02 February 2016

music, poetry, tv

i heard celine dion's 'my heart will go on' last night at the circus (no, it wasn't really fitting, but hey, 'this is mumbai my friend'!!) and i found myself automatically singing along. i cannot remember the last time i sung along to a song.. probably because i have totally stopped listening to english music here. hindi/bollywood songs just don't do anything for me, so i generally don't listen to any music anymore. which is quite sad. i enjoyed tracy chapman, dido, travis, beck, jason mraz.. i should make more of an effort to play this stuff here, even if it is not readily available on tv/radio.. i want my kids to be exposed to stuff other than bollywood 'item numbers'!

the lack of music in my life these days also reminds me that i have stopped reading poetry and watching tv shows (house, cis, the good wife, big bang theory).. there must be so many new shows out now, and i just don't have a clue! this will be harder to remedy than listening to music.. but i should try. the only reason i have given up on all this, is that they are not readily available here. i should just pick one show, and i am sure i can either find it on tv or online.. it all seems like such a headache, and i am happy to just read on my kindle.. but when i randomly hear some music, or listen to people talking about such and such show, i feel a pang for everything that i gave up..

#microblog mondays

27 January 2016

one amazing thing

i just finished reading 'one amazing thing' by chitra divakaruni, and i really enjoyed it. i was doubly happy as after 'mistress of spices', which i totally LOVED, i hadn't read anything of hers that matched up. while 'one amazing thing' is not in the same league as 'mistress of spices', it was good. and it made me think about which stories matter to me, which stories are the pivots of my life, upon which other stories are built..

before reading the novel, i read several reviews that questioned the stories shared by a motley group of persons stuck in a visa office during an earthquake. the reviewers apparently did not find anything 'amazing' about the stories shared by the characters. what is amazing is surely subjective.. and probably largely dependent upon circumstances, your mood at the moment, how you feel about the persons around you and what you are willing to share with strangers.

also, our stories, along with us, will change. what i might have shared as a pivotal event while at university, may not be the same story i will share today. the stories i discuss with fellow moms will differ to those i discuss with childhood friends. the embarrassing event i could share with a complete stranger may not make it to any other ears.

anyone who ever made up stories fellow train/bus passengers, who wondered about the lives of those sitting besides them in cafes/libraries or those shopping alongside them at the supermarket, will enjoy this book :)

#microblog mondays

11 January 2016

2015 in books

signing in to goodreads today, it showed me my year in books -i loved it! (the best part was probably seeing all the covers of the books i'd read, which i wasn't able to see on my kindle!!) they had stats like shortest/longest book, the most popular book on goodreads, the highest/lowest rated, and so forth. some of the books i had forgotten that i had read in 2015, and it was just a nice reminder.. each book brought back different feelings/thoughts..

goodreads is a great website to keep track of my books, and to come across new ones! yay :)

#microblog mondays

08 January 2016

*happy* new year!

my parents flew in on dec 31, which was the best new year gift ever :) i hope to continue seeing family throughout the year, inshallah. the end of 2015 saw much discrimination and antagonism globally, and i can only pray that 2016 will be a better, more peaceful year.

i saw a post about happiness jars by elizabeth gilbert on facebook, and i loved the idea. i haven't found an ideal jar/container yet, so i have stored my slips of paper in a cute pouch for the moment. just writing out the little moments/incidents that i am thankful for makes me happier. i imagine that looking through this collection on a blah/sad day will be the equivalent of chicken soup for the soul, or looking through precious photo albums from the past :)

happiness begets happiness, so recording these moments can only bring on more such moments. and this ties in well with me wanting to practice more gratitude and optimism with the twins. so..  let the happiness begin!

21 December 2015

the beginning of the end..

m’s best friend has been sabotaged.. in a bid to get him to stop sucking his thumb, H applied some anti-sucking lotion on it while he was asleep at night. m woke up a couple of times asking for water, and finally told me that there was a ‘smell’ somewhere.. this morning he had the most piteous look on his face, his mouth all down turned and quivering, unable to figure out what had suddenly happened to his thumb and why there was an awful taste in his mouth.

I had to physically stop myself from hugging him, wiping off the medicine and telling him everything was fine. Sigh. I may be a bigger wuss than him! What will I do later, when bad things out of my control upset him??!


01 December 2015

topography: paper versus ebooks

over the weekend, we took the kids to a bookstore after eons (i usually buy books for the twins on my own). i let them sit on the floor and go through all the children's books, while i selected a couple of story collections for them. in the midst of this, H wondered whether it was necessary to buy yet more books for them (they do have a fair few books, i know :P, and books are far from cheap here) when i could simply download stories for them on my kindle or phone (H has a few such stories on his phone, and the twins love them). my immediate response was that paper books in NO WAY can be replaced by technology, particularly for young kids.

i love books. i love to read. and, since moving to india, i love my kindle, because it is a means for me to read; without public libraries and second hand book stores that sell literary fiction (david mitchell, kate atkinson, sara gruen, linda grant etc), ebooks on the kindle were the only alternative i had. plus, living in a tiny apartment, there is no possibility of recreating a library for myself here.

intuitively, i know there is a difference between how i read a paper book, and an ebook. without holding the book in my hands, feeling its weight, turning the pages one by one or a few at a time to look for something in particular, my reading experience is different. i do not recall specific incidents/quotes from ebooks as well as i could from real books.

after this brief conversation with H, i did some googling, and i found this wonderful article that totally sums up my experience, with lots of further research and information. read it!

my favourite parts:
people report that when trying to locate a particular piece of written information they often remember where in the text it appeared. We might recall that we passed the red farmhouse near the start of the trail before we started climbing uphill through the forest; in a similar way, we remember that we read about Mr. Darcy rebuffing Elizabeth Bennett on the bottom of the left-hand page in one of the earlier chapters. 

In most cases, paper books have more obvious topography than onscreen text. An open paperback presents a reader with two clearly defined domains—the left and right pages—and a total of eight corners with which to orient oneself. A reader can focus on a single page of a paper book without losing sight of the whole text: one can see where the book begins and ends and where one page is in relation to those borders. One can even feel the thickness of the pages read in one hand and pages to be read in the other. Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there's a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled. All these features not only make text in a paper book easily navigable, they also make it easier to form a coherent mental map of the text. 

In contrast, most screens, e-readers, smartphones and tablets interfere with intuitive navigation of a text and inhibit people from mapping the journey in their minds. A reader of digital text might scroll through a seamless stream of words, tap forward one page at a time or use the search function to immediately locate a particular phrase—but it is difficult to see any one passage in the context of the entire text... the screen only displays a single virtual page: it is there and then it is gone. Instead of hiking the trail yourself, the trees, rocks and moss move past you in flashes with no trace of what came before and no way to see what lies ahead. 

"The implicit feel of where you are in a physical book turns out to be more important than we realized," says Abigail Sellen of Microsoft Research Cambridge in England and co-author of The Myth of the Paperless Office... At least a few studies suggest that by limiting the way people navigate texts, screens impair comprehension.
i will ply the twins with as many books as i can :) there are many advantages of e-reading and there are lovely apps for kids, which i am happy for them to make use of, but not as a replacement for paper books. the joy of watching them turn the pages of their books, move back and forth to ask questions and confirm something, is something that technology does not (yet?) inspire.  

#microblog mondays

26 November 2015

happy me, happy kids

“kids who have happy parents are more likely to be happy. That's pretty awesome motivation to figure out how to be happier” 

I read this on a blog yesterday, and thought, Yes! It is definitely awesome motivation to figure out how to be happier. I remember being pregnant, and being constantly told, ‘be happy, think good thoughts, it will affect your child!' 

With every fibre of my being, I want my children to be happy, to see wonder everywhere, to create their own joy and let misfortune wash off their backs easily. I was an anxious and timid child, and I don’t want my kids to go down that path. 

This article in time magazine is super helpful, listing 10 steps on raising happy kids, with lots of additional links. It’s long, but worth a read. The list of 10 steps is repeated at the end in brief, in case you are as overwhelmed with info as I was! Moreover, the steps are likely to make both parents and children happier :P 

The things I will try: 
Teach (and practice) gratitude 
Praise effort rather than achievement 
Teach (and practice) optimism 
Active listening and labeling 
More play time 
More laughter 

this poster/infographic on the same topic is also cute and informative.