Monthly Archives: May 2010

>Because books really do make a difference!

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Books and I go a long time back. And when Dipali showed me the reason to share how long, I was more than happy to.

I fell in love with the world of words when I was a baby. I don’t know what brought us together – books and me. Was it the first storybook I got from my grandfather – a book on Jesus Christ. I was too young to read the alphabet then, forget a book. But loved how he would lie down on his bed in the afternoon, and read out the story to me. I hung on to every word like it was the gospel… Perhaps, it was how my mother couldn’t sleep before reading two pages of a magazine, a novel, a paper – whatever she could lay her hand on. Perhaps, it was how my much older cousins fought over Sydney Sheldons, or my sister hid her Mills & Boons from me because I was too young to read them then. Perhaps, it was all of those reasons that made me turn to books.

I devoured Enid Blytons in school, but there is one book that hooked me to reading for life – Rebecca. I had received an abridged version of Daphne Du
Maurier’s classic as a return gift on my cousin’s birthday (oh yes, in those days they gave books for return gifts, not plastic toys!). I was in second standard then, 7 or 8, I guess. And I had never before read anything like this. The narrayive style of the book was actually life changing. Because, it made me want to say in words everything I did, as if I was writing about my life in the stream of consciousness style. I faltered for words and found myself looking for a vocabulary that exceeded my years. And that’s when I truly fell in love with what words could do. And how.

It’s crazy, but I still do it – turn my life into a book in my head! Anytime I’m alone, I’m spinning sentences about how I would describe what I am doing, or seeing, or feeling right at that moment. And it’s all because of a book I read more than 20 years ago!

Of course, I later read the unabridged version of Rebecca and loved that too. But not in a life-changing way.

Different books have different impacts on you depending on where you are in life. Eat, Pray, Love came to me at a time when I was best placed to receive it as I did. I was feeling a little diffident, a little despondent and very lost.

The book takes you through the inward and outward journeys of a woman – one spiritual, the other sensual. And being the kind of person who believes in yin and yang balance, the two journeys, conjoined at the start as at the finish, made total sense to me, even spurred me to open up to similar experiences in my life.

And I’m telling you this for a very good reason.

BlogHer and BookRenter, a company that rents textbooks to college students, have joined forces because we know that books make a difference.
From May 3-28, together we are working to make a difference in children’s lives by generating new books for children who need them most — via the nonprofit organization First Book.
Want to help?
For every answer we receive in the comments to the following question, one book will be donated:

What book has had the greatest impact on your life?

That’s right: All you need to do is leave a comment, and BookRenter will donate a book to a child in need — up to 1,000 books.
Want to help even more? You can blog about our campaign, then add the specific URL of your post to Mr. Linky and we’ll add another book to the tally.
Because books really do a make a difference.
There are still a couple of days till the 28th- please do leave a comment, and blog too!

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>What’s the speed of love?

>How much time does it take to get attached to people, to fall in love with things?

Three months (only??) in Delhi and I’m already fond of the people I work with. I can actually think of them and smile – the girl who’s a good mimic and can crack me up with her jokes; the guy who loves the girls he puts on the pages; the simple guy who will work only by the rulebook and nothing less; the efficient girl who impresses me with so much; the father like figure who will admonish me like I’m a kid; the fashionista, the perfectionist, the party-goer, the figure conscious one – so many people!

I’m already fond of the people with whom I return home in the office cab, the guy who makes sure everyone sits in the right cab, reaches home safely, all without causing a rupee’s loss to the company.

I’m already fond of the canteen guy who smiles wryly everytime I screw up my nose at parval aaloo or baingan ki sabzi.

I’m already fond of my hour of solitude in the metro. What if I had to reach work in 15 minutes? I’d miss observing so many people – their expressions, their appearances, their conversations.

I’m already fond of my desk, my work station, my log in id, the paintings on the wall… All in just three months?

Do you love the space you inhabit, the people you meet everyday, the faces you see?

>And some days, I wish I was a man

>I love being a woman. On most days. Other times, I feel frustrated, angry and very helpless. Because I am a woman.

A few days ago, I got free early from work and decided to take an auto to the closest decent eating place. I learnt a long time ago that trying to make friends at office is futile – and anyway, that’s not what I am there for. So there I was, all alone in an auto, happy at the thought of digging into a plateful of pasta and chicken. I got the auto right oustide the office, and we were speeding off to my place of choice. At the first red light, an SUV stopped a little away from my auto – black tinted glasses, blaring music – the vulgar signs of money, brazenness and danger in a city like Delhi. I didn’t pay much attention to it, till the guy in the passenger seat opened the door and signalled at me. The door shut when I averted my face. I glanced back. This time the guy in the rear seat had opened the door and was jeering at me. I ignored, because in that situation it was the best I could do. And prayed the light would turn green and the monster SUV would zip away and not chase me.

And that’s what happened – they drove away, after rolling down the windows, staring some more at me from their moving cars and laughing, as if it had been some kind of cruel joke. Those guys in the SUV, perverts obviously, were probably just enjoying the stricken look on my face when they opened and shut their car doors menacingly. They probably were getting their kick by just scaring a girl. And I’m supposed to thank my lucky stars they didn’t intend any worse than that!

A little way ahead, about half a kilometre, another car slowed down next to the auto. A sedan, this time. There was no one but the guy in the driver’s seat. By the looks of him, you’d call him decent, almost suave. But he peered inside the auto several times, giving away the truth behind that face. Unlike the men in the SUV, who seemed physically threatening, this guy was just checking me out. Not just checking out the way a guy would harmlessly check out a girl, but probably, trying his luck. You know, if I would give him the cue to stop the car, haggle a price (or maybe not) and get in with him. And he probably thought he could think that because I was alone in the auto at, what, 8.45 pm? I’ve never been looked at like that. And some part of me felt shamed for having given such notions to a man. Some part of me felt absolutely disgusted. And all of me felt miserable.

There’s no justification for a man to treat a woman like that, to make her feel so vulnerable, so frighteningly unsafe, so helpess in just a glance and a gesture. I felt stupid thinking I had plans of enjoying a meal! I felt stupid for being a woman! And I felt frightened at the thought of coming back t’he 2.5 km stretch – yes, that’s all the distance there was between my office and the market – in an auto.

I wept. Scared to call up anyone, because either they would scold me for venturing out alone or they’d be too scared for me – as women, even though we can’t shield ourselves, we always try to shield the people around us. And that minute, I hated being a woman, hated being so powerless to defend myself. What precaution could I have taken to make myself invulnerable to those men on the street? On a crowded street where everyone’s too busy with their lives to stop and stand up for you? On a busy road in the country capital? Is safety really a luxury for women?