Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Vignettes//// Goodbye October.

Dear October, 

Normally, you are one of my least favourite months in the year. Mainly because in it's a hotter than hell month in Bombay. 
But this October was lovely. 
Durga Pujo.
Lokhi Pujo. 
Day trips. 
Long drives in the forrest. 
Family Time. 
Catching up with cousins. 
Eating yummy home cooked meals. 
Laughing. 
Wearing sweaters. 
Reading has been slow, only  7 books were read but I read Those Days by Sunil Gangopadhyay which was on my TBR for ages and at over 500 pages was a tome. I am so glad I finally read it. 

You've been a hoot and then some October. 
You've been lovely. 
&
Good and kind. 

Thank you October. 
Come back soon. 

:) 

All my Love, 

Pooja 



Gorgeous Pandals. 
I am so happy we got to spend Pujo in Bengal. 



Long drives through tea garden and in the rains. 
:) 



Lokhi Pujo at home. 



Small town beauty. I've been loving being in this slow and quiet part of the world. As much as I am a city person, I think deep down my heart belongs to the smaller and quieter parts of the world. 
Where there is no rush and mad crowds or chaos. 
I have really enjoyed my time here. 


You've been so good October. 
:) 

Thank you and More Please. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Book Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton





Book: The Clockmaker's Daughter

Author: Kate Morton 

Pages: 592

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: Spread over 3 days 

Plot Summary: In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor in rural Berkshire. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing a drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.
Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?
Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.


Things I Liked:

1. I tend to like historical fiction stories because of the split-time structure of the narrative. I love reading about the past- the people, society, culture, the challenges faced by the protagonist in that time period... and very few authors do such a great job of combining history and crime as Kate Morton! My sister and I have read and reviewed several books by her and you can check out those reviews by clicking here. So, obviously, when we found out that a new Kate Morton book was out, we simply had to get and start reading right away. 

2. The world in which the book is set in the mid-19th century is quite fascinating- the world of art. The movement that was sweeping the British art world in the 1860s was Aestheticism or the Aesthetic Movement, which simply put was all about paining, sculpture and drawing capturing the beauty rather than layering on deeper meaning to art. Sort of an 'art for art's sake' school of thought. Edward Radcliffe, one of our protagonists, was at the centre of this movement and our unnamed protagonist- Birdie- was his muse. 

3. I liked reading about Birdie's life, unfortunate as it was, because it highlighted a major problem plaguing the British society in that period, namely, exploitation of poor children in workhouses and other such unsavoury establishments. Birdie's life with Mrs. Dalloway, who ran a thieving business, was terrible but fascinating. As was her friendship with, the boy she referred to, as Pale Joe- a sickly child Birdie befriended when she was on the run from the cops. Birdie's life is tragic- not a spoiler, given it is pretty obvious from Chapter 1 what became of her- but the impact she had on multiple people even after her earthly life is quite moving and, sometimes, fun. 

4. Elodie and Birdie are both interesting characters. Birdie has a lot more gumption while Elodie is someone, who has always lived in the shadow of her famous, beautiful but dead mom.. and so, her journey is about finding her own voice and her own path, which is quite nice as far as journeys go. 

5. At the heart of this story is the house- Birchwood Manor- where, over the years, multiple people drop by, stay for a while and their stories become connected with Birdie's. So, it is nice to see what becomes of those people and how their lives shape up once they move out of the house. 


Things I Didn't Like: 

1. There are several chapters from multiple people's perspective, who are only peripherally a part of either Elodie or Birdie's lives. These chapters, while adding some fill-in-the-gaps sort of information, were not very engaging otherwise. 

2. Almost all of Kate Morton's books have a love story or two and this book was no different. However, neither of the love stories were handled in any amount of detail, which was slightly disappointing. 


Rating: 4/5 

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Durga Pujo 2018: A Nature-Inspired Pandal.


Hello! 

This was a nature and eco-awareness Pandal that we came across while pandal hopping in my small-town of Jalpaiguri. 
This pandal that tried to bring awareness to the importance of protecting the environment and animal and plant life. 
This pandal came with sound effects too. So freaking cool! As you walked in, you could hear jungle sounds- frogs and insects and birds. A delightful cacophony really. 
:) 




Frogs and mushrooms galore. 



Buddha sitting peacefully amidst greenery. 


Hey there buddy! 


Inside the pandal. 


Dugga Dugga. 



A flower chandelier. 



Bloom! 



A busy bee. 


The entrance. 

A beautiful pandal with a beautiful theme. 

:) 

Happy Dusshera everyone, I am a little late in conveying my wishes. It's been a busy few days here in the small-town. 
I went on a little road trip. 
Celebrated Bijoya. 
Ate a ton of sweets. 
Watched some films. 

I hate that Pujo goes by so soon. 
But I still have a ton of Pujo pictures to share with you. 

Reading is going slow but steady. Making my way through Those Days by Sunil Gangopadhyay- which is amazing but a tome! I am loving it and hope to read it before it's time to head back to Bombay. 

Hope you've been well. 


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Durga Pujo 2018: Ashtami & An Old Fashioned Bengali Pujo Pandal


Hello! 

Today I want to share a very favourite Pujo pandal of mine from my town Jalpaiguri. This Pujo is quite tiny in comparison to some giant pandals all over town. This one is small and always stunning. I've seen it thrice in my life and each year they out do themselves. Their pandals are always artistic and so different the other Pujos. 


I love the protimaa. 
The faces of all the thakurs are so cute. And the Goddesses in their red and white sarees are just too adorable. 
Ah! 

Now on to the simple but gorgeous decoration. All of it drenched in old school elements of Bengali culture. 


These giant haath pakhas are just gorgeous! 






Whenever I am in town I make it a point to visit this pandal.

I have had a lovely Ashtami.
We ate some delicious lunch and made a mad dash to see Byomkesh Gawtro, the newest Byomkesh Bakshi film. It was quite lovely and set in Mussoorie, it made me miss Landour so much!
The plan for the rest of the day is to chill at home and avoid the crazy crowds milling about town.
I hope you have had a lovely Ashtami too.  

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Durga Pujo 2018: Saptami-- A Very Special Pujo Pandal- Agrani , Patkata, Jalpaiguri.


As we were driving towards this Pujo pandal, all of us thought this was a very eco-friendly pandal made from coir or jute. 
Even as we were making our way in, we kept thinking how gorgeous this was and how coir could be turned into such a work of art.

It was only a little later, when we were already inside and my father struck up a conversation with one of the organisers that we discovered that this entire pandal and it's interior decorations were all made from peanut shells and some actual peanuts! 
PEANUTS! 
What?! 
To say that my mind was blown is an understatement! 

The organiser also told us that this entire enterprise took close to 8 months. 
8 months of the various artisans collecting peanuts and peanut shells and making turning it into these magnificent designs. 
The only fly in this ointment is BIRDS. Apparently, since early morning, ever since the pandal was unveiled, birds have been flocking to the pandal for a quick snack here and there. And the main job the organisers now had was to fight off birds! 
Poor things! 
The birds possibly think of this as a huge snacking opportunity they cannot miss. I hope they get to eat their fill once Pujo is over. 
:) 

Now some pictures of this beautiful Pujo. 


The protima in a fairly classic style. 



The inside of the pandals had various Gods and Goddesses all made out of peanut shells. 







Can you imagine the time and patience this must have taken!? 



It's no surprise that this Pujo has won several awards over the years. They seem to out do themselves each year. 

Monday, 15 October 2018

Durga Pujo 2018: Shashti--- Many Pretty Pandals.

Subho Shashti to you! 

Today was Maha Shashti and my small town was finally all geared up for Pujo! 
We headed out for some pandal hopping in the afternoon to avoid the crazy crowds. 
We pretty much had the pandals to ourselves and it was nice to have the time and space to pray in peace and click pictures to my heart's content. 

Here are some highlights of my day...


All dipped in gold. 


A nature themed Pujo pandal. 


So much work and effort goes into these pandals it's incredible! 


There is so much art present at these pandals too, it's a total treat. 


The new trend seems to be to have a little protimaa on the side. They are so cute! I loved seeing these tiny protimaas. 


Another example of a darling little protimaa. 


Some gorgeous art at a pandal. 
I wish they would sell these bits once Pujo was over. I'd get them all!