A friend of mine once said, “Being close to somebody is about how they make you feel.” This couldn’t be more true. We cling to the people who make us feel strong, special and worthy of good things. We gravitate towards those who can give us what we’re looking for from life – be it fame, money or just a social circle to fall back on. But what happens when, as time passes, they’re no longer the person you used to identify with? Maybe you feel the need to justify their changed behavior and you are wont to accepting them nevertheless. But there’s also a fair chance that you just can’t “go with the flow”. And that’s okay.
Like me, you may be standing at that point in life where your only human interactions are with your family (if you’re an adult living with your folks, that is) and/or select friends via social media. You may be wondering what happened to all those hour long conversations with your bestfriend(s) from school or college. You may be seeing them in a new light. In between all that, you may also be questioning yourself as to “What went wrong?” The answer is nothing. It’s not up to you or me to prevent someone from being who they wish to be. Neither are we obliged to deal with a relation that has grown toxic.
All of my experiences has taught me one important thing, amongst others. If you appreciate or value somebody, make sure they know it. Cause there will come a time when engaging in small talk with said person would be a strain. We’re all caught in the throes of keeping up with today. And so it’s only likely that we would grow and flourish in the way we know how to. It’s only likely that people will grow apart for a hundred different reasons. A shuffle in priorities, conflict of interests, distance and on goes the list. But you can’t possibly hold it against them for choosing to walk away or yourself. In a world of no-strings-attached, guarded conversations and rising number of online “followers”, you ought to consider yourself lucky for having enjoyed something meaningful, even if for a short while.
Sometimes, bestfriends become strangers and families get estranged. That’s how it is.
This is something I should have understood a long time back. Perhaps, it’s something you’d like to hear now.
Anyhow, the festive season is here and I truly wish y’all a fantastic end to this year!
How May I Help You? is a memoir that traces Deepak Singh’s experiences in America, as a well educated individual who is compelled to work a minimum wage job. Through chapters that unravel his descent into American society, we are also pulled into the lives of his colleagues and acquaintances who are themselves struggling to get by in a world that is foreshadowed by apathy and fallacy. Spanning across two years and some, this book brings to light the strong culture shock that Deepak deals with, when confronted by an America quite unlike the picture painted by the big screen. What this autobiography succeeds in doing commendably is emphasizing that people may be separated by oceans and borders but we all couldn’t be more alike due to our shared sufferings and encounters.
As someone who has aspired to live abroad, the synopsis of this book was very intriguing to me. At the same time, I don’t really read autobiographies. That said, How May I Help You? is a very smooth read, captivating because of its simplistic depiction of a foreign society and earnest in its portrayal of a profession that isn’t held in high esteem. The author’s writing style is very straightforward which I appreciate when it comes to non-fiction; I found myself wanting to finish the book in one sitting. The story is endearing to say the least. I’m sure we’ve all felt lost at some point in time and so Deepak’s sentiments resonate with us. To be stranded in a foreign land, unable to form genuine connections with people there, can be a heartrending experience. I really liked how diverse lifestyles were reflected in addition to Deepak’s. All of which help us get a better understanding of the non-glitzy aspect of living in America.
It also draws comparisons to the low income group in India, trying to find a togetherness in the struggles of people across the world. The voice of immigrants and diasporic communities is always a refreshing one and this book is no different. We come to learn just how ignorant people can be about other cultures, misled by popular representations. Kudos to the author for having aptly delineated themes of poverty, loneliness, camaraderie and personal growth. Don’t be intimidated by the harsh realities that are mirrored here; it is one that we should acknowledge. All in all, I really liked this book and it has encouraged me to pick up other memoirs. I would definitely recommend it to everyone; whether you read autobiographies or not, DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS!
Ratings – 4 out of 5 stars
What do you get out of it? An honest glimpse of what it means to be working abroad, devoid of any sugar coating. And a taste of culturally diverse mindsets.
Thank you Penguin India for sending me this book in exchange for a review.
Tales and legends of the old,
Fair warnings oft told,
Unearth some universal truth.
Our hearts, they are meant to sooth.
But this mad, mad mind
Swears by a quest to find
All the worldly wisdom that is amiss.
But in doing so, topples into the abyss.
You were but a small boy,
Ready to be enveloped by the mighty
And the invigorating.
The Heavens convened,
Smiling down at you.
You, who glowed with wonder,
An impish smile lurking on your mien.
They imbued your life with
Experiences to last a lifetime,
Knowing full well, you’d thrive.
The stars aligned, preparing to
Release you to a world that
Could bloom with your thoughtfulness.
Flesh and blood came together,
In a hurry to carve you into all that you could be.
As you trek through the wilderness,
And dive into the ocean,
The Heavens congratulate themselves,
For a job well done.
They had hoped to see you living happily,
But you’ve left them astounded
By conquering every moment.
The Universe of You pulses with potential.
Do yourself proud.
The Princess Saves Herself in this One is a collection of moving poetry that, while experimenting with form and structure, conveys the very poetic sentiments of a woman who braves all of life’s experiences and hands it back to the haters. Split into four different chunks, the poems carry an assortment of themes such as acceptance, loneliness, rejection, motivation, resilience, love etc.
The title of the book was enough to draw me in. I haven’t read a lot of poetry, but something about the raw emotions and out of the box structuring in this one, made me read all of it at one go. Some of the poems barely have ten words and yet, they pack a punch. The poetess has played around with shapes, spacing, grammatical syntax and created a language of her own. A language she uses to her best and appeals to the audience. I believe there’s something in the collection for everyone. Her writing style is impactful and lyrical. You find yourself submerged in the world she creates.
The first section is titled “Princess” and features poetry that echoes a young voice, full of hope and affection seeking. It compels you to empathize with the narrator, as she grieves the loss of loved ones. Similar feelings surface in the next section, wherein, the narrator talks about heartbreak and lovers who never really understood her worth. But then she goes all guns blazing in the third section, which is all about empowerment and fighting back. Lastly, the “You” section showcases poetry that highlights others. What impresses me even more is the fact that Amanda Lovelace has taken the form of poetry and owned it. She has spun pure magic through her words, defying the necessity for stanzas or full stops. In a way, she has used the English language to do her bidding. The number of themes employed in this collection is just overwhelming. I would definitely recommend the book to all those who love poetry. It is definitely worth reading again and again.
I love the sound of a bell.
I love the thought of a getaway.
I awake, inspired.
I feel more eccentric.
I cringe less at cliches.
I’ve learnt what is us.
Everything is better.
Thank you Writers Melon for a copy of this book for review 🙂
Mohit Goyal’s Colorful Notions brings together the essence of roadtrips, the cultural delights of India and the lives of three twenty year olds in this hearty novel. Abhay, Sashank and Unnati, hailing from Delhi, decide to embark on a sojourn that will test not only their physical and mental strengths, but also their perception of life. A meticulously planned trip unravels to show them how wonderfully surprising life can be, as they experience the greatest thrills, griefs and self-awareness that they have ever come to terms with. Each carry their own baggage, ready to learn something new from this drastic change of scene.
As intriguing as the synopsis is, the novel is in fact far more captivating. A roadtrip with India as the backdrop is something I’ve never read before and so I was pleasantly surprised how so many destinations could be covered in the matter of few pages, yet not diluting the experience for the reader. The characterization of the protagonist is so strong that after a point of time, you begin to get fully absorbed into the accounts. That being said, I didn’t like Abhay’s character very much. He is the quintessential antihero. Whereas Sashank and Unnati had decent character arcs, which involved a lot of bickering and patching up.
Much like many other novels, there were cliches in the plot. Like that of the rich brat, the duff, love triangle, stereotypical representations of a community etc. While I didn’t like these elements a lot, the key focus being the roadtrip was encapsulated well. The trip, here, qualifies as a harbinger of change. And I quite liked that analogy – of having them challenge their comforts only to get more attuned with themselves. One other thing that irked me a bit is how easily they were roped in by a production house. That part was not as believable as it could have been made. All in all, it is a fun book, definitely worth your time, for it also contributes factually to your knowledge about India. There were aspects that weren’t great, and some which were done well.
If travels weren’t merely an exploration
Not just an addition to our repertoires.
Could they be a splintering of our souls?
We, who wander places lush with greenery
And dry with a blazing sun.
Surely a sliver of us is left behind
With the people we meet
And the lands we traverse.
For time to come, they will carry us – a spot.
A spot indiscernible to the birds’ eyes
And yet the routine continues.
The pain of separation all too familiar.
Were any harm to befall them,
Then the trauma would rush through us.
Into thousands, if our souls can withstand being split.
What else can it not endure?
“Show them that you are interesting. They’ll love you.”, he said. And then he turned around, walked out of her life.
Irony wasn’t his name.
It may not seem so, but writing a TTT is not easy, especially for people like me, who can’t write in a concise manner. But a college event recently introduced me to this fantastic writing challenge. And I am going to keep trying. Not sure, if this even fits the form of a TTT, but its a first attempt. And I am feeling good so far.