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Ash. Spiritual. Happy in my own way. Writes Random Stuff. Ice Cream. Night owl. Ice Cream, again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories


This book is written by Ankita Sharma and published by Humming Words Publishers. Ankita is a well-known blogger, who blogs at Humming Words. The book is a collection of several short stories. The stories are normal everyday occurrences which everyone would be able to relate to. Of late I’ve been reading a lot of short stories and so I did not hesitate to review this when I was asked if I could.

What I liked most about this book was the variety it had to offer. Each story had a different backdrop and it felt nice to read plots which were fresh and which had not been done over and again. Ankita has taken pains to ensure that different aspects of human emotions and relationships were covered. With each story, you read something new (sometimes unexpected) and find interesting aspects of people.

What I felt could have been better was the way the story was written in a few places. The plots were good but at places it was difficult to keep track of what was going on. For me personally, a few stories that I came across had some negativity, which was a part of the plot. Though I’m not a fairy-tale fan, at certain places I was looking for things to get better, when they were actually going the other way. This is from a personal point of view, because I always prefer happy stories to stories where good people don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Overall, those who are fine to read any type of story, this would be an interesting read. For those who want the good guys to win, some of them may not be the way you expect it. Probably that was the author’s way of ensuring that the plots were not very predictable. 

I would rate this book a 3/5. 

You can buy this book from amazon. It is priced at Rs 170.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Writing Your Way to Happiness!

I read this wonderful article on Writing Your Way to Happiness in The New York Times blog and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Here is a little background before you read the article. 

I always believe in Abstract thoughts and Concrete words.

We have so many thoughts running in our minds that often, we find it difficult to focus on a specific task or to find a solution after some analysis.

Assume that you have 10 tabs of a browser opened. In one of those tabs you try to download a video, and in another tab you try to call someone through Skype. The other tabs are doing some trivial work. You realize that things are awfully slow and that you need some dedicated bandwidth for the most important issue at hand. You prioritize and close other tabs that might not necessarily be required at that point. You always have the option of coming back to it later. And voila, your work goes on smooth.

Do you think the human mind can operate in a similar way? Not at all!

We have so many thoughts (tabs) going on and the more we try to forget something to focus on something else, the more conspicuous it becomes. If I ask you to think of an elephant for a minute and then tell you not to think of the elephant, guess what you would be thinking of? ;-) (Yeah, I borrowed this from Inception).

When our mind is free, we can think a lot. That's great. But most of the time when we have many things to attend to and when we still need to think about something important, we do not have the option of shutting down other thoughts. (How we wish there was such an option!). That's when the 'Concrete Words' comes into picture. 

When you give your thoughts a certain shape, it becomes easy for you to make more sense of it. When you speak about it or write about it (a much better option), you can clearly see what's in front of you and focus on that.

This article (Writing Your Way to Happiness), justifies how writing can benefit you, at a more personal level. Read on.

 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When Lord Shiva granted me a boon!

Last night I had a dream. I was standing somewhere in the Himalayas and doing some sort of a penance. When Lord Shiva (I think!) appeared before me satisfied with my performance, sorry penance (appraisal terms are hard to forget) and asked me for a boon, my happiness knew no bounds. The winds blew violently, the birds sang happily, the temple bells rang loudly to celebrate my happiness. Without missing a beat I said,

‘Thank you Lord Shiva! As for my boon, please make people respond to my mails.’

Lord Shiva was puzzled at something which he thought was too simple to be worthy of a boon. He repeated what I said and asked if I was sure about what I wanted. I reaffirmed and briefed him about my experiences.

Some people consider themselves way too important to respond to a mail immediately. It is considered good manners to respond to an email at the earliest possible. So naturally not many respond. It would take about 4 to 5 carefully timed reminders, luck and some black magic to get them to respond. And if they don't provide adequate updates, we need to mail them again and start praying.

Friday, May 1, 2015

People and their Bizarre Ways!

A few days back I had to interact with someone for some work that I had volunteered for. As luck would have it, we did not exactly get along well and both of us were clearly annoyed by what each had to say. I tried not to take it personally, but beyond a point it was getting over me. I kept myself in check because my priority was to get my work done and a many were dependent on me for this.

During one of our conversations (read arguments), the other person who couldn't tolerate my incessant questioning, tried to scare me (I guess that was his intention) by saying that he had the power to escalate the issue to some senior and left the sentence hanging abruptly. I gave a relaxed 'So, what do you want me to do?' reply. He repeated his words and waited for me to react. He had carefully told me that he had the power to do it and he did not say that he was actually going to escalate the issue. I calmly asked him to go ahead and told him that I wasn't going to be threatened by that. I also added that it might give me a chance to take it up with the seniors too and give them the complete picture as to what was happening.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Does 'Popularity' play a bigger role than 'Content' ?



I Google for the most random things. That’s how I stumbled upon an old blog post by someone who had ranted about how a popular blogger (a decade back) had been receiving a lot of attention for some badly written post. According to him, the post was one of the worst attempts by the blogger and he couldn’t understand how people (a lot!) were able to appreciate the blogger for the attempt.

What was interesting in the post was the Content vs Popularity that he spoke about. He argued that sometimes when a person is popular, either because of their blogs or because of some other reason, their posts are always a hit, irrespective of the quality of the content. That got me thinking and I paused for a while to see if I had witnessed something similar in the Blogosphere.

Despite what everyone says, ‘Is content always the ‘King/Queen?’

Not always, would be my answer. 

I'm not generalizing, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was true in some ways.

Thanks to the many blogging forums, I try and read as many blogs as possible when I'm bored. There have been times when I've come across some wonderfully written poems or a well-balanced article and there would hardly be any comments appreciating their efforts. Or worse, it would just be a 'Good one' comment. You might probably say that the blogger wouldn't have promoted the post well (apart from blogging forums). I agree. But doesn't that stand testimony to the viewpoint that content isn't *always* the king/queen?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Celebrating 8 Years of Blogging!

My blog turns 8 this month.

With four years of random blogging and four years of regular blogging, my blog crosses another personal milestone. This was an equally remarkable year as my blog was featured in the Top Indian Blogs and among the Top Bloggers in Chennai and a weebly interviewed me (I loved answering their questions). And also, thanks to an internal forum at work where we’re allowed to write, a lot of people have been reading my blog and giving me their feedback. One random person at work (who had attended a session of mine) came up to me and said she read my blog. I’ve still no idea how she found out it was me. The highlight of all this was when someone I admire (a celebrity of sorts), happened to go through my blog and spoke with me for almost an hour when we happened to meet. My happiness knew no bounds and I’m sure that my blog was happy too :-)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Choosing the Right One!

I’m not sure if it has anything to do with my OCD, but I can never leave a book half-way and go on to read a new book. It’s not possible to judge a book by its first few pages, so I proceed with the hope that it would get better. What if the story had a good twist, and what If I missed it? Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a risk that I know I have to take. And a good book, makes it worth the risk.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos


A friend of mine, who is also a voracious reader, sets a book aside the moment she loses interest. Even if it’s within the first 20 pages. When I happened to talk with her about this habit of ours, we realized that both of us were at two extremes. We joked about how each one should have a threshold. She said that the threshold should be slightly higher for her (so that she doesn’t miss a book that might get better with the story) and slightly lower for me (so that I wouldn’t have to waste my time reading not-so-good books), considering our reading habits. Fair enough! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Breaking Queues

It’s funny how some people always want to follow the rules and are often the first to break them.

Take littering for instance, some people go at lengths to talk about how people don’t have civic sense. Later they end up throwing a banana peel from their window. Another thing is how we aren’t good in forming queues. During my first trip abroad I was amazed at how people formed a queue without being asked to do so. No rushing, no pushing, no fighting. We talk about standing in queues, but sometimes it just doesn’t work for us.

A few days back, I was at the supermarket doing my weekend shopping. I was the second in line and waiting for my turn when an old lady stood to my left. When the previous person had paid and left the old lady asked the person at the counter to bill her purchase. When the billing lady pointed out that there was a line and it was my turn, she immediately apologized and offered to stand a few places behind me. I realized it was a genuine mistake and since she was old, I asked the person at the counter to bill her purchase first. The old lady said thanks and left.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

'Do you have a Problem?' 'Me too!'

When someone is upset, we try to cheer them up. It’s not that we are trained that way, but if you notice we often try to share positive thoughts and perhaps even our own experiences, give them some encouraging words and make them feel optimistic.

This is what I used to do, till an incident changed my approach.

I was casually talking with a friend about how life had changed a lot since college. I’m not sure what exactly triggered that thought, but my friend started pouring out her problems that started shortly after college. She was venting about how everyone around her was being unreasonable. Nobody cared enough to understand what she was going through. She went on and on, and I didn’t interrupt her. I felt she would be better if she spoke about it.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

After she stopped speaking, for almost 5 minutes none of us spoke. She then felt guilty for burdening me with her troubles. I told her it was fine, because I was going through some problems too, both personally and professionally, and that I could totally relate to her. She was shocked. I was surprised at her reaction. For a minute she left all her problems and asked me in a sarcastic way what could possibly be wrong in my life. I was slightly annoyed and asked her what was wrong if I had problems.

Doesn’t everyone have problems to deal with?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The 'Life-Work' Balance!

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a few like-minded bloggers. We were brainstorming about a new initiative which we had in mind. At one point we happened to discuss about Work-Life balance (You know when you're talking with a group of bloggers, you end up talking about everything but the intended topic). People spoke about how work-life balance was critical and even if the scales tilted slightly to any one side inadvertently, things might not be smooth.

Image Courtesy : FreeDigitalPhotos

At this point, a senior in the group asked all of us to define what work-life balance was. We knew things were bound to get interesting and waited for people to give their own views.

Of the many versions of the definitions that we heard from others, the most striking one was given by the person who asked all of us the question, 

'Life-Work Balance : When you can talk about yourself for 5 minutes without mentioning what you do at work, you can conclude that you maintain a very healthy balance.'
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