A book-laden trip down memory lane

Recently, I read a friend’s post about her favorite books and it got me thinking that though I’m an amateur reader, I’ve grown and learnt a lot from the few books that I’ve read.  So today here am essaying my journey of growing up with these books and as I did the exercise I re-lived some wonderful memories of growing up, like: bending over each word, trying to read before even I could write or talk properly; or sitting in the bathroom late at night and reading so that  my mom doesn’t catch me; or skipping a gossip session in the hostel because the book is just too good to put down; or missing my train stop because am just too lost in the book. I’ve realized that books have been my first friends. I don’t have a very good imagination but whatever little I have, it is because of these books.  Anyways, cutting short my ramblings and getting to my list:

  • Fulwadi, Champak: My first, so-called books. Thanks to one of my uncles, whenever he used to come home he used to get these and other children’s books for us and I’d spend hours bending over them trying to read and understand each word. Panchtantra tales, especially the one with the flying tree and the saas-bahu was one of the repeated reads for me and my sis.
  • Enid Blyton books, especially The Wishing Chair: Don’t remember how I started on them but till date they’ve been the best books I’ve read. The innocent fun with flying chairs and trees and pixies.  They helped me add color to my long summer vacations.  Another set of books that added color to my Gujju-world were Bakor Patel books and Jhaver Chand Meghani stories. During this phase, another big influence  on me was Roald Dahl, and especially Matilda.   I absolutely loved Roald Dahl books and in a span or 2-3  years I think I read Matilda 2/3 times and I’d be lying if I said that like her I didn’t try telekinesis. 😀
  • Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys Super Mystery series:  While the murder mysteries were themselves a lot of fun, the added element of whether something will happen between Nancy and Frank made them all the more enjoyable. These days more than the books, I remember the process of getting them from the library, the series was in great demand in school and I had requested my school librarian, “Ma’am, please let  me cut the queue for  just one day. Will finish and return the  book within a day.” Added to this was the ban imposed by my mom, “No reading such books,” and hence late night, furtive reads in the bathroom.
  • I then moved on to more murder mysteries of Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason and while I was still exploring this section, I saw Jeffery Archer’s The Eleventh Commandment. The Jeffery Archer era ended only after I had read all his books available in my school library. My most favorite and repeat-read is Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less.
  • Intertwined along with my crime thriller phase was my Stephen Covey phase which started with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and included all his books and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I learned a lot from these books, especially with the help of one of my teacher’s  in school.
  • But as I finished school, my self-development phase halted halfway and I got distracted by Sidney Sheldon and Mills & Boons.
  • When I got bored of Sidney Sheldon’s larger-than-life characters, I turned to the likes of Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, and Danielle Steel and ofcourse more Mills & Boons. Bombay is a paradise for people like me who want to read a new book every two days. The road-side vendors carry all sorts of books and take measly 10/20 bucks as reading charge.
  • During my post-grad, I got inducted into the world of theology and mythology with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.  And also, thanks to an uncle of my mine for leading me to Devdutt Patnaik and Jaya. Till date, my favorite mythological fiction is Chitra Devakaruni’s Draupadi.  Amish’s Shiva Triology was a fun read but not very impressionable. Ashwin Sanghi surely impressed me with Chankya’s Chant  and I warmed up to Rasobel Line after an initial state  of confusion. Am still exploring this genre with Asuras next on my to-read list.
  • In between all these I turned to an odd Gujarati novel or Chitralekha from time to time,  thanks to my mom, whose a voracious reader. I remember my Chitralekha phase, I used ask my mom to store them because I was addicted to the short-story there, so every vacation when I went home from Mumbai, I’d sit with the stacks to read Kajal Ojha Vaidya’s Yog Viyog and Tarak Mehta’s Duniya na Undha Chasma. I’ve read a lot of I K Vijlewala and Kajal Ojha Vaidya books and next on my aspiration list is the entire Ashwini Bhatt novel range that my parents purchased last year.
  • Since the last few months, I’ve been trying to read books on management, women leadership and empowerment but I often get distracted by fiction from time to time. My aspiration is to read a lot of Indian authors, a lot of different genres in fiction and some non-fiction books like biographies but don’t know if I’ll ever get to it. The only good thing is that I still have a lot of time to find out if I’ll ever achieve this goal.

A big thanks to all my family members and friends and those gazillion road-side vendors in Mumbai who introduced me to the world of books and will surely turn to you again as I am still nowhere done with this journey.

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Call for help

Over the last month, I’ve   been kind of inactive. It’s not because I’m not thinking about writing. In fact I have 6 posts in draft mode but somehow when I go back and read those posts I don’t feel like completing them.

Am thinking about a lot of things these days but am in a total stage of confusion and still searching for faith and writing ability. My confidence in a lot of things is shaken, including my writing capability. I’ve never aspired to be a writer nor have I ever thought that I’m a good one, but I had thought that I had the ability to pen down my thoughts and feelings but of late even that has been alluding me.

Do you have any ideas about how I can get back to feeling myself and gain a little confidence to start writing again. Please help!

Always and never

He’d always remember to visit the temple before taking a big decision or for every occasion but never thought of going to the temple without any reason.
She’d always bend her head in prayer and ask for one thing for everyone in her family but she’d never prayed to God to give her the strength and capability to provide those things for her family members.

He’d always bring her flowers on her birthday because she’d told him that she loved flowers but never thought of doing something different for her.  She’d always send cards and gifts for her parents on their birthday but never thought of picking up the phone and calling them just like that and telling them how much she loved and was grateful for their life lessons and support.

There are so many things I do very often (they’ve become more of a habit than a nice gesture) thinking that these are nice deeds or that the other person loves it but what I fail to do is take it one step further. I don’t know if my “nevers” will come to the “always” side but I want to continue the “always” and try and bring the “nevers” into the “occasional” column.

ઘરના ને બહારના વચ્ચેનો ફરક

“તમે તો ભાઈ ભગવાનના માણસ હો!”  આવું કોઈ આપણને કહે તો આપણે તો ખુબ જ રાજી થઈ છીએ અને ઘણાખરા ભાગે આવું આપણને બહારના લોકો પાસેથી સંભાળવા મળે છે.  આપણે ઇચ્છીએ છીએ કે લોકો આપણને પસંદ કરે, આપણા માટે ઉપર જેવા સારા સારા વાક્યો કહે અને તેથી જ we put our best foot forward in front of outside people.

મારા મનમાં હવે એક પ્રશ્ન ઉભો થાય છે, કે જો આપણે ઈચ્છીએ કે બધા આપણને પસંદ કરે તો આ ઈચ્છામાં શું આપણા ઘરના લોકો શામેલ નથી હોતા?  આપણે  ઘરે પહોંચીએ કે તરત જ આપણા ચેહરા ઉપરથી “ખુશી”નો મુખોટો ઉતરી જાય છે. જે વ્યકતી બહાર ખુશાલ અને હસમુખ હોઈ છે તે ઘરે આવીને ચીડિયા બની જાય છે અને આવા લોકો પોતાનું “ખુશી”નો મુખોટો ઉતારતી વખતે એવું વિચારે છે કે “ઘરના તો મને ઓળખે છે”; “If I can’t be myself at home then where else will I be myself?” આવું શું કામ થાય છે? જ્યાં નવા સંબંધ હોઈ છે ત્યાં આપણે કેટલું જતન કરીએ છીએ પણ બીજી બાજુ સંબંધ જેટલા જુના હોય ચીડ-ચીડાત એટલી વધારે હોઈ છે.  અને આ ભૂલ કોઈ એક વ્યક્તિની નઈ પણ સંબંધ બગાડનાર બંનેની હોય છે.

The point is that, you can ofcourse be yourself at home but that should not come at the cost of hurting or being rude to your family members. I am not asking you to be someone you are not but make an equal effort (given that they’re your own family you should infact be making more efforts) to make them like you and not hurt them.

મારા મતે, જો બંને વ્યક્તિ ઘરમાં પણ બહાર જેવું જ સારું વર્તન કરવાનો પ્રયન્ત કરે તો સંબંધો ક્યારેય કડવા  ન થાય.  Infact, ઘરના લોકો એક બીજાને compliments આપે તો તે કોઈ બહારની વ્યક્તિએ આપેલ compliments કરતા વધારે genuine હોય.

Ofcourse, it is easier said than done. હૂં આજે આ લખું છું ત્યારે હૂં પણ આ સમસ્યા સાથે ઉલ્જ્હેલી છું. હૂં ઈચ્છું છું કે હૂં મારા family members ને ખુશ રાખું, દુખ ના પહોચાડું અને at the same time આ બધું કરું not at the cost of my happiness. Still searching for an optimal solution. Any thoughts?