Sunday, 25 November 2018

Vignettes/// Red.

Red in all it's glory. 

Mostly seen while pandal hopping during Pujo season. 
There is something so striking about Red. 
You can't ignore it. 
It will have your attention whether you like it or not. 

Have a great week ahead folks. 

My two month long holiday comes to an end next week and my heart is sad. 
But home, Bombay is calling and it's time to head back home and to real life. 
Back to base and back to my beloved books! 


Friday, 23 November 2018

Book Review: So Much Life Left Over by Louis De Bernières

Book: So Much Life Left Over

Author: Louis De Bernières

Pages: 288

Read: The paperback pictured above

Read in: 4 hours or so

Plot Summary: A sweeping, heartbreaking novel following Daniel in his troubled marriage with Rosie as they navigate the unsettled time between the World Wars.

Rosie and Daniel have moved to Ceylon with their little daughter to start a new life at the dawn of the 1920s, attempting to put the trauma of the First World War behind them, and to rekindle a marriage that gets colder every day. However, even in the lush plantation hills it is hard for them to escape the ties of home and the yearning for fulfilment that threatens their marriage.

Back in England, Rosie's three sisters are dealing with different challenges in their searches for family, purpose and happiness. These are precarious times, and they find themselves using unconventional means to achieve their desires. Around them the world is changing, and when Daniel finds himself in Germany he witnesses events taking a dark and forbidding turn.

By turns humorous and tragic, gripping and touching, So Much Life Left Over follows a cast of unique and captivating characters as they navigate the extraordinary interwar years both in England and abroad.

Things I Liked: 

1. The period between the two World Wars in Europe or the UK is not one that has made it into too many books or movies. Of course, you get to read plenty about the Great Depression in the US or the Indian Independence Movement, but not really much about what happened to those who came back from the Great War and the impact of the war on the lives of those, who lost loved ones to it. So, it was interesting that So Much Life Left Over is set between the two World Wars and focuses on both sets of people- the ones who came back alive and the ones whose loved ones didn't make it back. 

2. The book, largely, follows Daniel's life in the years between the wars. We see him as a Tea Garden Manager in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) struggling to connect with his wife, an increasingly challenging enterprise, especially after the birth of their stillborn son. Daniel has lost two brothers and several best friends to the War and he spends all his time working or thinking about golf or flying. He is a good father and a caring husband, but Rosie (his wife) is disinterested in any form of intimacy once they have a second child, which drives Daniel further away from her. Daniel's life is pretty empty and sad. He tries to form meaningful relationships, but Rosie's refusal to give him a divorce holds him back. He is a likeable character, in spite of a truly bizarre journey! 

3. The book also has chapters from the perspective of other survivors of the Great War. We have Rosie's gardener, who was one of the few Prisoners of War to survive the Turkish war. His memories of the Armenian genocide and of the way his fellow comrades were treated are nothing short of horrifying! We also get to see Daniel's brother- a decorated war vet- who spends the rest of his days sweeping the streets of Brighton. So, in that sense, the book does delve into the lives of multiple survivors of the Great War. 

4. The book also delves (a little bit) into the very beginnings of World War II in Germany. As one can expect, we get to see how the Jews were harassed, humiliated and, finally, shipped off to 'ghettos' (that later became concentration camps). 

5. The book is very well written, which is always a good thing. 

Things I Didn't Like:

1. I, honestly, did not understand Rosie. There was very little said from her point of view and whatever was said made no sense. At the beginning of the book, Rosie seems "normal"- a young wife trying to make a new home in Ceylon, but as she starts turning cold towards Daniel, that shift is a little too sudden and there is never any clear reason given for her sudden coldness or her becoming a little too Christian! 

2. The book has several chapters focused on two of Rosie's sisters- one, who is married to a clergyman and the other, who is very openly gay (bohemian is what everyone calls her). I found those characters and their stories quite boring and jarring with the rest of the book. It felt like the author was trying to fit in too much into one book and the whole effort made the narrative seem very disjointed! 

Rating: 3.5/5 
While the book is a bit all over the place, the writing is beautiful and the author has tried to look at the lives of various kinds of people in the years between the wars, which is quite interesting. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Haul/// Fabric Jewellery from Vrit Moksha.


How is your Sunday shaping up? 

Mine included a leisurely late start and then a Mashi came visiting and we spend the morning chatting. 
Just regular small town things. 

For today's post I want to share some beautiful jewellery pieces I got from Vrit Moksha, a shop on Instagram I came across a month ago and fell in love with the aesthetic and jewellery. A quick chat with the owned and I ordered these beauties. 

Let's see shall we? 

I got these right before Durga Puja and I couldn't resist these Durga earrings! 
I especially love the little ghungroo details. 

These necklaces are so stunning. 
Perfect statement pieces. 
I love them both. 
So gorgeous! 

I love all things elephant motif. So I couldn't resist these beauties. The pink fringe in the bottom is an added bonus. 

This ring was a freebie. 
Isn't it gorgeous?! 

I loved every single piece I received. 

 Hope your Sunday is restful and wonderful. 

My plan includes watching some Bengali films. 
Starting a new book. 
And maybe visiting some family. 

Friday, 16 November 2018

Book Haul/// Books from Title Waves Bookstore.

Long time no book haul. 
It's not surprising since I've been on holiday since 28th September and book buying has been pretty minimal. I did acquire a handful of books while in Darjeeling, haul coming soon. 

This batch of books were bought in the end of September. For some reason, it seems so long ago. 
I went to Title Waves in Bandra after ages, like 5 years or something. I really like this bookshop. It houses some very different books and if you find yourself in Bombay or Bandra in particular, I highly recommend you pop in for a visit. 
I, of course, went a little bit crazy. Like seriously, I ought to have done better. But in my defence, I went here straight from having a tiny medical procedure done and was buying these books to cheer myself up! 
I had been brave at the doctor's and now it was time to treat myself to come books! 
So all of these books came back home with me. 

Let's see what I added to my bookshelves on this day! 


The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar 
Social Creatures by Tara Isabella Burton 
America for Beginner by Leah Franqui 
So Much Life Left by Louis De Bernieres 
Pyjamas are Forgiving by Twinkle Khanna 
Perennials by Mandy Berman 
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami 
The Breakthrough by Daphne Du Maurier 

Even though I was overcome with post-purchase guilt, I am very pleased with this haul of books. I have carried several of these books with me on holiday and even read some. The rest of these are waiting for me back in Bombay and I can't wait to get to them. 

Ah! The joys of new books! 

Hope your reading life is going splendidly! 

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Travel Diary: Jhandi, Gorubathan.

A few weeks ago I went to the hills of Gorubathan for a long weekend trip. 
I was there with my parents, sister and two sets of aunts (mashis) and their husbands and a Mama and his wife. A motley group of 10 people and we had the best time chatting and doing what Bengalis do best- adda
We spent some fun days surrounded by beauty and views that took your breath away! 
It was cold and the air was clean and crisp and there was beauty everywhere you turned your eye. It is a quiet and peaceful place, a perfect place to find a cozy corner and relax with a book and spend your day lost in words and beauty. 

One of the views are a riverbed, the rivers Leesh, Gish and Teesta all meandering along lazily. 

We woke up to clear views of the Kanchanjunga. 
We were lucky to be there on days where there was no cloud cover and the mountains were standing there tall and majestic all morning. Perfect for feasting our eyes all morning long. 

We stayed in a place called Jhandi Eco Huts that is run by the sweetest and most helpful staff. 
The food is a little hit and miss. I would suggest you stick to Chinese food if you go here. 

Hello Beautiful! 

This is the cottage we stayed at.  

These A frame homes are just too cute for words. 

I love that my hometown is surrounded by so many beautiful places, most of them nestled in the hills. There is nothing better than being in the hills and feeling refreshed and renewed. 
I spent my days taking walks, taking a ton of pictures and reading Ruskin Bond (because why not?) and spending time with the family. 

All good things! 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Things That Make Me Happy/// Art + Pandals + Lights + Flowers


Just wanted to share a few things that make me happy. 

1. Art and Beauty seen pretty much all the Pujo Pandals. 

2. More gorgeous examples of art. 

3. Peach beauties that I've seen everywhere lately. 

4. Nothing cheers me up like being amongst flowers. 

5. Lights and bokeh. 


This is such a happy time of the year. 

Hope November is treating you well. 


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Haul/// Book Sleeves from Books N Beyond.

I seem to have taken yet another unplanned break on the blog. 
November has been one adventure after another and I couldn't be happier. 
First Darjeeling for a couple of days and then a few days in the Tea Gardens. 
Travel Diaries for both places coming soon. 

I recently got these darling book sleeves from Books N Beyond. I am having a total book sleeve moment. I find book sleeves extremely useful. It's a great way to protect your books in my bag and they come in handy during travel, where you can carry a couple of books easily together. 

These ones from Books and Beyond are very well-made and cushioned and great to protect your precious books. 

I got 3 book sleeves and one sleeve for my bookmarks! 
I know it's very extra but I couldn't resist the daisy print. 

Darling little homes. 

Daisy love forever. I simply can't resist anything with daisies on them. 
This sleeve can be used to keep your bookmarks or glasses. I am more likely to store some of my precious bookmarks. 

Paper Airplanes! 
This is technically a Kindle Sleeve but it stores skinny little books very well. 
I took this to Darjeeling with my Kindle and a book tucked in comfortably. 

Don't Let The Hard Days Win. 
Got this gorgeous sleeve for my sister. 

I am so in love with all of new sleeves. 
I cannot recommend them enough. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Book Review: The Rabbit and The Squirrel by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Book: The Rabbit and the Squirrel

Author: Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Pages: 65

Read: Hardcover (ARC send by Penguin Random House)

Read in: Half an hour (or less)

Plot Summary: The Squirrel's greatest joy is dancing in the forest with the Rabbit-her beloved friend and equal of heart. While the duo is inseparable, fate has other ideas: the feisty Squirrel is forcibly married to a wealthy boar and the solitary Rabbit enlists in a monastery.

Years later, a brief, tragic reunion finds them both transformed by personal defeats. And yet, to each other, they are unchanged, and their private world-where sorrow registered as rapture and wit concealed loss-is just how they had left it.

A story of thwarted love, and an ode to the enduring pleasures of friendship, The Rabbit and the Squirrel is a charmed fable for grown-ups, in which one life, against all odds, is fated for the other.

General Thoughts: I've read both of Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi's novels and loved them immensely.  He is a gifted writer and his books linger on long after you've turned the last page. So when I saw he had a new book out, I knew I had to read it. So I was very chuffed when Penguin India kindly offered to send me a copy. I read it as soon as it got to me. Thank you Penguin! I really appreciate it. 
FYI, I cannot recommend Shanghvi's work enough. Pick them up, if you haven't already. 

Things I Liked: 
  • The Rabbit & The Squirrel is a simple yet profound story about life, love, friendship and the weight of societal expectations on human beings. 
  • The story is one that most young adults can relate to- the Squirrel is a free spirited young woman (er, squirrel), who is not ready for marriage, most of all for an arranged marriage. She spends her evenings hanging out with the Rabbit (her very best friend) and partying away her sorrows. The Rabbit is footloose and fancy free.. hooking up with everyone and partying his life away. The Squirrel's parents want her to get married to a rich Boar, who she thinks is a massive BORE! So, the story follows the journeys of these two friends- who are at that age when conventional wisdom demands that they "settle down". 
  • The story is brought to live not only by the writing, which is beautiful but also by beautiful illustrations hand-drawn by Stina Wirsén. Here are some samples: 

  • The book meditates a lot on the meaning of life. The Rabbit goes and joins a monastery and the Squirrel tries her hand at domesticity- neither comes close to unearthing the true meaning of life. Their quest for meaning is something a much younger of me could have related to. 
  • The friendship between the Squirrel and the Rabbit is bittersweet. They understand each other, love each other and can be real with each other in a way that they can't be with anyone else in their lives. The tragedy, however, is that even though the Squirrel knows the Rabbit so well, she ends up believing some rumours about him without feeling the need to ask him for the truth. 
Things I Didn't Like:
  • This is a melancholy-inducing book. So, treat that as a trigger warning of sorts :) You need to be in a certain frame of mind in order to really enjoy this book. I was in a bit of a festive mood when I read it, so it didn't reach me the way it would have had I read it when I was feeling more pensive. So in some ways it made me feel just like the author's previous works did. Shanghvi writes beautifully but he will break your heart. Be warned. :) 

Rating: 3.5/5