Resistentialism. Yes. Again.

My little toe is broken. Well, maybe not broken broken. Hairline fracture, me thinks. I can’t bend it (yeah, toes can be bent – try it) and I can’t rest the foot fully. You know how it is, we’ve all broken our toes at some point in our lives no? No? Oh shut up.

So I now have proof that I’m not imagining it, that resistentialism does exist. Even if the WordPress dictionary shows a squiggly red line below the word (FYI, WordPress: ‘WordPress’ also has a red squiggle beneath it.). And it’s just gotten worse. Earlier, it was just the things at home. You know, kitchen knife, the chair and bed, the door, etc. But now, it has progressed to the great outdoors. Where? The supermarket, that’s where.

The trolleys? Not as innocent as they seem. Their teeny little wheels are actually weapons of toe destruction. When you think they’re helping by getting the trolley around the different alleys, they are in fact plotting and scheming on how to inflict maximum pain to the little human toe. My little toe.

So the next time you’re in the supermarket, watch out for the buggers.

A broken toe hurts. More than you can imagine.

The hour past midnight, by Salma


Translated from the original Tamil (‘Irandaam Jaamathin Kadhai’) by Lakshmi Holmstrom

‘The hour past midnight’ is a story about women. Not the educated, emancipated and economically independent city-dwelling women like us, but about those women who’re still, in this time and age, shackled to their homes and hearth, by notions of religion, by society and sometimes, by themselves. It’s a poignant narrative of the lives of the women in a small south Indian town, of their everyday struggles and worries, of relationships, of love and hatred, and of death.

The author, Salma, herself is from a small-time town in Tamil Nadu (a south Indian state), with a very conservative society that expects women to be silent and tied to the kitchens of their homes. As the note the book says, she shocked this society when she published her first book of poetry. I first read about the author and the book in a newspaper article, and got a chance a while later to pick up the book. I’m glad I did.

The book traces the lives of a bunch of Muslim women, their children and their omnipresent omnipotent men. There’s Rabia, a little girl, whose innocence and naivette touches us so profoundly. There’s Firdaus, a beautiful girl who’s forced to marry an older man, one whose very sight she finds repugnant and whom she refuses to accept and so walks out, on her wedding night. And then we have Wahida, who goes to her new in-laws’ house with a fairy tale dream and is shocked at what reality actually brought to her. The author shows us women from all walks of life – the well-to-do, the educated, the poor and the destitute and no matter how different each is, they’re all bound by the fact that their lives are not theirs to live. They’re constantly pushed and pulled around by the men in their households, by their extended families, by friends and neighbours. We also get a glimpse of their way of life, how they celebrate their festivals and the daily prayers and rituals. That was one of the things I enjoyed about the book, that it helped me learn a lot more about a culture that I’ve always been seeing around me, but knew little about!

Another highlight is Lakshmi Holmstorm’s translation – never once did I feel that it was a work of translation! The prose was so effortless, even in places where the Tamil influence was very tangible. I’m not a fluent reader of Tamil, but I know enough to feel that the original would’ve been that much more touching because the translated English version is!

At approximately 470 odd pages, one might feel the book dragging along, around the half-way mark, but then it was never too boring to give up entirely. Pick it up, if you’re the kind who enjoys reading about different cultures and religions, about little women and big dreams.

Girls of Riyadh, by Rajaa Alsanea

(Cross posted from Bookreviews)

Here’s what we’ll do: we’ll take Sex and the City. Replace New York with Riyadh. Take out the American culture and in it’s place, let’s have the culture of the elite classes of Saudi. And the 4 gorgeous ladies? That would be 4 University students from Riyadh – Gamrah, Michelle, Sadeem and Lamees. What do you get now? Right. Girls of Riyadh, by Rajaa Alsanea.

Girls of Riyadh is an inside peek into the lives of these four educated University students and the book unfolds as a series of e-mails sent out to a yahoogroup, chronicling the events from the lives of each girl. We know the writer of the emails has to be one of these four girls, but we do not know who! The story begins with Gamrah’s wedding to a well-do-to Saudi boy, and branches off giving us a brief history of their lives and culture.

Gamrah is the less ambitious of the four. She gets married to a seemingly nice boy, and has this dream of the perfect wedded life, starting with their honeymoon in Italy. Does her dream come true? Is marriage all that it’s cracked up to be, for Gamrah?

The beautiful Sadeem is Gamrah’s best friend, a management student and is soon engaged to be married to a handsome, almost Prince Charming like Waleed. Her courtship starts off like a fairy tale, but will it end in a nightmare? Did she get too carried away in her affections for Waleed?

Michelle is Mashael Al-Abdulrahman’s pet name. She is the least conservative of the four, owing to the fact that her mother was American. She refuses to get pulled into the constricted perspectives and lifestyles of the other girls in the University and tries to be the same she would have been, had she been in America. Would she fall in love with a Saudi boy, who can adjust with her open mindedness? Will it work?

Lamees is a straight-As student and is on her way to becoming a doctor. She’s the tom-boy of the four, smuggling video tapes of movies to school (banned by law). After a particularly bad incident involving her friend’s brother, she retreats into herself. She then meets Nizar, a fellow trainee at a hospital and Cupid strikes. Does Lamees get the fairy tale ending that the other girls so wanted?

Girls of Riyadh would probably fall under the chic-lit genre. And that’s not such a bad thing, no. The prose is effortless and what I enjoyed personally was the little glimpses we get into the culture itself. It’s such a low cost way to travel to Saudi, isn’t it? Personally, once in a while, I end up craving such books when I’m in middle of some heavy reading like Coelho or Kafka. Something to take my mind off, something easy-going and smooth.

Pick up the book if you want a soap opera’ish story, with a couple of twists and turns. If you’re a culture aficionado like me, you’ll enjoy it. Only thing to remember? Chic-lit.

Back from the dead. For now, that is.

First things first –

Help!

Good. We got that out of the way now.

Well, hello! I’m probably the only one still reading my blog (to be honest, even I don’t read it that much! Sob story. Don’t ask.), so hello to me. It’s been a really long while since I did this and the typos and backspacing have increased many fold. The cobwebs on my blog and in the creative areas of my brain (if aforementioned areas and said brain do exist) are slowly clearing up. I’m back to reading blogs, which is a good thing. And since the blues have hit me especially hard today, I thought – what the hell, let me put up a post today for a change.

I realize you (rather, me, since I’m the only one reading!) didn’t quite ask for this, but I’m gonna give it to you anyway – a quick recap since the time we blog-died and have now risen from the dead –

1. I still haven’t got a life, so to speak. If you ever meet me in real life, you’re forbidden to ask me how my day was or what I did over the weekend. It’s like asking a guy with a broken leg if he ran a marathon.

2. I haven’t let go of my books. Yet. That’s probably the only thing that’s left me sane till now. Read some good ones, some so-so ones and not many bad ones. Actually, there were no completely bad ones. It helps that I still believe there’s no category of ‘books that should never have been written’ – to reiterate, it’s like saying some races should never be born.

3. I’m trying to get back into reviewing the little I read. It’s difficult, since it’s been a while. So I’m now forcing myself to do it by joining the wonderful people on Bookreviews – do yourselves a favor and check it out. They review all sorts of books and I find a new book almost everyday! And the reviews are not like mine – they’re actually good! [My husband doesn’t know about the books yet. I think I need to go back to ‘smuggling’ books home. My book budget isn’t what it used to be. Again, sob story. Don’t ask.]

4. There’s a big wedding coming up in the family. Which obviously means getting back in shape. And shopping. Oh, the shopping!

5. I still haven’t lost the habit of writing in points. (Or in brackets. [And nested brackets].)

6. I obviously still hate Mondays. Enough to rise from the dead and do a Monday post.

7. I’m hooked to Twitter. At this rate, very soon, I’ll have to look for a Twitter De-Addiction center. [Hello, I’m Priya. I’m a Twitter-addict. I need help.] <insert plug telling people about Twitter handle, @priya_arun >

8. I haven’t been to a cinema theater and watched a movie in a month now (last I saw was Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya). Probably the longest. And I don’t miss it one bit. Is it just me or all the movies just plain crap these days?

9. I’ve discovered that I actually like salads. Without the lettuce. And I haven’t touched chocolate or pizza in 3.5 months. I don’t miss it. Yet. Today.

10. I need a new blog template. I still seem to be carrying around a Christmas-y one. It’s May. Too early for Christmas, no? While we’re on May, it’s effing hot in Hyderabad. And humid! Since when did Hyderabad get so humid?! Time to actually move to Timbuktoo.

Enough torture for one post. Please to leave a word in the comment-space so I know there’s at least one other person reading this blog!