Fables and Fairy Tales

Posted November 21st, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Annika, Books, Raves and Rants
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photo 3Americans tend to be excessively politically correct. They shy away from using words that may have even the slightest hint of a negative connotation.  For example people are not fired from work—the company is merely rightsizing.  Stocks don’t crash – they underperform.   There are no beggars—they are panhandlers.  There are no poor countries/areas – these are low resource settings.  Janitors are now called custodians, secretaries are administrative assistants and so on and so forth.  The need to put a positive spin on everything is somewhat amusing in normal conversation but it takes on ridiculous proportions when it comes to children. Continue Reading »

Cataloging my Library

Posted May 25th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Books, Personal, Reviews
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Librarything pageI started my first (and only) business when I was 12 years old. Along with my close childhood friends, Priyanka and Priti, I decided to start a library.  We pooled in our existing book collection (Priti “borrowed” her sister’s collection of Famous Five & Secret Seven), Priyanka’s parents generously donated an old filing cabinet (and more importantly , the permission to keep it in their main hallway) and my father paid for our most prized possession: a rubber stamp with the words “PICK-A-BOOK CIRCULATING LIBRARY”. We had extremely reasonable rates: 50 paise for a paper back & 1 Rupee for a hard-back & you could keep the books for a week.  The money we earned would go into buying more books for us to read and then ultimately back to the library.  It was a sound business plan, reality however, didn’t quite live up to that promise. Continue Reading »


Posted October 26th, 2009 by Deepa and filed in Books, Reviews
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IMG_7149I completed my self-assigned mini reading project last week. I had decided to read 4 books that describe India in a particular order one after the other.  Now that I have a proper commute to work, I have re-discovered the joy of reading while travelling. On a rare day with no traffic, my commute to work is about 50 minutes each way, of which 30 minutes is by  public  transport (bus or train or a combination of both).  On most days, I spend about an hour and a half on the bus and/or train.  And I spend that time catching up on all the books that I have wanted to read. I generally tend to read non-fiction books while travelling because of three reasons:

  1. It looks  far more impressive than reading the latest Harlequin romance.
  2. Given my need to read something I become a captive audience if I am caught in a bus or train with nothing else to read than the book I have in hand.  So when I have starting trouble with a particular book ( and they are mostly the non-fiction books), it is good idea to have them with me during my commute. Once I have started the book,  I mostly tend to finish the book.
  3. I have time to think through & examine my reactions if I read something particularly thought provoking.

My reading project consisted of the following 4 books: Continue Reading »

An Afternoon With Maya Angelou

Posted September 24th, 2009 by Deepa and filed in Books
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IMG00018-20090923-1504Some one at NIH decided that all the scientific minds at NIH could use a jolt of culture now and then. The result was the annual or semi-annual (not sure about the estimate of how frequently we need a culture dose) Cultural Lecture at NIH. This Wednesday’s lecture featured Maya Angelou – poet, author, teacher and in her own words a global renaissance woman.

I first read Maya Angelou in 2002. I was into reading African American literature those days, with a special emphasis on female authors. I had just completed “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest eye” and then Maya Angelou’s “I know why the caged bird sings”.  Incidentally all three books dealt with the travails of growing up as a black woman & described horrifying childhood atrocities with child molestation and the brutality against women.  All three books were thought-provoking powerful pieces of literature but I was uncomfortable with the depressing theme prevalent in all the books. Having grown up in a well to do Indian family, I was fast coming to the conclusion that it was impossible for me to empathize with the race struggles that African Americans underwent for so long. Although I was impressed with the spirit displayed by the protagonists in an abstract manner, I felt that I couldn’t completely appreciate the character graph since I couldn’t really get a grip on the horror that they had experienced. Frankly the stories made me uneasy, I stopped reading books in that genre and moved on to something else. Continue Reading »

Weep and Weep Alone

Posted May 27th, 2003 by Deepa and filed in Books
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I am not the type of person who gets teary eyed while seeing a movie. But while reading a book is totally another matter.

Right now I can think of the following books that had me reaching for my pillow ( to sob into!)

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot:
I had a hard time stopping my tears all throughout the book but at the end when Maggie and Tom Tulliver die, I just could not restrain myself and I had to let myself go. The character of Maggie Tulliver and her love for her brother was sketched very well that despite the fact that the story was set about a century ago, the characters seemed very realistic to me.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” Sydney Carton’s speech at the end of the book. Very very touching.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
I defy anyone to read this entire book with a dry eye.

Princess by Jean Sassoon
Sometime tears spring out of your eyes when you are sad and sometimes when you are really really angry. While reading this book, I had both kinds of tears in my eyes.

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
This is an unusual book to make you cry. But there is a particular scene in which after Katy has her accident and is bed ridden and Elsie (Katy’s younger sister) approaches her hesitantly…there was something in the way that scene was written that made me weep buckets!!

Cry the beloved country by Alan Paton
I think the title says it all. …I felt my eyelids moistening when Stephen Kumalo goes to the mountains after his son has been condemned to death. Very poignant and very very sad.

Love Story by Erich Segal
Despite the fact that the first line of the book reveals the end of the book…, the very first time I read it I could not resist a lump on my throat when Oliver Barrett hugs his father after Jenny dies.