Book Review, Indian authors

Unladylike: A memoir by Radhika Vaz

To all the unladies out there who refuse to be bound by the rules of feminity.

A short-haired woman in red lipstick adorning a white tutu sitting in a majestic brown leather couch with her waxed legs wide apart sporting a ‘f***k-all’ expression like she doesn’t wp-image-973029516give a rat @$$ is a sight to behold on a book-cover. It’s a total badass, bold statement! Simply that and a tiny excerpt of the introduction and I was sold (thanks to an Amazon discount sale). I had known nothing else about the writer apart from that she is a comedienne. And women with a slick humor sense is something I always appreciate.

So, lo and behold. Here’s a woman who is in a constant repartee with her self, her sexuality and the society as such. The memoir starts in a classic childhood, teenage, adolescence, adulthood mode. Radhika Vaz started a confused kid and is over being confused as hell. And, the confidence she has gained with years spills from cover to cover. This is her way of dealing with her identity crisis- something she is in constant battle with and has come out unscathed. She writes of her tryst with body image issues, and with gender stereotypes. Her first period, her first kiss and the first time she watched porn- all make for good reads. It’s funny, honest and devoid of any voyeuristic pleasures. She is refreshingly brash, open and doesn’t give a fuck about the official

Her first period, her first kiss and the first time she watched porn- all make for good reads. It’s funny, honest and devoid of any voyeuristic pleasures. Enter adolescence and she bares her boy-girl stories with a clinically precise comic timing. It’s devoid of too much emotion-just enough to keep you interested. The chapters where she deals with her decision to not have a child if for every woman to read. If you have had a child, or are planning to, or are considering being childless or what not, you simply have to read her POV coz it’s amazing!She is refreshingly brash, open and doesn’t give a fuck about the official

At the end of the day, this ad agency exec-turned-comedienne has written a book that is easy to read. She is refreshingly brash, open and doesn’t give a fuck about the official sanskari-brigade. It has something for a wide variety of women. Read it if you are looking for a light, soft, easy-breezy book that’ll keep you company for a sound 3hrs, this is it!

Verdict: A tongue-in-cheek memoir of an identity crisis tackled successfully. If you are a teenager this book will help you know that you are not alone.

Continue reading “Unladylike: A memoir by Radhika Vaz”

Book Review, Indian authors

Sita Warrior of Mithila : Book 2 of Ram Chandra Series by Amish

Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati suvrata|

Abhyuttthanamadharmasya tada prakritisambhavah||

O keeper of righteous vows, remember this,

Whenever dharma is in decline, Or there is an upsurge of adharma:

The Sacred Feminine will incarnate.

Amish’s Ram Chandra series had its debut with The Scion of Ikshvaku 2 years ago. Fans have been waiting for the release of Sita Warrior of Mithila since then. I do not claim fealty to Sita_Warrior_of_Mithila_coverthe fandom, let me confess, I haven’t read The Scion of Ikshvaku beyond a few chapters. I left it alone since I found it dragging in a manner familiar to me from Amish’s The Oath of the Vayuputras from the Shiva Trilogy (don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, the climax even). The slow place was acceptable to me there because it was the end of a series I had so dearly followed. Besides the characters in the narrative had all felt fresh and real. The Scion of Ikshvaku felt like it was merely riding on the fame and anticipation the Shiva Trilogy has caused in its splendor. However, the trailer and the cover of this book did not fail to appeal to my senses. Inspite of that, I began reading Sita Warrior of Mithila with ample apprehension and timidity. And then, the first chapter of the book happened!

After the first chapter I literally closed the book and said, “Amish, you have me hook line and sinker!” In here Sita is a badass! She is a warrior worth her salt. She is intelligent, smart and pragmatic. And yes, she means business! The story revolves around her cause and the means she adopts for it. She constantly reminds you of a modern working woman who has to balance her work and personal life, albeit with a very supportive and understanding partner who shares her goal. It’s a relationship in perfect harmony. *sigh* The story here has a pace, quite comfortable to any reader. The language is simple and comprehensible. But, that’s the thing with Amish! His works are known for the freshness of the plot than decorative language. Though in this case, the language is also overly descriptive and screenplay-ish, which is quite possibly intentional given his eye for detail.

AmishThe story here has a pace, quite comfortable to any reader. The language is simple and comprehensible. But, that’s the thing with Amish! His works are known for the freshness of the plot than decorative language. Though in this case, the language is also overly descriptive and screenplay-ish, which is quite possibly intentional given his eye for detail. He subtly touches contemporary debate points like meat-eating and Jallikettu. But fails to make a decisive statement anywhere. At some places, Amish seems to be struggling to defend certain characters in alignment to how we know them from the popular epic, Ramayan. And, throughout the narrative, his politics seems to be diplomatic. I would have loved a little more bravado, but still not complaining.

Amish explains his style of narration in this series as multi-linear, i.e, the first three books will respectively be in Ram’s, Sita’s and Raavan’s perspectives. All these three books start and end at the kidnapping of Sita by Raavan. The fourth and last book in the series will be the conclusive one that’ll take the story ahead and tie everything neatly with a bow. This means that a lot many parts of the story will be repeated in all three books. So, for readers intending to read the books one after the other may be at a disadvantage. But it also means that no matter where you start reading the series, between book 1 to 3, you do not miss out on the story.

 

Verdict: It is fresh, and fast! This Sita is to watch out for. Ram Chandra series is picking up with this installment of the story. So if you are a fan of the genre, you might not want to miss this.

Continue reading “Sita Warrior of Mithila : Book 2 of Ram Chandra Series by Amish”

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.

Bibliorant

A list of 5 books for women

I’ve come across umpteen lists of books people of all genders, ethnicities, orientations and age-groups “should” read. I’m nobody to tell you what to read and what not to, but here’s a list of 10 books that I think every woman deserves to read at least once in their lifetime. I’m not a feminist by definition; I don’t think men and women are equal. I think men and women are complementary and they have to be so to contain harmony. So, this list here is by no means a list of feminist books, but a few could have elements of feminism as I am a humanist. So, here goes, in no particular order.

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl was the first book cover_page_48139I read which didn’t have a ‘happy ending’ and I was cool with it. I walked into this book as a young girl myself, just about 10 years old or so, and encountered that feeling of being alive in morbidness for the first time ever. That feeling has never left me hence. It has made me search hard for the silver lining in every dark cloud, the key for every shut door and the light at the end of every tunnel. It’s a book that has helped me appreciate the quality of my life,not based on the material things, but the emotional and creative experiences.
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi : This is one of those books I have to thank my old Persepolis_filmroommate for, as she had an amazing collection. Persepolis is the first graphic novel I ever set hands on. This is also the best coming-of-age book I have ever read. The author had me hooked to the book by her innocence as a kid, her honesty as a teenager and her perseverance as an adult. The simplistic language and illustration made it all the more enjoyable and comprehensible. The complexities of emotions like, the lack of freedom and the fear of life that drew her out of the country, through the eyes of a child opened a new surge of emotions in me.
  • My Story by Kamala Das : One of the most controversial books on this list, My Story  My_Story_Kamala_Dasis an autobiography by one of India’s finest poets, Kamala Das. It travels through the loneliness that transpires through her childhood, all the way to her adulthood. Apart from the beauty in her craft, what really caught my fancy was the boldness with which she discusses her sexuality, not once letting it seem crass or vulgar. Her boldness did, at times, feel like defiance to the narrow society we still live in. But having said all that, the sheer poetry in prose in her writing would make me re-read this book.
  • Sita: An Illustrated retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik : The book, 511T3FDFBeL._SX380_BO1,204,203,200_though a retelling of Ramayana, concentrates on Sita, her thoughts and actions. It swells with feminism, coming from one of the most chauvinistically interpreted epic from India. The story examines Sita’s actions as a spiritual act of compulsively being at peace with herself and not waiting to be judged by a society she has no part in. Sita connects to nature than to the society. There is an interesting conversation Sita holds with Shurpanakha, who was maimed by Ram and Lakshman. In this conversation, Sita urges Shurpanakha to free herself of all negative emotions and be at peace for her own good.
  • Eat, Prey, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert : This book here, is a popular favorite among Eat,_Pray,_Love_–_Elizabeth_Gilbert,_2007women. So, it’s an obvious choice in this list. But, more than anything, this book speaks of the love and celebration of life. It speaks of spirituality and the holistic well-being of an individual by how they keep happy and positive. It’s a beautifully written, feel-good book, especially if you are going through an emotional crisis. It urges you to wake up and be your own sunshine and shine your way through.

 

This list comes out of the few books that I’ve been able to read and enjoy. So, if some of your favorite books don’t make it to my list feel free to enlighten me so that I can broaden my reading range.