Enjoy it- a blog I love

My blog has readers other than just my family members! It has a decent following. People spend time (their precious time!!!) reading what I write and without force (I have to resort to it to make my husband read my posts ‘ cause he is a good critic and lets me know when my writing doesn’t flow or the topic I’ve picked to write about doesn’t resonate with many. But he’s lazy!). I thank one and all with all my heart. I’m still a newborn in Blogland and I have a long way to go before I do justice to the readership I have. But I’m trying….

There’s one blog I follow regularly (I mean I read her posts hot off the press!) and it is a personal and craft blog by Elise Blaha Cripe called enJOY it. She sells rubber stamps (used for crafting and memory-keeping) and handmade home decor products. She teaches quilting and goal-keeping and writes about her life in her blog. She has also started a podcast called Elise Gets Crafty where she talks about creativity, blogging, small-business, staying motivated and all the things that she’s passionate about. She’s a mother, a business owner, a superwoman and my role model.

I read her blog (No,’ I devour her blog’ would be appropriate. I have dreamt of consuming the words and wonderful photographs on her blog to assimilate them in my bloodstream so that one day, hopefully, my blog becomes half as good as hers.) to educate myself in the art of blogging. And since a blog is a window to a person’s life, I’m learning how she lives her life too. She sets personal and business goals for herself and documents her journey towards achieving them. As she mentions in her “about” page, “Have a goal? Write it down. Then set a plan and make it happen.” And the way she tackles a goal that seems ginormous and stares at you is to write down all the steps needed to reach the goal and then break those mini-goals (steps)  down further . What you are left with is a set of teeny weeny things-to-do , which, accomplished one after another, leads you to the goal. It’s so simple. I’ve tried and it works.

Her writing and photography are so honest and detailed they’ve taught me to stay mindful, to pay attention to my ordinary life loaded with simple pleasures and to capture everyday moments with my camera. They have taught me to fill my day to its brim with the things and activities I love.

A quote found in Elise’s blog page

I always wonder how she’s able to do so many things like making 12 different handmade products in limited edition of 29 or 290 and selling them each month before she turns 29 or sewing her own clothes or setting up a podcast and interviewing other creatives or growing a vegetable garden with a baby in tow and a husband, a doctor in the US Navy. Where does she get all the energy or time from? I aspire to be like her.

At times I have published posts just for the heck of it or to keep up my commitment to posting regularly. Reading those posts make me cringe at my pathetic, half-baked writing. But Elise posts 6 days a week, yet pours her heart into each one of them. I’m passionate about writing and photography and through Elise and her blog I’m learning to generate ideas and produce clear, original content. Do me (& yourself) a favor (please!), head over to her blog and peruse her archives. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

2 States

I’ve just been tossed out of a roller coaster ride, head-first, and I have no clue what I’m doing with my life right now or what to do next. For the past 4 days I had been reading “2 States” by Chetan Bhagat and nothing (Okay. Certain things like feeding my kids or getting my Driver’s License done did tear my attention from the book) occupied my mind apart from the main characters in the book and their circus to get married.  I talked to my husband about nothing but the book  and read whole passages to him that I found hilarious. And now that the book is over I feel lost.

I’m hoping writing about the book will help me get over it and do what needs to be done next.

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“2 States” is a fictionalized story of the writer’s marriage. The main characters, a boy and a girl- Krish and Ananya- fall in love  and decide to get married. What’s new, you may wonder. Read on….

Krish is from the north of India while Ananya is from the south. They come from 2 different states. 2 different worlds, I can easily add, at least in the 90s when the story takes place (Education and movement of people from one state to another in search of a better life has gradually made people aware of other cultures that exists in India). They meet one another at IIM-A, one of the elite MBA institutes of India, fall in love and decide to get married (yes yes… I’ve said it already!). Both families are dead against their union. Now they have 2 choices:

1. elope and marry without anybody’s consent, or

2. get their families to accept their marriage.

They choose the latter. Operation Parents’ Consent to Marriage begins. That’s the essence of the story.

Krish is the story’s narrator. Sometimes he comes across as a manipulator, resorting to all sorts of trickery like pretending to love classical music because Ananya’s mother is a Carnatic singer or asking Ananya to buy expensive gifts for his mom to please her. But you will forgive him ’cause he’s doing it for love. All’s fair in love, right?  Plus he has this dry humor about him which makes him irresistibly cute sometimes.

After her parents are on board, it is Ananya’s turn to please his mother (Krish’s dad is out of the equation because he’s not in good terms with his son or his wife). She tries hard but fails because she:

1. is not a Punjabi

2. is not rich enough.

3. can’t cook food.

– lacking  all the qualities Krish’s mom expects in her daughter-in-law.

And after the mother accepts her (partially), it is time for the parents to get to know one another and, hopefully, to like one another. Phew!

But for this marriage to happen, one other issue has to be resolved- between Krish and his dad.

The marriage happens eventually. It HAS to! 2 people crazy in love, working so hard to make their families agree to their marriage are sure to make it work. But how? And that’s why I recommend this book. The “how” of their marriage sets it apart from other stories.  I wonder if any of this will make sense if you’re not an Indian. But I could totally relate to the story and its characters (although mine was an arranged marriage).

A laugh-riot through and through, I found myself giggling away as I read the book. Their romance and plight consumed me for the duration of my reading. I could not journal or do projects or blog- all the things that give me pleasure- until I finished the book. Afterwards too….

So I gathered my thoughts (they were all over my mind) about the book and dumped them here, in my post. I hope I can function better now.

Morning walk in Secunderabad

Slowly but surely, I’m falling in love with Secunderabad, the city in India we relocated to from the US. I’m beginning to appreciate the difference it makes to have family around to help us care for our kids. I love the food scene here- So many restaurants and cuisines to pick from. I also enjoy not having to worry about cleaning the house or ironing my clothes as such services are easily and cheaply available. I can’t tell you how much time it saves me. Now what I do with all this free time is a material for another post. But what I really want to describe here is how much I enjoy my morning walks.

Every morning my husband and I go for a walk along Gunrock Enclave, where we reside, and within the adjacent Army colony. We leave our 11mo. old with his grandparents ’cause he doesn’t have a say yet! But our daughter insists upon coming along; her idea of a walk is being pushed around in a stroller. We believe she joins us just to soak in all our conversation like a sponge and, maybe, to spill them all to our family! Anyways…

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Flowering plants like sweet-smelling Jasmine and Bougainvillea of every hue imaginable line our path and welcome us. Gargantuan trees like Peepal, Neem and Teak form arches with their branches and provide shade from the Sun who can be pretty radiant in Summer. He spills his early morning rays on the vast expanse of greenery that surrounds us. I remind myself to carry my phone along, if not my DSLR camera, to capture the play of light with color (I love watching the sun’s rays filtering down to the earth through the bough of a tree and try very hard to shoot it!). In March we even spotted a few peacocks perched on tombstones in the adjacent graveyard. Such beauty has to be cherished and preserved, on photographic paper atleast, before buildings and people invade its space.

Such beauty also brings out the best in all of us walkers and make us greet one another with a nod, a smile or a “Good Morning” and reminds me of the walks we used to take in the US. Prasad and I enjoy our time together and talk up family matters, the cute doings of our kids, about how awesome it would be to turn a corner and find a Starbucks Coffee Shop with its distinct aroma (We don’t have one around!) and about what goals we have already achieved and what needs to be pursued.

I’m glad we live in a locality that isn’t noisy, crowded or messy like most of the rest of India is. I’m also glad I take the time to enjoy life’s little pleasures like an early morning walk.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I love books with female protagonists. If a book has a female central character and the story revolves around a book club as well, then no kid can attempt to divert my attention from it with his/her cuteness! This happened as I read “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” written by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. It was about a woman, Juliet Ashton, a writer in her early 30s,just after the end of WWII, in search of an idea for her next book. As she restores her life from the rubble of a ruined London, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a man from Guernsey, in search of a book written by Charles Lamb(He finds her name and address written in one of his books). She procures the book for him and begins correspondence with him and through him the other members of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. An unusual name for a book club, isn’t it? Intrigued, Juliet wants to learn more about them.

As she delves deeper into their lives, she unravels the origin of their book club and learns about Elizabeth McKenna, the woman who gave birth to the society. Through the letters from the Islanders, Juliet learns that Guernsey Island had been under German Occupation during the second world war. Their stories of hardship and sorrow sow a seed of an idea in her mind for her next writing material. She falls in love with the people that correspond with her (except a Miss Adelaide Addison, who abhors the society and its members!). On an impulse she decides to visit the Island. From the moment she spots St. Peter Port (capital of Guernsey) “rising up from the sea on terraces, with a church on the top like a cake decoration, and I realized that my heart was galloping”(pg. 159), she is enamored. She goes about interviewing people about the Germans and realizes how each story leads to Elizabeth McKenna, who has been sent to a German prison for helping a slave worker.

This book is a compilation of letters exchanged between Juliet and the members of the Literary Society as well as her publisher Sidney Stark. Even though it is just letters, you won’t miss a thing. The plot is linear and gives the whole story.I loved the idea of a bunch of letters conveying a story.

Juliet not only finds idea and material for her next book but also finds the love of her life. I sped through the book to know the ending, which I haven’t done in a long long time. A novel that keeps me hooked amidst the distractions and disturbances caused during the rearing of 2 active children is so hard to come across. I had to navigate a few bumps which caused me to pause and think about German atrocities. How could they inflict such pain on a large scale?!Did I know the German authorities made no arrangements for menstruating women- no soap, no extra clothes- and just mocked away as they bled? No! It just tore my heart and made me desperate to hug them. And how the slave workers (called Todt workers) were treated! They were made to work without food and were let out from camps at night to beg or steal food. Abominable! Such things were hard to fathom but I read anyway. I can’t keep evading hard realities and be. satisfied with the rosy picture.

The rosy part about the book was learning about Elizabeth McKenna. She was an epitome of strength, positive spirit and kindness in the face of such barbarism. Also, the society, their love of books, the discussions they had and the members themselves were a pleasure to read about. I’d love to read it again (& again), slowly, this time , absorbing every little detail.