Book Review: The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie

5/5 STARS!!!

Its amazing that I found this book three years ago, slotted it in my to-read folder, and only happened to finally read it now. I guess I was ordained to meet His Holiness’ Cat now more than ever. This is a wonderfully written book that brings forth the basic tenets of Buddhism and the whole point of its philosophy very gently and subtly through small day to day examples with a handful of characters in Jokhang and McLeod Ganj.

The author, David Michie, is very convincing in telling this story from the intimate confines of the Dalai Lama’s own residence and you can almost feel the positive and glowy warmth of his presence and the kindness, wisdom and patience of his words. I marked so many passages from this book on my kindle app. A happy book that must be read.



“The thought manifests as the word; the word manifests as the deed; the deed develops into habit; and habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from love born out of concern for all beings … As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.”

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

In Rinpoche’s own words – “This is exactly that kind of book.”


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Book Review: The Story of the Lost Child – Elena Ferrante

Whoopie! This review was listed on the official Elena Ferrante website! Check it out:

4 STARS ****

And so, finally I come to the end of this saga.Reading the #NeapolitanBooks has been like a journey almost – of which, sometimes I was a part, and sometimes I was  a removed observer. Ferrante writes very well, her range is remarkable, her expansive web of characters, feelings, emotions and personalities is captivating. Her writing comes from a depth that makes you feel certain that this is her story or a major part of it is a ‘fictionalised’ autobiography – – – and somewhere, possibly the very personal nature of the story compels her to protect her own identity as well as of those who may be easily identifiable from the book.

Ferrante’s story interweaves conflicting feelings like affection, anger, concern, desire, despair, empathy, malice, grief,  happiness, love, pride, rage, remorse, shame almost simultaneously. The essence of all 4 books in the series is that they present a narrative that is transparent – laying bare each personality’s flaws, failures and self centered narcissism at risk of judgment, and also revealing unexpected instances of benevolence and consideration – that you constantly remain in an  ambivalent state of mind and come away with possibly inconclusive emotions to fulfill that need to compartmentalize individuals as a result of their actions.

And yet I give The Story of the Lost Child less than a perfect score, possibly because the  tumultuous friendship of Elena and Lila has reached its most disturbing and unpredictable form. It became constantly more difficult to be okay with the suffocating, often controlling and spiteful co-dependency that Elena and Lila shared through their turbulent adult lives.

This quote sums it up perfectly:

Every intense relationship between human beings is full of traps, and if you want it to endure you have to learn to avoid them. I did so then, and finally it seemed that I had only come up against yet another proof of how splendid and shadowy our friendship was.

—— Elena Ferrante, The Story of the Lost Child

In the end, my month with the Neapolitan Books was extremely rewarding. I can now say that all the fuss and buzz around her is completely authentic and well-founded. Being nominated for the Man Booker is well deserved and if we take into account the entire series, I think she is a definite front runner. I wish her all the best!

Book Review : Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

Those Who Leave and Those Who StayThose Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By the end of this one, I knew I had to take a break and not start the fourth book immediately. That is the effect these books have had on me and I’ve torn through the first three non-stop, as if they were one book and not three.

In this one we see Elena and Lila go through their 20s and 30s. Time passes quickly for Elena from being a young university student to unknowingly a somewhat acclaimed author and then the wife of a professor – all signs of having truly ‘arrived’ in life. Lila on the other hand is going through a disturbingly downward spiral in her life and there is an evident distance between the two friends during these years.

This one brought out the really raw emotions of both women and I wondered many times if their relationship could really be called a friendship anymore. There’s a constant love-hate equation that is frustrating and disturbing to witness. There is a demanded dependence, rough abdication. Jealousy abounds. Its almost claustrophobic – a claustrophobia of the mind.

And yet you keep reading, hoping to understand why, hoping they will relinquish the cold war, or break off completely rather than be mirrors of misery to each other.

Elena’s need for verification is almost tragic – Lila never ceases to be a benchmark, she can never shake her off.

“My becoming was a becoming in her wake.”

“my thoughts were cut off in the middle, absorbing and yet defective, with an urgent need for verification, for development, yet without conviction, without faith in themselves. Then the wish to telephone her returned, to tel her: Listen to what I’m thinking about, please lets talk about it together.”

And Lila, unapologetic and vengeful, violently expresses her independence and disengagement – which displays her need to coverup insecurities, setbacks and failures even more – which are unacceptable to her, and yet her reality.

The story traces how both women deal with their own circumstances and situations in life. Each reassuring herself of having the better one in comparison to the other, and each seemingly unhappy with it. They compete constantly. They are bolder, more reckless, more selfish and yet there are a few tender moments that confuse and conflict how you feel about them.

One cannot help but ‘feel’ – for them and with them.

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Book Review : The Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante

The Story of a New NameThe Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I generally tend to devour books, but this one devoured me. Elena Ferrante’s writing captivates, engrosses, absorbs, consumes, devastates and satisfies. Not a single free minute has been spent on anything but reading this second volume in her Neapolitan Series these past 4 days.

While it was easier to take sides in the first book, in this one, I constantly aligned and realigned myself first with Lenu and then with Lila, reaching a point where both exasperated me and I wanted nothing to do with either. But just like Lenu is bound and drawn to Lila, I was so embroiled in their lives and it was impossible to abandon reading until I was finished.

Lila’s actions repeatedly evoke the ‘she brought this upon herself’ feeling – with little or no sympathy (yet). For Lenu, I feel like I want to shake her up, snap her out of her constant need to compare herself to her childhood friend, and always find a way to undermine her own achievements even when she’s done much better than her. At this point, it is difficult not to care, not to be involved.

I’ve put it much to simply to be fair to the expansive layers that come through from all that takes place in this young adult, extremely turbulent period of their lives, where they ought to have had a more sorted existence, and yet managed to create a tangle of complications in trying to create that ideal life that has been their sole aspiration since childhood.

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The Other Side of things!

Understanding the other person’s point of view.

I sometimes hate doing that. I hate that I have to listen to reasoning that I don’t agree with and then end up understanding why that reasoning was being given in the first place. It makes my point of view weaker and my arguments against that reasoning seem futile. That other point of view actually starts making sense and then the purpose of my argument is empty.

More like, “I should have seen this coming”.

And, I disagree with what you say, but I also why it makes sense for you!

It’s not that you can’t stick to your side of the argument. You can. But if the other side of things start making some sense too (even though you beg to disagree), then sticking to your point adamantly just for the heck of it also doesn’t help.

Other times, it’s not so much the reasoning but the “person” you are getting reasons from –  that make your position as the opposer weaker. Or you end up feeling that, why am I fighting this one person – when all they are doing is trying to protect me. I may not agree with their beliefs but I do understand their concern and so maybe I’ll let my argument rest, so that their minds can rest.

But the trouble is, that once you get stuck in the rut of things like this, you end up not doing a lot of things, changing a lot of decisions very contrary to what you actually wanted to do, and just looking back at times gone by…..when u could have “been there, done that” but end up “never being there, never having done that”.


Everybody needs a friend. Even if you’re the kind of person who thinks you don’t  need one – you still need one!

We make friends at every stage in life. As toddlers, as teenagers, in school, in college, as young professionals, at work…….a friend is always in the offing.

Some of these friends become better friends…….best friends. Some just become your family. They make that place in your heart and your life that’s so vital and central to you. They become a part of your support system. You feel comfortable in their presence, and re-assured – knowing they are around and will take care of you. They give you the opportunity to be yourself.  They’re just the people you need when you’re having  a hard time…..and definitely the people you need, when you want to have a good time 🙂

I recently met someone whose analogy on friendship intrigued me.

This person has decided that he doesn’t need any friend in life. I mean he has friends so to say, but he doesn’t have anyone he can speak his mind to. He chooses not to make any such friend. He can’t trust anyone enough to be able to do that. And he feels no “need” to able to talk to anyone either. According to him, if you have a problem, deal with it and get over it.

Anyway, it was difficult for me to understand this person. He has friends who confide in him, who consider him their best friend, but for him – it wont take a blink of a second to discard them if it came to that. Weird. Very weird for me. But I guess it works for him. So I leave it at that.

So why did i suddenly feel  like writing about friends?

Because they are PRECIOUS. And some stupid small incidents remind me that I have some awesome ones. And they are worth more than words can say 🙂

I think friends complete the picture of who you are. Because somewhere, they are a reflection of you and a tiny part of you can be seen in them. I don’t think I can see myself growing as a person without the set of friends that I have today. Each one teaches me something special and unique.

And I only hope I am as much (if not more) of a friend to them as they are to me 🙂

Sad Case of Intolerance…..?

What does one make of a case like SR Siras’ – a professor at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who allegedly committed suicide because apparently the “shame” of being a homosexual consumed him.

Now SR Siras was reader and chairman of Modern Indian Languages at AMU. He had been teaching at the university for a good 20  odd years. Recently, about a month ago, he was suspended from his duties by the Vice Chancellor of the university on the pretext of having being involved in “grave misconduct” by indulging in “consensual” homosexual activities within the “privacy” of his home. (Consensual and privacy are two key words to be noted here – but it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to pay attention to them.)

This suspension came as a result of a complaint by students of AMU who had planted spy cams in Siras’ home and presented it as evidence while demanding his suspension.

A few questions here.

Why is it that, what SR Siras does in the privacy of his home should be a matter of concern to absolutely anybody ??

Who gives anyone the right to infringe on someone Else’s privacy so much so that you rig the place with cameras ?? Imagine what it would feel like if it was done to you……

Why is it so important that the sexual orientation of a person must decide his/her place in the society ??

Does the sexual orientation of a person affect their competency ?? Doesn’t look like it – especially since Siras was chairman of Modern Indian Languages at AMU.

And so why should anything be decided or concluded about someone who might not have the same sexual preferences as majority of the masses do??

How does someone else’s choice of sexual orientation affect you?? And if it doesn’t then why get so itchy about that choice and make it your problem??

Or is it that just being open and honest about it and accepting it is the problem ??

Why the intolerance ??

Is it because of religion? Maybe, since its written in some old old texts that homosexuality is a sin, so its just taken for granted that its an intolerable offense. But in today’s time and age, does it really make sense to judge someone on those pretexts. Now even the Indian legal system is accepting of this.

Its sad to see that such an event would occur in a place of education – where one would expect higher levels of tolerance and understanding and a more open outlook.

Siras was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his house. The police is still working on finding the cause of death. Many would like to believe and do – that he committed suicide due to the “shame” of being homosexual. But isn’t this murder? When you ostracize someone for being a little different. For making a choice you wouldn’t and for defending his stand on that.

Even though the Indian Legal system has decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults, why then do cases like these still crop up, where at the end of the day its not about what the law says but what the society at large feels about it. If this has to be the case, then why have such a prominent legal system in the country…..people are just waiting to pass judgements on actions that don’t fall within their purview of acceptable conduct.


Well i almost got sucked in and sunk, but, i guess all the kickin n strugglin helped.

Brain wave when cutting vegetables…… = Therapy.

Therapy = abandoning veggies + rushing to crossword bookstore + pickin up a VCD copy of “the hangover” + 2 books by sudha murthy (gently falls the bakula, the old man and his god) + a book called “i too had a love story” by Ravinder Singh (picked it up only out of curiosity and becoz it was the cheapest thing there – 100 bucks) + dollops of cheese in my veggies (so much for health conciousness)

Damage: Rs. 700 (esp when i’m unemployed) + calories i dont even wanna think about.

Result: lightness………momentarily – but nevertheless – its here for now 🙂

Lesson: Impulsiveness makes a lotta sense sometimes 🙂

Feels like Sinking…..

Yeah, it feels like i’m sinking…..and it doesn’t matter that i know how to swim.

These seem to be such testing times. Its never over is it. There’s never that day when u feel so light that u could float. There’s never a point when the realisation of contentment sets in and finally “peace” envelopes you.
At least its not happenin to me. There are those days when i force myself to fool me and look at the brighter side of everything. Its my “positive attitude” stupidity i suppose.

The first thing is that cloudy feeling. Fuzzy, unclear and thick. Makes me feel like i’m throat deep in water and struggling to keep afloat. But the water is so close to my mouth that the pressure makes it so hard breathe. The heaviness on my chest almost pushes me under. But i’m struggling….and my legs dont hold much promise of lasting very long.

But isn’t it the same for everybody. Its always a struggle. That is wht its about. The “journey”.
Makes me so cynical sometimes. And i dont identify myself with this trait at all coz i consider myself a “believer”. Baah!! So much for being a believer.

I cant remember the last time i felt “cotton candy” light.
Sometimes, i read about people who have a hard time but have come out as survivors. I feel it might give me some hope that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. But I think I refuse to be inspired. I’d rather just get lost in the dark tunnel and become that burrowing creature who’s ok surviving on the muck that it can get its hands on.

Then again i feel like i deserve better and the issue is that i’m thinking about everything/everyone else except me. Maybe i need to be “selfish”. Maybe thats the key. But really, having tried it out on occasions – it just made the chasm deeper n darker. Urgh!!!

In the end, i am at a loss of finding that crevice of escape. Its like quicksand – the more i struggle – the deeper i sink.

Maybe i just need to suck it up. Well at least the effort is on. Maybe thats why the frustration is on too.
Or maybe an empty mind is a devil’s workshop and i need employment!!

Pankhon ko……Hawa Zarasi Lagne Do :)

Pankhon ko hawa zara si lagne do
Dil bole soya tha ab jagne do
Dil dil mein hain dil ki tammana sau
Do sau hon chalo zara sa tapne do
Udne do udne do
Hawa zara si lagne do soya tha ab jagne do
Pankhon ko hawa zara si lagne do

Dhoop khili jism garam sa hai
Suraj yahin yeh bharam sa hai
Bikhri huyi raahein hazaron sau
Thaamo koi phir bhatakne do
Udne do udne do

Dil ki patang chahon mein gotey khaati hai
Dheel toh do dekho kahan pe jaati hai
Uljhe nahin toh kaise suljhoge
Bikhre nahin toh kaise nikhroge

Udne do udne do……

Amazingly inspiring track.

OST: Rocket Singh

Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni

Singer: Salim Merchant

Music: Saleem-Sulaiman