Category: Books

Giving thanks for October #GratitudeCircle

Giving thanks for October #GratitudeCircle

I’m late again, as always for the gratitude post. But since that’s all I seem to be writing about these days I’m grateful I do get to them. October was a good month, apart from a few hiccups. Without dwelling upon the hiccups, let me just get to the good bits, for there were quite a few.

Exams ended for the children around mid-October and I loved the relaxed pace of the days that followed. We watched films together and listened to music. They always protest when I put on music from the 60s and 70s, my favourites from RD Burman, Kishore Kumar and Shammi Kapoor as also The Beatles and Cliff Richards. On the other hand I struggle to enjoy theirs which seems noisy to my old (y)ears. This time round we struck a happy compromise. They were patient as I introduced them to the beauty of the lyrics and the melody that I loved. It was rewarding to hear them humming ‘Jab zero diya mere bharat ne’, a personal favourite. I too found I enjoyed some of ‘their’ songs and many of them now have a permanent place on my walking playlist.

I became more mindful

The music went well with the mindfulness month initiated by Modern Gypsy.. Though I couldn’t keep up with posting daily pictures, I did become more conscious of the small bits of time, of togetherness as well of alone-time and I learnt to enjoy them both. I chatted with the kids while we walked to their classes rather than hurrying there and back. We took impromptu breaks together and stopped at roadside restaurants for nachos or fries.

 

A surprise breakfast

The children decided to surprise me one weekend by cooking up breakfast. They made out a rather elaborate (and unusual) menu card. N handled the kitchen and H played the maitre d with frequent prompting from her. The tea was too strong and the tomatoes in the omelette cut too large, yet it was the best breakfast ever.

More happy surprises

My reading slowed down a bit but no regrets there. On a happy note I won not one, not two but three giveaways – that’s two books and a gorgeous tumbler set from Harper Collins. I’ve already put the tumblers to good use and am hoping to have the reviews of the books up on my other blog soon.

Genghis Khan proved to be a very engaging read. Still to begin on The Invincible Weapon.

 

Aren’t these gorgeous?

The Diwali break began

The children are on a two-week break and it’s good to have them home without the pressure of having to push them to study.

H is a borderline gaming addict, which is a constant source of struggle between us. Our daily arguments notwithstanding, he is now planning to start a YouTube channel on gaming tips and tricks and wants my help. I’m wondering whether that is wise at all, even if I had the tech savviness to help him, which I don’t. I do think that making those videos would be better than the actual gaming – at least it will involve a degree of creativity.

What do you think? Is it a good idea?

N dabbles in a hundred things. Currently she seems to be enjoying writing. I love finding creative prompts for her. To see her sitting at the table scribbling away makes my day.

Also, since I mentioned this, there’s something I’d like your advice on. She currently writes with pen and paper. However, I was wondering if I should get her to switch to a tab. Editing and correcting on paper is tedious for me and she hates to re-write. Besides, the tab is certainly going to be the future of writing, of that I’m certain. However, I’m a little conflicted about her giving up the traditional pen and paper. So help me here, should I get her to switch at least for leisure writing? Or is it too early?

That’s it from me. November is treating me well and my gratitude list is already pretty long.

PS: I took to an adult colouring book and that post header backdrop was done by me. It made me quite happy.

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

 

The good things in August #GratitudeCircle

The good things in August #GratitudeCircle

It’s been almost a month since I blogged here. It seems much much longer though, as if it’s been ages since I spoke to friends. I haven’t been in a speak-out-my-heart kind of space this last month. And since that’s the only way I can write at obsessivemom, no writing got done.

However, the once a month gratitude post needs to be written and so here I am. No matter that this one is for August and we’re already in the second half of September. No matter.

The two things that saw me through this month were exercise and books.

The biggest win was on the fitness front.

I finally managed to find a rhythm for my exercise routine. I planned to stick to a forty-five minute walk but the rain gods played spoil sport. That ended up being a blessing in disguise because I discovered Leslie Sanson’s walk videos on YouTube.

 

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I took a while to get used to them. But so desperate was I and so frustrated with the rains that I started off from the better-than-nothing place. Now I’ve explored and tried out several of them and they’ve become a regular part of my fitness schedule. I do still try to step out for a walk but the days I cannot, I follow the videos.

These are 15 minute videos of varying intensity that take you through a one mile walk. I usually take up three of them in a row which adds up to 4.8 kms and that’s good enough for me. I love that I can exercise any time of the day and also that I can do so in my pyjamas.

It's good to have a list of indoor videos as a handy alternative to outdoor walking. #fitnesscapsule. Click To Tweet

If you’re starting off on an exercise routine I highly recommend them. If you’ve been exercising for a while you might find them too easy and you might want to explore the more intense ones.

The second win of the month was reading.

I read. A lot. While writing has been at an all time low, reading has been an all-time high.

Early last month I went to a books by weight sale. Each time I go to one I feel like a child let lose in a candy store. I picked up over a dozen books at a throwaway price. And have, since then been on a reading roll. I have found that books are a great way to distract oneself, to keep oneself happily engaged. Also, reading has helped me cut down on social media time-pass and sleep better. I’ve been blogging fairly regularly on my book blog as well as at Goodreads, so it’s not been too bad.

September is half done. The children’s exams are up in another ten days and I’m caught in my usual struggles. It’s going to be an eventful month, whatever is left of it.

Yet again grateful for Vidya’s Gratitude Circle that reminds me of all the good things in my life.

Happily, gratefully busy this February

Happily, gratefully busy this February

February seemed to drag on and on forever but now that I’m trying to recap the month it seems to have flown past. It’s been very busy and yet uneventful. I think that’s a good thing. I like ‘busy and uneventful’. I’ve been much more relaxed this month than I’ve been in a long time.

…because health is so important

If I were to name one thing I was specially grateful for this month, it would be health. The recent passing away of well-known actor Sridevi brought home the fact ever more strongly. It breaks my heart to think what her teenaged daughters would be going through, perhaps because I imagine my children in that same situation, should anything happen to me, and the thought frightens me. It’s morbid, I know. However it does put things in perspective.

Going forward from that thought, the biggest happiness of the month was that I could finally get my tests done. I spent a good five hours at the hospital giving all kinds of samples, and standing/lying down under machines of all shapes and sizes followed by multiple visits for some more investigations and consultations. Finally, I have been pronounced reasonably healthy. Whatever little blips I have can all be corrected with supplements. The best bit was that the heart was in its place and pumping happily along. But then I always knew that :-).

The evening walks

There’s of course the old enemy, fat, to contend with. But I’m on it and I’m glad to report that I’ve managed to begin the evening walks I’d been planning for ages in addition to my morning routine. They’re short ones, just about twenty minutes, and only on weekdays. It was a bit of a shocker to realise how I’ve lost stamina. There was a time I was walking 7-8kms and now I tire in 2. The speed is pretty pathetic too. After the first few days I did away with all walking apps because the figures were just so abysmally depressing, specially when I compared them to what I could once do. Now I just have a timer and am concentrating on walking a minimum of 20 minutes everyday. The speed and the stamina will have to wait.

Books and Friendships

This month a few blogger friends decided to exchange pre-owned books from their personal collections – a fabulous idea conceived and coordinated by Shalini who blogs at www.shalzmojo.in. I received Big Little Lies from fellow bibliophile, Lata and although I still have to review it on my other blog, I will reiterate that it turned out a wonderful read. A good book stays with you for a long long time and this one shall too. If you haven’t read it, do pick it up.

And then of course there are the children

Sometimes I worry that most of my moods, my happiness and my stress, stem from the children. It’s not healthy, I know. I am depending on time to change that. Or perhaps once the Husband is around more often the pressure shall ease off.

Early this month they went on a day-trip to an amusement park out of town. I’m grateful they came back safe and sound and also that I could take this small step towards letting go.

Much as I enjoy my alone time, the happy moments with them are absolutely priceless. I organised a surprise lunch for them on Valentine’s Day and their excitement was a treat to watch. N made some very mushy cards for me while H had a huge hug to offer.

A week later, we went out for dinner. That was a bit of an event because with the Husband away we keep putting off going out for when ‘papa is here’ and things tend to turn a little dull. But one Saturday we all dressed up and went out and it was great fun. I must remember to do it more often.

Apart from the lunches and dinners their everyday laughter and total goofiness never fails to lift my spirits. The other day, the maid went on uninformed leave and as I was getting dinner together bubbling with annoyance H walked into the kitchen, a tulip clutched between his teeth (not a rose and not even a real tulip, for that matter) doing the classic MJ pelvis shake. It would have been absolutely gross had it not been so very ridiculous. And every shed of my annoyance was chased away by the riot of laughter.

It is moments like these that keep me going.

*****

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle

Also linking up with Shirley’s Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday 06
All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars – A Book Review

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Here’s a scrumptiously wonderful book every tween is going to love. All Four Stars is the story of Gladys Gatsby, an eleven-year-old who is passionate about cooking. Her parents, on the other hand, are not. They are both working and don’t have the time or inclination to cook. The family lives on terrible takeaways.

However, Gladys cooks up complicated delicacies in secret, when her parents are away at work. All is well until one day when her parents walk in just as she accidentally sets fire to the kitchen curtains while making Creme Brûlée. As a result of that singularly bad piece of luck, she’s banned from further cooking experiments and her allowance is taken away.

Then, through a quirk of fate, she lands an assignment as a food critic in a frontline newspaper. The catch is – getting to that restaurant which is a train-ride away from the suburb where Gladys lives. Confiding in her parents and asking for help is out of the question. So how does she do it?

This is a story delicious enough to sate the most demanding of gourmands.

It’s a perfect read-aloud book
Each night after dinner, we’d sit with this one, the children and I, reading it aloud. The descriptions of food made H hungry while N started dreaming of a career as a food critic.

What I liked
The descriptions of food were absolutely delectable. The good ones (that she had at Parm’s house or out at restaurants) were mouth-watering but it’s the bad ones that H and N enjoyed most because they were hilariously funny.

I loved that Gladys sampled and enjoyed all kinds of food – African, Malaysian and Indian too. She has an Indian friend and the rather foreign descriptions of familiar Indian foods like chhole and raita and palak paneer had the children completely thrilled.

If you’ve read any of my earlier reviews you’ll know I love a book with great side-characters. All Four Stars had many of them – Sandy, Gladys’ friend and neighbour, Parm, her Indian friend, Charissa the most popular girl at school, the kind Mr Eng who runs a cosy grocery and patisserie and Mrs Anderson, Sandy’s adorable mom. Although some of them are rather stereotypical they all manage to do something to redeem themselves, to break the stereotype. That, I was grateful for.

There are bits on friendship – on making and keeping friends – on shared secrets and making plans which the children completely loved.

If I have one complaint it would be that the author didn’t do justice to the parents. They come across as uni-dimensional, too taken up with their work, barely bothered about their daughter and rather unkind. They did get better towards the end of the book, though, so that was something.

We talked about
Whether the punishment Gladys got was fair/unfair.
Could Gladys have done things differently? Perhaps, taken the help of other sympathetic adults.

What we did
– We read up all kinds of cuisines that Gladys talks of.
– We pored (and salivated) endlessly over food pictures.
– We made up a game of trying to describe a food to someone who had never known Indian cuisine.
– And we tried baking.

This book came to us through Enchantico – a delightful book-activity box we subscribed to. Read my review of the box here. It came with a cookie recipe, premixed flour as well as cookie cutters.

With all that help we had to try our hand at baking. The first batch came out near perfect. But then we got caught up in something and ended up burning down the next one and had to rush around dousing the flames in the oven.

So you see, there really is never any guarantee with cookies but the book – that’s a sure shot winner.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

Confessions of a book snob

Confessions of a book snob

The mind changers

It really is true that despite years of living with someone, despite spending each waking-sleeping moment with him-her, you don’t really get to know them.

And so it was with me. After years of thinking myself a liberal, only recently I realised I am a book snob.


But first I must present my defence.

I come from a generation when we had few distractions – no TVs, no computers, not even phones to chat away with friends and no friends other than school friends. School was a good 10 kms away which by the standards of those times was pretty much in the ‘jungle’. 

So what did we do in the long summer vacations, Christmas breaks and weekends? We read, my sister and I, and we bonded, perfectly.

The other thing was that we went to a school run by strict Irish nuns who set high reading standards. The books we got were screened, I am sure. We had ‘age appropriate’ cupboards neatly labelled with the class they were suited to. We weren’t allowed comics till after class VI, not even Amar Chitra Kathas. We HAD to choose one book of fiction, one biography and one Hindi book each week. We HAD to have a book mark and a book cover failing which we weren’t allowed a book. All wonderful habits, I might add. Habits I cherish and I’m very proud of. Habits I wish I was better at inculcating in my children.

And so I grew up on Enid Blyton, Louisa Alcott, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and then – Georgette Heyers and Victoria Holts.

Later, I spent years at the news desk meticulously changing ‘color’ to ‘colour’, correcting language, following the ‘right’ way and getting more and more set in that right way, more sure than ever that I KNEW what was best when it came to reading.

I lost touch with kids’ books till I had kids of my own some two decades later. What a rude shock that was. Wimpy Kid, I am not a Loser, Geronimo Stilton and Lord my God!! Captain Underpants! Peppered with pictures and illustrations, arrows and diagrams, doodles and drawings with coloured text jumping at you from unexpected places, with font that changed like a shape shifter – an unwarranted assault on my senses! What were these? Half-comic-half-book-half scribbled notes? Mongrelised reads, all.

I saw Midsummer Night’s Dream as a comic and my heart broke a bit. When I spotted a Captain Underpants in my son’s hands I freaked. The spellings were blasphemous. How could I allow it?

I looked down upon them all. I pushed forward my favourites. Noddy, Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair, Amelia Jane. As if in retaliation, the children rejected the lot. Each of them. I was heartbroken and I gave up on my kids as non-readers.

And then, very recently, I stumbled upon this article that said to ‘Everyone Loves Reading – Just Find the Right Book’ written by Tanushree Singh. And I was forced to re-evaluate my attitude.

I wasn’t all wrong. However things have changed. 

Books are now not competing with other books. They are competing with television, the iPad, the PS-3 and the lure of friends at the door. They have to squeeze themselves between dance class and karate class, hold their own with Othello and Topple, fight off the Barbies and the Power rangers.

It cannot be easy.

What they need, desperately, are friends, friends not book racists, not heartless, judgmental critics. Friends, among parents, teachers and all sensible adults. Friends who would understand why they have had to change avatars, why they have to dress themselves up as graphic novels and comics. 


Besides, wasn’t Enid Blyton banned in schools in her time? Isn’t Roald Dahl irreverent and gory and yes, rude, in bits? Who’s to judge the good and the bad? By all means ban the obscene, ban the bad language, ban the overtly violent but stop there. Rather than choosing just the best, reject just the worst. Let more of them make the cut.

God knows our kids need them way more than they need our kids.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

The Bodyguard – A #Review

The Bodyguard – A #Review

Book Title: The BodyguardAuthor: Ruchi Singh I was eager to pick this one up as I had read Jugnu, by the same author and loved it. The premise was deliciously different and the cover was enticing. What’s not to like with a brave strong heroine and a rich handsome hero in a sort of role-reversal? That’s […]