Of cakes that fall and rise

It is not a secret that I love eating. Cakes are inclusive to this love of mine. In fact not just me, but so many people love cakes that celebrations are not complete without cakes. Birthdays HAVE to have cakes for everyone most (I do remember a friend from school who used to cut pizzas instead of cakes). When I was younger, I would look at mum with my innocent eyes and ask her to bake a cake for me. Nothing fancy, just a simple vanilla sponge cake would do. To this day she makes a point to tell me that her arms and elbows would ache from all the batter mixing (her method involves mixing it all with hands for at least 20 minutes), and that she would never have enough cream left to make ghee. It would all end up in my weekly share of cake.

A dear friend of mine is a voracious reader, and a magic woman when it comes to cooking. I pity her neighbors who have to put up with the delicious aromas wafting out of her kitchen. Pure torture I tell you. As  good great as she is, she cannot exert divine control upon cakes to turn out how she wants them to. Not yet, at least.

One fine day, when she was busy making lemon cakes (for some Sansa Stark fans I hope), one of the cakes decided to be more than that. After all as Petyr Baelish teaches Sansa, “In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you’ve planned for them”. This particular cake came out with a big sunken cavity in the center.

The sunken cake

Not someone who will let food go to waste, she did what another friend suggested to her. Since this was a cake with perfect walls, she emptied out the gooey center and added chocolate to it. Instead of just a lemon cake, it was now a combination cake. Time and again I am reminded how wonders can be made of the accidents that befall us. The cake was soon packed and parceled to yours truly. I am having a bite of the solid lemon walls with a gooey, fudgey chocolate center. Absolute bliss.

Combo taste cake for the win

It is the best cake that I have ever had. I love the fact that it something that happened serendipitously. While it could have been another fallen cake, it rose to one of the first combination cakes to come out of the Weekend Kitchen. So much love for her :D. She is probably going to bonk me on the head for putting in A Song of Ice and Fire reference in this 😛

You can read her post about this cake at her blog here.

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Dear Bindu kun & Pixie

Dear Bindu kun,

I wrote a letter to you some time ago, because I had a brand new fountain pen and ink flowed from it so smoothly that I couldn’t help but write. Now that I am doing this blog challenge, I cannot help but write this as well.

We met as fellow members of a book group which I was inducted in to by my lovely sister after I had sent her a book. There are so many ways it could have not happened. It could have been a different book, or sent a different time, or perhaps she could have graduated to a Kindle sooner, or might have missed out her morning tea that day, but certain set of events took place in the right order, with the right people for me to have found you.

I have said this before, and I will say it again that I am in awe of you. How you are able to manage work, a family, consuming books with that voracious appetite of yours, and cook is beyond me at times. Particularly when I struggle with something like making Maggi on certain work days. While we are on the topic of food, the pictures of your weekend kitchen are just not fair. Nuh uh. How do you expect us to sit on this side of the screen, and look at all the delicious cakes you bake, and stews you simmer? The only silver lining is that we don’t have it as tough as your immediate neighbors who even have to manage with sounds and aroma of the food being prepared. Well boo-hooo for them.

Do you know that you’re the person who’ sent me the most number of books? I liked the irony of you having sent American Gods and Religion for Atheists together 😛 . Oh and the cake and cookies you sent around new year’s were absolutely yum. One of the few rare moments that my friends or colleagues were explicitly forbidden (and I saw to it) from having even a single bite of the load. I had it all for myself. My precious.

When we do meet, I am looking forward to your cooking the most. I want to take in the sights and sounds of you getting about to making food. I have always believed that cooking for someone, is converting your thoughts and feelings for them into something physical, and then sharing it with them. I am sure I would end up licking something shamelessly 😀

Thank you for the food, the books, and the friendship.
Love,

Count Santulan

 

 

Dear Pixie,

For someone who got so involved in naming a rat snake that liked to say hi to the sister of mine, you don’t like the crawlies so much. But they’re so cute, no? Scuttling towards you just to say hi or hug you 😛 . Ok, I will digress from this topic lest you get tempted to want to punch me. Not that you don’t have reasons already 😀

Someday, when I have saved enough money to, I would like to make a trip to your place. I would like to sleep in at your place at least once, so that I can wake up early and kick you awake, or just yank off the covers if I am feeling kind. On second thoughts, I might prod you with a stick instead so that you didn’t kick me when I do wake you up. Or we can let you sleep in peace if you’re willing to bribe me by making Akki roti and hot rasam. Yeah, that should work out real well 😀

You’re another person who’s like family but we haven’t met in the flesh yet. Had we been in the same city, I would be eating a number of meals at your place. Or call in with ice cream at impromptu times, because ice cream.  Then you would tell me off on how so much ice cream is not good for me, and would end up eating half of it so that I don’t have to eat all of it. Such a generous soul you are 😛

But seriously, you’re the person who genuinely cares about people in your life in a manner that is not over bearing, and makes one feel warm from the inside. When you do get here, I can dump a bunch of books at your place for you to read. Personal recommendations from my personal collection, that I think you’d like to read.

Thank you for sending me pictures of the creepy crawlies that you meet on your walks (and in turn creeping out your husband in the process). I promise to treat you to puffs and patisseries when we meet.

Love,

Hrishi

 

 

Written for the 30 Days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to someone you wish you could meet. Other bloggers can add their links to the linky below:


 

Dear B

B is an entirely different person from D, whom I wrote to here. I will use B instead of her name for confidentiality reasons.

 

Dear B,

I remember writing a status update quite some time ago in which I was ‘A’ and you were ‘B’. The status was about how much A likes B among other people, and sometime later you addressed yourself as B in our chats. It wasn’t that I hadn’t expected you to get it, but your mentioning it in such a nonchalant manner made me smile.

I had expressed my feelings to you online in one of our chats, since you were in a different city. You replied that you love me like a friend. The feeling sunk in after I woke up the next morning and was having a bath. I felt a strange sense of frustration a punched the bucket of hot water really hard, which caused the hot water to spill over me. It brought an important realization to me, about me and you that made me laugh the very next moment. I had seen a bunch of guys, some of them my friends go from loving to hating someone in the snap of fingers because they had refused to reciprocate the feelings.

And here I was, doing the same. I realized that as much as it would seem natural, I couldn’t bring myself to hate you. I liked you because of who you are, and the fact that you were being yourself, only made you appreciate you even more. The idea that you don’t feel for somebody just because they feel the same for you, seemed so unnatural all of a sudden.

After all these days, I never find it uncomfortable talking with you. I still feel the urge to send you a picture of the yummy spicy paneer wrap from Goodies, when I pass it. I remember your reaction the first time I told you about it, and rubbed it in your face that you don’t have a Goodies café in your city. Well, it didn’t help that they would be out of the wrap for the next entire week whenever I would go to the café, so I am afraid of that happening again. 😛

One of the fondest memories that I have was of when we had been to chocolate room. We talked, talked, and talked to no ends. We laughed so heartedly, I am surprised that no one asked us to tone it down. One of the few times when I lost track of what I had ordered, how hungry I was.

Many people do say what we have as you friendzoning me. I don’t understand why the term is used in such a derogatory manner. On the other hand, there were times when I worried that I had relationship-zoned you, put you in an awkward situation where someone you are great friends with, asks you out, and you have an awkward moment thinking of how to respond. If I could take it all back, then I would. However that would mean taking back some of the memories I have of us, and our conversations we have had since. I remember how we spoke the peace that comes from coming back home tired and just spend the night staring at the stars. The idea of it made you so happy.

Here’s to more conversations, and memories till we meet next time. It goes without saying that you have to get me chocolates.

 

Written for the 30 Days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush. Other bloggers can the links to their posts in the linky below:

 

Dear Mom and Dad

Dad died in an accident when I was about 6 years of age. I have been brought up by mom ever since, juggling job and raising me up. I am writing a letter to both of them.

 

Dear Mom,

This is a letter that you are not going to get to read, at least not for a long time. This is because I am not yet ready to discuss the contents with you in person. It’s not that we’ve not tried before, it’s specifically we’ve tried talking about it before. We feel so strongly about our own stances, which are mutually exclusive that things end up getting heated.

You’ve put in a lot of efforts, many of which are beyond what I would normally expect a parent to. In your defense, I can be a difficult  person to deal with at times. Add to that I come from an entirely different school of thought. I am highly liberal and open about what and who I want. I have always wanted to be defined by my choices, choices which usually lead me to be away from where I am born. Your choices have always been to stick to where you are. I have always been about what I want and you about what you have to.

You do things which you think that are in the long run good for me. Quite a bit of your life has been focused on to shape a future for me, and look out for me. Having done it for so long, it has been your default programming. Which is why I think that no matter how old I get, you will always want to have a protective watch out for me. Remember in an entirely different situation of our life; someone had once said that no matter how much good you want to do for someone, you cannot force good upon them. It has been nearly 15 years since I had heard that, and the idea of it has seeped into me. I cannot write over here the details of the circumstances in which they were said, and I apologize because in doing so I am withholding all that you had to go through with.

What I want to tell you is that I am headstrong about my choices. As much as I like to think that I am gifted in terms of my intellect, I tend to make correspondingly huger mistakes. Some mistakes which on account of repeated occurrences, may take me months to recover fully from. But what good is my own life, if I do not pave for it myself? Even if it means making it difficult. I understand your concern for me, but our opposing manners of thinking have contributed to making you a little bitter. I just hope that in the near future we come to a better understanding of each other, and better acceptance.

Love,
Hrishi.

 

Dear Dad,

Most of my memories with you have been pleasant. The times you got me chocolates, or took me to the park to play on the slides or let me choose the cookies that a spot of jam on them. Since the hospital you worked at was kilometers away from home, I could only get to spend weekends with you. When it came to parenting, you were always the easy parent while mother did most of the disciplining. I guess this is why I would want to more spend time with you. I know realize that as much as it was fun spending time with you, I needed to be guided in the manner mom did. Especially if it required strict parenting.

 

I remember that there were times when I took your easy attitude for granted, and was very unruly with you. Given that we did spend so little time together, I am sorry for that. Just before you died, you had quit your job to setup your own clinic near home. However that would not come to be, and the accident happened. To be honest, for quite a lot of time mom never let me feel that I had a parent short. She cared and provided in a manner that all my needs and quite a number of my wants were taken for.

Given that I was never overly attached to you, I didn’t miss you much. Mom did, for you were her husband. While her job and savings ensured that we didn’t miss a providing family member, your absence lead to other problems. Now that we were ‘alone’, your brothers continued to treat us in the second hand manner that they did. They graduated from that to taking a large amount of what was rightfully mom’s and belonged to us. You could have had the sense to warn her about the kind of dogs your family is.

Some time ago, when I was going through a difficult time I ended up staring at your picture in the house and a line from Harry Potter came to mind to me: “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.” The fact that a lot of this could have been different had you not died, makes me feel a little bitter. Sometimes I think how things could have different had mom had someone else in the family apart from me. If there would have been someone else to be there for her, would I have been able to feel freer? I guess it does sound incredibly selfish, but it is my manner of feeling pity on the living.

Love,

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

The irony of this letter doesn’t escape me. I choose not to share what I have written with mom because of my belief that we have tried too much of it already, and failed. I cannot share it dad, because quite simply he isn’t there anymore. When I speak to friends about their parents, their feelings are so much different than mine. D tells me how she feels happiest and safest with her head in her mum’s lap, while another friend tells me how he looks up to the advice his dad gives him. It is not that I don’t remember my happy times with you. I remember how we used play carom on the weekends, and dad would nudge one of my discs into the holes so that I would win. I remember how mum would make ice cream and slush for me when summers would come, so that I wouldn’t fall sick from eating some of the road side stuff. I remember dad holding me down, when I was kicking another doctor, dad had taken me to when I had had jaundice, and he had brought out the injection. The two of you would buy me a toy gun that made rattling noises to cheer me up. I even remember the hours mom would put in to make sweaters for me, or how she took care of me during the vacations I got sick.

But more than that, I do remember the times either of you got angry at me. The times when I was mad with either of you, and as I grew up the times, I get frustrated with mom. Kids like to cuddle up and sleep with parents, finding comfort in their presence. I have always found solace in being away instead. Mom remembers how I would roll away to the side of the bed when I would get sleepy, while other kids would roll to their parents embrace.

I guess this is how we are.

 

 

Written for Day 3 of the 30 Days 30 letters prompt: A letter to your parent(s).

Other bloggers can add the links to your posts in the linky below:

 

Dear D

Dear D,

I am not writing your name here and using a letter instead so that people won’t be able to make a connection as to who you are, for obvious reasons. Sometimes I believe it is downright uncanny as to the manner in which you get an insight into what I write. I am of course referring to some micro poems that I had written, and you called them on spot on in our chats. Our chats, how I love our chats.

What I love the best about them is that the honesty we share in it. We don’t seem to run out of things to share with each other. That we can at times not talk for days with only as much as a good morning, and then pick up after for a long conversation is an aspect that I cherish. I remember the time we met for coffee, and spoke so much and go so carried away that the lady on the table next to us had to ask us to tone it down. To be so lost in conversation with another person, it is not a surprise that it left a cherished memory.

But all of this, makes me happy and worried at the same time. We’re two different souls, so very different. I am an atheist, and you’re religious. I would go to all ends if it meant getting what I want, and you’d give up all things if it meant doing so for the family. And yet I find myself gravitating towards you, Gravity, yes that is what I think of. A force that I cannot see, yet it definitely pulls me towards you.

One of the earliest conversations that I remember with you is of your time in Bombay when you had gone for a friend’s marriage. It was followed by some time on the beach with friends, where you chatted away to glory. The idea of it stuck to me. A time spent with you in a place where our conversations wouldn’t be interrupted. I would want to cook for you. I haven’t done that yet. Happiness has mostly involved food for me. And cooking for someone, I believe is putting what you think in to some thing physical.

I would definitely like that, a time together, conversations and some cooking. But let us see where and what end up with.

With love 🙂

 

Written for Day 2 of the 30 days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to your crush

Other bloggers can add their posts to this linky:

Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore

I had ordered Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore based on a recommendation I found on Flavorwire. Written by Robin Sloan, this is his first book.

Recession has caused Clay Jannon, a web designer to be out of a paying job. He finds work at Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour book store, run by the titular man. When being screened for the job, Penumbra asks him, “What do you seek in these shelves?” The answer to that will unfold the secret to immortality, which a secret order has been looking for, over the last 500 years. An answer that possibly cannot be found without using the technology and tools at our disposal today.

Clay works the night shift as a clerk at the book store. The customers for the books are few. However there exists a shelves of books at the back of the bookstore (called the Wayback List), which seem to not have been published anywhere else. These books attract a weird base of customers, who from time to time issue the books for their own perusal. While told no to open the books, curiosity gets the better of him, and Clay realizes that these books contain coded text. But Clay doesn’t limit himself to pen and paper like these customers do, and uses his computer to crack the code.
In this process he meets Kat, who works at Google. She dresses in the same tee with a ‘Bam’ on it, is an expert at data visualization, wants to be a Project Manager at work, and is thrilled by the idea of Singularity (where technology and humans become one, a point beyond which we cannot even fathom what lies ahead). Enlisting the help of Kat and a childhood friend Neel Shah (who is start up owner that deals with computer generated 3D human bodies, but predominantly breasts), they approach Penumbra with the solution.

Instead of being mad, he is glad that they cracked it to the point of being impressed at their use of modern technology with ease. Penumbra however, disappears the next day. Worried, they form a team (A wizard, a warrior and a rogue) and trace him to New York. They find a symbol similar to the one outside his bookstore at the entrance of the building, which Penumbra tells them is a front for the secret order called the Unbroken Spine. Their objective is to search for the secrets to immortality, clues to which have been left in yet another coded text written by the founder of the order (aptly named as the Founder’s Puzzle).

The symbol for the Unbroken Spine
The symbol for the Unbroken Spine

 

They determine to now solve this puzzle which the Unbroken Spine have failed to do for 500 years in spite of having used some brilliant mathematicians and cryptographers.

The book is an easy read. As a narrator, Clay describes his world in detail. His thoughts and observations are interesting. Take his description of his girlfriend Kat:

“…is a Googler. So, she really is a genius. Also, one of her teeth is chipped in a cute way.”

When she wears the same tee shirt when she meets him the next day, he thinks that “(a) she slept in it, (b) she owns several identical t-shirts, or (c) she’s a cartoon character — all of which are appealing alternatives.”

There are more layers to the book than just the decoding of this text. There is an underlying current about the transition from old to new, from traditional methods to new found. This is exemplified in the form of books and e-readers. There is a time when even Penumbra wonders in awe at the Kindle and other e-readers, as to how volumes and shelves of books condense into one hand held device.

I have only two grievances with the book. The primary one, as with most books that I have loved is that the book feels too small. I want more of it, where the story arcs are longer and drawn out. This is something, I wouldn’t hold against the author. He does the story justice in 300 pages. The second grievance is that the adventure feels too easy. It’s not that it has not been described well, or isn’t intriguing and involving; it’s just that when the characters face obstacles, they are able to overcome them with some stroke of luck, or a specific skillset/resource one of their friends has.

The book is a treasure trove for book lovers. There are many wonderful lines that would make readers smile with joy, probably a reflection of Sloan’s own love for reading. I will leave you with some such lines.

 

“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”

“I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it’s a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely takes place in your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes”

“…this is exactly the kind of store that makes you want to buy a book about a teenage wizard. This is the kind of store that makes you want to be a teenage wizard.”

“Some of them are working very hard indeed. “What are they doing?” “My boy!” he said, eyebrows raised. As if nothing could be more obvious. “They are reading!”

“A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

“He asked <…> Rosemary, why do you love books so much?
And I said, Well, I don’t know <…> I suppose I love them because they’re quiet, and I can take them to the park.”

Front cover of Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore
Front cover of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore

Fun and Love

I have been to two high schools for my studies. While I spent lesser time in it, St. Gregorios has been responsible for some of my most memorable experiences, and wonderful learnings. I imagine that this is the speech that I have been invited to speak over there.

 

This is a very interesting feeling, to be on this side of the stage and speaking on the microphone. I have been nudged more than once by a friend when I had dozed off in one such speeches, and called out when a friend saw me eating chocolates or chewing gum. What are friends for, if not to occasionally get you into trouble?

I was asked before being invited back here, to speak on the path of life. Of course non one needed to have gone through the trouble of inviting me. One can never be invited back home, we just walk back in its comforting presence. What better manner to talk about the path of life than to speak through the memories that I cherish of this place, some similar to what you will end up with as well.

One of my most memorable craft classes was the one involving masks and puppets. As the class assignment all of us had to prepare a mask or puppet each. There were no compulsions as to what we had to interpret or portray, or which craft skill we had to use. One would think that in itself the act of mask making would be fun enough, we were told that the kindergarten classes would be grading us. The final class would involve us putting up a team effort to enact stories with our masks and puppets for the KG kids.

The whole idea behind our work changed, and it was as fun for us as the KG kids when the acts were being performed. I don’t remember who was more excited on the final day, the KG kids who were having enjoying the show, or us who were having a wonderful time putting on the act for them. What I am trying to tell here is that if you have to do something, you put in more effort if it is fun, and you enjoy it.

Of all the classes we had, I think the one that I ended up loving the most was Library. I know, library doesn’t have a set curriculum, or something specific to learn like we have in other subjects. But library gave me something that many classes cannot compare to. It gave me the love of reading. While it was never forced that we had to issue a book more than the once per week Library class, a bunch of us ended up issuing books much often. Reading was always encouraged for us. We were taught how to write reviews, and there was pride in one’s review being displayed on the library notice board for others to read.

I remember the discussions we had, students and teachers together. Discussions about the book we had last read, what we thought of it, and the recommendations to the next book. At the height of it, we were issuing books every second day, using the lunch time to change our books from the library. The books would get devoured in the bus on the way back home. Home was no different. Once home work and studies were done with, and dinner eaten; I would be in the bedroom propped with the latest book that I had had issued. Hours could go away on such nights and on holidays to the extent that a person like me would have to be called twice to the lunch table.

I remember when we had been to Bangalore for an inter-school competition, and were on the way back to our accommodation from the event site. We were playing a Harry Potter quiz, and Principal ma’am commented that had we put in half as much effort in our course studies, we would have all been scoring more than 90%.

The idea over here is to find something that you love. The moment you start loving something, you forget the amount of effort you put into things. All that will matter is doing it. Fun and love. These are the two things that I believe you must have, in your path of life.

 

 

Post written as a guest author for the team of Project 365. The prompt was to “You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech.”

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Written for day 6 of the A-Z challenge 2014.

Barista, the place I belong to

Everyone has a place that is special for them. A place which they are not just fond of, but a place that makes them feel comfortable, a place where they get a feeling of belonging. The Barista Lavazza café in Baroda happens to be mine.

Baroda is not where I came to know of Barista, our connection is much older than that. More than 10 years ago when I used to haunt the Crosswords book store at Mithakali in Ahmedabad, I would spend time in the adjoining café with the book I would have had bought. That café happened to be Barista. It was a ritual for me to read my pre-ordered Harry Potter on the day of release in Barista. When having bought anything other than Harry Potter, I would spend less time in there, but a visit was always on the cards.

Then something horrible happened. Barista shut down, and was replaced by some other chain of coffee shops. It was decent, but didn’t have the same feeling as Barista. Years later, when I had to meet a friend in Baroda, she asked me to come to Barista. I was overjoyed to learn that Barista had opened sop again. Lavazza had taken over, and opened up at new places. They were smart in the fact that they didn’t change what was already bringing back the old loyal customers, and yet had something for new lovers. My love was back.

After renting out a different place with new roommates in the same area, I could easily spend more time at Barista. It was natural for one of us to be tired from work, and ask the other to join him for coffee at Barista. Barista still serves some of the best coffee that I have had. Their hot chocolate is to die for. Let me walk you through the place with pictures.

Welcome to Barista

BaristaoutsideThis is one of the few places that I know where people love sitting outside as much as they love the insides. There is no special sitting arrangement outside, just two ledges on either sides of the door where you have glass panes. There is enough space to sit on it.

Baristaoutsit

There have been many nights when roommate and I have spent sitting there just chatting away into the last hour of the night forgetting what happened at work, or sometimes just reading in silence.

baristagroupspot

When we went in as a group, this was our spot. One could keep track of the score if there was a cricket match going on. We could all have our drinks and snacks placed in front us, on the centre table.

baristamochaWhen it came to hot drinks, I prefer their Cafe Mocha. It is such a wonderful blend of chocolate and coffee. The cookies help as well 😀

baristabrrista
At times when I felt like reading alone, I would order a Brrista for myself. It is their version of a cold frappe which has icecream blended with coffee. The only sad thing about this is that I end up finishing it quickly in three sips, and am left wondering where it all went.

baristaart2 baristaartThey have such lovely wall art decor. The first one has “AT ANY TIME OF DAY A CUP OF COFFEE DELIGHTS, REVIVES AND STIMULATES THE SENSES.” on it.

BaristacoverThis is another lovely piece they have, that takes up almost half of the wall. I love how they have not drawn the features and expressions of the people in it, and have left it to the viewer’s imagination.

BaristaMyspotThis is my spot when I go there by myself. If someone is already occupying it, you may find me sulking about it. The moment they leave, I get up and move to it before anyone else does.

baristapanaroma

This a panaroma shot from the spot. I can cover the entire place from it, corner to corner. I can see the wash room and wait at my seat instead of having to wait at the door for the person to come out. The barista can signal for me when my order is done. I can look at the outsides through the door and glass panes, and keep an eye out for a friend who may have made plans with me. It also has a charging point right behind the chair, and I can keep my laptop plugged in. I remember sitting hours over there playing games on my laptop.

baristacupOne day I received a call from the Barista office regarding a feedback form I had filled up. They had called to confirm my address, and they sent in this lovely mug as a gift along with a letter.

baristaletterThe letter reads as :

Hi Hrishikesh,

Thank you for writing in!

We appreciate feedback like yours that inspires us to move in a positive direction.

I am enclosing a small souvenir with this package.

Please keep writing for customers like you are the ones we work for. 🙂

 

Barista Team.

BARISTA FOR ALL.

 

They’re the best!

 

 Written for day 2 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

 

How I came to love reading

Five years of my schooling life were spent in Bombay at my uncle’s, so that I could get a better education in Bombay. There were other reasons too, but that is for another blog. I was put up in St. Gregorios High School, and those are one of my most memorable times I have had. One of the two life changing classes that I had over there was Library. Like all other subjects, we had a ‘Library’ class once per week. During this period we were to sit in the library, and return the book we had previously issued so that another one of our choice could be issued to us. Quite simple actually.

I was indifferent to reading books before that, and didn’t bother much except for the text books or the mandatory book we had to issue every week. Our librarian saw this, and I will be ever so thankful that she started recommending books. It started with ‘Great Illustrated Classics’, which are classic books like Oliver Twist, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Frankenstein, Black Beauty, Alice in wonderland and so on. These have a large font print one side and an illustration on the other. They soon had my attention. Once I had exhausted the entire series, I was told to select other books myself. When our names were called, we were encouraged to spend time in front of the books, read their jackets and pick one that we liked.

As we got into higher classes (standard 6 and above, I think) the books we could choose from increased to include Goosebumps, and Shivers. They were such a wonderful read. However the incident that made me passionate about reading took place soon. Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were popular in our school, and the library had a huge collection. Generally boys read Hardy Boys, and girls read Nancy Drew. As part of a bet I had to take up Nancy Drew. The librarian saw my sheepish look when I asked for a Nancy Drew, and asked me what was going on. When I explained, she just laughed and told me that for a good book, it doesn’t matter if the characters were male or female. She put me at ease and I started with ‘Nancy Drew and the secret of the slumber party’. I was hooked. I was now issuing books by the day instead of the regular weekly Library period. Every day, I would come back early from the evening games and finish my studies so that I could read Nancy Drew. The next day I would finish lunch quickly so that I could exchange the book for another.

And then Harry Potter happened. My friends were already into it. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is book 3 of the series was already out. I started with that, worked back to book 1 and then read the lot in sequence. I was hooked. We would spend our day discussing the book, challenging each other with trivia questions, or who could remember more spells. Newspapers were hounded for any news of the release dates of the next book. Since the school library would get limited copies of the book, we had a waiting list which went across classes. The list was public, and it was common knowledge as to who was reading the book and the next person in waiting would be after them to read it faster. We were playing a Harry Potter Trivia session in the bus, when we had gone to Bangalore for an interschool event. (We had gone by train, and the bus was for travel within Bangalore.) The principal happened to hear us go at it, and told us that if read our syllabus books with even fifth of this much devotion we would all be getting full marks.

We were encouraged to write reviews for the books we read, and the better of the lot were put up in the bulletin board. It was not an official contest or event, but we felt a pang of pride if our review was put up on the library bulletin board. We had classes only weekdays, but were allowed to come to the school library and read periodicals, Nat Geo, encyclopedias and other books that were not issued to be taken home.

As I grew up, many people told me that Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are two books which are a must read. When I asked them why, nobody could give me a satisfactory answer but just said that these were mind blowing books. Why and how the books did blew their minds, they didn’t know. Their minds were blown because they were told that was the reaction they were supposed to have. When I was doing my internship at General Motors (where I work now), my mentor told me that I remind him of Howard Roark. When I asked who, he told me about the Fountainhead and offered to loan me his copy. I said no. With the limited pocket money I had, I purchased a second hand copy of it for myself.

Reading that book for the first time had been an interesting experience. There were times I was nodding in agreement at what I read, there were lines which I had said myself. Same in essence, and a little different in the choice of word. There were also things that I only hoped I had the courage to do should the time came. Quite naturally Ayn Rand had my interest and I read Atlas Shrugged as well. It was an experience similar to Fountainhead, only more profound. Soon I had a job, so I ended up with all of her books that I could find. If you do want to read her fiction works, then read them in order of Anthem, We the living, Fountainhead, and finally Atlas Shrugged. It makes for an interesting study in not only the objectivist philosophy, but also in Rand as a writer. With each book you can see how her characters evolve, how the plot has more depth, and how the plot arcs reach out and meet each other.

Sometime last year, I was re-reading Atlas Shrugged. I had a strong reaction and felt like hurling the book across the room. I was going through a particularly difficult time, and was reading how the characters were dealing with their own lives in the book. Part of me thought that how could they manage to hold through through much tougher things when they only had themselves. The idea that they’re fictional characters and not real also came to me, at which I was about to throw the book. However I also thought that it was not who I was, and the characters were the kind I always wanted to be. Even before I had read or even knew of the book. Better sense prevailed.

As practice, we never called the librarian in school by name or as a librarian. She was to be conferred with as much respect as we gave our class teachers. Which is why we addressed her as ‘Ma’am’. In retrospect she has taught me as much, if not more, as any other teacher I have ever had. It is she who gave me the love for reading.

Written for the Write Tribe: Festival of words 2, Day 3 prompt: Books

Love, unrequited

I was reading Privy Trifles’ blog tonight wherein I read some lines on love by Pablo Neruda.

One that particularly caught my attention was :

To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.

It made me think about love. I believe that love is like a fire that burns inside you. A fire that gives you heat and power, a fire that radiates warmth towards the one that you love. When the fire of love burns in you, it keeps giving warmth. The fire grows more and burns longer when you feed it more, especially so if this comes from the person you love.

This also made me think about unrequited love. You keep radiating warmth, and the fire consumes all that was keeping it aflame before slowly dying down. It is still there, ready to be fed, ready to flare up again but reduced to embers. Embers. Embers that lie dormant, but one whiff of the person you loved, one thought or memory that triggers all that you once felt for them comes flooding right back in.

It’s all that is needed to flare it again. The fire is short lived, but this fire will either give warmth again but to yourself, and comfort you. Or burn you, bit by bit. Soon it is reduced to embers again, waiting for another whiff or blow to come its way. Love, unrequited.

I will leave you with another bit by Neruda:

In this part of the story I am the one who dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you, because I love you, Love, in fire and in blood.