Bye bye 2009

31 12 2009

It’s time to say goodbye to 2009. It’s also time to reflect & introspect as old year passes by and to plan ahead as new year welcomes us.

All in all, 2009 had been a good year to me. While it had its own share of disappointments and troubles, I think I made most out of it. I feel that the significance and effect of any particular incident that happens to you depends on the way you feel and react to it. The general attitude and state of mind are what I perceive as the indicators of how good or bad time is. In that sense, I can say I’ve been good to whatever 2009 brought me.

I have been able to realize only two of all the resolutions I made in the beginning of this year. L I think I wasn’t determined and/or motivated enough. Some things like “work out” or “weight control” keep coming up as resolutions at the start of every year with little attention given to them the rest of the year. I think a simple solution can be to include only easy resolutions which don’t demand much change in our lifestyle 😀 . There were other critical goals too – may be I just have to preserve and strive to achieve in the coming year. This reminds me that it’s time to come up with yet another resolution list for yet another year. Well, I have to think hard this time. 🙂

As you might have figured out by now, I’m a kind of person who regularly maintains a to-do list, plan things, and generally like to be organized. But I’m by no means a perfectionist. The brief description about me projects me as someone who likes to act on a whim. And that’s true too. First, I enjoy making plans and then take secret pleasure in deviating from them; slight disorderliness in the context of orderliness. I have another reason to take pleasure in making resolution or goal lists: the sense of independence and power. It might seem silly but I’ll explain. Until recently, all the major decisions concerning my life were taken by someone else – be it the degree I earn or the college I go to or the person I marry or the place I live in. These days, I feel like I can make my own decisions and shape my life as I wish. This feeling of being in control (albeit of one’s own life) is intoxicating. Thanks to my wonderful husband, I can now pursue my interests and dreams. In fact, I realized only recently that never before had I thought seriously about what I wanted to do, never let my imagination soar. I was just busy trying to meet others’ expectations. It seems tragic to think about it all in this way, but I presume it’s usually the case for most. Presently, I feel so liberated. Now, my lists take on more significance than before. 🙂

As you might have learned from my previous post, I had been on a reading spree this year. I’m glad I could read so many books of varied genres. I’m not so sure I would be able to repeat this feat in future though. I just love reading and my passion seems to grow with each book I read.

Career was satisfactory. I count myself lucky to have gotten timely opportunities in this hard economic time. And I’m happy about my academic pursuits. I’m learning a lot and the fact that I’m enjoying it very much makes me feel happier about my efforts.

I’ve been to some wonderful places this summer, all except one within the State. Washington never ceases to enthrall me with its amazing landscape. Some of the scenic places we have been to this year are:

  • Deception Pass
  • Deception Falls
  • Alpine Falls
  • Scenic Falls
  • Mount Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Hurricane Ridge
  • Chinook Pass
  • Tipsoo Lake
  • Whidbey Island
  • Franklin Falls

The one out-of-State place we have been to is Yellow Stone National Park, whose beauty is mesmerizing. It has everything in it – rivers, waterfalls, valleys, mountains, snow, geysers, hot springs, wildlife, lakes. It was beautiful beyond words.

Last but not least, this blog was born this year giving me a canvas to paint my thoughts. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my blogging experience so far and I hope to be better in future.


28 12 2009

Hurray! I scored a century. Before you start wondering, let me make it clear that it’s not about any game; it’s the number of books I’ve read this year. Actually it’s a surprise to me too as I haven’t consciously strove for it, not unless I reached the 90 mark. I know that some bookworms out there take the 50 or 100 a year challenges, but I wasn’t motivated by them.

In fact, when I discovered that I read 58 books in 2008, I thought it was very unusual and have decided to read a lot less in 2009 as I wanted to spend more of my time on other things. But alas! The reverse happened.

Of course the number doesn’t mean much, it is quality that matters. I could have easily read little comics to make the count 100. Actually count was never a big thing on my mind, even though I experience a secret pleasure as I update my “Books I’ve read” spreadsheet.

I’m glad that I never had to compromise on the quality of the books I read in favor of the quantity. This year I read some really amazing books. While I can’t make a good job of picking up the top 10 (I tried, but soon saw the futility of it) or something like that, I would like to mention here some of the remarkable ones.

The Great Indian Novel” by Shashi Tharoor was an exhilarating experience to me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed its wit and humor. I had the honor of reading and appreciating George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and “1984”.  Arundhati Roy’s “God of Small Things” was a pleasant surprise for me. It’s a prose that is so poetic and beautiful. “Bridges of Madison County” was a heart touching love story, which left lingering thoughts behind. I also thoroughly enjoyed my favorite author Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go”.

Woman in the Dunes” had been a deeply affecting novel. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera” was an enigma. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy was another disturbing but wonderful work.

I thought that I couldn’t appreciate the Pulitzer Winner, “Olive Kitteridge” much. I got bored at some points. But I’m sure I would enjoy and appreciate it more on second reading.

There also were some mysteries and thrillers in the list mostly of Agatha Christie, James Hadley Chase, Ken Follett and Michael Chrichton, which were quick-reads and a pleasure to read anytime.

Inheritance of Loss” leads the list of disappointments. It was a sheer torture. Others include, among others, “Sea of Poppies” by Amitav Ghosh, “Between the Assassinations” by Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger fame) and “Six Suspects” by Vikas Swarup (Q & A fame).

I must say that I’m very happy about the non-fiction books I’ve read this year. Though they constitute less than 20% of the total, each one is remarkable in its own way. “I Don’t” narrated the history of marriage right from Adam and Eve. “The Japanese Mind” explained, of course the Japanese mind (for the benefit of westerners, especially Americans). “Planet Google” was really very informative. I read all four of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, which of course were brilliant. Another useful book I read was “What do you want from me?” by Terri Apter on how to handle in-law relationships. “Freakonomics” was awesome, also was “Overthrow”. “The Accidental Billionaires” and “Games Indians Play” were among the not so amazing ones.

All in all, I feel happy about the books I’ve read this year and look forward to read more good books next year. But this time, I really want to cut down the quantity and take it slow. It’s seems funny that I have to make a resolution to read less, but given my addiction it actually makes sense. Also I have an idea to read only huge books in 2010, because I have an innate phobia for any book with more than 600 pages. I know this seems absurd but I just can’t make myself pick up such a monster, however good it might be. Consequently, I haven’t read Ayn Rand or Alexander Dumas or Margaret Mitchell till now. I just hate to hold onto the same book for long periods of time (more than a few weeks at the most) . But I’m not sure whether I’ll overcome this fear/aversion just now. Hmm…

Nobel Peace Prize 2009

9 10 2009

I must say I was genuinely surprised to see in today’s headlines that Obama has won the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.  I didn’t understand why.  I can’t say I have good knowledge about what it actually takes to bag the prize – the worthiness of work done and qualities possessed. Clearly there is a large information gap in my mind. 🙂 So, though I couldn’t quite comprehend the rationale behind this selection, I don’t have any reasons with me to doubt the inappropriateness of it.

From Obama’s acceptance remarks, it seems he himself was a bit surprised.  I really felt lost by his concluding words  –“… men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace. That has always been the cause of America.  That’s why the world has always looked to America. And that’s why I believe America will continue to lead.

My immediate reaction was kind of – “is it? Really?”

Peace of what? Of America? That’s something I can vouch for. 🙂

Well, I can only say that different people have different perspectives of looking at and interpreting things…

One thing is sure – that America is powerful enough to affect the peace of the whole world. So, it might be good idea to award it’s promising president the Nobel Peace Prize as an advance incentive or motivation.

Congratulations Mr. President!

Me and my 2009 reading

18 09 2009

I have seen this on a book blog – Book Bath. Looks like it’s going around a lot. Just thought – “why not give it try?”

Using only books you have read this year (2009), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe yourself:  The Reader (Bernhard Schlink)

How do you feel: Yellow on the Outside, Shame on the Inside (Anson Chi)

Describe where you currently live:  Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:  The Bridges of Madison County (Robert James Waller)

Your favorite form of transportation:  Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)

Your best friend is:  Sister of my Heart (Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee)

You and your friends are:  Everyone Worth Knowing (Lauren Weisberger)

What’s the weather like:  Hardboiled and Hardluck (Banana Yoshimoto)

You fear:  White Tiger (Aravind Adiga)

What is the best advice you have to give:  Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (Jeffrey Archer)

Thought for the day:  Chicken Soup for the Soul (Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen)

How I would like to die: Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie)

My soul’s present condition: Never Let me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

This one definitely made me think – lots of fun!