Saturday, 4 April 2020

Weekend Reads: Agatha Christie & Sunil Gangopadhyay. (What My Sister and I are Reading this Weekend.)


How is your weekend going? 
I'll be honest, I am wiped. 
I think all this extra work (home chores) is kinda getting to me now. 
But it's OK..I am home, I am safe and I am doing my best. 
I have been reading as and when I find time and it's been helping, like it always does. 

My sister is slowly reading, rather re-reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. This book is incredible. I re-read it last year and loved it.
It's a little slow. Told through a character's journal, this is a little different than your usual Poirot books. An interesting locked room mystery set in a little English village, where an in-retirement Poirot is called upon to solve the murder of the village's richest man- Roger Ackroyd. 
My sister is nearly done with this and will then start on her next read, The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James. 

I finished reading Wonder World and Other Stories by Sunil Gangopadhyay earlier this evening. A collection of 20 short stories, set in the 1970s largely, this collection has some very quintessential Ganguly elements, a lot of melancholy, poignant stories, social commentary and brilliant writing. There is such a nuance in Ganguly's writing, such an acute understanding of the human nature and a deep understanding of the time period and the socio-cultural and political pulse of the time. His stories take you to the places he writes about, whether it's the streets of Calcutta in the turbulent 70s or the dusty village road where a simple man is trying to make ends meet. 
I really enjoyed this book, it felt a little heavy and a little too sad, seriously stories will rip your heart out, but on the whole this was moving and affecting and thought provoking. 

I am yet to pick my next read, but I have my TBR all sorted so I'll go pick something from there right away. 
I am either going to pick Friends from College by Devapriya Roy or A Life Long Ago by Sunanda Sikdar. 

Hope your weekend is going well too. 

Have a good one guys. 

Friday, 3 April 2020

April 2020 Reading List. All Bengali Books in April TBR.


I don't usually make elaborate TBRs anymore. For a while there, a couple of years ago, I was a pretty diligent TBR maker and then I kinda just stopped. For no real reason, I just stopped making TBRs. I read books as and when I feel like them and it works for me just fine. 
But for special occasions or to adhere to a reading theme, a TBR is a good idea be. 
So for this month and for reading only Bengali books all month long, I figured I take a good look at my shelves and make a TBR to guide my reading and make life a little easier. 

So here is everything I hope to read this month. 


1. The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh. 

2. The Song Seekers by Saswati Sengutpa. 

3. A Life Less Ordinary by Baby Halder. 

4. A Life Long Ago by Sunanda Sikdar. 

5. In the Name of the Mother by Mahashweta Devi. 

6. Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. (RR) 

7. Wonderworld and Other Stories by Sunil Gangapadhyay. 

8. An Atlas of Impossibly Longing by Anuradha Roy. 

9. Friends from College by Devapriya Roy. 

10. Janani Mothers, Daughter and Motherhood. 

A memoir penned by a former domestic worker about her life and struggles. 

Set in the 1960s in a sprawling yet crumbling mansion on Calcutta, where a new bride learns about her new family and their secrets and history. 

An anthology of stories about mothers and daughters. Sounds so good. 

My first ever Mahashweta Devi and I am excited as can be. 

A re-read for me, an old much loved book. 

A woman looks back and remembers the days of her childhood, especially leaving her home in East Pakistan and moving to a village in India. 

What I am currently reading. 
It's wonderful.
Sunil Gangopadhyay is such a wonderful writer. 

No Bengali reading is complete without some Amitav Ghosh. 

This has sat unread on my shelves for quite some time. 

A nostalgia and fun and feeling filled read. My sister read it last year and really enjoyed it, so I am excited to get to this when I need a happy read. 

I am also hoping to do a fair amount of re-reading, I have so many books I keep meaning to re-visit. 
More Ray short stories. 

This is one of my favourite reading months ever! 

Happy Reading Folks! 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Hello April 2020! + All Bengali Books in April + Monthly Goals.

Hello April! 
I am happy you are here.
Hello Summer! 
Hello more days of Lockdown! 
Hello Bengali New Year! 
Hello Reading only Bengali Books and Bengali Authors all month long! 

I am hoping and praying that this month is happier than the last few weeks and I hope it is one where we find some semblance of our normal again. 
Be Good April. 
Be Kind. 
Be Gentle. 


This has been me today...a sloth. 
I am so sleepy since I didn't get a lot of sleep last night..4 hours or so. All of today was spent in a daze of sorts. 
I did a little bit of reading. I am still reading my last read of March, Know my Name by Chanel Miller, this is hard-hitting and wonderful and horrible and infuriating and exhausting but in a good way. I am 25% through with it and reading it slowly in small doses. 

This was my evening view this evening. 
This tree right outside my window has come alive in the last few days and these pink flowers are growing aplenty. 
It makes me so happy to see them coming along and greeting me every time I stand at my window. 

I also filmed and shared an IGTV video sharing what I keep in my Pencil Case. 
So head on over to my IGTV if you want to see what's in this unicorn pencil case. 
My id is Whimsybookworm on IG as well. 


1. Read 15 books. 

2. Stay sane and happy and chill. 

3. Don't worry so much. 

4. Spend time with my book journal. 

5. Do my reading wrap-up for the first 3 months of 2020. 

6. Cook delicious meals. 

7. Make iced-tea at home. 

8. Colour and art more. 


10. Blog regularly. 



April also means my annual ritual of reading only Bengali books/authors all month long in honour of Bengali New Year. This year Bengali new year will be sedate one given the situation all over the world. But I would like my literary life to be a month long celebration and read books from my corner of the world. 
So I read everything from books originally written in Bengali, the translations of course and I read books written by Bengali's in English. 
I am still pulling books from my shelves to make my TBR and once I have a stack of books ready to read, I will share my reading list on here as well. 
I am so excited for the reading this month. 

I hope April is good for you and me. 

Happy Reading folks. 
I hope you are safe, sane and sound at home. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Monthly Favourites: March 2020.


This is an odd month to be doing monthly favourites in. I mean, I considered skipping this month altogether but figure even in this not-so-perfect time, there were things and moments that lifted the gloom from my heart. 
So here are things that I loved this month. 

1. Chai: I am a more dedicated Coffee drinker. But this month I've been drinking and finding a lot of comfort in a well brewed cup of tea. I like mine with ginger and cardamon and with a biscuit to dunk in it. I think it takes me back to my childhood and the comfort of having a little treat now and again. 

2. Simple Home Cooked Meals: This quarantine has resulted in a lot of cooking. A lot of simple meals put together and that have resulted in some deliciousness. 
In the picture is a roasted pepper and chicken pasta with a cream sauce. This took under half an hour to put together. 

3. Kama Ayurveda Rose Jasmine Face Cleanser: My skin has been a hot mess since January, most of it is due to hormonal reason and dust and pollution. I've been going crazy trying to make my skin behave itself. I bought this face cleanser back in February and have used it ever since. It's pretty mild and cleans my face gently but effectively. My skin is doing so much better lately and this might have a little something to do with it. This is the cleanser I use first thing in the morning once I wake up to thoroughly clean my face. And it also smells amazing. I have used their shampoo of the same kind and really love that too. 

4. Parachute Body Gel Coconut Water and Aloe Vera: I came across this while ordering my groceries online (before the lockdown obviously) and I was in the marker for a light body lotion and this felt like it would be perfect for the hot days of summer. And you guys this is so good. Super light, sweet smelling it does a good job of keeping your skin hydrated. I love that is soaks up in your skin really soon and leaves it fragrant (mildly) and moisturised. 

5. Colouring: My old love has made a huge comeback in my life. 
This is the one thing that has made me so happy all month long. Just before the lockdown, I made the smart decision to order 2 new colouring books and they have been saving my life. 
I have spent hours with my art supplies, just zoning out and colouring and finding peace and serenity. 

Some blank pages waiting to be filled up. 

6. This beautiful Wreath pendant from Quirksmith has been my constant companion ever since we bought it earlier this month. It is simple and light-weight to be an everyday piece of jewellery. 

Apart from all of this, I've read some wonderful books as a part of #FemmeMarch. You can check out my Instagram (right hand side panel) for short reviews of everything I have read this month. 

I also had a great book buying month! I had ordered several books from Zubaan and they arrived just before the Lockdown and I plan to get to reading them very soon. 

I found a lot of comfort in journaling. 

We've been enjoying some beautiful Spring sunsets this month as well. 

We've watched two Bengali movies this month and quite liked both of them- Satyanweshi Byomkesh and Dwitiyo Purush. Both are on Hoichoi, if you're interested. 

Hope April is better than March! 

Take care and stay home and stay safe, everyone! 

Sunday, 29 March 2020

21 Book Recommendations for the Lockdown!

How are we doing today? 
I hope you are safe and sane and keeping yourself happy inspite of this lockdown and the gloom and doom. 

Today I want to do what I do best..Talk about BOOKS! 
So without much prelude let's just jump into some book recommendations shall we? 
Here are 21 incredible books you could read during this lockdown. 
I have books from multiple genres and I think there is a little something for everyone on this list.

1. Feluda Vol. I and II by Satyajit Ray: Brilliant short stories featuring a sleuth who solves crimes with his trusty companions Topshe and Jatayu by his side. These stories are comforting, fun, action filled and full of Ray's genius. Great for kids and honestly great for you too. These two volumes on their own are perfect to keep you occupied for 21 days and then some.
Also anything else by Ray is a wonderful idea. His short stories and his sci-fi and ghost stories are some of my favourites. 

2. Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale: One of the best books I read last year. Set in Bombay in the 90s, this is the story of love and typical housing societies in the city, it's also about communal violence and how it affects people and changes places. Secrets, community and a nostalgia that is so beautifully brought to life. This book was a delight. 

3. The No. I Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith: A series set in Botswana about a lady detective and her agency that solves crimes big and small. Full of warmth, wonderful and kind people and a place I love to visit. This series has around 15 odd books (maybe even more) and each of these are wonderful and sweet and soothing. Perfect for now and later. 

4. Darkness by Ratnakar Matkari: A collection of short stories translated from Marathi, these stories are spooky and atmospheric and perfect to sink into while the world is often eerily quiet now. I also quite liked how wide ranging these stories were, ghosts and ghouls but also astral projection and mind control. 

5. Bitterfruit Selected Short Stories by Manto: This or any collection of short stories by the masterful storyteller Manto is a great idea. His stories are powerful, stirring, often controversial and brilliant. If you've never read him before, this might be the right time to jump into his world. 

6. The Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh: What can I possibly say about this man and his writing that will begin to capture his sheer brilliance?! I am obviously a fan. The Ibis Trilogy is a triumph. Historical fiction, set in the early 19th century, opium trade and the trafficking of workers from India to Mauritius. Interesting and so incredibly well written.
I'd also recommend pretty much everything else he's written as well. 

7. The Chalkman by CJ Tudor: If you liked IT or Stranger Things, this is a perfect book for you. Set partly in the 80s and present days this is a story of friends trying to solve a crime from their childhood that is maybe coming back again.
The writer's other two books are decent too, but this one is a favourite. 

8. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy: Another favourite from last year. This book is so good and relevant and important and it took me by surprise how much I liked it. There is a lot going in this book, a large cast of characters but all of them are brilliantly written and will stay with you long after the book is over. 

9. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager: A house sitter, a fancy apartment building and things that seem too good to be true. Scary and unputdownable this book is a trip and will pull you in and keep you invested in this story. 

10. The Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Annapara:  I recently read, loved and reviewed this book on the blog as well. A sometimes grim, sometimes heartfelt and funny and wholly brilliant.

11. The House with A Thousand Stories by Aruni Kashyap: Set in Assam in the 90s and later, this is a story of large family and life during insurgency and it's aftermaths. Coming of age, family secrets and dynamics, this book was wonderful and engaging and honestly I learnt so much about Assam and it's people and the history of violence and disruption. Heart breaking and full of amazing characters.

12. Jorasanko and Daughters of Jorasanko by Aruna Chakravarti: Whether you love Tagore or not, these books set in his family home will keep you hooked. A prestigious family, the very name that stands for culture and intellect, it was so interesting to know more about their lives and even struggles. I inhaled these books. So good!

13. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton: If you are looking for a good historical romance, this is a good one to pick up. It's about the Cuban revolution and the life and lifestyle of the upper class in Havana during the revolution. There is also a sequel of sorts but this one is way better than that one.

14. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy) by Stephen King: Looking for some supernatural reads. Stephen King is always a good idea. This one is a trilogy featuring a  cold blooded serial killer and a ragtag team of people trying to stop him. This one should keep you entertained and spooked and so hooked!

15. Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman: A graphic memoir of the writer's father's experience during the second world war and his life in the concentration camps. I cried, laughed and was moved beyond words. A Pulitzer prize wining graphic novel that you need to read.

16. Tintin by Herge: A perfect time to revisit your childhood favourite and these books were always full of adventure, travel and laughs. All good things.
In the same vein, I think this is a good time to read books from your childhood.
Tinkle Comics.
The Famous Five.
Little Women.
Archie Comics.

17. Diaries of a Social Butterfly by Moni Mohsin: These books about a socialite from Lahore, Pakistan who tries very hard to be cool and suave but is largely hilarious! These books, there are 3 books in this series, are so damn funny you'll be laughing out loud. I know I did. We could all do with some hilarity right about now.

18. Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James: A recent read of mine, spilt between 1982 and 2018, this is a story of two young women working in the same haunted motel and trying to find answers to some secrets and mysteries. I was for the first time ever, pretty scared while reading a horror novel and it never happens to me. Atmospheric and a hint of a mystery.

19. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne: What an incredible book about a man named Cyril Avery and his life in Ireland between 1945 to 2015. A sweeping saga of love, sexuality, family and relationships...god this book took my breath away. Good writing and some wonderful characters and a quick history a way.

20. The Space Between Us and The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar: An amazing duology about unlikely friendships, community, strong and incredible women and how they come together to help each other out. I cannot recommend these books enough. They are absolutely stunning.

21. Left from the Nameless Shop by Adithi Rao: A set of interconnected short stories set in a small town. Just absolutely darling and soothing and wonderful. Kind people, real small town lives and little upheavals. This book felt like a hug and is honestly a perfect read for right now.

I also recommend books by

Agatha Christie.
Kate Morton.
Sudha Murty.
Ruskin Bond.
Haruki Murakami.

I hope books are keeping you sane and happy.

Stay safe you guys. 

Friday, 27 March 2020

21 Tips on Surviving the 21 Day Lockdown.

How are you? 
Really, how are you? 
We find ourselves in this strange time, this period of uncertainty and fear and I know its hard on all us. Some more than others. But all of us are feeling this wave of anxiety and stress and that is totally normal. I know I've been feeling pretty numb these past few days. 
21 days in a long time. 
A long time to be home and doing everything by ourselves. 
Some of us have never been in for so long. EVER. 
And some of us find ourselves doing home chores and cooking for the first time ever...I see people freaking out on my FB and basically nearly dying from ghar ka kaam. 
I feel ya! 

So I thought, I'd share some tips and trick to make these 21 days a little bit more bearable. 
I wanted to share some tips on chores and doing your own household work, I don't know if I've ever talked about it in detail but for nearly 2 years, 2016-2018, my sister and I were without a domestic helper and did everything on our own. It was hard and we are so grateful when we found our current helper. So I know a little bit on how to manage your home and do so without going mad. We learnt a lot in those 2 years and have a little wisdom to share. 
I hope this helps anyone who feels overwhelmed with everything. 


1. Distribute and Delegate Chores: If you're living with people, family or roommates delegate chores. For instance, my sister and I are together and have split up chores between us. We both cook. I do the dishes and clean the kitchen. We take turns with washing clothes. She sweeps, while I mop. This way no one is overwhelmed or overworked. Don't try to take on too much. 

2. Sweep Everyday: India is dusty AF. So a daily thorough jhadu is inescapable and one chore I recommend you don't skip, even if your house looks clean, trust me it isn't. Get under those nooks and crannies and sweep away. If you live in a large house, split up the rooms with between folks at home. Maybe each person cleans their own room to keep things fair. 

3. Mop Every Other Day: When we were help-less for two years, mopping was the one thing I HATED. Hated with a vengeance. It killed me. And from what I see people on my FB, its killing them too. It's not easy mopping your home and it's hard on your body to squat and mop. So if you're doing a daily jhadu, you can easily do a mopping every other day. Or even once a week if yo live in a not so dusty part of town. My flat can go 4-5 days without a mopping and it does well. But my parents home, on a busy main road needs to be mopped pretty much everyday. So see how dirty your space gets and see how long you can stretch between moppings. Be thorough with the jhadu-ing and easy on the mopping. 

4. Get a Spin Mop: This little thing single handedly saved my life back when I did everything on my own. It's a nifty little device to mop your floors, it does a fantastic job, gets your home super clean and is so much kinder to your back and hands. If you can find it...given how crazy things are right now, get it. I have one from Scotch-Brite and I love it. You can find it HERE. There are also several others that are much more affordable. Find one that works for you. 

5. Don't Let The Vessels Pile Up: When it comes to dishes my main philosophy is never let your sink fill up. There is nothing grosser than meeting a sink full of dirty dishes and having to wash all of them in one go. I prefer doing dishes as and when I use them. Often I cook the little things while I am cooking, so while my meal is simmering away, I wash the chopping board, the knife and the mixer jars if I've used any. My rule was to wash the dishes the moment I had 5 dishes in the sink. Another dish washing related tip is getting a liquid dish soap, the are much more kinder to your hands and do a better job as compared to the bars. 

6. Meal Plan & Prep: Take a good look at your pantry and fridge and decide what to look for the next week. Given we are all working with limited groceries its good to have an idea what we are working with and what all we can whip up with said things. Meal planning also helps when its meal time and you know exactly what you need to do and don't waste time on deciding the menu. Also meal prepping is a good idea, prepare a couple of things before hand, chop some veggies, boil a few pulses, marinate a thing or two. There are so many videos on Youtube that teach you how to meal plan and prep like a champ. 

7. Eat Simple Meals: This is not the time for elaborate meals. Even if you have groceries in your pantry and a fridge full of produce, it still doesn't make sense to cook a four course meal. For one, it's too much effort and too many dishes will end up in the sink for you to wash. Secondly, given things are a little bit uncertain right now and you can't leave the house as much, ration your supplies. Make one pot meals and make a simple meal. Do with a little less. A typical Bengali meals calls for rice, dal, two or three kinds of veggies, fish curry, fish fry and chutney and a sweet dish to end the meal. My family normally, when we are all together, eats something like this, ok maybe not 3-4 veggies but definitely a veggie side or two. I've been telling my parents to simplify their meals for ages and now they have to. This is a good time as any to go for minimal meals. 

8. Learn New Recipes: I feel for you if you don't know how to cook and now your cook is on leave and you have to feed yourself and your family. But..honestly, you probably should learn how to cook in any case. Cooking is a basic and essential life skill. You should know how to make edible meals. This is a great time to learn. Start small. Look for recipes on Youtube and start. 
If you are a seasoned cook, then this is a good time to learn a few new recipes. I for one am looking up recipes that don't use a lot of fresh veggies, since my stock is pretty low at the moment. So I am learning more about simple chilas and simple rice dishes. 

9. Let the Kids Help Out: For those with kiddos, let them help you when and where they can. Let them help with watering plants, dusting, setting the table and keeping their own rooms clean. And if you have kids older than 10, involve them in kitchen chores too. It's a good time as any to pick up some kitchen skills, and they don't need to work the knife, just get them to work the mixer, fetch things from the fridge and even teach them some basic recipes. 

10. Do your Laundry Everyday: If you have a washing machine, yay! It makes life sooooo much easier. 
If you don't well..join the club! I find that washing your clothes every single day is a good idea, especially if you are hand washing them. Piling up clothes is not fun and washing a ton of clothes in one go is a lot of work. So best to get clothes washes and out to dry every single day. Luckily, now with everyone being home, hopefully we aren't getting too many clothes dirty. Another great idea is each person wash their own clothes and not make it too much of a chore for one person. 

// These were my tips specific to household chores. Now on to some general tips and tricks.// 

11. Oil Your Hair: Champiiiiii away. 
I don't know about you but I only ever oil my hair once maybe twice a month. Being stuck home for 21 days is a good excuse to let your scalp soak up some of that oil. Give yourself a good champi, maybe leave the oil in your hair overnight and wash it off, the best part is if all of it doesn't come off in one go, no issues. No one is going to see your oily hair in any case. 

12. READ: Get that TBR under control. Read new books, old favourites, big fat books you've been avoiding. Escape into a good book and forget our world for minute. 

13. Art Away: I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying colouring. I luckily ordered 2 new colouring books just before the lockdown and I spend hours colouring away. I am so grateful to have colour pencils, pens and brush pens to colour away. You can draw, sketch and colour and lose yourself in being creative. 

14. Watch Old Feel Good Films: A throwback to simpler and happier times. Watch movies that make you laugh, romances that make your heart soar and action that gets your heart racing. I am going to defiantly re-watch some of my utter favourite classics like Padosan and Golmaal and laugh my heart out. 

15. Wash Your Make-Up Brushes: They could probably do with a cleaning. And now that we aren't going anywhere or putting on make-up, it's a good time to wash each and every make-up brush and let them dry in peace. I know I should, I haven't washed my brushes in absolute ages! 

16. Set up a Work Station: If you are working from home, make a work station away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of your family. Make it functional and cute and comfortable. This also helps in making you more productive, if you have a designated work spot, it will help you focus on your work. Working from bed or your sofa sounds like fun but trust me it's so much better to find a separate spot to get things done in. 

17. Video Chat with Your People: Don't let yourself get completely isolated. We live in a wonderful time..when it comes to connectivity. There is no reason to feel lonely, video chat with your friends, catch up, vent and make these days seem not so cut-off. Also, call your parents! 

18. Journal: Put pen to paper, write, vent and get this uncertainty and anxiety out of your system. Journaling is so good for you and a wonderful habit to develop. Also, it's  a great way to document these funny times we are living in. Won't it be nice to look back at this time 25 years from now and remember how we got through it? You don't have to make it pretty or super aesthetic, you just have to sit and write and clear your mind. But hey, if you want to make it pretty as a picture why not? I do. Use washi tape, stickers and stamps and ink and art and make your journal a work of art. 

19. Listen to Podcasts and Audiobooks: A great way to make your mindless chores a lot more fun. You could also blast some tunes and get your cleaning on. 

20. Step Away from the News: Don't be glued to the News, of course we need to know what's happening and get updates on the situation but you are not doing yourself or your mental health any favours by constantly watching the News. You don't need this kind of constant information overload. Take a step back. 

21. Plan for the Future: Look beyond this madness. It's easier said than done but I am trying so hard to focus on the future and all that I hope to do once this is over and done with. The places I want to go to, the meals I want to eat and the people I want to see. I miss my normal boring life so much. I hope and pray that we find ourselves back in our old lives soon and can all that we've been missing. Travel, go see friends and family, long drives, grocery shopping without fear and worry. Ah! 


I hope you guys are safe and sound and sane. 
And hope this post helped even a little bit. 
Stay strong folks! 

I'll be back with a ton of book recommendations. 
Stay tuned. 

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Janta Curfew Watchlist: Web Series and Movies to watching during the Coronavirus Quarantine

Hello, hello!

I hope all of you are doing well and staying home as much as possible.

Tomorrow, March 22nd, has been declared as 'Janta Curfew' (People's Curfew) by our Prime Minister, where we've been urged to stay home between 7 am to 9 pm. I know a lot of us are feeling stir-crazy already, so, I thought I'd share some web series and movies that you can watch/ binge on tomorrow to make the self-imposed curfew easier.

Asur: Voot Select's new web series is a contest of wits and will between a deadly serial killer and two CBI Forensic Officers. This mysterious serial killer is on a spree and, for some reason, he is taunting two of CBI's top forensic officers. The series is a mix of mythology and science and is quite interesting. We're still in the process of watching it and are very hooked!

Little Fires Everywhere: If you've read the book or not, this is a series that explores complex family dynamics, different styles of mothering and just human relationships in 1997 America. The show has top-notch acting talent and 3 episodes in, we're quite hooked. Watch it on Hotstar.

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez: In 2013, an 8-year old boy was brought in to the ER with signs of severe abuse and trauma. A few days later he died. This searing, heartbreaking Netflix documentary follows the public prosecutors from the LA DA's office as they build the case against Gabriel Fernandez's mother and her live-in boyfriend. Though very difficult to watch and triggering, this is an important series to watch as it shines a light on the flawed Child Protective Services department in the US as well as how so many people, well-meaning or not, failed to save this little boy from everything he had to endure in his short life.

Panga: This is the story of a National-Level kabaddi player, who overcomes stereotypes and so many other barriers to get back into the sport that she loves. We're excited to watch this movie tomorrow! Available on Hotstar.

Satyanweshi Byomkesh: Yet another Byomkesh Bakshi movie! What?! But, does it bother us?! NO! We'll take as many Byomkesh movies as we get! This one stars Parambrata and is quite interesting. Available on Hoichoi and Zee5.

Special Ops: Directed by Neeraj Pandey (of A Wednesday, Baby fame), this series promises to be all kinds of action-packed! We haven't seen it yet, but the trailer looks good and we want to try watching a new episodes tomorrow. Available on Hotstar.

The Hunters: A group of rag-tag people out to extract revenge and kill some Nazis hiding in plain sight in the US. What is not to love?! A wonderful ensemble cast led by the inimitable Al Pacino, this Amazon Original series is just so, so good! We're 4 episodes in and we love it!

Mardaani 2: A sadistic, sociopathic serial killer is on the loose in Kota and, newly minted IPS officer, Shivani Shivaji Roy is determined to stop him before he takes another life. An interesting game of cat-and-mouse and some power-packed performances make this movie a really good watch! Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Good Newwz: If you don't want to watch anything stressful or triggering and just want to watch something mindless and non-PC funny, then Good Newwz on Amazon Prime Video is what you need. It is a good old silly movie, with a few laugh-out-loud moments and is good timepass.

A few honourable mentions: 

Tanhaji: If historical movies are your jam, then you could try watching Tanhaji on Hotstar. It tells the story of how a small band of Maratha warriors led by braveheart Tanaji Malusare fought against all odds to win back the strategic Singhagad Fort (Pune) from a well-armed Mughal contingent.

Panipat: Similarly, Panipat, tells the story behind the Third Battle of Panipat, which was fought between Ahmed Shah Durrani and the Marathas. If history is an area of interest, then you'll like this one, even though it is quite slow in some parts.

The Crime- UK: This Netflix series focuses on the process of interrogation of a suspect to get him to confess to a crime that he is committed. Almost all of the action of this series takes place in an interrogation room. The cast (David Tennant in a chilling role) is brilliant and the story is quite fast-paced and doesn't get boring.

Take care, fam!
See you next week!

Friday, 20 March 2020

Book Review: Jwala Kumar and The Gift of Fire by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar.

Book: Jwala Kumar and The Gift of Fire

Author: Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

Illustrator: Krishna Bala Shenoi

Publisher: Talking Cub

Pages: 128

Read On: Paperback Edition

How Long it Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary: Is Jwala Kumar a bird? A bat? A chameleon? Or is he something no one has ever seen before? And did he really just fall out of the sky into Champakbagh?

Mohan Chandar lives with his wife and three children in the tiny and remote village of Champakbagh. One day, he rescues a strange creature from the storm that is raging outside. When he brings the creature home, the family is astonished. What sort of animal is this? Is he friendly? What does he eat? Where will he sleep? They name him Jwala Kumar, and as the days go by, they discover that Jwala Kumar is no ordinary animal. He has special powers that he uses to help his human family in their times of need. When the days are dark and hope seems to dim, Jwala Kumar lights up their lives in many ways. But who is Jwala Kumar and will he stay forever? 

Jwala Kumar and the Gift of Fire is a captivating story of innocence and friendship, of magic and love, and of gifts that last a lifetime.

General Thoughts:  I've read two books by the author, The Adivasi Will Not Dance and My Father's Garden and loved them both, so I figured I'd give his children's book a go too. Hoping and, pretty much knowing, I won't be disappointed and right I was.

The world is hot mess right now, to say the very least!
We find ourselves in this whole new and unprecedented situation and we could all do with reminders of goodness and simple joys and friendship and helping each other.
This book is perfect book for right now.
So if you have kids stuck at home, this will be a treat, for them and you.

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing as expected was good, simple and infused with so much warmth and depth.

2. The illustrations are beautiful. Here are some examples of the gorgeous art.

3. The life of a daily wage earner and his struggles and what it means for him to even miss a single day's work is shown with such clarity, and is especially poignant right now. While most of us can work from home, even if it means taking a few days of unpaid leave, for so many people missing a day of work can mean a day with a meal for them and their families.

4. The entire family in this book are all such a good and kind people. They don't have much but they have such kind hearts and they out of their way to help a helpless creature. I wanted to jump inside this book and give them all hugs!

5. The book just felt like a hug, it teaches us the importance of being kind, being good and helping someone without any vested interest and looking out for each other. We desperately need more of this in the world.

6. Even though this book is largely full of magic and joy, it doesn't mean it shies away from the reality of life. Poverty and struggle aren't simply brushed away or ignored. The book is set in a low income family and it doesn't try to sugarcoat their sometimes dire situations or minimise how hard life can sometimes be. And I think children, across all sections of society should understand how people very different from them live and the often grim realist of their lives.

7. While this is a children's book, it works just as well for an adult reader. You won't find yourself bored, we will walk away from this book and it's people with a lot of joy in your heart and a smile on your face.

Rating: 5/5

This is the perfect book for now or even later.
So good!  

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Book Review: Suralakshmi Villa by Aruna Chakravarti

Book: Suralakshmi Villa 

Author: Aruna Chakravarti 

Pages: 313

Read: Hardcover copy pictured above 

Read in: 3-4 hours 

Plot Summary: Suralakshmi Choudhury, a gynaecologist based in Delhi, falls in love at the age of thirty-one, marries and has a son. Suddenly, five years after his birth, she abandons everything including the house gifted to her by her father and her flourishing medical career, to travel to an obscure village in Bengal and open a free clinic for women and children. 

She leaves her son behind but takes along a poor Muslim girl, she has adopted. What makes her take this strange decision? Suralakshmi’s actions confound her relatives and it is from their accounts of the incidents, letters, memoirs, and flashbacks – from a more distant past – that the story comes together and the layers and nuances in the enigmatic character of Suralakshmi are brought to light. 

In Suralakshmi Villa, Aruna Chakravarti blends the narrative of the novel with history, legend, music, religion, folklore, rituals and culinary practices of both Hindus and Muslims, and creates a fascinating tapestry which reveals the syncretic nature of Bengal and her people.

Things I Liked: 

1. Suralakshmi Villa is an extended version of a short story written by Aruna Chakravarti, which I had read several years ago. So, when I picked up the book and started reading it, I was really confused if we already had and read this book! However, since Chakravarti is such a wonderful writer and the book explores and delves into the lives of so many women all over Bengal, there is no sense of repetition in the narrative at all! While there are some aspects of the book that seem familiar, but there is just so much more in there that is heartbreaking and riveting. 

2. The writing is utterly beautiful. The author brings the women, their homes, surroundings, relationships alive and you feel like you are watching their lives unfold in front of you. Beautiful, evocative writing! You really bond with these characters and feel so strongly for them and their rights- always a hallmark of great writing! 

3. We meet many women in this book. Some of them are likeable, some are relatable, some evoke a lot of empathy and some are just plain confounding! So, there is a lot of little stories about the lives and suffering of women from different socio-economic strata and all these stories are beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting and moving. You'll come away with a sense of outrage but not one of hopelessness. 

4. This book is set, for the most part, in the late 1950s and we see the lives of women in that era in a metro (Delhi) and a village (rural Malda). Each of these narratives are equally interesting and poignant. I enjoyed the Malda stories more than the Delhi ones, but even the Delhi ones were really enlightening. 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Book Review: Good Talk by Mira Jacob.

Book: Good Talk

Author: Mira Jacob

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 368

Read On: Hardback Edition

How Long it Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary: Does Donald Trump hate Muslims?'

'Is that how people really walk on the moon?'
'Is it bad to be brown?'

'Are white people afraid of brown people?'
Inspired by her viral BuzzFeed piece '37 Difficult Questions from My Mixed-Raced Son', Mira Jacob responds to: her six-year-old, Zakir, who asks if the new president hates brown boys like him; uncomfortable relationship advice from her parents, who came to the United States from India one month into their arranged marriage; and increasingly fraught exchanges with her Trump-supporting in-laws. Jacob also investigates her own past, including how it felt to be a brown-skinned New Yorker on 9/11. As earnest and moving as they are laugh-out-loud funny, these are the stories that have shaped one life, but will resonate with many others.

Things I Liked: 

1. This book had been on my wish list for far too long, ever since it came out sometime last year. I am so glad I finally read it, and I read in one single setting. The premise of the book, the conversation between mother and son about an incredibly relevant, important and sensitive issue of race was handled with such sincerity and feeling that it feels like a masterclass on difficult conversations with kids. If you are a person of colour raising a child in the West, especially America, especially Trump's America this book ought to be a book you read and re-read and highlight portions of.

2. This book while dealing with a heavy and sensitive topic at it's core is still hilarious in parts. I found myself laughing out loud so many times. Especially the parts featuring the shenanigans of the author's parents and her extended family in India.

3. I loved the little and so many backstories that we segue into this book. Stories of the writer's childhood, her parents, visits to India, growing up, how her parents came to be married, relationships, how she met her husband...of these add so much life and colour to this story. Her parents were my favourite people to read about and spend time with, they sound so funny and in so many ways so typical of desi parents.

4. This shows ever so subtly how racism exists and how if you aren't a person of colour, well meaning as you may be or even a staunch ally, you might still be blind to these subtle but just as cruel forms of racisms.

5. All of us like to think, or pretend that racism isn't as bad as it used to be. All of us know better and do better. We don't say certain offensive words. We don't try to stereotype people based on their colour. We have come far...and we have. I am not trying to deny the many ways in which we've (as a society ) have progressed. But reading this book, especially seeing it's back and forth from present day (well 2016) and in the author's childhood of the 80s and 90s America, its obvious that in so many ways things haven't quite changed. Racism, overt or covert still exists.
For example, I doubt that there is any person of Indian origin who hasn't been asked "How is your English so good?" Ugh!

6. This book will break your heart. There were so many parts, where I wanted to stop and give someone, well mainly the author a hug. I think every immigrant must feel at such odds with their identity. The idea of home and where they belong. A country which is theirs in every single way seems to not fully accept them, and the country they are from is often an idea or a place they occasionally visit but possibly never accepts them either. This constant feeling of being the other no matter where they are much be a particular kind of ache.

7. I think everyone who's ever said 'Oh politics isn't personal. It doesn't come between families or friends.' Needs to read this book. Politics and this incessant rhetoric of hate that is all too familiar affects people. It isn't limited to Newsrooms or editorials or discussions. It all trickles down, it makes you, forces to choose sides. It hurts people. 2016 in America showed a lot of people how some of their friends, even family really felt. This book does a great job of showing this and the pain and confusion and heartache it causes.

8. I also loved how this book drove home the point that kids hear, see and grasp everything that's happening around them. And not just what's happening at home, but what's going on in the outside world. The stuff in the News, the screaming headlines, the hysterical panellists on prime time and all the noise in the world, they hear it. They might not fully grasp the meaning behind it all...but they hear and understand more than you think. And just imagine the ugliness they are seeing. The hate and the 'othering' they are being made aware of.

Rating: 4/5

An important, relevant and brilliant book that should be on reading list.
I highly recommend.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Monday Moods: Jewellery Haul from Zola

Hey everyone!
Wanted to quickly share some lovely art jewellery that we bought from Zola.

Zola is a store that uses traditional Indian art forms such as Dokra, Patchitra, Bommalata, Bidri etc. and transforms them into beautiful wearable art.

Here's what we got...

A quick overview of all the loveliness. It came in this really pretty box, which we plan to re-use to store our stamps or other stationery bits. 

Let's start with my utter favourites and something that I've wanted for so long- the Bommalata earrings! Bommalata work is hand-painted art on thin leather. Look at these beauties! 

How cute are these fish?! The same art work can be seen on both sides and so, if a strong breeze turns your earrings around, you can see the same art on both sides. 

These chubby pink birds are also absolutely adorable! 

Next, these Dokra bangles are just so gorgeous! Perfect to pair with other metal or thread bangles! 

Last, but not the least, is this beautiful Patachitra necklace feature a beautiful painting of two Devadasis in a temple. 

So, if you want to get yourself some beautiful wearable art, do check out Zola. 

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Welcome to Introvert Season: 10 Things To Do If You Find Yourself Stuck at Home!


I hope all of you are doing fine and are safe and taking every precaution in the world to protect yourself from this blasted Corona Virus. 
Don't Touch Your Face...which is generally such good advice if you want to keep pimples and acne at bay.
Wash your hands. 
And most importantly stay in if you feel poorly. 
Also, stay in, just in case. 
If you can avoid stepping out, just don't. Hunker down. Why take the risk? 

Now I know it's easier for some of us (Hello fellow Introverts!) to stay in and ride this shit out as compared to those who thrive on being social and being out and feel stir crazy being stuck at home. 
I get it...well..I can empathise, so these are 10 things you can do if you have to be stuck at home. 

I promise the staying in lifestyle is so fun, a different kind of fun than one you are perhaps used to but still FUN! 
So many of us LOVE it. 
Seriously, give a shot. 
Who knows maybe even once this social distancing is over, you might have a weekend or two just being at home?! 

Deep Breath..let's list away. 

1. CLEAN YOUR SPACE:  You're at home and going to be here for while, so why not do a good, proper, deep clean? Spring Clean away peeps. Dust those shelves. Change out those curtains. Clean those fans. Declutter while you are at it. Give your home the refresh it needs. A clean space does wonders for your mental health. And even if you, unlike me, don't enjoy cleaning like Monica Gellar, I promise, you'll feel loads better once you're done. 

2. CHANGE YOUR DECOR: In the same vein as the last point, since you are at home maybe this is a good time as any to move things about and redecorate your home. Move the coach to a new part of the living room, change the cushion covers and curtains and change your bedsheets and pillowcases. Change up the wall art or move around the knick knacks. Give your home a little face lift. YouTube is full of fantastic and budget friendly home improvement ideas to inspire you. Also, if there is a home project you've been meaning to do but been putting off due to time is a good time to jump right into it. For example, I spent all of last evening assembling a stationery cart and setting it up. I also set up my kitchen spice shelf in a new, more organised way. 
Look around your home and see which part of it needs some love and attention. 

3. CATCH UP ON SLEEP:  Let's be honest..most of us could do with more sleep. In our busy lives we tend to compromise on our sleep and this is a good time to make up our sleep deficit. So get those zzzs in. 

4. READ:  Of course the Book Blogger was going to have reading on her list. 
Read the books gathering dust on your shelves. Read the ones sitting on your TBR for ages. Start on a  big book that you've meant to read your whole life. War & Peace let's get that tome read. 

5. NETFLIX & CHILL: Start one to two of the seemingly million series available on online to stream. The show with 15 seasons and hundreds of episodes...start away. Watch the film series you've been meaning to get to. 
Lord of the Rings. 
Star Wars 
The entire Marvel Universe of films. 
There is so much out there to keep you happily occupied. 

6. GO BACK TO AN OLD HOBBY:  The business of living and being an adult can sometimes seriously come in the way of the things that we enjoyed as a kid. Now is a good time as any to re-visit an old love. Pick up those paint brushes. Dust off your old guitar or harmonium. Make some art and craft. 

7. DO SOME KITCHEN EXPERIMENTS: Try making something new. If you have a cook, give him/her a much-needed time off too. Bake a cake. Cook something you love. It is loads of fun! 

8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN AND HAIR: Nothing like a few days home to give your skin and hair a break from the pollutants outside. Put on a face pack. Do a deep conditioning. Try out a hair mask. Pamper yourself! 

9. PLAY SOME BOARD GAMES: Rediscover your love for your favourite childhood board games! Ludo. Scrabble. Monopoly. Snakes & Ladders. Or even the more "grown up" board games like Settlers of Catan! There are so many great board games out there. 

10. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR PEOPLE: In the daily grind of life and living, we don't often get to spend quality time with those we love and live with. Have more conversations with your significant other, parents etc. Or if you live alone, do a long video call with your bestie or your parents. Time is truly a gift! Spend it with those you love, even if it is virtually! 

There is honestly so much you can do, don't let this forced social seclusion get you down, try to find the silver lining. 
Welcome to Introvert Season. 
Make the most of it. 
Rest, if nothing else. 
Be Safe.