Book Review, Indian authors

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Has it ever happened to you that you start reading a book and feel like the story has 17157775_10158235040090364_4958159897414216041_o.jpgtaken you into itself like a dream-like trance? You know you are reading words and turning the pages as you go, but then you forget all that and drown into the fluidity of the words. The prose sings to your heart like poetry and at times you have to pause to drink in the beauty of it all.

The Mistress of Spices is set in an Indian spice shop in Oakland, US. Tilo was born in India with magic in her blood. Her magic had always led her fate and destiny. Now, as a mistress of spices, in her little spice shop in Oakland, she uses her magic and her training in the power of spices to help the local Indian community. Her spices always aided her in her services till the American walked into her shop. The true test of her magic and power came when he fell in love – a feeling forbidden to her by the spices.

Back when The Mistress of Spices, caught my fancy as a movie starring Aishwarya Rai chtira-banerjee-4and ‎Dylan McDermott, I hadn’t heard about the book it was based on. Much later it was a friend’s high praise and raves that had me wanting to read this book. At that point, I hadn’t been introduced to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at all. This book has made me truly appreciate and indulge in her craft. The characters born of her pen were all so relatable and recognizable that I silently let out a prayer for them. With her emotional depth and imagination, Divakaruni proves her merit at convincing her readers of the inconvincible. Also, since magical realism is an unfamiliar realm to me this will be the book that introduced me to it.

In this story, through her characters, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni reflects on the rules and boundaries set by culture and its impact on people and their relationships. Selfless and forbidden love is a recurring theme in the story. She paints a picture of the pain and the longing in love and then the selfless sacrifice resulting from love. This story made me feel like a fly on the wall of the premises, where the story is set, to the point that I simply did not want to leave.

Rating : 3.5/5

Verdict: The book is not for everyone. It speaks of the pain and the agony of forbidden love. It speaks of the selfless sacrifice that transpires from love in its purest form. The beauty of it is in the poetry in the words and the world Divakaruni weaves within them.

Continue reading “The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni”

Gadgets, Skincare

We all scream suncreen

Hello dear Sunshine,

We love you, we really do! But like all good relationships, ours is a love-hate one. While we love you we have to protect ourselves from your heat, your wrath.

Love,

Girl who uses sunscreen

This post goes out to all those who, love the sun or not, have to get their asses out in the heat and slog like a log. That makes all of us, right?That doesn’t mean we can’t look our best. We neither want to tan into a crisp not want the harmful UV, UVA,B,C,D… and what not rays to rip that glow off our skin and make us look older than we are. And, most importantly, we don’t want skin cancer.

There are different things you need to consider before getting yourself a sunscreen that best suits your needs.

  1. How long do you spend outdoors?
  2. Do you wear make-up over sunscreen?
  3. What is your skin type-dry, oily, sensitive, or combination?

Dermatologists advise that we use sunscreen atleast 20mins before you get out into the sun. It is also advised that you reapply your sunscreen every 30-60mins. But who has that time, no? So, here are my favorite sunscreens for this summer. The ones I swear by no matter what.
First in the list,

  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 50+ with helioplex broad spectrum uva-uvb
    • It’s one of the most matte sunscreens in the list. If you hate greasy 71MkLfA0mfL._SL1500_sunscreens that make your skin shine with oil this one is for you. It’s perfect to wear under your everyday make-up.The only con I find in this is that it leaves a white film on your face. But, again, if you are wearing make-up you can mix this with your foundation and voila! It retails for Rs.499 for 88mL.
  • Lotus Herbals Safe Sun UV SCREEN MatteGel PA+++ SPF 50 UVA UVB
    • lotus_herbal_sunscreenThis is my favorite and the one I’m using now. The gel base makes it easy to apply and re-apply making it one that you can carry around. It takes about a minute to settle on your skin and then it’s matte. This one gives a slight supple moisture to your skin which is perfect or the day time. It retails for Rs.395 for 100gms.
  • Biotique Bio Sandlewood Ultra Soothing Face Lotion SPF 75+biotique
    • This is a heavy-duty sunscreen with SPF75+, perfect if you spend a lot of time outdoors. It gives you a moisture boost with sun protection which is again good if you tend to lose moisture throughout the day. It retails for Rs.200/-for 50mL.
  • Kara Sunscreen Wipes with Plum and Aloe Vera
    • kara sunscreenAnything with Aloe vera is a beauty in itself. Plum is rich in anti-oxidants and that, again, is good for your skin. These are handy sunscreen top-ups for your handbag. I always leave these in my bags for quick touchups in the summer.It’s a must-have. You get 10 wipes for Rs.80/-

 

Regularly using a sunscreen that you like is the best way to enjoy these sunny days without compromise. So have your share of fun with protection.

All the brands listed here are available in India and I’ve linked it with their respective Nykaa and Amazon links if you want to purchase them. (PS.this isn’t a sponsored post.) Let me know if you have any other favorites in the comments section.

Lots of love!

Long reads, Random Musings

Why Woman’s day isn’t “empowering” anymore

Today is International Women’s day. But today I don’t feel empowered. I feel scared and disturbed. I feel like Women’s day died a while ago and we are celebrating its funeral today. The moment I bought 2 cans of pepper spray for me and my mom a part of it died in me. Then when my lady friend saw the can of pepper spray and got “offended” that I didn’t remember her when I bought it, it died once again. The spirit of women’s day has died a million deaths every time we check if “too much skin is showing” as we get up and dress up because god forbid we “tempt” and “entice” men around us. Alas, we end up “asking for it”! Today I feel pain and unrest for the 16-year-old, who was impregnated by a Catholic priest, for her life will never be easy for her. And all her 16 years of Women’s days she lived through didn’t prepare her for this. I feel for the actress violated by the goons on that fateful day in Kochi. All she wanted was a happy and beautiful life to nurture her love and passion for her craft. She never asked for an opportunity to show the courage she is now forced to show, that we now celebrate at her cost. I feel for all those nameless and named women who suffered, some in silence or otherwise. Women’s Day died in me the moment I stopped smiling at people out of fear of what their intentions might be for me.

I want to apologize to all the good men around me for I may look at them in suspicion. And, I feel sorry for me and for all the wonderful and beautiful friendships I may miss out on as every day the world teaches me that as a woman you ought not to trust anyone. Not the priest, not the driver, not the teacher, not the boyfriend, not the brother, not the neighbor, not anyone! And if something ever goes wrong expect everyone, even women, to blame you. “Why did she wear that? Why did she go there? Why didn’t she complain immediately?” I want to apologize to all good men also for all the times you were blamed unfairly and unjustly. You have had to carry the weight of prejudice caused by someone else and that is sad. I understand that #NotAllMen comes from a good place. But please understand that all women have, at one point or the other, been molested, violated, and/or abused and they have neither liked it nor have wanted it to happen again.

So, after all this, don’t wish me a happy woman’s day like it’s my birthday. Don’t try to cheer me up with a few discounts thrown in randomly. Don’t tell me how great, special and important I am. Don’t tell me that you respect women. Please don’t respect us because we are women. We don’t deserve your respect like that. If you can, please respect us as human beings; as living, breathing, thinking individuals capable of choice and decision. Respect us for our achievements if any, or for our thoughts and actions, but not for our gender.

We don’t need “brothers” to protect and safeguard us. Don’t burden us with words like ‘morality’ and ‘culture’. Just let us be. All we want is to think, feel, wear and talk our minds without your judgment.  If you don’t agree, even that is fine. Let’s argue and argue, and if even that doesn’t work then let’s just agree to disagree. But, let us be.

Gadgets, Make-up, Uncategorized

Smudge Me Not Liquid Lipstick by Sugar Cosmetics

I’ve been a fan of the Sugar range of cosmetics since it has been available in India. (Read the other Sugar Cosmetics reviews here.) Most of their products hit all the right notes. So, I wasted near to no time in getting my hands on their matte liquid lipsticks. I decided to try the shade 04 Plum Yum.

The shade is a muted plum shade which is a 
rich pink with purple undertones. You get 4.5mL of product for Rs.499/-. It comes with a conveniently bendy doe foot applicator which gives you precise and even application. The catch is that you can’t go over and over again on your lips with it because if you don’t get it right at the first application the colour might seem patchy.

The colour is so opaque in terms of pigmentation that it feels like actual paint on your lips. So, yes, it will not transfer and is absolutely smudge-proof even if you drink and eat. Once you take it off at the end of the day, which is a real struggle, you still see a faint taint of the colour on your lips. The lipstick dries your lips like it’s no-one’s business!

Pros

  • Good pigmentation
  • Smudge-proof
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Drying on the lips
  • Looks paint-like opaque

Though I like the shade I will not be repurchasing Lippies from this range. Somehow the opaqueness is a turn-down for me. I like lipsticks that compliment the natural texture of my lips. Also, this is too drying for my liking. So, I shall stick to my other favorite liquid lipsticks like Colorbar Kiss Proof lip stain and Lakme Absolute Gloss.

Let me know what are your favorites in the comments below.

Ciao!

Skincare

The Face Shop sheet mask haul 

The Face Shop, a Korean beauty and skincare brand of repute, has just recently launched in India via Nykaa.com. And, I went ahead and splurged on some sheet masks.

Sheet masks have turned out to be quite a trend and I’ve loved them since I was introduced to the Innisfree ones. I’m so excited to try them.

Do let me know if you want a review of these babies. I also have a DIY sheet mask post if you are interested.

Bibliorant

My list of 5 love stories

Red and pink roses, cuddly heart-shaped pillows, teddy bears and cloyingly sweet mini chocolate treats that infest and saturate the ethos don’t really celebrate the bookish love we book-nerds enjoy. So, as the month of love leaves, I make a list of 5 of my favorite love stories. These are novels and short stories that I’ve enjoyed reading over the past 30 years. These are the stories that have shown me love, as I know it- pure, irrational, innocent, unconditional, and never-ending!

Let the list begin…

  • Love Story by Erich Segalsegal-lovestory1
    • Oliver Barret and Jennifer Cavilleri fall madly in love instantaneously. They defy all odds to be together and then tragedy strikes. The story stands out for its tone of innocence and purity.
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    • Who wouldn’t fall in love with the earthy and passionate Heathcliff? I so fell in love with him, head over heels, that to this day I’m jealous of how he loves Catherine Earnshaw for moping up his love.
  • Sam’s letters to Jennifer by James Patterson
    • Jennifer is grieving after having just lost her husband when she has to attend to her ailing grandmother, Samantha (aka Sam). This story takes us through Jeniffer’s journey of finding and falling in love again. James Patterson is known mostly for his crime thrillers but this love story has stuck with me for years.
  • The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond
    • This short story by Ruskin Bond is for every romantic soul who has loved and lost.
  • Fault in our stars by John Greenthe-fault-in-our-stars
    • This one must be the recent crowd favorite! Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are the ill-fated, star-crossed lovers of the decade. Their young and innocent love in the face of Cancer is surprisingly positive and life-affirming.

So to speak my list ends here. But I have a few more, two to be precise, novellas and short stories in Malayalam to add. These stories have been life changing and life-affirming. These stories teach you how top fall in love, and to fall in love again and again, even if you are hurt.

  • Premalekhanam by Vaikom Mohammed Basheer
    • Saramma, feels orphaned at home living with her father and stepmother. She wants a job so that she can sustain herself without being a burden to then. Keshavan Nair, her neighbor and a  government servant, has a beautiful job to offer her- to love and cherish him as her own. The story starts with a love-letter Keshavan Nair writes to Saramma; a beauty in its own accord. This story is probably the cutest of all the love stories here.
  • Lola by P Padmarajan
    • This short story is special to me in many ways. It came to me while I was dealing with a life-changing breakup and it helped me heal. It made me come to terms with love, loss and the life after that.
    • P Padmarajan is a magician of words and a maestro of love! If you get a chance to read him, in Malayalam of course, please do so without fail. And, thank me later.

Which ones are you favorite love stories? Let me know in the comments section so I can expand my list in time for the next year. 😉

Ciao!

 

Book Review, Indian authors

An Unsuitable Boy

I’ve always loved Karan Johar movies in an eye and brain candy sort of a way. He an-unsuitable-boy-by-karan-johar-book-review-buy-onlinecreates this rich, exuberant, extravagant and seemingly spotless world to place his
stories that more often than not they feel like desi fairy tales.They always have the same ol’ paeans of love to sing, but they are entertaining in a strangely comforting way. I let myself have a Karan Johar candy every once in a while each one I’ve liked or one reason or the other. Koffee with Karan is another of my favorites from his work. So, I had made up my mind to read his autobiography. But, even before I could set hands on the book I saw quite a few strategically placed excerpt and articles based on the book here and there. These articles readily prompted discussions based on the books and all this was clearly working to spike our interest about the book. That’s the brilliance of Karan Johar, the media mogul.The book caught its first hype with the talk of whether in this book Karan would reveal what the entire world has been speculating about his sexual orientation. I found an excerpt from the book somewhere on the internet where he refuses to talk about the hot topic while full well engaging in the discussion to keep the public voyeurism at its peak. I found an excerpt about his fallout with Kajol, about his relationship with Shahrukh Khan and also about how he was miffed with Kareena Kapoor for asking equal pay as Shahrukh Khan. All these excerpts put the book right at the spot, feeding into public voyeurism; a smart marketing strategy if you ask me!

The book caught its first hype with the talk of whether in this book Karan would reveal what the entire world has been speculating about his sexual orientation. I found an excerpt from the book somewhere on the internet where he refuses to talk about the hot topic while full well engaging in the discussion to keep the public voyeurism at its peak. I found an excerpt about his fallout with Kajol, about his relationship with Shahrukh Khan and also about how he was miffed with Kareena Kapoor for asking equal pay as Shahrukh Khan. All these excerpts put the book right at the spot, feeding into public voyeurism; a very smart marketing strategy if you ask me!

The real reason, I think, why he wrote this book lies in these lines, though-

I’m not taken seriously by the industry nor by the audience beyond a point. I don’t know why. Maybe, I’m a victim of my own image.

I strongly feel this book ventures out to clear a lot of air around the image Karan Johar projects. Starting from the title of the book, for which he has given no explanation anywhere, I think Karan Johar is dying to scream out those three words the world perceives of him. This book is his emotional catharsis, his therapy, as he defines it. Through the book he has tried to clear some emotional clutter in order to make way for what he believes to be his “best decade.”

With this book, Karan Johar gives us a guided tour of his life, work, and goals. He speaks at length about his relationships, his creative process, and his personal growth on all levels. Although self-admittedly Karan Johar has been one of the most publicly accessible and ‘out-there’ filmmaker with this book he attempts to open the doors to his life further wide. But, make no mistake as you get to see only so far as he wants you to see. So, if you want to read the book for the quintessential Bollywood gossip of who is/was/will be with whom or to absolutely know if he is gay then you are barking the wrong tree. But, if you want to know what drives Karan Johar and how, or even who did he cheat on the Rapid Fire round on Koffee with Karan, then go ahead and grab a copy.

 

Rating : 3/5

Verdict: For anyone who belongs to the media fraternity or is interested in an insight into the movie industry this is a guide on how nepotism works and rules. If you are a fan of the works of Karan Johar, which I am, this book is worth your while. But, since I’m not sure it’s worth the price I would suggest you grab yourself a copy on a sale or from your library if you will.

Continue reading “An Unsuitable Boy”