But as you dive yourself between the pages of Jojo Moyes’ narrations you can picture a girl full of life and with a sparkle in her eyes. She’s intelligent, bright, funny, compassionate and afraid to show this, self of hers, to the world. Just like the many of us. Losing her job due to unforeseen circumstances she lands up being a caregiver for Will Traynor. He’s a finance company owner, adventurous, living life to the fullest being turned into a quadriplegic cripple. Our prince charming was stuck in a dark corner of his huge castle when Louisa walks into his life with her bright spirits and brighter clothes. The chemistry between the two is quite prevalent from the time they’re introduced to the other. The book advances with each of them helping the other to gain a wider and newer perspective to life. But majorly the two of them teach us a lot about love and life. Like, you should not seek for someone that completes you but someone that compliments you. Often in a relationship we are too caught up in finding someone who can fill the blank for us but lovers are not for the play of fill in the blanks. We need someone to understand our flaws and strengths both and give us the power to shine with a perspective that we will never be able to see for ourselves. Once you meet someone like that you’ll start filling in the blanks yourself. For them. And of course, reciprocation is the key. You give what you get. In love? All the more. There are lot of moments in the book that made cry. Sometimes it just left me in such an abstract space that I had to close the book let my thoughts haul at me so that Will and Louisa’s reactions seem legit. The story is tender yet harsh but above all beautifully written. It makes you cry, laugh, it’s a roller coaster of emotions!
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With all the love and air around this book you may see this one to be a all and all romantic novel, but if you dig deeper you’ll realise it’s thought provoking book that speaks more life than on love.

Rating : 4.5/5

Happy reading! 🙂

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Book review : Suzzane’s diary for Nicholas by James Patterson.

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The book starts from the standpoint of Katie, who is a book editor in New York. She’s sour from her recent break up with Matt, the man she loves and a poet from Martha’s vineyard. Matt finds it difficult for Katie and him to be together but is unable to reason why so he leaves her a diary which would provide Katie a legit explanation. Matt looks like a playboy while Katie has been portrayed as someone hopelessly in love. However, as the story advances and narratives change, the blinds from characters unwrap. The book has some really good insights to give on finding the right person, balancing life, family, fresh starts and second chances in love. Patterson attempts for twists in storyline to surprise the readers, but doesn’t quite succeed at it. As a unmarried woman, I was not able to relate so much with Suzanne’s point of view which is prominent throughout the book and mainly addressing on motherhood. However, older men and women in that phase of life may devour upon it. At some points the story in the seems so sweet that it makes you believe the world must have been made of sunshine and rainbows instead of rocks and water. Despite some let downs the romance lunges the story forward and sends out a good word for Patterson.
Exactly what should you read the book for?
1. Read it for the story of five balls and how they help you set your priorities and balance life.
2. For if you are going through hangover from bad relationship and find yourself aloof from the possibility of another chance at love.
3. The importance of finding the right person for you in the journey of life.

Rating : 2.75/5

6 changes in 2016 that will impact your life.

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‘What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?’

What you do everyday has a larger impact on your life than a one-off thing. Hence, it becomes important for you to change your everyday if you want to really change your life or grow as person. Here’s  list of 6 things you can change in 2016 that help you achieve more and impact your life in  positive way :

  1. Make your bed every morning :

Most of us have maids to do that for us, but it’s one of the habits that can lead to other good habits. As per a study I’ve read it helps you mentally attain a sense of accomplishment and will encourage you to do more tasks in the day. It will give you a sense to be more productive as once you have your bed made, you would want clean out the other ‘mess’ out of your life as well. Also, remember if you can’t do the little things well you will never be able to take on the bigger things with ease.

2. Contemplate your day before day begins :

Every day we go around rushing to get somewhere. Get up and rush to get to work. At work, worry over getting the day’s work done. And then, rushing back home to relax and start for tomorrow. There’s no time to sit and contemplate as to where are you heading? Take 5-10 minutes and contemplate of what’s important and what’s not. What you need to do today or what you should give more of your time to. I usually do that while taking my morning shower. You find your own time to do it but it’s important to do it if you want to take up the charge of your life.

3. Walk more and drink more :

It’s important to exercise, however if you have a schedule that doesn’t spare you an hour to hit the gym then do some walking while at work. For example, walk up to a colleagues desk instead of emailing them or go and get the print by yourself instead of asking the clerk to bring it you. Similarly, ensure to have 2 liters of water daily because we constantly loose a lot of water via urine or sweat and primarily since our bodies are made out of 60% water we need to drink more water to keep it stabilized.

4. Balance your food consumption :

We all have food cravings that are not right for our body and we don’t need to cut them outright. We just need to balance properly what we eat. For example, eat some fruits or salad for dinner if you were voraciously consuming on deep fried food during the day.

5. Show more gratitude :

Holding the lift for colleague, opening the door for someone, feeding a hungry kid with vada pav or buying some biscuits and milk for  street dog will hardly require you go out of your daily schedule yet these little acts of gratitude will make you realize the impact you create in this world. It will help you know your worth in the larger scheme of life.

6. Sleep well :

Half of our stress, worries and unproductive behavior is associated with not getting enough sleep. So it’s important for us to get our full sleep. Sleep on right time and get up early.

 

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #TataZica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

2015 : Year in review.

It’s a new year and it quite frankly feels great! Not because that’s what you’re supposed to feel but majorly because 2015 was something I’m going to cherish.
“What was so special about 2015?” You may wonder. And the answer to that lies in the 15 things that have inspired my life in such a deep way that I have grown to be a person of better thinking.
1. Greatest joys lie in travelling:
My friends and I brought in 2015 camping on a cliff under stars on chilly night. We travelled a total 20 hours and were so frustrated of it yet looking back each of us has only one thing to say “It was some really good time.” I don’t think we’d be equally happy at some club swamped with people eating badly catered food. Travel inspires in me a side I never know existed. It helps me get out of the pond and know about the other fishes.
2. Politics and global affairs are important to know:
I had participated Model United Nations for the first time. Initially, it was just because I wanted to do it. But going through the process and preparation of it, I realized how important it is to be aware of politics and global affairs. We live inside the same globe and each of our action is going to impact the other. And mainly, it is important to find solutions and coexist rather fight and rage wars because it’s OUR planet!
3. Drive because it drives you :
It’s only last year that I took upon myself to learn how to drive. And the world from beyond the wheels is completely bonkers! At least on Indian roads. I learnt to be patient on traffic-jammed roads. Between the parking spaces I learnt how much to give in. And most importantly, I learnt how to hold your grounds do your thing when you’re judged being a woman!
Tip: If you ever want to know how chauvinistic the men of any country are? Be a female driver.
4. Once in a while, surprise people!
My cousin got married this year and on one of the random days we dropped at her place after work with a cake and some books (She’s a reader). We then went for a drive and chilled until wee hours. It caught her off guard. But more than that she was really happy. Also, sometimes surprises could go wrong but that will just help you know the person better. So go ahead catch someone in their off beat moments, speaking purely of experience it will help you strengthen your bond with that person.
5. Get up, dress up and show up (In your gym clothes) :
I went trekking with my office people to Kothalighad fort located in Maharashtra. It was a total of 6 hours of trekking and one helluva of experience! My legs gave up somewhere before we even reached the top but I had to finish it and I did. On the way back, I slipped down the rocks. Twice. And nearly broke my hip bone. I got sunburn which didn’t go away till 4 months after that. But other than that I was alright. It was only that trek which made me realise how important it is to be in shape. Lazy is not going to help me. I need to get up when I want to sleep for that extra hour, dress up in my gym clothes and show up at gym/park and do some exercise. The truth is we’re all going to get old and it’s important to be active if you think a walking stick will not suit your personality.
Also, at that trek we had lunch at a local’s home. The food was very basic but so yummy and it’s experiences like these that make you realize how much people value the idea of ‘Atithi devo bhava’. It just made the whole trip extravagant.
6. Take up your hobbies and don’t make it business :
Most of the time I see people bank on their hobbies as work and earning money out of it. Although it may be a good thing I’d like to keep a few of my hobbies and not corrupt it simply because I want to still enjoy doing them in the naive way I picked them in the first place. I spent the past year as the Editor for Rotaract Club (of Bombay Film City), a non-profit youth based organization. Doing that I could bring down upon myself to make people acknowledge the need for being an elite when it comes literature and reading. Asking people to voice their opinions through words. In return I’ve learned so many things and met some inspiring people that I’m going to treasure the experience for a lifetime. And go back take references when required. Also, when you do something with your best in it you generally get always rewarded like I was nominated for ‘The Editor of the year’ which was a great thing in itself. However, I could accomplish and gain out of it only when I realized rewards shouldn’t be my priority enjoying the process of it should.
7. Become financially independent :
Being financially independent was a major personal goal for 2015 because the truth is money talks. To achieve a lot of things, you need to be inspired and being backed by financial independence is a major inspiration. Your parents are always going to be there for you but it was about time I took upon myself to be there for my needs and wants. So I got myself a job and with it the responsibility and independence for myself.
8. BIRTHDAYS NEED NOT BE ALL THAT FUSSY :
After a certain age birthdays are just so that you can be more adult towards things. Like when I crib for a bar chocolate, I usually get “Please you’re 23. Can you be more mature about it?” The answer is no. I can never be adult enough for Chocolates but you get the point. I spent my birthday doing things I was happy about and not making a announcement of it but I was at a happy place. And it was only that I realised how birthdays are just a gentle reminder for you to find your happiness which may not culminate into calling everyone to the party.
9. Family isn’t an important thing. It’s everything!
The very first people we have known ever since we’ve entered this world are, our family members. And they will also be the last ones to stand when we’re gone. It’s not just important to love them but also acknowledge their support. So every now and then, I make myself to buy them thoughtful gifts. Because family is your tribe and you gotta love them hard. I assure you, by doing that you can never lack positivity in your life.
10. Giving to the society :
If you have Rs. 10/- you can always buy a Rs. 1/- chocolate and give it to a kid on street, you’ll be amazed by the happiness on his face. As a Udaan India volunteer, we had arranged a Diwali party for Underprivileged kids and old-age home ladies. We played games with them, made them explore their creative side by rangoli competition and ended with a DJ party. We also donated an approximate sum of Rs. 3 lakh to the organization. But more than anything I remember the happiness on the face of the kids and ladies, how grateful they were to us when they left. Things like these help you realise that goodness in the world is always donated by the kind hearts and the amount that comes to you is only so much that you’ve generously donated.
11. Cut out the negativity :
We’re surrounded by people, some happy and some pretending to be. In a year full of different experiences I’ve had my share of lows. One of which I clearly remember is, a tiff I’ve had with a friend. Bound to a general habit of analysing things when I lapsed into the reality of the situation, I understood that some people just make you miserable by their mere existence. Maybe they don’t want to do that to you but either way it’s not helping you. From then on, I have been cautious of what I let a person bring to me. If it’s negativity then I’m sure to maintain a distance from them. Only the people who inspire me to be a better person, hold place in my life.
12. One Hundred years of solitude:
I firmly believe that every year you should find that one piece of art that blows your mind away. That brings depth to your character and grows our souls. One hundred years of solitude has been that piece of art in 2015. The novel tells about the story of a fictional town of Macondo with every worldly truth that dominates the human species’. And reading about it you slip into personal, political and spiritual consciousness.
13. Love keeps us going :
This year a lot of people around me have tied knot or made the big announcement. We may be unsure of who we are or what we want or how relationship currently is. But it’s important to find your lobster and start out a life with them. Simply because life is short and love is what keeps us going.
14. Let yourself off the hook :
We are always too busy filling up our days with schedules. Doing all the important and unimportant things to do. That we hardly ever find the time to just lay back and chill. It’s important that you let yourself off the hook and just party without no care in the world.
15. Be spiritual and not religious :
I am not a very religious person but I have had this year where I have believed in the enormous energy that makes this universe be in complete discipline of things. There has to be some driving force that planets don’t dash into each other while revolving around the sun. Some call it god, some science… I don’t know what is it but I have acknowledged that energy in the past year. I have confided in it to lend me energy so I can lift myself from my lows and keep myself grounded from my highs. Maybe it’s not necessary to be religious but you should be spiritual because our souls need that.

Shrinking the logic.

Before I start on what I am writing or what I am trying to put a perspective on let me give you an excerpt from a renowned Indian author Mr. Chetan Bhagat’s novel Two States which has been commercial blockbuster of last year.

“Why am I referred here? I don’t have a problem,” I said.
She didn’t react. Just gestured that I remove my shoes and take the couch. She had an office like any other doctor’s, minus the smells and cold, dangerous instruments. 
She waited for me to talk more. I hesitated and spoke again.
“I’m sure people come here with big, insurmountable problems. Girlfriends dump their boyfriends everyday. Hardly the reason to see a shrink, right? What am I, a psycho?”
“No, I am the psycho. Psychotherapist to be precise. If you don’t mind, I prefer that to shrink,” she said.

Now I would like to point out here of how we all have an ordained assumption that we don’t have any problems or troubles in life. That we are just perfect and life is just perfect. And seeking help from someone will mean that you’re inefficient to lead a life perfectly. And so whenever you mention to someone that “I think you should visit a psychotherapist or shrink”, the first reaction most people will give is “I am not mad.”

We are on a good road to progress as a country economically, but are we free from unreasonable social barriers yet? Why does it hurt our ego so much to say out loud “I have a problem and I not able to cope with it. I. NEED. HELP. ” Psychotherapy or counselling or seeking an advice from a person trained into dealing with human psychology is often regarded as a Western concept. Such kind of practice in India is looked upon as something that is to be kept a secret with you. Or to the max be managed at home or in a trusted group of friends who want to emotionally comfort you but have no professional skills or understanding to the issue at hand.  And every psychotherapist is, in a lay man’s language “a doctor for mad men i.e. only people with mental illness can go to him” Not confronting to a psychotherapist and just overlooking problems may lead mental disorders, though. This again is taboo word. We cannot have emotional problems or mental disorders and even if we have that we cannot be vocal about it. NO WAY!

The psychological and physical fitness of a person is usually tried to be ensured through yoga or meditation, which I do not doubt. But sometimes all you need is for someone to listen. We may just need a constructive conversation of to cope with things better. We all want to see a better future or our country but to the extent that society supports such conservative thoughts and practices we may not really gain a lot even if we progress economically. Because freedom is not achieved when you celebrate Independence Day but when you free your society from such stigmas.

Attic.

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I step into the attic and a overhaul of emotions attack me. A lot stuff stay there put, untouched and uncalled. A sewing machine, clothes from baby days, my little Mr. Noddy and old photographs. Mountain of memories lie under gracious frosting of dust. A love affair strewn in the corner that couldn’t see the light of the day. A broken friendship that turned bitter inside a rusted box by the window. The flashes of yesterday where life meant nothing more than an orange Popsicle on a summer day and a care free dance to accompany the pouring rains. The tears that took the realm of silence and loneliness of the attic to flood, have now dried out into thin air. But the stench of despair, vulnerability and detachment still lingers here. Skeletons of old self lie there with a faint smile that warms the heart. And I don’t know how far I’ve come but as I nudge open the attic door and silently slide in, I see traces of person forgotten with time. Even though I try to fit into these little pieces and try to remember that person, they keep me at arm’s distance, drawing out a line. So, I sit there in silence dropping a few more baggages of present, so I can walk out with a contrasting attitude.

#DigitalIndia – A step forward.

What a country needs is an efficient governance rather than a adept government to be great.

By 2018, India is proficient to have 214 million internet users of which 130 million are mobile internet users. By 2018, digital advertising is projected to have the highest CAGR of 27.7%. And not just that, it is expected to have 250 million online shoppers, 200 million online villagers, and a $70 billion e-commerce industry. With so much on conduit it is very important to digitize the Government of India with the same pace.

If you ever visit the Indian E-governance website, you’ll see that a lot of initiative has been taken.

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But is it enough for all the envisioned growth, anticipated innovation and asseveration from the GoI?

By 2018, 60% internet users will comprise of Rural Indians and one cannot imagine the market to capitalize on, if giving the right acceleration and knowledge about Digital Skills. How greatly can the Government, the corporate houses and the citizens themselves can benefit from this revolution.

In an organisation, government or non-government, the major issue revolves around how there are only two set of people – technical people and business people. There’s dire need to introduce a third category here. A middleman; who is able to cinch the technical knowledge for people who understand business language and vice-verse using the same platform.

Intel India has taken a resolute step in creating a Digitized India by launching ‘Digital Skills for India’ program, Intel India has unveiled a digital skills training application, which includes modules on digital literacy, financial inclusion, healthcare and cleanliness in 5 Indian languages. That’s modernizing one side on cart but if we have to go on without faltering, a compelling advancement in both the ends of the cart is required. Government needs to be equally digitized.

Social platforms like FaceBook, Twitter are used to pull out the emotional outbursts of people. How about having a helpline like 911 who will be the first responders to any community issues? The level of satisfaction that someone is there and listening to your problems will help us know and trust our government better.

An online journal that helps you say thank you or give suggestions about any developments done in your locality. Like maybe you want to say thank you for the park created by the local government or suggest to set up a library in your area?

In Ignited minds, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has narrated an incident where a school student tells him how he wished states that had flood problems could transmit water to states that stand in water deficiency and he got an idea to create canals and dams. An online portal where inputs from citizens should be taken by those who possess the power and efficiency to create a change.

A place to report and spam any government inefficiency would not only make situation more transparent but also, the persons responsible to do the job more vigilant towards their duties.

A medium where in government can raise issues that require attention and awareness from Corporate entities and citizen’s end. Like how to help keep your area clean or how to ensure your company is not contributing to environmentally unsafe India.

Mapping services for women to ensure safety. Open Wi-fi stationed at traffic signals.

Every step towards Digital India is a step ahead to a better India. The India of our dreams.

Visit http://www.intel.in/ to know more about ‘Digital Skills for India’ and ‘Innovate for India’ initiatives.