No time to turn at Beauty’s glance…


Clock (Photo credit: sleepinyourhat)

The sunday newspaper brought good cheer this morning with its awaited literary supplements. It is something I eagerly look forward to reading. But beautiful things come only in small packets and this particular supplement is published only once a month. And on beholding this month’s copy today I was overjoyed and instantly delved into its contents which as always had plenty to rout up from its depths. I discovered a completely new writer whom I felt I would really love without even knowing so much as what his books dealt with. And as the theme of his latest book surfaced in the article I knew exactly where my next investment had to go( The book happens to be Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer by Cyrus Mistry, if you were just curious to know).

After reading about five to six articles I had to restrict myself from finishing all the other inviting pieces for I have to sustain myself on this six paged ration for a whole month. And before I could indulge myself in gleaning information from around the world and my city the clock struck eleven! There was still a day’s work to be done with all the added obligatory activities to be performed being the diligent thing that I am. Where have those precious days where reading a warm newspaper was the only activity that Sundays called for? And of course cutting out fresh squares of articles for the clip book collection too.

The ubiquitous time crunch just revealed its presence to me yet again. At a time when I am already grappling with the grievous fact that my reading time has diminshed drastically being snatched away from my morning paper by sundry duties stung me bitter. That said there’s even less time for me to chronicle my thoughts on the things I read.

Off late I’ve been reading a lot online than offline. It’s always easier to steal a few minutes from work while using a computer. But with every underhand activity comes a peril. Here the danger lies in forgetting where I read a particular piece I adored. And even worse being unable to recall what I enjoyed reading so much altogether. So setting aside the greater grief of not being able to tick off books lying around my room in piles I thought to address this other issue which came with a plausible solution too. Several Google searches and conversations with the geeks concerned revealed Evernote, Pinterest, zoo something, etc as ideal apps to turn to.

But then again a little squirm arose from within. I saw yet another electronic versus traditional approach question surface. Can a mere cut-copy-paste action replicate the wholesomeness of taking notes by hand with the mind aligned on the same lines rather than focused on jumping to the next open tab on the screen?This really wouldn’t matter to a person with a reasonable amount of time to forage the net, pick, reason and ponder. But given the time constraints any solution to appease a self-proclaimed purist is far from the sight. I suppose such questions will continue to arise until the electronic approach completely converges with every aspect of life or it slowly disassociates itself fully. The former is bound to happen naturally or rather “unnaturally”.

So when we stand at the transition point where the direction of leap is uncertain attacking the problem at its heart is perhaps the best solution that I can think of. I simply have to make time. But how feasible is that? I don’t know. It’s as complex a question as the time we are living in.

Taking into account all these issues I’ve only arrived at this: It’s not an easy time to be a purist of any sort. And this: The spare time for those little joys in life is almost extinct.


Note: The title is taken from one of my favourite poems by William Henry Davies.


Seasons: Mango Love

[Seasons is a new feature on The Literary Shack showcasing some of my favourite aspects of the season running. I hope you will enjoy this one and extend your support as you have always done 🙂 ]

The summer heat is decidedly on here in my part of the world. Whatever it is doing to people I couldn’t care for I wake up each morning hoping to spot a cart of fresh, ripe, juicy, sensuous mangoes in the market. But alas the showers have been sparse and I’m sure we didn’t even have mango showers this year. So it would be lame to yearn for mangoes before May but there you have it: I am a mango maniac.

An interesting fact is that I am not one of those sophisticated mango lovers. By which I hope to remember you to those clan of people who drool over mango mousses, mango flavoured ice-creams, mango puddings, souffles, mango tarts, mango pizzas (if that’s possible) and all other unimaginable such recipes with mango. So sophisticated I am not. But purist I am. I love the fruit as a whole, as a creation of Nature.

I love their sweet smell. Sometimes it’s not even sweet. It’s that half-ripe-half-unripe wavering aroma that teases the nostrils. The skin and form are an artwork in their own right. It’s a beautiful mishmash of dark green, yellow and even blue sometimes stretched all over in absolutely admirable patterns. We have to give credit the Maker for such safe, artistic packaging that is nonpareil.

Skinning and slicing is a pure pleasure job that has to be done in absolute tranquillity while you take in the various stages of unveiling of its inner beauty. After a certain age, when I was allowed to clutch a knife and peeler, I almost felt like I was vested with great powers and immediately set to its application during summer breaks. I would hurriedly empty my cleverly filled plate (consisting of only those essential food stuff I needed to get through the day as a human being) and run to the mango basket. And I still remember how cross I was with the flies that had outdone my speed in reaching the place.

And yes washing was a ritual I performed with less enthusiasm for it was later on included in my rule book after a thorough beating when mother discovered me hogging loads of unwashed mangoes. So the final mouthing of the pieces is by far the most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever had. I would eat on and on, not sparing the little scrapes of mango left on the huge seed which is pure fun chewing on. Sometimes I’ve had people losing their mango appetite eating along with me. But I am none the decent eater even now. When it comes to gorging on mangoes, it is messy business. And I completely love it as I am proud of my style.

And I really get friendly with other mango lovers. That includes who people love eating mangoes and most importantly that grow them. I had once wanted to belong to the latter category and later dropped the plan on learning that it would take at least a decade for the mangoes to spring. I was seven or eight then. I haven’t changed much since then too.

There is one other group of people who I worship- writers who write to glorify my favourite fruit. I came upon this poem sometime back penned by one of my favourite contemporary poetess Aditi Rao on the poetry journal, Muse India. Ms. Aditi Rao did such an excellent job of it that after reading it I was actually cross! Cross that it wasn’t time for mangoes yet and the mango seeker in me had been aroused before time. I’m so happy to share it with you here:

The International Mango Festival

is a real festival, an annual two day extravaganza, 

the only ritual my grandfather, a good Marxist,

allowed himself. Each year, he drove his white Contessa

(five/ nine/ eleven year old me chattering in the backseat),

led me through human throngs and sweet mango smells.

The heat did not matter. The crowds did not matter.

There were magic shows, mango slogan writing

competitions, and mango eating contests for women.

But we simply walked from stall to stall, cradling the fruits

in our palms, sniffing for flavor, touching tentatively,

feeling their pulse. Sometimes, I would rub my thumb

in little circles on the mango’s skin, carry its scent home with me.

I never believed the watermelon sized mangoes, and I refused

to take the plum sized ones seriously. Still, there was joy

in watching those first encounters, shy unveilings

of brides to worlds they had been sheltered from. The Sindoori,

with its blush, greeting the Safeda’s pale grandeur. The syrupy Alfonso

in its first meeting with a spicy pickle. The shock on a mango’s face

at this other, this who-is-this-other, this other-I-didn’t-know-existed.

While tourists flocked to the special events, my grandfather and I

pressed our ears to the mangoes and listened. We learned their secrets.

I have two words for you Ms. Aditi: Thank you! And now I hope I have fired up the mango lover in you for it is summer after all!





Jane Austen January: The Final Chapter

Jane Austen SOURCE: Google

It feels a bit disheartening not to be able to complete the fourth book in my attempt to read four of Austen’s fantastic novels this January. But what with tight writing schedules, other readings to get done, a bit of health issues too I’m happy to have experienced three delightful books by ‘The Lady’- Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.

What I learn from Austen every time I read is the credibility of characters more than anything. The stories just seem like normal love stories but beneath them lies the world that I so take pleasure in knowing and understanding. I love the bows, the dinners, the manners, the ribbons, the dresses, the manners, not to mention the wonderful suitors. Though live back then is touted to have been boring by the children of technology of today’s world, in my view it is quite the contrary. With grand and elegant pianoforte’s to be mastered, room full of books by the masters of English Literature to be devoured, long and insightful letters to be written to the dear, courteous notes and calls to be given to neighbours, breathtaking parks and mansions to visit where was the time to be idle? Living like that has always been one of my many utopian dreams.

But Austen more than sufficiently provides for my fancies. Whatever views literary critics may take I for one will always admire the novels and turn to them for comfort and camaraderie.

Now I thought I might share some of my favourites out of her six popular novels.

Favourite Setting: Barton Park from Sense and Sensibility

Enjoyably Annoying character: Mrs. Jennings from Sense and Sensilibity

Favourite Non-heroine Sibling: Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Favourite Notorious Character: Frank Churchill from Emma and Lydia from Pride and Prejudice

Favourite Stately character: Sir Thomas Bertram from Mansfield Park

The character(s) I laughed my off reading: Collins and Catherine De Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice

Favourite hero: Fitzwilliam Darcy( I know, very typical, but that’s that)

Favourite heroine: I just cannot zero in on one. It would be pointless to cherry pick for the Austen fan that I am.

Favourite lucky character(s): Fanny Price from Mansfield Park and Wickam from Pride and Prejudice.

Favourite Parent/ Parents: The Morlands and Mr. Woodhouse

Favourite Saint: Anne Elliot from Persuasion

Favourite kids: The Musgroves pack from Persuasion

And the list is endless I think, so it would be best if I just let it be.

And now it feels like I have come to the end of something so enjoyable and invigorating. Nonetheless, I will continue to read them in the future. And it was a bang-up start for the year and thanks to all of you who joined in to make it an even more pleasant experience.

Take Diversion

It shocks me when I think about how much I go fishing for author bios. In almost every literary magazine that I read there’s a blog address or email and it’s ever so easy to look them up on the net. And if such information is not available I make full use of my googling skills to pull up the person’s carefully isolated website. The reason I do that is simply because I get inspired by their stories. I’m always curious to know a bit more about the writer also for the reason that I can enjoy the person’s work better. If I know that the writer loves chocolate I can be sure that I can pull through the most boring or scary scene in his book. Also it guarantees bragging rights for me- “Hey, so you know Emily Awesome Writer loves Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream!”

Okay…yes. I couldn’t get as much reading done(I have fairly good reasons too) as I thought to be posting about it. So instead I’ll share some of my favourite author bio’s.

~ Elizabeth Eulberg – Here’s a writer you should read if you’re a part of JAJ because I simply loved her ‘Prom and Prejudice’

~ Kelcey Parker – Very witty

~ Elizabeth Gilbert – I love her and expect you would be reading it if you loved ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.

~ John Lescroart – A tale which which has to be read.

~ Miranda Dickinson – Musical Miranda I should say for there’s an album she’s done. Her new book has such a cute title, I’m excited to read it just for that.


Jane Austen January: Five Links

I’m having an absolutely great time with Emma Woodhouse and her fun schemes. And I just dropped by from Hartfield to share these links which I thought would elevate the experience. Do visit them if you have some time to spare.

~ Pemberly – A site where you can meet lots of Austen fans, learn more about her and spend time.

~ Strange Girl – The best part of this site is the quiz in which you get to discover which Austen heroine you resemble. It’s fun, you know.

~ Jane Austen’s World – One passionate blog I must say.

~ Pemberly Couture – It’s a cool one where you buy some cute stuff. Also there are lots of little things to see and be happy about.

~ Jane Austen Centre – A useful website if you are a fan of Austen and live in England. It’s interesting to browse otherwise also.

Now I’m off to Hartfield again. Perhaps I’ll be just on time to catch the Knightley’s in conversation.

Looking Back


The weather outside resonates with my deepest elements and it’s that perfect time that I had been waiting for to let out a short round up of the year’s happenings. I smile as I look at the list of books I’ve read this year for I am quite pleased with it. The books I’ve enjoyed reading the most are(in no particular order):

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

The sixth lamentation by William Brodrick    

Mansfield Park By Jane Austen 

The Curious case of the dog at night time by Mark Haddon 

Lake by Banana Yoshimoto    

The Power of Now by Echart Tolle     

Notes from a small room by Ruskin Bond     

Prom and prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Room by Emma Donoghue

Lola and the boy next door by Stephanie Perkins 

A room with a view by E.M.Forster 

A moveable Feast By Ernest Hemingway

Now these are books I can safely recommend to anyone who wants a good read. In fact these have made the journey through this year a bit more joyous and intensely insighful for me.

I did watch a lot of movies but as for favourites, they would be:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Pride and Prejudice (2005 version)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On stranger tides (2011)

The Adventures of Tin Tin (2011)

Night at the musuem: Battle of the Smithsonian(2009)

Alice in Wonderland (2009)

Julius Caesar (1953)

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Now for the more touchy things. I’m truly thankful to my sister and friend Daisy for making this year a fun and memorable one as ever. And I’m equally grateful for my buddies on the blogosphere who kept the thirst for my passions alive through their support and inspirational presence. And thank you to one and all who read my blog and feel that it is worth something at the least.

I hope the New Year brings with it loads of lessons and trials to make us all better people. And may all our lives move towards our goals which shine brightly before us every minute of the day. I’ll leave you now with good hope for the new beginning and two precious quotes.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”    ―     Ernest Hemingway

Ring out the old, ring in the new,   Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.  – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850





Via Google Search

You may be one new to this blog. To you I say ‘Welcome’ and ‘Keep coming back’. If you want to know what you can look out for here, then I say you will be seeing a lot of:

~ Talks and takes on books…

~ Opinions on books, writers, people…

~ chit-chat or rant about life in general…

~ show-off posts that tell you I am trying to a writer… 😛

~ and more 🙂 🙂

So keep coming back to read, support and share. And comment ofcourse.

And to myself I say, “Please don’t do what you did with all the three fabulous blogs you were blessed with!”

P.S – If you’re wondering what I did with my other blogs and imagining some whacky thing, I request you to cull the thought just now. I just pressed the delete button in haste more than once. So I am promising myself more steadfastness this time.