Monday, 30 July 2018

Book Review #106 : Sonya

"Sonya is born and raised under strange circumstances and in a world of darkness. But she thoroughly enjoys this world and her gloomy ambience, until one fateful night. That night literally transforms her whole life and destroys everything she possesses, leaving her with nothing but complexes, phobias and depression. Despite that, Sonya wants to lead a normal life like everyone else. A life comprising of a normal family, a few good friends and a good romantic relationship, but will her past allow her to have one? Sonya grows up in various different situations and meets many good people who seem better than the monsters of her past. But are they? This story is a coming of age drama that follows Sonya and her life which is coloured by deception, dilemma, seduction, tears, abuse and bloodshed."

About the author:
Gautam Narayanan is from Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. He has been writing for four years now and has written around 25 short stories before writing his first novel, Sonya. Gautam has also penned scripts for a few short films and loves movies, music and photography. He welcomes feedback and constructive criticism and is active on his twitter handle 2393writes.
  • Author : Gautam Narayanan
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Notion Press
  • ISBN: 9781643243320, 1643243322
  • Edition: 1, 2018
  • Pages: 434
Before reading the book I was terrified by its size. There are many books that are fat and have tons of pages which can make the reader doze off to sleep, as they pick it to read. But this book is a complete page turner. Each and every page justified its reason of being a part of this book. The storyline is very addictive and keeps you glued. The author has done justice to all the characters and has described each one perfectly to spin a perfect story.

The novel was completely the opposite of what I expected when I saw the cover page. I am actually surprised by the fact that a male writer can encapsulate the deepest emotions and feelings of a girl so well! The way the writer has scripted each and every human emotion and thought processes in the simplest way possible is just worth mentioning.

The girl i.e Sonya in the book, is not a perfect one, she is flawed, just like an ordinary girl. She does mistakes too. This is her story where she isn’t just turning into a woman but becoming a strong one - enough to face anything daringly that life puts her through.

The author has superbly expressed the feelings of a woman. The plot is likely to touch the heart of every woman. This book made me self reflect. I felt like I learnt more about myself. Every incident is relatable. Being a girl and facing certain issues in my life, this book made me even more stronger. Gautam Narayanan has penned a masterpiece which changed me as a person and made me questions many beliefs.

This is one of the books which leaves an impact on you. with simple yet elegant way of explaining emotions that aren't easily understood by many. This novel made me cry, made me rediscover myself and inspired me. A must read for all book lovers. Congratulations to Gautam for his hard work of 3 years! <yes, it took 3 years for him to finish this fat book>

Verdict ~ Gautam Narayanan is a gifted writer. I am sure he has thoroughly enjoyed conceptualizing this book and has lived the process of writing it. The cover of the book justifies the theme of the book. Highly recommended!

Rating – 5/5

Disclaimer: I received a copy of book from the author in return for my honest review.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Relationships : Casualty of Circumstances & Timing

I’ve realized that some relationships are transient but nonetheless beautiful and enriching for all that.
It’s been said that a relationship is a lot like a painting. I tend to disagree. Well yes, a relationship does indeed begin much like a painting, with a blank canvas and infinity ahead. And relationships do need solid foundations, much like the background layers on a watercolor. But beyond that, how similar are the two, really? For any true work of art, the artist works his way across the canvas with a definite goal in mind. Relationships, on the other hand, aren’t entirely constrained by the participants. They sometimes flourish and more often flounder, occasionally doing both.
Circumstance and timing come together in a thousand different ways to encourage a burgeoning new relationship, or to whittle away at the bedrock of a marriage, or sometimes even place prop upon prop to buttress the sweet beginnings, only to wash away the entire romance in a flood of bad luck and incompatibility. A relationship therefore, is a living, breathing entity with a mind of its own. All we can really do is ride upon its back and hope for the best. You might place a bullet in its chest and bury the beast, leaving it for dead. And indeed you may have killed it, but you are just as likely to see it gamboling back to you as alive as on the day you first saw it birthed into being. Both a blessing and a curse, a relationship is what you make of it. You might find your paths diverging in the woodlands, and it may be time to shed a tear and whisper a goodbye. Other times, you collide with each other as you turn a corner and all you can do is brush yourself off, take a deep breath and say ‘Hello'.
There will be a small corner of your heart, somewhere between those veins and arteries, which will belong to him/her forever.

Many breakups, especially those from long-term relationships, involve walking away from a good thing. There are still many positive aspects to a relationship that ends, it's just that those good things start being outweighed by the bad things. Or even harder, a realization that there are bad things to come, and so you make a pre-emptive breakup. One of the hardest parts of breaking up is remembering this ratio, the underlying logic of the decision, and not fixating on all the wonderful parts of the person you're walking away from.

And finally, it's difficult to recalibrate your sense of self as someone who "doesn't have a partner." Your identity becomes tied up in the partnership. You train yourself to think of their happiness along with yours, to plan events that you'll both enjoy, to think what they'd say before you make decisions. The process of unlearning that is arduous, and becomes a constant reminder of what you've lost. Similar to the reimagining of the future, this pops up in all sorts of small ways that hurt each time, as you slowly break the habit. Ultimately, though, this is the reason you broke up in the first place: because you wanted to be an individual more than you wanted to be a pair. It just takes awhile for your identity to catch up. And the worst part is, you don’t even know how to put a closure and lift your belief off those beautiful empty promises. Because putting a closure with this person feels like cutting away this large chunk of your heart! Is there even a way to time travel and undo all the memories that have crowded your heart?

The positives : Break ups are like second chances to live your life. After the pain, you will feel a sense of waking up from a deep sleep. You will get time to work on yourself. Either you pull yourself out of the storm or let it carry you to another shore.
  • True love empowers you. It does not choke you.
  • We may be important to people but not all the time. The biggest challenge is to accept this. LET GO.
  • Life is not fair. It never was and will never be. We just have to live it anyway making the best of ourselves and giving our best to others and being good and truthful.
There is a universal truth we all have to face, whether we want to or not, everything eventually ends. As much as I've looked forward to this day, I've always disliked endings. Last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with a close friend. But endings are inevitable. Leaves fall, you close the book. You say goodbye. So, say goodbye to everything that was familiar, everything that was comfortable. Move on.

People will leave you. Often without any reason.
One moment it will be so real but will soon be a distant memory.
Memories will fade.
Life will go on. Without apologizing.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Biggest Flaws In Arranged Marriages In India?

It's based on money and looks.
You can even meet 3 boys or 3 girls back to back on the same date, and pick out the best one. If not, you can meet the next batch of prospects.
It's like shopping. Just like you visit a store and check out a hundreds shirts to buy one who suits you best, same way you jump into the arrange marriage market and chose the best one out of the lot.
But really are they the best one? Some girl's side always want a man who's rich, who's earning in lakhs, who owns a car and a house, who's parents are really good, and seek no dowry. Some boy's side want a girl who's fair, white (as a bulb), slim, tall (not taller than the boy), educated (not more than the boy obviously), who can be a perfect wife and daughter in law. And of course dowry is welcome. Horoscopes are matched. Rahu, ketu, shani decides whether or not two people could be good life partners. Understanding and compatibility? Lol, what's that dude? Rahu ketu rocks!
The guy meets the girl, for maximum half an hour, in some cases 10 minutes, in the presence of parents and families sitting right in the next room (yay so much privacy). The guy and girl are terrified, often asking common questions like hobbies and passions and alcohol and education and jobs, etc. After 10-30 minutes, the families enter back because according to them 25 year olds can choose a life partner in just 10-30 minutes. A life partner and a pizza are equal, both should take 30 minutes. These are the same families who takes forever to finalize even a TV. But when it comes to arrange marriages, 30 minute rule should be followed.
How can anyone, ANYONE, understand how the other person really is in just 10/30 minutes? HOW? The second meeting is only permitted when you say yes in the first. If you say no, the second meeting is not happening. How is anyone supposed to really know about someone in such circumstances?
Yes, in the modern times, people can communicate more via mails, messages and calls. But still the time period, the communication is just too less in arranged marriages. It can take years to know a person. Sometimes is does work in the favour because of the surprise element, but more often than not, there are lot of incompatible couples almost forced to live together because of the social boundaries of the Indian society.
It's not that the arranged marriage setup is totally bad. I'm sure it does have it's own advantages, but as India is progressing, I really wish it looses it's importance. People should be allowed to choose their own partners, according to their own compatibility, and not on the parameters of caste, religion, money and looks.
Lies are very common in arranged marriages, lies about salary, family backgrounds, previous relationships, habits, the girl puts up the best dress and make up, that's a lie too. The guy puts up his best behavior, lie. If you have to marry someone, shouldn't that person see your natural face and behavior?
The biggest flaw of arranged marriage is that it's just like a game of gamble. If you're lucky, you can hit the jackpot, if not, then only Lord can save you.
In arranged marriages, people just scan around and quit, thinking it will not hurt feelings as there is no bonding between girl and boy. But it hurts some individuals, to be treated as commodities.

The matrimony profiles are not truthfully filled, because it is filled by the parents, most of the times. For e.g someone is a non drinker/non smoker as per their profile; this can be because the parents don't know this fact about their kid, or that the parents know and conveniently leave this out to broaden the scope of potential matches.

Health/medical history are not usually revealed in this process. The most commonly hidden ones are depression, epilepsy, impotence, night blindness, heart issues. Have personally heard or come across many such cases which eventually ended up in messy divorces.

Most Indian males are confused a lot. Especially the ones who are earning comfortably well and are pretty settled in their careers. Sometimes, I pity them and mostly they invoke pure disgust in me. They feel threatened when they talk to a girl who has her own mind.

Most guys are certainly not good looking at all (I know it's shallow to even type this!), yet expect to find a beautiful and pretty girl (according to their fucked up standards). Often the excuse given for the beer belly, dark circles, receding hairlines and tobacco stained teeth is job pressure and the fact that they earn better than the girl. So money justifies everything, wow. But if you are 28 and look like a 40 year old, then it’s not just aesthetics that are going against you, but it clearly shows you are not physically healthy and take your health for granted. Isn't it?

Pleasing everyone, except the bride and the groom : Even the opinion of a distant relative, who was virtually invisible until then, begins to take more precedence than the bride/groom.
Expectation Management: It pivotal to understand that that the current generation is leaps and bounds ahead of older ones. We don’t blindly follow things but we need to rationalise everything and then decide what suits us best. So first and foremost don’t judge the boy or the girl from your expectations (in-laws/parents), rather appreciate how well suited they are for each other. Also, understand that the girl didn’t spend the last 25 / 28 / 30 or 32 years of her life to just become "the wife". Don’t let marriage be a deterrent in her professional growth or whatever her aim in life is. The boy and his parents should not look for someone ONLY to clean, cook, look after the house, and take some work load off the mother - Maids are better suited and qualified for these tasks, not a wife. That doesn’t mean a girl wants to run away from all these responsibilities, or I am looking down upon maids, but these responsibilities shouldn’t be her ONLY part of life, after marriage.
Don’t try and pressure a girl by saying she is a part of the "new" family. The girl is as much a part of the new family as the boy is of her’s. Respect, love and honor is a two-way street. It mustn’t be demanded, rather earned.
FOR PARENTS - Also, parents must learn to cut the umbilical cord. Don’t expect them to move-in with you. Let the couple figure out what works best for them. There is no rule that says, what worked for one will work for all. Let them make their life the way they want, face the hurdles together, make mistakes and learn from them. That’s what a marriage is, right?