September 13, 2014

An Honest 10 Books list

Everyone is going high-end literature buff with this task of listing their favourite ten books, or atleast that is what it seems to me. Books entered my life much later than usual, at the age of 19 when I read my first full fledged novel/book. But in my life so far, I have lived with academics and being a civil services aspirant. So now, I have two lists. The first one is from my pretentious self, the second list is from my nerdy self. These are the books that remain with me even today:

(in no particular order)


1) The Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban in particular, because it was the first book I EVER read.

2) The Shiva Trilogy by Amish
Shiva is my favourite mythological character and Indus Valley Civilization is my favourite period of study in History. I had to love the series.

3) The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
The book blew my mind. I finally realised that I had an inclination for conspiracy novels.

4) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This book took me a month to finish but it was nothing less than magic.

5) Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon
Love for the book, more love for the genre

6) Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
Bridget is basically me.

7) Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkein

8) Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L.James
For Christian Grey. Also, it is Beyonce certified.

9) White Mughals by William Dalrymple
Grand. Epic.

10) Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
"Do you want to fly so much that you will forgive the Flock, and learn, and go back to them one day and work to help them know?"


1) A Cultural History of India - A.L.Basham
2) Oxford Disctionary of World History
3) Quantitative Aptitude - Dr.R.S.Aggarwal
4) NCERT Textbooks
5) Machiavelli's Prince
6) Medieval India - Satish Chandra
7) India's Struggle for Independence - Bipin Chandra
8) Civil Service Chronicle
9) Early History of India - Romila Thapar
10) Tinkle

I have a few books on the waitlist waiting to be read:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Empire of the Mughals by Alex Rutherford, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Discourses by Karl Marx, Chanakya's Chant by Ashwin Sanghi, Love in the time of Cholera by Garcia Gabriel Marquez and The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

Do I need to add more to my to-read list? I'd love some suggestions! 

September 6, 2014

Lost a parent. Found my God.

AGNOSTIC  /aɡˈnɒstɪk 
A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

I have been an agnostic for as long as I can remember. Coming from a family of staunch believers in divinity, I was the oddity. None of the relatives understood what I was. Honestly, I did not see sense myself. Praying was a matter of convenience, remembering a higher power happened when I was in trouble and needed an out.

And then last week, I lost my father to an unexpected cardiac arrest. Having lost my grandmother just four months back had left a rather lasting impression on me and I began to treat death as any other 'big' moment in one's life. Papa suffered from a long-standing heart condition. I made myself believe that his passing away had relieved him from years of pain and suffering. I also told myself that no matter what happened, I still had mum to be with and look after. I went about the charades gracefully, fulfilling the duties that were expected of me. Being the only child, mum insisted I light Papa's funeral pyre. Unorthodox as it may be to everyone, it happened and mum's wish stood honoured. The priest argued that women were weak of heart to handle the sight of a dead body, let alone the body being their father's. It was orthodox-talk for 'keep the women out!' 

I stood near Papa's head, trying to take it all in, when it hit me. A wave of sheer realisation. This will be the last I see of him. Ever. 
Then there was His voice in the back of my head. 
Him, singing a song.
"Kya se kya ho gaya...."
Because that is what he would do. 
Papa sang songs to commemorate events, big or small. He did that all the time. He used to say that it was his way of making a memory that lasted way longer than just a few random seconds. In that eternal moment I knew how I was going to remember him for the rest of my life. I was going to make him a part of every memory I make thereafter, big or small. From that moment on, I gained a God. Watching over me. Loving me. Letting me make mistakes. Smiling down at me while I teach mum how to pick a perfect song for every emotion. 

Papa was an amazing man. His sense of humour is as legendary as his anger and self-respect. No man could ever lead a family out of non-entity the way he did. He taught me how to be benevolent by just being himself. We had our share of fights as well because he raised a daughter who would not give up without making herself heard. He believed that people were essentially good and helpful. He may not have necessarily turned me into a believer but I am not a skeptic anymore, because my father is my angel. 

Dealing with the loss of a loved one, let alone a parent, is one of the most difficult things a person has to go through in his life. Living in denial is bad. Worse than that is trying to get over the death. You don't get over someone dying. Instead, you learn to live with it. You embrace it and you let the happy memories of that loved one heal you. The moment when you can think of those who went away and smile at the kindling of a fond memory about them is when you know all is going to be well after all. Its been 7 days and Papa's memory makes mum and me smile more than it makes us weak. He gives us strength to carry on. 

I hope there is internet connectivity and a constant supply of mangoes and pizzas where you are. I will look after mum, don't worry. You just make sure I don't do anything stupid, I know you will point me into the right way when need be. Needless to say, I miss you. A lot. I love you so much.