Book Review : Just Me, The Sink And The Pot by Sudesna Ghosh.

 

I must admit the title intrigued me, as did the buzz I had heard about the book. And the book did not fail to deliver what it promised. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it.

Would I classify it as fiction or non- fiction? It links both worlds and I felt my heart crying a little bit as I read about Pamela’s experiences as a fat girl.

The world is cruel and all the more to those who cannot stand up for themselves. Pamela has learnt very early in life, that ‘fat” girls cannot do a lot of things. They cannot expect to get heart shaped candy on Valentine’s day even in kindergarten. They cannot hope that the object of their crush would even notice them romantically. They cannot hope to be the star in school plays.

When not only classmates but also family join in to ridicule her, Pamela withdraws into a world of her own where she talks to her toys and looks to them for emotional support. She rarely talks to people but her fertile imagination produces all sorts of scenes where she is loved rather than ridiculed.

The only thing I found a little odd was that if she was so obviously overweight and had social and emotional issues, why didn’t her parents do something about it? Why did they wait for so many years before thinking of going to a counsellor? Why could they have not worked with her on her diet and other issues? In the end she is glad because she finally has a family that cares about her talent. Why could she not have a family that simply cared about her?

It just drives home the point that a lot of parents just close their eyes to the issues faced by their kids. They are too scared to tackle their kids head on. They don’t want to admit that their kids have a problem. They can’t accept the fact that their kid might need help. If only we as parents accept our kids with all their flaws and give them unconditional love, will our kids find the strength to face anything that the world throws at them. They won’t need to withdraw into a make-believe world where toys talk to them and give them advice on how to live their lives even at 18.

 

 
JUST ME, THE SINK & THE POT
by
Sudesna Ghosh
 
Blurb
 
Meet Pamela, an overweight girl who’s looking back at her school days. From longing for a Valentine to dealing with a sibling who hates her, Pamela has a lot to deal with. She even has a special bunch of friends at home who she can turn to – but they aren’t the kind of friends you’d expect. Life sucks when you’re fat. Can Pamela ever be happy?
Read an excerpt of the book here…

 
One day a classmate asked me, “Where is your lunch?” I told her that I had already had it and went back to my fake laughter and smiles. The others chatted and laughed while they ate from their tiffin boxes. Some brought samosas or ice cream from outside the gate. My hunger pangs got worse as I saw all the food and smelt the delicious odours around me.
 
The ice cream cart was run by a sweet old man who knew me since I’d started school. He would ask me some days, “Child, you don’t want your favourite orange stick?” I would say no thank you and smile before running away from him and his cart. One day he seemed to be desperate to make me have an ice cream. “Child! Come here and have an ice cream. You don’t have to pay me,” he called out. I smiled, turned around and went to hide in an empty classroom. Two minutes later, I shrieked; the old man had found me. He was carrying a dripping ice cream for me. I started laughing. Then I started running away from him. The old man started running after me!

 

My classmates were shocked. The sports teacher was happy to see me run for the first time – I had never run before because fat moves when you run. Everybody would laugh. The lunch break ended with me accepting the mostly melted orange stick from the kind ice cream man. We were too tired to talk about the whole event. But it did make me a bit popular that year, with the school Yearbook including the story and a picture of me running away from a 6 feet tall man holding an ice cream.

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About the author

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sudesna (Sue) Ghosh is a writer based in Kolkata. She was born in the United States and moved to India when she was 9. After completing high school there, she went back to the US for her higher education at the University of Rochester. She has also penned What Would I Tell Her @ 13 and News Now, along with several short stories. When Sudesna isn’t writing, she tries to do her bit for animal welfare.

 

                  

 

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Book Review: Colours of Life by Inderjit Kaur

Book Review of Kaleidoscope: Colours of Life by Inderjit Kaur

Kaleidoscope : Colours of Life is such an apt title for this book because the author, Inderjt Kaur, has used the colours of the rainbow as metaphors for the various qualities needed to live a fulfilling life e.g Spiritual Violet, Compassionate Orange, Confident Blue. book cover kaleidoscope

The book is a mix of the author’s own experiences, her thoughts and the stories of people she has encountered in her life. The book basically talks about suffering and the author tries to give her readers advice on how not to let it get them down.

When I heard about the book and read the foreword, I expected to read a lot of motivating stories but the stories cover only the first seven chapters of the book. The second part of the book covers thirty-eight chapters which deal with advice that is pretty doable. E.g expand your vision, appointment with your future etc.

I liked the way she has sprinkled her book with quotes from other motivational writers. They wind up the chapters rather well.

As you read, nuggets of wisdom spring out at you like, “ When you give up, you indirectly refuse to learn.” or “a world of you, by you, for you!”

But despite all this it was a difficult book to read as there were places where the sentences were too long and rambling to make sense. The book really needs to be edited better.

The Author:

inderjitInderjit Kaur is an author, motivator with a powerful voice of spreading positive words through her writings. A highly influential blogger and inspirational guide who with her tag line ‘Keep smiling, keep shining’, has brewed up with the original concept of living through her books of A living series.

Disclaimer: I received this book in PDF form from The Book Club in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: “Voyagers into the Unknown “ by Ruchira Khanna

 

Voyagers Into The Unknown by Ruchira Khanna

voyagers cover

Synopsis

The story is about Raj, the owner of a tourist firm who believes he can change the lives of his clients for the better. So he only takes on those clients who have suffered some personal loss or trauma and need emotional healing. It is the story of six people’s journey from pain to living life again. The group is a motley bunch. We have Carl who is a divorced workaholic who realises that money is a cold bed fellow, Ira who is suicidal after her husband leaves her, Darci and Lennard who love each other but can’t get past the trauma in their lives, and Asha who still mourns her dead husband. As the story unfurls, Raj realises that he too is in need of healing.

While the plot is not new, the story is told well enough to hold your attention till the end.

What I liked

The way the characters come alive. Each one of them is different and the author’s understanding of human nature is pretty good. The book talks of the frailty of human nature and deals with the mistakes we make without being judgemental. It speaks of hope and redemption; of finding strength within oneself without talking on a lecturing tone.

What I didn’t like

The book seems to cater to western readers. Things like puri bhaji are described as “spicy potato with gravy and puffed whole wheat bread” and “flowy tunic and pants also known as salwar khameez”. I mean, there are a lot of Indian readers who read in English don’t you think so?

Also, the solutions she offers are very simplistic, very fairy tale like, a sort of  “And they all live happily ever after”.

All in all

An enjoyable and comfortable read with a cup of chai. Something you can relate to and mull over for a while.

The Author

b6481-ruchira

Ruchira Khanna is a Reiki Master who passes out information about channeling universal energy and conducts sessions . She says she is just another soul trying to make a difference in this life time. Her two other books are, “Choices” and “The adventures of Alex and Angelo”

 

 

Disclaimer: I received this book in PDF form from The Book Club in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Anmol

The phone shrills. I smile as I pick it up. It is a call I have been expecting. “Sunita, please speak to your student,” says Anuja, Anmol’s mother as soon as I picked up the phone. “He refuses to even have his breakfast without talking to you.”

“I was going to call in a while. I thought it was too early,” I reply. “His exam starts only at 2.30 in the afternoon, no?”

“Yes, but he is so keyed up, he won’t calm down until he hears your voice and gets your blessings!”iHIHhhh

I chuckle as I hear that. It is so typical of Anmol.

“Good morning Anmol. God Bless you. Do well. Answer what you can. Don’t worry about what you don’t know and give your writer enough time to write what you say.”

“We are prepared.  I know that. I will answer. I will pass.” He repeats these sentences a couple of times.

“Yes, you will.” I assure him. “Now go and have your breakfast and rest for some time.”

“Okay. I will eat my breakfast and rest and then go for my exam. Now speak to Mummy.”

Anuja comes back on line, heaving a sigh of relief. “Now he will be okay,” she says, with the acceptance of a mother who knows her special child so well.

This conversation happened two years ago. Anmol was appearing for his Xth Standard Board Exams through the NIOS. We had been preparing for this exam for two years. Each day was both a joy and a challenge.

“Anmol!”  His name means “Precious” and precious he is. I have never met any student of mine who is so eager to learn. I have never seen anyone who is so prepared to work for success.

Anmol is 21 now, but due to certain breathing difficulties when he was born, his brain is that of a much younger child. There are certain things he just can’t comprehend. No matter how much I try, even simple maths is beyond him. He has no sense of direction and can get lost even in familiar places. Yet he has an amazing memory for dates in history.

Every morning he greets me with a cheery, “Good morning, Aunty! Today we will finish studying ten chapters.”

His optimism is infectious and by now I know better than to bring him down to earth, so I agree and ask him, “Okay, so what do you want to learn today?” If he is in the mood, he will go with whatever lesson I have planned for him. But if he has decided to do something else, then no matter what I say or do, he will not budge. Experience has taught me that it is easier to go with his plan, because then surprisingly a lot gets done. Not ten chapters a day of course, but at least a couple of questions are understood and learnt.

It makes no difference that he will forget everything by the next day and will have to learn it all over again. He just keeps at it till it becomes a part of him. This may take a week, it may take a month. But he just doesn’t give up.

From him I have learnt both patience and perseverance. I have realised that while he can’t learn anything quickly, he can learn it well and in the long run, the patience that I have had to force myself to display has been rewarded when I realised than once he has managed to learn something, it remains with him forever.

His philosophy is, “I am different. My brain is different. So I have to learn differently. It’s okay. At the end of the day, I have to learn. It does not matter how long I take.”

Over the years, Anmol’s ambitions have changed. First he wanted to become an engineer. But then I gently explained that he would need to understand maths for that. “Okay,” was his answer, “so because I can’t understand maths I can’t become an engineer. Then I will become a business man.”

This continued for a couple of months, during which period, he would only pick up his economic and business studies text books. Then one day, we were talking about why I became a teacher.

It was teacher’s day and he brought me a card he had made. It depicted a lighthouse and a ladder standing in the water, reaching up to the sky. Anmol’s explanation was: the water was where he was. The light house was me. The ladder was the way I taught him, to help him reach the sky which signified success. Though the drawing was childishly imperfect, it is the most beautiful card I have ever received.

That day, he asked me why I became a teacher. I told him how I want to make a difference in people’s lives and help them succeed. He immediately said, “Like you help me? That means anyone can be helped if you teach them?”

“Yes,” I replied, “I believe that everyone can improve, no matter where they are in life.”

“Even other children like me who are different?” he asked.

“Why not?” I questioned back.

He pondered for a moment, then said in a decisive voice, “I know what I want to do. I will work with other children like me and help them.”

That was two years ago. He spoke to his parents about his dream. I must say, both Anuja and Nitin are wonderful parents. They encourage him to dream and be as independent as he can.

After he finished his Xth, we decided (after a lot of trepidation and a lot of pleading on his part ) that we would allow him to go to regular college for his 11th and 12th.

He had to deal with being made fun of, being bullied, but he managed to come through unscathed.

This was two years ago. Anmol has just cleared his 12th standard with a 61%, scoring 69 percent in Psychology. He has not given up on his dream of helping other kids like himself and plans to do his B.A in Psychology.

However, our educational system is so flawed that he is being forced to take only the subjects prescribed by the college, which means that Hindi or Marathi would be part of his curriculum. This is a disaster because he just can’t read the script. To him it is just a meaningless pattern.

I do hope we manage to get the university to allow him to choose the subjects he can learn, while at the same time attending regular college to help him develop the social skills he needs in life.

© Sunita Saldhana

Sex Outside Marriage – My Choice? Really?

Among all the brouhaha surrounding the “My Choice” Vogue Empower video with Deepika Padukone, one thing that struck me was how many people did not like the words, “to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside marriage.” A lot of people reacted as if the very moral fibre of society would collapse if women had the choice of having sex outside or before marriage.

That led me to wonder that if a woman wanted to have sex outside marriage,what were the options open to her?  When I asked this question to my friends and acquaintances, a lot of them were aghast at the very idea. And I am not talking only about  people in their 50s like me or older, but younger people in their mid-twenties and early thirties too.

Why does this particular phrase anger people so much, both men and women? Is it because we don’t  like to think of a woman as a sexual being, someone who needs sexual release as any man would? Is it because we believe, even as women, that sexual satisfaction is only the right of a man and that we must “tolerate” it?

What happens if a man does not get sex within a marriage? A lot of times, he looks outside and is not judged too harshly for it. Since time immemorial it has been accepted that when a woman was with child or had just delivered and couldn’t satisfy her husband’s sexual needs, it was  okay for him to seek sex with someone else.

So, if a man wants to have sex outside marriage,  he can visit a prostitute. Can a woman do the same? Are there brothels with male sex workers where women can visit?

My search on the web, not surprisingly, showed that while there is a lot written about women sex workers, there isn’t much about male sex workers. Also, most male sex workers seem to be gay or cater to men rather than women. Why is the male sex drive given so much importance while women are not even supposed to want sex?

Every society recognises the need for women sex workers, but a male prostitute is often derided or even envied. If a man wants sex, “he is a man after all”. If a woman wants sex, “OMG she wants to have sex!”

Leave alone having sex outside marriage, how many women are comfortable initiating sex with their husbands without fear of being ridiculed? We have been conditioned to think that sex is a burden we have to bear and tolerate.

At a get-together with a few married women friends, the topic turned to sex and most of the women confessed to never touching their husband’s body unless asked specifically to do so and then too it was “because he wanted it and would have got upset if I didn’t do it.” This in a marriage of at least 10 years. Women are still not comfortable enough to ask for and have mutually satisfying sex. Being able to give in to truly wild, abandoned sex whether in a marriage or outside is the privilege of a very small percentage of women. For most it is something that can’t even bear thinking about.

And that is why, though we talk of women empowerment and all, we are still reluctant to grant a woman the choice to have sex when she wants, how she wants and with whom she wants.

P.S. I wonder how much flak I am going to get, both publicly and privately, for writing about this at  all!

More thoughts on this : https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1560094557607165&id=100008199071931

Talking About Periods

Recently I have read a number of articles that were shared by my friends on facebook regarding menstruation. Surprisingly, they were all shared by male friends and were all related to women being open to talking about menstruation and their periods. I really can’t understand what the big deal is.

What is it we should be talking about? What is menstruation? You can read that up in any biology text book or sex education books which are now freely available in the market.  Or do you want to know what we feel during this period? How we deal with cramps and backaches and mood swings and manage to get all our household chores done and go to work and put in a full eight hours of work without anyone even knowing that we have our periods?

Or should I just tell you, “I’ve got my periods and the pad is itchy and stinky and I have cuts on my thighs and I am so irritable I will bite off the head of anyone who gets in my way?” If I say, “All that I want to do is curl around a hot water bottle and drink cups of hot tea.”, can I take the day off from work, every month?

It is not as if we do not talk about our periods. We do. To the people who matter. We tell our mothers and can be assured of a hot cup of tea placed in our hands. We tell our girl friends who can empathise with what we are going through. Yes we even tell our dads when it is an emergency and he needs to go and buy us sanitary pads. Our boyfriends know and so do our husbands, in fact they are more aware of the dates than we are and know if we are even a day late.

Pregnancies are not announced by eating imli and looking coyly at your husband. It goes more like this. “Did you get your periods yet?” “No” “Okay”. “So till when do we have to wait before going to the doctor?” or “You vomiting every morning and you are already ten days late. Doctor ke paas jana hai kya?”

So since all the concerned people already know the why, the when and the how, what more do we need to talk about? Do you tell the world when you have had a wet dream? Or how often you have shagged? If you can take that as part of you being a man and not really worth mentioning to all and sundry, then having our periods too is just part and parcel of being a woman. It is something we accept, something we go through and get on with our lives. Till we start menopause and well, that is a topic that will keep for another time.

 

 

Futility

One by one, they crumble
The relationships built over years.
You thought that each brick was cemented with love and trust
And suddenly
As if there has been a terrible earthquake
It all comes tumbling down
With bricks of memories scattered around
Waiting for your heart to stumble over and start bleeding all over again.
And you realise they don’t make band-aids for bruised hearts
You desperately try gathering the bricks
To build again what was lost
But what emerges is an edifice with holes in the walls
Where the bricks don’t fit.
An unstable monument to the past
Which you pretend is perfect
And you know you dare not look too close
It is so much easier to paint over the cracks with a glossy sheen of what ever shade you like
But somewhere at the edge of consciousness you know
And without realising it you wait for it to fall down again.
Knowing that when it does
your heart will be too tattered to hold anything together again.