Kindle

This birthday I got myself gifted a Kindle. My reading had considerably gone down in past two years. I somehow lost all interest in reading any books and just like writer’s block, I had reached a reader’s block. This block lasted too long, as I must have hardly read 5-6 books in the last 2 years. I just did not feel like picking up anything. I would open our book shelf and take out some titles, but either would not read them at all, or leave them mid-way. Infact so much was the aversion to books that I did not even feel like browsing internet for new titles. Though husband at home keeps reading books all the time and the fact that he is already a proud owner of a Kindle, also did not help much.

Then few months ago I realized that I need to revive my reading habit. I immediately decided that since I am showing no interest in going near the hard copies of any books, I need to try this beautiful device called Kindle. I had earlier read a couple of books on husband’s Kindle and found the experience quite good. So I decided to gift myself a Kindle this year. It was duly ordered before the birthday and surprisingly arrived well in time, so that I had my new device with a beautiful cover on my birthday.

I have read quite a bit about other people’s experiences of this device and how it fetched vis-s-vis a hard copy books, and people had mixed things to say. Infact before I bought one myself, I use to think that Kindle is just books in soft copy format. However, now that I have had the device for almost a month, I think I am in a position to share my experience of using it.

I am really finding it very -very useful. It is so much more than just soft copies of books. The functionalities that the device offers are so many. To name a few:

  1. I really like the fact that you can order the book online and it is delivered immediately. No need to wait for the hard copy to be delivered, when you actually want to pick up the right away and read. So yes, instant gratification is one major factor why I am already a fan of Kindle.
  2. The fact that I can read sample chapters before ordering a book. Though I could do this in a book store also, but then nothing like the convenience of sitting in your living room and going through as many sample chapters as you want!
  3. Another major factor is that it gives you suggestions based on your choices. I simple love this feature. I am not very good at surfing books. As in when I go to a book store, I generally hover around my favorite section- Indian Fiction, and try picking up the interesting titles. That is one reason I get absolutely confused when I go to reader’s heaven like a book fair. Therefore, when Kindle gives suggestions based on books I have already read, it becomes so easy to surf for relevant titles.
  4. We have a huge house, but absolutely limited storage space. One side of our bed-box is full of books and there is one book rack which houses the remaining books. Other than this there are many books which are shifted from one temporary place to another as per convenience. Having a Kindle has solved this practical problem of finding space for new books. No we can have as many books as we want without having to worry about space.
  5. Price- Yes! A great plus point- most Kindle editions are cheaper as compared to their hard copy versions.
  6. The Kindle Unlimited feature- I have become a paid member- and have actually found quite a few interesting titles under this.
  7. The dictionary feature is also a very useful thing. Not that I am very prompt at looking for meaning of new words while reading a book, I generally try to guess the meaning in the context, but now I actually stop and look for meaning of new words.
  8. Easy to carry, and I can read multiple books at one time. Small features like the book opens at the same page where left- all these make reading so much more pleasure.

I am sure I am yet to discover many things as I use it more, but based on my experience till now, it’s a wonderful device for book lovers. And no, I am not missing reading the hard copy books yet. Husband says that it will happen at some point, but as of now no. I am thoroughly enjoying my new device. The fact that I have already read the following books in the last one month says it all:

  1. The Making of Exile: Sindhi Hindus and the Partition of India
  2. It Happens for a Reason
  3. Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi’s Last Battle
  4. The Girl I Last Loved
  5. Why Men and Women Can’t Be Friends
  6. Why We Love the Way We Do
  7. Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of Childhood in India- Currently Reading

I want to do a book review of the books in bold above.

So far so good. I plan to read at least 50 books by end of this year. Hopefully I will be able to maintain this momentum and finish my target.

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The Making of Exile: Sindhi Hindus and the Partition of India

The Making of Exile

I have read many books on the partition of India. This is a phase of modern history which interest me a lot. However, of all the books I read or material I read online/ on blogs, has all been about the Punjab partition. The fact that the loss of human life and property was highest in the Punjab, with millions of people displaced in a matter of months, amid utter violence and chaos, is may the main reason why the displacement of other ethnic groups in and after 1947 has not been as widely written about as that of Punjabi.
However, as India attained independence and a new nation was carved out, there were people other than in Punjab, who had to leave their land, property and homes to migrate to the other side of the border. Sindhi Hindus were one such community.
This book by Nandita Bhavnani talks about the movement of Sindhi Hindus from Sindh in Punjab to various parts of India post partition. It begins with a brief history of Sindhis in Sindh- undivided India, and goes on to explain how eventually after partition, Sindhi Hindus started migrating to India. The book touches upon all aspects of life of Sindhi Hindus post and pre migration. It gives us a detailed account of the prosperity and power the Sindhi Hindus enjoyed in Sindh. Though they were in minority, this community had a stronghold in Sindh by virtue of being the most enterprising and therefore most wealthy of the lot. It gives a beautiful account of the cities of Karachi, Hyderabad (Sindh) as well. When partition occurred, unlike Punjab and Bengal which were divided with each nation keeping a part of the land, Sindh was altogether given to Pakistan. This is a very interesting part of the book, where the writer explains how reluctant the Sindhi Hindus were in leaving their homeland and moving to India, and they did not start migrating immediately. Apparently the Sindh administration was much better in controlling violence and taking timely measures and spreading the message that Hindus did not need to leave Sindh, they would enjoy their civil rights in the new country. However, given the mass migration of Muslims from this side of the border to both Punjab and Sindh, made the atmosphere hostile towards Sindhi Hindus, which led to a couple of major violent incidents. However, the author highlights, that the main reason for Sindhi Hindus to migrate was the social status of Sindhis which had gone down. The Sindhi though lesser in numbers were the dominant community in Sindh. They were the traders, the land owners and controlled the economy. Moreover, the Sindhi Muslims are a moderate lot and the Sindhi culture dominated the province population. Therefore the relations among various communities were relatively peaceful. However, with the province filling up with Muhajir (Muslims who migrated from east), and eying the Hindu property, in lieu of the property they had left behind, or in many cases just being greedy, led to an overall environment of hostility towards Sindhi Hindus, who then started migrating to India.
The book then covers the whole time period of migration and settlement of Sindhis in India, the political scene, the change in demographics of Sindh- which also includes individual accounts of people on the uncertainty they underwent, the challenges they faced in the refugee camps and finally how they settled. It also talks about those who chose to stay behind and if they could continue to stay there. While we have read a lot about the challenging train journeys that carried people across the border in Punjab, this books gives a graphical account of the painful ship journeys between Karachi and Bombay. The scarcity of tickets, the bad conditions on the ships and the long-awaited waits for people’s turn to board one.
The best part about the book is that it comes across as very well researched, with live accounts of people thrown in. There are detailed accounts of people of what they felt/ went through during those times. This gives a lot of insight into the lives of people then. It gives an elaborate description of inter community relations and the religious landscape of the then Sindh. All the aspects of the migrating population starting ’47 till the time the migration kept happening in ’52-’53 has been covered in detail. It then flows seamlessly as it describes the life of Hindus in Karachi and other less progressive cities in Pakistan. The test of a good book on history is if it is able to transport you the time period it talks about, and if it makes you read about the subject more. The author has been successful in doing both.
Another highlight of the book is that it also has accounts from Sindhi Muslim on the conditions that prevailed then. The book not only talks about the physical difficulties faced by the people in resettling but also, the stigma they faced owing to their Sufi believes. The author shares how in Gujarat and Rajasthan the refugees from the neighbouring province were at times labelled “the ‘meat-eating’ Sindhi Hindus who are Muslims at heart.” Similarly, she quotes a Sindhi Muslims, who shared close affinity with Sindhi Hindus in Sindh “Sindhi Muslims are peace-loving people. They are hospitable and work with patience and deep-thinking. The result has been that Sindhi Muslims have been accused as dishonourable, pro-Hindu and anti-Islamic.”
There are a lot of things which I learnt for the first time through the book like the Jai Hind College in Mumbai was set up by the founders of D J College in Karachi; the teachers and the staff were Hindu members of the faculty who had been displaced. Similarly, the city of Gandhidham in Gujarat was set up by one of the Sindhi philanthropist, Bhai Pratap, who was keen that Sindhis should have a linguistic territory in India too, and therefore set up this small town in the Kutch region of Gujarat. Though his dream, was not successful as the Sindhis had by that time already started settling themselves in the bigger cities and were reluctant to move.
The author has actually created a go to reference book for all Sindhis and others, those who want to study the history of Sindhi people. A must read book for those who are interested in the history of partition.

Questions ((Q)rious)

I know this is cheating…:) But I already missed posting yesterday, because of my haywire schedule and lots and lots of work. I am already about to hit the midnight mark, and I also have to post with R. So to write a sweet and short post I have tweaked the title a bit.
We are having white wash in our house these days. Kavya, the curious, is quite amused by the whole thing. Every day when she come and sees things moved from their place, she is quite surprised. She roams around the house asking questions: “Mere toyzz yahan kaise aa gaye?”, “Meri photo yahan kisne laga di?”, “ye uncle kaun hain?”, ”Inka naam kya hai?”…the whole day she jumps around asking questions.
Infact, this whole curiosity thing started few months back. She started asking questions after every sentence. While on road, she would randomly ask about some passerby. Then, “unka naam kya hai?” Then I would say a random name like Suresh/ Ramesh. After some time she realized that I am repeating these names, so she would say- “no..no..kya hai unka naam..?” Now I give a new name every time. It is so funny!
Now she makes proper questions- “ Mumma…Why did you come?”..”Mumma, who is that…What’s his name?”
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At this point I realized that I can actually change the name of the post to Questions from Q(rious)…:D
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Some of her pet questions are:
“Mumma aapke baal aise kyun ho gaye?”
“Mumma, papa kahan jaa rahe hain?”
“Mumma, main kyun nahi gayi papa ke saath?”
And some more intelligent ones like:
“Mumma, mere papa meri naani ke kya hote hain?”
“Mumma, cook aunty kyun nahi aayi?”
“Cook aunty phir kyun nahi aayi?” (If the answer to above question is that she has already cooked and gone..:)
“Mumma, mere yahan par kya ho gaya?” pointing to very tiny red rash on her skin.
“Mumma, uske ghar ka naam kya hai?” When she wants to know where someone lives. She thinks that the name of our house is Gurgaon. So when we are outside anywhere and she wants to go home, she would say Gulgaon chalo..:) Specially for using washroom, she just wants to be back home.
“Mumma, vo kya kah layi thi?” (If she missed hearing something I was talking to someone about)

And the list is endless…
Her questions are pretty entertaining though. It is her learning process. I am enjoying it. I can see that very soon she will be all grown up, and I will miss these cute conversations with her…
Here is one gem I kind of discovered today. I had heard this song earlier, but I am on Diljit Dosanjh music spree since yesterday, and I just discovered the lyrics of this one..:)

The song is “Veer Vaar”- bad internet- unable to post video here..tata..posting before it conks again!

Jai Maata Di

The Navratre- or the chotu Navratre as I call it are going on. Chotu, because, I have seen that the Navratres leading up to Dussera are celebrated on a bigger scale as compared to these ones which come in April. As a kid, I use to fast sometimes on the last day of Navratri or Navami, or on some other occasion like Janamashthami, Shivaratri etc. However, as I grew older I stopped fasting altogether. I could not stay without food for a single day, knowing that I am barred from eating anything. Though there are many other days when I end up having something only by late noon or evening. But if I know I cannot eat- I just cannot not eat…:)

In our home a fast means, consumption of only milk and fruits, that too in limited quantity. There is no “Fast”- Food which is prepared for the fastees. My mother, who is the only person who fasts religiously on almost all so called pious days including Hartalika Teej, Poornima etc, stays without any kind of food the whole day. Milk may be, but no food. However, I have seen a different trend altogether in certain families.

People have something called “fast” food or “vrat” ka khana. So every regular food item is replaced by another supposedly “satvik” version. Regular sea salt is replaced by “Sendha” namak (Rock Salt). There are many goodies and savouries made especially to cater to the Fastees. People keep gobbling them throughout the day and proudly claim that they are fasting. Yesterday, a colleague took out her lunch. She was fasting. It had some yumm aloo sabzi (potatao) and kuttu ki poori (buckwheat pancakes).

The whole point of keeping a fast as per our old rituals is to give our stomachs rest from its daily grind. We eat three meals every day for most of the days. Fasts is a way of giving rest to the digestive system and our body as a whole for a day by abstaining from food intake. I am not sure what the exact purpose is, but in my view fasting means abstinence from the pleasure of eating. I choose to keep away from food the day I fast. It’s a way of self-control, which in a way tests and builds up the will power. I have seen the old ladies and my mom in the family fasting. They restrict their food intake and keep it minimal.

However, these days I see a whole new market of “Fast” food. There are special chips- which can be consumed on such days. Then I see people having special namkeen (a savory) during fasts. I think they just replace the regular salt with rock salt, and the fasting items are ready. There is a whole list of main course items and snacks which are either available ready made in shops, or people prepare at home to consume at various times during a day. Like today morning- I saw a colleague having “makhane” ki nameek for breakfast. Then at around 12 noon she dig out a “Chaulayi” ka laddoo from her bag. Later for lunch she said that she is off to Haldiram to have their Navratri Thaali. She said I should have it too its yum!

I wondered, what was the point of fasting, if I cannot control my taste buds and refrain from having any of my favourite foods while I am fasting?  If I am giving in to my cravings for good food, then in principle I am not fasting. I am just replacing my regular favourite food, with another favourite of mine, with just the different kind of salt.

Infact today on insistence of that colleague I asked husband to go to Haldiram, as I thought let us taste the Navratri thaali- I am not fasting, but I am a big fan of Haldiram’s preparations. So after office we went to Haldiram with great expectations. Did I like the Thaali? NO. I had thought that the food would be simple but tasty. What I got instead was a plate of very spicy and oily food, which had all the ingredients of “fast” food, but was devoid of any simplicity. It was such a disappointment. The rice (vrat ke chaawal ofcourse), had so many black pepper in it, that I had to pick them and separate. The arbi ki sabzi was so oily, I never even make such oily arbi even on regular days. Even the raita was spicy! I would have been happier ordering regular idly dosa, which is one of my favourites at Haldiram.

I felt that it is better to eat and not cheat God and self, than by fasting and consuming equal if not more sumptuous food during the day.

I could not take a picture of the thaali today at Haldiram. Here is an image from Google. Our thaali was the same. Can you see the oil floating on “Arbi” and “Aaloo Sabzi”? and btw, it had shaahi paneer too..:)

Navratri Thaali

Ghost Post        

I sat down today morning to write a post. Was not in the right frame of mind to write something decent, so I closed the document to return to it later. It is already past midnight, and I do not think I can come up with even an average post at this hour. Therefore, today’s would be a ghost post, with a promise, that I will come up with something good with H…:)

FUN

FUN

Earlier plan was to write a post on FM channels. However, Suddenly some work has come up and I have only few hours to get it done. So a small post on some fun we had yesterday.

Yesterday Husband celebrated his 35th Birthday. Last year we went to Goa to celebrate this day, and though it was Goa and booze and sea and sand, the Husband did not enjoy the trip. Actually, Kavya was not even two this time last year..so all trips to the beach were nothing but a monitoring session for us to ensure that she stayed close to us and did not venture too much on her own. She on the other hand was having a gala time! She enjoyed the most! She has tonnes of papads and juice and would sit on a separate chair in the shack and just chill! I remember, Husband put her on his laps for sometime, and she was like..”Kaava ki chair..”. So the girl had a lot of fun while the parents were too busy looking after her. Another reason was that we chose a home stay for the first time. To us, it was a major disappointment, as it lacked any room service, and what is a stay during vacation if you cannot order stuff in room when you like. So overall, he was quite disappointed last time.

This year, I decided to go the conventional way. I decided to throw a small surprise party for him. But since he gets an off on his birthday, a surprise was not quite possible. He had already planned out his day and the second half was free and he was supposed to be at home. I had already invited his best friend and family, my brothers and my SIL for the get together. Since husband was planning to be around that day, I decided to go for my long pending driving license test. Unfortunately, I failed in the test! I will write a separate post on that as it was a dreadful experience and I am scared to go back again to give the test on Wed. I was so stressed after the test, that when I came back home, I had little bandwidth to keep anything hidden from husband, and told him about the party in the evening! The only thing I did not reveal was the cake. Yes, I had ordered a Kindle shaped cake, which is his favourite thing.

The menu was nice and simple- chole bhature and dahivada with some starters and wine, which the SIL had brought. My brothers got some beer, and we were set for the party. After a long long time we celebrated something fun at our home. Generally, we go out on birthdays, but with age I am realizing that now going for lunches and dinners alone is not that much fun. It feels better to have some friends/ family around. With my brother and cousin also living close by now, it has kind of become more fun for us, as they land up on weekends and at such occasions and we all have a reasonably good time together.

Yes, and the most important part of the evening was- the cake surprise. Husband was pleased beyond words to see the cake. He loved it very much! I was so glad, the idea was to make him feel good on his special day. I really believe that birthdays are the days when one should be given very special treatment. So even small things like a well thought of cake can make someone’s day. I was really glad that he liked the cake.

My cousin had brought one of those small lights, which light like a “anaar” throwing sparkles when lighted. So the cake was cut, wine served and then lots and lots of gupshup. The evening was well spent with good food and good company!

Here is the pic of the cake:

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Diwali

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Diwali

This was our 6th Diwali after our marriage. Out of these 6 years, I remember we were supposed to observe the festival only 3 times, since rest of the three times there was some death in the family, and as is the custom, we do not celebrate festivals for one whole year after that. Out of these 3 times, we were here in our own home only twice. K’s first Diwali was celebrated at our inlaws place in Lucknow.

As kids our Diwalis were a lot of fun. There was Pooja, lights, sweets, new clothes, and most importantly people around to celebrate the festival with. We would generally gather on our neighbour’s terrace and observe fire crackers, and have a good time together till late into the night. When I think about it now, what I enjoyed the most was, that there were always a lot of people around to celebrate the festival with. Diwali was celebrated big. People seemed genuinely happy and there was a festive air for days altogether.

I am married into a family who are not too much into enjoying such occasions. I mean, sweets are prepared, lights go up, rangoli is made and all Pooja etc is done, but the fun element associated with the festival is totally ignored. So the two diwalis we celebrated with family, were kind of mundane. I would say quite boring. I will not go into the details of what we did and what we did not. But it should suffice that it ddi not feel like a festival.

This year however, we got a chance to do Pooja etc at our home, and then go to in-laws place for dinner. We put up lights in our home, I made a nice Rangoli, there was Pooja, and all Diwali paraphernalia. However, still, I felt that there was something amiss. It did not feel like festival days for us. I thought about it a bit, because now I want to set trends in my home, for K to see and experience and enjoy these festivities and form some really good memories the way I formed during my growing years.

I am not sure what exactly I will do or add to make festivals special at my home, may be a small party for every festival, where I invite close friends a few days before the actual festival. Or may be, buying meaningful presents for family and friends, like a small indoor plant or something. Or may be donating goodies to an orphanage as it makes me feel very sad, when I see half of the population celebrating and the other half going about their routine jobs of pulling rickshaw, cleaning our cars as if it is just another day. Or may- be doing anyone of these each year or all of them every year during Diwali. Just something which makes it special and worth remembering. I want to make the celebration such that when someone asks us the next day- how was your Diwali- I can happily say –Fantastic!! How do you celebrate Diwali? Anything special which you do which is worth sharing…pls do share…J