Book Review: Tulsi Badrinath’s “Madras,Chennai and the Self”

Just got done with Tulsi Badrinath’s “Madras,Chennai and the Self”. I’ve been taking so much more time than required to read a book, and I’d blame it on my sleep and work patterns. After reading 20 pages on an average during the week, and a good 80 pages today, here’s my review!
The book holds Accounts of people from different fields, of their memories and experiences with the city. The book covers some inspirational stories in terms of the individual’s before and after, and some exasperating tales of tradition vs. modernity and the dynamics of caste. 
I was disappointed with this book. Although some of the stories were motivating, I found the book not particularly gripping. And for someone outside Chennai, with no visual of the details of the streets and the city, I failed to capture and relate to the image that the Author was trying to portray. Having no connection to the city, the book for me was only a compilation of the experiences and lessons of individuals, which I believe was not the aim of the book. 

This book wasn’t for me, I’d rate this book a 2.5/5. 

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Book Review: Anosh Irani’s “The Parcel”

It’s been a month, at least, that I finished a book! This is by far the longest time I took to finish 50 pages, thanks to my exams. Today, I woke up a little later than I usually do, freshened up, skipped breakfast, grabbed the book and went downstairs to the dorm lawn and read. 

Now that I’m done reading, here’s my review of it. 

This is my first book of Anosh Irani and I can tell that soon I’ll be reading another book of his. I may just have a new favorite author!

The Parcel is a book centered around Kamathipura in Mumbai,India. It narrated beautifully the lives of those trapped in bodies they don’t conform to. The mistakes of God, as some would say. The red-light district of Mumbai harbouring those who were rejected from their homes and society, their lives devoid of all love and care. 

The story revolves around Madhu, a resident of the Hijra House, a reject. She had been saved from her body, and loved and accepted by her gurumai, and her sisters. There were times where she would long endlessly to be accepted into her own family, to be able to care for her father who had been the most disappointed in her. The feeling of failure and worthlessness seeped so deep into her, that in her final task with a parcel, she decided to make it a success so great, she would become a household name. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a plot I’ve never encountered before, a story of those who are overshadowed, feared, and insulted. The writing style was beautiful, with the desi language and attitude sewn in the words. It was unapologetically shrewd and bold. I absolutely loved the characters. 

Also, this has nothing to do with the content, but I loved the cover page! I think it says so much about this story, a story of  of the beautiful and strong, the caged. 
I’d rate this book a 4/5!

Book Review: Tabish Khair’s “Jihadi Jane”

Happy Monday(?) Everyone!Over the weekend, I read Jihadi Jane by Tabish Khair, and I might have a new favorite! 
The story involves Ameena and Jamilla, two orthodox Muslim girls in England, feeling utterly out of place and alien. This overwhelming situation of feeling like an outsider in their homes,the courage and passion for Islam and the fight against Western ideologies, made them leave everything behind, and start afresh. Start afresh in Syria, to fight the battle in ways their religion permitted, as wives of Jihadis, and maybe more. 

 

Soon, it dawns on them, the excessive fundamental Islam crafted by Hejjiye, Hasan and the rest is not what Allah intended. They began missing the festivals that had currently been pruned and made bleak; they missed the scope for debate and the freedom of thought and choice, they missed the outside; this is not what they had signed up for. Suddenly, the thought of feeling different and the racial abuse did not seem hellacious. 
There occurs then, a turn of events that Jamilla could not have fathomed. Was Ameena, a girl she fondly remembers as the girl smoking a cigarette in school capable of such a sacrifice?
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED EVERY BIT OF THIS BOOK! The writing style, the structure and the characters were wonderful! 

It is truly a page turner. 

I resonate with the ideology that no faith propagates the massacre of innocent individuals. Hate will only give rise to more hate, and one can only terminate this cycle, by terminating this wrong comprehension of Islam. These propagandas are only a product of one’s interpretation and personal views, and cannot be displayed as principles of the religion itself. 

And yes, I have a new favorite! I’d rate this a 5/5! 

Do let me know what your thoughts are! 

James Russell’s “The Mason Jar”

Don’t get me wrong, but I believed that this book would make me cringe with all the romance and the cheesiness. But I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the book! 
It was a short and sweet tale between two individuals, deeply in love, but separated by fate. The time and distance between the two failed to put out their love for one another. Finn, crushed by the separation sets out to rejuvenate, and writes a book on his treasured time with Emily. As life would have it, their love rekindled after several years, this time stronger. 
I loved the book! My favorite part would have to be the letters shared between Finn and his Grandad. They were inspiring, and left me wiser. I loved the plot and the structure. The writing style was beautiful. 
I for one, found the ending quite cliched. The ending I believed could’ve been tweaked to include something different or maybe their reunion could’ve been longer and more dramatic. 
The book, otherwise is a wonderful read! 

I’d rate it a 4/5!

Book Review- Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’

I have a test tomorrow, and I am not even remotely near the end of my syllabus. But since it is imperative that I do everything other than studying for my test,and then have breakdowns and stress out later, I decided to write my book review on Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’.
The story revolves around the impeccable bond that siblings share, a brother and his sister in particular. However, circumstances don’t allow them much time together and they are separated. They finally reunite, now old and having faced their share of struggles, but with their bond as strong as ever. 

I was disappointed with this book. I’m a huge fan of Khaled Hosseini, but this book didn’t match that standard. I fell in love with the plot of the book, but I found the story too stretched-out. I also wasn’t a fan of the structure of the story. 

The storyline introduced chapters discussing new characters, who were in ways related to Abdullah and Pari. But I personally didn’t find that very interesting and saw it more as a deviation from the main plot. I was getting restless by the page to read about Abdullah and Pari’s life and their reunion. 

The book otherwise is a good read! The language and characters were great! I particularly, loved the story of Nila Wahdati, a strong and an unconventional Afghan, who captured me with her wit and personality. 

I was expecting to be in love with this book, but that was not the case. I’d rate the book a 3/5.

Book Review: Lilac Mills’ “Elephant and Pinky Moon’

Hi Everyone!
I’m back home from uni for a couple of days and couldn’t be any happier. Currently snuggled up in bed alongside my parents.

 This week, I read Lilac Mills ‘Elephant and Pinky Moon’ and here’s my review of it!
The story revolves around the relationship between the protagonist and her grandmother. The grandmother, Flossie is a hearty woman in her eighties, to whom age is merely a number. She tricks her granddaughter, Nina to go on a trip with her, attempting to take her to Happy-ville. Nina, in her late twenties is a sombre individual, with an almost non-existent social life. Her life is far from lively, and this is what Flossie intends to change. 

They take on a trip to Turkey, checking in to a rather interesting hotel, not made for either of their age groups. Although Flossie became an instant hit, with her bold actions and witty come-backs, Nina never felt more embarrassed. Flossie, with her fluorescent bikinis, her diet comprising mostly of alcohol, and being an unwanted and unappreciated wing woman to an embarrassed Nina, was having the time of her life. 

As her vacation unravels, Nina realizes how her Grandmother had impacted her. In the span of a week, she had participated in activities that she’d never imagined doing and had met her special someone. She was actually enjoying her time in Turkey!
However, a tragedy strikes and things start toppling. 
This book is a fun and easy read. The book with its quirkiness, and with a plot revolving around a special bond such as this, is sure to touch your heart. Although I was quite interested in the first half of the book, the second half turned out to be predictable for me. The book was well written otherwise and is sure to make you reflect on your times with your grandmother. I love old people, and this book wonderfully captures their freeborn attitudes. They’re no longer held captive by judgements or criticisms, as they come into their last phase and long to make the most of the moments they have. 

A good book, overall!
I’d rate this book a 3 on 5! 

Book Review: Sunetra Choudhury’s ‘Behind Bars’

Hi Everyone! Hope the week’s been going great! 
My choices of genre are usually towards fiction, this time I decided to venture into the tales of the real world. The book I chose was ‘Behind Bars’ by Sunetra Choudhary.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It comprised of prison tales of the  who’s who. The writing style was beautiful, gets you etched on the pages! The accounts were documented in the most detailed and wonderful manner. 

There were a number of times I shuddered at the thought of the events I read about. From sleeping on a block of concrete every night to their legs being forcefully stretched to an obtuse till they leaked blood, the stories are multi-farious. It depicts how your worth and your stay in prison is wholly determined by your monetary strength. Everything from edible food to getting away from the hostile inmates, is to be paid for in cash. Lest, you want your bad days to turn worse. 

But these monstrosities aren’t the only issues the book deals with. 

It speaks about the breaking of some relationships and the birth of a couple more. There is an unusual sense of bonding in prisons. They’re all in this together. They develop interests in subjects and areas they would otherwise not be involved in. They understand the frustration, fear, and the pain of the other, like no one outside would. 

I wouldn’t want to say more, except that it was an excellent read and that I highly recommend it! 

I’d rate this book a 4.5 on 5!

Have a lovely Thursday! 
Lots and lots of love,

Themysticalpanda 

Book Review: Wilbur Smith’s Desert God

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re summer’s going well! I can’t believe summer break’s almost over *sniffs back a tear*

I recently  read the Desert God by Wilbur Smith. It’s a Historical Novel set up in the early ages in the Middle East. I tried experimenting with a new genre and here’s my review!

I loved the book! It was a favorable shift from philosophy and chic flics to adventure. The story just gave me Game of thrones vibes throughout! So yes, the book gets gory at places, but I was normalized thanks to the Game of Thrones series. 

Lord Taita, a man possessing impeccable strength and intelligence, plots to bring his kingdom to victory and peace by means of a meticulous plan against the Hyksos. They face innumerable challenges during its execution, including the princesses budding love for their warriors. Which path will Taita choose? Will Taita and his warriors’ resilience and bravery bring them glory?

the details in the story were absolutely incredible! It really did take me to a different world. The royal lives aren’t always rosy. They possess everything and nothing. The gold and silver they don aren’t a measure of happiness. 
I absolutely loved the characters in the book. Their personalities were well laid out, each so different and wonderful. My favorite would be Zaras, one of the lead commanders. His loyalty towards his duty and responsibilities, even where his life’s desires were snatched away, were commendable. 

Although the book was a tad bit heavy with the words, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure novel!

I’d rate this book a 4/5!

If you’ve read the book, let me know what you think of it!
Lots and lots of love,

Themysticalpanda 

Liebster Award Nomination!

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re summer’s going well. 

I was nominated by Annie for the Liebster Award! This award was on my bucket list and I’m extremely happy that I got nominated for it. Go check out Annie’s blog. She’s doing an amazing job!

Here are the rules

1. Answer the 11 questions that your nominator has asked you 

2. Nominate 11 other bloggers (with under 200 followers) 

3. Ask your nominees 11 questions. 

4. Let them know you nominated them!

Here are Annie’s questions for me. Thank you so much, Annie. Loved your questions. 
1. Who is your favourite fictional character?

2. Are you a night owl or an early bird?



3. What’s the best present you’ve ever received?



4. What’s your favourite holiday (Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, etc…)?

5. Do you know any languages/ what languages do you wish you could speak?

6. What’s your favourite part about blogging?

7. What dessert could you eat for the rest of your life? 

8. Who is someone you look up to?

9. What’s one thing on your bucket list?

10. What’s an achievement you’re really proud of?

11. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

My answers– 

A1. My favorite fictional character would have to be Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother. I resonate with his personality and relate to most of his antics. He’s also one of the major reasons why I love How I Met Your Mother!
A2. Early bird. I can however, stay up until late or pull an all-nighter smoothly during exams depending on the stress levels. 
A3. I’d say the headphones my younger brother got me with his own cash. It’s a prized possession of mine.
A4. My favorite holiday has to be Winter Break, which is Christmas and New Years. 

My brother, dad, grandmother and I are all December babies, so we have a lot to look forward to during the winter break.
A5. I speak English, Kannada, Tulu, Hindi to a certain extent. 

I wish I was fluent in Arabic. It’s a beautiful language and is very special to me since I grew up in Saudi Arabia.
A6. My favorite part would be the amazing responses and support you get post the post. (haha)

A7. Anything chocolate! I’ve found new love in Red Velvet too.
A8. My parents. So many invaluable lessons from them.
A9. Parasailing!
A10. The fact that I started a blog. I’m really proud and happy I went ahead with it. 
A11. I would probably go back to the times of independence. It’s just such a momentous decade and I would have loved to be a part of it. 
And those are my answers to Annie’s questions. 

Here are my questions-
1. What is your pet’s name and what is the story behind it?

2. What’s your comfort food?

3. What’s your dream destination for a holiday?

4. What’s your current favorite book/TV Series?

5. Who is your role model?

6. What is the one thing you love about your home town?

7. What is your latest addiction?

8. Coffee/Tea?

9. What got you into blogging?

10. What’s your favorite quote?

11. Books/Movies
My nominees are-
1.BlogMyLife

2. Wingedeyegirl

3. Justrerehere

4. Rebeka Bergin

5. Makeitup_x

6. EverythingEm_x

7. Thoughtsfromjas

8. Iweekmary

9. CarlieDanillie

10. TopicalBlogger

11. Heylelsunter
I would love to read your answers! 

Lots and lots of love,

Themysticalpanda 

Travelogue- Ooty, India 

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re all having a great Sunday! I just got back from Ooty last night. It was a wonderful trip! The weather was absolutely lovely, with temperatures ranging from 13-16 degrees. Although it was difficult to get away from under the comforts of the covers, we managed to explore the queen of hill stations. Here’s a travelogue from my trip!
Although I was beyond excited for our trip to Ooty, the travel to our destination was a major concern for me. I have travel sickness, and our 5 hour car journey included 3 hours of twisted roads. I was dreading and mentally preparing myself for all the dizziness and puking. My Aunt got me some lemons, that I was to bite and suck at whenever I felt giddy. We made sure we collected all our belongings and I took one last trip to the bathroom, fully aware that clean public washrooms were a rarity. After a round of kisses and hugs we were off. 
Our travel was not as tiring as I expected it to be. We came across some beautiful views, including multiple sunflower fields that looked straight out of a Windows wallpaper. We stopped by at a Dosa Camp, and had one of the best Dosas, I also picked up a Lime drink as a precaution to the 2 hours of travel remaining. 

The last 2 hours were breathtaking to say the least. We had to cross animal reserves in the process, and saw deers, monkeys and horses on our way. It was beautiful. 
We reached Ooty at around 2.30, after passing 36 Hair pin curves. We stayed at the Derby Green Mahindra Resorts. Our stay was comfortable and refreshing and the resort was great, with the staff hospitable. We decided to take the day off and spent time at the Games Area of the resort. After losing terribly at chess to my Dad and playing a nostalgic family game of Snakes and Ladders we headed for a big dinner. 

The next day was very eventful. We visited the Chocolate Museum and bought back some great handmade butterscotch chocolates. The Botanical Garden was a beautiful sight. We went boating in Pykara and that was probably the highlight of my trip. The view was surreal, and so calming. I’ve attached pictures below.

We also went for a brief trek up to Lamb’s rock, and the realization of how unfit I’ve gotten sunk in.

We left on our 5th day there, and embarked on another 8 hour journey to Bangalore. (Didn’t puke, but the trip wasn’t half that enjoyable)

We had amazing food all the while and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Ooty was breathtaking. 


Lots and lots of love, 

Themysticalpanda