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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Book Review: Shopaholic to the Stars

Shopaholic to the Stars
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Humor

‘Shopaholic to the Stars’ is the 7th book authored by Sophie Kinsella in the shopaholic series. It is the story of shopaholic Rebecca Brandon (Becky) who moves to LA with her family and her best friend Suze, and tries to make it big in Hollywood as a celebrity stylist. Everything from Hollywood celebrities to yoga retreats to paparazzi to red carpet fashion, all of which Becky had always dreamt of, features in this book and the reader gets to find out whether Becky gets to live her dream.

I own every one of Sophie Kinsella’s books. Becky, the quirky, loveable shopaholic around whom all Kinsella’s  Shopaholic books are based on, had always been a good hearted, happy-go-lucky girl, even though she  goes on careless shopping sprees, which culminates into hilariously worded consequences.

 ‘Shopaholic to the Stars’ is not a book I was hooked on to, because this time around, Becky is so super annoying and insensitive that when I reached to one-thirds of the book, I was just wishing that this was over. Like every one of Sophie Kinsella’s other books, I hoped that there would be a twist wherein Becky would be redeemed from her shallow deeds, but the protagonist goes from annoying to vain to almost evil. Even the ‘shopaholic’ factor that keeps the series going is missing from the premise. The book concludes on a cliffhanger that hints to a sequel.

Sophie Kinsella has a knack for humor and her writing is light hearted and seamless throughout the book.

The unappealing character of the protagonist, the massive diversion from the ‘shopaholic’ theme and the reduced number of laugh-out-loud moments makes this book incomparable to Sophie Kinsella’s super hit series.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Corona Diaries: Netflix Addiction

Image Courtesy: Here

Ever since lockdown started, which now seems like forever ago, I have been very committed to Netflix. Even when work kept me on my toes, I always found time to catch up with it. This is only a dignified way of saying that I was ignoring my family and binge watching Netflix series. Well, I must say that it is much better than watching repetitive corona updates on national television.

I started with Suits, which is like the 'Sound of Music 'of courtroom dramas. When it ended, my life seemed meaningless so I started watching Money Heist which is a crime drama, and my life blossomed again. I never expected Money Heist to actually keep me glued to it for hours. Later I decided against watching any series which was when I found ‘How to Get Away with Murder’. Trust me, if you work in a corporate, you really have to watch this one.  Or the people will make you want to explore the options at least.

I may sound like these are some of my achievements, I must admit that my dedication to each of these series was very commendable.

The series ‘How to get Away with Murder’ made me realize that I don’t own any weapons apart from kitchen knives. Everyone in that show owns guns (which are rarely used for self-defense). Even the nerdy students. Whenever someone knocks at their door, they impulsively open the drawer and get their hands on the gun before they even see who it is. What if it was the food delivery guy you people! I never see any of you cooking! Ever! Whereas whenever someone rings the bell at my home, I hurry to wear a presentable pajama and comb my hair using my fingers, else they may shoot me as an act of self-defense against me.

By the way, in the series, the gun drawer always contains ONLY the gun. The characters live in studio apartments and never repeat any of their outfits but can manage to free a drawer only for the gun? This reminds me of my full term pregnant drawers and cupboards. The moment I open one, I would be lucky if a carom board dint fall on my head. If I had a weapon I would keep it in a drawer where there are socks, books, acrylic paints, hair clips, lip balms, a hanger and half of a cabbage.

Secondly, have you noticed that these guys in courtroom dramas do not trust anyone? All calls are recorded without consent, friends and family members turn out to be backstabbers, and cheaters who can camouflage themselves so well to fit in but they exist only for the benefits! Well, I must say this part is very close to real life. Nothing dramatic about that you see. There are characters in this show who remind us of people we all know and can relate to, at the back of our minds, but we force ourselves to believe otherwise. It is an eye opener.

I must say the first two seasons of ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ is dark and negative during which we may even want to quit. However, from the third season it gets better and the finale is an absolute gem. If you are a naïve person whose sharpest weapon is a kitchen knife and has messy drawers, watch it. It can help you get thicker skin and even prompt you to look out for the type of people you should definitely stay away from.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Corona Diaries: The Evolution of Education

Image Courtesy: Here

When my nine year old attends online classes, my spouse and I are also participants of the class, albeit not by choice. He makes sure one of us is aligned with the proceedings of the class, so no tests, projects or activity sessions come as a surprise in the eleventh hour. At age 9, he knows how to be on a safe spot keeping us in the loop. This is exactly why some people keep me in Cc in mails that are not relevant for me. Both my son and these super smart corporate email senders know that there will come a day when they can conveniently share the blame. Had I known this technique earlier, I could have handled some corporate foxes better. Well, child is the father of man you see. We are currently on various topics of ultimate sleep inducing boredom like hemispheres, solstices and eclipses.

The fourth grader attends his classes comfortably seated on a recliner with water, chips, and pillows by his side, I should say we have come a long way in terms of primary education. I feel like a cave woman to have worn a despicable uniform, carried heavy bag and lunchbox to school. I took two buses to school and when I say that to my son, his expression makes me feel like a freedom fighter from the 40's. I already sound like my parents who ceremonially passed on the studying-under-the-streetlight story. *snore* .My grandmother confirmed that they had landline phones when only ten people owned them in the entire state. What is the point of having a phone when the person you want to call does not own one? This is what streetlight learning does to you.

Even though the pandemic is getting worse and jobs are on the edge, the only uninterrupted activity so far has been online learning. The fact that the students can actually go back to the recording of the day’s class whenever they want, makes my son to NEVER want to see it again. “I already suffered 40 minutes in that class and you want me to suffer more?” Well. Being on the receiving end of kids logic is no joke, my friends.

I have been a programmer for many years and all the logic I wrote are coming back to challenge me in the form of a nine year old. One day, we were going out when he was still playing outside. So I called him from the balcony and said ‘We are going outside now!’ and his response was perfect, optimized, short and painfully sweet. This is with a whole bunch of other kids in attendance all looking up at me from the ground.

 He yelled back "SO?" and looked up at me with a confused expression which said ‘why are you dissipating this irrelevant piece of information thereby interrupting my game?’

“So”. Right. Why did I announce that we were going out? I should have said ‘Come upstairs let’s go” or something on those lines so that he would know that he is supposed to come. It would have been a CTA (Call To Action). But I dint. I announced that we are going. Like in my Annual Appraisal form I write pages and pages about my achievements for the year and attach document after document and the employer says "So?"

By the by, when my family elders recited the ‘I studied under the streetlight and we dint have money and I never failed in any exam’ story, I did not, I repeat, I DID NOT reply “So?” That is exactly why that story keeps recurring generation after generation. May be if I said "So?" that story may finally rest in peace.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The First Step.

In this world of artificial intelligence, where the internet browser and devices know more about me than my family does, there are few algorithms that over perform very much to my annoyance. When I login to any of the social media websites, (I really wish I dint, it is just another self-destructive habit that I have) I am often prompted to add people I don’t remember under a tag titled ‘people you may know’.

The mental peace and happiness I had before I logged in seeps through my ears and disappears into thin air.

Honestly, being an introvert by character and an extrovert virtually, I wish my social media was smart enough to understand that I am not looking forward to add to my troubles. I also don’t want to be reminded of people I may know, but honestly don’t remember and I don’t want social media to tell me that my memory failed me. Secondly, going by this impromptu prompt, someone would have fallen into the algorithmic trap and sent me a friend request, which in turn puts pressure on me to find out who this person is. If I reject someone I don’t know, and going by how 2020 has been rolling so far, it could be an acquaintance of either of my parents or even a distant relative I haven’t seen since kindergarten. This is a very dangerous situation because some people take social media friend requests very seriously like their existence depended on it.

Basically all of this matters only if you care about consequences and what other people think. I can swear on my forefathers that I don’t care but I may care a little bit (sorry, forefathers.). We all have to reach that stage in our lives that our relationships are defined by real human connections and not by what we did on social media. Every day, I am trying to reduce a little bit of that self-destructive habit. One step at a time!

I cared too much at one point in time and this pushed me mercilessly to rock bottom. But rock bottom is not too bad, you people! This is exactly the place one reaches to learn that it cant get any worse and that it is high time to change (there is no other option, really).

I started my workout journey from there, exactly a year ago. It turned my life around. I care lesser about things that don’t matter, I slept better and longer, and it improved my mental and physical health in many ways! I was consistent and reached a point wherein I felt bad if I dint find time to do it. I walked by the beach side initially, later used the gym for a few weeks when I couldn’t manage to drive to the beach. The gym, however, feels like another office with walls, air conditioners, digital displays and graphs. It feels like slogging for appraisal. When I walk outdoors, the fresh air, street cats, birds, cars, familiar people who wave…everything about it feels blissful and liberating. 

I am thankful to myself for taking that first step.I pat myself on my shoulder for every single day I was weary, low, blue, stressed or even in tears but pushed myself to go out to walk. It was very hard, but I did it!

There is always that first step you should take, amidst all odds, and keep up at it. To update the resume, to start working out, to sleep earlier than you do now, to cut off that toxic habit, whatever it may be.

That first step. Do it today.


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