Day 4: Happy Place

Some things make your heart dance with joy. One of my happiest thing to do is go to the library. And I realized how happy it makes me when I went there today.

It has been a while since I visited the library. Ever since I started work, I have hardly been reading. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, and seem to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Then came the holiday season, and life, if anything got busier. I read just a handful of books this last month.

Yesterday, as I checked my books, I realized that I had just one unread book in my bookshelf. I do have loads in the Kindle, but the Kindle doesn’t call out to me as much as real books do. So today at lunch time, I went to the library. As soon as I entered the premises, I could feel my heart sing with happiness. Rows and rows of books, just waiting to be picked up. Rows of books waiting to be browsed through.. books just waiting for you. I guess I sound silly, but libraries do make me happy. How I wish I could have spent hours there. It has been a while since I came to the central library, I tend to run to the library close to home more often these days, so it almost felt like a homecoming.

As long back as I can remember, libraries have always been a happy place for me. I remember waiting for the library period at school. We could only read in the library until we reached Class 3. Class 3 onwards, we could borrow books and take them home. I remember, quite clearly waiting to grow up and become a 3rd grader to be able to take books home. I wouldn’t be exagerating if I said that books and libraries were essential parts of my life as long back as I remembered. I still remember the pure joy of going to the library and choosing the book you got to take back home. For a lot of my classmates, it was just a chore which needed to be done while I would wait for library periods at school, and it helped that we had a fantastic library at school. For me it was just paradise.

And what’s more it still is. The same happiness I once experienced in my school library, I experience today. Nothing can match libraries for me. Book shops don’t have the same appeal that libraries have for me. I don’t know why but libraries are such a happy place for me.

So tell me, what are your happy places? Do libraries do to you, what they do for me? Which places make you feel truly happy?

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The weekend that was…

It wasn’t the kind of weekend that I would have written about, normally, but in the usual, boring weekends that seem to have become the routine, this last weekend was slightly, ever so slightly more exciting. That reminds me that I haven’t yet blogged about the weekends when husband was here – all our travel stories. One day, I’ll get down to it, hopefully before the year is out ๐Ÿ™‚

Saturday morning dawned, or to be more accurate, I was woken up before dawn, by daughter who was super excited about a birthday party that she was invited to. It was at 10, but she wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t forget about it. If only that were an option. I would have gotten really cross at being woken up at 5:30, had it not been a huge kiss that woke me up.

Having woken up, both of us stayed in bed and read until it was a decent enough time to wake up, 6:30. Daughter refused to stay in bed any longer. Sigh! Here I was, happy that she is an early riser! Obviously, we were ready and all set, way before time. My domestic help came and went, and all daughter wanted to do was go. That is was an hour too early was no reason to stay at home and wait. Our friends were taking her to the party, and she couldn’t wait. Finally, we went downstairs, 10 mins early to wait for our friends, just in case the leave without her! Finally, she was off, and I got a few minutes to myself. I had planned to run to the gym and work out. Of course, knowing me, it stayed in the planning stage and I did a post in that time, instead, pushing away the thoughts of an overweight me, far, far, into the recesses of my mind, from which it dared not surface.

Daughter got back around one, and she and her friend still had loads of energy, which even the mid-afternoon sun refused to dissipate, so they played in the park for a bit until the mums had enough and pulled them home. Lunch sorted, daughter did some painting, and cutting up of paper -which has been her favourite hobby since the time she could hold scissors, while I decided to do something useful for a change. Our Wii-Fit Balance board had stopped working. It had been packed away last June, and I had not bothered setting it up until now. I had asked husband to do it, when he was here, but 6 weeks was not time enough to do that. So when I realized that I needed the exercise – rather desperately, I set it all up, only to realize that the balance board refused to start-up. Turns out , that we had forgotten to remove the batteries before packing it all up, and the batteries had drained out. Google, came to the rescue, with what seemed a too-simple-to-be-true solution. A friend of mine confirmed that they had done it and it worked, so Saturday afternoon, I decided, it was time for it to be implemented. And it worked! I can’t tell you how happy I am! Even my Wii-Fit was rather happy to see me back – after over a year, she said ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, she also said something about keeping up regular exercise to keep fit, but I chose to ignore that.

That fixed, I had some other important things to be fixed, like daughter’s teeth. She had two wobbly front teeth, which have been wobbling for a while but not enough to be pulled out. In the last few days, they started to protrude like rabbit’s teeth. Which was rather fun- for me ๐Ÿ™‚ And annoying for daughter. So we decided to go to the dentist to see if they needed help to be pulled out. So we had an appointment in the evening, and the plan was that we would go straight from the dentist’s to Blossoms, the book store everybody has been talking about. TGND, especially ๐Ÿ™‚ Ever since she’s told me about it, I’ve been dying to go there, and so has daughter.

At the dentist’s, it turns out that we did need to pull the teeth out. Daughter was rather brave, and just whimpered a wee bit, when she was injected with the anesthetic. She had to keep the cotton clamped tightly after the procedure for about half-an-hour, and that meant that she could not speak. If you know her, you’d know that it is just too much to ask her – to not talk for half an hour. So we ended up playing dumb charades to understand what she was saying, until, we hit upon the idea of her typing on the phone whatever she wanted to say. And of course, I had to call everybody up to tell them all about how brave she was when the dentist pulled out her teeth. *rolls eyes*

All this, of course, meant that we could not go to Blossoms on Saturday. We rescheduled it to Sunday, and turned in for the night. Waking up early has it’s advantages, daughter also goes to bed early. But then, if you’ve been woken up early, the chances are that you are equally knackered and all you want to do is crawl into bed as soon as possible.

Sunday morning, I woke up at an unholy hour again. This time, I can’t even blame daughter, I just woke up. It’s my darn body clock that refuses to let me sleep beyond 5:30! Since I had nothing better to do, I stood in the balcony, enjoying the view.

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Sunday, was busy with everything we had pushed away. Daughter has a couple of tests this week, so we went through it all. Did some reading, and some TV watching. The plan was to go to Blossoms in the afternoon. I had a bunch of books I was looking for, and daughter had one particular book that she wanted. We set off at around 3 in the afternoon. I was worried that we would get lazy if we left it too late. Plus with the next day being a school day, we wanted to be back early. We took an auto, and the auto driver, it turned out had no idea where the address was. So we went round and round before landing up in the correct place. We rushed in, all eager and excited. Daughter wanted Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile, and was really disappointed to see that they did not have it either. She managed to pick up two other books though. Then it was my turn. Turns out that none of the books on my list were there. I thought I’d search through the book shelves, but by then daughter was bored. Now, that she had her books she wanted out. Of course, it did not help that the place was crowded, hot and stuffy, and we felt like we were permanently wallking over people or books. I had to give up. I might go there again on a weekday, alone. Hopefully that will give me enough time to browse and find some books I want to buy.

By the time we were out of the bookstore, daughter was hungry. I wasn’t sure how hungry she really was, but she claimed to be starving. So we set off, hoping to find something where we could find something she could eat. Walking a little distance, we came across Nandos! Now Nandos was one of our favourite places to eat at, in the UK. All three of us loved it. So in we went, and ordered. I wasn’t hungry, so I just ordered pita and hummus. And daughter had a kids meal. And polished it off too! I was surprised, to say the least. I hadn’t realized that she was that hungry. The food was delicious and so was my drink. A mocktail called Citrus Bliss. I would have liked it slighlty less sweet, but it was still delicious! I did not take any pictures of the food, we were too busy tucking in, even me. Non existent hunger comes to the surface once my eyes spy on yummy food ๐Ÿ™‚

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We got back home, went downstairs, where daughter rode her bike, and I walked/ran after her, in the hope that it burns some of the calories I just consumed.

We ended the day with fruits as we were just too full after our rather early dinner. I could make a practice of this, you know, eating early and then having fruits. And for a change, it felt like a full weekend, rather than a boring one.

Bookless in Bangalore..

..and other related/unrelated nonsense.

I’ve run out of books, and am trapped indoors because of the work that’s happening in the kitchen. Not nice, is it? Have to find a way of getting hold of a book, until then, I’ll have to keep myself happy, re-reading stuff. To add to it, even the newspaper did not turn up! Talk about everything happening at once. I should seriously not complain, at least the workmen turned up- that has to be my silver lining, don’t you think?

So in other updates, my kitchen is getting done. Hopefully it will make the house a wee bit more liveable, not to mention – organizable, if there is a word of that sort. It does mean that the next 1.5 weeks is not going to be very pleasant, but then it would all be fine if the end result is worth it. Fingers crossed. I’ve also come to the conclusion that getting work done while staying in the house is a complete no-no. Initially, we had planned to move into a rental place, get our flat done up, and then move in. Unfortunately, we did not get a flat of our liking, so I decided to just move in here. Well, its not been too bad, but its not been the easiest either. Especially when there’s work going on, and dust everywhere. I came down with flu-like symptoms which I think was dust-allergy related, so I’m taking extra precautions today to ensure that no dust comes into the living areas of the house.

I’m going to stop my interiors work once the kitchen gets done. Everything can wait until husband gets here, and then we can move into a service apartment or something while the interiors get done.

House doing up woes aside, Bangalore is such a wonderful place. It makes me feel at home. Of course, having my aunt and cousins nearby helps loads, and even some wonderful new friends who have asked me give them a shout anytime I need something – makes you feel very, very comfortable. Blessings which I am truly grateful for. Talking of blessings, daughter can ab absolute darling, when she wants to be. Yesterday, I was ill, couldn’t get up, and she was just a star. Entertained herself, kept herself busy, did her work and today asked me to go and get some rest while she is at school.

The only thing I could wish for is to be able to carve out some time to meet friends and family. Hopefully soon. And go shopping – for myself ๐Ÿ™‚

Going back to the subject of house decor and stuff. I haven’t managed to do much elsewhere, but we do have plants in every balcony ๐Ÿ™‚ Daughter and I are both plant crazy. And we’ve also planted some seeds. Such fun it is to check how tall the saplings have grown – every morning! I know, I must be crazy, but seeing some green soothes me.

Enough of my ramblings, how have you been? I plan to blog hop today – if everything goes as per plan, and I don’t need to spend my day supervising people ๐Ÿ™‚

You know you have a bookworm for a daughter..

.. when the child who doesn’t notice a new sofa, notices a new book on the shelf the moment she enters the room ๐Ÿ™‚

And has been glued to it ever since she got her hands on it ๐Ÿ™‚ Although, given the fact that she’s reading Calvin and Hobbes and seems absolutely hooked to it, I can’t help wondering if I should have kept that book locked away in a box ๐Ÿ™‚

You know you have a booklover in the house..

.. when she wakes up and asks for a book, the first thing in the morning

.. when she can’t go to sleep because the story is so very interesting.

.. when the sight of the mobile library is enough to make her happy.

..when we leave the library, we have the biggest pile of books ever with us.

.. and when a friend asks for a book from her collection, she tells her very sternly, ‘ its only for BORROWING, you have to give it back to me.’

Books are for Showing Off?

I heard someone say that people read to show off. That started me thinking.

A lot of my posts are about books, book reviews, or just how much I love reading. The only reason they appear here, is because reading is such a huge part of my life, part of who I am. People who know me personally, will tell you how I always have a book with me. Always. Because that’s what I love to do – read. I grab every minute I can, to do that thing I like doing the most.

For a long while, after I started blogging, while writing about my love of reading, I never reviewed books. Mainly because I was not sure if I would ever do justice to the books. I mean, the authors put so much energy and effort into crafting the book, it just takes half a page to spoil it for someone, doesn’t it? Which is probably why, I don’t review the books that I don’t like too much. It took me a while to get the confidence to write reviews of the books I liked.

I started listing the books I read, because husband keeps asking me if I have any idea how many books I read in a year( I suspect he wants to figure out how much money the library helped us save ;)). So when I saw Monika listingย her books, I decided that I should do that too. Just to keep track.

If you came home, you would see how much books are part of our lives. We have books everywhere, mine and daughter’s mainly. Husband just hangs on to his precious Kindle. He is so hooked on it, that he claims that he can no longer read normal books. Sigh! That Kindle was supposed to be a gift for me, you know! Anyway, nothing makes me happier than lugging bags of books back from the library.

Talking, writing, discussing about the books we read, is so much fun. So many books I read today are the result of books that have been recommended by so many of you. And I think I have loved every one of them! And it is not just the books that I enjoy, I love the discussion on books that we have in comment sections – those are just as much fun, aren’t they? They offer so many perspectives – on the books, on the author’s writing style, and sometimes, it makes me realize that books that I adore might be books which others might ever want to touch.

Now, I can’t help wondering if there might be people who might consider it all a show-off. Do people think like that? I was really surprised to hear that some people do think of it as that..

Having said that, I do know of one person who told me to give her all my books(the few that I have bought here) because she likes to ‘collect’ books. Not read them – just collect them and display them on her shelf ๐Ÿ™‚

On a kind of related note, do read ‘How to be a woman’ by Caitlin Moran. That is one book, I could definitely not do justice in a review. I can’t thank CR enough for that recommendation! I liked it so much that I went hunting for reviews – and found this one that I really liked ๐Ÿ™‚ย and one by a man.ย Go on, read it and tell me what you think!

This is how we keep busy ..

during term breaks when the weather forces us indoors.

We make pizzas.. with play dough..

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We do crazy craft things which don’t look they way they should..

That creature is supposed to be a lion, although any self respecting lion would cry if he saw this ๐Ÿ™‚

We make our tributes to Easter. Although since mum was too lazy to bake a cupcake, we made do with chocolate mousse.

We dance..

And when we run out of things to do.. we always have our books, don’t we?

We also had a bunny trail at home, and another at the library, but I did not take any pictures of it ๐Ÿ™‚

That is the first week of the holidays almost over. We have plans to go away for the weekend, but it all depends on the weather. Hopefully it will be dry enough for us to go. Fingers crossed. Otherwise, we will just relax at home.

Hope all of you have a great break, I’ll see you next week – if we do go away, or else, I will be here reading and commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

The Magical world of books

Today is World Books Day, and I thought it apt that I talk about books(as if I don’t do enough of that already) ๐Ÿ™‚ But then, this is something I can go on and on about ๐Ÿ™‚

One of things I have loved about being in the UK is how reading is so entrenched in the collective psyche of the people here. Long back, husband and I were bemused that one of the major problems being discussed in the news was the fact that children are not reading as much as they used to. They were discussing that these days parents are too busy to read a bed time story to their children. Both of us were bemused because at that time, we were more used to news headlines about political parties and their antics.

I also loved the fact that I was not the only person with a book in public transport. I used to get weird looks in Bangalore when I would wait for a bus or try to read in a bus. I swear! Here, everybody has a book, it felt like heaven. The libraries here, I have said it often enough- are fabulous! They are well-stocked, well run and it is an absolute pleasure to go to a library.

After daughter was born, we got to know about ‘Bookstart‘. Children here receive Bookstart packs at two milestones of their lives – in the first year, and between 3 and 4 years – if I remember correctly. It is a great way of getting children used to books, and stories. Poohi had got it, and I remember being totally impressed. We had already bought books for her way before she got her first pack, but I still found it fascinating. The selection of books were so appropriate, and she loved the books! More than the actual books, what fascinated me was the commitment to ensure that every child had access to books. And I do agree that no baby is too young to hear stories from her parents.

Husband was sceptical when I told her silly stories, or read to her, when she was a tiny thing(she was only days old when I started). Today, however, he is as convinced as I am, that it makes a difference. I am not sure if it makes a difference academically ย – but I can see how much she loves books.

As she progressed through the stages of nursery, and big school, one thing I can see throughout is the emphasis on reading. It is an integral part of the curriculum. Their reading is assessed and the books that they read are upgraded, whenever the teachers feel that the child has moved to higher levels.

And at every stage, you would find measures to encourage the culture of books. Like the travelling book fair that I mentioned. The school has a benefit as well. Every book that we buy, the school ‘earns’ some free books – which is great, for state schools, which are dependent on government funding. Apart from that, it certainly encourages children to pick out books, and read. Like this voucher which entitles you to a ยฃ1 off your purchases, or get a special edition ยฃ1 book with it. So even families with lower incomes could use the voucher and get a book for the children..

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This afternoon, daughter was super, super excited when I went to pick her up. She ran all the way to the hall which housed the fair. She did not get the book she wanted, but managed to pick up two other books.

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And here’s the little bookworm, lost in the world of fairies.. And she did not get up from that sofa until she finished reading the whole book ๐Ÿ™‚ Two hours after we got back home, she was still engrossed in her books. That, of course, has me, ย beaming with happiness ๐Ÿ™‚

This happened last night..

You know how some books you can reread a million times and not get bored? Reread again and again, and still want to turn the page are find out what’s about to happen? It happens to me a lot. And the sad thing is that it happens with the Poohi’s books more than mine.

Poohi has been reading quite a lot of interesting books these days. I had bought her a set of Enid Blyton’s The Naughtiest Girl (TNG) series some time back. She did not enjoy it as much as I did initially. She preferred Roald Dahls more. Probably because Roald Dahl books also had illustrations, while TNG books are just loads of words on a page, right?

Then she started reading other books – more contemporary ones, the ones about those Princess Fairies and I think slowly she realized that books without pictures are interesting too. All these days, she would listen to me read TNG but would never attempt to read more than a page at a go. Last week, she started reading one of the TNG books, and off she went, captivated by the story, unable to put it down. Ever since, there has been no looking back.

Last night, she was ill, down with a flu, and all she wanted was, ‘Amma, could you please read me the Naughtiest Girl book, please?’ Now how on earth can I refuse that? So I started reading, and before we knew it, it was 9:30 pm. Horrified, I asked her to sleep off, it was way too late(although she did sleep for a couple of hours after coming back from school – because she was not well, so she was not actually missing out on sleep, but I still feel bad about keeping her up).

She was dozing off, and all I wanted to do was read the rest of the book. I sneaked open the book, to read the rest of it. There were just two chapters left – I couldn’t possibly not read it! That makes no sense, does it? So what if I have already read it, like a million times ๐Ÿ™‚ And just as I settled in, chuckling at Elizabeth Allen’s antics, I hear daughter’s voice,’ Amma, that is cheating! You can’t read my book without me!’.

Just a little randomness..

Just as the title says, this post is full of random nothings.. Please feel free to skip!

– I was suddenly reminded(out of nowhere) of the time when we were first introduced to Statistics. My Maths teacher told us that we are going to start Statistics the next week. He made it all exciting by telling us that with Statistics, we could figure out the probability of India winning the next one-dayer. In those days, when I was cricket mad(I must be the only wife who wishes her husband watched cricket!) – that was all that registered and I was waiting with bated breath, to figure out this amazing subject ๐Ÿ™‚ Needless to say, I was a tad disappointed – but still ended up loving Stats ๐Ÿ™‚

– My thoughts seem to be going back to my school days quite a lot these days! I am reading Gavin Menzies’ The Lost Empire of Atlantis, and couldn’t help be bemused. Twenty years back, I was so happy to see the last of history lessons.. I would have never imagined that I would enjoy reading history so much!

– Sometimes, husband starts experimenting with the camera, and comes up with shots like this ๐Ÿ™‚ Sure makes my everyday cooking seem exotic ๐Ÿ™‚

– While on pictures, I love the way my house looks ๐Ÿ™‚ Far prettier and neater than in real life. If only I could pretend that that is how it looks in reality ๐Ÿ™‚

– I had a first today – my car refused to start! Thankfully it started when I tried it again after 2 hours. It did have me in a state, I have to admit. The thought of not having the car made me feel – more than a little helpless.

– I love reading Daughter Roald Dahl books – they are so much fun! We are on ‘The Witches’, and me, being the evil mother, I am, have been scaring her while reading it. If you have read the book, you’ll know why ๐Ÿ™‚ If you haven’t go get the book – it is so much fun!!!

– I am now in a quandary – I ‘m not sure if I should publish this post, or the review of The Lost Empire of Atlantis’. Yes, I completed it by the time I reached this part of the post.. And now want to declare how great that book is ๐Ÿ™‚

So publish, it is!