Saturday, January 12, 2019

Book Reviews. 2017.2

Reviewing books that I read in 2017.

6. Death by black hole - Neil deGrasse Tyson
This book is a collection of essays that Tyson wrote for Natural History magazine over a ten year period, on a variety of subjects related to science and scientific inquiry. Tyson's perspective and his voice always makes his books stand out from the crowd. 4/5.

7. Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of cosmic evolution  - Neil deGrasse Tyson
This book covers an enormous period of time, fourteen billion years, and even provides some interesting thoughts concerning the future of our planet and galaxy. The theme of the book is clear, it deals with the origin of the universe, the various types of galaxies, the formation of the clusters, all the types of stars, the origin of the planets and life in general. It concerns itself with vague topics like dark matter and dark energy and black holes, all the mysteries of the universe. 5/5.

8. Astrophysics for people in a hurry - Neil deGrasse Tyson
. The book is for people in a hurry and I am not in a hurry
. Astrophysics is not Sophie Kinsella's book story that can be told in three lines (just being a hypocrite, I read all her books).
. People in a hurry should not make an attempt at astrophysics to begin with ;-)
. The book left me wanting to know more, high time Tyson writes a book for people at leisure!

9. Belles on their toes - Frank B. Gilbreth Jr.
Cheaper by the dozen is one of my most favorite stories of all times so I had to read it's second part and I was beyond disappointed. 1/5.

10. A little life - Naya Yanagihara
This is a very well rated and a famous book, unfortunately I did not enjoy it at all, first of all it is huge and second of all I had to drag myself everyday to read it. 1/5.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Women: 5. The Royals

This is the five-part in the series. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3,Part 4.
The Royals
A relative of mine, age 27, has a masters degree, got a job three years ago, earns well (most of the software people do), he is very intelligent, soft-spoken, looks great and is a fantastic photographer. He is brought up by a single parent (his mother had to start from scratch when his father left within 2-3 years of marriage), he is not born with a silver spoon.
He is looking for a bride on matrimonial sites and has been rejected over and over again. Reason? Indian girls want this very well settled man who has a house, a car, and a bank balance.
A house in Pune (after just 3 years of a job) is not a joke, especially for people who build everything on their own (he lives with his mother currently). So anyway, I told him to ask the girls the same question - 'Are you well settled? do you have a house, a car, and bank balance? If not then what makes you think that a boy the same age as yours and with the same number of years of experience as yours will have everything?
Here is my thought - if you want all this then why not earn it yourself, why depend on a man?
I feel this attitude of women is as much wrong as men asking for dowry. I agree that one needs to see that the boy is educated, has a good heart and whatnot but expecting that the man would have bought a house, a car and everything within just a few years of experience is WRONG, especially if you yourself haven't earned that much!
Look at the potential in the boy, would he be able to support and share as much as you (and not just financially but in taking care of household chores too). And then you would be able to build everything together. Do not expect everything to be served on a platter. It is wrong to put men under so much pressure based on (idiotic) gender role.
Many women expect their husband/father to shower them with presents, like on the occasions of Rakshabandhan, Paadava, Bhaubiz, Diwali, and whatnot, a woman prays the man for her protection and in turn gets a gift, I don't understand these kinds of rituals, I find them very stupid and so I don't follow them. I don't need gifts...I earn them myself. Be capable enough to buy gifts for yourselves, be able to protect yourself! We say we want the equality of the sexes but a certain segment of women in society wish to be treated like royalty by men all the time...
On a side note, some women find these rich husbands and get bogged down by luxuries. Does a day come when they realize that they never took a step to find their own identity and now it is too late?

We, myself included, need to introspect and be the change we want to see in the society. Do not quit your job/business/passion, not for anyone, make your own money, save, enough to cover all your expenses for at least 6 months, for the worst case scenario, take a break if you want to (men do that too) but work again, treat men equal to you, pay half the bill on your date, open the door for them, don't expect them to spend their hard earned money on you - be capable of earning and then spending...

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Women: 4. The Mom

This is the fourth part in the series. Earlier parts - Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

The Mom
The ones who leave their jobs to take care of their kids. ***Every case is different, there are situations in some families when the best solution is not to have both parents working full time, in that case ignore my further comments.
I have a problem with the assumption that only moms have to leave their job for taking care of kids, it could be men too, why not? Only moms go on six-month maternity leave. Why? All companies need to revise their paternity leave policy. It HAS to be equal. From what I hear Microsoft and Amazon do have (about) equal maternity and paternity leaves.

One of the most important things parents strive for is to model for kids the adults we hope they will become. Parents with daughters tell them to work hard in school and strive for a meaningful career. Sons are told the same, the girls who sit beside them in the classroom are their equals in every way. But if you are a housewife then what happens when that does not square with what your kids see at home? When speaking to your daughters about the importance of focusing on a career and striving for professional success, does a credibility gap open up?

You could tell yourself that your kids will be better off cared for only by you, but there is no research that bears that out, and while there are times that intense parental engagement is needed, working parents are able to achieve that, too. It is a myth that only stay-at-home moms take the best care of their kids or have the time to instill the right values. I have seen brilliant achievers even though they have had both their parents working. Although one may think that for any individual woman staying at home might lead to less stress, more happiness, and a better situation for her family, studies confirm that there is more boredom and depression.

When kids go to daycare, they learn social skills and they also get an early start in learning alphabets, being independent, eating with their own hands and whatnot. And the kids of working women develop a respect for the women kind - again my opinion.  Also remember, women working for pay makes it easier for families to live more comfortably. The sooner women realize that they don't need to sacrifice, they can always get help and make the men own up to their share of equal responsibility, the faster our society will progress.

Recently a famous sportsperson Saniya Mirza gave birth and said it to be the biggest achievement of her life. How can it be her biggest achievement?  How many women from India have made it big in sports? Also, have you seen the population of the world? Childbirth is the most natural, common and rampant thing and her calling it the biggest achievement of her life sounds bizarre to me. 

Coming up in the next post 'The Royals', which is an interesting category of women, the extreme cases are called 'golddiggers'. 

To be continued...

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Women: 3. The Martyr

This is the third part in the series. Earlier parts - Part 1. Part 2.
The Martyr
The Martyr - a woman who thinks people are judging them based on how good a wife/ mother/ daughter/ daughter-in-law/ sister-in-law she is and she cares about the opinions and then tries to be a perfectionist, treats the man of the house as the 'man of the house' who is never asked to (or given an ultimatum to) share his share of responsibilities, she tries to show that she is the best daughter-in-law, mother, and whatnot and then juggles everything and kills herself in the process. 
I am sorry, I have to say this - I pity all those women who take pride in doing a job, taking care of kids, keeping the house spotless, cooking - all on their own.
I respect women who get help, 'ask' men to take care of their share of chores, men have two hands and brains so I bet they can manage to do the dishes, laundry, cooking, and whatnot, it is not rocket science after all.
From what I hear there are crazy men out there who deny to own their share or laugh at men who they see cleaning dishes, I couldn't/wouldn't have survived with such an idiot, I don't know how women do that. But again, being financially independent gives you the flexibility, if you do not want to spend your life with such an idiot then you will always have a choice.
I respect women who do not take pride in sacrificing their dreams and aspirations or do not feel guilty in asking for sharing equal responsibilities.
I would say quit trying to be perfect, it is never going to happen.  As long as you are being yourself and trying your best, it is enough, you do not need to suffice to the expectations defined for the gender role (gender roles are history). Just like all the men in your life, you too have one life and at the end of this, there is no award for being perfect. There is, however, the satisfaction of having lived your life to the fullest, if you accept that you are flawed, just like everyone else and that there is nothing wrong with asking for the fair deal of sharing half responsibilities and speaking up that you will not suffice to gender roles.
To be continued...

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Women: 2. The Housewife

This is the second part of the series. Earlier part - Part 1.
The Housewife
You have decided to be a housewife, okay, that is fine, but that does not mean it is something to be glorified. Just so you know I would have had the same opinion even if I was a 'housewife'. Someone sent me a forward that idolized the housewife, how she keeps the house clean, cooks and when her husband comes home all tired she welcomes him with a smile... something of that sort... you get the gist. If doing all this is making you happy, good for you! but again please don't glorify it.
From what I have seen women who go out and about, work in the real world are dealing with more prolific issues than if my bathroom sink looks spotless, they are facing more challenges, they are managing things better, most of them have their own share of responsibilities on the home front which they manage well too.
There are so many women out there that I have seen who manage a job, household chores, kids, exercise along with their hobbies. Just the other day one of my friend, working girl with kids, told me she wakes up at 4:30 every day to be able to achieve all of the above.
To be continued...

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Women: 1. The working woman

This is the first part of the series.
The working woman

I believe the first most important thing for any woman is free thinking and second most is financial independence! A lot of women claim to want to be independent and then they do not do anything constructive about it. One cannot ever truly be independent until they are financially dependent upon father, brother, husband or son.

Since school days it never crossed my mind if I wanted to work - do boys ever think that way? No! It never crossed my mind that not working was also an option, all conscious efforts were taken in order to be able to work, to be able to earn, to be able to be independent. The girls that I grew up around were also very competitive and none of them ever mentioned that they might or might not work. ALL girls from my school/ college group are working ladies. Some women get a good education in order to find a well-educated husband, that was never the case with me or the girls I grew up around.

I feel even if you are married to a well-to-do man still it is not the matter of whether you 'need' to make a living, it is a matter that you 'should' want to make a living and be able to support all your needs and wants - from buying groceries to owning a house (***there are scenarios where a person can not work - visa issues, health issues and I am not talking about these rare cases here).

Until we are dependent on a man for our well being, no matter how differently we think from him, we would never be able to take a step to make a change. Till we know we can cover the basic necessities ourselves, we will never be able to break the shackles of dependency. Working and earning for ourselves also gives a tremendous boost of confidence - I have seen this in men as well, men who act shy and awkward suddenly walk around with an erect spine as soon as they get a job, same goes for women. Working in the real world also makes one learn and grow as a person.
To be continued...

Saturday, November 24, 2018


I was fat, unhealthy and unfit. When I saw myself in the mirror or in photos, I cringed. How did I let myself go? I was low on energy/ stamina, catching something or the other in a loop. One day I felt ‘enough is enough, I need to take control of my health and not let my health control me’. Human bodies are magical, if you put your mind to it, it isn’t hard to achieve health.

I am not the top of the game as I write this, but I have come a long way. I have come down from 179 pounds to 132, from feeling sick and lethargic every day to a lot better. I feel healthier, fitter, slimmer and lighter than before. Physical health also improves ones' mental health (it goes the other way round too).

I did not run marathons nor did I starve myself. I just incorporated regularity in my exercise schedule and a personal pledge to eat right.

It would be nice if more and more people exercised, did some sort of work out. You don't have to make it to a triathlon or become a weightlifter. Do whatever you like. But exercise.

Recently I read an article that fitness and health are two different things, fitness indicates athletic qualities, people who can play a sport for 4-5 hours every day are fit but might be popping a hundred pills a day of various kind, fit people are not necessarily healthy - physically and mentally, what I strive and work for is health.

The feeling of health is one that cannot be matched. It is only after you start working out, that you realize how underutilized the human body is. On the first day, you might feel devastated to realize that your magnificent looking or feeling body is actually not capable of lifting even five pounds. But after a few days of training, you will be amazed at how the body does exactly the same things with absolute ease. And such a realization is a triumph.

If you have made your way towards signifying and prioritizing exercise in the routine then you are building a healthier future. You will see the prominent effects of exercising, your body will be beautiful from within. A beautiful heart, beautiful lungs, an absolutely stunning vascular system! And although your hair will grey and skin will wrinkle, your smile will be free of worries and your life - free of disease!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Happy Memories

Every time I go back home (in India, yes, that is still home for me), unconsciously or consciously I am looking for my childhood and to relive those old carefree days! A doted upon, spoilt brat with not a care in the world!  But now I have made peace with the fact that life is forever in continuous motion. I cannot bring back the days that have passed. But I can smile and relive them in my heart and be thankful that my life is filled with happy memories. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thought of the day

Sleep early. 
Eat Healthy. 
Try new activities. 
Overcome fears. 
Be patient.
Talk less. 
Listen more. 
Live in the present. 
Don't compare. 
Don't complain. 
Don't explain.
Be generous. 
Work smart. 
Be green. 
Be thankful. 
Look at the positive. 
Ignore and avoid the negative. 
AND Shop less. Save more.