A Very Chocolaty Road Trip – #SayYesToTheWorld

In the brief two years that I’d spent in Sweden, I was lucky enough to #explore the quaint little town (Älmhult) I lived in. Each day enfolded an #enriching #experience as I aimlessly wandered around town with a map app without which I’d be lost for hours altogether.

The flower-infested centrum (which doubled up as a park and bus stand), the city hall with its majestic lobby, the library boasting its monumental collection of parchment-y scented books, the little burger shack which serves perfectly salted fries and the list is simply endless. Funny how I never got around to the cinemas until the last month of my pregnancy. Despite my delicate condition, I never missed out on the blockbusters, FF7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Everything about Älmhult made me fall in love with the suburban life in Sweden and thus, my penchant for travel was born.

Autumn revives the little town in the Kronoberg county as the russet leaves festoon the roads and grass. When the effervescent silver flakes adorn the rooves and pavements during winter, you’ll know magic like no other.

My husband planned one such road trip without my knowledge and asked me to be open minded and hop in the car as he got behind the wheels. “Let’s get ice-cream!” he said as his happiness radiated another hundred miles.

“I just want to nap so bad though,” I whined and my body sang with pain as I stretched out my tense muscles. “Come on, it’ll be fun. You just sit tight and I’ll do the driving.” His argument did seem convincing and I resolved to unwind with some music and go on the drive. I had no inkling what was about to happen and where I was going. But knowing my impulsive husband, I knew better to pack a bag of supplies and some light snacks.

Off we drove to “get ice-cream” as I DJ’ed throughout the ride, we even shook on a truce to alternate between our favorites. I didn’t want to hand over the reins of choosing music, ultimately, it is the soul of any road trip. He kept driving for the next three hours and I gave him the look. “Dude, we’ve been driving for three hours?! Omg, I dozed off in between?! Where the hell are we going?!” I knew I was freaking out for no reason and he had craftily added his playlist in the meantime. The guy was not ready to answer and he just smiled at me. “Just a little further, babe. We’ll be there in no time.” I just gaped at him and slumped back in my seat as he chuckled. So, it was a surprise and he was hell-bent on keeping mum. Well, two can play at this game, I fished out my phone and opened my prized map app. We were going to Malmö, all the way in Skåne county! Going to another county to eat ice-cream was a little far-fetched, even for me.

We pulled up at the ice cream shop and Zayed grinned at me and I stared back with a puzzled look. He asked me to turn around and I yelped as I spotted a big-ass beach spread out before me. The three hours of uncomfortable sleep on the awkward car seat was totally worth it.

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Although the sun shined bright as a beacon, the cold winds still cut through the thin fabric of my jacket. The hoodie was a bad decision but I can’t be blamed as I didn’t know our destination. First, we ran into the ice cream shop like a bunch of kids and we were hella picky when it came to the flavors. I gawked at the glass box for a good fifteen minutes and the ice-cream guy shrugged at me. ‘I need to feel the flavor, yaw’, I mentally screamed at him. ‘Any minute now.’, I told the patient guy. I decided to play it safe and went with the very chocolaty flavor because he’d already dismissed a previous one with the word alcohol. (Because we’re halal af)

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I grabbed the cone and licked it along the way as I bathed in the sun and ran towards the water. Clear sapphire waves swept my feet and the winds kissed my dry and cracked face. At that moment, I embraced the now. I told myself, #SayYesToTheWorld and positively loved the blind date with Malmö, thanks to my over-adventurous hubby!

Travel is an exhilaration. Sometimes the rain blesses the leaves trickling and decorating the veins and the earth emanates a deep scent with an added dose of the wind kissing faces. Intrepidly, the sun might piffle through the clouds, bestowing its golden blankets and warming the skin.

Can you hear your heart rumbling in your ears? Rivers storming through exacerbating cracks and crevices. The deafening roar of thunder, making you cower in your tents. Don’t allow your fears and preconceptions to conquer you and let loose a little once in a while. You might just enjoy #TheBlindList experience like I did.

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BOOK REVIEW: INDELIBERATE DELIBERATIONS BY SHIVANSH UMATT

idPublication date: December 11th, 2017
Publisher: Maple Press
Pages: 66, Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: Indeliberate Deliberations is a collection of heartfelt poems, twenty in total on various themes.The book is divided into four broad themes – Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth and Gory Musings. The poems borrow the recently popular art of free verse poetry, with no fixed structure. They express emotions, deal with heartbreaks, reminisce in the nature, or dance with the tunes of silent cacophonies. Composed within a short time frame of one year, you will surely relate to this tiny collection of short poems.


“Your tiny heart was pounding and

Your large bones were drumming

Against your coarse skin and

Your texture felt like rubble and

Your lungs puffed out air like

they’ve been waiting for so long.”


 

‘Indeliberate Deliberations’ is classified into four parts with respective themes: Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth and Gory Musings. The writing style adapted in this book is basically free-verse poetry and one cannot help but picture the poet slamming it on stage (Slam Poetry form). The combination of powerful words and pertinent imagery transports compassion and empathy through your bones till the very end.

My Take:

Under the theme – Abyss, there are five poems, namely, Flowery Grave, Bereavement, Incurable, Black is Beautiful and Ignorance. The central idea of the theme inculcated in these poems revolves around unfulfilled desires, yearnings of the soul, loss and hopelessness. The poet has cleverly contrived to incorporate vivid imagery and brilliant use of pin-pricking metaphors. Admirably, he brings the reader to their knees, sympathizing with the rupture of every feeling. The key elements that magnanimously contribute to the poems are technical devices like repetition and enjambments.

LatencyMisidentification, Scraps of Poetry, Hollow Memory and Mosaic

Again, you can see excellent use of writing techniques and he’s put the tools of the trade to optimal use. But too much wordiness can be the downfall of a poem. However, one could spot the ingenious classification of senses in connection with the poem – Scraps of Poetry. A similar technique can be found in Hollow Memory where he plays on the elemental connections. Although I couldn’t help but notice references like ‘Colors of the Wind’ from the famous Pocahontas song, there seems to be a steady rhythm of reflection and refinement in these poems.

Frost and Froth Changing Colors, Breathlessness, River of Love, Callings of the Night, Learnings, Hyperbole, Silence and Turmoil

The poems under this theme are a play on nature’s beauty in synchronization with human emotions, scrutiny, suffocation, frosty relationships and pain. There are many references to darkness, the coldness of the soul, loneliness and maybe a hint of supernatural elements. Some radiate positivity through the battle cry – carpe diem, while the others lean toward a volley of rambling emotions. The poet could’ve avoided the overuse of blunt and cliched metaphors in certain places to add more precision to his poetry.

Gory MusingsUnforgivable, I’m Not A Poet and Equivocal Truth

I found the poems to be physically explorative with vivid imagery but not gory in the literal sense. The only flaw was the unidimensional pattern of telling a story through the poetry. However, the collective vibes of angst, frustration and denial add vibrancy to the poems.

Final Note:

There’s an abundance of talent in this sixteen-year-old who has penned down some bafflingly astounding poetry and he has a long way to go. Honestly, I’m hoping to read more of his poetry and witness the evolution of his writing style.

 


Notes:

  • I was given a copy of the book by The Book Planet PR for an honest and unbiased review.
  • The blurb is borrowed from Goodreads.

BOOK REVIEW: THE 365 DAYS BY NIKHIL RAMTEKE

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Publication date: December 20th, 2016
Publisher: Write India Publishers
Pages: 178, Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 4/5

This is a story that falls through the crevices of pitiless anonymity, yet miraculously waits to be told.

Shijukutty, a Malayali fisherman, leaves his tiny hamlet of abject poverty in the coastal village of Vizhinjam on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, that picturesque vignette of searing beauty on the south-western coast of India.

Shiju, like millions of other Malayalis, seeks his destiny in Dubai, that gleaming global hub of fortune on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf. What unfolds is a stirring story of distilled hardship, exploitation, identity, and friendship, and the heart-breaking choices Shiju is often forced to make.

So what he sees is not what he experiences when he lands in a world of glimmering towers, fast-paced life, and unabashed opulence. For what he was not prepared for was the dark underbelly of Dubai beyond the shimmering mirage.

Shiju’s life is no more the same. But he holds his ground, drawing on ancient instincts of his seafaring ancestry. As things settle down around him, he is inexorably pulled into the canyon of recession…

Will Shiju be able to hold on to his dreams? Will he able to pull out himself from the whirlpool? Will he survive against all odds? Will he redeem himself?

The 365 Days weaves a captivating tale about the countless Indians and other South-East Asian migrant labourers, who, in seeking to forge their destinies on that gleaming promontory of dreams, end up colliding with forces beyond their reckoning.

Nikhil Ramteke unfolds an extraordinary saga about Indian expatriates, their struggles, their alienation, and their dreams. The 365 Days is more than a story of a year in Shijukutty’s life.


“Memories were of the essence at the Camp where we lived from vignette to vignette.”


Plot:

The protagonist, Shijukutti is sucked into the glamorous mirage of Dubai. Fortified with nothing but dreams and hopes, he banks on securing a future for his family. Thus, the son of the sea takes a monolithic leap into the desert entrapment. He lands in an insensate labour accommodation camp, tethered to an iron-clad employment contract and submerges in drastic living conditions with six thousand others who suffer a similar fate. After getting conned by his own kith, he snakes through the venomous ordeals that will reshape his future forever.

My take:

The characters echo formidable tales and I got to live a piece of their lives through the author’s words. There was clarity in the display and depiction of emotions. In all likelihood, the poor are pitilessly scammed while the rich are handed a whiplash. It is tyranny infused with slavery.

The trauma and terror of the characters were deeply seeded into my brain. Sketched out with a reality so striking and intimate, the characters managed to sing their feelings with ease. An effortless intrusion into my heart and leeching out blood until there wasn’t a drop left. The venomous truth of the labourers in the Camp mirrored that of the deranged prison inmates. The word that constantly erupts throughout the book, it constricts your lungs, burns your eyes, ushering the tears with ease. Consider it welcoming!

The cover girl poster for Dubai will always be the scintillating sky-scrapers on the Sheikh Zayed Road, the ethnic scented souqs and the vivacious malls. This dreary side of the city is on the outskirts and it is frightening. And the chaos is contained professionally as the authority prevails with an iron fist. As the workers are transported from the living quarters to the workplace, they are (forgotten) lambs taken to the slaughterhouse. Nothing is worse than leaving behind familiarity. The simple pleasures of life, the warmth of the flesh of their kin, the scent of their partners, everything.

All the characters were insufferable (especially Jabbar Chettah) and special in their own way. The bond Shiju forms with Thavamani is a tear-jerker. And the former’s witty thoughts added the much-needed satire in the book.

Writing style:

The author had cleverly instilled a metaphorical approach in the book, balancing the elements of water and earth. He draws a stark contrast between the tossing and engulfing waves to the drudges and constricting grains of the desert (What the sea gives, the sand takes away!). Although the poetic rhythm of the lines remained intact throughout the material, there was a distinct overload of facts.

“Every night I would go to bed daydreaming. The morning after, in the light of reality and logic, everything would seem meaningless. Life was predictable and mechanical. Life was a handful of sand.”

Final note:

Everyone’s dreadful fears were elucidated generously. The story was armed with beautifully described emotions and relatable thought processes of the characters and will keep you glued to it until the very end.


My little anecdote:

Dubai, the city of dreams, succumbed to the insuperable glitterati. Growing up in ‘Dream City’ was thought to be a privilege. The begrudging kin in our native country assumed we sprawled in a bed of cash. Nope, it was not a cake-walk like they imagine it (for a certain section of the expatriates). I can safely say that my dad bled out sweat to support our family and we survived with the measly pleasures enchanting our lives. The struggle is very real and those with the jingling pockets got away with it all. They are the party-goers, spendthrifts, cutlery clinkers at the Michelin star restaurants, admirers of the smooth skin of belly dancers and much more.

My mom always told me that the life of a labourer was miserable as he slaved away for the prosperity of his family. Abandoning the love, comforts of his home, family and intimate relations with his beloved. The sacrifice oozes out in the form of sweat and blood. And the repercussions of their inconceivable decision adversely alter their lives (forever). I picked this book from Amazon.in because it reminded me of my second home (Dubai).

“The salt and the brine of the sea are magically therapeutic. So I shall heal.” 


Note: The blurb is borrowed from Goodreads. 

BLOG TOUR: EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO LOVE BY GAGAN MADAN

Everyone Has A Right To Love

By Gagan Madan

Life is too busy but it’s also too easy, if you look closer.

Love is too complicated but it’s also too clear, if you feel deeper.

Sometimes laughter is too difficult but a small smile can give us a lot of happiness.

 

Today we all are too busy to prove ourselves and to excel. We have no time for love and we hide our emotions and affection.

 

We always choose our priorities and we will always find time for things that we feel are important and those things which give us happiness. When we love someone, we start to care because love is a priority and not an option in life.

 

You also have a right to love, so keep loving, stay happy.


 

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Gagan Madan is a simple and young author from a small town of Madhya Pradesh, who stepped into the world of literature with his first book Unfinished Friendship, which was received well by people. He is a self loving introvert and loves to writes on common people and their unique lives.

As a student he never liked studies and reading, but at twenty one he started his journey as a writer and he is now acknowledged as a youth role model. He prefers silence to talking.

 


 

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Book Review: Adventures in Farland by Moshank Relia

AIF_FinalCoverPublication date: October 19th, 2017
Publisher: Rumour Books India
Pages: 104, Ebook (PDF)
LinksGoodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review Copy

Mira Rawat has heard tales of Farland all her life from her mother, who has described the magical place of gnomes, fairies, mermaids and animals, and especially its wondrous festival, the New Moon Party. Now, Mira has been informed by a man named Bushy that she has been invited by Princess Harmonica to attend the party. Bushy also uses a spell to turn her two friends, the mischievous and vexing boys, Bira and Vira, into rats so that they will not disturb the other party guests with their constant fighting and misbehaviour. At midnight, Mira, with Bira and Vira snuggled in her pocket, climbs Gunhill and is picked up by the pilot Starhead and flown in his plane to the party. However, the flight is cut short by a terrible wind, and Starhead is forced to land his plane near the Lost Forest. There, Mira discovers that Farland is in great jeopardy. Another Farland resident, Windman, has been generating great windstorms to prevent the Queen of Witches from reaching Dragon Hill. She intends to release the Dragon of Underhill, chained in its den beneath Dragon Hill, so that Farland will be burned and completely destroyed.


“Sunday is a fun day.”


Adventures in Farland is an endearing and whimsical tale of Mira Rawat and her boisterous twin buddies Vira and Bira. When Bushy, the messenger from Princess Harmonica extends an invitation to the New Moon Party in Farland, Mira can’t turn down the enticing offer. She ventures on a journey to the enchanting place buzzing with gnomes, fairies, mermaids, princesses, witches and queens.

Oozing with magical vibes and a reflection of Alice in Wonderland and The Adventures of Wishing Chair, this book swoops you back to your childhood days when your heart ached for nothing but a pure adventure. My personal favourite was the witch with the elixir apple to awaken the Dragon of Underhill (Way to go, girl). Although her evil plan fizzled out as she didn’t secure her ultimate weapon, she did go down swinging (and I loved every bit of it). And I almost forgot ‘The Laughing Village’ where the Policeman was adorable with the laughter pauses and broken sentences. I would feel positively at home if cast into it. The illustrations were on point, entrancing and beautiful, giving a certain finality to the fairy tale.

However, from an adult’s standpoint, you can’t help but see the flaws in the basic construction of the characters. Mira is the embodiment of beauty and bravery in this story, whereas Vira and Bira are trashed a bit for their naughtiness and sporting bellies. And their immeasurable craving for chocolates is entirely understandable. But I would’ve loved a crime-fighting trio instead of Mira taking away the cake in the end. The unfairness to the two characters nagged me a little because of their futile presence in Mira’s pockets as rats! If it’s any consolation, they got a redemption track of becoming well-behaved boys.

To sum up, this book is sweet and concise. A definite fun pick and I got a chance to rejuvenate the child in me, thanks to Book Planet PR.

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Notes: 

  • I received an ebook (pdf version) from the The Book Planet PR and my review is honest and unprejudiced.
  • The blurb is borrowed from goodreads.