Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Days are Packed


Some recent publications: 

Grubstreet, Why I Write : link

The London Journal of Fiction:
Dead Mother and our Father (Print) - Link to journal
Poem - Link to My Poem - Link

The Wrong Quarterly, Author Feature . This magazine was recently nominated for a Stack Award - Original Fiction for the issue I was published in. 

My interview was featured in the Half The World- Global Literati  - Link to my interview

It's been a slow and steady progress. I find myself more and more comfortable talking about my stories and what I am trying to accomplish. I found a wonderful writing group last year and have some lovely Boston writers as friends. 

My Days Are Packed...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami

One of the reasons I am always drawn to Murakami’s writing is because it makes one extremely cynical and critical of their own likes and dislikes and how they view life. I sometimes find myself judging my own self rather than the content and the context: Did I really like this book? Do I relate to these feelings, am I scandalized or appalled or simply approving? Of course these ruminations are not mandatory, but if one does find themselves over thinking after reading a Murakami book, don't get surprised or much too perturbed.
The mystical, the supernatural and the sexual overtones of his work are a manifestation of feelings, perspective and desiresIt would not be fair to say that his writing is food for thought, but it is definitely a decadent dessert worth the money.
Kafka on the Shore is one of those books which keeps you completely immersed till the very last page and then leaves you feeling extremely confused. You find yourself questioning whether you actually did like the book or if you liked it just because the book carries a certain reputation, falls into a specific genre you usually like and is heralded by people who might be considered fashionable enthusiasts in your social circle or on the Internet . Murakami does have an exclusive and ardent fan following. Either or tether ways, his books do make for great reading and one will enjoy reading him if the reader enjoys literary fiction.
While reading the book, I went through several motions; the assertive yet esoteric tone of the book got me hooked early on. The chapters alternate between Kafka, a fifteen year old runaway, and Nakata, an old man who can speak to cats, tracing their bizarre journey and interesting accomplices. It keeps one engaged, as the tone and tenor of both the parallel stories are quite different. While Kafka’s is sexually charged with a familiar youthful angst, Nakata’s is spiritual and calm with wonky wonders that balances the tone. Interestingly, all the violence is depicted in Nakata chapters.
The book starts rather dramatically with young Kafka running away from home and provides the alternate and rather detailed explanation of a mysterious incident that changed Nakata’s life forever. The author is able to draw the reader deep into the story and into one’s own mind. The plot is mesmerizing, slightly spooky and convoluted, with elaborate philosophical and spiritual musings of Ms Seiko, Oshima and Kafka, the principal characters. These musings are unrealistic and over the top but carry strong content, which really keeps one pondering over them. Nakata’s characterization is brilliant and endearing. The sequence of events flows steadily, but Murakami just drops certain explanations from the book, never to be answered. The reader loses track of the layered references and the engaging mystery.
Bizarre and supernatural sequence of events like leeches and mackerel falling from the sky, talking cats and ghostly spirits are easily weaved into the plot — characteristic of Murakami’s work. However, this book definitely feels more controlled than Murakami’s other great book Dance Dance Dance, where one is sure that the writer has let his pen, feelings and imagination run wild and bouncing.
The book ends on a disappointing note. Too many loose ends make the plot unsubstantial. One might find themselves re reading certain parts of the book; certain parts definitely need going back to, especially the part where a ghostly spirit – Captain Sanders makes an appearance. But the ending may be forgettable for some.
All in all, the book is still recommended for the undeniable brilliance in Murakami’s prose.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summertime Summer Reads


Will I be more interesting after my twenties, is it too late or way too early to fathom Calvino. Revolutionary Road is one beautifully written depressing book I will never recommend to anyone…seriously read it, it’s lovely. Dan Chelotti ‘s X is mesmerizing, these lines haunt : ‘Why do I expect magic only when things break down?’ , I re read ‘The Great Gatsby’ , it was even more exquisite this time as I had Di’Caprio’s lovely voice and face swimming and prancing through the text. I must have chomped through a million cherries this summer, and yes 50 oz of coffee a day is a bit much I realize, 36 oz works just fine. For some reason I have 250 followers on Twitter, it’s funny because I have been inactive on it for almost a year. And do you know what makes reading Cosmicomics easier, reading Calvino’s’ Six Memos for the Next Millennium ‘alongside it, it’s Sparknotes of sorts, and that my friend is a dangling modifier. Go figure.
I really can’t run. I tried, but my huffing gets very disconcerting to people around, especially when it turns into a shrill wheezing while I continue stomping and it seems I am about to have a seizure; even though I don’t feel as bad as I look at the time. Boston is a city of seriously seasoned runners. The other day a guy took me in his arms thinking I needed to be rescued, he was cute, I took a few extra seconds to tell him I was fine. Also it’s so much easier and practical to carry a book on a walk than on a run, you don’t feel the need to be rescued very often. My walks are longer, much longer, thank you long summer days. Boston is a different city in the summer, not home. I feel like a tourist as I make my way to Charles five times a week.
Summer doesn’t belong here. You cannot warm up to Boston summer as you can to its winter or embrace it with quite as much dignity. The dog days* make you hopeful, in winter all you want to do is get home and read a book with a steaming cup of coffee. Expectations are easier to manage in winters, a warm coat and good pair of gloves suffices. I feel obliged to quote Thoreau to balance my cynicism, ‘One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.’Summer is frivolous, never enough, a fine day but a memory, each day a beautiful stranger you hope to get to know. It leaves you wanting this summer; it is like the circus in town, it brings joy, lot of entertainment and distraction. The whole town talks about it, goes to it, frolicks but after a while the town wants it to leave. It is difficult to sit quiet at home, or be serious about anything when the circus is in town.
The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh was an engaging read, a disappointing end but kept me busy for two whole days, intersperse that with Camus’ The Plague, and what you have is an intriguing scuba diving expedition with the air pressure not quite right. There’s this lovely property in Cornwall, United Kingdom I wish to spend a week of my summer someday, waking up to scones with strawberry jam and coffee, and view so majestically mystic. Chance upon some giants and piskies, romancing a Cornish folklore.
I should explain the reference to Dog Days* above. In ancient Rome dog days was associated with a dog star called Sirius (As a Harry Potter fan this got me really excited, now we know why Sirius Black’s animagi was a shaggy black dog.).  This Dog Star was believed to be only seen during the hot summer months of July and August. It never was. There’s also an allusion around dog days – an evil time, wine turning sour, dogs going mad and what not crap… I ignore such references, for I do not believe anything can be unpleasant or evil when being compared to a dog.
I always leave Calvin and Hobbes an hour before sleep, few pages of Hitchhiker’s guide to Galaxy for midnight, a cup of Rooibos with honey, and sweet dreams it is.
 
 


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Bummer!

Right! So what have I been up to this summer, not much really.  Yes, there was this short and sweet trip to Las Vegas with my girls from undergrad (and a husband for some reason) … Vegas is vain, and no matter how hard I try and accept the vanity of ‘Vegas Baby’, really it’s crap . The sites were boring, the hotel architecture tacky, interiors even worse, the city lights at best mediocre, and the promise of ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ sadly pathetic, because if getting mindlessly drunk ought to be a big secret, then woohoo… you have a story to tell.  Went for a male strip show , which did take my breathe away, I pride myself in thinking I don’t fall for the obviously good looking ones in life without good reason (Matt Damon’s a Harvard dropout alright!)  , especially the kinds who drop their pants for a living, but sigh, ten minutes in and I was swooning to the bulging glistening muscles ,the cart wheels and pelvic thrusts. For those two hours I truly believed that the 12 hunky Australians on stage were the only decent beings on this planet worth splurging on. Then there were martinis on high heels, short dresses way up my knees, and googly eyes with boys in the club, my friend and I soon realized we weren't really enjoying ourselves, somehow attention from horny drunk men  and spring break undergrad boys isn't fun anymore, if ever it was. And I did make some money on the gambling floor; the rush of winning was pretty cool, and then I lost some, and a dealer yelled at me, that wasn't very cool. 


To save our trip from utter disappointment, my friend and I decided to go see the Grand Canyon on our last day in Vegas.  Both of us had packed extra pairs of pumps with our luggage but no sneakers, so we bought warm socks and trudged along the rim of the grand valley in awe and flip flops.  It was gorgeous, the day was clear, the temperature a crisp 65F, and the drive engaging. Our guide was a delightful Chilean, Angelo, who wouldn’t shut up and shared wonderful stories about the Mafia time that was, the Hoover Dam and the charming little town of Seligman, which inspired the movie Cars’ backdrop.  The view from atop the Canyon is truly mesmerizing, it tingles your senses, as our guide droned on about the age of the rocks, the geological transformations et all, I went into a reverie, I felt accomplished looking at the view, of finally being there, as if that had been the aim all along, The Canyon inspires that, so I’m glad we made the trip.  Oh yes, there was this sweet extremely pseudo French bistro Mon Ami Gabi, right opposite the Bellagio, we had a lovely meal there, with the fountain rising and singing at twilight , there was no heist to cheer to, but sitting there with my best friend felt sufficiently awesome, the bread was good.
I finished my year of corporate residency at the company I was working at, they offered me a full time position, I felt they courted me well, and now I await my paperwork to come through. I ended my residency on a high note of appreciation from all, especially from my manager, he has become a mentor of sorts, I find myself constantly seeking his guidance, approval and recognition, he definitely inspires loyalty in me.   And then there were classes, homework, midterms and finals... I trudged along, completing things that need to be completed, attending to stuff that needed attention, shopping online during my minutes of respite, in a way I’m glad there weren’t too many of that.  But then I have spent a lot of time stressing that summer is wooshing by, and not letting me ride a bike, row a boat, climb a mountain and wander on lost trails and truly experience the wonders of New England. I really need that driving license I have been a complete bum about it.

Then there was a Miami- Keywest holiday this past weekend with my oldest friend, his wife and friends of his … at best it was a lot of fun, but more so awkward, as I honestly found myself bored to death, no fault of my traveling companions, they are lovely people. Lucky for me, Keywest is beautiful, and our hotel room even more so. I do hope to go back soon, maybe a bit more alone seeking solitude, ride the bicycle around town for a longer period of time, and eat way more fish than I did. The highlight of my trip was my visit to the Hemingway house in Keywest.  A lovely colonial two storied mansion style house, lot of space within the house for sea breeze to dance around.  The bathrooms especially are tastefully done, each bathtub overlooking the grounds, I can only imagine Ernest soaking in and just staring out. The lush grounds around the house reminded me of my garden in Kalina, where I’d love to get lost, walk around and muse with Elsa by my side. Six to seven tabby cats live on the property now, fat lazy things, they look so secure and at home, it was fun watching them. I remembered that one quote from his books : ' Never go on trips with anyone you do not love' and figured why Vegas wasn't so bad after all. 
My terrible tan is a big damper, though wouldn't trade it for the long hours bumming on the beach and in water, snorkeling, jet skying and splashing around. 
I'm glad for the break though, managed to read and re read quite a few books. 
So summer rolls by…yawn!!!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Unbearable Heaviness of Mediocrity





There is this persistent tiredness that you just cannot seem to shake off. You wake up because you have to. You stare into your cupboard, grimace at how unexciting you have begun to look. It isn’t that you do not like to dress up, and feel attractive, but the effort feels so futile now, after all it’s just another day at work.  Maybe, I’ll wear something nice on Thursday; a prayer to self.
As images roll by the T window, you sigh. Into a tunnel, the grimness inside becomes more pronounced, feels like death.  It’s not that you feel so grim on a daily basis, not yet at least, thus when you do, it takes you by surprise. And that is the day I’m talking about, that one day every couple of weeks, when the monotony that has set into life hits you, hit you so bad that life seems dismal.  When you look around and see images in frames, when a song on your pod makes you wanting. You look across, at a beautiful face, and wonder, a sudden rush of hope. You smirk. Or when one of the despondent ad banner, calling for depressed or tired people between the ages of 18-45 for a study at Boston Children’s hospital, makes you wonder more than it should. How old are you? 26…32. A screech, a halt, the shrill voice of a baby crying, shakes you off your reverie, back again, and you ask yourself, how did life get this way?  This feeling of stillness, of monotony, where you have started living life weekend to weekend, when the days between two Saturdays are nothing but a blur, or you treat it so, you do enough just to get through the week, you earn enough just to have fun every Saturday, for everything else, you’re always running short. When suddenly dreaming impossible dreams makes you sad , when wondering about the what ifs’ makes you shudder, for you aren’t that way past those moments , and yet find yourself resigning to how things are , that shouldn’t be. The everyday drama so inconsequential makes you frown at how petty your existence has become. When the unbearable heaviness of mediocrity slaps you right across the face and you look around the compartment despondently.
You can’t really shake it off can you - the heaviness, the realization and the drowning feeling droning through your insides. Can you give it all up; follow that dream, that desire to be different, to experience happiness do something you really liked to do once, wanted to be good at, wanted to devote time to, but gave up, for life got in the way you say. Sometimes, I feel this pang, this disappointment in self to not have given time and energy to that dream. But the truth is, you do not really want to give up everything to achieve that, for that existence is so esoteric and you like your life, the comfort, the money, the security, the girlfriend, the husband, the apartment. This existence, in spite and despite the struggle and lack of glory makes sense, is easier to handle. It is ironic, considering how sensitive our jobs, and well-being is to the current economy and government legislations. Somehow the alternate was never a possibility. Deep down you knew you weren’t good enough to make it, or never had the patience to figure it out, think it through, have that wild streak, and maybe you just could not make up your mind. And you have worked hard, worked really hard to get where you are, and today it just doesn’t feel enough, does it.
Or, you never really had a dream, just a plan, a life’s plan which you stayed true to. And you got that ideal job, not necessarily the dream job, but you’re comfortable. So the pang for a different life paints a blurrier picture, but it doesn’t undermine that desire to question how things are going.
This retrospective introspection makes you melancholic. And I only speak of that one day every once in a while, it may last a few hours, the week, not yet a lifetime.  Tomorrow you will be fine, the weekend will come and you will frolic it away, do chores or simply sleep through it watching ‘The Game of Thrones’. You have your life, its trials and tribulations, there’s no time, and there is no going back.  It is just that today for some reason you feel otherwise, everything is grim, there’s a little shudder - is life slipping away. You breeze past the day thinking of a time that could be, would be, if you could just take a break and follow a dream, a vocation, a stab at greatness, an achievement, a recognition. And that is the unbearable heaviness of mediocrity, it’ll come, it’ll go, and you’ll learn to embrace it with a little sigh.





Saturday, May 5, 2012

Boston Musing (4)

“- "I've been thinking Hobbes --"
- "On a weekend?"
- "Well, it wasn't on purpose..."”

- Calvin and Hobbes. :)

I am not even sure where to start, what to write and how much or how less to express. What adds more to the feeling of drama is that I wish to scream through my words, do a little dance (with some Jiggy thrown in) and of course move self and all to tears with tales of glory, sorrow and group hugs. Yes, I am aware that it is not going to happen and it isn’t really that big a deal. But the thought goes well with all the exaggerated emotions I feel, having completed my first year of MBA.


The first year of MBA - done and wrapped. The second semester was definitely tough, what made it even more stressful was the Corporate Residency hunt. Looking for a job or an internship is never easy, and for someone as me who still feels so foreign in this lovely country, the hunt seemed formidable. It wasn’t so bad.   I did put in a lot of effort in planning and preparing for my interviews.  Networking with business executives really helped build an understanding of different opportunities and expectations in the corporate world. And the more I ventured the more I realized people love to talk about what they do and how. I'll be honest, it felt unnatural at the outset, often tiring -  talking to executives , trying to make an impression, and trying to get information, maybe an interview. As a business student, networking is a must -- embrace it, or resign yourself to it, either-ways you gotta do it .  Some interactions are wonderful and some downright painful, but it's fun, and you do learn a lot.  

The discomfort of being a foreigner here still lurks. To be fair, I have only been in this country for eight months. The environment was a new one; it brought forth a number of challenges, overwhelming changes and to a large extent an inferiority complex.  I fretted a lot, a lot and a lot. I am not very sure how I have fared in overcoming the complexes.  There was this pressure of defining myself, for I felt people saw me through the lens of an Indian stereotype, good or bad, it challenged my individuality, I did not like it; just because I would get questions and doubts about my writing and language skills.  I am not proud, but I let these insecurities get the better of me initially. It was half n half, a lot of it in my head and some of it in reality.  Before I moved here, I never represented anything other than myself, but here whether I like it or not, I do represent where I come from, a different culture and context, the affiliation and awareness stronger than ever before. The blending in has been an enriching experience with few faux pas , accent bashing, and of course getting used to all that is so different and so very new.  In the end, it comes down to perspective; I am who I am, and am finally comfortable being a ‘foreigner’. After all in my case it is another exotic differentiator J.

I am relaxed now, few days of break, a holiday in Rio de Janeiro followed by study program in Buenos Aires and Sau Paulo and then the start of my Corporate Residency. And did I mention just got back from New York City, very, very enamored. The summer is definitely looking up. The back is rested, the neck is swan and I glide in and out of intro and retrospection of the past eight months and the spring semester in particular. The Wall Street journal finally makes more sense than it should. I worked hard, learnt and experienced loads, built some important relationships and great friendships, most importantly I find myself smiling at the prospect of all the new beginnings and even tougher challenges on the road ahead.


The days remain packed.... 



Friday, January 6, 2012

Boston Musing (3)

One would think that moving to a whole new country, settling down in a beautiful city,  doing an MBA  and the likes of it all would have me raving and blubbering all over this lovely rant space of mine. I will be honest -- I want to, I really want to. But I find it hard to condense to text five insane months of overwhelming changes, experiences, and all the binge eating and drinking that usually followed (follows) such events.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride.  From the first day I landed here till now, every aspect of my personality, my perspective and even my likes and dislikes have been challenged. It was disconcerting at first; I landed here with a butt load of confidence, and then felt slightly shattered. I was shaken and stirred, often left panting, but I trudged along, found some wonderful friends to help me along the way and some cynical acquaintances that kept the boat rocking. The Fall semester whooshed by, and I sit here, wiser, a new year in a beautiful city and some lovely people in my life. I am smiling, it wasn’t so bad, I made it … I am doing quite OK. Boston is awesome.
Business school has some important lessons to teach. For starters no matter how much experience, intellect and hard work you bring to the program, it will still overwhelm you. You will be sleep deprived, overworked, stressed and homework ridden.  Often I found myself paying so much attention to each moment (for time and work do become synonymous here) that I felt that I was missing out on the ‘big picture’.  I had no time and energy left to ponder on the larger context; I was so busy just ‘doing’. It worried me a lot, and gave meat to a lot of whining sessions, which surprisingly we (my classmates and I) made time for.  The pace of the program is incredible. But last week, my second week of winter break, I went through all my class assignments, my case memos and marketing plans, as I read through my work and my notes, I feel reassured. I was glad to realize that everything I did was in fact elements of the big picture. All the late nights, long hours in the library and the taxing learning team meetings make sense to me now.  The best part is, I heard myself saying out loud while reading few of my papers, ‘oh! I can see why I got an A on this one’.  Serendipitous self-ratification is indeed lovely.  
All the subjects -- Marketing, Accounting, MIS, HRM and even Econ blended effectively and seamlessly to assure not only an incredible business perspective on things, but a personal development that will take me far in my personal and professional life. However there is much to learn and struggle through, time management is still tricky and I hope to fair better going ahead. I kept my plate quite full, became the president of the Finance club, participated in an MIT case competition and also worked as a research assistant for the international business strategy group…actually let me rephrase -- my cup overflowed.
My class is an interesting bunch, a heady mix of international and domestic students. The cultural mix in itself opened doors of understanding and awareness of self and world I was never acquainted with.  For someone as me, who has never been out of the country till five months ago, it has been quite a rollercoaster ride. Culturally, there have been few shocks but what I find most amusing is the range of stereotypes and clich├ęs of different cultures that both international and domestic students deal with.  It is a huge learning experience, I for one find myself shedding few misplaced perceptions and I hope some of my classmates do too.
 In a way the likeness between USA and India is so stark, the cultural diversity is mind boggling, it always amazed me in India, even though I lived there all my life; it amazes me even more so here, for it is more global, more international and as a foreigner here, the learning is richer.
But one thing really bugs me, when people ask me whether ‘Englische’ is my first or second language… grrrr…
MBA students love to drink and get silly… it’s true. The program gets really hectic, and by the end of every week most of us head to a bar to let off some steam and cool off. I observed that the international students especially let go a bit more than most, I am not stereotyping here, but I can see why... As an international student, I am not only here for the MBA program, but also for an experience of a life time, which I guess makes me overtly exuberant, enthusiastic and high spirited, and I am not alone feeling that. We love to celebrate, it’s been a blast. Study hard and party harder is truly the mantra that keeps most of us going.
And Boston is lovely; I walk a million miles here, and find myself rejoicing. But it gets lonely too sometimes, never been so far away from home and the little luxuries that I had taken for granted back in my country. I miss my family and my crazy bunch of friends.  My only friends in this city are some of my classmates, they are wonderful and I am thankful.
Exactly a year ago, I was waiting for my b-school results, I had no idea what the future held for me, it was disconcerting and trying. I have come a long way since then... And 2012 seems even more exciting – There’s a trip to South America, a corporate residency and so much of Boston and beyond I am yet to explore.

Dybbydyy dib dib doo... !!! 





Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review : Kafka On the Shore


This Book Review got published on The Tossed Salad (click on title) . 


One of the reasons I am always drawn  to Murakami’s writing is because it makes one extremely cynical and critical of their own likes and dislikes and how they view life. I sometimes find myself judging my own self rather than the content and the context: Did I really like this book? Do I relate to these feelings, am I scandalized or appalled or simply approving? Of course these ruminations are not mandatory, but if one does find themselves over thinking after reading a Murakami book, it is not a reason to be surprised or much too perturbed.
The mystical, the supernatural and the sexual overtones of his work are a manifestation of feelings, perspective and desiresIt would not be fair to  say that his writing is food for thought, but it is definitely a decadent dessert worth the money.
Kafka on the Shore is one of those books which keeps you completely immersed till the very last page and then leaves you feeling extremely confused. You find yourself questioning whether you actually did like the book or if you liked it just because the book carries a certain reputation, falls into a specific genre you usually like and is heralded by people who might be considered fashionable enthusiasts in your social circle or on the Internet .  Murakami does have an exclusive and ardent fan following. Either or tether ways, his books do make for great reading and one will enjoy reading him if the reader enjoys literary fiction.
While reading the book, I went through several motions; the assertive yet esoteric tone of the book got me hooked early on. The chapters alternate between Kafka, a fifteen year old runaway, and Nakata, an old man who can speak to cats, tracing their bizarre journey and interesting accomplices. It keeps one engaged, as the tone and tenor of both the parallel stories are quite different. While Kafka’s is sexually charged with a familiar youthful angst, Nakata’s is spiritual and calm with wonky wonders that balances the tone. Interestingly, all the violence is depicted in Nakata chapters.
The book starts rather dramatically with young Kafka running away from home and provides the alternate and rather detailed explanation of a mysterious incident that changed Nakata’s life forever. The author is able to draw the reader deep into the story and into one’s own mind. The plot is mesmerizing, slightly spooky and convoluted, with elaborate philosophical and spiritual musings of Ms Seiko, Oshima and Kafka, the principal characters. These musings are unrealistic and over the top but carry strong content, which really keeps one pondering over them. Nakata’s characterization is brilliant and endearing. The sequence of events flows steadily, but Murakami just drops certain explanations from the book, never to be answered. The reader loses track of the layered references and the engaging mystery.
Bizarre and supernatural sequence of events like leeches and mackerel falling from the sky, talking cats and ghostly spirits are easily weaved into the plot — characteristic of Murakami’s work. However, this book definitely feels more controlled than Murakami’s other great book Dance Dance Dance, where one is sure that the writer has let his pen, feelings and imagination run wild and bouncing.
The book ends on a disappointing note. Too many loose ends make the plot unsubstantial.  One might find themselves re reading certain parts of the book; certain parts definitely need going back to, especially the part where a ghostly spirit – Captain Sanders makes an appearance. But the ending may be forgettable for some.
All in all, the book is still recommended for the undeniable brilliance in Murakami’s prose.