Far from now, a time shall come when your little feet shall hurt.
I can only hope that then you can still swing your feet with the same joy and abandon.
While commuting today, we were stuck in a traffic jam for the most part of an hour. Next to us, in an auto rickshaw, there was a family. A little girl sat at the side alongside her mother. The little one was not bothered about the heat or dust. The traffic jam was nothing to her. She was in her own happy world. She sat there, swinging her feet and we spent that time listening to the tinkles of the bells from her anklets.
Ever since I can remember my father enrols me all sorts of classes. I started my Carnatic music classes along with kindergarten. It must have been a policy that I must socialise with other children or learn something. But I think that it really was to get me out of the house. I was very happy indoors, reading a book, or drawing, or just wrecking havoc being naughty. Outdoors was just dirty, hot and too much noise! It really is the same even today.
This morning, during breakfast I noticed a leaflet lying on the dining table. It had come along with the morning newspapers. And what do you know – It’s for one of my least favourite places.
I really don’t remember the year; I was definitely 7 years old at least when my father decided to enrol me in swimming classes. I say I was definitely 7 since I got my spectacles before my 7th birthday. Also, this was after my father came back from Bombay after a 6-month long assignment. Whenever he travels he brings back something for me and my sister. This time, he brought me a swimsuit –a brown one with two green-blue stripes diagonally across the torso. It had a matching cap as well. I really liked the cap!
Since we live in Gopalapuram, he took me to Savera which was the closest. Savera was a nice place in my mind. We had been to dinners and parties and it was all fun. But I had never been to the pool; I had only seen it from the upstairs dining in the dark. Have you seen this pool? It is really weird.
The pool is shaped like a pear, and it has weird mosaics on the bottom of it. Take a look. Now, it may seem normal to you, but being short-sighted, these things, especially at the deep end looked like Orcas to me. I had seen Free Willy by then and would definitely have not liked to come face to face with an orca – mosaic or not!
The classes that I was enroled in were first thing in the morning. I dressed in my swimsuit and put my frock on over it. The cap, a water bottle, a towel etc went in a bag that I would carry. My father would then drive us to Savera and come with me to the pool side. It all started innocently. Get in the water; hold to the rails and float; now hold onto the rails and float and start kicking your legs. That’s all fun. Then our instructor asked us to swim up to and fro in the shallow end. That too was ok, except I couldn’t see.
I used to come home with incomplete notes and when asked why I would always say I couldn’t see clearly. My parents thought this was an excuse and I was just being lazy. That was probably true before. Around Diwali that year I had conjunctivitis and when we went to the eye doctor he prescribed glasses and asked my parents why they were negligent thus far. Now if anything my parents are dutiful and sincere in their parenting. And so, I ended up being pampered a bit more than the usual. Oh, I started with prescription glasses for a -3.0 for both eyes.
So, getting back to the pool. With this sort of sight, it was an absolute terror to see those things at the bottom of the pool. Every day as I climbed out of the pool, my father would be lounging nearby drinking his coffee. It went well for two days. The next day, half way into our session, the instructor asks us to get out of the pool and line-up at the deep end. All the kids dutifully did. Then he says jump, everyone but me jumps. I was shot such a dirty look and asked to jump again, I didn’t. All of a sudden, I end up being shoved into the water! There are killer whales in the water; I am flapping around kicking out my hands and legs to no avail trying to get out there. I really felt one of the seals being hunted by those whales. While I was doing all this trying to remain alive, something gets hold of my shoulder scaring me even further. All the air in my lungs was probably gone with my underwater gasp. It was our instructor getting hold of my swim suit and pushing me in the direction of the shallow end. Then he asks to do it all over again. And again and again. With the taste of pool water in my mouth, and tears in eyes I complied.
The first few times I was shoved into the water. Then I thought if I have to die it might as well be by my choice and I jumped into the water the next few times. Now all this was truly scary to me as a kid. End of that class I got out of the water and looked at my father. He was there still lounging with his coffee.
After we got home, I declared there will not be any more swimming classes for me. When my mother asked why my father told her the whole encounter and said I would get over it. I really think he was getting used to lounging around. Next day, after being woken up, I locked myself up in the bathroom and refused to come out unless they stop my swimming classes. I had to make a whole lot of threats as well including bad grades before my parents agreed to it. That was the end of any talk of swimming for me.
My father still held hopes for my sister and they kept the brown swimsuit until she was old enough to go to classes. Fate had other plans though since my sister was often sick as a child and had acute tonsillitis. When the doctors had told my parents to not let her play around water for any length of time, swimming was out of the question. The brown swimsuit was eventually donated.
Chutney case’s similar experience can be read here.
Some times all of us forget to appreciate our surroundings. Come to think of it we look at beaches on our HD screens and don’t go to the real thing because of any excuse we can come up with.
Last week one of our friends who was going off on a trip asked us to take care of his pet fish. He came and dropped off ‘Aqua’ at our place. Aqua is a fighter fish and lives in his glass bowl of a world. A brilliant beauty. He is a clever thing too. Always lying around at the bottom, and swimming around wildly when someone approaches. It’s been fun with our little guest.
Tiny things make us realise that we are sometimes an insignificant link in the universe. I mean, here I get ready with sunscreen and compact and lipstick and eyeliner. And this little fellow is always so sharp looking. Humans can be so vain!
We always look to match colour but look at him, there are a riot of colours yet they are all in such harmony. The creator (or evolution) did a fabulous job with all living things.
But somehow human beings fail to find the beauty in life. Even if we do, we don’t find the divinity in it.
After the Game of Thrones season 5 aired, we were all waiting for the next season to come out. As far as the entire series is concerned, I watched the show after I finished all the books. So it made sense that I read Winds of Winter before I watch Season 6. And then thishappened to make us all sigh! It is all true, we can completely understand why. We are also anxiously waiting for Winds of Winter – no pressure on you Sir, none at all! Unleash it on us when you can.
So I thought I might as well just watch the show’s 6th season. And now I write even though I know Words are Wind!
Jon Snow is back! We saw Ghost wake up the hood with his mournful howling and what followed was a show of loyalty that Jon should be very proud of. None of his friends failed him while some of his brothers did.
Melisandre reveals that when she takes off the necklace she is old. (Though she is good form when she tries to bring back Jon.) The season begins with her doubting her visions and faith and now as Jon is back alive she probably has even more doubts.
Jon hangs those who murdered him, and then takes off declaring his watch has ended. So who is the next Lord Commander? And since many were killed, some were hanged who elects them? Or does Edd continue as Lord Commander because Jon gave him the mantle?
And what about the others? The Wildlings who came over the wall putting their trust in Jon, Ser Davos, and Melisandre who saw Jon fighting at Winterfell… what happens to them?
Actually, the last thing may still happen. Jon could go back to Winterfell now that his watch has ended and following him could be Ser Davos, Tormund, Melisandre and others. Of course, the crows stay back to look after the wall. With Sansa, Brienne, Podrick and possibly Theon setting off for the Wall there is a good chance they all meet. But, given that this is the Game of Thrones, that may not necessarily happen.
With Ser Davos (who was once a smuggler before becoming the Onion Knight) by his side, Jon Snow could make a brilliant plan to take over Winterfell. Given his entourage, he may as well be successful. The wildlings will triumph and eat up all of Ramsay’s overfed dogs. Wun Wun could play with Ramsay like a rag doll or perhaps Ghost can make a meal of him. I personally like the Wun Wun theory.
If Ramsay still has Rickon alive, Winterfell will then go back to a stark. Again since this the Game of Thrones…
Then again, since we were promised two great battles in Winds of Winter, this could be one. The Wildlings and giants and all led by Jon Snow vs Ramsay and co.
I will write about the rest of Westeros and the others later.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is one of my favourite Indian authors. If you have read her other works, this one is a must read.
Before We Visit the Goddess is a tale of three women– a mother, a daughter and a granddaughter. It spans across the lifetimes of these three women and is mostly in their point of view.
When you read Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s books, the one thing that always stands out is how she portrays the relationships between characters. It comes out in all its brilliance in this book. The book is rich in details, yet at no point is it long or boring.
The beginning is with Sabitri, a girl from a small village, who wants to study and help her family. She moves to Kolkatta with the help of Leelamoyi and finds love, heartbreak, and hope in the city. As she continues to take us through her life, we meet Sabitri’s mother, Rajiv, and Bijan. All these characters we come to know through Sabitri’s eyes.
She marries and has a daughter – Bela. Once I got to know Sabitri, Bela comes across as less interesting. Yet, she does have some unique experiences in life early on. When Sabitri loses her husband, she moves on and starts a business which she names after her mother, Durga. Meanwhile, Bela falls in love and elopes to America with Sanjay against Sabitri’s wishes. They have a daughter, Tara.
While Sabitri becomes an independent business woman after her husband’s death, Bela’s life goes downhill when her husband leaves her. Tara caught in the midst of the divorce goes her own way – a journey where she learns about love, heartbreak, and life.
It is interesting that while Bela blames Sabitri for many things including the death of her baby brother, Tara does the same to her mother. But Bela doesn’t understand why her daughter does so.
The journeys of Sabitri and Tara are quite similar but set in different times. Throughout the book characters come and go. Like the aaya, Robert, Mrs. Mehta, Dr. V, Ken. Even these small characters have an important role to play in the lives of these three women. Every so often we need someone to place blame on; we need a shoulder to cry on. These characters are that and more. They change the lives of our three ladies in a small way at least – small steps at a time that eventually add up to the strength of character. We also get to know about their stories and how they are change for the better.
The book shows us how decisions made ages ago still come back haunt us and those we love. Sabitri will forever be my favourite character in this book. She really becomes a strong woman despite, or perhaps because of, where she started from. Tara comes a close second.
Book 1 shows us glimpses of the characters of the twins and Lady Greyling. Lady Julia comes across as someone who came between two brothers, the Earl as one who avoided conflict and loved peace, Edward as the troublemaker because he lost his brother to his sister-in-law.
After reading Falling Into Bed with a Duke, Julia is a bit of a let down after Minerva. Where Edward had a don’t care attitude while still caring with all his heart about his friends, he comes across as a rather tame being. But then, tragedy does that to a person.
After losing his twin and promising him that he would care for his wife and unborn child, Edward assumes the identity of the Earl and returns to England. He faces difficult choices playing his twin. While he slips into the role of the Earl with ease, that of a husband and a father come with guilt. But he survives.
Julia, on the other hand, is someone who was reserved and wedged a rift between twin brothers in book 1. In this book, she gets to know herself and comes into her own skin after spending 4 months by herself while the twins were off on an adventure. She welcomes her husband back but feels the differences she notices are a result of them both having changed over the past few months. Despite these differences, they somehow become closer to each other than before.
When the truth eventually is out, how our hero and heroine deal with it and get over any problems is the rest of the story. Of course, there is the happy ending in the end.
While Falling Into Bed with a Duke was interesting in its portrayal of characters and plot, this book is less so. It is a risky plot, many may not sympathise with Julia or Edward. I had more expectations of Edward’s story given his taste for travel and adventure. Personally, I think this book can be skipped while reading the series. Lorraine Heath has written better stuff.
Lorraine Heath has written some really fabulous romances (Always to Remember, Sweet Lullaby).
This book is step down from that standard. There is a plot, yes, but is like most of the other romances there are out there and doesn’t really carry her stamp.
The series is about a bunch of kids who lost their parents in a train accident. They arrive at the guardians(who happens to be mad) and find another kid (the guardian’s son). All of them become good friends. Of course, it goes without saying that these kids are all titled – a duke, an earl and his twin, and a viscount.
This book, like the title says, is about the duke. He arrives back in London and meets his soulmate in a scandalous setting. (There are all the ballrooms that were frequented before by both in the past, yet the duke didn’t notice Miss Dodger. ) Here she goes by the name of Lady V.The duke sets off to discover the identity of Lady V and suspects Miss Dodger. He later confirms his theory.
Meanwhile, Miss Dodger comes with a grand dowry and is plagued by fortune hunters and because of this she decides to stay single. This, in turn, spurs her decision of visiting said scandalous place and meeting the Duke.
On getting to know that the Duke knows that she is Lady V, they decide to get married, Of course, here Miss Dodger learns that the Duke is indeed in need of her dowry and ends up dumping him.
The Duke then sets off to win her heart. They marry and end up living happily ever after.
Honestly, I was moved when I read Always to Remember and can’t fathom this is from the same author