2016:The year gone by

It’s the last day of 2016 today, with 13 hours and 52 minutes more for the dawning of a new year.  Its the time of the year when we recall our most beautiful memories and resolve to never repeat the mistakes. We want to start a fresh year, a new start for a better life. I thought I would wrap up my blogging journey this year, with one post about 2016,which we can never get back.

The best memory this year, is how much Oxford University became an integral part of my life. This year saw the height of my obsession.  The university is my dream and my ambition. Thinking of studying there, made me get through boring homework .It is my source of motivation. Not one day passed without me thinking of Oxford.

But I am very well aware, that staying grounded to reality is best in the long run. Towards the end of this year, I started paying attention to Plan B also, namely BA English from St. Stephens, Delhi.

One thing happened in the early part of the year, that convinced me I had at least a small chance to get into Oxford. I took the British Council Level Test,  and they said that my mastery over the language, was above that expected of kids my level.My joy was boundless. I joined a teens course, and there the tutor complemented me on my essays. I had a very good time there and was grateful that we were trying something to make my dream come true.

Another memorable experience, was our trip to Hampi, where we stayed in the luxurious Orange County Resort. We had a great time with family, exploring the ruins of the glorious Vijaynagara empire, enjoying great food and the utmost comfort possible. I didn’t want to budge from the place.

This was also the year, when I wrote most of my blog posts. I wanted to improve my writing skills. Father linking all my posts to his twitter handle, ensured that a significant number of people read my posts. I would be very thankful, if you could all give me some useful feedback.

Coming to books, this was the year I read Ruskin Bond’s short stories, which made me appreciate the beauty of simple words. I also was introduced to Jane Austen, through Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. When reading the former, I first couldn’t see the point of the story, then got used to her language and style, and was able to admire the story. But I loved Persuasion. Austen’s witty portrayal of characters and the emotions of love,along with her elegant writing,make it a must read.I reread Heyer’s Frederica, and liked it very much ,but I was hooked to Friday’s Child. That was an amazing story.

I read a couple of Chetan Bhagat’s books. Some parts were nice, some were not. Good to read for one time, as entertainment. But Five Point Someone was very good. I am reading Crime and Punishment, from last year. But I have stopped it for a while,as it is too heavy and I am not sure I am able to fully appreciate the text. Same goes for Foucault’s Pendulum.

In the later part of the year, I read John Grisham’s The Firm and The Confession, and they were mind blowing. Dan Brown is a favourite after the Da Vinci Code and remains after The Inferno and I am on with Deception Point. Agatha Christie continues to stun me with her detective stories. I reread many of her stories and a new kind of hers,Number Four, which,for a change,is predictable but thrilling.

Preeti Shenoy’s Life Is What You Make It is an insightful book about bipolar disorder.John Green’s Paper Town, was a beautiful book about individual space within love. I loved Sudeep Nagarkar’s You ‘re Trending in My Dreams.I enjoyed reading Anne of the Green Gables and Prisoner of Zenda.

I am reading Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian,and am greatly impressed by the precise and clear cut arguments he makes, everything based on solid facts.I loved how he argued against Hindutva,the part about class in India and friendly fire and the part about Rabindranath Tagore and India-China relations. I might as well say I love everything about it.

Coming to the lighter side, I made a new group of friends this year, and we are having a gala time together.2016 was,overall,a fulfilling year.

My resolutions for 2017 would be: getting rid of self-doubt and negative thoughts, striving to do my best in academics, learning how to read literature critically and working hard for Oxford.

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 

Thank you, Mr.Ruskin Bond

I seriously need to write something . It’s ages since I have done so,and all my father’s pleadings did not push me to write. But today, as I sat in front of the computer,I convinced myself that no matter how much time it takes,no matter how hard it is,I must write something.I am in awe of all you people who write regularly.How do you manage it?

Sometime back, I read two collections of Ruskin Bond’s short stories, and I was mesmerized. They were  accounts of normal people,but never ceased to be interesting.He had portrayed his characters very charmingly. The detailed description of the natural beauty of the Garhwal hills,rather than being monotonous, blended easily with the narrative.Every story, though without much suspense or thrills,stirred some kind of feeling, be it joy,sorrow or something in between.They were heartwarming accounts of the lives of people,stories of love,of kindness,of longing for times gone by.

I had,and still have, a tendency to use complex words and lot of adjectives while writing.I thought this added a certain appeal to my writing. I don’t think that I can ever change that,because its such an integral part of my style.But only after reading Ruskin Bond,I realized that simple words have the ability to create a more profound impact than my complex ones.I learnt that they were more effective and enjoyable than my flowery phrases.

I had enjoyed reading his Children’s Omnibus immensely, and his short stories made me realize how great a writer he was. I think there are few writers who have the ability to write such engaging stories,about the lives of ordinary Indian people.I am in awe of his ability to weave such beautiful and natural stories.They are very rewarding, and no one can regret reading them.

He also has a great sense of wit and humor. I was reading one particularly clever and funny article he had written for the editorial column of the Times of India. I was telling my father how superb it was, and he told me that I should become a writer like him.

I also aspire to be so. Time will tell, but for a person who wants to become a writer,he has been a great source of inspiration.

TEEN YEARS

I have not written anything so far, partly because I  don’t have the time, but mostly because I can’t seem to put my thoughts into words,though I want to. But today, I have decided that this should change,for my aspirations to come true.

I am going to be fifteen in November.The past two years of my teens have been great and I thought I  would write about the experience.

The transition period, when I  was 11 and 12 years of age, saw me burst into tantrums. The frequency of these was alarming. For no reason, I used to be mad at everybody. But, after my anger had cooled down, I always used to feel very bad. Though I get angry now also, it is definitely better than those days.

After I turned 13,I started feeling inferior to everyone in my class. Though I was one of the top ranked students in case of academics(except math), I felt that I had no talent, that I was capable of only getting only good grades, which was not going to help me. I loved to read books and hated sports. Though I hated them, it bothered me that I was not able to perform in them like everybody. Everyone was good in at least one extracurricular activity, but I  didn’t do well in any one of them:be it music, dance or art. My parents tried to make me feel better by saying that I had a beautiful brain, that I had the gift of language, my handwriting was excellent and i read books which half the people didn’t even know of. My father told me that writing and public speaking were also extracurricular,but I wasn’t ready to accept that. They tried their best, but I didn’t budge.

That was a turbulent period. I was always finding faults with myself, though teachers appreciated me.I was happy, but these thoughts kept on coming and disturbing me. I read inspirational stories, but they didn’t help me. And it was only me who was feeling like that. People who failed in every exam, seemed to be satisfied with themselves. When I tried explaining it to my friends, they laughed at me. They couldn’t understand how a girl who studied so well felt like that. I have wished many a times that I was just 12.

But I eventually found peace with myself, largely because of the continued support of my parents.I started being proud of my achievements. I   became content after a long time.

Now for the lighter side. I have also enjoyed these two years greatly. The gossiping about girls and boys in class in my old school used be to superb fun. And when you knew for sure that a person had a crush, it used to be exciting. Even my friend had one, and we used to tease her a lot.I was never the person who started a rumour;in fact, I came to know of it only after it was “old news”.

I used to have mood swings, but I never had a crush on someone;I knew it was wrong,that this was not the age and all.I used to tell everything about these gossips to my mom and we used to have frank discussions on all this.

I have also started dreaming a lot about my future these days. We have planned that i would take up the humanities group in school and try for an English literature in Oxford(my father’s idea).From the time he mentioned it, I have been bewitched by Oxford. I have explored every nook and corner of their website, and have seen it millions of times.Even Google says that it is my “most visited website”.I have been day dreaming of Oxford every minute. I even know what ink I should write in for the entrance test!

I started searching for schools offering the subjects I wanted, and have visited so many school websites. I even tried to read the A level sociology textbook that day! But the problem is , as I said at first, I am just dreaming, which won’t help. So I have resolved to write something daily.

I really want to go to Oxford, but I am not very hopeful, because it is very very difficult to get there, and I doubt if my English is that good.I told my mother that I have only a 0.5 percent chance, that it was just a stupid dream, and we quarreled about it.

Another change I observe is that, I don’t feel like studying even a bit at home, especially math. I  know to get good grades is very important for my ambition, but i am distracted easily. I am writing this with my books spread out before me.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW OF GEORGETTE HEYER’S FREDERICA

 

Georgette Heyer is unbeatable when it comes to romances. I am so in love with her!

Her characters are flawless in this novel, especially the Merriville family: they are lively, adventurous and forever getting into scrapes. You will sure enjoy the confident and devoted Frederica, gorgeous but brainless Charis, serious, though horse mad Jessamy and most of all, the daring, knowledgeable and engaging Felix and also carefree Harry! The siblings of Frederica lend the needed drama and passion to her story.

The Marquis of Alverstroke requires special mention. He is witty, frank and maintains a stoic calm in every situation.He is filthy rich,and has a great dressing sense. First, he is portrayed as a person, who is easily bored and one who does not care or love anybody, except maybe his secretary. The story beautifully traces his transformation into a guardian for the Merriville family, saving them from all disasters,one which he himself could not fathom and eventually, how he falls in love with Frederica and her response.

The other characters, like Endymion Dauntry, Elizabeth Dauntry, Lord Buxted, Charles Trevor, and Alverstroke’s  other sisters etc are also well formed and complement the story, both in terms of humor and emotion. They provide the story with enough substance to sustain the interest of the readers.

The dialogue between Frederica and Alverstroke is the highlight of the novel. It is shrewd, teasing, clever and immensely enjoyable. Especially the last part, which bears his queer and detached proposal for marriage. It would be a sin to reveal too much! Another charming thing is the kindness  the Marquis shows for Felix and the pillar of support he is for Frederica.

The novel balances all the characters well and progresses in a smooth flow. Each page has something to offer, whether it be dollops of humor or witty interaction or exciting events. This is one excellent novel you should never miss. Let it suffice it to say that this novel will elevate you into the highest level of pleasure. Happy reading!

சுவர்கள்

அறையின் நான்கு சுவர்களுக்கு

நானூறு இரகசியங்கள்

தெரிந்தாலும்

புதிதாய்க் குடிவருபவருக்கு

வெறுமையாய்க்

காட்சியளிக்கின்றன

An essay on the natural vegetation and wildlife of kerala

Kerala is the land of the gods, mesmerizing in its beauty, enviable in its culture. This land is blessed with a wide and amazing variety of natural vegetation and wildlife ,the epitome of India’s ecosystem.

With flora ranging from Indian rosewood and Cassia in the Western Ghats to Bamboo and Wild Cardamom in the plains, Kerala has an immense cover of vegetation. The fauna here is also remarkable and a delight to tourists, with rare species like the Nilgiri Tahr and Lion Tailed Macaque found in large numbers.

An interesting feature in Kerala, which emphasizes  that culture is inevitably interwoven with nature , is its sacred groves. The Kavu sacred groves are famous, lands of thriving vegetation. They also harbor birds and animals. The fear of violating religion and age old traditions have kept people away from these groves, allowing them to flourish. These contribute a lot to the conservation of ethnic biodiversity.

The variety of birds in Kerala are also worth mentioning. Kerala boasts of 453 species of birds, some of which are captivating in their beauty like the White cheeked barbet, the Malabar Trogon, Rufous Treepie, Black Naped Oriole , etc.

With an abundance of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Kerala has tried its best to conserve its innumerable flora and fauna. The sanctuaries serve as a safe haven for many endangered species like  the Indian sloth bear and the gaur and help in conserving rare trees and plants.

In addition, Kerala houses a vast range of medicinal plants , that the government of Kerala has initiated a State Medicinal Plants Board for their conservation. Plants endemic to Kerala include  the Jungle Jack and the Karivella. These plants are a symbol of the state’s rich heritage.

But the greed of mankind threatens to destroy this fascinating natural wealth of Kerala. Measures taken by the government to conserve  this biodiversity include: creating suitable conditions in Eravikulam National Park to conserve the Nilgiri tahr, initiating six bird monitoring schemes to spot and study the endangered species; inculcating the ideas of Project Tiger;preparation of working plans to safeguard species under the supervision of the chief conservator of forests, etc

Kerala is the jewel of India in terms of rich biodiversity. It is in our hands to conserve  its natural wealth for the future generation.

 

 

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

The Fault in our Stars is a very beautiful and insightful book. It took me two reads to understand the story to its full extent. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that even painful things are treated in a witty and thoughtful way.

What sets this apart from stories is that it has a ring of truth to it. You can feel the emotions of the characters. Quite a few  portions are inlaid with deep meanings that they give you food for thought.

The storyline is as follows: Hazel Grace, a sixteen year old girl, suffers from thyroidal cancer which has affected her lungs. Augustus Waters, a seventeen year old boy, suffered from osteosarcoma a year before, which robbed him of his right leg. These two teenagers meet in a local Cancer Kid Support Group in Indianapolis, USA.

What follows is how romance blossoms between them and what happens to both of them.

You will find this book irresistible. It will undoubtedly move you at some point or the other, I had tears in my eyes at one touching event. I just couldn’t stop thinking about  the novel.

The trauma experienced by the individual affected and her family is portrayed in a vivid and different way. Some events are adorable and funny to the core. In short, you will just love it!

This book can offer you anything you want, whether it be tragedy, grief, guilt, romance, love, touching moments, powerful thoughts,  humor,  wit, all of it is here. A superb book with a out of the box storyline, which will surely affect you. Made for a refreshing read in this rainy weather!