I’d always read the occasional book when I was in preschool and such, but my reading habit really began when I was about 8. I had met with an accident that left me bedridden for about a month and a half, and the only way to kill time was was by reading. My mother got me new books every week, and I read, and I read, and read some more. I had never been the sporty kind, and after the accident, I loathed the outdoors and everything connected to it. My friends were my books, and books, in 90’s Chennai, were Landmark*. I grew up between those shelves. Every time I returned to the store to get another book by my favourite author at that time, I’d discover a new one, and again. I went to the store every month, without fail, to the point where Amma would whine about how my father would have to work extra hours just to feed my reading habit.
Landmark was more than a store where you went to to buy books. It was a place that you went just to spend time in. Sometimes, you enter the store, take a look at the Best-Sellers shelf, flip a few pages from the books there and put them back because who reads popular stuff anyway, and head to your favourite shelf in the store, the shelf you know so well, occasionally stopping on the way to look at other books that aren’t particularly your favourite genre, but they’re books, and all books deserve a look, because who knows what you’ll discover, maybe it’ll even be your new favourite author. Some other times, you go to the store telling yourself that you have come here to buy one particular book and that book only, and you enter, and head straight for that shelf ignoring the other books on the way, pick the book out, feeling victorious and then you pause for a second, look around, see yourself surrounded by books, and you’re like, NO I’LL TAKE THEM ALL, but then realize that even if you can afford to buy the store out, it wouldn’t be the same to have all of them at home so you decide to just sit in the little chair between the shelves and get lost in the stories that surround you.
The last five years, with the change in ownership, online retailers taking over the scene, and brick-and-mortar bookstores all over the world shutting down, Landmark deteriorated. The books were old, the selections, dull and the place had the air of a graveyard. The penultimate time I went there to pick up a couple of magazines, the girl who did my billing told me I had Rs.250 in my loyalty card and asked if I wanted to use it. I’ll use it the next time, I told her.
* (or Fountainhead in Mylapore but it’s a well known fact that Landmark was much better)
I started watching HIMYM right after I finished watching reruns of all 10 seasons of Friends from start to end which was sometime around 2007. Looking back, I ought have just watched all ten seasons of Friends again. Let me put down what I hated about the finale. It’s full of spoilers, but in my opinion, the entire finale episode was a spoiler.
1. WTF BARNEY AND ROBIN:
Two people, both wary of commitment, but completely in love with each other, getting married and living happily ever after. After watching season after season of Barney and Robin pining for each other, being perfect together and screwing it up and then getting back together again and screwing it up and getting back together in the most perfect way, after watching AN ENTIRE FREAKIN’ SEASON dedicated exclusively to their wedding and how their love is true and forever, they’re made to divorce in an exceptionally lame way.
2. WTF MOTHERKILLERS
Let’s write a show on based around a character. Let’s never show that character for 8 years. Let’s make the audience crazy by driving the show into becoming a steaming pile of garbage, knowing that they will stick on *just* for that character. Let’s introduce her, let’s make the viewers fall completely in love with her, while making them think about how perfect she is for the guy who’s been narrating the story of how he met her for 8 years, and then, LET’S KILL HER.
|Replace Chucky with Carter Bays.|
3. WTF TED’S KIDS
You guys are like the worst kids ever, and should be grounded, and made to listen to the story of how your dad met your mother all over again.
4. WTF MARSHALL AND LILY
Kidding. Those two managed to stay adorable.
Anyway, that ends this rant. There are a lot of other fans who thought that the ending “made sense” and was “realistic” and that irrespective of how the show ended, there would always be criticism. Uh, no. If it had ended the manner it had been building itself up to, there was only one way it could’ve finished. No twists, no gimmicks, and no blue fucking french horns.
Apparently the video has been taken off due to copyright violations. The alternate ending goes like this – There’s the wedding scene where Ted talks about how much he loves Tracy and how he’ll love her forever, and it cuts to the Farhampton station where they have their first conversation, cuts back to Ted saying “And that kids, is how I met your mother” and the credits roll. No plot twists, just a mushy, grin inducing happy ending. Call it cliched, but why is it so wrong to go the predictable route? Not everything has to have a twist, or an explosion or death or divorce.I mean, this was a show some of us took life lessons from! I can’t believe the writers thought it would be okay for Ted to be in love/obsessed with Robin THE WHOLE FREAKIN’ TIME he was with Tracy and that Tracy herself was just some consolation prize. It’s not okay for someone to be romantically obsessed with an another person for years together. If this is how the writers wanted the show to end, I hope it was because they had written a sequel series titled “How I Met My Psychiatrist”.
From the first chapter, when Bhima arrives as a child to Hastinapura, it is made obvious to the reader that the fates have never been kind to the second Pandava brother. Dronacharya ignores his talent in archery, Yudhistra dismisses his counsel, Draupadi manipulates his raw love for her and most painfully, the entire Pandava camp celebrates the death of his beloved warrior son, Ghatotkacha.
It is difficult to talk about the flaws in this book, for it is a translation. MT’s famed prose has not been preserved during the process of translation, and as a result, you don’t feel strongly for the characters. There is no anger when Dronacharya picks Arjuna to be the most talented among his students, no righteous outrage when Yudhistra blindly refuses to listen to his counsel, no sympathy when Draupadi carelessly drops the precious Saugandhika flowers that Bhima risks his life to obtain, just to fulfill her whims.
One of the few living memories I have of my paternal grandfather, is of sitting on his lap listening to him narrate the story of Gajendra Moksham to me. One day, Gajendra, the wise king of the elephants, came to the lake to bathe, and fell prey to a hungry crocodile who managed to trap Gajendra’s foot with his enormous mouth. Gajendra cried for help, but to no avail.
“Help me!” he cried to the fish. “Help me from this giant crocodile!”
But they were too afraid of the giant crocodile. “Ask the frogs!” they told him, and swam away.
“Help me!” he cried to the frogs. “Help me from this giant crocodile!”
But they were too afraid of the giant crocodile. “Ask the birds!” they told him, and hopped to safety.
“Help me!” he cried to the birds. “Help me from this giant crocodile!”
But they were too afraid of the giant crocodile. “Forgive us, Gajendra, but we can’t help you.” they told him, and flew away.
Gajendra was now alone. The crocodile tightened his grip on his leg by the minute. He began trumpeting loudly.
“Do not waste your energy, foolish elephant” said the crocodile. “No one can save you now. Didn’t you see the way those cowards ran away from me?”
Gajendra trumpeted even louder.
“Elephant! I have had enough of your trumpeting. I am going to be your death” said the crocodile, and bit harder into Gajendra.
Stranded, and unable to bear the pain anymore, Gajendra called out to The Lord.
“Narayana!” he cried. “Narayana! Help me! Help from this giant crocodile!”
No sooner had Gajendra spoken the words, the clouds thundered, lightning blazed and the heavens parted, making way for Lord Narayana to come to Gajendra’s aid. With a single swipe of his finger, he released the Sudharshana Chakra which killed the giant crocodile, and saved Gajendra.
This Hindu fable is supposed to illustrate Lord Vishnu’s loyalty and benevolence towards his devotees, and is narrated to to tell people that the Lord will not let you down if you call upon him. I can never forget this story – not because of the message it carries, but because of the way my grandfather used to narrate it. I cannot narrate it like him. He made me believe in Gajendra’s helplessness, Gajendra’s pain, and Gajendra’s faith. Truth be told, he could’ve made me believe that the crocodile was a poor, hungry reptile who was deprived by the nasty loud elephant and the masochist god Vishnu if he wanted to.
Today, the more I read, the more I realize that fables and epics are never about the story as much as they are about the story teller. MT Vasudevan’s Bhima: The Lone Warrior, has his story, but it does not have him.
Buy it here
I am, however, worried about my own habit of reading, which, like my writing skills, has plummeted from bad to deplorable. It doesn’t help that I live with a boy who devours books with the kind of swiftness and purpose that I usually reserve for potato chips. Anyway, I’ve decided to undertake a rather ambitious reading challenge for this year – I suppose it’s about time, I’d included “Read More” as one of my vague resolutions for this year, among other wonderfully ambiguous gems such as “Eat Healthy” and “Pursue Hobbies”, but never really got to it.
I’ve a boatload of books that my husband bought for me to fill up my new bookshelf since I didn’t have the heart to move most of my books from my bookshelf at my mother’s place, so the easy part is done. The books I’ve got, but haven’t proceeded beyond page 1 in most/haven’t even removed the plastic wrapping are (I beg you, do not be appalled – there are some, ok, many “HOW HAVE YOU STILL NOT READ THIS” titles in the list):
1. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
2. Bringing up Bodies – Hilary Mantel (The sequel to Wolf Hall, because I’m ambitious like that)
3. Open City – Teju Cole
4. Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling (I’d read 100 pages before I got bored)
5. 1984 – George Orwell
6. On Beauty – Zadie Smith
7. Resurrection Man – Iain Ranking
8. A Spot of Bother – Mark Haddon
9. Bhima – MT Vasudevan Nair
10. 44A Scotland Street – Alexander McCall Smith
11. (Almost done reading) – If It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai – Srinath Perur
I suppose this isn’t, and shouldn’t be, my reading list for the year. I can only hope that this is the beginning of a resurrection of sorts, of both my reading and writing habit – once I finish reading (or decide to give up on reading) each of these books, I’ll post a review here. I suppose a one week timeframe for a book on an average should be about right, which means that there should be a review here each week. Here’s hoping that I stick to it!
[A special Thank You to Rads – she’s taking on a reading challenge at GoodReads and had posted it on her Facebook, which was when I decided to take this up!]
Anyway, so I finally got to getting the blog up and running; The content and the artwork/doodle-work are all original, and I am having a lot of fun with it. I just didn’t want to put it here until I was sure that I would be able to fulfill the “Daily” part of The Daily Dinosaur, but it has been up and running the last two weeks so yay!
Check the blog out/follow it on Tumblr (HINT HINT) here -> http://dinosaurdaily.tumblr.com.
The Dinosaurs are also on Instagram, so if you’d like having a dinosaur or two around photos of coffee taken from interesting angles, you could follow them there as well -> @thedailydinosaur
I also have a Tumblr in my name (you should see the link up in the navigation bar as well), which is essentially a compilation of the good stuff I’ve read on the internet. I’d like to think it’s a good place to waste time in, so if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to follow it here -> http://lavanyamohan.tumblr.com
Finally, I’m afraid to note that this blog will continue to exist – my capacity to write bad humour in long form hasn’t been exhausted just yet.
|Say Crack Again.|
The questions are more or less typical depending on the person asking it – unmarried acquaintances and friends want to know everything about my new domestic setup, older couples want to know if I am “having fun” (after which they say “Enjoy this time, you will not get it again” the same way one would to a prisoner on death row), and grandmothers want to know about the goings-on in my bedroom.
A couple of days ago though, I was asked if I’ve learned anything. I have actually: To begin with –
The eight months or so that I was engaged, my father gave me a free hand at office to take time off whenever I wanted to. I suppose it was wise on his part to leave me alone because:
a. I am counter-productive to his practice as is, and
b. having a distracted me around would’ve made his office like one of those sitcoms where there’s this strict boss but everything goes wrong for him and the audience finds it hilarious and keeps laughing except it’s not a sitcom and there’s no audience and he might lose all his clients and we might be too broke to have the wedding and OHMYGOD LET ME OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE.
So when I wasn’t in the middle of wedding shopping or wedding running-behind-the-tailor or wedding hanging-out-with-fiance, Amma said I should take the time to learn a few things about “running a household” and “taking charge of the kitchen” or she wouldn’t be able to step out in society without being referred to as The Mother Of The Daughter in Law Who Can’t Cook Haha and then be scarred with that reputation forever. I was quite enthusiastic of course – I had been watching a lot of Nigella and surely Domestic Goddess-ness couldn’t be that hard (especially considering the number of cupcake bakers on Facebook); and so I decided to take the time to learn new things. Unfortunately, all I learned was how to mercilessly burn three pans while endeavouring to master a brownie recipe and leaving a permanent stain on my mother’s new frying pan trying to make Aloo Methi. While I’d like to think of these things as tangible memories that I’ve left behind for my mother so that she can recall fond memories of my presence in that kitchen and then cry some happy tears, my sister tells me that the moistness in my mother’s eyes are not from bittersweet happiness, but relief.
A day or two after the husband and I came back from our honeymoon, I decided the time had come for me to exhibit my skill in the kitchen. Unfortunately, before I could as much as light the stove, I tripped over the metal door stopper and scraped a lot of skin on my foot resulting in a fair bit of bleeding (I held on to my trademark ladylike composure though, I doubt anyone could’ve hopped, skipped or squealed with the grace that I did) and I had to be taken to the hospital by my mother-in-law for a proper dressing and a really nasty tetanus shot.
Amma dropped by the next day, and my mother-in-law gently patted my head and told her about how I was a poor thing who had to unnecessarily experience pain and go to the hospital, all because I had wanted to cook something. “Imagine what would’ve happened” said Amma thoughtfully, “if she had actually cooked”
[More lessons on married life shall be posted here as and when they are learned]
I got engaged to be married last November. The engagement was a rather unique event, since it happened without the boy actually being present. This was because of multiple reasons, including the fact that my fiancé was in New York at that time and my parents, understandably, wanted to close the deal before he understood what exactly he was marrying into.
Anyway, once he came back, our parents hosted a party for friends and family to introduce us as a couple. On the day of the party, because of a gaffe on the part of the salon where I got my hair done, my fabulous blow dry looked fabulous for exactly 10 minutes before I ended up looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family. I wasn’t happy, but after the first 10 minutes, I didn’t let it bother me. This evening wasn’t about me, or the fact that I resembled a sari-clad scarecrow. It was about the fact that people wanted to celebrate two individuals who had just decided to spend their lives together! Right?
Throughout the evening and for quite a few weeks after, I got a lot of people coming up to me to laud me on my not breaking down (“I don’t know how you did it!”), to the point where you’d think I’d just single-handedly saved a village from a Tsunami while discovering the cure for cancer and breaking Michael Phelps’ freestyle record simultaneously, as opposed to have just had a bad hair day. Some more optimistic people, in their bid to cheer me up told me, “At least it wasn’t the wedding!”, because God forbid there’s a slip in the way I looked on that day, then you know, my whole life is likely to be in tatters.
A wedding today, has evolved, no, mutated from being a celebration of family and commitment to this major party where the focus is only on one person— the bride. In case you haven’t noticed, there aren’t any wedding magazines around— only bridal, with maybe half a page (if they’re feeling generous) dedicated to the other sundry details, such as the concept of marriage, or the groom. Every single one of those bridal magazines insist that you can never be good enough for ‘your big day’, never mind that your partner liked you the way you had been all this time. You might be skinny, they say, but are you a toned skinny? Your skin might be clear, but is it glowing, sun-kissed and radiant? Your outfit might be pretty, but is it Designer (and roughly the cost of an island in the Maldives)?
Me neither, which apparently makes me a poor naive country boor hick-bumpkin, because clearly I wasn’t aware of the fact that I have only one day to be happy, or that there are going to be photographs (PHOTOGRAPHS!) or that my wedding album is the only legacy I can leave for the next seven generations that are poised to spring out from my uterus and that unless I want to be referred to as “Double Chin Kollu Paati” by my great grandchildren, it becomes my foremost responsibility to do everything I can to resemble Indian Sari Princess Barbie.
Comrades, I confess. I’ve been dreaming about my wedding even before I was engaged, okay, even before I was even legal. Yes, I wanted the pretty clothes, I wanted the big party, but most of all, I wanted to be happy. Today I’m on the other side— I’ve seen enough sarees to go colour blind, looked at enough decor themes to make me wonder if I’m organizing a wedding or a full scale Disneyland musical, listened to enough wedding “advice” to compile an 8 book series and it all makes me want to burst multiple blood vessels, when the truth is that I am over the moon about getting married. You see, Bridezillas aren’t born. They are made.
It’s only when you take a step back do you realize that it’s just one day. One day. All that really matters is what is going to happen in the days, years and months that follow and not whether your earrings are colour coordinated with the stage arrangements. I really don’t want to go into my wedding like I’ve been preparing for some covert siege attack (or a reality television show) where failure will result in dire consequences. I don’t want to remember my wedding as a day where I lost whatever little left of my hair worrying about arm fat or the caterer, but as a day where I had fun, and I was happy. If that means not having my Disneyland perfect wedding, then so be it. I’d rather have a Disneyland perfect marriage.