Friday, April 29, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pictures of My Travels: Uttarakhand

I visited Chicu and her Mian's beautiful home again last month. Some pictures of my trip.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Circumscribing "Fun" for Adult Women

"You're on a roll."

"You're a bad girl."

"Where's your husband?"

"Why did you have to go?" (This was my mother.)

These were some of the reactions I got to my recent solo traveling, from people I consider friends. In the last month, I have been in Delhi, Uttarakhand, Goa, then Delhi again (this time for work, but I managed to get quite a bit of fun in).

But what made me stop and think was that I subconsciously agreed with them. That I was having "too much fun". That I should stay home - even though my husband wouldn't be around for much of the time himself. That I should have less fun. That partying with men friends, not just one night but several nights in a row, was a bit too much.

Over at the Ladies Finger, I sort through these reactions and my feelings, and explore why we even have such a concept as "too much fun". How can fun, when you're not hurting anyone, be a bad thing?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Books I Read in March

I had a busy month (as you can see by my posting this in mid-April)! Here are the books I've read, as far as I can remember.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Miss Jean Brodie is the antihero, the teacher who teaches beyond the classroom, tries to inspire her students, but is narcissistic and self-serving. It's an interesting novel, though I found it rather depressing (so many stories about schoolchildren - barring the ones about midnight feasts and adventures around the countryside - are; it seems so easy to victimise children).

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart
This is the third of the series, and an extremely fun children's adventure book. I borrowed it from Chicu's neighbour (please be advised this word is used loosely here) when I visited her, and it's a great vacation read. Four kids have adventures and stop the bad supervillain from getting away with a superweapon. What I loved best was that the older girl, Kate, is the most physically adept of them all and the boys are often like, okay, Kate will go fight the bad guys and we'll sit here and wait for her.

Pulchritude by Ana Mardoll
A more realistic retelling of the Beauty and the Beast - one that keeps the magic but makes the characters more realistic. It was interesting but not engrossing - I liked the author's notes at the end more than the actual novel.

Mahesh Rao's The Smoke is Rising
Between this and his new book of short stories that I read in January, I've become quite a fan of Mahesh Rao. (Also, I met him at his book launch and he's charming in person.)

This book starts a bit slow, and the frequent shifts in point of view - every few pages - was a bit disorienting. Especially because I read this over a week while I was traveling instead of all at once, I found myself forgetting the characters and where I'd last left them.

But I found myself more and more drawn in. The characters are so well drawn, realistic yet interesting. And the novel spends much space on its women - the elderly, lonely widow Susheela, her lonely young housemaid Uma, the young unhappy wife Mala. And while there are no outrightly happy endings (and I was rooting for them, yet I admit this is more realistic), there is some validation, some vestige of dignity, and a lot of sympathy for these women.

Mahesh Rao is a feminist, and that's a compliment.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Not a Review of Ki & Ka

Dear Mr Balki,

This is not a review of Ki & Ka: after all, I didn’t even sit through the whole movie. I left during the interval: and would have left earlier if I wasn’t wary of disrupting the experience for other viewers. But much as I tried to forget the part of the movie I did watch (like Kia near the beginning of the movie, I even downed a drink in frustration), I am still full of questions. 

a) Was there a script for this movie? Because there didn’t seem to be any plot, and no characterization. I suspect the “character sketches” must have read something like this: 
  • Young son of rich man who has no ambition, likes trains, and wants to become a housewife/husband. Oh, he also works out and can beat three men up because he’s not effeminate. He’s definitely not gay also. We have to make him say so because his lack of interest in men is not obvious enough. 
  • Ambitious young woman.
  • Controlling rich industrialist father of Kabir.
  • NGO-wali mother of Kia who’s really cool, you know, asks her daughter and her fiancĂ© if they have had sex yet, thinks marriage is stupid, that kind of thing. (Actually this was the one character I liked and would have liked to know better, but she was as much a cardboard cutout as the others.)
And that’s it. After spending over an hour with the characters, I couldn’t figure out what motivated them. For instance: