Here’s an abrupt playlist for ya!

The WiFi is super fast at my library and I don’t want to put that to waste. So here are the ten best songs I listened to this year (does not mean that these songs were released in 2017) along with a pretty, complimentary  photo in the end. I’m immoderately jobless. Deal with it (pls). Let’s go from 10, shall we.

10. Phillips Phillips – Magnetic

9. The Strumbellas – Spirits 

8. Kodaline – Midnight

7. Imagine Dragons – Thunder

6. Vance Joy – Like Gold

5. Sid Sriram – Maruvaarthai

4. Mumford and Sons – Hopeless Wanderer

3. Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes

2. Eminem – Arose

1. Imagine Dragons – Believer 

That “pretty, complimentary photo” I told you about:

Eerily pretty.

 

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The Mandatory Year-End Post

Yet another great year comes to an end. It just whizzed past no? Feels like New Year was just yesterday!

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2017’s acceleration in a gif

Personally, twenty-seventeen was a splendid year. To number it, I saw legion movies (okay, exaggeration, I have absolutely no idea about the exact number of movies I saw but it was a good deal), I read 11 books, wrote (or came up with something hardly intelligible) on this blog and had an incredible, unbelievable year as a Rafa fan! Everything has a dark side to it, Twenty-seventeen’s dark side had gruelling lessons for me. Well, everything is fine with gulab jamuns no! And and and one of the highlights of the year, my annoying neighbor moved to America (to meet his American doppelganger Trump. Nah, just kidding, his son needs someone to babysit his newborn but that doesn’t make the former irrelevant) and only God knows when he will return to counsel all the kids in the neighborhood with his half-baked ideas and funny idiosyncrasies. Oh shucks! Now he will give anecdotes from his American trip which I am sure is as nutty as his half-baked ideas. Rantings and speculations aside, I had pleasant occasional weekends at home this year; kudos to the neighbour’s grandson who needed to be babysat.

Highlighting some stuff that definitely brightened up my Twenty-seventeen:

1) Humans of New York: The Series (click on this if you’re planning on watching it and don’t worry, it opens up in a new tab)

HONY Series are manifestly beautiful, the I am not crying, my eyes are just sweating kind of beautiful. The cinematography, the painstaking rawness of humans and ingredients such as candour and reality of what life really is makes the video series so awe-inspiring. I kid you not, I’ve seen each episode (consists of 15-19 minutes) at least three times. Please watch it. I’ll say it over and over. I’ll do ctrl c + ctrl v. Please watch it Please watch it Please watch it Please watch it. It will change you as a person and the way you perceive a person. It changed me. In fact, it does more than just changing you.

 

2) Rafa Nadal.

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Should I say more?

 

3) Final Year of my Under Graduation (another semester left but stilllllll!!)

It does not feel like that at all! Oh god, I know I was supposed to be more responsible, sleep less than the 14/24 I am doing now and actually do productive stuff. The thing with me is, I don’t how many of you can relate, but say I have around 80 pages of reading to do for the exam in say twelve hours, I get past four pages (not kidding) and I am overwhelmed by this feeling of comfort that I’d be able to cook up any answer with the four-page knowledge. So I fire up my laptop, pick a movie I’ve seen a million times and watch it again. At the morning of the exam, I rummage my suitcases and another set of bags for the bunched up photos of deities that my mother neatly put in a plastic Macy’s bag (God’s don’t deserve Nilgris bags ya. Only Target, Walmart or Macy’s in this case according to mother). After frantically searching, I find Macy’s eventually every time and pray fervently. From next exam onwards I will study properly. Please (do ctrl c + ctrl v 10 times) help me just this time, God. Pls. So apart from desperate moments like this, Twenty-seventeen was just fine.

 

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Dodging walking away from responsibilities like

 

Actually, lots of stuff made this year better like Eminem’s Revival, good movies such as Dunkirk, Lady Bird, shows that lightens you up; Master of None (for one) and more drolleries like the Indian Politics. Many acquaintances were made, I met a very close friend of mine after 3 years and 300 plans, a childhood friend/almost neighbour after around 8 years and this year had a melancholic side to it too, I lost two of my uncles; one to cancer and another to a cardiac arrest. Greener grass on one side means a darker patch on the other right? But looking on the bright side globally, women came out, spoke up, and took what is rightfully ours that is dignity and respect. Now people are kinder, more caring and considerate. We Millennials (or 90s kids) might not be a romantic at heart (yes, we’ve divested your art of letter writing, there are no more flowers or men don’t take ages to ask out a girl) but at least eighteen-year-olds don’t get married anymore, there are more graduates than ever, people help, judge less, overlook differences and we embrace. We love without conditions, without rules. Yes, we pick dogs and pizza over people but we have the right reasons for it. So here’s to 2017, a year of possibilities.

*mic drop*

And for 2018, I have a quote to start with:

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

 

56

[This was written for a descriptive writing contest.]

Cars sped at sixty kilometers per hour, two-wheelers whizzed past; driven by people always in a hurry, cyclists rode by with huge baggage tied to their carrier with a rope of coir, dense trees in a shade of deep olive green passed by in blackish-green streaks, people were bustling here and there doing this and that, ladies inspected good vegetables for an insect bite or a squelched dent on the potatoes and tomatoes and broke off the pointy tips of the ladies-fingers in the prospect of bargaining the vegetable prices from the vendor, slouched school children stood in the neatly pressed uniforms (it was a Monday after all) overstretching their overweight school bags’ straps waiting for their bus, waiting like the words of a pen.

My forehead rattled against the iron bars of the no. 56 bus to Siruvani. I’d been on this bus numerous times, mostly overstretching my overweight school bags’ straps clinging on to the steel rails with their steel smells until someone got off the overcrowded bus. And then I’d sit on the newly vacant seat and doze off on the overweight school bag, shored up on my lap. Later I’d take the same bus, during weekends, when I came home on two-day holidays. I’d get on it, on the dot of daybreak, buy the eleven rupee ticket (where the one rupee change is a must) and again doze off, like an unsung ritual with a longitudinal cheap translucent paper strip of pale blue: 11 rupees and a list of all the bus-stops written below the fare in Tamil, clenched in my palms which would be wet by sweat by the time I got off at my stop.

Traveling on a bus is a no biggie, at least the buses that took my route. They weren’t jam-packed, even if they were; they were during rush-hours, when people got off work and when children got off school. Mornings were different; I was returning from my grandparents’ place and took the 10am bus. Usually buses are super-free in the morning after the school kids are put away behind the school gates and working-people are put away behind their office gates, maximum of five or six passengers would be there, apart from the driver and the conductor with an unknown song playing in the quondam stereo over which the passengers spoke loudly, topics pertaining to politics, vegetable rates, household matters with a perpetual expression of shock and faux involvement. Sometimes the conductor would join in the conversation, leaning on steel rails with his brown, coin-bag slung across his torso and responding to the conversation in stochastic bursts of derisive laughter.

Coimbatore has a cordial weather, even when the sun scorched, it never parched. It felt good instead, like the vacuum band of warmth between the surface of a woollen sweater and the skin during a winter night. The heat never bothered anyone; it was just there like a ball of cotton in the sky, giving enough sunlight for photosynthesis, for clothes to dry and for red chillies on the terrace to sear. The slender outline of the hills with Kerala on its other-side traveled along 56, to the left and the hills we went towards, Velingiri, with its set of seven breathtaking hills covered with sacred ash, thirunur and the Siruvani with its sweet, crystal water on the foothills laid out in front of us, 56 took us closer to it, with every meter its diesel covered.

The panorama commuted from loud dynamics of crowded bus-stops with saree clad women buying fresh fish, men dressed in baniyans and lungis unloading cartons and gunny bags from mini-tempos and Matadors, trudging to the provision stores, a Race Course filled with people desperate to lose weight, a Town Hall filled with businessmen who took  frequent tea breaks with a bajji or a bonda or both. More people got off on their stops, lesser people got on the bus. When the bus, stopped at Perur Patteeswarar temple, some in the bus folded their hands, bent down the necks, tapped their palms partially on both sides of their cheeks as an act of redemption, a habit that took 30 seconds. The urban constituents of concrete, people and chaos thinned out after Perur.

Plantain plantations covered one side of the road, the other side was filled with corn crops and an Aavin milk factory. Occasionally a stretch of tall coconut trees would appear, perched on laterite accompanied by the coconut-farm owner and his affluent mansion, an Audi or a Skoda parked right behind the closed, beautifully contrived gates. A ten to fifteen-minute drive down this idyllic route will get you to my humble abode. 56 carried the gossipmongers who spoke loudly over the unknown Tamil songs, coconut-farm moguls and grandchildren returning from their grandparents’ place. The coconut-farm moguls took out their Cars, bought out of coconut-money and sons’ earnings from America, only to crowded events such as weddings, to name one. Trivial matters such as going to Town did not call for the Car or the cost of diesel that came with it. They counted in coconuts. If they had spent thousand rupees on filling the car fuel-tank, they would account it as fifty coconuts. Why spend fifty coconuts on going to Town in a Car when you can go and return at the cost of just on coconut by 56? I get off soon after the Perur temple, way before the whole stretch of coconut, palm (they come later on, as the weather gets cooler and close to the Seven Hills) farms come to an obscure end. 56 stops off at the small (but enough) bus stand. After a ninety minute respite, they hark back from the coconut-farms to the ever engaged concrete domain. But the same dulcet weather remains same throughout, impartial.

 

 

boulevard of broken things

How did these small, colourful spokes get inside? I give the thing a shake. The bluish, soapy liquid moves here and there, flowing over the glossed, vivacious spokes that kind of resembles those seaweeds and algae you find in oceans. I place the two big, spread out air bubbles on the surface of what seems like faux Mediterranean corals. There are a few starfishes stuck to the bottom. I try to get the air bubbles laid on them now but the bigger coral deflects that from happening. The bubbles and the liquid jaunt aimlessly. How did these get inside? Didn’t the liquid splash when they were trying to make this thing? Why aren’t there any other fishes when there is a mini ocean in here? I try to look through the thing, squinting hard. The reflexion is blurred, like a mirage, swaying and trembling at the same time.  I want to know if those corals are real and if the liquid is as slimy and shiny as it appears. Argh, this is too much. I cannot resist this temptation. That’s precisely why it’s called temptation. Is the door locked? I check the thing again, it feels so cool against my own flushed palms, its surface is so damn smooth. I press it to my cheeks and close my eyes. I’ve had enough.

Curiosity killed the cat. In a parallel backdrop, curiosity made a girl break and smash every paperweight she saw. It is true, I guess – you break the things you love.step0001 (1)

Detective with a firm touch of dementia

“How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?”

It’s been a week since I finished reading Elizabeth Is Missing but the early twentieth century, a war grappled England, the enigma of dementia and the mystery of two missing cases is still haunting me. There are very few books that do that to you; a hangover or a feeling looming over for the next few hours sometimes, days together that makes you dysfunctional. This is one such whodunit with staggering descriptions, two timelines that keep switching often and the protagonist who is an eighty-year-old lady, Maud trying to find her missing friend Elizabeth and uncover what happened to her sister Sukey, another missing case that took place seventy years ago but the thing is Maud has a severe case of dementia and all that she remembers are the events that took place about five or so minutes ago – dementia. And she is determined to find out what happened to Elizabeth and Sukey when she forgets that her stove’s on or that she has enough peaches and eggs to feed an army but she forgets all about her inventory and leaves to the store to buy some more peaches and eggs only to get lost until her fifty-year-old daughter, Helen comes in search of her and gets hold of her.

Hands down, one of the best books I’ve read this year. The characters are so vivid and the storyline, even though it alters often, is bereft of the expected confusion that might arise due to the ever-altering timelines. With the ending so gripping, I might have found the best book I’ve read this year. This is a pretty old book (three years) we could call it newly old maybe? And won the prestigious Costa Book Award in 2014. No wonder!

Bottomline: a novel that throws off Stephen King vibes but with the repugnance missing.

eli

The Book I’d Have Missed If I Had Judged It By Its Cover

(Book is better with Radiohead – OK Computer (all songs), Bach – G minor, T-rex – Debora and Saint Saens – the Swan)

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

“We’re deaf men working as musicians; we play the music but we can’t hear it.” 

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I never knew earlier that such a book existed, to be honest, I did not know that such an author existed. William Faulkner, I know. But Sebastian Faulks, I didn’t. We were at this book sale that sold second-hand books and the proprietor asked us to buy another book, in that way our total would be rounded off. And this book, Engleby was the nearest. Someone left it discarded at the checkout place. “Do you want to get it?” asked dad. I haven’t heard of this guy. And the cover doesn’t look much inviting too. But in the end, I bought it. It sat in one corner of the bookshelf crammed with other books that were the same shade of colour (yes, my bookshelf is colour-coded.)  for about four months. I’d be done by then, reading all the other books bought. There was too much of indolence and a blasé attitude towards that book. I could not just get myself to read it. But at one point while at home, I was like let me take this back to the hostel, try reading it over there.

And yesterday, another month later I started this (aggressively weird) book out of end-semester-exams-stress induced boredom. The first few hundred pages are a drag (like all the other Goodreads reviews said), nothing really happens but the pace picked up furthermore pages later (which the Goodreads reviews don’t talk about). They probably lost patience. This book has a lot of negative responses than positive comments. Probably because Engleby elegantly delineates the human psyche that so much of truth or conformity to reality and us; taste very bitter to our conscience that people would rather not read the book.

There are some books that feel like a paralytic slap across the cheek, there are some that soothe and rock you to sleep, there are some that take you to Utopia with Saint Saens playing in the background. But Engleby to literature is what smorgasbord is to a banquet. A paralytic, mind-numbing slap that returns with a kiss but in a fist aimed at the jaw. So Michael Engleby is from a barely-making-ends-meet family at Reading. He is an introvert, intellect, iconoclast and an anti-feminist to be brief. He hates psychology/psychologists primarily because he thinks human behaviour is more than just a discovered pattern.

“They’re so attached to their patterns that they’ve forgotten rule number one of human behaviour: there are no patterns. People just do things. There are no such things as a coherent and fully integrated human personality, let alone consistent motivation.” 

It is set at Cambridge (he’s on a scholarship). He takes History and Natural Sciences. He likes a girl, Jennifer also the reason why he attends History. She goes missing one night. And the novel sets about her missing case and the physical and mental ontogenesis of Mike through the years.

The weird, weird part, personally was that I could relate to the character. The Cantabrigian Psycho as some reviews call him. But the parts I could relate to was, when he chose reading and music over socializing, his deaf attribute towards fashion, and the futility of swearing and expletives and that he never cared about anything. But later on, after another few hundred pages he was so pulled into blue pills, smoking and almost every night was led by an evening of bacchanal revelry and pickpocketing too entered the scene by then. So I kind of lost the Mike I could relate to through the pages forward. I have never read quite a book like this, to be true. It has the element of mystery to it, a huge turn of events in the last few chapters takes you to the 70s London, the music, the politics, the protagonist’s claptraps of London and people in general and most importantly there’s alcohol, at least a pint per page.

“This is how most people live: alive, but not conscious; conscious but not aware; aware, but intermittently.” 

 

Great Gig in the Sky

I have a thing for the sky. I have hundreds of photos of the sky on my phone, on the “family camera” (the camera that we use when we vacation, usually can be found slinging on dad’s neck) and on my laptop.

Dictionaries define it as the space above the earth that you see when you look up into the air but it’s a million times more than it. It has got magic to it, it has an aura of mystery, a touch of antiquity and it always looks like it knows more than anyone alive. The sky probably does. We all know; billions of years ago, earth was formed when a mottle of cosmic dust burst, it was super hot and when it tempered down oceans came into the scene and that was enough to form life and after other thousands of years later, humans evolved, we brought in pollution, literature, gulaab jamuns and so on. But but but, my point here is that since the cosmic cloud explosion, the sky was a witness. Who knows, the sky might what know was going on over the vast galactic through the million billion years before it too.

Just sayin.

The sky is more than the Crayola Cerulean Blue or the Timberwolf, it’s about the endless drama of its thunderbolts, eclipses, storms, sunsets, rainbows and meteors spoke of another endlessly active dimension, which had a dynamic life of its own. Ever wished upon shooting stars? I’ve got a fun fact for you. Some shooting stars are astronauts poop.

There was this great guy, great blond hair, he was a religion historian but he looked like a ruler, a rather fearsome one but this great guy; Rudolph Otto calls the sky  mysterium tremendum, terribile et fascinans [the terrible, fascinating, and fearsome mystery] without any imaginary deity behind it. Because back in the times of our great-great-great-great-great granddads contemplating the sky filled people with dread and delight, with awe and fear that they often thought Gods fell from the sky and two generations later (great-great-great granddads time), Gods started living in the clouds, in the sky. Ever wondered why school Annual day plays on any deity has this special equipment that gusts smoke on to the stage for the cloud effect? Yep.

So the next time you wish to be beguiled by wonder, or beauty or mystery or even better: all together, go for the sky. Night or day, it never disappoints you. And it’s always better with coffee.

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“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In the sky, there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy and confusion.”
― Ishmael Beah

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”
― Victor Hugo  (indeed!)

PS – the photo captions are my kinda watermarks, don’t mind them!

Turtles All The Way Down

Warning: I’m bad when it comes to reviews.

Okay, let us get this straight; I am kind of disappointed.
John Green is a great author but after books like The Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska, Turtles All The Way Down is a letdown. Nevertheless, the book is on par with Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Catcher In The Rye and books along those lines. This book has some great quotes, an even better look into the mind of an unstable, precarious person battling depression and insecurity. I completed this book in a day and a half despite an (in)significant exam lurking around which also means that I just couldn’t put this book down, it was good.

As always, Green dazzled me with his uncanny knowledge on uncanny stuff. It was cancer first, last words next, cartography then, Eureka moments and the math behind love later and finally, c-diff and quotes from poems this time. It is just so hard to be apathetic towards Green despite a hunky-dory book. If you like quotes and if you are okay with a quite badly woven plot then you should go for this book. Plus, the plot has got a jot of mystery to it. You’ll get why I bolded the “mystery” if you read the book!

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Some quotes from TATWD:
“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.” 

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

“In some ways, pain is the opposite of language.” 

(Few more will be added in due time.)

Quote Unquote

“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”
― Rosemarie Urquico