Posted in Bibliomania

The Little Paris Book Shop

I like reading, is an understatement. I have always found books as very good companions, they are a little island of my own away from the cacophony of the world. When I decided to take a break from work, I started buying more books, thinking I will have a lot more time to read. Not that I do not buy books otherwise. I can say I buy books occasionally and the occasions come very often. I went slightly overboard with the thought of being on a break, I bought War and Peace, which I always wanted to read, and the series on BBC rekindled my desire. I bought two copies of the book, two different version of translations in English, along with other books. One of the copies was a gift for a friend, I often pass on my afflictions to my friends and trouble  them, ‘go on read it ‘. When I was paying for the books, the guy who was taking the payment was greater book enthusiast than me. He was very happy to see me with two versions of translation thought I was going to read both the versions of translation and recommended a few other translations, eventually I did mention that only one of them was for me and the other was a gift. I love these little chitchat at the till with another shopper or with employees at the till, where someone says I have to read this one, oh you should read this…. book, or good choice I love the book, have you seen the film which has been made of this book…

It is  surprising that I have not written about  books or reading on the blog. Neither have I read any book in the last three months. I have often stood in front of the bookshelf and sifting through the books that I have not read and pondering, which one should I read. None of the books would  pique my interest and then berating myself for having the time and not reading, I would try and make an effort by randomly picking up a book. But the book would not be able to hold my interest for more than 5 pages. I would go on to do something else. I would wonder may be it is a case of a reader’s Block.

I was rather feeling blue last week and moping about in the house,going  from Garden, to Kitchen and settling in  living room. I sat there sweeping a glance across the room, to find an activity. I sat with a lap top with the intention of doing a research on gardening in order to tend to my ailing rock alpines, when a tiny little Blue spine caught my attention sandwiched between Expo 58 and Unexpected Lessons in Love. On finishing with my work on laptop I  walked over to the shelf and picked up the book. It ‘s one of the books I bought to read during my break. I often sat in front of the shelf with a intention of finding an interesting read and have  looked past the book. And on that instance I found the synopsis and the blue tinted cover of the book Eiffel Tower very beckoning. I started reading the book and was captivated.  Viola! my reader’s Block ended.

It is a kind of book I would read , curled up on a sofa with a nice cup coffee , read slowly and fall asleep nestling the book or having fallen asleep with the book sprawled all over my face. When I say I fall asleep, it is  not because the book is boring or not my type, but the book is therapeutic, it  lures you in to a charming little world, cures you  out of boredom, with its beautiful writing.  There are parts of story which I cannot relate to or dislike because it is out of character of the protagonist  , but the narration is charming , witty at times and full of memorable quotes. The book  is an ode to books and book lovers. In the genre, I would string it along  with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It introduces the reader to a wonderful protagonist, Monsieur Jean Perdu, who runs a book barge on River Sienne in Paris and calls it a Literary Apothecary.   There are other interesting characters in the book like the very Monsieur Jordan, who has attained  fame at 21 and is not able to handle it.

The books is scattered with wise and catchy  quotes, that’s what is capturing my interest and  making me read the book. I am just quoting a few lines below, from the book. The book did cure me of boredom.

Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone.”

” A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novel to the appropriate ailments, that’s how I sell books.”

” You see I sell books like medicine. There are books that are suitable for a million people, others only for a hundred. There are even books written for one person only.”

Posted in Travellogue

Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu-Kumbakonam

Today I thought I will write about Kumbakonam. By the time I was nearing Kumbakonam and the counts of temples visited was going up, the heat and the temperature was rising . Braving the rising temperatures, scorching Sun and  driving around the tar roads, I saw beautiful sights  and experiencing the surrounding of Indian countryside, roads lined with trees, surroundings with coconut groves, banana groves, rivers, saw  a beautiful moonrise in the Paddy fields, glowworms referred in Tamil as Minmini Putchi  floating over the farm. These are sites which I had long forgotten. The moon rise reminded me of a tradition in Southern India called Nila Sappaddu, means Moon Meals, referring to a tradition of  eating food under open skies in the night with the Moonlit sky and stars. I have done that so many times with my cousins at my grandparents home on the terrace or in the garden, where one of the aunts and uncles will tell a story and all the little ones will have food under the Moonlit sky.

The first trip that I took on my break from work was in March and we are nearing end of May and I am now hard pressed on time for finishing my account of my soul searching trip to Southern India.

Now, I am looking forward to our little trip to Inner Hebrides in end of May. Please click the below link for full details of trip to Kumbakonam

Temple towns of Tamil Nadu-Kumbakonam

Posted in Musings

Being a Childfree woman

I have often humoured advices, comments, and curious glances from friends, family and mostly from social acquaintances on being  a childfree couple.  I have gritted some out, laughed at some,  worked out methodical ways of weeding those comments out and forgetting them because believe it or not, some of the comments and advices are invasive and sometimes are border lining on being offensive.  They often rear their heads now and then on social occasions. I have accepted these as being part of my life, of something which I am going to  have to be answerable to  or explain for the rest of my life as having made a very different life choice. I have never given these comments  much importance earlier or analysed them.

Yet for the past one year or so  these have  started bothering me or irk me at some level. I suppose these incidents have been in my sub conscious mind and one such question at a social gathering, prompted me to start my research on the internet. I found many website, social forums, for people who do not have children with or without choice, and found out that there is term to call people like me, Childfree or Childless!! There are support groups for us, there are forums which are not so fond of us.

I am a proud PANK, – Professional Aunt, No Kids. Most of my dear and close friends are not child free, and I am a lovely aunt to a pretty niece and a boisterous nephew. I would like to point out my relationship with my friends and brother s family has not been effected either by their or  my life choices. I have the most amazing time with their kids and  I am fairly confident that they are very fond of their Quirky Aunty Usha, asides from the fact the my friends, brother and sis-in-law , often have a feeling ‘That Aunty Usha needs a little chat’. I have never felt being left out in anyways or feel out of place around them.

I was posed a question at a social gathering at a friends house , which has prompted this post. I was standing with a group of ladies, a  bunch of little munchkins playing behind us. I was narrating my soul searching trip to India with all animosity, I was interrupted by a new social acquaintance, ‘Which one is yours?’, in my eagerness to finish my anecdote, I quickly turned around to check if there was anything mine, and realised she was referring to the kids, I replied ‘None’ and carried on chattering. It is later in the night when I was thinking about the incident, made me wonder, why is it when a women is of certain age, it is assumed, she must have a ‘Mini Me’ running around somewhere. I have also observed that I am subjected to more scrutiny on this subject than my husband. I have often been subjected to comments  as a couple you are selfish,  as a woman you are incomplete, is your husband ok with not having kids, you are the lucky one aye, you will regret it one day, I suppose you should go to this doctor he/she is very good, why don’t you try surrogacy ? You do not know true love till you have one of your own? I am so sorry you don’t have children….. I have  never discussed these earlier for fear of being mistaken to be resentful, until recently. I mentioned the innocent question to my friend and the feelings associated with the question.She suggested I should write a post about it.

When I look at popular  blogs and forums written by Childfree, it starts with a statement, we love children…., just like how I have mentioned about having fun with kids . Guilty.  I suppose we feel we are answerable for our choices and we need to explain our  love for children. I have done it too.

Many of the forums talk about sometimes loosing out  friends, and end up with nothing in common , because you are the odd one out. I suppose I have not  experienced it with friends. I have experienced awkwardness in social gathering with social acquaintances’, and in most of the cases I  probably am the only childfree in the room, the topics are normally restricted to school runs, private schools, ballets, potty training etc, where I suppose I have very little to contribute, so I end up listening patiently, then circulating in the room, and then sitting with the little ones and playing with them, which ends up in more comments,’ Oh you are so great with children, you should have one. ‘ Right, playing and engaging kids for half an hour does now qualify me to be a parent. I may not be a parent, but I do know the challenges of parenting and I love and admire all my lovely friends, whom I have watched cope with the challenges of parenthood and learn the nuances of parenting. And they are doing a wonderful job of it. Alternatively, if I stay away from kids to avoid such comments, there are occasional head bobs, narrowing of eyes and hushed whispering.

I recently joined in a group on Whatsapp for classmate from University. I was thrilled to reconnect with my batch mates and exchange a few banter now and then, talking about ye old days. Yesterday, being Mothers Day  messages poured in to the group. I am not Mothers day averse. I always like to celebrate mothers day with my Mother, or my Mother-in-law and wish my friends who are lovely mommies. One of the messages on the group was a tad in bad taste, and lacked compassion. I am pretty certain the person who forwarded the message did not realise it, does not think the same and has nothing personal against me. It probably was a forwarded message from someone else. It left me wondering, how there was a thin line between celebration and insolence, sometimes  we cross the line in self importance, unknowingly.

” From a mom to Mom.. We traded sleep for dark circles, salon haircuts for pony tails, Long baths for quick showers, late nights for early mornings, designer bags for school bags and we wouldn’t change a thing!!!We don’t care about what we gave up and instead Love what we get in return!! That s what being a mom is all about!.

I am not a mother, I used to work very long hours up until recently, I  had dark circles. I left for work at 7 am and came back home by 10 pm on a regular basis. I did not have time to go to salon or have long baths, many a days I did not have time to eat lunch.  I have often got discount cards  to get a make over , from Salons near my workplace  whenever I walked past them. I have often wondered I  must be looking a mess since it happened to me on more than one occasion.  I have designer  bags, Guilty again . The bags are gifts from my brother and my husband, which I do not think have any bearing to my child bearing or non child bearing capacity. I loved my work and was passionate about it. It was my choice. So is motherhood, in the present days. I am not trying to belittle motherhood. I know and understand how as being  a childfree woman I am more answerable to the society than a man , so is motherhood more pressurising on a woman than a man.

I have personally known people who have gone through tough times and have to accept being childless, is the mothers days sometimes not uncompassionate to those? Should there be a Childfree women/men s day like a mother s day or father s day ? Are we forgetting our humaneness in all this? Are we forgetting free will?

I have made certain choices in life, I am not ashamed of my choices neither am  I sad nor selfish. I am happy with my choice, I would not want to explain or answer every now and then for my life choices. I am human too.






Posted in Museums and Art Galleries

A visit to National Portrait Gallery

I have become an ardent fan of  Magic FM s breakfast show presented by Nick Snaith. Last week as  part of the May Bank Holiday, Magic was hosting all week event called Magic Payday, where by a phone number would be picked up randomly and that said number would win GBP 10,000 pounds. I have been told by a friend that we should inculcate positive thoughts, it is a theory called Law of attraction, if we think positive, we attract positivity and  by merely thinking something, we can will it to happen. Apparently, we all have the power in our mind. For instance, if we think negative, we beget negative, and if we think positive we get positive outcome. I have often wondered if this is true. I do believe we should have a positive outlook and positive frame of mind, but whether we can make something happen by positive or negative thoughts, I am not so sure. I believe good and bad happen in life, how we handle  is what is important. Sometimes things go bad and it creates negativity and makes me react negatively, on which I have control over. I can choose to be positive, I am not sure if I can will something positive to happen or stop negative things to happen. I am currently in high crest of  positive waves,  I decided I was going to register my phone number and give this theory a try. I registered my number without a doubt that I was going to be the winner of Magic Payday. I was certain in my heart that I was going to get a call from Nick Snaith. I drove my husband mad with my air of positivity – ‘ Nick Snaith was going to call me on Friday morning, to tell me I have won 10K’. On Friday morning I waited with the phone in my hand and listening to Magic FM. When the actual winner was announced on the radio, I called my husband and informed him my positive thoughts had not done the trick  to make us win Maypay, but just cost us the text money. We both had a hearty laugh over it and perhaps I still have a long way to go in discovering the power of  mind. Yet I enjoyed the whole experience of positivity, registering my phone for the Mayday Pay day and waiting for the call, in my heart I was certain, I was going to be the winner and I would be getting the call. In spite of not getting the call, I had a wonderful Friday.

I have a number items on my  list of things to do on ‘My  To Do while  on a break’. Its been two months since I have stopped working and I decided it was high time I started to get on the top of my To Do list.  One of them being visit museums and art galleries on my own as many times as possible during the break. I have been meaning to visit the National Portrait Gallery and since there was an exhibition of Dutch Flower artist, with that positive vibe charging in my veins, I decided it was the time to visit the Gallery.

The exhibition is beautiful, it consists of 17th to 18th century Dutch artists’ work, but just flower art work. The artwork was just marvellous, so vibrant and life like. The artists’ had captured the still life, in the form of flowers and vases, and insects around them. In some of the artwork, the paintings of flowers in glass vase had reflections of windows/doors on them, in some there were tiny lady bird bug, or a dew drop of flowers, a droplet of water on the sill. Such attention to detail, was really enthralling. The exhibit is small, but is very captivating. The exhibition is on till 29th August 2016, if you are interested in flowers and paintings, and you are in London, I would urge you to pay a little visit to the National Portrait Gallery.

Once I finished viewing the exhibition, I decided I would pick up an artist/art work of my choice and look at that artwork in peace and in leisure. I chose John Constable’s Hay wain painting. I have a special admiration for  John Constable’s paintings, the way he paints the clouds ,the countryside and woods. And Hay wain, my personal favourite ,  with its rural backdrop and mill, is very comforting. And every time I see Hay Wain, I always find a new minute detail which I missed the previous time.

The next one, I saw was Claude Monet’s Thames with Westminster. The painting with its shadows and shrouding mist has an air of romance/mystery. I always find it very amusing how an impressionist paintings when you look at them closely are just brush strokes with no specific form, yet when you view  it from a distance it takes a beautiful form, a lovely scene, and has a depth to it. Like life, when you add the little moments together, they make a beautiful day or a beautiful life.

The last one I saw was Gainsborough s unfinished painting of his daughters with a cat. I was not intending to look at anything else , yet I stopped at this painting  with out knowing it was Gainsborough, to admire the work. There was something captivating about the girls’ gaze, and then  I read the title it said ‘ the painters daughters with a cat’. I looked closely but there was no cat in the painting, there just a shadowy  outline of the cat, hence it is unfinished.

After the exhibition, I met a friend at a Turkish restaurant for  dinner. The dinner was delicious, the company was great. My hypothesis , positive thoughts and outlook leads to positivity, since I had a wonderful afternoon and evening. I read somewhere a quote , I am not sure whose. I love the quote

“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”