Saturday, 6 August 2016

Lazarus Rising

What kind of texts do you usually write - short and crisp or long and meandering? If you're the latter kind, you'll get what I'm trying to say.

Do you have some friends - or maybe just one - to whom you keep on texting a constant commentary of your life? I do. Sometimes I realize that, really, someone who wasn't present at the moment a thing happened wouldn't really give a shit about such a detailed account of it. So, I try to restrain myself from writing really long texts. But there's this thing inside me that HAS to tell the story to someone. I just have to, because it was interesting to me. I like telling people what I think about things on a daily basis. So, what do I do?

Once, when I wrote a very long text to a friend, he straight up refused to read it. He said, "Kanika, I am not reading this dump you just took in my inbox." I said, "You could at least pretend to have read it. Now I'll have to find someone else to forward that text to."

He said, "Start a blog."

Those three simple words sent me down a guilt trip. He does not know that I already have a blog. Wait, sorry. That may have sounded like I was guilty about not telling him about my blog, but what I felt guilty about was the blog itself. Here I have it - this convenient platform to talk my heart out on. Even if nobody reads it, my need to express myself is satisfied in the belief that someday some poor sod is going to find my blog and read that damned post. So, here I have it. And yet, I've been ignoring it.

This blog has been dead for a long, long time. And why? I could give you twenty fairly reasonable excuses. College started. I was busy. All the usual bull. The best excuse is the one I gave myself. I didn't really want to write, and this blog is not something I should have to maintain as an obligation. It's a hobby, so I'll write when I feel like it. But that's untrue, and I can't keep lying to myself about it. I do want to write. Hence, the long texts.

Then why don't I? The actual reason for this is that writing a blog post includes editing it, proof reading it, making sure my writing style isn't degrading. All that jazz. I feel that I need to maintain a standard. And I'm too lazy to especially take out time and put in that kind of effort. So, I just let it go entirely. I am too lazy to edit, so let's not write at all. Preposterous!

Now, I've decided. It's time for me to resuscitate my blog. I will post something every week. It might be an aimless post, it might be mindless blabbering without head or tail like this one, it might even be unedited. But writing was the reason I started this blog in the first place. So, to hell with standards!

I. Will. Write.

It’s time for you to get back out there, my dear blog.

And hence was risen Lazarus.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

In Which I Lose My Shit Over Science

I spent the last three hours writing my Physics pre-board exam, and before that, forty-one solid hours preparing for it (breaking only to grab some sustainance and to release bodily fluids). I have injested so much caffeine that I'm as wired as... something that's really, really wired. Frankly, it's a wonder that I can string two thoughts together to form coherent sentences in this condition.

We've all heard enough jokes about Medical and Engineering students. We've also had our fair share of people telling us how studying science will benefit us 'in the long run.' I don't know if that last bit is true, but it'd better be because really. These past two years have been the most miserable of my life, and if they don't benefit me at some point, in some way, then MAA KASAM, I- I don't know what I'll do. But it will be Very Bad Indeed.

Anyway. This, right here, is another one of those rants you've probably read before, about how much being a science student sucks.

When, in my life outside of school - and yes, that exists - people my age learn that I have PCM, they give me The Look. The Look is one you might give a person if they claimed to be a Unicorn in disguise. Initially I used to be all smug about it; Unicorns are awesome, and therefore so am I. (What can I say, I'm a bit delusional. Just a bit.)
But, soon enough a switch flipped on in my mind, and I realized I'd been reading the situation all wrong. What The Look actually means is something along the lines of, 'You are demented**, and you need help.'
Now, that's not exactly unusual for me. My behaviour in public earns me that sort of looks all the time, and I've never been one to give a shit. But, in this case, it hits a bit too close to home because I've wondered this myself. And I'm sure (okay, I guess) I'm not the only one. We've all had our what-in-god's-name-was-I-thinking moments with regard to our subject choice.

But, simply stating our grievance with the subject is not enough, is it? Remember how 3 idiots taught you, about five years ago, that students of science are great at giving examples? That's because there is absolutely NO question that's asked of us that isn't followed by some variation of 'give reasons.' It's true to the extent that even if it isn't mentioned in the question, it's understood that we have to explain the logic behind our answer. So, if you want to know how our mind works, allow me to demonstrate.

Consider, for instance, the term 'soap.'
What's the first thing that came to your mind when you read that word?
No, wait, let me guess. You thought of the little nice-smelling pallette kept near your bathing area, with which you clean yourself.
Me? I actually had to think for a minute before I could make up the above definition. That's because the first thing that came to my mind was: Soap = Sodium or Potassium salt of fatty acids.

I am not even kidding. Most solemn truth I speak to thee. Mummy-swear, yaar!

Science has not just invaded my brain, it has birthed a new civilization in there. And the only way to get rid of it is genocide: I'll have to kill a whole community of my brain cells in order to get my mind back.

So, I will either spend the next ten years of my life trying to rinse out all the physics oozing out of my ears, or I'll forget every bit of it the moment I step out of my board examination room.
It could be either, really. Or, if I think about it, it could be a bit of both.
*le dramatic sigh*
Only time will tell.

But, either way, if I never see a mathematical or chemical equation again it'll be too soon. To put it simply, if my life story were ever made into a movie, this is how I feel it would end -

Grand kid: Grandma, why are you so bitter?
Me: *takes a swig of vodka*
Me: *lights up cuban cigar*
Me: *gazes out of the window*
Me: Science ruined my childhood.

-roll credits-

# # # # #

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Of Fandoms and Inclusion: The Legend of Korra


Kids, today I'm going to tell you a story.
For the benefit of those who are not aware of the way fandoms work, I have presumptiously taken a massive info-dump in your virtual backyard. Do try to avoid the subtext of punching me in the face.

The story goes thus:

Not so far away, in the world of fandoms, there exists a family that goes by the name 'Avatar'. This family was recently treated to the finale of their latest TV series, The Legend of Korra. As is customary in all fandoms, the LoK fans have their own 'ships'. One of the most popular of them is the Korrasami relationship between Korra, the female protagonist, and Asami, Korra's closest friend. Until the finale, Korrasami had officially been non-canonical, with only subtle hints about the romantic tension between the two female characters. In the last two minutes of the season finale, however, the two girls decide to go on a vacation, and walk into the sunset while holding hands.

To say that the fandom went ballistic would be an understatement. While fans have always shipped Korrasami, they never dared to hope that it will one day become canon. But, it did. Go watch this video compilation of fan reactions. If you aren't aware of the passion of fans, you might find it to be almost ridiculous. I, however, fully sympathise with these people. After all, I have my own OTPs, and I am willing to bet anything that my reaction will not at all be dignified if one of them suddenly turned canonical.

Now, moving on with the story.

Once the immediate feeling of crazy, bouncing-off-the-walls happiness had reduced to a high intensity glow in their hearts, the fans begun to wonder. What did that scene actually mean? Were Korra and Asami finally together? Surely they weren't simply holding hands as best friends would? Fortunately, the writers of the show decided to put all doubts to rest by making a public statement in which they confirmed the romantic aspect of the relationship between Korra and Asami.

Sadly, this plot development also became a recepient of hate. (I'm sorry for mentioning it, but I do feel it is impertinent to the discussion.)
Certain viewers claim to have been 'tricked' by the show's writers. This is sodomy, they say. Think of the children, they say.
Are you joking? The same children have watched a number of make-out scenes on the same show, between characters of the opposite sex. But, two girls holding hands - so much as the implication of a same sex relationship - is too much for these children? Or could it be that you are the ones who can't let go of your primitive thinking? I doubt the kids minded, honestly.

Then, there are those people who support the writers' decision with this argument: just like it's ridiculous to alter the grim portions of a fairy tale in an effort to not traumatize your kids, there should be no problem in showing your kids the finale scene.

Look, you are on the right side, but your reasoning is all screwed up. Whether or not it's ridiculous to soften up kids' stories by removing the harsh parts is debatable. There is absolutely NO comparison between the two cases. Your argument implies that a lesbian relationship is equivalent to a violent, macabre scene. D'you see what's wrong with that? It's insulting, hurtful, and simply false. So, please stop.

Now, I am not a part of this fandom (yet) - and I hope Avatar fans would forgive me if I've got any details wrong - but this whole development has made me ridiculously happy! On the writers' part, it's a leap of faith; they trusted their viewers to support their decision. More importantly, this show gives me hope that pop culture is finally catching up with reality. This is one step closer to a show where the female hero exits the scene with the pretext of going home to her wife. This means we might not be so far away from the time when lead characters are in same-sex relationships without it being a big deal.

On a more personal level, this gives me hope for my OTP, Johnlock. *Stares pointedly at Moffat and Gatiss*

Friday, 12 December 2014

Gearing Up

School. It's a mono-syllable word that holds more meaning than any other in the mind of a student. Right from the age when we're still sucking our thumbs to the age when we gear up to get our driver's license, we live a life that revolves around school. On the list of places that define me, my school gives my home a tough competition for the top spot. I believe it is the most under-appreciated part of our lives. In fact, since the beginning of this year, I have been at a point in my life where I became impatient for school to get over. All I've wanted for over a year now is to get rid of it, to get out.

But, on the last day of school, I couldn't get enough of it. Yes, I still want to step out into the world, but I'm reluctant to let this place become a part of my past. It's suddenly hitting me that no matter where I go, a part of me will always be in this building, on this amazing campus. And a part of this school, in return, will stick with me until the very end.
I'll always be the first person to criticise this place, just as I'll always be the first to defend it. I reserved that right fourteen years ago, when I took my first tentative step past that towering green gate in my Nursery overalls.

So, I've decided to write an account of all things nice and nasty about this weirdly endearing place - institution, whatever - that my school is. It's a clich├ęd, coming-of-age post, it isn't particularly well-written, and it won't be too much to say that it's kind of pathetic, but it's just fitting, and I'm not ashamed of it.

The first image that comes to mind when I think of school is of the school campus. We have a sort of love-hate relationship, the campus and I. On one hand, I hate the dilapidated state of the infrastructure. And there isn't any love lost between me and our "state-of-the-art" wash rooms, with their haunting smell of ammonia. On the other hand, I love the corridors, the old staircase, and the drive way, where I've loitered around countless times since middle school. I've skived off enough classes to bask in the winter sun on the school field, that rest assured, I'll never forget the smell and feel of freshly mown grass (that was ruthlessly plucked out and promptly thrown in the next person's face). I'll never forget the primary school playground, the swimming pool, and the skating rink, where I have my more earlier school memories. I'll miss the canteen which was our daily hangout, even when we didn't actually have money to spend. I'll always feel proud when I think of our school auditorium, where our sister-schools came for their annual functions, because their campus lacked a hall as grandiose as ours. I adore the classrooms filled with memories; so what if they are also filled with creaky desks and chairs that have been repaired far too many times?

Then, of course, there are the teachers. There are all kinds of teachers in our school: the chilled-out ones who mind their own business, the annoying ones who seem to have a problem with every breath you take, the too-sweet ones who will use their big smiles to get their work done, and all other kinds in between. But, no matter what kind, I have had both negative and positive experiences with every teacher who taught me at some point.  In the end, I guess I'll miss almost all of them.

Besides the teachers, there are all sorts of other people at school - the administrative staff, the gardener, the janitors, the book-shop guy, and many others whose job description I'm unaware of. But the only ones I might miss are the canteen-vaale-bhaiyas, although it's more because of the place they remind me of than the people themselves. A close second is the 'mini-shop' across the front gate, even though it isn't technically a part of the school.

There are also the people that I would gladly strangle with my own bare hands, without so much as a flinch. It's a short list, but there's a certain sari-clad woman in a position of power - well, sort of - who makes several appearances on it. I could have included her as a teacher, but I never had her subject, fortunately. Oh, and her pawns - the guards! Those annoying people in SIS uniforms, lurking in every nook and cranny of the school, giving offensively questioning looks to passers by. I understand that they are merely doing their job, but it's fucking annoying, and it makes you feel like you're in prison. As though school were a love child of Azkaban and Tarturus.

Our school uniform is... well, let's face it, our uniform sucks. Big time. What sort of a colour combination is that, any way? The only good thing to be said for it is that we never had to suffer through a salwar-kameez. And by now we're so used to the colours, it hardly matters. And... what else? Let's see. I could talk about school books, but when I think of those, my mind turns up nothing but a certain technical error. Error 404: File not found.

A particularly amazing part of school life are the 'educational' trips. Whether it's a day trip to Worlds of Wonder or a four-day excursion to Nainital, school trips are always awesome. Heck, even if it's not really a trip (you know, one of those overnight on-campus camps?), even if it's one of those free trips to bio-reserves and such places, they are pretty damned memorable. Take a group of school friends and dump them anywhere on this god-forsaken planet, it's highly improbable that they won't have a blast. (So much the better if they happen to be carrying their smart phones.) I remember every single trip I've been on, and I doubt I'll be forgetting them any time soon.

I could go on and on; school life comprises of a lot of things, after all. I will miss my friends, perhaps more than anything else, but I don't think I need to mention that separately. Most of all, I'll miss the routine that my life has had for the past fourteen years - hell, I already miss it. Sometimes, when something interesting happens, my mind immediately jumps to the moment when I'll be telling my mates about it at school the next day, before I remember that that won't ever happen again. There's no school the next day, or the one after that. Or ever. I'll still go to that building for my remaining exams, until those, too, are over. But there'll be no more classes, no more efforts to hide our giggling fits, no more inconspicuous passing around of a lunch box during those classes. There will no longer be a school routine - no longer a school, at all. (Add to this the uncertainty I feel for the career path I've chosen, and the constant anxiety about college admissions, and what you get is a complete mess for a brain.)

But, even though I know that after a couple of years I'll probably settle into another routine and get bored of my new life, at least for now, there's also excitement and wonder. Excitement, for all the new experiences that await me, the new people I'll meet, and the new places I'll see. Wonder, for where these experiences will lead me, and for the ways in which I'll get to explore my potential. And, of course, there's the eagerness for these exams to be over, so I get to that lull in my schedule that'll last for a couple of months (at most). I've got too many things to do - too many books to read and too many TV shows and movies to watch, lots of things to paint, and lots of places to visit. So what if I might not come out on the other side in one piece? I'll come out nonetheless: that, I'm sure of. And that's what really matters.

Friday, 28 November 2014


I've grown up telling the world that I'm a tom boy. Or was it the world telling me? I don't know, honestly. But I do know that I didn't scream, 'I am a tom boy!' when they cut my umbilical cord. I learnt the term when I heard people use it, right? Then, perhaps, I chose to apply it to myself. Because it's easier that way, isn't it, describing your personality in two syllables? The world sees you in a better light if you fit one neat category.
But, did I know that as a kid? No, duh. I just thought it was a cool pair of words, and yes, maybe I could associate those words with myself somehow. Maybe I thought they fit me better than any other words. (Maybe I just had a poor vocabulary.)

Light, as most of you would know, is an electromagnetic wave, and it travels in multiple planes. But when you pass this light through a polaroid, the component of the electromagnetic field of light that is perpendicular to the polaroid gets absorbed. The light that then passes through has a lower intensity, moves in a single plane, and is called polarized light.

I believe human beings are similar to light, in that they have multiple layers to their personality. Not unlike a polaroid, society - or civilisation - acts as a filter. At an early age, you become a well-groomed individual, and that grooming involves shedding your quirky layers. When you come out on the other side, you don't even realise that you now exist in a single plane, and are a low-intensity version of yourself.

Society, pea-brained as it is, expects people to exist in tidy rows and columns, like numbers on a spreadsheet. It doesn't understand that humans were borne of chaos. And what is this society made up of? Humans. We want to create order out of chaos, and that can lead to something beautiful if it's applied correctly. But if order leads to animosity, to people being forced to have a monochromatic, plane-polarized existence, I'll choose chaos any day.

I know, I know, major tangent. Sorry about that. I didn't write this post to discuss broad subjects. Society. The world. People.
Nope, none of that. Today I'm going to act more self-centred than usual, and talk about myself.

So, what type of person am I? Am I an introverted nerd? Am I a social butterfly? Am I a tom boy? Am I a girly girl? Am I brave? Am I craven? Am I polite? Am I rude? Am I a fucking elf from Ellesmera?
I'm none of that. Or maybe I'm all of these things (except the last one, of course), but not JUST. I am much more than that, and everything in-between.

I may be extremely polite at times, and at others, I might curse like a sailor. I can be found wearing faded jeans, or a short dress, or sweat pants, or an ethnic suit, or even dorky overalls! One minute I'll be drooling over Benedict Cumberbatch, the next I'll have moved on to Emma Watson. One hour I might have my head full of physics/chemistry, the next one my art supplies will be out and I'll be painting my shoes or some such. One day I'll be reading gay fanfiction, the next I'll be watching the Hulk do some serious butt-kicking. I might come off as egotistic when I talk, or humble as a Hobbit; kind and empathetic, or a snarky bitch. One day I'll spend studying for twelve hours straight, the next I'll waste away on the intertubes. I may have fun arm-wrestling guys in my class (and beating a few at it), but I equally enjoy talking about shoes and dresses.

There are many other sides to me - lots of other extremities and lots of intermediates. So, being labelled? Not my speed. I am an ordinary person, and like all ordinary people, I am a complex human being living a chaotic existence. And that, most certainly, is NOT a reference to my clumsiness.
Put it this way: I am Kanika Kalra, I do what I want, and fuck you.

I read that line in a fanfic. This seemed as good a place and time as any to use it. :3

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Grab Your Own Muffin!

We all have dreams that we long to fulfil, but most of us spend half our lives worrying about where to begin. Only a rare few have the courage to start from scratch and show destiny who the boss is. Mudit Murarka, self-acclaimed multimedia essayist and one of India’s youngest, most talented, internationally recognized film makers, is the rarest of the rare. He started his film-making career at an age at which most of us had not even begun to realise the full potential of the life we have ahead of us (well, some of us still haven’t), and has since made over twelve complete short films. His films have won numerous national and international awards, including a BAFTA (London, 2012) for his short film, The Mirror. Now, Murarka has hit the tabloids again, for his latest short film, Muffin.

Specifically, Muffin tells the story of a 16-year-old boy called Sam. But, in its essence, it is a story that brings to light the not-so-glamorous parts of growing up that all of us experience at some point. If we look back at our childhood days we realise exactly how much our perspective has changed – or should I say evolved? The reality that we now see was happening with as much unsightliness when we were kids, but we were too innocent and carefree to feel its impact. When the adults stopped shielding us from the truth, our lives became more confusing and some of us decided to shed the cocoon entirely to make our own way in the world. Muffin successfully outlines this metamorphosis while simultaneously covering other themes like isolation, changing family structures, expectations and teen angst in a highly intriguing way.

I, personally, discovered that there are a lot of layers to the story - you notice something new every time you watch it, and the beauty of this film lies in the fact that every viewer can take away something different from it. The story is made even more captivating by the exceptionally well done lighting, colourisation, and background music.

Murarka might have been the mind behind the project, but the film could probably not have achieved the level of perfection that it has without the combined efforts of the entire team. While the Director of Photography, Ddevh Sharrma, the Art Director, Radhika Seth, and the editor Mudit Murarka himself have done a splendid job at direction and cinematography, one cannot miss the effortless talents of the lead actors Shaurya Pandit, Aviral Vaid and Radhika Seth. Put together, the Muffin team packs a punch that has yet to be matched by another all-high-school film making crew.
In a nut shell, if you haven’t watched it yet, you’re missing out!

Muffin is an Award of Merit winner at the Best Shorts Awards and is an official selection at the YoFi Fest 2014 in New York, as well as at the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival (UMFF) 2014 in Atlanta. Currently, it is giving its professionally-produced co-contestant films a run for their money in the world's largest online film competition - The Viewster Online Film Fest.
If it wins the Audience Award - that is, if it generates the most attention as per the parameters listed on the site - Viewster will donate USD 20,000 to the charity War Child on behalf of the team behind the film.

You can watch Muffin at the Viewster site from 13th-27th November, by clicking here.
If you like it, don’t forget to leave your comments and share the film on Facebook and Twitter. You may also download Viewster’s mobile app and vote for the film. As it is up for the Audience Award, every vote, like, and comment counts, so please help this team of budding artists add another feather to their hat of glory. Go, grab your own muffin!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Extra Ordinary By Choice

She is in her late forties. She is beautiful; she is the very image of modernism. How do you picture her, when you read those words? No, wait, let me guess. A tall, slim, middle-aged woman wearing a pair of trousers and a classy button-down shirt, sunglasses perched just above the hairline?
You're not even close.

As appearances go, she is an Indian female corporate-worker. She lost her youth years ago, in the laugh lines that now surround her dark eyes. But even today, you can see a determined young woman peeping through them; the young woman who dreamt of a successful future and worked towards it with all her might. This grown-up lady smiles down at her past self, with a look that says, 'Oh, just you wait, little girl. Life has a lot in store for you.' She has experienced struggle and luxury, failure and success, grief and happiness, and other things in life, of which she seems to regret none.

It should have become obvious by now, but for those who are still wondering: she is my mother. Or at least, that's one of the many roles she plays.

When she goes to work, she dresses in a crisp dark-coloured Indian suit, with her shoulder-length hair let down, a no-nonsense brown tote hanging from the crook of her arm, and a determined look on her face. The friendly domestic help lady carries a laptop bag and an office case, as this woman trots up to a well-worn sedan that's about to complete its decade. Looking at the car, you just know it's going to give in any day now. But she settles in behind the wheel, starts the ignition, and that's how you know she'll make the car survive yet another day. Together, the woman and her ride zoom off into the buzz of morning traffic, inching towards another dull office day packed with hard work and lots of coffee.

Whether on a weekday after work or on a much anticipated weekend, whenever she is at home, she favours a light kurti and a comfortable salwar, her hair pulled back in a tiny bun, and her lips spread in a pleasant smile. She spends her weekend juggling between her various responsibilities - her three kids, the grandparents of the house, and the house itself, meant for a family of ten. She is not perfect, but she is nothing short of being remarkable. She orders around the domestic helpers all day and yells at anyone who interrupts her when she's hurrying about the house. She takes it upon herself to ensure that everybody goes about their day as per schedule, which involves making her youngest child do basic things like taking a bath, and negotiating the day's chores with her older children. Yet, somehow at the end of the day, she manages to gather enough patience to settle down and listen to her kids talk about their lives.

I wonder how an ordinary person can do all that. When you are a daughter, a wife, a mother, can there be enough of you left, for you to be your own person?

This thought induces in me a range of battling emotions. First, I feel sheer pride at the fact that I was born to a woman of such superhuman strength. It almost makes me believe in myself. Then, panic with a pinch of dread. Will I be expected to achieve all that, too? The realisation makes me want to burrow into the ground and hibernate for the rest of my life. As the panic dies down, I feel a dull throb at the back of my mind. Sadness, mixed with a sense of loss. There are so many things I want to do in life. Surely, she must have had dreams of her own? There is so much about her that I do not know. Her childhood hopes, her teenage dreams, and what became of them as she began to shoulder new responsibilities. I promise myself I'll ask her. For once, instead of telling her my stories, I'll ask her to narrate hers.

When this battle comes, at last, to an end, from a tangle of thoughts and emotions, one emerges as the victor: complete and utter respect. Respect for the girl who decided to shed her sensitive skin and don the toughened hide of a woman, and respect for the woman who then decided to become an extra ordinary one.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

How To Make A Book Nerd React

Conventionally, book nerds tend to be quiet, introverted people who’d rather spend the weekend at home in a comfy corner with a cup of coffee and an interesting book, than go out and party. When in public, we prefer not to talk much; we are content to listen to and observe others, because it’s just like reading a book. I mean, I've heard people complaining about never getting a reaction out of me more times than I care to count. However, just underneath the calm and composed exterior, we are bat shit crazy. We just appear dormant on the outside. It’s easy to lure us out if you know where to poke.

So, if you’re looking for the red detonation button, you might find some of this useful.

#10: Want to poke the dragon? Tell me Twilight deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as great titles that form the vast world of vampire literature. Like Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. And then don’t ever show me your face again, unless you want a nose job.

#09: Talk about the ongoing Amazon-Hachette feud.
I prefer on-line shopping to the physical kind any day of the week, and more so when it comes to books. But, I respect my favourite authors more than I care about my own convenience. I've got to admit, Amazon is just behaving like a big dick. Cutting e-book prices so low? As if being a writer didn't already mean tight budgets! People have no idea how difficult it is to earn a living from writing, these days. Not all authors are J. K. Rowling, you know.
I can go on about it, but you get the gist. This is one of those debates on which you can’t hope to convince me otherwise. All book nerds may not be of the same opinion on this, but the point is, once you mention it, you’d be hard-pressed to make us stop talking.

#8: Ask me where I stand in the e-book versus print book debate.
Or don’t. I’ll tell you anyway. See, the thing is, I can’t answer this one single minded-ly. Had you asked me a couple years ago, I’d have made it very clear to you that e-books are worthless, and that they will never compete with print books. Today, though, I feel quite the opposite about the former. E-books are certainly not worthless. Once you give them a shot, you realize they are actually a tad bit more convenient. For instance, I can read an e-book on my mobile phone at night, without having to turn on the lights. I can enumerate a dozen more advantages of e-books over hard-covers or paperbacks, but that’s a list for another time.
The merits of print books are, however, less prosaic in comparison - the smell of books, both old and new, the beauty of a glossy modern book cover or a worn vintage one. The warmth of the rough pages beneath your fingers and the absolute delight of turning a page or dog-earing one that holds a special place in your heart; the memories that resurface when a paperback falls open to a favourite page and the cracked spine of a hardbound that speaks volumes about your reckless reading habits. No matter how pragmatic we become, human beings will always be romantics at heart. So, how can someone possibly believe that the e-book can ever replace the ‘real’ book, when the latter has such beautiful possibilities to offer?

#07: Bring up any book-to-screen adaptation, ever.
Unless you wish to be clobbered with a hard-bound, don’t tell me the screen adaptation was better. Because it wasn't, nor will it ever be. That is an indisputable fact of the Universe. Who are you and I to debate the laws of nature?

#06: Act like you know more about a book than you actually do.
Seen all the eight Harry Potter movies, have you? Haven’t really read the books, though? If you have any self-respect, don’t act like your knowledge of HP is better than, or anywhere near as good as, mine. (Refer to #07).Trust me, you’ll just end up embarrassing yourself. This includes everything from trying to make fun of it, to getting into an argument with me about a piece of trivia. Just don’t.
In fact, this goes for any book that you haven’t read. It’s just that Harry Potter is the first example that came to my mind. (When my friend read this part she expressed her extreme state of what she calls ‘non-surprise’.)

#05: Let me see you reading a book.
Such an act will earn you appreciation, regardless of which book it is. Yes, even if you’re reading Twilight. I don’t have to like the book you’re reading; as long as it isn't a text book, reading is awesome. Just get that in your head, it’s not rocket science.
Of course, you get bonus points if I like the book.

#04: Mention one of my favourite books.
Once you do that, you needn't worry about talking much, I’ll take over the conversation from there, thank you very much. It’s likely to end with me saying something along the lines, ‘You should definitely read it! You’ll like it, I promise!’ and you agreeing to read it, possibly just to shut me up.

#03: Touch the feels.
At your own risk. Any breakage will require to be paid for, in kind.

#02: Criticise one of my favourite books.
And prepare to die.
Actually, no, you won’t get off that easy. When you mess with a nerd, be prepared to be humiliated. Most of us have open minds, so we’re not against a healthy debate, or well thought out, intellectual criticism. In fact, we welcome it. Feel free to criticise, and we’ll feel free to prove you wrong. I must sound very cocky when I say this, but darling, trust me, there’s no flaw you can point out over which we haven’t already had numerous debates amongst ourselves. Just remember that a book nerd is used to analytical reading, no matter how big a romantic she/he is, at heart.

#01: The simplest of all ways to get us charged up and mad, however, will always be to say these words: I don’t like to read. This phrase, or a similar one, induces in me such a strong surge of battling emotions, I CAN’T EVEN.
Kristen Scatton, a fellow blogger, explains the struggle quite thoroughly in this amazing article. (In fact, it was her article which inspired me to write this one.)
She explains how, on hearing these blasphemous words, we go through shock, disbelief, confusion, judgement, pity, and finally arrive at acceptance.

But, I believe that if you don’t like to read, you just haven’t found the right book yet. And if I like you enough, I will help you find the right book if it’s the last thing I do. It’s a promise.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Book Review | Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins
My Rating : ★★☆☆☆

If you are one of those readers who like cutesy YA romance novels full of cliches, then you will LOVE this book.

Sadly, I am not one such reader. But I'm not gonna drag the author through the pit just because her book was a pint too adorable for me (not to mention thoroughly un-researched). Because it was my decision to read it, even though I knew exactly what kind of shit I was getting myself into.

It's not the first time I've done something like this, actually. I read this kind of muck every once in a while, in between a couple of awesome Sci-fi and/or Fantasy book series.
Why would someone do that to themselves?

To quote Anna herself, "I must be a masochist to keep putting myself in these situations. I need help. I need to see a shrink or be locked in a padded cell or straitjacketed or something."

But, no. I think it's more because, from time to time, I need something to criticize. You know, to keep the critic inside me nice and sharp.

Anyway, let's talk about the story, now.

Anna is an American teenager who has her fair share of first world problems.
Her Dad (whom she doesn't waste any opportunity to call a selfish bastard, just because he looks like a Ken doll and writes lame novels that get made into even lamer movies) has sent her to Paris for her senior year at high school. This means she has to leave her mother, brother, pet guinea pig, and friends behind, and go fend for herself (read: live at campus along with the rest of the students) in an unfamiliar land. How can she stay away from her mom for four straight months? She's only seventeen!
No, in fact, that's not what she's really mad about. She's mad because her father doesn't give her a choice in the matter. She is so upset about this that she cries when she sees her parents leave (and I'm not exaggerating, she has a proper break down with tears and shit).

If all that wasn't enough, she feels that her father has sent her here to be cleansed, because her new school's name is SOAP. School of America in Paris. (Seriously.)
Once she manages to score an amazing group of friends the very next morning (I kid you not), and develop a teenage crush on one of them, she faces her next problem: she doesn't know French.

But that's not why I think she's dumb. (Oh, I didn't mention that I think she's dumb?) She's a film buff, and has a serious plan to study film theory in college and become a famous film critic. But, guess what?
She doesn't know that Paris is the film capital of the world. In fact, she's surprised that Paris has so many cinemas! Come. Fucking. On.

Now, let's rewind a bit to this mysterious crush of Anna's. He's an American guy who was brought up in England and has a French name: Etienne St. Clair. Yeah, for real.

He is another Jesus figure in the world of YA romance. You know, has broad shoulders, amazing hair, is callipygian (which, incidentally, is a word I came across for the fist time when I read this book. It means 'having beautifully shaped buttocks'. Figures.), has a dazzling smile, a charming demeanor, an accent to kill for, is a history buff and keeps a meticulously clean room. Phew. Basically, everything about him except for the fact that he's short, screams of YA cliches.
Oh, and he also already has a girlfriend. Whoa, I didn't see that one coming (totally did, though).

As the story unfolds, she falls in love - big surprise, that - and then we see her break down all over again as she toils to gather up the remains of her shattered social life.

What will happen next? How will Anna sort out her tangled love life? How will she deal with her enormous problems?
Wait. What did you say, she doesn't have enormous problems? Are you kidding? Her life is miserable. Puh-lease.

So, go read this book if you wanna find out how Anna's life ends up - which, by the way, is totally unpredictable. NOT.
But it can also be useful if you are looking for a way to make yourself gag.

* * * * * * *

I've never done a book review before. Not on my blog, anyway. But, since we're talking about cliches, there's a first time for everything, right?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Owl Post | The Harry Potter Lifestyle

To all those who read Harry Potter, I thank you, for being the awesome peeps that you are. I thank you, for being part of a community along with me. I thank you, too, because you are the only people who will truly understand what I've tried to express here.

I don't like to say, 'I've read Harry Potter.' I prefer, 'I read Harry Potter.' Because Harry Potter is not something you read, and like, and then put aside. It's not just another series on your 'Books I've Read' list on Goodreads.
Like Daniel Radcliffe has been quoted as saying, Harry Potter is like the Mafia. Once you're in, you're in for life. Except, with Harry Potter, it's because you don't want to leave. It's not a phase that you get over after a while. Once you get into the fandom, you'll stay with Harry, until the very end.

How is that so, you're wondering, I'm sure. Here's how. Harry Potter is not a series of books, it's a whole world within our own (like a pocket universe, if you're a sci-fi fan). It's a lifestyle, of sorts. There is just so much to do, once you've jumped onto the fandom wagon. So, hold on tight and get ready for the ride of your life.

You read the books. You watch the movies. You ask everyone you know to do the same. You even listen to the audio books. You watch the Starkid adaptations and that starts another landslide fandom for you. You listen to songs from A Very Potter Musical all day long. And before you know it, you're watching every single video related to Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, and the cast, that you can find on YouTube. You talk about it not just to your friends, but to unknown people on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and what not. You spend hours completing chapters, practicing spells and brewing potions on Pottermore. You end up making a facebook page, a separate Twitter account, just for fangirling. You scroll down your News Feed/Timeline commenting on HP-related posts and pictures, discussing theories, answering quizzes, and then you post your own edits, or memes you found on the net. You fight in shipping wars. You want to take part in cosplay. You mourn the death of your favourite characters each year, on the sixteenth of May, the anniversary of The Battle of Hogwarts, along with tens of thousands of potterheads across the globe. You read fanfiction on the internet. (OMR, the fanfics! There are new fics on the internet every day. There would never come a day when you'll be able to rightfully claim that you've read all the fanfics ever written. This is something that will play a significant role in ensuring that you never stop reading Harry Potter.) Then, one day, anxiously, you write a headcanon and then your own fanfic, or at least you try to do.

At the end of the day, whether you've managed to do none, some,  or all of these things, all you want to do is get in bed and read the books all over again!

And that's not the end of it, either. These are just the things that you are able to do right after reading the books. And most of them are things that people from all fandoms do. But there is so much more. Stuff that you want to do, stuff that you're not sure you'll be able to do yet you keep dreaming about. One day, you tell yourself, one day I will do all this. Here's my bucket list for y'all to read:

1. Collect Harry Potter book sets in all my favourite book jackets.

2. Buy all the HP merchandise that I can possibly buy. This includes Hogwarts robes, scarf, a wand, charm bracelets, rings, lockets, yada, yada, yada.

3. Get Harry Potter tattoos, at least three.

4. Meet J. K. Rowling (and David Yates, Tom Felton, and Emma Watson, and oh my god, so many other people!). Okay, this one is definitely not going to happen, but I'll never give up hope.

5. Go to the following places (which are all half a world away from where I live):
Like I said, there's so much to do. Harry Potter doesn't mean a couple of weeks of book reading, it means a lifetime of adventure.
(That sounded so much like a tag line, it made me laugh. But I always did enjoy laughing at my own dumbness, so that's nothing new.)

Now, rejoice, my imaginary readers, for this is where I stop blabbering on about my fandom. But it's just what I do. D'you know why? Because I read Harry Freakin' Potter.


The title says 'Owl Post' because that's a new section I've started, where I'll write about Harry Potter. So, if any of you want to avoid my Potterhead ramblings, just ignore my Owl Posts. :)