Some More of Amy? Yes Please!

I think Amy Poehler is the BOSS. She’s funny, serious, goofy, wise and brave all at the same time. She’s also vulnerable, quirky, sometimes mean (self admittedly). She THE person you would want to hang out with, share jokes with, watch a comedy show with, drink with, smoke up with, and then trip and freak out with. I wish I could meet her in person (somebody listening up there??) I got introduced to her when I watched bits and pieces of SNL and Parks and Recreation. I dug her up online and read about Upright Citizens Brigade. And then I followed her some more via her awesome endeavour – Smart Girls.

A few weeks ago, I happened to find her book Yes Please, while browsing a bookstore. I had not been looking for it. In fact, I only vaguely knew that she had written a book. And here it was in my hand! Of course, I bought it.

It turned out to be a memoir/ diary / fun conversation kind of book. We see lots of pictures of Amy at various times in her life. We hear her interesting, inspiring and amusing adventures as she deliberately wanders through life. We hear all about her hard work, and everything she that she took with a little pinch of salt. We are told of her wonderful friends and loving family. And it’s all told in a voice that so Amy! Well, that seems about right considering it IS her book!

Image Source: Yes Please ! and my iPhone
Image Source: Yes Please ! and my iPhone

She does not claim to be perfect, she never once downplays the importance of hard work.What I essentially learnt from the book was that if you do something that you love heart and soul, you might not always have the best time , but you will be so much happier and-and prouder of yourself and the life that you build than if you had not done It . Each section of the book is aptly named, in keeping with this central theme.

This book is deeply personal and yet not so. She skips over the gory details of her divorce and she is absolutely entitled to do that and I am glad she did. To me, that would have spoilt the book. I loved the one (and two) liners this book is littered with.

She writes about writing for a Broadway Video online show,

I was happy when we were eventually fired because I was convinced this Internet thing was a passing fad.

This lack of technological foresight is why I am an actor.

She writes about sleep deprivation after children,

I liken it to what it must feel like to walk on the moon and to cry the whole time because you had heard that the moon was supposed to be great but in truth it totally sucks

She has a Plastic Surgery Haiku section where she write things like

Hey, shooting poison

In your face does not keep you

From turning fifty

It’s a wonderful book. Go read it already!!

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5 Thoughts on India’s Independence Day

So India has been independent for a while now. 68 years to be precise (forgive me if I am wrong, numbers and me don’t like each other). Back in the days when I was in school, this meant a flag hoisting followed by singing competitions, speeches, skits and finally sweets! Every school going Indian child knows what Independence Day celebrations entail. This is one thing that doesn’t change with time and I’m glad it doesn’t. But there are some things that I hope, change soon. Before I begin, I’d like it to be known that I LOVE India and there is nowhere in the world I’d rather live. Here are the top 5 things (in no particular order) , I’d like us Indians to change about ourselves.

  • Our Extremely Twisted Gender Perspectives – People may cry hoarse about all the lovely things India is and Indians do. But at the end of the day, for a normal girl walking on the street, India is a deeply misogynistic place. Misogyny is embedded so deep that we take it for granted now. On some terrible and widely publicized occasions, the collective conscience of our great nation is jolted. We go for candlelight vigils, sit ins , and protest marches. Lawmakers promise us changes, people make movies, people write articles, and then like electrons dropping from their excited state to their ground state, we go back to our usual apathetic selves, and content ourselves with throwing our thoughts out on social media (pretty much like what I’m doing now). What’s funny is, we worship goddesses. For a goddess worshipping nation, we’re pretty blind to the goddesses that walk among us. If India treats its daughter’s bad, it treats its daughters-in-law even worse. I come from a privileged family, where I have been the apple of my father’s eye. But for every one girl like me, there are a 1000 who don’t have the life I did. I want to be hopeful and say that the situation is not as bleak as I think. For every sentence I’ve written here, people will give me me a 100 examples to the contrary. But for every one of those examples, I have 1000 which prove them wrong.

    Source: Google
    Source: Google
  • Our Utter Lack of Accountability – By and large, Indians don’t like being accountable to anyone for anything. We don’t accept mistakes, and consequently, we don’t stop making them. We certainly don’t forgive anyone who points out our mistakes and proves themselves right. We ban whatever offends our sensibilities whether the ban is logical or not, whether it is constitutional or not, and then we think about banning whoever opposes the ban! The general attitude towards complaints seems to be – If I don’t Look, Maybe They’ll Go Away! I was almost paralysed with shock recently, when the GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) actually took my complaint seriously and fixed the the ‘dead for several months’ streetlights in my street! And what are rules anyway? Do we care if not following them endangers us and others around us? Think helmetless riders and pillion riders of two wheelers (Yes, I am OBSESSED with telling people to wear helmets when riding front or pillion).

    Source : Google
    Source : Google
  • Our Inability to Mind Our Own Business  and Let Others Mind Theirs– Everybody in India has heard the following sentence or some variation of the following sentence at least once in their lives – “Log/Samaj/<insert random neighbour or acquaintance’s name> Uncle/Aunty Kya Kahega/Kahenge?” , which loosely translated means “What’s every other inconsequential person who you don’t give a damn about or won’t meet for more than 20 mins in your whole life going to say about your life decisions?” I bet we listen to our own selves even lesser than Pinocchio listened to Jiminy Cricket! We listen to our parents (not something I’m against) who in turn listen to every person willing to give them their two cents about our life and our ways (something which I am dead against). For every Indian that follows his/her dream, news, there are at least 50 whose aspirations are nipped in the bud thanks to their concerns about who’s going to say what about them. Studies, career, relationships, marriage, life and death, nothing escapes the purview of the omniscient Indian Well-Wisher.
    Image Source: Google
    Source: Google

    But at the same time, we’re very good at immediately claiming connections to those who do beat the odds make it big, whether they are actually still Indians or not. Think Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai and Punit Renjen and Nina Davuluri. Think every spelling bee champion, and every school topper abroad, and every person with even the remotest connection to India. These are probably people who would be ignored and discouraged had they been in India, but now that they’re not here, just cannot stop drooling over their achievements!  Stop the slobbering please !

  • Our Tendency to Compare Everything in the Universe to Everything Else in the Universe – We Indians LOVE to compare. We compare everything from our clothes, cars and salaries to our kids and their marks with those of everyone we know directly or indirectly. Some might say comparison fuels competition, and competition is good. But is it really? What do psychologists say?

    Image Source: Google
    Source: Google
  • Our Shameless Hypocrisy – Indians are hypocrites. Period. I will not re-iterate what a million other articles have already said.

    Image Source: Google
    Source: Google

Scion of Ikshavaku – An Old Story with a New Face

I seem to have a thing for books about the royalty. After devouring The Forest and some other wonderful books over the last one month, I found myself at Landmark a couple of weeks ago, with Amish Tripathi’s latest offering – Scion of Ikshavaku in my basket. This is the first of book of his new Ram Chandra Series. He has already won our hearts and minds with his depiction of Shiva as a mortal in his Shiva Trilogy. So I was quite eager to read his latest.

I feel that this book cannot have spoilers . We Indians have all known this story since we were toddlers 🙂  Anyone with the least bit of interest in India, would have heard of our ‘Epicly Epic’ Ramayana. Why the interest in this book then?

Amish Tripathi has established himself as the king of popular mythological fiction in India . His characters are well defined and his stories are beautifully woven . It takes some mettle to drive us outside the realm of what we know and make us think of these well known mythological characters as flesh and blood people with a life of their own complete with flesh and blood emotions . And the author has proven yet again that he has what it takes to do it .

We meet Dashrath, the proud ruler whose overconfidence led him to make a grave error of judgement, which he rues daily. He does not think twice before transferring the weight of his guilt to his well meaning wife Kaushalya and little Ram Chandra who just happened to come into the world on the day his father suffered his biggest defeat. We see Kaikeyi , the brave, brilliant and beautiful princess, who is still struggling to come to terms with the fact that her Brilliance is a source of shame to her father . We meet the pragmatic Sumitra, who always tried to make the best of any situation . Even the largely disliked Manthara has a story and a motive to which we can relate ( here we find a strong contemporary reference to a horrific even in recent times). Then of course , there is our favourite Band of Brothers – Ram , Bharath, Lakshman and Shatrughan. Amish has sketched their personalities in meticulous detail as we follow them from infancy to adulthood. Sita’s character is interesting too, and I applaud Amish for showing us that battle scars can be worn as a badge of beauty. We have a generous sprinkling of ancient Rishi wisdom and the ever present familial conspiracy. And then we have appearances from the other Ramayana characters at expected junctures, some of them appearing as Nagas. Even Somras (from the Shiva Trilogy) makes an appearance .

All these are real people and it’s their reality that makes them magical. The author does a fantastic job of delivering this magic to us. Even then, I constantly found myself comparing this book to the Shiva Trilogy . I know that is a different book about a different time and a fundamentally different character, but I still feel that the Scion of Ikshavaku does not pack the same punch as The Immortals of Meluha . At times, I felt that the story was being weighed down by elaborate descriptions of Ayodhya’s past glory and grandeur. Sometimes the narrative stood still for just a moment longer than was perfect , and at other times it ran just a bit faster than I liked . Maybe it’s just the familiarity of this story ( everything in the Shiva Trilogy was brand new to me ). Maybe it’s just that seeing Shiva the God as a mortal was more enchanting than reading about the life of a mythical king I have known forever. Maybe I was expecting a bit more innovation from Amish.

To be fair, this is a good read and a very good effort from the author. It’s only when compared to The Immortals of Meluha, that it falls short of the mark. I am looking forward to the next instalment of this series.

[Image Source – goodreads.com]