Posted in Thoughts

Not ALL is fair in love

We’re all familiar with bullying. Be it through personal experience, reading about it in a book, or watching 13 Reasons Why (let’s not even go there), we know what emotional abuse means. And while there is a lot to be said on that topic, what I want to discuss is not bullying, it’s something more specific. Emotional abuse, yes, but at the hands of a loved one.

 

The number of people, girls in particular, that I’m personally acquainted with, who silently suffer while they are being emotionally abused, is rather shocking. It ranges from extremely mild to simply unacceptable, and even illegal.

 

One of the most important things people need to know is when you have to stop – stop emotionally blackmailing, stop harassing, stop making someone feel guilty, and so on. It really isn’t a person’s fault if they don’t reciprocate your feelings and making them feel otherwise makes no sense. Not all romantic feelings are two-way, sometimes people just don’t feel the same way as the other person, and newsflash: that’s completely okay.

 

Taking this one step further, it is also fair to want to stop being in a relationship, especially if you sit down and talk it out, explain to the other person why it isn’t working out for you. “It’s not you, it’s me” is not just something people say to avoid awkward situations where they have to explain their actions. Sometimes it actually is “not you, but me”. I know people who have sincerely believed in a relationship up to a point of time, after which they realised that they weren’t exactly where they wanted to be. Getting out can be tricky, but it’s not a crime. What is, however (not literally, of course), is calling someone two dozen times in a span of an hour. I’m not even exaggerating. Stop spamming people with texts and calls. Demand explanations, but after the final conversation has been had (and you’ll know it, don’t worry), give people their personal space. Calling up someone’s family or friends in an attempt to get in touch with them, is really not the right way of going about things. It causes a whole lot of stress to people who are probably not even involved.

 

And then there’s downright abuse. Threatening someone, physical violence, that’s just inhuman. A friend of mine, who has been married for the past 5 years, gets beaten up by her husband almost everyday. She’s now carrying a child, but that hasn’t changed anything. True, she could walk out of it and save herself the trauma, but I suppose that is easier said than done. And also besides the point. Why should she even have to walk out of her own house, in the first place?

 

It saddens me immensely, especially because I know some of these people personally. It’s one thing to read about something in the papers and something entirely different to know people who are the people in the papers. I shudder as I think about how they must feel.

 

There isn’t much that we can do, or maybe that’s just my bleak outlook. Either way, I knew I couldn’t keep this in, and here’s to hoping that someone reading this will find some help here. If you’re being treated unfairly, please walk out. Do something. Help yourself. Talk to people you trust. I don’t know, I’m a kid myself, but just get out of it, one way or another.

 

Posted in Random

Ramblings #2

PS: Thank you Karthik Nagaraj, we owe you this one. ❤


6th April, 2017

 

So, I’m going for a nap. 🙂 Gimme half an hour.

 


31st May, 2017

 

SK: Some nap. Anyway, I forgot who this was, but as you can see, the journey of a thousand words begins with postponement.

 

AS: Was deffi you.

 

SK: Probably was.

AS: How do we begin. xD
Nah, I’ll keep it a surprise.

 

SK: Keep what a surprise?

 

AS: Then it won’t be a surprise no. -.- Smarty.

 

SK: Correctamundo. Okay. Can’t we begin just like this?

 

AS: Yeah you’re right. Lezz just dive in.

 

 

Hello, everybody. Let’s begin with some announcements, shall we? It brings us immense pleasure to inform you that we have 18 amazing people reading the random things we spew out on an irregular basis. But, more importantly…

*drumroll*

SUCHIT IS ELAS SECY!!!!11!!!!!!

Okay. Nobody cares. What you should care about, is that Aditi is Jt. Secy of Music Club!

 

That’s absolutely irrelevant, Suchit. For those of you who don’t know, ELAS stands for English Language Activities Society, and our prolific writer here is the Secretary of said Society. So you better scroll down and read all his blog posts.

 

Completely irrelevant. That wasn’t the start I had in mind. But anyway. Here we are again, having completed nearly a year of our blog. And what we have to show for it is, well, this blog. As you can see, we have covered all kinds of stuff, like things and stuff and other things too.

Very verbose.

And we have a whole lot more lined up for you.

As you see, Aditi is an excellent editor, and offers me absolutely brilliant feedback on my pieces. And a very nice proofreader too.

 

God knows that’s probably what I’m going to end up doing for the rest of my life, because if there’s anything I’ve learnt from my first week at PS, it’s that coding is probably not my thing at all. And what beats me most of all is how and when I’m supposed to break that to the rest of the world.

 

Oh, so these vacations, we have a sort of industrial training thing going on, called Practice School (PS), and Aditi is interning at this very cool place which does all kinds of cool sciency things. And Aditi, being the super pro person she is, is already bored of the place.

 

No, seriously. Here I am, with minimal knowledge of C and C++ and Java and whatnot- in a room full of people who have scored a perfect 10 in all three semesters and/or excelled in competitions held by Microsoft, to such an extent that they’re being sent to Seattle. And boy, is it intimidating. I spent my first week coming back home with a heavy heart. And when I finally found the courage to talk to my legit super pro dad about this, the first thing I asked him was, “Do you wish I was smarter, Dad?”

 

I think the fact that she belongs in a room with all these super smart programmers will tell you how smart this little person is. And that she’s just being morbid and pessimistic  for no reason. In case I haven’t said this enough, Aditi is one of the smartest little people I know.

A factor she is forgetting is that she spent the whole of last year doing Math, while these other people did all kinds of computer sciency stuff. I have very strong doubts about the ability of any of those to go toe to toe with her at math.

 

Bah, Suchit’s just being Suchit (read: ultra nice). It’s true though. Just like there’s always going to be someone who’s thinner, or in my case, taller, than you, there’s also always going to be someone smarter. Or more knowledgeable. And either you slog your ass off and try and get to their level, or you accept it and stop letting it get to you. I still have to figure out how, though.

But isn’t that giving up? “Oh. I’ll never be good enough”, and so you stay complacent where you are and never strive for more? Sure, you might not want to raise your skill level. You simply might not be invested enough in whatever it is. Or, there are other things you might want to do. Depends on what your priorities are, and what you want to make out of your life.

Or you could just feel like kicking back and chilling out, with a lemonade in hand.

 

Funnily enough, I just made myself a lemonade an hour ago.

 

Lemonades are the best. Especially in this beastly hot weather. More than hot, it’s humid, and sticky and sweaty. Very bad.

 

Yes, I can’t wait for the rains to begin. Though that will make commuting to and from work much more irritating, but anything for good weather.

 

Bwahahahaha. My workplace is a 10 minute walk from home. So, I work with statisticians and economists, compiling and processing data and trying to make sense out of the trends and all that sort of thing. It seems interesting enough, but it actually is pretty cumbersome. They are still teaching us to do stuff like  procedures, formulae and algorithms.

 

That is very cool man, I envy you. I don’t even understand half of the jargon they throw at us, but it’s Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and that’ll look pretty on my resume, so I roll my eyes and shut my trap and make the most of the AC and internet. And daydream about going back home and pretending to be a rockstar on my brand new guitar that I barely know how to play.

 

I suppose we seem more grown up. Slightly tired, this time around. I think I do, at least. I guess that’s one more year of college speaking. I think you’ll notice a progression in our posts on the blog, too. We’ve become more aware, I guess. And more brave, in a way, penning down our thoughts and encounters with more honesty.

 

I do too. Feel more tired, or at least sound more tired, I suppose. It is liberating though, to write openly about what we feel, like we’ve been trying to do of late. On these lines, keep an eye out for another more serious-sounding article that we’ll be putting out soon. Keep reading, and we shall, hopefully, keep writing.

 

Yeah. Keep writing we shall. Cannot assure anyone of the regularity, though. Work, I realised in barely two weeks, is pretty draining.

Word.

But we will definitely try.

Amen.

Posted in Thoughts

Too late to apologise?

We had Dr. Shashi Tharoor visiting our campus a few weeks ago, during our cultural festival Pearl. The turnout for his session was huge, with even the laziest of students abandoning their rooms and trudging all the way to the auditorium an hour in advance and hunting for decent seats. Among the various topics that he spoke about, the one that struck me most was his demand for an apology from Britain for the atrocities committed against Indians during their colonial rule.

 

There are multiple reasons for why this is a good idea; how an apology from, say, the Queen, on the anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, could possibly change a lot of things. It could bring a sense of justice, closure, some sort of retribution maybe. But then again, would it really affect anything? And even if it were to, are we even eligible to demand an apology?

 

There is a story in the Bible, which throws light upon this question. A woman is about to be stoned for immoral activities, when Jesus calls for the one without sin to cast the first stone, following which everyone leaves. If we stand up and raise our voices to condemn, we must first examine ourselves. None of us are truly innocent, no nation has a clean record, and thus, it would seem hypocritical to ask for an apology. If one was to argue further that the extent of the Britisher’s atrocities were extreme, another question to be answered would be, who decides which act is atrocious enough to be condemned or apologised for?

 

Moreover, to whom do the Britishers owe an apology? To the Indian government? To the people of India? Or should their apology be addressed to the departed souls of those who suffered at their hands?

 

The concept of asking for an apology is, surprisingly, not as simple as it seems. This is a conclusion I have come to after almost a decade of observing how actions or words affect people to different extents and their subsequent expectations from the person who has supposedly wronged them.

 

My earliest memory pertaining to this topic is when I was barely 10, and in the midst of an argument with my mother. I probably said something along the lines of “what yaar, you never understand what I’m trying to say” to her. After the discussion had reached its natural end, my father lectured me on my usage of “disrespectful” language with my mother and demanded that I apologise to her. Something little 10-year-old me refused to do. The logic that I offered then was that if my mother had no objection to the way I had spoken to her, why must I have to apologise? Had I spoken to my father in a similar fashion and had he been hurt by my words, yes, I would apologise. But who is a third person to dictate how I must behave with someone, especially if that particular person has no objections? One can argue, of course, that in this case, the fault did lie with me and that my father had every right to say that, but that isn’t really the point I’m trying to make here.

 

The contrasting line of thought is that no matter your intentions, if you realise that you’ve hurt someone, you apologise to them. Period. Now, whether you meant something as a joke, or it’s the other person being extremely sensitive, the moment it comes to your notice that your actions or words have caused pain, you ask for forgiveness.

 

And then there’s the whole “say sorry only if you genuinely mean it” angle to this as well. The movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ has a scene where Hrithik Roshan tells Farhan Akhtar, “maafi sirf tab maangna jab dil se aaye” (ask for an apology only when it comes from within). A half-hearted apology is probably worse than no apology, if you really think about it, because you’re just apologising for the sake of it.

 

Personally, I think that it’s never acceptable to hurt someone and not atone for our actions or words. Sometimes we don’t want to hurt someone but we end up doing precisely that. And the knowledge that we have caused unnecessary pain to someone should be enough to make us want to mean the apology. Hence, not only do you apologise even though it’s not entirely your fault, but you also mean it.

 

An apology doesn’t make you the smaller person. It doesn’t make you the “submissive” person in any relationship. It doesn’t make you someone who always adjusts for others, or someone who can be pushed around. It’s never too late. Of course, it makes more sense to apologise as soon as you realise your mistake, but honestly, a late apology is better than none. So go on and say that magic word, after all, what goes around, comes around.

Posted in Thoughts

Into morally dark areas (again)

When do you end your friendship with someone? I mean, at what point would you draw the line between friendship and morality? If your friend harasses a girl, would you stop talking to him? Would you end your friendship right there? Or would you try and explain to your friend that what he did was wrong and try to change his perspective or him as a person?

On the one hand, it is immensely difficult for a person to intrinsically change who he is. If someone truly believes that what he has done is not wrong at all, it isn’t very easy to make him see otherwise. But, on the flipside, what if your abandoning that friend is exactly what could set him off and lead him into doing worse?

There’s the added point about how if you keep a fresh apple among rotten apples, it rots a lot sooner. You tend to be the average of the company you keep. That is not to say that if your friend has indeed harassed a girl and you continue your friendship with him, you’ll end up harassing people too. But surely, the company of such a person is bound to have repercussions on how you perceive things or draw the line between right and wrong.

But then again, if you are the person who has strayed away from the so-called path of righteousness, wouldn’t you want someone to be there, to tell you that even though they’re disgusted by your actions, they still value your friendship? Parents don’t abandon their kids, come what may. When I was very young, I stole chocolates from home and lied about it later. I did get a thorough earful for that, but that in no way changed my parents’ affection towards me. But then again, friends aren’t family. Only the ones who stay, through all of life’s vicissitudes, those are the true gems.

 

Another paradox of sorts that’s been boggling my mind is this. If you look at your neighbour’s answer sheet in an examination hall, it’s cheating. It’s wrong, and you must be punished for it. But what if you’re the scribe for a blind student giving his board examinations. You correct a spelling mistake here, edit a grammatical error there. And what if your gentle nudge in the right direction is what makes this kid’s career, or some such thing? Will your conscience still bother you?

This thought came to me because one of my friends told me that he had been cheating on his weekly tests, following which we had a mild debate over the same.On the other hand, when I found out about someone helping a blind student pass his board examinations, I praised them for being thoughtful and considerate. Does the morality of cheating depend on the abilities of the person you’re helping? If you help someone disabled, it doesn’t seem so bad, but if you help out a friend who hasn’t studied, it’s looked down upon.

 

I suppose the answer to all of this and more is that the world isn’t black and white. There is no perfectly right way to go about living, and sometimes, you simply make your choices based on your perceptions of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

 

SK: Well, it’s fine to say that the blind kid can have his career made by the grammar corrections and all, but at the same time you forget that he starts with an intrinsic handicap. You have heard and seen those words, many many times. He has only heard them. He cannot visualise and lacks a very very important memory cue. On the other hand, cheating is the use of an unfair means to gain an advantage. It is not as if the person who is cheating begins with a handicap. On a level playing field, with everyone being given the same opportunity, he chooses to do something explicitly wrong. There is no unintentional bump here, but actual malpractice. That’s my two cents.

 

Posted in Thoughts

Into morally dark areas

So I suppose I’m finally being the typical teenage blogger and creating a blog post about “serious gender issues”, except that it’s probably not going to be that serious because I don’t have any grave statistics or jargon to throw at you. This sudden outburst of thoughts on this topic is due to two recent life experiences, and I’ll try to make this post less about me and more about the topic, but oh well. Mah blog, mah rulz. *sorry, Suchit*

Not sticking to chronological order as such, I watched the movie Dangal this morning. It is a very woman centric movie, following the lives of two sisters, Geeta Kumari Phogat and Babita Kumari Phogat as they battled societal conventions to win multiple medals for wrestling on an international level. At almost every step they took towards their aim, there were a dozen naysayers, shaking their heads, passing unnecessarily sexist remarks and sometimes hindering the girls’ progress. From not allowing the girls to wrestle in the local arena, to almost banning them from playing at higher level tournaments, there is not much they were offered in terms of support or facilities. Even the government funding that they would’ve received in a utopic world was spent by the officials before they could claim it.

The movie left the audience with shining eyes and a fire burning within. It is indeed a proud moment to hear the national anthem play and watch an Indian girl win gold for the country. Her victory was the harbinger of hope for the girl child, so to speak, and left me feeling that maybe, after all, we are moving in the right direction, slowly but surely.

My thoughts on the same issue were in stark contrast a few weeks ago. I went trekking with a huge group of people, at Sandhan valley – the valley of shadows. It was a two day trek and in retrospect, I’d say I enjoyed myself a lot, in spite of the few scares we had there, which I shall now proceed to describe, in as neutral and level headed a manner as I can.

We were trekking downhill the first day, and were scheduled to have lunch at around 1, and reach our campsite by around 5. Initially, it was all pretty awesome, with rocks on both sides of the climb, occasional mountain rappelling and dozens of photographs in various poses, mostly of the fake candid kind. Obviously. But we soon realised how late we were running, when we did not stop for lunch. At all. Yes, we’d been trekking from 8 am and there were no signs of lunch even at 3 pm. We just munched on whatever biscuits we could find and kept walking.

The sun had started to set and we still had a long way to go. I’m not usually afraid of the dark, but trekking among dangerous rocks without light is pretty frightening. And rappelling without light… Oh well. It suffices to say that I have never been that scared in my life. When we did finally reach our campsite at around 10 pm, most of us were very shaken. There was no mobile network, which heightened the fear and anxiety that had taken over. I longed to hear my mother’s voice on the phone, because my irrational mind had convinced me that I would never get out alive and meet her again.

Why this sudden change of tone from debate to horror, you ask? Well, the Sandhan valley trek was where I experienced the same sort of gender privileges that people on the Titanic went through. “Women and children first”. The boys in our group stayed back and helped every last girl down the rocks, they made human chains so we could cross tiny streams without falling or hurting ourselves, they even carried our backpacks for long stretches. And in that moment, I did not point fingers, call it sexism or even question it in my mind. I accepted the preference my gender brought with it, happily and with a sense of gratitude.

Throughout the trek, I had it easy. Not because I couldn’t trek well; there were boys who were more injured or tired than I was – but simply because I am a girl. And that was perfectly fine with me. I got help on every step of the way, I got to sleep inside a tent while many of the boys had to sleep under the stars with nothing but hard rock beneath them, I got that extra sip of water when we were running short of supplies… The list is endless. And not once did I question it or feel like calling it blatant sexism. I’m not even sure if I would call it sexism, to be very honest.

I suppose a plausible explanation is that when we face adversity, we lose sight of some of our beliefs. Most of them, actually. In that moment, when we barely had any water left and the sun was beating down upon us and we were all on the verge of dehydration, had someone offered me alcohol then, I would’ve thrown all my teetotaller spirits out (pun unintended) and given in. I don’t know if I’m ashamed to say this, because honestly, would you rather die on a mountain at 19 just because you wanted to hold onto your morals or values or whatever? I digress.

I really don’t know how to conclude this, because I’ve said many unrelated things and after all of this, I’m not quite sure where I stand on this topic, really. On the one hand, it saddens me immensely, when I watch a movie and see an entire community discriminate against a girl trying to achieve something. But then again, when I am offered special privileges for being a girl, I lap them up, no questions asked. Sure, you may say that these are two very different things. They are, indeed. But isn’t feminism about equality? If we do away with the norms that treat women as less than men, shouldn’t the ones that treat women as more important or requiring more assistance go too? But if that were to happen, I would probably not have lived to tell you this tale, putting me in a dilemma that I have no answer to.

 

Sketching credits: Suchit Kar

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Posted in Poetry

Coal

Black hard rock,

Ugly, yet symbolic.

 

Born out of the pressure,

Constantly pushed down.

 

Why, when it may as well have glittered,

When it could just be precious,

When it could have been desired by all,

Did it turn to black rock?

 

Akin to impressionable minds,

That can be carved into differing personalities.

A push in the right direction,

And behold, a diamond.

 

And yet, a whisper here,

A dark thought there,

A glimpse of a vice,

And what are you left with?

 

Charred coal.

A shadow of the person that one could have been.

A disappointment,

A failure perhaps?

 

Why, you say,

Does it even matter?

Must we not all end up as ashes?

Thrown into sacred waters,

Or saved in a precious urn.

 

But oh, how it does,

For the ashes of a diamond

Are revered and remembered.

While those of coal,

Lie forgotten or despised,

Till the end of time.

Posted in Poetry

Life in Leaves

This is inspired by a Ted talk I watched recently. I feel like I should say more, but I have nothing else to say. So here goes.

 

The world is a library,

And those who inhabit it,

The books.

 

Each one of us has a story,

Who we are, where we come from,

Or maybe the way we look.

 

Then every conversation is a reading,

An insight into another world.

 

Unique in every way,

Never fitting into a single mould.

 

We’re all curious melanges of emotions –

Giggling, sobbing, shouting, sometimes silent.

 

A tale of love whispered to a friend,

A secret anecdote of when one got violent.

 

Or perhaps harmless gossip,

An opinion, an idea, a rant.

 

Maybe a quest for good advice,

Or a smile, accompanied by a compliment?

 

Just so long as we invest that time,

Talk to someone, build connections.

 

Have long heart-to-hearts,

After all, we’re unabridged versions.

 

Don’t rely on the chat box,

A digital emoticon fails to convey.

 

It is the act of sitting down over a cup of coffee,

Or hug that goes a long way.

 

Posted in Collaborative story

Chapter Two

“Aggarwal saab? Mr Aggarwal sir, over here,” the chauffeur called out, waving his arm in the air even after his slightly annoyed client had nodded in acknowledgment.

“It’s Agrawal, for-”

“Here Aggarwal saab, let me carry that for you,” the betel-leaf chewing man chattered on. “Arre sir, it must being very hot in Kolkata, no? How you people managing, tsk tsk. I tell you, you should…”

Rohit Agrawal rolled his eyes and tuned out the driver’s how-to-survive-in-Kolkata monologue. The only “chutter putter” he longed for belonged to someone who was probably serving jalebis to her parents at home, her eyes sparkling as she spoke about her day at work. He marvelled at her capacity to work for 8 hours straight, day in and day out, only to go home and cook food. She refused to let the hired help cook all the meals, claiming that making one hot meal a day with her own hands was her way of giving back to her parents, who had supported her throughout her rather long cycle of career changes.

“Besides, I won’t get to do this once I get married….” she had said coyly when he’d persisted.

He shut his eyes while the car sped over the Bandra-Worli sealink. He reminisced about the day they’d sat on Marine Drive, or as she fondly called it, ‘Queen’s Necklace’. He remembered how she had pointed out the street lights and compared them to pearls on a necklace. Who would have thought he’d grow to love her and her city almost as much as his hometown. True to her name, she brought light into his life. Metaphorically and literally.

That crimson red dress that she had worn the first time they had gone out, the bronze streak in her hair when he had brushed aside a stray ringlet, the flush in her cheeks when he’d complimented her. He longed for that colour, vivacious and bright, and he knew deep within that he would travel across continents to meet her if he had to. What blue had it been? Ink blue? No, prussian. Yes. Prussian blue. He laughed softly. The way she had shaken her head, with a tiny crease between her brows, her lips pursing just the slightest, till he had guessed the colour right.

The arrival of his destination pulled him out of his reverie. After he had put all his luggage in place, he called her up, like he always did when he reached. Her voice instantly relieved the exhaustion that had settled within him after the flight. After deciding when and where they would meet the next day, he hung up, a soft smile playing on his lips. It did not fade away till he had fallen asleep, probably thinking about her even in his dreams.

Posted in Poetry

Goosebumps

Chills down the spine,

Prickling at the nape of the neck,

A faint melody, a distant tune, a familiar hum –

Like brushing off the dust from old, yellowing books,

Stirring long forgotten memories.

 

Music.

A song reminding us of days long gone.

Lyrics making us question ourselves.

Resonating with something deep within,

Chilling to the bone.

 

Fear.

Of confrontation, of being caught, or of simply owning up.

Clutching at our chests,

Leaving us numb and breathless,

Like a weight pressing down from all sides.

 

Anticipation.

The thrill of meeting a loved one,

Or that degree marking the culmination of hard work.

When the leg inadvertently bounces out of excitement,

And the hairs raise of their own accord.

 

Cold.

And then there’s the cold.

The harsh wind, stinging at the face.

Bringing tears to the eyes, goose pimples across bared skin.

Yet, it’s not always the cold that gives you goosebumps.

 


 

Lyrics from a song I used to love, ’cause why not:

 “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life, am I living it right?”

 

Posted in Book Reviews

My Beautiful Shadow

During my primary school years, all I really cared about, academically, was the library period. That was probably the only class in which the teacher remained as quiet as the students (rather, as quiet as the students are supposed to be), so when she did speak, she had my undivided attention. I suppose twinkling-eyed, large-hearted Ms Dolasha did tell us to “never judge a book by its cover”, but oh well.

 

My Beautiful Shadow – Radhika Jha

 

Undoubtedly, it was the cover of this book that caught my eye. My fingers brushed across the spines of books, shelf after shelf, hesitating occasionally while I peered at the titles. I had picked seven out of the eight allowed books and was on the lookout for something different, something that would stand out in my bundle of ‘Robin Cook’s and ‘Agatha Christie’s. And so, yes, I judged this book by its cover and the Asian woman gazing into the distance called out to me, my hand pulling it out, seemingly of its own accord and adding it on top of my neat stack of books.

 

It started off as a rather engaging read, light and simple, the chapters not too long, (am I the only person who prefers books having chapters that don’t exceed 10-12 pages? I feel like it’s the same as when you have two small pizzas as against one medium pizza and somehow you can eat six slices of the entire medium pizza, yet eight slices of two small pizzas seem too much even though they probably amount to the same thing. I digress.) and characters not too many. (Again, am I the only person who forgets character names within a day? I finished reading this book yesterday and the names are already fading out of my mind like a drop of ink dissolving in an ocean. I digress yet again.)

 

The book follows the story of Kayo, her obsession with shopping, her eventual stumbling into the pitfalls of debt and the extent to which she goes to recover the money. Only to fall deeper in. One would think that knowing that her father had died precisely for the same reasons, owing money and being unable to repay the loan sharks, she’d know better than to spend without second thoughts, but as the author so aptly puts it:

 

The problem with beautiful things is that when you have one, you want two and when you have two, you want three. For the eye’s hunger has no limit. Unlike the mouth which has a bag, the stomach attached to it, the eye is simply an opening. Behind it is the bottomless cupboard of the mind.

 

The story is simple. So simple, in fact, that I wondered quite a bit as to what I would write in this book review. I’ve pretty much summarised the book two paragraphs above. But it’s not so much the story, as it is the words, the underlying meanings, the hidden implications that are left between the lines, that make this book so intriguing. I can quote a dozen sentences that made me stop midway and ponder, but I’m writing a book review, and not a book so…

 

For, peace and happiness, I realised, were two different things. Happiness was like the bubbles on the surface of dirty dishwater. Peace was the water itself. Water washed away all dirt, it made things pure and whole again. If I let the water run out of my life, there would be no bubbles. And then what would be left?

 

A year ago, I’d have scorned at this. Among the other “deep” stuff that I came across while reading. I didn’t get some grand enlightenment or anything, I’m still grumble-y, lazy, self-centred me. But the subtlety with which these things are interspersed among the story, just scattered among the words, leaving you to pick them up at your own leisure, left me hunting for these so-called pearls of wisdom.

 

The book has a very Asian tinge to it, some of their values echoing those of mine. A strong family bond, for instance. The desire to keep your loved ones happy, at any cost. Kayo refers to her family as her garden, the place she turns to for peace. One questions her decisions, especially the one of selling herself for money, and wonders why she wouldn’t simply confess to her husband and ask him to clear her debts, but I suppose nobody’s perfect and maybe we think we would do the “right thing” were we in her situation, but who are we to say, really.

 

The end is predictable, yet abstract. No, she does not clear all her debts and live happily ever after. After all, this novel is about consumerism in Japan, portraying the people as constantly desiring more – more clothes, more shoes, more successful children scoring better grades, and yet everyone around the protagonist, including herself, fits perfectly into this mould of elegantly dressed, high-heeled women projecting wealth or power. She mentions how everybody is so similar that they cook the same meals on the same days, buy the same vegetables, carry the same bags and lead almost identical lives. In stark contrast, there is a chapter or two in which she stays in the countryside, where everyone is happy with what they have; a garden, a bird, nature itself fulfilling the hunger that she always felt.

 

You hope that maybe she’ll go back to her house after that and everything will be okay, but the book strives to be realistic, and remains slightly open to interpretation. There is no spoiler, for maybe what I took away from the last few pages may be poles apart from what the next person would. But the slight disappointment that struck me at the lack of clarity towards the end dissipated, eventually leaving me with the essence of the book.

 

In conclusion, if you’re apprehensive about reading Robin Sharma but want something to question or muse over, give this book a read. Or you could just go over and read: https://karmaspeak.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/kolkata/

It’s shorter than a book, but just as satisfying.

*hehehehehe Suchit, I can shamelessly plug too*