Saturday, 30 September 2017

Shubho Bijoya! Happy Dussehra!

The Goddess leaves for Kailash today!

Teaching us that no matter how tough, how challenging, how difficult, good always, always triumphs over evil.

I like to think of this good and evil business as an everyday life lesson type of thing. Do no evil and always try to uphold all that is good and true. I wish the same for you!

So, Shubho Bijoya, dear readers!

Happy Dussehra! 

Here are some of the Durga protimas that we saw whilst pandal hopping this year!





The Ramakrishna Mission Durga Puja.




The Chembur Durga Puja




The Lokhandwala Puja 



The Navi Mumbai (CIDCO Grounds) Puja 


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Pujo Prep: My Durga Pujo Reading List.

Hello! 

Being a bookworm how could I possibly not talk about my reading plans during Pujo?
Admittedly, reading isn't my chief focus during the days of Pujo but when I do return home or during the long drives from one pandal to another, having a book handy is a good idea. 

I prefer reading Bengali Literature during Pujo for obvious reasons. 
Also if you are looking for some Bengali Lit recommendations this is the post for you. 
So let's dive in. 


Both my picks are short stories/novellas. 
Given how hectic these few days are I don't want to read a full length novel. I prefer having something I can dip in and out of. 



Ashapurna Devi writes incredibly beautiful short stories set in Bengali households, chronicling daily lives and daily strives. 
This writer cam highly recommended by several aunts of mine, who've read and re-read her works religiously over the decades. 
I have read her before and loved her stories. 
I can't wait to dive into The Wife and The Beloved. 


Saratchandra is my absolutely favourite Bengali writer. 
I've read several books by him and am always left amazed by how brilliant, sensitive and ahead of his time he was. 
This collection has several of this best works and I will read what appeals to me at the time. 
Though I must say I always partial to Parineeta and Biraj Bou. 
If you haven't read Saratchandra before I highly recommend you give him a go, you can thank me later. 
:) 



What are you reading this festive season? 

Oh and Happy Maha Saptami to you. 
:) 


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Pujo Prep: The Clothes Edit.

Hello!!! 

Clothes are a big part of Pujo.
As a child, it seemed like the one time in the year when my wardrobe saw a huge influx of new styles! 
I got a couple of things for my birthday but Pujo was the big one. 
I got things from my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and even some spending money.
Life was good! 

Being a grown-up means getting your own clothes for Pujo and a few gifts from my folks and my sister. 
:)

When it comes to Pujo shopping now, I like to keep it simple and a little bit sensible. 
I like to keep the weather in mind for each outfit. 
And being here in Bombay, the weather is rather unpleasant during Pujo- hot and humid and generally unpleasant. So like most of my fashion choices, I stick to what I love best- Cotton! 
I buy easy and happy clothes. 
Clothes I can breathe in. 
Most of my pandal hopping happens in the day and lingers on to evenings and night. Unlike my childhood, I don't get to come back home, rest, change and then head out again. My outfits need to last through the day. That makes cotton even more important. 

These are glimpse into my Pujo clothes this year. 
I will share my OOTD's on the blog as and when I wear them. 

For now a sneak peak into my Clothes Edit for Durga Pujo 2017. 


Two stoles I recently got from Accessorize. 
I may not wear this during Pujo but stoles are always nice to have on hand. 


Comfy and super colourful pants from OMO.


Two more stoles that my parents got me for Pujo.


A stack of my Pujo clothes.
Many prints and colours and the lot of them in cotton and mul.
Today was Shoshti and it was hotter than hell.
So glad that I chose all cotton clothes.
These clothes are from Fabindia, Soma, Westside, Global Desi and Okhai.


Another gift from my parents, an ajrakh wrap-around skirt.
I love the print and the colours of this skirt. I will wear if it stays dry and doesn't rain.


I hope you guys had a good Shoshti.
Mine was a working one.
So I didn't really go out or anything.

Tomorrow for Saptami I intend to hit the town.

:)


Monday, 25 September 2017

Book Review: A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee



Book: A Necessary Evil

Author: Abir Mukherjee

Pages: 380

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 4 hours

Publisher: Vintage

Plot Summary: India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah's son.

The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant 'Surrender-Not' Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. 

Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes - and romantic relationship - may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy. 

As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them.

Things I Liked:
  • I love this recent trend (of sorts) of setting detectives (Indian or otherwise) against the backdrop of the Raj! I read another similarly set book in March called A Very Pukka Murder and reviewed it here. I find the socio-political and cultural backdrop of the Raj and the race-related challenges that it presents to the detectives and the overall investigation process. 
  • The premise of this book itself is quite interesting. You have a Brit police officer and his Harrow-Cambridge educated Indian sidekick. Then you have the assassination of a prince, palace intrigue, vested interests of multiple parties in his life... so much potential for drama and a rich narrative! Happy to report that the book did not let me down. 
  • The author has done a great job of world-building/ context setting in this book. The tricky dynamics between India Office and the Princely States, the dynamics within the royal family of Sambalpore and the typical British bureaucratic back-and-forth between the Police and the bureaucrats are all very, very well depicted. 
  • The crime and the subsequent investigative process are also nicely done. There are multiple red herrings, more than a few motivations behind getting rid of Prince Adhir and several suspects within Sambalpore and out of it. I liked that the author kept me guessing for a pretty long time. 
  • There are some interesting observations in this book about race relations between the Brits and Indians. We also have an Anglo-Indian female lead (of sorts) in the book and she is shown as an entrepreneur, who feels like she belongs neither to her Brit side nor to her Indian one, but fits in well in both worlds.
  • The lead characters are interesting. Sam Wyndham is a bit stereotypical to most British male characters in the post-World War 1 era.. he is clearly traumatised by his experiences in the trenches, troubled by the loss of friends and family during the Great War.. he is a bit lost.. he is struggling.. So, in that sense, there is nothing very unique about him, but I am willing to look past that because it is only fair that someone who lived through the horror that was WW1 would end up like that. Surendranath Banerjee (jokingly referred to as Surrender-Not Banerjee) is also your typical Anglophilic Upper Class Bengali Bhadralok. He is Harrow and Cambridge educated and is a cop, which his family is not too thrilled about. Surendranath is occasionally wry but often nervous but is quite sharp. I wish he was more of an equal in this story but well...
Things I Didn't Like: 
  • The killer was sort of apparent at the 40% mark of the book, but that was not because of any shortcoming on the author's part. If you pay attention, you'll guess the killer too.. but, honestly, there are loads of interesting things that happen in the book, so it is totally worth reading it! 

Rating: 4/5 
If you enjoy a crime thriller plus historical fiction, then this is a good book for you! 



Saturday, 23 September 2017

Stationery Haul: A6 Hobonichi and Traveler's Notebook from Lyra & Co.

Hello, hello,
I hope you're having a lovely Saturday!

I wanted to share a quick looksie into a little haul of fabric covers for my sister's Hobonichi Techo A6 and my A6 sized Traveler's Notebook from Lyra & Co. on Etsy.

Long-time readers of this space will know that this is one of our favourite stores and we simply love the fabric selection and craftsmanship of Jane, the owner of Lyra & Co.  

So, anyway, let's get to it, shall we?




The first cover is for my sister's Hobonichi Techo A6. She has been using a Hobonichi since 2014 and loves buying different covers for it. Isn't this whimsical girl so cute?! The button-snap thingie is made of coral leather. 





Here is the flip-side of the same cover. A cute bird! 





Now this here is my A6 Traveler's Notebook, which was my travel journal when we went to Landour in March. Look at this lovely, whimsy girl! Isn't she adorable?





And here is the chubby birdie on the back.. Awww! So cute!!! 




Here they are.. both of them.. hanging out together like sisters! 


Hope you enjoyed this little haul. 

Have a great weekend, guys! 

See you with some new book reviews very soon! 

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman




Book: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman 

Pages: 338

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 3-4 hours

Publisher: HarperCollins 

Plot Summary: Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine? 

Things I Liked: 
  • I LOVED this book! 
  • Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's get on, shall we? The premise of this book was very intriguing. Why is Eleanor's life so lacklustre? So 'fine'? Why does she live such a timetabled existence? I couldn't wait to dive into this book and learn more about Eleanor and her life. 
  • Eleanor is such a delightful character. Her perspective on most things is logical, pragmatic and kinda hilarious. She is such a tragicomic character. The author has done a brilliant job of depicting her eccentricities and the utter sadness that underlies her life and worldview. I simply loved Eleanor's journey in this book- how she goes from being a complete lone, reluctant to speak to anyone unless it was absolutely essential, to someone who is unafraid to venture out, meet people and, even, make a new friend. 
  • I also loved how this book is realistic in its depiction of Eleanor's journey. It is not like she is radically transformed into this happy, shiny person, but instead she is shown taking baby steps to facing her fears, letting go of her tragic childhood memories and getting the help and support she needs to live her best life. 
  • There are several very loveable characters in this book. Raymond, Eleanor's colleague and friend is such a kind and gentle person. He never judges Eleanor for how she is and befriends her. Sammy and his family, who never forget Eleanor's kindness and embrace her as a friend. Raymond's mum, who is so lovely and kind to Eleanor. 
  • More than anything else, this book is about hope. It is about courage. About overcoming your misfortunes, tragic circumstances, horrifying childhood and making your way in the world still being 'you' and trying to do the best you can. This book will make you root for Eleanor and for anyone like her, who has had to overcome so many odds at a young age. 
Rating: 5/5

Go read this book! You're going to love it! 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Book Haul/// Books of September 2017.

Hello! 

Time to share my monthly book haul. I got these five books from Kitab Khana on a recent visit. 
I don't see myself getting any more books in the rest of the month. 
I did get a few ebooks as well which I will share soon. 

Now for these beauties. 


Books Bought/// 

Death Knocks Twice by Robert Thorogood 
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss 
The Underground Railway by Colson Whithead 
Midnight in the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan 
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie 







I am so happy with my book haul, I found some books I am so excited to read. 
And I am so glad I found some books that were on my radar for a while- The Tidal Zone and The Underground Railroad. 

So much happy reading in my future! 


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Pujo Prep: Haul+ Review/// Lil Sister Backpack & Modified Tote from The Burlap People

Hello! 
Next in my Pujo Prep series is the cutest little mini-backpack in all of the land! 
I have had my beady eye on The Burlap People since the beginning of the year. I've been low-key stalking and mooning over their designs on their Instagram page since January and considered getting  a bag from them. 
I had my heart set on the Lil Sister backpack from the very beginning. First up the size is simply delightful. The name too is something close to my heart, since I am a lil sister myself. 
:)
And they come is so many colours and a few prints too! 
My sister is in love with all things tote and wanted a tote for herself too and after nearly 9 months of thinking and stalking and ruminating we decided to get some Burlap lovin' for Pujo. 
I mean why not?!
Pujo is the best time to splurge and get yourself something you really, really want! 

So I went with my original love- The Lil Sister Backpack in Lavender. 
&
My sister got the Modified Tote in their new Tulsi print...which is so beautiful, it blows my mind. 


My gorgeous little lavender beauty. 
The pictures don't do it justice, honestly, the pictures kinda suck thanks to the constant rain in these parts. 
I will take better pictures soon and share them as well. 

But first, some first impressions...

1. These are super-duper soft. Like amazingly soft to the touch. It feels almost like velvet or like very expensive linen. 
2. They are incredibly well-made.
3. Even though she be tiny, she is spacious enough for all of odds and ends. 
4. The zippers buttery soft. 
5. The leather trimmings are perfectly made. 


I'll be honest, I was a little skeptical getting a jute bag because I am kinda a little bit allergic to the fibres in jute. I had a jute bag eons ago and my eyes and skin were not happy with it. This was the reason it took me so long to get one of these. I wanted to be sure this wasn't rough or very fibre-y. 
I am happy to report that it isn't! 
It is super smooth all over and like I've said it soft and nearly cuddly to the touch. 




And this beauty is the Modified Tote in the Tulsi Print. 

First Impressions; 

1. Very roomy. This tote will seriously fit everything you need and then some. It could just as easily double up as a weekend bag or a perfect tote to travel with. 
2. The print is gorgeous and I love how the print is all over the bag. They've not been stingy with the print. 
3. The handle is adjustable, which is always a good thing be. 
4. The bag comes with a matching pouch inside- something we weren't expecting but is always, always a good surprise. 
4. White and tan leather are such a match made in heaven. 
5. It has a zip...which is always welcome. 

I am seriously so in love with these bags! 
They have exceeded every expectation I had. 
So good! 

I will let you know how they fare once we use them, which will be once the rains let up. 

I am so happy I got these for Pujo.  

You can find The Burlap People on their Facebook Page HERE. 

Or 


Write to them at whatup@theburlappeople.com to request a catalogue and get yourself a little treat. 


General Whimsy/// Wandering Around my Favourite Bookshop- Kitab Khana + Subho Mahalaya.


Hello! 

A very Subho Mahalaya to my fellow Bengali readers. 
Today marks the beginning of Debi Pokkho and the beginning of the Durga Pujo. 
Ah! 
How I wish I were in Calcutta or at least in West Bengal today, where the festivity is at a whole other level. 


From one happy thing to another..my favourite bookshop- Kitab Khana. 
I recently spend sometime here and came back with some books (haul coming super soon) but for now some sneak peaks at the books I got home and some others I considered getting but restrained myself! 


Let's hop straight into one of my favourite places in Bombay. 


Such gorgeous little books! 
I fell pretty hard for the covers! 
But I resisted. 
So pretty though! 



This collection of short stories sounded really interesting too. 


My sister's gorgeous tote bag and a stack of books under consideration. 


Shopping done it was time to grab a bite at their Cafe- Food for Thought. 



So true! 


So in love with my bag of the moment- Scottie from Chiaroscuro Bags.
I am a total sucker for satchels and Scottie had me at hello! 
She is perfect little daily companion.
Big enough to fit my essentials, though I need to stuff her a bit more to let the leather stretch out a bit. She has loads and loads of compartments and is so well-made. 
Totally and highly recommend if you are looking to invest a good quality leather handbag. 


Monday, 18 September 2017

Book Review: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware




Book: The Lying Game

Author: Ruth Ware

Pages: 372

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 4-5 hours

Publisher: Vintage

Plot Summary: The text message arrives in the small hours of the night. It’s just three words: I need youIsa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her.

At school Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of secrets, something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three women she hasn't seen for years, but has never forgotten. 

Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn't a safe place for them, not after what they did. It’s time for the women to get their story straight. 

Things I Liked: 
  • The premise seemed interesting. There is just something about school best friends and secrets that, I am pretty sure, all of us can relate to! Best friends, who made a sport out of fibbing to people around them, harbouring a secret that was on the verge of being exposed just seemed so interesting. 
  • The characters are interesting and fairly well developed. Isa and Fatima- the new girls, who befriended Kate and Thea on the first day of school, thereby joining the 'lying game'. The two new girls, who somehow still stay on the outside and are somewhat objective about the whole 'incident' that happened 17 years ago. Thea is still a wreck and, clearly, has issues that have not been discussed in the book. Kate is difficult to fathom or read up until the last few chapters. I liked how the author has kept her motivations secret till pretty much the end. 
  • The friendship between the four girls- their fifteenth year in school together, rules broken, secrets shared, lies told- is fairly well depicted. You get pulled into their world of being in "semi-posh" school in a costal village in England, running wild and free, telling little and big lies, first loves and so on. The author has done a good job of world building. 
  • Isa is the narrator of the book and we see the story unfold from her perspective. She and Fatima have the clearest heads in the book and they are the only ones who, finally, figure out what happened all those years ago. I liked both these characters, but I wish there was a little bit more about each girl. 
Things I Didn't Like:
  • This book is based on the friendship of four girls and we don't get to learn much about three of them. For instance, I would've loved to learn a little bit more about Thea. The author has teased about her having some kind of an eating disorder, plus she also seems to be a cutter, but we get to know next to nothing about her or why she cuts or what her backstory is, which is such a missed opportunity! 
  • There is also next to nothing about their school. The school is supposed to be where the girls met and where their "lying game" played out, but you hardly get to see their school life! 
  • Also, for a book titled The Lying Game, there is not much of the game that we get to see as readers at all. They explain the rules of the game but there aren't enough instances shown of the game and its impact. The actual game or the lies that the girls told in that one year in Salten was not shown at all. And oh, btw, the "crime" has nothing to do with their lying game at all! 
  • It is pretty easy to guess which "event" the girls are alluding to in the book. And because you can guess what must have happened all those years ago, it also narrows down the playing field quite a bit when it comes to who the killer could've been. This ruins the fun of the book quite a bit. I would've preferred if there were less obvious suspects of the "crime" and a few red herrings thrown in for good measure. 
  • The book is missing on the menace factor. The blurb makes it seem like the villagers have it for the girls and there is something sinister at play, but there is nothing remotely of the sort. The only incident that the girls get into trouble with the villagers over their lies is just lame! I felt like there are so many lost opportunities in this book! Ugh! 
Rating: 3/5 
This is not a bad book but I just wish there was a bit more in terms of character development and just a better mystery overall. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Stationery Love: Totoro Pencil Bag!


Hello! 
Today I want to share a little glimpse into my current pencil bag- which is the cutest thing ever! 
EVER! 
I promise I am an adult but how can you resist something so cute? 
This pencil bag is so super soft, it's a hybrid between a cuddly soft toy and a pencil bag! 
Gah! 
So cute! 
Plus it's wide enough to fit a host of my most used pens.


Look at that face?! 


 I had this bag charm from Accessorize for ages and I finally used it now. It makes opening and closing the pencil bag so much easier. Plus I think the Kitty makes this whole set-up even cuter! 


A look inside in my pencil bag. 


The pencil bag is from Ali Express. 
The bag charm is from Accessorize. 
The pens seen in the pictures are from Kikkik, Zebra Sarasa, The Planner Society Kit and Pilot. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

To-Be-Read List: TBR for September 2017.

Hello! 
I am well aware that we are half way through the month and my TBR is a way beyond a little late. 
But I thought I might as well share what I intend on reading this month. 
I have already read 5-6 books already and I am hoping I manage to make my way through at least most of this pile. 
I love what I have lined up, if not this month I am thrilled to make them a part of my TBR next month. 

Let's jump into my Reading List for September...or rather what's left of September! 


First up this book- Empire by Devi Yesodharan, a new release from Juggernaut. A book set in 11th century India and about the Cholas. I am so excited to read this, history has always been an area of interest of mine and when written well, historical fiction is always a pleasure to read. 
The kind peopleat Juggernaut sent this copy to review and I can't wait to get to it. 


I just finished this little novella yesterday and I really, really enjoyed it. Simple yet profound and well ahead of it's time. 


I haven't read a Toni Morrison in ages and this book- Jazz even has a murder mystery (of sorts) in it! Can't believe I haven't gotten to it yet! 


I've had this book for ages but haven't gotten to it yet (story of my life) but it sounds interesting. An English summer, some friends and changing equations between them. All good things! 


Finally time to read some Proust! 


A roll-over from my last month's TBR. 


I haven't read any Virginia Woolf ever! 
*GASP*
Time to amend that immediately! 


Another writer I've been meaning to read for absolute ages. 


This - The Wife and The Beloved and Other Stories by Ashapurna Devi is going to be my Durga Pujo read. 
I am excited. 


This is going to be my third book by Meg Rosoff. 

Short stories by D.H. Lawrence. 


Whoa! That's a whole lot of reading to do. 
Honestly, I don't think I'll get to all of these book this month. What with Durga Pujo and my parents arriving next week, the rest of this month is bound to be busy. 

But what I don't read this month I will read in October. 

Books to Read in September: 

Empire by Devi Yesodharan
Up at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham 
Selected Stories by D.H. Lawrence 
What I Was by Meg Rosoff 
The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst 
Jazz by Toni Morisson 
The Wife and The Beloved by Ashapurna Devi 
Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje 
In Other Rooms and Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Jealously by Marcel Proust