Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Blossoms & Foliages | Trapped In Heaven | See Through Words - Book Reviews

Today I am attempting to review three different books of three different genres... God bless me! First things first... Disclaimers. So, why three reviews clubbed in one? Why not individual book reviews? Etc etc... For the barrage of questions here go the disclaimers!

1. Considering my own laziness in reading all the book reviews coming through... Well, I am just not able to. So, if I extrapolate my laziness (shamelessly) to others... Most of them are reading just their own book's review. So, in clubbing three book reviews in one post.. May be you get introduced to two more books :)!

2. My blog my rules !! (someone had once told me this line... badly wanted to say this sometime or the other... Wasn't getting the chance ever... So, well one bizzare wish fulfilled  :)!)

So, here we go :)! Just posting the reviews in the order in which I had read the books (you can chalk out the disclaimer in this yourself :))

Blossoms And Foliages (Genre Poetry) 

Even though the book's cover page says it all.... Let me still elaborate.... Are you a nature lover? Even if you are the kind that just feel fresh taking a stroll in the nearby park or woods amidst the greenery...this book describes that surreal experience in the form of poetic verses. You might be surprised that how such a surreal experience can be even described... But you read the poems in the book and you will know... Yes, someone has that god gifted talent to actually be able to word them.

Till date I always felt that photographs do more justice in capturing nature's beauty than words but after reading this book I really couldn't decide which did more justice. The photographs are as beautiful as the imagery created by the poems. You just get transfixed and transferred to that very place in the lap of nature and enjoy drinking it sip by sip through the poetic words woven around them. The author has painstakingly even described each of the pictures for the visually impaired.

My favourite poem is 'Walk your path'...quoting a few lines

"A wise soul has quoted
A journey of thousand miles
Begins with a single step
Determined, Walk the less trodden path
And walk alone if no one else follows you"

And last but not the least... When I picked up this book and started reading... I just couldn't help marvel at the literary richness of the poems. What beautiful usage of words. I would really want the author to guide me as to how can I improve my English to such an international level! 

The link to download the book is here (free for limited period). 

Trapped In Heaven And Other Stories ( Genre Fiction Short Stories - Romance) 

I generally tend to pick up books on romance when I want a light read. When I don't have too much time and still want to do some time pass reading types. And that was precisely my thought before I picked up this book of short stories on romance... But I was in for a pleasant surprise. 

This isn't such a book like the lovey dovey types which you can read and forget with time. The stories are deep and some of them explore some deep rooted vices in our society. And the way the stories bring them out is hard hitting and leaves you touched and thinking. 

My favourite two stories from the book are '#No Filter' which just left me teary eyed and 'The Devil's Bride' for which I am short of words and can only applaud. 

Erotica as a genre is niche in itself and it requires great amount of talent and craft to make it aesthetically tasteful. And this author has this brilliant ability to do so. The way she has narrated the stories and woven erotica with romance and explored the depths of relationships is simply amazing. 

Somewhere, while reading I also felt that the book even subtly explored through the portrayal of the relationships the various aspects of womanhood.... Her weaknesses, gullibility, strength, girlishness, vices etc. The book even has a dash of humour... 'Bullet in the heart'...such a hilarious story!

And the narrative skills of the author is definitely going to leave you spellbound. It makes you feel like you are reading some international bestseller. I remember when I was reading this book I had actually pinged the author and told her specifically that I can't believe that my debut book is actually placed along with a master piece like yours that too of such a talented author. 

Link to download the book is here (free for limited period). 

See Through Words (Genre Spirituality/Philosophy) 

There are very few books which you tumble upon and keep them aside to read and re-read and re-re-read multiple times. This is one such brilliant book. 

I had picked up this book to read because of it's cover. I had read a bit about Zen philosophy earlier but had read only in bits and pieces and was very happy to find a book on this in the carnival. This book came to me just when I had lined up to read the book 'Siddhartha' by Hermann Hesse. You can say I was in that phase when I needed such a book and I am so glad I found this one :).

The very first thing that really grasped me was the 'uncopyright' in this book which gives the permission to anyone and everyone to copy or use the contents of the book in any manner. And it leaves the decision on you if you want to give the credit to the author or not as it says 'morality cannot be forced'. 

The book beautifully delves into the world of Zen and imparts subtly the knowledge on Zen way of living which in the author's words isn't about 'What you do' but about 'How you do'. 

Apart from speaking about the origin of Zen 'the artless art of living' and difference between 'Dhyana' and 'Meditation' (which was an eye opener to me!)  the book touches upon various other aspects like 'state of no mind', ' Experiencing nothingness', 'language of mindlessness', 'accepting polarities' in which the mind is restricted, 'Conscious state','unattachment vs detachment','state of no thought', 'state of egolessness', 'state of desirelessness' etc. The book also gives examples in the form of stories explaining the meaning of these states and on how to reach these states... Through laughter, sudden jerks, emptying of the mind, surprising the mind.

Some of my favourite lines from the book are:

"One who chooses will always be incomplete , less than the whole because the part he chooses will continue to delude him and the part he denies  will continue to pursue and haunt him. "

"A door is always in the middle, between the opposites - the extremes"

"Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring,  one sees only the manifestations"

This is one such book where every line of the book leaves you in a multitude of thoughts that linger on. And my review in words just can't do justice to that feeling. 

Link to download the book is here (free for a limited period). 

Link to my own book 'Dots And Streaks' is here (free for limited period).

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

His eyes loved the disarray
While her mind couldn't see anything astray
The break of the dawn was his solace
Whereas, into the night's silence she loved to gaze
His taste buds yearned for the bland or something sweet
While her taste always lied in the spices
His love for music resided in the instrument beats
And her heart went for the lyrical pieces
Mindless comedy was his source of entertainment
Realistic films were her penchant
Their only common thread
Were the words in writing which had led
Twelve years gone past
In a blink of an eye
And if you still ask
What's that's common between them
They can only laugh together
At the years that have sped

PS : Happy Anniversary S :)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Share The Work Load | Three Generations

The Grandparents Generation

As a child whenever I used to visit my grandparents during vacations I always used to find my grandma toiling hard in the kitchen. So much so that I for a very long time used to think that was her room. She would always be found there. Sometimes making delicacies for all the grandkids or sometimes taking a break from her day long work to grab a bite or sometimes even catching a nap. While my grandfather was retired and he would spend time going for walks and got all the necessary ingredients which my grandma had dictated and rest of the day he would read or listen to news or play with us grandkids. 

Today, when I look back and wonder on the division of work load between my grandparents I can only remember that apart from getting groceries and doing all the remaining outside house work my grandfather used to wash his own used plates and cups and probably wash his own clothes. Remaining entire responsibility of the food part and cleaning part was on my grandma's shoulders. But I really don't know if she found it unfair... All I remember is her big smile of satisfaction when we grandkids used to tumble on each other to pile on the scrumptious delicacies she made. 

The Parents Generation

Coming to my parents, again the workload division was pretty similar. My mother being a homemaker looked after the house and father was responsible for anything outside the house. But as we were not present in our native state the number of visitors to our house were limited and my mother didn't seem to be living in the kitchen like my grandma. 

As a child I remember my father also helping my mother in getting us kids get ready for the school. Mornings were always a mad rush where every minute counted. My mother would be busy in the kitchen with breakfast and packing lunch for us while my father would hurriedly iron our uniforms and feed us both kids before dropping us off at the bus stop. 

After a few years when we passed out of school my father's work load reduced a bit but my mother's probably remained the same. I remember she never used to allow me come into the kitchen. Her argument was always the same that cooking is no rocket science one day or the other you will learn it for now concentrate on studies. 

I remember asking her at times that do you feel it's an unfair division of work... As I see papa has Sundays off but you don't get any offs. And she used to have a simple reply... It's not easy what he is doing... It's a difficult job to go out there and earn a living for the family.... He needs at least that one day to relax... I get to relax everyday during the day when you all leave home in the morning. I used to ask her what about the days when you are not well... I don't see anyone take care of you... Whereas you take care of us when we fall sick. Again she would say, I get my rest... Your dad goes to work even when he is unwell... Going out for work when you are unwell is much more difficult than staying at home when you are feeling sick. 

I also remember asking her why do you want me to go for a job and she would answer your job has nothing to do with all this that is just for you to feel financially independent....dont you link the two now.  Maybe she was satisfied too in some way is what I used to think. 

Generation Us

When it came to us, things were a bit different.... We both were working. Household work was still there and someone had to do it. So, we outsourced it. We even outsourced a bit of parenting to a baby sitter who lived with us. 

Now, what was the definition of work load division?! Just because the work is outsourced doesn't mean we used to dump our plates with leftover food in the sink. The rule was simple.... each one (including our little one) fully empties the leftover food on the plate to the bin before putting it in the sink so that it's not a hassle for the maid the next day in cleaning. In the same way, the floor needs to be off toys and other litter....each one to tidy up their own clutter....  so that the maid doesn't have to do it while sweeping the next day. 

Babysitter had to take care of the child when we were not at home so she has to get an undisturbed full night's sleep.... So all the tantrums of the child we used to manage between us after lights went off. 

My husband's mind switches off at night 12 am and he just can't keep his eyes open... So the responsibility to manage the kid in the night was mine. Since I did that I got to sleep till the last minute in the morning while my husband woke up early to instruct the cook and got ready to accommodate my schedule. I would keep every thing ready in the night itself for my Son's school so that in the morning I have no work other than getting ready and rushing to catch my bus at 7-30 am to office. 

Now, considering that I got less sleep the whole work week husband would take care of my Son during the weekend when I make up for my lost sleep hrs. While my babysitter would make the world's best masala tea and the entire household's favourite south Indian dosas and chutney for weekend breakfast. And my maid was the most worried person in the house if I left in the mornings without taking my dabba. 

The Workload Division In Real

So, basically where there is a home in true sense there is a workload division. It might be visible is a material sense of way or may be invisible... But it has to be there... And is always there in a healthy happy home. 

And that's what the Ariel advertisement addresses to some extent and also lacks to address to some extent. While it shows that the working lady comes back home and starts clearing the clutter of the toys around and multi tasking and all.....its great to see that the lady's father realises....but it again starts talking about boy/girl teaching of division of work etc. If the lady's father in the advertisement could get up and come and teach the grand kids to have empathy for their mom who's returned tired from work... And help her by cleaning the clutter....the message would have probably been bought by the husband watching the match and asking for tea to his wife also. 

But then why show all this... And indirectly give the message of guy's work and girl's work..... Why not show the empathy between the family members... Show that each one is doing something for the other directly or indirectly and that's how generally the families operate....will that not be a better way?! Will it not be better to teach everyone to have love and empathy in the family than this men/women division of work! Isn't that a better message!

PS : Posted for the prompt of #sharetheload by Blogadda

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Life, not a picnic neither a race!

From the past few days I must have tried multiple times to pen down few thoughts....but somehow either I feel lost half way... Or I again wonder what's the purpose. Nevertheless, let me give it a try again today and see how far I get. So, the turn of events in the last few days have been shocking one after other. First with the news of the sad demise of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput and second with the news of loss of lives of our army personnel in the India China face off. 

Usually, I refrain from posting anything on the current ongoing events as I consider this space to be my safe haven to escape to when mind needs solace. But this one time I thought let me just get out the things disturbing in my head. And go by the philosophy that ....writing it down helps. 

So, coming back to the events.....both the events are devastating... And devastation I guess can't be measured as greater than smaller than and all that.. It's immeasurable. So, I am also not going to attempt to do that. But, I just want to understand a few things by putting down the words on paper to reduce it's effect on my mind I guess. 

Depression... Just a word or real?  

Now, while this is just a word for few it's a battle for few others and for some others it's an abuse. I myself will own up that for a very long time I had believed just like others that this is a 'luxury illness of the rich' or for those who are 'mentally weak'. Till I came quite close to experiencing it myself once. 

It was just after my Son was born and we had returned home bringing our bundle of joy with us....and the sleepless nights and the exertion were all an ongoing daily routine...and for some unknown bizzare reason I used to have this humongous urge from inside to wail (not just cry). No, it's not that I couldn't identify myself with my Son or anything like that. I only had that urge to wail for no good reason. I was myself perplexed as to why I want to wail when I am so happy... What the hell is happening... And none of us, neither me or my family had any clue on postpartum depression. 

I remember asking people around in my family... That I feel clueless... As to why I am having this constant urge to wail my heart out. I only heard them call me crazy till my husband found out about postpartum depression. But luckily, I didn't go into depression.... The urge to wail passed in 2/3 days... And I was back to normal. But that's when I realised that the brain can be so vulnerable ....and it's fully possible to lose control on it under such circumstances.... Depression can be very real and without any reason. This sinked in me only when I came close to experiencing it... Even if the experience was for a short time fortunately! 

When it's not to do with chemicals going wrong in the brain or body

Now, that leaves us with the other type of depression.... When it's not to do with the chemicals. What's exactly going wrong in these cases. 

Again a personal example, I lost a promotion once in my job and I was devastated. I remember I couldn't sleep for 3 months... Yes,  for that long... I just used to stare into the night and repeat things in my head wondering if I was a loser....I felt betrayed! I just didn't feel like walking back to work.... and lost a lot of mental peace in doing so. All the feelings stayed with me till I changed my job which took 3 months. Again, luckily I didn't go into depression...

But this taught me a lot of things. One that the definition of 'success' has got distorted in our heads. Two that we just are unable to value life for what it is. 

Life during earlier times were simpler. People used to go for jobs mostly 9 to 5....earn less....therefore, focus on spending less as well and were busy saving just enough for future.... Saving was for the needs not the wants.They also had a more balanced life. They used to return home on time and give that time to family or themselves. I don't know if people then used to refer to the words 'career' and 'success' so much... Let alone 'money' and 'fame'. The motto then was job is a means to earn livelihood and nothing more or nothing less. Steady government job was the dream....and people used to make close friends not only in the neighborhood but also at work place.... Long lasting true friends. The world was still not so tech savy and everything was done with personal touch. Hence, the question of virtual and fake etc didn't rise much.

Now, in this era everyone is running a race.....a race with no finish line! Career, success, money, fame have all become synonymous with each other and the greed (sorry to use the word) for it seems to be endless. I wonder at what point self worth got associated with all this too. And the saddest part is while running the race no one turns their head to look behind. No one sees how far they have already come. No one sees if anyone has fallen while running.... Do they need some help.... Rather there are many who feel happy with others fall! 

So, now the question is if everyone is running and you suddenly are not able to keep up the pace.... And want to pause... And look around for a shoulder to put your head on for a while.... How is that going to happen. Everyone is running remember! 

Where are we going wrong

This also makes me wonder when depression is so common these days how come the soldiers in the army or the doctors in the covid ward are not facing it (even if we don't count in the workers and the class dealing with hunger as a daily struggle). Especially when it's a life and death situation for them and they lead such tough lives. What are they made of if not flesh and blood.... How does their brain function? Why is depression keeping away from them more than us? 

So, then is it wrong to assume that depression hits only when we lose the sense of purpose in our life. I am not going to talk about the grief of losing someone dear or ailments and disabilities .... That unimaginable pain is something that is way above this kind of depression.

Sense of purpose in life

What exactly is this sense of purpose in life? Where did we go wrong in defining it because of which we are facing depression as the result. Is it our education system? Do good marks define a sense of purpose? Does a good seat in a college define? Or does job define? Or money, fame, success.... What defines? 

When we are teaching our kids to pursue things in life with grit and determination.... Are we also telling them that incase you reach there and don't find that sense of purpose... It's OK... Drop it and try something else. Do we tell our kids that job is not something which defines your sense of purpose in life.... It's just a means not an end in itself! Do we tell them that once you secure that basic first hierarchy of Maslow's needs roti, Kapda,makaan in the bare minimum sense rest is luxury... It's not success or it doesn't define any purpose of life.... It's just your endeavour and your liking as to how far you want to go. 

Success has no definition neither does failure. How do we ingrain that sense of nothing is be all and end all in life ?! Shouldn't we ourselves practice it for them to learn! 

We can't define success or failure but can we define gratification and peace for them so that they don't lose that sense of purpose pursuing meaningless things in life. Are we showing them the right examples as the inspirations so that they dont end up in the race too.... Running and running.... Not knowing that it's OK to pause....its OK to not belong.....  It's OK to quit and step out and go sit under a tree and relax.... Only if you do that maybe you will find there that shoulder you were looking for in that race!! And even if you don't find that shoulder.... Look within yourself... Only if you pause you can see that peace was always there inside.... You just never reached for it! And sense of purpose is always pursuing many many things....  everywhere ....all around.... You just have to lift your head and look around....! 

Life, may not be a picnic.... But we don't have to make it a race! 

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Monday, June 15, 2020

The Lake

Like a bottomless pit
It lied there still knit
It's whispers heard
Only in the ripples
And whenever they rose
Not a leaf shivered
Nor the wind froze
Stealthily they came
And silently they slept
In those deep recesses
Into which slowly they crept
The echo of that silence
Deafeningly resonated inside
While the mountains on the side
With awe kept admiring
The beauty of the ripples outside
In that labyrinth of the ripples
The whispers yearned for the calm
Which only the moon lit glittery night
With a smile promised to provide
From behind the mountains
When the dawn broke again
The sky lit with the bright light
But the ripples had all vanished 
Having embraced the night long gone
Finally, away from the chaos of silence
To rest in that deep slumber of peace
Only the bottomless pit remained behind
As neither the tears nor the rain
Could ever fill it again

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Friday, June 12, 2020

The Woman That I Am - Not A Book Review

I don't think I need to give a rationale as to why I picked up this book as my next read... I guess the title itself says it all :)!

I had decided to club three book reviews in one single blog post from here on but this book deserves special attention.... Not only because of the title alone... But because it's a compilation of stories of 30 women and writing a review for this book is like writing a review for all those 30 beautiful pieces of work in the book.... Each of which made me feel special for the woman that I am.

Cover Page & Title

I simply loved the cover page. It just couldn't have been anything else. A perfect cover page design for signifying 'The Woman That I Am'. A simple picture which somehow instills that feeling of celebration within.... The celebration of womanhood... The celebration of Acknowledgment.... For the Woman that I am... You are... And we all are. Very nicely and in all it's simplicity the cover design just says it all....

Book Sneak Peek

I loved the very concept of the book... As in, we all happen to read various blog posts, articles and pages on womanhood and it's various aspects... But mostly in a disjoint manner. Each of them have a different story of struggle... But to bring it all under one fold... In the form of one book... Is such an amazing concept. When you read the stories of each one of them.....each experience being unique of the trysts faced... Yet each that you can identify with... Each a distinct celebration in itself of the enigma of womanhood.

While one story speaks of a woman trying to find her value at home another speaks of her trying to empower herself in the true sense of being able to choose between career and home.... While some other speaks of a mother and it's definition and some other of societal ideologies of ages being associated with marriage and motherhood. The book is a collage of experiences.... Very real and very true... Which every woman experiences without fail.

An ode to the book & it's title

While, I strongly believe that the word 'Feminism' has got terribly abused over a period of time and so much so that it has started to overbear on the very concept of womanhood. I say this because I feel somewhere in that fight of equality we seemed to have missed the cause. Let me try to illustrate my point.....I pay an ode to this book for bringing out the 'woman in me' to write down my thoughts today :).

The 'Door mat' Feeling

So, if a door mat feels like a door mat... And sees no worth of being a door mat then who does it expect to garner it with it's deserved worth. And if the door mat finds itself to be of utmost value.... So much that it's placed at the entry point of every house... To serve a very important purpose without which the entire house is at the mercy of the dirt evading it's space..... Then does any one really have to explicitly tell or uphold the door mat's worth?! In simple terms, if the door mat were to realise it's self worth it does not have to wait for anyone's endorsement and for all you know it can even probably see it's worth in other's eyes... The very ones it was searching before to find that worth.

Basically, value or worth is what you give to yourself... No one else can give or take it away from you. It doesn't matter who you are... A homemaker or a career woman... If you feel like a doormat... Others will treat you like one! Seeking value (not begging for it!) is like a mirror... It will show you what you want to see... If you see value in yourself the mirror will also show you the same. And let me assure you.... The feeling of door mat has nothing to do with financial independence.... You might be an ambitious career woman earning decent pay checks and still feel like a door mat!

The word 'sacrifice'

Coming to sacrifices....I don't know if there is some abnormality particularly in me or anyone else also feels the same... But with all honesty, when I see those superwoman mothers being honored for all the motherly sacrifices that they have made for their child snaps and forward messages on Mother's Day it makes me cringe. Why does a mother have to be propagated as a superwoman.... If someone is doing all those superhumanly things as a mother.... Kudos to her... But why is that being set as an example. And what's with the word sacrifice really?!

If I choose to give up my job for my child .....or if I choose to continue with my job after a child... They are choices we make as a woman. Why term them as sacrifices?! Even if you do so... Are you trying to say if a mother chooses to continue with her career and is leaving her child back home with a baby sitter or at a day care is not making any sacrifice?! Is sacrifice only restricted to career aspirations and persuasion of hobbies and nothing else?!

Every choice that we as an individual make... Be it a woman or a man... Is accompanied with costs to be paid... Or as you call it sacrifices to be made. Anything you want to pursue in life wholeheartedly will lead to sacrifice of something else.... It's just one life and millions of aspirations... You can't possibly pursue all. 

Let's not abuse this word sacrifice. I choosing to be a mother is a choice.... I choosing to quit my job so that I can be with my child is also a choice. I cooking for my child... Helping with his homework.... Taking care of his/her likes/dislikes/rants.....sleepless nights etc is what comes naturally if you have chosen to go on that roller coaster ride of motherhood. And you do all this naturally because when you see that smile on your child's face you feel gratified and rewarded for more than what you had laboured. And in doing all this do I crave to see myself as an inspiration to my child. No, I don't... How can I... I want my child to do better than me in life.... Better in all respects. And for him/her to grow up to be better than can I be the inspiration.... If I am the inspiration then my child will grow up to be like me... Not better than me!! 

In other words, motherhood is a choice you made to feel good for yourself then why belittle this divine feeling by terming it as sacrifice?! And why ask for endorsements on this too.... And why propagate the thought of sacrifice?! Motherhood is a divine feeling to be cherished and lived then why make it sound like an accomplishment waiting to be recognised and awarded!

'No time for self'

Yes, unfortunately a day is designed in such a way that it has only 24 hrs.... Sadly we can't ask the Sun to has not got that far yet!!

In this world and age which is moving at lightening pace let me ask a simple question again.... Who do you think has any time (unless really worked out in the schedule) in his/her jam packed schedule for himself/herself on this planet Earth?! Unless you are like a log with nothing better to do in life everyone else are fighting to adjust their day in those sacrosanct 24 hrs ! Everyone is running against that race of time. So, please pat yourself that in whatever you are doing... That is be it household work... Or at office... Or juggling with both... Woman or man for that matter.... No one has that sought after 'Me Time' have to fend for it yourself as per your definition. It's like salt.... Add as per your taste... And it's always in small quantities and a very important ingredient.... You forget about it... It's to your peril.... You add too much of it... Peril again!

Fight for Equality

Yes, we must fight.... If we don't fight for our own right... We won't get it. True... Very True! But what are we fighting for.... Equality in what? Should we not define it?

Somehow this fight has also got twisted and bent towards 'monetary benefit' and finances. For equal amount of work the pay definitely should be equal....I completely agree....  but what about unequal amount of work?!

A and B have equal amount of work in an office. Both are equally sincere and equally hard working and let's assume for ease sake both are women in this case. A goes on maternity leave for 6 months and comes back. Now, it's time for appraisals. So, who should get promoted or the better rating/increment/bonus. Just incase B does get all these things why does A feel betrayed? Did A achieve any less in the whole process? Or is it just the money and the promotion that defines and is the only measure of achievement here? What about the creation of a life here by A... Why doesn't she count it towards her achievement for that year? If B was a man instead of a woman in the example how does the entire logic change?

Since our fight for equality has somehow got limited to just this petty issue organizations in India have given a 6 month maternity leave (instead of 3 months earlier)  and some organizations have assured no downfall in appraisal ratings because of the maternity leave and of course no firing during the leave period. That's it.... But we have missed the bigger picture here in just fighting for this teeny tiny piece of equality. Many new mothers still leave their jobs after a while... Even after these rules.... Do you know why? Because after a point the equal pay thing doesn't matter... All the mothers need is some flexibility. And when I say flexibility it's not in terms of having a crib in the office building but flexibility in working hours.

If organizations could give work from home options.... Half day work weeks... Or flexibility to choose 3/4 day work weeks still retaining the concept of equal pay equal work... Many women wouldn't have to embrace motherhood and leave their jobs. Even today many companies ask reason for gaps in CVs and don't appreciate it even if its for child care reasons. But how much are we fighting for these things?! Somewhere in that fight for equal dignity we are losing the race to equal pay ! 

And if the fight is for equal distribution of household work... We will come to it below. And for everything else, we are more than equal....we know that....well, so then what's the fight for?! 

Equal work distribution 

Yes, the household work and when I say household it means everything from the cleaning of dishes to procuring the earning to run the household.... Distribution should be equal. Very justified ask. 

The ask sounds silly only when we start segregating the work as 'menial' and 'non-menial'. If we ourselves call the work we do as menial and valueless I guess it's difficult to expect someone else to value it. Cooking, washing, cleaning.... How many times have you heard anyone say it with pride.... What do you do.... I take care of essential services of household without which survival is difficult.... I cook, wash and clean. Does any one answer that way?! If you crib and complain and call your job menial then that's the status it will attain and so it has. And after the work has been branded as menial the fight on distribution of it begins!

And just for a hypothetical argument... Look around.... All essential services are underpaid and taken for granted.... But that doesn't make them of any less value.... People can only clap and cheer for these essential services....and cant be more thankful.... as they are invaluable!

The Asks

The problem on the list of asks from a woman is age old... Not a novel one. In fact, we should be truly lucky to be born in this generation where atleast a few of us have had the privilege to earn our rights. 

So, coming to the asks.... Yes they are many... Innumerable... Should be beautiful, fair, modest, shaant and susheel (let me not spoil it with the English translation), able to do all the house hold work (or sometimes should do!) .... And added to all this a new feature these days should be educated and  EARNING (you are clever enough to add the greater than smaller than symbols...!!) Long list. But my only humble submission....if you have just one attribute of this long list...that single one in the bold capitalized... They why fall prey to honing the other attributes which you don't have and which seem to you like a compulsion forced upon you. What's stopping you from walking out if you find it unjustified ? The list is long and injustice it is... Yes.... But if the doer is a culprit so is the one who succumbed to the injustice especially when she is not a dependent. Don't you think?! 

The Real Problem

Having said that, not that it's a wrongly understood fairytale story for any woman here. Only a woman knows what it takes to be a woman. There sure are real problems (even if I don't talk of the bone chilling crimes and the innumerable societal taboos) and in all their gravity. All the above might hold true for the privileged class.... But the social issues rooted elsewhere are manifold and need to be addressed.

Unfortunately a woman not so well educated or maybe uneducated.... Who was neither given the right to pursue her studies nor any exposure.....and was made dependent and left at the mercy of the societal conditions and beliefs.... Devoiding her or rather stripping her off the confidence to be able to stand on her own if need be....and with all this if fate is against her... Then the problem is stark and real. But it's also very unfortunate that that very woman doesn't know about any of the above fights nor are these fights reaching her! 

Celebration of womanhood will be true and complete on that day... When even this woman will be able to celebrate that woman in her. 

So yes,  till then .......let's keep taking these baby steps by compilation of thoughts and experiences through such books. If I pick and choose stories of this book the essence of the book will be lost as each story is real and each story is unique. 

So, if you want to be a part of the joy in the celebration of womanhood... Come take a step towards it by downloading the book

Link to download (free for limited period) is here

Link to my own book 'Dots And Streaks' is here (free download for limited period). 

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Sunday, June 07, 2020

Fellow Authors From My Land - Odisha | Book Reviews

The month of May had been a pretty adventures one with me embarking on my journey of 'blogger to author' and with launching of my debut book via blogchatter. And just like every journey is memorable not just because of the adventure it unfolds but because of the accompaniment of the people you come across who make it memorable this too was no exception. Like in a foreign land when you come across people from your own land your feeling of belongingness gets livened.... I felt the same when I met these authors from my native place embarking the journey with me in the world of blogchatter e-book carnival 2020.

Having been born and brought up in a different state (because of my father's job posting in Andhra Pradesh then Telangana now) my association with my native state had been limited to our summer vacation visits to my grandparents place until my post graduation of two years that I did from Odisha. Hence, Odisha (the land of Jagannath) has always held a very special place in my heart entwined with childhood memories of hearing to tales of our ancestral villages to celebration of various festivals and occasions in the traditional style and relishing of home made local delicacies from my grandma's hands. I don't know how many people in India know that Cuttack and Bhubaneswar alone host close to 300 exquisite pandals celebrating Durga Puja, in a large scale and in full fondest memories of childhood so much so that even today Dussehra celebrations seem incomplete to me if I am unable to visit those pandals during the Puja. 

Hence when I came across these books highlighting the culture and traditions of Odisha I couldn't help delving into them even after having read each of their posts during the A2Z blogging challenge. Let me give a glimpse of Odisha through a brief overview of these books:

Starting with the book 'My Village My Country' - The book comprises of glimpses of culture and traditions of not only Odisha in particular but also of India as a whole. The author being a well travelled person himself and having had the opportunity to reside in various states within India has written his first hand experiences of the cultures in those places highlighting his native place Odisha and his village Nua Mahulia.

What I loved about the book is that it just made me reminisce a lot of my childhood days starting with the Bali Jatra fair that is held in Oct/Nov every year commencing with Kartika Purnima (full moon day of Kartik) celebrations by Boita Bandana. This reminded me of floating that small palm leaf on a tiny wooden shaped raft with a candle atop along with my grandmother. Thakurani Jatra which the book speaks about reminds me of the numerous occasions I have seen it in summers and asked my grandparents about the stories behind each of those female deities. Those intriguing dances and music of Danda Nacha which I only got to know now after reading the book that it has a powerful religious meaning. The book also very beautifully explains the history behind Odissi dance origin and the forms/poses. The description of the village Nua Mahulia which is so very similar to my grandfather's village which he used to describe to us in all his tales... I wish I remembered it's name!

Apart from all these the book also talks about other aspects of India delving into history of erstwhile Bharatavarsha. The author has also touched upon the finer aspects of Hinduism, its origin and differences between Vedas and Upanishads. There is also an interesting perspective of the different forms of Mathematics and the significance of Shunya (Zero).

Overall the book is like a first hand diary entry of an Indian by heart and soul who loves to delve in it's cultural diversity (barring the few prejudices) with a soft corner for his homeland and native state Odisha.

Link to download the book for free (limited period) is here.

The cover page of the book 'Geographical Indications Of Odisha' is so beautifully and meaningfully designed that it just can't fail to capture your attention. Very apt to the title of the book you can see the various GIs of Odisha very artistically showcased on the cover page itself. Did you know Odisha has 17 GIs to its name?!

Hailing from Odisha and having seen, bought and used multiple products from the state over the years I wasn't aware about their GI tagging. Apart from the famous sweet battle between West Bengal  and Odisha claiming on rasgulla/rasagola to be theirs I wasn't aware of the other GI tags. This book is an eye opener and a must read for people like us who should know and be aware about the cultural and traditional identifications of our native places and our roots. Yes, there is much more to Odisha apart from the world reknown Ratha Yatra (Car Festival) and the Sun Temple of Konark.

Although I never really got to reside in my own home state for a longer period of time I always loved a few things from there being it's native. Like the Orissa Pattachitra or the Pipli Applique Work which are unique to the state. I love them so much that till date whatever items I have bought of this work I have stored them somewhere in the corner of my house like those old photo albums so that whenever nostalgia harnesses they can be revisited. And this book highlights all these works, their artists, the places in Odisha where these originate from and the method and the way they are done.

Not a very big fan of jewelry or sarees myself, I however am a big fan of the silver filigree (Tarakasi work) and the handloom fabric prints on bedsheets, covers and dresses. Thanks to the author for explaining all the different types of fabric prints of Odisha in so much detail... Now I know the types of Bandha/ Ikat prints and it's really interesting to read how it is done....and it was an eye opener for me to know that verses from "Gita Govinda" are woven in these I can look for them! 

Be it about the different types of fabrics like Sambalpuri Bandha, Dhalapathar fabrics, Gopalpur Tussar or Berhampur Patta...the author has put her heart and soul in explaining these works to great detail and creating awareness about these works. The book is a must read for people hailing from the state of Odisha and also for those readers who love to study the art work of various states of India this book provides the wholesome information needed. 

Link to download the book for free (limited period) is here.

I loved the cover page of this book as well... Simple and elegant... With colourful flowers and leaves signifying the title 'Five Petals'. As intriguing is the title of the book so are the five different stories in it very skillfully woven just like the cover page! Each story having a deep rooted meaning or a life lesson. Loved the way the author has tried her hand in different story forms including the suspense genre.

Not to give away the plot of the stories let me just discuss about the essence of Odisha in the stories. Although the book is a pure work of fiction and the theme is short stories this book also brings forth few subtle Odisha related aspects...... Like the story on the household of the Pattnaiks or the story of Neetu and Aja. Now, for all those who hail from the state very well know the word 'Aja' and I am glad the author has retained the name of the character as Aja in her book upholding in an indirect way the Odia language.  

This being the debut book of the author the book reflects the childlike enthusiasm and a story teller's heart. I hope going forward she can weave more stories  hailing from our roots in Odisha keeping the subtleties intact marking her niche.

Link to download the book for free (limited period) is here.

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Link to my own book 'Dots And Streaks' is here (free download for limited period).