Who Should be Buddha? #BookBytes 21

I’d read and loved Liberation of Sita by Volga so it was with high expectations that I picked up Yashodhara by the same author. Here’s a quote from the book that made me think:

I can’t become a path finder though I have the desire to become one. So, I must make the path of the pathfinder more comfortable for him to tread upon. That shall be my aim and my life’s noblest ambition.

Volga, Yashodhara

I get Yashodhara’s point of view here. It’s an unselfish perspective, where she’s thinking what’s best for the world, rather than of her own personal journey and that is definitely appreciable.

Yashodhara and Siddharth were a perfect match – two souls who thought the same thoughts, felt the same emotions. If anything, Yashodhara was the more evolved of the two (as depicted in the book). And yet she gives up her desire to be the ‘pathfinder’ because she realises that, being a woman, she wouldn’t be able to impact the world as Siddharth would and a valuable message would be lost to the world. And so she decides to take a backseat, letting Siddharth go, allowing him to become The Buddha, while she remains a ‘facilitator’. It’s only a long long time later that she is able to complete her journey.

There are many things about the Yashodhara-Siddharth story that have troubled me ever since I was a child. Finding out that Yshodhara was just as much a thinker as Siddharth only made it worse.

Perhaps, what she did was the right thing to do, specially in the context of the times she lived in.

What’s sad though, is that even today, a lot of women are content to play supporting roles rather than take centre stage. The tired old saying ‘Behind every man…’ gets to me sometimes. It’s as if the woman is given a consolation prize so she stops fighting for the Gold. Perhaps I am being harsh here and I do get that it isn’t always intentional however one does need to rethink this whole facilitator role that women are permanently cast in.

One needs to remember that sometimes they shoulder roles left to them unwillingly, protesting all along, at other times they step back and don’t push themselves enough to take centre stage and sometimes they actually delight in the sacrifice, in giving up their dreams for the men in their lives thanks to years and years of conditioning.

That’s just sad. The world would be a better place if people took up roles best suited to each one, irrespective of gender.

Perhaps then Yashodhara would have been the Buddha.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
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  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for December 17th. Do join in.

Lock Every Door #BookReview

Book: Lock Every Door 
Author: Riley Sager

I never gave thrillers much thought till a few manuscripts came to me for editing and I realised I completely enjoyed them. The only problem – if the book turns out to be good I find myself unable to put it down and that completely upsets my routine. Now if I find a highly recommended thriller I make sure I have a day or two at my disposal when I begin reading. That’s worked out fine for me.

And that’s how I began reading Lock Every Door on a relaxed Friday.

The Story

Life hasn’t being good to Jules Larson. First, her sister disappears then she loses her parents in an accident. Even as she’s trying to make peace with all of that she’s let go from her job. She comes home to find her boyfriend cheating on her and her life falls apart completely. She’s been rooming in with her friend Chloe when she spots an ad for an apartment-sitter in the poshest apartment complex of Manhattan – The Bartholomew. The building houses the richest and the most famous people who value their privacy above all else. The money is very very good but there are few rules to be followed – no night-outs, no visitors, no talking to the other residents. They seem simple enough, if a little weird, and a bankrupt, desperate, Jules accepts them eagerly. She looks upon it as the ‘reset button’ for her life.

Soon, however, she realises all is not right at the Bartholomew. It’s an indefinable feeling she can’t quite reason out. Is it prompted by the gargoyle at her window on the facade of the building? Is it the strange wallpaper design in her apartment? Is it the unexplained noises at night? Or is it just her imagination fuelled by Chloe’s warnings and media stories that insist that the building is cursed?

Then a fellow apartment-sitter, Ingrid, disappears and Jules cannot but begin to investigate.

What I loved

The most interesting part of the book is that barely anything scary actually happened for much of the early part of the book. And yet I was on edge waiting for something to happen, trying to read between the lines, urging Jules on to look around, to be careful, maybe even to get out. Part of me wanted her to find out if Bartholomew really was cursed or haunted, and if yes, why. The other part wanted Jules to stay away from everything, get her money and leave. I could see why she’d want to hang around despite the warning signals.

Bartholomew reminded me a little bit of Rebecca’s Manderley. It has a character of its own as much as its inmates. I loved the way Segar describes it. The gothic structure, its air of opulence, the luxurious apartments, the secrecy, the snobbish flat owners – it all comes together in an intriguing mix.

I liked Jules. I felt her closeness to her sister and her heartbreak at her disappearance. Which is why I could understand her desperation to find Ingrid.

Lock Every Door isn’t a pacey read yet the tension keeps one hooked.

Last thought: If you’re looking for an edge-of-the-seat atmospheric thriller, this one’s for you.

What’s your God like? #BookBytes 20

Welcome dear friends to another edition of BookBytes.

Recently, the son received an abridged version of Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster as a return gift at one of his friend’s birthdays. One glance at the book and he rejected it outright. Children can be surprisingly, annoyingly choosy about their reads. Besides, no self-respecting 13-year-old Rick Riordan fan would be interested in a book about a teenage orphan girl. I, on the other hand, was eager to read it. This one’s a classic I’d missed out on. I loved the illustrated version and found it quite perfect for my daughter, so it turned out to be a win-win situation.

Have you noticed how some books for children and young adults have immense wisdom within their pages? I’ve picked one such passage from Daddy Long Legs, though it’s from the original unabridged version. Take a read:

I find that it isn’t safe to discuss religion with the Semples. Their God (whom they have inherited intact from their remote puritan ancestors) is a narrow, irrational, unjust, mean revengeful, bigoted Person. Thank heaven I don’t inherit God from anybody! I am free to make mine up as I wish Him. He’s kind and sympathetic and imaginative and forgiving and understanding – and he has a sense of humour.

Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs

I know you’ll agree with Jerusha Abbot – the young heroine of Daddy Long Legs. She’s an orphan and so has no parents to hand her down a preconceived idea of God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of us was free to make up our own God like Jerusha? I quite like the one she conjured up. A God who wouldn’t need sacrifices and fasting and complicated rituals to be happy, who wouldn’t punish us each time we forgot to light a diya or mispronounced a mantra. Oh and a God with a sense of humour sounds just perfect.

Perhaps we’d then turn from god-fearing people to god-loving ones.

What’s the one quality you’d like in your God?

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for December 3rd. Do join in.

Eating Wasps #microreview

Book: Eating Wasps
Author: Anita Nair

You know what’s the best feeling in the world? To pick up a book you’ve not heard of, to pick it up without any expectations, any background, any social media hoohaa. And then to find in it a story that by turns hits you hard, touches you, empowers you. That’s what Eating Wasps did for me.

I was driven to read it simply by its stunningly gorgeous cover. Then the opening line reeled me in:

“On the day I killed myself, it was clear and bright.” 

How can you ignore that?

If you’ve read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe you’ll know how adept she is at bringing together women centric stories. That’s what she does with Eating Wasps too.

The book opens with an award winning author Sreelakshmi committing suicide. And yet her life doesn’t end. She lives on as a ghost, a piece of a bone. As she flits from the hands of one woman to another she sees, she feels and she tells their story, bringing them together in a delightful read.

The book has multiple characters – girls, teens, women – each the protagonist of her own story, with her own challenges – sometimes internal, sometimes familial, sometimes societal.

My heart broke for Megha while Najma, who had the saddest story of all, made my heart soar. Maya was only too real, a flawed woman, an imperfect mom even as she debates what’s best for her son. Urvashi, Liliana, Brinda – each one has a story to tell.

The book isn’t perfect. The stories don’t come together as seamlessly as I’d have liked them to. Also, it could have done without a character or two while I’d have liked to know more about some of the others. Some of the stories are explored only too briefly, leaving me dissatisfied. And yet it’s a book worth reading because each story is special.

Last thought: Worth a read.

Perspective #BookBytes 19

Hello hello everyone. It’s been a crazy two weeks. Festival times are sheer madness what with the children being home for a break. Plus I am in the middle of editing a novel which took up every free moment of my time. All of that translated into a forced blogging break. However I wouldn’t miss an edition of #BookBytes since I do so enjoy doing it.

Here I am then, with a quote I loved from a book I loved too – My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I’d heard a lot about the author and I was eager to read her. The first book I picked up by sheer chance turned out to be Between the Lines, one she co-wrote with her daughter. I just wasn’t impressed – it was too much of a tween thing.

And then I chanced upon My Sister’s Keeper and that’s when I realised why people rave about Jodi Picoult. If you haven’t read it, I’d say give it a shot.

Here’s a quote I loved:

“Life sometimes gets so bogged down in the details, you forget you are living it. There is always another appointment to be met, another bill to pay, another symptom presenting, another uneventful day to be notched onto the wooden wall. We have synchronized our watches, studied our calendars, existed in minutes, and completely forgotten to step back and see what we’ve accomplished.” 

– Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

I loved the quote because it is so much a reflection of how most of us lead our lives these days. Of course the context in the book was more serious but the thought is universal. It certainly applies to me. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the nitty-gritties of life, too bogged down by the daily struggles to revel in the happiness of what I’ve already achieved.
It’s good to step back and look at things sometimes, to count one’s achievements, to bask in one’s success however small – whether it is always being able to meet deadlines at work or keep a blog up and running, or even running a home smoothly – God knows that needs such consistent effort.

So Stop.
For one small moment.
Think of something you accomplished .
And feel good about it.

Do share with me what it was that made you feel good recently, something that you forgot to congratulate yourself for.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for November 19th. Do join in.

Just Wodehouse #BookBytes 18

I’m keeping today’s post short and sweet in memory of one of my favourite authors who happens to have his birthday today – Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, ‘Plum’.

The interesting thing about this first quote is that Wodehouse is trying to quote Shakespeare but in his own inimitable way. The Bard would probably have turned many times over in his grave, at the casual informality.

“As Shakespeare says, if you’re going to do a thing you might as well pop right at it and get it over.”

– Very Good Jeeves, PG Wodehouse

And this one made me laugh out loud.

“It isn’t often that Aunt Dahlia lets her angry passions rise, but when she does, strong men climb trees and pull them up after them.”

– Right Ho Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse

Imagine climbing up a tree and pulling it up after you. Priceless!

Finally, this last one simply because it’s so HIM.

“What ho!” I said.
“What ho!” said Motty.
“What ho! What ho!”
“What ho! What ho! What ho!”
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.”

– My Man Jeeves, PG Wodehouse

What’s your favourite Wodehouse book? Or a favourite quote?

You can read more about him  here.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for November 5th.

The Mummy Bloggers #BookReview

Book: The Mummy Bloggers
Author: Holly Wainwright

When you love reading and are a book blogger and a parent blogger too and you see a book titled The Mummy bloggers, well then you just pick it up. And so I did. That’s a lot of ‘ands’ I know, but there were a lot of things about this book that appealed to me.

It tells the story

..of three mom bloggers, all in completely different sub-niches of their own.

There’s – Elle, formerly Ellen, but then Elle, is more chic, no? And being chic is crucial for Elle. She lives in a #perfectworld. She has perfectly baked #homemadebrownies, which aren’t homemade at all and which she won’t ever eat because she also has to instagram her #perfectabs. She has a pair of #perfectbabies who dress in matching (and sponsored, obviously!) clothes. All in all she has a perfect life with SomebodyElse’sHusband. Opps sorry, that was her original anonymous blog, before she married Somebody Else’s Husband and made him her own, turning into #stylishmumma herself.

Then there’s Abi the #GreenDiva who has moved to the country with her partner Grace and their children. She has a farm where chickens run around, she homeschools her children and fights against processed food, vaccinations and all things ‘Big Pharma’. No matter that her own children are safely vaccinated.

Lastly there’s Leisel Adams a #workingmom in her forties. She has a full time job managing the demands of a millennial younger-than-her boss as well as a baby, a toddler and a kindergartener at home. Also in her life is #wonderdad, her stay at home husband. That she manages to blog is a wonder in itself.

So our protagonists are blogging away happily, secure in their own little worlds with their own followers and their own trolls too. Along comes a blogging award that nominates the three of them and upsets this delicate balance because there can only be one winner. On offer is a huge cash prize. An all-out anything-goes mommy war breaks out, the war to grab the most eyeballs in order to stay in the forefront of the hearts and minds of mommy’s of the world wide web. Unbelievable lies will be told and lives will be threatened in this war.

What I liked

This was a super fun ride. It was a familiar world, a world I love and enjoy and am a part of, even if in a rather peripheral way. I’ve seen rough prototypes of the three moms.

I loved the characters and the idea of niches within a niche. The book brought to light the social media addiction a lot of bloggers succumb to, living in a world of hashtags. That itch to check how many people responded to that last tweet, the last update, the latest post, that need for constant validation from relative strangers – that was very real. As also the danger of trolls.

Abi gives sound advice (?) for grabbing eye-balls in a crowded world:

…. the only way to get anyone to listen to you was to keep it simple and shout the loudest. Clouding your argument with nuance was the road to oblivion .…

Make the world black and white, take sides, stick to them, fight for them. It’s interesting how she goes about doing just this and gets caught up in a complicated web.

I loved Elle’s track for highlighting what a fake world it is out there. Reading about her was annoying and funny and, towards the end, crazily frustratingly unbelievable.

Leisel was a personal favourite perhaps because she was the most identifiable and the most genuine of the lot. Take for instance her worry that the children liked Wonder Dad better than her and yet she is relieved when baby wants only ‘daddy’ to put her to bed and then right away she’s guilty for feeling relieved. That emotional see-sawing is only too familiar.

Of course it’s all exaggerated, hugely exaggerated in the latter part, but I still maintain this was a fun read.

I’ll give it one extra star for delivering what it promised.

Last thought: If you’re a blogger looking for a light read, pick this one. If you’re not, you still might enjoy the laughs.